Wah!Cade's Core Values and Future

A nice (keyboard based) front end for Arcade / Console game emulators.

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Wah!Cade's Core Values and Future

Postby codefenix » Fri May 20, 2011 4:33 pm

Something's been troubling me lately concerning the progress of Wah!Cade. I can't exactly put my finger on it.. it's probably multiple issues.

Wah!Cade is virtually the sole choice of emulator frontend on Linux. Nothing else comes close. Sure, there's AdvanceMENU. And there almost was Cabrio FE. However, a lack of updates and nearly nonexistent forum traffic seem to indicate that development progress on those projects has ceased. Linux users therefore have one choice when it comes to an emulator frontend. That choice for about the last three years has overwhelmingly been Wah!Cade. And given its near endless possibilities for customization, it's a great one choice to have.

That's not where my issue is.

Wah!Cade, for the most part, works great out of the box. However, bugs present themselves when the user wants to do more elaborate things, such as control the interface with a USB gamepad, or display preview movies.

That's not where my issue is either. Bugs are expected. Even forgivable as long as they're acknowledged and addressed.

Ah.. there's one...

Wah!Cade's principal developer has been absent from the forums, which I find discouraging. I understand there's a life to be lived outside the internet, but a post every couple weeks or so to let us know the project hasn't fallen into limbo would be comforting. Every developer owns this burden when he/she takes on a project, especially when it's embraced by a loyal community of users.

So it looks like Mah!Cade could very well eclipse Wah!Cade. Admittedly, I haven't tried Mah!Cade yet, as Wah!Cade 0.99pre8 has suited my needs up to this point, although I wish it had a few features and bug fixes that it currently does not:

- Interface sound effects.
- Reliable movie preview playback (without crashing)
- Reliable USB gamepad support (I don't use a gamepad, but I still think this should exist)

Those enhancements, to me, seem like they ought to be obvious core features-- things that must exist in any frontend in order to be a frontend that users actually want.

I'm clearly in the minority though, as I see a stack of blueprints and forum posts discussing things like Wiimote support, RSS support, attract mode screensavers, theme installers... the list goes on. A lot of people seem to want vastly different things... nonessential things. Yet version 1.0 hasn't even seen the light of day.

Ah, there's another..

The project is taking on tons upon tons of feature requests that go way beyond the project's initial goal. This is the textbook definition of feature creep. Feature creep often results in dead projects. I don't want this to happen to Wah!Cade, because frankly, there's no other frontend option on Linux. I would have to migrate to Windows and look into one of the commercial frontends.

I've been pretty silent on the forums lately. I usually won't chime in unless a topic piques my interest, or if I feel I can comment expertly on a topic. But mainly, I just feel like everything that can be said about Wah!Cade has been said already, and now I'm just waiting for news of an update. Something exciting. Maybe news of a version 1.0.

Unfortunately, that's just not happening. Instead people want to talk about making xmamescrensaver do what movie previews are already intended to do. We're re-inventing the wheel, without yet having a full wheel.

I know that some of this may have come off as mean-spirited, but I feel it's a legitimate gripe. And I had to vent. I truly hope that development can regain some focus in the near future.
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Re: Wah!Cade's Core Values and Future

Postby Zombie » Fri May 20, 2011 11:59 pm

I too would like WahCade's core stability worked on. There are too many instances where WahCade can crash. Part of it is Python, and bugs in the PyGame framework. You are right about WiiMote support. WiiMote support and other non-HID Driver support are hackish addons to solve an OS level problem. Which in turn is really a hardware standardization problem.

