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Thread: More Alternate Reality Stuff or Did the 32x Make Sense?

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    RORRING STAAAAART! Master of Shinobi FuturePrimitive's Avatar
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    I can't read most of kool kitty's posts... Where do you get the time to write those essays dude?

    I think the 32X version sounds way better than the Genesis version of Virtua Racing. It's obvious. Also looks better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FuturePrimitive View Post
    I can't read most of kool kitty's posts... Where do you get the time to write those essays dude?

    I think the 32X version sounds way better than the Genesis version of Virtua Racing. It's obvious. Also looks better.
    It isn't a matter of time necessarily, just a matter of interest. Interest is something I hate to discourage when it comes to topics like these.

    Emulators show that there is no 32X PWM assisting Virtua Racing Deluxe's audio, but my ears are telling me that no Genesis game could ever play that many simultaneous samples of that clarity.
    "... If Sony reduced the price of the Playstation, Sega would have to follow suit in order to stay competitive, but Saturn's high manufacturing cost would then translate into huge losses for the company." p170 Revolutionaries at Sony.

    "We ... put Sega out of the hardware business ..." Peter Dille senior vice president of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment

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    Quote Originally Posted by sheath View Post
    It isn't a matter of time necessarily, just a matter of interest. Interest is something I hate to discourage when it comes to topics like these.

    Emulators show that there is no 32X PWM assisting Virtua Racing Deluxe's audio, but my ears are telling me that no Genesis game could ever play that many simultaneous samples of that clarity.
    That technical stuff just goes right over my head! Not discouraging interest, I'm just as interested as he is!

    I hear you there. I can't imagine the Genesis solely pulling off the audio acrobatics displayed in Virtua Racing Deluxe. This is coming from a guy that played the real arcade version extensively! It's fun to compare all of these versions. That YouTube video you posted was a great example, though I wish the arcade was included for comparison's sake.

    Reviews in the pipeline:
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    Ys: The Vanished Omens with FM Sound Patch!

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    Quote Originally Posted by FuturePrimitive View Post
    That technical stuff just goes right over my head! Not discouraging interest, I'm just as interested as he is!

    I hear you there. I can't imagine the Genesis solely pulling off the audio acrobatics displayed in Virtua Racing Deluxe. This is coming from a guy that played the real arcade version extensively! It's fun to compare all of these versions. That YouTube video you posted was a great example, though I wish the arcade was included for comparison's sake.
    The only way most youtube videos will ever include an Arcade game is using MAME, which should be considered a varied degree of "good" PC port and not the original. Including official releases like the Saturn's Time Warner adaptation or the PS2's crud is better than including MAME because of the huge variety of performance differences MAME allows for.

    Similarly, Gens Kmod doesn't cut off the samples in Virtua Racing, but does in Virtua Fighter. This indicates that the 32X doesn't handle the samples in VR but does in VF. My only problem is that no vanilla Genesis game plays as many or as clear samples as Virtua Racing Deluxe does. Was it just a very late developed sound engine, or are the emulators not emulating the hardware accurately even for developer versions?
    "... If Sony reduced the price of the Playstation, Sega would have to follow suit in order to stay competitive, but Saturn's high manufacturing cost would then translate into huge losses for the company." p170 Revolutionaries at Sony.

    "We ... put Sega out of the hardware business ..." Peter Dille senior vice president of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment

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    Quote Originally Posted by sheath View Post
    The only way most youtube videos will ever include an Arcade game is using MAME, which should be considered a varied degree of "good" PC port and not the original. Including official releases like the Saturn's Time Warner adaptation or the PS2's crud is better than including MAME because of the huge variety of performance differences MAME allows for.

    Similarly, Gens Kmod doesn't cut off the samples in Virtua Racing, but does in Virtua Fighter. This indicates that the 32X doesn't handle the samples in VR but does in VF. My only problem is that no vanilla Genesis game plays as many or as clear samples as Virtua Racing Deluxe does. Was it just a very late developed sound engine, or are the emulators not emulating the hardware accurately even for developer versions?
    I might be able to shoot video of Virtua Racing in the arcade if I go to Manitou Springs sometime soon!

