⮜ Blog

⮜ List of tags

Showing all posts tagged tcc-

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0207, P0208, P0209, P0210, P0211
Commits:
454c105...c26ef4b, c26ef4b...239a3ec, 239a3ec...5030867, 5030867...149fbca, 149fbca...d398a94
💰 Funded by:
GhostPhanom, Yanga, Arandui, Lmocinemod
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ gameplay+ boss+ yuugenmagan+ danmaku-pattern+ unused+ blitting+ palette+ tcc-

Whew, TH01's boss code just had to end with another beast of a boss, taking way longer than it should have and leaving uncomfortably little time for the rest of the game. Let's get right into the overview of YuugenMagan, the most sequential and scripted battle in this game:


At a pixel-perfect 81×61 pixels, the Orb hitboxes are laid out rather generously this time, reaching quite a bit outside the 64×48 eye sprites:

TH01 YuugenMagan's hitboxes.

And that's about the only positive thing I can say about a position calculation in this fight. Phase 0 already starts with the lasers being off by 1 pixel from the center of the iris. Sure, 28 may be a nicer number to add than 29, but the result won't be byte-aligned either way? This is followed by the eastern laser's hitbox somehow being 24 pixels larger than the others, stretching a rather unexpected 70 pixels compared to the 46 of every other laser.
On a more hilarious note, the eye closing keyframe contains the following (pseudo-)code, comprising the only real accidentally "unused" danmaku subpattern in TH01:

// Did you mean ">= RANK_HARD"?
if(rank == RANK_HARD) {
	eye_north.fire_aimed_wide_5_spread();
	eye_southeast.fire_aimed_wide_5_spread();
	eye_southwest.fire_aimed_wide_5_spread();

	// Because this condition can never be true otherwise.
	// As a result, no pellets will be spawned on Lunatic mode.
	// (There is another Lunatic-exclusive subpattern later, though.)
	if(rank == RANK_LUNATIC) {
		eye_west.fire_aimed_wide_5_spread();
		eye_east.fire_aimed_wide_5_spread();
	}
}

Featuring the weirdly extended hitbox for the eastern laser, as well as an initial Reimu position that points out the disparity between byte-aligned rendering and the internal coordinates one final time.

After a few utility functions that look more like a quickly abandoned refactoring attempt, we quickly get to the main attraction: YuugenMagan combines the entire boss script and most of the pattern code into a single 2,634-instruction function, totaling 9,677 bytes inside REIIDEN.EXE. For comparison, ReC98's version of this code consists of at least 49 functions, excluding those I had to add to work around ZUN's little inconsistencies, or the ones I added for stylistic reasons.
In fact, this function is so large that Turbo C++ 4.0J refuses to generate assembly output for it via the -S command-line option, aborting with a Compiler table limit exceeded in function error. Contrary to what the Borland C++ 4.0 User Guide suggests, this instance of the error is not at all related to the number of function bodies or any metric of algorithmic complexity, but is simply a result of the compiler's internal text representation for a single function overflowing a 64 KiB memory segment. Merely shortening the names of enough identifiers within the function can help to get that representation down below 64 KiB. If you encounter this error during regular software development, you might interpret it as the compiler's roundabout way of telling you that it inlined way more function calls than you probably wanted to have inlined. Because you definitely won't explicitly spell out such a long function in newly-written code, right? :tannedcirno:
At least it wasn't the worst copy-pasting job in this game; that trophy still goes to 📝 Elis. And while the tracking code for adjusting an eye's sprite according to the player's relative position is one of the main causes behind all the bloat, it's also 100% consistent, and might have been an inlined class method in ZUN's original code as well.

The clear highlight in this fight though? Almost no coordinate is precisely calculated where you'd expect it to be. In particular, all bullet spawn positions completely ignore the direction the eyes are facing to:

Pellets unexpectedly spawned at the exact
	bottom center of an eye
Combining the bottom of the pupil with the exact horizontal center of the sprite as a whole might sound like a good idea, but looks especially wrong if the eye is facing right.
Missile spawn positions in the TH01
	YuugenMagan fight
Here it's the other way round: OK for a right-facing eye, really wrong for a left-facing one.
Spawn position of the 3-pixel laser in the
	TH01 YuugenMagan fight
Dude, the eye is even supposed to track the laser in this one!
The final center position of the regular
	pentagram in the TH01 YuugenMagan fight
Hint: That's not the center of the playfield. At least the pellets are sort of correct, but with the corner calculates precomputed, you could only get them wrong on purpose.

Due to their effect on gameplay, these inaccuracies can't even be called "bugs", and made me devise a new "quirk" category instead. More on that in the TH01 100% blog post, though.


While we did see an accidentally unused bullet pattern earlier, I can now say with certainty that there are no truly unused danmaku patterns in TH01, i.e., pattern code that exists but is never called. However, the code for YuugenMagan's phase 5 reveals another small piece of danmaku design intention that never shows up within the parameters of the original game.
By default, pellets are clipped when they fly past the top of the playfield, which we can clearly observe for the first few pellets of this pattern. Interestingly though, the second subpattern actually configures its pellets to fall straight down from the top of the playfield instead. You never see this happening in-game because ZUN limited that subpattern to a downwards angle range of 0x73 or 162°, resulting in none of its pellets ever getting close to the top of the playfield. If we extend that range to a full 360° though, we can see how ZUN might have originally planned the pattern to end:

YuugenMagan's phase 5 patterns, on , with the second subpattern extended to reveal the different pellet behavior that remained in the final game code. In the original game, the eyes would stop spawning bullets on this frame.

If we also disregard everything else about YuugenMagan that fits the upcoming definition of quirk, we're left with 6 "fixable" bugs, all of which are a symptom of general blitting and unblitting laziness. Funnily enough, they can all be demonstrated within a short 9-second part of the fight, from the end of phase 9 up until the pentagram starts spinning in phase 13:

  1. General flickering whenever any sprite overlaps an eye. This is caused by only reblitting each eye every 3 frames, and is an issue all throughout the fight. You might have already spotted it in the videos above.
  2. Each of the two lasers is unblitted and blitted individually instead of each operation being done for both lasers together. Remember how 📝 ZUN unblits 32 horizontal pixels for every row of a line regardless of its width? That's why the top part of the left, right-moving laser is never visible, because it's blitted before the other laser is unblitted.
  3. ZUN forgot to unblit the lasers when phase 9 ends. This footage was recorded by pressing ↵ Return in debug mode, and it's probably impossible to achieve this during actual gameplay without TAS techniques. You would have to deal the required 6 points of damage within 491 frames, with the eye being invincible during 240 of them. Simply shooting up an Orb with a horizontal velocity of 0 would also only work a single time, as boss entities always repel the Orb with a horizontal velocity of ±4.
  4. The shrinking pentagram is unblitted after the eyes were blitted, adding another guaranteed frame of flicker on top of the ones in 1). Like in 2), the blockiness of the holes is another result of unblitting 32 pixels per row at a time.
  5. Another missing unblitting call in a phase transition, as the pentagram switches from its not quite correctly interpolated shrunk form to a regular star polygon with a radius of 64 pixels. Indirectly caused by the massively bloated coordinate calculation for the shrink animation being done separately for the unblitting and blitting calls. Instead of, y'know, just doing it once and storing the result in variables that can later be reused.
  6. The pentagram is not reblitted at all during the first 100 frames of phase 13. During that rather long time, it's easily possible to remove it from VRAM completely by covering its area with player shots. Or HARRY UP pellets.

Definitely an appropriate end for this game's entity blitting code. :onricdennat: I'm really looking forward to writing a proper sprite system for the Anniversary Edition…

And just in case you were wondering about the hitboxes of these pentagrams as they slam themselves into Reimu:

62 pixels on the X axis, centered around each corner point of the star, 16 pixels below, and extending infinitely far up. The latter part becomes especially devious because the game always collision-detects all 5 corners, regardless of whether they've already clipped through the bottom of the playfield. The simultaneously occurring shape distortions are simply a result of the line drawing function's rather poor re-interpolation of any line that runs past the 640×400 VRAM boundaries; 📝 I described that in detail back when I debugged the shootout laser crash. Ironically, using fixed-size hitboxes for a variable-sized pentagram means that the larger one is easier to dodge.


The final puzzle in TH01's boss code comes 📝 once again in the form of weird hardware palette changes. The kanji on the background image goes through various colors throughout the fight, which ZUN implemented by gradually incrementing and decrementing either a single one or none of the color's three 4-bit components at the beginning of each even-numbered phase. The resulting color sequence, however, doesn't quite seem to follow these simple rules:

Adding some debug output sheds light on what's going on there:

Since each iteration of phase 12 adds 63 to the red component, integer overflow will cause the color to infinitely alternate between dark-blue and red colors on every 2.03 iterations of the pentagram phase loop. The 65th iteration will therefore be the first one with a dark-blue color for a third iteration in a row – just in case you manage to stall the fight for that long.

