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CD-i Emulator to explore ROM-less emulation

>> Friday, October 29, 2010

Cdifan posted some interesting thoughts to develop CD-i Emulator more like CD-ICE: This first CD-i Emulator tried to emulate CD-i with the use of the original ROM of the player. Cdifan: "I have some wild ideas about ROM-less emulation; this would basically mean re-implementing the CD-RTOS operating system. It can be done, CD-ice proved it. I'm not going to tackle that by myself; my current thinking is to make a start by implementing a high-level emulation framework, tracing stubs for all the calls (luckily these can mostly be generated automatically from the digital Green Book and OS-9 manuals) and some scaffolding and samples. One of the pieces of scaffolding would be a really simple CD-i player shell; one that just shows a big "Play CD-i" button and then starts the CD-i title :-)"
Furthermore he explains the start of his CD-i Cookbook: "To prepare for the above I had to do some fairly heavy design, which caused me to properly write down some of the design information and tradeoffs for the first time. This will be invaluable information for co-developers (if they ever materialize), hence the title "CD-i Emulator Cookbook". Well, at present it's more like a leaflet but I hope to expand it over time and also add some history." Read a lot more details on his blog, cdibits.


Beavis and Butt-head game to CD-i if the console 'sold well enough'

>> Sunday, October 24, 2010

If the CD-i sold well enough in 1994 Viacom planned to get a CD-i release ready of the adventure game 'Beavis and Butt-head in Virtual Stupidity'. Following this source: "In 1995 an adventure game based on the series was released, called Beavis and Butt-head in Virtual Stupidity on the PC. An adventure game is a type of Video game characterized by investigation exploration puzzle-solving, interaction with game characters and a focus on Narrative A CD-i port was planned but was cancelled due to falling sales of the console." It's an interesting rumor/announcement as Viacom cancelled the ICOM CD-i releases as well, possibly due to low sales as well. [Thanks, K1ngArth3r]


Download CD-i game manuals in PDF

You can find CD-i game manuals online at Replacementdocs, filling its database with all manuals found at different sources including Black Moon Project and Le Monde du CD-i. It's a start that could be a nice home for CD-i manuals once you don't have the original. Find out more here.


Random CD-i Quote (11)

>> Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Quote made by Philips Media HQ: "I too probably was giving up on Cdi in America truthfully -- but not because of the format, but because of the sales organization that was behind it. Plus, there was a lack of overall software development that would realistically drive the format. The emphasis in America was far less on games as I said before and more on infotainment and I don't think there is a significant market for this then or now. It is niche. CDi was to be mass market. And while you might produce a compelling disc on the Titantic or how to take pictures a la Time Life Photography, these were the types of titles that would complement not lead the format to succcess.
Back then Philips US was in Tennessee, Knoxville as I recall, and they had no belief in the format, no committment and they were completely schiztophrenic over the Philips brand, switching back and forth between Philips and Magnavox (one a proud name in US electronics, pre Philips, but today it is reduced to the level of a cheap import) They were half heartedly getting behind the format and while Emiel and Alex were constant ambassadors between the software arm (American Interactive Media, and then later Philips Interactive Meda), and Philips Consumer Electronics USA - there was a chasm. We came from two different worlds and both organizations were at fault for not coming together better."


DVC/MPEG support in CD-i Emulator 0.53

>> Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Version 0.5.3-beta1 of the CD-i Emulator program supports proof-of-concept MPEG playing for Gate Array MPEG cartridges but not for the other types. It does however support the 1MB memory extension feature of all models. With the CD-i Emulator comes a dummy ROM file so that you can use the extra memory even if you don't actually have a DV cartridge ROM. Some titles can use this even without the MPEG playing function (e.g. The Apprentice). At the bottom you see a video from Lucky Luke CD-i made by cdifan.

