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stephena

Stella 6.2 released

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So, it's time for a new release of Stella.  This time we're trying to do smaller releases a little more often, rather than having a 6 month - 1 year gap between them.  So the changelog will be shorter.  There are changes all across the board.  Some new bankswitching schemes, some debugger/developer improvements, UI improvements/re-arrangements, etc.  Also now implemented is the ability to change the phase shifts for generating the TIA palettes, and the ability for PAL games to use 50Hz fullscreen mode (when supported), to reduce judder.  Anyway, here's the full changelog:

  • Added interactive palette to Video & Audio settings.
  • Added 'Custom' palette, generated from user controlled phase shifts.
  • Added that adjustable audio & video settings are displayed as gauge bars.
  • Added four global hotkeys which allow selecting and changing numerous audio & video settings without having to remember the dedicated hotkeys.
  • Added 'Turbo' mode, runs the game as fast as the computer allows.
  • Added that paddle centering (per ROM) and sensitivity can be adjusted.
  • Added that mouse sensitivity for Driving controller can be adjusted.
  • Added paddle filtering in UI to avoid unwanted navigation events.
  • Added selectable dialog fonts.
  • Added separate positioning of launcher, emulator and debugger.
  • Added optional display to game refresh rate adaption in fullscreen mode.
  • Added option which lets default ROM path follow launcher navigation.
  • Added debugger 'saveaccess' function, which saves memory access counts to a CSV file.
  • Added displaying last write address in the debugger.
  • Added debugger pseudo-register '_scanend', which gives the number of scanlines at the end of the last frame.
  • Added detection of color and audio data in DiStella.
  • Restored 'cfg' directory for Distella config files.
  • Added TV Boy and 3EX bank switching types.
  • Removed unused CV+ and DASH bank switching types.
  • Added support for loading grayscale PNG images in the ROM launcher.

As usual, Stella can be downloaded from https://stella-emu.github.io/downloads.html, and donations are appreciated at https://stella-emu.github.io/donations.html.  Please report any bugs directly to Github (https://github.com/stella-emu/stella/issues) or here.

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Those builds are maintained by @DirtyHairy, and are not ready yet.  For now I can revert the link to the last released version (6.1 or so, I think).

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One other item I forgot to put in the Changelog.  You can now include a properties file in the same path (and with the same name) as the ROM, and Stella will detect and use it.  So if you have a game named MyMostExcellentGame.a26, placing a properties file named MyMostExcellentGame.pro next to the ROM will allow Stella to apply the properties it contains.  Of course in the long run it's best to have the properties included with Stella, but for developers releasing test builds, this allows the user to play the game as intended, without having to manually set properties in Stella.

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4 hours ago, stephena said:
  • Added 'Custom' palette, generated from user controlled phase shifts.

Excellent update as usual; however, the above has flagged a few concerns when tried out.

 

Phase Shift adjustment is working pretty well, but Hue 1x should not be impacted by phase shift adjustments. 

Hue 1x is strictly impacted by the hue/tint setting only. 

Hues 2x thru Fx are impacted when phase shift is adjusted.

 

While the phase shift selection is definitely a step in the right direction, it's in need of options to balance the color of individual RGB components that are making up the custom palette values being generated.

 

By means of examples of what is being referred to, Altirra implements the above by allowing modification of the angle balance and scale of the individual RGB values.  MAME provides similar with the options found under HLSL.

 

 

 


Altirra.PNG.6dbab63895952b6b4e311aefbf361d68.PNG

MAME.thumb.PNG.2440564ec4052003f41f49c38b35946d.PNG
 

 

 

Under Stella, there's a stronger than expected blue to red ratio currently.  Take HERO for example, and dial down the hue/tine setting so Hue 1x is gold/golden rod range as intended, per the Television Interface Adaptor [TIA] (Model 1A), Atari VCS POP Field Service Manual, and Stella Programmer's Guide tech docs.*

 

When adjusted modestly (Around 42%-44% instead of Stella's default 50% hue setting), the reds look violet for Power and the Dynamite sticks. If the hue/tint was adjusted way down, or the phase shift ridiculous high, that blue overpowering red effect would be expected, but not for such a modest hue adjustment and phase shift.

 

Capture.thumb.PNG.8735b2bb882897b60671aca9656b0657.PNG

 

Having the above in mind, curious if external palette files no longer supported.  I couldn't find a way to load an external palette any longer.  Hoping while the palette generation/customization continues refinement, if external palette file support has been removed, could it please be added back? Answered - see follow-up post.

