The Current State of Dolphin on Android

Dolphin on Android has had a bit of a checkered history since its inception. Users loved the idea of being able to take their favorite GameCube and Wii games on the go, but expectations and reality have never quite aligned. When Dolphin was first uploaded to the Play Store, developers tried to make it absolutely clear games wouldn't be playable, even going as far as calling it "Dolphin Emulator Alpha". Unfortunately, despite many warnings, many people got their hopes up the moment they saw Dolphin was on the appstore and were ready to play their favorite games, even if their device wasn't. While not everyone had false pretenses as to what should be possible, a lot of users blamed Dolphin for being poorly optimized rather than understanding that it wasn't even meant to run full speed yet.

The endless stream of poor ratings and angry comments eventually reached a breaking point and Dolphin was removed from the Play store mid 2016. That didn't mean development on Dolphin on Android had ceased, though. Instead, builds were provided on our download page, safely tucked away from the majority of users who may not understand the current state of the app.

Suddenly, earlier this month, the Official Dolphin Android app returned to the Google Play Store* complete with all the latest and greatest improvements featured in the Progress Reports!

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Dolphin Progress Report: July 2018

On July 13th, 2008, Dolphin went open source, now just over ten years ago. While it could be easy to drift off into how much things have changed... there's one particular feature that has never quite lived up to the hype despite debuting that very same year - netplay.

As surprising as it may sound Dolphin Netplay has been around since the emulator went open source. For roughly a decade, users have tried their hand at taming the beast of synchronizing multiple instances of a GameCube and Wii despite their relative complexities. Netplay allows users to run the same instance of game on multiple computers by having two or more emulators in the exact same state, only transferring inputs between one another. By staying in lockstep like this, theoretically the emulators' states will never diverge assuming perfect determinism. This would allow people across the world to play a game together, even if it only featured local multiplayer on the console.

The problem has always been attaining that determinism. Back in the early days of netplay, it didn't especially matter what settings were used; Dolphin wasn't deterministic enough to stay in lockstep for very long. Then in the early days of the 3.0 era, it was finally possible to stay synced - if you were willing to sacrifice audio and performance. Early netplayers would hack up Dolphin to reduce requirements with 30 FPS hacks to Super Smash Bros. Melee, hacks to LLE audio to make it slow down less during attacks, and much more.

Despite the stutters and desyncs, some serious Melee players saw the potential and kept with the project. It wasn't until New-AX-HLE Audio (part 2) hit Dolphin that audio was both performant and deterministic enough to use in netplay. By the time Dolphin 4.0 rolled around, netplay had become a staple for Melee users and could be used by advanced users willing to suffer through some annoying quirks.

In the last few years, a focus has gone toward adding highly requested features to make netplay easier to use. Dolphin's STUN service allows some users who cannot port-forward play on netplay without issues, saves can be disabled to make synchronizing party games easier. But the one constant is that despite all these advances, simply getting netplay to work was a chore and crashes were common even if you did everything right.

Getting netplay into a more user-friendly state has been quite the process. In July, we saw some of the most drastic changes to netplay that we've seen in the past couple of years! Emulated Wii Remotes also saw huge usability improvements and some non-NVIDIA Android devices will finally be able to use Dolphin's Vulkan backend. If that wasn't enough, spycrab0 delivered some very big improvements to the DolphinQt GUI to give a new way to display your favorite games in the gamelist. Let's not delay any longer, please enjoy this month's Dolphin Progress Report.

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Myth Debugging: Is the Wii More Demanding to Emulate than the GameCube?

On the Dolphin Forums, one of the more common questions that come up is "How come I can emulate this Wii game just fine but this GameCube game is slow?" While those more knowledgeable about the intricacies of emulation may roll their eyes, it does warrant some explanation. Usually when stepping down from a newer console emulator to an older console emulator, the minimum requirements for emulation drop significantly. While there are some exceptions when dealing with exceptionally obtuse hardware, that concern doesn't hold up here: The GameCube and Wii, ...