Yup, ZUN had so much trust in the color clamping done by his hardware palette functions that he did not clamp the increment operation on the stage_palette itself. :zunpet: Therefore, the 邪 colors and even the timing of their changes from Phase 6 onwards are "defined" by wildly incrementing color components beyond their intended domain, so much that even the underlying signed 8-bit integer ends up overflowing. Given that the decrement operation on the stage_palette is clamped though, this might be another one of those accidents that ZUN deliberately left in the game, 📝 similar to the conclusion I reached with infinite bumper loops.
But guess what, that's also the last time we're going to encounter this type of palette component domain quirk! Later games use master.lib's 8-bit palette system, which keeps the comfort of using a single byte per component, but shifts the actual hardware color into the top 4 bits, leaving the bottom 4 bits for added precision during fades.

OK, but now we're done with TH01's bosses! 🎉That was the 8th PC-98 Touhou boss in total, leaving 23 to go.


With all the necessary research into these quirks going well into a fifth push, I spent the remaining time in that one with transferring most of the data between YuugenMagan and the upcoming rest of REIIDEN.EXE into C land. This included the one piece of technical debt in TH01 we've been carrying around since March 2015, as well as the final piece of the ending sequence in FUUIN.EXE. Decompiling that executable's main() function in a meaningful way requires pretty much all remaining data from REIIDEN.EXE to also be moved into C land, just in case you were wondering why we're stuck at 99.46% there.
On a more disappointing note, the static initialization code for the 📝 5 boss entity slots ultimately revealed why YuugenMagan's code is as bloated and redundant as it is: The 5 slots really are 5 distinct variables rather than a single 5-element array. That's why ZUN explicitly spells out all 5 eyes every time, because the array he could have just looped over simply didn't exist. 😕 And while these slot variables are stored in a contiguous area of memory that I could just have taken the address of and then indexed it as if it were an array, I didn't want to annoy future port authors with what would technically be out-of-bounds array accesses for purely stylistic reasons. At least it wasn't that big of a deal to rewrite all boss code to use these distinct variables, although I certainly had to get a bit creative with Elis.

Next up: Finding out how many points we got in totle, and hoping that ZUN didn't hide more unexpected complexities in the remaining 45 functions of this game. If you have to spare, there are two ways in which that amount of money would help right:

📝 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:
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:
P0186, P0187, P0188
Commits:
a21ab3d...bab5634, bab5634...426a531, 426a531...e881f95
💰 Funded by:
Blue Bolt, [Anonymous], nrook
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th02+ th04+ th05+ gameplay+ boss+ portability+ tcc- master.lib+ bug+ marisa-4+ gengetsu+ score+

Did you know that moving on top of a boss sprite doesn't kill the player in TH04, only in TH05?

Screenshot of Reimu moving on top of Stage 6 Yuuka, demonstrating the lack of boss↔player collision in TH04
Yup, Reimu is not getting hit… yet.

That's the first of only three interesting discoveries in these 3 pushes, all of which concern TH04. But yeah, 3 for something as seemingly simple as these shared boss functions… that's still not quite the speed-up I had hoped for. While most of this can be blamed, again, on TH04 and all of its hardcoded complexities, there still was a lot of work to be done on the maintenance front as well. These functions reference a bunch of code I RE'd years ago and that still had to be brought up to current standards, with the dependencies reaching from 📝 boss explosions over 📝 text RAM overlay functionality up to in-game dialog loading.

The latter provides a good opportunity to talk a bit about x86 memory segmentation. Many aspiring PC-98 developers these days are very scared of it, with some even going as far as to rather mess with Protected Mode and DOS extenders just so that they don't have to deal with it. I wonder where that fear comes from… Could it be because every modern programming language I know of assumes memory to be flat, and lacks any standard language-level features to even express something like segments and offsets? That's why compilers have a hard time targeting 16-bit x86 these days: Doing anything interesting on the architecture requires giving the programmer full control over segmentation, which always comes down to adding the typical non-standard language extensions of compilers from back in the day. And as soon as DOS stopped being used, these extensions no longer made sense and were subsequently removed from newer tools. A good example for this can be found in an old version of the NASM manual: The project started as an attempt to make x86 assemblers simple again by throwing out most of the segmentation features from MASM-style assemblers, which made complete sense in 1996 when 16-bit DOS and Windows were already on their way out. But there was a point to all those features, and that's why ReC98 still has to use the supposedly inferior TASM.

Not that this fear of segmentation is completely unfounded: All the segmentation-related keywords, directives, and #pragmas provided by Borland C++ and TASM absolutely can be the cause of many weird runtime bugs. Even if the compiler or linker catches them, you are often left with confusing error messages that aged just as poorly as memory segmentation itself.
However, embracing the concept does provide quite the opportunity for optimizations. While it definitely was a very crazy idea, there is a small bit of brilliance to be gained from making proper use of all these segmentation features. Case in point: The buffer for the in-game dialog scripts in TH04 and TH05.

// Thanks to the semantics of `far` pointers, we only need a single 32-bit
// pointer variable for the following code.
extern unsigned char far *dialog_p;

// This master.lib function returns a `void __seg *`, which is a 16-bit
// segment-only pointer. Converting to a `far *` yields a full segment:offset
// pointer to offset 0000h of that segment.
dialog_p = (unsigned char far *)hmem_allocbyte(/* … */);

// Running the dialog script involves pointer arithmetic. On a far pointer,
// this only affects the 16-bit offset part, complete with overflow at 64 KiB,
// from FFFFh back to 0000h.
dialog_p += /* … */;
dialog_p += /* … */;
dialog_p += /* … */;

// Since the segment part of the pointer is still identical to the one we
// allocated above, we can later correctly free the buffer by pulling the
// segment back out of the pointer.
hmem_free((void __seg *)dialog_p);

If dialog_p was a huge pointer, any pointer arithmetic would have also adjusted the segment part, requiring a second pointer to store the base address for the hmem_free call. Doing that will also be necessary for any port to a flat memory model. Depending on how you look at it, this compression of two logical pointers into a single variable is either quite nice, or really, really dumb in its reliance on the precise memory model of one single architecture. :tannedcirno:


Why look at dialog loading though, wasn't this supposed to be all about shared boss functions? Well, TH04 unnecessarily puts certain stage-specific code into the boss defeat function, such as loading the alternate Stage 5 Yuuka defeat dialog before a Bad Ending, or initializing Gengetsu after Mugetsu's defeat in the Extra Stage.
That's TH04's second core function with an explicit conditional branch for Gengetsu, after the 📝 dialog exit code we found last year during EMS research. And I've heard people say that Shinki was the most hardcoded fight in PC-98 Touhou… Really, Shinki is a perfectly regular boss, who makes proper use of all internal mechanics in the way they were intended, and doesn't blast holes into the architecture of the game. Even within TH05, it's Mai and Yuki who rely on hacks and duplicated code, not Shinki.

The worst part about this though? How the function distinguishes Mugetsu from Gengetsu. Once again, it uses its own global variable to track whether it is called the first or the second time within TH04's Extra Stage, unrelated to the same variable used in the dialog exit function. But this time, it's not just any newly created, single-use variable, oh no. In a misguided attempt to micro-optimize away a few bytes of conventional memory, TH04 reserves 16 bytes of "generic boss state", which can (and are) freely used for anything a boss doesn't want to store in a more dedicated variable.
It might have been worth it if the bosses actually used most of these 16 bytes, but the majority just use (the same) two, with only Stage 4 Reimu using a whopping seven different ones. To reverse-engineer the various uses of these variables, I pretty much had to map out which of the undecompiled danmaku-pattern functions corresponds to which boss fight. In the end, I assigned 29 different variable names for each of the semantically different use cases, which made up another full push on its own.

Now, 16 bytes of wildly shared state, isn't that the perfect recipe for bugs? At least during this cursory look, I haven't found any obvious ones yet. If they do exist, it's more likely that they involve reused state from earlier bosses – just how the Shinki death glitch in TH05 is caused by reusing cheeto data from way back in Stage 4 – and hence require much more boss-specific progress.
And yes, it might have been way too early to look into all these tiny details of specific boss scripts… but then, this happened:

TH04 crashing to the DOS prompt in the Stage 4 Marisa fight, right as the last of her bits is destroyed

Looks similar to another screenshot of a crash in the same fight that was reported in December, doesn't it? I was too much in a hurry to figure it out exactly, but notice how both crashes happen right as the last of Marisa's four bits is destroyed. KirbyComment has suspected this to be the cause for a while, and now I can pretty much confirm it to be an unguarded division by the number of on-screen bits in Marisa-specific pattern code. But what's the cause for Kurumi then? :thonk:
As for fixing it, I can go for either a fast or a slow option:

  1. Superficially fixing only this crash will probably just take a fraction of a push.
  2. But I could also go for a deeper understanding by looking at TH04's version of the 📝 custom entity structure. It not only stores the data of Marisa's bits, but is also very likely to be involved in Kurumi's crash, and would get TH04 a lot closer to 100% PI. Taking that look will probably need at least 2 pushes, and might require another 3-4 to completely decompile Marisa's fight, and 2-3 to decompile Kurumi's.