cdifan: "The Philips Media bumper animation is MPEG (audio and video) and so is the audio for the piano sequence. The in-game crash is due to an MPEG sound effect. This is with a Gate Array MPEG AH01 cartridge (22ER9141 F1 AH01); as the cartridge types get newer the decoding starts working lesser and lesser. Later GMPEG cartridges will crash earlier in the gameplay, VMPEG and IMPEG will not play MPEG at all. This is simply because I haven't gotten around to fixing those things yet; there are still major bugs in the buffering of the MPEG data and while that remains unfixed there is no point."
Many other DVC titles will play their Philips bumper but crash soon thereafter; some others won't even get that far. In some cases this is not even due to MPEG decoding issues but to various "other" reasons for crashing (The 7th Guest is a notorious example).

[Thanks, cdifan, cdibits]


New MESS CD-i development blog: Emulating Quizard Arcade CD-i

>> Monday, October 11, 2010

Harmony from the MESS CD-i development team recently started his own blog with information on his work on the MESS CD-i Emulator. From now on, you can find his latest posts in the right menu bar of Interactive Dreams. His first posts tell us about interesting progress he made with emulating the Quizard CD-i Arcade games. The Quizard CD-i Arcade Machine was featured on Interactive Dreams here and here. It's a rare piece of hard- and software as this is the only CD-i based Arcade machine. With some tweaks Harmony got the Quizard CD-i games (interactive quiz titles made by TAB-Austria in 1994-1998) to work within MAME. Read all details and pictures on his blog here.

[Thanks, Harmony, Klaus]


Report compatibility issues in CD-i Emulator 0.53: you can help too

>> Sunday, October 10, 2010

Now the official update on CD-i Emulator has seen the light of day, time has come to create new compatibility lists of all CD-i games to get an idea how much improved the new 0.53 version actually is. The way to report compatibility issues has never been easier now cdifan implemented a menu system on the cdiemu site right here. In this page you can easily share your experience with any title and it will pop up in a (hopefully) large list to show you how complete the emulation is.

If you haven't started yet emulating CD-i, read the tutorial on how to get it running on your PC in this article. If you have any problems/questions, don't hesitate to drop here a question or go to the CD-i Emulator Forum.


CD-i Reader Rating: Atlantis is worth a 7,7

In the following months we let you decide what each CD-i game is worth. We like to know how you would rate every single CD-i game. Keep an eye on the polls in the right column to see if a new game is up. We'll come up with lists once we have some input. Thanks for your vote!

Atlantis was rated with a 7,7 in total (10 being the highest/best). Search the site to find more info on the game. From today, we start with Brain Dead 13; the interactive cartoon by Ready Soft, improving on originals like Dragon's Lair, but how do you think that worked out on CD-i? Check out the label 'Poll' to read all previous entries in the CD-i Reader Rating. The top 2 until now is as following:

1. The 7th Guest (8,3)
2. Accelerator (3,9)
3. ?


CD-i Emulator 0.53 Released!

cdifan has just released the first public beta of CD-i Emulator version 0.5.3 for Windows, the first update after the original September 2005 public release. A number of existing CD-i title compatibility problems have been solved for this version and a number of new CD-i player models are now fully or minimally supported.

Important new features added for this version are the following:
- Support for CHD disc image files (compatible with MESS/MAME)
- Support for writing AVI, PNG or WAV files
- Support for controlling the CD-i pointing device with the keyboard
- Support for recording and playing back CD-i input events
- Support for online CD-i title and player compatibility reporting
- Proof-of-concept support for MPEG playing on Gate Array MPEG cartridges

This version of CD-i Emulator incorporates source code from MAME/MESS used to support the CHD file format and the writing of AVI and PNG files. More information can be found on the CD-i Emulator website, in particular the Release Notes section. The beta release can be downloaded from the Downloads section; don't forget to read the README, HOWTO and RELNOTES documents included with the emulator! Any questions, comments, etc should be posted to this forum, where the answers will be useful to the entire user community.

Have fun!


