New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby chicane » Sat Apr 11, 2015 8:37 pm

Sorry for the lack of communication and updates regarding this project. Things have been going a little slower than I'd hoped due to the usual work/family commitments.

My recent work has been mainly focussed around optimisation - I simply wasn't happy with the frame rate at which the game was running.

1) The road is now drawn using the STE blitter rather than the 68000. It's resulted in a significant performance increase, but at the expense of memory consumption. The blitter drawing code requires an additional 100K and therefore bumps up the memory requirement for the STE version to 1 meg. I'm still leaving the old 68000 codepath in so that ST users (or 520STE users) can enjoy the game. I'm having a few problems with the blitter drawing messing with my Timer B rasters, but hopefully I'll be able to come up with some creative solutions to mitigate the effect of this.
2) All scaled sprites (i.e. the cars and trackside objects) are now drawn using unrolled, self-modifying code. Again, this has resulted in a worthwhile performance increase. Having seen how capable an 8Mhz ST is at scaling sprites, I'm surprised none of the 'elite' programmers from the late 80's/early 90's tried to do this in any commercial games of the era. (I know Geoff Crammond did some sprite scaling of trees/wheels in F1GP, but that wasn't the kind of game where you'd want to boast about the frame rate).
3) Various other optimisations have been put in place - loop unrolling, replacement of MULs with shift/add/sub combinations and so on.

The outcome of the above work is that the demo (my benchmark for testing the performance of the game) now draws around 830 frames in 37 seconds. So it's averaging around 22.4 frames per second, compared to around 13 frames per second back in October. I suspect it's now getting to the point where it's surpassing things like Lotus in terms of frame rate. Sadly, I can't see much scope for getting further performance gains - I'd love to be able to hit the magic 25FPS average.

I'm hoping in the coming months to rip out the sound samples from the arcade ROM and get these running through STE DMA playback. I'm not really sure where to start though. If anybody can help firstly with ripping the sounds from the arcade ROM, and secondly getting these in the correct format for playback on the STE, I'd be most grateful!

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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby CiH » Sat Apr 11, 2015 9:05 pm

Thanks for the update.

So, STE enhancements, lovely! :cheers:
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby Scarlettkitten » Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:03 pm

Great news, glad it's coming along nicely 8)
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby exxos » Sun Apr 12, 2015 9:01 am

Nice :cheers: That was one of my fav games when I had my 2600. I remember writing the scores in a book and try and beat it each time. Eventually it wasn't what score I got, but how many times I could get back to 0000000, after about 3rd time around I gave up :lol:
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby AtariCrypt » Sun Apr 12, 2015 9:21 am

Best news update ever!! Wow such performance boosts, though interesting to hear how the Blitter can change everything. Even at the expense of ram, hey ho that's no biggie I imagine to people these days anyhow. STE support too.. DMA ... this is awesome! I cannot wait for the next update or something playable! This is going to be BIG!!

Good luck :cheers:
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby AtariZoll » Sun Apr 12, 2015 9:38 am

I think that this is very good approach - doing optimized STE version, or maybe not only STE, since some STs have blitter too, mostly 1040 STs, so 1MB RAM will be no problem too.

Considering conversion of samples into STE compatible format: easy to do with AudaCity (details on request). I'm not sure that will find samples in arcade ROMs self - I doubt that old Pole Position sound worked that way, but used some PSG. Some Mame "ROMs" have separated sample files, which are recorded on arcade machine's sound output.
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby lotek_style » Sun Apr 12, 2015 9:46 am

Please continue :)
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby Mug UK » Sun Apr 12, 2015 9:51 am

I first had a go with the M1 "sound-ripper" on my full set of MAME, but Pole Position's soundchip isn't in the list of Namco options :(

I did find two samples that were in an old (2007!) version of MAME, before the soundchip was emulated fully. I've attached them below in the original MAME .WAV format. One is the crash sound, the other is the sound of either the engine or when your car starts hitting the edge of the green.

polepos.zip


The rest could easily be ripped out from MAME videos on YouTube etc.
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby Marakatti » Sun Apr 12, 2015 2:48 pm

Your progress sounds absolutely great. All the best for the project :cheers:
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby Marakatti » Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:43 am

Any news?
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby chicane » Sun Sep 04, 2016 2:47 pm

Hi everyone, OP and author of ST Pole Position here.