OK, now that that's out of the way, time to finish the boss defeat function… but not without stumbling over the third of TH04's quirks, relating to the Clear Bonus for the main game or the Extra Stage:

And after another few collision-related functions, we're now truly, finally ready to decompile bosses in both TH04 and TH05! Just as the anything funds were running out… :onricdennat: The remaining ¼ of the third push then went to Shinki's 32×32 ball bullets, rounding out this delivery with a small self-contained piece of the first TH05 boss we're probably going to look at.

Next up, though: I'm not sure, actually. Both Shinki and Elis seem just a little bit larger than the 2¼ or 4 pushes purchased so far, respectively. Now that there's a bunch of room left in the cap again, I'll just let the next contribution decide – with a preference for Shinki in case of a tie. And if it will take longer than usual for the store to sell out again this time (heh), there's still the 📝 PC-98 text RAM JIS trail word rendering research waiting to be documented.

📝 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:
P0165, P0166, P0167
Commits:
7a0e5d8...f2bca01, f2bca01...e697907, e697907...c2de6ab
💰 Funded by:
Ember2528
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ gameplay+ animation+ blitting+ bullet+ glitch+ waste+ boss+ singyoku+ mima-th01+ elis+ tcc- menu+

OK, TH01 missile bullets. Can we maybe have a well-behaved entity type, without any weirdness? Just once?

Ehh, kinda. Apart from another 150 bytes wasted on unused structure members, this code is indeed more on the low end in terms of overall jank. It does become very obvious why dodging these missiles in the YuugenMagan, Mima, and Elis fights feels so awful though: An unfair 46×46 pixel hitbox around Reimu's center pixel, combined with the comeback of 📝 interlaced rendering, this time in every stage. ZUN probably did this because missiles are the only 16×16 sprite in TH01 that is blitted to unaligned X positions, which effectively ends up touching a 32×16 area of VRAM per sprite.
But even if we assume VRAM writes to be the bottleneck here, it would have been totally possible to render every missile in every frame at roughly the same amount of CPU time that the original game uses for interlaced rendering:

That's an optimization that would have significantly benefitted the game, in contrast to all of the fake ones introduced in later games. Then again, this optimization is actually something that the later games do, and it might have in fact been necessary to achieve their higher bullet counts without significant slowdown.

Unfortunately, it was only worth decompiling half of the missile code right now, thanks to gratuitous FPU usage in the other half, where 📝 double variables are compared to float literals. That one will have to wait 📝 until after SinGyoku.


After some effectively unused Mima sprite effect code that is so broken that it's impossible to make sense out of it, we get to the final feature I wanted to cover for all bosses in parallel before returning to Sariel: The separate sprite background storage for moving or animated boss sprites in the Mima, Elis, and Sariel fights. But, uh… why is this necessary to begin with? Doesn't TH01 already reserve the other VRAM page for backgrounds?
Well, these sprites are quite big, and ZUN didn't want to blit them from main memory on every frame. After all, TH01 and TH02 had a minimum required clock speed of 33 MHz, half of the speed required for the later three games. So, he simply blitted these boss sprites to both VRAM pages, leading the usual unblitting calls to only remove the other sprites on top of the boss. However, these bosses themselves want to move across the screen… and this makes it necessary to save the stage background behind them in some other way.

Enter .PTN, and its functions to capture a 16×16 or 32×32 square from VRAM into a sprite slot. No problem with that approach in theory, as the size of all these bigger sprites is a multiple of 32×32; splitting a larger sprite into these smaller 32×32 chunks makes the code look just a little bit clumsy (and, of course, slower).
But somewhere during the development of Mima's fight, ZUN apparently forgot that those sprite backgrounds existed. And once Mima's 🚫 casting sprite is blitted on top of her regular sprite, using just regular sprite transparency, she ends up with her infamous third arm:

TH01 Mima's third arm

Ironically, there's an unused code path in Mima's unblit function where ZUN assumes a height of 48 pixels for Mima's animation sprites rather than the actual 64. This leads to even clumsier .PTN function calls for the bottom 128×16 pixels… Failing to unblit the bottom 16 pixels would have also yielded that third arm, although it wouldn't have looked as natural. Still wouldn't say that it was intentional; maybe this casting sprite was just added pretty late in the game's development?


So, mission accomplished, Sariel unblocked… at 2¼ pushes. :thonk: That's quite some time left for some smaller stage initialization code, which bundles a bunch of random function calls in places where they logically really don't belong. The stage opening animation then adds a bunch of VRAM inter-page copies that are not only redundant but can't even be understood without knowing the hidden internal state of the last VRAM page accessed by previous ZUN code…
In better news though: Turbo C++ 4.0 really doesn't seem to have any complexity limit on inlining arithmetic expressions, as long as they only operate on compile-time constants. That's how we get macro-free, compile-time Shift-JIS to JIS X 0208 conversion of the individual code points in the 東方★靈異伝 string, in a compiler from 1994. As long as you don't store any intermediate results in variables, that is… :tannedcirno:

But wait, there's more! With still ¼ of a push left, I also went for the boss defeat animation, which includes the route selection after the SinGyoku fight.
As in all other instances, the 2× scaled font is accomplished by first rendering the text at regular 1× resolution to the other, invisible VRAM page, and then scaled from there to the visible one. However, the route selection is unique in that its scaled text is both drawn transparently on top of the stage background (not onto a black one), and can also change colors depending on the selection. It would have been no problem to unblit and reblit the text by rendering the 1× version to a position on the invisible VRAM page that isn't covered by the 2× version on the visible one, but ZUN (needlessly) clears the invisible page before rendering any text. :zunpet: Instead, he assigned a separate VRAM color for both the 魔界 and 地獄 options, and only changed the palette value for these colors to white or gray, depending on the correct selection. This is another one of the 📝 rare cases where TH01 demonstrates good use of PC-98 hardware, as the 魔界へ and 地獄へ strings don't need to be reblitted during the selection process, only the Orb "cursor" does.

Then, why does this still not count as good-code? When changing palette colors, you kinda need to be aware of everything else that can possibly be on screen, which colors are used there, and which aren't and can therefore be used for such an effect without affecting other sprites. In this case, well… hover over the image below, and notice how Reimu's hair and the bomb sprites in the HUD light up when Makai is selected:

Demonstration of palette changes in TH01's route selection

This push did end on a high note though, with the generic, non-SinGyoku version of the defeat animation being an easily parametrizable copy. And that's how you decompile another 2.58% of TH01 in just slightly over three pushes.


Now, we're not only ready to decompile Sariel, but also Kikuri, Elis, and SinGyoku without needing any more detours into non-boss code. Thanks to the current TH01 funding subscriptions, I can plan to cover most, if not all, of Sariel in a single push series, but the currently 3 pending pushes probably won't suffice for Sariel's 8.10% of all remaining code in TH01. We've got quite a lot of not specifically TH01-related funds in the backlog to pass the time though.

Due to recent developments, it actually makes quite a lot of sense to take a break from TH01: spaztron64 has managed what every Touhou download site so far has failed to do: Bundling all 5 game onto a single .HDI together with pre-configured PC-98 emulators and a nice boot menu, and hosting the resulting package on a proper website. While this first release is already quite good (and much better than my attempt from 2014), there is still a bit of room for improvement to be gained from specific ReC98 research. Next up, therefore:

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0160, P0161
Commits:
e491cd7...42ba4a5, 42ba4a5...81dd96e
💰 Funded by:
Yanga, [Anonymous]
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ gameplay+ resident+ bullet+ boss+ mima-th01+ animation+ waste+ glitch+ tcc-

Nothing really noteworthy in TH01's stage timer code, just yet another HUD element that is needlessly drawn into VRAM. Sure, ZUN applies his custom boldfacing effect on top of the glyphs retrieved from font ROM, but he could have easily installed those modified glyphs as gaiji.
Well, OK, halfwidth gaiji aren't exactly well documented, and sometimes not even correctly emulated 📝 due to the same PC-98 hardware oddity I was researching last month. I've reserved two of the pending anonymous "anything" pushes for the conclusion of this research, just in case you were wondering why the outstanding workload is now lower after the two delivered here.

And since it doesn't seem to be clearly documented elsewhere: Every 2 ticks on the stage timer correspond to 4 frames.


So, TH01 rank pellet speed. The resident pellet speed value is a factor ranging from a minimum of -0.375 up to a maximum of 0.5 (pixels per frame), multiplied with the difficulty-adjusted base speed for each pellet and added on top of that same speed. This multiplier is modified

Apparently, ZUN noted that these deltas couldn't be losslessly stored in an IEEE 754 floating-point variable, and therefore didn't store the pellet speed factor exactly in a way that would correspond to its gameplay effect. Instead, it's stored similar to Q12.4 subpixels: as a simple integer, pre-multiplied by 40. This results in a raw range of -15 to 20, which is what the undecompiled ASM calls still use. When spawning a new pellet, its base speed is first multiplied by that factor, and then divided by 40 again. This is actually quite smart: The calculation doesn't need to be aware of either Q12.4 or the 40× format, as ((Q12.4 * factor×40) / factor×40) still comes out as a Q12.4 subpixel even if all numbers are integers. The only limiting issue here would be the potential overflow of the 16-bit multiplication at unadjusted base speeds of more than 50 pixels per frame, but that'd be seriously unplayable.
So yeah, pellet speed modifications are indeed gradual, and don't just fall into the coarse three "high, normal, and low" categories.


That's ⅝ of P0160 done, and the continue and pause menus would make good candidates to fill up the remaining ⅜… except that it seemed impossible to figure out the correct compiler options for this code?
The issues centered around the two effects of Turbo C++ 4.0J's -O switch:

  1. Optimizing jump instructions: merging duplicate successive jumps into a single one, and merging duplicated instructions at the end of conditional branches into a single place under a single branch, which the other branches then jump to
  2. Compressing ADD SP and POP CX stack-clearing instructions after multiple successive CALLs to __cdecl functions into a single ADD SP with the combined parameter stack size of all function calls

But how can the ASM for these functions exhibit #1 but not #2? How can it be seemingly optimized and unoptimized at the same time? The only option that gets somewhat close would be -O- -y, which emits line number information into the .OBJ files for debugging. This combination provides its own kind of #1, but these functions clearly need the real deal.

The research into this issue ended up consuming a full push on its own. In the end, this solution turned out to be completely unrelated to compiler options, and instead came from the effects of a compiler bug in a totally different place. Initializing a local structure instance or array like

const uint4_t flash_colors[3] = { 3, 4, 5 };

always emits the { 3, 4, 5 } array into the program's data segment, and then generates a call to the internal SCOPY@ function which copies this data array to the local variable on the stack. And as soon as this SCOPY@ call is emitted, the -O optimization #1 is disabled for the entire rest of the translation unit?!
So, any code segment with an SCOPY@ call followed by __cdecl functions must strictly be decompiled from top to bottom, mirroring the original layout of translation units. That means no TH01 continue and pause menus before we haven't decompiled the bomb animation, which contains such an SCOPY@ call. 😕
Luckily, TH01 is the only game where this bug leads to significant restrictions in decompilation order, as later games predominantly use the pascal calling convention, in which each function itself clears its stack as part of its RET instruction.


What now, then? With 51% of REIIDEN.EXE decompiled, we're slowly running out of small features that can be decompiled within ⅜ of a push. Good that I haven't been looking a lot into OP.EXE and FUUIN.EXE, which pretty much only got easy pieces of code left to do. Maybe I'll end up finishing their decompilations entirely within these smaller gaps?
I still ended up finding one more small piece in REIIDEN.EXE though: The particle system, seen in the Mima fight.

I like how everything about this animation is contained within a single function that is called once per frame, but ZUN could have really consolidated the spawning code for new particles a bit. In Mima's fight, particles are only spawned from the top and right edges of the screen, but the function in fact contains unused code for all other 7 possible directions, written in quite a bloated manner. This wouldn't feel quite as unused if ZUN had used an angle parameter instead… :thonk: Also, why unnecessarily waste another 40 bytes of the BSS segment?

But wait, what's going on with the very first spawned particle that just stops near the bottom edge of the screen in the video above? Well, even in such a simple and self-contained function, ZUN managed to include an off-by-one error. This one then results in an out-of-bounds array access on the 80th frame, where the code attempts to spawn a 41st particle. If the first particle was unlucky to be both slow enough and spawned away far enough from the bottom and right edges, the spawning code will then kill it off before its unblitting code gets to run, leaving its pixel on the screen until something else overlaps it and causes it to be unblitted.
Which, during regular gameplay, will quickly happen with the Orb, all the pellets flying around, and your own player movement. Also, the RNG can easily spawn this particle at a position and velocity that causes it to leave the screen more quickly. Kind of impressive how ZUN laid out the structure of arrays in a way that ensured practically no effect of this bug on the game; this glitch could have easily happened every 80 frames instead. He almost got close to all bugs canceling out each other here! :godzun:

Next up: The player control functions, including the second-biggest function in all of PC-98 Touhou.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0149, P0150, P0151, P0152
Commits:
e1a26bb...05e4c4a, 05e4c4a...768251d, 768251d...4d24ca5, 4d24ca5...81fc861
💰 Funded by:
Blue Bolt, Ember2528, -Tom-, [Anonymous]
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th04+ th05+ gameplay+ bullet+ animation+ score+ glitch+ jank+ waste+ micro-optimization+ tcc- uth05win+

…or maybe not that soon, as it would have only wasted time to untangle the bullet update commits from the rest of the progress. So, here's all the bullet spawning code in TH04 and TH05 instead. I hope you're ready for this, there's a lot to talk about!

(For the sake of readability, "bullets" in this blog post refers to the white 8×8 pellets and all 16×16 bullets loaded from MIKO16.BFT, nothing else.)


But first, what was going on 📝 in 2020? Spent 4 pushes on the basic types and constants back then, still ended up confusing a couple of things, and even getting some wrong. Like how TH05's "bullet slowdown" flag actually always prevents slowdown and fires bullets at a constant speed instead. :tannedcirno: Or how "random spread" is not the best term to describe that unused bullet group type in TH04.
Or that there are two distinct ways of clearing all bullets on screen, which deserve different names:

Mechanic #1: Clearing bullets for a custom amount of time, awarding 1000 points for all bullets alive on the first frame, and 100 points for all bullets spawned during the clear time.
Mechanic #2: Zapping bullets for a fixed 16 frames, awarding a semi-exponential and loudly announced Bonus!! for all bullets alive on the first frame, and preventing new bullets from being spawned during those 16 frames. In TH04 at least; thanks to a ZUN bug, zapping got reduced to 1 frame and no animation in TH05…

Bullets are zapped at the end of most midboss and boss phases, and cleared everywhere else – most notably, during bombs, when losing a life, or as rewards for extends or a maximized Dream bonus. The Bonus!! points awarded for zapping bullets are calculated iteratively, so it's not trivial to give an exact formula for these. For a small number 𝑛 of bullets, it would exactly be 5𝑛³ - 10𝑛² + 15𝑛 points – or, using uth05win's (correct) recursive definition, Bonus(𝑛) = Bonus(𝑛-1) + 15𝑛² - 5𝑛 + 10. However, one of the internal step variables is capped at a different number of points for each difficulty (and game), after which the points only increase linearly. Hence, "semi-exponential".


On to TH04's bullet spawn code then, because that one can at least be decompiled. And immediately, we have to deal with a pointless distinction between regular bullets, with either a decelerating or constant velocity, and special bullets, with preset velocity changes during their lifetime. That preset has to be set somewhere, so why have separate functions? In TH04, this separation continues even down to the lowest level of functions, where values are written into the global bullet array. TH05 merges those two functions into one, but then goes too far and uses self-modifying code to save a grand total of two local variables… Luckily, the rest of its actual code is identical to TH04.

Most of the complexity in bullet spawning comes from the (thankfully shared) helper function that calculates the velocities of the individual bullets within a group. Both games handle each group type via a large switch statement, which is where TH04 shows off another Turbo C++ 4.0 optimization: If the range of case values is too sparse to be meaningfully expressed in a jump table, it usually generates a linear search through a second value table. But with the -G command-line option, it instead generates branching code for a binary search through the set of cases. 𝑂(log 𝑛) as the worst case for a switch statement in a C++ compiler from 1994… that's so cool. But still, why are the values in TH04's group type enum all over the place to begin with? :onricdennat:
Unfortunately, this optimization is pretty rare in PC-98 Touhou. It only shows up here and in a few places in TH02, compared to at least 50 switch value tables.

In all of its micro-optimized pointlessness, TH05's undecompilable version at least fixes some of TH04's redundancy. While it's still not even optimal, it's at least a decently written piece of ASM… if you take the time to understand what's going on there, because it certainly took quite a bit of that to verify that all of the things which looked like bugs or quirks were in fact correct. And that's how the code for this function ended up with 35% comments and blank lines before I could confidently call it "reverse-engineered"…
Oh well, at least it finally fixes a correctness issue from TH01 and TH04, where an invalid bullet group type would fill all remaining slots in the bullet array with identical versions of the first bullet.

Something that both games also share in these functions is an over-reliance on globals for return values or other local state. The most ridiculous example here: Tuning the speed of a bullet based on rank actually mutates the global bullet template… which ZUN then works around by adding a wrapper function around both regular and special bullet spawning, which saves the base speed before executing that function, and restores it afterward. :zunpet: Add another set of wrappers to bypass that exact tuning, and you've expanded your nice 1-function interface to 4 functions. Oh, and did I mention that TH04 pointlessly duplicates the first set of wrapper functions for 3 of the 4 difficulties, which can't even be explained with "debugging reasons"? That's 10 functions then… and probably explains why I've procrastinated this feature for so long.

At this point, I also finally stopped decompiling ZUN's original ASM just for the sake of it. All these small TH05 functions would look horribly unidiomatic, are identical to their decompiled TH04 counterparts anyway, except for some unique constant… and, in the case of TH05's rank-based speed tuning function, actually become undecompilable as soon as we want to return a C++ class to preserve the semantic meaning of the return value. Mainly, this is because Turbo C++ does not allow register pseudo-variables like _AX or _AL to be cast into class types, even if their size matches. Decompiling that function would have therefore lowered the quality of the rest of the decompiled code, in exchange for the additional maintenance and compile-time cost of another translation unit. Not worth it – and for a TH05 port, you'd already have to decompile all the rest of the bullet spawning code anyway!


