MSX 2's higher resolution modes and 15-Khz emulation

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By Manuel

Ascended (17869)

Manuel's picture

14-08-2014, 17:14

Why would 640x480 suck? Really? As I tried to point out earlier, in openMSX I use 1280x960 and it looks almost exactly as my real MSX on a Sony KX-CP14 Trinitron MSX monitor. The higher resolution allows accurate emulation of the scanlines.

At least it must be clear to you know that any MSX game using 512x212 modes won't work properly on your 256x212 Windows mode.
Long long ago I also tried a 320x240 mode on the PC for MSX emulation. But even on the CRT monitor I had back then, the pixels looked way too sharp and square compared to my MSX monitors. That's why I say that on modern monitors with high resolution, the emulation looks a lot more like the real thing than when I used the low res PC mode on a CRT.

Perhaps you should just get yourself an MSX2?

By Grauw

Ascended (9817)

Grauw's picture

14-08-2014, 19:08

Milsancho wrote:

Thanks for the reply. Not sure I'm following you on the "square pixels" part, though. How do you get the 284.75 number?

With square pixels I’m referring to “pixels as used in screen 5”, as opposed to “pixels in screen 7” which are half the width. I guess there’s still some ambiguity wrt screen 3’s pixels, but w/e. I just had to establish some reference point.

If you must know the origin of the number; it is taken from the Horizontal Line Timing section in this article, which in turn takes its information from the V9938 Technical Data Book.

It says the active display takes 1024 cycles to complete (iow 4 cycles / square pixel). The left border is displayed for 56 cycles (translated to square pixels: 14), the right border for 59 cycles (translated to square pixels: 14.75).

Milsancho wrote:

If most of what's outside the 256 x 212 area is [intended to be] in the TV's overscan area, then the pixels on a 4 : 3 [NTSC] display aren't square, but rectangles.

I’m just basing the squareness of pixels on statements by Karl Guttag. Possibly they are not precisely 100% square (depends on the calibration of your TV too), but it was his argument to choose 256 pixels wide lines rather than 320 pixels. I am mostly using the term “square” to identify the screen 5 pixels as opposed to the screen 7 ones.

Regarding borders being inside the overscan, I was mostly referring to the horizontal borders. I don’t really want to argue this minor point any further though. I’m just trying to explain the facts to you as I know them.

Milsancho wrote:

I don't know if "wierd", but it's the fucking bestest set-up ever for low-res emulation purposes and the only one tolerable for visual accuracy, which I always thought was the point of emulation. In fact, what I find "wierd" is that there're not more emulation enthusiasts (including emulator devs) contemplating it. Sure; CRT's are harder and harder to find. But you should have a couple of them in the attic if you really care about old videogames (or videogames in general, for that matter).

If you go out of your way to find a CRT for maximum authenticity, might as well skip the emulation altogether and find an actual MSX :). The point of emulation for me is to replicate old hardware on modern hardware. A filter to replicate CRT gamma and artifacts on LCD screens, sure that makes sense to me. But to have a setup to connect a PC to a low-resolution CRT TV, that seems an unusual old-new hybrid to me, and certainly not something that is commonly done. Which is why I called it weird.

Milsancho wrote:

Back to the point: 640 x 480 for "low res" gaming sucks as everybody with sane eyes does know, thankyouverymuch.

Ok, if you say so.

By mars2000you

Enlighted (5883)

mars2000you's picture

14-08-2014, 18:20

The big advantage of this discussion is that I can close the previous related thread on the blueMSX forum. Direct support for low-resolution CRT TV (and without the borders) will never come in blueMSX, and I guess it's the same for openMSX.

By Milsancho

Resident (63)

Milsancho's picture

14-08-2014, 19:12

Quote:

Why would 640x480 suck? Really? As I tried to point out earlier, in openMSX I use 1280x960 and it looks almost exactly as my real MSX on a Sony KX-CP14 Trinitron MSX monitor. The higher resolution allows accurate emulation of the scanlines.

Higher res. allows for a more accurate scanlines simulation, but it's never the same as the real thing, at least for me (and for all the people working on the subject). Besides, flat panels can't modify the refresh rate, either. Besides, they add input lag issues. Besides, bad color fidelity. Besides, etc. etc.

Quote:

At least it must be clear to you know that any MSX game using 512x212 modes won't work properly on your 256x212 Windows mode.

It's clear to me since the moment the people confirmed that indeed there're games using this mode. As you see, I reported the problem with Blue MSX in this very thread. But thank you.

Quote:

Long long ago I also tried a 320x240 mode on the PC for MSX emulation. But even on the CRT monitor I had back then, the pixels looked way too sharp and square compared to my MSX monitors. That's why I say that on modern monitors with high resolution, the emulation looks a lot more like the real thing than when I used the low res PC mode on a CRT.

But nobody here is defending "low res" emulation on standard PC CRT monitors. What you missed back then is that indeed you can use your "MSX monitors" with a Windows-based PC and therefore get _the same_ result as with the original system.

Quote:

Perhaps you should just get yourself an MSX2?

If they were still being made, sure, why not. Second-hand? Not for me. Too many systems plugged right now for eventual usage, anyway.

Quote:

The big advantage of this discussion is that I can close the previous related thread on the blueMSX forum. Direct support for low-resolution CRT TV will never come in blueMSX, and I guess it's the same for openMSX.