I can only apologise to the fans of this project that have been waiting for news for the last 18 months. Especially Steve/applecrypt! :oops:

I've spent much of this time trying to carve out some spare time to work on this project, with very little success. So rather than drag things on for a further unknown period of time, I've made the difficult decision to publicly release the work-in-progress version of the game immediately. Even though it's unfinished and a bit buggy, I'm hoping people will gain some kind of interest and enjoyment from it.

polepos_ste_1meg.zip


So here's what's in the disk image:

  • Auto-booting STE conversion of Atari/Namco's Pole Position arcade game (just insert disk and boot machine);
  • Requires STE, 1 Meg and joystick (only tested on Steem, assumed to work on real STE but tell me if not!)
  • Game mechanics are virtually complete - rolling demo, qualifying session and race session are all in;
  • Uses reverse-engineered game logic from original arcade game;
  • However, high score table, some graphical niceties and all sampled sound from the arcade version are missing;
  • Basic YM engine sound and some other beeps are present;
  • Makes use of STE blitter chip to provide a smoother frame rate;
  • Over 16 colours on screen (probably around 24-28);
  • Uses software sprite scaling (uncommon in ST games) to draw cars and roadside objects.

Controls - press fire on joystick to start game, up to accelerate, down to brake, left/right to steer and fire to toggle lo/hi gear.

Ignore the "August 2014" date on the booting screen - this build is representative of much more recent progress.

Feel free to play the game, distribute/upload the disk image, write reviews, reverse engineer, capture videos/screenshots, ask technical questions - whatever really. As with most ST stuff nowadays, this has been a hobby project with no commercial value, so I can't really think of any type of usage that I'd object to!
polepos_ste_1meg.zip
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby AtariZoll » Sun Sep 04, 2016 3:40 pm

I appreciate your effort and telling all this to us. It looks really nice, and close to original.

From specs. I don't see that it uses anything specific STE HW, except blitter. So, it should work on ST machines with blitter - like Mega ST.
Correct me, if I'm wrong.
I guess, I have next candidate for hard disk adaptation. Cover scan will be no problem - who understands, will get it :-)

P.S. - it may be Falcon, TT compatible, but for TT will need some smaller changes - it has no blitter, but has very fast CPU. PM me for more.
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby dma » Sun Sep 04, 2016 3:45 pm

Thanks for this!
It moves really nicely and the gameplay feels faithful, congratulations. :)
Completion would be worth it, no doubt. ;)

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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby AtariCrypt » Sun Sep 04, 2016 5:48 pm

chicane wrote:I can only apologise to the fans of this project that have been waiting for news for the last 18 months. Especially Steve/applecrypt! :oops:


Yes, i'm almost a stalker lol, but I was eager to see this project be completed. :)
I guess that's not going to happen and it's great that you've released the code. I hope this does drum up some interest from the talent we have here on this forum, rather than you struggling on. Good idea.

Downloading and I cannot wait to have a play!

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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby Marakatti » Sun Sep 04, 2016 6:03 pm

Big big thanks for release! Can't wait to get home from my eveningshift!
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby BoNuS » Sun Sep 04, 2016 7:47 pm

People have no clue somethimes how much time it costs to make or even convert a game. All the testing, loads of code...
RL is always getting in the way, more than once.
Nice you made it public, will surely have a go at it. Hope you will find the time in the near future to finish up the last bits !
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby Greyfox™ » Sun Sep 04, 2016 8:44 pm

A huge thanks for releasing this into the community , your work and amazing efforts are both appreciated and repected on all levels, just BoNuS mention a huge amount of time, resource and effort goes into perfecting and creating something like this and shouldn't be rushed or taken lightly .. I can finally update my Pole Posting thread o my other site with this great news..

Keep up the work, your arcade port is a wonder to behold , so much amazing ST talent about at the moment, the incredible beGEMed and now this cracker..awesome stuff. I'm sure there is some awesome incoming to the ST scene very soon ehh Steve? ;)
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby mikro » Mon Sep 05, 2016 8:24 am

Why not releasing the source code so people can actually continue where you left (instead of reverse engineering your work...) ?

