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Your opinion on pixel-art graphics?

Discussion in 'General Gaming' started by sigard, Oct 6, 2021.

?

pixel art is:

Poll closed Nov 3, 2021.
  1. 10

    30.2%
  2. 9

    5.2%
  3. 8

    11.5%
  4. 7

    8.3%
  5. 6

    5.2%
  6. 5

    6.3%
  7. 4

    7.3%
  8. 3

    5.2%
  9. 2

    3.1%
  10. 1

    17.7%
  1. Viata Arcane

    Viata
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    Best thing in Gradius is dying and then being able to recover from a hard place with your ship slow as fuck and no option.
     
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  2. Rincewind Erudite

    Rincewind
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    Regarding visible scanlines vs blocky pixels, all my Amiga & C64 hardware is on a different continent so I can't test it for myself. But from memory and based on the screenshots (which don't tell the whole story, true), when I got my first PC in the 90s I was surprised and even a bit dissapointed that 320x200 VGA looked much blockier than 320x256 on the Amiga. On the Amiga you couldn't really see the pixels as little distinct rectangles; they were a bit rounded and blended together better.

    I'm quite ignorant when it comes to analog circuitry, but based on some googling it seems that the Amiga doesn't double-scan (only with a flickerfixer addon, which makes sense when you consider the interlace flicker of hi-res modes). So that would explain why people like Grauken who never owned an Amiga remember pixels being well-defined crips rectangles.

    Another interesting thing, I don't remember the scanlines being that visible either on my Amiga monitor, definitely not as much as you can see on those screenshots from AmigaLove. But the AmigaLove guy is American, so he uses NTSC. I used PAL 99% of the time, but a few times experimented with NTSC but didn't like the results because although the image filled the screen in all those US made games, the image suddenly looked darker and the scanlines more visible compared to PAL. Which makes sense as those single-scanned scanines were packed about 20% denser to each other in PAL mode.

    Anyway, this has been quite informative. I'm now convinced that the answer to our the different perceptions/memories of scanlines is double vs single scanning and PAL vs NTSC.

    By the way, I can see some faint moiré patterns on some of these CRT photos, like the one below (just zoom it in). What could it be Licorice? My guess is the combination of sharp focus on the visible pixel grid and a high(ish) res digital sensor, plus a bit too relaxed anti-alias filters. I don't think you would see the moiré at all if you used film?

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Licorice Arcane Wumao

    Licorice
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    I think having to manage your power up finances "do I switch to double now or do I save up for an option" makes things a bit more interesting than that. It's more developed in terms of economics than most JRPG shop systems.

    A lot of people prefer Gradius 3 on the SFC to the Arcade original due to it being a "director's cut" of sorts. Others can't stand the slow down. I was put off by the slow down, but might revisit. I've played 10s of credits of Gradius Gaiden (PS1 exclusive) though, and I can recommend it.

    I recently 1CC'd Axelay on the SFC, it's also a Konami shmup and has a few Gradius tropes in it e.g. levels which loop on the free axis. Back on topic, it looks absolutely gorgeous on an (emulated lol) low TVL CRT in RGB. Definitely a game where I felt the pixel art was designed around such a display.
     
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  4. Licorice Arcane Wumao

    Licorice
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    They wouldn't be. Amiga monitors were too low res and too small for super prominent scanlines like you get on professional equipment or large late 90s displays (although the effect is still there), as were most arcade monitors. My own preference is SD (480p) screens for low resolution content (240p and below) so IMO Amiga games on Amiga screens look gorgeous.

    Not sure haha tbh. I haven't really thought or read much about how photography fucks with CRT displays except I do know that it does. I guess moire patterns would be yeah due to digital sampling and screen curvature?
     
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  5. Viata Arcane

    Viata
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    Rejoice:
     
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  6. Rincewind Erudite

    Rincewind
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    Ok, that's another factor. On the Amiga I had some Philips monitor that could also accept video signals (I hooked a VHS up to it, for example), while on the PC I had some VGA monitor. Plus I used SCART on the Philips, not sure if that would make any difference (but definitely not composite).
     
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  7. Licorice Arcane Wumao

    Licorice
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    Ha! I already overclocked it on an emulator and I was like "wtf this is impossible". The SA-1 thing is for people with a real SNES.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2021
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  8. Licorice Arcane Wumao

    Licorice
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    Do you still have it? IMO such a screen is almost perfect for a real hardware low res home gaming setup on a desk (as opposed to couch). Might get something similar if I switch to MiSTer for emulation, although I grew up with Trintrons (both TVs and PC monitors) so I love the aperture grille look.

    SCART was capable of both RGB and various kinds of composite for the color signal, but Amiga would have outputted RGB. The difference between RGB over SCART and VGA AFAIK is the VGA cable sent two timing signals, while the SCART just sent one (and it was up to the display to figure out (or be configured for) the rest (overscan, refresh rate etc.)).
     
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  9. Rincewind Erudite

    Rincewind
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    Sadly it's on a different continent at my parent's house... (together with 2-3 Amiga 500s and C64s... found them for about $30-50 each, just had to buy). Would be too costly to have them shipped overseas, especially now, plus I like the convenience of emulators.

