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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:29 am 
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God, I *LOVE* the VRC6 sound. I love how the 2 square channels are like the original ones, but way better because there is 7 duty cycles instead of 3. And the saw wave is a perfect addition to this already great set of PSG. It's the best sound extention by far, I prefectly see why so many remixers uses it. Just a small difference (in hardware), more than twice the possibilities you originally have.

If one were to make a "VRC6" version of a song, and would only use the extra channels for reverb in 3 seconds of a 1 minute song, you'd ask yourself "why use VRC6 then ?". It's exactly what toku and I are trying to say.

rainwarrior wrote:
The other thing that's maybe worth thinking about is that the MMC5 doesn't cost anything to someone who only works with emulators. You don't have to work for it, you don't have to pay for it, you don't have to offer any merits of your own to get this extended capability, you can just take it. In the actual NES era, it was a hefty additional cost per cartridge, not a decision made lightly, and of course, Nintendo first had to actually realize it was possible and build the chip that could do it. Even though Nintendo built the chip, they never saw fit to use it for any of their own games, interestingly enough, and it wasn't because they didn't want those capabilities. MMC5 had a very real cost, and that's why it was so rarely used.

I understand wanting to use it. NES + MMC5 is a retro platform that (marginally) existed in the real thing, and maybe some people enjoy it more when they don't have to work with the attribute limit, or they like having 3 extra channels of sound, or whatever. If you look at it by itself, ignore rarity, history, etc. and just look at what it can do, it's a fun platform to work with, I guess? Not the one I'd choose, but maybe you like it.

We all agree on this. The problem is when it's used just to get rid of a limitation that affects 2% of the resulting work, instead of being used as a way to do something super cool that could not be done without it.

The second screenshot does not look any different from the first, to be honest, there's like no difference at all.

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I'm just curious, where does the term "ExGraphics" come from?

I guess it comes from here. At least that's the first doccumentation of MMC5 I can think of.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 11:14 am 
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Bregalad wrote:
If one were to make a "VRC6" version of a song, and would only use the extra channels for reverb in 3 seconds of a 1 minute song, you'd ask yourself "why use VRC6 then ?". It's exactly what toku and I are trying to say.
...
The problem is when it's used just to get rid of a limitation that affects 2% of the resulting work, instead of being used as a way to do something super cool that could not be done without it.

It's funny that you say that, though, because every single real-world use of the MMC5 drastically underuses it.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 11:43 am 
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Bregalad wrote:
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Castlevania 3 switches into one-screen mirroring when it uses the extended graphics mode

Huh? It does not. Or if it does you'll have to tell us where exactly. The game uses few of the MMC5's graphical possibilities, because it originally was made for a VRC mapper, which doesn't have any extended graphics.

It's the third screen; the one where you're walking up the staircases. The extended graphics are used for the stained glass windows in the BG, and the game switches into single-screen mirroring for this.

And I'm sorry, but I just don't agree with what most of you are saying. There's value in "vanilla" NES capabilities, but that's no reason to stigmatize anyone using expansions, no matter how annoyed you are with their overuse or misuse. Kinda like how I was with warbly arpeggios in chiptunes, once you see examples of them being used effectively, you'll have nothing to say.

Bregalad wrote:
The second screenshot does not look any different from the first, to be honest, there's like no difference at all.

Aside from the green portions of the treetrunks, the top of the box in the upper right corner, and the brown-tipped leaves at the bottom of the potted plant, right? So yes, I need to retract what I said earlier about this being doable on vanilla PPU.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 12:34 pm 
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Bregalad wrote:
The second screenshot does not look any different from the first, to be honest, there's like no difference at all.

Except the trees look horribly off... (should seriously consider having a brown shade in the green palette)


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 12:39 pm 
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Drag wrote:
Aside from the green portions of the treetrunks, the top of the box in the upper right corner, and the brown-tipped leaves at the bottom of the potted plant, right? So yes, I need to retract what I said earlier about this being doable on vanilla PPU.

Obviously, as is, it can't be done on a vanilla PPU. But if all you're doing is copying all the shapes straight out of the GBC version and just adjusting the colors, that's not much of a conversion, is it?

You can certainly achieve very SIMILAR results on a vanilla PPU, if you take the time to make a few adjustments: redraw the bottommost leaves of the palmtree, spacing them away from the trunk a bit, redraw the bushes so they cover the bottom of the trunk or draw bushes only on one side of the trunk, only place potted plants aligned to the 16x16 grid (with enough clearance for the green leaves), only put bushes on top of floors that are aligned to the 16x16 grid, and get rid of the mossy bricks or make them larger or use sprites for them.

These kinds of changes are expected, you have to adjust grphics and maps when porting a game. The key to success it to try as hard as possible to make something at least as good as the original. Different doesn't necessarily mean worse.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 1:25 pm 
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Here's a quick edit with the graphics reworked to fit the normal attribute grid:

Attachment:
shantae-nes.png
shantae-nes.png [ 3.54 KiB | Viewed 1420 times ]


EDIT: Oops, forgot the mossy bricks... well, you get the point! :roll:


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 3:40 pm 
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The mossy bricks are best removed anyway, the trees were the real problem. (also did you literally just remove the bottom of the tree leaves?)


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:09 pm 
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Sik wrote:
(also did you literally just remove the bottom of the tree leaves?)

