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40 Column Text Mode Issues

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Reply 81 of 457, by eL_PuSHeR

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Here are two screens more for Pitstop II. The first one is CGA and the second is Composite mode (DOSBox 0.63) - I think the other composite mode samples posted here looked worse.

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Reply 83 of 457, by Great Hierophant

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Did you also use a real IBM 5150 PC? I'm asking because we've discussed how the ROM font in your pictures is not 100% correct (shifted by one pixel), and the thing is that the ROM font in graphics modes is NOT a function is the CGA card, but of the PC's ROM BIOS (the CGA, unlike the EGA, does NOT come with its own BIOS), it's stored at F000:FA6E.

The ROM BIOS only contains the ordinary, double-dot font 7-bit ASCII character graphics. The alternative, single-dot font is found in the the Character ROM of the CGA.

Try these files for the proper graphics.

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Reply 84 of 457, by SirGraham

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HunterZ wrote:

Ah, you're right. I had to magnify it to see what you were talking about. You're not using a scaler in DOSBox are you? (i.e. anything other than scaler=none)

The untouched DOSBOX.CONF file that comes with DOSBox 0.63 is set to scaler=normal2x, why isn't that OK? Besides, I tested KQ1 Tandy with scaler=none and scaler=normal2x, and I saw no differences in fullscreen.

HunterZ wrote:

Is it supposed to be that much darker?

Edit: looked at some KQ1 composite CGA shots on Mobygames and it does look a lot darker than the EGA shots, but is that due to the way they took the pictures?

That's something I wondered about. It's obvious that the ground color is wrong in KQ1 booter composite mode under DOSBox 0.63, but note how all the other colors are identicle to the 16-colors DOS rerelease of the game. In the mobygames shot, the colors are less similar to the DOS version. Aren't the colors of the booter supposed to be similar to the DOS version? These colors are certainly nicer (well, except the cyan ground).
If you run KQ2 booter under DOSBox 0.63 in composite mode, you get colors that are exactly like the DOS version (except for the blurry text, of course). Compare these shots:

KQ2booter composite mode under DOSBox 0.63
boot0038cl.png

KQ2 DOS version
sierra0106aj.png

If the composite mode is not supposed to produce these colors, how does DOSBox produce them from this game? (and something I always wanted to know - why was Graham made yellow in this game?!)
A similar thing to KQ1 happens when you load Black Cauldron booter in composite mode under DOSBox - all the colors are identicle to the 16-colors DOS rerelease, except for the hero's hair which is purple instead of brown.
The MESS 0.100 composite mode for these games looks completely different than the DOS versions. Look:

KQ2booter composite mode under MESS 0.100
pc00013xw.png

The blurry text is the only thing in common in these two emulators.

Back to KQ1 - when I loaded the DOS version under DOSBox with machine=cga, it also loaded in composite mode. This time, it looked exactly like the colors you'd get if you loaded it with machine=cga. The ground was green, not cyan. Are these the correct colors for the DOS version while in composite mode? BTW, the text was still blurry.

And one last thing - I also loaded the KQ1 Tandy port of the booter version, and it loaded with colors just like the DOS version (I understand that the inventory screen not showing and the text problem will be taken care of in future versions). Are these the correct Tandy colors? Or should they look more like the composite colors of the PC booter shown on mobygames? On MESS they look the same as on DOSBox (by the way, MESS doesn't have the problems with the inventory screen and the text).

Reply 85 of 457, by almightyjustin

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I think MESS just plain emulates the colors wrong. MESS development is understaffed to say the least so I don't think it's going to be fixed anytime soon, although I'm sure any technical documentation or code that people can produce would be helpful.

Great Hierophant, those seem to be disassemblies rather than binary ROM dumps--do you have any of the latter? Getting MESS to use actual ROMs would be quite nice....

Swim, swim, hungry! Stupid fish.

Reply 87 of 457, by NewRisingSun

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Aren't the colors of the booter supposed to be similar to the DOS version?

