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dilemma of EGA & VGA combo

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First post, by musicforlife

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Is there any possibilities to have separated EGA and VGA at the same time or are the combo cards the only solution?

I have already 286 8Mhz computer with EGA card but many later era EGA games requires 386 or 486. I have 486 33Mhz computer as well but I originally wanted it to be VGA machine (it's got integrated Cirrus VGA 1mb). I am getting Tseng ET3000AX to test the speed but I guess it's impossible to have reasonably fast VGA when EGA is included in the same card, as all the combo cards I have seen are only with max 512kb ram.

Of course getting another 386-486 computer would solve the issue but I already have like 6 computers so getting again another one isn't too appealing.

Reply 1 of 32, by MMaximus

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musicforlife wrote:

I have already 286 8Mhz computer with EGA card but many later era EGA games requires 386 or 486.

Do you mean VGA? I don't think many EGA games need anything more than a 286. AFAIK by the time the 386 was required for games they all supported VGA and EGA was already obsolete.

I had the same question as you a while ago when I built a 286 system with EGA. I'd love having dual cards in it - one EGA card and one VGA card - and to be able to choose which one to use before booting the machine, but I don't see how it could be done.

Reply 2 of 32, by keropi

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sadly it can't be done and having a combo ega/vga card (with dedicated 9pin and 15pin connectors) does not work well for ega games (compatibility issues with games that support both ega and vga mainly) so it's not a good solution... the way to go is dedicated setups.

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Reply 3 of 32, by musicforlife

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keropi wrote:

sadly it can't be done and having a combo ega/vga card (with dedicated 9pin and 15pin connectors) does not work well for ega games (compatibility issues with games that support both ega and vga mainly) so it's not a good solution... the way to go is dedicated setups.

Please tell me what are the actual issues? Bugs? Glitches?

MMaximus wrote:
musicforlife wrote:

I have already 286 8Mhz computer with EGA card but many later era EGA games requires 386 or 486.

Do you mean VGA? I don't think many EGA games need anything more than a 286. AFAIK by the time the 386 was required for games they all supported VGA and EGA was already obsolete.

I had the same question as you a while ago when I built a 286 system with EGA. I'd love having dual cards in it - one EGA card and one VGA card - and to be able to choose which one to use before booting the machine, but I don't see how it could be done.

There are several EGA games, for example from Apogee which requires 386 at minimum. The game "Monster Bash" was too slow even with my 16Mhz 286.

Reply 4 of 32, by keropi

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musicforlife wrote:

Please tell me what are the actual issues? Bugs? Glitches?

Games detect a vga card even though EGA-only is jumpered. I stopped messing with it when Gods and Supaplex had this issue , it was not worth my time to investigate more games for this problematic situation.

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Reply 5 of 32, by Ozzuneoj

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musicforlife wrote:

There are several EGA games, for example from Apogee which requires 386 at minimum. The game "Monster Bash" was too slow even with my 16Mhz 286.

That game is from 1993 and supports VGA. EGA would have certainly been for compatibility with much older systems. In those days, an old computer running games at nearly unplayable framerates was pretty much accepted because it was so expensive to get the latest and greatest hardware.

Now for some blitting from the back buffer.

Reply 6 of 32, by musicforlife

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Ozzuneoj wrote:
musicforlife wrote:

There are several EGA games, for example from Apogee which requires 386 at minimum. The game "Monster Bash" was too slow even with my 16Mhz 286.

That game is from 1993 and supports VGA. EGA would have certainly been for compatibility with much older systems. In those days, an old computer running games at nearly unplayable framerates was pretty much accepted because it was so expensive to get the latest and greatest hardware.

Of course all EGA games are "compatible" with VGA, ie. I can play all the CGA/EGA games in VGA but my entire point is to play all EGA games in authentic environment with real EGA in my 14" multisync CRT and play VGA option only if it would bring more colors or other benefit.

Reply 8 of 32, by root42

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Ozzuneoj wrote:
musicforlife wrote:

There are several EGA games, for example from Apogee which requires 386 at minimum. The game "Monster Bash" was too slow even with my 16Mhz 286.

