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Introducing the higan library 
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Joined: Fri 03 Jun 2011, 02:41:19

Posts: 77
Post Re: Introducing the higan library
byuu wrote:
I don't emulate the Nintendo Power memory controller.

And won't, because there is no point. Just as there is no point to emulating the NSS game selection menu, nor the SFC-Box game selection screen, nor the Game Genie BIOS code entry screen, nor the X-Band modem, nor SNES copiers. You know what works infinitely better? Game loading dialogs, cheat editor dialogs, and netplay.

I agree about new interfaces working better. However, I'd put the NP cartridges in a different category, since they are 1st party hardware.

byuu wrote:
There's limited time to spend on RE work, and I'm dedicating that to the base system, not to frivolous and inferior loading screens.

Agreed.

byuu wrote:
If you are nostalgic for clunky interfaces, try no$sns.

:lol:

Mon 09 Jun 2014, 07:10:18

Joined: Fri 10 Apr 2009, 15:00:08

Posts: 13668
Post Re: Introducing the higan library
The NSS and SFC-Box are first-party as well. Or close enough to it that you'd be hard pressed to even name who else was involved.

I didn't want to touch on this here, but I guess I will. I also have a deep problem with the Nintendo Power system: it's all based on flash memory. Flash memory means it's reprogrammable. That was in fact the whole idea: people would go to kiosks and flash games onto them.

But this is anathema to preservation. If I spend $400 on a Wizardry 1-2-3 NP cart, how do I know the data has not suffered from bit-rot? How do I know the cart wasn't reflashed and one of the cells died? How do I know the cart wasn't reprogrammed with a rip from another game (which is really only an issue if that rip was damaged / modified, but how can you know for sure?) With all of that, how can I put my name on an NP image and say it's verified? If I can't verify it, then I put it logically in the same category as unlicensed games.

The data is, to me, inherently untrustworthy. I feel the same about BS-X packs, and game prototypes. I also include Kunio-kun Tournament Special and Slam Dunk Shueisha Limited (EEPROMs), but at least those two are not socketed and the carts are unique enough that faking the whole package would be an unbelievable amount of work compared to just reprogramming a flash chip. I am a bit uneasy about cataloging those two, but I am going to, and that's going to be it.

Mon 09 Jun 2014, 07:15:34
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Joined: Fri 25 Nov 2011, 21:23:17

Posts: 175
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Post Re: Introducing the higan library
jchadwick wrote:
byuu wrote:
If you are nostalgic for clunky interfaces, try no$sns.

gif

I just died. You made my day.

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<S.Yagawa> I like the challenge of "doing the impossible" with older hardware, and pushing it as far as it can go
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Mon 09 Jun 2014, 09:29:04

Joined: Fri 03 Jun 2011, 02:41:19

Posts: 77
Post Re: Introducing the higan library
byuu wrote:
The NSS and SFC-Box are first-party as well. Or close enough to it that you'd be hard pressed to even name who else was involved.

I didn't want to touch on this here, but I guess I will. I also have a deep problem with the Nintendo Power system: it's all based on flash memory. Flash memory means it's reprogrammable. That was in fact the whole idea: people would go to kiosks and flash games onto them.

But this is anathema to preservation. If I spend $400 on a Wizardry 1-2-3 NP cart, how do I know the data has not suffered from bit-rot? How do I know the cart wasn't reflashed and one of the cells died? How do I know the cart wasn't reprogrammed with a rip from another game (which is really only an issue if that rip was damaged / modified, but how can you know for sure?) With all of that, how can I put my name on an NP image and say it's verified? If I can't verify it, then I put it logically in the same category as unlicensed games.

The data is, to me, inherently untrustworthy. I feel the same about BS-X packs, and game prototypes. I also include Kunio-kun Tournament Special and Slam Dunk Shueisha Limited (EEPROMs), but at least those two are not socketed and the carts are unique enough that faking the whole package would be an unbelievable amount of work compared to just reprogramming a flash chip. I am a bit uneasy about cataloging those two, but I am going to, and that's going to be it.


I see. I hadn't thought of the flash data being altered. Thank you for taking the time to reply.

Tue 10 Jun 2014, 14:46:48
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Joined: Fri 10 Apr 2009, 20:54:19

Posts: 2679
Post Re: Introducing the higan library
But certainly, someone could add mapping support, at least just to play the "known" "good" dumps that are widely circulated. Not officially, of course.

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blag

Wed 11 Jun 2014, 02:05:33

Joined: Fri 03 Jun 2011, 02:41:19

Posts: 77
Post Re: Introducing the higan library
Scans of the decapped Megachips controller would be required for that.

Thu 12 Jun 2014, 05:40:45
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Joined: Fri 10 Apr 2009, 20:54:19

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Post Re: Introducing the higan library
Without that information, how are "NP" ROM dumps able to run in other emulators?

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blag

Thu 12 Jun 2014, 08:08:11

Joined: Fri 10 Apr 2009, 15:00:08

Posts: 13668
Post Re: Introducing the higan library
NP carts are very much like N-in-one bootleg carts, or something like the sd2snes.

When you first power-on the games, it runs a boot program. This program checks to see how many games are loaded onto the cart. If it's only one, it will just boot the game directly. You won't even realize it's an NP cart unless you look at the cart itself. But if there's more than one game installed, it gives you a menu screen to select which game you want to play.

What happens once a game is selected for play (automatically if one game, manually if 2+ games), is that the region of the flash memory where that game resides is mapped onto the bus using the MegaChips internal MMIO registers. The BS-X Satellaview has similar (in end result) memory remapping registers. Once the memory is remapped appropriately, the game code beings to execute. There's probably a register lockout for the MegaChips IC, but I don't know that. But at this point, aside from the initial state of the memory and registers (almost identical to what copiers tend to do), it's just like playing the original game.

