People willing to test hacks on hardware

Discussion in 'Engineering & Reverse Engineering' started by LocalH, Sep 9, 2005.

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  1. LocalH

    LocalH

    roxoring your soxors Tech Member
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    I'm posting this topic for anyone who may want to indicate that they are willing to test hacks or other homebrew stuff on real hardware, along with information on any restrictions one might have in doing so.

    If anyone else with the capability to run arbitrary ROMs on real hardware is willing to test hacks for people (at their leisure of course, due to real life distractions), then post here, and maybe we can sticky this for all the people who make hacks to see (including new people).

    Device: Super Magic Drive
    ROM Capacity: 16Mbits (2MBytes)
    Console: US NTSC Genesis 1 (pre-TMSS, no mods) and US NTSC Genesis 2 (no mods)
    Screenshots from hardware?: Yes, in most instances (I have to hack the ROM to interlace 1, which is fairly easy)
    Video from hardware?: Yes, captured in 720x480x29.97fps interlaced, processed to 352x240x59.94fps progressive and encoded in Xvid, but the files tend to be a bit large, so this should only be requested if your hack is nearly complete and you would like video of it running on a real console to spread around from your own webspace or other method of file transfer

    <soapbox>
    I feel that all people should make a concerted effort to find a way to test their hacks and other code on a real Genesis/Megadrive, for the same reason that LOst feels that people should make every effort to play nice with the Sonic engine. The games are designed to run on a real Genesis, and so any hack that runs on emulation but not on hardware are crappy hacks, and are not (in my eyes) Genesis games at all. No exception. If you're making the huge effort that is part of making a quality hack, then there's no excuse for not going the extra step and making sure it runs on real hardware. Plus, in 99% of cases, if it runs perfectly on real hardware, then you can be assured that it will most likely work perfectly on emulation as well. That's one reason that I'm making my SMD available for testing - this will help people that may not have the means to acquire either an old-school copier like the SMD, or a Tototek flash cart. Many early hacks failed completely on hardware, either due to the hack author not realizing that they had "Fix Checksums" enabled in their emulator, or due to emulation inaccuracy that just happened to let the ROM run correctly. It's my goal to help ensure that as many hacks as possible run on a real system, and it's also why I never had plans to do any democoding myself until I got my SMD - as I said above, if it doesn't run on a real Genesis, then it's a worthless binary, even if it's the best fucking thing on earth. If Stealth's KiS1 hack didn't work through my SMD, then I would have called it complete shit as well.

    Please, people, try to make sure your shit works on hardware. That's why I'm offering my help. Take me up on it, you won't regret it, even if you have to overhaul a few metric asstons of your hack because of a bug on hardware.
    </soapbox>
     
  2. Qjimbo

    Qjimbo

    Your friendly neighbourhood lemming. Oldbie
    Device: Double Pro Fighter Q+
    ROM Capacity: 32Mbits (4MBytes)
    Console: Used to be a PAL Megadrive 1, which I recently broke, soon to be getting a Genesis mk.1 which I will mod to have a 50/60Hz switch.
    Screenshots from hardware: Yep, but only RF until I get a composite lead. Or a TV tunar with RGB in (unlikely)
    Video from hardware: Yep, but same as above. I can encode to whatever.
    Other issues: Currently there is a faulty capacitor in my dumper which causes games to corrupt after being powered for roughly 10mins, I'm working to replace all the capacitors surrounding the ram to avoid this problem.

    I'm with LocalH, I'm happy to test anything once I have everything sorted, which I hopefully will by the end of this month if not sooner.
     
  3. Sonic Hachelle-Bee

    Sonic Hachelle-Bee

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    Sonic 2 Long Version
    You are true LocalH. Hacks have to run fine on real hardware at least. We don't have to be dependant of emulators, this is the real hardware that makes the rule. I may ask you to test Sonic 2 Long Version 2 a couple of times before its public release, I have always been careful to make the new version as compatible as possible with the real hardware.

    But there is one thing I don't agree in what you said. I don't agree to be stuck because of the Sonic Engine. I'm playing over it now when it's needed, and the good example for that is Sonic 2 Daytimes. Come on! We don't need to be in the bounds of the Sonic Engine to make good things that run even on real hardware! This era is over now, it's time to look ahead! For me at least...

    Well, it's high time to fix my checksum... :D
     
  4. Ambil

    Ambil

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    I have a question for LocalH.

    Will a ROM work in your Super Magic Drive even if it's not exactly a standard cartridge size (e.g. 512 KB for Sonic 1)?
     
  5. Qjimbo

    Qjimbo

    Your friendly neighbourhood lemming. Oldbie
    On mine it does, I tested an old version of Sonic 2 delta once and it worked fine even though it was 17.5Mbit or something wierd. It's interesting the differences you get on real hardware, like if you try Sonic 2 beta on a PAL console, the music totally screws up, but in NTSC mode it's fine. On emulators the music just plays slower in PAL mode.

