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Thread: Saturn Vs. 3DO FMV

  1. #1
    Raging in the Streets Blades's Avatar
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    Default Saturn Vs. 3DO FMV

    I've been playing through Myst on the different ports, and the differences are quite significant and not really covered anywhere. Myst on PSX runs in high resolution with good FMV but was not done carefully at all by an external developer, there are many mistakes, missing sound effects, and the transition times are very inconsistent.

    The Saturn and 3DO versions are both a step up from that (done by Sunsoft and Micro Cabin/Panasonic respectively), but the Cinepak video quality on Saturn is atrocious. Clear border artifacts can be seen on most video "windows" in the game. Transition fades are much smoother on 3DO. The (earlier) 3DO port is faster and higher quality than Saturn.

    The same occurs in Defcon 5, the FMV is terrible on Saturn.

    It makes sense that FMV on PSX is better than Saturn due to MDEC, but how is the 3DO delivering higher quality FMV than Saturn? There's no dedicated hardware for FMV as far as I know. From some reading, Cinepak was also used on 3DO. So if both are software, both are Cinepak, how is Saturn worse?

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    Hero of Algol TrekkiesUnite118's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blades View Post
    I've been playing through Myst on the different ports, and the differences are quite significant and not really covered anywhere. Myst on PSX runs in high resolution with good FMV but was not done carefully at all by an external developer, there are many mistakes, missing sound effects, and the transition times are very inconsistent.

    The Saturn and 3DO versions are both a step up from that (done by Sunsoft and Micro Cabin/Panasonic respectively), but the Cinepak video quality on Saturn is atrocious. Clear border artifacts can be seen on most video "windows" in the game. Transition fades are much smoother on 3DO. The (earlier) 3DO port is faster and higher quality than Saturn.

    The same occurs in Defcon 5, the FMV is terrible on Saturn.

    It makes sense that FMV on PSX is better than Saturn due to MDEC, but how is the 3DO delivering higher quality FMV than Saturn? There's no dedicated hardware for FMV as far as I know. From some reading, Cinepak was also used on 3DO. So if both are software, both are Cinepak, how is Saturn worse?
    It just boils down to how good of quality the source video files each team used were, and how much effort each team put into encoding the videos. The Saturn is perfectly capable of delivering decent quality Cinepak FMVs:




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    Raging in the Streets Blades's Avatar
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    I guess SunSoft just dropped the ball.

    Makes sense since Myst Saturn is a buggy mess.

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    Hero of Algol TrekkiesUnite118's Avatar
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    Looking at the files the Saturn ones are all 24-30fps, which is going to kill the bitrate budget. I'm not sure where the files are on the 3DO version, or if they're even Cinepak.

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    Hero of Algol
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blades View Post
    It makes sense that FMV on PSX is better than Saturn due to MDEC, but how is the 3DO delivering higher quality FMV than Saturn? There's no dedicated hardware for FMV as far as I know. From some reading, Cinepak was also used on 3DO. So if both are software, both are Cinepak, how is Saturn worse?
    Not ignoring nor disagreeing with what Trekkies said, just adding:
    - We lack interviews with former 3DO and Saturn developers to have a proper understanding of the situation back then in terms of documentation, tools, SDK, technical support, etc.

    - According to some of the 3DO games developers while talking about other games (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh0...FwzcxyjNFuKrTQ), back then the 3DO had better support for on-the-fly data loading from the CD than both the PS1 and 3DO. This was a software thing.
    Certain 3DO tools had been designed with those games in mind (Crash 'n Burn, Road Rash, NFS, etc.), effort was put into that so the platform could have games with "streamed worlds" to compensate for its lack of raw 3D rendering power.
    Video playback was also part of that concept, see 3DO's MegaRace and very necessary for FMV games which are a big part of its library.

    - Myst is not an exception.
    3DO's The Daedalus Encounter has better video playback quality than the PC/Mac version.
    3DO's Wing Commander III has superior FMV when compared to the PS1 version.
    There are other examples.

    The little info we have on the subject indicates that they had put more effort into having a proper platform and tools for games like that, while with the Saturn and PS1 those kinds of games weren't really the focus.

