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Team Pixelboy News Bulletin - December 25th 2019

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First off, thank you so much for your generosity! It was lovely trying these games out on my ColecoVision.

 

Also, so glad to read that the Ghostbusters problem with SD devices was a common issue -- I was initially thinking there was something wrong with my device! Would be curious to see if anyone figures a workaround ...

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Is there a manual for "Children of the Night" in text form somewhere?  I've gotten to a point in the game that I just can't figure out.

Oh, and LOVE Wizard of Wor!  Awesome stuff!

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2 hours ago, Inky said:

Is there a manual for "Children of the Night" in text form somewhere?  I've gotten to a point in the game that I just can't figure out.

Oh, and LOVE Wizard of Wor!  Awesome stuff!

Where are you stuck?

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Im in a dungeon with fragile floors.  There's one gem left to get, but the floor keeps collapsing on the only path to it.  That's the best description I can give at the moment.

 

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On 12/26/2019 at 7:15 PM, Bmack36 said:

For those who would like to play Wizard of Wor on the Phoenix, Here is the patched version that works.

WizardWorHack512.rom 512 kB · 60 downloads

Very late response to this, but is this now the definitive version of the game ROM for all systems (real CV cart, AtariMax SD and Phoenix) or is this a specific hack for the Phoenix that may be broken otherwise?

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4 minutes ago, Ikrananka said:

Very late response to this, but is this now the definitive version of the game ROM for all systems (real CV cart, AtariMax SD and Phoenix) or is this a specific hack for the Phoenix that may be broken otherwise?

This is only applicable to the Phoenix. The Phoenix only has a 512K SRAM. A very small section of that is needed for the standard Phoenix operation, so a game that makes use of all 512K wouldn't work. The patch works by moving some data out of the restricted section on the phoenix into a free section that is accessible.

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3 hours ago, Bmack36 said:

This is only applicable to the Phoenix. The Phoenix only has a 512K SRAM. A very small section of that is needed for the standard Phoenix operation, so a game that makes use of all 512K wouldn't work. The patch works by moving some data out of the restricted section on the phoenix into a free section that is accessible.

Thanks for the clarification 👍

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On 12/26/2019 at 6:15 PM, Bmack36 said:

For those who would like to play Wizard of Wor on the Phoenix, Here is the patched version that works.

 

Why wasn't it working?

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Just now, bhall408 said:

Why wasn't it working?

WoW is a 512K game. The Phoenix has only 512K of SRAM, and some of that is reserved. The patch moves some data out of the reserved section to a unused location so the game will still work.

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3 minutes ago, Bmack36 said:

WoW is a 512K game. The Phoenix has only 512K of SRAM, and some of that is reserved. The patch moves some data out of the reserved section to a unused location so the game will still work.

Thanks, I saw that after I posted my question ;-)

 

We just added SGM support to our emulator, and it would be good to know if we should be handling this case (such that the originally posted BIN would work), or if we should follow what Phoenix did.

 

FWIW, neither of them is working in Argon at the moment, but we need to add the lower 8K ram support. So it could be one or both of the 512K reason, or the 8K lower ram reason. We don't have a RAM limit, and implement megacart bank switching, but this could be something unique/specific.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

this is good to know. I had considered going beyond 256kb for a rom but I think i'll make sure I don't do that now. 

 

I guess if it (the 512kb program) is on a cart it won't matter though.

Edited by digress

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5 hours ago, digress said:

this is good to know. I had considered going beyond 256kb for a rom but I think i'll make sure I don't do that now. 

 

I guess if it (the 512kb program) is on a cart it won't matter though.

I suppose it depends if you could do a 512K - one block and still be OK with Phoenix. You could try making one and asking folks here to try it out.

 

The regular (not patched) version of the Wizard of Wor ROM does work on some emulators, so it is more a Phoenix issue than a size issue.

 

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Can someone explain the problem to me using small words?

I have a 512K cart that should work fine on the Phoenix. It's just paging. What's the issue that's causing challenges?

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Just now, MrPix said:

Can someone explain the problem to me using small words?

I have a 512K cart that should work fine on the Phoenix. It's just paging. What's the issue that's causing challenges?