    The modern Sonic 2 delta didn't work the last time I tried it, and I was dissapointed really. I believe that address exceptions sometimes get ignored in emulators where they don't in hardware or something. I don't know the details.
     
  6. Sonic Hachelle-Bee

    Sonic Hachelle-Bee

    Taking a Sand Shower Tech Member
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    You should try the hacking contest version of Sonic 2 Long Version. I will PM you about that.
     
  7. Qjimbo

    Qjimbo

    Your friendly neighbourhood lemming. Oldbie
    Well as I said in my reply I can't test roms right this second because of my borked MD1. Should be getting an NTSC Genesis fairly soon though.
     
  8. LocalH

    LocalH

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    Well, I'm of the opinion that, unless what you're doing is so grand that you have to go outside the engine, that you should try to stay within it, that's all. Your object obviously doesn't apply, since it adds a lot that exists in the later engine (and even some stuff that doesn't exist in the later engine).

    Ambil: No, padding to an even megabit count is not needed. I've loaded ROMs as small as 7KB and everything has either worked fine, or failed for other reason (like incorrect VDP handling, etc). I don't know if Tototek carts require padding or if they can accept odd ROM sizes.
     
  9. Quickman

    Quickman

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    I disagree with LocalH's claims that hackers should aim to get their hacks working on real hardware.

    For one, 99.9% of people looking at the hack will be using an emulator and therefore if it's good on an emulator then 99.9% of the reviewers are happy.

    Additionally, 99% of hacks are simple enough (art changes etc) that they won't affect hardware performance appreciably.
     
  10. LocalH

    LocalH

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    Disagree if you will, but there will always be people with either copiers or flashcarts that prefer to play Genesis stuff on a real Genesis, and if your hack breaks on real hardware but not on emulation, then you're cutting them off from your hack - this is the same justification that some web designers use to ignore browsers other than IE (although with Firefox's popularity, this is somewhat changing, but there are still IE-only sites that useragent tweaking doesn't fix). True, if your hack is simple enough, then there won't be a problem, but substantial changes can indeed cause problems that may appear differently or not appear at all on emulation (for example, look at the graphical glitches on Stealth's Knuckles object - he's working on that, but there are still two garbage tiles on Kega and three on hardware).

    I'm not trying to force anyone to test their hack on hardware, if you truly don't care then by all means release it as you wish. But if I test it on my Genesis and it doesn't work, then I'm letting people know that the hack breaks on real hardware. I'm just advocating that hardware should be the gold standard.
     
  11. Quickman

    Quickman

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    It's not a problem to cut them off when they're such an extreme minority.
     
  12. LocalH

    LocalH

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    Heh, I'm part of that minority too =P It's not extreme, it's just more fun in my opinion to use a real Genesis controller on a real Genesis. If a hack is larger than 2MB exactly, then I can't play it on a real Genesis anyway, but if it fits in the RAM, then I always prefer real hardware. As I've said before, I barely use emulators anymore, since I got my SMD.

    Besides, it can also be a point of pride - I would considering an extra "selling point" to be able to say "Yes, this hack works fully on real hardware".
     
  13. Neo Majin

    Neo Majin

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    Personally I think it's a good idea to make sure your hacks work on an actual cart... after all, you are claiming to be making a Genesis game, so shouldn't it work on the Genesis?

    I'd love to get some sort of flashcart system for my Genesis CDX... Does anyone know where to get one, or should I just look on EBay?
     
  14. LocalH

    LocalH

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    If you're not looking to dump carts, get a Tototek flashcart, available in 32Mbit and 64Mbit sizes (although you can only use 4MB per ROM, unless you use the SSF2 bankswitching). Otherwise, do like I did and find a copier somewhere.
     
  15. Aurochs

    Aurochs

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    I know my last release of SHAH won't work on the real hardware. I never fixed the checksum. :P

    Yeah, you can test my next release on real hardware.
     
  16. LocalH

    LocalH

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    Actually, I don't consider that to be "breaking on hardware", as it's easily fixable if I want to load such a ROM, and I only have to do it once. By "breaking on hardware" I mean things like lockups, graphical glitches, and other stuff that severely harms playability on hardware as opposed to emulation.
     
  17. Neo Majin

    Neo Majin

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    By the way, I'm curious (and out of cash at the moment)... Is there any way to burn a Genesis game to Sega CD and have it play as if it were a Genesis game when played in the CD? Probably not, but I'm curious...
     
  18. LocalH

    LocalH

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    Nope. The memory map with the Sega CD is completely different. It's possible to port, but that's a manual process and is different for each game.
     
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