Asking for the cooperation from MSX Software developers

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By tvalenca

Paladin (747)

tvalenca's picture

03-08-2015, 18:54

Some of you may have noticed recently some noise about something that can be called MSX3 or anything like that. There are a lot of ideas of what can be done, until @Grauw brought me back to reality saying: "I hope those hardware guys do it in cooperation with the software guys Smile ."

So, I'm asking: Do you, (in)active MSX software developers, have anything that you want implemented in MSX? What can be done to help you? What do you think is the most needed feature in MSX? More processing speed? (Perhaps a better "turbo kit", without sound glitches or pitch issues for MSX with non-Z80-embedded engines) 2 independent scrolling planes and sets of sprites in a V9958 "package" (superimposed V9958)? A DVD Player interface for software capable of using its video signal as background source? (like LD games) Some cool NES-style pattern effects? (VDP-independent VRAM modifications) Or even a math coprocessor to calc trigonometric functions quickly?

Afterall, GFX9000 and Moonsound have been around for quite a lot of time and not a lot of things have been developed for them, specially GFX9000, which proves that having only the hardware is useless.

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By ARTRAG

Enlighted (6845)

ARTRAG's picture

03-08-2015, 19:19

No way to resurrect the msx with new hw...
Sorry the diffusion of any new platform would be too low (even compared to msx TR) to be interesting for commercial development

By tvalenca

Paladin (747)

tvalenca's picture

03-08-2015, 20:01

That's just to prove a point. I changed my mind about this "MSX3 fuss". If enough people are motivated to create software to some "new spec machine", or at least a "new spec expansion" maybe I'll consider putting some effort on it again.

By Grauw

Ascended (10604)

Grauw's picture

03-08-2015, 20:45

Higher speed CPU without sound distortion is definitely interesting for the type of application I’m working on lately (music-related). Additionally a built-in SD card slot, ESE-SCC and other 1chipMSX-like features is pretty desirable. Also, high quality noise-free audio output would be a pretty big deal for me, would be nice if that was done right.

Other than that, to be honest my biggest dreams are pretty much met by the combination MSX turboR + MegaFlashROM SCC+ SD + OPL4 + V9990. The newest MSX I have is the 1chipMSX / Zemmix Neo and although it set a new bar in terms of features (my real MSX-es caught up when I bought the MFRSCC+SD), the CPU speed leaves something to be desired.

For all software I develop, I always try to use newer features without excluding too many MSX users on older systems. So, I try to apply a type of “progressive enhancement” approach if I can, where a turboR user maybe has a better experience but it would still be usable for an MSX2 user. I probably wouldn’t develop software which exclusively works on a new hardware platform but none of the original MSX’es (small utilities aside). That’s why new features like a coprocessor are better implemented as cartridge extensions, IMO.

It’s also why I like new-MSX features based on existing hardware such as for example the V9990, because if I develop software for that VDP they would also be playable on an original MSX with the V9990 extension. But a new MSX could add value by integrating it in a better and more convenient way (nice superimposed video output).

In the end, the MSX user base is not so big, and I like to make my software accessible to as many people as possible. Having a new MSX turboR-compatible system, it would actually increase the number of people I can develop for when taking the turboR + common extensions feature set in mind, so that is a very positive thing to me. By creating an entirely new hardware with new features, it further fragments the market and makes it less appealing to me to develop for.

p.s. To touch on the other features you named: 2x V9958 — I prefer V9990 because it can do more and is accessible to any MSX user when they buy the cartridge. DVD Player — it was nice to see some Youtube videos recently superimposing Nemesis on a space video, but otherwise it’s note very interesting to me. NES style effects are cool but again has the problem that existing MSXes can never do it, if I really want that I’m probably better off coding a NES game, that’s where the userbase would be for it.

By tvalenca

Paladin (747)

tvalenca's picture

03-08-2015, 21:08

Grauw wrote:

p.s. To touch on the other features you named: 2x V9958 — I prefer V9990 because it can do more and is accessible to any MSX user when they buy the cartridge. DVD Player — it was nice to see some Youtube videos recently superimposing Nemesis on a space video, but otherwise it’s note very interesting to me. NES style effects are cool but again has the problem that existing MSXes can never do it, if I really want that I’m probably better off coding a NES game, that’s where the userbase would be for it.

Just named those in an attempt to unleash people's imagination, you weren't supposed to stay in the box... But thank you very much for the answers.

By hit9918

Prophet (2923)

hit9918's picture

04-08-2015, 17:14

Long story short, long known expansions, nothing new needed, keep compatible, that's my coders view.
But the hardwaremaker likes to bring something new.
You could explore whether 9938 can make line interrupts in the top and bottom border, maybe after one opened the borders with 192/212 lines mode toggeling.
And then the fpga needs this, too.
If one could get line interrupts thrughout the entire frame, one could make digi sound out of nothing, especialy with a turbo cpu.

By hit9918

Prophet (2923)

hit9918's picture

04-08-2015, 17:37

Quote:

Afterall, GFX9000 and Moonsound have been around for quite a lot of time and not a lot of things have been developed for them, specially GFX9000, which proves that having only the hardware is useless.

Still 9990 is better than a 9958 moded with parallax.
Because when I code for 9990, there are some existing users, plus a million openmsx users to who can play the game.
And the openmsx has it because decades ago was clear that this is the next VDP.

