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I tried Retroarch a while back, when I first started playing with LaunchBox, and at the time didn't see what the fuss was about... looked nice but, didn't find it very new-user friendly for figuring it out. Seen a few how-to vids since then that mention the same thing.

I have had a lot of luck with the individual emulators though, finally think I have a grasp on MAME.

I do see some mentions of Retroarch having some options for making games look better though? Not sure if upscaling, smoothing or what....

Seen a lot of posts about Retroarch vs Individual Emulators, but most responses were geared towards personal preference, having stuff all setup through 1 app, etc... what I'd like to know is

1) Can I make games look better with RetroArch?

2) For MAME, is there an advantage to use RetroArch (ie. making graphics look better) or since I've now gotten 0.186 sorted out, just use MAME/DEMUL for the ARCADE stuff, and RetroArch for the rest?

Edited by THRobinson
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Scanlines just look right to me. Now I don't want my games to look like they are on some shitty 70s or 80s TV with all the fuzz and interference. When the artists did the sprite work for those games t

I use Retroarch for most platforms when a core is available, for a number of reasons, most of which have already been covered in this thread. I could go on about some niche things (like this or this)

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1) That depends on the core that you are using generally speaking the 3D emulators can have there internal rendering increased, so N64 and Playstation can look a lot nicer than they should, but you need the relevant graphical power in your system. You can also add shaders to any core and there are 100's of different ones, some add scanlines some smooth out 2D graphics some add anti aliasing etc. This is the personal preference thing, only you can decide what looks good to you.

2) The main advantage with mame is you can upscale to 720p with that core, and like all the other ones you can add a shader of your choice to make it look better also. The MAME core in retroarch is also the 0.186 version so is just the same as you are currently using but with the upscale and shader benefits.   

Edit:

Also with retroarch your controller will work with every system with very little if any setup, if it's a xbox 360 or equivalent pad it should just work out of the box for all systems.

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1) Better is a subjective term. If you don't care about shader effects to recreate the look of a CRT then no. But if you do like the look of CRT scanlines or some of the other shader options (there are a lot) then the answer is yes. Some stand alone emulators do have some limited shader / effects suppport but it varies by emulator.

2) Stand alone Mame vs Retroarch Mame really is a personal preference thing. In the past the stand alone version was most certainly the clear and obvious choice because the Retroarch Mame cores were behind and had issues. But nowadays it really is pretty equal. Stand alones HLSL and BGFX shaders are very good so the Retroarch CRT shaders aren't any better but you may like the smooting shader but again that is a personal preference.

Additional notes on Retroarch vs stand alone emulators. While many stand alone emulators are very good Retroarch does offer a "uniform look" to your games along with the ability to easily manage save states and disk swapping via the RA UI. Another thing that Retroach has over stand alone variants is it has things in it that reduces input lag dramatically. Hard GPU Sync and Frame Delay when using V-Sync and now the new raw input driver reduces it. Retroarch also has amazing audio sync. While some stand alone emulators can equal Retroarch in some of these regards not all of them can and Retroarch covers them all, so if you are going to setup Retroarch for 1 or 2 systems then you may as well do them all that you can.

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Parts just came in today for the arcade build. Upped my budget... I know it was recommended to get a 3rd gen i5 or better, also a lot of talk about at least a 3Ghz... decided that buying a used PC cost too much, because I'd be paying for a Case, PSU, HDD, etc that I didn't need.

I bought an mATX board, 2x8GB DDR4 ram, i3-7100 3.9Ghz... then using my old 550w PSU, 1TB SATAIII 7200 HDD, and GTX650Ti OC.

The 3D stuff is what I'm eager to see improved. Lots of the 2D stuff like NES/SNES that I see, usually just some overlay adding scanlines or something to the image which I'm not really into. I have a 20" 4:3 monitor to use, 1600x1200... so looking to make things smooth and crisp.