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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby Marakatti » Mon Sep 05, 2016 8:45 am

If this ever gets further development i think mouse option for playing could be a great addition. It usually captures the playability of the analogue wheel quite nicely :)

Other than that, absolutely top quality game and that sprite scaling really looks awesome in action 8O 8O 8O

Amazing job so far! :cheers:
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby AtariCrypt » Mon Sep 05, 2016 6:43 pm

I couldn't agree more Marko. I was shocked just how great it is (so far). Really awesome work!
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby chicane » Mon Sep 05, 2016 8:31 pm

Thanks everybody for the encouraging and kind feedback :D

Marakatti wrote:If this ever gets further development i think mouse option for playing could be a great addition.


Great idea - I think it might be achievable without too much effort.

mikro wrote:Why not releasing the source code so people can actually continue where you left (instead of reverse engineering your work...) ?


I'd love to do that, but (there's always a "but"):

  • The code and build process has grown somewhat "organically" and I'd struggle to reproduce it on any machine other than this one, and...
  • Because the game logic has been reverse engineered from the original arcade ROM, I'd be releasing source that contains data taken from an arcade ROM and passing it off as my own. This feels like a bit of a dubious thing to do.

Neither of these issues is insurmountable, but they would require me to spend some time working around them that I sadly don't currently have.

What would help massively would be if somebody could rip all of the sound effects, perhaps using the test mode of the arcade machine, and re-encode them somehow to an STE-compatible format. Ideally this would be accompanied by some C or assembly code that I could more-or-less plug into the codebase to play these samples. I've got the hooks in the code to play the sound effects - I just don't have the sound effects themselves or any code to play them back.

AtariZoll wrote:From specs. I don't see that it uses anything specific STE HW, except blitter. So, it should work on ST machines with blitter - like Mega ST.
Correct me, if I'm wrong.
P.S. - it may be Falcon, TT compatible, but for TT will need some smaller changes - it has no blitter, but has very fast CPU. PM me for more.


Correct - strictly speaking, it's dependent upon a blitter rather than the STE. So it should also work on a Mega STE. There's a non-blitter codepath (not used in this release) that enables it to work without a blitter, but this is much slower than the blitter codepath and is a little too slow for my liking on an 8Mhz ST. I can see it being of use on the TT though - I'll spend a short while to see if I can get it working on the TT.

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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby alexh » Tue Sep 06, 2016 9:18 am

chicane wrote:
dml wrote:The y-scaling can just use a DDA with line duplication at runtime.

What's a DDA by the way - I've not come across that terminology before?


I believe (but I am not 100% sure) he is referring to a Digital Differential Analyser. Seems to be an interpolation method for scaling

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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby AtariZoll » Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:42 pm

chicane wrote:...
What would help massively would be if somebody could rip all of the sound effects, perhaps using the test mode of the arcade machine, and re-encode them somehow to an STE-compatible format. Ideally this would be accompanied by some C or assembly code that I could more-or-less plug into the codebase to play these samples. I've got the hooks in the code to play the sound effects - I just don't have the sound effects themselves or any code to play them back.
...
Correct - strictly speaking, it's dependent upon a blitter rather than the STE. So it should also work on a Mega STE. There's a non-blitter codepath (not used in this release) that enables it to work without a blitter, but this is much slower than the blitter codepath and is a little too slow for my liking on an 8Mhz ST. I can see it being of use on the TT though - I'll spend a short while to see if I can get it working on the TT.

Digital sample based effects would be great. I need to look in Mame about them. Conversion to STE DMA format is not big deal, but you need to separate samples from source of unknown structure, format. Will check it ...
But I see after some tracing and slight modding why there is flickering at hill area end (vertically seen) - Timer B code is too slow, there are some unnecessary writes. Will describe it in e-mail what you hopefully will receive in couple minutes.
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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby goev » Fri Sep 09, 2016 9:56 am

Just wanted to say great work, Chicane! Hope that you'll find the time to finish the conversion :-D

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Re: New ST project - Pole Position arcade conversion

Postby Estrayk » Fri Sep 09, 2016 2:08 pm

great !! and thank you very much !
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