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 Post subject: File Formats?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:34 pm 
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I'm hesitant to ask this, I truly am, if only because I don't want to create/stir up any real or perceived rivalry between Daphne and MAME, but the question should still be asked...

MAME now supports Laser Disc based games. Four as I write this (Cube Quest, FireFox, M.A.C.H. 3, and Us vs. Them), with support for more on the way.

Right or wrong, good or bad, agree with the decision or not, this is now a fact. I, for one do not see this as the end of Daphne, as I believe that both emulators can easily exist side by side.

My question, however has to do with supported LD file formats. As LD-CHDs are added to MAME, I'm seeing less of a need the maintain the same content in a MPEG(?) format for Daphne.

Now, I could be wrong (wouldn't be the first time), but I believe that the LD-CHD format preserves more of the actual LD Content, and to my untrained eye looks a bit better at full screen than the content that Daphne currently employs.

I'll freely admit that the file sizes for the LD-CHDs are ridiculously huge, but then again, storage space is ridiculously cheap (I just picked up a 1 TB drive for about $130.00).

So my question is this - Given that the LD-CHD format is not likely to go away, might a future version of Daphne be able to make use of these files (perhaps in addition to existing content)?

If this were to happen, new LD-CHDs could be prepped, and made available for Daphne, ahead of support in MAME.

Thoughts?


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 11:46 pm 
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I will answer your question with a question.

Suppose Daphne does supports LD-CHD's and you have a choice to play a laserdisc game with either MAME or Daphne (for example, Us vs Them). Would you use MAME or Daphne to play it?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 1:43 am 
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A fair question, and I will attempt to provide an equally fair, and honest answer.

Unless I'm very mistaken, MAME's focus is on accuracy, sometimes at the expense of playability, where Daphne (and other emulators) focus more on playability, sometimes at the expense of accuracy.

Let's use Us vs Them as an example -

Scenario 1 - MAME and Daphne play the game equally well, with complete feature parity.

Advantage=MAME

Scenario 2 - Assume that Daphne uses some sort of trick or hack to make the game run at full speed, and the current version of MAME, in the interest of accuracy, causes the CG overlay to frameskip, or the preliminary driver causes audio anomolies.

Advantage=Daphne

Scenario 3 - Daphne's focus on LD games allows for specific focus on things like specific cheats for specific games, and fun things like a GUI based Virtual LaserDisc Player (VLDP), game trivia, and/or tips & tricks within the Daphne engine.

Advantage=Daphne

Scenario 4 - An unemulated LD is dumped into a LD-CHD format (let's say Star Rider). Someone on the Daphne team figures out a way to make the game work using hacks/tricks that would not be appropriate to MAME, but the MAME team is working on it. The game will eventually be playable in MAME, but is playable now in Daphne.

Advantage=Daphne, and eventually MAME

So what it really comes down to is can Daphne offer something to the player that MAME cannot or will not?

I believe that Daphne can differentiate itself from MAME in terms of features and focus. It's a matter of software evolution.

As to the question of format, I honestly find the quality of the LD-CHD format to be superior to that of the MPEG video Daphne currently supports, and a common file format is preferable to duplication of content.

Sorry if I appear to be rambling... I'm perfectly willing to discuss any aspect of this topic with an open mind... :)


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 4:12 am 
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I thought of yet another scenario -

Scenario 5 - The year is 2015. You own an Us vs Them machine, and the LD Player is beginning to fail. Parts are no longer available to repair the LD Player, but the cabinet is otherwise in good shape.

MAME can emulate the game, but you don't want to convert the cabinet for use with MAME, as again, the only part of the cabinet that is failing is the LD Player.

Daphne's original purpose was to control a serial controllable LD Player.I see no reason why Daphne's VLDP can't be made to work the other way, to be controlled by an original board.

It would involve creating an interface from the board to the computer that would control the VLDP, but one could, in effect, replace a physical LDP with a VLDP, and keep the cabinet running... Something that I believe falls outside of MAME's stated purpose.

Advantage=Daphne


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 5:53 pm 
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Well, you have posted some things that I didn't think about.

The short answer is, no, I will not be supporting LD-CHD's.

The longer answer is:
When I find that I am bothered by the way that the lossy compressed video looks while I am playing the game, then I will probably do something to improve the video quality. However, it looks fine to me, and I love the hard drive space that I save.

I am working on a new video/audio file format that will support things that a real laserdisc player can do like faster skipping and playing backward, but this will still be a lossy format.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 8:55 pm 
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Well, I can't say I'm not a little disappointed, but I certainly respect your decision.

I do want to make one more appeal for my case, however, and hopefully clarify a point in the process.

I wasn't suggesting that the current MPEG format be dropped in favor of the LD-CHD format, but that the LD-CHD format be supported *in addition to* the existing formats that Daphne currently supports.

I can see how it may have been interpreted that I was suggesting otherwise, but such was not my intent.

For those of us who choose to dowload and store content in the LD-CHD format, it would be nice to be able to access it via Daphne, as well as MAME.

Might this be a possibility?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 9:34 pm 
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MAMEBase:

Daphne is open source. When there is a feature that I want, I get the Daphne source and do my best to add that feature so that others can benefit from it. Might I recommend you do the same?

The person who has the enusiasm for adding the enhancement is more likely to see the task through. There is no motivation for someone like myself (who thinks it is a waste of time to add CHD support).... therefore, if I was tasked with this, it would never get done.

