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Dreamcast mods for SADX DC Branding, textures, level ports, lighting research, etc.

#91 User is offline Morph 

Posted 30 December 2016 - 06:53 PM

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The only actual limiting factor for Dreamcast games on other platforms is that they were designed with order-independent transparency in mind, a feature the Dreamcast had at the hardware level. That's why nullDC was so bad at handling transparent things for so many years, and why even in SADX you can see item capsules render on top of the water that it's underneath. That aside, everything else is possible. Like PkR mentioned, the SADX Preview had palette lighting implemented and functional, they just... removed it.

#92 User is offline BlazeHedgehog 

Posted 30 December 2016 - 08:24 PM

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View PostMorph, on 30 December 2016 - 06:53 PM, said:

The only actual limiting factor for Dreamcast games on other platforms is that they were designed with order-independent transparency in mind, a feature the Dreamcast had at the hardware level. That's why nullDC was so bad at handling transparent things for so many years, and why even in SADX you can see item capsules render on top of the water that it's underneath. That aside, everything else is possible. Like PkR mentioned, the SADX Preview had palette lighting implemented and functional, they just... removed it.


But then why do those other two games also have worse lighting? A lot of scenes in SA2B look almost like they don't have any lighting at all.

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This video compares the Dreamcast and PC version, but I remember seeing a video a couple years before SA2B got the HD treatment that compared the Dreamcast and Gamecube versions with the same results.

And for the record, here's Skies of Arcadia.

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You can say that they wouldn't have needed to change things, but having three Dreamcast games ported to the Gamecube suffering lighting changes/downgrades is more than circumstantial to me.

#93 User is offline Morph 

Posted 30 December 2016 - 09:11 PM

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I recall seeing the video of the GameCube version too, so no big deal. I will say though, that the PC version of SA2 made things even worse as far as lighting is concerned. Just compare Lost Colony 2P from SA2B to SA2PC. The difference in this case is bad implementation; there was no actual limiting factor, especially on modern hardware. It makes me sad.

Anyway, all of those games aren't using anything more than per-vertex lighting as far as I can see. Even SA1's palette lighting is simple per-vertex lighting. The only weird part of SA1's implementation is that they could use an array of colors to apply to any given vertex based on light direction and calculated brightness. That being said, I think the fact that they had it working perfectly on the gamecube in a working prototype is enough proof that there are no other limiting factors of these other platforms*. Where DX PC is concerned though, they did have a limiting factor here, and that was their decision to use DirectX 8 when 9 was already available. It even has you install a DirectX 9 runtime as opposed to anything specific to 8.

If you want an example of a game that didn't change really at all in terms of lighting, then have a look at Space Channel 5 Part 2: https://www.youtube....h?v=jcuwkEyhICU

Aside from the fact that the PS2 image is overall more faded, you can see that at least as far as the characters are concerned, the lighting is identical... except green dress lady who is inexplicably way brighter than anyone else in the scene. They probably just screwed up her materials in that case though, intentionally or otherwise.

The way I look at it is, there were 3 possibilities for the (arguable, but in my opinion) downgrades. Poor implementation, poor performance, or both. I'm fairly certain I could restore the Dreamcast lighting from SA2 in SA2 PC, to be quite honest. It doesn't look anything like the complexity that was the SA1 palletized lighting; it just looks like your everyday vertex lighting. If it does happen to use palletized lighting though, I have a working D3D9 implementation now :v:

*I could absolutely be missing something here though. If anyone more familiar with the Dreamcast knows something I don't, I'd be interested to hear what made all these ports look awful. :v:

#94 User is offline PkR 

Posted 31 December 2016 - 02:57 AM

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View PostE-122-Psi, on 30 December 2016 - 01:10 PM, said:

The newer models look much better with the proper lighting downplaying their ridiculous gloss anyway. I'd be fine if the missing sound effects were added back in somehow. They add more ambience in places, not to mention make the cutscenes seem less awkward compared to all the silent action of DX.

This is something I intend to look into when I'm done with level objects. If you're willing to document the missing sounds, I'll be interested in a list of locations/sounds that are missing. So far I know about only two missing sounds at Eggman's base in the Mystic Ruins, which play when you go there as Sonic and at the start of Gamma's story.

