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📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0212, P0213
Commits:
d398a94...363fd54, 363fd54...158a91e
💰 Funded by:
LeyDud, Lmocinemod, GhostRiderCog, Ember2528
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ score+ pc98- performance+ unused+ cutscene+ debug+

Wow, it's been 3 days and I'm already back with an unexpectedly long post about TH01's bonus point screens? 3 days used to take much longer in my previous projects…

Before I talk about graphics for the rest of this post, let's start with the exact calculations for both bonuses. Touhou Wiki already got these right, but it still makes sense to provide them here, in a format that allows you to cross-reference them with the source code more easily. For the card-flipping stage bonus:

Time min((Stage timer * 3), 6553)
Continuous min((Highest card combo * 100), 6553)
Bomb&Player min(((Lives * 200) + (Bombs * 100)), 6553)
STAGE min(((Stage number - 1) * 200), 6553)
BONUS Point Sum of all above values * 10

The boss stage bonus is calculated from the exact same metrics, despite half of them being labeled differently. The only actual differences are in the higher multipliers and in the cap for the stage number bonus. Why remove it if raising it high enough also effectively disables it? :tannedcirno:

Time min((Stage timer * 5), 6553)
Continuous min((Highest card combo * 200), 6553)
MIKOsan min(((Lives * 500) + (Bombs * 200)), 6553)
Clear min((Stage number * 1000), 65530)
TOTLE Sum of all above values * 10

The transition between the gameplay and TOTLE screens is one of the more impressive effects showcased in this game, especially due to how wavy it often tends to look. Aside from the palette interpolation (which is, by the way, the first time ZUN wrote a correct interpolation algorithm between two 4-bit palettes), the core of the effect is quite simple. With the TOTLE image blitted to VRAM page 1:

So it's really more like two interlaced shift effects with opposite directions, starting on different scanlines. No trigonometry involved at all.

Horizontally scrolling pixels on a single VRAM page remains one of the few 📝 appropriate uses of the EGC in a fullscreen 640×400 PC-98 game, regardless of the copied block size. The few inter-page copies in this effect are also reasonable: With 8 new lines starting on each effect frame, up to (8 × 20) = 160 lines are transferred at any given time, resulting in a maximum of (160 × 2 × 2) = 640 VRAM page switches per frame for the newly transferred pixels. Not that frame rate matters in this situation to begin with though, as the game is doing nothing else while playing this effect.
What does sort of matter: Why 32 pixels every 2 frames, instead of 16 pixels on every frame? There's no performance difference between doing one half of the work in one frame, or two halves of the work in two frames. It's not like the overhead of another loop has a serious impact here, especially with the PC-98 VRAM being said to have rather high latencies. 32 pixels over 2 frames is also harder to code, so ZUN must have done it on purpose. Guess he really wanted to go for that 📽 cinematic 30 FPS look 📽 here… :zunpet:

Removing the palette interpolation and transitioning from a black screen to CLEAR3.GRP makes it a lot clearer how the effect works.

Once all the metrics have been calculated, ZUN animates each value with a rather fancy left-to-right typing effect. As 16×16 images that use a single bright-red color, these numbers would be perfect candidates for gaiji… except that ZUN wanted to render them at the more natural Y positions of the labels inside CLEAR3.GRP that are far from aligned to the 8×16 text RAM grid. Not having been in the mood for hardcoding another set of monochrome sprites as C arrays that day, ZUN made the still reasonable choice of storing the image data for these numbers in the single-color .GRC form– yeah, no, of course he once again chose the .PTN hammer, and its 📝 16×16 "quarter" wrapper functions around nominal 32×32 sprites.

.PTN sprite for the TOTLE metric digits of 0, 1, 2, and 3.PTN sprite for the TOTLE metric digits of 4, 5, 6, and 7 .PTN sprite for the TOTLE metric digits of 8 and 9, filled with two blank quarters
The three 32×32 TOTLE metric digit sprites inside NUMB.PTN.

Why do I bring up such a detail? What's actually going on there is that ZUN loops through and blits each digit from 0 to 9, and then continues the loop with "digit" numbers from 10 to 19, stopping before the number whose ones digit equals the one that should stay on screen. No problem with that in theory, and the .PTN sprite selection is correct… but the .PTN quarter selection isn't, as ZUN wrote (digit % 4) instead of the correct ((digit % 10) % 4). :onricdennat: Since .PTN quarters are indexed in a row-major way, the 10-19 part of the loop thus ends up blitting 23016745(nothing):

This footage was slowed down to show one sprite blitting operation per frame. The actual game waits a hardcoded 4 milliseconds between each sprite, so even theoretically, you would only see roughly every 4th digit. And yes, here's a frame with the empty quarter, only blitted if one of the digits is a 9.

Seriously though? If the deadline is looming and you've got to rush some part of your game, a standalone screen that doesn't affect anything is the best place to pick. At 4 milliseconds per digit, the animation goes by so fast that this quirk might even add to its perceived fanciness. It's exactly the reason why I've always been rather careful with labeling such quirks as "bugs". And in the end, the code does perform one more blitting call after the loop to make sure that the correct digit remains on screen.


The remaining ¾ of the second push went towards transferring the final data definitions from ASM to C land. Most of the details there paint a rather depressing picture about ZUN's original code layout and the bloat that came with it, but it did end on a real highlight. There was some unused data between ZUN's non-master.lib VSync and text RAM code that I just moved away in September 2015 without taking a closer look at it. Those bytes kind of look like another hardcoded 1bpp image though… wait, what?!

An unused mouse cursor sprite found in all of TH01's binaries

Lovely! With no mouse-related code left in the game otherwise, this cursor sprite provides some great fuel for wild fan theories about TH01's development history:

  1. Could ZUN have 📝 stolen the basic PC-98 VSync or text RAM function code from a source that also implemented mouse support?
  2. Did he have a mouse-controlled level editor during development? It's highly likely that he had something, given all the 📝 bit twiddling seen in the STAGE?.DAT format.
  3. Or was this game actually meant to have mouse-controllable portions at some point during development? Even if it would have just been the menus.

… Actually, you know what, with all shared data moved to C land, I might as well finish FUUIN.EXE right now. The last secret hidden in its main() function: Just like GAME.BAT supports launching the game in a debug mode from the DOS command line, FUUIN.EXE can directly launch one of the game's endings. As long as the MDRV2 driver is installed, you can enter fuuin t1 for the 魔界/Makai Good Ending, or fuuin t for 地獄/Jigoku Good Ending.
Unfortunately, the command-line parameter can only control the route. Choosing between a Good or Bad Ending is still done exclusively through TH01's resident structure, and the continues_per_scene array in particular. But if you pre-allocate that structure somehow and set one of the members to a nonzero value, it would work. Trainers, anyone?

Alright, gotta get back to the code if I want to have any chance of finishing this game before the 15th… Next up: The final 17 functions in REIIDEN.EXE that tie everything together and add some more debug features on top.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0198, P0199, P0200
Commits:
48db0b7...440637e, 440637e...5af2048, 5af2048...67e46b5
💰 Funded by:
Ember2528, Lmocinemod, Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ gameplay+ boss+ kikuri+ blitting+ glitch+ danmaku-pattern+ cutscene+ pc98- performance+ tcc+

What's this? A simple, straightforward, easy-to-decompile TH01 boss with just a few minor quirks and only two rendering-related ZUN bugs? Yup, 2½ pushes, and Kikuri was done. Let's get right into the overview:

So yeah, there's your new timeout challenge. :godzun:


The few issues in this fight all relate to hitboxes, starting with the main one of Kikuri against the Orb. The coordinates in the code clearly describe a hitbox in the upper center of the disc, but then ZUN wrote a < sign instead of a > sign, resulting in an in-game hitbox that's not quite where it was intended to be…

TODO TH01 Kikuri's intended hitboxTH01 Kikuri's actual hitbox
Kikuri's actual hitbox. Since the Orb sprite doesn't change its shape, we can visualize the hitbox in a pixel-perfect way here. The Orb must be completely within the red area for a hit to be registered.

Much worse, however, are the teardrop ripples. It already starts with their rendering routine, which places the sprites from TAMAYEN.PTN at byte-aligned VRAM positions in the ultimate piece of if(…) {…} else if(…) {…} else if(…) {…} meme code. Rather than tracking the position of each of the five ripple sprites, ZUN suddenly went purely functional and manually hardcoded the exact rendering and collision detection calls for each frame of the animation, based on nothing but its total frame counter. :zunpet:
Each of the (up to) 5 columns is also unblitted and blitted individually before moving to the next column, starting at the center and then symmetrically moving out to the left and right edges. This wouldn't be a problem if ZUN's EGC-powered unblitting function didn't word-align its X coordinates to a 16×1 grid. If the ripple sprites happen to start at an odd VRAM byte position, their unblitting coordinates get rounded both down and up to the nearest 16 pixels, thus touching the adjacent 8 pixels of the previously blitted columns and leaving the well-known black vertical bars in their place. :tannedcirno:

OK, so where's the hitbox issue here? If you just look at the raw calculation, it's a slightly confusingly expressed, but perfectly logical 17 pixels. But this is where byte-aligned blitting has a direct effect on gameplay: These ripples can be spawned at any arbitrary, non-byte-aligned VRAM position, and collisions are calculated relative to this internal position. Therefore, the actual hitbox is shifted up to 7 pixels to the right, compared to where you would expect it from a ripple sprite's on-screen position:

Due to the deterministic nature of this part of the fight, it's always 5 pixels for this first set of ripples. These visualizations are obviously not pixel-perfect due to the different potential, shapes of Reimu's sprite, so they instead relate to her 32×32 bounding box, which needs to be entirely inside the red area.

We've previously seen the same issue with the 📝 shot hitbox of Elis' bat form, where pixel-perfect collision detection against a byte-aligned sprite was merely a sidenote compared to the more serious X=Y coordinate bug. So why do I elevate it to bug status here? Because it directly affects dodging: Reimu's regular movement speed is 4 pixels per frame, and with the internal position of an on-screen ripple sprite varying by up to 7 pixels, any micrododging (or "grazing") attempt turns into a coin flip. It's sort of mitigated by the fact that Reimu is also only ever rendered at byte-aligned VRAM positions, but I wouldn't say that these two bugs cancel out each other.
Oh well, another set of rendering issues to be fixed in the hypothetical Anniversary Edition – obviously, the hitboxes should remain unchanged. Until then, you can always memorize the exact internal positions. The sequence of teardrop spawn points is completely deterministic and only controlled by the fixed per-difficulty spawn interval.


Aside from more minor coordinate inaccuracies, there's not much of interest in the rest of the pattern code. In another parallel to Elis though, the first soul pattern in phase 4 is aimed on every difficulty except Lunatic, where the pellets are once again statically fired downwards. This time, however, the pattern's difficulty is much more appropriately distributed across the four levels, with the simultaneous spinning circle pellets adding a constant aimed component to every difficulty level.

Kikuri's phase 4 patterns, on .


That brings us to 5 fully decompiled PC-98 Touhou bosses, with 26 remaining… and another ½ of a push going to the cutscene code in FUUIN.EXE.
You wouldn't expect something as mundane as the boss slideshow code to contain anything interesting, but there is in fact a slight bit of speculation fuel there. The text typing functions take explicit string lengths, which precisely match the corresponding strings… for the most part. For the "Gatekeeper 'SinGyoku'" string though, ZUN passed 23 characters, not 22. Could that have been the "h" from the Hepburn romanization of 神玉?!
Also, come on, if this text is already blitted to VRAM for no reason, you could have gone for perfect centering at unaligned byte positions; the rendering function would have perfectly supported it. Instead, the X coordinates are still rounded up to the nearest byte.