Not at all. First it's because the booter runs in 16-color composite mode, while the DOS version (as well as the PCjr and Tandy booters) run in 16-color RGB mode. Composite mode is based on the YIQ color space, RGB is based on the.... RGB color space.

While a programmer could choose the composite mode's colors to roughly match the RGB colors, the programmers of the KQ1 booters chose not to do so.
Compare the attached two pictures --- one from the PCjr booter (looks the same in the DOS version), one from the sierragamers website (you need to click on the filename kq1.jpg, for some reason, this board won't display it in-line); it's not a screenshot, but an actual photograph of the composite version taken by Sierra themselves, so you know it's right. The house's roof is red in the RGB versions, but pink in the composite's version. Also note how the cyan tree in the RGB version becomes green.

If you run KQ2 booter under DOSBox 0.63 in composite mode, you get colors that are exactly like the DOS version (except for the blurry text, of course).

DOSBox's old algorithm just tried to approximate the composite mode's colors with the CGA's RGB colors. It's not a good reference for anything; no real CGA looks like that.

and something I always wanted to know - why was Graham made yellow in this game?!

Now that's a secret we'll never unravel. My guess is that since his shirt was already red, you could either give him a pink, brown or yellow face, and they just chose yellow.

The MESS 0.100 composite mode for these games looks completely different than the DOS versions. Look:

First of all, the DOS versions of KQ1/KQ2 produce different colors in composite mode than the original booter versions in composite mode; the data that gets written to video memory is different as well.

From looking at the MESS source, I see that they just hard-coded the palettes by hand for each value of the lower four bit of register 0x3d9. That's not a bad approach, but it is lacking the "hue" control --- the user-adjustable hue control, like on a TV set, which seems to be necessary to make people happy.

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Last edited by NewRisingSun on 2005-10-09, 00:22. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 88 of 457, by Great Hierophant

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Great Hierophant, those seem to be disassemblies rather than binary ROM dumps--do you have any of the latter? Getting MESS to use actual ROMs would be quite nice....

While they are disassemblies, they do contain the pixel data for the thick-font characters. Also, on one of the posts on the first page I referred people to a page that displayed the dump as characters for the CGA and MDA cards. It would be easy to turn that back into a ROM dump.

Reply 89 of 457, by SirGraham

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HunterZ wrote:

You're probably not seeing a difference with normal2x in fullscreen because you're probably running in too low of a resolution. You need to be running in at least 640x480 or so (640x400 may work as well).

No, I got my resolution set to fullresolution=1024x768 and fullfixed=false.

NewRisingSun wrote:

While a programmer could choose the composite mode's colors to roughly match the RGB colors, the programmers of the KQ1 booters chose not to do so.

Ok, and what about KQ2 and The Black Cauldron booters?

NewRisingSun wrote:

Compare the attached two pictures --- one from the PCjr booter (looks the same in the DOS version), one from the sierragamers website (you need to click on the filename kq1.jpg, for some reason, this board won't display it in-line); it's not a screenshot, but an actual photograph of the composite version taken by Sierra themselves, so you know it's right. The house's roof is red in the RGB versions, but pink in the composite's version. Also note how the cyan tree in the RGB version becomes green.

Ok, I started testing DOSBox CVS since I understand 0.63 is irrelevant to this subject. I took my CVS build from http://ykhwong.x-y.net/page.htm. I compared the scene in the picture you attached (with Ken and Roberta) to what it looks like in DOSBox CVS, and it does look similar! Here are the two shots:

image from Sierragamers
kq12bq.jpg

DOSBox CVS (KQ1 PC booter)
boot0012pp.png

NewRisingSun wrote:

First of all, the DOS versions of KQ1/KQ2 produce different colors in composite mode than the original booter versions in composite mode; the data that gets written to video memory is different as well.

