RetroArch 1.4.1 Open Beta – Released! Highlights

Half a year after RetroArch 1.3.6 was released, now comes the next big stable! Version 1.4.1 is by any yardstick a big massive advance on the previous version. There are about 5000 commits or more to sift through, so let’s focus on a few big main standout features that we want to emphasize for this release.

Where to get it

https://buildbot.libretro.com/stable/1.4.1/

We are calling this release an ‘Open Beta’ because we want people to put the massively improved Netplay features through its paces! All of your feedback and issues will be taken onboard so that 1.5.0 (which we intend to ship somewhere beginning of March) will deliver on all the promises we have made for netplay.

Netplay

Netplay has seen a big massive improvement since version 1.3.6.

To set up a netplay game, you have two options: Manual or automatic connection.

Naturally, the automatic way is easier:

To host, just load a core and launch some content as usual and, once the game is running, go back into the ‘quick menu’ (the default keyboard shortcut is F1) and scroll down to the ‘netplay’ submenu. From there, choose ‘Start netplay host’ and it will announce your game to the lobby server for other users to join. You can go ahead and start playing and new players can jump in at any time. That is, RetroArch no longer stalls out until clients join.

Joining an existing session is just as easy. From the main menu, navigate over to the netplay tab (the icon looks like a wifi symbol), scroll down to ‘Refresh Room List’ and hit the ‘accept’ key/button (the default keyboard shortcut is the ‘X’ key). RetroArch will fetch the current list of available hosts and display them right there in the netplay tab. From there, just pick the host you wish to join and RetroArch will cycle through your playlists searching for a content match. If it finds a match, you’ll jump right into the host’s game already in progress.

To use manual connection, the host does the exact same steps. The client must load the same core and game first, then choose the “connect to netplay host” option from the netplay menu. You will be prompted for the IP address of the host. Enter it to connect.

To keep your games private, the host may set a password, required to connect, in the network settings menu.

We want your feedback and input on netplay, and the aim is that we take your feedback into consideration for 1.5.0 (which we will launch early March) to put the final finishing touches on netplay in general. Things like chat, friend lists and so on will all need to be implemented still.

Multi-language support/Japanese language support

We have added UTF-8 support and we have added translations for several languages now. Of these, Japanese is probably second to English in terms of being the most complete translation.

In addition to this, the new onscreen keyboard also has multilingual support, and supports Japanese fully (Hiragana, Katakana).

Free homebrew Bomberman clone game – Mr.Boom

Mr.Boom is a Bomberman clone. It supports up to 8 players and features like pushing bombs, remote controls and kangaroo riding.

This was an old MS-DOS/Windows 9x homebrew game that https://github.com/frranck converted over to C with a self-made tool he calls asm2c.

Right now, this core works for Mac/Windows/Linux/ We are still working on Android support!

Mr. Boom currently requires at least a minimum of 2 players. There is no singleplayer mode (yet). It can not yet be used with netplay but that is our ultimate aim! Free 8-player easy Bomberman-like gameplay for everybody! We will make an announcement later when netplay support is fully working for this core!

New menu graphical effects

In addition to the ribbon effects, we have added some new menu effects : Bokeh, and Snow.

Check the accompanying video to see them in action. You can access these menu effects by going to

Settings -> User Interface -> Menu and setting “Menu Shader Pipeline” to any effect of your choosing.

NOTE: These two new menu effects are not yet available for Vulkan and Cg. Ports would have to be made first of these menu effects, since they are completely shader-based.

Quality-of-Life improvements to the menu

We have taken all the criticisms of the menu UI to heart and we really pushed ourselves to make the menu much more pleasant to deal with.

