Friday, June 09, 2006

My videos and earlier posts have raised more questions than answers let my try to address some of them.

Some people think that since I was ‘only’ able to get 20-30fps without textures and sound and so on that with those things lacking couldn’t do anything but slow it down. So let me set this issue straight… I got quake to run by not taking the necessarily most optimized way for everything, in fact quite the contrary. It's quite the hack job at the moment. I did whatever it took to get it running, you know a proof of concept. Like I said some people take the fact that it runs at 20-30fps to be a bad thing… No in fact it’s a great thing... None of the media was formatted to be friendly to the DS so there are a lot of converters in line to tie things together, most of which isn’t cached because there isn’t enough room to do it. To be honest I’m very impressed with the DS’s speed. To put things into perspective I was very happy with my earlier versions of DSQuake, with just game entities (monsters, guns, nails in the air ect) being drawn no brush models (walls, buttons, and most powerups) at about 5 frames per second. I easily quadrupled the speed with little optimization work. There are tons of things that can be done to speed things along.

Another thing I must mention is that John Carmack is a genius plain and simple. The Quake engine was designed to run on very slow pc’s for today’s standards, as I recall it was really quite playable (20+fps) on my 486DX2 50mhz with 8megs of ram and that was software rendered! So in terms of needing to optimize this or that, some mentioned needing to speed up the ‘game logic’ and so on, that’s just laughable. Also people suggested possibly pulling the Quake virtual machine out and replacing the game code with the Quake C code native compiled, I think that really defeats the purpose of the whole project. Not to mention I don’t know if it could even be done without an incredible amount of effort. Why does it defeat the purpose of the project? It’s so un-Quake like, it would kill any chance of people running mods on it. Sure it might hurt the frame rate somewhat which can be witnessed when running a demo vs. playing in single player mode, but its nothing the DS can’t handle. The real speed gains will come from the optimization the media to be DS friendly and ushering data between ram and rom.

Will the textures slow things down? Certainly not. The DS has dedicated texture memory which I have yet to touch. 384k of usable texture memory I believe is all I have to work with. That isn’t much at all, it’s going to take a decent amount of work to get things done right texture wise. I understand it’s a priority to have textures working, but I’m not worried about the ‘can it be done’ and all of the other negative takes on it. Metroid Hunters has much more sophisticated graphics, multitextures, tons of transparencies and probably a higher average poly count. Metroid runs great! The DS is more than capable of achieving 40+ average fps, and probably 50+ fps.

Will sound slow things down? No, only the arm7 processor has access to the sound. Which is currently running no code, just sitting there idling. I’ve read that it is a 33mhz processor, I’m not entirely sure about that number but it seems reasonable. I know the GBA had a 16.7mhz or there abouts processor which was more than capable of handing these things. So that will be dedicated to do the sound, probably the console, and draw any touch screen weapon selection that will be put in place.

How will I get the dynamic lighting working? I don’t know and at this point I don’t care how to do it that much either, there is too much to be done right now to worry about the little details. Things must be taken one step at a time. But it will happen; there are only a few ways to do it. Try them all and see which one works best and that’s that.

So what am I concerned with now? The development environment of the DS or at least my setup isn’t the most ideal by far. The way I did it was code, compile, run package utilities, put onto sd card, put card into my supercard, put that into my DS, run program and any debugging info is displayed on the lower screen and if anything crapped out I would need to repeat the whole process after putting printfs everywhere until I could trap the bug. That process could literally take dozens of times to find one small thing. It is sufficient but not efficient, however I can’t complain too much the guys with devkitpro and libnds have done an amazing job with their tools I am very much impressed with their work. But if anyone knows of good debugging tools or have suggestions on how to help with that I would be super appreciative if they emailed me. DSQuake@gmail.com

My other concerns are related to the fact I have a lot of yet unanswered design questions. My main concern right now is the ram. 4 megs of ram is tough for a game designed for 8megs of ram. In fact some levels still wont load because I need a few more 100k of ram or so, in particular the necropolis if I remember right that’s one of the heavier levels. Some people might find this contradictory as the necropolis is clearly in the demos video I posted, well that’s because when a demo is playing the quake virtual machine isn’t running, therefore freeing up on the order of 400k of ram, allowing for the level to load and the demo to play. Using the supercards ram as external ram is very tempting but that too has limitations, not to mention am I going to want to impose that sort of hardware restrictions on people? Not really, what about the people of the other ramless solutions. I when first starting the project extracted all of the pak files and tried reading them in via the fat libs for the supercard sd. There were bugs in that somehow and I kept getting small errors in my read-ins, failed crcs and so on. So I had to move away from that early on, those might be fixed now but back in January it wasn’t working 100% to my satisfaction. I would be happy for someone to say that’s no longer the case. But again requiring people use a type of cartridge with flash cards isn’t ideal, but not out of the question. I’m open to hear opinions on that.

