Technically impressive PSX games and Hello

Discussion in 'Sony Programming and Development' started by vexatious, Nov 9, 2014.

  1. vexatious

    vexatious Rising Member

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    Yes you're right, but it's true the first models used a plastic rail for the lens assembly which wasn't consistent with quality standards. Sony had to relocate the lens assembly away from power supply to supposedly fix that. They finally fixed it after three or four revisions. Look at the Sega CD for instance. It uses a cheap CDROM assembly supposedly from a music CD player, but it works and never seemed to have quality control issues. You can be cheap if it works right, but customers lose money with a low quality machine. When you make money from low quality parts that don't work right, even when you try to work around it, it kind of does make you look cheap and dirty.

    And about the r3000a, how is it custom? I already mentioned it has a tacked on external cache controller. The GPU is what makes money on the psx. It's a broken GPU with no perspective correction and it draws triangles. The polygons are only three pointed and that's much uglier than quads without perspective correction. The psx deliberately uses off the shelf parts from abandoned projects or whatever. Saturn on the other hand sticks with well picked hardware, and each one is selected for specific tasks. Games don't even need the CDROM drive on the Saturn like the Stv arcade machine (STV arcade get it?); it's basically a hybrid cartridge CDROM arcade system put together with high quality Yamaha, Motorola and Hitachi components, carefully selected by an arcade machine company. Psx hardly even has Sony parts.

    And what do you mean by strong hardware? You do need well crafted silicon and fast components for fast performance. If add ram to an 8-bit bus good luck keeping framrate consistent with demanding game engines like those Capcom vs games. Just because people can make games for money and bang every component and register with a cute SDK that does everything, doesn't make it a good machine for games. You might as well give MR. Rogers a Heavy Metal award for most perverted creature on earth, just because he's human and does a kid's show.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
  2. Gemini

    Gemini Retro developer

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    I wouldn't call Saturn a quality machine either. The 3D hardware is just as bad as it gets, far worse than PSX's GTE in every regard. Heck, that thing is so damn broken it can't even do uv mapping at all unless you use an expansion that seems to have never been released; you can definitively tell their 3D support was rushed just for the sake of having it all sparkling 32 bit and shizzles. Only with the N64 we started seeing a somewhat decent 3D hardware, and yet that one had flaws too, like the ridiculous small texture cache that forced games to use small textures to map huge polygons.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
  3. sp193

    sp193 Site Soldier

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    I'm quite sure that the PlayStation optical drive wasn't from a CD player, so it was a new design.
    When the console was new, did it immediately have such issues? I don't see how they would have known that their first designs would be bad, until it started developing faults.

    It's a custom part because it's designed by LSI for SONY. A lot of its peripherals, like the DMAC, were on-die.
    If you searched the world, I doubt that you'll find an exact same part like it.

    And like you just wrote, it's the GPU that matters because that's the strength of the PSX. So why are you complaining so much about the CPU? :/

    A lot of them have "(C) SCEI" or similar. There are proprietary parts, like the MECHACON and the CPU.

    I'm not a PlayStation developer, and neither did I do much research on the consoles for its generation. So I'll speak about how the PlayStation 2 ran because I have been working very closely with it.
    For example, the PlayStation 2 doesn't have very strong hardware, compared to the first Xbox. But it was reported that despite its lack of raw processing power, its lack of software layers allowed its software to make more effective use of the hardware. Sure it still wasn't as strong, but it got to places because of its efficiency.

    You could argue that SONY consoles were always weak. Sure the competition had offered stronger hardware, but I don't see why that would make their consoles as bad as you say that they are.

    Finally, the machine alone doesn't make the console. If it doesn't have good games that people want, then it's just useless. Surely its success did stem from the fact that people loved its games...
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
  4. vexatious

    vexatious Rising Member

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    I'm not sure exactly how I'm making the psx systems sound bad. But quality control issues did exist with the psx and PS2. Remember those disc read errors with PS2 fat model? I mean yeah Sony are assholes because they make these sweet rice rocket game machines, but I would agree that there a pretty well off company and they make most game developers very happy and glad for not having to code anything.

