Advent Wreath Application For The VMU [HomeBrew]

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Marble_Granite
shadow
Posts: 9

Advent Wreath Application For The VMU [HomeBrew]

Post#1 » Sun Nov 27, 2022 5:17 pm

Hello, Everyone! To celebrate the 24th Anniversary of the Dreamcast's First Launch, as well as the First Day of Advent, I'd like to share this VMU Application with you All! I've tested it on Dream Explorer's Emulator, ElysianVMU, and on actual VMUs. Unfortunately, it's failing to boot at the moment on the latter, due to an issue with (I think) the Header File. I'm working on fixing that now -- I also had some trouble implementing the Pulse Sound Generator and using Interrupts for the Running Clock, which I'll be asking about later {once that Header Issue is sorted.}. In the meantime, Emulator Users please feel free to try it out! The code is available on GitHub, and I'm happy to answer any questions, so please feel free to reach out! Hopefully I'll be able to help some aspiring new VMU Developers get started, just like the people listed below helped me out so much. The .VMI+.VMS are available as direct downloads below:

Advent_W.VMI
Advent_W.VMS

The A and B Buttons Light the Candles, and the D-Pad will open the Options Menu, where you can switch the Language and the Time-of-Day for the BG (Auto will use the VMU's Internal Clock to decide, and also Lights the Requisite Candles based on the Calendar.). I'd like to extend many thanks to the following awesome people, without whom this project would not exist!

    Kresna Susila, For LibPerspective,
    Walter Tetzner, For WaterBear,
    Falco Girgis, For ElysianVMU,
    Dmitry Grinberg, For VMU.PDF + VMU Resources
    Marcus Comstedt, For Tetris.S & Dreamcast Programming Resources,
    Sebastian Mihai, For RainingSquares
    Tyco, For Chao Editor VMI File,
    Speud, For VMU Tool/Dream Explorer,
    RetroOnyx, For The Coder's Cable,
    Plus Many More (And Anyone i've forgotten to list!).
    And You, For Playing!

Thanks so much for checking it out, and I hope you enjoy!

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-drez01-
Tank Jr.
Posts: 323

Re: Advent Wreath Application For The VMU [HomeBrew]

Post#2 » Sun Nov 27, 2022 9:09 pm

3.JPG

Thanks Falco, it's nice to get something back..

ES.png

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Nico0020
Carnage
Posts: 623

Re: Advent Wreath Application For The VMU [HomeBrew]

Post#3 » Mon Nov 28, 2022 1:39 am

Fuck Falco. This isn't giving back. This is all that has ever come of the kickstarter money he blew.

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Falco Girgis
Developer
Posts: 61

Re: Advent Wreath Application For The VMU [HomeBrew]

Post#4 » Mon Nov 28, 2022 10:28 pm

-drez01- wrote:Fuck Falco. This isn't giving back. This is all that has ever come of the kickstarter money he blew.
Actually, it's not. I'm working on releasing the engine open source, giving back a bunch to KOS, and funding the game out of pocket. I also never "blew" any money--it was divided out among an entire team who (mostly) worked on the game as long as the funds lasted. I was the engine developer, and the engine is done. Working on making sure it sees the light of day.
Screen_Shot_2018-02-01_at_2.09.08_PM.png


By the way, while we're shit-talking work, you might want to consider the fact that EVMU was not funded by the Kickstarter. It's a personal project of mine to try to give back to the scene and bring more homebrewers like the OP to the device. EVMU is 1) the most feature-complete VMU emulator out there, 2) An entire filesystem manager doing what VMU Explorer does and 3) A debug environment, attempting to support indies. All of this is on Mac, Windows, and PC. I've worked hard to try to unify the everything that the VMU encompasses into a single cross-platform package rather than having multiple decades-old disjoint tools that are Windows or Linux only randomly strewn throughout the internet. I also go out of my way to talk to the few VMU developers who are out there, asking them if there's anything I can do to help facilitate their work. I've also helped the Shenmue Dojo archive VMU icons, I've helped the Sonic Adventure scene reverse engineer Chao Adventure and saves, and EVMU has been used by Kickstarted DC books for ripping/visualizing VMU content.