Here is what I think WahCade's Mission statement should be: To provide a lightweight Joypad oriented interface for Linux gaming machines. Note that I say Joypad, not Keyboard, not jPAC or iPAC.
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Re: Wah!Cade's Core Values and Future

Postby sairuk » Sat May 21, 2011 3:14 am

I wouldn't rely too heavily on Mah!Cade replacing Wah!Cade in a stable form in the near future. Mah!Cade is designed to be broken, Andy approached me when I first posted mahcade about taking over the main project due to his new RL responsibilities. This is perfectly understandable knowing what those responsibilities are. I declined for 2 reasons; I have very little experience with python (hence Mah!Cade is made to be broken) and imo my own RL responsibilities eclipsed his (I have 5 kids under 6yrs old :mrgreen:). therefore my available time to understand the existing code base and make significant changes is extremely restricted. On top of this I am reading "Learning Python" :shock: to try and improve the changes I do make.

I would like to fix the existing bugs and optimise the codebase before adding any additional features. Mah!Cade has only been fixing/adding small things as I have time. Mah!Cade only exists on launchpad so that Andy can easily review the changes and incorporate them if he sees fit. As for the future of Mah!Cade; due to my limited time I am considering writing my own frontend from scratch instead of spending hours trying to understand the existing code and seemingly getting nowhere (4hrs work reversed yesterday while i was struck with the flu). The other option is too completely break Mah!Cade while the base is rewritten. The end result would only be Wah!Cade in the use of existing filelists.

If i was to do this; (which I doubt atm) it would
  • be written solely in pygame (theoretically better portability to more platforms)
  • use something like pymedia for movies, music & sound effects
  • controller and keyboard support through pygame
  • intergrate layout & settings editor into the frontend
  • support transparency for videos in artwork widgets
  • useful debug logging

While these ideas exist they are far from a reality atm. I would like to write a frontend that would minimise the dependencies and could therefore be run on everywhere pygame is ported too (pc, consoles, handhelds, etc). I have the advantage of hindsight as do most of us here.

While it would certainly be nice to see Andy regularly on these forums and some confirmation of the projects status; with the source available it is only a nicety not a requirement. The source is freely available; so the only thing stopping the mentioned core features/fixes from being added is "you". Such is the beauty of FOSS*

Wah!Ki was created in MediaWiki in-case there was ever a need to consider approaching the BYOAC wiki about including the content in the future due to my known time constraints. Right now there are no plans to do this, I have stable hosting and can take my time adding content, codefenix has done some tremendously detailed work on the Wah!Ki content too which I plan to use as a base template for the other content in the future. I am also considering what I can do to open up Wah!Ki for submissions from others.

Thats probably enough for now :mrgreen:

*yes there is probably a risk of numerous forks if its not managed properly in the main tree but andy as a co-ordinator may be more possible than andy as a sole developer. I am speculating.
mameau - My random bits | Wah!Ki - A Wah!Cade wiki | Mah!Cade - Experimental Wah!cade Branch | ListGen | Lazarus
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Re: Wah!Cade's Core Values and Future

Postby Zombie » Sat May 21, 2011 5:58 pm

I think alot of the feature creep is more or less related to us wanting feature parity with the Windows Competition.
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Re: Wah!Cade's Core Values and Future

Postby General_Faliure » Mon May 23, 2011 7:22 am

I am quite happy with Wahcade (Mahcade) as it is, i like it for being lightweight and highly configurable.
The hardware in my cab is up to ten years old, so i don't want a "heavy" front-end.
It's also a showcase for what you can do with Linux.
I personally don't need usb joypad support, i have a minipac 8) , but i can imagine others may need it.
As long as bugs are fixed, and problems are solved it works well for me.
I don't know the first thing about programming, so i can't be of much help, but i hope the development continues.

Greetz, Ger.
My Arcade cab: https://goo.gl/photos/yE1KACHryQjCaaCj7
Core 2 duo 8400 @3600, 4 gig mem, Geforce 9500. Mame, Mess, Daphne, and some more.
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Re: Wah!Cade's Core Values and Future

Postby Zombie » Thu May 26, 2011 10:08 pm

I think that at this stage, WahCade should focus on bug elimination. Not feature adding. I've had the looping start button bug for a year+
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