Also to what extent do I want to change the media files, initially I wanted to leave it untouched. Currently I’m using an unmodified shareware pak file that I append to the bin. But its looking like that isn’t much of an option anymore. There are too much on the fly translations of the media is required. It’s a sizeable performance hit, so I’m probably going to have to make a sort of converter utility to make the models friendlier to the DS at the very least. The textures I want to have a few options, both unscaled and scaled depending on what’s on screen and how much free texture memory is available. The wall textures are pretty tiny so those won’t be too much of a problem I would think. However the character textures are pretty large and if there are a lot on screen at once I think it’s inevitable that they would need to be scaled down. But that’s not all incredibly bad news, take a look at this for example:




Here is an image file I made a while back when I was trying to test out how much scaling I could get away with. The ones on the left are the Shambler in all of its original majesty, with the original texture of 308x115 rendered with unfiltered texture options to simulate what it looked like in software rendering Quake and also what it would look like on the DS. On the right are the scaled down textures to 128x64. So the texture memory requirements for the one on the right are 4x less than that of the left. The ones on the left would require 32k and the ones on the right only 8k. So when you’re only working with 384k of texture ram 24k is a huge difference. I couldn’t imagine needing to scale it down any more than that and it doesn’t look too bad. I think in general it would be the size of the ones on the bottom and at that size you couldn’t tell much of a difference.

A little bit on the networking of it, well I haven’t done anything with the wifi on the ds yet. From what I can tell the people did an excellent job of making a lib for it, it shouldn’t be too hard to get networking working in Quake. For those who don’t know to play single player Quake the game connects its game client to its self with a loop back driver (which I had to rewrite) to the game server. So getting it to network with another server would be a very similar process. Also since this is a real port of Quake with its virtual machine and all you could connect to a PC game server and play people who are on pcs and DSes alike. Worth mentioning too is that game mods will run without any more modification to the Quake engine though like I said the media assets might need to run though a converter of some sorts.

49 Comments:

At 11:08 PM, Blogger QazzaQ said...

HEy great work with porting quake starts to look better every time ;D anyway isn't there like ram for the gba in the nds too that you can use ? i meen ram is ram right no matter who's it is.. anyway just a thought .. keep up the great work ;D wifi & pc play that's so awsome ;D can't wait for a playable demo to try ;D

 
At 4:26 AM, Blogger brena said...

Am so excited about playing DSQuake one day soonish! Just love Quake, just bought a DSlite, now gotta get one of these supercard things.

Appreciate your hard work!

Hey can you please have a look at the RSS feed for this site - seems to be broken. Would like to keep up on what's happening here...

 
At 6:01 AM, Blogger webez said...

You can use the 4 main banks for textures son you get 512 kbytes. Also make sure you are using no more than 256 colors. Then I think you will have enough room for all the textures you could need

 
At 7:56 AM, Blogger Jago said...

I would just like you to know that the day DSQuake gets proper texturing and support for custom content is the day I will be buying a Nintendo DS. Keep up the great work!

 
At 10:48 AM, Blogger DSQuake said...

Webez: thats only if I dont use any video memory for the 2nd bottom screen. So that's not an option really.

 
At 4:04 PM, Blogger NPC said...

This is really interesting, is it possible to do all this with an N64 game?

 
At 10:14 PM, Blogger webez said...

Bank H shas enough space for a 256x256 16 bit bg for the the subscreen. You could even use Bank I for an extra 16 kbytes (or you can reserve that for sprites). It should be enough with that

 
At 12:56 AM, Blogger DSQuake said...

webez: Thats nice to know, I'll keep that in mind.

 
At 12:57 AM, Blogger DSQuake said...

NPC: Only if the source code is released. Otherwise no.

 
At 1:20 AM, Blogger Hollywood said...

VERY nice! You may not have a lot of help but you've got a lot of fans. Please keep up the good work. :)

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger onarum said...

i say use supercard's ram heh

 
At 4:05 PM, Blogger Wrestlevania said...

