General Questions and Information Thread

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

  1. Pirate Dragon

    Pirate Dragon

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    Portfolio was the consumer version of Photo CD, meant for display on a TV. Instead of holding 100 high res images it could hold 7-800 tv res images, or an hour of audio, or a combination of both. The youtube video I linked before says that the easiest way to play these is on the PC-FX core in Retroarch.

    http://tedfelix.com/PhotoCD/the-kodak-photo-cd.html
    Edit: Corrected 30 minutes of audio to hour, and added quote.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2021
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  2. Pirate Dragon

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    I think you're right with regards to CDi extras, Philips released most western VCDs, and these often included an extra CDi specific folder which allowed extra features when played on a CDi such as soft coded subtitles, which weren't possible on standard VCD players. I think all Photo CD players were compatible with the standard portfolio format though.
     
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  3. Black Squirrel

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    I suspect there's probably no difference in the "photo" capability of a "Photo CD" and a "Photo CD Portfolio". I think they were playing a game in terms of how much they could charge for the service, using terms like "professional" and "high defintion" to get whatever their point was across.

    Looking at PCD files here, I'm not sure Wikipedia's numbers are super correct but:

    - 128x192 will be where they're getting the "800 images on a disc" statstic from. 800 terrible images.

    - 256x384 and 512x768 are the consumer-grade "TV resolutions", where you're getting a balance between quantity and quality. Ripe for adding some music and selling it as a product to the masses (it's also around the same numbers as the CD-i).

    - 1024x1536, 2048x3072 and 4096x6144 are the "high resolution" archive quality settings, but at this point images are taking up a lot of space on the disc (the latter is nearly 30MB a shot). I don't they could in good conscience sell a disc with 10-20 photographs on it - that's comparable to actual photo film, and while yeah, high resolutions, nobody had a display to take advantage of it back in 1992. So this becomes their "professional" line for industry experts, probably how Photo CD was envisoned in the beginning.


    My guess is that while at the beginning, regular Photo CDs came in all shapes and sizes, Kodak realised that they were catering for two types of customer and marketed things accordingly (shoving the Portfolio extras on the lower resolution discs). They could probably restrict how discs were made and sold because they owned all the technology to master the discs in the first place.

    I'm curious to know how the players were made too. Could the Sega Saturn even display a 4096x6144 Photo CD image?
     
  4. Black Squirrel

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    Loaded up PCem to have a look at this provided player, and..

    [​IMG]

    It's as I expected - it's a glorified slideshow but with some "buttons" that can skip to images you want to see. The audio apparently comes straight from headphone jack of the CD drive, not the PC, so I can't hear anything.

    As part of their help file, Kodak talk in great detail about its Photo CD branding. This player is dated 1994 and it says:

    Portfolio: Multimedia etc (you can read above)

    Master: High resolution, images only

    Professional: Even higher resolution, images only

    Catalog: Low resolution thumbnails

    Medical: X-rays and CAT scans


    But the "technology" is probably all the same, these are just the services Kodak were offering.
     
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  5. Black Squirrel

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    Apparently this is termed "CD-i Bridge", and both Photo CD and Video CD are "applications" of this concept.

    In layman's terms, put a "CDI" directory on the root of the disc and shove some compatible files in it, and a CD-i player should be able to pick it up and do special things.

    To test the theory I had a look at this Sega-related Video CD:
    https://archive.org/details/nissancollection95

    and it too has the "CDI" directory. I'm not going to test a bazillion of these, but I think it's safe to say that yeah, CD-i players get the best experience, then dedicated Photo CD/Video CD devices, then whatever else can read the disc. But I'd need an actual CD-i to confirm things for sure.

    (I don't know if this means there are "Video CD games" out there)


    In other news the Photo CD standard isn't available online... but the cover is.
     
  6. Pirate Dragon

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    I'm surprised that VCD has a CDI directory seeing as it wasn't released by Philips, and CDi was pretty niche in Japan. Maybe English subtitles for overseas? Or maybe this VCD was just meant for showrooms etc where they had dedicated CDi players and it's just a fancy menu system.
     