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    Hero of Algol TrekkiesUnite118's Avatar
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    Really on Saturn the limiting factor is the the bitrate cap of 300KB/s from the disc drive. If both 3DO and Saturn are using cinepak, and both have a similar bitrate cap of around 300KB/s then it really just means the 3DO videos are encoded better. They could be doing tricks like playing with the color balance to hide artifacts, lowering the frame rate, etc.

    Also the examples I posted were encoded using Sega's tools from 1995 as well as the encoding pipeline described in their manuals.

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    ESWAT Veteran Team Andromeda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barone View Post
    Myst is not an exception.
    3DO's The Daedalus Encounter has better video playback quality than the PC/Mac version.
    3DO's Wing Commander III has superior FMV when compared to the PS1 version.
    There are other examples.
    I remember the 3DO being featured on a childrens' ITV breakfast show long before it shipped and you had Trip saying video playback was part of the design, along with the 50 times more powerful tag LOL. Latter another ITV show called Bad Influence had its American correspondent 'Z Write' cover the 3DO at the CES show and showed him actually being featured in video playback, which used multiple windows of FMV and games like Need For Speed did stream in game data on the fly. I have a few Saturn games where the playback is better than on the 3DO. I find the video playback to games like Shock Wave and Strahl to be better on the Saturn

    I think for the Saturn it was just the early tools were crap. Even SEGA's own early Saturn games had terrible quality FMV and usually in a window (Both Panzer and Clockworknights were crap quality) It took until Deadlus and Astal where I saw amazing FMV: really good quality and in Astal case full screen too. I know Gale Raver was full screen in parts but it was of terrible quality and so grainy.
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    Raging in the Streets Blades's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    I think for the Saturn it was just the early tools were crap.
    I think that's the real reason, should've realized it earlier.

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    ESWAT Veteran Team Andromeda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blades View Post
    I think that's the real reason, should've realized it earlier.
    I don't think SEGA had the Cinepak tools ready for the early software. A handy thing about import Saturn games was you always used to see the Cinepak, Truemotion or Cybersound, ADX logos on the back of the boxes. So you knew what software tools they were using to help with the sound or FMV playback. I never saw any logo's on the back of Gale Racer, Panzer Dragoon, ClockworkKnight or Victory Goal and their FMV's were of poor quality and most in small widows, I was more impressed with the FMV in Fifa and Adv of Batman & Robin on the Mega CD
    That all changed when Deadlus shipped and I saw the most amazing quality FMV on the Saturn and where it was also a great intro to watch as well.

    I remember getting Deadlus like it was yesterday. I was working on the Saturn morning and even phoned mum from work to see if my parcel had come back and I couldn't wait to get home to play it when I finished work at 1PM as it was one of the 1st main Saturn 3D games and I was so eager to see what it could do after VF. I was super impressed with the intro and the main graphics of the game, along with the super impressive audio coming off the soundchip. I played it for hours non stop, so much was late getting ready to go out and meet with the boys on Saturday night LOL.
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    End of line.. Hero of Algol gamevet's Avatar
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    Soviet Strike has good FMV on the Saturn.
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  11. #11
    Hero of Algol TrekkiesUnite118's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    I don't think SEGA had the Cinepak tools ready for the early software.
    The official tools are just Quicktime or Adobe Premiere. That's what is used for the encoding as described in even the earliest official Sega documents we have. The only tool from Sega is the MovieToSaturn application which just takes an .MOV file from QuickTime or Adobe and puts a SEGA FILM wrapper around it and renames it to a .CPK file. It has no impact on the actual video or audio stream quality.

    The reason those early games look so poor is for the following reasons:

    1) The games are single disc and use CD Audio, and a lot of it. So a lot of the disc space is taken up for CD Audio, so the videos have to be more compressed than usual to fit on the disc. When comparing Saturn FMV to 3DO or PS1 always take a look to see how many discs are being used.

    2) Sega and other devs for some reason were obsessed with doing 24-30fps in their FMVs. If you look at PS1 or 3DO stuff it's almost always 15fps. That makes a huge difference in the bitrate budget. It effectively doubles how much data per frame you can have.

    3) Early Cinepak could only do PCM on Saturn. ADPCM and ADX audio didn't come until later, while both the 3DO and PS1 could do ADPCM audio out of the box. That again eats into the bitrate budget. That said it's not a deal breaker. Some of the best examples on the system like Tengai Makyou use standard Cinepak with PCM audio.