The only thing in there that was still somewhat worth being decompiled was the pre-spawn clipping and collision detection function. Due to what's probably a micro-optimization mistake, the TH05 version continues to spawn a bullet even if it was spawned on top of the player. This might sound like it has a different effect on gameplay… until you realize that the player got hit in this case and will either lose a life or deathbomb, both of which will cause all on-screen bullets to be cleared anyway. So it's at most a visual glitch.

But while we're at it, can we please stop talking about hitboxes? At least in the context of TH04 and TH05 bullets. The actual collision detection is described way better as a kill delta of 8×8 pixels between the center points of the player and a bullet. You can distribute these pixels to any combination of bullet and player "hitboxes" that make up 8×8. 4×4 around both the player and bullets? 1×1 for bullets, and 8×8 for the player? All equally valid… or perhaps none of them, once you keep in mind that other entity types might have different kill deltas. With that in mind, the concept of a "hitbox" turns into just a confusing abstraction.

The same is true for the 36×44 graze box delta. For some reason, this one is not exactly around the center of a bullet, but shifted to the right by 2 pixels. So, a bullet can be grazed up to 20 pixels right of the player, but only up to 16 pixels left of the player. uth05win also spotted this… and rotated the deltas clockwise by 90°?!


Which brings us to the bullet updates… for which I still had to research a decompilation workaround, because 📝 P0148 turned out to not help at all? Instead, the solution was to lie to the compiler about the true segment distance of the popup function and declare its signature far rather than near. This allowed ZUN to save that ridiculous overhead of 1 additional far function call/return per frame, and those precious 2 bytes in the BSS segment that he didn't have to spend on a segment value. 📝 Another function that didn't have just a single declaration in a common header file… really, 📝 how were these games even built???

The function itself is among the longer ones in both games. It especially stands out in the indentation department, with 7 levels at its most indented point – and that's the minimum of what's possible without goto. Only two more notable discoveries there:

  1. Bullets are the only entity affected by Slow Mode. If the number of bullets on screen is ≥ (24 + (difficulty * 8) + rank) in TH04, or (42 + (difficulty * 8)) in TH05, Slow Mode reduces the frame rate by 33%, by waiting for one additional VSync event every two frames.
    The code also reveals a second tier, with 50% slowdown for a slightly higher number of bullets, but that conditional branch can never be executed :zunpet:
  2. Bullets must have been grazed in a previous frame before they can be collided with. (Note how this does not apply to bullets that spawned on top of the player, as explained earlier!)

Whew… When did ReC98 turn into a full-on code review?! 😅 And after all this, we're still not done with TH04 and TH05 bullets, with all the special movement types still missing. That should be less than one push though, once we get to it. Next up: Back to TH01 and Konngara! Now have fun rewriting the Touhou Wiki Gameplay pages 😛

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0146
Commits:
08bc188...456b621
💰 Funded by:
Ember2528, -Tom-
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th05+ tcc- animation+ boss+ shinki+ micro-optimization+ waste+ uth05win+

Y'know, I kinda prefer the pending crowdfunded workload to stay more near the middle of the cap, rather than being sold out all the time. So to reach this point more quickly, let's do the most relaxing thing that can be easily done in TH05 right now: The boss backgrounds, starting with Shinki's, 📝 now that we've got the time to look at it in detail.

… Oh come on, more things that are borderline undecompilable, and require new workarounds to be developed? Yup, Borland C++ always optimizes any comparison of a register with a literal 0 to OR reg, reg, no matter how many calculations and inlined function calls you replace the 0 with. Shinki's background particle rendering function contains a CMP AX, 0 instruction though… so yeah, 📝 yet another piece of custom ASM that's worse than what Turbo C++ 4.0J would have generated if ZUN had just written readable C. This was probably motivated by ZUN insisting that his modified master.lib function for blitting particles takes its X and Y parameters as registers. If he had just used the __fastcall convention, he also would have got the sprite ID passed as a register. 🤷
So, we really don't want to be forced into inline assembly just because of the third comparison in the otherwise perfectly decompilable four-comparison if() expression that prevents invisible particles from being drawn. The workaround: Comparing to a pointer instead, which only the linker gets to resolve to the actual value of 0. :tannedcirno: This way, the compiler has to make room for any 16-bit literal, and can't optimize anything.


And then we go straight from micro-optimization to waste, with all the duplication in the code that animates all those particles together with the zooming and spinning lines. This push decompiled 1.31% of all code in TH05, and thanks to alignment, we're still missing Shinki's high-level background rendering function that calls all the subfunctions I decompiled here.
With all the manipulated state involved here, it's not at all trivial to see how this code produces what you see in-game. Like:

  1. If all lines have the same Y velocity, how do the other three lines in background type B get pushed down into this vertical formation while the top one stays still? (Answer: This velocity is only applied to the top line, the other lines are only pushed based on some delta.)
  2. How can this delta be calculated based on the distance of the top line with its supposed target point around Shinki's wings? (Answer: The velocity is never set to 0, so the top line overshoots this target point in every frame. After calculating the delta, the top line itself is pushed down as well, canceling out the movement. :zunpet:)
  3. Why don't they get pushed down infinitely, but stop eventually? (Answer: We only see four lines out of 20, at indices #0, #6, #12, and #18. In each frame, lines [0..17] are copied to lines [1..18], before anything gets moved. The invisible lines are pushed down based on the delta as well, which defines a distance between the visible lines of (velocity * array gap). And since the velocity is capped at -14 pixels per frame, this also means a maximum distance of 84 pixels between the midpoints of each line.)
  4. And why are the lines moving back up when switching to background type C, before moving down? (Answer: Because type C increases the velocity rather than decreasing it. Therefore, it relies on the previous velocity state from type B to show a gapless animation.)

So yeah, it's a nice-looking effect, just very hard to understand. 😵

With the amount of effort I'm putting into this project, I typically gravitate towards more descriptive function names. Here, however, uth05win's simple and seemingly tiny-brained "background type A/B/C/D" was quite a smart choice. It clearly defines the sequence in which these animations are intended to be shown, and as we've seen with point 4 from the list above, that does indeed matter.

Next up: At least EX-Alice's background animations, and probably also the high-level parts of the background rendering for all the other TH05 bosses.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0137
Commits:
07bfcf2...8d953dc
💰 Funded by:
[Anonymous]
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th02+ th03+ th04+ th05+ build-process+ meta+ contribution-ideas+ mod+ tasm+ tcc-

Whoops, the build was broken again? Since P0127 from mid-November 2020, on TASM32 version 5.3, which also happens to be the one in the DevKit… That version changed the alignment for the default segments of certain memory models when requesting .386 support. And since redefining segment alignment apparently is highly illegal and absolutely has to be a build error, some of the stand-alone .ASM translation units didn't assemble anymore on this version. I've only spotted this on my own because I casually compiled ReC98 somewhere else – on my development system, I happened to have TASM32 version 5.0 in the PATH during all this time.
At least this was a good occasion to get rid of some weird segment alignment workarounds from 2015, and replace them with the superior convention of using the USE16 modifier for the .MODEL directive.

ReC98 would highly benefit from a build server – both in order to immediately spot issues like this one, and as a service for modders. Even more so than the usual open-source project of its size, I would say. But that might be exactly because it doesn't seem like something you can trivially outsource to one of the big CI providers for open-source projects, and quickly set it up with a few lines of YAML.
That might still work in the beginning, and we might get by with a regular 64-bit Windows 10 and DOSBox running the exact build tools from the DevKit. Ideally, though, such a server should really run the optimal configuration of a 32-bit Windows 10, allowing both the 32-bit and the 16-bit build step to run natively, which already is something that no popular CI service out there offers. Then, we'd optimally expand to Linux, every other Windows version down to 95, emulated PC-98 systems, other TASM versions… yeah, it'd be a lot. An experimental project all on its own, with additional hosting costs and probably diminishing returns, the more it expands…
I've added it as a category to the order form, let's see how much interest there is once the store reopens (which will be at the beginning of May, at the latest). That aside, it would 📝 also be a great project for outside contributors!


So, technical debt, part 8… and right away, we're faced with TH03's low-level input function, which 📝 once 📝 again 📝 insists on being word-aligned in a way we can't fake without duplicating translation units. Being undecompilable isn't exactly the best property for a function that has been interesting to modders in the past: In 2018, spaztron64 created an ASM-level mod that hardcoded more ergonomic key bindings for human-vs-human multiplayer mode: 2021-04-04-TH03-WASD-2player.zip However, this remapping attempt remained quite limited, since we hadn't (and still haven't) reached full position independence for TH03 yet. There's quite some potential for size optimizations in this function, which would allow more BIOS key groups to already be used right now, but it's not all that obvious to modders who aren't intimately familiar with x86 ASM. Therefore, I really wouldn't want to keep such a long and important function in ASM if we don't absolutely have to…

… and apparently, that's all the motivation I needed? So I took the risk, and spent the first half of this push on reverse-engineering TCC.EXE, to hopefully find a way to get word-aligned code segments out of Turbo C++ after all.

