DreamArena 2.0 - The revolutionary browser

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Dead House
Posts: 381

Re: DreamArena 2.0 - The revolutionary browser

Post#31 » Sun Nov 29, 2020 6:10 pm

Roareye, the UK's Official Dreamcast Magazine (Issue 116 - February 2001) did an interview feature with the staff responsible for the Dreamarena 2.0 redesign. You can view the scan at the link below. PS Luc Houselander is the same guy that has the Dreamarena 2.0 screengrabs on this website (https://www.luc.me.uk/dreamarena-2/)

My Metropolis Street Racer Blog: http://www.msrdreamcast.blogspot.co.uk
MSR ghosts/time trials and official DLC: http://www.dreamcastlive.net/metropolis ... r-dlc.html

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Posts: 74

Re: DreamArena 2.0 - The revolutionary browser

Post#32 » Mon Nov 30, 2020 3:22 pm

Great work Roareye. I'm very curious about your project as I'm also trying to code a little Dreamcast-friendly site.

Here is a website that might interest you, a amateur "follower" of the European Dreamarena (available in French and English): http://nighthost.free.fr/nda/
Dreamcast Now: The Blues Brothers

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Shark Patrol
Posts: 3506

Re: DreamArena 2.0 - The revolutionary browser

Post#33 » Mon Nov 30, 2020 4:13 pm

Just wanted to say Roareye, you are doing an excellent job reviving older sites on the Dreamcast mate. Keep it up! I really gotta configure my damn Dreampi again.

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Posts: 722

Re: DreamArena 2.0 - The revolutionary browser

Post#34 » Tue Dec 01, 2020 12:02 pm

Thanks rjay63! I'll deep dive what I can out of the mag. It's great to see a higher resolution version of that landing page background haha.

MrBlueSky I'm still learning. I've converted lots of (mostly Japanese) online DC sites for upload to Dreampipe. There's lots ready to upload, but they want to ensure the Leaderboards are operational before they upload them - which is fair enough. I can't code anything but HTML so Leaderboards are well outside of my talents. But the difference is those sites were already built to function within Dreamkey/Dreamcast browsers. My first attempt at DreamArena 2 has been a bit... iffy. I need to remove the music player and simplify a few things (frame layouts etc) to reduce load on the DC. It only has 16MB of usable space, and 12MB is apparently hoarded by Dreamkey itself (leaving only 4MB), and it appears this may be crushing the ability for DC to load all the images. If simplifying the layout code and removing the music player doesn't work, I've downloaded Flash 4.0 and am trying (struggling, it's all in Spanish and I don't speak it haha, also never used Flash before in my life) to learn how to use it. I can then remove the main page HTML elements and replace them with an interactive Flash SWF file.

Anthony817, thank you man. There's a great team at Dreampipe converting sites too, which is why I tend to focus on the Japanese ones - mostly people can't be arsed (understandably so) to translate all the pages whilst rebuilding the page code. The following sites are ready for upload, except Dreampipe is keeping them back to ensure the Leaderboard elements etc are working before they release them (* means they can be uploaded without Leaderboard work needed);
    18 Wheeler Pro Trucker [JP]
    Biohazard 3: Last Escape (Resident Evil 3) [JP]
    Buggy Heat (TNN Motorsports) [JP]
    * Climax Landers [JP]
    Cool Boarders Burrrn! (Rippin Riders/Snow Surfers)[JP]
    Crazy Taxi 2 [US/JAP]
    Daytona USA 2001 [US]
    * Dead or Alive 2 LE [JP]
    * F1 World Grand Prix [JP]
    * F355 Challenge [JP]
    * Guru Guru Onsen (1, Broadband, 2 and 3) [JP]
    * Hanagumi Taisen Columns 2 [JP]
    Lost Golem [JP]
    Marionette Company (1 and 2) [JP]
    * Netto de Tennis [JP]
    POD Speedzone [US]
    * Power Jet Racing 2001 [JP]
    Power Smash Tennis (Virtua Tennis) [JP]
    * Propeller Arena [GLOBAL]
    Sega Rally Championship 2 [JP]
    Shutokou Battle (Tokyo Xtreme Racer) [JP]
    * Sorcerian [JP]
    Soul Calibur [JP]
    Virtua Athlete 2K [GLOBAL]
I'm hoping that working on those has given me enough of the starter knowledge required to build a new site from scratch, and it's working. Though, as I said to MrBlueSky, ensuring it'll work within the tight technical restrictions of the DC is hard.

