Author Topic: Goals, Progress, & Discussion  (Read 10315 times)

Kodokami

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Goals, Progress, & Discussion
« on: June 02, 2020, 03:02:45 pm »
This will be the place for general discussions for the Chrono Cross HD Edition idea I had in the Chrono Cross Backgrounds thread.

The goal is to have a more "modern" play experience of game, by way of upscaled textures and backgrounds, adding quality of life updates, and fixing known bugs. Eventually, once those are done, this "HD edition" can be used as a jumping point for more ambition hacks.

So, the three goals right now are:
  • Improved Graphics
  • QoL Updates
  • Bug Fixes

GRAND TO-DO LIST

Improved Graphics
User Tirion has created a mod of the RetroArch emulator that can replace the textures of Chrono Cross at runtime. His demo of this can be seen here. Currently, the textures have been upscaled using various sources to create a 5 GB texture pack.
  • Condense the texture pack into a more manageable size? (current pack can be found here)
  • Upscale and incorporate the FMVs as well (using a process similar to this or this)
  • Write a Read-me for directions on how to use Tirion's RetroArch mod (Included in the mega file and attached below)
  • Implement a widescreen hack, if feasible
  • Edit the game's introductory title screen (e.g. Chrono Cross: HD Edition)
  • Possibly wait for official texture support for Beetle?
  • Any more...?

QoL Updates
These should be relatively simple updates that make life easier for the players (and for the modders!). Users prizvel and Danetta had a list they were working on (are they still working on it?).
  • Single Disc Project (MOST IMPORTANT: Every change to the ISO should come after and be merged with this) (the SDP is the base game included in the mega file)
  • Introduce the Relief Charm early on and before NG+
  • Any more...?

Bug Fixes
Every game is known to have bugs. We should attempt to fix these for the final ISO for a better gaming experience.


Known Issues

Main files for this project, now tiltled "PROJECT KID", are listed below.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2020, 11:46:27 am by Kodokami »

Mr Bekkler

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Re: Goals, Progress, & Discussion
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2020, 04:14:48 pm »
I wish there was a like button, but since there isn't, I'll use text. I like the idea, I think the OP was put together really comprehensively.

Other ideas I wanted to add to the wishlist:

Widescreen hack.
This goes with improved graphics. I doubt this would be something that could be changed in a menu, so it might have to be a separate hack maybe tested for compatibility. It's possible Danetta and Prizvel or someone else already did this. It's also possible it already exists or can be done by changing emulator settings. I don't know, I can try to research it. Regardless of the how, it'd be nice to have the option to view the HD version in something like true widescreen, where the UI and text elements stretch but the environment, characters and objects are not stretched but still fill the entire available screen space. We'd have to decide whether to pillar-box (black bars on sides of the 4:3 video) the FMV scenes or crop then to the 16:9 aspect ratio. This would apply whether or not the videos were upscaled.

Typo/dialogue correction.
Goes along with bug fixes. I know text can be changed. I know the script is long. I assume there are typos (aside from the intentional grammatical mistakes that come from the accent system). If there is a dialogue dump if some sort, proofing and correcting typos would be doable.

Edit title.
Goes with Quality of Life. While it would be nice to simply boot up Cross in HD, I think if the work done to it isn't immediately obvious (and even if it is), then the title should be edited to immediately identify the version being seen, despite being vanilla.

...

Hack compatibility
Doesn't really fit a category.
Since it already exists and was (from what I understand) a Compendium community effort, I think Magus Unmasked would make a perfect first hack to try "on top" of the HD edition to test compatibility, once the HD edition is up and running of course.

I think those all seem like they would be perceived as upgrades and they seem like they could be realistic goals (though, again, I know little to nothing on the subject of PS1 game hacking so don't take my word for it).
« Last Edit: June 02, 2020, 04:17:11 pm by Mr Bekkler »

Kodokami

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Re: Goals, Progress, & Discussion
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2020, 05:29:46 pm »
Thanks, Bekkler!

Widescreen Hack
This would be wonderful and definitely fits the scope of an "HD edition". My concern is how feasible it actual is. Looking at Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remaster*, for example, I recall reading that one major issue was that some characters who were scripted to enter a scene had been previously placed off-screen, thus simply increasing the aspect ratio revealed those characters just standing around awkwardly. I don't know how much, if any, of that is present in Chrono Cross, but it's something to keep in mind. If there is a way to introduce widescreen easily through a menu or something, then it would be a simple matter of playtesting to see if such an issue arises.

