VOGONS


Table Fog & 8-bit Paletted Textures

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Reply 81 of 189, by kjliew

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I guess I was wrong again without thorough checking on other GPUs. 🤣 In fact, WineD3D is capable of rendering Fog correctly on Thief2 TMA in pristine condition except on modern NVIDIA GPU, which I tested mine is GT730. It seems that it is a regression in NVIDIA OpenGL driver that no one cared and NVIDIA screwed up their own tricks from their past GPUs. ATI/AMD and Intel GPUs render the fog correctly with WineD3D 5.0.5.

Here's a few untouched, reference screenshots from Ryzen 2500U on ArchLinux. The screenshots was captured with sRGB visual otherwise they would be too dark to show on VOGONS. Someone must have retouched their screenshots before posting. Or the screenshots were actually from NewDark which supports shader-based gamma correction to be able to present such level of color saturation.

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Frame rate was great, thanks to Linux KVM. I guess for Thief2 fans, it would be a relief to be able to play the game anytime & anywhere without clinging to retro PC and keeping old GPUs. I think a modern thin & light laptop with Iris Xe Graphics would be great then to enjoy the game. 😉 And if anyone is wishing to make a play-through, I think QEMU would be great for game streaming in real-time with sRGB visual. Those existing play-through from YouTube were too dark, unless they used NewDark engine and enabled shader-based gamma (which was disabled by default).

Reply 82 of 189, by jay_t_yo

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I'm not sure if Dino Crisis uses them for the transparent fence textures in the opening scene, but I've noted that ATI card and nVidia cards after the FX series don't render it correctly. The rebirth patch fixes this on modern systems.

I'd take some screenshots but all my retro PCs are in storage at the moment

Reply 83 of 189, by Joseph_Joestar

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-08-29, 17:31:

I tried that using the Rage3D Tweak utility, but I couldn't get table fog to work. Maybe this only works on certain drivers or with specific GPUs, I'm not sure.

If someone can provide instructions on how to enable table fog on my Radeon 9000 Pro, I would definitively like to test it out.

Well, I succeeded. Turns out it was indeed a driver issue in my case. My Radeon 9000 Pro is of the All-in-Wonder variety and needed a special multimedia (WDM) version of the 4.3 drivers. With that installed, I was able to get fog to show up in Thief 2 using the following Rage 3D tweak settings: WFog = disabled, ZFog = enabled, TableFog = enabled.

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Note the differences between the ATi tweak and the Nvidia fog rendering. According to the TTLG forums to get proper Nvidia/3DFX style fog on ATi cards, you need to use drivers 7.11 and above. However, those drivers are only available for Win2k, WinXP and higher. They cannot be installed on Win98SE. Furthermore, it seems that 7.11 drivers don't support Radeon 9000 cards. I tried installing them under Windows XP and they could not detect my card.

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PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1

Reply 84 of 189, by Joseph_Joestar

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And now for some paletted texture tests. Once again this was my test system. It's running Windows 98SE with DirectX 9.0c. No unofficial service packs or any third-party hacks were used.

Graphics cards tested:

  • 3DFX Voodoo3 2000, using 3DFX reference drivers v1.07.00
  • Nvidia GeForce2 MX400 using Nvidia reference drivers v12.41 WHQL
  • ATi Radeon 9000 Pro VIVO using ATi Catalyst multimedia drivers v4.3

Games tested:

  • Final Fantasy VII - retail CD version without any patches applied (v1.00)
  • Forsaken - retail CD version with the latest official patch 1.1 applied
  • Dino Crisis - retail CD version (no official patches for Win98 appear to be available)

Final Fantasy VII configuration program

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I specifically chose the unpatched version of FF7 because it has a checklist of requirements which need to be met in order to enable 3D acceleration. As you can see, the last entry on the list is "8-bit paletted textures". Naturally, the Voodoo3 meets all the requirements and is able to run even the unpatched game with 3D acceleration enabled. The GeForce2 MX400 also meets all the requirements (including paletted textures), but interestingly, it cannot run the unpatched game with 3D acceleration enabled (option cannot be selected). As expected, the ATi Radeon 9000 Pro fails the paletted textures check and cannot run the unpatched game with 3D acceleration enabled (option cannot be selected).

