Xeen and Roland synths

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Xeen and Roland synths

Postby HunterZ » 2010-12-02 @ 04:33

So I'm currently revisiting Might & Magic: Worlds of Xeen (aka MM4: Clouds of Xeen + MM5: Darkside of Xeen) via DOSBox in combination with my real Roland MT-32 and SC-88 synths.

The Wikipedia list of MT-32 games lists these as primarily MT-32 games, and the game sends to send a small amount of SysEx data to the MT-32 on startup. However, I'm not 100% convinced that the soundtrack is actually composed originally/primarily for the MT-32 versus Roland GS, mainly because I'm noticing a lot of sounds that are present in Roland GS (Sound Canvas) mode with my SC-88 (in GS mode) but missing in MT-32 mode with my MT-32:
  • The bug that dies to the dragon's spray can on the logo screen makes a little "dink" sound when it lands and bounces on the logo.
  • Doors make a convincing creaking a sound when you open them.
There are also some things that sound clearly better in GS mode than MT-32:
  • Some of the Darkside intro music notes are out of place on MT-32.
  • The Darkside intro music gets almost too quiet to hear with MT-32 when the game reduces the music volume during the spoken dialogue section.
  • Parts of the music in Vertigo sound pretty...random on MT-32 but relatively coherent on SC-88.
  • The Vertigo Blacksmith's hammer hitting the anvil sounds much, much more convincing with GS than with MT-32

On a side note, I also noticed that if I initialize my SC-88 to GM (General MIDI) mode (instead of GS), certain things sound wrong. The most noticeable is doors, which sound like telephones that keep ringing after you go through them until you move again.

I'm actually wondering if the game wasn't composed primarily for GS (as opposed to MT-32 or even General MIDI), with the MT-32 sounds and soundtrack being considered as having second-tier support. At the very least, it's obvious that they tuned the soundtrack and MIDI-based sound effects quite a bit to sound good on GS synths.
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby Mau1wurf1977 » 2010-12-02 @ 04:43

Not knowing this game and it's music at all, I would still agree with you simply by the 1995 release date..

Could games initialize a midi device to GM or GS on their own?
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby HunterZ » 2010-12-02 @ 15:50

Bah, I forgot to hit reply at home last night before I went to bed. I was going to say that it's hard to tell from the dates because the game was actually originally released in two parts in 1992 and 1993 - which is right in the middle of the transition from MT-32 to GM/GS as the dominant MIDI standard for games.
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby Shagittarius » 2010-12-02 @ 17:22

I have noticed this as well , but I haven't looked into it in quite a while. I have an MT-32 and an SC-55 and I remember trying to figure out which is better and having similar results. I'll check when I get home and confirm the settings that i settled on.
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby HunterZ » 2010-12-02 @ 17:25

I suppose it also might be worth checking Clouds and Darkside individually to see if either of them has a different soundtrack that gets lots when combining the two.
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby keropi » 2010-12-02 @ 17:51

hmmmm gonna check it too, I've got world installed in my LAPC-I/DB50-XG machine...
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby HunterZ » 2010-12-02 @ 18:21

Would definitely be interested to know how Xeen's Sound Canvas mode sounds on a DB50-XG, as the door opening sounds are weird on my SC-88 if I lower my synth to GM mode instead of GS mode.
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby Cloudschatze » 2010-12-03 @ 00:19

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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby HunterZ » 2010-12-03 @ 00:27

Thanks for the link. Interestingly, I don't get buffer overflow errors on my real MT-32 (1.07 ROM I think) with DOSBox 0.74 - although I do get a Exc checksum error.

I also haven't seen the NO INSTRUMENT error on my SC-88. Maybe the SC-88 implements the capital tone fallback feature that you mentioned? I haven't tried that thing with firing an arrow though; I'll try to remember to test that.
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby Mau1wurf1977 » 2010-12-03 @ 01:32

Cloudschatze wrote:You may want to see this thread...

http://queststudios.com/smf/index.php/topic,2483.0.html


The CM-64 did benefit from the use of the PCM sound-effects


:shocked: So this is a PC game that makes use of the CM-32P. Wow need to check it out. That dormant part needs to get some action...

EDIT

@ HunterZ

I don't have the game but if it's not too much trouble you could capture the MIDI data with DOSBox and then we could all contribute with some recordings...

AFAIK you need to start the recording before you launch the game...

