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A Rust Game Boy Advance emulator
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README.md

Lavender

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A Game Boy Advance emulator written in Rust that runs in the browser.

Goals

Emulate the Game Boy Advance with speed and precision

All games should play at a native 60fps. This probably isn't feasible by myself for literally every game, but if I come across a bug then I will do my best to fix it. If you come across a bug the file an issue or a pull request.

The emulator should also be fully unit tested. This is kind of a small detail, but it is something that it missing from a lot of emulator projects, especially small ones (like me!). No random breaking with new releases, no surprises during development.

Provide intricate documentation of the Game Boy Advance interals

There isn't currently a lot of recent or well written documentation about how the Game Boy Advance works. The materials that do exist are either old, hard to find, and full of dead links, or are incomplete, inaccurate, or hard to understand.

This particular goal comes in two parts:

  • A book that compiles everything into one easy to reference place with clear descriptions and structure. There won't be any risk of dead links, because everything is self contained. Links to the resources that I have gathered information from will be provided for those who want it, but if the links die some years from now it won't affect the integrity of the book.
  • Inline code documentation to clarify on any code that may seem unclear to programmers who are unfamiliar with Rust (but don't be scared, it isn't that bad) or for particularly complicated parts. Follow along through the code while you're reading the book to gain a deeper understanding of the Game Boy Advance and Lavender itself.

Lots of other documentation and emulators use super gross abbreviations that are cute for engineers, but sad for a lowly Computer Science major like myself. Even sadder for someone who doesn't have any formal engineering education.

  • No messy C code with #define everywhere and magic voodoo headers. No unsanitized macros. No other gross C things.
  • Variable and constant names should prefer being clear and descriptive over being short.
  • Function names should describe what they do. Avoid one word function names. One word is not a description.

Usage

To get set up for development you need to install all of the following tools...

Then run yarn and cargo build to install all the other dependencies from npm and Cargo.

Once all of that is done, to start a development server that will automatically recompile and refresh your browser when files are updated, simply run...

yarn dev

If you want to run it in release mode (optimized and high-performance, basically if you want to actually play games) then run...

yarn release

You should then be able to access the emulator at http://localhost:1234 after starting either script.

Progress

ARM v4T Emulation

  • 32-bit ARM instructions
    • Decoding
    • Disassembly
    • Behavior
  • 16-bit Thumb instructions
    • Decoding
    • Disassembly
    • Behavior

Graphics Emulation

  • Objects
    • Mode 0 (all 4 layers, no rotate or scale)
    • Mode 1 (layers [0..2], layer 2 rotate and scale)
    • Mode 2 (layers [2..3], both rotate and scale)
  • Bitmaps
    • Mode 3 (240x160, full color, unbuffered)
    • Mode 4 (240x160, palette color, buffered)
    • Mode 5 (160x128, full color, buffered)

Audio Emulation

  • Channels 1 & 2 (square wave)
  • Channel 3 (sampled)
  • Channel 4 (noise)
  • Channel A & B (direct sound)

Miscellaneous

  • DMA
  • WebGL
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