And there is! The -WX option, used for creating DPMI applications, messes up all sorts of code generation aspects in weird ways, but does in fact mark the code segment as word-aligned. We can consider ourselves quite lucky that we get to use Turbo C++ 4.0, because this feature isn't available in any previous version of Borland's C++ compilers.
That allowed us to restore all the decompilations I previously threw away… well, two of the three, that lookup table generator was too much of a mess in C. :tannedcirno: But what an abuse this is. The subtly different code generation has basically required one creative workaround per usage of -WX. For example, enabling that option causes the regular PUSH BP and POP BP prolog and epilog instructions to be wrapped with INC BP and DEC BP, for some reason:

a_function_compiled_with_wx proc
	inc 	bp    	; ???
	push	bp
	mov 	bp, sp
	    	      	; [… function code …]
	pop 	bp
	dec 	bp    	; ???
	ret
a_function_compiled_with_wx endp

Luckily again, all the functions that currently require -WX don't set up a stack frame and don't take any parameters.
While this hasn't directly been an issue so far, it's been pretty close: snd_se_reset(void) is one of the functions that require word alignment. Previously, it shared a translation unit with the immediately following snd_se_play(int new_se), which does take a parameter, and therefore would have had its prolog and epilog code messed up by -WX. Since the latter function has a consistent (and thus, fakeable) alignment, I simply split that code segment into two, with a new -WX translation unit for just snd_se_reset(void). Problem solved – after all, two C++ translation units are still better than one ASM translation unit. :onricdennat: Especially with all the previous #include improvements.

The rest was more of the usual, getting us 74% done with repaying the technical debt in the SHARED segment. A lot of the remaining 26% is TH04 needing to catch up with TH03 and TH05, which takes comparatively little time. With some good luck, we might get this done within the next push… that is, if we aren't confronted with all too many more disgusting decompilations, like the two functions that ended this push. If we are, we might be needing 10 pushes to complete this after all, but that piece of research was definitely worth the delay. Next up: One more of these.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0135, P0136
Commits:
a6eed55...252c13d, 252c13d...07bfcf2
💰 Funded by:
[Anonymous]
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th02+ th03+ th04+ th05+ kaja+ menu+ micro-optimization+ bug+ tcc-

Alright, no more big code maintenance tasks that absolutely need to be done right now. Time to really focus on parts 6 and 7 of repaying technical debt, right? Except that we don't get to speed up just yet, as TH05's barely decompilable PMD file loading function is rather… complicated.
Fun fact: Whenever I see an unusual sequence of x86 instructions in PC-98 Touhou, I first consult the disassembly of Wolfenstein 3D. That game was originally compiled with the quite similar Borland C++ 3.0, so it's quite helpful to compare its ASM to the officially released source code. If I find the instructions in question, they mostly come from that game's ASM code, leading to the amusing realization that "even John Carmack was unable to get these instructions out of this compiler" :onricdennat: This time though, Wolfenstein 3D did point me to Borland's intrinsics for common C functions like memcpy() and strchr(), available via #pragma intrinsic. Bu~t those unfortunately still generate worse code than what ZUN micro-optimized here. Commenting how these sequences of instructions should look in C is unfortunately all I could do here.
The conditional branches in this function did compile quite nicely though, clarifying the control flow, and clearly exposing a ZUN bug: TH05's snd_load() will hang in an infinite loop when trying to load a non-existing -86 BGM file (with a .M2 extension) if the corresponding -26 BGM file (with a .M extension) doesn't exist either.

Unsurprisingly, the PMD channel monitoring code in TH05's Music Room remains undecompilable outside the two most "high-level" initialization and rendering functions. And it's not because there's data in the middle of the code segment – that would have actually been possible with some #pragmas to ensure that the data and code segments have the same name. As soon as the SI and DI registers are referenced anywhere, Turbo C++ insists on emitting prolog code to save these on the stack at the beginning of the function, and epilog code to restore them from there before returning. Found that out in September 2019, and confirmed that there's no way around it. All the small helper functions here are quite simply too optimized, throwing away any concern for such safety measures. 🤷
Oh well, the two functions that were decompilable at least indicate that I do try.


Within that same 6th push though, we've finally reached the one function in TH05 that was blocking further progress in TH04, allowing that game to finally catch up with the others in terms of separated translation units. Feels good to finally delete more of those .ASM files we've decompiled a while ago… finally!

But since that was just getting started, the most satisfying development in both of these pushes actually came from some more experiments with macros and inline functions for near-ASM code. By adding "unused" dummy parameters for all relevant registers, the exact input registers are made more explicit, which might help future port authors who then maybe wouldn't have to look them up in an x86 instruction reference quite as often. At its best, this even allows us to declare certain functions with the __fastcall convention and express their parameter lists as regular C, with no additional pseudo-registers or macros required.
As for output registers, Turbo C++'s code generation turns out to be even more amazing than previously thought when it comes to returning pseudo-registers from inline functions. A nice example for how this can improve readability can be found in this piece of TH02 code for polling the PC-98 keyboard state using a BIOS interrupt:

inline uint8_t keygroup_sense(uint8_t group) {
	_AL = group;
	_AH = 0x04;
	geninterrupt(0x18);
	// This turns the output register of this BIOS call into the return value
	// of this function. Surprisingly enough, this does *not* naively generate
	// the `MOV AL, AH` instruction you might expect here!
	return _AH;
}

void input_sense(void)
{
	// As a result, this assignment becomes `_AH = _AH`, which Turbo C++
	// never emits as such, giving us only the three instructions we need.
	_AH = keygroup_sense(8);

	// Whereas this one gives us the one additional `MOV BH, AH` instruction
	// we'd expect, and nothing more.
	_BH = keygroup_sense(7);

	// And now it's obvious what both of these registers contain, from just
	// the assignments above.
	if(_BH & K7_ARROW_UP || _AH & K8_NUM_8) {
		key_det |= INPUT_UP;
	}
	// […]
}

I love it. No inline assembly, as close to idiomatic C code as something like this is going to get, yet still compiling into the minimum possible number of x86 instructions on even a 1994 compiler. This is how I keep this project interesting for myself during chores like these. :tannedcirno: We might have even reached peak inline already?

And that's 65% of technical debt in the SHARED segment repaid so far. Next up: Two more of these, which might already complete that segment? Finally!

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0134
Commits:
1d5db71...a6eed55
💰 Funded by:
[Anonymous]
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th05+ blitting+ portability+ micro-optimization+ jank+ tasm+ tcc-

Technical debt, part 5… and we only got TH05's stupidly optimized .PI functions this time?

As far as actual progress is concerned, that is. In maintenance news though, I was really hyped for the #include improvements I've mentioned in 📝 the last post. The result: A new x86real.h file, bundling all the declarations specific to the 16-bit x86 Real Mode in a smaller file than Turbo C++'s own DOS.H. After all, DOS is something else than the underlying CPU. And while it didn't speed up build times quite as much as I had hoped, it now clearly indicates the x86-specific parts of PC-98 Touhou code to future port authors.

After another couple of improvements to parameter declaration in ASM land, we get to TH05's .PI functions… and really, why did ZUN write all of them in ASM? Why (re)declare all the necessary structures and data in ASM land, when all these functions are merely one layer of abstraction above master.lib, which does all the actual work?
I get that ZUN might have wanted masked blitting to be faster, which is used for the fade-in effect seen during TH05's main menu animation and the ending artwork. But, uh… he knew how to modify master.lib. In fact, he did already modify the graph_pack_put_8() function used for rendering a single .PI image row, to ignore master.lib's VRAM clipping region. For this effect though, he first blits each row regularly to the invisible 400th row of VRAM, and then does an EGC-accelerated VRAM-to-VRAM blit of that row to its actual target position with the mask enabled. It would have been way more efficient to add another version of this function that takes a mask pattern. No amount of REP MOVSW is going to change the fact that two VRAM writes per line are slower than a single one. Not to mention that it doesn't justify writing every other .PI function in ASM to go along with it…
This is where we also find the most hilarious aspect about this: For most of ZUN's pointless micro-optimizations, you could have maybe made the argument that they do save some CPU cycles here and there, and therefore did something positive to the final, PC-98-exclusive result. But some of the hand-written ASM here doesn't even constitute a micro-optimization, because it's worse than what you would have got out of even Turbo C++ 4.0J with its 80386 optimization flags! :zunpet:

At least it was possible to "decompile" 6 out of the 10 functions here, making them easy to clean up for future modders and port authors. Could have been 7 functions if I also decided to "decompile" pi_free(), but all the C++ code is already surrounded by ASM, resulting in 2 ASM translation units and 2 C++ translation units. pi_free() would have needed a single translation unit by itself, which wasn't worth it, given that I would have had to spell out every single ASM instruction anyway.

void pascal pi_free(int slot)
{
	if(pi_buffers[slot]) {
		graph_pi_free(&pi_headers[slot], &pi_buffers[slot]);
		pi_buffers[slot] = NULL;
	}
}

There you go. What about this needed to be written in ASM?!?

The function calls between these small translation units even seemed to glitch out TASM and the linker in the end, leading to one CALL offset being weirdly shifted by 32 bytes. Usually, TLINK reports a fixup overflow error when this happens, but this time it didn't, for some reason? Mirroring the segment grouping in the affected translation unit did solve the problem, and I already knew this, but only thought of it after spending quite some RTFM time… during which I discovered the -lE switch, which enables TLINK to use the expanded dictionaries in Borland's .OBJ and .LIB files to speed up linking. That shaved off roughly another second from the build time of the complete ReC98 repository. The more you know… Binary blobs compiled with non-Borland tools would be the only reason not to use this flag.

So, even more slowdown with this 5th dedicated push, since we've still only repaid 41% of the technical debt in the SHARED segment so far. Next up: Part 6, which hopefully manages to decompile the FM and SSG channel animations in TH05's Music Room, and hopefully ends up being the final one of the slow ones.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0133
Commits:
045450c...1d5db71
💰 Funded by:
[Anonymous]
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ th02+ th03+ th04+ th05+ micro-optimization+ master.lib+ tcc-

Wow, 31 commits in a single push? Well, what the last push had in progress, this one had in maintenance. The 📝 master.lib header transition absolutely had to be completed in this one, for my own sanity. And indeed, it reduced the build time for the entirety of ReC98 to about 27 seconds on my system, just as expected in the original announcement. Looking forward to even faster build times with the upcoming #include improvements I've got up my sleeve! The port authors of the future are going to appreciate those quite a bit.

As for the new translation units, the funniest one is probably TH05's function for blitting the 1-color .CDG images used for the main menu options. Which is so optimized that it becomes decompilable again, by ditching the self-modifying code of its TH04 counterpart in favor of simply making better use of CPU registers. The resulting C code is still a mess, but what can you do. :tannedcirno:
This was followed by even more TH05 functions that clearly weren't compiled from C, as evidenced by their padding bytes. It's about time I've documented my lack of ideas of how to get those out of Turbo C++. :onricdennat:

And just like in the previous push, I also had to 📝 throw away a decompiled TH02 function purely due to alignment issues. Couldn't have been a better one though, no one's going to miss a residency check for the MMD driver that is largely identical to the corresponding (and indeed decompilable) function for the PMD driver. Both of those should have been merged into a single function anyway, given how they also mutate the game's sound configuration flags…

In the end, I've slightly slowed down with this one, with only 37% of technical debt done after this 4th dedicated push. Next up: One more of these, centered around TH05's stupidly optimized .PI functions. Maybe also with some more reverse-engineering, after not having done any for 1½ months?

📝 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:
P0001
Commits:
e447a2d...150d2c6
💰 Funded by:
GhostPhanom
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ build-process+ tcc- tasm+

(tl;dr: ReC98 has switched to Tup for the 32-bit build. You probably want to get 💾 this build of Tup, and put it somewhere in your PATH. It's optional, and always will be, but highly recommended.)


P0001! Reserved for the delivery of the very first financial contribution I've ever received for ReC98, back in January 2018. GhostPhanom requested the exact opposite of immediate results, which motivated me to go on quite a passionate quest for the perfect ReC98 build system. A quest that went way beyond the crowdfunding…

Makefiles are a decent idea in theory: Specify the targets to generate, the source files these targets depend on and are generated from, and the rules to do the generating, with some helpful shorthand syntax. Then, you have a build dependency graph, and your make tool of choice can provide minimal rebuilds of only the targets whose sources changed since the last make call. But, uh… wait, this is C/C++ we're talking about, and doesn't pretty much every source file come with a second set of dependent source files, namely, every single #include in the source file itself? Do we really have to duplicate all these inside the Makefile, and keep it in sync with the source file? 🙄

This fact alone means that Makefiles are inherently unsuited for any language with an #include feature… that is, pretty much every language out there. Not to mention other aspects like changes to the compilation command lines, or the build rules themselves, all of which require metadata of the previous build to be persistently stored in some way. I have no idea why such a trash technology is even touted as a viable build tool for code.

But wait! Most make implementations, including Borland's, do support the notion of auto-dependency information, emitted by the compiler in a specific format, to provide make with the additional list of #includes. Sure, this should be a basic feature of any self-respecting build tool, and not something you have to add as an extension, but let's just set our idealism aside for a moment. Well, too bad that Borland's implementation only works if you spell out both the source➜object and the object➜binary rules, which loses the performance gained from compiling multiple translation units in a single BCC or TCC process. And even then, it tends to break in that DOS VM you're probably using. Not to mention, again, all the other aspects that still remain unsolved.

So, I decided to just write my own build system, tailor-made for the needs of ReC98's 16-bit build process, and combining a number of experimental ideas. Which is still not quite bug-free and ready for public use, given that the entire past year has kept me busy with actual tangible RE and PI progress. What did finally become ready, however, is the improvement for the 32-bit build part, and that's what we've got here.


💭 Now, if only there was a build system that would perfectly track dependencies of any compiler it calls, by injecting code and hooking file opening syscalls. It'd be completely unrealistic for it to also run on DOS (and we probably don't want to traverse a graph database in a cycle-limited DOSBox), but it would be perfect for our 32-bit build part, as long as that one still exists.

Turns out Tup is exactly that system. In practice, its low-level nature as a make replacement does limit its general usefulness, which is why you probably haven't seen it used in a lot of projects. But for something like ReC98 with its reliance on outdated compilers that aren't supported by any decent high-level tool, it's exactly the right tool for the job. Also, it's completely beyond me how Ninja, the most popular make replacement these days, was inspired by Tup, yet went a step back to parsing the specific dependency information produced by gcc, Clang, and Visual Studio, and only those

Sure, it might seem really minor to worry about not unconditionally rebuilding all 32-bit .asm files, which just takes a couple of seconds anyway. But minimal rebuilds in the 32-bit part also provide the foundation for minimal rebuilds in the 16-bit part – and those TLINK invocations do take quite some time after all.

Using Tup for ReC98 was an idea that dated back to January 2017. Back then, I already opened the pull request with a fix to allow Tup to work together with 32-bit TASM. As much as I love Tup though, the fact that it only worked on 64-bit Windows ≥Vista would have meant that we had to exchange perfect dependency tracking for the ability to build on 32-bit and older Windows versions at all. For a project that relies on DOS compilers, this would have been exactly the wrong trade-off to make.

What's worse though: TLINK fails to run on modern 32-bit Windows with Loader error (0000) : Unrecognized Error. Therefore, the set of systems that Tup runs on, and the set of systems that can actually compile ReC98's 16-bit build part natively, would have been exactly disjoint, with no OS getting to use both at the same time.
So I've kept using Tup for only my own development, but indefinitely shelved the idea of making it the official build system, due to those drawbacks. Recently though, it all came together:

As I'm writing this post, the pull request has unfortunately not yet been merged. So, here's my own custom build instead:

💾 Download Tup for 32-bit Windows (optimized build at this commit)

I've also added it to the DevKit, for any newcomers to ReC98.


After the switch to Tup and the fallback option, I extensively tested building ReC98 on all operating systems I had lying around. And holy cow, so much in that build was broken beyond belief. In the end, the solution involved just fully rebuilding the entire 16-bit part by default. :tannedcirno: Which, of course, nullifies any of the advantages we might have gotten from a Makefile in the first place, due to just how unreliable they are. If you had problems building ReC98 in the past, try again now!

And sure, it would certainly be possible to also get Tup working on Windows ≤XP, or 9x even. But I leave that to all those tinkerers out there who are actually motivated to keep those OSes alive. My work here is done – we now have a build process that is optimal on 32-bit Windows ≧Vista, and still functional and reliable on 64-bit Windows, Linux, and everything down to Windows 98 SE, and therefore also real PC-98 hardware. Pretty good, I'd say.

(If it weren't for that weird crash of the 16-bit TASM.EXE in that Windows 95 command prompt I've tried it in, it would also work on that OS. Probably just a misconfiguration on my part?)

Now, it might look like a waste of time to improve a 32-bit build part that won't even exist anymore once this project is done. However, a fully 16-bit DOS build will only make sense after

And who knows whether this project will get funded for that long. So yeah, the 32-bit build part will stay with us for quite some more time, and for all upcoming PI milestones. And with the current build process, it's pretty much the most minor among all the minor issues I can think of. Let's all enjoy the performance of a 32-bit build while we can 🙂

Next up: Paying some technical debt while keeping the RE% and PI% in place.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0110
Commits:
2c7d86b...8b5c146
💰 Funded by:
[Anonymous], Blue Bolt
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th02+ th03+ th04+ th05+ animation+ tcc- shinki+ ex-alice+

… and just as I explained 📝 in the last post how decompilation is typically more sensible and efficient than ASM-level reverse-engineering, we have this push demonstrating a counter-example. The reason why the background particles and lines in the Shinki and EX-Alice battles contributed so much to position dependence was simply because they're accessed in a relatively large amount of functions, one for each different animation. Too many to spend the remaining precious crowdfunded time on reverse-engineering or even decompiling them all, especially now that everyone anticipates 100% PI for TH05's MAIN.EXE.

