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Thread: Doom on the Saturn

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    Master of Shinobi Mega Drive Bowlsey's Avatar
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    Default Doom on the Saturn

    So I'm a huge fan of Doom and used to play Doom and Final Doom on the Playstation non stop back in the day. I never played the infamous Saturn port, but have recently bought a copy on Ebay and I intend to find out for myself just how bad it actually is in the coming days. So my basic question to you guys is, what went wrong with the Saturn port of Doom? Why the horrifically bad frame rate? I heard that Saturn Doom was basically a straight port of the PS1 port, so why is it so inferior to the PS1 port? If the Saturn could handle the likes of Exhumed and Duke Nukem 3D, and make them look bloody good while doing it, how was it possible in 1997 to fuck up the port of a comparatively basic FPS from 1993?!

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    AKA Mister Xiado Master of Shinobi Raijin Z's Avatar
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    According to some of what I've read, Carmack kept interfering with the development, not allowing the port to be a partial remake tuned to the Saturn's strengths.
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    ESWAT Veteran Team Andromeda's Avatar
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    As Jim told Retro gamer. He wasn't allowed to use the VDP1 to handle the graphics , just draw the screen. It's was a killer since the Saturn version that was using the VDP 1. Jim said looked

    better and run at 60 fps .

    And then a couple of years latter he said this

    Yes, and no, we were given the PC and PlayStation data, but initially, I wanted to use the Saturnís hardware to its max potential, and wrote a render engine to display the PC levels drawing the walls with the GPU, the problem I came across, was apparently John Carmack wasnít happy about this, he wanted it to look exactly the same as the PC version, but it looked a lot nicer, and was running full screen at 60fps, he said it had to be drawn using the CPU, and not the GPU, he even suggested I used the two DSPs on the Saturn to render the screen, but as they only have 4KB, and if I remember correctly, as itís been a very long time since I used one, 2KB code space and 2KB data space, doing it this way to render a complete screen full of game, would have been a huge memory bandwidth bottleneck, so I ignored that, and did it using the two SH2s to render the screen, each of the two CPUs splitting the draw time, doing a line each of the walls or floors, and to save time having to reduce the PC levels to fit into the Saturnís memory, we decided to use the Playstation levels as they had a smaller memory footprint than the PC ones, so it made sense to convert the PlayStation levels, I was quite happy with the end result, as the SH2s ran at 33Mhz and 28Mhz respectively, and I remember playing doom on a 33Mhz PC and it having to play in a stamp sized display to play at a reasonable rate, where as the Saturn was pretty much full screen but this isnít dissing John Carmack, heís a very talented coder and clever bloke all round, itís more me being proud of what speed I got out of two relatively slow cpus.
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    The Gaming Gangsta Master of Shinobi profholt82's Avatar
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    Digital Foundry did a breakdown of all the Doom ports a few years back. The Saturn section is a little after the 20 minute mark.


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    Master of Shinobi Mega Drive Bowlsey's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. So basically John Carmack, the genius behind the masterpiece that is Doom, is kinda to blame for the Saturn port running so poorly? Well that sucks... I'm sure he meant well.

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    Maybe if SEGA didnít waste his time doing the 32x conversion, he could have done the Saturn one instead.
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    ESWAT Veteran Team Andromeda's Avatar
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    If Sega didn't waste their time with the 32X itself, things would have been so much better in general
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    Master of Shinobi Mega Drive Bowlsey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    If Sega didn't waste their time with the 32X itself, things would have been so much better in general
    This 100%. I've been saying it for donkey's years, if the 32X had never existed and Sega had simply moved from the Mega Drive straight to the Saturn, and properly supported developers, the Saturn would have had a much better library, more consistent quality ports, wouldn't have alienated consumers and retailers and overall would have stood a much better chance against the PS1. Oh well, heigh ho. T'was not to be.

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    According to recent interviews, the problem with the Saturn was that they were losing so much money on making the console, that their solution was to sell less units - so I doubt that it would've done much better even with bigger software support.

