Dolphin February/March 2018 Progress Report in a nutshell – Android gets a GUI for detailed Dolphin Settings (INIs) and improvements to touch screen controls, the FPS counter now scales on bigger screens (or high DPI ones), the graphics core gets cleaned up and much more!
Last month, we didn’t see a Dolphin progress report because most of what happened in February was groundwork for what would be added in March. Now, we got a progress report for 2 months and this article is here to condense that pretty long report into a shorter read!
Summary of the report
February and March’s progress report brings something for virtually everybody since some core components were updated but Android users got the most visible changes. Among the changes reported by the folks over at Dolphin, we got:
- A built-in GUI for editing game specific settings for Android.
- Touch-screen controls for Android were improved when using the virtual joystick.
- The graphics core, which is called VideoCommon, got some noticeable improvements and code cleanups which will result in multiple benefits as time goes on.
- The OSD (the FPS counter, backend information etc) now scales properly for large displays
- Other improvements which, quite obviously, include rendering improvements and compatibility with more games.
Android improvements: GUI for editing game-specific settings and better touch controls
As Dolphin on Android is becoming more popular thanks to more powerful hardware, the folks who develop it decided to include a GUI editor for game-specific INI files. This allows you to change how the game is rendered in hope of getting better performance or fixing specific rendering issues. To change game specific settings, you had to manually edit the INI file via a text editor but now that can be done through Dolphin itself.
The touchscreen controls got a great update in the joystick department. Now, when you touch a virtual joystick, it always starts centered so you can control the player with much better accuracy. This will ultimately make platformers and platforming sections much less frustrating!
Rendering improvements: Graphics Core updates and rendering improvements
These two months saw the rewriting and subsequent cleaning up of VideoCommon, the graphics core of Dolphin. Thanks to the rewrite, the rendering backends (Vulkan, D3D11, OpenGL) will have much more unified code which will make maintaining the emulator a much easier job for the team which will ultimately result in a better experience for us all.
Thanks to the VideoCommon’s rewrite, the following improvements have been implemented:
- Already-compiled shaders aren’t invalidated with new builds of Dolphin which will make updating your build of Dolphin a much simpler affair.
- Those drivers that don’t have shader cache support (looking at you Apple) can still use ShaderUID cache.
- All backends use the same shader files so you don’t need to have any shaders be recompiled if you change your backend for some reason.
- The Shader Compilation section got better labels for the various options which also include UberShaders ones. A ‘Skip Drawing’ option has also been added which is similar to Ishiiruka’s stutter-reducing option called ‘Asynchronous Shader Generation’
- Porting new backends is now a much easier affair so the D3D12 backend may make a comeback!
Some fog generation code also got updated so now games such as TMNT, My Word Coach and Prince Of Persia: Warrior Within render the fog correctly and can be played without any odd green screens. Fortune Street also received some rendering improvements.
Casper’s Scare School: Spooky Sports Day, a piece of shovelware from Red Wagon Games, now works on Dolphin since two community members worked hard on creating a custom patch for its odd disk-reading code.
To read more about what the folks about Dolphin did during the last two months, simply follow the link below! The bit about the Casper game is quite interesting if you’re into reading odd tech stuff 🙂