Author Topic: CoCo DAT current conditions and integration into MAME  (Read 296 times)

Offline Firehawke

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CoCo DAT current conditions and integration into MAME
« on: August 08, 2019, 12:53:00 AM »
Just signed up here. I'm affiliated with MAMEdev and I'm doing quite a bit of work these days on the MAME softlists. My newest target is to start to get the CoCo disk softlists into better shape as they've been sorely neglected for years. I figured I'd start from the TOSEC DATs, but I've hit some interesting snags right off the bat that I have some questions about (and a few side comments about).


1. There's practically no version data present. This is a major problem for things like CoCoMax 3 in the Applications section where you end up with disk titles like:
coco max iii (1987)(colorware)(disk 1 of 2)[fonts].dsk
coco max iii (1987)(colorware)(disk 1 of 2)[pictures].dsk
coco max iii (1987)(colorware)(disk 2 of 2)[fonts].dsk
coco max iii (1987)(colorware)(disk 2 of 2)[pictures].dsk
coco max iii (1987)(colorware).dsk

That's an almost indecipherable soup of disks from at least two, possibly three versions of the program. It feels like I'm going to need some help untangling some of these.

2. I've already hit some problems with incorrect data like the following disk:
disk edtasm (1994)(tandy)[26-3254].dsk

This disk was released in 1983 (manual's last page has a date of 12/83); Tandy had already dropped the CoCo by 1994. I don't mind sending in corrections, but I want to sit down and hash this stuff out so that we're on the same page before I go committing anything to MAME's softlists and potentially creating drama and/or headaches for anyone.

And lastly, I've noticed there are disks for a number of programs that were only released on cartridge or cassette tape (meaning these were manually converted by users or using special programs to automate the task) making them not exactly 'accurate dumps'-- an example would be Zaxxon, which was only released on tape. What's the official stance with these?

Hoping to work with you in the future!



Offline Maddog

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Re: CoCo DAT current conditions and integration into MAME
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2019, 01:15:37 PM »
Hello and welcome to our forums!

As you probably have noticed already, the Tandy CoCo dats in TOSEC are quite old and currently not maintained by anybody.
Therefore, a similar neglect like MAME's affects them and their condition reflects at best what was known when they were created and the ability and knowledge of the relevant datters (which in many cases is limited to seeing the emulated software running). As with most relatively niche systems, they are bound to contain many errors since even the datters that created them were most likely not system specialists.

Quote
I've noticed there are disks for a number of programs that were only released on cartridge or cassette tape (meaning these were manually converted by users or using special programs to automate the task) making them not exactly 'accurate dumps'-- an example would be Zaxxon, which was only released on tape. What's the official stance with these?

TOSEC's project goal is not to have only accurate dumps. TOSEC is trying to fingerprint/document all dumps found in the wild, including even bad dumps. So we will include stuff like these floppies, even if no original floppy exists. But of course they should be marked in the dats accordingly.
I think the closest defined in TNC is the [f] flag: Fixed - [f]
The original software has been deliberately hacked/altered in some way to 'improve' or fix the image to work in a non-standard way


So I would probably name them something like Game (19xx)(Company)[f floppy conversion] / [f tape to floppy transfer] or something along these lines. Admittedly I haven't given much thought to what would be good to be shown after the [f], but it should be something conveying the needed info in a relatively standard way for all affected images.

With all these in mind, if you are serious about working with these dats, you are welcome to join the team and be assigned to work on them.
If that is too much for your tastes, submitting fixes is also fine and I will try to include them, but TBH I don't have any personal interest in the CoCo.
At the moment we are short on hands, so any help is hugely appreciated.
Also hoping to work with you in the future! :)
« Last Edit: August 08, 2019, 01:17:31 PM by Maddog »

Offline mictlantecuhtle

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Re: CoCo DAT current conditions and integration into MAME
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2019, 09:36:59 PM »
Welcome from me as well, as with Maddog CoCo is not my system at all but happy to answer any questions or try my best to help / integrate fixes as I can.

If I'm correct I believe you're the person who has been doing some really good work on the Apple II, integrating the 4am cracks etc. into the softlists? I've been working on the Apple II dats for TOSEC, mostly trying to bring in the 4am stuff as well, and any advice or experience you can share would be really helpful.

As mentioned, we are pretty short on help, so even just pointing out any really obvious errors in dats for any system is helpful.

Look forward to hopefully working together!

Offline Firehawke

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Re: CoCo DAT current conditions and integration into MAME
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2019, 03:17:42 AM »
Yeah, I've been working on the Apple II softlists since the beginning of this year. I hope my work is helpful for you there!

I'm approaching this from the perspective that if I do things right the first time, I should be able to contribute back what I've created in terms of a heavily updated set of CoCo DATs.

Don't expect results any time soon-- I've only really just begun work, and there's going to be a _lot_ of work before it's anywhere near what I'd consider presentable. My next step is to sit down and look at the TOSEC disk naming rules and start reworking what I already have to fit into that.

Offline midget35

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Re: CoCo DAT current conditions and integration into MAME
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2019, 12:59:00 PM »
I've spent a lot of time becoming familiar with the TOSEC naming conventions.

I think version would be added as part of the (unbracketed) filename. Eg

coco max iii (1987)(colorware)(disk 1 of 2)[fonts].dsk

Might become

coco max iii v6 (1987)(colorware)(disk 1 of 2)[fonts].dsk

(Not sure about starting with lowercase 'c', though...)

As for the Zaxxon example: I noticed that the Atari 8-bit ATR sets have files with the flag: '[k-file]'.This is used where executable files were converted to ATR. The author who did this left a symbol 'k' on the loading screens, or somesuch, so this serves as a useful indicator that those games weren't really released on that platform  (or sub-platform, perhaps).

I can't see that those 'Zaxxon' esque examples are easily identifiable using TNC. But my hunch is thereally should be some kind of 'non-native' flag (perhaps [nn]?) added to the conventions list.