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Table Fog & 8-bit Paletted Textures

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Reply 140 of 189, by leileilol

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Another good place to check for paletted texture support is Quake2. The skyboxes will show the difference mainly, so if you have 8-bit textures ENABLED and the sky still looks smooth (and not banded in visibly low amounts of colors), then paletted textures aren't working. 😀 The only RGB textures in the game are those, so paletted tex support should benefit busy multiplayer games where it's easier on the texcache.

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Reply 141 of 189, by 386SX

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-01-14, 18:38:
386SX wrote on 2022-01-14, 17:51:

Trident Blade3D test:

Looks great, cheers!

It's interesting how the budget oriented Blade 3D has proper paletted texture support, while much more expensive Matrox cards from the same time period don't. The lack of table fog on the Blade 3D is somewhat surprising though.

Indeed. I don't know how many titles actually used the Table Fog feature and until when so it might have been a costs/benefit choice who knows. I don't know if the next chip after this had that feature or not.

Last edited by 386SX on 2022-01-14, 19:31. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 143 of 189, by Putas

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Putas wrote on 2022-01-08, 18:45:

I doubt they would drop paletted textures so soon- it is SiS 315 tech.
SiS 305 certainly does support them, but there are compatibility issues with Thief 2.

I was diving further trying to make sense of this.
SiS 6326 declares only support for 4-bit palettes, the sky in Thief II 2 is properly dark.
SiS 305 support 8-bit palettes but isn't compatible.
Maybe 8-bit entries or some other extended capability is needed?

Reply 144 of 189, by Joseph_Joestar

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So I was rewatching one of Phil's Matrox G400 videos when something caught my eye. PowerStrip offers "Use Palettized Textures" as an option for that card, but it's turned off by default. So I downloaded PowerStrip v3.90 (shareware) from Phil's website and tried it on my Matrox G400. And what do you know, this option did show up, and I could turn it on:

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This made me curious since we had previously established that Matrox G400 does not support paletted textures. So I decided to give Final Fantasy 8 another try with this option turned on in PowerStrip.

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The config looks promising, with paletted textures now getting a "Pass" instead of "Fail". But let's see how the situation looks in the actual game.

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Ouch, not good at all. Well, it was worth a try I guess, and maybe it can work on some other cards. But for the Matrox G400, this PowerStrip option is a no go.

P.S.

Out of curiosity, I then loaded up PowerStrip on my ATi Radeon 9000 Pro and the paletted textures option didn't even show up for that card. Go figure.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1

Reply 145 of 189, by Garrett W

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I suspect that it's not something that PowerStrip does, but rather a driver option or registry entry that is not exposed as an option in the control panel for the card. PowerStrip detects it and then presents it as an option. I also suspect that it's probably some kind of faux emulation of the feature done by Matrox to avoid issues with potential games requiring the feature, such as FF7 prior to any patches.

Reply 146 of 189, by rasz_pl

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Garrett W wrote on 2022-02-12, 21:19:

some kind of faux emulation

the thing about 8bit palletized textures is they should be trivial to emulate at the trivial cost of converting them to 15/24bit on the fly during texture initialization and optionally later it its being manipulated in vram

Reply 147 of 189, by Joseph_Joestar

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Garrett W wrote on 2022-02-12, 21:19:

I suspect that it's not something that PowerStrip does, but rather a driver option or registry entry that is not exposed as an option in the control panel for the card. PowerStrip detects it and then presents it as an option. I also suspect that it's probably some kind of faux emulation of the feature done by Matrox to avoid issues with potential games requiring the feature, such as FF7 prior to any patches.

Yes, that is my assumption as well. It's possible that Matrox couldn't get this to work reliably, so they never exposed the setting in their drivers.

This experiment did reveal something interesting though. When this setting is turned on, color corruption appears on some textured 3D objects as well, such as parts of Selphie's uniform and Squall's hair. It could be that paletted textures are used for other things besides the menu in Final Fantasy 8.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1

Reply 149 of 189, by Joseph_Joestar

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I just got my hands on an S3 Savage4, so I decided to put it through the usual trials. For the purposes of this test, the Savage4 was placed in this Celeron rig. It will face off against my GeForce4 Ti4200 which resides in this AthlonXP system. All tests were performed under Windows 98SE with DirectX 9.0c. No unofficial service packs or any third-party hacks were used.

One quick note about the Savage4 drivers. I originally wanted to use the latest version available from here. However, my particular card suffers a BSOD when those drivers are installed. Therefore, I had to settle for an older version from the A-Trend Savage4 driver CD which Phil graciously hosts on his website.

Graphics cards tested:

  • Nvidia GeForce4 Ti4200 using Nvidia reference drivers version 40.72
  • S3 Savage4 using drivers from the A-Trend CD version 4.11.01.8005-8.06.01 (dated 7-1-1999)

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 configuration program

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As expected, the config tool detects paletted texture support on the GeForce4. Interestingly, the Savage4 also gets a "Pass". But let's see how things look in the actual game.

Final Fantasy VIII options menu

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To access this screen, start a new game, then press "D" to open the menu, move the cursor to "Config" using the arrow keys, and finally press "X" to open it. On the GeForce4, the menu colors are rendered perfectly, as expected. As a pleasant surprise, the Savage4 also renders this menu correctly. There is some dithering on the Savage4 screenshot that isn't present on the GeForce4 screenshot, but the menu colors do look as intended, and not washed out like on ATi and Matrox cards. This indicates that the Savage4 properly supports paletted textures.