Therefore, I only decompiled the two functions of the line structure that also demonstrate best how it works, which in turn also helped with RE. Sadly, this revealed that we actually can't 📝 overload operator =() to get that nice assignment syntax for 12.4 fixed-point values, because one of those new functions relies on Turbo C++'s built-in optimizations for trivially copyable structures. Still, impressive that this abstraction caused no other issues for almost one year.

As for the structures themselves… nope, nothing to criticize this time! Sure, one good particle system would have been awesome, instead of having separate structures for the Stage 2 "starfield" particles and the one used in Shinki's battle, with hardcoded animations for both. But given the game's short development time, that was quite an acceptable compromise, I'd say.
And as for the lines, there just has to be a reason why the game reserves 20 lines per set, but only renders lines #0, #6, #12, and #18. We'll probably see once we get to look at those animation functions more closely.

This was quite a 📝 TH03-style RE push, which yielded way more PI% than RE%. But now that that's done, I can finally not get distracted by all that stuff when looking at the list of remaining memory references. Next up: The last few missing structures in TH05's MAIN.EXE!

📝 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:
P0076, P0077
Commits:
222fc99...9ae9754, 9ae9754...f4eb7a8
💰 Funded by:
[Anonymous], -Tom-, Splashman
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th02+ th03+ th04+ th05+ resident+ gaiji+ tcc-

Well, that took twice as long as I thought, with the two pushes containing a lot more maintenance than actual new research. Spending some time improving both field names and types in 32th System's TH03 resident structure finally gives us all of those structures. Which means that we can now cover all the remaining decompilable ZUN.COM parts at once…

Oh wait, their main() functions have stayed largely identical since TH02? Time to clean up and separate that first, then… and combine two recent code generation observations into the solution to a decompilation puzzle from 4½ years ago. Alright, time to decomp-

Oh wait, we'd kinda like to properly RE all the code in TH03-TH05 that deals with loading and saving .CFG files. Almost every outside contributor wanted to grab this supposedly low-hanging fruit a lot earlier, but (of course) always just for a single game, while missing how the format evolved.

So, ZUN.COM. For some reason, people seem to consider it particularly important, even though it contains neither any game logic nor any code specific to PC-98 hardware… All that this decompilable part does is to initialize a game's .CFG file, allocate an empty resident structure using master.lib functions, release it after you quit the game, error-check all that, and print some playful messages~ (OK, TH05's also directly fills the resident structure with all data from MIKO.CFG, which all the other games do in OP.EXE.) At least modders can now freely change and extend all the resident structures, as well as the .CFG files? And translators can translate those messages that you won't see on a decently fast emulator anyway? Have fun, I guess 🤷‍

And you can in fact do this right now – even for TH04 and TH05, whose ZUN.COM currently isn't rebuilt by ReC98. There is actually a rather involved reason for this:

So yeah, no meaningful RE and PI progress at any of these levels. Heck, even as a modder, you can just replace the zun zun_res (TH02), zun -5 (TH03), or zun -s (TH04/TH05) calls in GAME.BAT with a direct call to your modified *RES*.COM. And with the alternative being "manually typing 0 and 1 bits into a text file", editing the sprites in TH05's GJINIT.COM is way more comfortable in a binary sprite editor anyway.

For me though, the best part in all of this was that it finally made sense to throw out the old Borland C++ run-time assembly slices 🗑 This giant waste of time became obvious 5 years ago, but any ASM dump of a .COM file would have needed rather ugly workarounds without those slices. Now that all .COM binaries that were originally written in C are compiled from C, we can all enjoy slightly faster grepping over the entire repository, which now has 229 fewer files. Productivity will skyrocket! :tannedcirno:

Next up: Three weeks of almost full-time ReC98 work! Two more PI-focused pushes to finish this TH05 stretch first, before switching priorities to TH01 again.

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0066
Commits:
042b780...e55a48b
💰 Funded by:
Yanga, Splashman
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th01+ palette+ tcc- waste+

So, the thing that made me so excited about TH01 were all those bulky C reimplementations of master.lib functions. Identical copies in all three executables, trivial to figure out and decompile, removing tons of instructions, and providing a foundation for large parts of the game later. The first set of functions near the end of that shared code segment deals with color palette handling, and master.lib's resident palette structure in particular. (No relation to the game's resident structure.) Which directly starts us out with pretty much all the decompilation difficulties imaginable:

And as it turns out, the game doesn't even use the resident palette feature. Which adds yet another set of functions to the, uh, learning experience that ZUN must have chosen this game to be. I wouldn't be surprised if we manage to uncover actual scrapped beta game content later on, among all the unused code that's bound to still be in there.

At least decompilation should get easier for the next few TH01 pushes now… right?

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0036, P0037
Commits:
a533b5d...82b0e1d, 82b0e1d...e7e1cbc
💰 Funded by:
zorg
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th04+ th05+ gameplay+ player+ shot+ tcc-

And just in time for zorg's last outstanding pushes, the TH05 shot type control functions made the speedup happen!

It would have been really nice to also include Reimu's shot control functions in this last push, but figuring out this entire system, with its weird bitflags and switch statement micro-optimizations, was once again taking way longer than it should have. Especially with my new-found insistence on turning this obvious copy-pasta into something somewhat readable and terse…

But with such a rather tabular visual structure, things should now be moddable in hopefully easily consistent way. Of course, since we're only at 54% position independence for MAIN.EXE, this isn't possible yet without crashing the game, but modifiying damage would already work.

Despite my earlier claims of ZUN only having used C++ in TH01, as it's the only game using new and delete, it's now pretty much confirmed that ZUN used it for all games, as inlined functions (and by extension, C++ class methods) are the only way to get certain instructions out of the Turbo C++ code generator. Also, I've kept my promise and started really filling that decompilation pattern file.

And now, with the reverse-engineering backlog finally being cleared out, we wait for the next orders, and the direction they might focus on…

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0031, P0032, P0033
Commits:
dea40ad...9f764fa, 9f764fa...e6294c2, e6294c2...6cdd229
💰 Funded by:
zorg
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th02+ th04+ th05+ file-format+ hud+ score+ tasm+ tcc- micro-optimization+ jank+

The glacial pace continues, with TH05's unnecessarily, inappropriately micro-optimized, and hence, un-decompilable code for rendering the current and high score, as well as the enemy health / dream / power bars. While the latter might still pass as well-written ASM, the former goes to such ridiculous levels that it ends up being technically buggy. If you enjoy quality ZUN code, it's definitely worth a read.

In TH05, this all still is at the end of code segment #1, but in TH04, the same code lies all over the same segment. And since I really wanted to move that code into its final form now, I finally did the research into decompiling from anywhere else in a segment.

Turns out we actually can! It's kinda annoying, though: After splitting the segment after the function we want to decompile, we then need to group the two new segments back together into one "virtual segment" matching the original one. But since all ASM in ReC98 heavily relies on being assembled in MASM mode, we then start to suffer from MASM's group addressing quirk. Which then forces us to manually prefix every single function call

with the group name. It's stupidly boring busywork, because of all the function calls you mustn't prefix. Special tooling might make this easier, but I don't have it, and I'm not getting crowdfunded for it.

So while you now definitely can request any specific thing in any of the 5 games to be decompiled right now, it will take slightly longer, and cost slightly more.
(Except for that one big segment in TH04, of course.)

Only one function away from the TH05 shot type control functions now!

📝 Posted:
🚚 Summary of:
P0029, P0030
Commits:
6ff427a...c7fc4ca, c7fc4ca...dea40ad
💰 Funded by:
zorg
🏷 Tags:
rec98+ th02+ th04+ th05+ blitting+ gameplay+ midboss+ boss+ tcc-

Here we go, new C code! …eh, it will still take a bit to really get decompilation going at the speeds I was hoping for. Especially with the sheer amount of stuff that is set in the first few significant functions we actually can decompile, which now all has to be correctly declared in the C world. Turns out I spent the last 2 years screwing up the case of exported functions, and even some of their names, so that it didn't actually reflect their calling convention… yup. That's just the stuff you tend to forget while it doesn't matter.

To make up for that, I decided to research whether we can make use of some C++ features to improve code readability after all. Previously, it seemed that TH01 was the only game that included any C++ code, whereas TH02 and later seemed to be 100% C and ASM. However, during the development of the soon to be released new build system, I noticed that even this old compiler from the mid-90's, infamous for prioritizing compile speeds over all but the most trivial optimizations, was capable of quite surprising levels of automatic inlining with class methods…

…leading the research to culminate in the mindblow that is 9d121c7 – yes, we can use C++ class methods and operator overloading to make the code more readable, while still generating the same code than if we had just used C and preprocessor macros.

Looks like there's now the potential for a few pull requests from outside devs that apply C++ features to improve the legibility of previously decompiled and terribly macro-ridden code. So, if anyone wants to help without spending money…