So, retroarch is using 0.186... so my stuff should work (one problem I had was my old files, were random and no idea what versions) and I can upscale... that would be good. Fun seeing the old games again, but some don't seem to look as good as images I see online. Maybe that's why.

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5 minutes ago, lordmonkus said:

... ability to easily manage save states and disk swapping via the RA UI...

That was my next question, save states... some times I just wanna jump on and play for 10min and jump off again, but I don't want to play the same first 10min of games over and over again so saving is pretty important.

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The question is do you want to replicate a CRTs scanline effect ? Do you want to "smooth" out the sprites so they look something like a modern hand drawn type of art style ? Or do you just want clean crisp sharp upscaled sprites ?

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1 minute ago, lordmonkus said:

The question is do you want to replicate a CRTs scanline effect ? Do you want to "smooth" out the sprites so they look something like a modern hand drawn type of art style ? Or do you just want clean crisp sharp upscaled sprites ?

Smooth... I'm old, I grew up with scanlines, I had enough with scanlines... :D

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1 minute ago, neil9000 said:

Yeah the save state stuff is handled by retroarch so it is the same across all systems, you can save by going into the ui, or you can set a hotkey combo and trigger it while in game.

Nice... I'll have 4 AUX buttons on my build, definitely would want a combo setup to save/load.

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The saves states, and the ability to set configurations unique to each core as well as even unique to each game is what sold me on using RA for most of the systems I have. I do not use many shaders, overlays, or bezels but having those options is great when I do want to. The save states is the clear winner for me. 

I hear what you say about scanlines. Grew up on that as well and I am not too nostalgic for it. 

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Just now, THRobinson said:

Smooth... I'm old, I grew up with scanlines, I had enough with scanlines... :D

Ok, you can smooth out the sprites with shaders but keep in mind that the art style of the game may or may not work so well with it. A game with a cartoonish art style like Mario or Yoshis Island do look nice with the smoothing shaders but games that used an art style where they tried to pack in the details (Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger) do not look so good with those smoothing shaders.

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Thanks guys...

Like I said, I tried RA, but didn't do so well, but was also the first day or two of trying out a new system. I think I'll revisit RA again and give it another try.

Also need to go buy some wood! Finally designed a cabinet I'm happy with. No idea about the paint though... was really eager to wrap the cabinet, until I got the quote for it. Ouch!

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Scanlines just look right to me. Now I don't want my games to look like they are on some shitty 70s or 80s TV with all the fuzz and interference. When the artists did the sprite work for those games they took into account the scanlines of the TVs and adjusted the art to take advantage of those TVs characteristics to "enhance" the art.  When you start scaling up the art for modern displays certain things just don't look right to me but once those scanline effects get added in the games just look right to me.

Scanlines and shadowmasks were a part of the art.

Just my personal preference though.

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LOL, that was back breaking work back then when you had to move the TV to another room or clean under it. 

RA actually is pretty easy to use now. I first tried to learn on a raspberry pi with the old UI and gave up. But on my pc with the new UI it has definitely been an easier process. 

Edited by Retro808
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1 minute ago, lordmonkus said:

Scanlines just look right to me. Now I don't want my games to look like they are on some shitty 70s or 80s TV with all the fuzz and interference. When the artists did the sprite work for those games they took into account the scanlines of the TVs and adjusted the art to take advantage of those TVs characteristics to "enhance" the art.  When you start scaling up the art for modern displays certain things just don't look right to me but once those scanline effects get added in the games just look right to me.

Scanlines and shadowmasks were a part of the art.

Just my personal preference though.

Yep im a fan too, growing up in the 80's that's just how games from that era should look to me so i like to add it into my emulation.

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If there is a Retroarch core that is as compatible with the games you want to play for a particular system as a standalone emulator then Reotrarch is a no brainer. The only system I use a standalone emulator for that Retroarch supports is Dreamcast because the standalone is more compatible


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