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Heroes of Might and Magic III Dreamcast unreleased community fundraiser

darcagn

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seriously doubt the bug you're encountering has anything to do with the region of the console, but I could be wrong
I've tested on...

- NTSCU va1 DC with authentic GDEMU
- a different NTSCU va1 DC with clone GDEMU with controller board 839-1124 (tan top)
- that same NTSCU va1 DC with clone GDEMU with controller board 839-1169 (green top)
- yet another different NTSCU va1 DC with GD-ROM (using my CDI version)
- NTSCJ va0 DC with GD-ROM (using my CDI version)

i don't have a PAL DC handy to test with, and my dreamshell dreamcast is currently out of commission as i need to do some repairs to it.

they all work. by work i mean the game's intro plays, i press start to go to the main menu, and i can select new game, single player scenario, begin, and start the game. i haven't played beyond that because i'm not familiar with this title.

most of these tests I did with 1 standard sega controller plugged into port A with no accessories connected to the controller.
i also booted up a few of those tests with a standard VMU plugged into slot 1, no problems
 

darcagn

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So while watching some TV with my fiancee I realized I had another va1 DC clear blue that I gave her a while back for PSO. So I unplugged my office DC where I was testing and plugged this one directly in using the same cables etc. and this one has the controller freeze. the first one out of 5 different DC units I tested...

At this point I'm guessing
1) perhaps the culprit is a different component (e.g. different Holly revision, different RAM vendor?)
2) it may have something to do with the contents of flash memory? Most of my DCs have had their flash memory wiped recently, but this one my fiancee owns hasn't.
 

speedyink

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Controller doesn't freeze on my NTSCU console. Been playing a 2 player skirmish for a while now.

Only thing is, this game is constantly loading from the disc. I don't know what I expected, being a large 2D game, but holy crap, I feel for my poor laser. You can definitely see why this game was cancelled, it is clearly too much. Like for real, It has to load from the disc for every single step of traversal..literally everything needs to load right from disc as needed. Except for what is displayed at that specific moment in time, there is no state of being "in memory". Disc streaming seems to work ok for 3D games, but for a 2D game it sure makes for a laggy experience.

Still, even with all the lag, It's so surreal to be playing this on my Dreamcast.
 
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MetalliC

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2) it may have something to do with the contents of flash memory?
I'd bet on this ^^^^

Only thing is, this game is constantly loading from the disc. I don't know what I expected, being a large 2D game, but holy crap, I feel for my poor laser.
PC version has 32MByte RAM in requirements. so, I'd guess this port is not really happy with Dreamcast's 16MB of RAM.
it is also possible that hasn't been even tested on Dremcast by developers, but on Katana Dev.box units, which have 2x larger RAMs.
 

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it may have something to do with the contents of flash memory?
That sounds plausible. I remember (details are fuzzy) at least a handful of weird issues depending on the content of the flash in some titles. If it's a very rare issue that happens only on select units — not models, but individual units — I'd bet you're right.

Especially as your fiancée's DC is used for online gaming and network information details are typically written to flash.
 

MetalliC

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tried the cdi and both gdi still didn't work on demul. strange.
probably same cause as on real DCs - delete nvram/dc.flash or better replace it with clean flash dump (can be found in MAME romsets)
 

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probably same cause as on real DCs - delete nvram/dc.flash or better replace it with clean flash dump (can be found in MAME romsets)
Especially if it was his own flash dump.

Any idea why that can cause issues? Different devs deciding to write/read stuff from flash at a specific address without ensuring they're the only ones doing so?
 

MetalliC

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Any idea why that can cause issues? Different devs deciding to write/read stuff from flash at a specific address without ensuring they're the only ones doing so?
it is games, not rocket science, so they are full of ugly hacks and bugs.
in case of Dreamcast devs had no direct access to hardware (including flash), but to high level SDK APIs only (and even have no any hardware-level docs), so, I'd guess its likely WinCE core bug, or both WinCE+game code combo.

I may look at this issue, if someone will provide flash data/dump which leads to 100% reproducible game hang.
 

FatalistDC

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That sounds plausible. I remember (details are fuzzy) at least a handful of weird issues depending on the content of the flash in some titles. If it's a very rare issue that happens only on select units — not models, but individual units — I'd bet you're right.