The big advantage of this discussion without a doubt is that now people like yourself or Manuel are aware that you can use a Windows-based PC on a 15-kHz monitor with the native video modes, I'd say. Maybe you're not... ready right now, but perhaps one day you'll realize that a flat panel is pap for gaming purposes and especially for "low-res" gaming and then will remember this thread and find out that getting an old ATI video card, a proper cable and a 15-kHz CRT is worth the effort. And then, if you are somehow involved in Blue MSX' development as you seem to imply, you'll try to add actual support for 15 kHz in order to make of it an actual emulator and not just a simulator and also enjoy the wonders of 15 kHz and make happy part of your userbase, that you never know how could they contribute to the project if they're happy enough. Perhaps. It's all about open-mindedness in the end, you know.

By Grauw

Ascended (9817)

Grauw's picture

14-08-2014, 19:35

Milsancho wrote:

Higher res. allows for a more accurate scanlines simulation, but it's never the same as the real thing, at least for me (and for all the people working on the subject). Besides, flat panels can't modify the refresh rate, either. Besides, they add input lag issues. Besides, bad color fidelity. Besides, etc. etc.

You can use MSX emulators on PC monitors no problem, which is a more common and fully supported set-up, to address all those issues except for scanlines. Nobody’s forcing you to use flat panels Smile.

Milsancho wrote:

But nobody here is defending "low res" emulation on standard PC CRT monitors. What you missed back then is that indeed you can use your "MSX monitors" with a Windows-based PC and therefore get _the same_ result as with the original system.

In that case you should send the full resolution to the monitor, including borders. I don’t get why you are trying to display without borders, and then complaining that the emulator doesn’t support it. They are part of the picture as it should be, part of the atmosphere of the game, and will disappear mostly in the overscan.

Quote:

…and aldo enjoy the wonders of 15 kHz and make happy part of your userbase

You mean, make you happy Smile.

By Milsancho

Resident (63)

Milsancho's picture

14-08-2014, 19:48

Quote:

You can use MSX emulators on PC monitors no problem, which is a more common and fully supported set-up, to address all those issues except for scanlines. Nobody’s forcing you to use flat panels Smile.

You answered yourself there.

Quote:

In that case you should send the full resolution to the monitor, including borders.

Sure. That's why I asked what's the full display res.

Quote:

I don’t get why you are trying to display without borders, and then complaining that the emulator doesn’t support it. They are part of the picture as it should be, part of the atmosphere of the game, and will disappear mostly in the overscan.

Well, I'm in the process of compiling information and get to a final conclusion. But I never complained about the lack of borders on Blue MSX -- re-read my posts.

As for the "part of the atmosphere" bit: I guess so, but what would we get if we asked if the game authors had had the possibility of getting rid of them? Screenshots on game packages are always without.

Quote:

You mean, make you happy Smile.

Me, and the guy asking in the emulator's forum. And some friends of mine. And all the people using 15-kHz CRT's for emulation. It's been so poorly requested up until now because of the obscure nature in the West of the games using the mode, and the lack of proper documentation on the subject; that's why I made the other thread. Let's see with the time (most likely, people will just use MESS by then, though, I know).

By ~mk~

Champion (296)

~mk~'s picture

14-08-2014, 19:53

Milsancho, I was going to mention MESS to you.
Actually, a side project called GroovyUME, which is based on UME which is based on MESS.
It is an emulator more suitable for your needs, check it out.
Actually, I managed to get a perfect display for MSX and MSX2 with another derivative project called AdvanceMESS, but it hasn't been updated in years and if I had to do it again today, I'd use GroovyUME.

By Grauw

Ascended (9817)

Grauw's picture

14-08-2014, 22:08

That’s a good point. If MESS does this, then it can fulfill this specific need Smile. Not all emulators have to do the same things. BlueMSX is more focused on being easily accessible. OpenMSX is focused on emulation accuracy and developers. fMSX seems to be focusing on mobile lately. Etc.

By Manuel

Ascended (17869)

Manuel's picture

14-08-2014, 22:42

Funny and interesting that after being involved in MSX emulation for 12 years I had never heard of people running emulators on 15kHz monitors (perhaps I should say: forgive my ignorance). Anyway, the solution is still simple: use a 640x480 mode and run the emulator on that resolution. All should be looking fine and almost the same as on real MSX with 15kHz monitor (it's just the border that's a tad too big, but tweaking your monitor settings can handle that).

Oh, and if you start emulating the V9990, it becomes even more interesting Smile It has a 1024x212 mode... (and several other funky ones, check the list in the Wiki of this site) Hah! But, I have to admit there are no games for that (but there are some programs supporting it like SymbOS).

About MESS: good luck. Too bad it doesn't really support MSX very well (although there is a lot, it is not that complete, and also not yet as accurate as most modern MSX emulators - I do have to note that several parts of openMSX were started with the MESS code, though!).

And um... wait, why would you buy a new MSX and not a second hand? A bit odd if you're into retro gaming....

By ~mk~

Champion (296)

~mk~'s picture

14-08-2014, 22:49

The problem is that it is impossible to show 480 lines on a 15kHz monitor without resorting to an interlaced video mode, and low resolution doesn't look good on interlaced scan.
To achieve accurate video output, the emulator should switch video modes on the fly, same as the MSX would do.

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