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Old 19 April 2018, 13:55   #1
earok
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TerribleFire compact flash launcher

No promises, but I'm tempted to start working on a TerribleFire specific launcher (bearing in mind with my other projects it might be a while before I even get started on this, though if someone else wanted to make it - I'd be happy to hand it over!). These are my current ideas:

No frills
Super simple UI, few or no graphics, along the lines of the EverDrive launcher for Mega Drive.

WHDLoad scraper
Search through all directories/subdirectories for ".slave" files and add them to the launcher's database. Possibly have them configured to launch through CD32Load or WHDLoad by default.

CD32Load mapper
Simply let you assign and save your own keyboard->joypad mappings for each button.

CD32 disc installer
This won't work for all discs, particularly ones that use custom CD read routines. But in general, if the contents of a disc can run from a hard disk, it should be fairly straight forward to automate a hard drive install that'd work in most cases. May even be worthwhile installing games that have CD music (allowing better loading times and also letting you swap music discs).

Any thoughts?
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Old 20 April 2018, 15:33   #2
Glen M
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Sounds awesome. Something like this would absolutely complete the CD32 console infront of the big TV experience that I, and I'm sure others, enjoy. At present having to get up and use a mouse to navigate workbench and WHDLoad is a pain. If it could all be done easily from the joypad using a simple interface it would be perfect.

In terms of the disc installer would it be feasible to rip the cd-audio tracks to an SD card / hdd? I know it would take up a lot of space but in theory if you stuck an 80gb hdd in there would it work?
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Old 20 April 2018, 15:47   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glen M View Post
In terms of the disc installer would it be feasible to rip the cd-audio tracks to an SD card / hdd? I know it would take up a lot of space but in theory if you stuck an 80gb hdd in there would it work?
Unfortunately there's no way I can think of to play back the audio from an HDD.
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Old 20 April 2018, 16:00   #4
Akira
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YES this is most needed. We need a FAST launcher for CD32!
I've been thinking of making one myself for a long while, but I am not up to any level of confidence with Blitz that I can, so all I have is concept written on paper.

I wish there was a way to play CD games off the drive also doing the CD Audio but there isn't That's the main thing that will always be missing in this solution, unfortunately.

Anyway, I've been using XBench for a while on the CD32 and even though it has many problems, yes, the console-y feel is elevated, so a proper frontend would be really great.

The main thing I'd recommend doing, which I already suggested to Jim Neray for XBench, is to allow you to choose your own WHDLoad executable for launching games, among different WHDLoad versions (one might want to test for compatibility), WHDLOadCD32, CD32Load or JST.

The scraper on XBench seems to work sometimes, and it also looks at .info files for tooltype data, but to be honest, I don't know how useful this is. Most games have the same tooltypes, and now Wepl added PRELOAD as a global option too so you wouldn't even need to scrape that.

Speed is of the essence. Splash screens and other shit, just slow down boot time and make it feel less like a console. Laggy menues are a chore.
Going straight to the matter sounds good, even though an Everdrive interface looks very sparse, it does just what one wants: load a game and get going. I don't want to spend time in the Everdrive interface! Also important is that the game listings work fast and smoothly.
The H*xC launcher is also pretty good in this, rather simple, no frills, gets the job done.

The other thing I can think of is that hopefully you don't need much, if anything, from a Workbench disk to make it run, that way you can distribute it 100% hassle free and install on a CD32 straight up. I don't have WB on my CD32, I just have a very minimal setup to allow the CD32 to boot into XBench directly.

Oh and suffice to say: 100% joypad operated. With that in mind, as well as CD32 button configs, it'd be great to be able to setup the CD32 mouse emulator (joy2mouse or whatever) when needed, because I don't ever have a mouse anywhere near my CD32.

Anyway sorry for the blargh dump! I really appreciate someone making this
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Old 20 April 2018, 16:05   #5
Retro-Nerd
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Splash screens and other shit, just slow down boot time and make it feel less like a console
I really like the instant selectable tooltypes via mouse in the splash screen. It's much better than changing the game icons again and again if you only want to use a specific tooltype.This should be joypad controllable too.

Quote:
Oh and suffice to say: 100% joypad operated.
Yep, that's a must. And somehow WHDLoad itself needs a global quit option via CD32 pad for all games, not only for patched ones.
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Old 20 April 2018, 18:01   #6
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Fuck it - I know what I'm going to do. It's not going to be 'fancy', but it'll be good enough for my own purposes and hopefully others too.