    Quote Originally Posted by gamevet View Post
    Soviet Strike has good FMV on the Saturn.
    Soviet Strike probably uses EA's TGQ Codec like most EA games on the system. It was an MPEG-Like codec they developed for PC games and ported to the Saturn:
    https://wiki.multimedia.cx/index.php...ronic_Arts_TGQ
    Last edited by TrekkiesUnite118; 04-07-2021 at 11:50 AM.

  12. #12
    Raging in the Streets Blades's Avatar
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    I've also noticed that some of the videos in 3DO Myst are lower FPS than Saturn Myst.

    I've been doing some research on Myst while finding information about FMV development for 3DO, and apparently there was a version of Myst developed and released in Japan for PSX by a completely different developer. I briefly tried it and it is very accurate, with very good sound and video, better than 3DO.

    This means SunSoft inexplicably farmed out Myst to two different developers for the same platform. It seems like SunSoft gave Myst ports to as many developers as they could for some reason, all of which have drawbacks.

    In order of development:
    Saturn Myst - SunSoft (awful video, slow, sometimes sound breaks, some sound effects wrong or missing, game has critical bug and cannot be finished on model 1 Saturns)
    PSX Myst Japan - Soft Bank (limited testing but looks and sounds very good, better than 3DO but not transitions, honestly looks to be the best early console port)
    3DO Myst - Micro Cabin (slight issues with audio/video sync drift, sometimes sound breaks, low FPS, most playable English console port IMO)
    Jaguar Myst - Atari (never played so no comment)
    PSX Myst USA - Visual Sciences (good video and audio, transitions vary from very short to very long, many sound effects missing or at wrong speed)

    It seems that Saturn Myst isn't exactly a good frame of reference for FMV quality since the porting seemed to have been done by seemingly anyone with probably little oversight.
    Last edited by Blades; 04-07-2021 at 12:24 PM.

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    The Gaming Gangsta Master of Shinobi profholt82's Avatar
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    Myst aside, the 3do was developed with FMV in mind as a cornerstone of the console. While it didn't debut until 93, the console was in development for several years before that when FMV was thought by many in the industry to be the next big thing. In that respect, it was more in competition with Sega CD than Saturn in regards to games. I can think of many SCD games that had 3do releases as well. Also, because of the cheap license cost for publishers, it received a glutton of FMV games and ports of PC titles, many of which had been languishing in the can for ages before the actual 3do release.

    And while both Saturn and Playstation had some FMV releases early in the consoles' lives, I think most of those games were carry overs from the 3do/SCD days and/or PC ports, because by that time, the writing had already been on the wall regarding the viability and longevity of the FMV genre.

    So when you compare the FMV quality of those 3 consoles, it makes sense that the 3do could more than hold its own with the more powerful consoles because it was designed with FMV in mind while it was largely an afterthought on the PS and Saturn. That said, there are other factors which contribute to good video such as the mastering of and overall quality of the original source for one. So, it's not all on the console necessarily.

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    Hero of Algol TrekkiesUnite118's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by profholt82 View Post
    Myst aside, the 3do was developed with FMV in mind as a cornerstone of the console.
    So was the Saturn. Sega even developed an entire branching and streaming library just for making FMV games. It's also why the Saturn had an optional MPEG decoder just like the 3DO. Both systems used similar if not the same software codecs with similar amounts of RAM and CD-ROM drive speeds. Really it all just boils down to the quality of the original source files and how well they were encoded.

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    Raging in the Streets Blades's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by profholt82 View Post
    Myst aside, the 3do was developed with FMV in mind as a cornerstone of the console. While it didn't debut until 93, the console was in development for several years before that when FMV was thought by many in the industry to be the next big thing.
    Do you know of any articles or interviews about the development of 3DO? I've only ever been able to find a short feature in Retro Gamer #122 that mostly focused on Trip Hawkins.

    Trekkies, I sent you a PM if you saw with the decompiled root file directory of Myst for 3DO. I didn't find any Cinepak videos, just a bunch of ".strm" and ".strem" files with names that coincide with video files. Maybe Myst is using something else for video compression.

    I really like Myst, so that's how this question formed in my head.

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