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    ESWAT Veteran Team Andromeda's Avatar
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    If SEGA had lots of third parties, lots of games sold, and get 2,000 yen for each, it was possible. However, if software sales are weak, and for each console sold you're losing 5,000 Ė 6,000 yen, then you're in trouble
    Sadly, marketshare is what cost SEGA dear and after FF 7 in Japan, Saturn sales in Japan took a dive. It doesn't matter if you got big pockets either, its all about market share and software support as the Vita and Wii U shows

    Not that's any excuse for Saturn Doom not being better than it was, and all thanks to id not wanting to use the custom chips, while happy to use Tom and Jerry on the Jaguar. I've always disliked hypocrisy
    Last edited by Team Andromeda; 02-29-2020 at 11:05 AM.
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    Hero of Algol TrekkiesUnite118's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    As Jim told Retro gamer. He wasn't allowed to use the VDP1 to handle the graphics , just draw the screen. It's was a killer since the Saturn version that was using the VDP 1. Jim said looked

    better and run at 60 fps .

    And then a couple of years latter he said this
    Saturn Doom actually does use VDP1, it just uses it in a very bad way:



    That's to draw one piece of the wall, line by line.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    Not that's any excuse for Saturn Doom not being better than it was, and all thanks to id not wanting to use the custom chips, while happy to use Tom and Jerry on the Jaguar. I've always disliked hypocrisy
    It wasn't hypocrisy. Carmack's objection wasn't because he didn't want custom chips used, it's that he hated affine texture warping with a passion. Using VDP1 to render the walls as large quads would likely have introduced warping even if it would have been fast. The Playstation version (that Carmack worked on) was hardware accelerated too, but that version rendered everything as pixel wide strips rather than the usual large triangles. The PS1 version started out using a traditional polygon renderer, but that version was scrapped as it looked bad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Silanda View Post
    It wasn't hypocrisy. Carmack's objection wasn't because he didn't want custom chips used, it's that he hated affine texture warping with a passion. Using VDP1 to render the walls as large quads would likely have introduced warping even if it would have been fast. The Playstation version (that Carmack worked on) was hardware accelerated too, but that version rendered everything as pixel wide strips rather than the usual large triangles. The PS1 version started out using a traditional polygon renderer, but that version was scrapped as it looked bad.
    So it's ok to use the custome chips of the Jaguar,but not the Saturn. I don't remember the walls of Hexxen having folding issues on the Saturn , do you ?
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    Hero of Algol TrekkiesUnite118's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    So it's ok to use the custome chips of the Jaguar,but not the Saturn. I don't remember the walls of Hexxen having folding issues on the Saturn , do you ?
    Hexen doesn't use VDP1 to render the walls, floors, etc. VDP1 just draws character sprites, objects, etc. The walls, floors, etc. are instead drawn by VDP2.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    So it's ok to use the custome chips of the Jaguar,but not the Saturn.
    Yes, because the Jag version's engine had no texture warping, and neither did the Playstation version after taking an unusual approach to hardware rendering on the system. Both versions managed good implementations of perspective correct texturing (or near to it). For Carmack to forbid the use of the Saturn's quad distorting abilities, it's reasonable to assume that the WIP Saturn version did indeed have affine warping. As I said, Carmack abandoned the initial version of the Playstation engine for the same reason. If Saturn Doom had been using a hardware accelerated engine with no warping, I'm sure it would have been approved.

    As for Hexen, there is no warping but I highly suspect that is mainly using software rendering too; the floors and walls are drawn on VDP2 layer NBG0, with VDP1 drawing enemies, decorations, and the GUI. NBG0 is just a 2D scrollable background. However, look at Duke Nukem 3D and Quake: both use the highly praised Slavedriver engine, and both feature distortion from affine texturing. The warping is less pronounced than warping typically is on the PS1 due to the Saturn's use of quads rather than triangles, but it's there. It's hard to unsee once you notice it, and it obviously bothered JC enough that he wouldn't allow it in versions of Doom, though he later admitted that he probably shouldn't have been so hard line.

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