General Questions and Information Thread

Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by Andlabs, Aug 25, 2011.

  1. Is it worth moving all credits sections on Sonic Retro over to Sega Retro? I've noticed that some pages (mainly music releases) already do this, and it means that developer pages can be done automatically, but I'm not sure if there might be a specific reason to keep things as-is.
     
  2. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    It would be handy if it was at least duplicated. Not sure I'd want to take that information off Sonic Retro (unless it's already a dedicated credits sub-page) but as you say, having it on Sega Retro would help with automation.
     
  3. There's currently a mixture of games that uses dedicated credits sub-pages and games that just have a credits section on the main page. Should I preserve that on Sega Retro, or would it be better to switch to one or the other for all games?
     
  4. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    In some cases you can count the number of people working on the game on one hand, which is why not every game has its own dedicated credits sub-page. It would just be extra clicks for not much benefit (whereas in newer games where the credits list is huge, it begins to dominate the main page if not split off).

    I would say:

    Move these:
    https://info.sonicretro.org/Category:Credits
    To here:
    https://segaretro.org/Category:Credits

    And if it's a smaller list, e.g. Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit), you can either duplicate it on Sonic the Hedgehog (Mega Drive). Or make a separate Sonic the Hedgehog (Mega Drive)/Credits


    Chances are development histories won't update automatically if listed in credits sub-pages - I'll sort that out at some point.
     
  5. I've made a start on a few of them. One other question I have is how should I handle artists and voice actors? A lot of the articles for VAs in particular list credits for non-Sonic Sega titles, so should I move those over to Sega Retro as well, or should those stay on Sonic Retro for now?

    (The same question goes for this handful of developers that didn't get moved over to Sega Retro who either worked for a different company (BioWare, iFone) or have an account on the forums here.)
     
  6. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    if there's Sega credits in there, yes. If it's exclusively Sonic... no... maybe.

    It might have to be treated on a case-by-case basis. For example, all the DiC cast might as well stay on Sonic Retro. Depends what people think.


    It's always an awkward thing because massive chunks of Sonic Retro is within the scope of Sega Retro.
     
  7. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Early fruits of my labour:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Comix Zone, which fills a whole 5.4MB of a CD-ROM, has a radically different title screen on PC.


    Anyway I might plug some gaps over the next few days but I can tell you right now it won't be definitive. There are apparently 15-ish different dumps of Virtua Fighter PC (and probably more versions we don't know about) - it's too much.


    Also while I'm here - I've not touched Windows 95 properly for 20+ years (and I certainly wasn't installing things) and it's... charming, in its own little way. It's desperate to restart all the time - even the official instructions from Microsoft suggest that "if the progress bar isn't moving, you might need to restart with Ctrl+Alt+Delete". I genuinely had to "start it up" almost a dozen times to get things working - I hope Mick Jagger got paid.

    I also appreciate that (like the Sega Saturn) archive.org has clean collections of disc images. None of these shady ROM sites installing trojans through the backdoor. Server speeds aside, it really is easy to get things done.
     
  8. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    In the UK, some PC games were on shelves for more than ten years. They may even still be there - it's ages since I've gone into a PC World.

    One of those games was Sonic 3D. It was re-released two or three times on the Xplosiv label - for years it sold for £4.99 alongside various other things Empire Interactive had the distribution rights to.


    One of those games was Sega Rally PC, and while sure, we all love Sega Rally, no such love was ever given to similar games like Daytona USA. If you think you can still sell a 1997-era PC game all these years down the line, a 1996 one is fair game too, right?

    Yeah no.

    [​IMG]
    This is PC Daytona, and while many things were fixed with Daytona Deluxe, like CCE on Saturn that's not quite the thoroughbread you might hope for. 1996 Daytona is the real deal, in the sense that it's a sloppy port of a sloppy port.

    At default settings PC Daytona renders its 3D bits in 640x480, but its 2D bits are straight from the Saturn and are pixelated as all hell. Also it keeps the Saturn borders for some reason, so the play area is reduced. The visuals are glitchy, performance is all over the place and while there would have been a certain level of acceptance back in 1996, it's not the most pleasant of experiences today. You can crank up the draw distances ahead of Saturn, but even on machines of that era that exceed the recommended settings, it's not a good experience (though I imagine you can brute force it today). You'd have to hack it to run at 60FPS like the arcade - I think it's capped at 20 or 30.