Forsaken options menu

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Forsaken has some interesting features in its options menu. Specifically, if you go to "Options > Visuals > Select Texture Format" the game will list all the texture formats that your graphics card supports. As you can see from the screenshots, it detects paletted texture support on the Voodoo3 and the Nvidia card, but doesn't show it on the ATi card.

Dino Crisis

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This is a very interesting case. Dino Crisis is supposed to use paletted textures but I haven't found any reference to that in the official documentation. Nonetheless, the results are intriguing. The game renders the fence correctly on the Voodoo3. The ATi card is missing the black outlines on the fence but otherwise renders the scene fine. However, Nvidia completely botches the rendering here. I've double checked this using different driver versions (12.41 and 45.23) and two separate graphics cards (GeForce2 MX400 and GeForce4 Ti4200) and the results are always the same. Not sure what's going on here, but it's eerily similar to the Thief2 star rendering situation. For reference, to access this scene, start a new game, walk north, move to the destroyed fence and then press "C" to examine it.

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PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1

Reply 86 of 189, by Joseph_Joestar

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kolderman wrote on 2021-11-13, 20:03:
There are two issues here: - support for table fog/paletted textures - games that only render correctly using the Glide API […]
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There are two issues here:
- support for table fog/paletted textures
- games that only render correctly using the Glide API

I suspect Dino Crisis is the second category.

Yes, that is indeed possible. Console ports are notorious for that.

I should be getting a Matrox G400 sometime next week, so it will be interesting to see how that handles the rendering here.

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PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1

Reply 87 of 189, by The Serpent Rider

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Actually, that difference is applied to all transparent textures on screen, which includes letters. I think the problem is due to how card apply linear filtering to transparent textures, with more modern ATi and Nvidia cards softening edges, maybe because of ignoring some rendering flags. But it's quite possible that G400 will render such textures correctly, due to that observation. Or you can fix it by disabling filtering, if it's possible in Dino Crisis.

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Reply 88 of 189, by Joseph_Joestar

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The Serpent Rider wrote on 2021-11-13, 20:26:

Actually, that difference is applied to all transparent textures on screen, which includes letters. I think the problem is due to how card apply linear filtering to transparent textures, with more modern ATi and Nvidia cards softening edges, maybe because of ignoring some rendering flags.

Bingo! With filtering disabled in the config, Nvidia now renders the scene correctly.

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It's still interesting how the 3DFX and ATi cards handled filtering without too many problems, while the Nvidia card threw such a huge fit.

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 89 of 189, by The Serpent Rider

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while the Nvidia card threw such a huge fit.

Probably has something to do with one of the worst linear filters (see my link above) at the time.

It's still interesting how the 3DFX and ATi cards handled filtering without too many problems

ATi has practically no problems in this shot, with letters and fence being almost identical to software version. While 3dfx renders them too thick, most likely due to nature of lossy texture compression of Voodoo cards.

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Reply 90 of 189, by Joseph_Joestar

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Here's another round of paletted texture tests. Once again this was my test system. It's running Windows 98SE with DirectX 9.0c. No unofficial service packs or any third-party hacks were used.

Graphics cards tested:

  • 3DFX Voodoo3 2000, using 3DFX reference drivers v1.07.00
  • Nvidia GeForce2 MX400 using Nvidia reference drivers v12.41 WHQL
  • ATi Radeon 9000 Pro VIVO using ATi Catalyst multimedia drivers v4.3

Games tested:

  • Final Fantasy VIII Demo - you can download the free demo from here

Final Fantasy VIII configuration program

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Once again, the config tool detects paletted texture support on 3DFX and Nvidia cards but doesn't find it on the ATi card. Fortunately, FF8 still allows all cards to run the game in 3D accelerated mode.

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. As you can see, this screen clearly showcases the visual impact that paletted textures make in FF8. On 3DFX and Nvidia cards, which support paletted textures, the menu looks normal. On the ATi card, the text is slightly garbled, the background is washed out and, most notably, the bars are completely distorted.

Final Fantasy VIII Squall's room

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To access Squall's room, simply start a new game and walk to the top of the screen. Here we can see correct rendering on the 3DFX card, while Nvidia has heavy distortions. ATi renders this area properly for the most part, but there is a slight distortion in the lower right corner of the screen, over the Gunblade case. I don't think these distortions are caused by paletted textures, but it's still interesting to observe them. I imagine this particular issue was fixed in the retail version of the game or the subsequent patches.

