CGA colors are not right in King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry

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CGA colors are not right in King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry

Postby anovah » 2019-10-15 @ 22:40

*** TL;DR version - How can I get King's Quest looking like this?***
Image



I was reading an interesting article on how CGA can get emulated incorrectly when using backward compatible cards. Specifically, in regards to Kings Quest, the cyan/magenta palette is... off (dithering and placement?). The article I'm reading mentions this is a problem and EVERY screenshot I've seen of King's quest has pink grass whereas it appears that it should be cyan.
Image
https://devtidbits.com/2008/03/16/dosbo ... -hercules/

First, it may help to mention I have a later version that was packaged in with the Roberta Williams Anthology. The aforementioned article references "pre-AGI" and I'm not sure if that is relevant or is a reference to the booter version or what. It also makes reference to "RGB Mode" which is not an option I see at the startup, however, it seems CTRL-R takes care of that.

When I try to run DOSBox with machine=cga I get the composite color mode (which is fun still). I can hit CTRL-R to switch to RGB mode but it is in the green/brown palette (not what I'm looking for) and F11 doesn't seem to have any effect in this mode. If I run DOSBox with machine=ega (same for if I run it with vga or svga) I seem to be able to force CGA by typing "KQ1 -c" when loading the game in DOSBox. That gets me the cyan/magenta palette but things are off as described above.

Is there anything I can do to get the colors to look right in CGA cyan/magenta for Sierra games? (I seem to be having the same problem with Leisure Suit Larry). Maybe a key command I'm missing to switch the palettes up? I'm still new to a lot of DOS functions let alone Sierra game stuff.

Any help is appreciated and apologies in advance for asking any silly noob questions.
Last edited by anovah on 2019-10-16 @ 17:43, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: CGA colors are not right in King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry

Postby Akuma » 2019-10-16 @ 13:37

1. machine=vga
2. switch to RGB mode

Et voila :D
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Re: CGA colors are not right in King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry

Postby anovah » 2019-10-16 @ 17:34

Akuma wrote:1. machine=vga
2. switch to RGB mode

Et voila :D


Thanks for responding. I switched the machine parameter to vga and loaded King's Quest normally (without the "-c") and start with full color graphics. Unfortunately, I seem to be unable to switch to RGB mode from here (i.e. CTRL-R seems to do nothing). Could this have something to do with the version I'm running perhaps? There is no option to change to RGB mode from the beginning, I have to rely on CTRL-R. I'd have to track down another version to verify if that's the issue.

It sounds like, though, that the article in devtidbits.com achieved this through setting DOSBox machine to cga and the game itself to RBG mode. But that only gets me the green/brown palette and it is incorrect there as well. Every combination I seem to try does not produce the desired results.

For kicks, I tried to force CGA (while machine=vga) by entering "KQ1 -c" in DOS and I'm then able to use CTRL-R to switch between pallets but it is between the incorrect cyan/magenta pallet and an incorrect green/brown pallet (looks a lot more muddled than it's supposed to).

For the life of me, I can't seem to get this combination of cyan grass and a grey castle...
Image
Instead, I get the incorrect placements of colors and end up with pink grass and a cyan castle. Every other screenshot I see online has the incorrect colors/emulation
Image

Could there be some other parameter I'm missing? Messed around with scaler in DOSBox with no discernable effect.

[edit: added some actual screen shots to this and the OP]
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Re: CGA colors are not right in King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry

Postby ripsaw8080 » 2019-10-16 @ 19:33

Note that you have to go a ways back in DOSBox releases to find a "vga" machine type; 0.74 up to current source will select the default of machine=svga_s3 for invalid types.

To get the desired appearance for KQ1, it works to use the RGB mode of the PC booter version with machine=svga_s3 in DOSBox. In the article you linked there is a reference to "pre-AGI", so perhaps that means the booter. For AGI interpreters, try the -r command line switch for RGB CGA.
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Re: CGA colors are not right in King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry

Postby anovah » 2019-10-17 @ 02:14

ripsaw8080 wrote:Note that you have to go a ways back in DOSBox releases to find a "vga" machine type; 0.74 up to current source will select the default of machine=svga_s3 for invalid types.


Oh, that is good to know. That explains why it worked regardless.