Not really, I pushed them 4 pixels away from the trunk and tried to make them flow normally, but looking at it again I can see that the bottom ended up looking pretty flat. Well, it was just a quick edit anyway, I'm sure the leaves can be reworked to flow better.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:01 am 
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Since people brought it up, I feel like the default 2A03 is grossly underrated, instead opting for bells and whistles like VRC6 or N163. Primarily it's because the NES' ancient graphical capabilities will often clash horribly with the futuristic sound coming from the same machine. In a way it's understandable, since the triangle wave is a bit of a bottleneck when it comes to audio, where very few composers could actually make it sound substantial. Composers often took different approaches to dealing with the triangle's nature, such as using it as a lead instrument and using a square for bass, or using DPCM samples for basslines. All too often did I come across "NES remixes" of non NES songs, only to be greeted by expanded audio. Damn you YouTube Famitracker composers, I wanted to hear the triangle wave or super low-fi DPCM.

And speaking of graphics, very very VERY few NES games actually resembled anything colorful, much less like anything posted in this thread. The newer the game, the greater the chances that the developers opted to use backgrounds that consist of different shades of the same color. Mario 3 and ESPECIALLY Kirby's Adventure look ridiculously monochromatic, though they can look nice in certain situations. TMNT2 famously has levels that are almost predominantly gray, and Kirby does have some levels where the entire screen is, no joke, entirely orange. Once the SNES came out, developers just stopped caring about graphics. I'm assuming this was due to the combined efforts of limited video capabilities, and poor art design.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:46 pm 
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OneCrudeDude wrote:
In a way it's understandable, since the triangle wave is a bit of a bottleneck when it comes to audio, where very few composers could actually make it sound substantial.

Yeah, although I think the problem is not so much music itself but rather that sound effects have to steal a sound channel for themselves as well when they play - kind of a problem when the only kind of channel that appears multiple times are the square channels (the rest are all one of a kind), and there are only two of them. How do you arrange which channel(s) do you let sound effects to steal?

tl;dr you have to worry about optimizing music to take full advantage of each kind of channel and somehow also figure out which to treat as the least important so sound effects can use them, while also allowing for a wide range of sound effects (e.g. noise may not be that useful =P). Even if you leave a square channel in this role, it's not as easy as it sounds.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:54 pm 
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Drag wrote:
It's the third screen; the one where you're walking up the staircases. The extended graphics are used for the stained glass windows in the BG, and the game switches into single-screen mirroring for this.

I just double-checked, it does not. CV3 uses a normal graphics mode during the entiere game, including during the staircase with stained glass at the begining of the game. It uses single-screen mirroring, however, but it's not related to ExGraphics mode, it is just so that the status bar does not get in the way (vertical mirroring could do that as well).


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:57 pm 
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I theorized that that was the reason why so many NES games have dual harmonies; it was just a coincidence it also happened to sound good. If both squares were playing the same tune, if one of them were to be cut out for any reason, there would be a negligible loss in musical quality, as the song is still the same. Likewise, it's very rare to find an NES game where each of the square waves have their own melody. Astyanax is one such game, and as such, most sound effects are handled through the noise channel. Astyanax also has some light sounding noise percussion, so you can't really tell whether it's gone or not. Some games, like Silver Surfer, have crazy music, but when you play the game, the sound effects will greatly cripple the music, leading me to believe that the music and sound were developed at different times.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:16 pm 
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Sik wrote:
I think the problem is not so much music itself but rather that sound effects have to steal a sound channel for themselves as well when they play - kind of a problem when the only kind of channel that appears multiple times are the square channels (the rest are all one of a kind), and there are only two of them. How do you arrange which channel(s) do you let sound effects to steal?

In my music engine, I put the melody on square 2. Sound effects steal only square 1 unless I'm playing two square effects at once. If I try to play a third, it kills the one with the least data left, so long as the sound effect I'm starting has more data. And for each frame, it compares the volume of the note on that channel to the volume of the sound effect on the same channel, which lets a loud note override the quiet tail end of a sound effect.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:42 pm 
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Bregalad wrote:
Drag wrote:
It's the third screen; the one where you're walking up the staircases. The extended graphics are used for the stained glass windows in the BG, and the game switches into single-screen mirroring for this.

I just double-checked, it does not. CV3 uses a normal graphics mode during the entiere game, including during the staircase with stained glass at the begining of the game. It uses single-screen mirroring, however, but it's not related to ExGraphics mode, it is just so that the status bar does not get in the way (vertical mirroring could do that as well).

My mistake, it turns out fceuxdsp lied to me when it showed me glitched stained glass in the nametable viewer. Post corrected, but my point still stands; even if CV3 doesn't, you could switch into single-screen mirroring when you activate the extended graphics mode, therefore, the size of the extended attribute table would match the size of your nametable, and I still see no reason why you couldn't switch exgfx off, update exgfx, and switch exgfx back on if you wanted to update exgfx in vblank rather than during rendering.

Therefore, I'm still not convinced that MMC5 exgfx is any harder to use than the PPU alone.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:04 pm 
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Drag wrote:
even if CV3 doesn't, you could switch into single-screen mirroring when you activate the extended graphics mode

That would be a pain in the ass, if the mirroring interfered with the scrolling system. I'd much rather not change the mirroring and just wrap ExRAM updates around.

Quote:
I still see no reason why you couldn't switch exgfx off, update exgfx, and switch exgfx back on if you wanted to update exgfx in vblank rather than during rendering.
Quote:
Has enough testing been done to confirm that this works?

Quote:
I'm still not convinced that MMC5 exgfx is any harder to use than the PPU alone.

To an experienced coder maybe not, but beginners already get confused enough with pattern, name and attribute tables, so yeah, I think they'd find it harder.


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