Archivi del tag: Feature Removal

Dolphin Progress Report: August 2016


Dolphin started solely as a GameCube emulator, focused only on the one console. But, when the Wii was released and it was discovered to have hardware almost identical to its older sibling, Dolphin naturally evolved into a GameCube and Wii emulator. All of our readers are probably familiar with this. However, many people don't know that there is yet another console based on the GameCube, one which Dolphin has emulated - the Triforce. An arcade system board developed in a joint partnership between the three powerhouses Namco, Sega, and Nintendo, the Triforce used the GameCube hardware as the heart of many arcade games. Mario Kart GP and GP2, F-Zero AX, along with many other titles headline the Triforce's release library.

This month, Dolphin developers have removed Triforce emulation as one of Dolphin's notable features by removing the ability to use the AM-Baseboard, which was the key to activating Dolphin's Triforce features. After months of discussion, it was determined that while Dolphin should be able to emulate Triforce titles, there simply isn't anyone around to maintain and update the Triforce code. It was implemented in a different time and more or less bruteforces the Triforce games into working in Dolphin without much care into how it fits in and interfaces with the rest of the emulator. A branch still exists that is capable of booting many Triforce games for those interested in playing them.

Developers decided to disable the current triforce emulation with the intent of spurring interest of having efforts toward emulating it revived. Working from a crippled base isn't going to help anyone. The other reason for disabling it is that it has little to no relevance for users: no one is even sure if it could boot any of the triforce games in the condition that it was left in for master.

While Triforce emulation has been disabled, there have been a lot of changes improving the emulation of GameCube and Wii games this month. It's that time again, for the month's notable changes!

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Obituary for 32-bit

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Ten years ago Dolphin was a very limited program designed to run in only one environment. It was a 32-bit Windows application that required Direct3D 9 with no alternatives. A lot of things have changed since then as Dolphin has expanded its goals. The emulator has become much more robust over time with support added for 64-bit Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, and even Android phones and tablets!

Sometimes though, changes must be made. Some choices require months of preparation, discussion, examination, while others are ...

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Hacked Up: The Vertex Streaming Hack

Update: There is an issue with the Nvidia drivers that kept buffer storage from being utilized properly on Windows: they do not report the driver version. Since the Linux version of the driver reports its version correctly, the Dolphin devs assumed that the nvidia drivers would report it and used a version check to make sure ARB_buffer_storage was only utilized on drivers that actually support it. Because of this issue, even the latest drivers that support the function failed the version check and Dolphin didn't use buffer_storage on Windows. And thanks to an unrelated bug discovered later, the lack of buffer_storage wasn't detected in the initial testing. As of 4.0-722 the version check was removed and buffer storage is confirmed to be working correctly.

Unfortunately, that version check was there for a reason. Some driver versions tell Dolphin that they support buffer_storage, but actually don't. Any user caught in that situation will encounter a blackscreen. If you do, update your drivers.



One of the constant struggles in modern emulation is the battle between performance and accuracy. Throughout Dolphin's history, developers have added various tricks to get more performance out of computers - one of them being the Vertex Streaming Hack, formerly known as Hacked Buffer Upload. It drastically improves OpenGL performance on Nvidia GPUs. However, as of 4.0-615, the Vertex Streaming Hack has been removed from Dolphin.

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D3D9: Why It's Not a Part of Dolphin's Future

D3D9: Why It's Not a Part of Dolphin's Future

As many people have noticed, revision 4.0-155 removed D3D9 as a video backend, leaving D3D11 and OpenGL as the sole hardware backends in Dolphin. For the longest time, D3D9 was considered Dolphin’s fastest backend and was a favorite of Windows users. But then, why would it be removed?

While it was enjoyed by users, it was a source of endless frustration for the developers. D3D9 is inherently flawed, and working around its problems wasted time and slowed development. With D3D9 removed, the developers can focus their effort on making the emulator better instead of pandering to the ever growing demands of a flawed backend. This is why the D3D9 backend was removed.

D3D9: Inherently Flawed

Dolphin's D3D9 backend was mostly known for its speed. On AMD and Integrated Graphics cards, it is by far the fastest backend. But Direct3D9 is very old; it was released in 2001 and received its last update in 2004. Its age means that many modern features are simply not available for it, features that Dolphin needs for GameCube and Wii emulation. And that's where its speed came from. The D3D9 backend was as fast as it was because it simply didn't emulate certain effects. All kinds of modern functions are simply not possible in D3D9.

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