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Thread: Why no Genesis games used Street Fighter Alpha 3 arcade style fake transparency

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    WCPO Agent Orchid87's Avatar
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    Default Why no Genesis games used Street Fighter Alpha 3 arcade style fake transparency

    If you ever played SFA3 arcade version, you know what I mean. Basically it's a checkerboard fake transparency that many Saturn games use, but the opaque and transparent pixels swap every frame. SFA3 uses this for ISM selection, character bio screen, round number and KO graphics. At 60 fps the effect looks very convincing. There is also a 30 fps version of the effect in SFA3, where the swap happens every two frames, like for the life bars, and I must admit it doesn't look as good. Let's consider only 60 fps one for the discussion. Matter of fact, Saturn port of SFA3 lacks this effect too, and I though it was because of something like visible artifacts when using the composite output (arcade boards are all RGB), but I actually saw it via CPS2 board and supergun composite output, and it still looks rather good, no rainbow band or anything like that. So, why exactly?
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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingRoad Rasher
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    I imagine it's an epilepsy trigger.

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    WCPO Agent Orchid87's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roce View Post
    I imagine it's an epilepsy trigger.
    Not at all. No more triggering than interlaced output in 5th and 6th gen consoles.
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    Hedgehog-in-Training Hedgehog-in-TrainingRoad Rasher Stifu's Avatar
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    Maybe they just didn't think of doing it. That effect was not common. I don't think it'd have looked worse than the Samurai Shodown shadows.

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    What a coincidence. I've been playing Vampire Savior quite a bit recently, and I've been wondering the same thing. The Saturn port actually has a hidden option to turn it on or off (the RGB or S/Video setting in the EX options menu). It's off when set to S/Video and on when set to RGB, which perhaps does suggest that there could be undesirable effects when not connected through RGB. I think it defaults to off. Also, while a supergun might produce decent output, the Mega Drive/Genesis was known for many things, but great quality composite output was never one of them.

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    Raging in the Streets Sik's Avatar
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    A large part of the problem is that 1) you need two versions of the graphics (more memory use, hence larger ROMs and possibly more video memory use too) and 2) that means redrawing every frame (possibly streaming in new tiles, ouch). That's not particularly trivial on 4th gen consoles, access to video memory comes at a premium.

    Project MD does abuse this heavily (for gradients too!), but that's homebrew :​P

    EDIT: also about epillepsy trigger, nah, if it's a checkerboard it blends so much that it turns into a solid shade, even with sharp crystal clear pixels (seriously). Now, if you blink an entire graphic in and out of existence that is perceived as noticeable flicker that could be a potential trigger if done in a large enough area (and I hate how common this was on Neo Geo games…).

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    Death Bringer Raging in the Streets Black_Tiger's Avatar
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    CPS2 uses a very high resolution and the Saturn ports are lower res.

    Flicker transparencies done right were so good that most people didn't notice back then or now.

    Although it's much more costly for Mega Drive games, many things like the HP bars can be done without two sets of assets. You only need to cycle the invisible color and the empty bar color to do it.
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    Raging in the Streets Sik's Avatar
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    …and how do you do that exactly? Color 0 is hardwired to be the invisible one, you can't just do a palette effect. If the bar is symmetric you can try abusing flipping (though you still need to redraw the bar every frame), but otherwise you have to have two sets of graphics. Either that, or recolor it in software, which isn't exactly fast.

    Also even if you use this trick for blending two solid colors into one, that's wasting two color entries, which may be a waste if you wanted to share either color with other things (as now you'll need more entries just for that).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sik View Post
    …and how do you do that exactly? Color 0 is hardwired to be the invisible one, you can't just do a palette effect. If the bar is symmetric you can try abusing flipping (though you still need to redraw the bar every frame), but otherwise you have to have two sets of graphics. Either that, or recolor it in software, which isn't exactly fast.

    Also even if you use this trick for blending two solid colors into one, that's wasting two color entries, which may be a waste if you wanted to share either color with other things (as now you'll need more entries just for that).
    If it's a life bar, maybe the bar part would be shifted one pixel in X position every frame. You'd only need a sprite on the end to clipped/overlap the edge. Seems a little bit extreme though haha.

