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Messages - YellowBirdAZ

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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.

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.

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