Flycast WinCE has merged into regular Flycast – only one core now! Plus – Switch port teaser!

So, flyinghead finally feels confident enough that we are at a stage where the WinCE branch can be merged into master.

This is a pretty big deal. This marks the first time that an open source Dreamcast emulator has Windows CE support in a mainline release, along with arcade Naomi support. Right now, the only other emulator that manages to emulate both these is a closed source emulator called demul. So this is a pretty big milestone for us.

So, what do you have to do from this point on?

– Go to the Online Updater, select ‘Update Cores’, and download ‘Flycast’.
– Remove the old Flycast WinCE core. It no longer serves any purpose, you can just download the Flycast core instead which was Windows CE support now built-in. If you have any games in your old playlists that still use the Flycast WinCE core, reset the core association and make it use the main Flycast core now.

This has been a tremendous undertaking and in the process, so many improvements have been made as a result:

* (Windows CE) The reason why the Windows CE build was separate before was that the addition of the MMU codepath would greatly hurt the performance of every non-Windows CE-based game. This is no longer the case thankfully. Instead, performance has actually improved over the non-Windows CE build from before (see the next point).
* (Optimizations / Performance) Thanks to SSA optimizations, performance is better across the board now for every game, whether it is a Windows CE-based game or not. We figure it’s about 30% faster on average give or take.
* (Libretro core-specific) Certain core options now get hidden depending on other settings that are turned on/off which they are dependent on. For instance – ‘Show VMU Display Settings’ – if you enable this and then leave the Quick Menu options screen and re-enter it again, it will show all the VMU display options. Turn this off and repeat the same process in order to hide all the VMU display-related options again. This will greatly unclutter the options list.
* (Libretro core-specific) A new setting that appears when Threaded Rendering is enabled – ‘Delay Frame Swapping’. This waits until the frame is rendered by the digital video encoder which means it’s being displayed on the screen. This helps avoid displaying bogus/empty frames that would not be shown on a real console. Without this option enabled, you can get heavy screen flickering with some games (such as South Park Chef’s Luv Shack and NFL Quarterback Club 2000).
* (Libretro core-specific) Auto-configuration of early input polling when threaded rendering is enabled. Threaded rendering needs early input polling configured or else input will be buggy. In the past, the user needed to do this manually on RetroArch, which greatly complicated things. Now instead, we do this behind the scenes through a private libretro API extension, so you no longer have to tediously configure this yourself. It was annoying and could mess with your configuration since for other cores you would really want to set it to late input polling for the best input latency.
* AICA sound emulation has greatly improved and can now be considered mostly feature complete. We have included a before and after comparison of Skies of Arcadia so you can get an idea of how much of an improvement it is – this is Skies of Arcadia before and after implementing the LPF (Low-Pass Filter) –

Before –

After –

So, in short, the low-pass filter has been implemented. This filter has an envelope, similar to the already implemented one for amplitude. It varies the cut-off frequency for attack/decay/sustain/release. The other thing added is the pitch LFO, which is used to create a vibrato effect. So far, the only sound inaccuracy I have noticed in a game is that certain music that is triggered upon events (such as in Resident Evil Code: Veronica) does not get properly faded out. Apart from that, sound accuracy has seen a tremendous improvement, really night and day in a lot of respects in games like Resident Evil 2 and Skies of Arcadia.

* (AMD) Per-pixel alpha sorting has been fixed on AMD GPUs. Previously ,it would look like this on Windows (at the main BIOS menu) –

Switch port teaser

Flycast Libretro is coming to RetroArch Switch courtesy of Datamats! For now it uses the interpreter core only, but m4xw is going to work on getting the dynarec working. No ETA and don’t bug the devs about it until it’s done!

RetroArch 1.7.8 – AI Service – How To Set It Up

Welcome to the future! Sometime ago, a #RetroArch bounty got posted proposing OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and Text To Speech services being added to RetroArch.

Some months later, and here we are – a bounty hunter valiantly took on the challenge and there is now a fully fledged AI Service up and running that works seamlessly with #RetroArch!

You use the AI Service like this – you enable the AI Service (should be enabled by default), you then setup the server URL (could be a local network address if you have the server up and running in your own network, or a public IP/URL in case you’re going through a service). After that, you only need to bind a button or key to the so-called “AI Service” action. You can bind this key by going to Settings – Input – Hotkeys.

In this video, you can see each of the two modes that the AI Service currently is capable of doing –

Speech Mode – Upon pressing the AI Service button, a quick scan is done of the text, and the recognized text is then translated to speech. You can press the AI Service button at any time and it will try to process the current snapshot of the screen it made. This mode is non-interruptable, meaning the game will continue running when you hit this button, and the output speech will take as long as it takes for the server to respond to your query and pipe the sound to RetroArch.

Image Mode – In image mode, it tries to replace the text onscreen with the output text. For instance, in the video you see above, the game is played in Japanese, so when we hit the AI Service button, it tries to replace the Japanese text with English translated text. This mode is interruptable – this means that when you hit the AI Service button, it pauses the game and shows you an image with the replacement text UNTIL you hit either the AI Service hotkey or the Pause hotkey again, then it will continue playing.

