1. I didn't find an obvious label for the new START/SELECT/OPTION/RESET/TURBO buttons. This is critical for new users. I wish I didn't have to immediately hunt it down in the Help Contents or the Key Bindings. Also was momentarily confused that the F1 turbo button had to be held down (as opposed to a toggle like on Atari800).
Cold and Warm Reset are on the system menu with F5 and Shift+F5. That's not enough?
As for the rest, they aren't on the menu because they don't have useful menu options, and I don't want to pollute the menu with commands that aren't usable as menu options. The help file already explains the keyboard layout; I'm not going to add neon signs for users that can't get even that.
2. Full screen (the typical ALT-ENTER function) didn't work for me. It'd put a still image in the upper-left corner of the screen. I had to hunt down the obscure option under Tools -> Option -> Display -> Borderless Mode to get it to work properly.
What version of Windows and emulator were you using (I assume 3.00 for the latter)?
3. I hate to say this, because I know it really is a losing argument, but I think the default NTSC color palette was a little off? I say this with at least a minor level of confidence because I was using RastaConverter with its special altirra palette, yet it was off. I ended up trying some of the NTSC color adjustments in Altirra, but only ended up satisfying what I was seeing by putting Hue Start at -20 and Hue Step at 27.3. Yes, I know, Never The Same Color twice, and this isn't a scientific experiment. But I wanted to at least put that out there.
Beating a dead horse, I'm afraid. Altirra's default is tuned for an average system on a modern monitor so that anything you make in the emulator in NTSC has a reasonable chance of looking similar on actual hardware as others will see it. Older displays deviate from this but aren't consistent, so there is a separate profile for the relatively popular 1702 monitor and beyond that you can tune it. Various people have written huge polemics about how their favorite game doesn't display the right colors according to some anecdotal memory from 30 years ago and that's not enough to set global defaults.
4. I was missing random Pokey sounds here and there on 2.90. It sounds good now on 3.00. Thanks! But I'm noticing right now on the MULE intro screen that there was some static on my right speaker and most audio was on the left (expected) but very rarely, a few seconds of music would spill out the right speaker. Obviously, I have stereo sound enabled on the emulator. I don't know if this is weird behavior limited to MULE itself or a new emulator Pokey issue. It might be a race condition? My system is pegged with two RastaConverters running.
That's a ridiculous case, sorry. Altirra needs to keep latency down for responsiveness and it can't do that reasonably in an environment where you have the CPU loaded down with two other CPU-heavy processes. Once CPU contention gets so high that audio buffers underflow and wrap getting artifacts like this isn't surprising, nor would addressing that issue really help since the audio stream is already broken anyway. Best I can suggest is to increase the audio buffering in audio options.
5. Pokey's randomness really is 100% deterministic? I was playing MULE, I finished my turn, and after all my input was done, I did a manual save state. All within the computer's turn (no input required), soon after, there was a random event that went bad, so I reloaded the save state. The same random event occurred. The only way around it was to change the timing by hitting SPACE to pause and unpause the game. So I figured that the POKEY's randomness was probably deterministic, but you know, from a player's standpoint, I have to enjoy an actual random POKEY like the Atari800 emulator does. I wonder if other people enjoy randomness, too, when they reload from a saved state?
Yes, POKEY's random number generator is 100% deterministic in the number of cycles passed since it was last reset.
6. When I was doing my manual save states and loads, Atari800 was cool in that my last save name was already populated in the box and ready to go. In Altirra, I have to usually remove my hands from the keyboard to use the mouse to point and click at the filename. It'd be nice if that could be streamlined from a user's perspective. Same thing when loading a disk or booting from an image... I wish I could easily do it with my hands remaining on the keyboard. My workaround is SHIFT-TAB SHIFT-TAB to change to the right focus and then navigating to what I want.
I'm not sure what you mean, since Altirra already populates file dialogs with the filename you last used it with....
7. I might have missed it, but I didn't find any documentation on Console.Holdkeys or how I'm supposed to use it (or, in my case, NOT use it when I accidentally enabled it with an unintended keypress).
It says "press keys to hold on next reset" on screen when you use it, so it already explains what to do, and activating it again clears it.
8. That serial audio noise is really authentic. Annoyingly so. Do you really want to make that the default experience?
Altirra's purpose is to emulate the actual behavior of the actual computer. Ataris beep during disk loads. If you find that annoying, then either turn on the disk patch so the load completes as fast as possible or go emulate another computer instead.
Right! But this feedback may be something that points to an underlying problem like a race condition that causes the phantom drifting of stereo sounds (also perceived as a light and non-Atari "scratching/crackling" sound on just the right channel) when timings aren't met. Those missed timings can happen even when the host system isn't running at 100%, but where it simply ended up with a thread being a victim of the scheduler. So then the author might want to perform fuzz testing with thread timing to see if there is something there. As well, an author may decide that they want for CPU resource starvation to manifest itself in a different way than it currently does, and have the whole emulator slow down instead.
Sorry, don't care about audio artifact issues when the system is running under ridiculous load like that, and slowing down the emulator would be even worse.
At the same time, this can violate a user's perception of randomness. Some users might (knowingly or not) want to see an option in Altirra where the POKEY's randomization is not preserved when loading from a saved state, because in some cases, the future will not change. They want to load a game state, try something different, but not understand why they can't. Worth stating again, other people will see the "deterministic randomness" as the proper behavior and even useful for testing purposes. So this was originally mentioned (in less detail) as a soft-sell for an optional opt-in non-authentic behavior.
No. This would deliberately break defined hardware behavior to change game behavior, which I am not going to add as a default option. Altirra emulates the computer. If someone wants that behavior, they can make a MULE emulator.