Author Topic: The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports  (Read 2638 times)

Offline EOJ

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« on: June 09, 2008, 11:18:05 PM »
People often complain about graphic issues in ports - proper resolution and so on. That's a fair argument, and certainly something worth discussion. But what of slowdown replication issues?

What got me thinking about this was watching the Deathsmiles DVD, and playing a lot of Deathsmiles recently. Slowdown has become more than an artifact of the PCB's hardware capabilities: it has become an intrinsic part of the gameplay in the recent SH3 games. The difficulty in replicating the PCB's slowdown to a degree greater than 95% in a console port is obviously a very difficult thing to do for any programmer - even the Galuda and DDP DOJ ports don't meet this level of accuracy according to expert players like TAC. But with the SH3 hardware, slowdown has become far more important than on the PGM hardware. Ketsui, for example, has very little slowdown. When the game does get crowded with bullets and enemies there is some choppy frame dropping, but it's far from the smooth and frequent slowdown you find in the Mushis, Galuda 2, and Deathsmiles.

Unlike many, I find the Mushi port to at least be a good effort in attempting to emulate the SH3's slowdown. It's far from perfect, but after playing it a lot, and playing the PCB a lot, I'd say it's about 75%~80% accurate. That's still not good enough for players like myself, but I can tell they at least tried, and I can also tell how difficult it must be to replicate slowdown. I keep the port for the rapid fire settings and Arrange mode.

The Ibara port, on the other hand, is a total waste. They did not even attempt to replicate the slowdown, and thus the port is totally unplayable in terms of competing with PCB scores. It's still worth owning for the Arrange mode, as it is unavailable elsewhere and $60-$70 for an exclusive game mode, despite the ugliness of the blurry graphics and the horrendous load times, is a drop in the bucket for CAVE fans who spend $1000+ on PCBs, and $80+ on superplay DVDs.

Now, the Ketsui and DDP:DOJ BL ports are coming soon, and I hope they will be playable due to the lack of slowdown being such a huge issue (though it's arguably more of an issue in DDP:DOJ BL, and if they totally ignore it there the game will be unplayable IMO). But what of possible future ports of SH3 games? Are such ports even realistic (in regard to accuracy of slowdown replication) with a typical porting house's budget, time, and expertise? In Deathsmiles, so much hinges on precise timing, down to a couple frames, and being just a bit off in the port in terms of speed and accurate slowdown would screw up the whole game. The same could be said of the Mushi Futaris, Galuda 2, and even Pink Sweets and MMP (to a lesser degree).

So, would you buy and seriously play these ports even if their slowdown was not emulated properly? What if slowdown was totally ignored, like in the Ibara port? Do you think the degree of slowdown in the SH3 games is one factor that is continuing to prevent ports of recent CAVE SH3 games from happening?
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Offline drboom

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2008, 12:15:39 AM »
Before I bought my cabinet and decided to plunge into the deep end of pcb ownership, I considered picking up some of ports, hoping to be content with what they had to offer. But, like many of you are who read this board, I'm a bit of a purist. I want to play exactly what games the best players play and on the machines they play on. I want the whole experience and I want to have it as pure as possible so that my progress can be compared equally against the best players.

Having been a bit of a fighting game geek in the early 1990's, I played a ton of SF and Mortal in the arcades and bought the ports of those games when they hit the console market. I was so soured on them, that I never bought another arcade port, no matter how competent and accurate it supposedly was.

The slowdown in numerous Cave titles is vastly important to the the fluidity of the play mechanic, so I would say that its super important and I would never even consider playing a ported title if it was not emulated properly.

I don't think its a major contributing factor to the lack of ports, rather, I think there are a ton of small reasons that add up. I do think it would be very difficult for a company to replicate the slowdown if they have to do it manually, but I know jack sh*t about game development.

Offline adverse

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2008, 02:41:42 AM »
Good topic.

Yeah I've wrestled pretty hard with the two Cave ports that I have at home, DDP DOJ and Mushi,
and all I can say for sure is that I can get to at minimum level 3 on one coin in the arcade, but constantly
find myself dying by the second boss on both the home editions.  That's on a tated 22" Dell monitor which
makes it really frustrating because I really thought I could cut corners over owning PCB versions.

