VOGONS


Table Fog & 8-bit Paletted Textures

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Reply 200 of 306, by Joseph_Joestar

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Another round of testing paletted textures with two new games: Tomb Raider III and European Air War.

Graphics cards tested:

  • 3DFX Voodoo3 2000, using 3DFX reference drivers version 1.07.00
  • Nvidia GeForce4 Ti4200 using Nvidia reference drivers version 45.23
  • ATi Radeon 9250 using ATi Catalyst reference drivers version 6.2

Games tested:

  • Tomb Raider III - retail CD version
  • European Air War - retail CD version with the latest official patch 1.2 applied

Tomb Raider III setup program

TR3_Setup.jpg
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TR3_Setup.jpg
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This game has an "8 Bit Textures" option in its setup menu. Note how the checkbox is grayed out on the ATi card while remaining available and selectable on both Nvidia and 3DFX cards. As far as I can tell, toggling this option doesn't alter the in-game rendering, other than making the menu font look a bit rougher. My best guess is that it was meant to serve as a performance boost for certain, older cards which support paletted textures, like the Voodoo1.

European Air War object viewer: B-17 plane

EAW_Viewer_B17.jpg
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It's extremely difficult to line up comparison screenshots in this game due to randomly changing cloud formations during missions. To avoid that, I simply used the object viewer in the main menu and selected the B-17 plane. For the purposes of this test, the Voodoo3 is running in Direct3D mode instead of Glide. This was done to keep things fair since Glide renders more detailed object models. The only difference that I can spot in this screenshot is the haze effect on the horizon which is missing on the ATi card while being present on both the 3DFX and Nvidia cards.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / Audigy1 / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 201 of 306, by Joseph_Joestar

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More testing of Tomb Raider III and European Air War, this time with a Matrox G400 and a Nvidia TNT2 M64.

Graphics cards tested:

  • 3DFX Voodoo3 2000, using 3DFX reference drivers version 1.07.00
  • Nvidia TNT2 M64 using Nvidia reference drivers version 3.68
  • Matrox G400 using Matrox Powerdesk drivers version 5.52.015

Games tested:

  • Tomb Raider III - retail CD version
  • European Air War - retail CD version with the latest official patch 1.2 applied

Tomb Raider III setup program

TR3_Setup2.jpg
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TR3_Setup2.jpg
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As expected, the "8 Bit Textures" checkbox is grayed out and unselectable on both the Matrox G400 and the TNT2 M64 since neither card supports paletted textures. The Voodoo3 is used for reference purposes here, since it properly supports paletted textures, and therefore allows this checkbox to be used.

European Air War object viewer: B-17 plane

EAW_B17_Model2.jpg
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No difference in rendering between all three cards here. Both the Matrox G400 and the TNT2 M64 display the haze on the horizon correctly, as does the reference Voodoo3. I'm guessing there might be some ATi specific issue which prevents the Radeon 9250 from rendering this effect, as shown during my previous test. It doesn't seem to be related to table fog either, since I can turn that off in the Nvidia driver and the haze still shows up.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / Audigy1 / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 203 of 306, by Joseph_Joestar

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Kahenraz wrote on 2022-07-03, 18:50:

I've had problems with rendering glitches with the 9000 and and 9250. Try the 7000 series, which also supports the older 4.3 driver.

I don't currently have a 7000 series card, but I think this might not be a driver issue. I just ran a few tests with a Radeon 9250 and a Radeon 9550 using 6.2 drivers at the default settings under Win98SE. Curiously, I'm seeing rendering differences between the two cards, despite them both using the exact same drivers and settings.

Graphics cards tested:

  • Nvidia GeForce4 Ti4200 using Nvidia reference drivers version 45.23
  • ATi Radeon 9250 using ATi Catalyst reference drivers version 6.2
  • ATi Radeon 9550 using ATi Catalyst reference drivers version 6.2

Note: all driver settings were left at their default values.

Games tested:

  • Final Fantasy VIII Demo - you can download the free demo from here
  • Thief II: The Metal Age - retail CD version with the latest official patch 1.18 applied

Final Fantasy VIII options menu

FF8_Menu.jpg
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Since Radeons don't support paletted textures, the menu background colors are washed out on both ATi cards. However, notice the deformed text and squiggly slider bars on the 9250. Again, both ATi cards are using the same drivers at the default settings, but the 9550 doesn't have those issues. The GeForce4 is used for reference purposes.

