I've dug a bit into Chaotix, and I have managed to document how a good chunk of its graphics rendering system on the 32X side works. Of course, some of this is already documented, but I think it'd still be nice to have it explained here. Sprite Data The main index table for the sprite sets is located at $A0000 in the ROM. Each sprite set starts with another index table for each sprite in the set. Blank entries have the pointer set to -1. The sprite format is quite interesting, as it is designed to avoid storing unnecessary blank pixels. First, it starts off with this header that defines the sprite boundaries: Code (Text): .w Left boundary .w Right boundary .w Top boundary << 8 .w Bottom boundary << 8 The best way I can describe these values is with this example: let's say you wanted to have a 32x32px sprite with its pivot set in the middle. You'd set the left and top boundaries to -16, and the right and bottom boundaries to 16. Basically, a sprite's pivot point is always at (0, 0), and the pixels are centered around that. After this header comes the actual pixel data. Chaotix stores pixels as individual rows. Each row starts off with its own header that defines its positioning in the sprite: Code (Text): .b Left position .b Right position .b Y position .b 0 The same rules for the positioning being centered around the pivot point at (0, 0) in the sprite header apply here as well. After that is an array of palette indices for each pixel in the row. The end of the sprite data is found when the left and right values are the same. So, that's the main sprite format. However, I'm not done talking about it, because sprites can actually be set to be compressed. The compression basically involves removing unneeded bits from the sprite data by subtracting a minimum value for each data value and determining the max number of bits that needs to be supported. Decompressing a compressed sprite will result in the regular sprite format. A compressed sprite starts off with this header: Code (Text): .w Uncompressed size .b $42 .b Left boundary .b Bits per X position value .b Top boundary .b Bits per Y position value .b Base pixel value .b Bits per pixel value That "$42" is basically the magic number that defines a sprite as compressed. The left and top boundaries get defined here, alongside how many bits that an X position value, Y position value, and pixel value take up in the compressed data, and the base pixel value that gets added to each opaque pixel value. The left and top boundaries also act as the base values that get added to each X and Y position value. The compressed data bitstream start off with the right and bottom boundary values, and then the pixel rows. Decompressing is really just a matter of reading a number of bits, depending on the type of value, adding its associated base value, and then storing it in the decompression buffer. When drawing sprites, they can be drawn anywhere on the screen, and can be scaled in either the X and Y axis. Unfortunately, this is no support for rotating sprites. This is why Chaotix still has separate sprites for angled character sprites, for example. Sprite Lists Chaotix stores many different lists that define what sprite sets to load. The format is simple: each entry contains 2 bytes: the sprite set ID, and its palette index offset. When it loads a sprite set, it'll read/decompress each of its frames into a buffer, and offset each pixel value, so you can basically choose which part of the palette that the sprite should use. The end of a sprite list is found when the sprite set ID is set to -1. When going into a stage, Chaotix will load 2 sprite lists: a global list and a stage specific list. The global sprite list is located at $A0200 in the ROM. The index table for stage specific sprite lists is located at $A0210 in the ROM, with each entry being a 16-bit relative offset. Player Sprites The player sprites are special. The way Chaotix handles this involves allocating the first 16 sprite sets as player sprites, with the first 8 being the main sprites and the other 8 being the limbs. The sprite data MUST be uncompressed, because with how many frames a character has, it really can't be pre-loaded. So, the game just loads in the currently displayed frame for a character as the graphics are rendered. Polygons Alongside sprites, Chaotix can render basic polygons. You can define different kinds of shapes to be drawn and have their vertices placed anywhere on the screen. You can also draw 3D polygons that can be placed and rotated in the context of a 3D space. For that, Chaotix uses a buffer that contains a table of polygons that can be picked from and drawn. Boundaries You can define a set of boundaries in which graphics will be visible in. For 3D polygons and scaled sprites, you can also define 3D boundaries in which they'll be visible in as well. By default, graphics will be visible on the entire screen, and 3D polygons and scaled sprite can be drawn at range 1-$7FFF. For 3D polygons, this applies to its Z position, and for scaled sprites,this applies to its scale values. Palettes and Priority On the 32X, graphics can either be drawn behind the Genesis graphics, or in front of them. The way Chaotix handles being able to determine a sprite's priority is to basically contain 2 copies of the palette in the 32X's CRAM. The