The hardcoded ending cutscene functions should be even less interesting – don't they just show a bunch of images followed by frame delays? Until they don't, and we reach the 地獄/Jigoku Bad Ending with its special shake/"boom" effect, and this picture:

Picture #2 from ED2A.GRP.

Which is rendered by the following code:

for(int i = 0; i <= boom_duration; i++) { // (yes, off-by-one)
	if((i & 3) == 0) {
		graph_scrollup(8);
	} else {
		graph_scrollup(0);
	}

	end_pic_show(1); // ← different picture is rendered
	frame_delay(2);  // ← blocks until 2 VSync interrupts have occurred

	if(i & 1) {
		end_pic_show(2); // ← picture above is rendered
	} else {
		end_pic_show(1);
	}
}

Notice something? You should never see this picture because it's immediately overwritten before the frame is supposed to end. And yet it's clearly flickering up for about one frame with common emulation settings as well as on my real PC-9821 Nw133, clocked at 133 MHz. master.lib's graph_scrollup() doesn't block until VSync either, and removing these calls doesn't change anything about the blitted images. end_pic_show() uses the EGC to blit the given 320×200 quarter of VRAM from page 1 to the visible page 0, so the bottleneck shouldn't be there either…

…or should it? After setting it up via a few I/O port writes, the common method of EGC-powered blitting works like this:

  1. Read 16 bits from the source VRAM position on any single bitplane. This fills the EGC's 4 16-bit tile registers with the VRAM contents at that specific position on every bitplane. You do not care about the value the CPU returns from the read – in optimized code, you would make sure to just read into a register to avoid useless additional stores into local variables.
  2. Write any 16 bits to the target VRAM position on any single bitplane. This copies the contents of the EGC's tile registers to that specific position on every bitplane.

To transfer pixels from one VRAM page to another, you insert an additional write to I/O port 0xA6 before 1) and 2) to set your source and destination page… and that's where we find the bottleneck. Taking a look at the i486 CPU and its cycle counts, a single one of these page switches costs 17 cycles – 1 for MOVing the page number into AL, and 16 for the OUT instruction itself. Therefore, the 8,000 page switches required for EGC-copying a 320×200-pixel image require 136,000 cycles in total.

And that's the optimal case of using only those two instructions. 📝 As I implied last time, TH01 uses a function call for VRAM page switches, complete with creating and destroying a useless stack frame and unnecessarily updating a global variable in main memory. I tried optimizing ZUN's code by throwing out unnecessary code and using 📝 pseudo-registers to generate probably optimal assembly code, and that did speed up the blitting to almost exactly 50% of the original version's run time. However, it did little about the flickering itself. Here's a comparison of the first loop with boom_duration = 16, recorded in DOSBox-X with cputype=auto and cycles=max, and with i overlaid using the text chip. Caution, flashing lights:

(Note how the background of the ドカーン image is shifted 1 pixel to the left compared to pic #1.)

I pushed the optimized code to the th01_end_pic_optimize branch, to also serve as an example of how to get close to optimal code out of Turbo C++ 4.0J without writing a single ASM instruction.
And if you really want to use the EGC for this, that's the best you can do. It really sucks that it merely expanded the GRCG's 4×8-bit tile register to 4×16 bits. With 32 bits, ≥386 CPUs could have taken advantage of their wider registers and instructions to double the blitting performance. Instead, we now know the reason why 📝 Promisence Soft's EGC-powered sprite driver that ZUN later stole for TH03 is called SPRITE16 and not SPRITE32. What a massive disappointment.

But what's perhaps a bigger surprise: Blitting planar images from main memory is much faster than EGC-powered inter-page VRAM copies, despite the required manual access to all 4 bitplanes. In fact, the blitting functions for the .CDG/.CD2 format, used from TH03 onwards, would later demonstrate the optimal method of using REP MOVSD for blitting every line in 32-pixel chunks. If that was also used for these ending images, the core blitting operation would have taken ((12 + (3 × (320 / 32))) × 200 × 4) = 33,600 cycles, with not much more overhead for the surrounding row and bitplane loops. Sure, this doesn't factor in the whole infamous issue of VRAM being slow on PC-98, but the aforementioned 136,000 cycles don't even include any actual blitting either. And as you move up to later PC-98 models with Pentium CPUs, the gap between OUT and REP MOVSD only becomes larger. (Note that the page I linked above has a typo in the cycle count of REP MOVSD on Pentium CPUs: According to the original Intel Architecture and Programming Manual, it's 13+𝑛, not 3+𝑛.)
This difference explains why later games rarely use EGC-"accelerated" inter-page VRAM copies, and keep all of their larger images in main memory. It especially explains why TH04 and TH05 can get away with naively redrawing boss backdrop images on every frame.

In the end, the whole fact that ZUN did not define how long this image should be visible is enough for me to increment the game's overall bug counter. Who would have thought that looking at endings of all things would teach us a PC-98 performance lesson… Sure, optimizing TH01 already seemed promising just by looking at its bloated code, but I had no idea that its performance issues extended so far past that level.

That only leaves the common beginning part of all endings and a short main() function before we're done with FUUIN.EXE, and 98 functions until all of TH01 is decompiled! Next up: SinGyoku, who not only is the quickest boss to defeat in-game, but also comes with the least amount of code. See you very soon!

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0193, P0194, P0195, P0196, P0197
Commits:
e1f3f9f...183d7a2, 183d7a2...5d93a50, 5d93a50...e18c53d, e18c53d...57c9ac5, 57c9ac5...48db0b7
💰 Funded by:
Ember2528, Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ gameplay+ boss+ elis+ mima-th01+ rng+ danmaku-pattern+ bug+ jank+ glitch+ unused+ pc98- blitting+ mod+ score+

With Elis, we've not only reached the midway point in TH01's boss code, but also a bunch of other milestones: Both REIIDEN.EXE and TH01 as a whole have crossed the 75% RE mark, and overall position independence has also finally cracked 80%!

And it got done in 4 pushes again? Yup, we're back to 📝 Konngara levels of redundancy and copy-pasta. This time, it didn't even stop at the big copy-pasted code blocks for the rift sprite and 256-pixel circle animations, with the words "redundant" and "unnecessary" ending up a total of 18 times in my source code comments.
But damn is this fight broken. As usual with TH01 bosses, let's start with a high-level overview:

This puts the earliest possible end of the fight at the first frame of phase 5. However, nothing prevents Elis' HP from reaching 0 before that point. You can nicely see this in 📝 debug mode: Wait until the HP bar has filled up to avoid heap corruption, hold ↵ Return to reduce her HP to 0, and watch how Elis still goes through a total of two patterns* and four teleport animations before accepting defeat.

But wait, heap corruption? Yup, there's a bug in the HP bar that already affected Konngara as well, and it isn't even just about the graphical glitches generated by negative HP:

Since Elis starts with 14 HP, which is an even number, this corruption is trivial to cause: Simply hold ↵ Return from the beginning of the fight, and the completion condition will never be true, as the HP and frame numbers run past the off-by-one meeting point.

Regular gameplay, however, entirely prevents this due to the fixed start positions of Reimu and the Orb, the Orb's fixed initial trajectory, and the 50 frames of delay until a bomb deals damage to a boss. These aspects make it impossible to hit Elis within the first 14 frames of phase 1, and ensure that her HP bar is always filled up completely. So ultimately, this bug ends up comparable in seriousness to the 📝 recursion / stack overflow bug in the memory info screen.


These wavy teleport animations point to a quite frustrating architectural issue in this fight. It's not even the fact that unblitting the yellow star sprites rips temporary holes into Elis' sprite; that's almost expected from TH01 at this point. Instead, it's all because of this unused frame of the animation:

An unused wave animation frame from TH01's BOSS5.BOS

With this sprite still being part of BOSS5.BOS, Girl-Elis has a total of 9 animation frames, 1 more than the 📝 8 per-entity sprites allowed by ZUN's architecture. The quick and easy solution would have been to simply bump the sprite array size by 1, but… nah, this would have added another 20 bytes to all 6 of the .BOS image slots. :zunpet: Instead, ZUN wrote the manual position synchronization code I mentioned in that 2020 blog post. Ironically, he then copy-pasted this snippet of code often enough that it ended up taking up more than 120 bytes in the Elis fight alone – with, you guessed it, some of those copies being redundant. Not to mention that just going from 8 to 9 sprites would have allowed ZUN to go down from 6 .BOS image slots to 3. That would have actually saved 420 bytes in addition to the manual synchronization trouble. Looking forward to SinGyoku, that's going to be fun again…


As for the fight itself, it doesn't take long until we reach its most janky danmaku pattern, right in phase 1:

The "pellets along circle" pattern on Lunatic, in its original version and with fanfiction fixes for everything that can potentially be interpreted as a bug.

Then again, it might very well be that all of this was intended, or, most likely, just left in the game as a happy accident. The latter interpretation would explain why ZUN didn't just delete the rendering calls for the lower-right quarter of the circle, because seriously, how would you not spot that? The phase 3 patterns continue with more minor graphical glitches that aren't even worth talking about anymore.


And then Elis transforms into her bat form at the beginning of Phase 5, which displays some rather unique hitboxes. The one against the Orb is fine, but the one against player shots…

… uses the bat's X coordinate for both X and Y dimensions. :zunpet: In regular gameplay, it's not too bad as most of the bat patterns fire aimed pellets which typically don't allow you to move below her sprite to begin with. But if you ever tried destroying these pellets while standing near the middle of the playfield, now you know why that didn't work. This video also nicely points out how the bat, like any boss sprite, is only ever blitted at positions on the 8×1-pixel VRAM byte grid, while collision detection uses the actual pixel position.

The bat form patterns are all relatively simple, with little variation depending on the difficulty level, except for the "slow pellet spreads" pattern. This one is almost easiest to dodge on Lunatic, where the 5-spreads are not only always fired downwards, but also at the hardcoded narrow delta angle, leaving plenty of room for the player to move out of the way:

The "slow pellet spreads" pattern of Elis' bat form, on . Which version do you think is the easiest one?

Finally, we've got another potential timesave in the girl form's "safety circle" pattern:

After the circle spawned completely, you lose a life by moving outside it, but doing that immediately advances the pattern past the circle part. This part takes 200 frames, but the defeat animation only takes 82 frames, so you can save up to 118 frames there.

Final funny tidbit: As with all dynamic entities, this circle is only blitted to VRAM page 0 to allow easy unblitting. However, it's also kind of static, and there needs to be some way to keep the Orb, the player shots, and the pellets from ripping holes into it. So, ZUN just re-blits the circle every… 4 frames?! 🤪 The same is true for the Star of David and its surrounding circle, but there you at least get a flash animation to justify it. All the overlap is actually quite a good reason for not even attempting to 📝 mess with the hardware color palette instead.


And that's the 4th PC-98 Touhou boss decompiled, 27 to go… but wait, all these quirks, and I still got nothing about the one actual crash that can appear in regular gameplay? There has even been a recent video about it. The cause has to be in Elis' main function, after entering the defeat branch and before the blocking white-out animation. It can't be anywhere else other than in the 📝 central line blitting and unblitting function, called from 📝 that one broken laser reset+unblit function, because everything else in that branch looks fine… and I think we can rule out a crash in MDRV2's non-blocking fade-out call. That's going to need some extra research, and a 5th push added on top of this delivery.

