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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 4:15 pm 
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Hojo_Norem wrote:
tokumaru wrote:
It wasn't until fairly recently that new parts for cartridges became more accessible.

The Easyflash has been around for a few years now and some people are really beginning to use the potential. Case in point here. No co-processors, no DMA, just pure 6502!

That sounded surprisingly good (listening to Ichiro Mizuki was a pleasant surprise, too)! Is it streaming compressed data and decompressing it in real-time? Can't the NES do the same using a PowerPak or an Everdrive? But again, that isn't indicative of what actual games can realistically do.

Anyway, my point was that since it was a computer that could use tapes and disks in addition to cartridges, software distribution was simpler on the C64, and that may have helped with the early establishment of a homebrew scene compared to the NES, where developers had a harder time running their programs on hardware and making said programs available to the general public.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 4:35 pm 
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Hojo_Norem wrote:
To paraphrase the SID's designer, audio chips of the time were designed with an engineer's mindset. The SID was designed with a musician's.

Enh, this is just a marketing slogan. Also I think the NES APU is somewhat distinct from other audio chips of the same time.

There was an interview I read with the designed of the NES APU talking about how it was somewhat based on the idea of a rock band instrumentation, e.g. bass and drums = triangle and noise/DPCM. There's also the length counter feature, which seems to have a bunch of built-in durations designed around musical concepts of metre -- this feature is not really very useful, but it definitely indicates to me a "musician's" goal, if you really must drive a wedge between engineer and musician.

Really I think you get the best result when you have good engineering and good artistic capability going into the same design, but it seems to be a rare case where the person doing the work understands both, or a partnership where the two people can collaborate well with each other. Most of the time chip design probably is indeed just an "engineer" type person, because you need that skill to even build the chip in the first place.

I think both the NES APU and SID have some good and bad musical ideas, and some good and bad engineering implementations in them. TBH the per-channel volume, and extra channels of the NES win me over here, vs. the SID having such extravagant waveform control, but I think there's some great music for both.

Both of them beat the pants off many prior PSG chips like the AY or that even more limited chip in the SMS. NES' 3 duties is already way better than square only.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 5:24 pm 
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tepples wrote:
p is the musical symbol for piano or soft.
f is the musical symbol for forte or loud.

The software-defined volume envelope of NES pulse and noise channels is versatile enough to allow sound drivers on NES to play soft, loud, or anywhere in between.

Ah, right. Makes sense. I suppose you just have to compose the music for the hardware, rather than trying to bend the hardware to do something it really cant. I wouldn't be surprised if the SID chip that 'would have been' would have had volume per channel... but time and Commodore's executives were sometimes cruel masters.

tokumaru wrote:
That sounded surprisingly good (listening to Ichiro Mizuki was a pleasant surprise, too)! Is it streaming compressed data and decompressing it in real-time?

From what I have read that is exactly what it's doing. At 48Khz there is about 21 CPU clock cycles (at PAL C64 speed) per audio sample. That's 21 cycles to fetch, decompress, loop and poke the SID! There's a blog post detailing it.

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Anyway, my point was that since it was a computer that could use tapes and disks in addition to cartridges, software distribution was simpler on the C64, and that may have helped with the early establishment of a homebrew scene compared to the NES, where developers had a harder time running their programs on hardware and making said programs available to the general public.

That's true. I'm surprised that somebody hasn't come up with some kind of reasonably cost effective limited mapper/memory SD card solution for NES homebrew by now. A Famicom 'SD' system of sorts.

rainwarrior wrote:
I think both the NES APU and SID have some good and bad musical ideas, and some good and bad engineering implementations in them. TBH the per-channel volume, and extra channels of the NES win me over here, vs. the SID having such extravagant waveform control, but I think there's some great music for both.

Both of them beat the pants off many prior PSG chips like the AY or that even more limited chip in the SMS. NES' 3 duties is already way better than square only.

I prefer the variety of the SID's voices myself, but I can also appreciate the 2a03's qualities... just point me in the direction of its equivalent of the HVSC and I'll be set!

And yes, what we have is lightyears ahead of those Z80 powered AY junkheaps... Mutter mutter Spectrum mutter mutter CPC mutter mutter...

Anyway, I think I've derailed this thread long enough. :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 5:53 pm 
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Hojo_Norem wrote:
Both of them beat the pants off many prior PSG chips like the AY or that even more limited chip in the SMS. NES' 3 duties is already way better than square only.

I prefer the variety of the SID's voices myself, but I can also appreciate the 2a03's qualities... just point me in the direction of its equivalent of the HVSC and I'll be set![/quote]
This is the best I know of: ftp://ftp.modland.com/pub/modules/Nintendo%20Sound%20Format/.
Only problem is that it doesn't have any modern tunes like HVSC, and the organization isn't as good (IMO).