#95 User is offline E-122-Psi 

Posted 31 December 2016 - 09:11 AM

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View PostPkR, on 31 December 2016 - 02:57 AM, said:

View PostE-122-Psi, on 30 December 2016 - 01:10 PM, said:

The newer models look much better with the proper lighting downplaying their ridiculous gloss anyway. I'd be fine if the missing sound effects were added back in somehow. They add more ambience in places, not to mention make the cutscenes seem less awkward compared to all the silent action of DX.

This is something I intend to look into when I'm done with level objects. If you're willing to document the missing sounds, I'll be interested in a list of locations/sounds that are missing. So far I know about only two missing sounds at Eggman's base in the Mystic Ruins, which play when you go there as Sonic and at the start of Gamma's story.


I know a lot of SFX when a player does a minor action are missing:

* A thud noise when Sonic/Tails and Knuckles collide post-boss.
* Another thud when Chaos lands offscreen in Big's intro.
* A skid noise when Beta backs up just before his first boss battle.
* Beta 'talking' to Eggman.
* A foreboding noise when ZERO's shadow casts over Amy in the cutscene after Twinkle Park.
* A button press noise when you hit the activation button above the Casinopolis entrance.
* A malfunction noise when Gamma gets confused by Amy ("Does not compute/Insufficient data"). Also a strange shutdown-like noise when he turns and tells her to go.
* Another button switch noise when Gamma opens Amy's cell (though there is another strange noise added, maybe that was intended to be a replacement).
* A few flapping and chirping noises from Birdie in some cutscenes such as that one.
* Ambient noises in several gameplay segments (at least I THINK they're Dreamcast only):
** Machinery noises in the Final Egg hub.
** Bush rustling in the Angel Island hub (I think it is actually used in DX just more infrequently, probably better because it gets annoying).
** Some sound effects from ZERO in Amy's gameplay such as when he thumps his chest (again, I THINK they're Dreamcast only).

There's probably more but that's the ones I noticed right now. Some might just be quieter in the DX version though.

Also note that some sound effects were altered from the Dreamcast version too (eg. some character grunts, Gamma's rolling mode SFX, the whistle noise when Sonic and ZERO fall from the sky being deeper).
This post has been edited by E-122-Psi: 31 December 2016 - 10:30 AM

#96 User is offline Turbohog 

Posted 31 December 2016 - 11:56 AM

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Here's some more audio differences according to this SADX gamefaq:

Quote

2. The red rings that NiGHTS takes you through in Casinopolis' NiGHTS pinball game no longer make a sound as you travel through them.
3. After the fight with the Egg Hornet, when Dr. Eggman's Egg-O-Matic reaches out for the emerald, the claw makes a whirring sound.
4. The sound Tails makes when he does a tail whip in rhythm is no longer dis-torted.
5. When Sonic stores energy for the Light Speed Dash, the way he say "Read-yyyyy...GO!" is a bit different.
6. When Knuckles fails to get any items from underground, he says "Dang!" now.
7. When Amy does a hammerwhack, she dosen't go "Ha!" anymore. She now says "Yah!" Also, everything else she says while being controlled sounds a little more high-pitched.
9. When you clear a stage with somebody, that will be the character whose theme will be set.
10. The whistling sound Sonic makes after falling from Sky Chase Act 1 is a little lower-pitched than before.
11. All of the vocal glitches, such as Eggman's grunting before the fight with the Egg Viper have been fixed.
12. Gamma's five second countdown blare now sounds different.
*13. Whenever you exit Twinkle Park: Act 2 with anyone, the sound of Kiki's exploding bomb occurs.
14. The Hintball is not as loud as before.
*16. The sound of an item box being broken is higher-pitched.
18. Gamma's rev-up sound of Rolling Mode is now a whistle.
*19. The sound of collecting rings is in mono instead of stereo. All sounds slightly are lower-pitched than before.
21. Knuckles "HUH!" instead of "HAH!" during his tripple-punch. Additionally, whenever he glides, the windy sound is higher-pitched than before.
22. When Sonic & Knux collide with each other at the end of their scuffle, the "POW" sound is now absent.
23. Water no longer sounds when Sonic is waiting for Tails to ready the Tornado 1.
24. Gamma's laser sounds different and he also says commands ("push","obtain item", etc.) a lot louder. He says "push" differently.
25. Knuckles ALSO sounds louder when saying stuff after collecting Emerald pieces.
26. Tails now says "yah" with force when flying!
27. The Hintball vanishes in stereo when the sound is put on Dolby.
28. After beating Twinkle Park and Icecap, Big says "Aw, NOW what am I gonna do?"