    And about the psx GPU, that is the most flexible gpu. It's basically like a voodoo 4 without the super clean features of perspective correction, super fill rate, anti aliasing etc. It's like a 2D/3D chip simultaneously. So game developers don't have to worry about making a game engine.

    Overall I think it's funny how things work. Even though Sony isn't a game company, they seem to have the most money and best support for game developers, compared to Nintendo and Microsoft. Just look what happened with Xbox one and ps4. Same hardware but Sony makes theirs most powerful at last minute; what assholes (don't want to lose that last dime right?).
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
  5. sp193

    sp193 Site Soldier

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    Honestly, it was because you sounded biased towards the SEGA machines.

    I will have to agree with you on this though. :/
    Some of us believe that it was deliberate, although the first few models might have genuine issues. They eventually got sued, and had to fix the issues. It got sorted out by the SCPH-75000 series, which was quite late into its lifespan.

    The SCPH-10000 has a couple of other issues, which I think that the first SCPH-30000 lacks:
    1. Weak CD/DVD drive eject mechanism (ceases up easily, which they worked around in refurbished sets by increasing the tray speed).
    2. Slightly high running temperature (they increased the fan speed for all refurbished units).
    3. EE chip with short-loop bug (loops shorter than 5 instructions might result in incorrect branch prediction).
    4. Weak laser (KHS-400As are also rare, to make this worse).
    5. And finally... the buggy boot ROM (OSD cannot pass arguments to the update, and ExecPS2 wasn't suitable for use because it doesn't clean up the kernel)

    Speaking of this thread. I remember that there were some games that took advantage of the PlayStation MECHACON's ability to analyze waveforms. I still think that it's cool, since most games don't do that.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
  6. vexatious

    vexatious Rising Member

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    That's very cool you know that stuff about the PS2. I never had one but I know it has one of the largest game libraries to exist. I always wanted one to try those Japanese shmups.

    Yeah I probably do sound biased towards Saturn and am. I find the hardware very interesting. But honestly I think maybe I have to be open minded. And if Sega can't support any developers or customers, Sony is just going to be better. I don't want to get sued by Motorola or Yamaha or something if I do something I don't know about. Also, PS2 has some kind of Linux kit IIRC. I wonder if there's any official support like that for PSX.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
  7. root670

    root670 Robust Member

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    Which games did this?
     
  8. smf

    smf mamedev

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    It's not an R3000A at all, it's only software compatible. It was licensed from LSI who re-implemented the instruction set in whatever HDL they used. You bought the source code, modified it and then got LSI to build it. I imagine they had some super expensive FPGA type device for testing. It is mostly compatible, there are some differences in the instruction decoding for unused instructions that allow you to know it's not a real R3000A. It was obviously implemented from the specification rather than any implementation.

    Apart from removing the data cache tag ram and some of the data cache logic, so you could only run the data cache in scratchpad mode (scratchpad mode is a feature available in the original source code from LSI), the major change Sony appears to have made was they replaced the ram interface with their own.

    I believe they will also have implemented MDEC, GTE, DMA, IRQ, RCNT, SIO & the glue to the SIO/CD/GPU in the same HDL.

    There are some parts of the original design they didn't remove but also didn't use, which is fun to poke around with (there is an unused timer in the FFExxxxx region off the top of my head).

    Some of the cd chips might have been standard parts, because Sony made cd chipsets. Everything else was designed for the PlayStation. What chip did you have in mind?

    Saturn uses more off the shelf parts then PlayStation and when Sega heard about the PlayStation they panicked and came up with the ridiculous strategy for re-using a sprite engine for drawing polygons and putting two cpus on the same bus so you had to make sure all your code fit into the data cache or it would be slower than just having one cpu. Most games only use one of the cpus.

    Sony did the exact same thing, with Namco releasing Tekken in the arcades on a rom based board before the PlayStation came out.

    What 8 bit bus?

    There is an irq line on the controller ports that is used for the konami light gun, which is also available on the expansion port but I don't know of anything that might use that. There is also a digital sound input, I don't know if any of the VCD add ons use that.