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Re: DreamArena 2.0 - The revolutionary browser

Post#35 » Fri Jan 08, 2021 12:36 pm

I ran away :lol:

Sorry for the delay. I've just booted up the DreamArena test code on a real Dreamcast and it seems it may be a bit too complex for the poor DC. I know how to strip it back without reducing functionality, so I expect to have the site working eventually, but I tested the code as it is because I want to know it works before building all the pages.

Testing the pages on a PC, all of the images load and their positions are perfect, so it's all down to what the DC can handle.
I tried running games from Dream Passport 3, and oddly it recognised the links as games but wouldn't boot them. I've shown this all in a video below (Trimmed out the loading times etc because I assume you guys won't want to sit through all that, haha). The cursor changes to a joystick being moved. This was attempted with coding done like this;

Code: Select all

<a href="x-avefront://---.dream/proc/launch/3" target="main"><img src="retro/images/columns-anim.gif" border="0" title="Columns (Demo)"></a>

The games exist on the disc, the browser recognises that it's a game link, but it won't boot anything. That's the bit I'm stuck on. The page management is easily trimmed and refined to suit.

Here's the video;

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Ian Micheal
Posts: 2939

Re: DreamArena 2.0 - The revolutionary browser

Post#36 » Fri Jan 08, 2021 12:52 pm

Not loading they maybe not enff ram in the browser cache.. I remember doing homebrew games for it in 2002 i run into this with simple html JS games i was coding ..

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Posts: 722

Re: DreamArena 2.0 - The revolutionary browser

Post#37 » Fri Jan 08, 2021 1:28 pm

I've managed to get the main page to load relatively fast now, the last thing to streamline is how to render the backgrounds of the main pages, but the rest of the site loads super quick. I removed the searchbar as it didn't work anyway and just removing it reduced load times by a lot. There was barely any code there, so I'll just assume the temporary code I put in wasn't compatible with the DC.

While I can't get the games to work yet, I have got the Email system, VMU interface, Browser Settings and Help programs all functioning. Clicking on the logos in the top navigation bar all take you to where you need to go. Controls hasn't been implemented yet, it's something I'll work on once I have the main page designs working smoothly.

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Re: DreamArena 2.0 - The revolutionary browser

Post#38 » Sat Jan 09, 2021 10:35 am

Fixed up a few pages, finding that the DC browsers really don't like certain types of code, and reduced the filesize of the artwork to load faster on the DC Browser. The backgrounds are the only element that takes some time to load, but this is via the PAL 33k modem. The NTSC 64k modem and Broadband Adapter would load these faster. Still, in relation to other sites, these pages load quite quickly. Only having to load the navigation and announcement bars one time reduces further site load times.

The "bad" code didn't affect any other browsers. This mostly relates to using tiny blank gifs to move other images to specific places on the screen. The DC will do it fine, but I had put in some "0" values for height and width (whichever one wasn't necessary) and it turns out the DC Browser can't really handle that. Putting a "1" value fixed a lot of oddities.

You can also see that the code for the Dream Library still isn't working. I even copied the launch code from the original Dricas websites and it still won't boot up (though putting the same code into the URL bar will boot the games). Still don't know why. However you can see the E-Mail, VMU, Settings and Help sections are all working (using the same x-avefront coding as Dream Library, which makes it's failure to load even more curious).

I tested this for the first time on the Dreamkey 3.0 PAL browser for the first time and was a bit surprised to find the Dreamkey browser is far better in terms of screen resolution. If you look on the video, that is a direct capture of the Dream Passport 3 software, you can see how it cuts off the third announcement box (Visit MSR) and how tight the visual space is. Dreamkey 3.0 gives us far more visual space, as you can see here, where some of the backgrounds are either more exposed or have started to repeat due to the increased screen resolution.




