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Vapourware The definitive, authoritative, and probably non-exhaustive list of non-(IBM) PC cRPGs

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by rusty_shackleford, Sep 23, 2021.

  1. Rincewind Prophet

    Rincewind
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    Fuck, I just can't stop tinkering with these WinUAE shaders. I hate to admit, but when the blurriness is significantly dialed back, I really like what I'm getting with the CRT-A2080-HiRes-SmartRes shader.
    I just maxed out the sharpness settings in the source and this is what I'm getting at 1.5x scale (have to download it and view it at 1:1 zoom level):

    [​IMG]

    This is damn near perfect to me (in terms of how I remember my Amiga monitor), and with 1.5x scaling the resulting image on my 24" LCD is very close to the actual physical size of a 14" monitor. I think this is where people screw up big time: if you want the "authentic experience", the physical size of the image has to match that of a typical 80s 14" monitor (I never used my Amiga with a TV). Plus I use no aperture grille overlays, in my view they look like shit (at least at 1920x1080), they just darken the image and mute the colours a lot.

    I just like it how this adds texture to the large solidly filled areas, and individual bright pixels are little specks of light instead of rectangles.

    However, I still maintain that for DOS VGA games CRT shaders are stupid. VGA is double-scanned, I never saw scanlines on any VGA monitor, and they're much higher quality, I never saw any significant halation or bloom on mine in the 90s.
     
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  2. Rincewind Prophet

    Rincewind
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    Btw, check this out. Actual photo of the 320x200 output of a VGA monitor. Where are those funky "CRT shader artifacts"? Screen geometry distortion, vignetting, heavy scanlines, glowing pixels, blurriness? I can't see any of that nonsense. This is how a non-broken VGA monitor looks like, kids. Just sharp pixels.

    [​IMG]

    Zoomed in it's still pretty sharp, and you can clearly see the double-scanning on the individual pixels. But from a normal viewing distance, those pixels seem pretty much as small rectangles.

    [​IMG]

    I think all these magic shaders people use for DOS games are like Germans attempting to cook Italian food or something. They have an *idea* of what they want to achieve, and they might even succeed, but that just doesn't exist anywhere in reality except in their heads...
     
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  3. JackOfOwls Prophet

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    Just shows you that nothing beats a real CRT when it comes to good old fashioned pixel art. Unfortunately, when you see that same glorious 256-color pixel art razor-sharp on a modern large 60" LCD TV screen, it looks like shit compared to the warmth of those cozy 14"-24" CRTs. Which is why I prefer moderate use of crt-shaders in emulators for these old systems. I used a CRT-geom shader in DOS-BOX and it looked great with the old VGA standard, less so when you moved on up to SVGA, and absolutely horrible once you hit the 3D accelerator video card 3D model era. Another trend that I find in the domain of CRT-shader retards is the simulation of curved screens in modern flat screen displays. Fuck that shit.
     
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  4. Haba Harbinger of Decline Patron

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    Perfect for people who couldn't afford a monitor and had to use a TV instead...
     
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  5. Rincewind Prophet

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    With VGA on the PC? The context of what you quoted from me was people using TV/cheap-monitor shaders for VGA DOS games. You see it often and it's always wrong if you're after "authenticity"; it's a fantasy shader look that PC gamers in the 90s never experienced. For consoles and other home computers that you usually hooked up to the TV, it's a different story altogether.

    Yeah, it all depends on the viewing distance. You really have to replicate the "effective viewing distance" (probably there's a more technical term for it) of viewing a 14" or 15" screen from about a meter away (about an arm's length). I remember when I played old games on my 19" CRT in the early 2000s, I deliberately used higher resolutions to effectively shrink the draw area to smaller than fullscreen at 2x pixels, otherwise the pixels were just too large.

    For 320x200 DOS games I just restrict the draw area to 1120x840 these days (with the "max_resolution" option that DOSBox Staging has), that's an ideal size on my 24" screen viewed from about a meter. The default "sharp" shader in DOSBox Staging gives it a very tiny bit of blur, which I actually prefer, but it's still pretty sharp. One could also use 960x720 or 1280x960, depending on the size of the screen and the viewing distance.

    The important thing to know is that VGA could only output 350, 400 or 480 scalines vertically, at least when using the standard modes provided by the BIOS (I'm simplifying things a lot here, but that covers 99% of games). So 320x200 VGA, and the much rarer custom 320x240 mode (Mode X), just used a hardware hack to double the scanlines. That's why you see rectangular pixels in VGA games, whereas the same game with the same graphics on a stock Amiga (without a scan-doubler) had visible *single* scanlines! So pixels were not little rectangles anymore to the naked eye, but more like little blotches of light (also due to the fact that Commodore monitors from the 80s were a bit lower quality than even the most generic VGA monitor from the 90s).

