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Stella 3.7.3 released

stella sound fixes

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#1 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:21 PM

Just a quick note that Stella 3.7.3 is now available at the usual place: http://stella.sf.net. Here's the changelog:

* Note: because of TIA/RIOT changes, the state file format has changed
again, and old state files will not work with this release.

* Improved handling of 'illegal' VSYNC signals, which sometimes created
'short' frames that caused massive flickering. Also improved
related behaviour when VSYNC isn't used at all.

* Improved sound generation with ROMs that have irregular scanline
counts. This fixes many demo ROMs as well as Quadrun, where
previously there would be 'gaps' in the sound output.

* Improved emulation of RIOT chip, in particular the behaviour of
reading from TIMINT. Also, D6 of the Interrupt Flag register is now
properly set on active transition of the PA7 pin.

* Fixed bug in DPC+ bankswitch scheme; the music in "Stay Frosty 2"
wasn't playing correctly.

* The ROM properties database now uses 'Auto' instead of 'Auto-select'
everywhere. This makes for less typing when running from the
commandline.

* Updated included PNG library to latest stable version.


I didn't get to the TIA fixes, which is why this is a 3.7.x release instead of 3.8. However, there are some nice sound fixes which improve many ROMs, including Quadrun (the 'quadrun, quadrun, quadrun' speech no longer has gaps).

As usual, please report any bugs in this thread or directly by email.

#2 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 27, 2012 12:13 AM

shit, now I have to stay up another 2 hours.

#3 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:25 AM

Another quick reminder that the sound fixes here are for specific cases of where the scanline count changes each frame. This is outside the spec, and wasn't being handled properly in previous versions. Quadrun is the most common example. If you turn on scanline counts (Alt-L) in older versions, you'd see that during the 'quadrun, quadrun, quadrun' speech the scanline count didn't change when it should have. This was what caused missing notes, since the framerate essentially wasn't speeding up or slowing down properly. This is what has been fixed here.

The reason I mention this is that there are other sound issues too, such as E.T. not sounding correct, certain sound demos sounding nothing like the real thing, etc. These are because of the underlying sound emulation itself, originally written by Ron Fries. To fix those issues means improving that underlying code, and that hasn't been done yet.

Anyway, long story short: this fixes one particular case of sound issues. Don't start testing and then report: "This is crap, it doesn't fix the sound issues at all!" :)

#4 israelg OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Oct 28, 2012 2:56 AM

Another quick reminder that the sound fixes here are for specific cases of where the scanline count changes each frame. This is outside the spec, and wasn't being handled properly in previous versions. Quadrun is the most common example. If you turn on scanline counts (Alt-L) in older versions, you'd see that during the 'quadrun, quadrun, quadrun' speech the scanline count didn't change when it should have. This was what caused missing notes, since the framerate essentially wasn't speeding up or slowing down properly. This is what has been fixed here.

The reason I mention this is that there are other sound issues too, such as E.T. not sounding correct, certain sound demos sounding nothing like the real thing, etc. These are because of the underlying sound emulation itself, originally written by Ron Fries. To fix those issues means improving that underlying code, and that hasn't been done yet.

Anyway, long story short: this fixes one particular case of sound issues. Don't start testing and then report: "This is crap, it doesn't fix the sound issues at all!" :)


Do you think that the Android port (2600.emu) will include also the blargg scanlines feature ?

or is it already included since he ported stella version 3.7.2 in his version 1.4.33

http://www.explusalp...al-info/updates

Thanks,

i,g

#5 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:59 AM

I'm collaborating with the Android developer, to rework some of the codebase to better support those ports don't won't be using SDL (Stella mainline currently uses this, but the Android port doesn't). The Blargg stuff is part of the things he isn't using ATM. Technically, there's no reason that code couldn't be used, since it's generic OpenGL, not specific to SDL. But I guess it's up to him if he wants to incorporate it. Speed of the devices could also be a consideration.

#6 israelg OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:11 AM

I'm collaborating with the Android developer, to rework some of the codebase to better support those ports don't won't be using SDL (Stella mainline currently uses this, but the Android port doesn't). The Blargg stuff is part of the things he isn't using ATM. Technically, there's no reason that code couldn't be used, since it's generic OpenGL, not specific to SDL. But I guess it's up to him if he wants to incorporate it. Speed of the devices could also be a consideration.


I think that on a modern phones like GS2/3 it will run fast enough and will add a very nice visual and warm touch to the final image,

but as you said it up to him to decide if he wants to support this feature...

(I think I becoming a scanlines fanatic)

Thanks,

I.G

#7 NE146 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:47 PM

I think it's amazing that Stella has been going strong as a what has to be a labor of love since what.. 1996ish? Others have come and gone but Stella just keeps getting better. I really fail to even have one single potentially "helpful" criticism with it at all anymore. It's like near perfect and it's been that way for a long while now. Yet more improvements are still being made! Awesome stuff man.