    Yeah, some electronics technician dude hacked together that SCART cable for me when I was a kid. He never saw an Amiga before, I remember he didn't quite get the RGB signals right first. We tested it with Populous, and the water was green on first attempt or something, so I told him this needs more work :cool:
     
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  10. Unreal Liturgist

    Unreal
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    Option first, duh. Dubble sux without it
     
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  11. Licorice Arcane Wumao

    Licorice
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    Me too but the display technology just isn't there to emulate CRTs. Even this very expensive 4K 160HZ "HDR" IPS display I have doesn't cut it. What's missing is

    1. The motion clarity
    2. The brightness

    With regards to motion clarity, the problem is with today's tech, you can't get all three of good colors, reasonable size, and low response times. OLEDs give you good colors and 1ms response times but are gigantic and don't suit a desk setup (also burn in). IPS panels (good colors) with high response times mostly rely on predictive "overdrive" to achieve it, but are otherwise rated at 8ms (so at 60HZ half the time you're looking at the current frame it's blended with the previous). Other LCD technologies have bad colors, light bleed and viewing angles. 300HZ+ IPS panels might be good enough, but they don't exist as desktop monitors yet. None of these technologies (not even OLED) come close to CRT response times measuring in the microseconds (afterglow not withstanding), but IMO CRT response times were too good (hence flicker). Not a fan of introducing flicker to LCD panels either through backlight strobing, although some people like to do this.

    As for brightness, LCDs are back lit with only a few lights (usually 4 around the edges lol) covering large swaths of the screen. Even $6000+ Mini LED screens have 100s of pixels covered by each light. OLED's give you per pixel brightness, but again the size and burn in are drawbacks. Here we're waiting for microLED displays.

    Especially the latter I don't expect to get there till the tail end of this decade.

    So this is why I've been considering switching to a real CRT. The problem I can see with a real CRT and using a PC for emulation is the connectivity and signal. AFAICT you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get a modern graphics card to output a low res signal, or even a signal that some external hardware can convert to a low res signal. Hence why I'm interested in a MiSTer, because AFAIK that can output SCART natively (and this covers most emulation scenarios (composite, S-Video, RGB) over the one connection).

    The other problem is which CRT to get? I'm not a fan of BVMs and PVMs as they're too high res, or mid to late 90s PC monitors for much the same reason. A fat 30 inch arcade monitor would be nice, but there's a lot of DIY involved to encase it nicely. It's also fat. Maybe if I could find some kind of small cute 360 TVL Sony that accepts SCART input. Failing that, I really think an Amiga screen like that Philips one is ideal.
     
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  12. Rincewind Erudite

    Rincewind
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    Yeah, luckily for me, my interests lie in games that are fairly static graphics wise (RPGs and adventures, 99% of the time). Movement is where things start to go to shit, agreed. It's really hard and/or impossible to achieve 100% smooth scrolling with zero tearing on an LCD screen using emulators (or I just don't know how to do it properly, but never managed to get it 100% right with any emulator).

    But yeah, if you're into arcade and schmups, then CRT is the way to go.

    Funny how perfectly good and in some areas superior technology gets cast on the wayside over and over. I think LCDs have only won because of their flatness (which is actually a big deal, but then you miss so much in the picture quality aspects). Same with TVs, I love my Panasonic plasma and I hope it will keep going strong for another decade at least. But I guess most people just want to watch sport channels during daytime in their living rooms on max brightness and 100% saturation and that's where the $$$ is for manufacturers.
     
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  13. Unreal Liturgist

    Unreal
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    lol i just use some digital to analogue converter thing with my 1996 CRT and it's FINE. then for console games find a good composite filter on your emulator and increase the horizontal resolution so it looks better and win win you figured it out
     
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  14. Licorice Arcane Wumao

    Licorice
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    Adaptive Sync technology (G-Sync, FreeSync) mostly solved this. Just make sure your display can do a refresh rate double that of the content (i.e. the Nyquist rate, in signal processing terms) and your emulator supports the technology. RetroArch does for most (but not all!) cores and what it calls "drivers" (vulkan, gl, d3d etc.). Incidentally I played Amiga Turrican and Apidya via Retroarch's UAE core (which conveniently runs WHDload images), but that was prior to my G-Sync display.

    Beautiful games. Apidya is very fun. Has a Gradius bar, in fact. Turrican has great sprawling levels but I get a bit too annoyed at its quite horrible camera that has your character riding the edge in the direction you're going making it just a reflex reaction game when enemies pop up. True popamole lol.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2021
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  15. Licorice Arcane Wumao

    Licorice
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    What are you using exactly?
     
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  16. tritosine2k Augur

    tritosine2k
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  17. tritosine2k Augur

    tritosine2k
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    that counts as "double flash" / "long duty cycle" and cannot be smooth by definition not even with those "motion modes" (good joke) engaged

    https://escholarship.org/content/qt7vc8b2tx/qt7vc8b2tx.pdf?t=oob1q5




    ...
     