Anyway, not to derail a topic, but
Marble_Granite wrote:Hello, Everyone! To celebrate the 24th Anniversary of the Dreamcast's First Launch, as well as the First Day of Advent, I'd like to share this VMU Application with you All! I've tested it on Dream Explorer's Emulator, ElysianVMU, and on actual VMUs. Unfortunately, it's failing to boot at the moment on the latter, due to an issue with (I think) the Header File. I'm working on fixing that now -- I also had some trouble implementing the Pulse Sound Generator and using Interrupts for the Running Clock, which I'll be asking about later {once that Header Issue is sorted.}. In the meantime, Emulator Users please feel free to try it out! The code is available on GitHub, and I'm happy to answer any questions, so please feel free to reach out! Hopefully I'll be able to help some aspiring new VMU Developers get started, just like the people listed below helped me out so much.

Hell yeah, man! I came as soon as I heard the news that there was a new VMU game on the block. I'm actually working on a new release of EVMU focusing a bunch on developer tools especially, and I make an effort to try every new ROM for compatibility testing.

Here's a screencap from EVMU (yeah, sorry, it's tiny. It's a lossless monochrome animated GIF of the actual screen resolution with timing taken from the actual emulator core... I should really add the option to export it bigger. lol):
capture.gif
capture.gif (86.31 KiB) Viewed 2149 times


Anyway, I wanted to ask you if there is anything that could help you in terms of emulator support and tools while you develop for the platform. I'm sure you're well aware of the fact that there is a huge learning curve and we don't have a particularly good debug environment. I'm working to change that with EVMU 2.0.

Here's a screenshot of real-time RAM and Flash editing:
Screenshot from 2022-11-11 11-41-19.png


With just a little bit of screwing around I was able to completely reverse engineer Chao Adventure 2's dialog system and make a ... "mod." lol.
bad_chao_big2.gif
bad_chao_big2.gif (234.89 KiB) Viewed 2148 times


Anyway, some other things I'm working on are SFR register widgets, stack viewer, and HOPEFULLY TO GOD eventually VMU-to-VMU communications. The new core is far more accurate and should hopefully be able to handle it. Also the endgame is to hopefully have wtetzner create debug symbols from your assembly files that EVMU can load for full source-level debugging with breakpointing.

By the way, if you ever want to talk about VMU development or need help or anything, feel free to stop by our Discord: https://discord.gg/SX2txgr We have a few others who are randomly trying to get into this stuff as well, and wtetzner is in there too. Also you should totally join the Simulant discord as well, there's a whole lot of VMU interest there, and that's where I originally found your work!

EDIT: By the way, EVMU2.0 isn't ready for a real release yet, but I'll totally give you a build! Everything in terms of functionality works fine, just some userfriendliness and UI widgets I need to finish up.

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-drez01-
Tank Jr.
Posts: 323

Re: Advent Wreath Application For The VMU [HomeBrew]

Post#5 » Tue Nov 29, 2022 9:26 am

EDAA6A0B-F24C-4965-8593-5BFBBE0579A8.jpeg

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ateam
killer
Posts: 279

Re: Advent Wreath Application For The VMU [HomeBrew]

Post#6 » Tue Nov 29, 2022 10:51 am

This is such a great project, e apprezzo l'opzione italiana! Bravissimo.
Find me on...

DreamcastForever.com
GitHub
Reddit
SegaXtreme
Twitter
YouTube
• Discord: derek (ateam)#4459

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Falco Girgis
Developer
Posts: 61

Re: Advent Wreath Application For The VMU [HomeBrew]

Post#7 » Tue Nov 29, 2022 11:04 am

Quick question.

Notice in my little screen capture, the flickering going on with the ending animations after the candles are all done being lit. Is that flickering actually there on the device (I don't have any CR2032s, lol). Or was that trying to alternate colors quickly to create a grayscale effect?

I'm tweaking the pixel "ghosting" effect that attempts to do the grayscale pixel fading, and I was wondering if this is an inaccuracy in my code?

By the way, the animations look really good! :mrgreen:

Marble_Granite
shadow
Posts: 9

Re: Advent Wreath Application For The VMU [HomeBrew]

Post#8 » Wed Nov 30, 2022 2:57 am

Thanks so much Everyone for the Replies!

Falco, ElysianVMU and its RAM/Flash Byte Viewer have helped me out tremendously with learning VMU Development! I greatly appreciate your work on it + commend you for its accuracy; it's been spot-on for me, and I often find myself getting distracted and playing other VMU Games on it :D . I also would never have made it off the ground without the "Auto-Generate .VMI File" option in EVMU, which is a seriously awesome component for Beginners. & The New Features sound really exciting; VMU-to-VMU Communication sounds awesome for titles like BaBaBa Battle from Real Sound. I'll definitely be joining those Discord Groups, as well! I'm very excited to see what everyone's working on, and I've followed Kazade's work on Simulant via Twitter over the past year; it's amazing! And yep, The flickering is indeed an attempt at a Grayscale/Ghosting Effect, and looks just like it does in EVMU on the LCD Screen. Thanks for the Screencap GIFs, as well!

ateam wrote:This is such a great project, e apprezzo l'opzione italiana! Bravissimo.


