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Messages - YellowBirdAZ

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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 / Re: Square Theme Recommendation?
« on: February 06, 2019, 08:55:13 PM »
I think I am just going to build another cab (maybe a slim form factor wall mountable thing) and keep the full-size CRT cab. Who knows when I will do this...

Thanks for the feedback though!

Themes / Re: Square Theme Recommendation?
« on: February 06, 2019, 08:02:10 AM »
Just to clear things up, my CRT works fine. I am just weighing the pros and cons of going digital with shaders, which would allow more game options (more vertical shooters, vector games).

Also, I don't need a square screen (although that Eizo thing is sort of cool). I can make the right viewports on Retroarch to confine my games to a square portion of a regular 16:9 screen. (See my sketch above.)

ArcadeFlow looks promising for this. Thanks!

Not sure I am going to do this, just thinking through options.

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.

Themes / Re: Example of My Lo-Res CRT Layout
« on: March 22, 2018, 10:05:49 AM »
In retrospect, yes, you are absolutely right. If I did another cab I would probably do that.

The only way I would switch mine out to CRT_emudriver now is if I could get more, higher resolution options so I could run some more modern vertical shmups (like Do Don Pachi) on my horizontally-mounted 15khz CRT. (I can't even run Gorf or Pengo, actually.)

I expect my next project will use a modern display with shaders.

Themes / Re: Example of My Lo-Res CRT Layout
« on: March 22, 2018, 07:31:31 AM »
My biggest advice (especially for ArcadeVGA card users) is to assign hotkeys for specific screen resolutions early in your process. You can use them to reset your screen mode to something that works for whatever monitor you are using with your PC. Early on in my project there were a few times when I installed something or changed a setting and it resulted in the screen either being black or rolling. I'd have to do complete reinstalls to recover. If I'd just had the hotkeys set up sooner I could have recovered with a couple key presses.

(Adding a 2nd LCD monitor during the build process turned out not to be a helpful work-around, although off the top of my head I can't recall why. I know I abandoned that early, because it was causing all sorts of issues too. Hotkeys were the most simple solution.)

On that perfection point, yeah, I got stuck on that too but in the end I'm happy I did. Part of the reason is scaling looks so horrible at such low resolutions. Then you realize you are dealing with all of the additional pain of using a CRT, so why would you compromise on how it actually looks? So yeah, I spent a ton of time getting things "pixel perfect". It did become something of a hobby.

This was a big issue when it came to putting Windows games on my system. There aren't many that support 4:3 at low resolutions. I had to give up on quite a few games that would have seemed easy to use. Others took a ton of tweaking. Broforce was another issue, where I actually had to bend my no-interlacing rule because the scaling at resolutions below 640x480 was distracting to me.

Themes / Re: Capcom Diamondplate Horizontal Layout
« on: March 20, 2018, 09:53:32 PM »
That looks really good.

I saw this in your blog...

One thing I really wanted to do with this project was to theme the Attract Mode front end software to match the custom cabinet art.

That's what I did with mine, basically! I designed a custom marquee and then thought, OK now I have to make this all look somewhat consistent.

Themes / Re: Example of My Lo-Res CRT Layout
« on: March 20, 2018, 09:32:39 PM »
OK here is the screensaver.nut. It goes in the screensaver subfolder, and unzip the archive to put the graphic assets in the same folder.

This is my messiest template, but since anyone who wants to use it on a different display (16:9 and/or higher resolution) is going to have to get into it to tweak it anyway, I guess I will just post it. I know, it's a mess. But for 320x240 people it should work as-is.

So it's just 3 layers of parallax stars (dim/distant/slow at z=0, brighter/medium distance/medium speed  at z=1 and streaking close/fast at z=2) moving left to right, with snapvids superimposed, moving slowly across the starfield are different speeds and y positions.

Now here is one of the trickier parts of this, but it's optional.

You *can* just use your snapvids with the screensaver.

What I did, however, was create 8 second long subclips of each game snapvid that highlights some action and (more importantly) includes some distinctive sound from the game, where possible. I included my Joust and Sinistar examples below. I put all these videos in a "flyby" subfolder of menu-art. (Naming them doesn't matter, just use something descriptive. The .nut just pulls at random order.)

I also applied an audio fade in and fade out, so you can hear the video get louder as it enters the screen and quieter as it exits. I did this with FFMPEG (using -af "afade=in:st=0:d=1,afade=out:st=3:d=3" -- you can adjust those parameters to your own eyes/ears/tastes).

Finally, because the vids are playing on a black background, and many of the vids (like Galaga) have black backgrounds themselves, I tried different methods of distinguishing the vids from the background. I tried white outlines, and it looked OK, but I finally settled on the bezel effect. I just used FFMPEG to render the videos with a transparent PNG that added the highlighting in the upper left corner and the shadows in the lower right corner. (Or you could change the background color to something like dark blue, if that works for the look of your set-up.)

Now this is all somewhat insane. Because if I decide to add a new game, I can't just pop in a new ROM and a Progetto snapvid. I would also need to make a new flyby for the screensaver (and for my title screen there is actually another snapvid subtype). So if you like adding and removing games from your system, you might think about whether this is a road you want or need to go down.

Themes / Re: Example of My Lo-Res CRT Layout
« on: March 20, 2018, 06:12:51 AM »
Good luck with your project! Have you done a CRT before?