  7. Black Squirrel

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    From what I'm reading, Sony and Philips worked on all these rainbow book standards to some degree, and each new one was an extension of the last. They both have their hands on CD-i and VCD, so it's not totally unusual, but odd to think that the masses of Video CDs sold across Asia might be devoting part of their discs to please unpopular and obsolete CD-i players.

    But it seems a bit too strange and I don't know how this all works.
     
  8. Black Squirrel

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    Nobody in the right mind would ever willingly play the "make my video" games for the Mega-CD. Closest I've come until now was trawling YouTube a few years ago for footage, purely so the wiki could be a bit more descriptive than "THIS IS A GAME".

    (incidentally they're not what you think. Yes there's crappy video editing in there, but the real highlights are the in-between sections, where people over-act and the games almost parody themselves)

    Anyway apparently they all have hidden FMVs, accessed in a similar way. So I went with INXS because... less typing..? Also because the box told me to:

    [​IMG]

    (INXS haven't released an album since 2010. Their last one failed to chart in most markets, or perhaps you could say it transcended the Billboard Hot 100.)

    Anyway I confirmed that the videos do indeed exist, and that they're crap.


    Thing is, these games have two "modes" which were so important to Sega of America that they actually have trademarks. EditChallenge™ boots by default, while in order to access U-Direct™, you have to... press A+C+start at the same time, then change a setting, which in turn is used to view these hidden clips. That's not a button combination you're likely to guess, if you even knew the mode existed - it's written plenty of times in the manual, but there are no clues in-game, and it only exists because Digital Pictures didn't bother to include a main menu. If you bought this thing incomplete second hand, you might miss half the game!

    Just press all the buttons? Not quite, because A+B+C+start is... a software reset... because apparently some Mega-CD games have one - it wasn't enforced like the Saturn and Dreamcast, but it's here in INXS. You could almost say it was a "new sensation" at the time.
     
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  9. Black Squirrel

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    Just checked the US Sega CD console manuals just in case - it's not an official thing at this stage, although a few games (including those by third parties) seem to implement it anyway.

    But I did learn something:
    [​IMG]
    Original Mega-CDs have a clip for the headphone lead. They removed it in the Mega-CD 2 (which I have), probably because the redesigned Mega Drive 2 doesn't have a headphone jack.

    It's also designed to be used without a television... because you can manipulate audio CDs with button combinations (i.e. you don't need to see the UI... but you will need to read the manual to know what they are). This bizarre concept envisioned by Sega of America, where, rather than for playing games, the Mega Drive acts as a glorified power switch in your leet hi-fi setup. Right-o.
     
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  10. Black Squirrel

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    RE: Virtua Fighter 2 PC.

    When I set up PCem last month I only gave myself 512MB to play with. Sega's initial PC output from 1996 only took up a couple of megs per game, as most of the content was streamed in from the CD. It stood to reason that, since I wasn't planning on experimenting past Windows 95, that would be a sufficient amount of space to test the whole pre-Windows 98 library. And it totally was... until Virtua Fighter 2 came along. Realistically I needed to set up another virtual hard drive to run it, and I couldn't be arsed. Today I was more arsed.

    VF2 was (probably) the first Sega PC game to actually give much of a damn about the PC platform and its many hardware configurations. Prior PC conversions either had no options at all, or you got to choose between "low" and "high" resolution modes - that's it. VF2 lets you play with more things:

    [​IMG]

    This is half the reason I don't like PC gaming. If you've not got a fast enough machine, you spend the first five minutes turning off features and feeling sad. Today, you have to look fairly close to notice differences between some of the settings, but in 1997...

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    ...it's not a good time for lower-end systems.

    Best bit is, even though there are four quality settings for backgrounds (with the highest only working if you're prepared to devote 370MB of hard drive space)... it's still not a match for the Model 2 original, because they're always 2D.

    Anyway the task on Sega Retro will be to compare all these graphical modes and... there's a lot.

    2 screen modes
    x 3 resolutions
    x 4 background quality settings
    x 3 stage quality settings
    x 2 character model options
    x 2 shading options
    = 288

    If I could pause gameplay properly, I'd almost be tempted.
     