As for SID vs. NES, I vastly prefer the SID. Arbitrary sound waves for each channel, true PWM for pulse waves, programmable filters, ring modulation, etc.
The 2A03 simply cannot touch the SID from a technical aspect, but I also like the 2A03 as a separate chip, and I make music for it, whereas I have not (yet) made music for the SID, although I listen to a ton of SID music.

The 2A03 does have a sample channel, but samples are possible on the SID as well though various hacks, even going so far as to play MODs in addition to its own SID music (example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSk9qE6_2Oc).


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:05 pm 
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syboxez wrote:
samples are possible on the SID as well though various hacks, even going so far as to play MODs in addition to its own SID music
I mean, if you're going to include that, you have to include the SuperNSF playback engine that mixes MODs using the 2A03's sample channel and also plays normal sequence data using the other four channels.

I'm not thrilled by adding softsynths to either console, but they do both have ones.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:12 pm 
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lidnariq wrote:
I mean, if you're going to include that, you have to include the SuperNSF playback engine that mixes MODs using the 2A03's sample channel and also plays normal sequence data using the other four channels.

I'm not thrilled by adding softsynths to either console, but they do both have ones.

I would count that in the same category, so consider it "included".

I feel like using samples in chiptunes is cheating in general (at least when I make music), but I wouldn't count them out completely.

But taking out the use of samples with the SID, I still feel like the SID is the superior sound chip.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 6:18 pm 
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syboxez wrote:
I feel like using samples in chiptunes is cheating in general (at least when I make music), but I wouldn't count them out completely.

Fortunately, there's a sound chip built for those who love to cheat: the S-DSP in the Super NES.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 10:43 pm 
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tepples wrote:
Fortunately, there's a sound chip built for those who love to cheat: the S-DSP in the Super NES.

I'd eventually like to move to making sampled music (especially seeing as how I want to make a SNES game in the long term future), but for now I'm expanding my musical "talent" (very strong double quotes there) without samples. Also the SNES's 64KB of audio RAM is extremely limiting.

Seriously though, promoting sampled sound chips? It's almost like we're on SNESdev or something :P


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:28 pm 
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psycopathicteen wrote:
SMS is the most halfway between NES and SNES, in my opinion.

It is a truth universally acknowledge that the SMS is more powerful than a NES.

However I've been looking at the SMS, and I'm not so sure. They say 4Mhz, the really mean 3.58mhz. The graphics are higher quality and it has VRAM build in. But lack of flipping as noted above, same sprite per line limits, the sound chip is no where near in league with the NESs. No Sprite data DMA and you have to go via the Z80 "ports" to set data. Although you can talk to the VDP during rendering, albeit at a slower pace. To which I conclude, slower CPU, less graphics update capabilities, poorer sound but more RAM and cheaper cart manufacturing, and a built in raster counter even if its a "what where they thinking" kind of implementation. Personally I'm of the option that the pad is worse than the NES but that is matter of personal preference and not something that could be counted either way. I think for raw power and capabilities the NES wins, when you throw in a MMC5 no contest.
I though the bank switching of the cart was built in, their docs are not up to the Y0shi standard, however upon closer inspection just the registers are defined not the actual banking chip is in the SMS... which doesn't make the carts as cheap as they seemed...


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:40 pm 
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Oziphantom wrote:
however upon closer inspection just the registers are defined not the actual banking chip is in the SMS... which doesn't make the carts as cheap as they seemed...
It seems that they almost always just added the bankswitching hardware into the mask ROM. Which ... is probably incrementally free?

Unlicensed games seemed to usually end up with something vaguely similar to the game boy MBCs (fixed bank from $0000-$7FFF; switchable bank from $8000-$BFFF)


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:16 am 
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When I said more colours I meant "more colours on screen" something like Mayhem in Monsterland is known to have 20 colours on screen at once thanks to various blending tricks.

Another aspect of the SID is you don't have to play music to which you can put any SFX onto any channel at any time, allowing you to have 3 channels of SFX. And if one compares say Robocop 3 NES to Robcop 3 C64, C64 by a long shot. Skate or Die is a bit 50/50 but the samples on the NES lack "raw edge" that the game goes for to which C64. There there is the Turbo Outrun title screen. All of these are commercial games so not "its demo only shennigans apply"
The FM-YAM cart has just been released, there is also the SndFX cart of yore and if you really really want to make YM sound then people who own this cart would love you too, you can then use the SID for SFX with music ;) just beware the clocks..

The C64s wide pixels only look fat compared to their height, they are not that much bigger than a S/NES. Give then C64 divides the TV into 402x292 pixels of which we than take 320 out of those 402, in multicolour you get 201 pixels vs 256 pixels but we take 160 out of them. So you get a bit smaller than a NES pixel, or a bit wider than a NES pixel. Only you can have wider and smaller on the same screen to use it where it counts ;) We also get colour per 8x8 not 16x16 :P which means we can scroll without artifacts :P
The bitmap is just a bitmap there is not any special Demo effects for it. See Law of the West C64 version which uses hires bitmaps for the the game, compare with the NES for a laugh ;) Caren and IK/IK+ use multicolour bitmaps, Bombjack does as well I believe, Summer Camp uses bitmaps ( although underused ), Stormlord and Deliverence us scrolling bitmap. Another world ( not that one ) use AGSP to get scrolling bitmaps as well.
Another thing is the C64s 16:10 aspect ratio means if you don't use the border area you can trim the borders and it still works on a 16:9/16:10 tv/monitor without warping. It also makes it easier to port modern games.