There are indeed composite color differences between KQ1booter and KQ1DOS under the DOSBox CVS build that I tested. However, there aren't any differences between KQ2booter and KQ2DOS. Look:

boot0023dc.png sierra0012ok.png

Are there really supposed to be any differences? Because I also couldn't find any composite color differences between KQ2DOS and KQ2booter under MESS 0.100. Note that all this KQ2 stuff is also relevant to Black Cauldron.

Besides the above issues, I made more tests with the DOSBox CVS build that I got to see what was fixed and what wasn't. Here's a summation of what I found:

-The composite colors seem more correct now, at least in the booters. The text still has some red artifacting, but it's completely readable now.

-The inventory screen of the KQ1 PC and Tandy booters was fixed. However, the text in the Tandy booter's title screen was not fixed.

-Black Cauldron booter's composite colors also seem more correct, but the hero's hair is still purple. I don't know if it's supposed to be, so here's a screenshot, so you can decide by yourselves (note that under MESS 0.100 his hair is brown):
boot0051dn.png

-Grpaphics problem when loading KQ2booter and Black Cauldron booter when machine=tandy was solved (one example to when this problem happened is when you returned to the game screen after opening the inventory; see an example here).

-KQ2 and Black Cauldron booters RGB mode when machine=vga was fixed. In 0.63 the background was black and the colors were wrong (see an example here), and in the CVS build that I tested the background is blue and the colors are right.

-non-booter AGI -cga switch still doesn't work when machine=vga. This switch forced EGA AGI games to run in CGA colors (two palletes changeable by Ctrl-R) on VGA machines.

-I found a graphics problem in non-booter AGI games, which is troubling because it wasn't in DOSBox 0.63. A lot of DOS AGI games (KQ2, LSL1, SQ1 for example) have some smearing in text boxes when machine=vga. Look carefully at the corners of the text box in this screenshot:
sierra0002hy.png
You can clearly see the problem. I hope this will not stay for the next official release!

-Another new problem is related to the sound of KQ1 PC booter. There is some kind of ticking (for a lack of a better definition) from the speakers in some occasions. For example, open and close the inventory and you'll hear it.
Another new sound issue is in KQ1 Tandy booter (when machine=tandy of course) - the "walking tune" doesn't sound right. It sounded better on DOSBox 0.63. I attached two WAV files (rarred) so you can hear for yourselves. Incidentally, under MESS 0.100 the tune sounds like it does under DOSBox 0.63. I don't know of any other Tandy sound problems at the moment.

-When booting from a floppy image, the CVS build that I tested still didn't support a B: drive. Also, you still can't create save disks from inside the game in the booters of KQ2, Black Cauldron and KQ1 on a blank diskette image. I also wrote about it in the Games/Apps forum.

Well, that's it for now. If I found more issues I'll post them.

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Reply 90 of 457, by Qbix

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the textbox is indeed a bit weird. I'm not entirely sure what could be causing it.

The tandy sound has been changed indeed. The frequency has been changed according to some information provided by newrisingsun. (It used to be the same as mame)

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Reply 91 of 457, by NewRisingSun

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the "walking tune" doesn't sound right. It sounded better on DOSBox 0.63.

According to whom? It sounds now the way it sounds on the original hardware.

but the hero's hair is still purple. I don't know if it's supposed to be, so here's a screenshot,

Basically correct, hue control needed however.

Because I also couldn't find any composite color differences between KQ2DOS and KQ2booter under MESS 0.100.

Sorry, a mixup on my part; it only applies to KQ1, probably because KQ1DOS is an AGI game, whereas KQ1 Booter is, what can you call it... "proto-AGI". 😀

The text still has some red artifacting, but it's completely readable now.

There'll always be some amount of artifacting in composite color mode.

non-booter AGI -cga switch still doesn't work when machine=vga.

That's indeed wrong, because non-booter AGI uses a BIOS call to switch palettes, which IS supported by VGA cards.

Reply 92 of 457, by SirGraham

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Qbix wrote:

the textbox is indeed a bit weird. I'm not entirely sure what could be causing it.