  • We have gone to the painstaking effort of making sure that nearly every menu entry now has a small description below it.
  • Loading content has been massively streamlined. There is no longer a separate ‘Load Content’ and ‘Load Content (Detect Core)’ option. You simply select a starting point directory, you then select your game and you decide which core to use.
  • There is a new onscreen keyboard made for the menu which is compatible with touch and the mouse. It not only supports traditional western characters but thanks to improved multilingual support it will also support Japanese (Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana and Romaji).
  • In fullscreen mode, the mouse cursor inside the menu will only show for about 5 seconds. If there is no mouse activity it will disappear from the screen until you move the mouse again.

Improved error handling

Cores should now report an error message back to RetroArch in most instances where a ROM/content fails to load.  We went over most cores and we are reasonably comfortable in that we took care of most of the trouble spots.

Vulkan N64 and PSX now works on Android!

To read more about these projects, read our past articles here –

Introducing Vulkan PSX renderer for Beetle/Mednafen PSX

Nintendo 64 Vulkan Low-Level emulator – paraLLel – pre-alpha release

ParaLLel (Nintendo 64 core with Vulkan renderer) and Mednafen PSX HW should now work on Android devices that support Vulkan!

Unfortunately, GPU is currently not the bottleneck here. In the case of both of these emulators, more work is required before they will start to run at fullspeed on Android devices. We need to get the LLVM dynarec working on ARM devices.

In the case of Mednafen PSX HW, the interpreter CPU core is the main bottleneck which prevents the emulator from reaching playable speeds right now. An experimental dynarec was written a year ago but it still needs a lot of work before it could be considered ‘usable’.

Lots of other miscellaneous stuff

  • Improved performance
  • (Linux) DRM/KMS context driver should be more compatible now
  • (Linux) The GLX context driver now uses GLX_OML_sync_control when available, leading to much improved swap control. Potential video tearing and frame time deviation will be way lower in general.
  • (Linux) Attaching a PS4 gamepad will allow you to use the audio headphone jack to route sound to your headphones if you use the ALSA audio driver. It will now query the available audio output sampling rates that an audio device supports, and if the recommended output sampling rate that we use in RetroArch doesn’t match, we will use a sampling rate that the audio device DOES support instead. The PS4 pad only works with 32Khz audio, hence why we need to switch to it on the fly in order to get sound working with it.
  • (Android) Should fix a longstanding touch input bug that might have prevented touch from working altogether on certain devices.
  • (Android) GLES3/3.1 support, the fancy ribbon effect and Snow/Bokeh should also be available on Android now.
  • (Linux/Wayland) Full input support, keyboard and mouse.
  • Too much stuff to mention

Also read our companion article for more information here –

RetroArch 1.4.1 Major Changes Detailed!

And even more!

RetroArch 1.4.1 Progress report – MS-DOS/Windows 9x/Windows 2K

Improved documentation

From now on, all documentation for RetroArch (both development and user-facing info) will be posted here –

https://buildbot.libretro.com/docs/

Happy New Year!

We at Libretro wish you all a happy New Year! 2016 has been quite the year for Libretro as a project, so let’s briefly recap where we stand at the end of this year and what we managed to do in 2016 –

First with Vulkan

We were one of the first programs to ride the Vulkan wave, and we managed to add Vulkan support to RetroArch since Day One of the new graphics API’s release.

Continue reading “Happy New Year!”

We are now on Patreon!

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The Libretro Project (comprised of Libretro, Lakka, and RetroArch) is now on Patreon! We hope this Patreon will enable us to accelerate development and be able to serve users in lots of benevolent ways!

Visit us here: https://www.patreon.com/libretro

This Patreon covers the Libretro, Lakka, RetroArch projects. And another, soon to be disclosed project as well.

Right now we are at $230 as of this minute. We thank every Patron so far that has helped us get to this stage in such short time, suffice to say you won’t be let down! Let’s go over some of the goals as they stand!

$150 – Bounty for core work every month! Reached!

Already the $150 goal has been reached which will allow us to place bounties for core work to be done! We allocate a total of $50 / month that will go towards bounties.

$200 – ProjectFuture Greenlight! Reached!