first 128 colors contain the regular palette data, and the last 128 colors contain those same colors, but with their priority flag flipped. Chaotix will then choose which half of CRAM to use for drawing a sprite. Palettes are actually managed by the 68000 sides for regular stages. When performing graphics updates, the FM bit is set to 0 so that palette updates can be made, and then it's set back to 1 so that the graphics rendering can begin. Commands To send a command to the 32X, you set the command ID in communication register 0 (word). While a command is being processed, it will remain at that ID, and once it's done, it will be cleared. Here's a list of the commands: 01 - Reset renderer 02 - Render graphics (clears frame buffer) 03 - Initialize stage graphics 04 - Initialize character palette index offsets for character selection menu 05 - Nothing 06 - Nothing 07 - Load a sprite set 08 - Handle special stage 09 - Render graphics (doesn't clear frame buffer) I've not looked into the special stages much at all, so I won't be covering that command. The focus will be for rendering during regular stages and other screens, so I will cover the other commands. Sending Data Chaotix uses DREQ for data being sent from by the 68000 side. The way this is handled is that the Master SH-2's command interrupt is set to accept a DREQ request and copy data into a double buffered area. When the 68000 wants to send data, it simply sets up the DREQ parameters, sends a Master SH-2 command interrupt signal, and then sends the data over. If I recall, DREQ data must be sent in units of 4 words, due to a hardware thing. Initialization Generally, this is just a matter of running commands 01, then 03, and then running command 02 twice to make sure that things are all flushed properly. Running command 01 will reset the renderer and running command 03 will prepare for rendering stage graphics. Command 01 requires no additional parameters or data to be sent, but command 03 does. It expects the following data to be sent via DREQ: Code (Text): .b Attraction ID .b Level ID .b Time zone ID .b Player 1 character ID .b Player2 character ID The first 3 are used as indices for the stage specific sprite list index table, and the last 2 are used to define the character palette index offsets to $12 and $24 respectively. Running this command will also reset the visible space, and set the near and far range to 4-$4000. You can find the parameters set at $6000FE4 in the SH-2 program ($787E4 in the ROM). The 3D polygons used for the title card also get defined. You can find that data at $6000FF0 in the SH-2 program ($787F0 in the ROM), where 12 4-sided polygons are defined. After that, the palette index offsets are set, and the sprites are loaded. Rendering Now let's get into actually getting stuff drawn. The way this is done is that you send in a list of draw commands via DREQ, and then call either command 02 or 09. It should be noted that Chaotix opts to not wait for the 32X to fully process the command due to how slow the process can take. So instead, it just runs the command whenever the 32X is able to every frame. Chaotix builds the draw command list via a buffer that is built in RAM first, and then sent over via DREQ. Here's a list of the commands that I was able to figure out: 00 - End of list 01 - Draw sprite 02 - Draw trailing dot at velocity 03 - Draw trailing dot at angle 04 - Draw trailing dot at angle using global acceleration 05 - Set global trailing dot acceleration 06 - Set dissolve and trailing dot velocity 07 - Define 2D boundaries 08 - Define 3D boundaries 09 - Draw line 0A - Draw polygon 0B - Define 3D polygon shape 0C - Draw 3D polygon shape 0D - Draw top of sprite dissolving 0E - Draw sprite dissolving from the bottom 0F - Draw a stack of bars 10 - Draw the distortion on the Sega logo 11 - Draw the HUD (not fully sure what it's doing so far) 12 - Draw bonus stage item 13 - Load new stage specific sprite list 14 - ? (Something to do with the HUD) 15 - Set player palette index offsets 16 - Draw final boss arena 17 - Draw zoomed sprite 18 - Set zoom value 19 - Draw stage end/game over circle transition 1A - Draw power-up icons Let's go over each of them now and see how they are structured. Draw Command 00 - End of list Self explanatory. It defines the end of the list. Draw Command 01 - Draw sprite Code (Text): .b $01 .b Sprite set ID .b Sprite frame ID .b Draw flags .w X .w Y .w X scale .w Y scale Pretty self explanatory for the most part. For the default 100% scaling, set a scale value to $100. Lower values will scale up, higher values will scale down. The draw flags are in this format in binary: Code (Text): 0000 mmyx x - X flip flag y - Y flip flag m - Mode 00 - Normal 01 - Priority 02 - "Transparency" via vertical dithering (only if both X and Y scale are set to $100) Draw Command 02 - Draw trailing dot at velocity Code (Text): .b $02 .b $00 .b Palette index .b Trail flags .w Draw area length (only when flag is set) .w X .w Y .w X velocity .w Y velocity .w X acceleration .w Y acceleration This will draw a moving dot that leaves a trail. The trail flags are as follows: Code (Text): 00ae 000t a - Set draw area length relative to position (override the "e" flag) e - Set draw area up to end of screen t - Thickness 0 - 1px 1 - 2px If there's a draw area that's