#8 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:47 PM

That's the beauty of open source and freeware and all similar projects. I'd so much like to see intellivision and vectrex and coleco receive similar treatment. But I suppose mess will do for now. I just dislike the its byzantine directory naming and structuring. Overcomplicated for little reason and some of it doesn't make sense, and even worse, it's dependent on some funky library lists.

But the menu in Stella is simple, it works, and makes sense.

#9 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:01 AM

I think it's amazing that Stella has been going strong as a what has to be a labor of love since what.. 1996ish? Others have come and gone but Stella just keeps getting better. I really fail to even have one single potentially "helpful" criticism with it at all anymore. It's like near perfect and it's been that way for a long while now. Yet more improvements are still being made! Awesome stuff man.


I've seen interviews with actors/directors/etc asked about their previous work. And most of the time, they say that they don't look at any of it, because when they do, all they see are the mistakes they made, things they would do differently, etc. Even when a lot of people are satisfied with the end product.

I guess sometimes (particularly when there's a bug I can't figure out), I feel the same way. All I see are the negatives. In fact, when you gave the compliment "It's like near perfect", my first reaction wasn't to agree but to say "there's at least 3 major things that need to be fixed before I'd consider it anywhere near perfect" :) I need to remind myself that the flaws are corner-cases, and don't show up all the time. And that nothing will ever be perfect, just abandoned at some point. I'm sure it's an OCD thing; I'm still working on that ...

EDIT: And speaking of OCD, 3.7.4 will be released soon, which fixes a regression in Video Chess :)

#10 israelg OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:43 AM

I've seen interviews with actors/directors/etc asked about their previous work. And most of the time, they say that they don't look at any of it, because when they do, all they see are the mistakes they made, things they would do differently, etc. Even when a lot of people are satisfied with the end product.

I guess sometimes (particularly when there's a bug I can't figure out), I feel the same way. All I see are the negatives. In fact, when you gave the compliment "It's like near perfect", my first reaction wasn't to agree but to say "there's at least 3 major things that need to be fixed before I'd consider it anywhere near perfect" :) I need to remind myself that the flaws are corner-cases, and don't show up all the time. And that nothing will ever be perfect, just abandoned at some point. I'm sure it's an OCD thing; I'm still working on that ...

EDIT: And speaking of OCD, 3.7.4 will be released soon, which fixes a regression in Video Chess :)


If it will make you feel better, for my needs it is Perfect...!

I can't think of anything I still want for the next version (except maybe a better scanlines)

Thanks,

Israel

#11 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:58 AM

I think for general usage with common ROMs, the emulation is pretty close to perfect. The only big gotcha in this area is the use of software mode (with the resulting video tearing). Using OpenGL/hardware acceleration fixes this, but that isn't as well supported in Windows. Stella 4.0 will fix that issue for good, by using Direct3D in Windows, and OpenGL in Linux and OSX.

The major issues still to be fixed mostly affect those developers pushing the system to the max, where the emulation may be a little weaker. I'll feel much better once I get the final TIA fixes done, since they're really the last major 'bug' in the emulation core itself. After that, it's all about improving the features already present and/or adding new ones. Oh, and the sound system could use more accurate emulation too.

There, I managed to be optimistic on top of the usual pessimism :)

#12 kb9snl OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:55 AM

Stella is excellent. Pretty sure it will always be my prime choice for VCS emulation. Good work!

#13 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:32 PM

Stella *is* the VCS

#14 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:02 PM

OK, I just did a 3.7.4 release, which fixes a minor issue in Video Chess and several demos. Basically, those ROMs that runs for a large number of scanlines now correctly show intermediate graphics (if they're programmed to do so) instead of simply blanking the screen).

#15 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 1, 2012 1:35 PM

Oh, and in case it wasn't clear, I really do appreciate the support, feedback and occasional donation. It's really the only thing that keeps me working on a project for over 10 years (I started in 2001).

#16 Csonicgo OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Nov 1, 2012 7:45 PM

I'm collaborating with the Android developer, to rework some of the codebase to better support those ports don't won't be using SDL (Stella mainline currently uses this, but the Android port doesn't). The Blargg stuff is part of the things he isn't using ATM. Technically, there's no reason that code couldn't be used, since it's generic OpenGL, not specific to SDL. But I guess it's up to him if he wants to incorporate it. Speed of the devices could also be a consideration.


From what I've seen concerning SDL on Android, Pain, pain, pain. It's so damn slow and choppy (even on recent RAZRs and Galaxy phones) that the DOSBOX port can't even play ZZT properly (and that's a TEXT-BASED game!)

