With the conclusion of the holiday season, it's time for us at the blog to get back to work. And this time around, we have a smattering of changes covering just about everything you could imagine. For those looking to enjoy some of the latest homebrew with DSP-HLE, Dolphin now has support for the latest homebrew microcodes! For retail games, we also have a minor update to the Zelda-HLE microcode to fix a missing effect that's long overdue.
In some more important news, for those of you having disk space issues when running Dolphin on Windows since the last beta, a fix is now available. And for those looking for the clearest picture possible, Dolphin's mipmap heuristic has been backed down to allow for higher resolution mipmaps across more textures. And of course, if you're wanting that perfect image, Custom Aspect Ratios will allow for easier use of ultra-widescreen hacks and more!
Add to all of that a huge bugfix for older revision Steam Decks, another chapter in the Bounding Box saga, seeing a classic in an all new way, and yet another chapter in broken GPU drivers, and you've got yourself a Dolphin Progress Report.
After a long wait, the Progress Report is back! This time it wasn't so much from a lack of content, but from a lack of content creators. The past three months had illnesses hit one of our writers and the other had a very challenging move. Even with these major hurdles jumped, we're not even close to 100% yet. It's been a battle to get caught up with all of the big changes to Dolphin the past couple of months and because of that this report is a tad late.
Needless to say, there's only one way to start catching up, and that's to get to digging through the past three months of Notable Changes. Enjoy!
This year, we've hit an important milestone that's been in the works for nearly a decade. In late 2012, Sonicadvance1 began work on Dolphin's ARM JIT. Back then, there weren't any devices that had even a sliver of hope of running Dolphin close to full speed, but that wasn't really the goal. All he wanted to do was see if it could be done; it sounded like a fun, challenging project. However, as time passed the idea turned into more than just a passing curiosity. Users were more than happy to donate to cover the hardware cost of staying on the bleeding edge of a rapidly evolving ecosystem, allowing ARM development to flourish. By 2015, Sonicadvance1 astounded developers and the community alike with footage of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!'s time trial mode running close to full speed.
On that note, we're happy to announce that Dolphin's AArch64 JIT has finally reached feature parity with Dolphin's x86-64 JIT. This means that every PowerPC instruction that the x86-64 JIT supports along with every major JIT feature are now supported in the AArch64 JIT! And this is a great time for ARM in general, with each generation of processor pushing the boundaries and companies like Apple adopting the architecture for larger and higher power devices like their M1 Mac line. For those on mobile phones and tablets, Adreno powered devices provide decent enough graphics drivers to get a reasonable experience at this point. And with a critical bottleneck getting fixed just days ago, performance on Adreno GPUs has skyrocketed. You won't have to scroll far for that news, we promise.
But that's only the tip of the iceberg; we've had three months worth of changes pile up and some other important infrastructure news. We've improved the user experience on macOS significantly and restored support for older devices. In fact, enough has happened that we'll be detailing the status of Dolphin's macOS support near the end of the report.
And... we haven't even talked about any emulation fixes yet. The past three months have had tons of changes that would have normally been the highlight of a Progress Report. The three month gap between reports was not because of a lack of changes. Want to take Riivolution games on netplay? You can. Hate the EA VP6 bugs? Make them a thing of the past with a new option. Wish your favorite LogicOp game worked on GLES or MoltenVK? Odds are, it does now! The list goes on, but outlining everything would take way too long, so let's just dive in. Please enjoy the November, December, and January Progress Report!
It's the beginning of the month and time for another Dolphin Progress Report! ...That line doesn't exactly work when it's midway through the month, huh? This Progress Report ended up being a very technically challenging report to write with several huge rabbit holes that go through the history of Dolphin and the games themselves. The first rabbit hole showcases TMEM, the GameCube and Wii's texture cache. Dolphin's approach to emulating this bit of the hardware has been to effectively ignore it exists. Trying to even begin to rectify the problems with this approach and explain the reasoning behind why it sort of wasn't emulated go very, very deep. This Progress Report also contains collaboration with the PCSX2 development team as they helped us understand some of the behaviors of Floating Point Math on the PlayStation 2. The fact that the PlayStation 2's floating point behaviors mattered to us for this Progress Report should tell you the kinds of things we were up against when writing up the changes.
If that wasn't enough, Dolphin also welcomed support for a wealth of mods through support for Riivolution. An easy to use GUI for launching Riivolution mods was added both to desktop Dolphin builds and Android. Speaking of Android, users may have noticed we pushed out an early beta last month. This beta was mostly to showcase and let users on the Play Store try out the newly finished Cheat GUI! We'll finally showcase that after a lengthy delay between when that extra beta was pushed and this Progress Report. While it's not related to Dolphin directly, Apple released the new M1 Max and we got our hands on one to see how it stacks up against the M1 with some rather interesting performance numbers at the end of the report.