To get the desired appearance for KQ1, it works to use the RGB mode of the PC booter version with machine=svga_s3 in DOSBox. In the article you linked there is a reference to "pre-AGI", so perhaps that means the booter. For AGI interpreters, try the -r command line switch for RGB CGA.


Same garbled palette with -r unfortunately. It is sounding like I need to track down that booter version then. I'm not well versed in that but I'll see what I can do to confirm here. Thanks for looking at it with me.
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Re: CGA colors are not right in King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry

Postby anovah » 2019-10-17 @ 02:57

Success! Getting the booter version seems to have done the trick. Like you said, setting it to svga_s3 and switching the game to rgb mode did the trick.

This all makes me very happy and I finally get to play it in the scheme it was meant to be played in (sort of).

Thank you so much!
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Re: CGA colors are not right in King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry

Postby konc » 2019-10-17 @ 09:07

anovah wrote:This all makes me very happy and I finally get to play it in the scheme it was meant to be played in (sort of).

What do you mean by that? It was never meant to be played on VGA cards not emulating correctly CGA modes and cyan grass
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Re: CGA colors are not right in King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry

Postby dr.zeissler » 2019-10-17 @ 14:57

I only remember the "wrong" colors back then.
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Re: CGA colors are not right in King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry

Postby ripsaw8080 » 2019-10-18 @ 03:48

The red/green/brown palette on blue background is evidently what the KQ1 game designers intended for RGB CGA; which at least has green grass and plants, blue sky and water. One might prefer a different appearance, as the OP seems to, but I would not label that as "correct".
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Re: CGA colors are not right in King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry

Postby anovah » 2019-11-01 @ 07:25

konc wrote:
anovah wrote:This all makes me very happy and I finally get to play it in the scheme it was meant to be played in (sort of).

What do you mean by that? It was never meant to be played on VGA cards not emulating correctly CGA modes and cyan grass


Agreed. If I were going through an actual playthrough with RGB CGA, I would do it with the intended blue water and green grass like ripsaw 8080 mentioned. However, I'm trying to find a good screenshot of the migraine-inducing cyan/magenta palette for a silk-screening project I'm working on (ergo the phrase "sort of"). I just really love those colors and how 80's they are. But that's another story.

What I mean about "correct" is that something is up with the way the colors are displayed in the non-booter version. It's not right. Whether in the blue/green palette or in the magenta/cyan palette, it is "wrong".

Allow me to provide an example. Look at the shadow cast by the tree (apologies for the different scenes, but you get the idea). In the booter version, as you would expect, the shadow is darker than the rest of the grass. In the non-booter version, the shadow is LIGHTER than the rest of the grass. That ain't right, bruh. The longer you look, the more details you'll see that are out of place or missing altogether (like castle detail).

Booter version-
Image

Non-Booter version-
Image

Even in the. let's call it "unintended" palette of cyan/magenta, you have a grey castle instead of the stupid incorrect cyan castle generated from the non-booter version. And don't get me started on the grass color.

A lot of screenshots out there are using this messed up palette. I think it has more to do with the version than anything. Could Sierra have botched something on future releases?

Regardless,the madness must end. Some hero must alert the community.
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Re: CGA colors are not right in King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry

Postby ipggi » 2019-11-08 @ 00:32

Hi, I am the author of the original article referenced, though it was a good 11 years ago when I wrote it.

From memory, there are different booter editions of Kings Quest before the common 1987 MS-DOS re-release. The famous IBM PCJr release that funded the production of the game. But there is also a 1985 booter release for Tandy. And finally, there is the pre-MS-DOS booter release that incorporated both CGA colour modes that you're referring here.

I have a feeling that the booter releases had custom tweaked CGA palettes that got lost in the transition to the AGI engine, maybe to save disk space on the low density 5 1/4" floppies?

When IBM released the EGA standard not long after the release of Kings Quest, it took years to catch on. So by 1987 with the DOS AGI release of Kings Quest, I think EGA/Tandy was the primary design palettes and the engine somewhat automated the downgrading for CGA/Hercules support?

A number of years after my article, nerdlypleasures covered the differences between the booter versions in great detail.
https://nerdlypleasures.blogspot.com/20 ... st-ii.html
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