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#57906 - 01/12/10 11:54 AM Re: Fixed software lists [Re: etabeta78]  
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Haze Offline
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Originally Posted By etabeta78
let me open a parenthesis here:

Originally Posted By Haze
One of the problems right now with MESS is that it's far too finnicky about what you have to specify on the command line, and where the files need to go. For making the NGPC / Jag lists I actually gave up using MESS (again) because I couldn't find what syntax / file locations it wanted in order to simply load the games. Converting the entire driver over to work in MAME for testing purposes, even with the current updates was easier.


erm... mess is not that hard:

Code:
mess system -device full_path_to_soft


where is the difficulty? (exclude for a moment the ngp requirement of pressing a button to actually start emulation)


It's non-obvious, and if you get it wrong, there are no prompts to tell you what you're meant to be doing.

MAME is easy. I just have to remember an 8-letter game name, if I get it wrong, I'm given other suggestions. I can't go wrong.

One of the big advantages of the internal database system is that you can get rid of this pain. Just remember 2 names, the system, and the game short-name. Leave the roms in anywhere in any recognized ROM path, and let MESS take care of the rest.

MESS just seems to have fallen into the typical open-source trap of the programmers knowing how things work, and therefore leaving it completely non-obvious to anybody else.

As for the loading once in the driver, as I've said before, MESS *should* provide some internal hint system for this, an additional screen on startup, and something that can be called up from the tab menu, or even a 'quickstart' option in the tab menu to type it for you. It might not seem pure, but the pure MAME approach really doesn't work as well here. Standalone emus offer such functionality, and it works really well.

Accessibility is vital or the project will just sink in the mud, as it has been doing for years. It's the reason so many open source projects are completely unusable.

I'm pretty sure if firefox required you to manually type each HTTP request it wouldn't have ended up being so popular ;-) Projects like LAME work because if you just give it the name of a wav, it will create an MP3, maybe not with optimal settings, but it will create one. Too many others just leave you thinking 'what the f**k' and no matter how good they are they end up being ignored because it's not obvious how to use them. Open Source games are just as bad, Simutrans should be fun, I like that type of game, but again the accessibility isn't just there, the learning curve is too steep, it makes no sense.





#57907 - 01/12/10 12:05 PM Re: Fixed software lists [Re: Haze]  
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Duke Offline
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"mess -help"

...
Usage: MESS <system> <device> <software> <options>
...
MESS -listdevices for a full list of supported devices
...

(ok, so this needs to be renamed to -listmedia because of recent changes, but its still useful)

#57908 - 01/12/10 12:08 PM Re: Fixed software lists [Re: Haze]  
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Originally Posted By Haze


As for the loading once in the driver, as I've said before, MESS *should* provide some internal hint system for this, an additional screen on startup, and something that can be called up from the tab menu, or even a 'quickstart' option in the tab menu to type it for you. It might not seem pure, but the pure MAME approach really doesn't work as well here. Standalone emus offer such functionality, and it works really well.



There already is an "Image Information" option in the TAB menu: it can be a little bit more informative (at the moment is pretty bare...) and displayed at startup.

The next step is reading the excellent system instructions on the wiki: if I'm trying to load a Spectrum tape (mind you, not a cartridge!), it's my duty to know that LOAD"" is typed using the key sequence J-P-P wink


JoJo
#57909 - 01/12/10 12:12 PM Re: Fixed software lists [Re: Duke]  
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Haze Offline
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Originally Posted By Duke
"mess -help"

...
Usage: MESS <system> <device> <software> <options>
...
MESS -listdevices for a full list of supported devices
...

(ok, so this needs to be renamed to -listmedia because of recent changes, but its still useful)


It's still not obvious. I don't know what <device> is, eta puts an example of -device ? but that would also imply that <system> is -system .. or does it mean types of devices? is -chd a device? or -hdd or -gdrom ? or ....

I'm not an idiot, but the system doesn't make much sense to me. It never has. Therefore I believe it to be broken, and illogical. For basic use it's a switch too far, and one which with a database system in place doesn't have any reason to exist unless you want to load external files, or override some internal software setting.



