Archives 2015

Hey, Listen! Your Wiimote can speak now!


One of the oldest complaints about Dolphin's Real Wiimote support is that Wiimote audio not only sounds extremely bad, but can outright lag the controls and even cause the Wiimotes to disconnect from your PC. To work around these problems, the developers did the only thing they knew to do; implement "Disable Wiimote Speaker Data." This ended up being one of the most important features for many users to be able to use Real Wiimotes in Dolphin, as dozens of games suffered constant disconnects due to audio issues.


Firing Starbits with Speaker Data Enabled on older builds.


The situation remained unchanged for year after year until just a few days ago, when newcomer Julian Loehr renovated Dolphin's Wiimote handling to take advantage of the improvements within the Windows 8/10 Bluetooth Stack. Not only do -TR Wiimotes work without special hardware, but on all configurations Wiimote Audio started working on those Wiimotes. Further investigation by degasus thanks to a timely regression the very next build brought us something unimaginable: fully working RealWiimote audio!


Real Wiimote Audio Demonstration


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Dolphin Progress Report: November 2015


Black Friday is a day when many gamers splurge for deals on their favorite games and consoles. For Dolphin testing, this presents an opportunity for users and testers alike to get a lot of games for very, very cheap. So, in honor of that, here's a picture of a Black Friday haul. Thirty-three Wii games and a Drawesome tablet for fifty dollars isn't too shabby of a haul, plus other deals and markdowns grabbed throughout the week make for a monster pile of games to test!


Black Friday

Imagine the total cost of all of these games added together if you bought them new when they were released!


Note that even the marked down sticker tags are do not tell the full tale; many of the games were even cheaper than that once all the promotions kicked in! One tester has a very, very busy holiday ahead!

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Rodea: The Sky Soldier Releases for Wii U, 3DS and... Wii?


It's now late in 2015, and the Wii U has comfortably supplanted the Wii as Nintendo's flagship console. While there have been a few Wii releases the past couple of years, most of them are just low-quality ports of titles that are much better on other platforms along with the typical shovelware. But Rodea: The Sky Soldier is very different story. It is a high quality third party release for the Wii. In 2015. This would be a neat, but not exactly newsworthy story, except there is no Wii version you can buy on its own; it's only found as a pack-in with the Wii U release within the first print of the game. Now, most people are probably wondering, "Why would I play the Wii version instead of the Wii U version?"

Because Yuji Naka, the legendary developer behind Nights into Dreams and the creator of Rodea, asked people to play the Wii version.



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Dolphin Progress Report: October 2015


A few months ago, we announced our intentions to work on and release Dolphin 5.0 with a new release method. By using a stable branch, we hoped to avoid doing a feature freeze so that devs could both work on new features and continue to stomp out regressions. Unfortunately... that didn't work. Users wanted the newest features to be in Dolphin 5.0, developers were confused on what features needed to go to what branches, and things more or less ended up not working out the way we hoped.

Sometimes, it's best to just admit a mistake and do things right, so, in order to provide users and developers with the clearest path for Dolphin 5.0, we will be restarting the Dolphin 5.0 release process from scratch. That means abandoning the stable branch (along with merging all unique fixes over into Master) and eventually implementing a full feature freeze in order to give time to close all regressions and make Dolphin 5.0 the special release it needs to be.

We hope that users are understanding of the delay. With that, let us continue with our regularly scheduled Progress Report action!

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Dolphin Progress Report: September 2015


After some minor delays, Dolphin's new issue tracker is up and running, with all of the old issues preserved and imported. It hasn't taken long for things to heat up on our new tracker despite trying to keep it on the down low while it was being tweaked. A mixture of delays with the issue tracker and new bugs in our stable branch cropping up has pushed back the Dolphin 5.0 release out of September. When will it be released? Well, it all depends on when all critical bugs and regressions are stomped out of the stable branch. In order to prevent a fiasco, it's better to report these regressions now rather than after release. No one wants another 4.0.1 and 4.0.2 situation on their hands.

As the release candidates drag on, we've noticed that many users are assuming that 5.0 release candidate builds are newer than development builds. Please remember, the 5.0 release candidates are based on 4.0-6727, and only have bug fixes applied beyond that. Almost all of the new features from July's progress report onward ARE NOT in the stable branch unless they are a regression fix. For new features, the development builds are still recommended. Speaking of the newest features...

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Dolphin Progress Report: August 2015


If you count the number of notable changes throughout August, you may think it was a down month. Aside from a flurry of Dolphin ARM updates, there really wasn't much to choose from. A lot of the major projects remaining on the emulator are multi-month affairs, so contributors seemingly disappear from the progress reports for months only to return with a bang. Then there's Sonicadvance1, who keeps trucking on with Dolphin ARM on an almost daily basis. Despite the miniscule number of big additions, the big ones this month more than made up for the lack of volume. It's actually kind of nice for the blog staff to not have to fight over which changes get in once in a while, too!