    The rest of the expansion port is essentially the cpu's 16 bit bus (only the gpu and ram in the PlayStation is 32 bit and the ram has it's own bus). Action replays etc all just use the port in 8 bit mode, but 16 bit is possible. A ram cart for caching graphics would definitely work well, although you'd have to dma into main ram and then transfer that to gpu.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
  9. sp193

    sp193 Site Soldier

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    I remember it from this post: http://www.assemblergames.com/forum...PS2-POPS-stuff&p=673650&viewfull=1#post673650
    l_Oliveira mentioned it in a few places.

    Most likely, no. Unlike the PlayStation, the PlayStation 2 was designed to be highly reprogrammable and supported a HDD unit.
     
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  10. smf

    smf mamedev

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    The Net Yaroze is the official equivalent of the PS2 Linux Kit. There was a ucLinux port but it seems to have died before being finished http://www.linux-mips.org/wiki/PS1

    I always wanted to see an AROS port.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
  11. vexatious

    vexatious Rising Member

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    Why no ram expansion yet for ps1? Are people ignorant? Ps1 have disc read problems so not always best for games, but have parallel port. Lots of ps1's with parallel expansion port. People don't like perfect development-learning system I guess.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
  12. sp193

    sp193 Site Soldier

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    But the Net Yaroze was not based on Linux, was it? It doesn't seem to be.

    I don't think that the later models really have CD/DVD drive issues, if unmodified and original discs are used.

    The expansion port is NOT meant for emulating an optical drive. It is possible for software to be run from it, but only if the software was made to do that.


    We now have PSIO, which aims to be an optical drive emulator that is connected through the expansion connector. But even it will require some hardware modifications.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
  13. TriMesh

    TriMesh Site Supporter 2013-2017

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    I think you are getting confused - stencil transparency (which is what's used for the meshes) is free, but blended transparency certainly isn't - it turns every pixel write into a read-modify-write operation and is about 2 to 3 times slower than just writing the pixels directly. Even a single BG with transparency enabled will drop your frame rate by about 30%. The situation is not as bad when you are using sprite transparency (simply because the sprites contain less pixels), but the Saturn VDP does a certain amount of overdraw when you apply a shear transform to a sprite and this results in rather ugly artifacts because the blending gets applied twice to the same pixel - put all this together, and you end up with the situation where a lot of developers just used mesh transparency.

    This really doesn't make any sense - transparency is one of the areas that the PSX just plain handles better than the Saturn - it's still expensive, but it's controllable on a per-pixel basis so you only incur the overhead on the specific pixels that need it.

    I guess you might be referring to the full-screen dither, but that's something that the developers could turn on or off as they chose. Most 3D titles used it because the dithering helped to hide the color banding effect on gradients, and since back then most people were using composite it wasn't that noticeable anyway.

    Incidentally, exactly the same thing is true of the mesh transparencies on the Saturn - if you connect the console via a composite connection to a CRT TV set, then you hardly notice them - it's just when you hook the console up using RGB to a high quality monitor like a PVM they become horribly obvious.

    The PSX expansion port is not really the same thing as the Saturn cartridge slot, though - on the Saturn the slot is directly connected to one of the CPU buses so you can put RAM or ROM into a cart and the SH-2 has direct access to it at high speed (the same as the second 1MB of main system RAM) - on the PSX, the expansion port is connected to a lower speed sub-bus that's only connected to the main bus through a bridge, and accessing memory on that port is substantially slower than reading it from main memory.

    If you want full-speed expanded memory in the PSX, your only option is to modify the main PCB to add it - I've done this to a couple of my machines, but obviously no retail software makes any use of it and it's only of use for development.
     
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  14. smf

    smf mamedev

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    No it's not, my point was there wasn't any other official way of end users running your own software on the PS1.

    The development kits have 8mb of ram and people have upgraded their consoles to have 8mb. There are rare cartridges that have extra ram on them, but no software that uses it. Obviously no retail games use extra ram, because there was no ram expansion sold at retail back then. Why do you feel necessary to call people ignorant?


    The PS1 is a classic system on chip design as the main CPU bus isn't exposed at all, while the Saturn uses an off the shelf CPU.

    The expansion port is connected to the same bus as the system rom, but has separate size and speed configuration. It's configured for detecting slow 8 bit devices by default and because there were no official devices the action replay etc never figured out how to speed it up. nocash has done quite extensive research on it, you can increase it to 16 bit and I believe change the timing to make it quicker. It would still be slower than 32 bit main ram but I don't think that would be a huge problem though, it would still be many orders of magnitude faster than reading data from the cd while rendering a frame. Main ram is comparatively slow anyway (like pretty much all ram in every system made since the 80's).