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Dolphin Progress Report: June 2018

While we prefer to get these progress reports shortly after the turn of the month, sometimes things happen out of our control. June wasn't exactly a slow month, but it was backloaded with tons of changes that we weren't expecting to get merged so soon.



Sometimes delays are inevitable, but the notable changes that we were able to include thanks to extending the deadline should more than make up for the several day wait. You've been waiting long enough - without further delay, please enjoy this month's notable changes.

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Dolphin Progress Report: April and May 2018

Users of Dolphin may have noticed that things look a little bit different in the GUI. That's right, mid-April DolphinQt was unleashed to the masses as the default GUI! It hasn't been without some expected headaches and growing pains, but, overall most of the features are working and the transition is going along as smoothly as we could have hoped. For those having problems, the DolphinWx.exe is still included and will be updated with all the core changes.

Considering that we spent a whole monthly article on Qt, let's get into some actual emulator changes. In between the mountain of Qt changes has been an explosion of progress and fixes hitting everything from CPU edge-cases to Vertex Loader fixes! With that, please enjoy this month's notable changes!

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The Legend of Dolphin: A Lens Between Worlds

Chapter 1: The Will of the Old Gods

Within the Kingdom of Dolphin, a legend has been passed from generation to generation. While many of the facts have long turned to myth, fragments of this tale are echoed to this day.

This tale began way back in the ancient times known as "2003" when the Old Gods sought to create a wondrous tool that would allow denizens of the PC realm to peer into that of the GameCube dimension. Behind ...

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Dolphin Progress Report: February and March 2018

February came and went quietly, especially on the blog. While we do prefer to run a Progress Report every month, we were put into a bit of a bind. February saw a lot of interesting changes - but most of them were setting up for changes that weren't quite ready to be merged yet. Rather than rushing things or writing a Progress Report about things that would be coming soon, we decided to wait.

Well this Progress Report is no April Fools' joke - a lot of big changes landed! While a lot of what's important is under the hood, some of what has been finished has major user facing implications as well. If you were sad about missing a Progress Report for February, have no fear, this double report should more than make up for the lengthy delay!

Because so many of the changes rely on one another, we're going to be jumping around quite a bit between the two months. So hold on tight, and get ready. This is a big one.

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Dolphin Progress Report: January 2018

While a lot of our focus goes into the core emulation experience, we also recognize how important it is for users to be able to use the emulator. Dolphin now has several different User Interfaces (UIs) that are used across several platforms. A UI serves many purposes at the same time: from giving users access to the most important options, to relaying information to the users as they're using the program, and sometimes even communicating to developers what the program is doing at a given time.

This month, UI takes center stage, as DolphinQt, Dolphin Android, and even Dolphin Android T.V. UIs all saw big improvements!

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Dolphin Progress Report: November and December 2017

After the massive Hybrid XFB article that hit late November, we at the blog staff went into a bit of a hibernation. But after a short holiday break, we're back and ready for more. Before we get to the rest of November and December's changes, make sure you check out the absolutely massive Hybrid XFB article and the accompanying video.

With both Ubershaders, Hybrid XFB, and many of the other targeted features for the next release merged, a lot of users have started wondering when our next release will be announced. The answer to that is not soon. With these huge changes have come a lot of frustrating and annoying regressions that can't easily be solved without a lot of work. If we enter a feature freeze to work on those regressions, we'd be stagnating Dolphin and delaying the other large new features that are still being worked on without any guarantee that the regressions will be sorted out.

So for now, the plan is to just keep moving and wait for a better opportunity to start the release process.

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To the Screen with Hybrid XFB

Dolphin has been around for over 14 long years at this point. Goals, expectations and standards have shifted quite a bit since the beginning. At one point, just booting a game at all was good enough, regardless of what you would see or hear! Compatibility has gone from a few select titles to almost every game released across two consoles. Considering all of that, it should be no surprise that some solutions that worked in the past slowly came to be a burden going forward. In this case, we're talking about ...

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