Lutris' blog

Archive for April, 2010

Day 18 : Command and Conquer on DOS (1995)

by on Apr.26, 2010, under lutris

This one wasn’t a great success. I expected to get running the free version from Westwood Studios but I encountered a bug which seems pretty common. I didn’t try burning the ISO to a real CD-Rom because I don’t use these anymore, I’ll find another workaround some other day.

Meanwhile, I used the DosBox runner I had written some time ago, I didn’t have any problem running it but I couldn’t get sound working. Being a cracked version (the free version is windows only), the sounds may have been removed.

Anyway, this DOS version isn’t the real deal. I was to see a great classic offered by its editor and things would have been much better if I actually got this version to work. The DOSBox runner will get some attention some other time with a game that’s more appropriate.

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Day 17 : Super Metroid on SNES (1994)

by on Apr.25, 2010, under lutris

Super Metroid is one of my favorite games of all times, I’ve finished it several times and never get tired of it. It’s pure awesomeness at it’s best !
I didn’t do any work on the snes9x runner, everything was done a long time ago but I have good news to bring.
There are some comment (which I will eventually remove) in the file saying things about snes9x-gtk not being in an official repository and pointing to bug reports. Well guess what … it’s old news ! Snes9x 1.52 aka snes9x-gtk has been integrated into Debian unstable and Lucid Lynx, very good news indeed!
It took so long because of licensing issues very similar to what is happening to Gens right now (see day 15 with Sonic 2). They put everything in the Debian non-free repository and the problem was solved ! Now do the same thing for Gens !

There are some sound issues with snes9x 1.52 (tested on several machines), I had to fiddle with the settings to get something acceptable, and even then it’s not perfect. I’ll wait ’til I get some feedback about this and I’ll propose a patch to the package to change the default settings from crappy-by-default to excellent-by-default.

So if you happen to know how to get perfect sound in snes9x in Lucid, please let me know, this could help a lot of users.

Super Metroid

You don’t get many games with music as good as Super Metroid, it deserves perfect sound :)

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Day 16 : Castlevania: Rondo of Blood on PcEngine CD (1993)

by on Apr.25, 2010, under lutris

I guess we’re hitting the point where the games don’t get this “old stuff” feeling anymore. You get games with about the same quality as in 1993 today on Nintendo DS, ,PSP, Playstation Network, etc… A lot of games made last year are not as good looking as the one we’re going to talk about today: Castlevania: Rondo of Blood also known as Dracula X.
First, let me tell you : the music kicks ass, I want to play some more just to be able to listen to this catchy tune. The game is really good too, it’s Castlevania so don’t expect anything easy. Even the first level is hard, that’s what you get when you play Castlevania.
I didn’t add anything to Lutris this time, I used the excellent mednafen emulator and added a CD Bios and that was it. I didn’t add a CD bios option in lutris because the -pce.cdbios command line option wouldn’t override the mednafen.cfg setting which was PATH NOT SET. Strange, but I’ll have a look at this issue later.

Besides setting up the CD Bios there is nothing special to do, just give the .cue file as the Rom and you’re good to go.

Take that you stupid golem !

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Day 15 : Sonic 2 on Sega Genesis (1992)

by on Apr.25, 2010, under lutris

Ok, now let’s have some good old fun. No, I’m not talking about Sonic 2 which is of course full of funnies, but about the terrible situation surrounding the world of emulators on Debian and Ubuntu.
The Sega Genesis is one of those machine to have very limited support on Ubuntu. Of course you have dgen, but basically it sucks. I never managed to run Sonic 2 with dgen and when you want to emulate a Sega Genesis you’re likely to play Sonic 2… The other alternative is Gens/GS, which is not in Ubuntu repos because of some silly licensing issues. The “offending” part is StarScream an old 68000 emulator that hasn’t been updated in almost 10 years. And no, StarScream is not under the GPL licence, in fact StarScream documentation says :

“Starscream may be distributed freely in unmodified form, as long as this
documentation is included.

No money, goods, or services may be charged or solicited for Starscream, or
any emulator or other program which includes Starscream, in whole or in part.

