Dolphin Progress Report: June and July 2016


Now that the festivities surrounding the Dolphin 5.0 (and more importantly the feature freeze) are complete, changes have begun to roll into Dolphin once again. While none of the heavy hitters have gotten in just yet, June and July had more than their fair share of merges, regressions, and reverts that make up the typical Dolphin workflow.

It's good to be back!

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Dolphin 5.0 Release


Dolphin 5.0 Release Video


The long awaited Dolphin 5.0 release is finally here! After nearly a year of bug-hunting and handling the release process, everything has come together for our biggest release yet! The three previous releases followed a very distinct pattern: sacrifice performance, hacks, and features in exchange for higher accuracy. As such, Dolphin 3.0, 3.5, and 4.0 progressively grew slower. But thanks to the cleanups put forward throughout those releases, Dolphin 5.0 is the fastest Dolphin has ever been!

By removing all of those hacks and outdated features while cleaning up the codebase, Dolphin has reached a new level of efficiency, powered by a revitalized dynamic recompiler. On the GPU side, OpenGL and D3D11 have seen tons of optimizations and accuracy improvements, and have been joined by a brand new D3D12 backend for huge performance gains. If there's a CPU or GPU extension that can make Dolphin faster, we take advantage of it.

At a basic level, Dolphin 5.0 is more accurate and more efficient than previous builds in every way. Individual games will vary, especially due to various hacks being removed along the way. Dolphin 5.0 can be downloaded for Windows and Mac OS X from our official website: dolphin-emu.org.

System Requirements to run Dolphin 5.0 can be found here but here's a quick rundown of what changed:

  • 64-bit CPUs and Operating Systems are required.
  • Windows XP is no longer supported. Windows Vista is no longer officially supported.
  • Direct3D10/OpenGL3 Required. This means AMD Radeon 4xxx, NVIDIA GeForce 8xxx, or Intel HD 2xxx minimum! Anything older than that will most likely not work or will have significant glitches.

Dolphin on Android is not getting a release build. This does not mean it's falling behind or anything. We just did not feel like Dolphin on Android has reached any milestone with these changes. We'd rather it have its own special time in the sun when it comes, instead of tagging it onto what has been an already concerted effort on the desktop release.

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Making Dolphin More Productive - Optional Usage Statistics Reporting


With Dolphin 5.0 almost here, we have one last announcement to make. In order to improve user experience in Dolphin, we're going to add a way for users to automatically contribute anonymized information about how Dolphin is running.

One of the chief inefficiencies in Dolphin development is that the team really doesn't get much feedback on how Dolphin is performing in the real world. Our dedicated testers can only do so much with limited hardware, game libraries, and time. On top of that, while fifoci is ...

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Dolphin Progress Report: May 2016


This will likely be the last Progress Report before Dolphin 5.0 is released for one simple reason: we're running out of fixes and notable changes! From here on out, unless some huge bugs are discovered, all we're left with is a few minor regressions and prepwork for the release.

For those wondering why so much care is being taken into Dolphin 5.0's release, look back at Dolphin 4.0's release. It shipped with several huge day one bugs that required 2 hotfix patches to become what people now see as Dolphin 4.0.2. In order to prevent another debacle, all changes are being carefully checked over and tested before and after being merged. We want the highest possible compatibility for our releases, as they are a benchmark for the next wave of development builds until the next release!

For your viewing pleasure, we have a video of an AI being developed for Dolphin fighting its distant ancestor: the Level 9 AI. It turns out an AI built upon all we've learned about Melee in the past 15 years doesn't exactly feel fair to throw at the original AI.


Smashbot vs Level 9 AI

With that, let's get to what is hopefully the last batch of Notable Changes before the 5.0 release!

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Dolphin Progress Report: April 2016


Things have slowed down, but, that's a good thing. As we hopefully enter the final days of the 4.0 era, there are simply less changes being merged. Dolphin is under a feature freeze, and with few bugs remaining, developers have become exceedingly picky about what can be safely merged into the emulator. So we apologize for the lack of updates, but we promise it will be worth it. To make up for the lack of content, here's another weird game we sent to JMC47 in order to torment him. Enjoy that along with this month's notable changes.


