Arkib tag: Graphics

Dolphin Progress Report Tenth Anniversary Special: February, March, and April 2024

In late 2012, Dolphin moved to a brand new website - dolphin-emu.org. With complete control of our own home and infrastructure for the first time, we noticed the accessibility to users that it gave us. Not only did we get a new home, but we also got a platform, one that allowed us to communicate directly to our users! We used it to great effect, explaining big changes to the emulator such as tev_fixes_new, getting ahead of controversy when we removed the popular D3D9 graphics backend, calling out broken drivers, and more! The Dolphin Blog was born!

However, we quickly realized that while single dedicated articles were great for big changes, Dolphin was improving all the time and tons of important and/or interesting changes were being overlooked simply because they weren't "big enough" to warrant a feature article. We needed something that would let us cover the continuing development of the emulator. Something like, a periodical article filled with a collection of notable changes, so we could report on the progress of Dolphin within a set window of time. And after much experimentation, we built a format to fulfill this role, and released the first of its kind to the world on the 30th of April, 2014.

Ten years ago today, the first Dolphin Progress Report was launched! Since then, our blog has exploded in popularity, and tens of thousands of people read every Report! And in that time, we've made 79 Dolphin Progress Reports, with 797 Notable Changes, 54 special sections, and 301,807 words! Thanks for reading!

As the writers of the Dolphin blog, we are proud of what we have accomplished here. We've highlighted tons of cool changes, educated our users (and ourselves!) on how Dolphin works, we've helped reel in fresh talent for the emulator, we've helped people get into universities and launch their careers, and even helped a few people meet their life partners! Progress Reports have been so impactful, that they have reached far beyond Dolphin. The once novel concept of emulator Progress Reports has become a standard means of user communication throughout emulation!

But of course, ten years is a long time, and we've changed along the way and will continue to change over time. The Reports may grow or shrink, become more or less frequent, structure and style may change, and writers may come and go. And truth be told, this is hard, and we nearly reached the breaking point a few times along the way. But no matter what happens, as the writers of the Dolphin Blog, it is our goal and our hope that for as long there are Notable Changes being made to Dolphin, there will be Progress Reports to feature them!

Speaking of which, anniversary or not, this is a Progress Report. We have Notable Changes to cover! So without further ado, please enjoy the Tenth Anniversary Dolphin Progress Report, and the last Dolphin Progress Report of the 5.0 era.

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Dolphin Progress Report: November and December 2023, January 2024

With the conclusion of the holiday season, it's time for us at the blog to get back to work. And this time around, we have a smattering of changes covering just about everything you could imagine. For those looking to enjoy some of the latest homebrew with DSP-HLE, Dolphin now has support for the latest homebrew microcodes! For retail games, we also have a minor update to the Zelda-HLE microcode to fix a missing effect that's long overdue.

In some more important news, for those of you having disk space issues when running Dolphin on Windows since the last beta, a fix is now available. And for those looking for the clearest picture possible, Dolphin's mipmap heuristic has been backed down to allow for higher resolution mipmaps across more textures. And of course, if you're wanting that perfect image, Custom Aspect Ratios will allow for easier use of ultra-widescreen hacks and more!

Add to all of that a huge bugfix for older revision Steam Decks, another chapter in the Bounding Box saga, seeing a classic in an all new way, and yet another chapter in broken GPU drivers, and you've got yourself a Dolphin Progress Report.

Enjoy.

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Dolphin Progress Report: August, September, and October 2023

This past October, Dolphin turned 20 years old since its initial release to the public as an experimental GameCube emulator. It's been a long ride, with twists and turns. I don't know if anyone back in 2003 expected Dolphin not only to still be under active development 20 years later, but to also support the GameCube's successor in the Wii.

You might be wondering, where is all the pageantry? The honest truth is that things aren't ready yet. We have a few massive changes on the horizon that we wanted to be ready for the 20th anniversary, but that date was not an excuse to release something in a broken and incomplete state. For now, development will continue as normal, but we promise that there is some excitement to be had on the horizon.

In the meantime, we have some great changes for you this in Dolphin Progress Report!

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Dolphin Progress Report: July and August 2022

The Summer tends to consistently be one of the busiest times for Dolphin's development. While sometimes the question is what do we put into the Progress Report, during the summer months it's usually how much can we fit into the Progress Report? This summer's congestion was then compounded by us blog staff having a few things we've been planning coming into fruition. Still, the show must go on, and we're here... albeit a bit delayed.

As such, we've got a huge smattering of changes to go over and many smaller ones that we couldn't quite fit in. macOS users in general will be able to rejoice with the addition of a brand new Metal backend brought to us by veteran developer TellowKrinkle. They also brought their graphics expertise to improve things for everyone, greatly reducing the remaining causes of shader based delays/stuttering when using Ubershaders. If you're looking for an easier way to setup a wide variety of controllers, a new SDL2 controller backend has been added for all OSes, and even brings native motion control support without the use of a DSU server to non-Linux operating systems. We also have a wide variety of emulation fixes, more graphics mods added, and the long awaited SD card "folder" feature!

All of that and it's our job to write about it. We've got our work cut out for us.

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Dolphin Progress Report: August 2021

Many gaming communities over the years have reached out to thank emulator developers for their efforts. Emulators are an important part of many classic game communities and give players access to features like netplay multiplayer, modding, and savestates, while also opening up the doors to enhancements not possible on console. Sometimes it's simply more convenient to use an emulator that runs on your desktop, tablet, or phone rather than to dig out and hook up the original console every time you want to play one of your favorite games. However, it's important to state that our relationship with gaming communities is mutual, and without the help of players and fans, there's no way we could handle maintaining a library of thousands of games.

