VOGONS


First post, by fillosaurus

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Going trough a lot of building/testing of old hardware&software I found 2 games with native support for XG MIDI, Heroes of Might&Magic II and Settlers II.
Do you know any others?

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WIP: external midi module based on NEC wavetable (Yamaha clone)

Reply 1 of 33, by jesolo

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I would have to guess very few.

If memory serves, Yamaha's XG MIDI is basically an extension of the General MIDI standard (similar to Roland's "General Standard" or "GS").

Having suppprt for XG MIDI in the game's setup menu doesn't necessarily mean it supports the additional instruments of that standard. Some games also had an option for "Roland Sound Canvas" (which had "GS" support) but, based on what I could hear, they still just provided basic General MIDI support.

To ensure wider compatibility between different sound devices and sound cards from that time period (1992 to around 1997), game developers would have just stuck with General MIDI support.

Reply 3 of 33, by RetroGamer4Ever

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There was no DOS support for XG MIDI in games, as XG MIDI was tied to Windows and Mac OS, because the few XG-capable cards did not have onboard memory for sample storage and loaded the XG sample bank into system RAM when used with Windows/Mac OS and some of those cards were later bundled with Yamaha's S-YXG soft-synth solutions, for providing more capable MIDI in Windows/Mac OS. You can certainly use an XG daughterboard attached to a Waveblaster header on a DOS-capable soundcard or a MIDI-interface connected hardware module, but you won't get anything but GM or GS MIDI out of one, as the case may be. As we've covered in other threads, XG-capable games were almost exclusively limited to Japan and Asia, where the XG hardware modules and soft-synths were incredibly easy to obtain, so Japanese RPG/visual novel devs happily tweaked their GM or GS MIDI compositions for it. Yamaha was never able to sell XG MIDI to US or European devs, who had migrated to digital audio and 3D graphics by the time XG's soft-synth was widely available.

Reply 4 of 33, by Demolition-Man

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Nice topic, wanted to ask the same thing. I'm not musically inclined, so does General MIDI and XG sound exactly the same? In DOS? Is there a difference in the sound when running from Windows? I only have Settlers II to test at the moment.

Reply 5 of 33, by Joseph_Joestar

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Demolition-Man wrote on 2024-03-30, 05:18:

Nice topic, wanted to ask the same thing. I'm not musically inclined, so does General MIDI and XG sound exactly the same? In DOS? Is there a difference in the sound when running from Windows? I only have Settlers II to test at the moment.

Not sure about DOS games, but in Final Fantasy 7 under Win9x, there is an audible difference between selecting General MIDI and Yamaha XG in setup on a card which supports both. That game can use XG natively for music playback and it sounds excellent.

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Reply 7 of 33, by fillosaurus

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midicollector wrote on 2024-03-29, 16:59:

Not dos, but FF7 has actual unique support for XG that is genuine XG use/support.

FF VIII too. Played them both with an AOpen Yamaha 754 PCI soundcard.

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WIP: external midi module based on NEC wavetable (Yamaha clone)

Reply 8 of 33, by megatron-uk

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The sound configuration utility for Albion, which uses the Miles sound system, has a discrete option for choosing the DB50 for music:

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I don't know if this is actual XG music, or 'just' GM mapped to the DB50/DB60/XR385, as my XR385 board is currently packed away. I can't remember ever testing it to see if it was any better/different to the GM/Sound Canvas option.

My collection database and technical wiki:
https://www.target-earth.net

Reply 9 of 33, by fillosaurus

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RetroGamer4Ever wrote on 2024-03-29, 17:21:

There was no DOS support for XG MIDI in games, as XG MIDI was tied to Windows and Mac OS, because the few XG-capable cards did not have onboard memory for sample storage and loaded the XG sample bank into system RAM when used with Windows/Mac OS and some of those cards were later bundled with Yamaha's S-YXG soft-synth solutions, for providing more capable MIDI in Windows/Mac OS. You can certainly use an XG daughterboard attached to a Waveblaster header on a DOS-capable soundcard or a MIDI-interface connected hardware module, but you won't get anything but GM or GS MIDI out of one, as the case may be. As we've covered in other threads, XG-capable games were almost exclusively limited to Japan and Asia, where the XG hardware modules and soft-synths were incredibly easy to obtain, so Japanese RPG/visual novel devs happily tweaked their GM or GS MIDI compositions for it. Yamaha was never able to sell XG MIDI to US or European devs, who had migrated to digital audio and 3D graphics by the time XG's soft-synth was widely available.

Look at the title of my post. I was referring to hardware devices; DB50XG is a daughterboard which connects to internal WB header, while SW60XG is a separate ISA card, not unlike Gravis Ultrasound ACE (Audio Card Enhancer) which has only Line In/Out connectors and is meant to be used in tandem with another soundcard. And trust me, since I am a sound afficionado and even worked in recording studios back in my 20's I can hear the difference between GM and XG.
The sound setup of the games I mentioned specifies SB+XG separately from GM. And I can hear the difference if I select XG or GM with same NEC XR385 (which is identical with DB60XG); by the way, AFAIK NEC produced DB50/60, and some were branded NEC.
OMFG HOLY SHIT! Take a look at this! https://www.ebay.com/itm/126372114409
390 GBP? I payed U$ 20 for mine, 15 years ago.

Y2K box: AMD Athlon K75 (second generation slot A)@700, ASUS K7M motherboard, 256 MB SDRAM, ATI Radeon 7500+2xVoodoo2 in SLI, SB Live! 5.1, VIA USB 2.0 PCI card, 40 GB Seagate HDD.
WIP: external midi module based on NEC wavetable (Yamaha clone)

Reply 10 of 33, by fillosaurus

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megatron-uk wrote on 2024-03-30, 08:28:

The sound configuration utility for Albion, which uses the Miles sound system, has a discrete option for choosing the DB50 for music:

albionxg.png

I don't know if this is actual XG music, or 'just' GM mapped to the DB50/DB60/XR385, as my XR385 board is currently packed away. I can't remember ever testing it to see if it was any better/different to the GM/Sound Canvas option.