The FMVs were also not changed and instead cropped to fit the widescreen. I'm not sure which is better, that or the black bars, but we could take a vote when we get there?

*Maybe we should call this Chrono Cross HD Remaster...?

Typo/Dialogue Correction
This should be easy. I think. We have the script. We have the tools (Terminus Traductions is what I believe is used for editing the script). I don't recall any typos but, again, playtesting would help with that.

As for dialogue changes (the story and whatnot), there is so much that I want to do; however, I wonder if that would fall under the "more ambitious" hacks. Regardless, we can start a new thread specific for "dialogue re-writes" for brainstorming.

Edit Title
I wonder if this could be done with some sort of graphical insert...?

Hack Compatibility
Sounds great, using Magus Unmasked as the first test. We should have all the assets around here. I don't know how easily pre-existing hacks could be re-inserted after the Single Disc Project, or if those would need to be completely redone... But we'll see.


Thanks so much for your input, Bekkler.

Boo the Gentleman Caller

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Re: Goals, Progress, & Discussion
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2020, 05:31:15 pm »
I know for a fact that some of the FMVs have already been converted to 4k/8k via AI machine learning. In fact, that's how a lot of modern upscales are being made (including the FFVII 4k hack I've been eyeballing).

For example:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MYq28xmLOI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DH5hl1fho2s

There's probably more than the intro FMV already made, it's just a matter of grabbing them. :)
« Last Edit: June 02, 2020, 05:32:20 pm by Boo the Gentleman Caller »

Kodokami

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Re: Goals, Progress, & Discussion
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2020, 05:42:39 pm »
Wonderful! Schala shared one of those as well, but it's cool that the FMV upscale has been done twice separately.

Since they're using external AI machine learning to perform the upscale, I assume it would be as "simple" as copying the process to upscale each FMV, then using Tirion's modded RetroArch to replace them at runtime just like the textures.

I wonder if there's any inspiration we can get from the FFVII hack...?
« Last Edit: June 02, 2020, 05:56:37 pm by Kodokami »

CptOvaltine

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Re: Goals, Progress, & Discussion
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2020, 03:55:48 pm »
I absolutely love this project, and I'm drooling over the prospect of being able to play this in glorious HD. (The retroarch mod already looks great!)

I'm not a lot of help here, more of a cheerleader, but I wanted to show some support. :)  Now if only we could get this on the Switch when it was finished...

Tirion

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Re: Goals, Progress, & Discussion
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2020, 09:46:29 pm »
Edit Title
I wonder if this could be done with some sort of graphical insert...?
Replacing the title screen logo with a custom one would be pretty easy.

Also, as far as enhancements go, the game almost runs perfectly at higher framerates (by turning the cpu frequency way up, to >200%).  But some UI elements flash, sometimes the screen flickers, and the camera pans too fast in cutscenes.

Kodokami

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Re: Goals, Progress, & Discussion
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2020, 12:47:05 pm »
Ah, I was just watching a similar video. They used a lot of CPU overclocking as well. It does have the unfortunate side effect of killing the FMVs though, like you said with the camera panning too fast. I'm gonna play with the settings to see if I can get both working hand-in-hand.

Would anyone be willing to work on a new title screen? It could be as simple as adding "HD" as like a splash logo (or whatever title we end up deciding on).

Mr Bekkler

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Re: Goals, Progress, & Discussion
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2020, 08:56:57 pm »
Would anyone be willing to work on a new title screen? It could be as simple as adding "HD" as like a splash logo (or whatever title we end up deciding on).

I can do this, just need to know what format and dimensions are needed. Getting the current title/logo extracted would probably help.
Like is it just a high resolution logo on a transparent png at 1920px by 1080px file that we need? Or do we need a full image, non transparent? A different size (maybe not full screen but just the size of the logo cropped)? A weird file format?

Any info would be great so I can make the right file the first try.

Tirion

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Re: Goals, Progress, & Discussion
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2020, 01:48:07 am »
Here's some title screen stuff: https://imgur.com/a/wXyxlXw
Playstation games only have 1-bit alpha, called the semi-transparency bit, but in addition to that any pixel can also be fully transparent.  Currently I encode this as alpha = 0 -> fully transparent, 255 -> opaque, and anything in between turns the semi-transparency bit on (while discarding the exact value, i.e. alpha = 1 is treated exactly the same as alpha = 254), which uses the runtime requested blending mode.

Afaik the title screen uses additive blending.  So if you want to see it in an image editor as it would actually appear in game, then you'd move all semi-transparent pixels to a new layer underneath, make those pixels fully opaque, and switch that new layer's mode to addition.