Thief II Mission 11: Precious Cargo

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For Thief 2, I used the table fog registry tweak on both ATi cards. However, the fog effect is rendered differently on the 9250 compared to the 9550. Same driver, same settings, same registry tweak. The GeForce4 is used for reference purposes.

This leads me to believe that different generations of ATi Radeon cards may produce different rendering results in Win9x games. Newer cards seem to be doing a better job overall. For clarity, despite technically belonging to the same 9xxx series, the Radeon 9250 and 9550 cards are based on different chips: RV280 and RV350 respectively.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / Audigy1 / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 205 of 306, by Joseph_Joestar

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Some more table fog testing.

Graphics cards tested:

  • 3DFX Voodoo3 2000, using 3DFX reference drivers version 1.07.00
  • Nvidia TNT2 M64 using Nvidia reference drivers version 3.68
  • ATi Radeon 9250 using ATi Catalyst reference drivers version 6.2

Games tested:

  • Flight Unlimited II - retail CD version with the latest official patch f1.04 applied
  • Need For Speed 4: High Stakes (Demo version)

Flight Unlimited II

FLU2_Fog.jpg
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This game does use table fog if the "Fog" option in the pre-flight menu is turned on. The fog effect is present on the Voodoo3 and the TNT2 while it's missing on the ATi 9250.

Need For Speed 4: High Stakes (Demo version)

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I'm not sure if this game uses table fog or not, especially since I'm only testing the demo version (I don't own the full game). The demo track does feature fog effects if they are turned on in the Graphics options. These effect are most prominent near the cliff where the hot air balloon flies over the road. Unfortunately, I can't line up a proper comparison screenshot at that location, so the start of the race will have to do. On the Voodoo3 and the TNT2, a light haze surrounds the buildings in the distance. On the ATi 9250, there is no haze effect. BTW, the car colors are randomized each time you start the demo, hence the differences in that regard.

EDIT - NFS High Stakes pic updated. While Fraps couldn't capture the Voodoo3 while it was running in Glide mode, the game itself can take screenshots by pressing ALT+P. This creates a screenshot in the TGA format on your desktop.

Last edited by Joseph_Joestar on 2022-07-05, 08:15. Edited 1 time in total.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / Audigy1 / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 206 of 306, by bloodem

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-07-04, 16:23:

I'm not sure if this game uses table fog or not, especially since I'm only testing the demo version (I don't own the full game). The demo track does feature fog effects if they are turned on in the Graphics options. These effect are most prominent near the cliff where the hot air baloon flies over the road. Unfortunately, I can't line up a proper comparison screenshot at that location, so the start of the race will have to do. On the TNT2, a light haze surrounds the buildings in the distance. The Voodoo3 also displays this haze, but I can't take a screenshot using Fraps since the game runs in Glide mode on that card. On the ATi 9250, there is no haze effect.

Yes, the game uses fog (in some tracks like Celtic Ruins it's actually very visible).
Not sure if it's 'table fog', though, but I can confirm that ATI cards don't render it (at least not without tweaks).

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Reply 207 of 306, by mockingbird

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-07-04, 16:23:
[…]
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  • 3DFX Voodoo3 2000, using 3DFX reference drivers version 1.07.00
  • Nvidia TNT2 M64 using Nvidia reference drivers version 3.68
  • ATi Radeon 9250 using ATi Catalyst reference drivers version 6.2

Fantastic and very substantive posts, thank you.

What is the benefit of using nVidia 3.68 with a TNT2 over something like a GeForce2 GTS with 7.76? Are you aware of games that do not function with the later driver?

I have several TNT2, but it is quite a bit slower than a GeForce2 GTS.

@bloodem - feel free to chime in as well, I see you've tested both drivers yourself here.

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Reply 208 of 306, by Joseph_Joestar

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mockingbird wrote on 2022-07-04, 16:58:

What is the benefit of using nVidia 3.68 with a TNT2 over something like a GeForce2 GTS with 7.76? Are you aware of games that do not function with the later driver?

I haven't done a whole lot of testing with different driver versions and their impact on game playability, but I can tell you what I've found so far. In my experience, it doesn't only come down to the driver version but also the hardware that's running it. You're generally fine in terms of compatibility if you don't go beyond an FX card and 45.23 drivers. Anything newer than that may cause issues on Win9x.

Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, Incoming is one game which has problems on any Nvidia card newer than a TNT2. Phil often showcases this in his videos. Similarly, the stars in the night sky of Thief 2 disappear when you play that game on a GeForce or newer.

file.php?id=136086&mode=view

This is unrelated to paletted texture support and remains specific to Nvidia hardware. They probably changed something in the rendering pipeline after the TNT2, and that now causes this behavior.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / Audigy1 / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 209 of 306, by bloodem

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mockingbird wrote on 2022-07-04, 16:58:

What is the benefit of using nVidia 3.68 with a TNT2 over something like a GeForce2 GTS with 7.76? Are you aware of games that do not function with the later driver?

I have several TNT2, but it is quite a bit slower than a GeForce2 GTS.

@bloodem - feel free to chime in as well, I see you've tested both drivers yourself here.

As Joseph said, the only game that I know of which has some "game breaking" problems with GeForce cards is Incoming (the HUD is not rendered properly).
Other than that... a GeForce 2 GTS is basically as compatible as a TNT2, while being a lot faster, cooler and very power efficient (it only draws a max of ~ 8W, so it will work even on motherboards that have AGP power delivery issues).

2 x PGA132 / 5 x Socket 3 / 9 x Socket 7 / 12 x SS7 / 1 x Socket 8 / 14 x Slot 1 / 5 x Slot A
5 x Socket 370 / 8 x Socket A / 2 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 7 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: Ryzen 5 3600X
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Reply 210 of 306, by mockingbird

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-07-04, 17:16:

Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, Incoming is one game which has problems on any Nvidia card newer than a TNT2. Phil often showcases this in his videos. Similarly, the stars in the night sky of Thief 2 disappear when you play that game on a GeForce or newer.
...
This is unrelated to paletted texture support and remains specific to Nvidia hardware. They probably changed something in the rendering pipeline after the TNT2, and that now causes this behavior.

bloodem wrote on 2022-07-04, 17:18:

As Joseph said, the only game that I know of which has some "game breaking" problems with GeForce cards is Incoming (the HUD is not rendered properly).
Other than that... a GeForce 2 GTS is basically as compatible as a TNT2, while being a lot faster, cooler and very power efficient (it only draws a max of ~ 8W, so it will work even on motherboards that have AGP power delivery issues).

Thanks both of you for being so succinct.. I was going to invest in a first generation GeForce so I could use driver 3.68 (I found the TNT2 Ultra a bit lacking in speed), but I think I'll just stick with my GeForce2 GTS now.

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Reply 211 of 306, by swaaye

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I thought I might try out the Riva 128 ZX for this topic. I swear I remember it supporting palettized textures but I can't find that now. I must be remembering incorrectly... The control panel only mentions a 16-bit format that can be enabled/disabled. Driver 3.37 (the latest I believe).

But I made a bunch of PNG screenshots.
-Final Fantasy 8 (demo version) seems to look right? (I don't know much about the game). The 3D test said it lacked support for palettized textures and triangle textures. There are sometimes black vertical lines but the screenshots have more than it did on the monitor.
-Shadows of the Empire needed the NV Control Panel's non-square texture support enabled. Text is garbled as expected but could probably be fixed with tweaks to the texel position.
-System Shock 2 is fine
-Thief 2 (demo version) has broken/incorrect fog (see on/off shots)
fEBU7xhd_t.png RWkNo0bu_t.png ilg5qIIa_t.png dq8mHEiU_t.png FoSv0nfB_t.png EvpP9dbG_t.png zlAtCvxp_t.png 8RYJuf4Z_t.png 9FOEDBzt_t.png wR65zE4B_t.png V50g3cuZ_t.png ZYU63pRb_t.png cD3cUXBc_t.png dUPaoJD8_t.png

Reply 212 of 306, by Joseph_Joestar

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swaaye wrote on 2022-07-04, 18:07:

-Final Fantasy 8 (demo version) seems to look right? (I don't know much about the game). The 3D test said it lacked support for palettized textures and triangle textures. There are sometimes black vertical lines but the screenshots have more than it did on the monitor.

In FF8, the lack of paletted textures mainly affects the in-game menu. Here's a comparison:

file.php?id=123650&mode=view

-Thief 2 (demo version) has broken fog

It's curious that the Riva 128 fog works in Shadows of the Empire but not in the Thief 2 demo. I wonder if it handles fog differently compared to the retail version.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / Audigy1 / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 213 of 306, by agent_x007

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-07-04, 18:20:

It's curious that the Riva 128 fog works in Shadows of the Empire but not in the Thief 2 demo. I wonder if it handles fog differently compared to the retail version.