Reproducing the crash was the whole challenge here. Even after moving Elis and Reimu to the exact positions seen in Pearl's video and setting Elis' HP to 0 on the exact same frame, everything ran fine for me. It's definitely no division by 0 this time, the function perfectly guards against that possibility. The line specified in the function's parameters is always clipped to the VRAM region as well, so we can also rule out illegal memory accesses here…

… or can we? Stepping through it all reminded me of how this function brings unblitting sloppiness to the next level: For each VRAM byte touched, ZUN actually unblits the 4 surrounding bytes, adding one byte to the left and two bytes to the right, and using a single 32-bit read and write per bitplane. So what happens if the function tries to unblit the topmost byte of VRAM, covering the pixel positions from (0, 0) to (7, 0) inclusive? The VRAM offset of 0x0000 is decremented to 0xFFFF to cover the one byte to the left, 4 bytes are written to this address, the CPU's internal offset overflows… and as it turns out, that is illegal even in Real Mode as of the 80286, and will raise a General Protection Fault. Which is… ignored by DOSBox-X, every Neko Project II version in common use, the CSCP emulators, SL9821, and T98-Next. Only Anex86 accurately emulates the behavior of real hardware here.

OK, but no laser fired by Elis ever reaches the top-left corner of the screen. How can such a fault even happen in practice? That's where the broken laser reset+unblit function comes in: Not only does it just flat out pass the wrong parameters to the line unblitting function – describing the line already traveled by the laser and stopping where the laser begins – but it also passes them wrongly, in the form of raw 32-bit fixed-point Q24.8 values, with no conversion other than a truncation to the signed 16-bit pixels expected by the function. What then follows is an attempt at interpolation and clipping to find a line segment between those garbage coordinates that actually falls within the boundaries of VRAM:

  1. right/bottom correspond to a laser's origin position, and left/top to the leftmost pixel of its moved-out top line. The bug therefore only occurs with lasers that stopped growing and have started moving.
  2. Moreover, it will only happen if either (left % 256) or (right % 256) is ≤ 127 and the other one of the two is ≥ 128. The typecast to signed 16-bit integers then turns the former into a large positive value and the latter into a large negative value, triggering the function's clipping code.
  3. The function then follows Bresenham's algorithm: left is ensured to be smaller than right by swapping the two values if necessary. If that happened, top and bottom are also swapped, regardless of their value – the algorithm does not care about their order.
  4. The slope in the X dimension is calculated using an integer division of ((bottom - top) / (right - left)). Both subtractions are done on signed 16-bit integers, and overflow accordingly.
  5. (-left × slope_x) is added to top, and left is set to 0.
  6. If both top and bottom are < 0 or ≥ 640, there's nothing to be unblitted. Otherwise, the final coordinates are clipped to the VRAM range of [(0, 0), (639, 399)].
  7. If the function got this far, the line to be unblitted is now very likely to reach from
    1. the top-left to the bottom-right corner, starting out at (0, 0) right away, or
    2. from the bottom-left corner to the top-right corner. In this case, you'd expect unblitting to end at (639, 0), but thanks to an off-by-one error, it actually ends at (640, -1), which is equivalent to (0, 0). Why add clipping to VRAM offset calculations when everything else is clipped already, right? :godzun:
Possible laser states that will cause the fault, with some debug output to help understand the cause, and any pellets removed for better readability. This can happen for all bosses that can potentially have shootout lasers on screen when being defeated, so it also applies to Mima. Fixing this is easier than understanding why it happens, but since y'all love reading this stuff…

tl;dr: TH01 has a high chance of freezing at a boss defeat sequence if there are diagonally moving lasers on screen, and if your PC-98 system raises a General Protection Fault on a 4-byte write to offset 0xFFFF, and if you don't run a TSR with an INT 0Dh handler that might handle this fault differently.

The easiest fix option would be to just remove the attempted laser unblitting entirely, but that would also have an impact on this game's… distinctive visual glitches, in addition to touching a whole lot of code bytes. If I ever get funded to work on a hypothetical TH01 Anniversary Edition that completely rearchitects the game to fix all these glitches, it would be appropriate there, but not for something that purports to be the original game.

(Sidenote to further hype up this Anniversary Edition idea for PC-98 hardware owners: With the amount of performance left on the table at every corner of this game, I'm pretty confident that we can get it to work decently on PC-98 models with just an 80286 CPU.)

Since we're in critical infrastructure territory once again, I went for the most conservative fix with the least impact on the binary: Simply changing any VRAM offsets >= 0xFFFD to 0x0000 to avoid the GPF, and leave all other bugs in place. Sure, it's rather lazy and "incorrect"; the function still unblits a 32-pixel block there, but adding a special case for blitting 24 pixels would add way too much code. And seriously, it's not like anything happens in the 8 pixels between (24, 0) and (31, 0) inclusive during gameplay to begin with. To balance out the additional per-row if() branch, I inlined the VRAM page change I/O, saving two function calls and one memory write per unblitted row.

That means it's time for a new community_choice_fixes build, containing the new definitive bugfixed versions of these games: 2022-05-31-community-choice-fixes.zip Check the th01_critical_fixes branch for the modified TH01 code. It also contains a fix for the HP bar heap corruption in debug mode – simply changing the == comparison to <= is enough to avoid it, and negative HP will still create aesthetic glitch art.


Once again, I then was left with ½ of a push, which I finally filled with some FUUIN.EXE code, specifically the verdict screen. The most interesting part here is the player title calculation, which is quite sneaky: There are only 6 skill levels, but three groups of titles for each level, and the title you'll see is picked from a random group. It looks like this is the first time anyone has documented the calculation?
As for the levels, ZUN definitely didn't expect players to do particularly well. With a 1cc being the standard goal for completing a Touhou game, it's especially funny how TH01 expects you to continue a lot: The code has branches for up to 21 continues, and the on-screen table explicitly leaves room for 3 digits worth of continues per 5-stage scene. Heck, these counts are even stored in 32-bit long variables.

Next up: 📝 Finally finishing the long overdue Touhou Patch Center MediaWiki update work, while continuing with Kikuri in the meantime. Originally I wasn't sure about what to do between Elis and Seihou, but with Ember2528's surprise contribution last week, y'all have demonstrated more than enough interest in the idea of getting TH01 done sooner rather than later. And I agree – after all, we've got the 25th anniversary of its first public release coming up on August 15, and I might still manage to completely decompile this game by that point…

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0190, P0191, P0192
Commits:
5734815...293e16a, 293e16a...71cb7b5, 71cb7b5...e1f3f9f
💰 Funded by:
nrook, -Tom-, [Anonymous]
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th02+ th03+ th04+ th05+ gameplay+ boss+ shinki+ danmaku-pattern+ midboss+ master.lib+ file-format+ tcc+ pc98- micro-optimization+

The important things first:

So, Shinki! As far as final boss code is concerned, she's surprisingly economical, with 📝 her background animations making up more than ⅓ of her entire code. Going straight from TH01's 📝 final 📝 bosses to TH05's final boss definitely showed how much ZUN had streamlined danmaku pattern code by the end of PC-98 Touhou. Don't get me wrong, there is still room for improvement: TH05 not only 📝 reuses the same 16 bytes of generic boss state we saw in TH04 last month, but also uses them 4× as often, and even for midbosses. Most importantly though, defining danmaku patterns using a single global instance of the group template structure is just bad no matter how you look at it:

Declaring a separate structure instance with the static data for every pattern would be both safer and more space-efficient, and there's more than enough space left for that in the game's data segment.
But all in all, the pattern functions are short, sweet, and easy to follow. The "devil" pattern is significantly more complex than the others, but still far from TH01's final bosses at their worst. I especially like the clear architectural separation between "one-shot pattern" functions that return true once they're done, and "looping pattern" functions that run as long as they're being called from a boss's main function. Not many all too interesting things in these pattern functions for the most part, except for two pieces of evidence that Shinki was coded after Yumeko:


Speaking about that wing sprite: If you look at ST05.BB2 (or any other file with a large sprite, for that matter), you notice a rather weird file layout:

Raw file layout of TH05's ST05.BB2, demonstrating master.lib's supposed BFNT width limit of 64 pixels
A large sprite split into multiple smaller ones with a width of 64 pixels each? What's this, hardware sprite limitations? On my PC-98?!

And it's not a limitation of the sprite width field in the BFNT+ header either. Instead, it's master.lib's BFNT functions which are limited to sprite widths up to 64 pixels… or at least that's what MASTER.MAN claims. Whatever the restriction was, it seems to be completely nonexistent as of master.lib version 0.23, and none of the master.lib functions used by the games have any issues with larger sprites.
Since ZUN stuck to the supposed 64-pixel width limit though, it's now the game that expects Shinki's winged form to consist of 4 physical sprites, not just 1. Any conversion from another, more logical sprite sheet layout back into BFNT+ must therefore replicate the original number of sprites. Otherwise, the sequential IDs ("patnums") assigned to every newly loaded sprite no longer match ZUN's hardcoded IDs, causing the game to crash. This is exactly what used to happen with -Tom-'s MysticTK automation scripts, which combined these exact sprites into a single large one. This issue has now been fixed – just in case there are some underground modders out there who used these scripts and wonder why their game crashed as soon as the Shinki fight started.


And then the code quality takes a nosedive with Shinki's main function. :onricdennat: Even in TH05, these boss and midboss update functions are still very imperative:

The biggest WTF in there, however, goes to using one of the 16 state bytes as a "relative phase" variable for differentiating between boss phases that share the same branch within the switch(boss.phase) statement. While it's commendable that ZUN tried to reduce code duplication for once, he could have just branched depending on the actual boss.phase variable? The same state byte is then reused in the "devil" pattern to track the activity state of the big jerky lasers in the second half of the pattern. If you somehow managed to end the phase after the first few bullets of the pattern, but before these lasers are up, Shinki's update function would think that you're still in the phase before the "devil" pattern. The main function then sequence-breaks right to the defeat phase, skipping the final pattern with the burning Makai background. Luckily, the HP boundaries are far away enough to make this impossible.
The takeaway here: If you want to use the state bytes for your custom boss script mods, alias them to your own 16-byte structure, and limit each of the bytes to a clearly defined meaning across your entire boss script.

One final discovery that doesn't seem to be documented anywhere yet: Shinki actually has a hidden bomb shield during her two purple-wing phases. uth05win got this part slightly wrong though: It's not a complete shield, and hitting Shinki will still deal 1 point of chip damage per frame. For comparison, the first phase lasts for 3,000 HP, and the "devil" pattern phase lasts for 5,800 HP.

And there we go, 3rd PC-98 Touhou boss script* decompiled, 28 to go! 🎉 In case you were expecting a fix for the Shinki death glitch: That one is more appropriately fixed as part of the Mai & Yuki script. It also requires new code, should ideally look a bit prettier than just removing cheetos between one frame and the next, and I'd still like it to fit within the original position-dependent code layout… Let's do that some other time.
Not much to say about the Stage 1 midboss, or midbosses in general even, except that their update functions have to imperatively handle even more subsystems, due to the relative lack of helper functions.


The remaining ¾ of the third push went to a bunch of smaller RE and finalization work that would have hardly got any attention otherwise, to help secure that 50% RE mark. The nicest piece of code in there shows off what looks like the optimal way of setting up the 📝 GRCG tile register for monochrome blitting in a variable color:

mov ah, palette_index ; Any other non-AL 8-bit register works too.
                      ; (x86 only supports AL as the source operand for OUTs.)

rept 4                ; For all 4 bitplanes…
    shr ah,  1        ; Shift the next color bit into the x86 carry flag
    sbb al,  al       ; Extend the carry flag to a full byte
                      ; (CF=0 → 0x00, CF=1 → 0xFF)
    out 7Eh, al       ; Write AL to the GRCG tile register
endm

Thanks to Turbo C++'s inlining capabilities, the loop body even decompiles into a surprisingly nice one-liner. What a beautiful micro-optimization, at a place where micro-optimization doesn't hurt and is almost expected.
Unfortunately, the micro-optimizations went all downhill from there, becoming increasingly dumb and undecompilable. Was it really necessary to save 4 x86 instructions in the highly unlikely case of a new spark sprite being spawned outside the playfield? That one 2D polar→Cartesian conversion function then pointed out Turbo C++ 4.0J's woefully limited support for 32-bit micro-optimizations. The code generation for 32-bit 📝 pseudo-registers is so bad that they almost aren't worth using for arithmetic operations, and the inline assembler just flat out doesn't support anything 32-bit. No use in decompiling a function that you'd have to entirely spell out in machine code, especially if the same function already exists in multiple other, more idiomatic C++ variations.
Rounding out the third push, we got the TH04/TH05 DEMO?.REC replay file reading code, which should finally prove that nothing about the game's original replay system could serve as even just the foundation for community-usable replays. Just in case anyone was still thinking that.