CD-i Internet Kit Box Art

It's very difficult to find good quality pictures of rare CD-i objects, like this one: the box of the CD-i Internet Kit. It was a nice innovative product but a little expensive at $300, but it gave you the possibility to browse the "world wide web" on your CD-i player. That, regarding its technical limits, was quite an achievement. You can read more about it here.


Most of you have a 2xx or 4xx CD-i player

In the past months we asked you what type of CD-i player you have. As expected, the consumer models 2xx and 4xx are the most common available players for you.
Series 1xx (dev old) 4 (4%)
Series 2xx (Component size) 41 (46%)
Series 3xx (portables) 12 (13%)
Series 4xx (compact) 40 (44%)
Series 5xx (compact adv) 9 (10%)
Series 6xx (dev new) 15 (16%)
Series 7xx (high end) 5 (5%)
Series 9xx (US) 8 (8%)
Non-Philips 18 (20%)

In future polls we'll specify more on what player type you own and which non-philips model is available the most these days.


Changelog CD-i Emulator 0.53 vs 0.52 (update 2/10)

>> Saturday, October 2, 2010

The following changes have been made between the version 0.5.2 and this version 0.5.3-beta1 release:

- The minimum operating system requirement is now Windows XP, due to my switching to Visual Studion 2010 for development.

- A number of emulation compatibility problems have been solved. All of them apply to Mono-I CD-i systems (200, 210 F1, 220 F2), most of them apply to Mini-MMC CD-i systems (205, 60x, 205/910) and several apply to all CD-i systems.

- Support for CHD (Compressed Hunks of Data) disc images has been added. This is the native disc image file format of MESS/MAME; its main advantages for CD-i Emulator are cross-emulator compatibility and smaller file sizes. Emulating from CHD files is also somewhat slower because of the required on-the-fly decompression.

- Support for writing the decoded audio and video streams to various file formats has been added. The current version includes support for (uncompressed) WAV, (uncompressed) AVI and (compressed) PNG files. Use the appropriate -writexxx option for this.

Each uncompressed video frame written to the AVI file takes a little over 1.2 MB, which results in large file size: about 61MB per second. These numbers are for PAL (50Hz), for NTSC (60Hz) they are a little over 1.0 MB per frame and about 63 MB per second. In contrast, a second of uncompressed audio is about 172 KB.

You can write a silent AVI file with the -writesilent option; this can be combined with the -writeavi or -writepng options to write separate audio and video streams.

Note that with WAV file writing, silent periods (where the CD-i title doesn't play any audio) are not written to the file.

You can limit the AVI file size by using the -writescale or -writerate options to reduce the number of video frames per second or the size of each frame.

The -writeview option controls which view is written out; the default is to write the full CD-i Emulator window (including window borders, menu and the toolbar, if visible). Use -writeview video to write only the CD-i video.

The Emulate | Write... and Emulate | Stop Write menu choices are not yet functional.

- Support has been added for recording and playing back files containing CD-i input events such as pointing device movements and clicks, keyboard presses and disc insertions.

The -record option writes a file containing timestamped input events, prepended by all the extra information required for faithful playback which includes things like CD-i player model, DVC cartridge type, extension roms, PAL/NTSC and special startup options.

The -playback option will read such a file and play back the recorded input events and disc insertions. The extra information should generally cause it to work without the need to fiddle with emulator options to reproduce the exact recording environment.

It is also possible to play back on a different CD-i player model or with a different DVC cartridge or differing startup options. Command-line options will override recorded information, and input channels are somewhat "intelligently" matched to the available input devices.

TBA: What happens when the user doesn't have the required ROMs?

Recorded disc insertion events contain both the full path to the disc image file and the title of the disc; during playback CD-i Emulator will use the full path if possible. If the disc image file does not exist, the disc title will be used to search the list of recently used disc images.

It is thus possible to exchange input recording (the preferred file extension is .inp) with other people, for example to reproduce crashes or audio or video decoding bugs.

You can also use input playback to offline write full-rate full-quality AVI or PNG files from a CD-i Emulator session, this is generally not possible in real-time. In this case, use the -playback option together with -noskip and -nowait.

