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 Post subject: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Sun Nov 24, 2013 11:01 pm 


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I've been thinking about this for a while - this is a topic to share big developments in gaming emulation (accuracy or performance related) that might warrant getting updates. We'll see if there's any demand for it. Kicking off:

Dolphin (Wii/GameCube): https://dolphin-emu.org/download/list/master/1/ Nice and stable even in development versions, high compatibility.
Development version 4.0-414 uses "pinned memory" for AMD graphics cards to gain a roughly 60% speedup in some cases. Many updates (big and small) in the two days since.


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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 5:55 pm 


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I was thinking where to post about my experience with the latest revisions of Dolphin and came across this thread thanks to the search function. Really surprised by the lack of replies though.

I hadn't kept up with Dolphin development for maybe about year or so until a few weeks ago when I decided to check in on its status to see how things were progressing. The reports on the developer's site boasted about major improvements in the emulator's core and the HLE audio and promised speed boosts of upwards of 100% for some games, so I figured I'd give it a whirl. And oh boy, they weren't bulshitting in the slightest. It really is a major improvement across the board. The games that used to give me trouble on my gaming desktop now run at full speed on a measly laptop at 2-3xNative resolutions(1280x1056 and 1920x1584 respectively).

Hardware specs: Intel Core i7 2630QM 2.0-2.9Ghz, GeForce GT540M, 4Gb RAM, Windows 7(I do most of the emulation on my laptop these days since I take it with me everywhere where there is a TV with an HDMI input)

What I tested and what results I got:

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

It used to be among the more problematic titles to emulate. Many effects wouldn't render correctly, it was quite slow at times, the audio wouldn't play properly even with LLE and one particularly nasty glitch would make further progress impossible. Now it runs without a hitch. I even started a new playthrough and as of this moment just a couple of chapters away from finishing it. Screenshots(downsized to 960x540):

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Super Mario Sunshine

I've been dying to play this game in HD for the longest time. I love the seaside theme, the crystal clear water of Noki Bay, the fluffy clouds of Pianta Village, the windmill on top of Bianca Hills, the degree of freedom brought into the platforming mechanics with the introduction of FLUDD and yes, even the dreaded blue coins, I don't mind. The problem, of course, was that it didn't run too well in Dolphin. In fact, it even lagged behind Galaxy in the accuracy and speed department. Imagine my surprise when I launch the game in one of the latest Dolphin revisions and it looks and runs the way I remember it on Gamecube, except in HD. I'm about 2/3s through the game now, unlocked all of the locations and I've yet to experience any slowdown or run into any glitches. Amazing stuff!!! Screenshots:

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Other games I tried:

Resident Evil 4 - full speed everywhere, even during the visually intensive scenes like the one where Leon enters the village for the first time. The audio issues seem to have been fixed: no crackling, stuttering or looping.

Resident Evil Remake - perfect, no issues whatsoever.

Monster Hunter Tri - full speed, both in the village and during the hunts. I turned off the frame limiter(TAB key) to see if there are any gains over the last official release of Dolphin(which is now over a year old) and got 7-9 more FPS on average. The bloom emulation is still botched, so make sure to check the 'Bloom Hack' box in the game's properties.

Red Faction 2 - wanted to see how that Geo-Mod engine would fare in Dolphin and, well, no issues at all. I get over 100FPS when I benchmark with TAB(the game's native framerate is 30). Enable XFB(External Frame Buffer) in the settings or else the graphics will be glitchy as hell.

F-Zero GX - the performance has been majorly improved. I get at least twice as many FPS as I used to, the framerate is in the 45-60FPS depending on if there are any other racers nearby. The bugs are still in though - the game randomly reloads if you have 'Dual Core' enabled(the performance suffers if you don't).

One thing to note about Dolphin that people new to it may not know about is that the stuttering and small freezes that you are guaranteed to encounter when you run a game for the first time are caused by the GPU real-time processing of the data. It's a one time only occurrence and as soon as the cache is generated in User/ShaderCache, the stuttering should go away. The User/ShaderCache folder is automatically created in c:/user/name/My Documents/Dolphin when you run the emulator. If you want to keep it in the same directory as the emulator, create a text file named portable.txt and place it in the directory with dolphin.exe. Next time you run Dolphin, it'll generate the User folder locally.