Next up: Back to TH01, with the Elis fight! Got a bit of room left in the cap again, and there are a lot of things that would make a lot of sense now:

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0182, P0183
Commits:
313450f...1e2c7ad, 1e2c7ad...f9d983e
💰 Funded by:
Lmocinemod, [Anonymous], Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th03+ pc98- gameplay+ player+ micro-optimization+ tcc+ portability+ mod+

Been 📝 a while since we last looked at any of TH03's game code! But before that, we need to talk about Y coordinates.

During TH03's MAIN.EXE, the PC-98 graphics GDC runs in its line-doubled 640×200 resolution, which gives the in-game portion its distinctive stretched low-res look. This lower resolution is a consequence of using 📝 Promisence Soft's SPRITE16 driver: Its performance simply stems from the fact that it expects sprites to be stored in the bottom half of VRAM, which allows them to be blitted using the same EGC-accelerated VRAM-to-VRAM copies we've seen again and again in all other games. Reducing the visible resolution also means that the sprites can be stored on both VRAM pages, allowing the game to still be double-buffered. If you force the graphics chip to run at 640×400, you can see them:

TH03's VRAM at regular line-doubled 640×200 resolutionTH03's VRAM at full 640×400 resolution, including the SPRITE16 sprite areaTH03's text layer during an in-game round.
The full VRAM contents during TH03's in-game portion, as seen when forcing the system into a 640×400 resolution.

Note that the text chip still displays its overlaid contents at 640×400, which means that TH03's in-game portion technically runs at two resolutions at the same time.

But that means that any mention of a Y coordinate is ambiguous: Does it refer to undoubled VRAM pixels, or on-screen stretched pixels? Especially people who have known about the line doubling for years might almost expect technical blog posts on this game to use undoubled VRAM coordinates. So, let's introduce a new formatting convention for both on-screen 640×400 and undoubled 640×200 coordinates, and always write out both to minimize the confusion.


Alright, now what's the thing gonna be? The enemy structure is highly overloaded, being used for enemies, fireballs, and explosions with seemingly different semantics for each. Maybe a bit too much to be figured out in what should ideally be a single push, especially with all the functions that would need to be decompiled? Bullet code would be easier, but not exactly single-push material either. As it turns out though, there's something more fundamental left to be done first, which both of these subsystems depend on: collision detection!

And it's implemented exactly how I always naively imagined collision detection to be implemented in a fixed-resolution 2D bullet hell game with small hitboxes: By keeping a separate 1bpp bitmap of both playfields in memory, drawing in the collidable regions of all entities on every frame, and then checking whether any pixels at the current location of the player's hitbox are set to 1. It's probably not done in the other games because their single data segment was already too packed for the necessary 17,664 bytes to store such a bitmap at pixel resolution, and 282,624 bytes for a bitmap at Q12.4 subpixel resolution would have been prohibitively expensive in 16-bit Real Mode DOS anyway. In TH03, on the other hand, this bitmap is doubly useful, as the AI also uses it to elegantly learn what's on the playfield. By halving the resolution and only tracking tiles of 2×2 / 2×1 pixels, TH03 only requires an adequate total of 6,624 bytes of memory for the collision bitmaps of both playfields.

So how did the implementation not earn the good-code tag this time? Because the code for drawing into these bitmaps is undecompilable hand-written x86 assembly. :zunpet: And not just your usual ASM that was basically compiled from C and then edited to maybe optimize register allocation and maybe replace a bunch of local variables with self-modifying code, oh no. This code is full of overly clever bit twiddling, abusing the fact that the 16-bit AX, BX, CX, and DX registers can also be accessed as two 8-bit registers, calculations that change the semantic meaning behind the value of a register, or just straight-up reassignments of different values to the same small set of registers. Sure, in some way it is impressive, and it all does work and correctly covers every edge case, but come on. This could have all been a lot more readable in exchange for just a few CPU cycles.

What's most interesting though are the actual shapes that these functions draw into the collision bitmap. On the surface, we have:

  1. vertical slopes at any angle across the whole playfield; exclusively used for Chiyuri's diagonal laser EX attack
  2. straight vertical lines, with a width of 1 tile; exclusively used for the 2×2 / 2×1 hitboxes of bullets
  3. rectangles at arbitrary sizes

But only 2) actually draws a full solid line. 1) and 3) are only ever drawn as horizontal stripes, with a hardcoded distance of 2 vertical tiles between every stripe of a slope, and 4 vertical tiles between every stripe of a rectangle. That's 66-75% of each rectangular entity's intended hitbox not actually taking part in collision detection. Now, if player hitboxes were ≤ 6 / 3 pixels, we'd have one possible explanation of how the AI can "cheat", because it could just precisely move through those blank regions at TAS speeds. So, let's make this two pushes after all and tell the complete story, since this is one of the more interesting aspects to still be documented in this game.


And the code only gets worse. :godzun: While the player collision detection function is decompilable, it might as well not have been, because it's just more of the same "optimized", hard-to-follow assembly. With the four splittable 16-bit registers having a total of 20 different meanings in this function, I would have almost preferred self-modifying code…

In fact, it was so bad that it prompted some maintenance work on my inline assembly coding standards as a whole. Turns out that the _asm keyword is not only still supported in modern Visual Studio compilers, but also in Clang with the -fms-extensions flag, and compiles fine there even for 64-bit targets. While that might sound like amazing news at first ("awesome, no need to rewrite this stuff for my x86_64 Linux port!"), you quickly realize that almost all inline assembly in this codebase assumes either PC-98 hardware, segmented 16-bit memory addressing, or is a temporary hack that will be removed with further RE progress.
That's mainly because most of the raw arithmetic code uses Turbo C++'s register pseudovariables where possible. While they certainly have their drawbacks, being a non-standard extension that's not supported in other x86-targeting C compilers, their advantages are quite significant: They allow this code to stay in the same language, and provide slightly more immediate portability to any other architecture, together with 📝 readability and maintainability improvements that can get quite significant when combined with inlining:

// This one line compiles to five ASM instructions, which would need to be
// spelled out in any C compiler that doesn't support register pseudovariables.
// By adding typed aliases for these registers via `#define`, this code can be
// both made even more readable, and be prepared for an easier transformation
// into more portable local variables.
_ES = (((_AX * 4) + _BX) + SEG_PLANE_B);

However, register pseudovariables might cause potential portability issues as soon as they are mixed with inline assembly instructions that rely on their state. The lazy way of "supporting pseudo-registers" in other compilers would involve declaring the full set as global variables, which would immediately break every one of those instances:

_DI = 0;
_AX = 0xFFFF;

// Special x86 instruction doing the equivalent of
//
// 	*reinterpret_cast(MK_FP(_ES, _DI)) = _AX;
// 	_DI += sizeof(uint16_t);
//
// Only generated by Turbo C++ in very specific cases, and therefore only
// reliably available through inline assembly.
asm { movsw; }

What's also not all too standardized, though, are certain variants of the asm keyword. That's why I've now introduced a distinction between the _asm keyword for "decently sane" inline assembly, and the slightly less standard asm keyword for inline assembly that relies on the contents of pseudo-registers, and should break on compilers that don't support them.
So yeah, have some minor portability work in exchange for these two pushes not having all that much in RE'd content.

With that out of the way and the function deciphered, we can confirm the player hitboxes to be a constant 8×8 / 8×4 pixels, and prove that the hit stripes are nothing but an adequate optimization that doesn't affect gameplay in any way.


And what's the obvious thing to immediately do if you have both the collision bitmap and the player hitbox? Writing a "real hitbox" mod, of course:

  1. Reorder the calls to rendering functions so that player and shot sprites are rendered after bullets
  2. Blank out all player sprite pixels outside an 8×8 / 8×4 box around the center point
  3. After the bullet rendering function, turn on the GRCG in RMW mode and set the tile register set to the background color
  4. Stretch the negated contents of collision bitmap onto each playfield, leaving only collidable pixels untouched
  5. Do the same with the actual, non-negated contents and a white color, for extra contrast against the background. This also makes sure to show any collidable areas whose sprite pixels are transparent, such as with the moon enemy. (Yeah, how unfair.) Doing that also loses a lot of information about the playfield, such as enemy HP indicated by their color, but what can you do:
A decently busy TH03 in-game frame.The underlying content of the collision bitmap, showing off all three different shapes together with the player hitboxes.
A decently busy TH03 in-game frame and its underlying collision bitmap, showing off all three different collision shapes together with the player hitboxes.

2022-02-18-TH03-real-hitbox.zip The secret for writing such mods before having reached a sufficient level of position independence? Put your new code segment into DGROUP, past the end of the uninitialized data section. That's why this modded MAIN.EXE is a lot larger than you would expect from the raw amount of new code: The file now actually needs to store all these uninitialized 0 bytes between the end of the data segment and the first instruction of the mod code – normally, this number is simply a part of the MZ EXE header, and doesn't need to be redundantly stored on disk. Check the th03_real_hitbox branch for the code.

And now we know why so many "real hitbox" mods for the Windows Touhou games are inaccurate: The games would simply be unplayable otherwise – or can you dodge rapidly moving 2×2 / 2×1 blocks as an 8×8 / 8×4 rectangle that is smaller than your shot sprites, especially without focused movement? I can't. :tannedcirno: Maybe it will feel more playable after making explosions visible, but that would need more RE groundwork first.
It's also interesting how adding two full GRCG-accelerated redraws of both playfields per frame doesn't significantly drop the game's frame rate – so why did the drawing functions have to be micro-optimized again? It would be possible in one pass by using the GRCG's TDW mode, which should theoretically be 8× faster, but I have to stop somewhere. :onricdennat:

Next up: The final missing piece of TH04's and TH05's bullet-moving code, which will include a certain other type of projectile as well.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0174, P0175, P0176, P0177, P0178, P0179, P0180, P0181
Commits:
27f901c...a0fe812, a0fe812...40ac9a7, 40ac9a7...c5dc45b, c5dc45b...5f0cabc, 5f0cabc...60621f8, 60621f8...9e5b344, 9e5b344...091f19f, 091f19f...313450f
💰 Funded by:
Ember2528, Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ gameplay+ boss+ sariel+ danmaku-pattern+ rng+ waste+ pc98- blitting+ good-code+ glitch+ tcc+ unused+ jank+

Here we go, TH01 Sariel! This is the single biggest boss fight in all of PC-98 Touhou: If we include all custom effect code we previously decompiled, it amounts to a total of 10.31% of all code in TH01 (and 3.14% overall). These 8 pushes cover the final 8.10% (or 2.47% overall), and are likely to be the single biggest delivery this project will ever see. Considering that I only managed to decompile 6.00% across all games in 2021, 2022 is already off to a much better start!

So, how can Sariel's code be that large? Well, we've got:

In total, it's just under 3,000 lines of C++ code, containing a total of 8 definite ZUN bugs, 3 of them being subpixel/pixel confusions. That might not look all too bad if you compare it to the 📝 player control function's 8 bugs in 900 lines of code, but given that Konngara had 0… (Edit (2022-07-17): Konngara contains two bugs after all: A 📝 possible heap corruption in debug mode, and the infamous 📝 temporary green discoloration.) And no, the code doesn't make it obvious whether ZUN coded Konngara or Sariel first; there's just as much evidence for either.

Some terminology before we start: Sariel's first form is separated into four phases, indicated by different background images, that cycle until Sariel's HP reach 0 and the second, single-phase form starts. The danmaku patterns within each phase are also on a cycle, and the game picks a random but limited number of patterns per phase before transitioning to the next one. The fight always starts at pattern 1 of phase 1 (the random purple lasers), and each new phase also starts at its respective first pattern.


Sariel's bugs already start at the graphics asset level, before any code gets to run. Some of the patterns include a wand raise animation, which is stored in BOSS6_2.BOS:

TH01 BOSS6_2.BOS
Umm… OK? The same sprite twice, just with slightly different colors? So how is the wand lowered again?

The "lowered wand" sprite is missing in this file simply because it's captured from the regular background image in VRAM, at the beginning of the fight and after every background transition. What I previously thought to be 📝 background storage code has therefore a different meaning in Sariel's case. Since this captured sprite is fully opaque, it will reset the entire 128×128 wand area… wait, 128×128, rather than 96×96? Yup, this lowered sprite is larger than necessary, wasting 1,967 bytes of conventional memory.
That still doesn't quite explain the second sprite in BOSS6_2.BOS though. Turns out that the black part is indeed meant to unblit the purple reflection (?) in the first sprite. But… that's not how you would correctly unblit that?

VRAM after blitting the first sprite of TH01's BOSS6_2.BOS VRAM after blitting the second sprite of TH01's BOSS6_2.BOS

The first sprite already eats up part of the red HUD line, and the second one additionally fails to recover the seal pixels underneath, leaving a nice little black hole and some stray purple pixels until the next background transition. :tannedcirno: Quite ironic given that both sprites do include the right part of the seal, which isn't even part of the animation.


Just like Konngara, Sariel continues the approach of using a single function per danmaku pattern or custom entity. While I appreciate that this allows all pattern- and entity-specific state to be scoped locally to that one function, it quickly gets ugly as soon as such a function has to do more than one thing.
The "bird function" is particularly awful here: It's just one if(…) {…} else if(…) {…} else if(…) {…} chain with different branches for the subfunction parameter, with zero shared code between any of these branches. It also uses 64-bit floating-point double as its subpixel type… and since it also takes four of those as parameters (y'know, just in case the "spawn new bird" subfunction is called), every call site has to also push four double values onto the stack. Thanks to Turbo C++ even using the FPU for pushing a 0.0 constant, we have already reached maximum floating-point decadence before even having seen a single danmaku pattern. Why decadence? Every possible spawn position and velocity in both bird patterns just uses pixel resolution, with no fractional component in sight. And there goes another 720 bytes of conventional memory.

Speaking about bird patterns, the red-bird one is where we find the first code-level ZUN bug: The spawn cross circle sprite suddenly disappears after it finished spawning all the bird eggs. How can we tell it's a bug? Because there is code to smoothly fly this sprite off the playfield, that code just suddenly forgets that the sprite's position is stored in Q12.4 subpixels, and treats it as raw screen pixels instead. :zunpet: As a result, the well-intentioned 640×400 screen-space clipping rectangle effectively shrinks to 38×23 pixels in the top-left corner of the screen. Which the sprite is always outside of, and thus never rendered again.
The intended animation is easily restored though:

Sariel's third pattern, and the first to spawn birds, in its original and fixed versions. Note that I somewhat fixed the bird hatch animation as well: ZUN's code never unblits any frame of animation there, and simply blits every new one on top of the previous one.

Also, did you know that birds actually have a quite unfair 14×38-pixel hitbox? Not that you'd ever collide with them in any of the patterns…

Another 3 of the 8 bugs can be found in the symmetric, interlaced spawn rays used in three of the patterns, and the 32×32 debris "sprites" shown at their endpoint, at the edge of the screen. You kinda have to commend ZUN's attention to detail here, and how he wrote a lot of code for those few rapidly animated pixels that you most likely don't even notice, especially with all the other wrong pixels resulting from rendering glitches. One of the bugs in the very final pattern of phase 4 even turns them into the vortex sprites from the second pattern in phase 1 during the first 5 frames of the first time the pattern is active, and I had to single-step the blitting calls to verify it.
It certainly was annoying how much time I spent making sense of these bugs, and all weird blitting offsets, for just a few pixels… Let's look at something more wholesome, shall we?


So far, we've only seen the PC-98 GRCG being used in RMW (read-modify-write) mode, which I previously 📝 explained in the context of TH01's red-white HP pattern. The second of its three modes, TCR (Tile Compare Read), affects VRAM reads rather than writes, and performs "color extraction" across all 4 bitplanes: Instead of returning raw 1bpp data from one plane, a VRAM read will instead return a bitmask, with a 1 bit at every pixel whose full 4-bit color exactly matches the color at that offset in the GRCG's tile register, and 0 everywhere else. Sariel uses this mode to make sure that the 2×2 particles and the wind effect are only blitted on top of "air color" pixels, with other parts of the background behaving like a mask. The algorithm:

  1. Set the GRCG to TCR mode, and all 8 tile register dots to the air color
  2. Read N bits from the target VRAM position to obtain an N-bit mask where all 1 bits indicate air color pixels at the respective position
  3. AND that mask with the alpha plane of the sprite to be drawn, shifted to the correct start bit within the 8-pixel VRAM byte
  4. Set the GRCG to RMW mode, and all 8 tile register dots to the color that should be drawn
  5. Write the previously obtained bitmask to the same position in VRAM

Quite clever how the extracted colors double as a secondary alpha plane, making for another well-earned good-code tag. The wind effect really doesn't deserve it, though:

As far as I can tell, ZUN didn't use TCR mode anywhere else in PC-98 Touhou. Tune in again later during a TH04 or TH05 push to learn about TDW, the final GRCG mode!


Speaking about the 2×2 particle systems, why do we need three of them? Their only observable difference lies in the way they move their particles:

  1. Up or down in a straight line (used in phases 4 and 2, respectively)
  2. Left or right in a straight line (used in the second form)
  3. Left and right in a sinusoidal motion (used in phase 3, the "dark orange" one)

Out of all possible formats ZUN could have used for storing the positions and velocities of individual particles, he chose a) 64-bit / double-precision floating-point, and b) raw screen pixels. Want to take a guess at which data type is used for which particle system?

If you picked double for 1) and 2), and raw screen pixels for 3), you are of course correct! :godzun: Not that I'm implying that it should have been the other way round – screen pixels would have perfectly fit all three systems use cases, as all 16-bit coordinates are extended to 32 bits for trigonometric calculations anyway. That's what, another 1.080 bytes of wasted conventional memory? And that's even calculated while keeping the current architecture, which allocates space for 3×30 particles as part of the game's global data, although only one of the three particle systems is active at any given time.

That's it for the first form, time to put on "Civilization of Magic"! Or "死なばもろとも"? Or "Theme of 地獄めくり"? Or whatever SYUGEN is supposed to mean…


… and the code of these final patterns comes out roughly as exciting as their in-game impact. With the big exception of the very final "swaying leaves" pattern: After 📝 Q4.4, 📝 Q28.4, 📝 Q24.8, and double variables, this pattern uses… decimal subpixels? Like, multiplying the number by 10, and using the decimal one's digit to represent the fractional part? Well, sure, if you really insist on moving the leaves in cleanly represented integer multiples of ⅒, which is infamously impossible in IEEE 754. Aside from aesthetic reasons, it only really combines less precision (10 possible fractions rather than the usual 16) with the inferior performance of having to use integer divisions and multiplications rather than simple bit shifts. And it's surely not because the leaf sprites needed an extended integer value range of [-3276, +3276], compared to Q12.4's [-2047, +2048]: They are clipped to 640×400 screen space anyway, and are removed as soon as they leave this area.

This pattern also contains the second bug in the "subpixel/pixel confusion hiding an entire animation" category, causing all of BOSS6GR4.GRC to effectively become unused:

The "swaying leaves" pattern. ZUN intended a splash animation to be shown once each leaf "spark" reaches the top of the playfield, which is never displayed in the original game.

At least their hitboxes are what you would expect, exactly covering the 30×30 pixels of Reimu's sprite. Both animation fixes are available on the th01_sariel_fixes branch.

After all that, Sariel's main function turned out fairly unspectacular, just putting everything together and adding some shake, transition, and color pulse effects with a bunch of unnecessary hardware palette changes. There is one reference to a missing BOSS6.GRP file during the first→second form transition, suggesting that Sariel originally had a separate "first form defeat" graphic, before it was replaced with just the shaking effect in the final game.
Speaking about the transition code, it is kind of funny how the… um, imperative and concrete nature of TH01 leads to these 2×24 lines of straight-line code. They kind of look like ZUN rattling off a laundry list of subsystems and raw variables to be reinitialized, making damn sure to not forget anything.


Whew! Second PC-98 Touhou boss completely decompiled, 29 to go, and they'll only get easier from here! 🎉 The next one in line, Elis, is somewhere between Konngara and Sariel as far as x86 instruction count is concerned, so that'll need to wait for some additional funding. Next up, therefore: Looking at a thing in TH03's main game code – really, I have little idea what it will be!

Now that the store is open again, also check out the 📝 updated RE progress overview I've posted together with this one. In addition to more RE, you can now also directly order a variety of mods; all of these are further explained in the order form itself.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0157
Commits:
4bc6405...bf7bb7e
💰 Funded by:
Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ pc98- animation+

Yup, there still are features that can be fully covered in a single push and don't lead to sprawling blog posts. The giant STAGE number and HARRY UP messages, as well as the flashing transparent 東方★靈異伝 at the beginning of each scene are drawn by retrieving the glyphs for each letter from font ROM, and then "blitting" them to text RAM by placing a colored fullwidth 16×16 square at every pixel that is set in the font bitmap.
And 📝 once again, ZUN's code there matches the mediocre example code for the related hardware interrupt from the PC-9801 Programmers' Bible. It's not 100% copied this time, but definitely inspired by the code on page 121. Therefore, we can conclude that these letters are probably only displayed as these 16× scaled glyphs because that book had code on how to achieve this effect.

ZUN "improved" on the example code by implementing a write-only cursor over the entire text RAM that fills every 16×16 cell with a differently colored space character, fully clearing the text RAM as a side effect. For once, he even removed some redundancy here by using helper functions! It's all still far from good-code though. For example, there's a function for filling 5 rows worth of cells, which he uses for both the top and bottom margin of these letters. But since the bottom margin starts at the 22nd line, the code writes past the 25th line and into the second TRAM page. Good that this page is not used by either the hardware or the game.

These cursor functions can actually write any fullwidth JIS code point to text RAM… and seem to do that in a rather simplified way, because shouldn't you set the most significant bit to indicate the right half of a fullwidth character? That's what's written in the same book that ZUN copied all functions out of, after all. 🤔 Researching this led me down quite the rabbit hole, where I found an oddity in PC-98 text RAM rendering that no single one of the widely-used PC-98 emulators gets completely right. I'm almost done with the 2-push research into this issue, which will include fixes for DOSBox-X and Neko Project II. The only thing I'm missing to get these fully accurate is a screenshot of the output created by this binary, on any PC-98 model made by EPSON: 2021-09-12-jist0x28.com.zip That's the reason why this push was rather delayed. Thanks in advance to anyone who'd like to help with this!