    [​IMG]

    Sega Rally, meanwhile is a real port. All the 2D assets have been redrawn and it'll go up to 60FPS (without borders) no problem. Both these games originate from Saturn code, which in turn were based on Model 2 arcade games, but Sega Rally feels a generation apart at times. The maximum settings are more demanding (this one has 16-bit colour!), but its low resolution mode performs better than Daytona's.


    So that answers a question that nobody else had but me - why weren't all of Sega's PC games re-released on the Xplosiv label? Because half of them sucked.

    Oh and obviously
    [​IMG]
    This is the highest resolution (official) GAME OVER YEAAAAH ever made.



    Oh and yes for the record, this is all sofware. 3D hardware acceleration is a different beast which... doesn't apply to these two games.
     
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  9. Pirate Dragon

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    Theme Hospital was still charting (in Chart-Track's PC budget chart) in 2015, 18 years after it's 1997 release. There's almost certainly even longer selling games.
     
  10. biggestsonicfan

    biggestsonicfan

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    Formerly Sonic the Fighters
  11. biggestsonicfan

    biggestsonicfan

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    An update to this one. It looks like this came from EDGE UK 007 but the image I was thinking of came from a French arcade magazine with a scan by dragonslairfans:

    2_01_12_14_9_22_51.jpeg

    Would love to know which magazine this came from.
     
  12. Ted618

    Ted618

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    IIRC Dragon's Lair Fans/its founder (the Belgian guy who restored a Galaxian 3 theater) have access to a number of amusement industry trade papers from Europe, but have only shared watermarked photos from them so far. Frustrating, since there's so few of those out there from that part of the world to begin with...
     
  13. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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  14. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    (re-)presenting "cliff gate" (and/or "Celica badge gate"):


    [​IMG]

    There are loads of versions of Sega Rally. I seem to have emulated most of them in the last week, and can now officially confirm something that we've known since 1995: that America's version on the Sega Saturn is indeed the least accurate. Here's a bit of the Forest track - what's missing? Honestly, nothing you'd probably notice unless you were told.

    [​IMG]

    The answer: a set of cliffs... and many other little things. In the PAL (and apparently NTSC-J) versions, there was another round of polish to bring it more in line with the arcade original. What wasn't mentioned at the time is that the road texture seems to have had an upgrade, which suggests to me there's probably a lot more going on that we we're aware of. Take note: the developers re-set all their lap times for the PAL version too, which was nice of them.

    As for the red badge, well that's to make the Celica GT-Four more accurately inaccurate.

    [​IMG]
    This pleasing GIF I found on the internet showcases the Model 2's Celica, and like the Lanicas, it was only ever a rough attempt at mimicking the real thing:

    [​IMG]
    Symmetry be damned. Sega Rally 2 fixes it, but as the original game only has three cars and four tracks, it's a lot easier to document.

    [​IMG]
    It was actually the ST185 not the ST205 that looked a bit like this oh god who cares



    Also fun fact: the Celica had an illegal turbocharger for the 1995 regulations and the team was thrown out for cheating. So in Sega Rally Championship 1995, you have a choice between a a car that cheated, and a car that didn't compete (and the Stratos that was 20 years old).
     
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  15. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Just filling in a few gaps while I'm in the area, and there's something curious that's missing.

    The Lanica Stratos. It's... not in the arcade version? Really?


    It's quite a weird situation. Sega Rally Championship was treated as some sort of video game god until Gran Turismo happened, but if you look at the internet now, you'd think nobody had played the game. I went off to GameFAQs and half the cheat codes are wrong. It's X Y Z Y X on the main menu to unlock the Stratos on the Saturn - it's not "X Y Z Y Z", or "hidden car" it's the damn Lanica Stratos HF - an icon of our age. Probably.

    At some point I was led to believe the Stratos was in the arcade version, but given I don't own a physical cabinet, there wasn't necessarily an easy way of verifying it. Emulation will only get you so far - if there's analogue controls or motion sensing weirdness involved, it can be a faff to get things working, but Sega Rally is a comparitively simple game to some of Sega's previous works, so yeah - codes don't work, no Stratos. Unless a certain big fan of Sonics feels like cracking another Model 2 game.