Thief II Mission 11: Precious Cargo

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Table fog does work on the Savage4, but it is rendered differently compared to the Nvidia, Matrox and 3DFX cards. The fog effect looks much more subtle on the Savage4. It seems that S3 implemented this feature in a somewhat unique way. Still, it does work, without needing any extra tweaks, so that's a decent result for the Savage4.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1

Reply 151 of 189, by dr.zeissler

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I tested several S3-Savage4 cards too...so many glitches on textures...

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Reply 152 of 189, by Joseph_Joestar

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-02-21, 17:24:

One quick note about the Savage4 drivers. I originally wanted to use the latest version available from here. However, my particular card suffers a BSOD when those drivers are installed. Therefore, I had to settle for an older version from the A-Trend Savage4 driver CD which Phil graciously hosts on his website.

Update: I was able to use newer drivers by first installing the ones from the A-Trend CD and then manually upgrading to a later version. However, this had an unforeseen consequence. Savage4 drivers made in the year 2000 or later seem to have broken paletted texture support. Here's a screenshot from FF8 using newer drivers:

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Notice how the dithering pattern is still there. However, the menu colors are now washed out. I have tried several different Savage4 driver versions from various months of 2000 and they all exhibit the same behavior with regards to paletted textures. So far, only the older A-Trend driver from 1999 has proper paletted texture support. Very odd. I'm guessing S3 may have disabled the feature for performance reasons in later driver versions?

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1

Reply 153 of 189, by Joseph_Joestar

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While working on a socket 754 build, I was using an ATi 9550 card so I thought I'd do a quick table fog and paletted texture test under WinXP. Some interesting results here.

Graphics cards tested:

  • Nvidia GeForce4 Ti4200 using Nvidia reference drivers version 40.72
  • ATi Radeon 9550 using Catalyst reference drivers version 7.11 under WinXP
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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 configuration program

FF8_Config.jpg
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There was no change with Catalyst drivers 7.11 regarding paletted textures. They are still unsupported by ATi cards. A GeForce4 screenshot is included for comparison.

Final Fantasy VIII options menu

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As expected, the washed out menu colors indicate that paletted textures are not available on the ATi card. Once again, a GeForce4 screenshot is included for comparison.

Thief II Mission 11: Precious Cargo

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Here's the real highlight of this test. Table fog renders perfectly on the ATi card using Catalyst 7.11 drivers under WinXP. A GeForce4 screenshot is included for comparison. Additionally, the last screenshot shows how table fog renders on that same ATi 9550 card under Win98 using Catalyst 6.2 drivers together with the registry tweak which enables table fog support. Not bad at all, though not quite perfect as with Catalyst 7.11.

What really surprised me was how much better the Catalyst 6.2 fog looked than what I saw with a while back when I tested this on my ATi 9000 Pro. I'm guessing ATi made some table fog improvements between driver versions 4.3 and 6.2. Either that, or the 9550 card renders fog better because it uses newer hardware. It definitively looks nicer than before.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1

Reply 154 of 189, by Joseph_Joestar

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Just found another instance where Catalyst 7.11 drivers are superior to 6.2 drivers + registry tweak.

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Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire correctly renders table fog on the ATi card when Catalyst 7.11 drivers are used . However, using 6.2 drivers together with the fog registry tweak does not display the fog in that game. This is somewhat strange since Thief 2 renders the fog correctly under the same conditions.

Well, I guess if you want perfectly compatible fog rendering on ATi cards, you need to use Catalyst 7.11 or higher and run WinXP.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1

Reply 155 of 189, by Kahenraz

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I found graphical corruption in the bump map test with 3DMark99 on my ATI 9250 when using the 6.2 drivers. This corruption does not exist when paired with the 4.3 drivers.

Would you keep the 4.3 driver in mind when you make your comparisons? Or confirm whether the bug exists for you?

Reply 156 of 189, by Joseph_Joestar

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Kahenraz wrote on 2022-03-05, 21:18:

Would you keep the 4.3 driver in mind when you make your comparisons? Or confirm whether the bug exists for you?

I think the 9550 card that I'm currently using might be too new for 4.3 drivers.

For what it's worth, it doesn't have any graphical corruption using 6.2 drivers on the 3D Mark 99 bump mapping tests.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1

Reply 158 of 189, by Joseph_Joestar

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Kahenraz wrote on 2022-03-05, 22:09:

You can try forcing the driver by choosing "9500 series". I would like to see the results for fog table and 8-bit texturing, if it works.

I was unable to force the 4.3 driver on my 9550 card so I switched over to my 9000 Pro which works fine with those drivers + the fog registry tweak.

Unfortunately, table fog still didn't work in Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire. Paletted textures don't work either, but that is to be expected with any driver 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 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1

Reply 159 of 189, by mockingbird

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Well, I'm happy to report that fog works just fine with my x1800, Catalyst 10.2, and Windows XP.

I had to do the level again since the savegame posted earlier does not work (I used the 2-disc ISO, with disc 2 mounted in Daemon Tools with Safedisc emulation, game file version 1.07).

Pretty simple to get to the tower though (abridged version):
-get to the vines
-disable the camera
-toggle the right switch
-climb up more

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Now if only these cards would do fog with Windows 98, they'd be well rounded... No need to spend a fortune if you're building a strictly Windows XP system though... Any Radeon with 10.2 will do.

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