I'm not sure why I do so much poorly on ports, it could have to do with my monitor's refresh rate.  The colors
for ports seem much blander than PCB games and sometimes that can obscure where a bullet is.  Slowdown
tends to be a big problem for me in Mushi, which seems to stop slowing down at the weirdest moments forcing
you not to react, but to simply memorize.  Add in flicker to these problems and these summarize my complaints
for these ports.  I'm hoping the 360 ports are much better.

As it is, I live in Osaka and can just stop by good game centers on my way home and get a decent run going
on Mushi Futari and other great games, so I've essentially stopped playing my ports since I wasn't progressing
in them.

Offline RGC

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2008, 04:10:39 AM »
Quote from: EOJ
So, would you buy and seriously play these ports even if their slowdown was not emulated properly? What if slowdown was totally ignored, like in the Ibara port? Do you think the degree of slowdown in the SH3 games is one factor that is continuing to prevent ports of recent CAVE SH3 games from happening?
- I would still give them a try, approaching them as seriously as I would any other shootemup. A game may end up worlds apart from its arcade progenitor, and in that sense a poor port. But, bad port != bad game. The only thing I am quite purist about is ensuring hi-score charts are separated into arcade and console scores, if it turns out the versions are that different (e.g. if no slowdown was implemented at all).

- I don't know enough about the gaming industry to answer your last question. However, I would say that as long as whoever is porting the game can overcome the problem of jerky bullet acceleration, that's a very significant aspect of the slowdown issue fixed. Ensuring slowdown occurs pixel-for-pixel at the same time/rate as the PCB would be just t'riffic in an ideal world, but failing to meet this uber challenge 100% shouldn't prevent a home release entirely. It's simply not that big a deal. There's no denying the importance of slowdown in the last few Cave arcade releases. But if this feature could only be recreated with 50-75% accuracy I would still damn well play it. :)

Offline EOJ

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2008, 06:13:04 AM »
I am with you with the different console and arcade score charts for games with imperfect slowdown replication. I think Ibara should definitely have them, and probably Mushi too. But where do you draw the line? This is the problem.

I come from a very score-centric mindset. The problem with this is it diminishes even the best of ports for me if the slowdown replication is not totally accurate, as I find it difficult to enjoy a home port on which my score cannot be undeniably compared with those who play the same game on the PCB. The Naomi>DC ports like Ikaruga, Border Down, and Under Defeat are about the only ones in recent memory that I am truly satisfied with, and I would feel comfortable submitting a score with them.

With the advent of XBLA online rankings, I do feel there is hope for ports, even if the slowdown isn't 100% accurate - it creates a new form of competitive play totally divorced from the PCB/Arcadia scores for a particular game. And perhaps this will be an acceptable alternative to arcade-level competitive play. I'm still not confident this alternative will be something for me though.
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Offline Plasmo

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2008, 06:43:18 AM »
I don't think it's worth to complain about slowdowns if you're not seriously aiming for a highscore. If you, for example, only get like an I or J in Ibara, it doesn't matter if you play the port or the PCB. But if you want to break world records or are very close to it (S, T) then it would be better to play the PCB to get 100% the same conditions as the WR holder had. If you can't beat the first stage, the PCB won't help you. Paying hundreds of dollars isn't worth it, if you only get such small changes like a bit more of slowdown.
I bought the Ibara port and was very satisfied with it, only because the PCB went THAT cheap I sold my port again.

Offline MX7

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2008, 09:47:19 AM »
What Plasmo said. It's very hard to contemplate the difference it would really make, as my skills would never reach the level where it actually mattered. That being said, EOJ is absolutely right: The most recent Cave games are entirely built around the limitations of the hardware, in that it is the slowdown that gives them their inate characteristics. The most recent Cave games I've played are ESP2 and Pink Sweets, so I'm not an authority, but I am quite sceptical of something like Deathsmiles ever being ported in a satisfactory manner.

Offline zlk

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2008, 12:26:45 PM »
To me, the Ibara port stage 5 boss played differently to me than the arcade version.  One of the attacks in the port was much more difficult to deal with than in the arcade.  Outside of that, I think the port was good.  In fact all of the cave ports play about the same as the pcbs.  If you want to play for a world record though, you have to use the pcb.

sven666

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2008, 12:33:43 PM »
doesnt really matter how perfect the ports are does it? its not like theyre selling in spades either way (which is the only measure of a games sucess these days).
and untill they are were not gonna see anyone plowing their heart and soul into perfectly emulating these things, anyways the point of slowdown seems to stop dead outside the shooting community aswell.. i seem to recall views about Ibara being "yeah it looks like shit and has loadtimes out the ass but atleast theres no slowdown" :rolleyes:

personally i couldnt care less either way, ive made my choice when it comes to gaming and its arcade or nothing.. id be perfectly happy playing all my PCBs even if cave released all their games perfectly ported on a single low-budget-disc.

