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Games Entertainment

Free Dreamcast Development System Started 54

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the stuff-to-hack-on dept.
Axel M. writes: " The Hitmen guys of PSX coding fame developed a piece o'hardware to code for the Dreamcast. They even wrote the first little demo. See this page for screenshots & pics or this new page which announces the second (smaller) version of the hardware using the PSX CommsLink ISA card."
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Free Dreamcast Development System Started

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  • I didn't see any CD images on your download link at the top of the page listed on your user info. The only images were jpegs.

    Can you repost the file or if you know of the place you are mirroring can you post that?
  • Yes. it is the SH4 processor. Either way, you can cross compile for it. And the DC has just about everything out or coming out to make it easier for the ultimate hackstation.

    Keyboard

    Mouse

    Zipdisk

    Ethernet

    Large Capacity VMUs

    The list seems endless. DVD has been shown, but get a real DVD player with Dolby Digital DTS outs and AC3 decoding and other bells and whistles..

  • The Gameshark CDX disc for Dreamcast can also break region locks with no hardware mods required, even though it's not an advertised feature.
  • check out booyaka [booyaka.com], a guy named Marcus has been nursing their message board legions along for a while. The message board deals with programming the VMU. He has a linux compiler(assembly) for it, a Win compiler has been ported, and people have been making games for awhile. Marcus made and released the code for tetris on the VMU, it is great stuff. Like console programming, you have to take control of the VMU screen yourself. When coding the VMU, your software must run in a very small amount of space, 64k, and you have to be very careful of draining the batteries(you need to adjust the processor speed when idle and when drawing to the screen). Great stuff

  • This will provide very interesting outcomes in regards to the advancement of the gaming community in general. We could get a lot of cool games from this.
  • To all the fools up in arms just because someone didn't get the dreamcast processor right........ SHUT UP AND POST SOMETHING USEFUL.

    The Super Hitachi chips (including the SH3 and SH4) are very very similar to MIPS processors and most of the code ported to these processors is a result of MIPS work that other people have done. If someone says "The HP Jornada can run Linux" nobody really bothers to think that it's an SH3!

    Linux is already running on SH3 and about 99% running on SH4. This Page [iij4u.or.jp] is a pretty comprehensive list of Linux-on-SuperHitachi resources.

    Think before you post.

    Thank you,
    GoRK
  • Yes! I finally got modded down!

    --
  • It is necessary to hyphenate "modern-day" in the original sentence, because otherwise, "modern" must modify "Genie" and not "day".

    The trademark issue doesn't qualify as a grammatical error.

    If you want to complain about something, then complain about how he doesn't capitalize the "n" in "[N]azi". Otherwise, bugger off. =)

  • by llzackll (68018) on Monday June 19, 2000 @03:28PM (#992629)
    check out this page, http://marcus.mangakai.org/dc/ip0000.bin.html it describes some detail on the booting process of the Dreamcast. There is a file called IP0000.BIN on every DC disk. Normally, for the DC to consider a disk bootable, this needs to be in the first 16 sectors of the disk, as well as in the high density area of the disk. Well the folks at datel have figured a way around this. You can download the image from http://jove.prohosting.com/~sonikku/Dc-cdx.rar

    It burns best with a program called CloneCD , since there is a special file in the rar archive describing how to burn the image, sorta like a cue sheet file in CDRWIN.

    I'm guessing what they did was just added another session, and somehow fooled the DC into thinking it was a valid GD-ROM. just a guess.
  • Never underestimate the skills of a hacker.
  • Heh. You mean OpenGL like this [dsbox.com]?

    =)

  • Well, here is the Chance. A 200mhz CPU, plenty of memory, plenty of horsepower to throw out roughly 5,000,000 polygons.

    So what happens once you've thrown out the 5 million polygons? Does it stop working? Doesn't sound very useful.

    Hell, go to japan, buy the 64 meg VMU, the 10/100 megabit ethernet adaptor and a 64meg vmu

    One 64MB VMU would be enough, I think.

    'telnet dreamcast.slashdot.org'
    'killall crazy_taxi'

    heh.

  • Nobody in their right mind would attempt to write anything more than a simple demo on one of these, and I don't think that was ever the intention.