    So... for Amiga games I started using that shader from one of my earlier posts. It's party for nostalgic reasons, but also because that more closely resembles how the guys doing the graphics saw it on their screens back in the day. I've done lots of pixeling in DPaint on the Amiga and later on the PC, and believe me, single vs double scanning makes a *ton* of difference in how you approach pixeling some gfx! Probably that's why I'm quite obsessive about this topic, btw...

    The situation for EGA graphics gets a bit more interesting. EGA (and CGA) adapters did not do any double scanning. So you *do* see distinct scanlines on a real EGA adapter + monitor, similarly to the Amiga and consoles. VGA adapters had an imperfect EGA emulation; in order to keep the cost down as much as possible, they simply doubled the scanlines in 200 vertical line EGA modes. If you've been paying attention, you'd realise that we have a dilemma here: when playing EGA games (e.g. early LucasArts stuff and more than half of the Sierra adventure catalogue), should we use the "fake VGA" EGA (raw pixels, no shader), or some single-scanline emulation? Well, I never had an EGA adapter, so I always saw double-scanned EGA in those games, but arguably artists working on EGA graphics saw single-scanlines, and that influenced how they approached the art (at least before 1987, when VGA was introduced). So these days personally I just use a single-scanline shader for all the EGA games; it makes the output more interesting, less "digital", and the large areas filled with a single colour more "textured".

    Another interesting resolution is 640x350, used by some earlier Legend Entertainment games, for example. Like I said above, 350 vertical resolution modes are *single* scanned on a VGA adapter, and 350 lines are sparse enough that you start seeing the scanlines a little bit.

    Anyway, if anyone wants my DOSBox + shader setups, I can share them.

    Some screenies at 1920x1080 (download them and open in an image viewer, the browser scaling ruins everything):

    Loom (320x200, EGA)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Spellcasting 101 (640x350, VGA)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Spellcasting 201 (640x350, VGA)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2022
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  6. Mortmal Arcane

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    No emulator can make it looks like how it really was on the 320 X200 monitor nor like the 1084s amiga monitor (320X256 32 color or 640X400 16 colors if i remember well) . Have to completely redraw the pics on the fly , requiring a quasi sentient AI ,which is impossible today . It's not just nostalgy it was looking better, and gaming wasnt worse far from it with those resolutions. I can understand gamers who cannot get into those anymore although , the GOG version looks awful no matter the filter you use and any tweaking.
     
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  7. Haba Harbinger of Decline Patron

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    Exactly. People who run with the filters either never saw the "real thing" or their memory is failing them.

    I started with an Amiga hooked up to high quality monitor and skipped the C-64 on blurry TVs. To me the pixels were always sharp.

    Sharp, but not harsh. Which is something the modern retro re-creators fail to understand.
     
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  8. ShaggyMoose Learned

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    This was surprisingly hard; every game I could think of for Amiga was already listed or was ported at some stage to another platform...
     
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  9. Mortmal Arcane

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    Like skald for exemple kinda sad how it is looking with its pseudo EGA over pixelized look .
     
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  10. Rincewind Prophet

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    Dunno, I think Skald looks great. The trick is not to view it at fullscreen though but at about 50% fullscreen.

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. Mortmal Arcane

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    So exactly as if you were playing an ancient game on emulator...
     
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  12. ShaggyMoose Learned

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    Skald also uses quite a few fancy transition/animation effects that spruce up the EGA look significantly. Very similar look to Lurking, I don't mind it at all.
     
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  13. Rincewind Prophet

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    The palette is definitely not EGA, but C64 inspired. They even said so somewhere. EGA has really garish by-the-numbers colours; the C64 palette is much more muted and the colours were individually tweaked until "they looked good" (according to the original engineers who worked on the VIC chip). E.g. those are very much "C64 reds and browns", EGA had nothing like those, and pretty much all the other colours too.

    Yeah, I like those screen fx too.
     
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  14. Zed Duke of Banville Zo Kath Ra Patron

    Zed Duke of Banville
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    [​IMG]

    CGA had a palette of 16 colors, of which 4 could be displayed at a time. EGA had a 64-color palette, but, since only 16 colors could be displayed at one time (in low-resolution mode), developers tended to make games exclusively with the default 16-color sub-palette that was identical to the CGA palette.

