MiSTer frontend future

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jotego
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MiSTer frontend future

Post by jotego »

Forgive for jumping in, maybe this has already been discused. I'm just wondering about the viability of porting some open source emulator frontend, with its game images, media, etc. to run on the linux side of MiSTer as the menu. Apart from the visual benefit, this could bring more standard software developers to the platform as the frontend wouldn't need FPGA skills.

Again, apologies if this has already been discussed.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by Nat »

Speaking for myself, I love the simplicity of the clean user interface as it stands now, it's fast, functional, and fits the intended purpose very well.

I personally have never liked the RetroArch and HyperSpin style interfaces, as they usually become slow and laggy once heavily populated, unless you have a machine with fairly powerful CPU to smooth it out.

The beauty of open-source is if others want this style of front end it can be made, however I prefer the current implementation.
Last edited by Nat on Tue Dec 31, 2019 3:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by alanswx »

jotego wrote:viability of porting some open source emulator frontend, with its game images, media, etc.
I looked through a large number of front ends. Most of them require some sort of OpenGL. I did not find anything I could compile against the framebuffer.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by Newsdee »

The current UI doesn't require FPGA skills. More could be done to refine it within its limitations, and achieve something different than every random emulator box out there.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by softtest1 »

Collecting and organizing game images, box art, reviews and similar is a full-time job in itself, and it will never be finished.

I also like MiSTer's current menu system. It's the most user-friendly GUI that I've used so far. Why not make careful improvements to what we have instead? You could perhaps make the menu larger (to make space for more text) or add Unicode/ttf support.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by daty2k1 »

I also have a setup with BigBox and all the bells and whistles which is great of course. But at the end of the day, I really appreciate the simplicity and also the speed of the current UI. It is way faster to start a game with MiSTer.

Of course, more options is always better :cheers:
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by jotego »

I totally agree to the view of speed being a big plus for MiSTer. With the limited ARM it has, I don't think we can even phisically build a bloated interface. But maybe showing full names of games, rather than RBF file names. And even a static image for the game would be helpful. There are collectors who enjoy preparing these images and sharing them. It indeed is part of the fun for some people.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by Sorgelig »

MiSTer works with large range of resolutions and different functionalities. For example on VGA/DirectVideo you can output video from Linux.
At first need to rework the Menu core video to find the way to provide reliable video output of Linux over the VGA/DirectVideo. 320x240 is not the best resolution to fit the linux output.

Anyway, i like simplicity and how easy to add a new core or even pseudo-core item now. No need to take care of screenshot and other crap. Add the file and it's harmonically appear in the menu.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by yoshi41 »

I also like the simplicity and speed of the menu very much. And it's the same structure for all cores. No reason to change that from my point of view.

The newly introduced recent file list is a great add-on which really helps. Maybe this can be added to the menu, instead of pressing select button.

I was just thinking about an option to view screenshots from the menu. This would be helpful for games with passwords. And in order to avoid the keyboard, it would be great to have a (2 button combo) joypad mapping to make screenshots.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by Sorgelig »

yoshi41 wrote: I was just thinking about an option to view screenshots from the menu. This would be helpful for games with passwords. And in order to avoid the keyboard, it would be great to have a (2 button combo) joypad mapping to make screenshots.
for poor man without smartphone?
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by koik69 »

Jotego, If I was able to do that for you I would because it is you who is asking. It does make sense, that side of the chip could handle a lovely interface that would enhance the gaming experience. Jotego, many thanks to you for all of your hard work.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by doobedy »

I don't think everything needs to be slick, shiny and full of brightly colored animated artwork. Some "collectors" may enjoy fancy front-ends, but I hope that paradigm never gets forced on us. MiSTer's menus are a joy to use because there are few options and they are blazingly fast. Let's continue down that path, please.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by brunosilva »

well i like the idea... already talked about that a few times :)

but if a frontend is built there must be an option to continue with the actual menu for people who doesn't like frontends...

like was said here, many people (like me), doesn't know how to do fpga dev... but try to help in any way we can.

creating art for each core / game could be good to bring more people to help the project

also this frontend could/should be able to browser games per year/category/etc (yes, we need some kind of db) :)
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by angelotax »

I speak for myself.
I absolutely love the current Mister interface, fast and straight to the point, simple and funcional.
I would not replace it with a bloated a$$ retropie interface even under physical harassment.
Having videos and images seems absolutely pointless to me and waistes system resources and space.
All we had at the time was empty black screens and command prompts at systems boot.
The actual interface for me is perfect !