Controller there is a standard 2 button ( the GS used it ) which has mostly been ignored, I have made a SNES to C64 adapter which is low impact on the CPU, but there is a commercial 8 SNES pad to C64 adapter people can buy, if you want to really go multiplayer ;) or you can get carts with 2 extra DB9s on it like the MD micormachines carts for 4 players.

All of the games are English only, however Sam's is translated into Spanish. The Spanish community is quite passionate about it and they fund raise the translation. For the Hunters Moon remaster one of the stretch goals was to add FIGS to the game and Manual. However it is not required to do FIGS.

I'm not sure the C64 scene is a little bigger than the NES. For what I can tell (please let me know if otherwise as that really help sway producers ;) ) but selling 100 copies is a really good run on the NES. On the C64
Hunters Moon remaster KS ~350
Planet-X is 500+
Bear Essentials is 800+
Sam's Journey is 1250+
Although as noted this has nothing to do with the technically prowess of the C64 over a NES.

However logic tells me that a NES and SNES market should blow those numbers out of the water... if only Nintendo didn't make the NES mini and SNES mini "sealed "units....


Last edited by Oziphantom on Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:18 am 
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Quote:
everything else is either at the same level or inferior to the NES (e.g. no sprite flipping, no mid-screen vertical scroll changes).

I agree, and the stupid vscroll lock is a big mistake IMO .


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:22 am 
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lidnariq wrote:
Oziphantom wrote:
however upon closer inspection just the registers are defined not the actual banking chip is in the SMS... which doesn't make the carts as cheap as they seemed...
It seems that they almost always just added the bankswitching hardware into the mask ROM. Which ... is probably incrementally free?

Unlicensed games seemed to usually end up with something vaguely similar to the game boy MBCs (fixed bank from $0000-$7FFF; switchable bank from $8000-$BFFF)

If you can get a SEGA mask rom made then great. However if it was built in, then you could put a 512K 5V part on a PCB put it in a case and ship. $4~5 for the cart. Now you have to add decode logic, you are going to need some 74LS parts, you need to get the cart designed by an electric engineer, your looking at $7~12 for the cart. More parts = more chance of faults/duds. Its not as "nice" at it seemed ;)
We have such things for the C64, but the maker is able to order 10,000 at once to push the per cart price down, I doubt the SMS is in a position to do such order at the moment...


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:55 am 
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syboxez wrote:
Also the SNES's 64KB of audio RAM is extremely limiting.

It's not so bad if you're careful, skilled, and/or clever. The limits of a sound chip are what make it interesting to use, after all. And on top of the standard tricks of efficient sample use, there are all sorts of cool things you can do with the S-SMP, and some of them are recent or ongoing developments - KungFuFurby's loop switching and distortion techniques, psycopathicteen's software FM synthesizer, and so on. Even some commercial games used stuff like granular synthesis, pitchmod and FIR filter exploits, not to mention Square's famous wind noise generator. If the S-SMP had been given direct cartridge access, there might have been less interest in exploring some of the more obscure possibilities.

Besides, if you really need to bust the limit there are multiple streaming solutions out there fast enough for (low-fi) real-time playback or at least on-the-fly sample replacement. There's even commercial precedent in Tales of Phantasia and Star Ocean.

I maintain that an HDMA streaming scheme could be written to be capable of stable 2x32 kHz BRR, or 3x22 kHz, in parallel with a reasonably full-featured high-precision (>60 Hz) music engine. But I still haven't had a chance to test the streaming code I wrote, never mind write a music engine able to maneuver around it at high bandwidth. So until I do that, or someone else steps up to tackle the problem, the state of the art is (AFAIK) either N-Warp Daisakusen's stack-based HDMA scheme or SNESMOD's lazy-sync block transfer scheme (or am I out of date on what Super SNESMOD can do?). blargg's 2x32 kHz uncompressed demo doesn't count, as it requires the full attention of both CPUs and cannot be downscaled, and is thus all but useless in a game scenario...


Last edited by 93143 on Tue Apr 24, 2018 3:32 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2018 2:31 am 
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Twin Dragons' KS (NES) had 329 backers, and they've sold carts afterwards too.
Sydney Hunter KS (NES + SNES) had 406 backers, and additional sales.
Super Russian Roulette, 1090 backers, plus sales.
Eskimo Bob, 264 backers, plus sales.
Haunted Halloween 86, 318 backers, plus sales.
Full Quiet, 509 backers.
Tower Defense 1990, 117 backers.

So at least with Kickstarter public data, the NES market is nice.


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