Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Topics - YellowBirdAZ

Pages: [1] 2
General / Graphic Assets Not Loading on Start-Up
« on: July 26, 2021, 02:23:33 PM »
I have an annoying issue I can't figure out.

I have a emulation PC where is Win 10 OS and other mostly immutable files live on the internal SSD, and then Attract-Mode, Retroarch and all my ROMs and game art are on a detachable USB 3 SSD. I set it up this way because the PC runs CRTEmudriver and connects to a CRT (obviously), and it is a pain to monkey with the system with such a limited display space on the CRT. I just unplug the external SDD and plug it into my main office PC if I want to add ROMs or change art or update Retroarch or anything else. (I have it off-network.)

When the emulation PC boots up it looks for the attached external SSD.

Problem is, since moving to this configuration, certain graphical assets don't seem to load before Attract-Mode starts up. So as I browse through systems and games, the marquees don't show up and backgrounds don't either. The game snaps do load though.

I'm not a home right now so I can't check, but is it possible in my layout I am calling these images incorrectly? Just to clarify, everything works when it all loads from a single drive. Also, even when it doesn't work on initial start-up, I can close out of Attract-Mode and re-start and it works (so it's not a path issue).

Any thoughts? Thanks in advance...

General / Aggravating Menu Control Bug
« on: November 08, 2020, 07:25:50 PM »
I have tried and tried I can't figure this out. It is the last significant bug in my new cabinet.

When I exit a game in an emulator and return to the AM display, there is a stray input or something that causes a PREVIOUS FILTER input. The designated sound effect also emits.

In the case of my chosen display, this bumps you out of the list from which you launched your last game into a completely different list.

Most of my stuff runs in Retroarch, but it also happens with a few MAME-emulated games. It is also intermittent.

The stray input problem happens whether I exit directly from the emulator (like go to Retroarch menu and select Quit Retroarch), or if I push escape key on my keyboard, or if I hit the designated quit key on my control panel. (So it isn't a bug in my control panel setup or config.)

I've tried this on the latest release and on the last available nightly Windows build.

I think I read someone else report the same issue, but I can't find that, not using the right keywords in my searches or something...

General / Form Factor For Your Consideration
« on: September 10, 2020, 02:05:48 PM »
I built a cabinet I'd been imagining in my head for a long time, it worked out well, and I just wanted to throw it out there as a proof of concept in case anyone else was interested.

Link To Pic
(Still some touch-up to do, and no bezel yet, but that actually helps illustrate how this is built.)

I had a full size CRT 4-player cabinet. It was awesome. But it was huge and it lived in my garage. Also, I love CRTs, but I couldn't help dreading the day the CRT would fail and I'd have a 300+ lbs monstrosity to either fix or sell. So I sold it while it worked.

I learned: (1) I like CRTs but I can live with good shaders; (2) I rarely get 4 people to play at once; (3) I like horizontal, vertical and vector games; (4) I need something space-efficient.

So I built a wall-mounted 2 player "cabinet" with a cheap 4K 60Hz TCL flatpanel. The central trick here is that it is a 43" screen, which is the smallest size you can use and still get a square 1:1 2160x2160 section of screen large enough to simulate a 25" screen oriented horizontally or vertically.

There really was no other front-end I could use for a 2160x2160 display. I considered LaunchBox/BigBox and Big Blue but came back to AM. I ended up using a modified Reflect layout scaled to the size of the display. So it has a borderless window 2160x2160 centered on the panel, and there is an Autohotkey script running to make sure it stays put.

The 4K monitor is great because the shaders look really nice (I use CRT Royale generally) and vector games also look excellent (obviously using different vector-specific shaders). It really is a great compromise even though you aren't getting the true CRT experience -- for me being able to go horizontal and vertical and do vector games was worth the loss of "authenticity". Plus if it dies I can pick up another one easy.

The space savings are huge. I have this mounted on the wall behind me in my office. It doesn't get in the way at all.

Anyhow... if anyone if considering a build like this, feel free to shoot me questions, maybe I can help you avoid pitfalls I experienced.

Other lessons learned:

- Retroarch is great... use FinalBurn Neo core wherever you can and take advantage of run-ahead latency reduction. The improved responsiveness really elevates the arcade experience.

- The MAME 2000 Plus core is also cool and is probably the BEST for vector games. The downside is it doesn't do run-ahead latency reduction (or if it does, it's buggy). For me the appearance of the vector games was good enough to sacrifice that feature.

- If you can, spring for what you might call "non-clicky" controls. This is a matter of taste, but I went from clicky-switch joysticks and buttons to UltraStik 360s (magnetic) and leaf-switch buttons and couldn't be more happy. It just feels 80s. The configurability of the UltraStiks and the AM plugin are also a big help. Setting up twin stick games can be tricky with them, but I managed to get it working using MAME cores for those games and Joy2Key translating the right stick into key presses.