Jose,big; actually HUGE fan of your work here, but i really don't feel the need for "bells and whistles" in Mister :shrug:
Happy new year guys.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by Sorgelig »

It also depends on what is planned to achieve by such big change. There are lot of multi-emulators with many different fancy front ends. Will it attract more people? Definitely no. MiSTer won't cope with those existing front ends because there is no 3D engine. So it will always be sluggish and crappy when it will pretend to be that fancy front ends. On high resolutions it will be either very slow or low quality when some dynamic change is required. MiSTer don't need to pretend to be RPi or similar - it will start to play on RPi area where it will sucks a lot.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by derFunkenstein »

I'm kind of in the middle on this one. There are some things that would be very nice to have like support for a thinner font that shows more characters of a file name. Maybe I just need to go through and just rename a lot of of my ROMs, but I'm using Smokemonster's Everdrive pack builder for organization purposes and a lot of files are hard to tell apart (example is:

Sonic & Knuckles + Sonic The Hedgehog
Sonic & Knuckles + Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Sonic & Knuckles + Sonic The Hedgehog 3

All I see in the menu is three of this:

Sonic & Knuckles + Son

Once you highlight one, it scrolls back and forth, but if a wider menu and/or a thinner font were possible, it'd be easier to read file names quickly. It would also be nice if the file list could go to the top and bottom of the screen.

None of that should require a big rewrite of the menu, but it would make the system better utilize an HDTV. It could still default to the way it is currently so that MiSTer can still be enjoyed by CRT enthusiasts using VGA.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by Sorgelig »

OSD uses precious FPGA RAM. Increasing OSD size will occupy more such RAM and it means less RAM will be available for emulated system.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by MottZilla »

Sorgelig wrote:It also depends on what is planned to achieve by such big change. There are lot of multi-emulators with many different fancy front ends. Will it attract more people? Definitely no. MiSTer won't cope with those existing front ends because there is no 3D engine. So it will always be sluggish and crappy when it will pretend to be that fancy front ends. On high resolutions it will be either very slow or low quality when some dynamic change is required. MiSTer don't need to pretend to be RPi or similar - it will start to play on RPi area where it will sucks a lot.
I agree, MiSTer doesn't need to follow the lead of RPi. It's superior performance is what matters. I know some people like a fancy frontend but what really matters is actually playing the games. The current menu is fast and simple. It would be a shame to ruin that. If someone made some optional frontend that wouldn't be bad but I suspect it would actually be a lot of work to do.

derFunkenstein, why don't you rename them files then? Sonic & Knuckles + S1, Sonic & Knuckles + S2, Sonic & Knuckles + S3, for example. Seems like an easy fix to a minor annoyance.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by ericgus »

What if you ran a nice full featured GUI menu on a raspberry Pi (or a PC) and just sent commands over the network to remote-control launch cores on the MiSTer .. no need to run the GUI menu/launcher on the mister itself therefor no need to worry about using resources of the mister etc etc.. granted you would now need two devices and have to contend with the dual video outputs but I do like the idea of remote launch via network.. would open a lot of possibility.. doesnt seem like it would be too hard to implement on the mister side anyway. (ala rshell/ssh-command or something akin to that)

just throwing it out there.. granted not a fully conceived idea but one thats been bouncing around in my head for a bit.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by mosquis »

I love the new 240p frontend from the rgb-pi os. Maybe something similar will not add to much load for the MiSTer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXi_SSIjMtg
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by Dubon »

The only change i would personally like for the menu is an option to change the colourscheme.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by angelicliver »

I'm quite happy with the current user interface, it is concise, tidy and unbloated. I just need to navigate the menus quickly and select the games without any fuss.
mosquis wrote:I love the new 240p frontend from the rgb-pi os. Maybe something similar will not add to much load for the MiSTer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXi_SSIjMtg
Where as something like this looks a bit too crass, like something from a 800 in 1 Chinese multicart.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by Sorgelig »

angelicliver wrote:I'm quite happy with the current user interface, it is concise, tidy and unbloated. I just need to navigate the menus quickly and select the games without any fuss.
mosquis wrote:I love the new 240p frontend from the rgb-pi os. Maybe something similar will not add to much load for the MiSTer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXi_SSIjMtg
Where as something like this looks a bit too crass, like something from a 800 in 1 Chinese multicart.
yeah, bloated tasteless 999-in-1 cart ;)
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by redsteakraw »

Possibly there are things people are overlooking. I like the simplicity of the current UI. However there are quality of life improvements and other features that can improve the experience. First of which is a favorites list or continue playing being front and center. No one wants to scroll through a large list of games when you just want to continue where you left off. Second is making use of meta data and statistics and allowing for people to do things such as show what you played in the last month or year or cores based off of use time. With that data can come to the third making use of that data for opt in sharing allowing to show what is popular what your friends are playing and social network integration. I don't think that aspect belongs in the menu FPGA per say but could be done with the linux core and just feed the menu simple information to display. Another thing that can be done possibly is achievements by looking at certain memory values you can see if a certain task or objective has been completed.

So keep the menu as is and see how it can be pushed to the limits, and how it can improve your experience. I think the key is utilizing the linux core while not breaking the original menu so it can be used without it.
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Re: MiSTer frontend future

Post by tenshin2002 »

I´m completely new to MiSTer and have tried several of the cores. I´m blown away!
One of the things I love about MiSTer is the simplicity of the UI. I have played with RPi before with different loaders and I wouldnt change the UI in MiSTer for any of those.
To me its already perfected.
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