I Guess I Make Mods Now...

Sunday, September 10, 2023

After diving into the WidescreenEx mod like I did, and liking the result, I found I learned quite a bit. I decided to keep going. The plan was to make some "Fit to Screen" mods for the other system apps. But I quickly got side tracked with something else.

Years ago now, I made some other mods that I never released. Because I never finished them to my satisfaction, and to do so was too involved. That being a mod to allow custom chosen backgrounds to be displayed. This idea was borrowed from the SNES Classic. I even used the background/borders from that device for my work, and it was nice seeing NSO SNES game output perfectly fitting in those borders! But... diving too much into mods always seemed daunting, and improper. That's in large part because, mods were a clunky side thing. Not managed officially. But... of course, that has changed now as with CaVE v1.5, that's a major feature!

And with that feature... it has felt kind of odd to have that feature without a better selection of mods. So this has motivated me to be interested in making some.

So after tinkering with the background mod idea again, as well as the "Fit to Screen" mod idea... I quickly realized that those 2, and the WidescreenEx mod... overlap a bit. In a way that make it make sense too merge all of them into a single mod. Looking at just N64 for a moment, you can enable Widescreen mode for specific game, and the rest will still be 4x3. So why not have the option to change that increasingly bland border? And Fit to Screen kind of does something similar to Widescreen. So yea. Make them all the same mod!

So with that, DisplayEx is born. Replacing WidescreenEx for N64. But there will be a DisplayEx mod for each app!

I started working on the mod, and eventually got it refined enough to the point that I was able to start porting it to all the system apps. I made some changes to CaVE as needed to support it, and sent it to some testers.

But you see... I didn't make the mod EXACTLY as I envisioned it. I had to dial back my goals and cut some thing that I felt would just be too hard. Namely, selecting/changing the options in the system app.

Instead, to select backgrounds, it was on a game by game basis. Its kind of nice that you get to have a different background for each game if you want, but I figured people would maybe just want 1 thats used for all games too. So I added a option to the system apps system-save.json. With that, you could manually edit the save file and set a new default background that applies to all games! (game specific background selections take priority of course)

But I still didn't have a good way to deal with the Fit to Screen option. It was set the same way. Manual save file editing. I was planning to change up the mod management system to allow selecting mod settings for such things, but I didn't like the idea that much. That why, when it came down to it and everything else was done... I decided to take a crack at it!

After several days of work... I had it! In system app custom options!

At first it was just some checkbox toggles for the "Fit to" stuff. I used the Gameboy app to work with as the settings menu seemed best due to it having more options than can fit on the screen, thus requiring scrolling.

Once that was working... it was time to take a crack at the bigger one. Display and selection of custom backgrounds in app. I had learned a bit so, so... to my shock it was going well. Until... I had it! It went so well, and I learned so much that I tried to keep going. Scrap it all and do it better than I was. But... while I came close to my goals... I couldn't quite reach them at that point. Seeing that I was spinning my wheels and prolonging refinement and release of the mod, I stepped back and cleaned up what worked.

And here it is! A demo of this mod in action!

At the time of writing this, I have yet to port this more advanced version of the mod to the other app. But will start doing so soon.


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