Anyhow, Final Fantasy VIII seems to be the first (but likely not the last) game that I've tested where the lack of paletted textures has a noticeable visual impact. Fortunately, there are many ways to play this game on modern systems through mods, remasters and such. But back in the day, you really needed a compatible card.

EDIT - removed FilePlanet link.

Last edited by Joseph_Joestar on 2022-02-09, 04:20. Edited 1 time in total.

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PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1

Reply 91 of 189, by Kahenraz

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This looks like a rendering issue unrelated to palletized textures. My understanding is that this is a performance optimization and the fallback behavior is not visually distinguishable. If there is any performance to be lost it can be made up by moving to the next generation of hardware.

The washed out colors on the ATI card look like it's using 16-bit colors or something and not a result of palletized textures.

I also suspect that the other minor graphical glitches may fix themselves in a later driver release.

The GeForce series introduced optimizations that may be causing the corruption you're seeing in these older titles. I have seen issues where these newer cards render newer DirectX interfaces fine but have serious problems with older titles. Note that the Riva was still quite new when Final Fantasy 7 was released. Try a Vanta, TNT, or TNT2 instead.

Reply 92 of 189, by Joseph_Joestar

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Kahenraz wrote on 2021-11-15, 09:09:

This looks like a rendering issue unrelated to palletized textures.

It's possible, but consider that ATi is currently the only card which both fails the paletted texture check in the config and has the distorted menu bars. I'll be getting a Matrox G400 later this week and a friend of mine will loan me his GeForce6 6200, so we'll see how those fare. Since the 6200 doesn't support paletted textures, I expect it will have the same menu problems as ATi.

The washed out colors on the ATI card look like it's using 16-bit colors or something and not a result of palletized textures.

Unlikely. The FF8 demo always runs at 640x480 in 16-bit colors. So all the cards had to use that same resolution and color depth.

Try a Vanta, TNT, or TNT2 instead.

I don't have any of those, but maybe someone else can test them. As mentioned above, the FF8 demo can still be freely downloaded from Fileplanet. BTW, the PC version of FF8 came out in early 2000, with the demo being available a couple of months before that.

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Reply 93 of 189, by leileilol

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FF8's one of those games that expressly disable dithering in Direct3D so that '3dfx 22-bit advantage' can't be gained either 😜

Also that Dino Crisis fence looks like alphatest threshold inconsistencies (3dfx is GT0 there) but it's even more confusing when the alpha channel isn't filtered with the RGB...

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Reply 94 of 189, by Joseph_Joestar

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leileilol wrote on 2021-11-15, 10:13:

FF8's one of those games that expressly disable dithering in Direct3D so that '3dfx 22-bit advantage' can't be gained either 😜

Interesting, but that doesn't explain how the menu colors only look washed out on ATi, while appearing normal on Nvidia and 3DFX.

Also, if you look at the last screenshot in Squall's room, the colors seem fine on all three cards.

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

Reply 95 of 189, by leileilol

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Indexed-Alpha/Colorkey textures falling back to a safer (and more likely available) RGBA4444 format leading to uglier colors isn't too surprising. This was from an era where falling UP to RGBA8888 was too memory costly

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Reply 96 of 189, by bloodem

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A bit off topic but worth mentioning, because I feel many people have preconceptions about it:

This weekend I did some improvements on one of my ultra-overkill Win98 PCs, which has a brand new (well, NOS) Hercules 3D Prophet ATI Radeon 9800 PRO.
Long story short, I've installed tens of games on it (using the latest ATI 6.2 driver - which might not even be the most compatible, but I didn't bother testing older versions, since my previous experiences with this driver had been good). I haven't encountered a single issue, a single glitch, a single freeze/BSOD during these last two days (yeah, I'm definitely getting the father/husband of the year award 😁 ). And I even played FF7 for a couple of hours (with the 1.02 "Riva TNT patch", which disables the 8-bit paletted textures requirement) - it worked perfectly with Direct3D acceleration and as far as I could tell everything looked good, there were no visual issues (no game-breaking ones, that's for sure).
Games/software that I tested and worked perfectly (those without an engine frame cap ran @ hundreds of FPS / 1600 x 1200 x 32, with Anisotropic filtering & Antialiasing):
- 3DMark 2000 / 3DMark 2001SE / 3DMark 2003
- Need for Speed 2SE / 3 - Hot Pursuit / High Stakes / Porsche
- Nocturne
- Re-Volt
- GLQuake / Quake 2 / Quake 3 Arena
- MDK2
- Return To Castle Wolfenstein
- Expendable
- Half Life
- Unreal & Unreal Tournament
- Prince of Persia 3D
- GTA 3
- GTA Vice City
- a few others that I don't even remember right now 😀
- also quite a few DOS games including Jazz Jackrabbit, Prince of Persia 1 & 2, Prehistorik/Prehistorik 2, Gods, Lemmings, Golden axe, Duke Nukem 3D, Doom, etc - other than the "fast scrolling issue" in Prehistorik (which I do love!), everything worked great.