With that out of the way, there's no point in delaying things any further. Please enjoy these rather lengthy Notable Changes!
Many gaming communities over the years have reached out to thank emulator developers for their efforts. Emulators are an important part of many classic game communities and give players access to features like netplay multiplayer, modding, and savestates, while also opening up the doors to enhancements not possible on console. Sometimes it's simply more convenient to use an emulator that runs on your desktop, tablet, or phone rather than to dig out and hook up the original console every time you want to play one of your favorite games. However, it's important to state that our relationship with gaming communities is mutual, and without the help of players and fans, there's no way we could handle maintaining a library of thousands of games.
In this Progress Report, the gaming communities were the direct catalyst to many of the changes. They went on difficult debugging adventures, caught small issues that would be invisible to anyone who wasn't extremely familiar with the game, and even came up with patches to make games friendlier to emulator enhancements. All of these contributions, even if it's not code, are appreciated and help make Dolphin what it is today.
So, without further delay, let's get started with the August Progress Report! Enjoy.
And we could go on: Bounding Box, Interpreter, GBA to GCN connectivity, GPU Syncing, Mouse Locking, and still more! There's even a lengthy dev diary at the end for good measure explaining how the great mystery of Pokemon Box's was finally solved. The only way to do it justice is to do it right. So buckle up and get ready for the April and May MEGA Progress Report.
Welcome to the Dolphin Progress Report for December 2020 and January 2021! Things ended up running a little behind for this report due to some technical details that we needed to hammer out for a few of these entries. We on the blog team are familiar with the emulator, however there are a lot of technical details that are simply beyond our expertise. Going from things like the AArch64 JIT to GUI changes to IOS updates to game patches that go into low-level hardware behavior is enough to make anyone's head spin! More often than not, we rely on core developers and the authors of a specific change to help us understand what a pull request does so that we can express its purpose accurately here on the blog.
With Progress Reports coming at a mostly bimonthly schedule at this point, this means that sometimes authors have moved onto different things or aren't available to talk. As a blog about emulation, getting these details correct about the various changes and how the emulator works is one of our highest priorities. So, with that out of the way, we hope you enjoy this belated Dolphin Progress Report!
We apologize for the late Progress Report, but at this point it's partially by design. There's been an ongoing issue with Dolphin's updater being recognized as a trojan by Window's Defender Cloud AI scanning. The good news is that Microsoft has acknowledged that Dolphin's updater isn't a trojan, however for now they have to manually whitelist our executables. In order to ensure that the monthly builds distributed through our update track aren't deleted by Window's antivirus, we've been verifying that the build we've chosen is whitelisted. If you're interested in learning more about how something like this happens, MayImilae researched the issue and wrote up a detailed report below on what is happening and where we stand on the problem for now.
Until further notice, please keep reporting these erroneous detections so our builds can be whitelisted by Microsoft until they get their AI sorted. Thank you. Without further ado, let's jump into a smattering of significant changes that hit this month, including a way motion features in some of your favorite controllers.
The past few months have been quite hectic with a slew of gigantic changes requiring lengthy articles alongside them. These big features all hitting together seems to have brought up a talking point in the community would be irresponsible to ignore. Everyone wants to know when Dolphin 6.0 is coming. After all, Dolphin 5.0 launched nearly three years ago and lacks features like Ubershaders, Bluetooth Passthrough, Hybrid XFB, Emulated Motion Plus... the list goes on. Unfortunately, we have to announce that we aren't especially close to a release right now.
A release build is about more than just having exciting features, it's meant to be stable, reliable, and highly compatible. Since Dolphin 5.0, there have been a lot of minor and major regressions that haven't been fully worked out yet. Whether it's a game like Ed, Edd, & Eddy: The Mis-Edventures hanging on a loading screen or audio being broken in Resident Evil 2. There are dozens, if not over a hundred of these little issues that just take time and effort to address. Some of these issues are close to being resolved while others haven't even been investigated yet.
All we can ask of users is to continue using the latest development builds, continue reporting bugs, and be patient with the next release. With that out of the way, it's time to get to this May's Notable Changes. As always, users who want to try these features can download the latest development builds on the download page or use the auto-updater to get a new dev build every month automatically. Enjoy.
It's not common for a rewrite to be something that warrants an article, but, this is one of the exceptions. Over the past few years, parts of Dolphin's video core have seen renovations to make way for new features, but a fundamental problem remained. Dolphin's video backends suffered from both having too many unique features while also duplicating tons of code from the other backends, making it difficult to add new features and maintain old ones.
Those that have followed Dolphin from the very beginning may remember that its video backends …