Core News – PUAE (Amiga emulator) and VICE (Commodore 64)

sonninnos and rsn8887 made a lot of improvements recently to two home computer Libretro cores.

PUAE Amiga core improvements

PUAE Amiga Core IK+
PUAE Amiga Core IK+
  • fix two player controls (sonninnos)
  • Implement new core options with some small print explanations (sonninnos)
  • Implement hotkeys for status bar and virtual keyboard that can be remapped instead of using hardcoded buttons (sonninnos)
  • Combining mouse speed indicator and other status bar indicators (sonninnos)
  • Allow starting the emulated Amiga without content (sonninnos)
  • Add many core options, such as a cycle exact option (sonninnos and rsn8887)
  • Allow to load any single, bootable .hdf hard drive file directly via load content (rsn8887)
  • Allow disabling the use of system/WHDLoad.hdf via a new core option (rsn8887)
  • Fix quickmenu->disk control options for swapping disks on the fly (rsn8887)
  • Change defaults to more sensible values (sonninnos)
  • Add Switch version of the core (rsn8887)
PUAE Amiga Core on Switch
PUAE Amiga Core on Switch

PUAE can play IK+ with sound FX on Nintendo Switch. Prince of Persia plays well too. These games don’t work on standalone UAE4all2. To enable sound fx in IK+, use model type A500 and turn off compatible mode in Quick Menu-> Options.

To swap disks, select Quick Menu -> Disk Control -> Append to insert a new disk in drive df0. When this option is selected, the virtual tray is opened, the disk is inserted, and the virtual tray is closed again. This all happens automatically. A new index number is also created. The disk becomes associated with that number. The cycle tray option ejects the current disk. When the virtual tray is open, one can change the index number in Quick Menu -> Disk controls to choose a different disk index. The menu remembers a history of all appended disks within one session, and assigns index numbers to each disk as you append them one by one. This is useful for games that keep asking for disk swaps back and forth. After manually opening the tray and selecting the next index to insert, choose cycle tray again to close the tray. M3u files loaded as content also populate the index values in disk control options.

New PUAE Options
New PUAE Options

The core automatically switches between Amiga 500 and Amiga 1200 hardware configurations in case the content filename includes (Amiga 500) or (Amiga 1200).

The touch mouse with single-finger tap-to-click and two-finger tap-to-right-click also works on Switch with this core.

Vice C64/C128/C16/Plus4 core improvements

Vice C64 Core on Switch
Vice C64 Core on Switch
  • update to latest Vice version 3.3 (Sonninos)
  • savestates (rsn8887 & sonninnos)
  • fixed Autosave states, it now works as long as some content is loaded (rsn8887)
  • allow holding directions to move more quickly across the virtual keyboard (rsn8887)
  • switched to new core options API, now there are small print descriptions below the core options (rsn8887)
  • more virtual keyboard themes, including some with more transparency (sonninnos)
  • reSID resampling setting, can be set to fast for extra performance, useful on Vita (sonninnos)
  • turbo fire with adjustable speed (sonninnos)
  • datasette control hotkeys (sonninnos)
  • allow using physical cursor keys even when cursor keys act as joy input (sonninnos)
  • allow physical return key to push a button on virtual keyboard (sonninnos)
  • virtual keyboard is much more responsive now, keys can be held down (rsn8887)
  • x64sc core (more accurate) on all platforms (sonninnos and rsn8887)
  • xpet core on all platforms (sonninnos and rsn8887)
  • xplus4 core on all platforms (sonninnos and rsn8887)
  • xvic core on all platforms (sonninnos and rsn8887)
  • x128 core on all platforms (sonninnos and rsn8887)
  • Automatic joyport switching when rom filename ends in _j1 or _j2 like on C64 mini. Only works with extracted roms (sonninnos)
  • Virtual keyboard themes (in tomorrow’s nightly)(sonninnos)
  • Add Display Borders option for larger game screens (rsn8887)
  • Add Autostart Warp option for warping between load command and run command (rsn8887)
  • Fix colodore palette, it didn’t work at all before (rsn8887)
  • Fix issues with on-screen keyboard keys sometimes not working or producing wrong input (sonninnos)
  • Properly implement Quick Menu-> Controls, now users can enable/disable joysticks there (rsn8887)
  • Remove confusing Retrojoy option, use quickmenu->controls to set input to joystick/keyboard/disabled now (sonninnos and rsn8887)
  • Properly use RetroArch system directory, instead of home dir or root folder (rsn8887)
  • Display four joystick inputs instead of two in statusbar (sonninnos)
  • Implement holding down Warp Mode hotkey, however it maxes out at screen refresh rate unless Vsync is turned off in Retroarch->Settings->Video (sonninnos & rsn8887)
  • Allow mapping buttons to blank (unmapped) in quickmenu->options (rsn8887)
  • Implement more logical hotkey mapping in quickmenu->options (sonninnos)
  • Fix problem with up arrow key producing Run/Stop input (sonninnos)
  • Revamp on-screen keyboard layout to fit on one page (sonninnos)
  • Make on-screen keyboard much easier to use: no need to press select anymore to enable dpad control, no need to move a mouse pointer (sonninnos)
  • Add Drive Sound Emulation and Drive Sound Volume options (sonninnos)
  • Aadd Reset option (sonninnos)
  • Remove obsolete Vice Menu GUI, because that can all be configured using core options now (sonninnos)
  • Automatically force drivetype on loading d71 or d81 content (sonninnos)
Vice Core Switch, Bruce Lee
Vice Core Switch, Bruce Lee
Vice C64 Save New York on Switch
Vice C64 Save New York on Switch

PSA: RetroArch 1.7.8 – Important changes for people using the Google Play build

Starting as of September, Google has started requiring app developers to update their apps with 64bit AArch64 support. Any app that fails to comply with this will no longer be able to upload any new APK to the Google Play Store.