I think the scaled down example of the Shambler texture is more than acceptable, especially when viewed on a humble DS screen.

Excellent work so far--really looking forward to watching DSQuake develop.

 
At 7:56 PM, Blogger PhotoBoy said...

Dude, keep up the amazing work, this is going to be really cool!

 
At 1:28 PM, Blogger KMan said...

Do you need any graphical help? I know that someone is helping out with optimizing and scaling down the textures, but do you need help with designing the layout with the bottom screen?

 
At 9:44 AM, Blogger OOPMan said...

Hmmmmm, if you're worried about memory then you might want to look into the homebrew memory extension being developed by a member of the DSLinux community.

He recently discovered a means to access the memory on cards like SD using a modifed version of gcc (Discovered a mean involved patching gcc actually)

Anyway, you might want to look into it as a future option ;-)

 
At 12:20 PM, Blogger thedrynessflows said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12:21 PM, Blogger thedrynessflows said...

could u host what u have so far. so we can try dsquake out, even if it is a version without textures.

 
At 3:43 PM, Blogger Dummyaccount said...

What do you estimate the final file-size will be with all the textures compressed? Will the soundtrack be optional? Is there a chance that a smaller sized soundtrack could be made to work with Quake?

I only have a 256MB flash cart, you see... So space gets taken up easily.

Also, for switching weapons, what's the method you'll be using? Icons at the top/bottom/left/right of the screen? Drop down menu, like in Hunters?(My favorite...)For jumping, will it be double-tap? Button?

Quake on DS is so awesome... Portable Quake with Mouse Look. :D
It's a shame I'm such a worthless programmer, so I can't contribute anything... :(

 
At 6:35 PM, Blogger Thor said...

Really looking forward to this... how is it coming along?

Thanks,
Thor

 
At 2:12 AM, Blogger Foot said...

Howdy, Just wondering if there is goin to be any WIP releases for us to test. Hows the progress?

Thanks

 
At 8:57 PM, Blogger thedrynessflows said...

face it this project is dead...
...oh f'shame

 
At 3:50 PM, Blogger onarum said...

So... this is dead eh?

 
At 4:59 PM, Blogger Thor said...

Yeah looks like it's dead. I emailed him but no response either. It would be nice if he would at least release the code, maybe someone else could work on it..

 
At 3:14 PM, Blogger Thor said...

I just got an email from John that says:

"its not dead btw."

 
At 4:08 PM, Blogger onarum said...

that's good to know, I hope he manages to finish this.

 
At 4:29 PM, Blogger odea said...

\o/
lots of people are waiting for a releases, thats a fantastic project!
thanks for your efforts!
...if you need beta tester ;)

 
At 4:33 PM, Blogger odea said...

about the memory issue, have a look at what amadeus done on dslinux project: http://dslinux.org/amadeus/?cat=3 ...i hope it could help, but maybe it will be too slow for quake :(

 
At 11:44 AM, Blogger fellista said...

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At 11:37 AM, Blogger onarum said...

R.I.P dsquake...

 
At 4:23 PM, Blogger Spirit said...

Oh noes, no progress?
Please don't quit!
At least release the source code so someone else can continue.
Please finish it!

 
At 9:15 PM, Blogger Tommy said...

Any current news on this project?

 
At 6:39 AM, Blogger Wuggl3z said...

are you including all 4 chapters in the port or is it just the first chapter? also will you include nightmare difficulty?

keep up the good work

 
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At 5:48 PM, Blogger CENTiNEX said...

What a nice project!

I hope it is still under develloppement (long time with no news), beacause Quake is my favorite game of all time and the NDS is a reallly nice machine to play it.
Metroid Prime Hunter is a bit boring, and each time I play it, I wonder "why Quake isn't made on DS?".

So I hope DSQuake is not lost in vaporwares heaven :/

 
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At 3:00 PM, Blogger Bp103 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3:06 PM, Blogger Bp103 said...

*edit* Sorry I butchered spelling and grammar in my last comment.

Is it passable to use a donor card and use the EPROM or where ever it puts save game files like xswap on Linux? But I can only see that working slot 2 devices like the Max Media HDD and other flash carts like that for obvious reasons. I know that the max media hdd does not need the player card in it at all times as it becomes dead weight leaching power from the battery.

I don't know much about programing but that's my 2¢ anyway I hope it helps.

 
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