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STELLA- new function to automate the use of PAL60-displaymode for PAL60roms


AW127
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One idea comes to my mind here, which also could be integrated in a new STELLA version. Think it would be really senseful.

 

There exist alot of PAL60 roms in the meanwhile, which was made by people from this forum here over the last years. When i count them together, i have here around 240 PAL60-roms. The most PAL60 roms was made out of the NTSC-roms and then changing the colors to fit to the PAL-palette. Also some PAL60 roms exist, which was made out of the normal PAL-roms, by changing the screen to a bigger size and sometimes also speeding them up to run in the same speed than the NTSC-version, i guess?

 

Those PAL60-roms made out of NTSC-roms, STELLA starts, of course, in NTSC fullscreen-mode with NTSC-colors, because STELLA still think, it is a NTSC-rom. The user here must, either manually change to "PAL" display in the game-option of any of those PAL60-roms, or he must make all the entrys in the stella-pro file by hand for all those roms. This can be a little bit nervy for over 240 files, when you must do this individual for every single PAL60-file. Same problem for those PAL60-roms, which was made out of normal PAL-roms. Here STELLA thinks, it`s a normal PAL-rom and starts it in PAL50 fullscreenmode and it runs to slow then. This is normal, cause these PAL60 changes are all hacks and not standard-roms anymore, so STELLA don`t know by it`s own, how to deal with those roms. But STELLA can identify a rom by it`s given name.

 

And therefore i have an idea for a new function. When a user integrate a new PAL60 rom to his collection and before doing this, adds the letters (PAL60) to the name of this rom, then STELLA should use "PAL60" display-mode automatically in the game-options for this game. So, STELLA should identify to use PAL60-display by the name of the rom and the added letters (PAL60).

 

I suppose, all people who use PAL60 roms in the moment, have added (PAL60) or something similar to the name anyway, to know what kind of rom it is and when i put together all those 202 PAL60-roms in the zip-File (in PAL60-thread), then i also added (PAL60) to the names of all those roms.

 

Think this would be a function, that really makes sense and. It can save herself the trouble to make it manually for PAL60 roms and it would have no influence at all, to normal PAL or NTSC roms as long as (PAL60) will not be in their name. But (PAL60) will never be in the name of a normal PAL or NTSC rom, cause it would make no sense at all to have this in the name for those roms. ;)

 

Now maybe some people will ask themselves "why at all, using a PAL60 rom in STELLA, when the emulator can change the colorpalette anyway and can play NTSC and PAL roms"? But i think, in times when many PAL users have a Harmony and a big PAL-rom-compilation on their SD-Card (which includes also alot PAL60-roms), those people wants to use the same compilation in STELLA too (at least this is the case for me and all my friends). And then it can be disturbing, when you klick through the roms and then their are alot of roms, which STELLA starts in wrong colors. Wouldn`t it be nice,when STELLA starts ALL roms in correct colors automatically, also the PAL60 ones? I think "yes"! :thumbsup:

 

What you STELLA programers think about this feature for PAL60 roms? Integrable?

 

 

 

By the way - 1,5 years ago i asked, if STELLA has an option, to change something in the game-options for a group of roms all at once. It was exactly because of that PAL60-display-thing with all 202 PAL60-roms at that time. SPICEWARE then told me, that this is not possible in the emulator. He then told me, how to do this with a script and then copying the text-output manually into the stella.pro file. Look here:

 

http://atariage.com/...ella/?p=3539909

 

I did this and that worked and solved the whole thing. Without that, i needed to change display-options for every single PAL60-rom manually in STELLA. Thanks to SPICEWARE. Later i copied all the text over to the stella.pro file of the new STELLA version on the newer PC to have it there too. But i think, the script-solution is a little bit difficult to do and if all STELLA users know, how to work with such a script or even to write such a script, i also don`t know. I didn`t knew, how to write that script at that time, for example. Therefore my suggestion with the identification of PAL60-hacks by the name. Think it would be a good solution for easy dealing with PAL60 roms inside the emulator. It only needs to be explained in the manual then, that new users know, what to add exactly to the name of such a rom.

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I don't think the filename should trigger anything in Stella. IMO that would be a hack and all hacks sooner or later cause problems.

 

The default and better option is to add those ROMs to Stella's database. Here all kind of things which cannot be auto detected are handled.

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I don't think the filename should trigger anything in Stella. IMO that would be a hack and all hacks sooner or later cause problems.

 

The default and better option is to add those ROMs to Stella's database. Here all kind of things which cannot be auto detected are handled.

 

 

Could also be done. I can copy all the text out from my stella.pro file and it could be added in the database of new STELLA versions from the beginning on. Only problem that i see here is for new-made PAL60-roms. Much more often, a new PAL60-rom came out, than a new STELLA-update. So new-made roms can only be identified by database then, when a new STELLA version came and this could take time.

 

It would be possible, to add those 202 PAL60-roms from the zip-file in the PAL60-Thread to the Database, then for these 202 roms it works in correct display. But for new-produced PAL60-roms, the user still must change the display-mode manually then. Okay, this would be not much work then, when for example one, two, three or four new roms would be added, but STELLA still would not be capable by it`s own, to show such roms in the correct display-mode.

 

STELLA should only trigger something by filename, when it would found (PAL60) letters in the name, otherwise nothing. Only problem of this, so called "hack" i see here is, when a user accidentally has given a rom these letters in the name and this rom is not a PAL60-rom. But i don`t know, if this would happen? Why should anybody do this?