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  11. Black Squirrel

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    Sega has publishing arms in South Korea and for the "Asian" region. It's not a common setup - usually the Japanese would task a local distributor to get their games on the shelves, if they'd even bother selling over there. A side affect is that, should you not have distribution channels in that part of the world... you might end up going through Sega.

    This puts some interesting software in the scope of our wiki. Presenting: "things you wouldn't expect Sega to be publishing":

    [​IMG]

    Harvest Moon! Although it's not called that anymore - it's Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town from 2019, which is apparently a remake of a GBA game, or something.

    [​IMG]

    Darius Cozmic Revelation! Taito's once-flagship shooter series where you shoot giant space fish. This is a compilation containing updated versions of G-Darius and Dariusburst. Taito was Sega's closest rival for much of the 20th century, and Darius was one of many products designed to put the company out of business.
    [​IMG]

    Empire of Sin! John and Brenda Romero's X-COM style game set in the 1920s. As the co-creator of Doom and Quake, John Romero is the video game symbol of "not Japan", so fun to see a famous Japanese logo on there.


    There's a few others that have gone through Sega but don't have its logo on the box - Friday the 13th, Terraria and Terminator: Resistance, among a load of cack nobody cares about in the Western world.
     
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  12. JaxTH

    JaxTH

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    Jack shit.
    I've been meaning to make an Empire of Sin page ever since it came out in Asia but I keep forgetting.

    Moreover, something I've been thinking about since it seems I mostly make these pages, should we start putting Sega Asia as the publisher on these pages instead of just bog-standard "Sega"? It would make sorting though these specifically easier anyway.

    The reason I haven't gone wholesale on these seems to be because there is some nuance to products. Sega Asia has websites for some of these games, but something like Back 4 Blood goes to it's own website not made by Sega, so I don't know what to do about those.
     
  13. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    I've always been reluctant to go further than "Sega" as a publisher, because it opens the flood gates to all the different publishing arms all over the world. Take one of the modern Yakuzas and you'd have "Sega", "Sega of America", "Sega Europe", "Sega Australia", "Sega Publishing Korea", "Sega Asia" and whatever else clogging up the bob - it gets a bit messy.

    But it might be the right thing to do longer term. I just don't know. It's easier one the eyes to just use the trading name, and they all trade as "Sega".
     
  14. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    I have made an executive decision.

    So the Xbox is a complicated platform these days. The expectation was that a new console would lead to new games, but unlike the PlayStation platform that puts separate discs in separate boxes for PS4 and PS5, Microsoft just calls everything "Xbox" and has the hardware sort it out. Most games so far have been cross-gen, so the product you buy works in either an Xbox One or an Xbox Series X.

    It leads to a bit of a problem when it comes to documentation. What is an "Xbox Series X game"? Well I've decided... it's games that require an Xbox Series X.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Judgment requires an Xbox Series X for the disc to run.

    Its sequel, Lost Judgment, does not. It will work on an Xbox One.

    Thus Judgment is an Xbox Series X game, and Lost Judgment is an Xbox One game. All(?) Xbox One games work on a Series X, just like all GameCube games worked on the Wii, and (pretty much) all PS1 games worked on a PS2 - the offered enhancements makes it all complicated and weird, but as far as releases go, it's the oldest, most basic console supported that counts. Otherwise we're duplicating information and making special exceptions for Xbox One games with Series X enhancements... which we'd also have to do retroactively for Xbox One X, and this is noise we can do without.


    And yes this does mean Sega have only technically released one game that requires an Xbox Series X (or S!) to function, and... that's Judgment.
     
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  15. Pirate Dragon

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    Basically the same as PC Engine CD-ROM², some games require certain system cards, for others it's optional and will result in enhancements.
     
  16. JaxTH

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    Jack shit.
    Glad we could work through this before things maybe start becoming actual exclusives.
     
  17. Black Squirrel

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    Attempting to clear the backlog. Maybe.


    Mobile phones. Sega started selling ringtones in December 1999, moving onto software by March 2000. For the next 8 or 9 years, they were selling games compatible with all sorts of devices, before moving almost exclusively to iPhone and Android. It's a story that's almost exclusively Japanese and awkward to deal with - the information's out there, but it's just so boring.