No scraper, just a super simple system that requires some manual work and supports (I guess encourages) hobbyists to create their own curated "bundles", say along the lines of the compilations AmigaJay and I have put out for our respective blogs, but also someone could take charge and curate a "mega bundle" of just about everything anyone could want.

Games can be laid out in a directory structure like so:

\LauncherRoot
\LauncherRoot\Fighting\BodyBlows
\LauncherRoot\Fighting\ShadowFighter
\LauncherRoot\MrNutz
\LauncherRoot\Series\AlienBreed\AlienBreedI
\LauncherRoot\Series\AlienBreed\AlienBreedII
\LauncherRoot\Series\AlienBreed\AlienBreedTA
\LauncherRoot\Team17\AlienBreedI
\LauncherRoot\Team17\AlienBreedII
\LauncherRoot\Team17\AlienBreedTA
\LauncherRoot\Team17\BodyBlows
\LauncherRoot\Team17\SuperFrog

When I boot my CD32, I'll see a menu like this

* Fighting
* MrNutz
* Series
* Team17

When I choose a directory, the launcher will look for the presence of a "launcher.scr" file that's a script (so it can run more than just CD32Load or WHDLoad images). If it finds it, it knows that it's a game and will run it. Otherwise it'll assume that it's a grouping directory, and list the subdirectories. It could also look for the presence of a "launcher.txt" file if there are instructions that should be displayed first.

The redundancy is deliberate, it'll allow you to sort games any way you please

EDIT: Come to think of it, I could also make it so that if a folder has a .slave file in there, it'll launch that with CD32Load, WHDLoad or whatever launcher is set..

Last edited by earok; 20 April 2018 at 18:23.
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Old 20 April 2018, 22:36   #7
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Great to see this
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Old 21 April 2018, 00:16   #8
spudje
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Sounds awesome Earok!
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Old 21 April 2018, 00:18   #9
Akira
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retro-Nerd View Post
And somehow WHDLoad itself needs a global quit option via CD32 pad for all games, not only for patched ones.
Apparently some patches support it. Discussion here:
http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=91882

We can nudge that thread and see if Wepl seems motivated to add this feature to WHDLoad itself. Would be nice.

The problem with quitting is that you need more RAM to be able to quit back to the system, so it limits what you can or cannot preload, even with 8MB Fast.

CD32Load allows you to press a joypad combination to RESET the CD32. That's not too bad either, you can go back to the launcher quickly if it's speedy! Maybe even better than just quitting.
This is also why having the choice of CD32Load or WHDload is nice, although in most setups, it seems CD32Load might not run (requires FFS and might not work on multiple partitions, according to jotd)
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Old 21 April 2018, 02:46   #10
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My mind keeps changing as I think of new ways to manage the project.

I'm CURRENTLY thinking of a design like this:

- There's a central and community curated game database which is included with every update to the launcher. Basically this spreadsheet dumped to a CSV.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...O3s/edit#gid=0

(Feel free to poke around, add more games or columns etc. Only 100 in there to date and admittedly they lean towards my tastes and stuff I've worked on)

- The launcher on startup allows you to access a list of games depending on which ones from that list you have installed

By that I mean, if there's a folder called "Shadow of the Beast" in the Games folder (no groupings by subfolder, so all games will be at the same level), it will recognise it and add it to submenus for the Platformer Genre, the letter "S", and the "Shadow of the Beast" series collection.

- In this example, the folder would be expected to have some of these files:

LAUNCHER.TXT <- Text file instructions, not necessary for simple games
LAUNCHER.SRC <- If the game is non-WHDLoad, this is an AmigaDOS script to launch it
LAUNCHER.WHD <- Basic description of the slave that can be used to launch it, such as preferred engine (WHDLOAD or CD32LOAD), customs 1-5, key mappings (if using CD32Load), force PAL or NTSC, and so on, some of which can be overwritten by the user
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Old 21 April 2018, 16:51   #11
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Hi
I will just mention to you guys that I currently use Tinylauncher on my cd32 with the terriblefire expansion to access all whd load games/demos. I find it to provide a great/fast solution that is far less cumbersome, and much more reliable, than x-bench, while still providing a nice "console like" interface. The setup (adding games to lists, favourites etc) requires access to keyboard/mouse etc (and is best done on the amiga/winuae), but once the setup is complete, there is no problem navigating/launching games using the cd32 pad.
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Old 23 April 2018, 12:56   #12
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A couple of things

- In response to o-lief, TinyLauncher does seem pretty good, though I'm not sure it can categorise the way I want personally? My EverDrive ROM collection is grouped by alphabet, genre and series but that's all done manually so there are numerous copies, for the TF launcher project I had in mind that'd all be handled from the launcher itself.