Interestingly, apparently the ring, monitor, and emblem collection sounds are lower in pitch than the Dreamcast version?
This post has been edited by Turbohog: 31 December 2016 - 11:59 AM

#97 User is offline Jmtshaw 

Posted 31 December 2016 - 01:29 PM

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I know I already said this in the other topic but I know the character sounds are different at least are because for some reason SADX chose to use an earlier set of sound effects rather than the ones from the final game - the E3 demo for SA1 uses the same sounds (Knuckles saying "Dang", Amy saying "Yah!" etc.), so that might be worth looking into there.

Speaking of sounds, I also know that the sound test was also quite different when I went through it on the PC version compared to the Dreamcast one.

#98 User is offline End User 

Posted 03 January 2017 - 01:31 AM

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Another oversight in terms of missing sounds comes from the Sky Deck stage. Before the stage's backdrop transitions due to the fluctuating speed of the battleship, Eggman announces it by saying either "Descending into the clouds; slow the ship down!" or "Go up! Full speed ahead!" in the Dreamcast version.

I'd also like to contribute towards the Dreamcast re-creation process with this: the "Dreamcast Font" mod. Though not 100% accurate to the original Impress font used in the Dreamcast/GameCube versions of the game, this mod comes close to replicating the same style if you blur your eyes enough.

Here are some examples:
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Known Issues:
-Due to the nature of how the mod was created, there are spacing issues with certain lines of text, such as the prompt that appears when you attempt to exit from an Action Stage to the Adventure Field via the Pause menu.
-Occasionally, long lines of text are cut off from the sides.

I'm impressed with the work that's currently underway in the attempt to restore the Dreamcast's, well, everything, and special thanks goes out to MainMemory for the SADXFontEdit tool that led to the Dreamcast Font mod's completion.
This post has been edited by End User: 03 January 2017 - 01:35 AM

#99 User is offline PkR 

Posted 03 January 2017 - 09:29 AM

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Thanks guys for your contributions.

I just thought I should let you know about some progress made in sound-related stuff recently.

First, I checked some of the sounds, and it appears that not all of the sounds reported above are missing. For example, the background car noise in Station Square is still there, but it's very quiet and the sound itself is of very poor quality so you can barely hear it. But this is good news because replacing that sound is trivial thanks to SADXSndSharp. We can even make "Dreamcast sound packs" that would work in a way similar to texture packs. Pretty exciting!
Ambient noises in all Action Stages I've checked so far are still there, but they're quite a bit louder on the Dreamcast.
Zero's chest-thumping sound is just a different sound in SADX.
Beta "talking" to Eggman is the ambient noise of the Final Egg hub.
Almost everything character-related can be restored by replacing the sounds in their respective soundbanks. This includes different voice clips for Sonic, Knuckles and Amy, which I believe TheArcadeStriker has worked on before in his SADX99 mod.
Same for ambient noises in the Mystic Ruins. Apart from machinery noises at the Final Egg base (which have been restored by the way!), all the ambience is in the game, but it's either too quiet or plays at a reduced radius so you can't hear it in areas you'd normally hear it on the Dreamcast. More on that later.

Second, about getting the sound effects ripped from the Dreamcast version. I'm sure some people have already heard of/tried the python scripts available on this page, but there are two important things to take into account when using them:
1. You have to use an older version of Python to make them work. I used 2.6.6.
2. The script called dsfmake.py needs to be edited (lines 44 and 57) to properly extract all sound banks from the MLT files.
If you just extract the MLT files using an unmodified script (or using the compiled exe provided by Turbohog earlier), you'll only get the contents of the first bank (0), which are going to be the same for all level MLTs, and for cutscene MLTs it won't extract anything because bank 0 is empty in cutscene MLTs. So you need to edit the script to include the correct sound bank number to be able to extract them.