That game is from 1993 and supports VGA. EGA would have certainly been for compatibility with much older systems. In those days, an old computer running games at nearly unplayable framerates was pretty much accepted because it was so expensive to get the latest and greatest hardware.

I just tested Monster Bash on my 286 and it runs smoothly and without graphics glitches.

However Keen Dreams for example does not run on my Tseng VGA card. I get black and white stripes in the game levels.

The other Keen episodes have "SVGA compatibility" option, which fixes this, but Keen Dreams does not. This would be one game where I think a real EGA card would be advantageous.

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Reply 9 of 32, by musicforlife

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root42 wrote:
I just tested Monster Bash on my 286 and it runs smoothly and without graphics glitches. […]
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Ozzuneoj wrote:
musicforlife wrote:

There are several EGA games, for example from Apogee which requires 386 at minimum. The game "Monster Bash" was too slow even with my 16Mhz 286.

That game is from 1993 and supports VGA. EGA would have certainly been for compatibility with much older systems. In those days, an old computer running games at nearly unplayable framerates was pretty much accepted because it was so expensive to get the latest and greatest hardware.

I just tested Monster Bash on my 286 and it runs smoothly and without graphics glitches.

However Keen Dreams for example does not run on my Tseng VGA card. I get black and white stripes in the game levels.

The other Keen episodes have "SVGA compatibility" option, which fixes this, but Keen Dreams does not. This would be one game where I think a real EGA card would be advantageous.

When I played Monster Bash in my 286 computer (16Mhz and 2mb ram) with real EGA card, the gameplay was extremely slowed down.

Reply 10 of 32, by Ozzuneoj

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root42 wrote:
I just tested Monster Bash on my 286 and it runs smoothly and without graphics glitches. […]
Show full quote
Ozzuneoj wrote:
musicforlife wrote:

There are several EGA games, for example from Apogee which requires 386 at minimum. The game "Monster Bash" was too slow even with my 16Mhz 286.

That game is from 1993 and supports VGA. EGA would have certainly been for compatibility with much older systems. In those days, an old computer running games at nearly unplayable framerates was pretty much accepted because it was so expensive to get the latest and greatest hardware.

I just tested Monster Bash on my 286 and it runs smoothly and without graphics glitches.

However Keen Dreams for example does not run on my Tseng VGA card. I get black and white stripes in the game levels.

The other Keen episodes have "SVGA compatibility" option, which fixes this, but Keen Dreams does not. This would be one game where I think a real EGA card would be advantageous.

Keen Dreams appears to be CGA or EGA only, so naturally it'd be a great game for an EGA system. I'll have to try it on my upgraded IBM 5150 (286 and EGA). If a game has options for EGA or VGA though, I'd think that VGA would be the clear choice unless someone has a nostalgic reason for choosing the EGA version.

Now for some blitting from the back buffer.

Reply 11 of 32, by Jo22

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I wonder if the Keen games were really being developed on real EGA systems / for real EGA systems.. 😕
Technically, EGA as a mode has some nifty features that are useful on VGA systems..

To make an example, EGA has Dual-Page Mode, which is nice to have if smooth graphics are required.
It was used by popular STS+ program to display motion, despite the poor computer it ran on being busy to process heavy calculation in real time.

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Reply 12 of 32, by root42

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Jo22 wrote:
I wonder if the Keen games were really being developed on real EGA systems / for real EGA systems.. :confused: Technically, EGA […]
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I wonder if the Keen games were really being developed on real EGA systems / for real EGA systems.. 😕
Technically, EGA as a mode has some nifty features that are useful on VGA systems..

To make an example, EGA has Dual-Page Mode, which is nice to have if smooth graphics are required.
It was used by popular STS+ program to display motion, despite the poor computer it ran on being busy to process heavy calculation in real time.

Well, we will ask John Romero for that:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptive_tile_refresh

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Reply 13 of 32, by musicforlife

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Jo22 wrote:
I wonder if the Keen games were really being developed on real EGA systems / for real EGA systems.. :confused: Technically, EGA […]
Show full quote

I wonder if the Keen games were really being developed on real EGA systems / for real EGA systems.. 😕
Technically, EGA as a mode has some nifty features that are useful on VGA systems..

To make an example, EGA has Dual-Page Mode, which is nice to have if smooth graphics are required.
It was used by popular STS+ program to display motion, despite the poor computer it ran on being busy to process heavy calculation in real time.

Well, I actually asked about this from Scott Miller and he told me that "The EGA (16-color) games were made to run on EGA and VGA systems. Back in those times there were a LOT more EGA systems, so that's why we made those early games as EGA."

Reply 14 of 32, by Scali

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musicforlife wrote:

Back in those times there were a LOT more EGA systems, so that's why we made those early games as EGA.

I don't think so. In my experience, EGA never quite became mainstream. EGA cards and monitors were very expensive, and performance was not that great either.
Most clones shipped with Hercules/CGA compatible adapters. EGA was mainly an aftermarket option, and an expensive one at that.
VGA followed only a few years later, and quickly pushed EGA out of the market, because VGA offered much better graphics and performance, at roughly the same price. And there quickly was a large VGA clone market, driving prices down further. Soon, VGA was cheaper than EGA had ever been.

The reason why Keen was EGA had to do with performance. They couldn't make a smooth scrolling game in VGA in the same way, because the 256 colour VGA mode required a lot more memory and bandwidth.
Many other games probably had similar reasons. Performance and storage. Or just lowest common denominator (16-colour graphics could also be used on Tandy and various other machines).

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Reply 15 of 32, by Baoran

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Tseng ET3000AX is extremely slow card. Even the old slow trident isa cards are faster. I have Tseng ET3000AX and another EGA card, but unfortunately I have not been able to find EGA monitor.

Reply 16 of 32, by musicforlife

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Baoran wrote:

Tseng ET3000AX is extremely slow card. Even the old slow trident isa cards are faster. I have Tseng ET3000AX and another EGA card, but unfortunately I have not been able to find EGA monitor.

EGA monitors are very rare but CGA monitors are easier to find. Maybe the most common would be Atari and Commodore monitors and their clones like Philips.

You can play lower resolution EGA games like Commander Keen in CGA monitor.

Reply 17 of 32, by Jo22

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musicforlife wrote:

You can play lower resolution EGA games like Commander Keen in CGA monitor.

Unfortunately, EGATrek is not one of them. I rather dislike EGA's ability to work with CGA monitors. 😢
It hindered the progress, encouraged to stick to 320x200 modes, instead of developing for the "normal", more eye-friendly 640x350 mode.

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In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 18 of 32, by musicforlife

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Interesting. Even with 486 (33Mhz) processor and real EGA card, the "Monster Bash" game doesn't work as smooth as it should be. The intro sequence is extremely laggy while the gameplay was fine though occasionally slowed down a bit.

Officially for Monster Bash game the system requirements were:

- Required: 286, EGA
- Recommended: 386DX-33, EGA

Reply 19 of 32, by digger

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Jo22 wrote:
musicforlife wrote:

You can play lower resolution EGA games like Commander Keen in CGA monitor.

Unfortunately, EGATrek is not one of them. I rather dislike EGA's ability to work with CGA monitors. 😢
It hindered the progress, encouraged to stick to 320x200 modes, instead of developing for the "normal", more eye-friendly 640x350 mode.

I respectfully disagree. It was mostly games that used 320x200 graphics modes and most computers in the EGA and VGA eras were too slow to run most action games fluently at higher resolutions. It wasn't until the Voodoo 3dfx 3D accelerator came out in the mid nineties that this would change.

Also, bear in mind that EGA monitors were very expensive when they came out. Having the considerably cheaper option of merely upgrading the graphics card without having to replace one's monitor to enjoy games in all their 16 color glory, that was quite nice!

To ensure an as large a market as possible, DOS game developers wanted to support CGA modes as well, even in the 16 color era, not to mention other platforms such as the Amiga, the Atari ST, etc. That pretty much made 320x200 the lowest common denominator.

I really find it a unlikely that downward CGA monitor compatibility in EGA cards was the sole (or even main) reason why 320x200 modes persisted.