Libretro API now supports experimental Direct3D11 hardware rendering!

We, as the developers of RetroArch and Libretro, are proud to announce that yet another new option is available to developers who are using the Libretro API. In addition to being able to use Vulkan and/or OpenGL for hardware rendering, you can now also use Direct3D 11 inside your cores!

While it should be noted that this is still in an experimental stage, there is already a core that will be taking advantage of this — the PPSSPP libretro core, which has recently been upstreamed thanks to Ali Bouhlel and Henrik Rydgard, the original developer. You will be able to use either Direct3D 11 (on Windows), OpenGL or Vulkan renderers with the PPSSPP core.

Some history –

Libretro as an API started out in 2010/2011 only allowing for software rendered graphics. This is truly platform and hardware-agnostic, and for most systems that do not use any kind of 3D rendering and have little to gain from moving over to hardware-accelerated graphics APIs this is the preferable strategy. However, because software rendering has to be handled by the CPU, is only really practical for older games/emulators emulating older 2D-based systems.

OpenGL hardware rendering was added as an option to the Libretro API back in 2013. This coincided with Android and iOS ports appearing for RetroArch, and this was before the platform holders all decided to go their own separate ways and start targeting their own APIs. So being able to target OpenGL (ES and non-ES) as a developer in your libretro core was a great and convenient way to make cross-platform code that would run on most platforms. The only requirements for using OpenGL in your core was that you would adhere to at least OpenGL 2.x on the desktop and/or OpenGL ES 2.0 on mobile. While fixed-function OpenGL was theoretically possible, we only ever provided a test core for it, and we had an unwritten agreement in general that OpenGL usage in Libretro cores should be non-fixed function.

In 2016, the next-generation Vulkan graphics API was launched, and nearly at the same day, RetroArch and Libretro as an API started supporting the Vulkan API. Later that year, new Vulkan renderers for two of our emulators, Beetle PSX and Parallel N64, were made. Since then, Vulkan support has been added to other libretro cores as well, such as PPSSPP and the Dolphin core.

Now in 2018, there is an additional third option available to developers — Direct3D11 support! Targeting this API will of course limit you to Windows 7 and later. However, there are valid reasons for targeting Direct3D 11. On some devices like the Surface Pros, OpenGL drivers are apparently notoriously bad and you need to use Direct3D rendering in order to get decent performance. To this day, users of AMD GPUs on Windows still complain about OpenGL renderers performing worse than their Direct3D equivalents. Whether this is deliberate through sabotage or it’s just circumstantial misfortune, there are legitimate reasons for targeting Direct3D 11 from a performance perspective, and since UWP supports D3D11 natively and using either Vulkan or OpenGL would only be possible through several abstraction layers, it is nice in our humble opinion that the option exists vs. it not existing at all.

We would of course much prefer that there was a real crossplatform graphics API that magically worked everywhere, had great performance everywhere, and that required somebody to just write a graphics renderer once. Unfortunately, industry powers for whatever reason never seem to want things to actually get too easy for developers, so until then, covering all our bases with the Libretro API and trying to support as many of the predominantly available graphics APIs as possible seems to be a more pragmatic decision.

And what’s more, thanks to the excellent SPIRV-Cross project, we are fast approaching a situation where the Direct 3D 11, Direct 3D 12, Vulkan and (maybe soon?) OpenGL drivers available in RetroArch will be capable of using the same shaders instead of each needing their own separate shaders.

See here a video of PPSSPP running with Direct3D11 on RetroArch –

ChaiLove – Another Take on 2D Game Development

Whale from the Love2D logoWhen it comes to 2D game development frameworks, there are many options out there for indie game developers. Every framework has its own pros and cons, and its own use cases. Today, let’s talk about LÖVE, baby.

LÖVE is an awesome framework to make 2D games in Lua. With some modification, these games can be brought to libretro though Lutro. With the advent of C++14, are there tools and features we can bring in to improve the scripting experience behind developing 2D games?

Love2D ChaiScript ChaiLove

Continue reading “ChaiLove – Another Take on 2D Game Development”

RetroArch 1.7.0 -Released!

RetroArch 1.7.0 has just been released! Grab it here.

This latest version has also been uploaded to the Google Play Store.

We here at RetroArch/Libretro wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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

