VOGONS


First post, by Azariah

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Hi

First post, so please be gentle 😉

I really like the game Tie Fighter, and my favourite version is the DOS CD Collectors Edition. Sadly you cant run it in SVGA on many "recent" graphics cards, because their VESA support is not good enough (I think the game uses VESA 2.0). I would like peoples opinions on the best performing graphics card that still has good VESA support. Ideally I would like to play both Tie Fighter (VESA2.0) and NWN (OpenGL) on the same card...
My Radeon 9700's VESA is not good enough, and I read posts from other people saying that the GF4s and above are bad at VESA support too.
It works fine on a Voodoo3 AGP, but its OpenGL performance isnt really good enough for NWN. I have a TNT2 Ultra, but it would be good to use a better one if possible. The rest of the PC is...

Althon 1.2GHz
AWE64Gold (The Midi Music in this version of TieFighter is great on this)
Voodoo2 12MB PCI

Anyone have any opinion / experience with this? Which cards would you recommend?

Geforce/2/3?
Matrox Cards?
S3?
SiS?

Thanks for any help / advice,

Regards,

Azariah

Reply 1 of 11, by aleksej

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For old 2d cards - S3 Virge/DX and this is not a joke. Really very good vesa compatibility/perfomance in comparision with even Matrox Millenium II and ATI Rage Pro. And much cheaper and easy to find ofcourse.

For 3d latest '90 - Matrox, and mybe 3dfx. But 3d capabilities worst for today.
Newer Nvidia and ATI chipsets has poor vesa compatibility anyway.

Reply 3 of 11, by eL_PuSHeR

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Agreed. Your ATi Radeon 9700 should already have a nice enough VESA 2.0 implementation.

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Reply 4 of 11, by DosFreak

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Yeah, my 9700 was fine.

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Reply 5 of 11, by elianda

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I use a Elsa Victory Erazor (Riva128 4MB) card that has VBE 3.0 support.
(This includes also Refreshment Settings for Modes like 100 Hz).
The speed is about hmm, Duke3D is good playable at 800x600 with a P166MMX.
The Bios is from Elsa, other Vendors may have a different Bios.

Before this I had a Weitek P9100 based card running. While this is very good under Windows the DOS VBE support of them is quite a pain in plain DOS. So was the speed. Curiously if you use it in a Win9x DOS/Box it was much better, though not as good as the Elsa Victory Erazor.

Reply 6 of 11, by Azariah

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Hi

Thanks for all the replies.

I am running in DOS. Its on a 98SE box that boots to command prompt only.
With the Voodoo3, it works fine.
With the 9700 SVGA mode is corrupted. 320x240 is ok. It runs in SVGA, you can hear the music, fly the ship etc, but the screen is totally garbled. I have read other posts on these boards with exactly the same problem with this game and radeon cards, and no one has posted a solution that works yet. The suggestion was that the VESA bios is not compatible enough with this older game, and none of the scitech display doctor or Univbe untils seem to provide a work around. Doesnt behave any differently in a dos windows under windows98SE either.

DosFreak - you say your 9700 works fine. Can you give me any info about the setup you used please?

The Voodoo3 (16MB card) works fine, I was hoping someone might have used a better card successfully with this game.

In this post...
New Radeon hates TIE Fighter CD
... someone says he has the same problem with a radeon, but it worked ok with a GeForce4. However, he was using VDM, and I'm using a real ISA soundcard, so I dont know if that means it will work for me.

Thanks again,

Azariah

Reply 7 of 11, by elianda

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Soundcard shouldn't have to do with graphics card. But the thing that can be a difference is:
If you run something in a Win DOSbox the driver of the graphics card can provide another BIOS with better functions. This is not the BIOS you have when booting plain DOS.
I know of some drivers that do this, the bad thing is - not everything runs in a Win DOSBox.