In maybe more disappointing news: Sariel is going to be delayed for a while longer. 😕 The player- and HUD-related functions, which previously delayed further progress there, turned out to call a lot of not yet RE'd functions themselves. Seems as if we're doing most of the card-flipping code second, after all? Next up: Point and bomb items, which at least are a significant step in terms of position independence.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0147
Commits:
456b621...c940059
💰 Funded by:
Ember2528, -Tom-
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th04+ th05+ file-format+ pc98- player+ bomb+ boss+ shinki+ ex-alice+ animation+ waste+

Didn't quite get to cover background rendering for TH05's Stage 1-5 bosses in this one, as I had to reverse-engineer two more fundamental parts involved in boss background rendering before.

First, we got the those blocky transitions from stage tiles to bomb and boss backgrounds, loaded from BB*.BB and ST*.BB, respectively. These files store 16 frames of animation, with every bit corresponding to a 16×16 tile on the playfield. With 384×368 pixels to be covered, that would require 69 bytes per frame. But since that's a very odd number to work with in micro-optimized ASM, ZUN instead stores 512×512 pixels worth of bits, ending up with a frame size of 128 bytes, and a per-frame waste of 59 bytes. :tannedcirno: At least it was possible to decompile the core blitting function as __fastcall for once.
But wait, TH05 comes with, and loads, a bomb .BB file for every character, not just for the Reimu and Yuuka bomb transitions you see in-game… 🤔 Restoring those unused stage tile → bomb image transition animations for Mima and Marisa isn't that trivial without having decompiled their actual bomb animation functions before, so stay tuned!

Interestingly though, the code leaves out what would look like the most obvious optimization: All stage tiles are unconditionally redrawn each frame before they're erased again with the 16×16 blocks, no matter if they weren't covered by such a block in the previous frame, or are going to be covered by such a block in this frame. The same is true for the static bomb and boss background images, where ZUN simply didn't write a .CDG blitting function that takes the dirty tile array into account. If VRAM writes on PC-98 really were as slow as the games' README.TXT files claim them to be, shouldn't all the optimization work have gone towards minimizing them? :thonk: Oh well, it's not like I have any idea what I'm talking about here. I'd better stop talking about anything relating to VRAM performance on PC-98… :onricdennat:


Second, it finally was time to solve the long-standing confusion about all those callbacks that are supposed to render the playfield background. Given the aforementioned static bomb background images, ZUN chose to make this needlessly complicated. And so, we have two callback function pointers: One during bomb animations, one outside of bomb animations, and each boss update function is responsible for keeping the former in sync with the latter. :zunpet:

Other than that, this was one of the smoothest pushes we've had in a while; the hardest parts of boss background rendering all were part of 📝 the last push. Once you figured out that ZUN does indeed dynamically change hardware color #0 based on the current boss phase, the remaining one function for Shinki, and all of EX-Alice's background rendering becomes very straightforward and understandable.


Meanwhile, -Tom- told me about his plans to publicly release 📝 his TH05 scripting toolkit once TH05's MAIN.EXE would hit around 50% RE! That pretty much defines what the next bunch of generic TH05 pushes will go towards: bullets, shared boss code, and one full, concrete boss script to demonstrate how it's all combined. Next up, therefore: TH04's bullet firing code…? Yes, TH04's. I want to see what I'm doing before I tackle the undecompilable mess that is TH05's bullet firing code, and you all probably want readable code for that feature as well. Turns out it's also the perfect place for Blue Bolt's pending contributions.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0140, P0141, P0142
Commits:
d985811...d856f7d, d856f7d...5afee78, 5afee78...08bc188
💰 Funded by:
[Anonymous], rosenrose, Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ pc98- dosbox-x+ gameplay+ boss+ konngara+ danmaku-pattern+

Alright, onto Konngara! Let's quickly move the escape sequences used later in the battle to C land, and then we can immediately decompile the loading and entrance animation function together with its filenames. Might as well reverse-engineer those escape sequences while I'm at it, though – even if they aren't implemented in DOSBox-X, they're well documented in all those Japanese PDFs, so this should be no big deal…

…wait, ESC )3 switches to "graph mode"? As opposed to the default "kanji mode", which can be re-entered via ESC )0? Let's look up graph mode in the PC-9801 Programmers' Bible then…

> Kanji cannot be handled in this mode.

…and that's apparently all it has to say. Why have it then, on a platform whose main selling point is a kanji ROM, and where Shift-JIS (and, well, 7-bit ASCII) are the only native encodings? No support for graph mode in DOSBox-X either… yeah, let's take a deep dive into NEC's IO.SYS, and get to the bottom of this.

And yes, graph mode pretty much just disables Shift-JIS decoding for characters written via INT 29h, the lowest-level way of "just printing a char" on DOS, which every printf() will ultimately end up calling. Turns out there is a use for it though, which we can spot by looking at the 8×16 half-width section of font ROM:

8×16 half-width section of font ROM, with the characters in the Shift-JIS lead byte range highlighted in red

The half-width glyphs marked in red correspond to the byte ranges from 0x80-0x9F and 0xE0-0xFF… which Shift-JIS defines as lead bytes for two-byte, full-width characters. But if we turn off Shift-JIS decoding…

Visible differences between the kanji and graph modes on PC-98 DOS
(Yes, that g in the function row is how NEC DOS indicates that graph mode is active. Try it yourself by pressing Ctrl+F4!)

Jackpot, we get those half-width characters when printing their corresponding bytes.
I've re-implemented all my findings into DOSBox-X, which will include graph mode in the upcoming 0.83.14 release. If P0140 looks a bit empty as a result, that's why – most of the immediate feature work went into DOSBox-X, not into ReC98. That's the beauty of "anything" pushes. :tannedcirno:

So, after switching to graph mode, TH01 does… one of the slowest possible memset()s over all of text RAM – one printf(" ") call for every single one of its 80×25 half-width cells – before switching back to kanji mode. What a waste of RE time…? Oh well, at least we've now got plenty of proof that these weird escape sequences actually do nothing of interest.


As for the Konngara code itself… well, it's script-like code, what can you say. Maybe minimally sloppy in some places, but ultimately harmless.
One small thing that might not be widely known though: The large, blue-green Siddhaṃ seed syllables are supposed to show up immediately, with no delay between them? Good to know. Clocking your emulator too low tends to roll them down from the top of the screen, and will certainly add a noticeable delay between the four individual images.

… Wait, but this means that ZUN could have intended this "effect". Why else would he not only put those syllables into four individual images (and therefore add at least the latency of disk I/O between them), but also show them on the foreground VRAM page, rather than on the "back buffer"?

Meanwhile, in 📝 another instance of "maybe having gone too far in a few places": Expressing distances on the playfield as fractions of its width and height, just to avoid absolute numbers? Raw numbers are bad because they're in screen space in this game. But we've already been throwing PLAYFIELD_ constants into the mix as a way of explicitly communicating screen space, and keeping raw number literals for the actual playfield coordinates is looking increasingly sloppy… I don't know, fractions really seemed like the most sensible thing to do with what we're given here. 😐


So, 2 pushes in, and we've got the loading code, the entrance animation, facial expression rendering, and the first one out of Konngara's 12 danmaku patterns. Might not sound like much, but since that first pattern involves those ◆ blue-green diamond sprites and therefore is one of the more complicated ones, it all amounts to roughly 21.6% of Konngara's code. That's 7 more pushes to get Konngara done, then? Next up though: Two pushes of website improvements.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0130, P0131
Commits:
6d69ea8...576def5, 576def5...dc9e3ee
💰 Funded by:
Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ pc98- blitting+ good-code+ jank+ gameplay+ boss+ rng+

50% hype! 🎉 But as usual for TH01, even that final set of functions shared between all bosses had to consume two pushes rather than one…

First up, in the ongoing series "Things that TH01 draws to the PC-98 graphics layer that really should have been drawn to the text layer instead": The boss HP bar. Oh well, using the graphics layer at least made it possible to have this half-red, half-white pattern for the middle section.
This one pattern is drawn by making surprisingly good use of the GRCG. So far, we've only seen it used for fast monochrome drawing:

// Setting up fast drawing using color #9 (1001 in binary)
grcg_setmode(GC_RMW);
outportb(0x7E, 0xFF); // Plane 0: (B): (********)
outportb(0x7E, 0x00); // Plane 1: (R): (        )
outportb(0x7E, 0x00); // Plane 2: (G): (        )
outportb(0x7E, 0xFF); // Plane 3: (E): (********)

// Write a checkerboard pattern (* * * * ) in color #9 to the top-left corner,
// with transparent blanks. Requires only 1 VRAM write to a single bitplane:
// The GRCG automatically writes to the correct bitplanes, as specified above
*(uint8_t *)(MK_FP(0xA800, 0)) = 0xAA;

But since this is actually an 8-pixel tile register, we can set any 8-pixel pattern for any bitplane. This way, we can get different colors for every one of the 8 pixels, with still just a single VRAM write of the alpha mask to a single bitplane:

grcg_setmode(GC_RMW); //  Final color: (A7A7A7A7)
outportb(0x7E, 0x55); // Plane 0: (B): ( * * * *)
outportb(0x7E, 0xFF); // Plane 1: (R): (********)
outportb(0x7E, 0x55); // Plane 2: (G): ( * * * *)
outportb(0x7E, 0xAA); // Plane 3: (E): (* * * * )

And I thought TH01 only suffered the drawbacks of PC-98 hardware, making so little use of its actual features that it's perhaps not fair to even call it "a PC-98 game"… Still, I'd say that "bad PC-98 port of an idea" describes it best.

However, after that tiny flash of brilliance, the surrounding HP rendering code goes right back to being the typical sort of confusing TH01 jank. There's only a single function for the three distinct jobs of

with magic numbers to select between all of these.

VRAM of course also means that the backgrounds behind the individual hit points have to be stored, so that they can be unblitted later as the boss is losing HP. That's no big deal though, right? Just allocate some memory, copy what's initially in VRAM, then blit it back later using your foundational set of blitting funct– oh, wait, TH01 doesn't have this sort of thing, right :tannedcirno: The closest thing, 📝 once again, are the .PTN functions. And so, the game ends up handling these 8×16 background sprites with 16×16 wrappers around functions for 32×32 sprites. :zunpet: That's quite the recipe for confusion, especially since ZUN preferred copy-pasting the necessary ridiculous arithmetic expressions for calculating positions, .PTN sprite IDs, and the ID of the 16×16 quarter inside the 32×32 sprite, instead of just writing simple helper functions. He did manage to make the result mostly bug-free this time around, though! (Edit (2022-05-31): Nope, there's a 📝 potential heap corruption after all, which can be triggered in some fights in debug mode.) There's one minor hit point discoloration bug if the red-white or white sections start at an odd number of hit points, but that's never the case for any of the original 7 bosses.
The remaining sloppiness is ultimately inconsequential as well: The game always backs up twice the number of hit point backgrounds, and thus uses twice the amount of memory actually required. Also, this self-restriction of only unblitting 16×16 pixels at a time requires any remaining odd hit point at the last position to, of course, be rendered again :onricdennat:


After stumbling over the weakest imaginable random number generator, we finally arrive at the shared boss↔orb collision handling function, the final blocker among the final blockers. This function takes a whopping 12 parameters, 3 of them being references to int values, some of which are duplicated for every one of the 7 bosses, with no generic boss struct anywhere. 📝 Previously, I speculated that YuugenMagan might have been the first boss to be programmed for TH01. With all these variables though, there is some new evidence that SinGyoku might have been the first one after all: It's the only boss to use its own HP and phase frame variables, with the other bosses sharing the same two globals.