- Vinyl wrap on MDF is (for me) easier and better looking than paint. And no more expensive. The faux wood grain really adds something. Mine is black but the reddish wood grain looks good too, I almost went with it but it clashed with some artwork I had already completed. One tip: I did paint wood panel edges because I didn't want light colored MDF peeking through the wrap or the t-molding anywhere.

Emulators / Run-Ahead Latency Reduction Discussion
« on: May 18, 2019, 11:30:30 PM »
Have anyone played with the run-ahead latency reduction feature in Retroarch? I am curious to hear thoughts.

I was actually blown away... first by how much of a lag there was to start with (sometimes 4 or 5 frames!), and then how much more enjoyable many games were once I eliminated or reduced the lag. If you are like me and sort of dismissed the idea that lag mattered that much, I encourage you to try it out. Games like Joust really benefit from this feature, but its noticeable in almost every game I've tried it on.

(There is a good ETA Prime YouTube video on the topic that should walk you through set up.)

It really changed how I am approaching my current arcade project, to the point I am switching from MAME to FBA cores everywhere I can get away with it, because FBA supports the feature and MAME mostly doesn't. MAME 2000+ sort of supports it but it seems glitchy to me. Heck, I was inclined not to use Retroarch at all and instead use straight emulators, but this feature was such a game changer (pun?) I can't picture myself not using it anymore.

It also makes me less interested in MISTer/FPGA stuff honestly. That is really cool, but I don't see why I need to get into it when I can get pretty good emulation with virtually no input lag without buying any specialized hardware. I can do it on the same computer I use for a hundred other things and would own anyway.

Anyone else try it? I haven't seen any discussion. I am interested in hearing any config tips and tricks for different cores that support it (basically the cores that support save-states). Or maybe even problems/drawbacks I haven't thought of or encountered yet.

General / Rotating Monitor Cab Project
« on: April 17, 2019, 10:34:15 PM »
This is the low-rent implementation. When I say rotating monitor, I mean you reach up and turn it -- it's not motorized. The trick though is tilt switches sense the orientation of the monitor and switch between horizontal and TATE mode.

But it looks like it will work... I am close to completion on this new cab and of course I'm using Attract Mode. It is also going to be a very slim form factor, and it hangs on the wall by French cleats.

Anyhow, this isn't the cabinet, this is just a proof of concept video I posted for the rotation gimmick...

I'll update with milestones as I go.

Also, I am using Flat Blue for now. I like it and I don't want to make a new layout if I don't have to. But if anyone has suggestions for good layouts that work at 16:9 in both horizontal and vertical I will be sure to check them out.

Themes / Square Theme Recommendation?
« on: February 05, 2019, 09:57:55 PM »
Are there any themes that would scale well (with minimal kludging) to a square display area (1080 x 1080 or 2160 x 2160)?

Weird question, I know... I explain why below if anybody wonders...

I am contemplating ditching my CRT... Maybe...

I know, it's heresy. But CRT shaders have become so good without being overtaxing (check out new Guest Dr Venom CRT shader in Retroarch, for example). Plus, I wouldn't have to commit to only horizontal or only TATE mode games (or displaying TATE games on horizontal CRT which requires fiddling with analog screen height knob). I could even run vector games and they would look good. I would reduce the weight of my cabinet by over 50 lbs., reduce power consumption, and I'm not an electrical engineer so keeping my CRT running isn't exactly in my wheelhouse.

I have figured out a 43" flatscreen would fit lengthwise in my cabinet at the same angle the CRT is currently mounted, but only a square portion of the screen would be visible. The rest would be hidden from view in the cabinet below and behind the marquee and speakers. (See my scribbled diagram attached...)

This way I could display games in 4:3 or 3:4 aspect centered within the visible square portion of the screen without physically rotating a screen.

If I went with 1080p, I would have a 1080 x 720 screen for games within a 1080 x 1080 visible area.

If I went with 2160p, I would have a 2160 x 1440 screen for games within a 2160 x 2160 visible area.

I have a 4K computer monitor, and I don't see much marginal improvement using CRT shaders in 4K over 1080p.

General / 4K Displays?
« on: March 14, 2018, 01:11:58 PM »
Anyone out there use a 4K display? Or better yet, is anyone in a position to compare the quality of 4K vs. 1080p with CRT shaders?

I am reading different opinions... some say the difference is negligible (and I've seen screencaps that seem to confirm this), and others say with the right shader (like CRT-Royale) 4K is visibly superior.

Just thinking ahead to next project or inevitable death of my CRT.

Themes / Example of My Lo-Res CRT Layout
« on: March 08, 2018, 02:35:26 PM »
99% done messing with this.

Again, much credit to keilmillerjr as this is based on his "Flavors" layout. I am posting this just as another example of what can be accomplished with AM, but this time from the low-res end of the spectrum.

Scripting / Global settings
« on: February 10, 2018, 10:54:29 AM »
Is there a way to set a global variable on launch that can be referenced (and changed) from any layout or plug-in?

So whatever you set it to (say true or false) would stay the same no matter where it was referenced from (layout, plug-in, screensaver, etc.). And likewise the value could conceivably be changed from any of these places.

