Clover’s Toy Box development: porting to the Wii console.
I ported Clover’s Toy Box to the Nintendo Wii console. It supports rendering, audio output, networking, Wii/GameCube controllers, and USB keyboard and mouse.
I used the Wii homebrew SDK (devkitPPC, libogc, and satellite libraries) which does most of the difficult work.
Wii Remote pointing on the screen (IR sensor) is supported but I haven’t integrated support for the accelerometer motion sensor or Wii Motion Pus (gyro sensor).
The Wii Remote speaker is not support by the Wii homebrew SDK. Using Wii Motion Plus with Nunchuk extension isn’t support by the homebrew SDK either. So adding support for those would be more involved.
Getting the renderer working was easier than I expected. I mainly had to implement the functions to draw triangles/lines and upload textures (not obvious how for RGBA8) to get something to display. There wasn’t any set up needed beyond the example Wii video init. The GX graphics API is very similar to fixed-function OpenGL. In some cases separate OpenGL functions are combined as a single GX function or slightly lower-level.
I added support for blend modes, depth test/write, alpha test, cull modes, multi-texture (lightmaps), texture-less (color only) rendering, vertex color, color multiply, and texture coordinates matrix. There is no support for normal maps and frame post-processing yet.
The ground work started in 2020 with getting Toy Box to compile for GameCube/Wii with stubbed out functionality and adding OpenGL 1.1 support in 2022 partially to make it easier to add fixed-function rendering on the Wii.
I need to improve performance. In some parts of the Turtle Arena Subway level it runs at 60 frames per-second. If it renders the whole map it drops to 20 frames per-second which is way too low for the level size.
I need to better handle allocating memory and out of memory errors. The Wii only has 88 MB of RAM (which is split into two separate parts) and I basically pretend Toy Box will never run out of memory.
The GameCube and Wii consoles are similar. The graphics features are actually identical between the two consoles. The GameCube CPU/GPU are slower and it only has 27 MB of RAM. The Wii has a bunch of extra stuff added like internal flash memory, Bluetooth, etc.
I keep Toy Box able to compile for GameCube as well. However I don’t know an easy way to add data files for the GameCube build like placing them on the Wii’s SD card. So it just draws flat colored triangles and lines in the menu. I don’t have a way to run homebrew on a physical GameCube but it runs on the Dolphin emulator. (Technically the GameCube build should run on the Wii but I haven’t tested it.)
GX RGBA8 format
GameCube/Wii 8-bit RGBA format uses 4×4 pixel block tiles (similar to S3TC) with alpha and red stored in 32 bytes and then green and blue in next 32 bytes. I think I found this referenced somewhere in YAGCD (Yet Another GameCube Documentation) and had to dig into some asset converter to figure it out.
4×4 tile linear sequential memory (spaces / line break for readability):
ARARARAR ARARARAR ARARARAR ARARARAR
GBGBGBGB GBGBGBGB GBGBGBGB GBGBGBGB
It’s the pixel colors left-to-right top-to-bottom for the 4×4 block with alpha and red and then separately for green and blue. Additional blocks continue after this to make a 8×4 image or whatever size.
Other formats like RGB565 seem to work as commonly expected (not using tile blocks).
I have a private fork of the original Doom source code for Linux that uses Clover’s Toy Box. I updated it to run on the Wii.
My Doom fork is mainly for messing with “porting an old game” to use code from Clover’s Toy Box but Doom is already really portable to many platforms that there wasn’t much to do. There is already multiple versions of Doom for the Wii available, this isn’t anything new.
I fixed compiling the Doom big endian byte-swap functions, disabled Doom networking and audio which don’t compile for Wii, added uploading the Doom software rendered game frame as a GX texture, and added remapping controller buttons to Doom key values. And it basically worked.
Pressing the key to move backward, moved forward and it was faster than the forward key. The forward_move and side_move input command was a “char” value. It turns out on the Wii, char defaults to unsigned (range 0 to 255, instead of -128 to 127) so forward_move = -25 became 231 (256 – 25).
To avoid potential issues with using the homebrew SDK libraries, I opted to change Doom input to use “signed char” instead of overriding the default for “char” with a compiler option.
It supports Wii and GameCube controller joysticks/buttons and USB mouse and keyboard but pointing the Wii Remote for aiming isn’t supported.
For Doom on all platforms, I would need to fix audio and improve input integration.
Following a Twitter trend, I made a top 25 games list.
It was hard to think of 25. There are other games but it’s been a long time since I played them or thought about them. I mostly replaced playing games with software dev and watching TV shows a decade ago.
(For whatever reason I included with the demo of Metroid Prime Hunters that was bundled with the Nintento DS. It’s kind of a weird game selection.)
I first played seven of the games on the GameCube or Wii.
- PC: 9 games
- GameCube: 4 games
- Wii: 3 games
- PlayStation 3: 3 games
- PS Vita: 2 games
- Nintendo DS: 1 game
- Nintendo 3DS: 1 game
- SEGA Genesis: 1 game
- SEGA Dreamcast: 1 game
What this doesn’t represent well is that I may have played 75 games across the GameCube and Wii consoles compared to 5 or less per-consoles since then (PS3, PS4, PS Vita, 3DS) and I haven’t played as many new games on PC (Steam) since then either.
The simple answer is I ported Toy Box to the Wii because I wanted to even though there is no real use case anymore.
[This post was original titled Clover’s Toy Box 23.04 but I put off rewriting the Why? section for months to not be very long and off-topic.]
Summer of 2006
I started programming in the summer of 2006 by modifying Sonic Robo Blast 2 based on the Doom engine. I followed the online hype of the GameCube successor—the Revolution—that became the Wii released in November 2006. I was also looking forward to the Ninja Turtles 2003 TV series resuming in the fall, continuations of Sonic and TMNT 2003 game series on the Wii, and some other things eventually happening.
On the one hand, I was bored in the summer of 2006 so I started trying to make a game. On the other hand, I was excited looking forward to several things.
However nothing I was looking forward to met my expectations and some didn’t happen at all.
I wanted to make my own successor to the Ninja Turtle GameCube games that would run on the Wii. This a subject that I continue to work on over the years; whether it be Turtle Arena, controller support on desktop computers, or trying to run software on the Wii.
The Eternal Summer of 2006
I sarcastically refer to Clover’s Toy Box as taking place in “the eternal summer of 2006”. It was a point of excitement and looking forward to the possibility of the future.
And so, I ported Clover’s Toy Box (and Doom) to the Wii because I can.
Though I’m kind of bored.