    There's actually quite a lot of weird stuff in all versions of Sega Rally that apparently exists, but vague terminology means I'm struggling to work some of it out. There are supposedly "fast" and "better handling" codes, codes that simplify or remove the HUD, camera angles in replays (of which later versions have more?), additions/subtractions in scenery, game revisions - all sorts.
    [​IMG]
    I got the mirror mode working, although the world seems undecided whether you just press buttons or hold them.


    And it's not unexpected that a 25-year-old racing game hasn't been hacked to bits, but given the amount of attention this thing received back in the day, you'd think we'd be a bit futher along. Virtua Fighter 2 might have been talked about more(?) but this must be a close second.
     
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  16. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Next

    Sega Touring Car Championship, or "nice menus, shame about the game":


    I didn't get my hands on a full version of Sega Touring Car until years after release, and because my clock was set correctly I missed out on the GLOBAL NET EVENTS. Three events occurred on specific dates, you'd take part, the game would generate a code, and I think you'd write it down and type it out again on a computer to send to Sega through the magic of the ~internet~.

    The game has NetLink support in the US so I'm not sure if this was all automated to some degree. Probably not, but Mednafen doesn't support the NetLink yet so that's a mystery for another day.

    Anyway the game made a bit of a deal about these events, if the "being forced to check your time and region on first boot" wasn't enough of a clue. If your clock setting pre-dates them, it shoves the details in your face:

    [​IMG]

    (given STCC was released in November 1997, you didn't have long to prepare for the first)

    Boot up after these dates and you'll never see these screens. There's a means of accessing the three anyway but if you bought your copy of the game after March 1998, chances are you wouldn't know this was a thing.


    What are the events? One has a bit of snow and some Christmas trees, the second is all about hitting cones, and the third is driving in reverse. Although every form of STCC I've ever played as been too twitchy to really enjoy, so these are really events for tool assisted speedrunners. I've no idea if PAL users were at a disadvantage or if they competed separately - I didn't even know this was thing until about an hour ago.
     
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  17. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    A few wasted hours later:
    Yes it was!

    Now this I can't work out. The site was archived:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20001214135400/http://www.sega.co.jp/stc/ranking/home.html

    but the only distinction it makes (other than platforms) are JAPANESE and ENGLISH. I'm not going to make speed comparisons because that would mean even more versions of Sega Touring Car Championship on this PC, but if, as is usually the case, the PAL version is slightly slower, European and Australian entrants would be at a disadvantage (unless the clocks run too slow, in which case the roles are reversed).

    Word on the Street is that Sega Rally 2 tried something similar. I'm probably not going to get that far, because I'm avoiding 3D acceleration*

    Also RE: missing Lancias - nobody's written down any cheats for the PC version of STCC, so I don't know if the Sega Rally cars are in that version. This is another one of those "widely available PC games they sold for years" but it's a bit glitchy and again, isn't that good of a game compared to Sega Rally or Daytona.



    *For the record, Sega Rally 2 supports
    - 3Dfx Voodoo2
    - nVidia RIVA 128
    - 3DLabs Permedia 2
    - Matrox MGA-G200
    - Intel i740
    and they're all going to do slightly different things, and I don't know enough about any of them (even if I was in a position to test).
     
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  18. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Right Virtua Fighter 2 can suck it. I'm not giving it 200MB+ of virtual hard drive space so it can run in the highest resolution mode. It's a good point to end this little Windows 95 adventure... for the time being. Maybe someone else can do a Windows 98 one.

    Here's something you've never seen before: A PC set up specifically to play Sega games:

    [​IMG]

    What's this "consistency" you speak of?

    Actually to be fair, other than Bug Too they all installed to C:\Sega by default, so that's something.


    There's a lot of variables should someone want to dive into this more thoroughly at some point:

    - In the Windows 95 sense, "installation" literally just means copying things from a CD to a hard drive. So even though you usually need the CD to play the game (and hear the redbook audio), you can see exactly what you're going to install before you've installed it. There's no compression or repackaging - quite a lot of the assets are literally just BMP and WAV files, so you can take your CD tool of choice and get useful things without having to faff around.

    - The 1997 games have multiple levels of "install". You can install everything, or leave some bits on the disc, which might have made a difference if your CD drive speed was slow (PCem defaults at 24x and can go up to 72x so no issues there). I have a feeling this might affect performance in more ways than it's letting on.