General / Snap Art Without Fade-In?
« on: February 05, 2018, 08:29:40 AM »
Does anyone have a source for MAME game snap art without the fade-in effect? Progetto's stuff all fades in, and in Emumovies I haven't been able to find any without it either.

Yes, you can trim the first couple seconds but I don't want the sound to cut in abruptly. So I would prefer to have clean, no fade videos, and if I want a fade-in or -out I can use the front end to do it.

Scripting / Particle Animation and Z-Order
« on: January 27, 2018, 03:08:28 PM »
So I made a custom screensaver, it displays game snap-vids scrolling horizontally over a parallax scrolling starfield in the background.

The only problem is the stars aren't in the background, they appear over the top of the snap-vids.

Does anyone know how to force particles into a lower z-order, or some other way to force them to the background? I may be missing something obvious.

I think each new particle is a new addition to the draw list, therefore they are almost always on top of anything else on the screen (since stars are being drawn far more frequently than anything else on screen).

I did see a property for "particlesontop" but it is not implemented. I tried setting it to false, and it doesn't even look like the property is part of the particle object yet.

I just thought of the hackiest thing ever, which would be to screencap the star field and make it into a loopable video to just play in the background. Still, I would rather use the animation, so I would prefer to figure out how to fix this.

General / Any Custom Screensavers?
« on: January 23, 2018, 06:26:02 AM »
I was wondering if anyone made any custom screensavers they are happy with or would be willing to share?

I didn't see any existing thread on this topic, specifically.

My issue is my cab is very low res (I run a 320x240 layout). I don't like the split screen effects because the scaling looks ugly at that resolution, and even full screen snaps aren't ideal because I show those when the screensaver isn't active (so it muddies the distinction between modes).

I'm hoping I can borrow something instead of making something new, or at least get some ideas about alternatives.

General / Sudden Emulator/Game Launch Failures?
« on: November 06, 2017, 04:46:04 PM »
I recently ran into an unexpected issue I was hoping someone could help me with.

I am at the point where I am end-to-end testing all the games I put on my cabinet... making sure they launch properly from the front end, the controls are configured properly, and that the games exit back to the front end.

While I was doing this I repeatedly encountered a problem where -- after going through several games -- AM would suddenly stop launching any games. I could navigate the front end like normal, but every game -- no matter what emulator it relied on -- would fail. The console provided no clues, because it appeared the instructions it was sending were correct. (I have not yet tried issuing the commands from the command line, just to be sure the issue isn't deeper than AM.)

The only "fix" is to completely reboot the machine. I can't just close out of AM and restart.

Maybe there is some game or emulator that is triggering a bad attract.cfg change that resets on system restart? I have no idea.

Anyone else run into a problem like this?

It might have been a dormant issue I only noticed now because I'm systematically working through every game.

General / Games With Interstitial Screens/Pop-Ups
« on: October 16, 2017, 07:03:05 AM »
So I have ONE game that is giving me this problem, but still I'd like to fix it. And others might have the same problem with other games that behave the same way.

I have the PC game Slain on my cabinet. Like many PC games, when you launch the executable it displays a configuration pop-up where you can select windowed/fullscreen and resolution. Basically you just click OK and move on to the game. There is, as far as I can tell, no way to side-step this interstitial.

I wrote an Autohotkey script to deal with the interstitial, so when you launch the same from AM the script runs, acknowledges the pop-up, and the game starts.

The only hang-up is AM thinks the game is closing at some point in this process. So the game launches, the pop-up is dealt with, and Slain runs... but AM comes back to life in the background. It is as though AM thinks you launched the game and quickly exited it, when in fact the game is running.

I don't think this is caused by the script EXIT command either. I have all sorts of scripts that exit and they don't bring AM back out of sleep mode.

There are three ways I can think of that could address this issue, and I'd appreciate any advice on how to make any of them work.

1. If I knew what triggers AM to wake up after going to sleep in the background, maybe I could intercept that trigger in this case? That way AM would keep sleeping until the player really exits the game.

2. I could kill AM in this case, run the game, and then relaunch AM upon exit. The only problem is I don't know how to prevent it from doing the whole intro all over again. If I could skip the intro, I assume it would just return to the last game played (which would be perfect).

3. I could add a step to force AM back into sleep mode during the game's start-up process, if there is a means to do so.


Scripting / Pause AM During Intro Movie?
« on: August 27, 2017, 12:43:03 AM »
I was trying to add an intro movie to my AM set-up and then quickly realized it just plays over the top of the layout.

So if your intro movie has music or sound, and your layout itself plays ambient sound, they will overlap. It is very annoying.

I've hacked around issues like this before by inserting silent sound files of predetermined lengths to generate audio pauses where needed. I'm reluctant to keep adding hacks though.

Anyone have a solution or suggestion?

I could just launch the intro movie outside of AM, and then launch AM upon the video's completion, but there has to be another way.

Pages: [1] 2