While this function only handles the response to a boss↔orb collision, it still does way too much to describe it briefly. Took me quite a while to frame it in terms of invincibility (which is the main impact of all of this that can be observed in gameplay code). That made at least some sort of sense, considering the other usages of the variables passed as references to that function. Turns out that YuugenMagan, Kikuri, and Elis abuse what's meant to be the "invincibility frame" variable as a frame counter for some of their animations 🙄
Oh well, the game at least doesn't call the collision handling function during those, so "invincibility frame" is technically still a correct variable name there.


And that's it! We're finally ready to start with Konngara, in 2021. I've been waiting quite a while for this, as all this high-level boss code is very likely to speed up TH01 progress quite a bit. Next up though: Closing out 2020 with more of the technical debt in the other games.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0126, P0127
Commits:
6c22af7...8b01657, 8b01657...dc65b59
💰 Funded by:
Blue Bolt, [Anonymous]
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th03+ th04+ th05+ pc98- micro-optimization+ tcc+ tasm+ meta+

Alright, back to continuing the master.hpp transition started in P0124, and repaying technical debt. The last blog post already announced some ridiculous decompilations… and in fact, not a single one of the functions in these two pushes was decompilable into idiomatic C/C++ code.

As usual, that didn't keep me from trying though. The TH04 and TH05 version of the infamous 16-pixel-aligned, EGC-accelerated rectangle blitting function from page 1 to page 0 was fairly average as far as unreasonable decompilations are concerned.
The big blocker in TH03's MAIN.EXE, however, turned out to be the .MRS functions, used to render the gauge attack portraits and bomb backgrounds. The blitting code there uses the additional FS and GS segment registers provided by the Intel 386… which

  1. are not supported by Turbo C++'s inline assembler, and
  2. can't be turned into pointers, due to a compiler bug in Turbo C++ that generates wrong segment prefix opcodes for the _FS and _GS pseudo-registers.

Apparently I'm the first one to even try doing that with this compiler? I haven't found any other mention of this bug…
Compiling via assembly (#pragma inline) would work around this bug and generate the correct instructions. But that would incur yet another dependency on a 16-bit TASM, for something honestly quite insignificant.

What we can always do, however, is using __emit__() to simply output x86 opcodes anywhere in a function. Unlike spelled-out inline assembly, that can even be used in helper functions that are supposed to inline… which does in fact allow us to fully abstract away this compiler bug. Regular if() comparisons with pseudo-registers wouldn't inline, but "converting" them into C++ template function specializations does. All that's left is some C preprocessor abuse to turn the pseudo-registers into types, and then we do retain a normal-looking poke() call in the blitting functions in the end. 🤯

Yeah… the result is batshit insane. I may have gone too far in a few places…


One might certainly argue that all these ridiculous decompilations actually hurt the preservation angle of this project. "Clearly, ZUN couldn't have possibly written such unreasonable C++ code. So why pretend he did, and not just keep it all in its more natural ASM form?" Well, there are several reasons:

Unfortunately, these pushes also demonstrated a second disadvantage in trying to decompile everything possible: Since Turbo C++ lacks TASM's fine-grained ability to enforce code alignment on certain multiples of bytes, it might actually be unfeasible to link in a C-compiled object file at its intended original position in some of the .EXE files it's used in. Which… you're only going to notice once you encounter such a case. Due to the slightly jumbled order of functions in the 📝 second, shared code segment, that might be long after you decompiled and successfully linked in the function everywhere else.

And then you'll have to throw away that decompilation after all 😕 Oh well. In this specific case (the lookup table generator for horizontally flipping images), that decompilation was a mess anyway, and probably helped nobody. I could have added a dummy .OBJ that does nothing but enforce the needed 2-byte alignment before the function if I really insisted on keeping the C version, but it really wasn't worth it.


Now that I've also described yet another meta-issue, maybe there'll really be nothing to say about the next technical debt pushes? :onricdennat: Next up though: Back to actual progress again, with TH01. Which maybe even ends up pushing that game over the 50% RE mark?

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0124, P0125
Commits:
72dfa09...056b1c7, 056b1c7...f6a3246
💰 Funded by:
Blue Bolt, [Anonymous]
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th02+ th04+ pc98- menu+ waste+ master.lib+ waste+

Turns out that TH04's player selection menu is exactly three times as complicated as TH05's. Two screens for character and shot type rather than one, and a way more intricate implementation for saving and restoring the background behind the raised top and left edges of a character picture when moving the cursor between Reimu and Marisa. TH04 decides to backup precisely only the two 256×8 (top) and 8×244 (left) strips behind the edges, indicated in red in the picture below.

Backed-up VRAM area in TH04's player character selection

These take up just 4 KB of heap memory… but require custom blitting functions, and expanding this explicitly hardcoded approach to TH05's 4 characters would have been pretty annoying. So, rather than, uh, not explicitly hardcoding it all, ZUN decided to just be lazy with the backup area in TH05, saving the entire 640×400 screen, and thus spending 128 KB of heap memory on this rather simple selection shadow effect. :zunpet:


So, this really wasn't something to quickly get done during the first half of a push, even after already having done TH05's equivalent of this menu. But since life is very busy right now, I also used the occasion to start addressing another code organization annoyance: master.lib's single master.h header file.

So, time to start a new master.hpp header that would contain just the declarations from master.h that PC-98 Touhou actually needs, plus some semantic (yes, semantic) sugar. Comparing just the old master.h to just the new master.hpp after roughly 60% of the transition has been completed, we get median build times of 319 ms for master.h, and 144 ms for master.hpp on my (admittedly rather slow) DOSBox setup. Nice!
As of this push, ReC98 consists of 107 translation units that have to be compiled with Turbo C++ 4.0J. Fully rebuilding all of these currently takes roughly 37.5 seconds in DOSBox. After the transition to master.hpp is done, we could therefore shave some 10 to 15 seconds off this time, simply by switching header files. And that's just the beginning, as this will also pave the way for further #include optimizations. Life in this codebase will be great!


Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time to repay some of the actual technical debt I was looking forward to, after all of this. Oh well, at least we now also have nice identifiers for the three different boldface options that are used when rendering text to VRAM, after procrastinating that issue for almost 11 months. Next up, assuming the existing subscriptions: More ridiculous decompilations of things that definitely weren't originally written in C, and a big blocker in TH03's MAIN.EXE.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0120, P0121
Commits:
453dd3c...3c008b6, 3c008b6...5c42fcd
💰 Funded by:
Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ pc98- blitting+ waste+ jank+ boss+ mima-th01+

Back to TH01, and its boss sprite format… with a separate class for storing animations that only differs minutely from the 📝 regular boss entity class I covered last time? Decompiling this class was almost free, and the main reason why the first of these pushes ended up looking pretty huge.

Next up were the remaining shape drawing functions from the code segment that started with the .GRC functions. P0105 already started these with the (surprisingly sanely implemented) 8×8 diamond, star, and… uh, snowflake (?) sprites , prominently seen in the Konngara, Elis, and Sariel fights, respectively. Now, we've also got:

The weirdness becomes obvious with just a single screenshot:

TH01 invincibility sprite weirdness

First, we've got the obvious issue of the sprites not being clipped at the right edge of VRAM, with the rightmost pixels in each row of the sprite extending to the beginning of the next row. Well, that's just what you get if you insist on writing unique low-level blitting code for the majority of the individual sprites in the game… 🤷
More importantly though, the sprite sheet looks like this: So how do we even get these fully filled red diamonds?

Well, turns out that the sprites are never consistently unblitted during their 8 frames of animation. There is a function that looks like it unblits the sprite… except that it starts with by enabling the GRCG and… reading from the first bitplane on the background page? If this was the EGC, such a read would fill some internal registers with the contents of all 4 bitplanes, which can then subsequently be blitted to all 4 bitplanes of any VRAM page with a single memory write. But with the GRCG in RMW mode, reads do nothing special, and simply copy the memory contents of one bitplane to the read destination. Maybe ZUN thought that setting the RMW color to red also sets some internal 4-plane mask register to match that color? :zunpet:
Instead, the rather random pixels read from the first bitplane are then used as a mask for a second blit of the same red sprite. Effectively, this only really "unblits" the invincibility pixels that are drawn on top of Reimu's sprite. Since Reimu is drawn first, the invincibility sprites are overwritten anyway. But due to the palette color layout of Reimu's sprite, its pixels end up fully masking away any invincibility sprite pixels in that second blit, leaving VRAM untouched as a result. Anywhere else though, this animation quickly turns into the union of all animation frames.

Then again, if that 16-dot-aligned rectangular unblitting function is all you know about the EGC, and you can't be bothered to write a perfect unblitter for 8×8 sprites, it becomes obvious why you wouldn't want to use it:

Because Reimu would barely be visible under all that flicker. In comparison, those fully filled diamonds actually look pretty good.


After all that, the remaining time wouldn't have been enough for the next few essential classes, so I closed out the push with three more VRAM effects instead:


And with that, ReC98, as a whole, is not only ⅓ done, but I've also fully caught up with the feature backlog for the first time in the history of this crowdfunding! Time to go into maintenance mode then, while we wait for the next pushes to be funded. Got a huge backlog of tiny maintenance issues to address at a leisurely pace, and of course there's also the 📝 16-bit build system waiting to be finished.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0096, P0097, P0098
Commits:
8ddb778...8283c5e, 8283c5e...600f036, 600f036...ad06748
💰 Funded by:
Ember2528, Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ file-format+ pc98- blitting+ gameplay+ player+ shot+ jank+ mod+ tcc+

So, let's finally look at some TH01 gameplay structures! The obvious choices here are player shots and pellets, which are conveniently located in the last code segment. Covering these would therefore also help in transferring some first bits of data in REIIDEN.EXE from ASM land to C land. (Splitting the data segment would still be quite annoying.) Player shots are immediately at the beginning…

…but wait, these are drawn as transparent sprites loaded from .PTN files. Guess we first have to spend a push on 📝 Part 2 of this format.
Hm, 4 functions for alpha-masked blitting and unblitting of both 16×16 and 32×32 .PTN sprites that align the X coordinate to a multiple of 8 (remember, the PC-98 uses a planar VRAM memory layout, where 8 pixels correspond to a byte), but only one function that supports unaligned blitting to any X coordinate, and only for 16×16 sprites? Which is only called twice? And doesn't come with a corresponding unblitting function? :thonk:

Yeah, "unblitting". TH01 isn't double-buffered, and uses the PC-98's second VRAM page exclusively to store a stage's background and static sprites. Since the PC-98 has no hardware sprites, all you can do is write pixels into VRAM, and any animated sprite needs to be manually removed from VRAM at the beginning of each frame. Not using double-buffering theoretically allows TH01 to simply copy back all 128 KB of VRAM once per frame to do this. :tannedcirno: But that would be pretty wasteful, so TH01 just looks at all animated sprites, and selectively copies only their occupied pixels from the second to the first VRAM page.