If you intend your input recording to play back on all CD-i player models, you should use the -playcdi option to avoid recording the CD-i player shell because it differs between models. This means that you have to select the disc image to be inserted before starting the emulation (use either the -disc or the -selectdisc option or the corresponding menu choices).

The current input recording file format uses a single 32-bit field to record event times as CPU cycle count; with a clock frequency of 15 MHz this field will wrap around in 4 minutes and 46 seconds. The internals of CD-i Emulator require that at least one event is recorded every two minutes, otherwise playback will lose synchronisation. This will be fixed in a future version of the file format.

- Minimal support for a number of new player system ROMs has been added: Philips CD-i 370, DVS VE-200 and LG GDI-700. All of these players use the "Portable CD-i" board but have different built-in MPEG cartridges (which appear to be VMPEG and IMPEG, but at different addresses). These players will currently boot into the player shell. However, there is no pointing device support yet so it ends there. The Movies section of the CD-i Emulator website has YouTube movies of these players booting.

- Proper detection and full emulation of the following player ROMs has been added: Philips CD-i 200 F1, Philips CD-i 220 F1. These are both variations of other player types.

- Very buggy MPEG support, mainly for Gate Array MPEG cartridges (22ER9141 F1), has been added. TBA: More details.

- The Decode menu contains a new option Flush Audio. This can be useful on fast hardware when audio starts to lag behind.

- The Decode menu contains new options CCIR Limit, Plane A, Plane B and Dim Video that control the decoding of CD-i video data for display. TBA: More details.

- CD-i keyboard emulation has been added.

There are to my knowledge only a very few titles out there that support a CD-i keyboard, all of which require the DV cartridge are thus not (yet) supported by CD-i Emulator.

However, there is (very rudimentary) keyboard support in the Philips player shells, just enough to verify that your CD-i keyboard is actually working.

The "old player shell" (found on 60x, 200, 210 F1/F2, 220 F1/F2/F3 and 350) supports the "p" key (lowercase only!) as equivalent to clicking the "PLAY CD-I" button.

The "new player shell" (found on 210 F3 and up, 220 F4 and up, 4xx, 615, 660 and 740) supports any key to abort the introductory animation.

Supposedly one or both player shells also support the keyboard for naming favorite track selections, but I haven't verified this.

- You can now control the CD-i pointing device with the keyboard using the arrow keys (four directions) or the numeric keypad (eight directions). The [Space] and both [Enter] keys will press button 1, the [Backspace] and numeric keypad [+] keys will press button 2 and the [Esc] and numeric keypad [-] keys will simultaneously press buttons 1 and 2. The -keydelta option can be used to control the movement speed of the pointing device.

There is currently no way to change the key mapping.

- The -[no]wait and -[no]skip options can be used to control frame waiting and frame skipping (both of these are on by default).

Normally, CD-i Emulator will attempt to maintain real-time emulation by waiting after frame display or skipping frame decoding, when necessary. The former is needed on faster computers, the latter on slower ones.

Use of the -nowait option can make your CD-i title unplayably fast and it will also cause the audio to lag behind if the title plays continuous audio (most games do). The Decode | Flush Audio menu choice can be used to catch up in this case.


CD-i Emulator 0.53 closed beta testing started today

>> Friday, October 1, 2010

From CDIBITS: "I have just released the pre-beta version of CD-i Emulator to my beta test group. This version is intended for quick tests; if nothing drastically happens, the final beta1 release will happen in a few days."
This means it is going to be a busy weekend for me! Expect test results and reviews coming up in the following weeks. CD-i Emulator is back in business!


