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

#151 User is offline BlazeHedgehog 

Posted 22 February 2017 - 10:38 AM

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It's hard to see, but the wave effect still exists in Sonic Adventure DX, it's just the lightning isn't applied to the vertices to really highlight the water level's given height.

#152 User is offline PkR 

Posted 22 February 2017 - 10:58 AM

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In SADX the water just changes its overall height (moving all vertices at once - looks like jelly, kinda awful actually), while in SA1 it gets replaced on the go with a higher-poly model, where individual vertices shift in a wave-like motion. You can play SADX at 0.25x with Cheat Engine's speed hack to see it more clearly.
This post has been edited by PkR: 22 February 2017 - 10:59 AM

#153 User is offline Irixion 

Posted 22 February 2017 - 11:51 AM

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View PostPkR, on 22 February 2017 - 10:58 AM, said:

In SADX the water just changes its overall height (moving all vertices at once - looks like jelly, kinda awful actually), while in SA1 it gets replaced on the go with a higher-poly model, where individual vertices shift in a wave-like motion. You can play SADX at 0.25x with Cheat Engine's speed hack to see it more clearly.


Basically this. There's now way that it's a wave in SADX. You can see this at the end when you land on the beach, it just flails up and down. Can anyone have a look? :v

#154 User is offline BlazeHedgehog 

Posted 22 February 2017 - 12:01 PM

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I guess I must just be crazy because you're right. When I was reviewing my footage for the Dreamcast Conversion video I did, it looked like the wave effect was still there, but you're right, the water level just bobs up and down.

#155 User is offline PkR 

Posted 24 February 2017 - 11:34 AM

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Finally done with Sound Overhaul 2. You can get the mod here.

Things you'll get with this mod:
  • All sound effects in the game (except Chao-related stuff) are replaced with SA1 Dreamcast sounds, which are generally of better quality
  • Dreamcast character voice clips
  • Many missing sounds are back! Including ambient noises and cutscene sounds
  • Overall, the sounds are slightly louder and more vibrant

Why didn't I replace the Chao sounds? Well, the Chao soundbanks are completely different between SA1 and SADX and, while some replacement is probably possible, I don't feel like going several hundred times through baby/infant sounds. I've never really been much into Chao stuff anyway, so if anyone wants to pick it up from here, I'll be happy to offer help and suggestions.

A few comments just to give you an idea of how much pain I had to go through for this whole sound thing:

  • There are 2 plugins for foobar2000 that can convert the ripped sounds to WAV. Both stumble on many (often the same) sounds, one (the more accurate one) just barfs out garbage and another produces defective sounds (clipping, DC offset etc.). I did my best to remove the defects, and in the most difficult cases I ripped the sounds from SA1 sound test using Demul. I had to normalize them to make sure they matched the rest of the sounds. Each plugin rips the sounds at a different volume and is totally random at interpreting the volume setting in the soundbank, so matching the volume between different rips was extremely tedious. On top of that, it seems like SADX has arbitrary volume settings for each sound, which complicated thing even further.
  • Even though I found a way to disable the reverb, some sounds actually required it. So I had to go through each of the soundbanks to find missing sounds, and rip them again with reverb enabled.
  • There were many volume issues, ranging from some sounds being too loud/too quiet, to audible clipping. Again, I had to make multiple rips (each ate around 5GB!) to get the best volume without clipping. Then I also had to play through the entire game to ensure the volume of each sound wasn't too loud or too quiet. Obviously that involved some arbitrary decisions on my end, and I corrected many sounds according to my personal taste, which others may not share, so I'm looking for some feedback regarding sound volume, which you can leave here. I also left some SADX sounds intact because they sounded better (higher quality) to me, but that was just 1 or 2 sounds. Still, I think I got pretty close to how it sounds on the Dreamcast.
  • I had to loop all looping sounds on my own. A program called LoopAuditioneer made it a whole lot easier, but there was a lot of manual looping involved, too. I swear I'm not touching that ever again.
  • SADX uses a positional audio system, which means that USUALLY all sounds are in mono except some background noises. However, there were a number of cases when a sound that was supposed to be in mono was in stereo (which made it too loud and interfered with other sounds), and vice versa (which made some sounds silent). The ripped sounds were all in stereo so there was no way to tell which should be converted to mono, and which shouldn't. I had to play through the entire game multiple times to find the sounds that were supposed to be in stereo, and those that were in stereo, but were supposed to be in mono.
  • Some sounds had to be recreated: the sound of dropping bullets in the cutscene before Chaos 0 and Zero's chest-thumping sound. Those may not be identical to their Dreamcast counterparts, but I tried to match them to the best of my ability. Also, I tried to change the pitch of the falling sound Sonic makes in the cutscene after Sky Chase 1 - this also isn't the same as in SA1, but a bit closer than the SADX version. I couldn't change the pitch too much because it started to sound choppy at some point.
  • SADX has a few sound issues stemming from using incorrect soundbanks - this had to be fixed in code, which is why a DLL mod is also included in the package.