Table (Pixel) Fog Table fog parameters are set through the SetRenderState interface. Range based fog is not supported when using […]
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Table (Pixel) Fog
Table fog parameters are set through the SetRenderState interface. Range based fog is not
supported when using table mode and must be disabled. Disable vertex fog as well. The RIVA
128, RIVA128ZX and the RIVA TNT all emulate table fog using vertex based fog. The
GeForce 256 supports table fog in hardware.
To use table based fog, you must select which drop off method to use linear, exponential or
exponential squared. Table fog cannot be combined with range based fog.

They didn't mention TNT2... interestesting, isn't it ?

Source "Pixel [Table] Fog" : LINK

157143230295.png

Reply 214 of 306, by swaaye

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-07-04, 18:20:
In FF8, the lack of paletted textures mainly affects the in-game menu. Here's a comparison: […]
Show full quote

In FF8, the lack of paletted textures mainly affects the in-game menu. Here's a comparison:

file.php?id=123650&mode=view

-Thief 2 (demo version) has broken fog

It's curious that the Riva 128 fog works in Shadows of the Empire but not in the Thief 2 demo. I wonder if it handles fog differently compared to the retail version.

Interesting. I'm not sure what's going on there. The Voodoo and GeForce look similar but ATI not so great.

It reminds me of a filtering quality issue that Serpent Rider brought up with Unreal and UT on the GeForce cards.
Re: Image Quality of various old video cards (Quake 3 comparison)

Reply 215 of 306, by Joseph_Joestar

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swaaye wrote on 2022-07-04, 21:17:

Interesting. I'm not sure what's going on there. The Voodoo and GeForce look similar but ATI not so great.

I narrowed it down while trying to force paletted texture support on a Matrox G400.

It's been consistent throughout all the tests. If the FF8 setup program detects paletted texture support, the menu colors look fine. If not, they are washed out. Permedia 2 cards which I tested recently even have a toggle for this in their driver panel.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / Audigy1 / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 216 of 306, by swaaye

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Good stuff.

I was a G400 user in the olden times. But I didn't play anything that needs palettized texture support. Lovely image quality with most DirectX 5/6/7 era games.

I have Permedia 3 in the collection. It's probably not worth the effort to try though from what I've seen with its game compatibility in general. D3D was not any kind of priority over there.

Last edited by swaaye on 2022-07-04, 21:56. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 217 of 306, by Joseph_Joestar

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agent_x007 wrote on 2022-07-04, 19:01:

They didn't mention TNT2... interestesting, isn't it ?

Source "Pixel [Table] Fog" : LINK

Yeah, I found that document a while ago and linked to it on the Vogons wiki.

I'm guessing they count the TNT and TNT2 as the same card generation. But then again, they separate he Riva 128 and the ZX, so who knows.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / Audigy1 / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 218 of 306, by swaaye

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Apparently the Matrox G200 and G400 may indeed have some degree of working palettized texture support. Over on MURC people were having success with it in Thief and FF7. But FF8 may not work since they seem to see the same problem you do.

It sounds like it was added with Powerdesk 4/5 and had to be enabled with registry changes which Powerstrip is probably doing. I could see it only working with some driver releases and maybe not PD6 drivers.

https://web.archive.org/web/20040110103309/ht … .pl/gbm/matrox/ (specifically In Depth > Powerdesk Registry Settings)
http://www.murc.ws/showthread.php?18078-Palle … ight=palettized
http://www.murc.ws/showthread.php?11938-FF8-8 … ight=palettized

Reply 219 of 306, by Joseph_Joestar

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swaaye wrote on 2022-07-04, 22:16:

Apparently the Matrox G200 and G400 may indeed have some degree of working palettized texture support. Over on MURC people were having success with it in Thief and FF7. But FF8 may not work since they seem to see the same problem you do.

Interesting read, especially the part about Squaresoft advising people that the washed out menus in FF8 are the result of missing paletted texture support. Heh, wish I'had found that earlier, would have saved me a bunch of testing. Still good to have official confirmation though.

As for the G400 support for this feature, it seems that they were aiming for a FF7/FF8 fix, but apparently weren't confident enough to expose the setting in the driver options, leaving it as an unofficial registry tweak instead. Given how it corrupts the FF8 menu when turned on, I'm guessing it was never completely finished.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / Audigy1 / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi