simplest coolest hardware add on to enhance msx games

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Van st1mpy

Paladin (838)

afbeelding van st1mpy

08-04-2009, 15:40

I was dreaming of something inside a cartridge (like SCC) that offers something otherwise is impossible on MSX1. (So a FPGA cart can be used to prototype.)
I am interested in graphics enhancement, but I wanted this to still output through normal video out (not from the new cartridge), so it would go through the existing VDP. Features wanted are things like a proper bitmap mode (with colour limitations), more/bigger sprites, and smooth scroll.
If the hardware inside the cartridge (doesn't have to be a new VDP, but something that modified the memory in it / even the RAM of the computer) can almost instantly update the data of character/tile patterns of a bitmap image (screen) inside it, then it could upload that data to VRAM through VDP. For this to work it is still dependent on the speed of MSX's screen update (with whole character patterns regenerated every time.) So is it impossible?

Van Yukio

Paragon (1540)

afbeelding van Yukio

08-04-2009, 16:06

You are wanting something like a Z80 DMA. Maybe even a cheaper DSP could do the tricks that would performance a smooth scroll on MSX1 systems.

A person just need one of those dedicated processors when dealing with intensive copies of the screen (like updating the entire character sets or the tiles of the full screen).

Van dhau

Paragon (1570)

afbeelding van dhau

08-04-2009, 16:09

I was dreaming of something inside a cartridge (like SCC) that offers something otherwise is impossible on MSX1. (So a FPGA cart can be used to prototype.)

I created something just like your dream! I moved the scent dispensing unit from wall plug to a MoonSound cartridge, and now every time I turn my MSX on, the room gets full of fresh aroma of pine trees!

If you need more information, please don't hesitate to ask. I think it's the most progressive MSX modification to date.

Van Hrothgar

Champion (479)

afbeelding van Hrothgar

08-04-2009, 16:42

St1mpy: If you want to maintain the colour limitations and basic workings of the MSX1 VDP, you can throughput as much as you want in terms of character/tile definitions but won't horizontal smoothscroll possibilities be extremely limited because of the colour clash? See Malaika - it works but with extremely limited tile design.

Instead, if you won't update entire screens but just adjust one smoothscroll register value each frame you'll have near 0 processor usage, 0 waiting time and no colour limitations. Also a few extra sprites (say - 8 full-colour ones per line) would hardly cause processor exhaustion but would significantly increase possibilities while not abandoning the general MSX1 feeling.

Van PingPong

Prophet (3793)

afbeelding van PingPong

08-04-2009, 17:42

I was dreaming of something inside a cartridge (like SCC) that offers something otherwise is impossible on MSX1. (So a FPGA cart can be used to prototype.)
I am interested in graphics enhancement, but I wanted this to still output through normal video out (not from the new cartridge), so it would go through the existing VDP. Features wanted are things like a proper bitmap mode (with colour limitations), more/bigger sprites, and smooth scroll.
If the hardware inside the cartridge (doesn't have to be a new VDP, but something that modified the memory in it / even the RAM of the computer) can almost instantly update the data of character/tile patterns of a bitmap image (screen) inside it, then it could upload that data to VRAM through VDP. For this to work it is still dependent on the speed of MSX's screen update (with whole character patterns regenerated every time.) So is it impossible?

@st1mpy: what you are asking is a project that was started on MRC some months ago. A super VDP:

http://www.msx.org/forumtopic9046.html

but some people managed to discourage the development.
take into consideration that the design of this card is more simple, elegant and powerfull of ALL actual VDPs on msx.

Van iamweasel2

Paladin (685)

afbeelding van iamweasel2

08-04-2009, 17:46

About enhancing games, I think one of the most effective (and cheap!) add on would be cd audio support in games. Audio is a big part of gaming experience, and with CD, it has some advantages:

1) Most of the users already have a IDE/SCSI interface, so it is just a matter o pluging an old CD-ROM. No need to buy another hardware;
2) Audio CD support can be added to games without ( too ) much effort from the developer. And it can even be added to classic games, As Daniel / Adriano did with Knightmare. Those who saw Knightmare with CD audio songs could see what a big improvement it was. Smile
3) Audio CD doesn't require much z80 power, since it will just send the command to start playing/stop playing the song. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it can use even less cpu power than playing with psg/fm, since you won't need to unpack data, send to psg/fm, etc.