Some of the games I played to completion in Dolphin in the past:

Alien Hominid
Baten Kaitos: Origins
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
Rune Factory Frontier
Contra Rebirth
Resident Evil Remake
Muramasa: The Demon Blade
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
Monster Hunter Tri


Last edited by Jonathan Ingram on Thu Nov 13, 2014 6:26 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 6:01 pm 


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I would like to try GC emulation. I got a Wii, GC memcard and a 3rd party controller. This controller played pretty well for a few weeks, but the stick is all fucked up now, and i can't go right in games properly. :cry:
I got a Dual Shock 2 with a usb adapter, maybe i'll try it this weekend.
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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 7:27 pm 


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Quote:
Really surprised by the lack of replies though.


A really sparse era, that one was. Besides Fatal Frame, basically everything worthwhile was either Nintendo developed or on another system. Maybe it is past time to unify their console with their portable.

I'ma give this 4.0.2 thingy a try based on your input. Found this emulator to be a bit of a pain to set up, though...

Edit: Not seeing any change. Are you using a development version?

soprano1 wrote:
I got a Dual Shock 2 with a usb adapter


Me too, bro!

The d-pad on mine's getting a bit on the worn out side. Maybe it's time for meh to upgrade into something that doesn't have spikes jutting out the top of it. Really a great general purpose layout, though.


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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 8:04 pm 


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BryanM: Only bad thing on it is Capcom's 6 button fighters, but we can't have it all, can we :P
For those, i would like to one day buy a USB Saturn pad...
I'm gonna try Tales of Symphonia in Dolphin.
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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 8:19 pm 


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BryanM wrote:
I'ma give this 4.0.2 thingy a try based on your input. Found this emulator to be a bit of a pain to set up, though...

4.0.2 came out 11 months and two weeks ago. It's hopelessly outdated at this point. Always go for the latest in development version unless there's a strong reason not to. You can get it here or here.

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A really sparse era, that one was. Besides Fatal Frame, basically everything worthwhile was either Nintendo developed or on another system

The topic isn't limited to the emulation of Gamecube and Wii. But yes, a lot of the best games came out under the Nintendo label which, of course, in no way diminishes the breadth and quality of the combined GC-Wii library. There's plenty of stuff on those two systems to keep you entertained for years.


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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 8:55 pm 


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What about Mega Drive and/or Master System emulation? Are Windows users stuck on Kega Fusion? It works and all that, but an update would be good.
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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 8:58 pm 


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BryanM wrote:
Besides Fatal Frame, basically everything worthwhile was either Nintendo developed or on another system.

Um, Ghost Squad?
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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 9:25 pm 


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I've been curious about Dolphin for a long time.

What kind of input delay does it have, on average?
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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 11:38 pm 



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Very noticeable, in the range of 4-5 frames (60-80ms or so). Wouldn't play an action game with it.


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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 11:55 pm 


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soprano1 wrote:
What about Mega Drive and/or Master System emulation? Are Windows users stuck on Kega Fusion? It works and all that, but an update would be good.


Gens+Rewind works wonders.
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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2014 11:55 pm 


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Quote:
Besides Fatal Frame, basically everything worthwhile was either Nintendo developed or on another system.

Sky Crawlers says hi.


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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 12:18 am 


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Sin & Punishment 2 was published by Nintendo but developed by Treasure. Though it's not ideal, it can be fully played with a Classic or Gamecube controller, which would be easier for emulator users.
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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 1:02 am 


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ColonelFatso wrote:
Very noticeable, in the range of 4-5 frames (60-80ms or so). Wouldn't play an action game with it.

I never noticed any and I played more than a handful of action titles.


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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 3:40 am 


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soprano1 wrote:
What about Mega Drive and/or Master System emulation? Are Windows users stuck on Kega Fusion? It works and all that, but an update would be good.

The highest-accuracy emulators at the moment are Genesis Plus GX and Exodus. The former has no "official" presence on PC but there's experimental SDL-based builds done by the author that run on PC, and a RetroArch core. The latter is an interpreter that's supposed to be cycle-accurate but as is the nature with cycle-accurate things is as slow as fuck.

Last I checked Gens and its alternatives are horridly outdated with compatibility issues with lot of edge-case games. Try running Titan Overdrive in Gens, MESS, etc. and do the same in GenPlus GX and you see quite a difference.
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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 4:05 am 



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ColonelFatso wrote:
Very noticeable, in the range of 4-5 frames (60-80ms or so). Wouldn't play an action game with it.


I didn't notice any significant input lag while playing Monster Hunter Tri. I can do the usual frame dodges without effort on Dolphin and I was one of the few who brought attention to Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate's very noticeable input lag back when the demo was released on the WiiU.


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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:03 am 


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BPzeBanshee wrote:
soprano1 wrote:
What about Mega Drive and/or Master System emulation? Are Windows users stuck on Kega Fusion? It works and all that, but an update would be good.

