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Thread: Hardware pushed to the limits according to Sega-16 members

  1. #256
    Hero of Algol
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    An there's also this post:


    Bottom taken from emulation, top from my capture card. Constrast and saturation set to default levels. Brightness set to normal level (little bit above default). But really, it doesn’t matter. You can clearly weird Luma stepping in the color transitions. If you turn the contrast up, or brightness down, or even turn the saturation down so the screen is black and white – it has no effect on the relationship of each color to its neighbor. The odd stepping it already there.

    I suspect it’s either an error in the original table (and this is from an SGX, so it has a second revision VCE) or it’s because 5bits per channel isn’t enough for the color conversion to carry over correctly and you get stepping errors. Either or, it’s pretty significant. Like I stated before, SO2 simply looks great with this color mapping. It makes me want to go back through the PCE library of games where I thought the color choices were poor and re-check them.

    I hate to sound like a purist, but if I were to have to choose between which color set is appropriate and which is incorrect – I’m definitely leaning towards the VCE table converted set. That means GFX tools, general graphics, etc with that in mind.
    https://pcedev.wordpress.com/2010/12...parison-chart/

  2. #257
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamahl View Post
    Left side looks more like the shitty Mega Drive palette. Dark brown == Red-ish Brown, awful cyan tones, different colors which pretty much blend into the same shit, etc.

  3. #258
    Hero of Algol Kamahl's Avatar
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    The colour choices make a lot more sense when you look at the left picture (specially the sky transition). Real hardware recordings from the genesis don't seem to have weird colours like that. I know some video encoders had different quality colours though.

  4. #259
    WCPO Agent segarule's Avatar
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    I was comparing Sonic 1 SMS/GG. You can note differences some by hardware and others by programming aspects. The GG version is more well done and i dont know why (except by colors specs) they did this.
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  5. #260
    Raging in the Streets Sik's Avatar
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    GG version was developed later, right? (a quick check says GG version came out two months later) Although I wish they hadn't replaced Sonic's sprites, they tried to make it look more like its 16-bit counterpart but honestly looks worse to me. (not saying it can't be done, I mean Sonic 2 LD has awesome sprites, it just didn't pan out in the Sonic 1 GG attempt)

  6. #261
    Extreme Procrastinator Master of Shinobi Flygon's Avatar
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    As a completely incidental note, remember that the Mega Drive uses a non-linear 9-bit palette as well. Suddenly you have a PCE-style revelation that perhaps the artists weren't on as much crack as you were thinking.

    At least you get much more than the 2-bit RGB palette the Master System has! IT CANNOT DO BROWNS/CREAMS!

  7. #262
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    Yeah, I was aware of that. There's a somewhat mirror thread for that topic in our forums (I don't remember where).

    But it's just a thing that got on my nerves over the years, especially after countless discussions and testing with Pyron.
    The more you try to "fix" the palettes of the MD games, the more frustrated you get. Sure, Pyron delivered some great improvements and I've learned a lot in the process but some things are just harder for me to stomach these days than they were years ago.

    Also, I'd like to make clear that I don't fully disagree with Black_Tiger, quite the opposite. As a general rule, I'm pretty sure a system with 9-bit master palette and 8 sub-palettes will be able to deliver better graphics than one with 12-bit master palette and only 4 sub-palettes.
    But in the context of the ports to the Mega Drive and its own implementation of a 9-bit palette, I'd like to have some better colors to choose from more than anything.

    It's sad, depressing how horrible the darker brown tones look on the Mega Drive. The PC Engine doesn't have the same problem IMO.
    In terms of cyan tones it's also very frustrating to see how many of them simply don't worth a damn on the actual screen.
    If you think for a second, that has everything to do with the bottom and the top of the screen of lots of games, especially side-scrolling platformers. Then you add up the abrupt transitions of the MD's palette to hurt most of the backgrounds and you'll realize how much of a problem it is.

    Out of its 512 colors, there's tens of them which aren't really useful in most scenes. And some which look bad but have to be used in most cases.

    It really saddens me when I'm messing up with it. I was going to create a thread called "Mega Drive palette sadness" (obviously inspired by Kamahl's "Amiga sadness" thread) just to be able to whine endlessly about it, hehehehe.