No wonder that Albion has XG support, since Blue Byte was the developer of both Albion and Settlers II, about the same time.

Y2K box: AMD Athlon K75 (second generation slot A)@700, ASUS K7M motherboard, 256 MB SDRAM, ATI Radeon 7500+2xVoodoo2 in SLI, SB Live! 5.1, VIA USB 2.0 PCI card, 40 GB Seagate HDD.
WIP: external midi module based on NEC wavetable (Yamaha clone)

Reply 11 of 33, by megatron-uk

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Since we know BlueByte had XG listed as an output option via the Miles sound system in games from approximately the same time, it may be worth looking at similar titles, or those from other developers who also used Miles around 95/96.

Of course that's starting to get to the tail end of the DOS era, so it's unlikely there will be many extras.

My collection database and technical wiki:
https://www.target-earth.net

Reply 12 of 33, by RetroGamer4Ever

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fillosaurus wrote on 2024-03-30, 07:38:
midicollector wrote on 2024-03-29, 16:59:

Not dos, but FF7 has actual unique support for XG that is genuine XG use/support.

FF VIII too. Played them both with an AOpen Yamaha 754 PCI soundcard.

FF8 doesn't really use XG MIDI. I clarified that in an older thread. For whatever reason, the XG version of the soundtrack was never completed or not fully included in the final product that shipped to consumers, so there are only four music tracks that were tweaked for XG, whereas FF7 had the entire MIDI soundtrack tweaked for XG, by someone that Yamaha hired. At the time of release, DirectMusic had just come to Windows and the PC port of FF8 was designed around that, with it's own DLS bank, so the XG soft-synths were updated with a patch that allowed DM to access the soft-synths as a DirectMusic device.

Reply 13 of 33, by Demolition-Man

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Hi again,
Albion is working.

But I'm not so sure about Final Fantasy VII's MIDI.

I haven't installed anything yet. A software MIDI system should be installed during setup. What does this have to do with the external MIDI from the daughterboard? Are there any other settings where you can set the external MIDI port?
I haven't had a game that has its own software synth yet, I'm a little confused and don't want to mess up my MIDI setup. 😉

Reply 14 of 33, by Joseph_Joestar

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Demolition-Man wrote on 2024-03-30, 14:39:

But I'm not so sure about Final Fantasy VII's MIDI.

I haven't installed anything yet. A software MIDI system should be installed during setup. What does this have to do with the external MIDI from the daughterboard? Are there any other settings where you can set the external MIDI port?
I haven't had a game that has its own software synth yet, I'm a little confused and don't want to mess up my MIDI setup. 😉

Don't install the softsynth if you have actual XG hardware.

The softsymth is meant for people who want to experience the XG soundtrack but don't have a compatible device. It needs a pretty beefy CPU to run smoothly at maximum settings.

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Reply 15 of 33, by Demolition-Man

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Thx, i`ll try.

Edit:
Yeah the setting are working, but not the game. I dont have luck with these early Win95 games.

Last edited by Demolition-Man on 2024-03-30, 16:15. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 16 of 33, by mattw

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fillosaurus wrote on 2024-03-30, 08:32:

OMFG HOLY SHIT!
390 GBP? I payed U$ 20 for mine, 15 years ago.

and at the same time you can buy MU50, which is the exact same device (everything CPU, WaveROMs, etc are the same, you can even use it for donor of the parts and build yourself Waveblaster board from them if you that much want one) plus the convenience of Screen and buttons for 50USD and MU10 or MU15 (again the same and they work even on batteries) for probably even less. so, that's for people that I guess know nothing. even I must say, while DB50XG/DB60XG/XR385, MU50 and MU10 use the exact same CPU and WaveROMs, i.e. virtually they are the same device in different packing, the MU15 is a little different - the CPU is different and the WaveROM is like 60-70% the same.

Reply 17 of 33, by S95Sedan

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Demolition-Man wrote on 2024-03-30, 05:18:

Nice topic, wanted to ask the same thing. I'm not musically inclined, so does General MIDI and XG sound exactly the same? In DOS? Is there a difference in the sound when running from Windows? I only have Settlers II to test at the moment.

Youll hear it, generally GM sounds more flat where as XG has more depth.

If you want to do a 1:1 comparison the best way is to have both the GM and XG version of the midi files for FFVII for example.
Or grab something like this which has XG versions in it aswell though alot are probably user made: https://archive.org/details/video-game-music- … 0000-midi-files

It should work out of the box though if you plug in the wavetable card and the software/track supports it.

Reply 18 of 33, by Joseph_Joestar

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Demolition-Man wrote on 2024-03-30, 15:12:

Yeah the setting are working, but not the game. I dont have luck with these early Win95 games.

Have you applied patch 1.02 after installing FF7?

Also, the game doesn't like it if the system has more than 512 MB RAM, even after applying R. Loew's PATCHMEM. I had to manually limit the available RAM to 512 MB using MSCONFIG to get FF7 to run on my Athlon64 rig,

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / YMF719 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 2100+ / ECS K7VTA3 / Voodoo3 / Audigy2 / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy2
PC#4: i5-3570K / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 970 / X-Fi

Reply 19 of 33, by Demolition-Man

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SS7 System here, and yes its starts, but even with the patch i`m getting error messages and now a freeze.
I never played Final Fantasy anyway. Heard a lot about it, but i would have no idea how to play it.
Still Thx, worth a try.