The MLT files from the Dreamcast version are very similar in their basic structure to the DAT soundbanks in SADX (I'm not talking about file format, which is obviously different, but more about the order and the hierarchy of things contained in those archives). You can see the structure of DAT files on this Retro wiki page. It says bank 0 is always the COMMON bank, which is the bank containing such sounds as ringloss, skidding etc, and this is exactly what people were getting earlier when trying to extract the MLT files. So change line 44 in the script to something other than 0x00 to be able to extract the correct sound bank.
If you did everything right, you'll get a bunch of .minidsf files. Once you get the sounds, you need to run the dsftime script on them to tag their fades/lenth fields, though I'm under the impression that it's a bit inaccurate. Anyway, after tagging them you can open the .minidsf files in a program called Audio Overload, which you can find on the same page with the Python scripts. Unfortunately the program's GUI doesn't allow any kind of batch operation, but thanks to the availability of its format SDK we may get a better solution sometime soon.
Also an interesting bit about sounds: the MLT files sometimes contain "empty" sounds that are just 1 second of silence. Those were removed from SADX sound banks, and you can see traces of that removal in the filenames: for example, there may be sounds ending in 00, 02 and 04, but it would skip 01 and 03. Case in point: MYSTIC_RUIN_BANK05.
Anyway, replacing the majority of the sounds with higher quality Dreamcast sounds is totally possible.

Now back to the missing sound effects in SADX. I feel like this is going to be a tedious case-by-case restoration, but so far I've learned the following:
1. Background machinery noises in Mystic Ruins' Final Egg base. There's a SET object called O SE (specific to Mystic Ruins apparently) that makes the game play a sound from MYSTIC_RUIN_BANK05.dat. It uses its X Rotation SET value as the ID of the sound to be played. According to debug strings and SADX Preview, there's also supposed to be radius (not sure which value) and volume (Y Scale SET value), but from what I've seen so far it doesn't use those (which could explain why some sounds have a shorter radius than their Dreamcast counterparts). There's a maximum of 8 different sounds the object can play (0 to 7). But for some reason when the sound ID was 0, the game didn't play anything. It turns out there's a check in code to specifically disable that sound. And, as you've probably guessed, that is the ID used for machinery noises in the Final Egg hub (Thanks Morph for locating that check and disabling it for me). Note that even with the check disabled, the sound is still going to be different because they replaced the actual sound too, but it's no longer a problem because we can just replace it with the original.
2. Eggman's announcements in Sky Deck 2. This is really weird, but not very surprising given the overall quality of the port. The code to play those announcements is still in the .exe, but the announcements don't play for 2 reasons: 1) the sounds for the announcements are missing from the soundbank; 2) it looks like the IDs of the announcements were not updated to accommodate the removal of some other sounds. So what I did was add a bunch of duplicate sounds to the soundbank, and insert the announcements at the bottom to make sure they have the same index as in the Dreamcast version. And wow... It worked.
I really hope this is the case with all the other missing sounds, because that would make restoring them a lot easier.

As for missing cutscene sounds, unless it's the same issue as with Sky Deck announcements, restoring them is gonna be the biggest challenge. Cutscenes are hardcoded, and if the code to play a certain sound is no longer in the game, we would have to add it manually, which would require locating the code for each cutscene and rewriting it to include the missing sounds. It would be great if we could somehow just convert the Dreamcast cutscenes into SADX code, though it seems like an extremely difficult thing to do.

EDIT: So I was able to restore the sounds in Gamma's prison cutscene. There were several issues: first of all, it was using the wrong soundbank - E_0065 instead of E_00BF. I mean I'm not 100% sure which should be the correct one, but the sounds from E_00BF are certainly those used in the Dreamcast version. Secondly, the order of sounds was messed up because of removed "empty" sounds I mentioned above, and I had to insert duplicate sounds in there to match the order of the Dreamcast soundbank. But I'm very glad it worked after all.
This post has been edited by PkR: 03 January 2017 - 05:44 PM

#100 User is offline E-122-Psi 

Posted 03 January 2017 - 08:02 PM

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View PostPkR, on 03 January 2017 - 09:29 AM, said:

EDIT: So I was able to restore the sounds in Gamma's prison cutscene. There were several issues: first of all, it was using the wrong soundbank - E_0065 instead of E_00BF. I mean I'm not 100% sure which should be the correct one, but the sounds from E_00BF are certainly those used in the Dreamcast version. Secondly, the order of sounds was messed up because of removed "empty" sounds I mentioned above, and I had to insert duplicate sounds in there to match the order of the Dreamcast soundbank. But I'm very glad it worked after all.