Using a 512K cart is not an issue. Trying to run a 512K game from the Phoenix SD card can be an issue due to the Phoenix only have 512K SRAM with 32k of that being reserved. The patch works by moving the game code out of the reserved area into a different section of the SRAM that doesn't have any game data.

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18 hours ago, Bmack36 said:

WoW is a 512K game. The Phoenix has only 512K of SRAM, and some of that is reserved. The patch moves some data out of the reserved section to a unused location so the game will still work.

My understanding is that the Megacart spec/method will allow up to 64 banks of 16K each, so the theoretical max size for Megacart would be (surprise) 1 Megabyte.

 

Would a WoW *cart* (or any cart 512K to 1MB for that matter) work with Phoenix? Or is that also PCBA RAM buffer limited same as sourcing from SD card?

 

I can imagine if WoW is the first/only game to hit that barrier, you won't be in a big rush to update the core/see if there would be a way to support them from SD (perhaps using SD as the buffer, with a LRU cache to minimize SD card hits?)

 

 

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Can't wait to hear the answer to that question but my understanding is the Phoenix handles roms by loading them into memory to simulate a cart, so it has to load the entire cart and that memory limit is 512kb.  I presume it's always possible to change the loading mechanism to maybe a "swap file" of sorts on the SD card itself could be used which could allow loading of roms larger than 512kb.

 

Personally I'd LOVE for a solution for higher memory than 512kb, if only so that we could potentially see a port of this baby to the Colecovision.  Heck the phoenix could probably handle more colors too!

 

 

 

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FWIW, after adding lower 8K RAM bank support today, we got the as-posted version of Wizard of Wor running in our development version of Argon.

 

Of note, I was a bit surprised to hear the speech/audio clips, as the other emulators I had tried don't seem to support that feature of the game.

 

The speech/sampled sounds brought back 80s flashbacks of playing both that and Gorf in the arcade ;-)

 

@Pixelboy Hat's off on such an amazing port!

 

Screenshot_20200701-180539.thumb.png.480277bafffb71f7049ff9ca2d065171.png

 

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3 hours ago, Loafer said:

Can't wait to hear the answer to that question but my understanding is the Phoenix handles roms by loading them into memory to simulate a cart, so it has to load the entire cart and that memory limit is 512kb.  I presume it's always possible to change the loading mechanism to maybe a "swap file" of sorts on the SD card itself could be used which could allow loading of roms larger than 512kb.

It does not... cartridges run from the cartridge just like they are supposed to. So the banking scheme in use and the size should have no impact. It's only loading from SD that has limitations. :)

 

 

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2 hours ago, Tursi said:

It does not... cartridges run from the cartridge just like they are supposed to. So the banking scheme in use and the size should have no impact. It's only loading from SD that has limitations. :)

Reading back, it looks like you /are/ talking about reading from SD. ;) So yes, SD only supports normal 32k carts and Megacarts up to 512k. A 512k megacart is unable to access the last 32k, because that RAM is reserved for the SGM (even if the SGM is not in use). There's not much out there that needs it all - I was able to patch Wizard of Wor by moving the last few pages to unused ones.

 

I'm not sure if paging would work well.. SD cards are fast but the access time to start streaming is substantial. I /can/ tell you that no amount of paging will make Dragon's Lair work, when I was first designing the hardware for that I evaluated SD and Compact Flash as well, and there was no CPU time available for the setup. (Maybe with a co-processor though...)

 

To clarify other questions above - Running from the cartridge port emulates the port hardware, so the Phoenix doesn't care about the cartridge size or even the banking scheme in use - if it did then the Opcode carts wouldn't work, and they do. ;)

 

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6 hours ago, Tursi said:

To clarify other questions above - Running from the cartridge port emulates the port hardware, so the Phoenix doesn't care about the cartridge size or even the banking scheme in use - if it did then the Opcode carts wouldn't work, and they do. ;)

Apart from Road Fighter, Magical Tree and Sky Jaguar 😝 But I'm assuming this isn't down to the cart port emulation as the problems also exist when trying to load these games from an SD card.

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