Grazie Mille, Amico!! :)

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Falco Girgis
Developer
Posts: 61

Re: Advent Wreath Application For The VMU [HomeBrew]

Post#9 » Wed Nov 30, 2022 8:36 am

Well holy crap, I didn't even know anyone was using any of that stuff yet! LMAO! I'm so glad it was useful to you. I'm like super deep in a huge refactor, cleaning up the codebase, and it's definitely motivating to hear the debugging stuff which I really want to flesh out is already useful!

I also would never have made it off the ground without the "Auto-Generate .VMI File" option in EVMU, which is a seriously awesome component for Beginners.
That's the first time anyone has given me feedback on that feature. When I first started working on EVMU, I hated having to have the VMI/VMS pair of files and realized a GAME file has all of the information a VMI file needs at a fixed offset already... I'm actually worried I don't even have the VMI files for a lot of the ROMs I test with now. :lol:

It's subtle, but I just added an (optional) bilinear filter which I think makes the visuals a little closer to what they look like on an actual VMU.

Without filtering, just ghosting:
Screenshot from 2022-11-30 08-52-36.png
Screenshot from 2022-11-30 08-52-36.png (1.19 KiB) Viewed 1751 times


With filtering + ghosting:
Screenshot from 2022-11-30 08-52-18.png
Screenshot from 2022-11-30 08-52-18.png (2.15 KiB) Viewed 1751 times


The candle flames actually look really nice and grayscale-y. Not sure if you intended for that effect, but it looks great.

Out of curiosity, have you ever considered doing a blog or tutorial on how to get started with the VMU? It's no small feat at all, and there are lots of people hanging out around the DC Discord channels who are interested in the VMU, but don't really have a good place to start other than just going through hardware docs or Marcus Comstedt's site. You managed to do a totally nontrivial app with fantastic animations, button input, multiple languages, grayscale animation, etc, so you're on the shortlist of VMU dev rockstars, imo. :lol:

By the way, what did you use to generate this beauty?
advent.gif
advent.gif (659 Bytes) Viewed 1765 times


It's on my todo list to add a tool to EVMU for generating icons/eyecatches and VMI files in general. I'm not even sure what people are having to do for this at the moment.

Marble_Granite
shadow
Posts: 9

Re: Advent Wreath Application For The VMU [HomeBrew]

Post#10 » Thu Dec 01, 2022 3:05 am

Thanks!! The Ghosting Effect is awesome in EVMU, and the new Filter looks excellent! For the .VMI File, Marcus's VMI Files Page was beyond a huge help, and I was able to edit the Hex Values/Bytes in Visual Studio according to his table, which allowed me to get it through. EVMU is super user-friendly in this regard, as Dream Explorer won't show a .VMS File unless it has a matching, properly-formatted .VMI File in the Directory -- it doesn't matter what the Contents of that .VMI File are, as long as the Name matches. So to start, I used the .VMI from Tyro's Chao Editor 2 Application, and changed my Output .VMS from WaterBear to be called "EDITOR2" to match. Blue Swirl, the Dream Explorer .CDI, and this awesome page from Sega-Dreamcast.Com also had some to offer. For the EyeCatch, Sebastian Mihai's Raining Squares offers an excellent explanation on how to make them manually in the "gamehdr.i" File. Generators for .VMI Files and Headers would be awesome Developer Features for EVMU for sure!

I have indeed considered making a tutorial, and that's one of the main goals I've had with this project; I hopefully could start on that after finishing a couple of VMU Games to ensure a broad knowledge of the VMU's features (I can't get Sound to work at the moment, and I know nothing about Reading/Writing Flash Memory or Stack Management.). In the meantime though, Kresna's LibPerspective (both the library and the example code) are phenomenal ways for Beginners to get into VMU Coding. The Library is essential for Graphics (I don't even know how to Write to the Screen without it!), and the Example Code is clean and super well-written, not to mention an extremely impressive display of the hardware's capabilities.

I was able to get past that issue with the Header File as well, and have attached a Build that works on VMUs below. Lighting the Candles automatically on Boot-Up via the Internal Calendar has some issues, and exiting the Options Menu is not as responsive as it should be (a lot of presses of A and B might be required to get out of there...), but it does at least boot up, so VMU Users feel free to try it out!

Advent_W.VMI
Advent_W.VMS

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