    Anyway in the early years Sega were whoring themselves over everything that had a screen, but there were three "platforms" that attracted the most attention. I'm not sure of the specifics - these are technically "mobile internet services" that you would use to download Java-based applications, but the handsets were built around them I'm not totally sure if you could transfer from one type to another. Also all were aimed squarely at the Japanese market and there are dozens of handsets.

    #1: i-mode (NTT DoCoMo)
    [​IMG]

    I think this was the biggest? It's hard to know for sure, but it's the only one of the three that made some news out of Japan. Sega supported this platform first... and it still exists! It won't by 2026, but in theory the potential is still there to live life like it was 2002.

    #2: J-Sky, later Vodaphone Live! (J-Phone later Vodaphone)
    [​IMG]

    This one was eaten a few times, first by Vodaphone, later by SoftBank. It made some waves at launch but was never super popular.

    #3: EZweb (KDDI)
    [​IMG]

    And this one (I believe) is also still in service, but is just about to be taken down. My only opinion thus far is it has the best logo of the three.


    Sega released a bunch of stuff for all of them - all will need covering on Sega Retro in some form (the Sonic Cafe titles are already a known quantity), but I don't know how best to do it:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20050214115724/http://sega.jp/kt/contents.html



    In June 2001, Sharp released the J-SH07. It's a semi-important device - the first J-Phone-sold handset to be able to cope with Java applets.

    [​IMG]

    It was bundled with a piece of software called... uh... Tsuwa Shichouritsu (通話シチョーリツ) (??) and it looked a bit like this:

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]

    I can't pretend to understand it, but Ulala of Space Channel 5 fame comes built-in to the handset. The more successful "good" calls you make, the higher your "rating" gets, and eventually she changes costumes and dances or something. Ulala was the face of this phone, and you could later download all sorts of Space Channel 5-related things through the Ulala no Channel J service. It may even be a case where Space Channel 5 was a bigger deal on mobile then it ever was on Dreamcast.

    Ulala also has another accolade to her name - this is apparently the first piece of mobile software to feature a (textured) (animated) 3D model (at a decent frame rate). It's obviously a lot tougher to verify that for sure, but put it this way, Nokias weren't even in colour at this point.
     
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  18. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    God it's weird.

    [​IMG]

    I think this is the oldest i-mode phone we need to care about - the 503i.

    But that's... five different models of phone with radically different designs, what gives?

    F is Fujitsu
    D is Mitsubishi
    N is NEC
    P is Matsushita
    SO is Sony

    They all gave up their branding in the name of standards (even though there are still subtle differences between them all). That's... forward looking.
     
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  19. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Sega Retro:Todo/Mobile Games

    That's pretty much every Japanese mobile game up until March 2005. It goes further than that - 2005 and 2006 were big years for these services, but there aren't convenient lists, and much of the later news isn't strictly game related.

    You'll notice some blue links - I haven't made pages for the Japanese releases, these are the US versions, because some of these games crossed the Pacific. It's one of many reasons why this is so awkward - these are (mostly) J2ME applets which plenty of devices could cope with fifteen years ago, but Japan made a point of having dedicated services in which to obtain them.


    Also Vodafone Live changed its name again at some point in 2006 to "Yahoo Keitai"

    [​IMG]

    Just to make life difficult I guess.
     
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  20. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Yeah it needs to die.

    Sega supported Willcom

    [​IMG]

    and then emobile

    [​IMG]

    and then they both merged and became Y! mobile

    [​IMG]

    But even though it's the same Y as Yahoo, it's not a Yahoo company because reasons and uuurgh.


    Which means as late as 2015 Sega is providing services to a decade's worth of i-mode, Yahoo! Keitai, EZweb and Y! mobile devices, as well as iOS, Windows Phone and Android.

    I think I might just stick with the early stuff. Or avoid it all.



    Tedious fact of the day

    [​IMG]

    With the older i-mode games, you start by pressing the "Kettei" (決定) key. Which roughly translates as "decision". The rivals didn't have this button so screenshots should be somewhat easy to identify.
     
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