Also, the replacement texture needs to a be a power of 2 size of the original in both dimensions, which is why the upscale has a weird resolution of 1216x768, because it's 4x the original's 304x192.

EDIT: and to further torture anyone reading, I'll mention that the psx apparently used a slightly different aspect ratio, so if you think the O in the raw logo is a bit too wide to be perfectly circular you are right, but also wrong because it works out in the end. ???
« Last Edit: June 07, 2020, 02:28:55 am by Tirion »

Mr Bekkler

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Re: Goals, Progress, & Discussion
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2020, 09:16:49 pm »
Tirion that's super helpful, thank you!

Kodokami

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Re: Goals, Progress, & Discussion
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2020, 02:37:14 pm »
I've got it working myself now, using the Single Disc edit. Upscaled textures and improved 3D models. And it looks nice. So, just some things I want to note:

  • The Sony logo lags and stutters pretty badly upon opening. I have no idea why.
  • The texture pack takes a second to load in places like the world map. Not a big deal but noticeable. Maybe due to the large file sizes?
  • Speaking of, I tried converting the texture pack into smaller file sizes to no effect. Is it hardcoded to only accept certain files (.png?)
  • Only odd thing about the texture pack that stands out to me is that some of the text is upscaled and some (like dialogue) is not. It's most noticeable in the victory screen where a side-by-side comparison is given.
  • The audio stutters occasionally for me. However, I'm pretty sure this is entirely due to the ancient computer setup that I'm working with, so YMMV.
  • And on that note, I can't get the FPS higher than 30 without messing up the audio even more. The previous video I linked to suggests that the simple fix to improving FPS is CPU overclocking, yet I'm pretty sure that's only possible with a decent setup. So again, probably user error on my part for using an old computer.

Tirion

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Re: Goals, Progress, & Discussion
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2020, 10:59:04 pm »
Thanks for testing it!  All of your explanations are correct.

  • I've been assuming the sony logo thing isn't my fault and must also happen with the unmodified core, because I have no idea either.
  • The world map is using 8x textures instead of 4x (just to see what would happen, mostly), so they take longer to load.
  • It is hardcoded to pngs.  Even worse, it doesn't support all png modes (like palette or grayscale), so even png optimizers aren't reliable.  Tons of room for improvement here.  Main issues are library wrangling, but there are a few complications wrt the weird alpha and mipmaps.
  • The upscaled text uses textures or font atlases.  The unupscaled text is generated dynamically, and I never figured out exactly what it's doing or a good way to replace it.
  • You're right, audio issues mean your computer can't keep up.  I can't do high framerate reliably either.  Higher cpu frequency taxes both cpu and gpu.  In contrast with raising the internal resolution which relies only on the gpu.  The gpu side stuff I added could probably be much better optimized, since I have no idea what I'm doing in vulkan, but I couldn't get any profilers to work so most attempts to speed things up there have been duds.  On the cpu side, there is ongoing work on a dynamic recompiler to replace the interpreter, but last I read you don't get the speed benefits if you also enable PGXP, which is what makes the vertices not wobbly and gives you perspective correct texturing.

Roanfox

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Re: Goals, Progress, & Discussion
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2020, 11:55:59 am »
Hey there! Been trying this myself, in my experience:

  • Game runs perfect, without CPU Overclock or GTE game would run just like I remembered it, but using 200% CPU and GTE makes the game flawless, actually I plan to see how much I can lower CPU overclock and mantain it fluid
  • Just 1 time I saw the background load slower than the game, but it normally does it at the same time

Will keep on testing and will update my experience here, I am also streaming a full playthrough (giving full credits to Tirion of course)

Mr Bekkler

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Re: Goals, Progress, & Discussion
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2020, 02:07:44 pm »
I think I've figured out the aspect ratio with the logo. PlayStation apparently rendered screens as 340x224 and then CRT TV's were expected to stretch them to 320x240. The increase in height from 224px to 240px is approximately 7.14%. And if you stretch the logo's height by that amount in Photoshop, the O's in the font are not perfect circles, but the Roman numerals' black backgrounds on the clock ARE. To me it seems likely that the "correct" aspect ratio to view. The pixel amounts wouldn't be the same in HD resolution obviously, but the percentage shouldn't change. So the HD logo graphic will be created 7.14% shorter than it should display at its given width.

Does this sound reasonable? Or have I missed something crucial?
« Last Edit: June 16, 2020, 02:11:34 pm by Mr Bekkler »