 

*Side Note: The Chartreuse/green(er) look for Hue 1x is definitely evident on modern flat panel displays; Pitfall! being a good example and reference for it.  However, preferably and the intended look is CRT, where Hue 1x is in the golden range as denoted in the aforementioned documents and personal experience :)

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Quote

Having the above in mind, curious if external palette files no longer supported.  I couldn't find a way to load an external palette any longer.  Hoping while the palette generation/customization continues refinement, if external palette file support has been removed, could it please be added back?

 

Answered my own inquiry (and stupidity). For those that are curious, Stella needed redirection back to the BASEDIR where I have the external palette specified:

 

Stella.exe -basedir D:\EMULATORS\STELLA

 

Sorry to trouble you with that, stephena. 

Hopefully, the items mentioned in the other post respecting customized/generating palettes will be helpful and useful going forward.

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A minor question:

 

Is there a reason why the granularity for the sliders like Saturation and Contrast and others are in multiples of 2 only? Like say 50, 52, 54, and so on? Previous versions allows finer adjustments like 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, and so on. And can you fix it back for the next point release?

 

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3 hours ago, Keatah said:

Is there a reason why the granularity for the sliders like Saturation and Contrast and others are in multiples of 2 only? Like say 50, 52, 54, and so on? Previous versions allows finer adjustments like 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, and so on. And can you fix it back for the next point release?

There are two reasons for the change:

  1. A difference of 1% is not noticeable
  2. When using the keyboard, you can adjust faster with larger steps

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Trebor said:

Phase Shift adjustment is working pretty well, but Hue 1x should not be impacted by phase shift adjustments. 

Hue 1x is strictly impacted by the hue/tint setting only. 

Hues 2x thru Fx are impacted when phase shift is adjusted.

Thanks for the input, I will look into this for the next fix release (6.2.1).

 

Quote

While the phase shift selection is definitely a step in the right direction, it's in need of options to balance the color of individual RGB components that are making up the custom palette values being generated.

As of now, I only wanted to emulate the tint pot of the 2600. But I have created a new Stella issue for future enhancements.

 

Quote

Under Stella, there's a stronger than expected blue to red ratio currently.  Take HERO for example, and dial down the hue/tine setting so Hue 1x is gold/golden rod range as intended, per the Television Interface Adaptor [TIA] (Model 1A), Atari VCS POP Field Service Manual, and Stella Programmer's Guide tech docs.*

 

When adjusted modestly (Around 42%-44% instead of Stella's default 50% hue setting), the reds look violet for Power and the Dynamite sticks. If the hue/tint was adjusted way down, or the phase shift ridiculous high, that blue overpowering red effect would be expected, but not for such a modest hue adjustment and phase shift.

 

Capture.thumb.PNG.8735b2bb882897b60671aca9656b0657.PNG

The hue adjustments are moved from the Blargg TV effects. I just double checked with Stella 6.1 and there the effect is identical to the one you describe above. So at least this is no regression and only more obvious due to better accessibility now. 

 

To fix this I would new some help. I can provide you with the current formulas. Maybe you can help me improving them?

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch

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Hmm, looks like we'll be needing a 6.2.1 release.  But good to see that there's still interest in Stella 😃

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3 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:
  1. A difference of 1% is not noticeable

A kid you not, when adjusting the hue, I thought 44% was a tad too little and 42% was a tad too much, 43% would probably be perfect.

:ponder:

2 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

The hue adjustments are moved from the Blargg TV effects. I just double checked with Stella 6.1 and there the effect is identical to the one you describe above. So at least this is no regression and only more obvious due to better accessibility now.

The hue adjustment in and of itself appears to be fine, what is likely needed to 'fix' the issue...

 

2 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

As of now, I only wanted to emulate the tint pot of the 2600. But I have created a new Stella issue for future enhancements.

...is the above. ;)

 

2 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

To fix this I would new some help. I can provide you with the current formulas. Maybe you can help me improving them?

I would love to assist with the issue even further.  The calculations behind what is needed is beyond my abilities unfortunately.

 

Quote

 Hmm, looks like we'll be needing a 6.2.1 release.  But good to see that there's still interest in Stella 😃

Stella is *the* gold standard of proper Atari 2600 emulation.  It is greatly appreciated and very much needed.  