    Its whole encoding system is also worth a whole new thread of complaints. I'm not sure if it's a curse or a plague, but it's that bad IMO.
    Again, a significant number of the MD's palette colors isn't even properly displayable using its most common NTSC encoders and a decent CRT.
    MD's composite output is among the worst ever and I think it's the undisputed worse among the 4th gen consoles which matter. S-Video only gets really good with non-MD native encoders IMO (like the 32X's or the Motorola one used by some weird SVHS Japanese boxes).
    The VDP's high res mode is pretty much a waste of resources in terms of on screen definition if you own a stock Mega Drive.
    ...
    Yeah, I'm quite salty about it.
    Last edited by Barone; 09-04-2016 at 08:15 PM.

  8. #263
    WCPO Agent segarule's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sik View Post
    GG version was developed later, right? (a quick check says GG version came out two months later) Although I wish they hadn't replaced Sonic's sprites, they tried to make it look more like its 16-bit counterpart but honestly looks worse to me. (not saying it can't be done, I mean Sonic 2 LD has awesome sprites, it just didn't pan out in the Sonic 1 GG attempt)
    IMO GG Sonic is more cool, sprites made it with bad attitude. But 2 months explain the bit differences in stages (normal, i would expect for this). However not explain others aspects (flowers animations for example). I guess that they had more "kindness" with GG.
    "I wanted to create something that the Famicom wouldn’t have been able to do..." (Kotaro Hayashida)
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  9. #264
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barone View Post
    Some more info about the Lotus games (yes, I'm aware you were partaking in this discussion):
    http://www.lemonamiga.com/forum/view...=120920#120920
    the unparalleled smoothness of the first two games came from actually drawing two frames ahead using the blitter*, and copying the pre-drawn frame ahead (in the VBL) into the display buffer
    So, if that info holds any water, it makes sense. 'Cause the MD's CPU is just a bit faster version of Amiga 500's CPU; so things seem to point to the original rendering tricks not being so easy to be translated to the MD hardware in an optimized manner.

    The MD version, at least on the surface, seems to do proper use of the DMA transfers; even shutting down the display to speed them up (something that many MD games don't do).
    And actually there's very little VRAM updates during the race (Lotus/Top Gear games have CPU cars being clones of the players' cars, which simplifies things a lot in terms of ROM/RAM/VRAM usage; unlike OutRun).


    Now that I just read this quote again, I wonder how come I did not question the "copying the pre-drawn frame ahead (in the VBL) into the display buffer" part during the original discussion.
    It makes little sense to copy a pre-drawn frame into a display buffer on the Amiga when one can simply point the display pointers to the pre-drawn frame instead. Unless the original poster (OP) meant that the copy concerned only small parts of the screen, nobody would in their right mind copy any pre-drawn frame anywhere so maybe the original poster misunderstood or distorted the information he got.
    It would make sense if the game was for example pre-rendering overlapping roadside objects in a small buffer in a limited number of planes before blitting them as a group with a single mask into the screen, but it is not clear that this is what the OP was implying.

    Also, drawing two frames in advance is just another name for triple buffering, which is simply a way to even out irregularities in drawing times, but I would say that on the contrary that this is necessary because the blitter cannot modify that many pixels per frame (certainly much less than the MD can by simply displaying sprites), so evening out as many irregularities in drawing speed as possible helps getting the most out of this limited capability.