    [​IMG]


    There are a few exceptions among EGA games, though; Loom, for example, made effective use of palettes that varied from background to background:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  15. Rincewind Prophet

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    Yeah, that's almost true -- just in 320x200 it was a hard technical limitation (due to the CGA backwards-compatibility you mentioned), not an option the devs chose.

    The ability of using 16 colours out of the 64-colour palette was only possible in the 640x350 hi-res mode (sadly much underutilised by games). At 320x200 -- the resolution that early LucasArts games and half the Sierra catalogue used -- you were stuck with the fixed 16-colour EGA palette.

    (source, and also here)

    Among the few games that supported custom EGA palettes are the DOS ports of the Magnetic Scrolls adventure games (Fish!, Corruption, The Pawn, Jinxter, etc.) and all earlier Legend Entertainment titles (Spellcasting series, Gateway, etc.) In fact, Spellcasting 101 and 201 uses the 640x350 EGA mode on VGA cards too, later games used 640x480 in VGA mode instead.

    Here are some Magnetic Scrolls DOS screenshots:

    https://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/fish/screenshots
    https://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/corruption/screenshots
     
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  16. Rincewind Prophet

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    Video recording of a real EGA monitor in action; notice the visible single scanlines:



    To recap:
    • 320x200 -- single scan on EGA, double scan on VGA
    • 640x350 -- single scan on both EGA & VGA
    • 640x480 -- single scan on VGA, but you won't get visible scanlines because of the increased vertical resolution
    And for stock Amiga setups (without a scan-doubler), it's always single scan.

    Compare the above video with a naive emulation attempt (no scanlines & no aspect ratio correction). Quite a remarkable difference; the real video footage looks a lot less blocky and just overall nicer! Hence, for EGA & Amiga games, I think scanline emulation is important.

     
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  17. Nifft Batuff Cipher

    Nifft Batuff
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    If you play a 320x200 EGA game with a VGA PC you have double scan.
     
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  18. Rincewind Prophet

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    That's what I said:

    Arguably, games developed before VGA was even released are meant to be played on a single-scan EGA monitor (HW or emulated), as that's what the artists originally saw on their monitor (e.g. the whole early Sierra catalogue).

    For later EGA games, it becomes more like a taste thing; I prefer the added texture that the scanlines add.
     
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  19. rusty_shackleford Arcane

    rusty_shackleford
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    Quality of the game has no context here, I merely set out to list every single RPG that was not available on an IBM-compatible PC.
    Even today, these games tend to be far less accessible in general than their PC/DOS counterparts. How many games in the OP are available on say -- GOG -- compared to PC games?
     
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  20. rusty_shackleford Arcane

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    Those shaders are emulating TVs which were of significantly lower quality. They're meant for console games, not games played on computer monitors.
    If you can find a closeup of a console game being played on an era-correct TV, you'll see those effects.
     
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  21. Rincewind Prophet

    Rincewind
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    Yeah, I get that. I had a C64 as a kid first hooked up to the big family TV, then my dad bought me a small 13" TV, so I'm familiar with those artifacts. I always turn on PAL TV emulation in VICE for that reason (very few people used C64s with high-quality monitors; crisp pixels just look wrong when emulating a C64). Same story with the ZX Spectrum and similar home-computers 99.99% of people just hooked up to regular TVs.

    What irks me is when people who never actually owned a PC apply TV shaders (or any other single-scanline type shader) to PC VGA games, *and* argue with you it's period-correct. It's not, and they're just perpetuating this nonsense to other people who grew up with consoles like them.

    Well, it doesn't get me as worked up as claiming with conviction that 320x200 VGA games do not need aspect ratio correction, but it's close... :)
     
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  22. rusty_shackleford Arcane

    rusty_shackleford
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    ADDED:

    Dragon 32/64 platform.
    The Sword and the Sorcerer(Dragon 32/64)
    Volcanic Dungeon(Dragon 32/64)

    [edit]
    I was finally forced to add the Commodore PET!
    Apparently it had exactly two games exclusive to it, and one of them was one of the earliest DND adaptations in existence. It makes a lot of other RPGs from that early era look very primitive, couldn't pass up adding it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2022
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  23. rusty_shackleford Arcane

    rusty_shackleford
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  24. rusty_shackleford Arcane

    rusty_shackleford
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    Also, apparently there was a 3D dungeon master sequel excloosive to the SEGA Saturn -- Dungeon Master Nexus!


    If this was a standalone title I'd probably lump it into the excluded jrpg category, but since it has links to dungeon master...
     
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