    There's already a port of NetBSD to the Hitachi SH/3 -- with which the Dreamcast's Hitachi SH/4 is backwards-compatible.

    GCC can output SH binaries.

    Would you change your tune if someone used this "crack box" to turn a Dreamcast into a fully-fledged UNIX box?

    What's more there is at least 1 100% homemade demo, and there are screenshots of it on the referenced site.

    And finally, this box doesn't help you copy Sega's proprietary GD-ROM format, so quick and easy piracy is still out of reach.
    --
  • /me also wonders why everything he submits automatically gets passed over
  • Did anyone notice the last picture on this [inode.at] page? Where does one find CDR's made by Commodore? I thought they were done for.
  • Now dammit bojay, don't you go tryin' to be all funny and shit. That ain't what you about. You's a hoe, plain and simple.

    Now get yo' street-walkin' ass out there and jack some o' them links them mods think be all "Informative" and shit.


    You wanna be a karma whore?
    Fine, but don't forget...
  • It's not the second track; it's specific to the second actual session of the disc (which is where the game's filesystem would reside on a normal GD). That way you can still load an ISO filesystem for a PC along with a few tracks of standard CD audio in the first session of the disc, like what is done to accomplish those nutty GDROM warning messages [min.net].

    Here are some more fun GD tidbits [min.net]..

  • I'd buy a DC if somebody ported MAME to it. Does this device allow a normal CDR to be inserted? Because if it does then how hard could it be to port the Windoze versions of MAME32 and SNES9X to WinCE? Suppose I'd prefer to run it under Linux or DCs native OS, mind. I'd also like to see DGen and UAE ported as well. I'd highly recommend you go and check out the EleMenT [mp3.com] homepage if you're after some quality (and legal) free MP3s. Over the last 5 years they've developed a unique sound, but have often been compared to Captain Beefheart, Aphex Twin, Pavement, Kraftwerk and Syd's Pink Floyd. Get listening, you WILL NOT be disappointed!
  • by bonk (13623)
    A while back I was interested in learning how to develop/code for a console. There is a wide lack of information available anywhere, and after weeks of tracking someone down at sega, I found out their development system costs $50,000 (US) - not quite in the price range for someone looking to learn. The dreamcast is a great piece of hardware, and I would love to code for it, but I am not going to fork down that much money (I know, it is intended for companies, like capcom and such, but still)

    Now, I know much development still needs to be done, but this is the first step, and surely others will start making their own api and tools for developing on the dreamcast.

  • I think you should look into the history of the "demo" scene for the PlayStation. The basic hardware tool used by the demo and independent development groups (some of these developments included pretty decent full-fledged games) was just a GameShark (AKA ProAction Replay). A device made by Datel which existed just for the purpose of entering simple codes into games for cheating and such.

    The beauty of the GS/PAR is that it had a DB25 serial connection that allowed it to easily be linked with high-speed serial communication ports on the PC (such as the 'CommsLink card' that is talked about on the Hitmen site.

    Some very enterprising hackers wrote alternative ROM sets (the ROM was flashable) for the GS/PAR that made such a setup a REALLY good development environment, including step-debugging! When you can link such a 'cheating/patching' card to a PC and have good software control on the PC side, you can do nearly anything. It makes it easy to upload data (which can include code) into the system, do a system soft reset, and viola, you are running custom code that could be whatever you wanted, on the console system. There was even two way communications such that you could 'load' datafiles off the PC for your demo/game as if they were being loaded from the PlayStation's CD.

    When paired with good development tools on the PC side (like a leaked copy of SN System's PsyQ compiler system, or even just the gcc toolchain which was released as part of Sony's own Yaroze program) this made an excellent development system that was capable of doing a lot more than the simple hacks and patches you mention.

    This Dreamcast setup sounds very similar, just with everything custom-made.

  • Speaking of 8-Bit games which blow away modern games in terms of quality, style and just plain fun, I just got Rockman3 Complete [209.245.246.144] for my Playstation. Of course it won't run in my modded Playstation, because it has Capcoms double-secure modchip detector in it I suppose Capcom U.S. has caved into Sony's demand that, "Only sucky, poorly controlling, ugly polygon versions of classic games like MegaMan will be allowed in the U.S. So it has been written, so it shall be done. Only by making every game look exactly like Tomb Raider can we express originality (even if they won't even control as well). Oh, and chuck out all the books as well, video is much more advanced." However, Rockman3 Complete runs great in PC Bleem!