    One advantage the Amiga has though, is that its very large CHIP RAM allows to pre-store many scaled versions of the sprites, something which the MD cannot do with its limited 64KB of RAM and VRAM which requires it to constantly transfer the needed scaled sprites from ROM/RAM to VRAM.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barone View Post
    There's still a lot of details that simply don't add up IMO:
    - Super Hang-On: Seems to be a 1:1 port of the arcade in terms of "AI"/traffic waves, course rendering and physics. Lots of multiplication involved in the rendering of the "hills" (something that Lotus' implementation seems to have cleverly simplified a lot), even in the lateral movement of the bikes (super finicky details like you running centiseconds faster when using the insider lines of the track were preserved from the arcade), grip calculation, etc.
    [...]
    In this one, the main cause of the low frame rate really seems to be the calcs-heavy nature of the original engine which was ported to the Mega Drive.
    Oh, I would not have suspected this as the cause but this would indeed make sense.
    The OutRun reassembler project showed that OutRun's road drawing code was fairly complicated for what it was doing and I would expect Super HangOn's code to be at least similar so it does seem reasonable to think it could overpower an 8MHz MegaDrive: both SHO and OutRun arcade dedicate one 68k to the road code only, probably for this reason (and Lotus II has shown that this is overkill).
    As you said in another post, arcade games often had large amount of wasted power due to the necessity to constantly churn out new games and the shorter life span of the hardware, so reusing their code as is on a less powerful system could cause this kind of result indeed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barone View Post
    - Lotus ports: 256x224 resolution, with noticeable black borders, very little VRAM updates during the race (using DMA); the engine used seems to be a very faithful port of the Amiga one, but running round 20 fps most of the time.
    This one is hard to understand why it can't even reach 30 fps, for an example.
    Indeed.
    I would think the bottleneck would be VRAM transfer of missing scaled versions of the sprites but if there are so few of them then there does not seem to be many reasons for not reaching higher frame rates. The road itself, including stripes could be drawn most of the time simply by playing with row scroll and a few hblank interruptions to switch three colors so that does not seem to be where the machine power would be wasted.
    But we could speculate forever, we should rather attempt to write a proper raster road routine and see what problems effectively happens when the rubber tries to hit the road.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barone View Post
    That's why I said "a bit". But in reality, I think the CPU efficiency in the Amiga 500 is hurt by the lack of fast RAM.
    Anyway, the point is: CPU-wise, the difference is either negligible or in favor of the MD while the performance of the game is much better on the Amiga.
    It is not always hurt that badly by the lack of fast RAM because the DMA accesses of the display are timed to avoid conflicting with the 68k as much as possible.
    The 68k needs access to the bus only one out of every 4 clock cycles and uses even cycles while the display will favor odd cycles so with 4 bitplanes it will never steal a single cycle from the 68k. The Blitter can also steal cycles from the 68k but only if allowed to, so you could have a blitter operation taking 3 out of the 4 DMA cycles left free by the display and the 68k would still run at full speed using the leftover cycle thinking it has the bus fully for itself.
    Many blitter operations leave a few cycles free so this is not an uncommon situation. Moreover, even with the Blitter allowed precedence over the 68k, it is still possible to mitigate the effect a bit by using high cycle counts operations so the CPU will be effectively frozen at a lower rate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Barone View Post
    Also, I'd like to make clear that I don't fully disagree with Black_Tiger, quite the opposite. As a general rule, I'm pretty sure a system with 9-bit master palette and 8 sub-palettes will be able to deliver better graphics than one with 12-bit master palette and only 4 sub-palettes.
    But in the context of the ports to the Mega Drive and its own implementation of a 9-bit palette, I'd like to have some better colors to choose from more than anything.
    The 9bit color palette of the MegaDrive is made even more regrettable by the fact that it would not have costed much hardware wise to have a 12 or 15 bit CLUT. Sega could have gone for either and the price of the machine would not have moved more than a few dollars up since this would have influenced only the size of the 64 color registers and not much else since a 9bit CLUT must use 16 bit entries anyway.

  10. #265
    Raging in the Streets Sik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by segarule View Post
    IMO GG Sonic is more cool, sprites made it with bad attitude. But 2 months explain the bit differences in stages (normal, i would expect for this). However not explain others aspects (flowers animations for example). I guess that they had more "kindness" with GG.
    Don't forget its Mega Drive counterpart, REV00 (Western) and REV01 (Japanese) are apart by three months and have quite the differences too. For one, nearly all parallax is missing in REV00 (most stages just have the background moving at a fixed speed, no linescrolling). Also the level select has everything out of order in REV00, and they also bothered to add the 1up every 50,000 points feature in REV01.

    So yeah, they normally tend to add that kind of retouches that they didn't have time to add the first time around.

  11. #266
    ESWAT Veteran Team Andromeda's Avatar
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    I have to say that Chase HQ on the Zx Spectrum was a example of top coding skills . It played and looked better than most of the console versions
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  12. #267
    Raging in the Streets Sik's Avatar
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    Wait, was Skitchin' already mentioned in this thread? That thing has the 68000 busy scaling sprites while the Z80 is busy mixing PCM

  13. #268
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black_Tiger View Post
    Rendering Ranger is one of those games that SNES fans heard about too late and were praying would turn out to be the equivalent of Sapphire for SNES, but turned out to be literally the opposite (no matter how much they hyped it).