Happy to contribute!
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby Cloudschatze » 2010-12-03 @ 02:33

HunterZ wrote:Maybe the SC-88 implements the capital tone fallback feature that you mentioned?


I don't own one, but I'm fairly certain that the SC-88 does not have this feature.

Mau1wurf1977 wrote:
Cloudschatze wrote:The CM-64 did benefit from the use of the PCM sound-effects


:shocked: So this is a PC game that makes use of the CM-32P. Wow need to check it out. That dormant part needs to get some action...


That would be neat, but no, I was referring to the extra group of PCM sound-effects also found in the LAPC-I, CM-32L, et al.
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby Mau1wurf1977 » 2010-12-03 @ 02:35

Oh I see, thanks for clarifying...
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby HunterZ » 2010-12-03 @ 04:00

I'll see what I can do. For now, here's a capture of the Darkside intro music in MT-32 mode that I made last night to see if there was any SysEx (there is).

I should probably disable digital sound to see if that prevents it from reducing the MIDI volume.
Attachments
xeen_000.zip
(14.96 KiB) Downloaded 573 times
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby Mau1wurf1977 » 2010-12-03 @ 04:24

Sounds excellent! Thanks...

One thing I found with recording Midi is that you need to record "the whole thing". Because if you don't you might miss out on some SysEx that got sent in the beginning (e.g. Instrument that got loaded a screen before and is going to be used again)...

However loading save games works just fine, as long as you start capturing before you launch the game... but if you load a game, then start capturing, it's very likely that important SysEx is missing...
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby HunterZ » 2010-12-03 @ 04:35

Yeah, I know what you mean. Usually the SysEx is embedded at the beginning of the song.
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby Mau1wurf1977 » 2010-12-03 @ 04:42

The music is great. I might grab the game from GOG.com...

Not really into RPGs though... Might do some reading what these games are like first :-)
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby keropi » 2010-12-03 @ 06:38

so the best card to use is the lapc-i (or cm-32L ?) ?
sorry I could not test yesterday, I am ashamed to admit I was playing minecraft all the time LOL
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby rcblanke » 2010-12-03 @ 09:43

HunterZ wrote:Thanks for the link. Interestingly, I don't get buffer overflow errors on my real MT-32 (1.07 ROM I think) with DOSBox 0.74 - although I do get a Exc checksum error.
FWIW: At 7500 cycles I do get buffer overflow on my 1.07 MT-32. When using my patch with the 'stall' delay setting, it works ok and sounds alike your recording

Ronald
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby Mau1wurf1977 » 2010-12-03 @ 10:44

keropi wrote:so the best card to use is the lapc-i (or cm-32L ?)


Yes it looks that way as it has issues with MT-32 (Old) and supports some of the 33 extra sound effects on the CM units / LAPC-I.
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Re: Xeen and Roland synths

Postby HunterZ » 2010-12-04 @ 00:59

Would very much like to hear a recording of CM-32L/LAPC-I to compare it to my MT-32.

I've attached DOSBox MIDI captures of the GS and MT-32 modes, and here's a URL for OGG recordings of my SC-88 in SC-55 GS mode and my MT-32: http://www.multiupload.com/AX360BZZPQ

The Ogg recordings were made from the game rather than from playing back the captured MIDIs, as I was afraid they might sound different being played back through Cakewalk rather than from DOSBox. Also, the SC-88 recording was made in SC-55 GS mode, and I also flipped it back to native SC-88 GS mode at the very end to show how the blacksmith hammer sounds different.

All of the captures/recordings contain the following (in order):
- New World Computing logo screen, where a dragon sprays a bug with bug spray, and the bug falls onto the logo text
- World of Xeen fireworks
- World of Xeen title screen
- New World Computing logo screen again
- Darkside of Xeen intro
- Blip of title screen music again, as I fumble to load my saved game :)
- Vertigo town music
- Walking around a bit, going through a couple doors, banging into some walls (sounds like a drum) and then some more walking and door(s)
- Entering the blacksmith's shop and listening to the music + hammer
- Entering Browse mode so you can hear just the music
- (SC-88 Ogg recording only) Blacksmith shop music + hammer sound again, this time in SC-88 mode instead of SC-55 mode
Attachments
xeen_midi.zip
DOSBox 0.74 MIDI captures of Xeen music in GS and MT-32 modes.
(69.07 KiB) Downloaded 560 times
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