Until now, the main RetroArch build has been built for 32bit ARM processors. This means that even on a 64bit device, if you were using this 32bit build, you would still have access to all the 32bit compiled cores.

This all changes now as a result. Under the new model, we are forced to build in both 32bit and 64bit support for the main RetroArch app. What this means is that 64bit devices will default now to the 64bit version, whereas 32bit devices will default to the 32bit version. It’s not possible to boot into 32bit mode for the Google Play Store version.

We unfortunately cannot do anything about this. What this means is the following:

  • Some of the cores available for 64bit ARM might lack a dynamic recompiler. As a result, cores like PCSX ReARMed and Picodrive might be significantly slower now as a result on a 64bit device. Fortunately, work is underway to backport a 64bit dynarec to PCSX ReARMed, and similar for Picodrive.

On the plus side, Aarch64 tends to have about a 10% performance boost in general for RetroArch vs. regular 32bit builds. So it’s not all bad news.

If you’d still like to use a 32bit only build, you can go to our buildbot and download the 32bit only version there. We just are not allowed to upload this version to the Play Store, since every app uploaded from now on has to work for 64bit as well.

Important news for people upgrading

If you are upgrading the app from 1.7.7 to 1.7.8, you might find that the core updater URL is still pointing to the 32bit cores, and you might find that a lot of the cores you downloaded will no longer work (because it boots you into 64bit mode now). 32bit cores cannot be ran on 64bit apps and vice versa. So, what you have to do is

  • First, make sure that you reset the Core Updater URL properly. Go to Settings -> Network, and scroll all the way down to ‘Updater’. Go to the entry ‘Buildbot Cores URL’, and long press. If done correctly ,it should reset the URL. Now exit the program and restart again.
  • From there, you will have to redownload the cores from the Online Updater.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to bother with all this, just reinstall the entire program from scratch, that way it will start out with sane defaults.

Other considerations

What this also means is:

  • The 64bit specific version on the Play Store is pretty much redundant now, and you might as well use the main Play Store version. We are unsure yet if we are going to delist the 64bit only version or have it remain up. Just know that it no longer serves a purpose.
  • RetroArch can now be built using Gradle/Android Studio. This should significantly reduce the barrier to entry for developers wanting to get to grips with RetroArch, but were unable to do so in the past as it required an old Android toolchain as well as tools like ant.
  • It might appear on Android TV soon for 64bit apps.

Hopefully this upgrade process will have as little bumps in the road as possible. We’re sorry for this inconvenience but this is really not our fault, and our hands are tied. As ever, if you want a 32bit version on your 64bit device, go to our buildbot, and download the latest dated version ending with ‘RetroArch_ra32.apk’.

RetroArch coming to Steam this month – July 30

RetroArch will be releasing on Steam on July 30, 2019!

Read our release announcement here

So RetroArch is finally coming to Steam two weeks from now!

RetroArch is the official reference frontend of the popular Libretro API. While there is nothing particularly about RetroArch or the Libretro API that has anything to do with emulators, most do it use it for this purpose.

We want to grow our base and as of this month we have been putting a heavy focus into making sure that RetroArch can run originally bought content on game discs. There are further announcements to follow in the coming weeks, and we are open to dialogue with game developers/publishers that have the rights to original IP who want to bring their games over to Steam through the use of RetroArch.

Do note that RetroArch is an agnostic frontend/backend application that can be used to run modular programs. As such, it can run real games, media engines, and emulators, as long as these programs are converted/ported into modular pieces of software known as ‘Libretro cores’.

So, without further ado, here’s the details on our initial release:

  • Free.
  • Windows version first, Linux and macOS versions will release later. We’re a bit wary of the support burden that will come with a much wider audience, so we want to do the Windows version first to make sure we can handle the demand.
  • At the beginning, there will not be any difference between the version you can get on Steam and the one available on our own website. As such, no Steamworks SDK functionality will be present at launch or any additional Steam features. However, after the initial launch, we will begin exploring options on how we can start leveraging Steam’s functionality as a platform.
  • Release date will be approximately 30th of July.

RetroArch as a program serves as the fundamental backbone of many retro gaming machines out there in the wild. Even when it is not deliberately namechecked, chances are it’s running in the backend of said retro program. Same goes for its sister project Libretro. For instance, several programs available on Steam already, such as Grid Cartographer, and New Retro Arcade, integrate Libretro support to allow you to run the software that has been ported to the Libretro API. As for Libretro, this API is being leveraged by several retro gaming companies right now to serve as the backbone of their retro emulation services. Given all this interest and burgeoning activity, we feel now is the time to finally bring the official Libretro frontend to Steam. RetroArch is truly in a class of its own on a technical level when it comes to latency, shader features, and now soon-to-be disc loading and disc dumping. We can’t wait to bring you complete control over your retro gaming library coming this summer on Steam!