With that, let's dig into this month's notable changes!

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The New Era of HLE Audio


In early 2013, Dolphin had began its first steps in a new focus on accurate emulation. The 3.5 release represented a shift in the emulator's focus, and as such, saw great improvements in terms of compatibility and accuracy over the previous release. But one area that stuck out like a sore thumb during this era was the quality of High Level Emulation (HLE) audio. Hundreds of games suffered from crashes associated to audio, and thousands had significant problems, with missing effects, incorrect volume, and random bursts of noise.

The problems of HLE were systemic, deeply rooted problems within its design, and would require a complete rewrite in order to solve. Rewriting HLE audio was always a priority, but the daunting task to reverse engineer, implement, and test kept most developers away. So instead they pursued Low Level Emulation (LLE) to great success. LLE audio worked so well, the developers were able to avoid the mess of HLE and more or less just tell users to dump a GameCube/Wii DSP-ROM and use that instead. The problem with that option is performance: LLE audio is incredibly demanding, especially when the DSP is being strained by many sound effects.

This situation finally changed right after Dolphin 3.5 when delroth merged New-AX-HLE-GC, a rewrite of the most common microcode (µcode) for GameCube games, AX-GC. Thousands of bugs disappeared over night and stability increased greatly. While previously there was argument among developers that HLE audio bugs could be ignored because of the option for LLE, as tens of thousands of users finally experienced accurate audio for the first time it became apparent just how important HLE audio truly was. Later in the year, the AX-HLE rewrite was expanded to Wii games in a second cleanup. The ability for users to use HLE audio for most games instead of LLE audio resulted in one of the greatest performance increases in Dolphin's history!


The Non-AX µcode Games

While over 99% of GameCube and Wii titles use the AX µcode, there are a small number of games that use a different µcode. The "Zelda µcode”, named after its exclusive use in Nintendo-created titles, represents only a tiny portion of the total games Dolphin can play; but those games are some of the most popular and interesting games on the GameCube and Wii.



The Zelda µcode games, in release order

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Dolphin Progress Report: July 2015


Since the release of Dolphin 4.0, things have advanced quite a bit. With compatibility rising to their highest levels yet alongside features that seemed impossible and extravagant, users have been asking about the next stable for almost a year now. For previous releases, including Dolphin 4.0, the staff mostly ceased work on new features while crashes and regressions were addressed. In the case of working toward Dolphin 5.0; there were just too many interesting and exciting features on the way to risk stalling out by asking developers to wait. So a release was delayed indefinitely.

So in mid-June, we decided to do things a little differently. Instead of slowing Dolphin down for a release, at 4.0-6727 we forked Dolphin into two branches. The development branch has continued forward as usual with all the bells and whistles without worrying about impeding the next release. Meanwhile, all commits relating to crashes, regressions, and other important fixes would not only be merged to master, but also to stable. This allowed the developers to continue developing the latest and greatest features, while still preparing a stable successor to Dolphin 4.0.

Today, we're happy to announce the first release candidate for Dolphin 5.0! Dolphin 5.0-RC is now on our Downloads page. These builds need to be heavily tested and any bugs; crashes or regressions found in Release Candidate builds should be tagged [RC] when reported to the issue tracker. While we will be switching issue trackers later this month, we intend to transfer all issues to a new tracker to make sure the hard work of our users throughout the years doesn't disappear.

Any future release candidates will be below the development builds on the download's page.

As to be expected until Dolphin 5.0 is complete, any non-essential crash fixes and features from this point forward will not be in the final release. For the latest and greatest features, the development builds are still your best option, and the Progress Report will keep on reporting what's new. With that, please enjoy this month's notable changes!

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Dolphin Progress Report: June 2015


As the twilight of the Dolphin 4.0 era approaches, code cleanup and regression hunting have become a high priority, fixing the serious and minor issues that have cropped up over the past year and a half that remain unaddressed. From remedial problems such as INI issues to Real Wiimotes issues on OS X, a lot of those important minor issues have been tackled. As if that wasn't enough, there are still exciting developments within several core features to keep users satiated in this month's Progress Report.

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Dolphin Progress Report: May 2015


After a slow April month, a chaotic May more than makes up for it. On top of working on an emulator, developers had their hands full with relicensing. It's always a good month when you can look back at the issues that were fixed and go "phew," hoping to never, ever encounter anything like that ever again.

A wide variety of issues, features and enhancements saw important updates this month that increase playability and make the emulator more robust. Please enjoy this month's progress report!

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