Many of the things that I have wanted added to Daphne have been a waste of time to everyone except for me... so don't take it the wrong way. However, I used my own time to implement those features instead of trying to get someone else to do it. If I want someone else to do a custom programming job for me that is beyond my ability, I pay them.

Brad O.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:23 pm 
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Brad -

No offense is taken. I understand that Daphne is Open Source, and if I felt that I had the programming skills needed to make the modifications I was suggesting, I would be working on that right now, rather than pestering you folks... :)

Please understand that I have nothing but the utmost respect for the developers that make applications like Daphne possible.

I'd like to think that I have been a part of the emulation community long enough to recognize trends within the community itself (in fact, Matt may or may not remember me from back in the early days of Daphne...). One of the more unfortunate trends is when MAME sets its sights on a game, or genre of games that were once supported by other emulators, or a standalone emulator, the perception of the community at large is that the other emulator has become obsolete (Remember Retrocade? How about Vectorama?).

I believe that Daphne has, can, does, and will continue to offer features and/or benefits that fall outside of MAMEs focus (some of which I pointed out in a previous post/rant), and the suggestion that Daphne make use of a new, existing video content format was simply that... A suggestion.

If the decision to reject this suggestion has ben made, so be it...I do not believe it is my place to make this decision, and it is certainly not my place to make any sort of demand. I can only express an interest, and I can hope that I am not alone in said interest.

The last thing I want to see happen is for Daphne to fade into oblivion simply because MAME has added support for games that were once exclusive to Daphne.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 11:50 pm 
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One more thought -

I'd like you to take another look at scenario 5 above.

While Daphne, in its current incarnation may not be able to provide a solution for the scenario provided, you (that is to say, the Daphne team) may want to consider building on Daphne's foundation, a VLDP solution based on an inexpensive computer, and controllable by the cabinet's board that could be sold to owners of various LD game cabinets, to keep the games running as the LD players begin to fail.

Just a thought...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 6:41 am 
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MAMEBase wrote:
Brad -

If the decision to reject this suggestion has ben made, so be it...I do not believe it is my place to make this decision, and it is certainly not my place to make any sort of demand. I can only express an interest, and I can hope that I am not alone in said interest.


I think you completely missed my point. No decision to reject your suggestion has been made. In fact, your suggestion is welcomed. To say that your suggestion has been rejected simply because Matt, I, or someone else does not want to spend the hours it would take to implement such a feature is silly.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 6:01 pm 
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MAMEBase wrote:
I'd like to think that I have been a part of the emulation community long enough to recognize trends within the community itself (in fact, Matt may or may not remember me from back in the early days of Daphne...). One of the more unfortunate trends is when MAME sets its sights on a game, or genre of games that were once supported by other emulators, or a standalone emulator, the perception of the community at large is that the other emulator has become obsolete (Remember Retrocade? How about Vectorama?).
The last thing I want to see happen is for Daphne to fade into oblivion simply because MAME has added support for games that were once exclusive to Daphne.


Yes, I do remember you from the very early days.

The good news is that the perception of the community at large does not really make much difference. Oddly enough, Daphne does not really benefit from the number of people using it. I used to think that if more people used it that more people would contribute to its development, but experience has shown that this is simply not the case. The amount of donators remains relatively small (less than 1% of the total users) and the amount of people who have contributed source code changes can be counted on two hands (ok maybe 4 hands hehe). So the lesson to be learned here is, the users who will abandon Daphne for MAME probably were never going to contribute anything to Daphne anyway, so it's not really a big deal.

With that being said, I honestly do not believe that LD-CHD makes sense for playing laserdisc games, for the same reason that you don't store .WAV files on your Ipod (or other portable music device for those that hate Ipods hehehe). And it also would not be fun for me to implement. Those two reasons are key in my decision to avoid working on this project.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:55 pm 
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Matt makes some excellent points, especially about contributions not being proportional to a project's user base. Even widely used (and funded) projects such as OpenOffice struggle to find and keep dedicated developers.

Most open source projects have a core group of devs that would work on it whether anyone else cared or not. From my experience with MAMEdev folk, they are pretty much the same -- they have their own goals, and as much as these line up with what other people want, great. If not, so be it. (Hence the creation of LD CHD -- no one using MAME to play games really wants to deal with 10+ GB files, but those wanting technical accuracy and raw preservation put their own goals first.)

These sorts of format debates flare up every so often, and the end result is always the same: Daphne uses a specific set of formats for specific reasons -- GPL source, reasonable file sizes, good quality, and excellent searching (thanks to Matt's VLDP code.) This is the first time someone has lobbied for LARGER files, though. :D

Trying to support the same format as MAME just dilutes the distinctive natures of the two. LD-CHD is as raw as complete as we can possibly produce with current gear, which is great -- it's something I would have liked to seen for Daphne all along, but there was zero chance of getting people to deal with the file sizes involved at the time. Even so, using "cooked" files such as Daphne's MPEGs has several advantages. The video and audio are carefully cleaned and tweaked to give them the best presentation possible, the files are a fraction of the size, the PC specs required are much lower, etc. On a monitor that's not excessively bright, the compression artifacts aren't very noticeable, especially when you're not specifically looking for them. Raw isn't necessarily better for actual use, and both approaches look very different from the original hardware.

If someone is willing to download and store 15 GB for one game in MAME, they should be able to deal with downloading less than that for all of Daphne's games combined. There are much more interesting things to work on than making the file sets compatible.

As for any rivalry between the two camps, it's not really an issue. Sure, people are partial to their own groups, but there is a considerable amount of cooperation going on, too.


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