    Therefore, I'm guessing it will run great in Dreamcast Bleem! The great thing about this, of course, is that the whole Rockman Complete series is available from importers. Sigh, I feel sorry for modern gamers, they don't even get to play decent sprite based games when they come out in Japan... Um... if you want them, you'd better hurry, when I checked Rockman2 was _sold_out_!!! @.@

    Hooray for Bleem! [bleem.com] for Dreamcast!

  • by cybrthng (22291) on Monday June 19, 2000 @07:36AM (#992643) Journal
    Well, here is the Chance. A 200mhz CPU, plenty of memory, plenty of horsepower to throw out roughly 5,000,000 polygons.

    Linux already cross compiles and boots on MIPS. With the CE Linux varients i'm sure you can dump that on CD fairly quickly and use nice big VMU cards to store data/variables or whatever.

    Hell, go to japan, buy the 64 meg VMU, the 10/100 megabit ethernet adaptor and a 64meg vmu and you have a cheap/compact webserver. Throw linux on there or write a java webserver once the JDK is finally released

    The ZIP disk option is even coming out. The beginings are being laid, and the backend work is already done.

    So hack away.. I would love to see the days of the likes of Future Crew and such. Nothing like having a finite piece of hardware with infinate uses :)

    Oh yeah. You can go out and get a DC at buy.com for 179.00 signup for 1 month of sega.net trial (free) and get a $50.00 rebate so you get a nice system for 120 bucks. Get on ebay and get a DC with games for 200 bucks. They're affordable, plenty of games and with stuff like this, another powerfull machine to hack away on.

  • Interesting point, but since the DC uses an SH/4 CPU, not MIPS...

    Don't forget the DreamCast also has an ARM7 part (the sound ASIC has an ARM7 core), which NetBSD and Linux can both run on. It can probbably only use the 4M of "audio memory", but that's enough to run a really tight config in, isn't it?

    Duel CPU DC :-)

  • I've always jonesed for a system that:
    • Had 4 controllers
    • Had a decent development kit in at least C
    Does thing bring us any closer to the goal? I think would be amazing to make 4 player classic style games.
  • This sounds neat. It appears to be a widget that falls between an In Circuit Emulator and a hardware monitor (like old computers usta have, remember? Like the Sun 350's had 'em, as did apple II's and old macintoys...) It does sound neat though. THe switch to CD's as a game distribution medium makes it much more in reach for people to produce small to medium runs of a game/demo/os/ etc.. they have created. =:-) Masking roms is expensive, and you need a larger run to make it worth it than mastering CD's. Also the boards to which the roms are attatched and the wacky edge connectors of traditonal cartridges are a bitch and a half if you want to only make a few of 'em. SO this is cool for up and coming hobbiests and those who wish to create games that are not considered marketable enough to be worth the bother of the large companies. This is cool =:-)
  • Maybe because it's already been ported to the processor in this thing and there have been several projects specifically attacking the Dreamcast for a port. Since someone's got some homebrew development going on it, it's a logical next step for the people who were already working on it.
  • The dreamcast uses Sega's proprietary 5-pin Maple Bus connectors [min.net].

    _______
    |5 3 1|
    \_4_2_/

    Pins 1 and 5 are data, 2 is +5V, and 3 is GND.

  • Now that would be interesting hack :) hmmm hehe
  • Sega can take a flying leap. They haven't put out a decent console since the Master System. PS forever!



