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View topic - SC-3000 Tape Software Restoration Project

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  • Joined: 01 Jun 2010
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Post Posted: Fri May 01, 2015 9:39 am
FWIW, MESS supports TZX as well (most block types, at least) because we need it for Spectrum tapes, it's just not enabled for SC-3000 at the moment

and support for .BIT files has been added in July 2012, so it's not really breaking news ;)

overall, MESS prefers .wav files over other formats (and indeed the emulator only writes to wav, not to any "compressed" format) but for sake of user-friendliness we support loading from a variety of system-specific formats and we allow to convert tapes in compressed format to .wav by using the castool program shipped together with the emulator

what MESS doesn't like is injecting the tape bytes directly into RAM, because in that way you fail to document in any way the actual reading procedure: it's much better to emulate actual loading, but with support for unthrottled CPU emulation so that loading times reduce greatly ;)
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Post Posted: Fri May 01, 2015 10:25 am
etabeta wrote
MESS supports TZX ... because we need it for Spectrum tapes, it's just not enabled for SC-3000 at the moment
...and support for .BIT files has been added in July 2012, so it's not really breaking news ;)


Thanks for that, etabeta. Much appreciated. Nobody told me it had been added ;) So that was a nice surprise.

I've spent a couple more hours running through the TZX specification and available tools. I can't find anything existing tools that will easily convert SC-3000 audio data to TZX format.

The ID 15 Direct Recording block should work. That effectively looks like the equivalent of converting a 16-bit WAV down to a 1 bit per sample recording and sticking it into a TZX block.

ID 19 Generalized Data Block is very close to what we want, but not quite.

You can define the length of the pulses that define a zero or one bit. But it doesn't quite work as the audio stream for the SC-3000 Basic IIIB ROM routines add a 'zero' start bit, and two 'one' stop bits onto every single byte, so the data stream won't generate the correct waveforms.

You could still do it by programmatically adding start and stop bits to each byte before packing the data into the ID 19 data stream. But there is no support for start / stop bits in any existing TZX encoding / decoding tools as far as I can see. And that seems like an ugly solution :)

So I'm not seeing the TZX format as an obvious go to for the SC-3000.


Maxim wrote
...but the bitstream format seems like a mistake to me...


:) No real argument there. It isn't a great format. But it does exist and it does accurately represent all of the tapes I'm working with so I will probably still generate the files as I release the remastered WAVs.

So it looks like highly compressible WAV with perfect square wave is still our winner, with bitstream being another available format for general distribution.

If you were picking one to add to Meka, then WAV would be preferable. But as discussed I don't know how hard it is to write a routine that works well with degraded original audio recordings. It looks easy to write one to work with clean square wave recordings.
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Post Posted: Fri May 01, 2015 10:34 am
It makes sense to me to do a very simplistic emulator implementation - just treat signed negative/positive as low/high. Handing the many vagaries of the RIFF WAV container is a bit painful unless you want to be super restrictive or use a big library (you can pack MP3s in WAVs, sampling rates can be anything, bit depth too...). Then we need to make tools to clean up direct recordings, including correcting for magnetic degradation (mostly volume) and stretch. Crosstalk is a big issue with old tapes, and harder to deal with.
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Post Posted: Sat May 02, 2015 4:09 pm
In any case, the non-remastered WAVs "for preservation" could always be converted into lossless FLAC files, which won't take as much space and can be converted back to an exact copy of the initial WAV at any time when needed, which can be used to make any further remasters or tape files in formats that exist or will exist in the future.

Regarding distribution, once you make a torrent with all the tape recordings and tag them as the "best known dumps", they'll be seeded forever by people who collect full sets, so that shouldn't be a problem.
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Two new releases - The House and Help
Post Posted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 1:26 am
Hi All

Well, I've missed my target of two releases a month by a long way :) Life is busy.

Two new remastered tape releases for the Sega SC-3000 today - The House and Help, both by Michael Howard.

http://www.sc3000-multicart.com/sc3000-tape-restoration-project.htm#20150719_The...


Michael Howard was employed whilst studying at Auckland University by Grandstand Leisure Ltd as their Sega specialist doing programming work and providing tech support. He also wrote a number of articles and programs for Sega Computer Magazine, and wrote the books "Teach yourself Basic Games Programming" and "More than 50 Programs for the Sega SC-3000!!"

You can read more about Michael Howard here:

http://www.sc-3000.com/index.php/An-interview-with-Michael-Howard.html

I mostly like these titles for two reasons:

1. They are quirky with a uniquely 80s NZ sense of humour (love the title screens)

2. They were almost impossible to load when I was a kid thanks to the bloody high speed duplication machine that Grandstand Leisure Ltd used :)


And for general trivia, they also use embedded machine code inside a basic program. That is actually a bit of a silly way to distribute a commercial program as you have to wait for about 60 seconds for the basic program to execute to store the machine code. But it adds to the charm.

Note - as usual the zip files contain an explanatory text file as well as jpgs for the cassette inlay etc. These ones also have a few dinky little screenshots inside the zip.

Cheers
TheHouse_CassetteInlay.jpg (118.17 KB)
The House Cassette Inlay
TheHouse_CassetteInlay.jpg
Help_Cassette_Inlay.jpg (154.98 KB)
Help Cassette Inlay
Help_Cassette_Inlay.jpg
TheHouse_Sega_SC3000_Remastered_v1_01.zip (851.39 KB)
The House Sega SC3000 tape audio remastered
Help_Sega_SC3000_Remastered_v1_01.zip (501.02 KB)
Help Sega SC3000 tape audio remastered

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One Eyed, One Horned...
Post Posted: Sat Aug 01, 2015 5:25 am
I guess Michael had a thing for Purple People Eaters...?

Thanks so much for posting these! I've been waiting many years for someone to do something like this! Looking forward to the future releases. :)

The House was a great game back in the day. Bloody adrenaline pumping, too! I think a lot of these old basic/machine code games had a lot more depth to them than the "official" first-party Sega releases. It's a shame that the world didn't see more of them, and the SC-3000 didn't achieve the same pervasiveness as the likes of the C64 and Spectrum...
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New Release - Dungeons Beneath Cairo
Post Posted: Thu Aug 27, 2015 10:22 am
Hi All

Another remastered tape release for the Sega SC-3000.

Dungeons Beneath Cairo by Andrew Flexman and David Harvey of Scorpion Software (1984).

This game has very simple graphics, but is actually quite playable. So give it a chance. 1980s Dungeons and Dragons / RPG.

Note - you will need a joystick to play this game.

You can read more about it here.

http://sc3000-multicart.com/sc3000-tape-restoration-project.htm#20150827_Dungeon...

And I've run through a slightly more advanced remastering technique that I used on this one. Basically I had to load part I into MESS, then use the debugger to get past the Basic code hiding to see what technique had been used to load part II. I figured that out, dumped the binary data to disk, then used SegaWavWriter v2.1 to generate the audio for the second half. You can read the full run-through here

http://sc3000-multicart.com/sc3000-tape-restoration-project.htm#20150827_Techniq...
DungeonsBeneathCairo_CassetteInlay.jpg (250.03 KB)
Dungeons Beneath Cairo cassette inlay
DungeonsBeneathCairo_CassetteInlay.jpg
DungeonsBeneathCairo_Sega_SC3000_Remastered_v1_01.zip (741.38 KB)
Dungeons Beneath Cairo Sega SC-3000 tape audio remastered

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Post Posted: Sun Sep 06, 2015 5:10 am
It's really cool to see someone talking the time and effort to preserve these obscure games (although this discussion is too technical for me to really follow, at least for now).

Is there a general idea of just how many SG-3000 tape games are out there? What can common slobs like me do to help out?
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Post Posted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 6:52 am
Thank you for the new dumps.

Making "remasters" by running binaries through a program isn't useful for preservation, though... Would it be possible for you to post the original (working) tape recordings, please?
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Post Posted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 7:20 am
Working or not, it's a form of preservation. Techniques for processing the data may get better with time. It seems like the sort of thing archive.org would love to host (uncompressed WAVs) if space is an issue. I think we might have some files to add.
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Post Posted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 7:28 am
Last edited by ICEknight on Tue Sep 08, 2015 7:41 am; edited 1 time in total
EDIT: Disregard, I thought you were talking about the remasters.
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Post Posted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 7:38 am
I meant lossless recordings of the tape, in addition to efficient reencodings for emulator use.
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Post Posted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 7:43 am
Yeah, I misunderstood. Seems like I wasn't fast enough in editing my reply.
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Post Posted: Fri Nov 13, 2015 10:30 am
Sorry for the silly question but how do I actually play SC-3000 wav files in mame??