Especially as your fiancée's DC is used for online gaming and network information details are typically written to flash.
Now I understand why the GD-R was not working on my oldest Dreamcast either. The game reached the menu but the controller did not respond. I thought it was because that Dreamcast already had trouble reading discs sometimes years ago (in addition to the reset problem that I looked to be solving). It was the Dreamcast with which I used the Planetweb Dreamcast Browser and Dream Passport and played PSO.
With my other Dreamcasts I have had no problems.
 

fafadou

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Any news ? The game is playable finally ?
Some improvements may be done ?
Keep me dreaming ^^
 

darcagn

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Haven't heard any news other than those with controller issues correcting it with clearing flash. That seems to have worked for everyone.
I still have a Dreamcast with a flash that doesn't work correctly, so I'll dump it when I get a chance and we can see if we can figure out what's causing that problem.
 

Druid II

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Aah, the music files are just 22khz 8-bit conversions of the MP3s of the PC version, this is such a shame. Feels like the original music files are forever lost. I don't know what I expected but I still feel sad.

I looked at the game data files, it looks like it uses the same data files as the PC version, at a first glance. I didn't actually try to extract them, but if this is true, it could be possible to mod the game for patched data, new maps, perhaps get Armageddons Blade and Shadow of Death running for it, and so on.
HOMM3 has a very active modding community for the PC version, but I don't know what, if any, point there is for editing the DC version. The PC version already has mods to enhance the controls, has entire new factions created for it, and so on (by the way: ignore the HOMM3 HD version on Steam, it's a photoshop hack job, get Heroes 3 Complete from GOG and apply the fan made HD+ Patch to it).

The game keeps loading nonstop from the disc not because it doesn't have enough memory, but because the game uses an enormous amount of content, and there's just no way to pack them all near each other for efficient loading. You have over a dozen landscapes, battle backgrounds, 100+ usable creatures, 100+ hero icons, artifacts, and so on (sprites alone amount to 63 mbytes in their 8-bit palettized format). I mean yeah, ultimately you don't have enough RAM to keep it all in, but my point is that it cannot be optimized on a per-level basis, as every map is open and can have any number of objects on it.
More memory would help but the game has to use the GD-R as a virtual memory pool to even work, since it has to access so much data.

It's beautiful to finally see this released but it's a shame that it's just the PC game hacked to run in 640x480 with a WinCE wrapper. Even the controls just have a mouse cursor you can move with the controller.
 

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The game keeps loading nonstop from the disc not because it doesn't have enough memory, but because the game uses an enormous amount of content, and there's just no way to pack them all near each other for efficient loading. You have over a dozen landscapes, battle backgrounds, 100+ usable creatures, 100+ hero icons, artifacts, and so on (sprites alone amount to 63 mbytes in their 8-bit palettized format). I mean yeah, ultimately you don't have enough RAM to keep it all in, but my point is that it cannot be optimized on a per-level basis, as every map is open and can have any number of objects on it.
They could've prepared asset-chunks for each level or parts of the levels with duplicated files to minimise seeking, but it'd have use more space this way of course.
 

Druid II

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They could've prepared asset-chunks for each level or parts of the levels with duplicated files to minimise seeking, but it'd have use more space this way of course.
That's what I'm saying, they couldn't do that due to the nature of the game. Any creature, hero, and any town can be available at any point since things are randomly generated in certain points (when the map starts, when a turn is made, etc). Did I mention the game also has a random map generator?

For example, In any battle you can have 20+ different types of units on the field at the same time (plus magic effects), out of a pool of over a hundred total. The game has to load the appropriate few sprites whenever a fight starts, and it has to dig through the full sprite archive for every unit in combat to do this.
On a PC you can do this from a hard drive fast enough so it isn't noticeable. On an optical drive, not really.
 

FamilyGuy

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That's what I'm saying, they couldn't do that due to the nature of the game. Any creature, hero, and any town can be available at any point since things are randomly generated in certain points (when the map starts, when a turn is made, etc). Did I mention the game also has a random map generator?
I didn't know that. Yeah, that makes it challenging to properly stream for any storage media with long seek time. It might thrive on GDEMU though!
 

PrOfUnD Darkness

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I wonder why they went so far then, you can't tell is not just a technical demo, they should know the assets would be a problem before starting working on it.
 

speedyink

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I didn't know that. Yeah, that makes it challenging to properly stream for any storage media with long seek time. It might thrive on GDEMU though!
Adam K. (Can't remember the spelling) put a video on his Youtube channel from what appears to be this game running on GDEMU. It looks much more playable then playing off the disc.


Why make any game that shouldn't work on a certain console? Lots of people like a good challenge.
 
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