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Re: Fixed software lists [Re: R. Belmont] #66523 01/04/11 01:24 PM
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The "beta issue" is a long standing problem. I'm not that familiar with SNES dumps, but regarding MD I can say a lot of so-called betas were just trash dumps (badly dumped or hacked, you decide).

If the confidence level is high enough, the better solution is to delete them from the database. When checking dumps for No-Intro I found betas so ridiculous that the confidence level in them being trash smashed the roof. Other cases are more tricky of course, and it's difficult to tell.

Then there are a few cases where the dump is clearly hacked, but there's no better alternative so it must be kept until a good (but unlikely) dump comes out (see Ninja Gaiden MD prototype).

I'd say the issue has to be evaluated case-by-case, but the practice of labelling dumps as betas without any justification has to be stopped, it belongs to 2001. The cases cited by MESSfan are quite exemplary.

Just keep in mind that not all betas are real, and while they can't be all wept, some of them can be taken out with a certain degree of confidence, as a result of a redump or from simple analysis. At the very least borderline cases should be labelled as "unknown", labelling them as "beta" just passes the idea that they're confirmed, while they're just guesses at best.

Re: Fixed software lists [Re: R. Belmont] #66525 01/04/11 01:42 PM
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Marking unknown dumps as 'beta' is stupid, yes.

Anyway, it's usually pretty easy to tell if you do an analysis of the code if something is good, or bad.. if there are actual program changes it's usually easy enough to see if they're bug fixes, which may indicate something to be an earlier revision or not. Of course this involves actual work and dedication to look at.

Quite a lot of the MD betas really are betas, they're just daily builds of the game, some probably don't work on real hardware, because they simply don't; they contain critical bugs, the programmers didn't understand something but didn't have time to fix it. If you've worked in the industry you do see this sort of thing.. automatic daily builds, some which work some which don't. The earliest revisions often just being hacked up SDK test programs as a proof of concept.

Throwing away things which you aren't sure about, without doing a more complete analysis is risky. It's always less risky to add something now, and get rid of it later if it turns out to be bad than to simply throw it away on a hunch. With time things become clearer.

A bad (but not TOO bad to be useful) dump of a revision of a game is better than none at all, it proves it exists and gives you a reference in the case of another (maybe with a different bad rom) turns up.

Betas and prototypes sent out for review often end up being the basis of pirate games, or pirate releases, some of the early MD betas were obviously hacked and released as pirates by the warez release groups. You'll never see the untouched beta, but it's up to MAME/MESS to properly document the one that was released, even if it was hacked. It's just as much a part of the history as anything else.

Re: Fixed software lists [Re: R. Belmont] #66526 01/04/11 01:52 PM
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In a way the same practice has been around in MAME too. Just see the latest wip from Dox about Legion, which tells us "legiono" might be a bootleg. Of course it very difficult to decide what is what, especially for dumps which may come out from 1997 or 1998.

Just to explain... if there's the possibility that a fair share of the "-o" dumps in MAME are just bootlegs guessed as good, then it's easy to realize that the same thing happened in console world. Again, the late nineties are prehistory in emulation world, it isn't really anybody's fault, but this practice of guessing things has been hanging around everywhere.

Re: Fixed software lists [Re: gigadeath] #66527 01/04/11 02:01 PM
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Haze Offline
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Originally Posted By gigadeath
In a way the same practice has been around in MAME too. Just see the latest wip from Dox about Legion, which tells us "legiono" might be a bootleg. Of course it very difficult to decide what is what, especially for dumps which may come out from 1997 or 1998.

Just to explain... if there's the possibility that a fair share of the "-o" dumps in MAME are just bootlegs guessed as good, then it's easy to realize that the same thing happened in console world. Again, the late nineties are prehistory in emulation world, it isn't really anybody's fault, but this practice of guessing things has been hanging around everywhere.


yep, I think that set of legion is a bootleg, it has no protection, and checksum code patched out, but we've seen many seemingly original nichibutsu sets with their checksums patched out too, seems they didn't really have high standards.