Sesame Street: Cookie's Counting Carnival

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Dolphin Progress Report: March 2016


It's April Fool's day which means that the internet is full of fake articles, products, videos, and images meant to fool users into thinking they're real. We decided to do things a little differently here at the Dolphin Blog, instead of making the users our fool, we decided it would be JMC47. See, JMC47 has been going through the trouble of getting as many games possible to gain a stranglehold on the issue tracker/wiki help with testing and issue verification. In the past, he's made videos of the games he's come across upon his own will, which led to videos like the one on Speed Racer. delroth ended up finding a game so spectacularly weird that JMC47 not only had to play it, he had to record his experience. Welcome to Gummy Bears MiniGolf presented in glorious 1080p HD!


Gummy Bears Minigolf

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Dolphin Progress Report: February 2016


Another month rolls by and now the feature freeze is starting to take a toll on the new features. Aside from Android and D3D12 development, which have an exception from the feature freeze, most of the changes this month were either relatively small or involved Dolphin 5.0 blocker bugs. Progress on the eventual Dolphin 5.0 release is very promising, with over half of the remaining blocking issues with fixes pending! While there is still quite a bit of work to do, we hope this month's notable changes, featuring some oft requested tweaks, will tide people over until the feature freeze is over.

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Dolphin Progress Report: January 2016


With Dolphin in the thick of the 5.0 feature freeze, things were expected to slowdown a bit. Some of us were worried there wouldn't even be enough content for a Progress Report! Alas, while the gears have shifted toward different things to prepare for a release, there is no shortage of interesting changes. As an added bonus a feature implemented three years ago was rediscovered! That kind of thing just seems to happen over the course of a project.

Work toward Dolphin 5.0 has continued; but, a lot of these cleanups have come at a cost. There have been some noteworthy regressions (notably with netplay) and through testing we've noticed some broken features that have been working incorrectly for some time. As Dolphin approaches its next release, we hope that users will continue to update to the latest dev builds and test for regressions and issues so they can be caught before 5.0 is in everyone's hands.

Something to notice about this Progress Report is that we heavily leaned on Dolphin's FIFOCI infrastructure for screenshots and examples. These images were automatically generated on a server without user interaction and were taken from the exact same frame of instructions sent to the emulated GameCube/Wii GPU. Of course, FIFOCI is limited to graphical bugs, and certain graphical bugs at that. Without FIFOCI, it's possible that these changes would not exist, or if they did, there wouldn't be an easy way to verify what they fixed. In the case of the Wrap Negative Indirect Texture Coordinates, it was developed as a fix for F-Zero GX, but FIFOCI discovered it also affected Skyward Sword.

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Plugged In - Wii USB Support


We at the blog love to demonstrate new, cutting edge features and documenting them for current and future users of the emulator. Wii USB device emulation is one of those things that lacks data and testing in Dolphin. It requires real hardware just to try it out and only a select few people are crazy enough to work on anything involving the Wii IOS HLE. The first time E-ticket Service Launch support was added to Dolphin, it managed to break connecting Wiimotes; that's just how touchy that code can be!

When looking around, the most common answer is that USB Devices won't work with Dolphin, with examples of the Konami microphones being given and recommendations toward an old branch that implemented Wii Speak support (which still doesn't support those microphones.) For anyone searching, the answer to "Do Wii USB devices work in Dolphin?" came up as a flat no on the wiki, issue tracker, and forums.

It turns out that a lot of these devices work perfectly in Dolphin! Support was added way back in 2013, but seems to have been mostly forgotten by time. The primary reason for this was that it was a part of the Wii Networking merge. The main focus of that merge was to add Wifi support to Dolphin for playing games on the still active Nintendo servers. Hidden within that was an USB HID implementation for Dolphin. Somehow, this wasn't really tested or noted for the most part and snuck into the emulator almost unnoticed. When a discussion about this came up on IRC a few days ago, we just had to try and see what would happen when we plugged some Wii accessories into our computers for Dolphin.


Skylanders Portal Demonstration

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Dolphin Progress Report: December 2015


Happy New Year! Now for the big news. On January 7th, 2016, we will be entering a full feature freeze in preparation for the Dolphin 5.0. A feature freeze is basically a period where we all devote ourselves to doing testing and fixing regressions to move us toward the Dolphin 5.0 release, and we've had one for every release we've done! During the feature freeze, no new "features" can be added to the emulator, and only bug fixes can be applied to master. Does that mean there won't be blog updates? No! The show must go on, and the Progress Report will monitor the fixes as they come in, plus there will be articles in the interim about the remaining bugs, some of the great features added since Dolphin 4.0, or just some articles that we've been wanting to put up and never have time.

But the feature freeze hasn't started yet! We have a nice full month of updates for you in this month's Progress Report.

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