Well, it appears the CVS build I downloaded had core=dynamic in its DOSBOX.CONF. Once I changed that to core=normal, the problem was eliminated.
Incidentally, I had the problem more than a decade ago when I changed my computer from XT with CGA to 286 with VGA. It's odd, because it didn't happen on my newer computers, including my P4 2.8GHz.

Qbix wrote:

The tandy sound has been changed indeed. The frequency has been changed according to some information provided by newrisingsun. (It used to be the same as mame)

You took the old one from MAME? So you must have fixed it a little, because under MESS 0.100 (which, I believe, also uses the same frequency as MAME), the Tandy "sound effects" of the DOS version of KQ1 and KQ2 are completely distorted (the booters work fine), while under DOSBox 0.63 they are not distorted. Also, like was said before, the title screen text of KQ1 Tandy booter is not correct under DOSBox 0.63 and CVS, and it is correct under MESS 0.100. (any plans on fixing that, btw?)

NewRisingSun wrote:

the "walking tune" doesn't sound right. It sounded better on DOSBox 0.63.

According to whom? It sounds now the way it sounds on the original hardware.

I listened to the waves again and, well, there's nothing wrong with the CVS sound, I guess. I never listened to the real thing, nor do I have any source for comparison, so I'll take your word for it 😁 By the way, I used the CVS from http://ykhwong.x-y.net/page.htm, I hope that's a CVS that uses the information you provided.

NewRisingSun wrote:

but the hero's hair is still purple. I don't know if it's supposed to be, so here's a screenshot,

Basically correct, hue control needed however.

It actually seems that in AGI composite mode every red is turned to purple (or is it violet?). Look at KQ3 (from DOSBox CVS):

normal 16 colors
sierra0026uu.png

composite CGA 16 colors
33lh.png

What is this hue control you mentioned? Was it a physical switch in composite monitors? I understand that the hue will not be changeable in the new version of DOSBox, is that correct? Maybe it'll also take care of the darkness.

NewRisingSun wrote:

non-booter AGI -cga switch still doesn't work when machine=vga.

That's indeed wrong, because non-booter AGI uses a BIOS call to switch palettes, which IS supported by VGA cards.

Well, it's a nice feature but I guess there are more important problems to tend to at the moment.

Another problem I found in the CVS build that I tested was the theme music in Indy3. I tested both VGA and EGA version. There are weird constant "tickings" all through the theme. I attached a rarred wave so you can hear it. (speaking of Lucasarts, it's a good place to mention Ctrl-C still doesn't work in any version of DOSBox)
Also, I already mentioned a sound problem that involves "ticking" in KQ1 PC booter in my previous post.
These sound problems does not happen in DOSBox 0.63 and in the CVS build that is availabe in http://cvscompile.aep-emu.de/dosbox.htm.

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Reply 93 of 457, by HunterZ

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Are you using the same computers and DOSBox sound buffer and sample rate configuration settings with comparing sound output in 0.63 and CVS? There is a possibility that you're unintentionally introducing the sound artifacts by using too small of a buffer or by having analog input lines unmuted on your sound mixer that can be picking up RFI noise. I only ask because it's suspicious that you hear ticking in Tandy output for one game and OPL output for another.

Also, the CVS build you linked to is quite out of date. The other two linked from my CVS thread are much newer, although they both contain experimental patches.

Reply 94 of 457, by NewRisingSun

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What is this hue control you mentioned? Was it a physical switch in composite monitors?

Every NTSC TV has a "hue" control. 😀 I take it that you're from a "PAL TV" country, so you may not know this.

I understand that the hue will not be changeable in the new version of DOSBox, is that correct?

Unfortunately not, even though I've been whining in my notoriously subtle way for quite some time. 😀 I think if they can reserve several key combinations for things 90% of DosBox users are never going to use (OPL logging, ...) , they could also reserve two combination for +/- NTSC hue.

Maybe it'll also take care of the darkness.

