Classicamiga Forum Retro Edition
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Thread: Emulation on the Steam Deck
Harrison 16:35 19th August 2022
As you know I've always been into Emulation in a big way.

A PC can emulate pretty much anything, and most emulators start out on Windows. Android has been seeing a bigger increase in Emulation support recently. And Linux has had a big upsurge in Emulation thanks mostly to Raspberry Pi, and now recently the retro handheld scene.

The Steam Deck is a unique device in this regard because it's running Steam OS, which is based on Linux, but designed to run Windows games and software using the Proton abstraction layer, and with Valve's hard work this is already working really well.

What this means is Steam Deck has access to both Linux and Windows Emulation. And using the packages now available you can add the emulators and each specific game directly into the main Steam frontend and navigate and run them like any Steam game. It will even sort your emulated games into collections based on each system, allow artwork etc to be included, and is still running the real emulsion in the background with all the configuration and setup options available.

The easiest starting point is one most will have heard of. Retroarch. A copy of this is even included in Steam for you to add to your liibrary and install. It auto sets up ready to go with a few cores already installed, and then launched take you to the faniliar properties screen to start setting it up. All the usual cores are also available in Steam directly, and all free.

But thr Steam version of Retroarch isn't the latest, so if you stick to that one for ease you are at the will of those managing that version to released updates.

Next we have EmuDeck. I've only just started looking into setting this up and having read and watched some videos this is looking like a brilliant solution. It installs and sets up standalone emulators and RetroArch, and even has EmuElec built in if you wanted to use that frontend over Steam. It's a massive project and undertaking.

To get an idea about EmuDeck take a look at this video.

This video even showcases the hardware capability of thr Deck for Emulation. Running all RetroArch emulsion perfectly, and utilised for everything up to Dreamcast. For everything newer EmuDeck uses individual emulators. Right from PS1, PS2 and can even eun PS3 as well as the current emulators allow. It can also run Gamecube, Wii, WiiU and Switch perfectly well with a bit of tweaking. And can run Xbox and 360 games well too.

I'm going to be losing a lot of hours on this. It feels like I will be going down a massive rabbit hole with this, but it's one of the big rains I wanted a Steam Deck, alongside running PC games on a handheld. But as I've already setup other handhelds and emulsion frontends many times I have a lot already catalogued and sorted ready to use, so saves a lot of time and effort. Still a lot of work and I have a second 256GB SD card to dedicate to this ready to start.
Demon Cleaner 16:07 20th August 2022
EmuElec is great for a handheld and the big advantage is that if you use it on several consoles like me, it's just copy pasting it over and it runs.

My Odin Pro already runs PS2, Gamecube, Wii and that stuff quite well, so I can imagine the deck not having any trouble with it. I just doubt a bit about running PS3 that well, my PC is even struggling with some games and the constant caching will cause the deck many problems, it's just not powerful enough, perhaps for some PSN games.

Anyways I don't consider that generation retro yet and I'm not so much interested running it on a handheld.

The other main problem is that the games are just huge in size. I don't know why you're going with a "tiny" 256GB SD card? They fill up quite fast with ROMs, especially PS2. Gamecube .iso ROMs are still ok, as they all are a fixed 1.5GB size. With Wii and PS2 you already have many games that hit the 5GB mark, you really have to decide and just chose exactly what you want. I go with 1TB cards and still have to chose what I take and what I leave, but that includes also the whole collection of ROMs, including f.ex. DC, DS, 3DS, Sega CD and PSX. All those sets are also bigger in size. My N64 set in comparison is only 3.5GB, so that's not taken in consideration, like all the other "smaller" systems. MAME can take up some space if you fully install a set, but I also have a trimmed favorite MAME set, which is around 8GB.

