DScent: Descent for the Nintendo DS

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neumaennl
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DScent: Descent for the Nintendo DS

Postby neumaennl » Tue Oct 05, 2010 5:16 pm

Hi guys & gals,

I don't know how many of you have heard of the project called DScent.
It's a port of Descent 1 to the Nintendo DS :!:

Unfortunately this project was discontinued the same year it was started: 2007.
Even more unfortunate is that the author, a guy that called himself kayvenm, didn't release the source code for the latest builds. Only the source of an older, way more buggy build is available. :x

I really like the idea of playing Descent on my Nintendo DS, but the version that is available still has quite some bugs and crashes every now and then.

So I downloaded the source code and lifted it to the most recent version of libnds so that I could compile it.
I even got it to run on my Nintendo DS (albeit without sound yet). :clap:

The sad thing is that there is a bug in the briefing code which prevents players from starting a new game.
I can load a saved game, though.
The problem is within a timer function (I guess), but the code is hardly documented/commented so that I have no idea what the function is supposed to do and therefore I can not fix it. :clue:

Maybe someone with a bit more knowledge of the Descent source code can help me get iron out some of the bugs (especially the one described).
Knowledge of libnds is beneficial but not mandatory. :thumb:

I can provide a Nintendo DS emulator with debugging capabilities (gdb stub) that can also package the necessary files into a libfat image so that the NDS executable can find the Descent files.

I would really like to get this running flawlessly so that Descent fans around the world can enjoy their favorite game even when they're not in front of a PC (provided they have a Nintendo DS and a Flash cartridge). :drool:

I am working as a developer for a bank and I used to work for a mobile phone game company. So I do have quite some programming experience and I'm not some script kiddie that neglects the project in a week. I "just" need some help with the Descent source code. :coding:

So please help me if you can :sorry:


EDIT:

So a couple of guys looked at the thread, but nobody answered. :(
Would it help if I wrote down the links to the tools necessary to compile and debug this stuff and upload my version of the source somewhere or is there simply nobody who wants to help me here :?:
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Postby Pumo » Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:43 pm

I think the problem is that the users with programming experience (at least that I know) that are here doesn't have the interest nor the knowledge of DS specs and DS ASM, and sincerely I don't think they would want to learn that just now.

Of course, I may be wrong (and as i'm not a programmer myself maybe I cant' have an opinion on how hard is to learn and program DS stuff).
Just let's hope there's somebody here interested and with the abilites to achieve that.
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Postby Sykes » Tue Oct 12, 2010 4:03 am

Being a DS and Wii modding enthusiast, as well as a hardcore Descent fan, I would probably be the most knowledgeable when it comes to creating a Descent port for the DS. I'm familiar with and I have played the DScent port, and it's definitely buggy. The homebrew programmers have created a handy SDK for programming the DS, so anyone with C++ knowledge can start messing with it. By no means am I a programmer though.

The Wii SDK is very similar, and somebody made a Freespace 2 port and Descent 2 port to the Wii as well. Both of which were very buggy. The DS uses an ARM7 processor I think. It's whatever the PowerPC CPU is. I know that's what the Wii uses, and the DS has the same kind of processor. So basically, if someone can create a Descent port that will work on a PPC processor, all that's left is to change a few very basic settings in the game (screen resolution, controls, etc.) for it to work on a DS and there you have it.

I don't think anyone here has the knowledge or time to dedicate to that.
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Postby Sirius » Tue Oct 12, 2010 6:16 am

Sykes wrote:The DS uses an ARM7 processor I think. It's whatever the PowerPC CPU is.


PowerPC is a kind of CPU. I don't think it has any relation to the ARM series, either. The current generation of consoles - as far as I recall, anyway - use PPC-based CPUs (in the PS3's case it's a PPC core with 8 additional specialised cores), while ARM is mainly used in handhelds and smartphones due to its low power consumption.
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Postby Aus-RED-5 » Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:10 am

Sykes wrote:I don't think anyone here has the knowledge or time to dedicate to that.


http://www.descentbb.net/viewtopic.php?t=17443
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Postby neumaennl » Tue Oct 12, 2010 3:54 pm


Yeah I figured since nobody here was willing and able to help me I'd try to tap all the resources I can get. :wink:
I also tried to get help from the NDS dev scene, but we struggled hard with the undocumented code. :?