Games 0-F

3rd Degree - PF Magic
7th Guest, The - Philips Freeland Studios
Accelerator - SPC/Vision
Adventure of the Space Ship Beagle, The - Denshi Media Services
Affaire Morlov, L' - Titus
Alfapet - Adatek
Alice in Wonderland - Spinnaker
Alien Gate - SPC Vision
Alien Odyssee - Argonaut
Aliens Interactive CD-i - Dark Vision Interactive
Ange et le Demon, L' - Smart Move
Apprentice, The - SPC Vision
Apprentice 2, The - Marvin's Revenge - SPC Vision
Arcade Classics - Philips ADS / Namco
Asterix - Caesar’s Challenge - Infogrames
Atlantis - The Last Resort - PRL Redhill (Philips ADS)
Axis and Allies - CapDisc
Backgammon - CapDisc
Battle Chess - Accent Media (for Interplay)
Battleship - CapDisc
Big Bang Show - Infogrames
BMP Puzzle - Circle (for ZYX)
Brain Dead 13 - Readysoft
Burn:Cycle - Trip Media
Caesar's World of Boxing - Philips POV
Caesar's World of Gambling - CD-I Systems
Cartoon Academy - Bits Corporation
CD-i mit der Maus - SPC Vision
CD Shoot - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Change Angels Kick-off - HMO
Chaos Control - Infogrames
Christmas Country - Creative Media
Christmas Country - The Lost Levels - Creative Media
Christmas Crisis - DIMA
Clue - 3T Productions
Clue 2 - The mysteries continue - 3T Productions
Connect Four - CapDisc
Creature Shock - Argonaut (for Virgin)
Crime Patrol - CapDisc
Crow, The - Philips POV
Cyber Soldier Sharaku - Japan Interactive media
Dame was Loaded, The - Beam Software
Dark Castle - Philips POV
Dead End - Cryo
Defender of the Crown - Philips POV
Deja Vu - Icom Simulations
Deja Vu 2: Lost in Las Vegas - Icom Simulations
Demolition Man - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Demon Driver - Haiku Studios
Discworld - Teeny Weeny Games
Dimo's Quest - SPC Vision
Domino - Wigant Interactive Media
Down in the Dumps - Haiku Studios
Dragon's Lair - Superclub / INTL CDI
Dragon's Lair 2- Time Warp - Superclub / INTL CDI
Drug wars - Crime Patrol II - CapDisc
Dungeons & Dragons - PF Magic
Earth Command - Visionary Media
Effacer - CapDisc
Escape from Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Evidence - Microids
Falco & Donjon & The Sword of Inoxybur - BMi / Zephyr Studio
Family Games I - DIMA
Family Games II - Junk Food Jive - DIMA
Felix the Cat - Philips Sidewalk Studio
Flashback - Delphine/Tiertex (for US Gold)
Flinstones Wacky Inventions - Philips Funhouse
Fort Boyard: The Challenge - Microids
Frog Feast - Rastersoft

