Archive for castlevania

Improving APU code

Posted in Audio, hacks, Megaman, music, NES2PCE with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2014 by pcedev

I was working on improving the APU side of the nes2pce projects (audio emulation). I’ve kinda neglected this for a while, so it’s time to sit down and get it more up to speed with the rest of the backend code.

In the process, I decided that I wanted to do some stereo separation of the channels. But I couldn’t quite figured out what sounded best. Sometimes it sounds best when all channels have hard left/right separation and somethings it sound better when only¬† the lead channels do. And at that, the volume levels sound better at times – louder when hard panned left/right. As I have it right now, most of the channels are not full volume. Only the triangle is (because it’s a soft sound). The leads are set at ~66% volume, triangle at %100, and noise at ~45%.

What I’ve decided, is that I’m gonna let you guys decided. In other words, I’m gonna do a menu at start up that lefts you configure it for the game (for that instance). I’ll add a few quick preset modes, classic mode, and a fully customize mode.

For games that don’t use DPCM (which I’m probably not going to emulation per se, but I will hack support for those samples into each game individually. Jackal and Castlevania are two that need it), I’m going to add the option of allowing ‘echo’ of the two pulse channels – on the two spare PCE channels. I’ll have presets for this as well, and custom control for it. For games that support it, I’ll add an option to sync the echo to the tempo of the current playing song.

I have some other ideas as well. One is to allow sound FX to play on the spare channels, rather than interrupting the main music channels. Some people have thought this was the case already, lol – but it’s not. I have improved nothing in any of the nes2pce releases – as far as PSG sounds go. If you think they sound better, couldn’t tell ya why. Anyway, this is also highly game dependent, but from what I’ve done with Megaman 1 (redbook hack with PSG sound FX)- I think it would be fairly easy to do with other games.

I’m still working on the echo code. So I don’t know exactly how it will sound, but I will put in the option of how long the delay is for the echo channels and what volume they should play at. Right now, I have the max delay available at about 1 second (60 frames), with the minimum at one frame. 1 second is kind of overkill, so I might shorten that to 30frames as the longest (half a second).

Not exactly APU related, but I had also thought of an idea to let players control a ‘slowdown’ option. Aka, introduce fake additional overhead back into the game. These nes2pce conversions tend to run much faster than the NES counter parts, simple because the processor on the PCE that’s running the NES code (literally) is running full 7.16mhz. Even with the backend emulation code overhead, it still comes out faster in the end. I first noticed this in the Megaman games; no slowdown. Jackal also has a lot of slowdown on the NES that’s absent from the PCE conversion – actually making the game harder – lol. Of course, this isn’t a high priority for me right now. Flicker of course, is an entirely different matter all together. The flicker is.. in a way, artificial. But I don’t have any real control over this. Both SAT (sprite attribute table) length and scanline pixel limit. To emulate NES sprites, I waste a lot of PCE sprite bandwidth. While it doesn’t introduce ‘more’ flicker, sometimes (like Megaman games) – there’s no benefit. Games that use NES 8×16 sprites get a nice benefit – but it’s not full PCE bandwidth. Of course, if you guys really cared about this – you could just play the roms on a PC emulator and turn off the sprite limit.

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Home brew

Posted in Megaman, WIP Game 2012 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2013 by pcedev

I’ve been playing some new generation games lately. This isn’t something I’ve really done in quite some time. I just couldn’t get into much of the newer generation games, even though I own a capable PC, a 360, and a somewhat capable gaming laptop. That dry spell ended with a new game; Tomb Raider. The new Tomb Raider was awesome! Now, I wasn’t much of a fan of the original series and I had no intentions of playing this one, but my oldest son had picked it up for PC and so I thought why not give it a try. Wow, I never played a new gen game that was sooo much fun. And I actually finished the game at 83% (I did as much of the side quests as possible). So, with riding on the tails of that good feeling, I decided to try out some other games that I had missed. Enter the Dead Space series. The first two were pretty cheap and so I picked them up for PC for $8 as a combo deal. I played and beat them all, back to back (bought the third one last). All of the games in the series as slightly different from each other, that it didn’t feel repetitive or redundant playing them back to back. I love them all, for different reasons. Such a great story and I can’t really think of a better medium than games, to tell this story. A movie wouldn’t cut it, nor would a book. A movie would retain the fear/panic/anxiety of the story, but lose ~everything~ else. A book would retain the pacing, mystery, and character development – but wouldn’t be able to deliver the accelerated fear/panic/anxiety parts of the story (I read a lot of fiction, books just can’t deliver ~that~ kind of adrenaline and anxiety. They can produce a similar type of feeling, but in a different way). A series would come closest, but without that type of interaction that a game involves, such frenzied parts of the story would just saturate after a while (like the Walking Dead series has become). Games are a wonderful medium to tell a story, and to immerse a person into that story.

So now that I’m finished with the Dead Space series, I’ve been thinking a lot about what game I want to develop for the PCE/TG16. No, I’m not interested in doing a horror/survival game, but definitely something with exploration, key items, upgrades, and whatnot. I had originally wanted to do a shmup and already have a working engine in progress, but now I’m really wanting to do a Megaman style game; old school megaman but with some more exploration and back tracking (a little bit of metroidvania-ish), as well as some unlockable stuff and side missions. If I had three full months to work on this, and I mean treat it as a full time job (10 hours a day), I could get this done. The problem then becomes, how do I support myself for such a production? I don’t come from money, nor do I have any (I’m fairly broke; hence the whole going back to school thing). Well, I was talking with my friends the other week (they each do their own indie movie production) and the topic of Kickstarter came up. I’m not sure how that would apply to a console only game, let alone one for a system that’s not exactly as populated with retro gamer fans like the SNES and Genesis (or even the PSX or Saturn). I’m gonna give it a try, but I don’t realistically expect it to come to fruition – but that won’t stop me from trying. I figured an added bonus that might help me, is that I can do a simultaneous port to the PC at the same time for something like Steam. Though the primary target system and production cycle would be PCE/TG (3 months). I figured I’d need to raise $6k to cover my living expenses and cost of CD production for the first run. In the realm of Kickstarter, that isn’t much at all, but in the realm of PCE community (even world wide) – that would be quite a feat. Especially since I haven’t actually put out a game on a console previously, regardless of how well I might be known or what I’m capable of. Still, I’m gonna go for it.

Any ideas? Advice? Help? I figured I should outline the game story, concept, direction, etc. A plan of action so people can see where I’m going with this. I do have one other person to help with this (a few friends that I can rely on for art direction and music, here in town). I figured since it’s a CD project, I can keep the cost of the game down lower than for cart. Something like ~$30 shipped. I’d love to do a hucard release, but that seems a little ambitious for such an up front cost of producing the physical medium and the purchase cost of the game would be higher as well (probably double). Please, I’d like some feedback ( both positive and negative).

Dracula X Rondo of Blood

Posted in translations with tags , , , , on March 22, 2012 by pcedev

Some of you might not know, but I did some work on the Dracula X translation project for PCE. A large part of it was already done, I just came in and did the little things that were left: title screen (Fragmare did the art work for it), mini game title screen, new print routine for the opening subtitle system, text in signs, text routine for the ferry man, etc. All the major stuff like new ADPCM and dubbing and subtitle script were already done by a few others. There’s even a new translated manual for it too. You can follow the thread over at RHDN. So the last thing left is the end credits afaik. I’ve been busy with Megaman that I didn’t have a chance to work on this yet. But now that I got a good chunk of the MM hacking that I wanted up and working, I can start this end credit project.