I am glad I did one, it was fun... but in all honesty I probably won't do another.

I will try to get my screensaver .nut file and assets and so forth up tonight or tomorrow. If you are going straight 240p my screensaver should work for you right "out of the box". People using different resolutions will have to monkey with it more.

Scripting / Re: Display-Specific Music?
« on: March 17, 2018, 12:15:38 PM »

First off check here for the latest version of this plugin:

Just be aware if you use this, the toggling between music and video sounds is handled in my custom layout. If you want to use that JukeboxMode plugin with another layout, you will have to look in my custom layout and copy the code for the music/sfx switching.

Second, let me understand what you are asking... you want unique music on a per-title basis? So like Galaga has it's own song, and Ms. Pacman has another song?

General / Re: Can Attract mode start up programs on startup??
« on: March 17, 2018, 12:08:51 PM »
Hey, I recommend another solution. I had the same basic issue you did but here's how I solved it.

First off, install Autohotkey (AHK). It's a scripting language that has been very helpful with my project, and as you get familiar with it you can use it for all sorts of other things. There are probably other options (Python, Perl, etc.)  But AHK is well-suited to arcade projects because you can use it for re-mapping controls, assigning multiple functions to the same input, window placement and resizing, and so on.

So in my cabinet, instead of booting to AttractMode, I boot to an AHK script I compiled as an executable. Here is the source for that script.

Code: [Select]

RunWait C:/CSR/ChangeScreenResolution.exe /d=\\.\DISPLAY1 /w=320 /h=240,,HIDE
Run C:/IPAC Profiles/poly.ipc,,HIDE
Run C:/AHK Scripts/always.exe,,HIDE
Run C:/AttractMode/attract.exe -c C:/AttractMode,,MAX

So it's very easy to read as you can see.

First thing it does is sets my resolution to 320x240 (and waits until that is done before moving to next step).

Second, I load the appropriate IPAC profile (I use the IPAC for my controls, you may be doing something different).

Third, it launches another AHK script that will run in the background as long as the machine is running. This is where I do some control re-mapping and I have hotkeys set up to change resolutions (for error recovery if the display goes black or otherwise unreadable).

Finally, it runs AttractMode before exiting.

Anyhow, I think this might work for you and I bet you'll find other ways to use AHK. Your steps will of course be different, but this is a way to boot into AttractMode while also starting up whatever other processes you need.

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 / Re: Example of My Lo-Res CRT Layout
« on: March 10, 2018, 10:35:34 PM »
OK, I cleaned these up a bit and these are the bare minimum needed to get started.

The Custom.7z contents need to go into an appropriately named subfolder of the layouts folder. (Mine is just called Custom.)

The scroll.nut needs to go in the modules folder.

The display PNGs (e.g. 80s, 90s, etc) need to be named the same as your displays. If you want to categorize your games differently, you will need to make different artwork and name it appropriately.

I expect there may be issues if you have artwork that varies in size for different games (especially different heights). All my snapvids have been cropped or padded to 320x240 because I really didn't want to go through the bother of getting a CRT working only to see scaling artifacts. So when the scroll.nut encounters odd sized snapvids I am not sure how well they will be handled.

If you try this and run into issues, let me know.

I'll go through the other stuff (jukebox, voice, intro and screensaver) and add as I have time.

EDIT 3/11/18
Added the JukeboxMode plugin. It is zipped with a 1 second long silent MP3 it uses to generate pauses. Create a Music subfolder under AttractMode, and then create subfolders named after each of your displays (exact name match). You can load up each of those subfolders with MP3s of music that corresponds with your displays. Then copy the silent MP3 into the top level Music subfolder. Note that the toggling of JukeboxMode on or off is actually accomplished in the layout.nut file.

Themes / Re: Example of My Lo-Res CRT Layout
« on: March 10, 2018, 10:24:33 PM »
Thanks! Funny you of all people commented on that, I was thinking a good tweak would be to re-do those transitions to use your LED effect.

Themes / Re: Example of My Lo-Res CRT Layout
« on: March 09, 2018, 12:37:06 PM »
I have no issue sharing the .nut files and even the assets. Let me do some code clean-up first though.

The big caveat (and why I hesitated to post the layout files to begin with) is that it is highly reliant on specialized assets. For example, there isn't one straight, unedited Progetto snapvid in there. At a minimum I shaved off the opening fade-in. Others are modified in other ways, and some I had to screencap myself because I didn't like the Progetto version. (For example, Progetto's Gauntlet 2 video is very lame, Rampage World Tour audio is messed up, Frogger and Scramble are 300% vertical stretched.)

Each game has 3 associated videos... a display video, a screensaver video (audio fade in and out), and a "band" video (what shows under the word "ARCADE" on the intro screen). You need the band videos to ensure that whatever is happening behind the letters is somewhat interesting and centered on the letters. If you just put a snapvid behind whatever transparent word you want to display, it will end up showing a lot of clips where nothing is going on (like Ms. Pacman maze where you don't see her or the ghosts, just static maze).

So before you start building using this layout, you need to know you might be doing a lot of video editing to add games I don't include in my library.

Alternatively, you might be able to pick out some elements to include in another layout, like the voice announcer module and the jukebox module.

Anyhow, I will try to get this out. And thanks for feedback!

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