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    Friday, April 05, 2013
Stella 3.8.1

Stella is a freely distributed multi-platform Atari 2600 VCS emulator; originally developed for Linux by Bradford W. Mott, it is now maintained by Stephen Anthony. Stella allows you to enjoy all of your favorite 2600 games once again by emulating the 2600's hardware with software. Stella is written in C++, which allows it to be ported to other operating systems and architectures. Since its original release Stella has been ported to AcornOS, AmigaOS, DOS, FreeBSD, Linux, MacOS, OpenStep, OS/2, Unix, and Windows, as well as consoles such as Sega Dreamcast, GP2X, Nintendo DS and Playstation Portable (among others).

Here are changes presented in 3.8.0-1

+ Added support for TIA RSYNC writes, thanks to Omegamatrix of AtariAge. This allows the recently released "Extra Terrestrials" ROM to run, as well as improving emulation of "Fatal Run" and several other test ROMs.
+ Fixed typo in TIA HMOVE writes, thanks to Thomas Jentzsch. This fixes the constant collision issues in "Kool-Aid Man", and several other homebrew ROMs.
+ Fixed sound issues on OSX PPC machines (all sound was in little-endian format, but PPC is big-endian).
+ The OSX DMG archive now contains proper modification dates.
+ Huge changes to the sound system:
- The sound code now uses 16-bit signed samples instead of 8-bit unsigned samples, making it more compatible with a wider variety of systems.
- Improved sound output for several ROMs, including "Space Rocks" (the 'heartbeat' sound can now be clearly heard).
- The 'volume clipping' option has been removed, since in 16-bit mode it's no longer needed.
- The 'Tia freq' option has been removed.
- Selecting more common sample rates (other than 31400) now works much better, but there are still a few ROMS (like Quadrun) where 31400Hz still works best.
+ Many changes to handling ZIP archives:
- Files in multiple levels are now recognized. This fixes issues in Windows where such files couldn't be loaded at all, and in all systems where ROMs with the same name (but in different directories) weren't being recognized.
- ZIP contents are now handled more intelligently. Archives containing only one ROM are automatically loaded, whereas those with multiple files are treated as directories.
- Opening an archive from the commandline now works as in the UI, where opening a multi-ROM archive will pop up the UI and show the archive contents (as a directory).
- The ZIP code behind the scenes is now much faster by making use of caching (the old code was actually from 1998!).
- This new 'archive' infrastructure may eventually lead to 7-Zip support, as well as 'virtual' formats (such as showing the list of files for 2in1/4in1/8in1/etc within the UI).
+ Improved bankswitch autodetection for FA2 ROMs; 29K and 32K versions (meant for Harmony cart) are now recognized.
+ Improved bankswitch autodetection for X07 ROMs (although there's only two known ROMs in existence, so the detection probably isn't robust).
+T weaked bankswitch autodetection for the 0840, F8 and FE schemes; several homebrews that didn't run before now work correctly.
+ Fixed regression in RIOT INTIM reads; at least one known ROM (Mr. Roboto Berzerk hack) wasn't working properly.
+ Fixed bug in the debugger with RIOT INTIM/TIMINT display; reads were being done multiple times, changing the state of the registers and resulting in incorrect emulation.
+ Worked around bug in debugger disassembly of zero-page RAM; for now, the resolving of address vs. data sections is turned off in such a case. This fixes lockups in 'Meltdown' ROM.
+ Added support for different directories for saving/loading PNG files. These are set with the 'snapsavedir' and 'snaploaddir' commandline arguments (which replace the old 'snapdir'), and are also available within the UI.
+ Changed 'eepromdir' commandline argument to 'nvramdir', and changed the default location to BASEDIR/nvram (where BASEDIR depends on your OS). This means all your EEPROM and Flash files will have to be manually moved to this new directory. This affects developers, and those people playing ROMs with AtariVox/SaveKey support as well as the newer 'Star Castle' FA2 ROMs.
Check out official website for further information and latest version of emulator.


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