Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Fully processing VGMs requires the use and mastery of a variety of different software and strategies.
Merely logging a track for listening pleasure is much simpler.
The easiest way to log vgms is to use MEKA. It is strongly recommended you use the latest version, which has hotkey support for vgm logging.
If you are merely want something to listen to, just start the game and log as you play. You can use savestates as you proceed through the game, to strategically hone in on ideal areas to log tracks. If you want greater control, you will need to master using MEKA's tools, such as the memory editor, debugger, and hotkeys. For a quick guide to MEKA, click here.
This guide is meant to replace the existing tutorial, which was written at a time when a lot of the tools we have now were not available. It's recommended you read it to familiarize yourself a bit with the overall process. This guide will be much more in depth, hands on, and specific.
You can find it here. Come back after you have read it.
Based on that guide, here are some updated recommendations:
Logging: Pretty much the same ("Dump" is now "Capture"). MEKA now allows you to log with a hotkey and accessing music will go a little beyond memory triggers and pause hacks. Still the essential concepts remain unchanged. Its advice is good for the beginner, but as you gain experience, the last option of controlling the music engine (hacking) will be your first resort. There is also a much expanded resource for those who wish to hack the sound engine of most games. It will make your later work much easier.
Trimming: The VGM Tool Collection is strongly recommended over VGMTool 2 R5. The 2012 version is recommended over the more modern one. For the latest updates, go here. Updates and improvements generally affect vgms for systems other than the ones focused on here, and the loop finder tool works a bit differently, so it is not recommended. You should at least grab the 2012 version for the loop finder so your results match what is shown in the guides. A guide is available in the documentation and here. Also, for wav writing, winamp still works, though I personally prefer foobar2000 or the more reliable VGMPlay. Relying on a wave file will usually be among of the last resorts when working with vgms. A lot of the software mentioned can be found here, though some may be a bit out of date. Last, over Cool Edit Pro, I would recommend Audacity, a free and open source audio editor.
Tagging: VGMTool 2 R5 is a bit outdated and much slower to work with. I recommend vgmtoolbox as an alternative that allows mass tagging and compression. These tasks can also be accomplished some know-how and batch files, but for simplicity I recommend this tool. The advice mentioned still holds and you should explore all possible sources of information, even with a game you are familiar with. Some additional sites are the Videogame Music Preservation Foundation, SEGA Retro, and many other sites that have become available as resources since this site began. A lot of informaton at SMSPower may also be mentioned in other places, as the internet tends to share. A lot of the time you will not need to consult outside sources, but you should look up any missing information when tagging.
Optimising: This section is now outdated. The VGM Specification is currently at 1.71, although MEKA only logs VGM files version 1.10. This is sufficient for our needs, and only on rare occasions will you be tempted to make use of the more modern features available in higher versions. In general, anything above 1.50 affects largely other systems, and you will be using the tool vgm_cmp from The VGM Tool Collection. You should ignore the advice on this page, as modern tools are easier to work with and provide a superior result.
The last four are unchanged.
Great advice. Follow it. Revisit these pages any time you are wrapping up a new pack to check your work. You should be familiar with the standards on this site. Other sites may have different standards, but please follow the ones listed on these pages. There are a lot of details there-all simple, but it may take a bit to get your bearings. Look at existing packs for quality control.
Also read what's on these pages: Process and Standards. They are older pages, that repeat some of the info that's on the ones listed above, but also have some extra details. One detail that sometimes escapes notice is that 7z files are meant to be uncompressed vgms while the zip files are compressed. A recent standard, is that the archive name (not the files) should match the game stub in the URL (i.e. GameName-GG /GameName-SMS_FM, etc.). Also do not naively use vgmify. Ignore the vgmify batch file unless you know how to use it. Unless you set things up properly, it can delete your files from the commandline without actually producing the new archive, losing you all your work if you have not backed it up elsewhere, and requiring data retrieval software to remedy. If you follow the methods mentioned in this guide, you should not have difficulty processing a pack in a timely manner.
For general information about the vgm format and other specifics, visit this page. It's alright if you don't understand everything at first. We will be walking through the process, starting with a simple track and moving on to working through a pack.
Let's log our first track.