#57910 - 01/12/10 12:15 PM Re: Fixed software lists [Re: JoJo]  
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Originally Posted By JoJo
Originally Posted By Haze


As for the loading once in the driver, as I've said before, MESS *should* provide some internal hint system for this, an additional screen on startup, and something that can be called up from the tab menu, or even a 'quickstart' option in the tab menu to type it for you. It might not seem pure, but the pure MAME approach really doesn't work as well here. Standalone emus offer such functionality, and it works really well.



There already is an "Image Information" option in the TAB menu: it can be a little bit more informative (at the moment is pretty bare...) and displayed at startup.

The next step is reading the excellent system instructions on the wiki: if I'm trying to load a Spectrum tape (mind you, not a cartridge!), it's my duty to know that LOAD"" is typed using the key sequence J-P-P wink


Well yes, I'll admit, I know the spectrum loading things myself, I owned a spectrum. Having MESS display a reminder of that on startup wouldn't kill anybody, and for games which do require slightly more obscure startup procedures, it would help too (some spectrum games are LOAD"" CODE or whatever). Not much point in documenting things if nobody can use them...

If I didn't know the spectrum I'd be lost without that, and the Wiki isn't always accessible to me when the executable is.

#57911 - 01/12/10 12:20 PM Re: Fixed software lists [Re: Haze]  
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Duke Offline
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Originally Posted By Haze

It's still not obvious. I don't know what <device> is, eta puts an example of -device ? but that would also imply that <system> is -system .. or does it mean types of devices? is -chd a device? or -hdd or -gdrom ? or ....


"mess -listdevices" tells you (or -listmedia, which would be better).

#57912 - 01/12/10 12:37 PM Re: Fixed software lists [Re: Duke]  
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Originally Posted By Duke
Originally Posted By Haze

It's still not obvious. I don't know what <device> is, eta puts an example of -device ? but that would also imply that <system> is -system .. or does it mean types of devices? is -chd a device? or -hdd or -gdrom ? or ....


"mess -listdevices" tells you (or -listmedia, which would be better).


But the point remains. I shouldn't have to care unless I actually want to do more advanced things, as was given in the example here (using a different cart than the default specified one with the PCE CD games)

Things should 'just work' by default, they don't.

I guess the 'software' field should represent something of a default configuration, in the case of consoles, that means a specific cart mounted, in the case of computers, an installation of the OS and specific disks available to insert, or appropriate system config and tape ready to load. Almost a 'quick start' setting if you will.

Advanced use should still be possible, the user should be able to bring up a list of discs / cds associated with the 'software' they chose, or call up a master list of all the known software that they have which is appropriate for that system. It should be possible to override things in the software configuration from the commandline if they really want to.

Those things should be optional tho, they shouldn't be a requirement. In it's most basic form it should just work, it should be accessible, useable, and easy to test with, without having to have a deep knowledge of how MESS works (if you're used to MAME) or even how the systems work (as prompts should be provided)

Obviously for now getting the lists in is a priority, getting something that works, and can be refined, and helps document the software on the systems is almost a separate issue than the above; once the database is there it can be refactored, exported, and reworked very easily using batch processing tools.


#57913 - 01/12/10 12:48 PM Re: Fixed software lists [Re: Haze]  
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etabeta78 Offline
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lack of clear errors/warnings pointing out what is wrong is indeed an issue. but this should be fixed separately, hence let me leave it for another discussion...

Originally Posted By Haze
One of the big advantages of the internal database system is that you can get rid of this pain. Just remember 2 names, the system, and the game short-name. Leave the roms in anywhere in any recognized ROM path, and let MESS take care of the rest.

MESS just seems to have fallen into the typical open-source trap of the programmers knowing how things work, and therefore leaving it completely non-obvious to anybody else.


I have written a quite comprehensive user manual exactly to avoid this, but not many users seem to read it (and I'm not referring to you, but to the number of requests about unzipped bioses...)

Originally Posted By Haze
As for the loading once in the driver, as I've said before, MESS *should* provide some internal hint system for this, an additional screen on startup, and something that can be called up from the tab menu, or even a 'quickstart' option in the tab menu to type it for you. It might not seem pure, but the pure MAME approach really doesn't work as well here. Standalone emus offer such functionality, and it works really well.


except that the real system had no such a functionality, so it's a big NO imho.

the user should be pointed to sysinfo.dat (which is displayed in the GUI or readable with text editor) for the instruction about how to load.

this was not my point though! My question is: how should we explain to the user that different shortname would require different commands. i.e. that

mess c64 renegade

requires DLOAD (assuming it is a floppy) while

mess c64 bublbobl

requires LOAD? Asking for "mess c64 -cass bublbobl" already warns the user that he will need to type LOAD and not DLOAD, even if he has never tried that image before! without "cass", the user would have to load a file without knowing what to do next even if he is an expert of the usage of that system, and he would probably lose more time trying out the various commands than the time typing -cass/-flop would have required...

or shall pretend the user to learn the correspondence between the shortname and the correspondent cassette/floppy/cart command?

