Emulator Comparison: The Saga continues

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Por snout

Ascended (15187)

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20-04-2004, 16:48

Okay, after a few busy weeks (coming up) it looks like I will have some spare time on my hands. As we can't let that happen, I thought it would be a good idea to do another Emulator Comparison, as a lot has changed since the previous one.

I have thought of a new set-up, which will allow me to write new tests more quickly, compared to the current setup. This way we should be able to keep the Emulator Comparison reasonably up to date. What I am mainly looking for now is:

- Testing software. I'm looking for several titles that will give interesting results. If software runs fine on every single emulator, it's not an interesting title. If you know software that causes problems, let me know and I'll add it to the 'test'-suite. In the end, about 20 software titles will prove to be interesting enough to become the 'real testing software'. One of them is a default: Unknown Reality Wink

- What would you like to see in the new Emulator Comparison. Screenshots? More information on... (fill in the blanks)...?

Mind you, I am still miles away from actually publishing the EC.

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Por Grauw

Ascended (10581)

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20-04-2004, 18:40

openMSX will have a new major version coming out soon (0.4.0), so good timing Smile. Also, aside from usability and correct emulation, twould also be nice to give some attention to 'additional features' emulators offer.

Testing software? Try the current version of GLC Smile.

~Grauw

Por Manuel

Ascended (18782)

Imagen del Manuel

20-04-2004, 20:19

Note that not only 'hard' things should be tested. There should at least be a few very popular software titles tested, since they will be run by many users of the emulators. (Like Metal Gear (2), SD-Snatcher, etc.)
You could also pay attention to the completeness of the emulator. Emulating a basic MSX2 is one thing, but there's more devices for MSX Smile On the other hand: many people (the kind that I just mentioned) won't care aboutg that...
How about testing how suitable the emulator is for MSX software developers? Or portability to other platforms? There are so many aspects one might consider... Good luck! Smile

Oh and yes: please wait until we release openMSX 0.4.0.... (note that 0 is the major version part, 4 is minor.... But it's a relatively major release indeed, since this release will come with a full version of the Command Interface and a(n optional) GUI which will make heavily use of it!)

Por BiFi

Enlighted (4348)

Imagen del BiFi

20-04-2004, 22:01

That's one way of putting openMSX on top of the list... which it probably already is in the first place when people use Catapult with it. That combination is a very userfriendly one already.

Por Grauw

Ascended (10581)

Imagen del Grauw

21-04-2004, 00:09

Dunno... MSX-Player is very good aswell, and BlueMSX... never tried that one, but I heard good things about it, at least user-interface-wise.

I don't think taking stuff manuel mentioned into account will instantly put openMSX on the top... Compared to good emulation e.d. it doesn't weigh heavily ofcourse. And where it does, perhaps other emulators their possibly better UI's (haven't tried the new Catapult yet) or other features will counter it.

And besides, it's not like, a bad thing to have openMSX on the top Smile. Also, there doesn't nessecarily have to be one 'ultimate' winner... Some others might be reasoned secondary winners like, 'if you're a common windows user and just want to play a few of the popular games with one click drag n drop support blah blah, use this' and 'if you want good emulation with still an ok interface, use that', etc.

~Grauw

Por dvik

Prophet (2200)

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21-04-2004, 02:25

Some people seems to believe that openMSX has far better emulation than the other emulators. I can create a quite long list of things where other emulators (NLMSX and blueMSX) are doing a better job with emulation than openMSX and I'm not talking about GUI features. I think that snout will find that too when he starts his tests.

With this I'm not saying that openMSX is not the best emulator though. I'm just saying that it is not a superior emulator.

One criteria I'd like to see that you did not mentioned is the audio quailty. This is at least as important as the VDP emulation.

I suggest you ask Fritz if his new version of NLMSX will be ready before you start your tests. Posts on his forum indicates that it may be released soon....

I have two very good test apps that you can add to the test suite:
- the demo Turnix 2
- the game Ark-A-Noah.

Por anonymous

incognito ergo sum (116)

Imagen del anonymous

21-04-2004, 03:09

If something is 'the best' doesn't that automatically mean it's 'superior' to the rest?
I'm looking forward to your definitions of 'the best' and 'superior'.

Por dvik

Prophet (2200)

Imagen del dvik

21-04-2004, 03:28

I think the discussions, especially in this forum glorifies openMSX a bit too much. But it all depends on what you use the emulator for I guess...