I have a very love-hate relationship with SDL, as in: I love to hate it.

#17 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 2, 2012 3:49 AM

From what I've seen concerning SDL on Android, Pain, pain, pain. It's so damn slow and choppy (even on recent RAZRs and Galaxy phones) that the DOSBOX port can't even play ZZT properly (and that's a TEXT-BASED game!)

I have a very love-hate relationship with SDL, as in: I love to hate it.


It's the best choice for all desktop systems (Linux/OSX/Windows), but doesn't work as well on mobile devices. That being said, the newest SDL (2.0, when eventually released) has been designed to work much better on devices like Android and iPhone.

In any event, Stella is very loosely tied to any system. There are over 160 C++ classes in the codebase; only 4 need to be completely re-implemented to remove all dependence on SDL. And I'm working towards making that even easier in future releases (the collaboration spoken of in a previous message).

#18 LS_Dracon OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Nov 2, 2012 9:18 AM

Tnx for the update, the sound is working flawless here.
Too bad I don't understand much about sound, because I would love to help you to make the TIA sound emulation 100% perfect.

Recently find, the TIA coleco guide shows the sound waveforms, but probably you have a better document about it.

Edited by LS_Dracon, Fri Nov 2, 2012 9:19 AM.


#19 alex_79 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Nov 4, 2012 5:34 AM

Just compiled the 3.7.4 release. Thank you for the update, Stephen! :thumbsup:

#20 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Dec 22, 2012 3:25 PM

To celebrate the apocalypse being averted, here's another quick bugfix release of Stella :) Again, it doesn't include the final TIA fixes (so it isn't release 3.8 ), but it fixes some crashes that are pretty serious. IMO an app should never crash; it might not work exactly the way you want, but it should never just die. Anyway, here's the changelog:
  • Improved regressions in PAL format autodetection, introduced in the past several releases.
  • Fixed crash when loading invalid PNG files in ROM browser.
  • Snapshots generated by Stella now include more informative info, such as the build number, platform architecture, TV effects in use, etc.
I still hope to get the 3.8 release done over the next few weeks, but haven't been able to get to it so far because of illness and other RL issues. So consider this one a stocking stuffer, and the real gift to come in the new year.

As usual, Stella can be downloaded at http://stella.sf.net . Responses/bugfixes/etc can be done here or by PM. And finally, keep in mind that Stella is DonationWare, and donations of any kind are greatly appreciated.

Thanks everyone, and Merry Christmas to all.

#21 israelg OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 23, 2012 1:46 PM

Are you going to change anything with the scanlines in 3.8 ?

Thanks & Happy New Year !!! ;)

I.G

#22 stephena OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Dec 23, 2012 2:25 PM

Are you going to change anything with the scanlines in 3.8 ?

Thanks & Happy New Year !!! ;)

I.G


No, I absolutely have to concentrate on the remaining TIA fixes, as I've already let it slip far too long. Then the sound fixes for the release after that, and perhaps some scanline improvements at that point. I need to finish with emulation issues before I add more features (although adding the features is really the fun part).

#23 alex_79 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 24, 2012 4:52 AM

Upgraded to 3.7.5, thanks! :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Noi, I absolutely have to concentrate on the remaining TIA fixes, as I've already let it slip far too long. Then the sound fixes for the release after that, and perhaps some scanline improvements at that point. I need to finish with emulation issues before I add more features (although adding the features is really the fun part).


Speaking of new features, there are a couple of things that I'd like to see in future releases:

1 - Save screenshots in a different directory than the one used to show them in the UI. At the moment it could be a bit annoying finding a screenshot you just take to post it in a forum if you already have hundreds of them in the same dir. If you use different paths you can manually move the images you want to see in the UI if needed, or you can set the same directory in both paths if you want to keep the current behaviour.

2 - Ability to change the controllers in the "Game Properties" tab without having to reload the rom. This could help development if using a routine to autodetect the controller plugged in the console, or if using the AtariVox/SaveKey in a 2 player game: in this case the game could require to swap one of the controllers with the Savekey at the end of a round to store/load data.

P.S: I don't want to seem demanding, I don't know how difficult would be to add those features (especially the second one) and maybe there's not enough interest to justify the effort. They are very low priority in any case, TIA fixes take precedence.

Thanks again for the update, I really appreciate your work on Stella.
I wish you happy holidays! :)

Edited by alex_79, Mon Dec 24, 2012 4:53 AM.


#24 Thomas Jentzsch OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 24, 2012 7:24 AM

"Stella Rocks!"

#25 SpiceWare OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:11 AM

"Stella Rocks!"

That it does. From the easter egg in Space Rocks:
spacerocks.bin.png





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