Alright, player shot class methods… oh, wait, the collision functions directly act on the Yin-Yang Orb, so we first have to spend a push on that one. And that's where the impression we got from the .PTN functions is confirmed: The orb is, in fact, only ever displayed at byte-aligned X coordinates, divisible by 8. It's only thanks to the constant spinning that its movement appears at least somewhat smooth.
This is purely a rendering issue; internally, its position is tracked at pixel precision. Sadly, smooth orb rendering at any unaligned X coordinate wouldn't be that trivial of a mod, because well, the necessary functions for unaligned blitting and unblitting of 32×32 sprites don't exist in TH01's code. Then again, there's so much potential for optimization in this code, so it might be very possible to squeeze those additional two functions into the same C++ translation unit, even without position independence…

More importantly though, this was the right time to decompile the core functions controlling the orb physics – probably the highlight in these three pushes for most people.
Well, "physics". The X velocity is restricted to the 5 discrete states of -8, -4, 0, 4, and 8, and gravity is applied by simply adding 1 to the Y velocity every 5 frames :zunpet: No wonder that this can easily lead to situations in which the orb infinitely bounces from the ground.
At least fangame authors now have a reference of how ZUN did it originally, because really, this bad approximation of physics had to have been written that way on purpose. But hey, it uses 64-bit floating-point variables! :onricdennat:

…sometimes at least, and quite randomly. This was also where I had to learn about Turbo C++'s floating-point code generation, and how rigorously it defines the order of instructions when mixing double and float variables in arithmetic or conditional expressions. This meant that I could only get ZUN's original instruction order by using literal constants instead of variables, which is impossible right now without somehow splitting the data segment. In the end, I had to resort to spelling out ⅔ of one function, and one conditional branch of another, in inline ASM. 😕 If ZUN had just written 16.0 instead of 16.0f there, I would have saved quite some hours of my life trying to decompile this correctly…

To sort of make up for the slowdown in progress, here's the TH01 orb physics debug mod I made to properly understand them. Edit (2022-07-12): This mod is outdated, 📝 the current version is here! 2020-06-13-TH01OrbPhysicsDebug.zip To use it, simply replace REIIDEN.EXE, and run the game in debug mode, via game d on the DOS prompt.
Its code might also serve as an example of how to achieve this sort of thing without position independence.

Screenshot of the TH01 orb physics debug mod

Alright, now it's time for player shots though. Yeah, sure, they don't move horizontally, so it's not too bad that those are also always rendered at byte-aligned positions. But, uh… why does this code only use the 16×16 alpha-masked unblitting function for decaying shots, and just sloppily unblits an entire 16×16 square everywhere else?

The worst part though: Unblitting, moving, and rendering player shots is done in a single function, in that order. And that's exactly where TH01's sprite flickering comes from. Since different types of sprites are free to overlap each other, you'd have to first unblit all types, then move all types, and then render all types, as done in later PC-98 Touhou games. If you do these three steps per-type instead, you will unblit sprites of other types that have been rendered before… and therefore end up with flicker.
Oh, and finally, ZUN also added an additional sloppy 16×16 square unblit call if a shot collides with a pellet or a boss, for some guaranteed flicker. Sigh.


And that's ⅓ of all ZUN code in TH01 decompiled! Next up: Pellets!

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0095
Commits:
57a8487...8ddb778
💰 Funded by:
Yanga
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ position-independence+ pc98- thief+

🎉 TH01's OP.EXE and FUUIN.EXE are now fully position-independent! 🎉

What does this mean?

You can now add any data or code to TH01's main menu or ending cutscenes, by simply editing the ReC98 source, writing your mod in ASM or C++, and recompiling the code. Since all absolute memory addresses in OP and FUUIN have now been converted to labels, this will work without causing any instability. See the position independence section in the FAQ for a more thorough explanation about why this was a problem.
As an example, the most popular TH01 mod idea, replacing MDRV2 with PMD, could now at least be prototyped and tested in OP.EXE, without having to worry about x86 instruction lengths.
📝 Check the video I made for the TH04/TH05 OP.EXE PI announcement for a basic overview of how to do that.

What does this not mean?

The original ZUN code hasn't been completely decompiled yet. The final high-level parts of both the main menu and the cutscenes are still ASM, which might make modding a bit inconvenient right now.
It's not that much more code though, and could quickly be covered in a few pushes if requested. Due to the plentiful monthly subscriptions, the shop will stay closed for regular orders until the end of June, but backers with outstanding contributions could request that now if they want to – simply drop me a mail. Otherwise, the "generic TH01 RE" money will continue to go towards the main game. That way, we'll have more substance to show once we do decide to decompile the rest of OP.EXE and FUUIN.EXE, and likely get some press coverage as a result.


Then again, we've been building up to this point over the last few pushes, and it only really needed a quick look over the remaining false positives. The majority of the time therefore went towards more PI in REIIDEN.EXE, where the bitplane pointers for .BOS files yielded some quite big gains. Couldn't really find any obvious reason why ZUN used two slighly different variations on loading and blitting those files, though… :onricdennat:

As the final function in this rather random push, we got TH01's hardware-powered scrolling function, used for screen shaking effects and the scrolling backgrounds at the start of the Final Boss stages. And while I tried to document all these I/O writes… it turned out that ZUN actually copied the entire function straight from the PC-9801 Programmers' Bible, with no changes. :zunpet: It's the setgsta() example function on page 150. Which is terribly suboptimal and bloated – all those integer divisions are really not how you'd write such code for a 16-bit compiler from the 90's…

And that gives us 60% PI overall, and 50% PI over all of TH01! Next up: More structures… and classes, even?

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0080
Commits:
cd48aa3...0252da2
💰 Funded by:
Splashman, Ember2528
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ pc98- palette+

Last part of TH01's main graphics function segment, and we've got even more code that alternates between being boring and being slightly weird. But at least, "boring" also meant "consistent" for once. And so progress continued to be as fast as expected from the last TH01 pushes, yielding 3.3% in TH01 RE%, and 1% in overall RE%, within a single day. There even was enough time to decompile another full code segment, which bundles all the hardware initialization and cleanup calls into single functions to be run when starting and exiting the game. Which might be interesting for at least one person, I guess :tannedcirno:

But seriously, trying to access page 2 on a system with only page 0 and 1? Had to get out my real PC-98 to double-check that I wasn't missing anything here, since every emulator only looks at the bottom bit of the page number. But real hardware seems to do the same, and there really is nothing special to it semantically, being equivalent to page 0. 🤷

Next up in TH01, we'll have some file format code!

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0067, P0068, P0069
Commits:
e55a48b...ebb30ce, ebb30ce...2ac00d4, e0d0dcd...0f18dbc
💰 Funded by:
Splashman, Yanga, [Anonymous]
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ pc98- blitting+ glitch+ boss+ mima-th01+ yuugenmagan+

Now that's more like the speed I was expecting! After a few more unused functions for palette fading and rectangle blitting, we've reached the big line drawing functions. And the biggest one among them, drawing a straight line at any angle between two points using Bresenham's algorithm, actually happens to be the single longest function present in more than one binary in all of PC-98 Touhou, and #23 on the list of individual longest functions.

And it technically has a ZUN bug! If you pass a point outside the (0, 0) - (639, 399) screen range, the function will calculate a new point at the edge of the screen, so that the resulting line will retain the angle intended by the points given. Except that it does so by calculating the line slope using an integer division rather than a floating-point one :zunpet: Doesn't seem like it actually causes any weirdly skewed lines to be drawn in-game, though; that case is only hit in the Mima boss fight, which draws a few lines with a bottom coordinate of 400 rather than the maximum of 399. It might also cause the wrong background pixels to be restored during parts of the YuugenMagan fight, leading to flickering sprites, but seriously, that's an issue everywhere you look in this game.

Together with the rendering-text-to-VRAM function we've mostly already known from TH02, this pushed the total RE percentage well over 20%, and almost doubled the TH01 RE percentage, all within three pushes. And comparatively, it went really smoothly, to the point (ha) where I even had enough time left to also include the single-point functions that come next in that code segment. Since about half of the remaining functions in OP.EXE are present in more than just itself, I'll be able to at least keep up this speed until OP.EXE hits the 70% RE mark. That is, as long as the backers' priorities continue to be generic RE or "giving some love to TH01"… we don't have a precedent for TH01's actual game code yet.

And that's all the TH01 progress funded for January! Next up, we actually do have a focus on TH03's game and scoring mechanics… or at least the foundation for that.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0059
Commits:
01de290...8b62780
💰 Funded by:
[Anonymous], -Tom-
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th04+ th05+ pc98- position-independence+ uth05win+ meta+

With no feedback to 📝 last week's blog post, I assume you all are fine with how things are going? Alright then, another one towards position independence, with the same approach as before…

Since -Tom- wanted to learn something about how the PC-98 EGC is used in TH04 and TH05, I took a look at master.lib's egc_shift_*() functions. These simply do a hardware-accelerated memmove() of any VRAM region, and are used for screen shaking effects. Hover over the image below for the raw effect:

Demonstration of an egc_shift_left() call

Then, I finally wanted to take a look at the bullet structures, but it required way too much reverse-engineering to even start within ¾ of a position independence push. Even with the help of uth05win – bullet handling was changed quite a bit from TH04 to TH05.

What I ultimately settled on was more raw, "boring" PI work based around an already known set of functions. For this one, I looked at vector construction… and this time, that actually made the games a little bit more position-independent, and wasn't just all about removing false positives from the calculation. This was one of the few sets of functions that would also apply to TH01, and it revealed just how chaotically that game was coded. This one commit shows three ways how ZUN stored regular 2D points in TH01:

… yeah. But in more productive news, this did actually lay the groundwork for TH04 and TH05 bullet structures. Which might even be coming up within the next big, 5-push order from Touhou Patch Center? These are the priorities I got from them, let's see how close I can get!

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0043, P0044, P0045
Commits:
261d503...612beb8
💰 Funded by:
-Tom-
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th02+ th03+ th04+ th05+ pc98- blitting+ uth05win+

Turns out I had only been about half done with the drawing routines. The rest was all related to redrawing the scrolling stage backgrounds after other sprites were drawn on top. Since the PC-98 does have hardware-accelerated scrolling, but no hardware-accelerated sprites, everything that draws animated sprites into a scrolling VRAM must then also make sure that the background tiles covered by the sprite are redrawn in the next frame, which required a bit of ZUN code. And that are the functions that have been in the way of the expected rapid reverse-engineering progress that uth05win was supposed to bring. So, looks like everything's going to go really fast now?

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0025, P0026, P0027
Commits:
0cde4b7...261d503
💰 Funded by:
zorg
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th02+ th03+ th04+ th05+ pc98- blitting+ file-format+ mod+

… yeah, no, we won't get very far without figuring out these drawing routines.
Which process data that comes from the .STD files. Which has various arrays related to the background… including one to specify the scrolling speed. And wait, setting that to 0 actually is what starts a boss battle?

So, have a TH05 Boss Rush patch: 2018-12-26-TH05BossRush.zip Theoretically, this should have also worked for TH04, but for some reason, the Stage 3 boss gets stuck on the first phase if we do this?

Here's the diff for the Boss Rush. Turning it into a thcrap-style Skipgame patch is left as an exercise for the reader.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0040
Commits:
d7483c0...b03bc91
💰 Funded by:
-Tom-
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th04+ th05+ pc98- animation+

Let's start this stretch with a pretty simple entity type, the growing and shrinking circles shown during bomb animations and around bosses in TH04 and TH05. Which can be drawn in varying colors… wait, what's all this inlined and duplicated GRCG mode and color setting code? Let's move that out into macros too, it takes up too much space when grepping for constants, and will raise a "wait, what was that I/O port doing again" question for most people reading the code again after a few months.

🎉 With this push, we've also hit a milestone! Less than 200,000 unknown x86 instructions remain until we've completely reverse-engineered all of PC-98 Touhou.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0019, P0020, P0021, P0022
Commits:
c592464, cbe8a37, 8dfc2cd, 79cc3ed
💰 Funded by:
zorg
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th03+ th04+ th05+ pc98- input+
> OK, let's do a quick ReC98 update before going back to thcrap, shouldn't take long > Hm, all that input code is kind of in the way, would be nice to cover that first to ease comparisons with uth05win's source code > What the hell, why does ZUN do this? Need to do more research > … > OK, research done, wait, what are those other functions doing? > Wha, everything about this is just ever so slightly awkward

Which ended up turning this one update into 2/10, 3/10, 4/10 and 5/10 of zorg's reverse-engineering commits. But at least we now got all shared input functions of TH02-TH05 covered and well understood.