 

The problem in general with those PAL60 roms is, that STELLA can not know by itself, from which rom-versions (PAL50/NTSC) they were made of. So when a user adds such a new-made PAL60-rom to his database and starts STELLA, the identifying by name, would be the only chance i see here, to automate the starting in PAL60-display-mode for this rom. I see no other possibility apart "filename check" for automating here.

 

But okay, it`s the decision of the programmers if they want to insert or not.

 

One question comes to my mind here - when i remember right, then for some of the new-programed games in the AtariAge Shop, only exists PAL60 and NTSC roms and no PAL50 versions. How is it, when a rom from the beginning on comes as a PAL60 rom and when it`s not a hack that was made out of NTSC or PAL50 rom? Can those PAL60-roms then be identified somehow by STELLA, to show them automatically in PAL60-display-mode? Have those roms any kind of information inside, that stella can identify correctly, or is here the same problem like it is with the PAL60-hacks?

Edited by AW127
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There's nothing in the roms that can identify themselves as PAL, NTSC or SECAM. You can only detect what framerate they use, because in the case of the 2600 this aspect of the video output is under software control. There's no technical difference between a PAL60 game and a NTSC one. Both will result in a NTSC video if plugged in a NTSC console, or PAL60 if plugged in a PAL one.
The difference is in the consoles, that have different palettes (i.e. the same value corresponds to different colors depending on the format of the console).
A game is NTSC or PAL60 depending on what palette the programmer used a reference to obtain the desired colors, which depends on what console the game is meant to be played. Unfortunately, the "what color the programmer meant to be displayed" is not an information you can autodetect from a rom.

I like the idea of using the filename to identify PAL60 (and SECAM/SECAM60 too), for newly released roms, altough I see how this could potentially cause problems.


A few suggestions if this is implemented:

- a specific file extension should be used, to reduce the risk "false positives"
e.g.: .pal.bin, .pal.a26, a26p, .secam.bin, .secam.a26 .a26s
this should also work in combination with bankswitch type info when issue #261 is implemented (e.g.: .pal.f8sc)
- Stella should still autodetect the framerate, and use the info in the filename just to change the palette. (e.g. if a rom has a .pal.bin extension, Stella should autodetect if it's PAL or PAL60)
- maybe a global option to toggle the use of filenames to pass parameters to Stella

A new file format with an header would be the solution, but changing a defined standard used by all emulators and multicarts will almost surely generate a lot of complaints.


Edited by alex_79
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I also thought about a file extension. But IMO this should be an absolute exception, allowed only because a wrong bankswitching format can cause emulation crashes.

 

PAL60 is only one out of many, many options (swapped ports or difficulty switches, controller types other than joystick, overly large screens, phosphor emulation...) that may need a default change for a hack or new homebrew.

 

The user can always temporarily switch e.g. the format using either hotkeys or command line parameters. Or easily permanently change all game settings from within Stella, using the Game Properties dialog. Or he can post the Stella.pro information in the Stella emulation thread and we will add it for him. Or he can check out the source code and update the Stella.pro file himself.

 

IMO we don't need a 6th(!) way here.

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch
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The user can always temporarily switch e.g. the format using either hotkeys or command line parameters. Or easily permanently change all game settings from within Stella, using the Game Properties dialog. Or he can post the Stella.pro information in the Stella emulation thread and we will add it for him. Or he can check out the source code and update the Stella.pro file himself.

 

IMO we don't need a 6th(!) way here.

Good point, I think you're right.

 

Maybe (I'm not making a suggestion, just thinking out loud...) Stella could support a per-rom property file (with the same filename but specific extension, e.g. ".stellapro") using the same syntax as the stella.pro global file (don't know if it should rely only on the filename, or include also the md5sum check). Programmer could include that with the roms to make them run with correct options out of the box. After the final rom is released, that one could be added to the official Stella.pro, but for wips versions this could have some use.

 

EDIT: If the file could work even when zipped together with a rom, that would be even better. It seems that's not the case for .sym and .lst files at the moment.

Edited by alex_79
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Yes, it looks like that. IMO we should think a about an improvement here. Either being able to manually load that file or by letting Stella automatically load those files.

 

I have just created an issue for this.

Edited by Thomas Jentzsch
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The functionality is almost already there. There is the option to save properties to a local file (individual, per-ROM, named after ROM), or to save to a local file (containing all properties, named 'stella.pro'). And when restarting Stella, it will first try to load from the local 'stella.pro' file, then from the built-in one. What's not currently done is attempting to load from the game-specific properties file. So it should be very easy to add, once we get around to working on it.

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So, when some people don`t like the "identification by filename suggestion", because they fear, it maybe could bring problems in the future, what about upgrading the STELLA "group of roms" possibilites, of which i wrote about here in entry #10 of this thread?

 

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/253907-change-options-of-more-than-one-game-rom-at-once-in-stella/?p=3540589

 

This would also solve the problem. Then it would not need 2 minutes to change the display-type in all PAL60-roms in one go and such a expanded "group of roms function" could also be used for other things, for all things that the user will change to lots of roms in one go.

Edited by AW127
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I've never been one to use information in filename to determine how an emulator operates. The potential for problems is too great. But I do use and sometimes manipulate filenames to change their order in a Windows Explorer window. Mostly for aesthetic purposes, grouping files together, or putting something at the top/bottom.

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