General changelog

– CHEEVOS: Add badges for achievements, shows thumbnail images of achievements.
– CHEEVOS: Leaderboard support.
– CHEEVOS: Only disable savestates on hardcore mode if achievements are not available.
– COMMANDLINE: Fix fullscreen toggle switch.
– COMMON: Add ‘Automatically Load Content To Playlist’ feature, enabled by default.
– COMMON: Fix slowmotion ratio always being reset back to 1.
– COMMON: Optimized NBIO implementations now for Apple, Windows, and Linux. Uses mmap for Linux/Windows/BSD if/when available. File I/O should now be much faster for loading images inside the menu.
– COMMON: Native Blissbox support now for latest firmware as of writing (2.0). Implementation through libusb and/or native Windows HID.
– COMMON: New lightgun API.
– COMMON: New VFS (Virtual File System) API.
– COMMON: Fixed some playlist bugs.
– COMMON: New snow shader.
– COMMON: Fix Quick Menu title, no longer shows ‘Select File’.
– COMMON: Fix loading cores that require no content one after another.
– COMMON: Map Delete key to Y button for non-unified menu keyboard controls.
– COMMON: Fix for relative paths being normalised and generating a duplicate history entry.
– EMSCRIPTEN: Fix references to browserfs.
– FREEBSD: Support libusb HID input driver.
– HAIKU: Buildfix.
– INPUT: Map clear button to DEL key.
– LINUX/X11: Add RetroArch logo to window title bar.
– LINUX/X11: Input driver now supports new lightgun code.
– LINUX/X11: Support window transparency (requires a compositing window manager).
– LOBBIES: Fix for crash on join netplay rooms via touch / glui.
– LOCALIZATION: Update Italian translation.
– LOCALIZATION: Update Japanese translation.
– LOCALIZATION: Update Portuguese-Brazilian translation.
– LOCALIZATION: Update Polish translation.
– LOCALIZATION: Update Russian translation.
– MENU: Snowflake menu shader effect.
– OSX/PPC: Fix the GL2 renderchain, had to use EXT versions of framebuffer/renderbuffer functions.
– PS3: HTTP requests / downloads should now work.
– PS3: Core Updater now works.
– PS3: Improved font rendering, enable STB Unicode font renderer.
– PSP: Make it work with Vita’s Adrenaline.
– PSP: Fix audio sync.
– PSP: Fix content loading, port should be functional again.
– PSP: Use 64MB when available.
– SCANNER: Fix crash from Windows-incompatible format string.
– VITA: Improve packaging, installation times.
– WIIU: Disabled the controller patcher for now since it was the source of many stability issues.
– VULKAN: Various stability fixes for WSI.
– WINDOWS: Add MSVC 2017 solution.
– WINDOWS: Get rid of the empty console window in MSVC 2010 builds.
– WINDOWS: Raw input driver now supports new lightgun code.
– WINDOWS: Use configured OSD/text message color on GDI driver.
– WINDOWS/XINPUT: Populate XInput VID/PID from DInput so autoconfig doesn’t rely solely on joypad names
– WINDOWS/XINPUT: Fix crash that occurs in some situations with Steam running and a Steam Controller plugged in.
– WINDOWS: Improve version reporting under System Information.
– WINDOWS: Support window transparency.
– WINDOWS: Correct usage of GetWindowPlacement per MS docs, fixes game window position on Win95/98.
– WINDOWS: Added Visual Studio 2017 support.

Highlights

Integrated Bliss-box support

Grab the newest firmware for this device and you can enjoy out-of-the-box Blissbox support with RetroArch on the following platforms:

  • Linux
  • Windows

For more information, read this separate article here.

This is a legit game changer. This peripheral will allow you to use real physical gamepads from all sorts of different game consoles through one interface.

Right now, only one of these devices is supported.

Badges for achievements

Improved lightgun support

Lightgun and mouse support has been added to both Beetle PSX and Beetle/Mednafen Saturn.

In other input-related news, mouse support has also been added to Beetle/Mednafen PCFX.

Windows 95/Windows 98 (non-SE) support

In a time and era where big companies get lazy and just throw away 32bit support for anything from drivers to operating systems, we have gone to the complete opposite side of the spectrum and started adding even more ancient/obsolete systems instead.

We already had a Windows 98 Second Edition/Millennium Edition/Windows 2000 version of RetroArch. But now, we go back even further in time! The MSVC 2003 version is a version of RetroArch that works on Windows 95 and Windows 98 (the First Version, before Second Edition).

Some things you should know about this version:

  • Rough around the edges, has been mainly tested so far on VMs (Virtual Machines) instead of real hardware.
  • Uses GDI as the default video driver. Our Direct3D driver so far requires DirectX 9 and Cg. It will take some work to make it backwards compatible with DirectX8.
  • We omitted the Windows NT 3.51/4 versions for now. The main issue with these versions is that they do not support DirectInput, so we have no real input drivers available for them.

Right out of the gate, there are 21 cores available for the Windows 95/98 version. Not too shabby, eh?

For more information, read this separate article here.

Improved PlayStation3 port

So many important improvements that have been made to the PlayStation3 port as a result of our newfound friendly collaboration with an RPCS3 dev:

  • Downloads now work
  • Netplay now works. You can netplay between two PS3s, or with another system that is also of the big-endian architecture. For instance – netplay between RetroArch PS3 and RetroArch Wii U works. NOTE: There might still be some endian-specific code in certain cores that can cause bugs.
  • Content Downloader works. You can download many demos and freeware homebrew games from this.
  • Thumbnail Downloader works. You can download boxarts and titles/snaps for your games from here.
  • Core Updater works. Now you can directly download freshly updated cores directly through the built-in Core Updater. New cores will be added over time, and best of all, you don’t need to install a new RetroArch version in order to obtain these new cores either.
  • Improved font rendering inside the menu. Non-Western languages are now also supported by this improved font rendering, including Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Russian, etc.
  • New menu shader effects

    PSP port works again

    Wii U port works again

    Wii U port should work fine again after some issues in previous versions.

    Automatic scanning of content

    This new option, when enabled, will add any new content you load from the file browser (Load Content) to your playlists. If a playlist does not already exist for the specific core and/or game, one will be created on-the-fly. This option is disabled by default, so watch the video if you’d like to learn how to enable it.

    There’s more

    There’s a ton more that we have properly not covered in this blog article, but we leave it up to the user to discover that for themselves.

    What’s coming next for RetroArch

    We will have a separate blog post on this soon, as well as more separate blog articles detailing some of the other progress that has been made on the cores front.