So here goes my take on Dreamcast sounds. Was it worth the pain? I think yes, totally. First of all, I've always hated how the characters sounded in SADX, so getting their Dreamcast voices back made the game more enjoyable for me. Secondly, I think the sound quality has improved as a result. Here are some comparisons:

Jump sound:
SA1
SADX

Ringloss sound:
SA1
SADX 2004
SADX Steam (god this is awful)

These are just the first sounds that came to mind for comparison, but there are many more.

Anyway, I hope you like the new Sound Overhaul, and I would appreciate your feedback. Keep in mind that it doesn't fix some audio-related issues that are caused by errors/changes in the game's code, like sounds being cut off too early, or sounds being looped incorrectly when playing the game at a high framerate. Some sounds are also missing because the code to play them no longer exists (such as Sonic's "Whoa!" when being attacked by Knuckles in the cutscene before Chaos 4, or the rings that NiGHTS takes you through in the Casino pinball stage).
This post has been edited by PkR: 24 February 2017 - 08:08 PM

#156 User is offline BlazeHedgehog 

Posted 25 February 2017 - 11:47 AM

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Not to belittle the amount of effort you're putting in to getting Sound Overhaul to work properly, but there are a lot of things I would personally do differently. I mean, simply on the grounds that one of the sounds that gets cut off is the Spindash sound makes me not really want to use Sound Overhaul even if the quality is much cleaner. I also feel like I hear 2P Tails splashing around in the water a lot more than I used to, and all the crashing sounds during Emerald Coast's whale chase are significantly louder now, as are the dolphins at the end of the stage.

It definitely feels like the ADX tools we have right now aren't quite up to snuff and certain parameters are being lost in translation. Again, you've been working very hard to solve those, and I appreciate that effort, but even with you manually correcting files, it feels like they're missing key information during the import process that's causing them to break. You pull them out and they're a little off, and when you put them back in they get even more off.

I'd like to restore the missing sounds (the ones that can be restored, anyway) but the differences in other sounds are a little too much for me personally. It's less of a solution and more exchanging trade-offs.

#157 User is offline PkR 

Posted 25 February 2017 - 07:23 PM

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Well, unless you're using one of the older previews I uploaded earlier rather than the release version (which are different entirely), the spindash sound gets cut off the same way in the unmodded game if you have the Light Speed Dash upgrade. Like I said, the Sound Overhaul doesn't resolve issues coming from the game's code. It might be that the cutoff is slightly more noticeable because the spindash sound is a bit louder now. The cutoff happens in all versions of the game except the Dreamcast version. They even tried to mitigate that in the Steam version by not playing the spindash sound at all when you have the upgrade. Or if I'm wrong and you mean a different kind of cutoff, I need a comparison with unmodded SADX where it doesn't happen, and I'll probably be able to correct it.

The dolphins and the crashing sounds during the whale chase were barely audible in SADX, and I always felt it was wrong. Nevertheless, I want to apply some corrections and make some sounds less loud, which is why I asked for volume feedback. In fact, I have already made the whale noise slightly less loud based on the feedback of 3 people. I intend to continue improving it, though the ultimate decision whether to change a specific sound will depend on my personal taste. If you feel like you could've done a couple of sounds differently - you can just do it (they're ordinary WAV files) and make a patch, and if it's a reasonable improvement I'll integrate it into the mod and credit you.