    - Speaking of performance, Saturn versions typically run better. Minimum specs seem to be around the Pentium 75 or 90 MHz mark - I was well in excess of that and while I can't rule out emulation issues, a lot of these games are capped at 30FPS and have all sort of hitching and weirdness when put under stress. We like to think the Saturn was crap at 3D, but in the days before 3D acceleration on PC, it kinda wasn't.

    - While I've got this desktop at 800x600, nothing I tested could run higher than 640x480. Except for things like Bug which is windowed and you can stretch it... but the internal resolution is like, 320x240 so there are literally no benefits in doing so. Maybe it's a bit early to be setting your ambitions this high, but idk, I expected "choice", and there isn't any.

    - There is a huge amount of variation in port quality even when you wouldn't expect there to be. For example:
    [​IMG]
    PC Virtual-On doesn't bother to extend past the old Model 2 resolution (most of the time), so you get big black borders. You'd think there'd be more consistency in how Sega packaged their games, but even the installers change.

    - A couple of games demand 256 colour mode, which I find a little strange. There's some Windows 3.1 support in there sure, but 95 is on the box, and they must have been aware that 16 and 32-bit colour existed. Many of these games are still optimised for 256 colours, so there's not a huge amount of benefit in going higher, but for a game from 1996/1997 to crap out in this way is... odd. And yes it means the Saturn versions often look better because they've got thousands of shades to play with.

    - Sonic's Schoolhouse, which I had no played before, is horrendous, ugly garbage. Ignoring the fact that Sonic is genuinely terrifying in this game, running around every room and being behind every door, I'm not sure how it could reliably teach anyone anything. I was thinking of turning Sonic Retro into the best Sonic Schoolhouse resource on the internet for laughs, but this game isn't funny - it's just a poor piece of software and offensive that they charged actual money for it.

    - Modern Windows could learn a lot from Windows 95. It's embarassingly consistent in design in comparison to Windows 10 and while it lacks a lot of modern conveniences (mouse scroll wheels being one), you're never left guessing where things are and what they do. No reinventing UI widgets on an app-by-app basis - every menu looks the same, and it's so much easier to parse.

    - But Christ I don't miss scandisk.


    As for PCem, it's a neat little emulator... though really needs a hotkey for pausing emulation (and a way of cycling frame-by-frame would be nice). How you would do that given it's emulating a full Windows keyboard mind you, I don't know. It would be nice if there was a little less faff getting an operating system up and running, but I suppose you can't do much about that if you're a general "PC emulator" than a Windows one. I can't say I see a huge amount of point in using it for DOS though - the drag-and-drop nature of DOSBox seems more suited to an operating system that lacks a proper GUI.


    Things that still need to be done:

    - Meaningful detail
    - Old PC demos
    - Windows 98/XP games that don't run on modern hardware
    - Japanese language Windows
    - 3D acceleration
    - Everything else

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Tedious "I probably should have looked a bit closer" update: as well as being submittable(?) through both the Japanese and North American Saturn internet services, there is a form to submit times... on the discs themselves.

    As in, there's an HTML file and a few images, and if you enter a code, it gets emailed to Sega.

    Quick let's laugh at their formatting
    Code (Text):
    1. <HTML>
    2.  
    3. <HEAD>
    4.  
    5. <TITLE>GLOBAL RANKING</TITLE>
    6.  
    7. </HEAD>
    8.  
    9. <BODY bgcolor="#000000" text="#ffffff">
    10.  
    11. <center>
    12. <a href=http://www.sega.co.jp/stc/><img src="resource/logo.jpg" border=0></a>
    13. <br>
    14. <img src="resource/pass.jpg" border=0>
    15. <br>
    16. <FORM METHOD="POST" ACTION="mailto:[email protected]">
    17. <INPUT TYPE="text" NAME="password" SIZE="20" maxlength=16>
    18. <br><br>
    19. <INPUT TYPE="submit" VALUE="submit">
    20. <INPUT TYPE="reset" VALUE="reset">
    21. <br>
    22. <P>
    23. <a href="http://www.sega.co.jp/stc/ranking/"><img src="resource/ranking.jpg" border=0></a>
    24. </FORM>
    25. </center>
    26.  
    27. </BODY>
    28.  
    29. </HTML>
    Indent things! Double quotes for attributes! Close your tags!