It has no file - open, tells me to edit a config ini file which doesn't exist, searching for mame and sc-3000 cassettes doesn't come up with anything useful.

I tried dragging a wave file into mame as well and also no help :(

And I tried a couple of UI's which have many games listed, but none of the SC-3000 ones. Recently got a few tapes I wanted to try but I don't know how to :(
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Tape Release - Environoid (Text Adventure / 1984)
Post Posted: Sun Oct 02, 2016 6:01 pm
Hi All

I haven't had the time I wanted to devote to this project unfortunately.

Here's a quick release that I threw together this morning because it was reasonably easy to do and someone asked me about it.

Environoid is a fairly generic text adventure from 1984 written by Programming Concepts and distributed by John Sands in Australia.

I haven't really played it, but if you like the special type of pain and frustration that you get with text adventures, then you may enjoy this :)

Cheers
Environoid_SC3000_Remastered.zip (332.03 KB)
Environoid Text Adventure for Sega SC3000

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Post Posted: Sun Oct 02, 2016 6:43 pm
Tycho wrote
Sorry for the silly question but how do I actually play SC-3000 wav files in mame??

It has no file - open, tells me to edit a config ini file which doesn't exist, searching for mame and sc-3000 cassettes doesn't come up with anything useful.


Sorry about the long delay in answering this.

Good question. I generally use the older versions of MESS that support the windows front end messui.exe (0.136 is the one I use most). I find they tend to be more stable and faster for the older simpler systems like the SC-3000 where the hardware descriptions haven't been changed much recently.

Those versions of MESS have messui.exe which is a windows front end for MESS (I seem to recall that may not be supported in later versions).

The important thing is to set MESS to run your SC-3000 emulator IN A WINDOW instead of full screen. That gives you a menu bar where you can change tapes and start / stop tape loading. I was never able to get multi-part tapes to work when MESS was running in full screen mode as I could never change the tape audio file (I think - it has been a long time since I tried that).

So... since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some screenshots that show my MESS 0.136 messui setup, and how to load Environoid (see attachments).

First, go to Properties for the SC-3000H entry.



On the Display Tab, tick the Run in a Window option



On the Debug Tab, remove / untick the Activate Integrated Debugger option (unless you want to automatically launch the debugger)



Click Ok to save your Properties

In the Cassette / Cartslot area of the screen, choose the Environoid_SC3000_Remastered.wav file

In the Cart slot area of the screen, choose the Basic IIIB ROM (you should be able to find this easily by searching on the web or looking in the SMS Power ROM mirrors)




Double-click the SC-3000H item in messui.exe and the emulator will start. You can see how the emulator has opened in a window and how you have some extra menu options like Options / Devices.

Type LOAD in the emulator and hit Enter. Loading Start appears.




Go to the Devices menu. Choose the Environoid_SC3000_Remastered.wav file and the Play option. You will see the tape counter appear at the top of the screen and after a couple of seconds you will see Found ENVIRONOID appear.






Here is a good trick. To speed up the tape load, speed up the emulator from the Devices menu. Set speed to unlimited and the tape load will finish in a few seconds. Once the tape load has finished, set the speed back to 100%.




When the tape has finished loading, go to Devices menu and stop the tape.

Then type RUN and press the Enter key to run Environoid.




Cheers
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Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 6:36 am
Thanks for posting, honestbob! :) I remember this one. It made interesting use of the CONSOLE command, which allowed you to split the Basic screen into two panes, an effect which is still there if you hit Break.

Might have a go of this when I get home from work tonight. Pretty sure I finished it once back in the day...

Thanks for posting the MESS instructions, too!
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Post Posted: Mon Oct 03, 2016 10:49 am
You can do it with the latest greatest MAME+Mess but the UI is pretty awful.
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The Case of the Mad Mummy - Softgold / Gameworx 1984 tape remastered
Post Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 11:57 pm
Hi All

The Case of the Mad Mummy - Softgold / Gameworx 1984 tape remastered.