In this Progress Report, the gaming communities were the direct catalyst to many of the changes. They went on difficult debugging adventures, caught small issues that would be invisible to anyone who wasn't extremely familiar with the game, and even came up with patches to make games friendlier to emulator enhancements. All of these contributions, even if it's not code, are appreciated and help make Dolphin what it is today.

So, without further delay, let's get started with the August Progress Report! Enjoy.

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Dolphin Progress Report: June and July 2019

As seems to be happening annually, due to a short summer lull, we decided to combine the June and July Progress Reports. As you may have noticed, we're a few days into August at this point and things ended up running a bit late. That's actually a consequence of how we do these Progress Reports - we sometimes will go through big changes, test them, and get developer input on how they work in order to better explain them. In late July, a mixture of late changes, unexpected behaviors, and an extremely subtle game bug forced us to delay things while we sorted everything out. In this case, the end result didn't actually affect Dolphin, but does make for a better read as everything finally came full circle.

While we apologize for things being late, we do have a rather wide variety of changes that hit over the last two months to make this Progress Report extremely well-rounded. Whether you're looking for GUI updates, Android, fixes to ancient bugs, and even one feature inspired by a developer who saw Dolphin being used during Summer Game's Done Quick!

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The New Era of Video Backends: The Unification of VideoCommon

It's not common for a rewrite to be something that warrants an article, but, this is one of the exceptions. Over the past few years, parts of Dolphin's video core have seen renovations to make way for new features, but a fundamental problem remained. Dolphin's video backends suffered from both having too many unique features while also duplicating tons of code from the other backends, making it difficult to add new features and maintain old ones.

Those that have followed Dolphin from the very beginning may remember that its video backends …

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Dolphin Progress Report: November 2018

Even though the Wii's official library is mostly set, both the GameCube and Wii are entering a new golden age as a popular environment for randomizers, full-game mods, incredible cheat codes, and much more. Stalwarts like the Super Smash Bros. Brawl Mod, Project M have been around for years, but now there are many other communities around various games breathing new life into them. You can find codes to help balance games like Mario Party 5, content mods for Kirby Air Ride that add tons of new rides and hundreds of songs, and trackpacks for Mario Kart Wii that add hundreds of custom tracks to the game. Wiimmfi's also provides their own backup Wi-Fi servers for many unmodified games and their Mario Kart mods!

While most of these mods can be enjoyed on a hacked Wii, many users rely on Dolphin in order to play them. Emulating these mods can be quite the challenge, as they often will do things in ways that game developers would not. Assumptions that Dolphin makes can often be broken and certain features that mod developers use can be extremely slow or downright unreasonable to emulate. In the case of Wiimmfi's Mario Kart Fun Packs, the mod creators have put in work over the years to improve their experience in Dolphin and even support emulated users playing alongside console users online... so long as you're willing to dump and use your Wii's NAND. Earlier this month, a slight change to Wiimmfi's online networking broke Dolphin support without affecting real Wii Consoles. Not wanting to leave their emulated users high and dry, they reported the bug to us.

delroth quickly took up the mantle of investigating the bug with assistance from the Wiimmfi team. Within a few hours, the cooperation paid off as the list of probable causes was narrowed down to one annoying feature: The Instruction Cache. Dolphin pretty much has no ability to emulate the GC/Wii CPU data cache and likely never will due to the performance implications, but Dolphin does have some ability to emulate the instruction cache, though it's best to avoid testing the emulator. This is normally not a problem with retail games because it's rather bad form for a game to rely excessively on cache quirks, unless they were intentionally trying to break an emulator. There are occasionally games that inadvertently rely on cache behavior, that's something to tackle on another day. Dolphin's emulation of the instruction cache is normally good enough and almost nothing relies on data cache.

Mods are different; developers are usually working on a blackbox and don't have the same level of familiarity with the hardware. Unless they specifically tested codes on both Dolphin and Wii, there's a chance they wouldn't even know something was broken. There have been many issues reported around mods that, while Dolphin is at fault, we really don't have any recourse for the users afflicted. If a mod doesn't care about running on Dolphin and uses dcache or perhaps another annoying feature, there isn't much we can do but shrug it off.

In the case of Wiimmfi's server, through cooperation from both sides, we were able to find the cache coherency issue and fix it serverside! Users who already have the latest version of the mod don't have to do anything except try to connect. If you're looking for a more detailed explanation of what was going wrong (as it's rather interesting,) you can find delroth's full writeup on the issue tracker.

In order to track down behavior like this in the future, delroth also added game quirk reporting to Dolphin's data collection service, so Dolphin will now automatically let us know what games are instruction cache sensitive in the manner that broke this particular mod. With that, we also have a lot of other exciting changes this month, so now it's time to dive into this month's notable changes!

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Myth Debugging: Is the Wii More Demanding to Emulate than the GameCube?

On the Dolphin Forums, one of the more common questions that come up is "How come I can emulate this Wii game just fine but this GameCube game is slow?" While those more knowledgeable about the intricacies of emulation may roll their eyes, it does warrant some explanation. Usually when stepping down from a newer console emulator to an older console emulator, the minimum requirements for emulation drop significantly. While there are some exceptions when dealing with exceptionally obtuse hardware, that concern doesn't hold up here: The GameCube and Wii, …

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To the Screen with Hybrid XFB

Dolphin has been around for over 14 long years at this point. Goals, expectations and standards have shifted quite a bit since the beginning. At one point, just booting a game at all was good enough, regardless of what you would see or hear! Compatibility has gone from a few select titles to almost every game released across two consoles. Considering all of that, it should be no surprise that some solutions that worked in the past slowly came to be a burden going forward. In this case, we're talking about …

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