    Instead of a couple ships with large unique bullets filling the screen on top of the screen also being filled with enemies of various sizes and behaviours which are animated as smooth as possible... you get a modest amount of enemies of a couple sizes with zero frames of animation and minimal behavior, simple bullets and the game moves very slow, only scrolling the background fast at times to give the illusion of speed (while the sprites still move at normal speed).

    It was a neat concept and maybe if the cgi wasn't tacked on at the last minute, it wouldn't have wound up looking like a popsicle stick puppet play.

    What sucks is that the SNES has shooters that do a lot of action and much more impressive stuff, but this thing gets all of the hype.

    Anyway, I assume that you're talking about the occasional grid of static enemies for you to pop. It's the same as the first pipe room of Super Mario Bros having a bunch of static coins to pop.
    I disagree with this 100%. This is one of the best examples of a game pushing the limits of a console. Rendering Ranger is an amazing game and an amazing technical achievement given the hardware it was done on. Have you actually played it much? Or just buzzed through it on an emulator for a few minutes? I own a repro cart and have played through it probably 2 dozen times. It sounds like you are nit picking a game that you think is over rated, when the reality is, few people outside of hardcore message boards like this have even heard of it. You can't even find decent footage of the game on YouTube.

    Look at it this way though, this game does what almost no other SNES shooter managed to do, pull off a huge spectacle with NO SLOW DOWN! Not even a hint. It runs buttery smooth the entire game, even on stages like 7 where there is a giant sweeping, beautifully done city in the background. All the while blasting hordes of enemies on screen at once. I'm not sure why there are certain people around that hate on this game, because to me it's a lot of fun and an amazing technical achievement considering the system it's on.

    It does have it's flaws to be sure (like those damn lasers that block your path on the Run N Gun sections and boss fights that take a bit too long) but overall the game deserves every bit of praise it gets IMO.

    Sorry for the rant, I am just a passionate fan of this game!

  14. #269
    Hero of Algol
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    Quote Originally Posted by AggroSky View Post
    I disagree with this 100%. This is one of the best examples of a game pushing the limits of a console.
    Can I disagree 200% with your post? :P

    'Cause this game is cliché to the extreme. And there's very little in it that looks any technically refined IMO.
    I'll point a few things off the top of my head:
    - Enemy waves use very simplistic patterns.
    - Scrolling backgrounds are mostly static.
    - Several bosses are as static as a big block of stone. Most of them seem to be rendered mostly using a background layer, like 3rd gen and very early 4th gen stuff.
    - Explosions are slowly animated, they look odd.
    - The spider-looking boss is a perfect example of how cliché and limited this game looks: it's one of very few enemies/bosses which show any sprite articulation and it's one of the worst animations I've seen in articulated bosses in 4th gen games. It's clunky, moves slowly and uses pathetic patterns. All that in a fixed screen, which is recurrent in this game.
    - Like Black_Tiger said, some of the enemy ships are animated using two or three looping frames; it looks cheap as fuck.
    - The AI, as whole, is so cheap and dumb it hurts to look at. So many shots with no reasonable direction or any sign of being able to track where the player's ship actually is.
    - Most of the enemy waves are methodically presented: lots of repetition of same ships per screen, little to no variation in size or pattern.
    ...

    If this game is 4th gen hardware pushed to the limit, stuff like Bio-Hazard Battle and Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire might be from the 6th gen then, hehehe.

  15. #270
    So's your old man! Raging in the Streets zetastrike's Avatar
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    What about ZAS on the Gameboy? I just fired that up in the everdrive and it was neat to see multiple scrolling layers on the monochrome screen. I wasn't completely sure, but it looked like one layer was above the sprites and the other below, on the first stage.
    Quote Originally Posted by A Black Falcon
    Nope. Bloodlines is the problem, not me. I have no trouble with Super Castlevania IV (SNES) and Dracula X: Rondo of Blood (TCD), and have finished both games. Both of those are outstanding games, among the best platformers of the generation. In comparison Bloodlines is third or fourth tier.

    No, it's unbiased analysis. The only fanboyism is people who claim that Hyperstone Heist and Bloodlines are actually as good as their SNES counterparts.
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