    Catch me on AIM: SigningiS
  • Here's a direct link to the image file (about 1.5 meg zipfile, 8 megs decompressed into .cdp file for NTI CD-Copy)

    http://www.ece.nwu.edu/~vicjkim/downloads/dccdx.zi p [nwu.edu]

  • Dreamcast does not use MIPS. It uses SuperH by Hitachi [hitachi.com] (specifically, the SH4).
  • In the latest issue of Official Dreamcast Magazine. http://dreamcast.ign.com/news/20232.html [ign.com]
  • Go here [retrogames.com] for links to the image and the appropriate software.
  • Hey, Signal 11 you should sell you slashdot username/password on ebay to trolls! I would put in a bid of $120 bucks for it.
    Why not just give it to the trolls? You have enough karma to allow some interesting +2 posts before the bonus goes. Or have you done that already?
  • This idea kicks serious ass! Oh, wait, nevermind, linux sucks. Forget what I said, your idea is terrible, you deserve to die.
  • Ok, so I have a hacked IOpener, and Websurfer Pro. That's about the extent of time I have anymore...(till the next one!). However, finding out that I could program for the DreamCast didn't really perk my interest as much as of the other stories I've heard.

    And I'm wondering why.

    I guess I need to ask all of you... what is the extent of the hack for the DC? Which direction does it go ?? Does it go from the PC to the DC, and then to the tv? Or from the CD placed inside the DC, to the PC or TV?

    From what I saw from Hitmen's web site, they could do 2 basic things... They could access many of the settings from their host. And they could run a demo CD inside the DC without a host. I'm assuming that the demo would also have access to the settings. Is making demo graphics on the DC the only goal here?

    I guess what I'm wondering is, due to the Hitmen, how close are we booting up a Linux Cd, or better yet, hooking storage to the DC to run an O/S. Would we want to work on I/O for DC such as Keyboard and Mouse, or would we be happy with typing via the host (your PC)

    Would using the Graphic capabilities of the DC be what many hackers would want to do this hack for?

    Rader

  • Does this look like a modern-day Game Genie to anyone?
  • huh?
  • I was reading about this and I noted it was released by "the hitmen". I just had this wierd imagery of a pair of mafia people busting down a door, and then right as they're about to fire their guns, someone holds up a controller and hits "PAUSE".

    We now return you to your regularily scheduled slashdot.. already in progress...

  • by slim (1652) <john.hartnup@net> on Monday June 19, 2000 @07:03AM (#992661) Homepage
    Firstly, I'd like to congratulate the people responsible for this: they've done a great job, and the remote dynamic debugger will be very handy to the few people who will be doing actual coding.

    For those who just want to boot their own code, however, it seems like Datel have worked out how to produce a CD, unendorsed by Sega, which will boot on an unmodified Dreamcast. The coverdisk of this months DC-UK magazine (in the UK) has a demo disk. Not only that, but if you burn a CDR copy, that works too! There are ISO images on the net as we speak.

    From that, I'm guessing it won't be long before people are hacking their own code into the Datel ISO, producing their own bootable Dreamcast CDs. I truly hope the OpenBSD/SH4 gang get back to work, now that they have a means to boot their own code.

    Implications for piracy? Well, AFAIK still nobody can do a straight copy of a GD-ROM, so it'd take some heavy modification (stripping music, movies etc, coding around the fact that they're missing) so I don't expect to see widespread Dreamcast piracy any time soon.
    --
  • by Jon Erikson (198204) on Monday June 19, 2000 @07:04AM (#992662)

    Yeah, sure you can upload patches onto the Dreamcast's VMU using this, but that hardly makes it a tool for coding anything more than quick hacks and patches. Nobody in their right mind would attempt to write anything more than a simple demo on one of these, and I don't think that was ever the intention.

    No, this is just a crack box really, like the Game Genie or its relatives.


    ---
    Jon E. Erikson

  • This kind of device is going to be extremely useful to the amature and pro developers.

    Back when I was hacking the N64 using a rom emulator/copier (Doctor64) we had to compile the code and pray that it would work. System lockup all the sudden? Try and debug by looking at the code. Unfortunately the doctor64 did not allow the n64 to communicate to the pc through the parallel port interface.. so an interactive debugger wasn't possible. This limited development severely.

    With this system.. someone will be able to code a simple loader/bios to put on cdr that will communicate over the lpt port to get files... when the Game/demo/whatever is working they can burn that to cdr.. replacing the file loading routines with ones that work off the actual cdr...