Offline Plasmo

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2008, 02:04:14 PM »
Quote
To me, the Ibara port stage 5 boss played differently to me than the arcade version.  One of the attacks in the port was much more difficult to deal with than in the arcade.
The stage 5 boss has no slowdown at all on the PCB and was "perfectly" emulated. The thing you describe of course is a rank problem.;)

Offline EOJ

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2008, 04:30:36 PM »
Quote from: Plasmo
I don't think it's worth to complain about slowdowns if you're not seriously aiming for a highscore. If you, for example, only get like an I or J in Ibara, it doesn't matter if you play the port or the PCB.
It absolutely does matter, because that score will be harder to obtain on the PS2 due to a lack of slowdown (not to mention other minor differences which also alter the gameplay). So the playing field is not level. Thus, the scores between the PS2 and PCB are not comparable.
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Offline Icarus

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2008, 06:09:01 PM »
Quote from: EOJ
It absolutely does matter, because that score will be harder to obtain on the PS2 due to a lack of slowdown (not to mention other minor differences which also alter the gameplay). So the playing field is not level. Thus, the scores between the PS2 and PCB are not comparable.
Granted they might not be level playing fields, and I agree with that comment, but there are some advantages that ports have that PCBs can never give, such as quick-access practice modes. Doesn't ACR use the PS2 version of Ibara to record demonstrations (such as the recently released high-rank stage6 run)? I'm sure some other high ranking players utilise practice modes on other ports, too.

Offline EOJ

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2008, 07:14:59 PM »
Agreed, ports are great for practice. In fact, that seems to be the main reason they are made. But what about having a perfect version of a game ported (and archived) for posterity? This seems to be less of a priority for porting houses. Or is it really just too much to ask for?

Here's another idea: maybe they don't WANT the ports to be absolutely perfect, as they may fear it would drive away people from playing the games in the arcades, and diminish future arcade game orders. After all, an unhealthy arcade market could only hurt CAVE, so it is in their best interest to make sure the arcades are as active as possible, even though they don't get any money from people playing their games at arcades. I can see this for the Ibara and Mushi ports at least, it would explain the blur-o-vision (adding a non-interlaced 240p mode in the option menu would have taken them about 5 seconds to do). Maybe it's not such an issue when the game is 5+ years old like Ketsui, however.
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jpj

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2008, 07:25:14 PM »
one thing i would say about the graphics issue is that a lot of americans are hooking up their ps2s with composite or s-video, so naturally you aren't gonna be getting great picture quality.  hooking your stuff up properly with rgb and a tate'd tv can make a big difference :)

Offline adverse

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2008, 09:05:26 PM »
Quote from: jpj
one thing i would say about the graphics issue is that a lot of americans are hooking up their ps2s with composite or s-video, so naturally you aren't gonna be getting great picture quality.  hooking your stuff up properly with rgb and a tate'd tv can make a big difference :)
I'm converting HD out of my PS3 into DVI-D monitor input, do you think this affects my picture at all?

Offline EOJ

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2008, 09:19:07 PM »
The Mushi and Ibara ports are still a blurry mess on RGB. It doesn't make them look any better.
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Offline Third_strike

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2008, 09:50:00 PM »
Quote from: EOJ
The Naomi>DC ports like Ikaruga, Border Down, and Under Defeat are about the only ones in recent memory that I am truly satisfied with, and I would feel comfortable submitting a score with them.
One question :D!

The shikigami shiro II  port in the Xbox and PC slowdown more than the DC port !
What is the correct version?

CooL!

Offline Icarus

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #17 on: June 10, 2008, 10:06:02 PM »
Quote from: EOJ
Agreed, ports are great for practice. In fact, that seems to be the main reason they are made. But what about having a perfect version of a game ported (and archived) for posterity? This seems to be less of a priority for porting houses. Or is it really just too much to ask for?
Probably too much to ask for when you consider hardware differences. Emulating anything 100% is always going to be a difficult if not impossible task. GP can probably correct me here, but I think Mihara said that the DOJ and Espgaluda ports were probably 90-95% accurate. Not bad, but still not perfect.