Por mth

Champion (506)

Imagen del mth

21-04-2004, 05:45

It's nice to have enthusiastic users, but it's true that openMSX is still a long way from being perfect.

What makes openMSX different from the other MSX emulators is the EmuTime model, which allows synchronisation between different devices at an arbitrary precision. This makes it possible to do near-perfect emulation (meaning there is no theoretical limit to accuracy), but the complexity of the code also makes bugs more likely. Emulators which use a simpler timing model (such as those based on fMSX) have a limit to the accuracy they can achieve, but because the code is less complex, they are less likely to have bugs.

About test cases:

A demo we had lots of trouble with is Relax from ANMA. In fact, the mouse emulation still doesn't work correctly with Relax. The "Boring Scroll" part does work now, but the fix for that is a bit of a hack.

Asking for test cases on this forum will create a bias of course, because emulator authors will list software they have encountered problems with before and in many cases those problems have been fixed. So it might be a good idea to also take some random samples from your software collection and if you find a program which is not emulated correctly on all emulators, include it in the comparison.

About the format:

It would be useful to have a kind of "features matrix": a table which lists features on one axis and emulators on another. So you can easily see which emulators have MSX Audio, turbo R, video filters, debugging support etc. It could be as simple as yes/no, but a quality indicator (0-5 penguins?) would be nicer, if you have the time to make that.

Also I think it would be useful to make the comparison less of a contest and more of a summary of what is available. The previous comparison focused a lot on the score system, which lead to the strange result that openMSX was in the lead on the score board (mainly because of its ability to run demos well) but was not one of the recommended emulators (because of slowness and the lack of a GUI).

You could try to change the score system, but no matter what system you come up with, your weighing of different aspects of an emulator will not match that of a user, because no two users are alike. For example, if you use the emulator for gaming, support for joysticks, save states, speed control and auto fire would be important. If you use the emulator for watching demos, accurate emulation of obscure features of various chips (especially the VDP) is important. If you use the emulator for MSX cross-development, debugging features are important and accuracy is important as well, because it's annoying if your developed program runs fine on the emulator but shows glitches when run on a real MSX. Also the ability to emulate many different MSX models and extensions would be useful for development.

Another problem with a score system is that some features are very subjective. For example video filters (scalers, scanlines, blur): some people love them, others turn them off immediately. Or the emulation of the Kanji ROM: important if you can read Japanese, but otherwise more of a nice-to-have. Or the inclusion of system ROMs in the emulator distribution: it's convenient for the users, but it violates copyrights in many countries (except for MSX Player which does have licensed ROMs, but only in Japan).

I think it would be useful to make the emulator comparison not a snapshot of the state at a certain moment in time, but something that is continuously updated. So when a new version or even new emulator comes out, (re)test it and update the comparison. Maybe not retest for every single release, but try to make sure the test results are not more than a couple of months old. I understand this is a lot of work, so make sure you get some help.

Por dvik

Prophet (2200)

Imagen del dvik

21-04-2004, 06:23

blueMSX has a timing model that is very similar to the EmuTime model. The VDP, audio chips and other devices are synchronized to one timer. That's one reason why Unknown Reality runs perfect on blueMSX as well.

Besides the EmuTime model, blueMSX also has a unique timing model to synchronize the MSX time to PC time which is one reason why blueMSX runs more smooth and don't hack as other emulators sometimes do.

And it is possible to do acurate emulation with low CPU usage. blueMSX is close to openMSX even if there is a little bit still to go. blueMSX also runs most demos perfect nowdays. It has still some problem with a few demos, mainly some Fony demos.

I agree with mth that it is good to take random samples from the software collection. It does not make sence for me or mth to give you a list because it is easy to create a list of demos that work good in one emulator but has problems in another.

I definately like the feature matrix idea. It will probably take a while to do but it will give a good overview of different emulators and probably help users if they need something special. With a penguine table that is kept up to date would be a very nice thing to have on MRC.

Other features that are important in an emulator is to change emulation speed (faster/slower), save the state of the emulation, and the ability to debug. Since these features are supported by only a few emulators and no emulator supports all, it is maybe hard to compare.

A new version of blueMSX will also be released soon and I think you will be suprized with a couple of the new features.

Good luck with the comparison !

Por anonymous

incognito ergo sum (116)

Imagen del anonymous

21-04-2004, 15:45

I'll anxiously be awaiting new versions of all the major MSX emulators Smile

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