Archivy autora: delroth

Emulating Dragon Quest X Online

In modern times, preservation efforts are running on an ever dwindling timer. Every year, it seems as though more and more games lose their online components. And with games increasingly relying on interactivity and other online features, even a single player game can lose a sizable portion of its content when servers go down. While the Wii mostly dodged that bullet by having a relatively lackluster online infrastructure, we too have seen experiences disappear before our eyes.

Four years ago, Wii Network was merged into Dolphin after over two years ...

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Dolphin Progress Report: October 2015


A few months ago, we announced our intentions to work on and release Dolphin 5.0 with a new release method. By using a stable branch, we hoped to avoid doing a feature freeze so that devs could both work on new features and continue to stomp out regressions. Unfortunately... that didn't work. Users wanted the newest features to be in Dolphin 5.0, developers were confused on what features needed to go to what branches, and things more or less ended up not working out the way we hoped.

Sometimes, it's best to just admit a mistake and do things right, so, in order to provide users and developers with the clearest path for Dolphin 5.0, we will be restarting the Dolphin 5.0 release process from scratch. That means abandoning the stable branch (along with merging all unique fixes over into Master) and eventually implementing a full feature freeze in order to give time to close all regressions and make Dolphin 5.0 the special release it needs to be.

We hope that users are understanding of the delay. With that, let us continue with our regularly scheduled Progress Report action!

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The New Era of HLE Audio


In early 2013, Dolphin had began its first steps in a new focus on accurate emulation. The 3.5 release represented a shift in the emulator's focus, and as such, saw great improvements in terms of compatibility and accuracy over the previous release. But one area that stuck out like a sore thumb during this era was the quality of High Level Emulation (HLE) audio. Hundreds of games suffered from crashes associated to audio, and thousands had significant problems, with missing effects, incorrect volume, and random bursts of noise.

The problems of HLE were systemic, deeply rooted problems within its design, and would require a complete rewrite in order to solve. Rewriting HLE audio was always a priority, but the daunting task to reverse engineer, implement, and test kept most developers away. So instead they pursued Low Level Emulation (LLE) to great success. LLE audio worked so well, the developers were able to avoid the mess of HLE and more or less just tell users to dump a GameCube/Wii DSP-ROM and use that instead. The problem with that option is performance: LLE audio is incredibly demanding, especially when the DSP is being strained by many sound effects.

This situation finally changed right after Dolphin 3.5 when delroth merged New-AX-HLE-GC, a rewrite of the most common microcode (µcode) for GameCube games, AX-GC. Thousands of bugs disappeared over night and stability increased greatly. While previously there was argument among developers that HLE audio bugs could be ignored because of the option for LLE, as tens of thousands of users finally experienced accurate audio for the first time it became apparent just how important HLE audio truly was. Later in the year, the AX-HLE rewrite was expanded to Wii games in a second cleanup. The ability for users to use HLE audio for most games instead of LLE audio resulted in one of the greatest performance increases in Dolphin's history!


The Non-AX µcode Games

While over 99% of GameCube and Wii titles use the AX µcode, there are a small number of games that use a different µcode. The "Zelda µcode”, named after its exclusive use in Nintendo-created titles, represents only a tiny portion of the total games Dolphin can play; but those games are some of the most popular and interesting games on the GameCube and Wii.



The Zelda µcode games, in release order

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Making developers more productive — the Dolphin development infrastructure

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There is a whole chunk of the Dolphin project that most users don't know about and have no interactions with. Most of the blog's articles focus on user visible features: improvements in the emulator core, or accuracy changes that allow non playable games to finally work properly. We seldom talk about how these changes come to life.

This piece will relay the effort of a few people within the Dolphin team who have been working in the shadows for the past 30 months to provide tools and infrastructure for other Dolphin contributors. From cloud based graphics rendering, bug detection, all the way to simple IRC bots, these tools have helped Dolphin become more efficient in the modern era.

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Dolphin Emulator and OpenGL drivers - Hall of Fame/Shame

Dolphin Emulator and OpenGL drivers - Hall of Fame/Shame

In light of the recent announcements by NVIDIA and AMD in support of Linux for their graphics drivers, we would like to share with the world some of the experience we had developing our open source project, Dolphin, a GameCube and Wii emulator for Windows, Linux, Mac and recently Android.

At the beginning of this year, after the successful release of Dolphin 3.5, Markus Wick (degasus) and Ryan Houdek (Sonicadvance1) started working on a rewrite of Dolphin's OpenGL backend in order to be compliant to the OpenGL ES 3.0 standard. While this rewrite was needed for other reasons (it provides the foundations for very cool optimizations), compatibility with mobile devices and the future Android port of the emulator (now in beta) was one of the key goals. This rewrite was merged into the main Dolphin codebase a few months back and started to be used by tens of thousands of Dolphin users, either on OS X and Linux where it is the only viable graphics backend, or on Windows where it is available alongside our D3D11 graphics backend.

Sadly, using recent, advanced OpenGL features also meant we got to discover how bad some graphics drivers actually are at doing their job. It turns out very few applications use some parts of the OpenGL standard we need to rely on to accurately emulate a GameCube GPU. More than that, on Android, OpenGL ES 3.0 support is extremely recent and only a couple applications on the Play Store use ES 3.0 features.

Here is basically our hall of shame of graphics drivers, sorted by the number of issues we found, how hard it is to report issues to the company and how many bugs were actually fixed.

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Dolphin 4.0 Release Announcement

Dolphin 4.0 Release Announcement

Update: a few hours after release, a bug causing crashes with Windows x64 and Single Core mode was found by testers. Single Core mode is not used for regular gameplay but is usually required for TAS and NetPlay. While it only affects a few specific use cases of the emulator, we still consider this a critical issue and we will release a Dolphin 4.0.1 version fixing this bug. Sorry for the inconvenience.


On behalf of the Dolphin Emulator development team, I am pleased to announce the release of Dolphin 4.0, the newest major release of the most compatible and most performant GameCube and Wii emulator for PC. Dolphin 4.0 is a special release for all of us, since it also marks the 10 years anniversary of the project, first unveiled by Henrik Rydgård (ector) and F|RES in September 2003.

Dolphin 4.0 can be downloaded for Windows (x86 or x64), Mac OS X (>= 10.7) or Ubuntu 13.04 from our official website: dolphin-emu.org.

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