    That's true about Genesis games don't achieve the sound on Virtua Racing Deluxe. I think you're on to something there.

    Reviews in the pipeline:
    Choplifter (Master System and SG-1000)
    Ys: The Vanished Omens with FM Sound Patch!

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    Quote Originally Posted by FuturePrimitive View Post
    I might be able to shoot video of Virtua Racing in the arcade if I go to Manitou Springs sometime soon!

    That's true about Genesis games don't achieve the sound on Virtua Racing Deluxe. I think you're on to something there.
    That would be completely awesome. I don't even know what the best method of this would be, a direct audio output of the Arcade game would be awesome but that doesn't seem like something that would be possible under ordinary circumstances. I haven't seen the Arcade game for almost twenty years, a good cam recording would be seriously cool even if it has too much background noise.
    "... If Sony reduced the price of the Playstation, Sega would have to follow suit in order to stay competitive, but Saturn's high manufacturing cost would then translate into huge losses for the company." p170 Revolutionaries at Sony.

    "We ... put Sega out of the hardware business ..." Peter Dille senior vice president of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment

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    Quote Originally Posted by sheath View Post
    That would be completely awesome. I don't even know what the best method of this would be, a direct audio output of the Arcade game would be awesome but that doesn't seem like something that would be possible under ordinary circumstances. I haven't seen the Arcade game for almost twenty years, a good cam recording would be seriously cool even if it has too much background noise.
    Not sure if I can get direct audio, but I can definitely use a camcorder. I wish I had a boom mike for something like this. Manitou has the two player cabinet:

    If I manage to get in there on a slower day, I can get some solid footage. Might hear some Gorf, Donkey Kong, and pinball machines in the background though!

    Reviews in the pipeline:
    Choplifter (Master System and SG-1000)
    Ys: The Vanished Omens with FM Sound Patch!

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    I think if you smack together the best parts of the Genesis, 32X, and Saturn versions of Virtua Racing, you get the arcade version. Although, I do like the additions in the console versions. I haven't played the PS2 version at all.

    Reviews in the pipeline:
    Choplifter (Master System and SG-1000)
    Ys: The Vanished Omens with FM Sound Patch!

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    The PS2 game has totally broken physics, nothing like the Arcade and not good in general. It's like they thought the game should play like Ridge Racer or something. It is every bit as bad as the "Virtua Fighter 1" in VF 4 Evo, just a totally different and probably bad game. I've wanted to see an actual Virtua Racing Arcade cabinet for decades just so I can try to eyeball the differences between it and the Saturn game. Based on MAME the Saturn game looks and plays really closely to the Arcade. Some members here have insisted though that the game is completely broken, impossible to get first place for example, though.
    "... If Sony reduced the price of the Playstation, Sega would have to follow suit in order to stay competitive, but Saturn's high manufacturing cost would then translate into huge losses for the company." p170 Revolutionaries at Sony.

    "We ... put Sega out of the hardware business ..." Peter Dille senior vice president of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment

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    I can see that. Maybe they were trying for a bit of an OutRun 2006 Coast 2 Coast vibe with some throwbacks to V.R.'s trademark visuals and music.

    Those V.R. cabinets are turning into a bit of a rare bird unless racing enthusiasts are around. There's some guy on Arcade-Museum that has three V.R. uprights chained together near Indianapolis. His place must be party central!

    Haven't played the Saturn version yet, but from what I see in gameplay videos, it isn't bad by any means. A steering wheel would help a lot to be competitive. CPU cars have always been gnarly in the arcade. All of the bonus stuff in the 32X and Saturn versions are fantastic! Saturn really takes it on bonus stuff here. I like the career mode that starts you off in race karts.

