The N64 Widescreen mod...

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Recently I learned just how bad the N64 Widescreen mod was. This is not a mod I developed. It is simply one I felt forced to maintain and update regularly, in order for there to be less issues and bug reports with CaVE stemming from users using out of date mods.

I heard or issues with it cropping out part of the screen, but the context always sounded like the people were talking about 4x3 games with the mod active. That was an unfortunate side-effect of the hack, it causing 4x3 games to not look right. It was a all or nothing hack. You commit to all your games being 16x9, or not. But low and behold... THIS is what 16x9 games looked like.



The top and bottom of the screen get cropped out to the point of the UI being not visible in games like this. Whats more, when you compare the proportions of the game content, like Mario in this case, they are stretched vertically.



Neither of these results were something I knew about. This mod was basically a "Zoom In" mod. Not a widescreen mod. I am ashamed that I was publishing it, and apologize to anyone who ever used it. I had no idea what I was signing off on since I didn't use it myself.

So... Now knowing how bad the mod is, and as timing would have it... I was looking around some UI files for a different hack idea. I discovered a file that was perfectly suited for a REAL Widescreen hack mod.

After several days of de-compilation and clean up, I had the file working just as it was, but visible in normal code. So I was able to get to work on editing that code for my own needs.

My goal was to find out exactly how Goldeneye supports Widescreen, and get that made available to other games. I was not able to do that EXACTLY. Some of Goldeneyes Widescreen support is hard coded in the app's main file itself. Not the UI files. But I was able to do something still.

I turned the Icon Process option into what is basically a Widescreen Enabled option. 0 = Disabled, 1 = Enabled. So users can just set that for any game they want to play in widescreen... providing that game is patched for widescreen, or has native support for it. And this is the result!


This is using the widescreen patch provided here, and my new mode called WidescreenEx! See how the proportions match the 4x3 image? And how the UI isn't cut off? Simply... more is visible on the sides of the screen. That's how this SHOULD look!

But some of you may notice the black bars at the top/bottom. They existed in the 4x3 version too. What if you are so picky that you don't want ANY black bars or wasted space. Even if it means stretching the image to fit the full 16x9, or cropping out the sides of the screen a little as you zoom in? Well, say no more! This hack supports THAT too!


The above image is from the game output being vertically stretched just enough to get rid of those black bars. It's not a big stretch, like the original "widescreen" mod. So I can see some being fine with or preferring this. How is this achieved though?

With a recent build of the CaVE v1.5 Beta, I have added support for Mods to provide custom lclassic.titlesdb parameters. In this case a parameter called "Widescreen Scaling". If you know the scaling value to achieve the stretch or zoom that you want, simply input in that field in CaVE like you would anything else for a game. You can figure out the scaling yourself by just starting with a base of "1.0, 1.0" (x,y or Width, Height) and adjusting each value up from there, Sync, test, and repeat.

But... I don't like putting in work on something like this, and expecting everyone to find their own patches, and dial in the settings. So I started a community list where everyone can find and share both links to various methods of getting a game to output as widescreen, and provide scaling values for those based on either "Maintain Proportions", "Stretch to Fit", or "Cropping".

This WidescreenEx mod, and community list are all available exclusively as part of the v1.5 Beta, and for my Discord members. So if you are interested, and find your way there... please remember. This is all a Beta. Do not expect everything to work flawlessly. And do not be a leech that simply downloads stuff, but does not contribute back feedback and bug reports.

CaVE v1.5 and the WidescreenEx mod will be out of Beta eventually and released publicly here on my website and GBATemp. But I am in no rush.

Anyway. In parting, here's a video showing another mod I have been working on for the new Mods Management feature, and a little bit of this WidescreenEx mod in action.


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