Arxiu de la etiqueta: Netplay

Dolphin Progress Report: August 2021

Many gaming communities over the years have reached out to thank emulator developers for their efforts. Emulators are an important part of many classic game communities and give players access to features like netplay multiplayer, modding, and savestates, while also opening up the doors to enhancements not possible on console. Sometimes it's simply more convenient to use an emulator that runs on your desktop, tablet, or phone rather than to dig out and hook up the original console every time you want to play one of your favorite games. However, it's important to state that our relationship with gaming communities is mutual, and without the help of players and fans, there's no way we could handle maintaining a library of thousands of games.

In this Progress Report, the gaming communities were the direct catalyst to many of the changes. They went on difficult debugging adventures, caught small issues that would be invisible to anyone who wasn't extremely familiar with the game, and even came up with patches to make games friendlier to emulator enhancements. All of these contributions, even if it's not code, are appreciated and help make Dolphin what it is today.

So, without further delay, let's get started with the August Progress Report! Enjoy.

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Temptation of the Apple: Dolphin on macOS M1

From the announcement made on November 10th, 2020, users have had high hopes for the new Apple M1 devices. With its powerful Apple Silicon processor smashing benchmarks all over the place, users and developers were both asking if a native Dolphin build would be possible. Now we have the answer.

Apple's M1 hardware is incredibly powerful and excels at running Dolphin. This announcement has been in the works for some time, eagle eyed users may have noticed that earlier this month macOS builds were now being designated as "Intel". That's because …

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Dolphin Progress Report: May and June 2020

We've got a lot to get through the past two months. Headlining it all is that we're happy to announce support for a new compressed disc format developed specifically for Dolphin: RVZ. This lossless format allows for near top of the line game compression without compromising the integrity of ISOs, while also maintaining performance and stability. But what good is compression if emulation isn't up to snuff? The past two months have been chock-full of emulation and usability fixes for both Android and Desktop Dolphin! There's a little bit of everything, from graphics emulation fixes, memory card and savestate compatibility changes, to obscure features like being able to report thermal data to games and homebrew!

Rather than delaying any longer, let's just dive in now! Please please enjoy the May and June Dolphin Progress Report!

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Dolphin Progress Report: April 2020

It feels like it's been some time since we've had actually had a monthly Progress Report. This is because there haven't been as many major changes landing, making it harder to fill out a substantial article. That isn't to say that things have slowed down, these smaller changes increase the quality of life for users and add up, especially when jumping from older builds to the latest. However, these changes are a lot harder to show and feature in a Progress Report compared to things that actually affect the core emulation and games. This time around, we had more than enough on our plate to write about, including support in the latest builds for a very interesting game: The Metroid Prime 3's E3 2006 Beta.

But before we get to the new changes, we need to cover something we missed last month. So, without further delay, please enjoy the mostly April Progress Report!

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Dolphin Progress Report: February and March 2020

We understand that the past few months have been trying for many of us across the world. Something like this can make what you do feel so very small in the grand scheme of things. Everyone has their ways of coping with isolation, using the internet, games, emulation, and much more as forms of entertainment to keep spirits up. To those of you relying on Dolphin Emulator, we hope that Dolphin Emulator makes your day a little brighter in these trying times.

In this Progress Report, you'll find that we've got a lot of changes affecting things outside of core emulation. For instance, Dolphin on Android and macOS see the return of Dark Mode, perfect for late night gaming without straining your eyes. But if we're going to talk about the main event, we have a new way to use your Wii Remotes that brings tremendous flexibility. People that were disappointed by the removal of Hybrid Wii Remotes, forced Wii Remote disconnections on Save/Loadstates, and other limitations of Real Wii Remotes should be very excited. With two months of changes to get through, it's about time we just dived in. Please enjoy the February and March Progress Report!

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Dolphin Progress Report: February and March and April 2019

The last few months have been absolutely hectic, with several long-awaited features hitting the emulator all at once. In order to keep users up to date with these major changes, the blog staff has been busy with feature article after feature article. It has been exciting, but also pretty exhausting! With us burning the candle at both ends to keep up with development, the Progress Reports have fallen a bit behind.

So here were are, bleary eyed and with three months worth of changes to go through. So without further delay, let's go through February, March, and April's Notable Changes! Please enjoy while we go collapse in the corner.

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Introducing the Netplay Server Browser

Over the past few years, Dolphin Netplay has seen a ton of work that we've kept track of in the blog. The main goal of much of this work was to make it so that users could just play games together without having to worry about synchronization. Thanks to some of these recent efforts, it's fully possible to go on netplay and enjoy a game with others without having to do any specialized setup. While things aren't bulletproof, Dolphin does its best to synchronize saves, cheats, settings, and more to make …

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Dolphin Progress Report: December 2018 and January 2019

While there are a lot of notable changes to go through from the past two months, there's some notable news for the general Wii community. By the time this article is up, the Nintendo Wii Shop will be closed. Purchasing will be entirely disabled so all remaining Wii Points will be rendered useless, and even downloading of purchased games will be disabled at an undefined date in the future. While this may not seem like very big news for an emulator, Dolphin does actually support connecting to and buying games off of the Wii shop.

More distressingly, it's likely only a matter of time before the Wii Nintendo Update Servers (NUS) themselves go down. Dolphin relies on the NUS servers for installing a fully updated Wii System Menu in Dolphin. Users with unscrubbed Wii discs can rely on them as well to install the System Menu after they go down, but, depending on when the game was released, it may not be fully updated.

