MSX emulator with VR support?

By Samor

Paragon (1941)

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23-01-2018, 16:29

I have a Samsung Gear VR and one of the apps on it is "Oculus Arcade", which presents emulated games in a virtual arcade hall. The effect of immersion worked pretty well and I thought it could work just as well for MSX; think of a virtual computer room with a working MSX machine in it. You could create the illusion of a having a huge MSX monitor as well.
I am not aware of any projects but I'd imagine it not being too hard (relatively) to adapt an existing emulator to run in such an environment. The GearVR platform is very closed though so I'd opt for something like Google Cardboard instead (you don't move around a lot while sitting in front of a computer so a simple VR implementation should suffice).

While just thinking a bit about that I even created an MSX VR logo for fun (a simple edit based on the Turbo-R font) without knowing at the time that VroBit was now using the same name for their machine Tongue

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By TomH

Master (166)

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23-01-2018, 18:00

Speaking as a recent emigrant from the VR field: the advantage of the GearVR for this task is that it is locked to 60fps as, I'll wager, are all the arcade games being run through it.

Desktop VR tends to run at 90fps which, with a classically-implemented emulator, is likely to lead to judder-vision. After you've conveniently adjusted the speed of the machine to put it at exactly 60Hz, in the best case an ordinary frame-centric emulator is likely to display the field sequence ABCDEF as ABBCDDEFF. Every other field will last twice as long. So that's a risk if you just grab something and drop it in.

My emulator attempts to be smarter than that, so I'm sure others do too, but you'd want to be careful to pick something that can make that leap. After that an emulator should adapt pretty well, subject to controls. Presumably you're thinking joystick-only input?

By Samor

Paragon (1941)

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23-01-2018, 19:52

I'd forgotten about the 60hz/60fps part, that's indeed a big plus for the GearVR.
I mentioned cardboard as its potential audience is a lot larger and the platform isn't locked (but the quality would obviously be lower, even with a good headset).

As for input joystick/gamepad first and foremost. However, I think an on-screen keyboard would be really helpful as well as regular keyboard support for those who're good at typing blindly.

By turbor

Champion (384)

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23-01-2018, 20:10

TomH wrote:

it is locked to 60fps as, I'll wager, are all the arcade games being run through it.

Yes and it screws up most arcade games of the golden age since almost none of them ran at 60 Hz natively. The original Mortal Kombat even used a refresh of 53Hz since they went for a higher vertical resolution...

By TomH

Master (166)

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23-01-2018, 22:35

I have to admit to being ignorant of the refresh rates of old arcade games. Regardless, I don't think the frame-rate difference need be too great an issue — it's something I'm investing quite a lot of time into and you've at least two options:

  1. let the complete frames fall where they will, which on average makes every other frame last twice as long;
  2. draw the partial frames and chuck it behind a camera-looking-at-a-screen model that blends the recent output using a phosphor-esque model.

With (2) the total image is less sharp — in particular, things blur a little as they move, but that's not necessarily perceptively inaccurate — but the latency is fixed, and on average lower. With (1) everything is sharp but best-case latency is worse, and latency in general flips constantly between two ranges. So in net you're picking between sharpness versus motion.

Given that sharpness was often notably absent from consumer-level computer video of the 1980s, I like (2) better than (1). It's just not what most emulators do, for a variety of reasons.

By Samor

Paragon (1941)

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24-01-2018, 19:20

I don't think the resolution is much of a problem, we're talking about relatively low res screens (because they're so close to the eye) and retro games are actually one of the cases were the blurrier, lower res. vision of VR does not matter a lot at all.
I guess the example I played was kind of ideal (if not slightly unrealistic): sega mega drive games on virtual arcade machines.... the framerate appeared smooth (60 fps on 60hz indeed) and the illusion of playing on a large arcade monitor worked. The sound of the game was also coming from the direction of the machine, that's also a thing to take into account.

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