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Messages - YellowBirdAZ

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General / Re: Form Factor For Your Consideration
« on: September 11, 2020, 08:00:58 AM »
I looked at those Eizo's too! Expensive.

Like I said, I used a TCL that was actually a Wal-Mart refurb, it was just over $200. When I initially tested it at 4K 60Hz I really couldn't see much difference between the TCL and my 4K monitor.

I downloaded Arcadeflow, it is awesome and I've used it before. If I recall I ended up customizing Reflect instead because I had an idea of matching the interface to the artwork (which I'd already created by that point). Sometimes the order you do things dictates other choices. I had a 80s theme really heavy on the neon purples and magentas and I wanted them to mesh as best I could. Ironically, I used Reflect but removed the reflection effect entirely.

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.

Scripting / Re: mp3 at the start of displaymenu?
« on: September 10, 2020, 01:28:20 PM »
This probably wouldn't solve Rexxar's problem, but I made a streamlined plugin based on DisplayMusic I just called Jukebox, and I posted it in the Plugins gallery. It is much more simple, plug-and-play (you do have to edit the music subfolder names), and you can configure it to play without interruption over the top of transitions to/from whatever screensaver you are running.

Scripting / Re: Modules and Plugin Gallery
« on: September 09, 2020, 09:49:29 PM »
Jukebox Plug-In

I have been gone for a while but like any good AttractMode, I keep getting pulled back in! This really is the best front-end. I built a new cabinet that sort of has a 1:1 aspect display and there was really nothing else flexible enough to work. I used AM and it turned out fantastic.

Anyhow, I resurrected my old DisplayMusic plugin for the project, cleaned it up and simplified it and now it's just Jukebox. You specify a main music folder, and you can fill it with as many or as few subfolders of music files as you want. In the options, you need to edit the "Jukebox Mode" config option to correspond with the subfolders you set up. Then you also choose whether you want your music to continue playing over the top of your screensaver or not. Then tweak the volume settings to your taste (the Jukebox plays as ambient sound), so if you have snapvids with sound they are playing at a desirable level relative to the music.

The only thing I didn't add (or figure out) is how to make it so you could select a "Jukebox Mode" (i.e., a music subfolder) from the UI itself. If anyone has suggestions I could try to implement that. But for now, you can only configure this from the Plugins menu.

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 / Re: Rotating Monitor Cab Project
« on: May 03, 2019, 08:55:59 PM »
So for this project I used the minimal hardware I could get away with to run MAME emulation with a decent CRT shader. It's an old Dell Optiplex 3010 with a good-enough AMD video card.

It really struggles with ArcadeFlow. If you know what options to kill to make it run better on a weak machine, let me know. Otherwise I might have to stick with Flat Blue (which I might have to re-color depending on what I do for a marquee). I'll keep toying with it though.

The layout is beautiful. I especially like that you actually have an "attract mode" that kicks in.

I installed it on my desktop. Really nice work.

General / Re: Rotating Monitor Cab Project
« on: May 01, 2019, 10:05:57 PM »
I like it, nice work.

Too late tonight, but this weekend I'll try to set that up and test it out.

General / Re: Rotating Monitor Cab Project
« on: May 01, 2019, 11:00:12 AM »
Alright, so the cab is not completely done. Still need to do the marquee, do a custom bezel/overlay for the monitor, and I want to install backlighting (the kids playroom wall is not really ideal for that).

But the wiring is pretty much finished and the rotation effect is working.

Again, if anyone knows of any other layout possibilities that look nice horizontally AND vertically, I welcome suggestions. If not I'll just stick with Flat Blue.

Come to think of it, if the differences weren't too jarring, I could use two different layouts altogether -- one for each orientation.

General / Re: Rotating Monitor Cab Project
« on: April 22, 2019, 08:27:37 AM »
OK still very much a WIP but I finally got to the point I could mount it in place. Gives a better picture of what I am trying to do. The slim built works for my purposes, but if you try something like this be warned the biggest issue is structural integrity. Mine is almost all MDF and would probably snap in two if I mishandled it, but it is very sturdy when mounted.

The Attract Mode piece of this is that those stray green and yellow wires are going to attach to mercury/tilt switches attached to the back of the monitor. As the monitor is rotated, those switches are going to register button presses that will be mapped to AM such that they toggle between two layouts. The layouts will actually be the same... just one will be displayed vertically and one horizontally, and they will use horizontal and vertical game filters. (I can't see how to switch orientation this way at the display-level.

Scripting / Re: zorder and performance
« on: April 18, 2019, 11:58:14 AM »
I made a layout a while back that did a lot of z-order monkey business, and I didn't notice anything. That was on an Intel dual-core though, not a Pi or anything.

I think recent updates to AM have changed z-order handling, but I thought it was just the ordering. I don't think it should be slower (or faster).

I always used keilmillerjr's method of CTRL+ALT+DEL and running explorer as needed. It's fine. You really shouldn't need it that much once you are set up correctly. Maybe to add or remove a game.

If you are on a CRT, I would also recommend setting up hotkeys (I used Autohotkey) to change resolutions. So on my CRT cab it would normally run in 320x240, but if I dumped out into Windows I would need to switch to 640x480 (or 800x600 if your monitor will display) to make it even useable. Windows 10 didn't work well at 320x240...

This is also good in case something screws up and an unsupported resolution is attempted somehow, you can hotkey back into resolutions you know work correctly.

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.

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