You mention the ADX tools for some reason, which have nothing to do with MLT sound banks. I also don't know what kind of missing "key information" you're talking about - could you be more specific and give an example? Quality-wise the sounds are pretty much the same as in the Dreamcast version. If you're basing your argument on volume differences between SA1 and SADX, I can say it's unlikely that we'll ever get it to be the same even if the tools were perfect. Of course some stuff may be slightly off in terms of volume (the reason for which I explained in my previous post when talking about mono/stereo and arbitrary volume settings in the PC port). But it's either that (which is fixable somewhat), or you're stuck with crappy sound quality and missing sounds for who knows how many more years.

Like I said earlier, I'm by no means a sound professional, and I appreciate any feedback. But it's not like SADX (and even the original SA1) is a masterpiece in terms of sound mastering: certain issues (such as character voice clips being too quiet) plagued the original games too. It would be nice to be able to match the Dreamcast version 100%, but it's unlikely to ever be possible without implementing native Dreamcast audio support. Either way, I kinda expected people to complain about the game not sounding exactly like SADX did (which should totally be the case), or finding things that were off with the original(s) too. Thankfully now that the main work is done, many of the issues can be fixed relatively easily.

#158 User is offline Turbohog 

Posted 26 February 2017 - 01:26 AM

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I'm excited to try this once I get the time! I wonder what the issue is with the foobar plugins not working on some sounds. Are these plugins for the mlt files?

On the "key information", I think Blaze is referring to the possibility of there being some parameters (like volume or looping?), in addition to the regular sound data, that are present in the mlt files that the converters are not properly accounting for.

Anyway, it sounds like you've done a ton of great work. Thanks for your efforts!

#159 User is offline PkR 

Posted 26 February 2017 - 02:37 AM

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The plugins are for the .minidsf files produced by the dsfmake script. The more accurate plugin is called HighlyTheoretical, the less accurate one that works with more sounds is called aoDSF. By accuracy I mean how the sound looks on the spectrogram - with the HighlyTheoretical plugin there were no sounds with clicking, DC offset etc., and it looked pretty much like the same sound ripped from SA1 soundtest on Demul (except the volume obviously). But on some sounds (P_AMY soundbank, for example), it produces weird noise with the actual sound being barely audible in the background. If the sound is longer than 2 seconds or so, it continues playing normally after the noise ends. It's really weird. I talked with the author of that plugin, he is aware of the issue but doesn't seem to know what's causing it. The aoDSF plugin doesn't have this problem, but on the same sounds it produces a short audible click (thankfully in most cases it comes before the actual sound, so it's easy to fix), and it also has accuracy issues with certain sounds, like the sand/snowboard noises. So I had to combine sounds from both rips for the best result, and the most problematic sounds (P_... soundbanks and some others) I ripped from the sound test.

View PostTurbohog, on 26 February 2017 - 01:26 AM, said:

On the "key information", I think Blaze is referring to the possibility of there being some parameters (like volume or looping?), in addition to the regular sound data, that are present in the mlt files that the converters are not properly accounting for.


Volume - maybe. The dsfmake script overrides the following settings in the sound driver: total volume, effect volume, DSP mixer number, DSP effect number (changing the last two allowed me to get rid of unwanted reverb) and some other stuff. It's possible to prevent the override and keep the defaults included with the sound driver, but it ends up sounding worse or produces no sound at all. Maybe these parameters are fed into the sound driver by the game itself.

Looping - not really. The .minidsf sounds actually loop endlessly (the "dsftime" script is supposed to limit the number of loops and the total length of the looping sound with an optional fadeout to silence), so from the original format's viewpoint there's no problem. The problem comes when those loops need to be transferred into the WAV files used by SADX. I just relooped them all manually and I don't see it as an issue. Unless the loops are screwed up in some major way, there should be no quality difference.

Since both of the above are not actual sound information and can be easily adjusted, I wouldn't call them "key" information. There are some things on the Dreamcast I would consider more important that are actually missing, like the Chaos 0 bullet sound, or Zero's chest thump, which lack their effects even in the sound test. But there are only a few sounds like that, so far I know only three, and I did what I could to recreate them.

If you do end up playing the game with Sound Overhaul, you can update it with some sounds I've adjusted since the original release, which I posted on the feedback page. I keep the first post up to date and add new fixes based on others' feedback and things I notice when playing the game. Hope to see some of yours in there too!

#160 User is offline PkR 

Posted 03 March 2017 - 05:29 PM

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I finally managed to restore SA1 water textures in Emerald Coast.