But then again, 90% is better than what we used to have, for example in the Super Famicom era (Gradius 3, LOL).

Quote from: EOJ
Here's another idea: maybe they don't WANT the ports to be absolutely perfect, as they may fear it would drive away people from playing the games in the arcades, and diminish future arcade game orders. After all, an unhealthy arcade market could only hurt CAVE, so it is in their best interest to make sure the arcades are as active as possible, even though they don't get any money from people playing their games at arcades.
Sounds like paranoia. Arcades are already dying, even in Japan, which isn't surprising given the rapidly rising cost and scale of some of the new games. I'd say the quality of the ports is a reflection of the quality of the porters - Arika invested lots of time and got good rewards for it, while Cave/Taito... didn't. It'll be interesting to see where the Ketsui-X/Daioujou-X porters fall on the Taito-Arika scale of quality.

I can imagine the wrath incurred if they screw up Ketsui, in particular.

Offline EOJ

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #18 on: June 10, 2008, 10:17:35 PM »
Quote from: Icarus
Sounds like paranoia.
It's just something to consider. After all, it's hard to explain why they left out a 240p option, something that requires just a few lines of code. It also patterns well with the lack of any SH3 port after Ibara (other than some cellphone versions, which are laughable at best).

Also of note is that CAVE seems to be increasingly marketing their PCBs to home players: note Black Label versions with stickers on the boxes (totally worthless for arcade ops), and some recent copies of DDP:DFK with autographed boxes up for sale (similarly worthless to arcade ops), among other things.
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zebraairforce

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2008, 01:31:40 PM »
You also have stuff like the eX-board that are being marketed in a similar fashion.
http://www.examu.co.jp/ex-board/good.html

I'm concerned less about ports and more about how developers are going to survive if the arcade market falters. If they can find a way to distribute effectively to home owners, will that be enough? A cart based system like the ex-board may be a step in the right direction. I know that I'd be extremely interested in owning one if I knew it was going to get a great lineup. The problem is that more developers have to jump onboard before I will really become interested.

jpj

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2008, 01:36:06 PM »
interesting link.
and welcome to the forum :)

Offline GaijinPunch

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #21 on: June 11, 2008, 08:15:47 PM »
Wow... that is pretty cool.

I don't think we'll ever know why the Mushi & Ibara ports were so bad.  My guess is that they just realized they were only going to sell X copies, and could only spend Y in yen on getting them done.  As for Arika getting "good rewards" for DOJ & ESPGaluda.  They really didn't get much other than props by us die hards.  Neither sold like wildfire.  I believe even Mihara said the hardest part about either project was convincing the risk department to allow the projects.

As for how these games will survive.  It is indeed a big question mark.  Cave's games seem to do well for a good month or two, then fizzle out.  They still bring in money, but there's not too much of a line at most minor arcades.  However, fighting games are still packed for the most part.  Shibuya Kaikan has extended their 2D fighting floor into the 5th floor where all the Cave games are.  There's always people smoking and carrying on there.  3 of their hottest games are 2D fighting games: Arcana Heart 2, Hokuto no Ken, and one of the SNK ones.  They got rid of one of their Sengoku Basara X cabs, btw.

I think one of the main problems is that with rent and whatnot going up, and the prices of a single credit staying the same, it's not super efficient to have a 20 minute play cost only 100 yen.   Sure, that's only for good people, but look at how much money is poured into a fighting game.  On a busy night, it can be upwards of 100 yen per 2-3 minutes.

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The slowdown replication issue in regard to possible ports
« Reply #22 on: June 11, 2008, 08:40:09 PM »
Its always good to see a good port of a game than a lame port, clearly. Regardless if the slowdown is only 80-95% accurate to the original arcade version, the ports are still good for people that can't afford to drop $1000 every time a new Cave game comes out, plus all the money that goes into buying an maintaining one or more arcade cabinets.

I still don't have copies of the Cave PS2 ports because money is really tight right now. If I had the cash I would buy them. I think the question on imperfect ports is somewhat of a non-issue for people that can afford the PCBs of these games.

However these boards won't stay in good working order forever, and it will probably be more and more difficult to get replacement parts for cabinets over time, especially for people outside of Japan. Hopefully one day we will see all of these games properly emulated in MAME, possibly with the blessing of Cave themselves, for future generations of gamers to enjoy.