  • This sounds like a wonderful way to make your kid brother cry. Just crack his favorite videogame and add humiliating grafix where the victory screens should be.
    .
    Mom? MOM! What is the evil boss-guy doing to marios head? Ewww.. grosss!
  • (okay, so I do like to moan) Waaaaaaaah! I submitted this, like, about 6 weeks ago when I saw it on Vintage Gaming [vintagegaming.com] and nobody took any notice. Grumble mutter grr etc. Still, Mr. Taco took my idea for the Debian non-free poll so there we go :-)
  • Ok, so I didn't see any prices on the site, but I didn't see "click here for schematics" or "click here for us to come to your house and make one for you" links either. Or was "free" being used in the verb form implying liberation of the console?
  • by slim (1652) <john.hartnup@net> on Monday June 19, 2000 @07:43AM (#992667) Homepage
    Linux already cross compiles and boots on MIPS. With the CE Linux varients i'm sure you can dump that on CD fairly quickly and use nice big VMU cards to store data/variables or whatever.

    Interesting point, but since the DC uses an SH/4 CPU, not MIPS...

    Meanwhile, though, there *is* an SH4 port of NetBSD :)

    Keyboards are available for the Dreamcast, and they all have a modem on board. I guess the order of play would be:
    1. Get NetBSD booting
    2. Work out the modem interface
    3. Get PPP talking to a second modem in a PC
    4. Get a workable NetBSD distribution working, with the read-only filesystems on CDR, and writeable filesystems on NFS.
    5. Get the DC keyboard working
    6. Port X (or better yet GGI?)
    7. Get the DC mouse working... once it's released.
    8. Um, other nice things :)



    --
  • Uhh, let me get this straight. You want to buy a 128-bit Sega Dreamcast so that you can play 4 and 8-bit games from the 1980's?
  • Just testing my sig.
  • It isn't powered by a MIPS processor, that is the PSX. Dreamcast is powered by a SH4 from Hitachi, still a very nice processor.

    Now the price of the Dreamcast is coming down (£159.99 + 2 games, in the UK), and you can get some games for only £9.99 (in the UK), the Dreamcast is looking more and more attractive. I cannot wait for the stupid PSX 2 with all of its problems, and I don't want an XBOX, and the Dolphin has been put back.

    Now you can develop for it without paying $50,000 for a development kit (and people moaned about the $99 Amiga dev kit!), this looks like it could be the console for people wanting to program games. Pretty much like the Amiga, ST and C64 were in their days their success was initially built upon home-brew software development.

  • by vkim (124884) on Monday June 19, 2000 @07:17AM (#992671)
    About a week ago, a demo disc for Dreamcast Gameshark CDX was bundled with a magazine in the UK, and it turned out that you can bypass the region-check using this disc - thereby enabling you to play import games (JP games on US DC, and US games on JP DC). What's even more interesting is that the disc is an ordinary 2-track CD-ROM that can be burned onto a CDR - and the CDR can still be booted on a DC. The ability to bypass region-check *and* to boot CDR... now that opens up new opportunities for spawning an amateur "demo scene" for the DC, using a MIPS target GCC and a CDR burner. Sure remote debugging isn't possible unless you modify the hardware like these guys, but at least it is possible now to create home-made software for the DC! We could even get that NetBSD port for DC going now... if someone will disassemble the content of the gameshark demo disc and figure out the proper bootloader setup.

    I have a mirror of the demo disc image up at my homepage under the "downloads" link - it's a disc image for the NTI CD-Copy software.

  • Or a link to the DC-UK magazine somewhere?
  • The thing is, in my opinion video gaming has gone down hill drastically since the SNES died and all this next- next gen console stuff started. The arcade scene has all but died, all you ever see are new racing/ beat 'em up games from about 3 companies (Namco, Sega + Capcom) and I can count the number of good games that I've played on PC, DC and PSX on one hand (Doom, Quake series, Rtype Delta and Blast Radius on PSX- but I admit Lemmings Revolution looks quite good). Where has all the originality gone? Games these days just depend on having the best 3D engines to display the most detailed bad guys. I much rather have a 4 player on Gauntlet or Vendetta on DC MAME!
  • I guess we should start expecting PSX Freeware soon? That would be a blast!

If A = B and B = C, then A = C, except where void or prohibited by law. -- Roy Santoro

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