On the other hand, despite these advantages, Why only Knightmare saw CD audio support is a interesting question....

Van [D-Tail]

Ascended (8254)

afbeelding van [D-Tail]

08-04-2009, 19:41

The problem with CD-Audio is that you'll need to plug in ear jacks or connect external speakers, 'cause otherwise you wouldn't hear nothing. That is at least my experience as one of the few MSX purists with a CD-ROM drive connected to my setup Wink

Van iamweasel2

Paladin (685)

afbeelding van iamweasel2

08-04-2009, 20:28

The problem with CD-Audio is that you'll need to plug in ear jacks or connect external speakers, 'cause otherwise you wouldn't hear nothing. That is at least my experience as one of the few MSX purists with a CD-ROM drive connected to my setup Wink

That's true, but it is a small price to pay (use external speakers) when you think about what you get. And then, you can always connect both the output of the MSX and the output of the CD-ROM to your tv set. I wouldn't mind playing a Nemesis CD Audio version with such setup. Smile

Van MäSäXi

Paragon (1884)

afbeelding van MäSäXi

09-04-2009, 10:14

To be truth, I, personally, just want something that won´t eat too much CPU power from Dear MSX-1.

I am thinking the same as Hrothgar and surely many others, I like to see MSX-1 game, which have some little technical improvement which does not spoil MSX-1 feeling. Smooth scroll hardware is not a must, we can have GREAT GAMES which uses single screens, and just change screen to another to allow player go to another screen, but some little sprite extension could be nice!! Smile

Maybe just some more sprites per scanline OR possibility to use BOTH magnified and non-magnified sprites at the same time!! In these years, it may sound useless to have possibility to get both magnified and non-magnified sprites since most people want to see hi-res graphics, NOT lo-res graphics. But when thinking many old Commodore 64 games, good designer can get nice results by using magnified sprites for body, motorcycle, etc and using normal sized sprites to add some smoothness to those same sprite-characters and at the same time game can have hi-res background and all is looking good! Smile Some 4x sprite magnifying and maybe choose of horizontal/vertical magnifying, could give nice little (BIGWink) effects too... Smile I think Ataris had 8x player magnifying!! Wink (thought players were 8x8...)

I like to hear more AY chips, imagine oldies space shooter, which doesn´t have in-game music, but 6 or 9 channel AY sound effects, can you imagine those metallic echoing sounds how big enemy ship´s metal starts to tear away bit by bit by every hit of your bullets, or try to imagine some Goonies/whatever cave which have familiar water dropping from the ceiling, imagine that wonderful echoing sound which comes from water dripping in large enormous cave.... if you have many channels, you can hear some background music too while enjoying very realistic water dripping effects.... LOL!

I know, I know, many of you now think, that we have SCC and msx-music etc already, but this is just nice imagination what ELSE we could have!!!! Smile

To those who think, that it must fail, as there are not enough game-developers for multi-AY etc, I will say that I don´t mind, if we can have just one or two cartridge games, which has several AY-chips, I just want to hear some "eighties style" game music using multi-AY. Smile Running Naked in a Field of Flowers

But anyway, I like whatever done the way which still has enough MSX-1 feel, at least graphically. Smile

Van Hrothgar

Champion (479)

afbeelding van Hrothgar

09-04-2009, 11:09

Question: what happens, technically, when you toggle the sprite magnification flag on and off during display of one sprite (using line interrupts)? Will an entire sprite always continue to be rendered with the magnification it had on its first line, or are these sprite attributes fetched every line?

If the former, we could already mix normal and magnified sprites in a single screen on MSX.

I believe technically MSX can already do vertical stretching of sprites by updating the sprite's Y-coordinate in a line interrupt? Same way you could create 32*16 px sprites by using the magnification flag and crunching sprites vertically. Only thing we need for that is stable interrupts.

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