You could always use several different SD cards and swap, but I don't like that approach, reminds me too much of old times when swapping disks, which was one of the negative features of that time (although I'm sure Kin Hell loves it)
Harrison 23:56 20th August 2022
I would have liked to use a larger SD card, but I'm keeping costs down at the moment. The 256GB SanDisk cards are only 30 which is a great price for the size. A 1TB is 160 which I'm not willing to spend at the moment.

Plus my Deck has 256GB storage, so total of 512GB at the moment. I'm only going to be installing specific games on the Deck, but a whole library. I'm still playing on buying an Ayn Odin at some point as they are smaller than the Deck and it will be useful for Android gaming as well as emulation so different to the Deck.

And as I have Xbox Gamepass Premium cloud gaming working on the Deck now I don't even need to install every PC game I want to play, so long as it's only for use on Wifi.
Demon Cleaner 00:59 21st August 2022
For me handheld is all about emulation, the PC gaming feature is nice but I'm playing those games on a big TV, as I'm not traveling with trains and busses anyways. I don't need handhelds for that. And if I'm on holidays, I don't play besides when I'm in Finland, which obviously became my second home and there I have time as I don't bring my whole rig there.

I also don't play any Android games, like I mentioned before, my handhelds are solely for retrogaming. What I don't like about the deck is the size, looks very large in comparison to the Odin, and a 6" screen is already amazing for a "retro" handheld console. That's why I'm selling my OneXPlayer, although an amazing console, won't deny that, it's just too big (8.4" screen 2K), and just too heavy to be a true handheld.

So the main question is, if you're home on the couch, in front of your TV, do you use an handheld?? I have the Switch Lite, which I bought first, after that I bought the Switch OLED, to be honest, just for fun or money spending, but if I play at home, why use the Lite? But on the other hand, never thought that, the Lite is a very good handheld, shape, size, weight are just perfect, and the Odin feels right up the same alley. Copied, perhaps, achieved, definitely.
Harrison 10:49 21st August 2022
Why use a handheld at home? Throughout the summer months it's great to sit outside on the garden sofa or in our garden room (log cabin) and game with a handheld. For this the Deck is perfect.

Equally I'm often sitting in the living room with my wife. She wants the company, but often wants to watch something I'm not interested in. So I can do some gaming with a handheld in the same room.

But like you I do use handhelds more for retro gaming than modern games. The handheld formfactor and screensizes lend thenselves to them, and retro games can look great on smaller screens.

Regarding Android games, there are quite a few really nice games released on Android. Many also on iOS. And with Google Play pass, which is similar to Xbox ganepass, for $29 per year you get access to a lot of the paid for games in there. But playing many of them on a tablet or phone, which is what I've been using when out, is fiddly for quite a few of them, and I never got in well with onscreen touch controls to emulate joysticks and buttons. So the Odin will be ideal for me for that.
Demon Cleaner 18:58 21st August 2022
In the living room I’m the boss, if my girlfriend wants to watch TV and I want to play, she leaves and watches on the iPad

But that’s mostly during the week as we both do home office and she works from my office and I work from the veranda which is next to the living room, so I’m just next to it. And as she often works until 8-9 in the evening and I stop a lot earlier it just makes sense. After she stops we eat and there’s perhaps time to watch one episode and then bed again.
Harrison 00:47 23rd August 2022
There is already a lot of information for EmuDeck online. From the official site, and other places.

This is a great guide site with walkthroughs that even go into how to get files onto the Steam Deck and manage them ready for the emulators.
Harrison 01:55 23rd August 2022
The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Demon Cleaner 16:07 2nd September 2022
Originally Posted by Harrison:
I would have liked to use a larger SD card, but I'm keeping costs down at the moment. The 256GB SanDisk cards are only 30 which is a great price for the size. A 1TB is 160 which I'm not willing to spend at the moment.
FYI, is selling their own Amazon Basics 1TB card for 104€ at the moment, that's 89. 15 for the 256GB and 41 for the 512GB, might be interesting.
Harrison 17:47 2nd September 2022
I only buy Sandisk or Samsung SD cards.
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