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    EDIT: also about epillepsy trigger, nah, if it's a checkerboard it blends so much that it turns into a solid shade, even with sharp crystal clear pixels (seriously).
    I haven't seen the black in action, but I have seen a similar thing done on NES to emulate more colors, IIRC in some demos by Macbee. That definitely doesn't blend, it's clearly visible, and also a clear epilepsy trigger to me. And since that uses similar colors, like two blues, having one color be black could be worse.

    Do you really not see at 60 fps? I can see at something like 72 fps, measured way back when CRTs were common.

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    Raging in the Streets Sik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by turboxray View Post
    If it's a life bar, maybe the bar part would be shifted one pixel in X position every frame. You'd only need a sprite on the end to clipped/overlap the edge. Seems a little bit extreme though haha.
    1) Health bar is usually on a plane that can't move at all
    2) Don't forget the sides of the bar (which is usually a solid border)

    Quote Originally Posted by roce View Post
    I haven't seen the black in action, but I have seen a similar thing done on NES to emulate more colors, IIRC in some demos by Macbee. That definitely doesn't blend, it's clearly visible, and also a clear epilepsy trigger to me. And since that uses similar colors, like two blues, having one color be black could be worse.

    Do you really not see at 60 fps? I can see at something like 72 fps, measured way back when CRTs were common.
    Project MD was developed on a CRT so I know perfectly well how it looks there :​P (though that may be misleading, since CRTs have phosphor decay which actually softens the flickering) Though it's true that the effect sticks out a lot less when the colors are close. In any case it's not anywhere close to what you get if you flicker a whole solid color, that sticks out like a sore x_x

    (on that note: checkerboard itself is a known seizure trigger, as well as bars that are all the same size… so basically all the common dither methods, which is a good reason to avoid dither at all costs if the contrast between colors is large)


    Also I think we're missing the obvious one: most of those games were developed on TVs taking the RF or composite signal, so developers saw the dither already blend and assumed they didn't need more than that (or expected most players wouldn't be able to afford RGB). There are only a few exceptions and they seem to be mostly to avoid the inherent distortion that happens behind them (e.g. the item bubble things in Socket)

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    Extreme Procrastinator Master of Shinobi Flygon's Avatar
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    Don't one of the NBA Jam games do this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flygon View Post
    Don't one of the NBA Jam games do this?
    You're correct: https://youtu.be/eMI4VnucR-0?t=60

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    Quote Originally Posted by roce View Post
    I haven't seen the black in action, but I have seen a similar thing done on NES to emulate more colors, IIRC in some demos by Macbee. That definitely doesn't blend, it's clearly visible, and also a clear epilepsy trigger to me. And since that uses similar colors, like two blues, having one color be black could be worse.

    Do you really not see at 60 fps? I can see at something like 72 fps, measured way back when CRTs were common.
    Can you see interlacing too on a old CRT when watching TV too??? Maybe you're a special case then.

    I don't remember Macbee's color demos, but if it's checkerboard switching at 60hz, it's definitely not epilepsy inducing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sik View Post
    1) Health bar is usually on a plane that can't move at all
    2) Don't forget the sides of the bar (which is usually a solid border)
    You're assuming it's a window/BG plane. I'm assuming it's made of sprites haha.

    Project MD was developed on a CRT so I know perfectly well how it looks there :​P (though that may be misleading, since CRTs have phosphor decay which actually softens the flickering) Though it's true that the effect sticks out a lot less when the colors are close. In any case it's not anywhere close to what you get if you flicker a whole solid color, that sticks out like a sore x_x
    And most LCDs don't have the response time of an old professional CRT monitor (S/VGA).

    Also I think we're missing the obvious one: most of those games were developed on TVs taking the RF or composite signal, so developers saw the dither already blend and assumed they didn't need more than that (or expected most players wouldn't be able to afford RGB). There are only a few exceptions and they seem to be mostly to avoid the inherent distortion that happens behind them (e.g. the item bubble things in Socket)
    That's not true for a lot of systems. SMS, NES, PCE, SNES don't blend dither to solids very well (or at all) like the 7800, Genesis, Apple II, etc do.

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    Yes, I see the flicker on 60Hz CRT TVs. I also see the color spots on DLP projectors, admittedly a different case. I don't think I have super eyes though, but I don't remember how the percentages went.

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