So I feel that many people are quick to discard these late ATI cards just because they've seen these types of Vogons topics.
Yes, they do have specific issues with some old, pre-DirectX 6 games (and obviously Glide-only games), but in all honesty, if you just want a fuss-free, high FPS, high-resolution Win98 gaming session, a Radeon 9800 will not let you down (and this is an experience that a Voodoo card can't provide). 😀

Last edited by bloodem on 2021-11-15, 14:41. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 97 of 189, by Joseph_Joestar

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bloodem wrote on 2021-11-15, 11:59:

So I feel that many people are quick to discard these late ATI cards just because they've seen these types of Vogons topics.
Yes, they do have specific issues with some old, pre-DirectX 6 games (and obviously Glide-only games), but in all honesty, if you just want a fuss-free, high FPS, high-resolution Win98 gaming session, a Radeon 9800 will not let you down (and this is an experience that a Voodoo card can't provide). 😀

You know, after researching the matter during the last month or so, I tend to agree.

Table fog seems to be the more prominent and widespread issue of the two. But if you manage to make the tweak work (might require specific drivers) you can get some of that functionality back on ATi cards under Win98. It's not perfect, but I would call it passable.

Paletted textures seem to be a much more obscure issue. So far, I'm actually struggling to find games where the lack of that feature makes a clearly visible difference. Final Fantasy 8 being the one example that I have so far. If someone else knows of any other games where this is the case, feel free to share.

On the other hand, I've had three cases so far where ATi rendered a game better than Nvidia: Thief 2 stars, Dino Crisis fence and Final Fantasy 8 demo distortions. This is using the default driver settings for both cards.

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PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1

Reply 98 of 189, by bloodem

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-11-15, 13:33:

Table fog seems to be the more prominent and widespread issue of the two. But if you manage to make the tweak work (might require specific drivers) you can get some of that functionality back on ATi cards under Win98. It's not perfect, but I would call it passable.

Well, regarding the presence of fog in most of these old games, I always assumed that it was just a trick to hide the fact that the hardware was too weak to render a full "infinite view distance" scene. I found that in most cases, when using powerful hardware, I prefer how the game looks without it.
There are some games, though, where the fog is part of the "atmosphere", and without it the game doesn't look complete.

Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-11-15, 13:33:

On the other hand, I've had three cases so far where ATi rendered a game better than Nvidia: Thief 2 stars, Dino Crisis fence and Final Fantasy 8 demo distortions. This is using the default driver settings for both cards.

Yeah, I would say that overall nVIDIA is still probably more compatible (although, as you pointed out, not perfect), but people blow this whole compatibility drama out of proportion. 😀

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Reply 99 of 189, by Sombrero

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bloodem wrote on 2021-11-15, 11:59:

A bit off topic but worth mentioning, because I feel many people have preconceptions about it:

Seems to me table fog wasn't that often used in games, and it's uncertain can 8-bit palletted textures even have visual impact, so I don't doubt Radeon 9800 will do fine. I had one back in the day and had no trouble, though if there were situations where it didn't draw something as was supposed I sure didn't notice it. Can't miss what you don't know!

I'd say it's up to the person building the PC, I'm sure I'd personally have this annoying feeling of uncertainity while playing older games with a GPU like Radeon 9800, wondering am I seeing everything I'm supposed to see (even though that could apply to every single GPU/driver when you really think about it 😐)

Also thanks @Joseph_Joestar for testing this stuff, appreciated!