It's also rather disappointing that the many unique titles released on WiiWare can no longer be legally purchased by users. Say what you will about the average quality of WiiWare releases, these titles are a part of the Wii's legacy, one that is slowly being locked out to those who would want to experience them in the future.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, we have a lot of big changes that hit over the past two months that we need to get through. The sun may be setting on Nintendo's revolutionary console, but on the emulation front we still have a long road ahead of this. We hope that everyone enjoy's this month's notable changes!

For the convenience of our Android users, we've decided to cluster up a ton of important Android changes together after the more general changes. If you're on Android 9 or are a big fan of Paper Mario, you definitely won't want to skip out.

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Dolphin Progress Report: November 2018

Even though the Wii's official library is mostly set, both the GameCube and Wii are entering a new golden age as a popular environment for randomizers, full-game mods, incredible cheat codes, and much more. Stalwarts like the Super Smash Bros. Brawl Mod, Project M have been around for years, but now there are many other communities around various games breathing new life into them. You can find codes to help balance games like Mario Party 5, content mods for Kirby Air Ride that add tons of new rides and hundreds of songs, and trackpacks for Mario Kart Wii that add hundreds of custom tracks to the game. Wiimmfi's also provides their own backup Wi-Fi servers for many unmodified games and their Mario Kart mods!

While most of these mods can be enjoyed on a hacked Wii, many users rely on Dolphin in order to play them. Emulating these mods can be quite the challenge, as they often will do things in ways that game developers would not. Assumptions that Dolphin makes can often be broken and certain features that mod developers use can be extremely slow or downright unreasonable to emulate. In the case of Wiimmfi's Mario Kart Fun Packs, the mod creators have put in work over the years to improve their experience in Dolphin and even support emulated users playing alongside console users online... so long as you're willing to dump and use your Wii's NAND. Earlier this month, a slight change to Wiimmfi's online networking broke Dolphin support without affecting real Wii Consoles. Not wanting to leave their emulated users high and dry, they reported the bug to us.

delroth quickly took up the mantle of investigating the bug with assistance from the Wiimmfi team. Within a few hours, the cooperation paid off as the list of probable causes was narrowed down to one annoying feature: The Instruction Cache. Dolphin pretty much has no ability to emulate the GC/Wii CPU data cache and likely never will due to the performance implications, but Dolphin does have some ability to emulate the instruction cache, though it's best to avoid testing the emulator. This is normally not a problem with retail games because it's rather bad form for a game to rely excessively on cache quirks, unless they were intentionally trying to break an emulator. There are occasionally games that inadvertently rely on cache behavior, that's something to tackle on another day. Dolphin's emulation of the instruction cache is normally good enough and almost nothing relies on data cache.

Mods are different; developers are usually working on a blackbox and don't have the same level of familiarity with the hardware. Unless they specifically tested codes on both Dolphin and Wii, there's a chance they wouldn't even know something was broken. There have been many issues reported around mods that, while Dolphin is at fault, we really don't have any recourse for the users afflicted. If a mod doesn't care about running on Dolphin and uses dcache or perhaps another annoying feature, there isn't much we can do but shrug it off.

In the case of Wiimmfi's server, through cooperation from both sides, we were able to find the cache coherency issue and fix it serverside! Users who already have the latest version of the mod don't have to do anything except try to connect. If you're looking for a more detailed explanation of what was going wrong (as it's rather interesting,) you can find delroth's full writeup on the issue tracker.

In order to track down behavior like this in the future, delroth also added game quirk reporting to Dolphin's data collection service, so Dolphin will now automatically let us know what games are instruction cache sensitive in the manner that broke this particular mod. With that, we also have a lot of other exciting changes this month, so now it's time to dive into this month's notable changes!

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Dolphin Progress Report: August 2018

One of the most interesting challenges of developing an emulator is that both the target hardware and most of the target software start out as black boxes. As often mentioned within emulation circles, the first step to developing an emulator for a console is getting unsigned code running on real hardware. While running unsigned code on the GameCube can be a bit of a pain, requiring custom hardware or a mixture of the broadband adapter and certain games, the Wii has one of the most robust homebrew environments of any console. Just about anyone can download devkitpro, write their own homebrew, and run it on the Wii.

The truth is that Dolphin is mostly used as an emulator for retail games, but it can also be a useful step for testing homebrew and hacks. After all, when running in Dolphin, users can pause execution, dump RAM, and poke memory without the need for a USB Gecko. While the golden age of Wii homebrew has long passed, several game hacks are still under active development and the Wii remains one of the easiest game consoles to jump into and develop software. Because homebrew can rely on behaviors that games wouldn't ever want to do, even the simplest of projects can stumble into emulator bugs.

Developers kind enough to make their homebrew open source give Dolphin developers an interesting way of debugging issues. It's one of the rare cases where the software being debugged isn't a black box! This greatly cuts down how much effort and expertise is needed to debug what is happening in an issue - instead of mapping out what a game is doing through assembly, we can just look at the source code! Users who write tests that break Dolphin and provide source code give us a much easier look than trying to reverse-engineer what closed source software is doing.

This month, two bugs were discovered that, to our knowledge, do not affect any retail software! Thanks to homebrew projects, these bugs are now a thing of the past. In addition to that, Dolphin on Android has seen a myriad of improvements since our article earlier this month, and netplay saw some new features to make setting up games easier along with a new mode to reduce latency in three/four player matches!

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