Ok, that makes it non-free I suppose … WHAT ABOUT PUTTING THE WHOLE THING IN THE NON-FREE REPO THEN! It’s sickening, most emulators use libs of one kind or another and chances are that sometimes they happen to use a non-free one. So Debian guys has decided to punish everyone and keep a good piece of (Open Source) software out of their distribution.
It’s not GPL’d so they have to make a big fuss out of this and hurt the authors by not giving them a good coverage (while dgen gets an excellent coverage, being the only Genesis emulator in town).
Oh and one last thing, Gens is really Gens/GS, the original Gens is dead and there has been a major fuck up in the transition of maintainer. Either Gens original author decided to stop his project without giving commit access to anyone (which is very rude) or GerbilSoft decided it was very important that his initials where in Gens’ name (which is not very humble). Apparently :

The main motivation for creating this fork was that the original Gens for Linux project was a disaster. Among other things, menus kept desynchronizing and various features didn’t work.

Same thing again, either GerbilSoft does not believe in sending patches, or original Gens maintainer was nowhere to be found when GS sent his patches. As you can see, I’m not a big fan of forks and I see them as huge failures in Open Source software management.
Anyway, Gens/GS (or let’s simply call it Gens) is the very best emulator of Sega Genesis around, and the good thing is that there is a package for it here (32bit only).

Writing the gens runner took me about 4 minutes, that’s how easy it gets when you have a good emulator. The game runs without any kind of problem. It’s a shame that licensing issues come and spoil everything.

Sonic 2

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Day 14 : The Amiga vs the Atari (1991)

by on Apr.25, 2010, under lutris

Since I haven’t posted in a long time, I’ll make this day special by running two games on two different machines.

The games I’ve chosen are Strider (because that’s my nickname and also was one of my first games on the Amiga 500), and Lemmings. Two really good classics.

The Amiga 500

The Atari ST

In the early 90’s, the Amiga and Atari were the best machines around, they were computers very simple to use by everyone and were way ahead of the PC at the time. They were also much more powerful than gaming consoles and allowed to run graphic programs (such as Deluxe Paint), music programs, word processors, etc…

Amiga had a good reputation for graphics and Atari for music, you could easily plug in a MIDI keyboard on an Atari wereas you had to buy an expansion to achieve the same thing on the Amiga.
Enough with the historical part, let’s talk about Lutris !

Amiga is supported by UAE emulator and it’s been in Lutris since the very first versions. The first reason is quite simple and is because the Amiga was the first machine I owned and I wanted to bring good support for it in Lutris. The second reason for supporting UAE early is that it’s hard to configure in order to get good results. UAE’s settings are ‘crappy by default’ and that quite a shame.

A few word about E-UAE which is supposed to be a more advanced version of UAE, I didn’t find any reason to use it. On a very low end machine (OLPC) UAE runs much better that E-UAE and anyway UAE’s latest version has caught up with E-UAE more advanced features.

I’ve never had any support for the Atari since today, and quite frankly, I almost never played Atari games in my entire life. I’ve used the emulatorĀ  hatari which gave very satisfying results. There is another Atari ST emulator called steem which is not worth bothering with since it’s closed source and therefore not available in Debian and Ubuntu. I tried it, there was nothing great about it, hatari ftw ! One nice thing is that hatari is much more simple to configure than UAE, you get decent sound by default and that’s nice.

And I said descent, notĀ  good. That was the surprise of the day , Atari ST games sounds like crap compared to their Amiga counterpart ! What about it’s reputation of being a great computer of audio ? Well it seems, it applies only to professional audio software, not games. The basic audio chipset really sucks, you rarelly get digitized voices or sfx and everythong sounds kinda dull.

Given the fact I mostly play these old games because of their memorable music, I don’t think I’ll use this new hatari runner much.

The grahics of both games are quite similar on both platforms, and I found that Strider was much less playable on Atari ST which is weird.

The Amiga may be a much better machine than the Atari, hatari is much more enjoyable to use than uae and that’s why Lutris is here: to give pleasurable experience for both platforms.

Don’t forget to checkout today’s code source, play some nice 16bit games and report your experience here.

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