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2 minutes ago, Trebor said:

A kid you not, when adjusting the hue, I thought 44% was a tad too little and 42% was a tad too much, 43% would probably be perfect.

:ponder:

The hue adjustment in and of itself appears to be fine, what is truly likely needed to 'fix' the issue...

 

...is the above. ;)

Now you confused me. I thought the problem is not the adjustment steps but that yellow changes when adjusting the phase shift.

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10 minutes ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

Now you confused me. I thought the problem is not the adjustment steps but that yellow changes when adjusting the phase shift.

There is no problem with the hue adjustment steps as far as how it is adjusting. 

The 43% marker is not what is going to correct the other/original item mentioned.

 

That 43% is just a matter of personal taste for what would likely appear best on my currently display. 

 

My comment is in response to 1% difference is not noticeable.  :)  

 

I would have to see it actually in effect, but when it comes to hue, I'm betting there is a noticeable difference (at least to me) between 42% and 43% or/and between 43% and 44%. ;)

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OK, so for Hue it makes sense to change back to 1%. How about the other ones?

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

There are two reasons for the change:

  1. A difference of 1% is not noticeable
  2. When using the keyboard, you can adjust faster with larger steps

I see a difference between 44-45-46 in Video Pinball. With 45 being ideal.

I wouldn't worry about speed in this case. Precision is much more preferable. I don't recall anyone complaining the sliders move too slow.
 

2 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

OK, so for Hue it makes sense to change back to 1%. How about the other ones?

I say just go back to the 1% increments across the board. For simplicity and consistency.

 

Edited by Keatah
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I agree on the increments.  It's probably best to go back to 1% increments, at least for the ranges of 0 - 100.  If you want to jump a large amount, you can always click the mouse in that area, and then use mouse scroll/keyboard arrows for fine tuning.

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Additionally I noted that the sliders don't always move in increments of 2% either. But this happens when using Page-up and Page-down, when "in-game" and full screen. Not the menu.

 

Sometimes it's 1%. It's consistent when that 1% increment happens. To see this effect just start at 0 and increase, you'll see 0 - 2 - 3 - 5 - 6 - 8 - 9 - 11 - 12 - 13..

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I suspect it's a rounding issue.  Instead of moving in fixed intervals, perhaps it's moving as a percentage, and sometimes the percentages don't work out the same for each interval.

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Perhaps. Stella 3.9.3's sliders move in solid 1% increments across their entire range.

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14 hours ago, Keatah said:

Additionally I noted that the sliders don't always move in increments of 2% either. But this happens when using Page-up and Page-down, when "in-game" and full screen. Not the menu.

 

Sometimes it's 1%. It's consistent when that 1% increment happens. To see this effect just start at 0 and increase, you'll see 0 - 2 - 3 - 5 - 6 - 8 - 9 - 11 - 12 - 13..

 

14 hours ago, stephena said:

I suspect it's a rounding issue.  Instead of moving in fixed intervals, perhaps it's moving as a percentage, and sometimes the percentages don't work out the same for each interval.

Correct. I just committed a fix.

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Question:

Is there a preferred renderer? OpenGL? OpenGL-ES, Direct3D? With today's hardware I don't really see one having an advantage over another. Let alone perceive any performance difference..

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3 hours ago, Keatah said:

Question:

Is there a preferred renderer? OpenGL? OpenGL-ES, Direct3D? With today's hardware I don't really see one having an advantage over another. Let alone perceive any performance difference..

This is handled by SDL behind the scenes, so Stella doesn't really care.  But we do need more than one backend, since they're optimized for different systems:

  • Windows: Direct3D by default, and usually best; OpenGL if the other one gives issues
  • macOS:  Metal by default, since OpenGL is broken in the latest Mac releases (having to do with Apple, nothing to do with Stella)
  • Linux: OpenGL by default for desktop, OpenGLES for Retron77

So you can see that all 4 are actually needed.  Note that we don't use any of them directly in Stella.  We just create a framebuffer, and pass it to the underlying system to render.  How it does it (as long as it does it quickly) is of no concern to Stella.

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Posted (edited)

Wondering if it's possible to change the theme colours? As in, i know there is Classic however the green can be a bit harsh on my eyes. Im wanting to change it to dark theme with white text, very much like an inverted Light theme. Cheers

 

Edit: Furthermore and just a suggestion the themes could correspond to the three main consoles used.

Woody = Standard

Vader = Dark theme with white text

Junior = Light

Edited by TwentySixHundred
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