    Reviews in the pipeline:
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  11. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by sheath View Post
    Watching this just now, I still have to doubt that the emulators are correct that the 32X isn't doing anything for the sound in Deluxe, absolutely everything sounds better.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3nJ4f6QJzU
    I don't find it hard to believe at all, given the cause for bad quality samples in most MD games. (ie the combination of various problems of the sample quality/format itself and the hardware/software related issues)

    VR's sound engine is pretty limited, it only does 1 sample channel with no added mixing . . . it might be DPCM (like SMPS) or uncompressed PCM, but you've also got a 3MB ROM to work with over the 2 MB on the MD version.
    With the 68k freed up over games requiring significant overhead, a 68k+Z80 sound engine can be optimized a fair bit more without super good coding (plus I doubt there's much/any VRAM updates to contend for ROM access -or CPU time- either). So with a relatively simple PCM driver (feature-wise) and removal of many of the major difficulties in general, it makes perfect sense that it's possible as such. (I forget if that engine is Z80 only or 68k+Z80, but I think it's the latter -most 32x games use the "32x Standard J" -like VRD- driver or "32x Standard U" or SMPS68k. (Doom uses GEMS for some reason -plus a PWM driver for samples . . . I think, need to check that- and then a few others use custom drivers)

    To manage the same quality on a VRAM DMA intensive and CPU intensive MD game would need a fair bit more optimization on Z80 coding, and more so if you wanted a really decent engine with good playback of multiple sample channels. Some of the MD-specific drivers re-used for 32x may also fare better due to lack of contention. (at least for cases where VDP DMA was the main problem -not the case for Capcom's engine, which has excessive 68k contention on the Z80 bus . . . I think Komami had a problem with that too -need to do the 68k-halt test on Hyperstone and Sparkster)

    In any case, with Virtua Racing Delux (32x Standard J) as a single-channel driver, I will say they optimized things well. (no pauses or gaps between switching from drums/speech/sfx)
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    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    Dude it’s the bios that marries the 16 bit and the 8 bit that makes it 24 bit. If SNK released their double speed bios revision SNK would have had the world’s first 48 bit machine, IDK how you keep ignoring this.
    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    the PCE, that system has no extra silicone for music, how many resources are used to make music and it has less sprites than the MD on screen at once but a larger sprite area?

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    That makes a lot of sense, that the 32X relieved the usual DMA and chip contentions that makes the standard DAC drivers so hard to optimize. I agree that Virtua Racing Deluxe sounds like it could be done on the Genesis, it's just that there are so many samples playing, sometimes simultaneously, and with none of the choppiness that even 1st party games occasionally have.

    This kind of opens up a whole other area of how the 32X can enhance audio actually. I have previously only thought of how taking samples alone off of the Genesis' load would be better, but leaving the Genesis just for a background layer and all sound should be a pretty robust sound system on its own.
    "... If Sony reduced the price of the Playstation, Sega would have to follow suit in order to stay competitive, but Saturn's high manufacturing cost would then translate into huge losses for the company." p170 Revolutionaries at Sony.

    "We ... put Sega out of the hardware business ..." Peter Dille senior vice president of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment

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    Alternate reality stuff? The neo geo AES should have been marketed as a fashionable console for sophisticated women.

  14. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by sheath View Post
    That makes a lot of sense, that the 32X relieved the usual DMA and chip contentions that makes the standard DAC drivers so hard to optimize. I agree that Virtua Racing Deluxe sounds like it could be done on the Genesis, it's just that there are so many samples playing, sometimes simultaneously, and with none of the choppiness that even 1st party games occasionally have.

    This kind of opens up a whole other area of how the 32X can enhance audio actually. I have previously only thought of how taking samples alone off of the Genesis' load would be better, but leaving the Genesis just for a background layer and all sound should be a pretty robust sound system on its own.
    This is also part of the reason some early MD games had relatively even sample playback too. (the small ROMs and general graphics styled used tended to mean you weren't streaming graphics much or at all in-game, and loading mostly between levels) That, and some games might just use the 68k to copy stuff manually. (I think it came up that some early games might actually use ROM too slow to allow DMA to work properly -though you could still DMA from 68k work RAM if you wanted to)

    Games that stream compressed data from ROM have to decode it in software anyway, and if a game implemented that by decompressing directly to VRAM, that would mean you weren't using DMA either, but if you buffered into work RAM and then DMA'd, you'd get the typical contention problems. (and I think a lot of games do it in the latter manner, particularly in the context of decompressing/buffering animation slightly before the game needs to use it and then copying it over as needed -that also optimizes better for "free" CPU time, since you're going to often have uneven gaps in free cycles on the CPU and no very even/consistent ones . . . and the CPU could decompress/buffer any time rather than being limited to vblank -when it could write to VRAM)

    Of course, there's still many sound drivers that sounded bad mostly due to sample quality (bitrate and/or optimization for a specific format -or the PCM/ADPCM/etc format used in general) or due to crappy timing independent of DMA contention or contention with the 68k as with SFII. (and quite often crappy optimization/conversion issues on top of crappy/eneven playback) And those issues wouldn't be helped by the way the 32x works.