    Anyway while giving these events their own dedicated page I noticed something else - there's no prizes for winning. Sega seems to have been hinted that the winners would win something (other than having their name up in lights), but I've not found any evidence (although similar competitions existed which were run by magazines, and they had prizes). Logistically challenging perhaps for 1998, but they could have half-arsed it like the recent Sega Test - only give the prizes to Japanese residents.
     
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  20. Pirate Dragon

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    Great work! So this made me think, how many people bought the game and missed out on the events? Unfortunately I don't have US charts from this period, but we can look at Japanese and UK charts for an idea in those regions.

    From the weekly (or bi-weekly on holidays) Japanese Saturn charts from Softbank in Sega Saturn Magazine;

    Date [Position] Unit Sales / Cumulative Unit Sales
    97.11.24 - 97.11.30 [02] 56,971 / 56,971
    97.12.01 - 97.12.07 [06] 17,160 / 74,131
    97.12.08 - 97.12.14 [12] 11,904 / 86,035
    97.12.15 - 97.12.21 [09] 7,395 / 93,430
    97.12.22 - 98.01.04 [11] 15,228 / 108,658
    98.01.05 - 98.01.11 [13] 4,617 / 113,275
    98.01.12 - 98.01.18 [??]

    Unfortunately we're missing the last week, so don't know if it charted then or not, but it dropped out of the Saturn Top 15 after that. A thing to note about Japanese software sales; they're quite similar to Western sales at this time of year, with Christmas being a kind-of-thing, but the real peak is New Year where presents or money are given, and the following week where said money is spent. Sales collapse after this until peaking again in Golden Week , which is pretty similar to the UK, where Easter was (maybe still is?) the second biggest sales period of the year. Which is to say, that any sales outside of the following charts would have been low. So whilst we unfortunately don't have sales past January, that does suggest that the vast majority of Japanese gamers (who bought it first hand) did at least get to experience the April Fools event, and probably not too many less the Hit & Run! event. If we divide the number of sales until December 21st by the number of sales until January 11th we get 82.5%. However, there will still be 4 days of sales from the following period which could play the Winter Holiday event, which would be somewhat offset by people who bought the game after January 11th. It's probably reasonable to say ~80% were able to play the first event, and high 90s% were able to play at least one event.

    Next the UK, which is interesting as the game actually released 2-3 weeks ahead of Japan and US, which is confirmed by the weekly ELSPA charts compiled by Chart-Track. I guess this was down to not having to implement net stuff. Saturn was pretty much dead by then (3% market share for 1997), so Saturn exclusives couldn't make the All Format Top 20 by the end of the year (maybe some made the Top 40, but I only have Top 20s). Which means that nobody publicly reported sales numbers for Saturn games. But if you take into account that it took very little sales to make #1 in the Saturn chart, then not making the Top 10 means you are selling next to nothing. Here's the chart positions for the UK Saturn Top 10;

    Date [Position]
    97.11.02 - 97.11.08 [01]
    97.11.09 - 97.11.15 [01]
    97.11.16 - 97.11.22 [02]
    97.11.23 - 97.11.29 [02]
    97.11.30 - 97.12.06 [04]
    97.12.07 - 97.12.13 [03]
    97.12.14 - 97.12.20 [03]
    97.12.21 - 97.12.27 [??]

    Ironically I'm also missing the last week chart here, but similar to Japan it never charted in any week after this, so sales completely dies after 7-8 weeks. This shows that the vast majority of UK players were able to experience the Winter Holiday Event, rising to nearly all for at least one event. That was probably helped somewhat by releasing earlier than elsewhere.

    The final market I have charts for from this period is the monthly German VUD charts by Media Control. Unfortunately this game never made the Saturn Top 10 in any month since release, which beyond telling us that it sold very little, doesn't tell us much about what % could play the events. Incidentally, to the nearest 10,000, one million PAL Saturns were shipped. 400,000 were sold in the UK, and 200,000 in Germany. So those two markets made up 60% of PAL sales. France was probably similar to Germany, but I don't have solid numbers. Spain was 70,000 in late 1997 ... maybe they ended up a little higher, but certainly no more than 100,000. Those were all pretty bad, but Italy? Less than 10,000! Coming from 300,000 Mega Drive.
     
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