Even more curious is that, even though Dreamkey never had any games built into it like Dream Passport did, it still recognises the Dream Library titles as games - showing a different Joystick animation for the cursor.

There are other differences for Dreamkey too. The "Help" (Question Mark) doesn't work and actually requires you to reboot the browser to get it running again. The other functions (Email, VMU and Settings) all work fine. Lastly the image swaps (most clear when selecting the speech bubbles above characters or the Soul Calibur Mission Map circles) do not work on Dreamkey, but they do on Dream Passport. They do slow down the browser a bit though as it loads in the new image, so removing them will probably not be a big deal.

Lastly the main "testcity" page (the one I made with lots of animated sprites from different games) still isn't working. It's the next page I'm going to fix. I'm hoping that by fixing the code errors I made with the blank gifs, and by rebuilding the page layouts with tables like I did with the others, I can get it to work. But it is possible I will have to trim it down. We shall see.

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Re: DreamArena 2.0 - The revolutionary browser

Post#39 » Sat Jan 09, 2021 7:35 pm

Just tested a list of x-avefront commands for Dreamcast browsers on Dreamkey 3.0. Tomorrow I'll test them out on Dream Passport 3 and PlanetWeb to note how they react (not all browsers react the same to the commands, oddly).

Code: Select all

x-avefront://--- commands

dream/util/visit = Page History (Brings up new page of page history during this logon)
dream/proc/menu/bookmark = View Bookmarks
dream/proc/menu/jump = URL Address Bar (To type new url)
dream/proc/menu/mail = View Emails (Works on JP Dream Passport too)

dream/proc/menu/help = CRASHES BROWSER (Brings up Help Pages in JP Dream Passport)
dream/proc/menu/option = Browser Options Screen (Works in JP Dream Passport too)
dream/proc/menu/connect = Starts connecting to the internet (instantly connects if already connected)
dream/proc/menu/disconnect = Disconnects you from the internet
dream/proc/menu/exit = Reboots the browser to the title screen
dream/proc/menu/back = Goes back a page
dream/proc/menu/forward = Goes forward a page (if you have gone back a page)
dream/proc/menu/reload = Reloads the entire page (including all frames if page has frames)
dream/proc/menu/zoom = Zooms into the page (works only on the frame the command is linked in)
dream/proc/menu/file = VMU Manager (Works on JP Dream Passport too)
dream/proc/menu/sntp = Adjust Time and Date (I've never seen this screen before)
dream/proc/menu/modem = Modem Settings screen

dream/proc/menu/chat = Does literally nothing  :cry:
dream/proc/menu/urlchat = Does literally nothing :cry:
dream/proc/menu/pmsg_list = Private Messaging/Buddy System (Seems to be offline, may have connected to a unique SEGA server built specially for it
dream/proc/menu/accountinfo = Blank [!] Message appears, selecting No does nothing. Selecting Yes tries to reconnect. Browser Reboot required
dream/proc/menu/provider = ISP Settings screen (Allows you to change ISP info but the only way to reconnect after, even if you do nothing, is to reboot the browser)

There are commands such as;
[i]x-avefront://---.menu/start[/i] and [i]x-avefront://---.smail/list?type=N[/i] and [i]x-avefront://---.push/list?type=A[/i] and [i]x-avefront://---.setup/list[/i]
None of these work. They simply come up with a [!] message stating URL FAILURE

I have a page setup to test these in-browser quickly and easily. Tomorrow I'll continue the tests, and I've also reworked the testcity page (the one with all the characters in the city bg). I've massively reduced both the size of the HTML page itself, the background size (both dimensions and file sizes) and reprogrammed the page to simplify and better work with the DC browsers. I can't test it tonight, but tomorrow I'll check it and tighten up any errors. I think it'll run this time but we shall see.

Posts: 270

Re: DreamArena 2.0 - The revolutionary browser

Post#40 » Sat Jan 09, 2021 10:49 pm

Very cool stuff! Keep up the good work.
aka DavidHK on DC games.

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