The highest-accuracy emulators at the moment are Genesis Plus GX and Exodus. The former has no "official" presence on PC but there's experimental SDL-based builds done by the author that run on PC, and a RetroArch core. The latter is an interpreter that's supposed to be cycle-accurate but as is the nature with cycle-accurate things is as slow as fuck.

Last I checked Gens and its alternatives are horridly outdated with compatibility issues with lot of edge-case games. Try running Titan Overdrive in Gens, MESS, etc. and do the same in GenPlus GX and you see quite a difference.


I had Genesis Plus GX on my Wii, and it is really good. Maybe someday a proper Windows build will be released.
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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:15 pm 


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Timesplitters 2 - A huge improvement in performance over the last time I tested it, which was about a year and a half ago. No frame rate drops on any of the MP maps or in the single player campaign. The PS2 version runs just fine in PCSX2 as well, in case anyone wonders. Screenshots:

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Resident Evil 4

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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 2:03 pm 


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Is there any generic solution that would make Excite Truck and Kororinpa playable using mouse & keyboard or gamepad? The latter seems like a particulary tough cookie to crack elegantly (the floors which must be flipped over). Zack & Wiki, too, mightn't be all that elegant without some fix.
S&P2 should work with just mouse & WSAD, much like your average computer FPS.
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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 5:53 pm 



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Jonathan Ingram wrote:
I was thinking where to post about my experience with the latest revisions of Dolphin and came across this thread thanks to the search function. Really surprised by the lack of replies though.

I think it's because of the shift in how emulators are developed, they are open group efforts with nightly builds. There's no major news, just constant minor revisions.

PPSSPP is starting to get pretty great. Using it to play Crisis Core and Valkyria Chronicles 3, the only two PSP games I care about that I can't play on Vita. Allows me to retire my PSPs entirely.

The only other emulators I have is MAME (for Fantasy Zone I & II DX) and Ootake (for Neo Nectaris).


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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 10:51 pm 


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I probably posted about it somewhere else, but RetroArch on Android is ridiculously good.

I recently got a Nexus 4 in trade for a Raspberry Pi, and I have a Nyko Playpad on the way that I can't wait to play emulators with. RetroArch just makes it so simple, it will even auto-detect which system the game is for and load that core for you.

And of course it's free and has no ads, what more could you ask for?
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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 7:19 pm 


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Anyone knows how to disable the screensaver in BGB? I checked the ini, didn't found anything. Damn thing keeps showing up when i play with a joypad.
For those who don't know, it's a GB and GBC emulator, better at playing those consoles than VBA-M.
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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 9:53 am 


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Wassup 8)
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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 4:56 pm 


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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 4:59 pm 


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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 7:19 pm 


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Barely on topic, but I know some of you like such things. Could anybody with PS2, GameCube or the first Xbox, SDTV CRT and computer potent enough to play the first Burnout emulated at full speed, no lag, tell me if it's any easier in high resolution?
I'm fascinated by the way its grainy looks coupled by the pace really suffice if you, well, keep your eyes peeled.
Not as fast as 2 and 3, but I think the draw distance is greater and - since the driving's more dangerous than in the sequels - you badly need to see what's coming. Sometimes it's like looking for a poststamp in a dustbin, but you know you can find it. And you do.

I know high resolution is considered beneficial in first person shooters, but - in my humble opinion - it's only worth it when the framerate doesn't drop below 40 fps. Now, I think Burnout can only get away with its resolution and speed because it updates at 60 fps, but what do I know?
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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 7:53 am 


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So, No-Intro or GoodGen? (For Mega Drive titles, obviously.)


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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 8:15 am 


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Pretas wrote:
Sin & Punishment 2 was published by Nintendo but developed by Treasure. Though it's not ideal, it can be fully played with a Classic or Gamecube controller, which would be easier for emulator users.

This should never be allowed to happen.
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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 11:29 am 


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I thought Sin & Punishment 2 works very well with keyboard + mouse. Never felt like more than 8-way movement was necessary.
Thanks for the suggestions & info Jonathan Ingram, time to try Dolphin again.

Crazy how quickly trap15 got the WonderWitch emu working :o


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 Post subject: Re: The State of Emulation topic
PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 1:44 pm 


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That dolphin stuff looks nice. I'm one of the weirdos that actually liked Sunshine. Wonder how it will run on my Macbook Pro Bootcamp'ed. How are the Wii controls emulated for those games? I never played the first Galaxy but loved the second one.
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