    A lot of the arcade based PS1 boards have rom mapped in the expansion port area and they do run in 16 bit but I'd have to take a closer look at what speed they run the bus at, some use dma and others use a cpu copy loop. Obviously with their 8mb (and even 16mb) of main ram and 2mb of vram (which should be possible on retail hardware too) they aren't likely reading data in the middle of levels but they could and it shouldn't be too hard to find out if they did.

    The biggest problem with using expansion port ram is that not all consoles have an expansion port. You should be able to add one, but at that point you might as well hack the extra ram on the motherboard. Extra ram on the motherboard requires different changes for each mother board and your console is no longer 100% compatible with other retail units and it's hard to disable it if it does cause a problem.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2015
  15. MottZilla

    MottZilla Champion of the Forum

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    Well I think TriMesh and smf answered my question. It sounds like whatever RAM Expansion might have been possible on the Parallel I/O port could have been actually useful. If you could load sprite frames into RAM and transfer them as needed fast enough then you'd be set. It's just a shame that they never did it.
     
  16. smf

    smf mamedev

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    It all comes down to money. If you make it mandatory then you risk the game not selling, if you make it optional then you have to double the amount of QA testing & there is also a development cost.

    Expansions to fixed specification systems have always been a problem. The original Atari ST shipped with a single sided floppy for a brief time, so every single game for years shipped on single sided floppy disks which cost more to manufacture and meant you had to swap more often. I'm surprised when an expansion is successful.

    For years the PC languished with games because not many companies would risk the amount of effort required to support all the different configurations. Middleware is big enough business now that you can just take an engine off the shelf, but that is a relatively new phenomenon.
     
  17. MottZilla

    MottZilla Champion of the Forum

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    You're right about it being all about money of course. And expansions have that problem of dividing the market. The most successful expansion I can think of was the PC-Engine CD-ROM in Japan. Atleast it seems like it was, judging by the huge library of CD games released. I am pretty sure it outnumbers HuCard games significantly.

    The N64 RAM Expansion Pack did reasonably too even though few games used it. I think it's an example of a RAM expansion working. Thinking about it makes me think that it could have worked out for the PS as it did for the Saturn in Japan and N64 here. As long as the memory performance was enough to keep up.
     
  18. ASSEMbler

    ASSEMbler Administrator Staff Member

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    It was EXPENSIVE to build, like 3do.. but ultimately lacked quality.
     
  19. smf

    smf mamedev

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    I'd be surprised if more than 50% of N64 or Saturn users had the ram expansion.

    The most successful upgrade ever was the dualshock, mostly because they started bundling consoles with it. Most people with consoles bought before then will have bought a dualshock in the end.
     
  20. MottZilla

    MottZilla Champion of the Forum

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    Well there were some high profile N64 titles that required the expansion pak that I'd imagine got many users to pickup the upgrade. And I don't recall it being expensive. In Japan I know the Saturn had a few titles bundled with ram expansion carts. The N64 I believe did the same thing for some titles. So the PS could have done the same.

    The dual shock is a good point but honestly I can't remember using it much myself. My console came with it too. It was an upgrade but not really as significant as a memory expansion in my opinion. Depending on the cost, they could have bundled a ram expansion with new consoles as well. And as previously mentioned if they chose to they could have removed the port on new consoles and had the memory expansion built into the system. They'd have to settle for that being the maximum memory upgrade after that.

    Even if 50% or less of users had the expansion that isn't so bad because any game is not likely to be owned by 50% of console owners. The higher profile games are more likely to be owned by most users. So that would be a factor in expansion adoption. I'd think that the N64 had a higher adoption of the expansion pak since games like Perfect Dark and Zelda MM utilized it. I can see the thought where a developer would be worried about requiring the upgrade to play the game making the market for the game smaller, but I think the reality is more likely that as long as it's simple to upgrade and not too costly then the gamer will do it if they want that game. Even more so if there are multiple games that require it as they can justify the initial purchase for the first game as an investment to play the others in the future.
     

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