I will be revealing soon what this project is about. Let’s just state it’s going to be an even bigger and more expansive project than RetroArch has been so far, and it’s one of the main reasons why we finally went ‘why not?’ with regards to the Patreon. Stay tuned!

This is going to take months and months of work, and will take other considerable resources in order for us to be able to see it to completion, and it’s definitely one of those ‘flying very close to the sun’-type endeavors, but as with everything with this project, ‘dreaming big’ and ‘foolhardy’ are comfortable bedfellows.

$400 – Netplay/matchmaking server!

We want RetroArch users to be able to play online multiplayer games with each other through the RetroArch interface. We are going to allow for PSN/XBLA-like features, except free of charge! The prospect of true crossplatform free netplay from an easy and console UI-style interface is soon to be within reach once we hit this target!

The aim is that every user will be able to quickly and easily setup a netplay game from within RetroArch without the need of a keyboard/mouse! We want console-style netplay ease of use !

$500 – Stability checks, Quality Assurance, etc!.

It’s no secret that for years we have relied on volunteer work in order to get where we are. This entire project entails a maddening amount of work that we have to put in on a daily basis to keep the entire show up and running, and the amount of work keeps growing every time we add another platform port or add a new core.

Once we hit our $500 target, we are going to be paying a couple of developers whom have been loyal towards the project to keep tabs and checkups on RetroArch and various libretro-related cores on a bi-monthly basis. This way, bugs and regressions are easily spotted and we can instantly fix them.

$600 – Development bounties!

We are going to be posting bounties for various remaining issues (whether it be RetroArch or cores), and any developer will be able to fix these issues and claim the reward!

Finally we can start claiming bounties for some of the things that RetroArch and Lakka might still be missing! Good developers don’t grow on trees, neither do contributors. We hope that through these bounties we will be able to significantly improve the software and get to our goals much quicker!

NOTE: The amount of money that will be allocated for this is variable and decided at our own discretion.

RetroArch Web Player

An Emscripten port of RetroArch has existed for years, but until recently, we never had a good opportunity to launch it in a state we felt comfortable with. Well, until now that is.

Web Player

So what is RetroArch Web Player? It’s a port of RetroArch that runs inside your web browser, powered by emscripten and asm.js. Most modern browsers available today should be compatible. That being said, we strongly recommend you use Google Chrome right now for smooth v-synced gameplay with no audio crackling.

You can check it out right here!

Continue reading “RetroArch Web Player”

Lutro – easy retro game creation powered by Libretro

We are going to be making Libretro (and RetroArch, by extension) more usable for content creators, and the first part in that endeavor is the official launch of Lutro.

Lutro is an in-development Love 2D reimplementation written in Lua and implemented as a libretro core. With Lutro, it is possible to easily create Lua games with no knowledge of C being necessary, or having to compile any code.

Sample games

To demonstrate the flexibility and power of Lutro, we have assembled a few Lutro-based games which you can freely download from our server. They are purposefully kept simple so that the content creator can use them for their own attempts at creating a game.

LutroPong

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A recreation of the game Pong for Lutro.

Sienna

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This is a Love2D-based endless runner game that has been ported to Lutro.

Continue reading “Lutro – easy retro game creation powered by Libretro”

RetroArch/libretro project status update

Craft

qTILoyDWe have decided to port over a promising Minecraft clone to the libretro API. The original source repository can be found here, and the libretro repository can be found here.

Windows/Linux/OSX users can already download this core by going to the Core Updater and downloading ‘Craft’. You can directly start the core since it requires no content to be loaded, it can be started as-is without needing any ROM or content file.