The MSX3 exists, actual problem is a turbo problem, otherwise MSX3 is lack of software.
This whole story goes with very low workforce.
And that is why I speak against inventing even more new hardware.
And that is why in the wild MSX3 threads I always try go get things real.
And the result is that there is a lack of a turbo and nothing else.

By ARTRAG

Enlighted (6845)

ARTRAG's picture

04-08-2015, 18:23

I'm on hit's side

By tvalenca

Paladin (747)

tvalenca's picture

04-08-2015, 19:03

hit9918 wrote:

Long story short, long known expansions, nothing new needed, keep compatible, that's my coders view.
But the hardwaremaker likes to bring something new.
You could explore whether 9938 can make line interrupts in the top and bottom border, maybe after one opened the borders with 192/212 lines mode toggeling.
And then the fpga needs this, too.
If one could get line interrupts thrughout the entire frame, one could make digi sound out of nothing, especialy with a turbo cpu.

I think this is possible, and could be done outside the VDP because you can count the lines using CSYNC signal. Even a cartridge with a video (either CVBS, SVideo or RGB) input/passthru connections will do that (people who don't want either have the ability to mod their computers will like it). It's only a matter of choosing an I/O port to place an 8-bit register, and when the counter reach that line, triggers an interrupt. And reading this same I/O port will return if the interrupt was generated by this circuit. This could be done direct or indirectly, it's possible to use just one address to write a bunch of registers, like we already do with the VDP 99h and 98h ports. A few TTLs, or a small CPLD, will do the work.

hit9918 wrote:
Quote:

Afterall, GFX9000 and Moonsound have been around for quite a lot of time and not a lot of things have been developed for them, specially GFX9000, which proves that having only the hardware is useless.

Still 9990 is better than a 9958 moded with parallax.
Because when I code for 9990, there are some existing users, plus a million openmsx users to who can play the game.
And the openmsx has it because decades ago was clear that this is the next VDP.

Got it. Even if GFX9000 is rare nowadays, twin V9958 users are outnumbered by a lot. BUT, talking about GFX9000s (and Powergraphs), you still need two TV/Monitors to use them. In your (i'm asking every one, not just hit9918) "coders view ", it's best to leave it this way (separate displays), or it's a good thing to have them superimposed? V9990 over V9958? If I'm not mistaken, openMSX already emulates this because of Video9000 emulation.

hit9918 wrote:

The MSX3 exists, actual problem is a turbo problem, otherwise MSX3 is lack of software.
This whole story goes with very low workforce.
And that is why I speak against inventing even more new hardware.
And that is why in the wild MSX3 threads I always try go get things real.
And the result is that there is a lack of a turbo and nothing else.

That turbo issue bugs me too. And there's no way to solve this without some padronization and some "pain". Bus Clock is meant to be read as "CPU Clock" But PSG uses this clock as reference for sound generation (and there's no way to fix it on Toshiba MSX-Engine based computers, you need to install a second PSG). External music extensions uses this same signal and (apparently) they weren't supposed to, and they need to be fixed (or a Modulon slot expander need to be used). But even if it hurts a little, all of this can be solved, and can be simple with some clever designs. If this turbo kit have a good design, I think it can easily run at 21,47MHz using the CMOS 20MHz rated Z80. Is this enough for you coders?

(When I played with this on BlueMSX It was really cool, but I was plotting some trigonometric equations and it was still slower than I wanted... No! I don't want to do that on PCs!)

By Grauw

Ascended (10604)

Grauw's picture

04-08-2015, 20:13

tvalenca wrote:

Got it. Even if GFX9000 is rare nowadays, twin V9958 users are outnumbered by a lot. BUT, talking about GFX9000s (and Powergraphs), you still need two TV/Monitors to use them. In your (i'm asking every one, not just hit9918) "coders view ", it's best to leave it this way (separate displays), or it's a good thing to have them superimposed? V9990 over V9958? If I'm not mistaken, openMSX already emulates this because of Video9000 emulation.

I think V9990 superimposed over V9958 is definitely a thing that would be very valuable to users, even just simply from a usability point of view.

One of the biggest challenges though may be to do it such that graphics quality of the V9958 stays pristine. The Video9000 could do superimposition, but I recall reading that the V9958 became quite blurry when using it as the superimpose source. May be because the V9990 could not be directly integrated with the V9958… Correct me if I’m wrong.

tvalenca wrote:

If this turbo kit have a good design, I think it can easily run at 21,47MHz using the CMOS 20MHz rated Z80. Is this enough for you coders?

Seems like it would definitely approach R800 speed, though not exceed it probably. Thinking about my own applications, for Synthesix and VGMPlay it would result in quite a nice processing speed boost, allowing the user to create more complex synthesis patches and get better accuracy on VGM playback. Probably as long as the BIOS interface to change CPU speed stays the same, everything will work fine. Also thinking about those turboR games like Illusion City, etc.

One thing worth thinking about is, the turboR also has DRAM mode and such which quite a bunch of neat tools like NandemoSCC depend on. Also it has a high-res timer which I use in VGMPlay. (A nice extension to the timer would be to allow it to generate an interrupt on overflow.) Probably this all needs to be present before the BIOS MSX version byte can be set to turboR…

By hit9918

Prophet (2923)

hit9918's picture

04-08-2015, 20:08

Quote:

I think this is possible, and could be done outside the VDP because you can count the lines using CSYNC signal.

you forgot to keep compatible! Wink

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