Originally Posted By Haze
Accessibility is vital or the project will just sink in the mud, as it has been doing for years.


that's because there were only 3-4 devs and, hence, most drivers were completely abandoned, not for the lack of accessibility.

while I agree with some of your points, and I hope we can introduce better error messages to help people launching the exe with the wrong options, I still fear that fopr computer systems with multiple floppy drive & cartslots the usage

mess computer game

is a bit too restrictive and would risk to become even less intuitive than the current approach

Last edited by etabeta78; 01/12/10 12:56 PM. Reason: better explaination of the LOAD/DLOAD argument
#57914 - 01/12/10 12:58 PM Re: Fixed software lists [Re: etabeta78]  
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Haze Offline
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Originally Posted By etabeta78

mess c64 renegade

require DLOAD while

mess c64 bublbobl

requires LOAD? How would display the instruction which differs between one item of list and another one? Shall we put in the source each possible case? or shall pretend the user to learn the correspondence between the shortname and the correspondent cassette/floppy/cart command?


Add an 'additional information' field to the SOFTWARE / GAME macros which can point to a useability string. To be quite honest MAME needs this too with the gambling games. Tafoid's instructions are useful, but again are hidden away in a wiki / dat file somewhere, when really they should be more closely tied to the emulator if possible. 'Everything in one place' is a big time saver.

Originally Posted By etabeta78

I have written a quite comprehensive user manual exactly to avoid this, but not many users seem to read it (and I'm not referring to you, but to the number of requests about unzipped bioses...)


'RTFM' isn't exactly user friendly, and often manuals are so bad they're useless. I'm not saying yours is, but it's often the case, so they usually get ignored, or not updated properly. Placing the information where it can be seen is more useful.


Originally Posted By etabeta78

except that the real system had no such a functionality, so it's a big NO imho.


real systems don't have tile-viewers, save states, integrated debuggers etc. and like those features it's a time saver for anybody working on the driver. What's more valuable use of my time? trying to figure out how some obscure system boots, or fixing a graphical bug somebody reported in it?

Originally Posted By etabeta78

that's because there were only 3-4 devs and, hence, most drivers were completely abandoned, not for the lack of accessibility.


poor acessibility might explain the lack of devs too, that and the lack of software lists, which means that picking up somebody else's driver is hard, because you don't really know the status of anything (or what the status should be) or what's actually dumped, or what to fix. Thankfully that is changing.

Originally Posted By etabeta78

mess computer game

is a bit too restrictive and would risk to become even less intuitive that the current approach


with the appropriate hints it provides a good 'quick start' mechanism tho which will work in the majority of cases. For the more advanced ones, additional options can be used.

#57915 - 01/12/10 01:00 PM Re: Fixed software lists [Re: Haze]  
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etabeta78 Offline
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Originally Posted By Haze

But the point remains. I shouldn't have to care unless I actually want to do more advanced things, as was given in the example here (using a different cart than the default specified one with the PCE CD games)

Things should 'just work' by default, they don't.


again: this could make perfectly sense for consoles, less for other systems.

requiring the user to try -listmedia before running a new system, is not different than requiring a MAME user to know that he cannot launch

mame Street Fighter 2

wink

also, options for the devices are always the same (-cart, -cdrom, -cass, -cass1, -cass2, -flop, -flop1, etc.) and you know what to try after you have used the first 2/3 machines...

Once more, I agree with you about keeping things as simple as possible, but this should not make computer completely too hard to work with


EDIT: Last point, let me state that any quickstart help which makes e.g. cassette not to require loading or something similar would be a HUGE backward step... if you want to save time to load cassette, you simply press Insert and you will speed up the loading. or shall we stop documenting the correct way in which the CPU reads tapes? wink

Last edited by etabeta78; 01/12/10 01:04 PM.
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