Spoiler


It took some time to figure out because, unlike regular models, the ocean in Emerald Coast is set up in a different way, and I couldn't just hijack its material because it didn't have one. It also uses a non-standard color blending mode: the darker the texture, the more transparent it is. Replacing the textures in BEACH_SEA.PVM with SA1 ocean textures made the ocean look awful because of that blending mode. So I found the code that draws the ocean and forced it to use a different color blending mode. There were also a few tricky moments with UVs, texture animation and the secondary ocean thing that uses a different texture (the pond in Act 2/secret area in Act 3). Took me a lot of trial and error, but I was able to kill the secondary water thing, which allowed me to use SA1 textures for the pond and Big's secret area (in SA1 these areas use simple landtable objects for water).

So this brings us just a little bit closer to the Dreamcast version. Unfortunately this does nothing to restore the wave effect during the whale chase, but it should be compatible if it ever gets restored.

As a small bonus, I restored the fog in Big's secret area. Also, if you prefer the older look, just keep SADXStyleWater enabled to play with the previous water textures. However, that will only work for the ocean - the pond and the secret area will use SA1 textures either way.
This post has been edited by PkR: 03 March 2017 - 05:34 PM

#161 User is offline Irixion 

Posted 03 March 2017 - 10:15 PM

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The spoiler tags aren't working for me D:

#162 User is offline PkR 

Posted 23 March 2017 - 12:13 AM

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Update 4 release on ModDB. Highlights of this version:

  • Mod updates: today's Mod Loader update enables mod update functionality. As for the DC mods, many things have changed since Update 3, and several new mods were added. This version introduces support for modular updates. This means you don't need the MEGA mirror anymore, as the updates will be pushed to you automatically through the Mod Loader, and only the changed files will be downloaded! This was made possible thanks to ReimuHakurei, who offered to host my mods on his server. You need to download the full Update 4 package and update the Mod Loader first to be able to use the new update system.
  • Dreamcast Chao Gardens, including the VMU transporter model for the Name Machine and the Chao Race track - check out the restored flowers and cheering Omochao! The secret egg found on the Egg Carrier now hatches a two-tone gray Chao like on the Dreamcast. Two-tone black and gray eggs have also been updated with SA1 textures.
  • A "Dreamcast General" mod that introduces several non-level specific fixes and replaces all non-level textures with higher quality Dreamcast textures (thanks Onso!). So now the entire game is using SA1 textures!
  • A new 16:9 title screen for the DC Branding mod that activates automatically based on your screen resolution/window size.
  • Dreamcast water textures in Emerald Coast! You can switch back to water textures used previously in this mod by enabling SADX Style Water.
  • An updated Sound Overhaul 2 (Dreamcast sound effects) mod is included in the main mod package.
  • A new "SET layout fixes" mod by Supercoolsonic with level layout fixes and improvements for various stages.
  • A totally insane amount of bug fixes and accuracy improvements, including material color fixes, object model restorations, cutscene models and lots of other things for many areas in the game.
  • A higher quality intro movie from the X360 version that retains the SA1 logo.
  • The HD GUI mod now includes upscaled level objectives and level title cards.
  • All PNG textures have been optimized with oxipng to reduce file size with no quality loss.


#163 User is online Jmtshaw 

Posted 23 March 2017 - 12:38 AM

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Quick note: The Chaclon Chao in the Dreamcast SA1 isn't exactly a Two-tone grey Chao. It looks similar, but if you port it to SA2 and breed or reincarnate it you get this, which is the same Chao used for the cockroach chao race. I don't remember much because I haven't messed with SA1's Chao in a while, but I'm fairly sure it's just a black Chao except by SA1's standards (I got the same thing in the Autodemo once by changing a Chao's color values to 0).

Good up the good work though, this is great :)

#164 User is offline PkR 

Posted 23 March 2017 - 01:01 AM

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According to this page, the Chao that hatches from the secret egg in SA1 is a two-tone gray Chao, and it has no relation with the Chaclon Chao you see in the races. The screenshot on that page looks kinda different from the SADX two-tone gray Chao though, so maybe the information on that page is inaccurate, or SADX colors them differently.

#165 User is offline Neo 

Posted 23 March 2017 - 05:54 AM

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May be worth pointing out that Chaclon or Chacron are just bad localizations -- 'kuro' is black in Japanese so チャクロン chakuron is just wordplay on "black chao".

A better name would've been Chacoal or something.

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