CD-i Games Index G-M

Go - CapDisc
Golden Oldies - SPC Vision
Golden Oldies II - SPC Vision
Golgo 13 - Japan Interactive Media
Great day at the races, A - CD-I Racing, Dove Films, Total Vision
Guignols de l'Info, Les - Canal+ Multimedia / INTL CDI
Heart of Darkness - Amazing Studio (for Virgin)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The - Philips Kaleidoscope
Holland Casino CD-i - HMO
Hotel Mario - Philips Fantasy Factory
Inca - Coktel Vision
Inca 2 - Coktel Vision
International Tennis Open - Infogrames
Jack Sprite vs. The Crimson Ghost - PF Magic
Jeopardy - Accent Media
Jigsaw - Novalogic
Joe Guard - DIMA
John Dark: Psychic Eye - CapDisc
Joker's Wild!, The - Accent Media
Joker's Wild Jr., The - Accent Media
Kether - Infogrames
Kingdom - The far reaches - CapDisc
Kingdom 2 - Shadoan - CapDisc
Labyrinth of Crete - Philips Funhouse
Laser Lords - Spinnaker
Last Bounty Hunter, The - CapDisc
Legend of the Fort - Microids
Lemmings - DMA Design / Psygnosis
Lettergreep - Wigant Interactive Media
Lingo - SPC Vision
Link - The faces of evil - Animation Magic
Lion King, The - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Litil Divil - Gremlin Graphics
Litil Divil 2: Limbo Years - Gremlin Graphics
Lords of the rising sun - Philips POV
Lost Eden - Cryo (for Virgin)
Lost Ride, The - Formula (Lost Boys)
Lucky Luke - The video game - SPC Vision
Mad Dog McCree - CapDisc
Mad Dog McCree II: The lost gold - CapDisc
Magic Eraser - Circle (for ZYX)
Mah-Jong - Japan Interactive Media
Making the Grade - 3T Productions
Man Before Man - Cryo
Marco Polo - Infogrames
Mario Takes America - CIGAM
Master Labyrinth - AVM AG/HQ
Mega Maze - CapDisc
Memory Works, The - Compact Disc Incorporated
Merlin's Apprentice - Philips Funhouse
Microcosm - Philips Freeland Studios
Micro Machines - Codemasters
Monty Python's Invasion from the Planet Skyron - Daedalus CD-i Productions
Mutant Rampage - Body Slam - Animation Magic
Myst - Sunsoft (for Cyan)
Mystic Midway - Rest in pieces - Philips POV
Mystic Midway 2 - Phantom Express - Philips POV

Compact Disc Interactive

Compact Disc Interactive

Games N-Z

Name that tune - Philips Fantasy Factory
New Day - Bits Corporation
NFL Hall of Fame Football - Philips POV
Othello - HMO
Pac Panic - Philips ADS / Namco
Palm Springs Open - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Pool - SPC Vision
Pinball - CapDisc
Plunderball - ISG Productions
Power Hitter - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Power Match - Two's Company
Pursue - BEPL
Pyramid Adventures - Compact Disc Incorporated
RAMRaid - PRL Redhill
Return To Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Riddle of the Maze, The - Fathom Pictures
Riqa - Bits Corporation
Rise of the Robots - Mirage Technologies
Sargon Chess - Spinnaker
Scotland Yard Interactive - AVM AG/HQ
Secret Mission - Microids
Secret Name of Ra, The
Shaolin's Road - Infogrames
Skate Dude - Viridis
Smurfen, De - De Telesmurf - Infogrames
Solar Crusade - Infogrames
Solitaire - BEPL
Space Ace - Superclub / INTL CDI
Space Ranger - Studio Interactive
Special Operations Squadron - SPC Vision
Sport Freaks - SPC Vision
Star Trek - Philips POV
Star Wars: Rebel Assault - LucasArts
Steel Machine - SPC Vision
Striker Pro - Rage
Strip Poker Live - Greenpig Production
Strip Poker Pro - Interactive Pictures
Super Fighter - The Super Fighter Team / C&E
Super Mario's Wacky Worlds - NovaLogic
Surf City - Philips Sidewalk Studios
Tangram - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Taco's Toyroom Troopers - Creative Media
Tankdoodle - Creative Media
Tetris - Philips POV
Tetsuo Gaiden - Creative Media
Text Tiles
Thieves' World - Electronic Arts
Tic-tac-toe - BEPL
Tox Runner - ISG Productions
Treasures of Oz - Philips Kaleidoscope
Ultra CD-i Soccer - Krisalis
Uncover featuring Tatjana - SPC Vision
Uninvited - Icom Simulations
Video Speedway - ISG Productions
Vinnie the Pinguin - Pandemonium Labs
Voyeur - Philips POV
Voyeur 2 - Philips POV
Whack-a-Bubble - Creative Media
What's it worth - Marshall Cavendish Multimedia / Spice
Who shot Johnny Rock? - CapDisc
Wordplay - BEPL
World Cup Golf - US Gold
Zaak Sam, De - Toneelschool NL
Zelda - The wand of Gamelon - Animation Magic
Zelda's Adventure - Viridis
Zenith - Radarsoft
Zombie Dinos From The Planet Zeltoid - Philips POV

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