- I'm leaning towards treating this as a project where an image is provided somewhere (maybe on Mega) that's updated every now and then with (community) provided pre-installed and configured games. There may need to be some sort of central management/consensus on how the games are configured exactly and which sources are used (eg it may be worthwhile including Galahad's Gods CD32 edition, as it's been designed with some CD32 pad specific changes)

- I'm of the understanding that we're limited to 8GB in total, and 2x 4GB partitions, if we stick to traditional file systems. To that end, I'm kind of thinking of leaving the second 4GB partition empty by default but it can be used to install the CD32 discs that are possible to install, since a few of them would be rather large even without music (eg Tower Assault with the long CDXL videos).
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Old 23 April 2018, 15:02   #13
spudje
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retro-Nerd View Post
I really like the instant selectable tooltypes via mouse in the splash screen. It's much better than changing the game icons again and again if you only want to use a specific tooltype.This should be joypad controllable too.
Either this should be joypad controlled or configurable in the launcher and don't bother showing the splash screen anymore during load. I'd love to see a clean solution that does not show any shell/workbench screens etc. to give that real console-y feel.

Earok, note that CD32Load does not work (yet) with a lot of slaves running from HDD, while it does work when running them from CD. Additionally CD32Load indeed limits you to traditional filesystems with less than 4GB sized partitions.

Oh and it would be awesome if the interface would look a bit like the contemporary console interfaces (or say the retro stuff like emulationstation and the (s)nes and c64 minis).

If there is something I can contribute (apart from programming, because I lack that skill), let me know. (I have both a CD32 SX32 (non Pro) and CD32 TF328 setup on which I can test.)
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Old 24 April 2018, 07:00   #14
earok
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Thanks @spudje, I guess we're definitely sticking to traditional file systems then!

I might be able to do a prototype with a couple dozen preinstalled games in a week or two, waiting on a spare CF card and a couple of other things to arrive.

I'm not super keen on flashy interfaces, but it doesn't need to be ugly either I guess. Whatever I do, ease of accessing and loading the games takes priority.
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Old 24 April 2018, 10:52   #15
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I recommend you produce something basic and keep refining.
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Old 24 April 2018, 12:38   #16
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Agree, seems like the best approach. And the refinement/extension can even be a community effort (in any case if it requires creating content/meta data).
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Old 06 November 2018, 10:06   #17
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Is the CD32 & Beer compilation launcher featuring results of this work? It looks basic and still very cool, so would be great to have it available for the community to build custom HDD & CD loaders.
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Old 06 November 2018, 11:29   #18
earok
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Originally Posted by spudje View Post
Is the CD32 & Beer compilation launcher featuring results of this work? It looks basic and still very cool, so would be great to have it available for the community to build custom HDD & CD loaders.
It's essentially the prototype of what I'd like to achieve with this project (eventually).

Although the version on the disc is specifically tailored for the needs of the compilation (hard coded to 25 games per page), it should be easy enough to adopt for another project. It uses a fairly similar setup to AGS with text files describing each game (including trainer options) and separate scripts for launching the games.

Incidentally, new version of CD32 & Beer coming right up.
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Old 07 November 2018, 15:10   #19
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Great idea and thanks for your effort!

It'd be awesome to have a consistent console experience on the cd32 and a good launcher would certainly help. The ability to launch hdd installs would be ideal. I have a TF328+WB3.1 setup with joy2mouse in the startup-sequence so I can navigate and eventually launch them but it's far from comfortable.

Some CD32 releases that you guys made that work great and could possibly made HDD launchable (ehm, I'd love to play them):

Aladdin
Putty Squad
Turrican trilogy
Ruff N Tumble
F1GP (fps optimized version with more up2date teams)
Worms Director's Cut

etc.

I know that Banshee, Gloom Deluxe, Wing Commander CD32 (AmigaJay's latest version if I remember correctly), Giana Sisters SE, XTreme Racing all run great from hdd too as I play them occasionally.
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Old 07 November 2018, 18:56   #20
celco
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Great idea and many many thanks for all the effort. Just wondering if somebody managed to store date & time with the TF? It's not that important but every time I reboot the CD32 I loose current date/time. Seems that CD32 is missing RTC? thanks
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