Retail Serial Console Output Using Dolphin

As a follow-up to my previous post, I’ve now figured out how to view serial console/debug output using Dolphin (fan emulator).

This can be enabled by toggling the View -> Log and View -> Log Configuration options. Then, enabling OSReport in the Log Configuration.

Console output will appear in the Log tab.

I tried running some of the problematic gcm images I created from Previewer + GPL models from AWL (version-modified), and got the following output:

(wildplant.gpl) doesn’t match standard 8.3 format.

The error above is likely due to a long filename (wildplant). Early computing systems used a standard known as 8.3, restricting filenames to 8 characters or less, followed by the file extension. Since this file is used in the game, I presume that the notification was fulfilled and the restriction was removed in a later iteration of the Dolphin Character Pipeline.

I tried a few different files with shorter file names. However, they all also gave errors.

Unknown state setting for Display Object

It’s difficult to know what is causing the above error, but my best guess is that, since AWL was presumably built using an updated version of the Character Pipeline, it uses certain settings for gpl models that were only supported by the updated version.

If these findings are correct, then the models from the game could only be viewed using an updated build of Previewer from a newer version of the Character Pipeline. I’ll do some digging to see if I can find anything.


On a related note, now that I know about the Dolphin log feature, I’m going to try playing through some of AWL and AnWL to see if the games happen to have any serial console output as part of their code.

Huge thanks to Video James (sonic15783)#6150 on the Discord! This wouldn’t be possible without him!

SDK Software

I managed to figure out some of the software from the Gamecube SDK.

It looks like some of the SDK includes binaries built for the legacy mac platform.

Old Macintosh computers used the same PowerPC architecture (as opposed to other computers that used the Intel x86 architecture) as the Gamecube. This means that running software for the Gamecube would require either the actual dev kit hardware (known as HW1 or HW2), or a Mac.

There was also the official Dolphin emulator (not to be confused with the current fan project Dolphin Gamecube/Wii emulator), but that could only emulate certain aspects of the hardware.  You’d still need a mac or dev kit to run most things.

So, after some trial and error, I managed to get an old copy of Mac OS 9 running in a virtual machine known as SheepShaver.

I then got the preview program (an app from the SDK to view the character models/textures) to extract and open.  But when trying to run it, it fails after saying a needed file (prevload.txt) couldn’t be found. Documentation on getting this to run is sketchy at best.

I’ll need to do more digging to figure out the full configuration needed to get the app to run.  I read something about setting “CP_Root environment variables” in the SDK documentation, so that might be my next step.

I also tried getting my hands on a trial copy of 3DS Max (the software used by devs to create models). But then I found out that 3DS Max Plugins are version specific, so I’d need the old 3DS Max v3.1 to use the Gamecube plugins from the SDK to import/export models. And this will likely also require I use a virtual machine with an old version of Windows (e.g. Windows 98) to run it.

One step forward, two steps back.