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I was a huge Asteroids fan when I was a kid. (Well, I was a normal-sized kid but I REALLY loved Asteroids. wink ) Anyway, it's been interesting to see how sound in MAME's Asteroids has evolved. When they did away with the samples, and started emulating the sound, it was pretty rough for a while. Now, it's pretty darn good.... with one glaring exception: the pitch of the "thumps" is incorrect. (The thumps are the low notes that alternate faster and faster as asteroids become fewer.)

I'll put this musically, since it's the only way I know how.... Currently, MAME has the interval between the two thumps as a major third. They should actually be a minor second.

I obtained the following samples from Vectorama, a lovely OS9 vector game emulator many of you no doubt remember. These are the thumps in their proper pitch as recorded from an actual Asteroids cabinet.

http://www.chris.com/asteroids/thumphi.wav
http://www.chris.com/asteroids/thumplo.wav

The Asteroid samples in this emulator were the best I've heard, so I pulled them out with ResEdit and hung on to them. The rest of them can be browsed here:

http://www.chris.com/asteroids/

I just wanted to share my thoughts with all of you and ask for your recommendation. Who on the MAME development team would A) be interested in hearing such a comment and B) have the programming skills necessary to do something about it?

-Chris

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Boy, I wish I had these samples to listen to when I wrote Shoot Things...

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At one time Asteroids did use sound samples. I dont know how far back in version numbers you would have to go (definitely before the switch to the new numbering scheme). Let alone where you would find ROMs that would work with a version that old. But it could be done.

I am half suprised nobody has released a sub-version of MAME that incorporates the old Asteroids sample code.


Engineers make it work on paper. Technicians make it work in the real world.
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The roms for asteroids haven't changed in eons have they?

Getting roms for an old version of asteroids is not liklely to be a problem though. I have 8 Asteroids boards on the shelf and I know plenty of other people have similar numbers.

Very common game. if it needed to be redumped, then it wouldn't be hard.

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Chris: If you post over at MAMETesters.org it's likely Derrick Renaud (the discrete audio guru) would see it. Be warned: the current pitch is set according to Atari's schematics, and you are attempting to prove that Atari misprinted them. That's not actually uncommon - the Pong schematics have multiple errors - but it's still sort of a tough thing. (A picture of the relevant resistors/capacitors from a working PCB would suffice).

ETA: Also it's possible (actually likely given how often Brad updates it) MacMAME doesn't have the latest fixes. Try it on 100u2 on a PC for best verification.

ETA2: It's possible the pitch is controlled by a variable resistor on the board. In that case, press ~ and adjust the various discrete component values until you get the correct sound and report those values @ MAMETesters.

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Nice domain name... laugh

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The pitch is not adjusted by a variable resistor...

The only variable resistors on the board are for X & Y gain.

I can help out with values of components if someone tells me which one's they're after.

It's highly likely that:

1) the schematics could be wrong (they are a bit of a mess for Asteroids!)
2) there are known to be more than one revision of Asteroids boards, even slightly different component layouts. It's possible that could account for the difference? (Have been reinstalling OSX so haven't listened to the clips yet).
3) Umm, there was a 3, but someone was talking to me while I was writing this so I've completely forgotten it smile

I'm sure I'll remember it sometime soon!

If I can help, let me know. There is also full Asteroids source code on my website (http://www.guddler.co.uk) - partially commented (not by me).

Martin.

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Thank you all for the very informative replies. I will install the latest Mame32 on my wife's Windows XP laptop (EW! wink ) and listen to the thumps.

My take on the pitches comes from my musical background. My father is a music professor at a California State University. I grew up with a piano and lessons in various instruments. I remember playing the thumps on my piano! LOL... ...and even reproducing many of the sounds on one of the analog synthesizers at the college's music department. (Fairly accurately if I do say so myself.) smile I can say with almost absolute certainty that the interval between the thumps was a minor second (A half-step on a piano keyboard) on every Asteroids game I ever played... and I played every single one my parents let me. :-) As a kid I was always fascinated by the quality of certain intervals. Most doorbells are either a major third or a minor third. I like the one at our house because it was a major third; it's happier sounding. Minor thirds are morose and troubled. (I know... I'm a weirdo.) I distinctly remember taking note of the minor second interval in Asteroids and being fascinated by the nerve-wracking suspense it induced. The major third interval in MAME's Asteroids is like a happy doorbell; it just doesn't fit at all.

I don't know what the Asteroids thump notes actually were. (I'm not lucky enough to have perfect pitch.) But when I hear the Vectorama samples, that nails it better than anything I've ever heard anywhere else.

It also seems like to me that MAME's Asteroid sounds are much warmer than that of the real game. The arcade cabinet blurted out harsh square and sawtooth waves. That edgy, stabbing quality seems somewhat smoothed out in emulation.

I shall take the advice of R. Belmont and cross post my original post to MAMETesters.org and see what folks have to say. I'll report back any interesting progress. I wonder if my musical sensibilities would carry any weight when the schematics seem to tell a different story.

Thanks again....
-Chris

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I agree with you, Chris. The real machine was definitely playing a minor second, which I always think of as a tense, stressful interval. A major third is happy, which makes the game feel wrong.

I agree with you about doorbells, too :-)

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The harshness will also be contributed to by the degradation of the resistance in the cabinet's ground's over time. Probably to a certain degree even "back in the day", but definately more prominent on machines now.

This causes all sorts of problems with age, but harsh sometimes crackly noises is definately one symptom.

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