Reply 8 of 11, by DosFreak

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Well I'm using an X800 video card now and my 9700 is packed away....and I really don't feel like opening up my computer. 😀

Is the SVGA mode for Tie Fighter 640x480? It's probably 640x480x8. If so then try loading up Scitech Display Doctor's VBETEST utility and checking out the various graphics modes. This doesn't necessarily mean that if it works in VBETEST that your game will work but it is a good test.

You said the screen is "totally garbled" what did you mean by that? Is it the same behavior as in the link you posted?

You also said that your running the game in pure DOS mode? Not under Windows 98SE command prompt or Windows XP command prompt?

The command prompt in Windows 9x/NT4/2000/XP/2003 all access the video hardware directly when using fullscreen. The problem with NT based OS's is that NT's vga.sys driver doesn't allow full I/O for some video card chipsets which is why the vga.sys must be hacked to allow this. There is no "another BIOS". NT also disables the usage of the LFB so you do not have access to certain video modes.

I'm wondering if you should try NOLFB (NOLFB works in pure DOS as well). What it does is disabled the Linear Frame Buffer. Perhaps Tie Fighter is using the LFB and your 9700 doesn't like it?

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Reply 9 of 11, by elianda

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You say there is no different Bios under Win, so I took a quote from the Release notes of one of a Weitek P9100 based card (DSystems UltraCAD Papilio G1-2):

All Cards

Acceleration : Optimizations are included when running on Intel PentiumPro systems. The performance improvement for applications that draw directly to the screen is significant, between 30~100% improvement is normal and this increases with resolution. Examples applications that benefit are Video, VESA Games (Quake will run smoothly even at 640x480) and applications that use DirectDraw.

Games : Much improved VESA and DOS Game compatibility. Games running in a Full-Screen DOS shell can be switched-away-from (e.g. by pressing ALT-TAB) and restored, pixel-perfect.

Additionally a full port of the VESA VBE2 (Vesa Bios Extensions) ensures compatibility with new games that can support VBE2 including : Quake, 11th Hour, DukeNukem3D etc. VESA TSR's are no longer necessary.

No support is provided for running VESA apps in a Window and none is intended - ever.

OK first section refers to PPro only, but the VBE2.0 port mentioned in the next section is only available in a Win9x DOSBox. If you use this card in plain DOS it has only VBE 1.0 and VBE 1.2 with a TSR loaded (and is rather slow). So if it's no different DOSBox BIOS, is it some other driver hack then?

Reply 10 of 11, by Azariah

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Hi

Thanks again for the replies.

DosFreak - Yes, I am running it in DOS. Specifically, using the bootmenu in 98SE to select "command prompt only", so it loads anything in config.sys and autoexec.bat, then stops. It does not load windows. The pc doesn't have NT/2K/XP on it.

Yes, the SVGA mode for Tie-Fighter is 640x480. I'm not certain of the colour depth, but I think you are right, and it is 8bit.
With the 9700, the "in flight" screens at 640x480 look as if all the pixels have been smeared left-right, so the whole picture is a mess of near horizontal lines. You can hear the sound, and "see" things moving (eg some of the lines change, you cannot tell what anything is). If you steer the ship. things move more, so it appears it is running the game fine, but however it is trying to draw the picture is wrong.

I have tried nolfb, but sadly it made no difference at all.

I tried with a TNT2 Ultra card yesterday, and that works fine, both in true DOS, and in a command prompt in 98.

So far:
Voodoo3 AGP = Fine in both DOS and Win98
TNT2 AGP = Fine in both DOS and Wind98
9700 = Corrupt SVGA graphics in both DOS and Win98

Sadly I dont have a GeForce/2/3/4/FX to try. If I knew a GeForce based card would work, I'd pick one up 2nd hand.

Thanks again for all the help,

Azariah.

Reply 11 of 11, by DosFreak

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If it works for a TNT2 then it should work fine with a Geforce 1/2. It looks like you care about OGL performance so an Nvidia card would be the best option.

Is Tie Fight the only game that uses 640x480 in DOS that you have?

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