The original Craft upstream repository was a bit barebones, so we have decided to expand this port:

  • Biomes were added (these were located on a branch that was never merged into master), this adds hills / fortresses as can be seen in the screenshot
  • Water was added (this was located on a branch, never merged into master).
  • More sophisticated sunrise/sunset color blending (from Konstrukts).
  • A ‘Jumping Flash’ mode that allows you to jump infinitely into the air all while the camera faces downwards.
  • Configurable draw distance. The draw distance has a big effect on the framerate, a draw distance of 1 or 2 can make this core playable even on very lightweight computers.
  • Configurable field of view.
  • Gamepad support (including analog stick support) configurable analog sensitivity and deadzones, preliminary mouse and keyboard support.
  • Configurable resolutions, up to 4K.
  • A lot of changes under the hood, some of them which are detailed in the Making Of Article.

Continue reading “RetroArch/libretro project status update”

Making Of: Craft core

qTILoyDWhile porting and rewriting ‘Craft’ for use as a libretro core, we decided it would be nice to document some of the steps involved for the purpose of education.

You can check out our source code repository here.

There might be addendums and followups to this article later on. Note that some of these steps are not things that are ‘required’ to be done for the purpose of porting software to the libretro API, they are simply best practices based on the subject matter at hand.

Step 1 – Getting it compiled
‘Craft’ uses Cmake as its build system. While libretro places no requirements on which build system you use for your project, usually out of habit and preference we prefer to write static Makefiles for convenience and portability instead.

We reuse a basic Makefile template for this that we import into other projects. The three files we will be creating are : Makefile.libretro, link.T, and Makefile.common. We will put these files into the root of the project (or any other place where the central Makefile is usually stored).

To make things easier to understand, Makefile.libretro is the general Makefile solution which includes Makefile.common. Makefile sets up all the platform targets that your core supports, while Makefile.common would be the equivalent of CMakeLists.txt. You define all the files here that will need to be compiled here.

A rundown on some of the variables inside Makefile.common :

SOURCES_C – You add C source code files to this variable.

SOURCES_CXX – You add C++ source code files to this variable.

INCFLAGS – You add include directories to this varaible.

Craft is a C-only program, so we will add all the source files to SOURCES_C.

First we will attempt to compile as many files as possible before we will move on to actually making it work with libretro. Later on, we might replace some of the dependencies that ‘Craft’ uses with some of our own for reasons of portability and consistency. Some dependencies we will avoid for now like glew and glfw, we will add our own substitutes for this later on.

You will notice after following this commit that there are still quite a number of undefined references left before the core will actually be assembled. That is because of some of the dependencies we have omitted so far (like glew and glfw), and because we have yet to write a libretro implementation.

The following are notes based on the dependencies found in Craft, if you don’t find any of these dependencies in another project you don’t need to be concerned about this.

NOTE: I defined SQLITE_OMIT_LOAD_EXTENSION and appended it to CFLAGS since we won’t be needing such functionality for the libretro port.

NOTE2: Although the developer of Craft has gone to great pains to make sure there are as few hard dependencies as possible (and the few there are, have their sources provided inside the project’s codebase) ,there are still some hard dependencies which will require us to pull in some sources later on, like ‘libcurl’. We will ignore this for now, and just dynamically link against it for now until we can get rid of this dependency by compiling it into the core itself.

Continue reading “Making Of: Craft core”

Day 1 Vulkan support

Vulkan_API_logo.svg

Today Hans-Kristian Arntzen (also known as Themaister) sent us a big pull request giving RetroArch complete Vulkan support, the new graphics library API that has been unveiled and released to the public today.

See the pull request here.

Features/what has been ported

  • A full-featured graphics driver for Vulkan was written.
  • It should be compatible with MaterialUI/XMB and the other hardware-accelerated menu drivers that were previously GL-only.
  • Overlays should work through Vulkan. (by overlays we mean the gamepad overlays in RetroArch)
  • Font rendering should work through Vulkan.
  • Shader support. Vulkan support will mean some changes for shaders that will be unveiled later on.
  • Asynchronous GPU recording.
  • Libretro cores can be written against Vulkan as well. A test core was included for this in the repo, you can find it here.

Libretro cores that use Vulkan will require an additional header, libretro_vulkan.h.

Continue reading “Day 1 Vulkan support”