I think the darkness is by design --- if the Sierra people wanted the image to be brighter, they would write 0x3f to port 0x3d9 instead of 0x27.

It seems to me though that Sierra at the time was a little colorblind when it comes to orange vs. pink. Look at these screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/black-cauldron/screenshots

In the title screen, the Atari ST and Amiga versions have orange where the DOS version has pink.

Reply 95 of 457, by HunterZ

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NewRisingSun wrote:

Every NTSC TV has a "hue" control. 😀 I take it that you're from a "PAL TV" country, so you may not know this.

I've never seen a control named "hue" on an NTSC TV. Is it the same as "tint"?

Unfortunately not, even though I've been whining in my notoriously subtle way for quite some time. 😀 I think if they can reserve several key combinations for things 90% of DosBox users are never going to use (OPL logging, ...) , they could also reserve two combination for +/- NTSC hue.

I'm in favor of it, but Qbix has the final word. Of course, you can always write and submit a patch (which will probably make it into the popular CVS builds if not the official source tree).

It seems to me though that Sierra at the time was a little colorblind when it comes to orange vs. pink. Look at these screenshots:

It's just speculation, but I'd guess that either the artists were being artifically limited by the programmers or maybe the other platforms had more than 16 colors to choose from.

Reply 96 of 457, by NewRisingSun

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I've never seen a control named "hue" on an NTSC TV. Is it the same as "tint"?

My Sony KV-21X4D manual calls it "hue"; if you want to make the point that "tint" is more common, I'll just take your word for it. 😀 But yes, it's the same.

Of course, you can always write and submit a patch

I'm not going to install MS Visual Dingaling just for that. Or does it compile under MingW?

It's just speculation, but I'd guess that either the artists were being artifically limited by the programmers or maybe the other platforms had more than 16 colors to choose from.

No, I think Sierra just goofed again. Mickey's Space Adventure has the same problem in Tandy mode --- pink is orange and orange is pink.

Reply 97 of 457, by Servo

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It's just speculation, but I'd guess that either the artists were being artifically limited by the programmers or maybe the other platforms had more than 16 colors to choose from.

Amiga and Atari ST versions are both in 16 colors at a time, however unlike the pc they can use a different palette; Amiga can choose 16 out of 4096 colors, Atari ST 16 out of 512 colors versus EGA/Tandy's 16 out of 16 colors.

No, I think Sierra just goofed again. Mickey's Space Adventure has the same problem in Tandy mode --- pink is orange and orange is pink.

EGA/Tandy doesn't have orange, so I think Sierra had just decided magenta would be a suitable replacement color; seems like an odd choice, but at least they're consistent... 😀

Reply 98 of 457, by HunterZ

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I'm not going to install MS Visual Dingaling just for that. Or does it compile under MingW?

I've only ever compiled DOSBox under MingW. It works fine.

No, I think Sierra just goofed again. Mickey's Space Adventure has the same problem in Tandy mode --- pink is orange and orange is pink.

Ah, so someone probably wrote a program to convert the graphics to the system-specific formats and screwed it up for composite CGA.

Reply 99 of 457, by NewRisingSun

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EGA/Tandy doesn't have orange, so I think Sierra had just decided magenta would be a suitable replacement color; seems like an odd choice, but at least they're consistent...

Well first of all, BC is originally a PC game, so the PC version is authoritative, therefore, Atari ST and Amiga version's orange is just plain wrong.
As for Mickey, red would be a better replacement for the C64's orange in RGB mode, and the composite mode of course uses red/orange (depending on your ... "tint" ... setting 😀) as well, not pink.

Ah, so someone probably wrote a program to convert the graphics to the system-specific formats and screwed it up for composite CGA.

No, I think in Mickey's case, it's actually the Tandy mode that's wrong and the composite mode that's right. For example, the surface on Mars is pink on Tandy and red on composite, and from what I've seen in real life, Mars is more red than pink. 😀

Last edited by NewRisingSun on 2005-10-08, 14:58. Edited 3 times in total.