I don't know if you've read the interview with the owner of Jeutal that was posted around, where he explains how they would use the prototypes sent to them to create bootlegs and sell to the european market far faster than the official american / japanese companies could. Defender is the best known one, all the bootlegs are based on the earliest prototype revision.

Re: Fixed software lists [Re: R. Belmont] #66528 01/04/11 02:08 PM
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To Haze: I trust the pletora of betas that came out in these latest years from places like Hidden Palace et similar. I guess that's what you mean when you refer to daily builds. The fact that they're so plentiful doesn't mean they're fake. I was mainly referring to very old dumps, that maybe have been around since the middle nineties, and that haven't been really checked at all against good dumps that have come out in between.

The case that really opened my eyes was the day I dumped the japanese retail release of Space Harrier II for the MD, and it matched the beta in Goodgen. That "fake beta" dump was probably labelled like that just because the two japanese launch titles for the console (Space Harrier and Super Thunder Blade) had a non-standard header (which was standardized with the following releases). The non-standard header can bring in some confusion, it's true, but why label it "beta" without any indication about its real provenience? Why not a simple "unknown"?

IMHO, the only way to correctly label a dump as "beta" is to possess a real proto cart and dump it, not guessing its beta state years later when information about who dumped it and how have been lost.


Last edited by gigadeath; 01/04/11 02:09 PM.
Re: Fixed software lists [Re: gigadeath] #66529 01/04/11 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted By gigadeath
IMHO, the only way to correctly label a dump as "beta" is to possess a real proto cart and dump it, not guessing its beta state years later when information about who dumped it and how have been lost.
My thoughts exactly. There are tons of websites that track prototypes now. For SNES snescentral and superfamicom.org come in mind. Protos sell very well on ebay everyday. If the proto is documented, then let it be in, otherwise let's wait and see, a documented proto will surface sooner or later.

I am not sure if there's a flawless way of labeling a dump as proto by analyzing the code, but if it's truly flawless, then why not.

But all other undocumented guessed proto must be trashed.

Re: Fixed software lists [Re: gigadeath] #66530 01/04/11 02:31 PM
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Haze Offline
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Originally Posted By gigadeath
I was mainly referring to very old dumps, that maybe have been around since the middle nineties, and that haven't been really checked at all against good dumps that have come out in between.


As I said, I remember a lot of these coming from pirate groups, with pirate intros on them, and the roms being hacked by them.

But it seems projects like GoodGen and No-Intro decided to strip off the pirate intros, and just leave the hacked roms.

I'm not really sure doing this has helped clarify anything ;-)

Re: Fixed software lists [Re: ReadOnly] #66531 01/04/11 02:33 PM
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Haze Offline
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Originally Posted By MESSfan

But all other undocumented guessed proto must be trashed.


So you're saying things should be trashed, just because you don't know exactly what they are? That doesn't seem logical.

Re: Fixed software lists [Re: R. Belmont] #66532 01/04/11 02:34 PM
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if that is the case for snes as well, I guess we shall replace "Beta" with "Unknown?" or "Bad?" until code analysis can be performed, rather than blindly throw them away...

Re: Fixed software lists [Re: etabeta78] #66533 01/04/11 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted By etabeta78
if that is the case for snes as well, I guess we shall replace "Beta" with "Unknown?" or "Bad?" until code analysis can be performed, rather than blindly throw them away...
That's the case for all dumps coming from the 90' so yes snes too. And did you read my post about how two unknown roms were labeled beta? Who is going to do the code analysis, and I do not believe code analysis is flawless as revealed by Gigadeath, a retail dump was labeled proto after code analysis.

The most safe method for protos is to keep only the documented ones. As said earlier there are tons of website tracking and documenting protos. And protos sell wonderfully on ebay everyday, so we will have the documentation of real protos eventually. It's just a matter of time.

I don't understand that fear of loosing what is probably crap.

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