This is another text / graphic adventure for the SC-3000 from Darryl Reynolds of Softgold / Gameword for the Sega SC-3000. All the comments that applied to remastering the secret of Bastow Manor apply to this one.

The only other thing I had to do was to clean up part 3 before I could load it in MESS to remaster it. In the end that required a 3Khz High Pass Filter followed by a 600 Hz Low Pass Filter.

The zip file contains:

TheCaseOfTheMadMummy.txt - overview / loading instructions

TheCaseOfTheMadMummy_BoxCover.jpg

TheCaseOfTheMadMummy_Tape.jpg

TheCaseOfTheMadMummySolution.txt - solution if you do not have the infinite patience required to solve it. I haven't tried this. It was written by Jacob Gunness in June 1991 for the C64 version.

TheCaseOfTheMadMummy_Sega_SC3000_Remastered_Pt1.wav
TheCaseOfTheMadMummy_Sega_SC3000_Remastered_Pt2.wav
TheCaseOfTheMadMummy_Sega_SC3000_Remastered_Pt3.wav
TheCaseOfTheMadMummy_Sega_SC3000_Remastered_Pt4.wav
TheCaseOfTheMadMummy_Sega_SC3000_Remastered_Pt5.wav

Loading instructions - load part 1, then run it, then immediately load part 2.

After that, the program will tell you when to load the remaining parts.

Excerpt from box cover:

SUPER SLEUTH - The Case of the Mad Mummy

As BASIL BYRON, famed sleuth, you have
been engaged to investigate the recent
strange behaviour of Lord Alvin Monroe,
well known Britsh Adventurer.

Lord Monroe disappeared from public
life 2 years ago after returning from an
expedition to Egypt.

At that time he shunned reporters and
fled the docks in a private coach taking
with him a large collection of crates and
sea chests.

As you cross the Moors in your coach,
Castle Kreep is silhouetted against the
night sky...

A shudder of apprehension runs down
your spine...
TheCaseOfTheMadMummy_Sega_SC3000_Remastered_v1_00.zip (1.04 MB)
The Case of the Mad Mummy tape remastered for Sega SC-3000

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Post Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2016 12:25 pm
Yassss! :) :) :)

thank you so much!!

The C64 version of this is quite different, so I'm not sure whether that solution would translate across well, but I can probably remember how to finish this, and post a solution if that would be beneficial? It's the least I could do to help. :)
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Post Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2016 12:53 pm
Does anyone know where you can find a download of MESS 0.136?

EDIT: All good, I found it here: http://www.progettosnaps.net/mess/repository/

Just to add to honestbob's instructions: I also found that I had to have "Show new UI" ticked in the MESS options, in order to display the menu bar once you start the emulation. I can't remember which tab it's under though.
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Post Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:24 pm
Mess is now part of MAME, you can load tapes on there but the UI is a bit hard to use.
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Post Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2016 7:43 pm
Unless your computer is so bad that the latest versions just won't run decently, I'd advice against using old versions of MAME/MESS since emulation bugs keep being fixed with every new build, new functionality keeps being added, etc.
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Solar Conquest by Programming Concepts (1984)
Post Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 12:29 am
Solar Conquest by Programming Concepts (1984)

Hi All

Solar Conquest is a little galactic strategy conquest / domination game written by Programming Concepts for John Sands back in 1984.

There are 20 planets in the galaxy and you need to manage your fleet, enlisting, and taxation in order to conquer all the independent planets and bring them into your Empire / Federation.

Unfortunately I don't have any scans of the cassette inlay or instructions, so I played it for a bit and created some instructions (see SolarConquest.txt inside the zip file). So if anyone has those, feel free to upload a scan here.

I actually quite enjoyed this once I finally figured out how to use the interface. Very simple, and lots of grinding involved, but entertaining enough if you like the genre. Minimal graphics, but just enough to make it more interesting than a text only game.

Cheers
SolarConquest_Sega_SC3000_Remastered.zip (256.33 KB)
Sega SC3000 Solar Conquest Tape Game

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Post Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2016 9:16 am
Amazing work as always!
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