And Sykes: ARM and PPC are so not the same. They require a different set of development tools (compiler, linker, standard library etc.).
That being said: The Wii has a PPC main processor and a custom ATi graphics processor (Hollywood). The DS has an ARM7 and an ARM9 processor. Neither of them is specially dedicated to graphics. So it's not even a question of cross compiling. Both devices have a completely different architecture.
Your statement that all you have to do to port a Wii game to the DS is change screen resolution and input mechanism contradicts your statement that you would probably be the most knowledgeable when it comes to creating a Descent port for the DS. Especially since you are not a programmer. :roll:

As far as progress goes: I've sent zico the sources and some info on how to get started. I'd be willing to send the same stuff to anyone who is willing to help. zico said that he is quite busy right now and that he won't be able to look into this in the next few days or even weeks. :cry:

I might try to look at the DXX and D2X-XL sources and with some luck I can find a function corresponding to the function that causes the error that keeps players from starting a new game in DScent. I'll then have to see whether that helps me determine what the function is supposed to do and fix the DScent implementation. :coding:
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Postby karx11erx » Tue Oct 12, 2010 4:15 pm

You will probably not get far when trying to find a bug in other Descent versions by looking at D2X-XL's source code. There isn't too much code left in D2X-XL that resembles the original one.
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Postby neumaennl » Tue Oct 12, 2010 5:55 pm

karx11erx wrote:You will probably not get far when trying to find a bug in other Descent versions by looking at D2X-XL's source code. There isn't too much code left in D2X-XL that resembles the original one.

Yeah I thought so, but I guess it's worth a try. I wouldn't know how else to find out what this function is meant to do.

I don't know how much zico has changed for D1X-Rebirth, but I guess not as much as you have for D2X-XL.
Maybe Parallax themselves have rewritten the briefing code for Descent 2 and then I'd have no chance finding it in the D2X-XL code no matter how hard I tried.
I was planning to look at the D1X-Rebirth code first because that's probably the closest I can get to the DScent code.
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Postby PGMYRHNO » Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:16 am

I think DScent sounds like it could be an interesting idea
but i'd still prefer the old-time FPS on the PC scenario.
Sort of a nostalgia thing for me
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Postby pokeman7452 » Wed Oct 13, 2010 7:53 am

Descent on DS would be hard with a lack of buttons. Metroid Prime Hunters showed about the most you can do with just a directional pad, a trigger, and a touch screen. The only layout I can think of is
Pad U/D: accelerate/reverse
Pad L/R: slide L/R
Left Trigger: fire weapon/missile
Drag touch screen: pitch/heading
Weapon selection would be icons on the bottom screen to be tapped. Cannons and missiles would have to be combined into one button.
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Postby Alter-Fox » Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:03 am

Hmm... I never got a DS because all the games that I'd want to play on it are in some form available on PC (Descent, TrackMania)... I have heard of DScent before though. I think it did work for some people without a problem (I've heard some people extolling its virtues on the Interplay forums, or something like that :P).

A little off topic: Descent was also ported to PSP a while back, but I was never able to get it working on mine (it wouldn't even open the game, even though I followed all instructions). But it did work for some people. I probably would have been able to do it if the person who gave the instructions actually explained what each step did... I could at least figure out where I went wrong.
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Postby neumaennl » Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:44 pm

https://dscent.svn.sourceforge.net/svnroot/dscent

1 bug fixed - countless bugs to go :lol:

I had a hard time bootstrapping the project and finding a way to debug it plus I have another project going on right now (but that should hopefully be finished soon).
I hope the next bug will take less than two weeks to squash.
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Postby Pumo » Tue Oct 19, 2010 10:53 pm

Hey, that's some good news!
You should make a website to promote and publish the DScent version you're making, so ppl can follow your progress on it easier.
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Postby neumaennl » Wed Oct 20, 2010 3:06 pm

I've registered a project on SourceForge so I can create a website, have a forum , a bugtracker, Wordpress, Subversion and whatnot.
Right now I'm only using subversion because DScent is not ready for end users yet.
It doesn't even offer all the features the last version of kayvenm had, yet because he didn't release the sourcecode of his latest versions.
When it will be more stable I'll definitely use the bug tracker and maybe create a website or at least use Wordpress to keep people updated.
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Postby pyro_2009 » Sun Oct 24, 2010 1:58 am

FINALLY!! Do you have any idea how long and hard I've looked for someone who had the coding skills/motivation to work on DScent? :D You have just made my day!

I've been on every DS homebrew website I could find, but no one seemed interested in the project. I'm glad to hear that you want to get DScent up and running!

Unfortunately, I am not much of a programmer; I wanted to learn in order to work on the DScent code, but I never could find the time for it. However, I'd like to give help in some other aspects of development. For instance, I have had a working copy of DScent playable on my DS for almost two years now; I can tell you about virtually every bug that exists in the game. In addition, for years now I've had a couple of ideas on how to improve the gameplay of DScent, and maybe you'd like to hear those too (though the priority for now should be to fix the existing bugs of course).

Like I said, if you're going to work on DScent, I'm with you 100%, and I'd like to help in any way I can!
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