defined, then when the dot moves past the end of that area, it will reset itself back at its starting position. Note that there seems to be a bug with this functionality where it it will wrap to the top of the screen after going past the bottom, and then reset itself when it goes back to its initial Y position. Draw Command 03 - Draw trailing dot at angle Code (Text): .b $03 .b $00 .b Palette index .b Trail flags .w Draw area length (only when flag is set) .w X .w Y .w Angle .w Velocity .w Acceleration Draw Command 04 - Draw trailing dot at angle using global acceleration Code (Text): .b $04 .b $00 .b Palette index .b Trail flags .w Draw area length (only when flag is set) .w X .w Y .w Angle .w Velocity Draw Command 05 - Set global trailing dot acceleration Code (Text): .b $05 .b $00 .l Global X acceleration .l Global Y acceleration Draw Command 06 - Set dissolve and trailing dot velocity Code (Text): .b $06 .b $00 .w X velocity .w Y velocity Chaotix uses this to move the dissolved particles along with the camera. Draw Command 07 - Define 2D boundaries Code (Text): .b $07 .b $00 .w Left .w Right .w Top .w Bottom Draw Command 08 - Define 3D boundaries Code (Text): .b $08 .b $00 .w Near .w Far Draw Command 09 - Draw line Code (Text): .b $09 .b Palette index .w Point 1 X .w Point 1 Y .w Point 2 X .w Point 2 Y Draw Command 0A - Draw polygon Code (Text): .b $0A .b Palette index .b Draw mode .b Number of vertices [For each vertex] .w X .w Y The draw modes are as follows: 0 - Corners 1 - Wireframe 2 - Solid Draw Command 0B - Define 3D polygon shape Code (Text): .b $0B .b $00 .b Shape ID .b Number of vertices [For each vertex] .w X .w Y Draw Command 0C - Draw 3D polygon shape Code (Text): .b $0C .b $00 .b Palette index .b Draw mode .b Shape ID .b Pitch rotation .b Yaw rotation .b Roll rotation .w X .w Y .w Z Note that there is no Z sorting involved, so you gotta do that yourself. Draw Command 0D - Draw top of sprite dissolving Code (Text): .b $0D .b Sprite set ID .b Sprite frame ID .b Draw flags .w X .w Y Draw Command 0E - Draw sprite dissolving from the bottom Code (Text): .b $0E .b Sprite set ID .b Sprite frame ID .b Draw flags .w X .w Y Draw Command 0F - Draw a stack of bars Code (Text): .b $0F .b Bar count [For each bar] .w Height .b Even pixel palette index .b Odd pixel palette index Draw Command 10 - Draw the distortion on the Sega logo Code (Text): .b $10 .b Sprite set ID .b Sprite frame ID .b Draw flags .w X .w Y .w X scale .w Left distortion .w Right distortion .w X distortion intensity .w Y scale .w Top distortion .w Bottom distortion .w Y distortion intensity Draw Command 11 - Draw the HUD (not fully sure what it's doing so far) Code (Text): .b $11 .b $00 .w ? .w ? .w ? .w ? or Code (Text): .b $11 .b $01 .l Score .w Ring count Draw Command 12 - Draw bonus stage item Code (Text): .b $12 .b Sprite set ID .b Sprite frame ID .b Draw flags .w X .w Y .w Z .w Length .b Palette index (top side) .b Palette index (bottom side) .b Palette index (left side) .b Palette index (right side) Draw Command 13 - Load new stage specific sprite list Code (Text): .b $13 [For each entry] .b Sprite set ID .b Palette index offset .b $FF This overwrites the currently loaded stage specific sprites. Draw Command 14 - ? (Something to do with the HUD) Code (Text): .b $14 .b ? .w ? .w ? .w ? .w ? Draw Command 15 - Set player palette index offsets Code (Text): .b $15 .b $00 .b Player 1 character ID .b Player 1 palette index offset .b Player 2 character ID .b Player 2 palette index offset Draw Command 16 - Draw final boss arena Code (Text): .b $16 .b Angle .w X .w Y .w Z Draw Command 17 - Draw zoomed sprite Code (Text): .b $17 .b Sprite set ID .b Sprite frame ID .b Draw flags .w X .w Y .w X scale .w Y scale Draw Command 18 - Set zoom value Code (Text): .b $18 .b $00 .w Zoom value Draw Command 19 - Draw stage end/game over circle transition Code (Text): .b $19 .b Scale You can find the parameters for the sprites that gets drawn for this at $600347C in the SH-2 program ($7AC7C in the ROM), which is as follows: Code (Text): ; Sprite 1 dc.w $0050 ; X dc.w $0070 ; Y dc.w %00 ; Flip flags (no flip) dc.b $51 ; Sprite set ID dc.b $00 ; Sprite frame ID ; Sprite 2 dc.w $00F0 ; X dc.w $0070 ; Y dc.w %11 ; Flip flags (X and Y flip) dc.b $51 ; Sprite set ID dc.b $00 ; Sprite frame ID ; Sprite 3 dc.w $00A0 ; X dc.w $0070 ; Y dc.w %00 ; Flip flags (no flip) dc.b $51 ; Sprite set ID dc.b $01 ; Sprite frame ID The code defines the number of sprites in this list at $6003436 in the SH-2 program ($7AC36 in the ROM). Draw Command 1A - Draw power-up icons Code (Text): .b $1A .b Player 1 power-up flags .b Player 2 power-up flags .b Shared power-up flags The Other 32X Commands Not a whole lot to say. Command 04 simply sets every character's palette offset for use with character selection menus. Command 07 takes in a parameter via communication register 2 (word), where the upper byte is the sprite list ID and the lower byte is the palette index offset. I have nothing to say regarding the special stage command, because that's a completely different beast, and I've not looked into it yet. Conclusion So yeah, this is the gist of how graphics are rendered in Chaotix. I hope this might be of some use for hacking and documentation stuff. I know it's not exactly complete, but it's still pretty extensive.