We encourage everybody that wants to submit feedback to us on this amazing revolutionary feature to go to our Discord channel and in specific the #retroarch-ai channel. We’d love to hear your feedback and we’d like to develop this feature further, so your input and feedback is not only appreciated but necessary!

VGTranslate using Google API keys

1.0 Get a Google API key

  • Create a billing account (taken from https://cloud.google.com/billing/docs/how-to/manage-billing-account )
    • Go to the Google Cloud Platform Console Manage billing accounts page and sign in or, if you don’t already have an account, sign up.
    • Click the Create account button.
    • Enter the name of the billing account, then click Continue. Note that if you see an Organization  drop-down, then you must also select an Organization before you can continue.
    • You might be prompted to select your country. The choice will affect the payment options you have in  the next step. The currency for your billing account is based on the country you select.
    • Choose the payments profile that will be associated with this billing account. You can choose an  existing payments profile, or create a new payments profile. If you choose to create, follow the  instructions on the screen to set up your payments profile.
    • Set your Account type as individual
  • Create an API Key: (taken from https://cloud.google.com/docs/authentication/api-keys )
    1. Navigate to the APIs & Services Credentials panel in GCP Console.
    2. Select Create credentials, then select API key from the dropdown menu.
    3. Click the Create button. The API key created dialog box displays your newly created key.
    4. This is your GOOGLE_API_KEY that we will use later.

2.0 Setup VGTranslate

  • Windows:
  • Linux:
    • Download the vgtranslate project from https://gitlab.com/spherebeaker/vgtranslate.git or use git clone.
    • Go to the extracted vgtranslate directory where setup.py is located.
    • Using python2.7, run: python setup.py install -If this step fails, you can try removing the problematic dependency.  Dependencies like gender-guess and kivy are not needed for most functionality. -Change the default_config.json file as in the windows case.
    • Go into the vgtranslate subdirectory and run: python serve.py

3.0 Setup RetroArch

AI Service Settings
  • Start RetroArch -Settings->Input->HotKey Binds->AI Service
  • Change to key/button of your choice
  • Settings->AI Service -Set AI Service Output to “Image Mode” (text translation) –
    OR set AI Service Output to “Speech mode” (text-to-speech)
  • Set AI Service URL to “http://localhost:4404”
  • Set AI Service Enabled to on.
  • Set Target Language to your language of choice
  • Source language will be used as a hint for the OCR, but can be left to “Don’t Care”
  • Run a game of your choice
    1. Image Mode (Text translation)
      1. Press your hotkey to pause the game, and wait for a translation to come back.
      2. Press your hotkey again to unpause and continue
    2. Speech Mode (Text To Speech)
      1. Press your hotkey to read out the text currently on the screen.
Bind the AI Service hotkey to a key or button
Bind the AI Service hotkey to a key or button

4.0 ZTranslate Service API Option

ZTranslate API Key method

  • Go to https://ztranslate.net/signup
  • Enter a display name, email, and password, and click register
  • Check your email for the verification link and click on it.  If you don’t see it, check your junk/spam folder.
  • In the top menu, click on “Settings”
  • Copy the API KEY near the bottom of the page.  This is your ZTRANSLATE_API_KEY.
  • Follow instructions in 3.0, but
    • For AI Service URL, put in: “http://ztranslate.net/service?api_key=<ZTRANSLATE_API_KEY HERE>”

5.0 – ZTranslate API via VGTranslate

Follow instructions 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0, except:

  • when modifying default_config.json, use the following: (link here)
  • Change AI Service URL to “http://localhost:4404”.
  • This will use the ztranslate API method, but will reduce latency compared to hitting the service API directly.

RetroArch 1.7.8 (v2) – Released!

This is an important bugfix release of RetroArch 1.7.8. It has just been released! Grab it here.

If you’d like to show your support, consider donating to us. Check here in order to learn more.

For all other details surrounding version 1.7.8, we refer you to our original article here.

Changes

  • 3DS: Fix 3DS startup crash
  • AI SERVICE: Fix ‘Japanese’ setting
  • D3D12: Fix runtime error at startup
  • CHEEVOS: Fix Achievements badges
  • CHEEVOS: Add hashing support for PSX (bin/cue, chd, or real CD)
  • GLCORE: Fix regression – shaders don’t work
  • IOS: Use launch storyboard to properly support all screen sizes
  • LOCALIZATION: Update Japanese translation
  • LOCALIZATION: Update Korean translation
  • LOCALIZATION: Update Polish translation
  • MENU/XMB: Smooth vertical ticker scrolling
  • OSX: Fix potential OSX startup crash
  • PATCH: Fix IPS patches
  • PLAYLISTS: Fix playlist heap corruption bug. Would also cause potential crashes on OSX and 3DS at startup
  • SHADERS: Fix shader loading and saving in content-less cores
  • SHADERS: Implement video_shader_delay setting. Screen grabbing software like streaming software can interfere with the loading of shaders, resulting in graphical glitches or freezes. This PR adds a video_shader_delay setting (in ms) and (advanced) menu entries Video -> Auto-Shader Delay, allowing to work around the issue