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  18. Licorice Arcane Wumao

    Licorice
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    Sorry I didn't mean you'd run 60HZ content at 120HZ I just meant that your display needs to be capable of it in order to do adaptively synced 60HZ without temporal aliasing (mistiming frames).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyquist_rate

    Adaptive sync is "sampling" the original signal, or at least that's how I always thought of it.
     
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  19. tritosine2k Augur

    tritosine2k
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    Then that's still "long duty cycle" because not only their strobe modes cannot do 60hz it cannot do adaptive.


    ...
     
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  20. madbringer Magister

    madbringer
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    niggers
     
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  21. Rincewind Erudite

    Rincewind
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    Btw WinUAE has all these sync options, but I have no idea what they mean (apart from "Standard VSync", of course :))

    [​IMG]
     
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  22. Bad Sector Arcane Patron

    Bad Sector
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    Right, which was my point really, that the art you saw in monitor CRTs isn't any different from what you see today in flat panel displays. I do not disagree that art made for TV CRTs was made with their more low-fi characteristics in mind, but art made for PCs doesn't look that different.

    Btw, this isn't just for VGA games, PC monitors were sharp from the beginning, e.g. this is from an original IBM PC CGA monitor i have:

    [​IMG]

    while the camera is still shit (can't help it) and adds some bloom again you can see that the individual pixels are visible and there isn't any color blending. The vertical lines are each individually visible.

    Similarly with a Hercules adapter connected to a monochrome monitor:

    [​IMG]

    Both monitors are *very* sharp, there isn't any color blending or anything that would affect how the individual pixels would look.

    The point of the photos i posted isn't to judge how CRT looks in terms of quality but to show that the pixels in pixel art on monitor CRTs do not have the color bleeding that pixels on a TV CRT would have and so art made for PCs would look the same on a period correct PC with a CRT as on a modern flat panel display - assuming the CRT isn't damaged or has issues like blurry focus, etc of course.

    As for scanlines, they're clearly visible in person especially in the larger monitors showing lower resolutions. Actually they're more visible in person than in my photos because my phone's shitty camera adds some bloom - they were very visible in the B/W monitor for example, but as you can see they are not visible at all in the photo itself. However i wasn't really arguing about scanlines but about how modern flat panel displays can show PC games art just fine (and if you want some scanline-like output just use a low DPI monitor, a 1080p at 27" or 768p at 23" should have enough space between pixels for that :-P).

    IMO using CRTs on PCs isn't about reproducing the art in old games, if anything the picture quality in modern flat panel monitors (aside from issues with dark colors outside of high contrast VAs or OLEDs) is going to be superior anyway. It is about CRTs being able to display different resolutions and aspect ratios without any need for resampling like modern monitors have (unless you center the image but then low resolutions become tiny to see) and -for fast paced games- having practically instant response times (i have a 165Hz flat panel monitor which, while better than any of the 60Hz flat panel monitors i have doesn't hold a candle to a 120Hz CRT in terms of how smooth motion feels). Fortunately you can address the former in some modern games since drivers introduced integer scaling so if you have a 2560x1440 monitor you can play games at 320x240 and 640x480 perfectly scaled. It doesn't solve higher resolutions like 800x600 or 1024x768 and non-square aspect ratios like 320x200 and 640x400 though, but at least with older windows games you do cover some. For 800x600 you can live with black borders since the difference isn't that big and for 1024x768... probably use a 1366x768 monitor. All that about 2D games of course.
     
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  23. Angelo85 Magister Patron

    Angelo85
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    Coincidentally the picture below is trending today on social media, depicting how pixel art used to look when displayed on CRT TVs:

    [​IMG]

    /e: it has come to my attention that the source is a Reddit Thread
     
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  24. tritosine2k Augur

    tritosine2k
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    "Right, which was my point really, that the art you saw in monitor CRTs isn't any different from what you see today in flat panel displays. "

    both resolution and refresh rates drive up pixel clock rate , then in turn this demands tighter and tighter "rise time" spec from video amplifiers ( a ramdac has comparably easy job). So as monitors went multisync and high refresh rate became the rule it's likely stuff had hard time keeping up.

    You can compare the last widescreen Sony monitor video amps vs. the ones in top vacuum tube projectors , latter was much faster and they weren't so crazy about pixel clock as gamers and not even that is enough vs. LCOS or other digital projector.



    ...
     
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  25. Jarpie Arcane Patron

    Jarpie
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    The problem of playing old games meant for CRT monitors on modern flat screens isn't really the lack of supposed scanlines (which mostly didn't exist) or the supposed blurriness (which mostly didn't exist), but that the colors and contrast worked differently, or at least showed up differently on CRTs compared to the modern displays. Old DOS/Amiga/etc games looks IMO very flat compared to how they looked on old monitors, because of how differently the modern displays look.

    When it comes to the CRT-filters/shaders, at least those which I've tried are very configurable, so you can practically minimize the amount scanlines and blurriness, I've mostly used CRT-royale to emulate the contrast/colors of CRTs, rather than the supposed "TV-look".
     
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