Horray, looking forward to seeing it and the Final Egg. You guys are recapturing the full atmosphere of the original game again.

So, would this mean the missing sounds were due to glitches/misights or intentionally left out like some of the replaced ones? The former would explain why some of DX's replacement sounds are so weird.
This post has been edited by E-122-Psi: 03 January 2017 - 08:03 PM

#101 User is offline BlazeHedgehog 

Posted 04 January 2017 - 04:50 PM

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PkR, would it be possible to have a version of the "Dreamcast Branding" mod where at least the title screen looks better in wide-screen? I know that's not very "accurate", but I think this is kind of gross:

Posted Image

So I made this:

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And with the way it has to be squashed down, I think it needs to look like this?

Posted Image

If you're not up to it, that's fine. I haven't messed with PVM decompression or anything in many, many, many years (like 14+) so I figured I'd see if there was interest from someone who knows what they're doing
This post has been edited by BlazeHedgehog: 04 January 2017 - 04:51 PM

#102 User is offline Atendega 

Posted 04 January 2017 - 04:56 PM

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View PostBlazeHedgehog, on 04 January 2017 - 04:50 PM, said:

So I made this: [sexiness]
That's freaking excellent and I totally want it.

If it is added, it probably ought to be optional though, so you can have the original Dreamcast version if you want (even though this is basically 100% faithful to the Dreamcast version).

Also, it would be nice to have a version that simply adds black bars at the sides, so you can have the original in the correct aspect ratio.

#103 User is offline BlazeHedgehog 

Posted 04 January 2017 - 06:42 PM

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Actually, was the logo supposed to be using a different version of the lettering? The palm tree isn't visible in the N.

Posted Image
Posted Image

#104 User is offline Irixion 

Posted 04 January 2017 - 10:23 PM

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Is there any way to get it to adhere to whatever aspect ratio your resolution is set to? I'm on a 21:9 monitor so...

#105 User is offline McAleeCh 

Posted 05 January 2017 - 04:22 AM

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Crossposting from the DC Lighting Mod topic, as the discussion veered into non-lighting-related stuff re: Sky Deck:

View PostPkR, on 05 January 2017 - 01:51 AM, said:

View PostTurbohog, on 04 January 2017 - 11:39 PM, said:

Also, I just want to point out another difference between the Dreamcast and PC release. See this video at 3 min 33 sec. The sky at this point of Sky Deck looks so much better on the Dreamcast. Does the sky always look the same in each respective version?

You might like this (I also animated the clouds):
Spoiler

There's a catch though. The clouds consist of two transparent layers, and apparently there is some code that clips them at different camera angles. It isn't very noticeable in Sonic's stage, but when you play as Knuckles it looks like pretty awful pop-in. I'm gonna need someone familiar with the code to help me fix this thing.
Also, since this isn't lighting-related, it might be a good idea to discuss this particular issue in the DC Mods topic.
Aside from the clouds issue being discussed, one other thing I've noticed from looking at the Sky Deck video above is that the metal struts along walls and walkways have lost their alpha transparency in the SADX DC levels mod - it's very noticeable at the timestamp linked to in the above post, as well as in the image in PkR's post (which I've spoilered for size reasons). Obviously it's a much more minor issue than the cloud layer stuff that's the main point of discussion, but I was just wondering - do we know if this is something that's fixable, or is there some limitation of SADX that's preventing the transparency from displaying properly?

Also, one other thing I've noticed from the videos is some of the camera movements are different at various points (particularly noticable in Sonic's Final Egg and Amy's Hot Shelter). Does this seem to be a conscious change between the DC version and SADX, and if so, do we think it'd be technically possible to restore the original camera paths from the DC version?
This post has been edited by McAleeCh: 05 January 2017 - 08:00 AM

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