dabbing wrote:Is it possible to save your progress in something like Chao Adventure beyond just using savestates?
Nope, not yet, sorry. All the back-end code is there, just need some UI work to be done, but I've been sooooo busy with school that I haven't gotten around to it... That'll come with the next update, including support for viewing/modifying the entire file system.
The VMU is a very weird system in that there is really no concept of a "save file" on a per-game basis... The entire platform has a flash filesystem that needs to be represented, and only one game can ever be loaded on the device at once (so you can only ever have one save file per device). That limitation is stupid, so I need to put a little extra thought into allowing you to hot-swap ROMs and have standalone save files as with a traditional emulator while still allowing full filesystem access/manipulation.
I've managed to sneak in a few little features and bugfixes here and there over the last semester, but between being a full-time graduate student, working as a graduate research assistant to pay for tuition, and trying my damndest to do ES, EVMU hasn't gotten much attention.
A few things (that I can remember off the top of my head):
- Full BIOS Support: This is fundamental. As far as I know, EVMU is one of only two VMU emulators to ever pull this off correctly, as it required cracking the (very simple) encryption on the Japanese VMU BIOS image that shipped with the Dreamcast Katana SDK and also required the reverse-engineering of a few totally undocumented internal opcodes having to do with reading and writing to and from flash... EVMU will automatically decrypt the Japanese BIOS image, and you can load it at any time, with or without an actual Game ROM image. The BIOS features a memory management mode, game mode, and clock mode, that all work fine. Hoping to support the VMU-to-VMU file transfers over TCP/serial soon.
IT FUCKING LIVES!!!!!! You have NO IDEA what a pain the ASSHOLE it was to support the BIOS like this. There's a good reason nobody else is doing it.
Clock mode is a fully-functional (and accurate) VMU watch/stopwatch!
When you first load the BIOS, the VMU asks you to set the time and date. This is normal.
Checking out what's saved to flash in file browser mode.
- Load BIOS or Game ROM Independently: You can now load the BIOS OR a Game ROM image at any point in time. For the full experience, you should load the Japanese BIOS image (provided in the ROMs directory of the EVMU Dropbox) THEN load the Game ROM. You can then switch over to play the ROM in "game mode." This is TRULY reproducing the entire VMU experience... If you don't care about the BIOS, you can just load the ROM directly, and the emulator is essentially jumping directly into Game Mode without a BIOS.
- Support for RAW VMU Flash Dumps: You can now load a raw file dump of the entire VMU's flash image into EVMU. This way you can dump the ENTIRE contents of your VMU including all save files and load it into EVMU, with a Game image already in the flash. Lots of VMU files online are in this format, and lots of homebrew tools and the Nexus memory card let you make dumps like this.
- Virtual VMU to Physical VMU Connectivity over Serial: This is still very much a WIP and probably doesn't work completely yet, but the same way I've implemented VMU connectivity over TCP, I've now implemented in serial. It's a very robust implementation that lets you configure every aspect of the serial device/communications. (Note that serial connectivity isn't supported on the Raspberry Pi Build, so the "Serial Communications" menu item is missing in that build.
Here's the serial configuration dialog... Should support ALL THE THINGS ON ALL THE PLATFORMS.
- Custom DC Controller/VMU to PC Adapter: Eventually Tulio and I plan to release a little cable that will plug into a physical VMU on one side and the serial port on another side and will allow for direct communication between an emulated EVMU session and a physical VMU device for file transfers between the platforms. Tulio also completed the prototype of another adapter that allows a Dreamcast controller to be connected to a standard USB port AND provides full Maple protocol support for accessing the VMU (and other accessories). The plan is for EVMU to support this adapter and work as a kind of management tool,
so you can have a database of save files/VMU images that can be dumped and committed to and from the device whenever you want... So no more running out of VMU space... Also this adapter will allow games like Elysian Shadows to fully support the Dreamcast controller, VMUs, and rumble packs natively on PCs just as if you were playing on a Dreamcast.
- VMU Animation Support: VMU Animator is a tool that was created by the DC homebrew scene allowing users to create interactive animations that can be exported to a VMU. A lot of cool animations are out there and some of them could be called "games" with some level of user interaction. EVMU now supports the the LCD Animator image files directly, so they can be loaded and played within EVMU without having to export it to a native VMU format. When playing a VMU animator animation, the arrow keys allow you to jump between frames, the A button stops the animation, and the B button resets it.
Playing an LCD animation someone made of recreating the Dreamcast startup animation.
- 100% Accurate LCD Pixel Ghosting Effects: Okay, so this one might be a liiiiittle bit overkill, but it's awesome, so whatever. EVMU is now ACCURATELY emulating the exact LCD refresh update characteristics of the VMU's little LCD screen, which includes a small delay between when a pixel is turned off and when it's actually unlit o the LCD screen. This results in an effect called "pixel ghosting" which actually looks MUCH BETTER, as lots of games are quite flickery with the VMU's single buffer, and this completely smooths them out. Other games use this to create additional grayscale colors on the VMU, and they should now look correct.
VMU Pacman with pixel ghosting enabled (default). Screenshot looks screwy, but it looks waaaaaay smoother, as Pacman no longer flickers in and out of existence.
Pier Solar's minigame using the ghosting effect to extend the color palette to grayscale.
Check out video footage of the effect here: https://www.facebook.com/elysianshadows/videos/1298680023508973/
- Custom VMU Screensaver: So one of the funniest things EVER is that after finally getting the BIOS up and running after many painstaking days, I started to notice an obscure-ass bug where the VMU would just die after being left alone for 2 or so minutes... After several hours of debugging, I eventually realized that I'm fucking retarded... The VMU GOES INTO SLEEP MODE when it's left alone for 2 minutes... So it was 100% working as intended. LOL! But anyway, the screen just randomly dying on you isn't user-friendly... So I made the screensaver the ES-logo, which looks oh-so-trendy as a VMU screensaver... I want Patrick to animate it rotating in 3D or some shit, but he already has so much shit to do on ES that it will have to come waaaaaay later,
Oh yeah, don't remember whether or not I actually posted a picture of the Raspberry Pi build anywhere other than on social media...EVMU Project Home Page?
Is anyone interested in helping to create a simple web page to be the official home of EVMU? It's the most capable VMU emulator out there, and will soon be the go-to software suite for everything VMU-related, but unfortunately it has almost zero web presence right now, because it's basically just beta builds sitting in a public Dropbox link... I'm not really looking for anything too fancy, probably just a single-page, using the same back and front-end as elysianshadows.com and some kind of link on the main site navigation to it.
As always, builds should be in the Dropbox, and let me know if anything has reested! :D