    Oh, and another note: this "advantage" would apply to any other device that freed up MD VDP access and put emphasis on a different video generator as the "main attraction" as such. (so that hypothetical of a Panther-like Object Processor in the Sega CD -or a 32x-like module- would apply too . . . that, and my hypothetical standalone CD with different VRAM configuration -except that was suggested to have hardware PCM anyway)

    Sega allowing the Z80 to have priority over the 68k bus would have addressed the problem anyway (and the bandwidth it needs is low enough not to cripple VDP bandwidth either). That, of course being one of the several things (short of hardware PCM) that would have helped the Z80 be more useful. (bus priority, YM2612 connected to Z80 interrupt line -for PCM and/or music timing, faster Z80 clock, and better bank switching -faster or, especially, multiple smaller banks) Even if they stuck with 4 MHz rated Z80s, they could have done 4.13 MHz as 1/13 master clock (53.7 MHz) with a decent margin of safety (ie no impact on reliability). 6 MHz Z80s at 5.97 MHz probably wouldn't have really hurt either (and a lot of early/mid 90s MDs used 6 MHz Z80s anyway -presumably cheap enough to merit supplementing 4 MHz stock). 4.13 MHz alone is still a 15% boost in any case.
    That, of course, being aside from the possibility of Sega not going backwards compatible. (and on that note, it would have been neat to have the MD cart slot directly compatible with the SMS -and could have been practical too, as has been discussed in reasonable detail before)
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    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    Dude it’s the bios that marries the 16 bit and the 8 bit that makes it 24 bit. If SNK released their double speed bios revision SNK would have had the world’s first 48 bit machine, IDK how you keep ignoring this.
    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    the PCE, that system has no extra silicone for music, how many resources are used to make music and it has less sprites than the MD on screen at once but a larger sprite area?

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    So I was discussing some of the 32x's technical issues with Sheath here:

    http://www.sega-16.com/forum/showthr...l=1#post605710

    and here:
    http://www.sega-16.com/forum/showthr...849#post605849

    And addressed some areas I generally avoided in this topic since I really don't feel they were among Sega's better options. That said, they're still better than the existing 32x in numerous ways . . . or entirely.


    The context was how the 32x is relatively weak and rushed, and a properly planned out and developed design would have performed much better at similar cost. (like a system more optimized around a unified bus using cheap DRAM -sort of in line with the Jaguar, but simpler and less buggy . . . and using a nice fast CPU with cache like the SH2)
    But even with the time and cost constraints in mind, they still should have had the option to repurpose some of the Saturns components (especially notable since the 32x's SDRAM+framebuffer layout would fit VDP1 quite well) while cutting the 2nd SH2 to save cost.
    Or even short of that, swapping the 2nd SH2 for a 2nd SDRAM chip (providing 512 kB at 32-bits wide) would have been better for a good deal of games. (2x the fast work RAM at 2x the bandwidth)



    But then the separate issue of the potential of a non add-on/peripheral design being more cost effective (cost to performance wise) in general.
    And here you've got 2 things to consider: MD compatible, and distinct/incompatible.

    With MD compatible, you'd want to focus on similar design elements as I posted in my Sega CD thread:
    http://www.sega-16.com/forum/showthr...ty-stuff/page4
    Except in a 1993/1994 context rather than 1990/1991.

    So generally optimize around improving the existing architecture in the simplest and most useful ways (like expanding VDP color, VRAM, CPU work RAM, Z80 RAM, speeding up the CPUs, adding to sound hardware -like DMA PCM support, etc). But then adding some additional graphics power like the Sega CD blitter did, but also more emphasis on 3D, so probably a DSP coprocessor as well. Or no blitter and just the SVP in a minimalist example, then weaker than 32x but cheaper. (might mesh well with the Sega CD too though . . . and maybe have more advantages over the 32x in that scenario -including the VDP/VRAM changes making the ASIC less bottlenecked) Plus this would be simple/cheap enough to conceivably supplant MD production directly without severely compromising the low-end late gen market position it had. (and there'd be more chance for normal MD games with optional enhancements enabled on the Super Genesis, and same for CD games )

    Or go for a framebuffer+blitter arrangement and further modify the VDP for 8bpp linear framebuffer modes (perhaps taking advantage of the 2nd VRAM port opened up in such a mode -tilemaps consume both ports), or just a 2nd VDC for framebuffer (maybe cutting cost by sharing VRAM with the VDP -maybe arraging 2 64 kB banks to be configured in various ways).

    Or, more costly but more powerful (and more forward looking), take the minimalist case above (just SVP -or similar DSP- plus added RAM/faster CPUs/color/sound/etc) and add VDP1+RAM to that. That would have been pushing it, but still might have managed the 32x's price point, while being more powerful and useful overall, and much more attractive to new buyers. (and somewhat more attractive to existing MD buyers as it would be less bulky)



    Then there's the incompatible approach, which gives you a totally independent design optimized for performance at low cost. However, with the limited time for development, the best option probably would have been digging into the Saturn chipset and pulling out the most useful/necessary components . . . so maybe VDP1+RAM, single SH2+RAM, and then spend the actual R&D on a system interface ASIC including basic sound hardware, a DSP (perhaps the same as in the SCU), and the CRAM+DACs for VDP1's framebuffer output. Even cheaper and better compared to the Neptune too.

    With all of those though, you still have the problem of introducing one more distinct platform with software incompatible with any other older or newer platforms.
    And the same general problems compared to just focusing on MD+CD software (maybe SVP), or the advantages of Saturn compatibility the Jupiter had.

    Well, unless you took that last example above (independent/incompatible design) and made the Saturn just as stripped down, so you've got the Jupiter scenario but with cheaper Juptier and cheaper Saturn. But that would mean Sega (SoJ in particular) would have to decide low cost was more important than a deluxe 2D+3D game system, which doesn't seem likely.
    (plus it would mean a system comprehensively weaker than the PSX . . . but also tangible cheaper -even with Sony's vertical integration)



    The only other scenario above that's somewhat intriguing IMO would be the minimalistic Super Genesis example (faster CPUs, more RAM, added sound, more colors, added SVP, etc) given the relative low cost and potential to benefit more from the Sega CD than the 32x did. (actually removing some bottlenecks rather than adding yet more -moving data from CD to SuperMD should be faster than CD to MD rather than even slower when going from CD to MD to 32x)
    That and, again it should have been cheap enough to supplant normal MD production directly without massive trade-offs. (hell, aside from the SVP, there'd probably be virtually no change in cost in the long run . . . the same sort of integration seen in the VA4 MD2 should have been possible there, and that final Genesis 3 already had 256 kB of ADRAM shared for VDP/68k but 1/2 unused, so VRAM and 68k could have been 128 kB each with just as cheap and compact a design as Sega/Majesco had in 1998/99 -though the SVP would add to cost)

    On a separate note, those sort of enhancements also would have been great for a Game Gear successor around 1999. (pretty competitive with the GBA too, including better resolution . . . and more so for 3D too if the SVP or a Sega CD style blitter was included)



    Of course if you go back to the Sega CD with this:
    http://www.sega-16.com/forum/showthr...ty-stuff/page4
    It really makes the whole 32x situation superfluous anyway since you'd have many of those features back in 1991. (except maybe adding an SVP cart later on)
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    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    Dude it’s the bios that marries the 16 bit and the 8 bit that makes it 24 bit. If SNK released their double speed bios revision SNK would have had the world’s first 48 bit machine, IDK how you keep ignoring this.
    Quote Originally Posted by evilevoix View Post
    the PCE, that system has no extra silicone for music, how many resources are used to make music and it has less sprites than the MD on screen at once but a larger sprite area?

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