Intro: Make a Tool Assisted Speedrun/Superplay [TAS] (Dolphin)
Make your own Tool Assisted Speedrun/Superplay [TAS] movie using the Dolphin Gamecub/Wii Emulator.
For this tutorial we will be makeing a TAS of Super Smash Brothers Melee for the Nintendo Gamecube. I will be using Dolphin, version 4.0.2 on Windows.
Step 1: Set Up Dolphin
Download the appropriate version of Dolphin for your system (I am using v4.0.2 for Windows x64)
View this FAQ page on how to set up Dolphin on your machine if you don't have it already. Otherwise continue to the next step.
- Do not worry too much about performance settings unless you care about replaying a TAS movie in real-time a lot. We will be dumping frames to a file in order to view our movie in real-time, so playback speed isn't terribly important. If we make high quality frame dumps they will run slower regardless.
Step 2: Running the Game and Making Inputs
Once Dolphin is installed on your machine you should try to familiarize yourself with whatever game you will be TASing as much as possible so that you are comfortable running it in an emulator. In this section we will also look at your first TAS tool, the TAS Input Tool.
RUN THE GAME
- Double click the game icon or click the "Run" button in the top menu to run your selected game.
- Once the game loads up you will want to open the "Emulation" menu
USE THE TAS INPUT TOOL
- Open up the "Emulation" dropdown menu in the top menu bar and check "TASInputTool"
This tool even has TAS in the name so you know it will be useful. This tool allows you to enter precise inputs to the game that is near impossible at a human level. You can click and drag the different analog sticks and lock them to certain positions as well as check certain buttons to be pressed and released. Play around with this tool until you feel confident in what it does and how it works.
Step 3: Save States and Frame Advance
Save states are a useful feature to have the emulator remember where you are in a TAS. If you make an input you want to redo, you can go back to a save state and redo the input. Dolphin tells you the hotkeys for save states under the "Emulation" tab.
Save a State
The emulator will remember the exact moment you save a state and will go back to this exact moment in the game when you load that state.
Load a State
The emulator will go back to a previously saved state.
Play around with save states until you are comfortable using them. The image above illustrates how I use them.
Frame advance is another useful feature for when you want to make inputs in a game frame by frame.
A frame is a single unit of time within the game. It is every time the screen gets updated.
- Set the frame advance hotkey under the "Options">"Hotkeys" tab.
- Once you press it the first time while running a game it will pause the game at that frame, every consecutive press will advance the game 1 frame at a time.
- To resume the game at normal playing speed just hit the "Play" button under the emulation tab.
Play around with this feature as well until you are comfortable with how it works.
Step 4: Record Your Inputs and Playback
BEFORE RECORDING/PLAYBACK (Dolphin specific)
- Change some settings in Dolphin to avoid having your inputs becoming desynchronized with the game:
- Turn off "Idle skipping" and "Dual Core" under "Options">"Configure"
- Set Audio to "LLE interpreter" or "LLE recompiler". This will avoid many issues you may have.
- In order to record inputs, go to "Emulation">"StartRecording".
The emulator will start recording inputs while you play, even while using frame advance and save states!
Do not hit "Start Recording" while already having started the game. Dolphin will automatically start up the game from booting up for you once you hit "Start Recording". This is important because playback will not work if you record in the middle of having started the game from dolphin.
When using save states while recording, you must remember that going back to a save state will make the emulator forget all the inputs you have made after making that savestate and you will be redoing them. Do not make a save state later in your TAS, go back to an earlier one, make inputs, and then return to the later one. You cannot "Patch in" inputs in the middle of your TAS, once you go back you should work from there assuming you have no future inputs saved.
PLAYING BACK YOUR TAS
- Once you have come to a point where you would like to stop simply stop emulation by going to "Emulation">"Stop".
- A popup should appear asking you to save a ".dtm" file. This file contains all your inputs from your TAS.
- Save it in a directory of your choosing and then go back to Dolphin.
- Go to "Emulation">"Play Recording" and select the ".dtm" file you just made and the emulator should playback your TAS!
Step 5: Thats It!
Thats the basics of making a TAS! Hopefully you've found this tutorial helpful.
If you are interested in recording your TAS into a shareable format like a youtube video or something either use some screen and audio capturing software while playing back your TAS or, if you have a lower end computer like me, look into Dolphin's or emulator of your choosing's Frame/Audio dumping feature. In Dolphin this tools let you write your audio and video to .avi and .wav files respectively and then you can use some video editing software to combine the two.
I do not own any of the characters/games depicted in this tutorial, Super Smash Brothers Melee is owned by Nintendo, original game copyright HAL Laboratories.