I don't know for certain how NP carts were initially dumped, because I haven't dumped any. I've heard that people would play them on copiers, select a game, soft-reset and boot into the copier BIOS, and then dump the cartridge, which would dump the selected game. I've also heard that this was error-prone and sometimes took many tries. Basically a fake-out to try and leave the cart initialized to a specific selected game.

But the point is, the specific game images are bit-for-bit identical to their retail cartridge releases. And obviously there are newer game revisions and entirely new games released on the system. And some NP-only games received MaskROM releases later on that are identical to the NP images (the SHVC-BxxJ cartridges like Wrecking Crew '98 and Sutte Hakkun.) So it goes without saying that emulators can play these images directly. Cowering marked the dumps from this manner as (NP). But there is no actual way to tell an NP image from a regular image just from looking at the ROM alone, so I guess the dumpers told him they were from NP carts, or he just made shit up. Who knows.

Somewhat recently (a few years ago), some No-Intro folks started dumping the boot menu ROMs from the NP carts. If you run that in an emulator, you'll see it present you with the game selection menu on multi-game carts. But obviously if you don't emulate the MegaChips IC, you can't handle the bus remapping needed to play the games after choosing a menu option. As you can guess, the boot ROM contains a pseudo-filesystem that has the game names and locations in FlashROM and how to map them onto the bus all stored in there. The boot ROM reads that and decides how to program the MMC registers.

So basically, when someone asks for NP emulation, what they want is to have a ROM image file, that when loaded, shows them 2-4 games. They want to pick one to then play that title. I don't think anyone actually emulates this, but if anyone ever does, it'll be no$sns.

This is, to me, incredibly stupid. I don't want a file named "Mario Picross NP 2 (1.0) + Metal Slader Glory (1.0) + Wizardry 1-2-3 (1.1) (JP).sfc" I don't want my save RAM and save states to be tied to this three-game block. I don't want to have to remember that Wizardry 1-2-3 is part of a 3-game set and that I have to look under 'M' to find it. I don't want a cheat code list that applies to all three games at once. Split the games out into individual images, and they can all be played separately, and without a boot menu. You can use the superior game loading dialog of the emulator, separate cheat codes, save RAM, save states, etc. And the checksum of the image isn't tied to something as arbitrary and stupid as which order games were flashed. Given the amount of variations that can exist, checksumming all combinations would be impossible. You'd have to make your game hashing / verification tool parse the NP boot ROM and verify each game inside of it individually.

But I get preservation. If you want to preserve the experience, you're more than welcome to do so. Just don't ask me to do it, because it doesn't interest me at all.

Thu 12 Jun 2014, 09:32:21
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Joined: Fri 25 Nov 2011, 21:23:17

Posts: 175
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Post Re: Introducing the higan library
I see your gripe with it, but I still think it's something important to cover. Maybe I'll take a crack at it. ;) I think all this proto-DLC stuff is really cool, but also really needs preservation... if not, you end up with a WonderGate situation where pretty much everything is lost. Admittedly, it's already preserved in this case, so it's nothing dire, but still worthwhile to me.

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<S.Yagawa> I like the challenge of "doing the impossible" with older hardware, and pushing it as far as it can go
<T.Fuzisawa> [How does one become a game designer?] Play every game ever made. Then think of something that has never been done and make it a reality.

Thu 12 Jun 2014, 09:41:43
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Joined: Fri 10 Apr 2009, 20:54:19

Posts: 2679
Post Re: Introducing the higan library
Yeah, I meant just playing the individually dumped games, which apparently already works just fine.

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blag

Sat 14 Jun 2014, 12:48:59

Joined: Mon 14 Jul 2014, 04:07:30

Posts: 6
Post Re: Introducing the higan library
I already have my game library in the "game folder" format from having bsnes v0.90, how do I get them to show up in higan's library? Trying to import doesn't work because it just opens the folder instead of importing it, and it doesn't show the files in that folder either.

I've also tried setting the higan library path to the current location of the games, but that was completely ineffective, as was taking the files in the folder and zipping them up.

If that's not clear enough, here's an example game in my Library:

...\ROMs & ISOs\NES ROMs\Power Blade.fc\:
bsnes
character.rom
manifest.xml
program.rom
save.ram

.\bsnes\:
state-1.bsa

I tried searching for this, but "game" and "folder" are ignored by the searcher, so a search for "game folder format" is useless.

Wed 16 Jul 2014, 07:30:44

Joined: Fri 10 Apr 2009, 15:00:08

Posts: 13668
Post Re: Introducing the higan library
The format changed between 090 and 094, so you can't import them, sorry.

You'll have to reimport them to the library with the original ROM files.

Wed 16 Jul 2014, 15:09:36

Joined: Wed 06 May 2009, 04:13:19

Posts: 4543
Post Re: Introducing the higan library
eyeonus wrote:
I tried searching for this, but "game" and "folder" are ignored by the searcher, so a search for "game folder format" is useless.

Yeah, the search functionality is pretty much fundamentally broken and completely useless. We're still waiting for the bBoard to start running on bBoard.

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Wed 16 Jul 2014, 16:18:16

Joined: Mon 14 Jul 2014, 04:07:30

Posts: 6
Post Re: Introducing the higan library
byuu wrote:
You'll have to reimport them to the library with the original ROM files.


There's no way to convert between?

Wed 16 Jul 2014, 21:51:34
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Joined: Sun 05 Sep 2010, 15:42:48

Posts: 1344
Post Re: Introducing the higan library
eyeonus wrote:
There's no way to convert between?
Not to my knowledge, but it's certainly possible to make a way.

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Wed 16 Jul 2014, 22:11:56
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