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VGA games with only 16 colors

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Reply 80 of 96, by VileR

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The C64 palette is of course superior in many respects. Besides the choice of hues, there's also a much smoother brightness gradient across the different colors. The RGBI CGA colors' brightness gradient is more like 3 or 4 discrete "jumps".

However, I think the softer "pastel" appearance of the C64 palette (in the commonly-seen versions) is more a function of optimal conversion for emulation purposes. IIRC, on an actual TV set this is not apparent- most of them are perceived as more saturated. (There's also a significant difference between NTSC and PAL.)

@Cyberdyne: please do not equate the IBM RGBI palette with that of the ZX Spectrum. 😉 The Speccy palette is closer to those 16 colors that Microsoft chose for Windows, and that's one of the reasons I've always found the Windows palette even harsher and uglier. Although, I suspect that they chose those colors as a mathematically-convenient set for dithering higher-color graphics.

Also:
Having gotten a CGA RGB monitor finally, I've revived my suspicion that the real, original appearance of those 16 colors is *not* exactly the same as how they're rendered in analog VGA (and hence, in all emulators). But I'm reserving my conclusions until I can do some more testing.

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Reply 81 of 96, by leileilol

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The often desaturated C64 palette I see in shots and emulation isn't how I saw it on the monitor (in the US). It was bright, colorful, and bled with an audible buzz.

The Windows 3.0 VGA palette's kind of similarly desaturated...

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Reply 82 of 96, by Jo22

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leileilol wrote on 2020-09-22, 00:09:

The often desaturated C64 palette I see in shots and emulation isn't how I saw it on the monitor (in the US). It was bright, colorful, and bled with an audible buzz.

The Windows 3.0 VGA palette's kind of similarly desaturated...

The web says something about YUV conversions in some PAL models.

Edit: Found something. NTSC models use YIQ, also.
http://unusedino.de/ec64/technical/misc/vic656x/colors/

Edit: Too bad I have no access to my VC-1702 monitor right now. That was my Nintendo monitor.
And also the original C64 monitor.
Perhaps VICE and ither emulators try to mimic this model in particular?

From what I remember, SMB on NES (PAL, via Composite) had a light-blue sky on my 1702.
Not the intensive azure blue found on some videos/screenshot from the US version.

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Reply 83 of 96, by dr.zeissler

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For my A2286/8/1MB/ET4000 I really dig those 16color VGA games because:
- they are much faster than the 256color games
- the image is completely centered on the TFT (256colors are shifted 5mm to the right leaving a small vertical black space=
- if they use a tweaked/real VGA palette than it's best...having those 16/CGA/EGA colors is not the way to go 😀

I am still collecting Games that use hires 640x350/16 EGA or VGA-Pal and also 480x480 16colors VGA. But these are hard to find if they need to run on lowend 286/8.

Retro-Gamer 😀 ...on different machines

Reply 84 of 96, by Cyberdyne

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RGBI is what it is. 16 color Windows uses the same RGBI. And ZX Spectrum just does not have the IBM CGA introduced BROWN color, istead has dark yellow. I do not see any difference in RGBI and Windows 16 color display. Only one GREY level added. ZX spectrum has 2 BLACKS. Maybe some VGA cards or drivers do something.

VileR wrote on 2020-09-21, 23:58:

@Cyberdyne: please do not equate the IBM RGBI palette with that of the ZX Spectrum. 😉 The Speccy palette is closer to those 16 colors that Microsoft chose for Windows, and that's one of the reasons I've always found the Windows palette even harsher and uglier. Although, I suspect that they chose those colors as a mathematically-convenient set for dithering higher-color graphics.

I am aroused about any X86 motherboard that has full functional ISA slot. I think i have problem. Not really into that original (Turbo) XT,286,386 and CGA/EGA stuff. So just a DOS nut.
PS. If I upload RAR, it is a 16-bit DOS RAR Version 2.50.

Reply 85 of 96, by VileR

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Cyberdyne wrote on 2022-02-09, 15:37:

RGBI is what it is. 16 color Windows uses the same RGBI. And ZX Spectrum just does not have the IBM CGA introduced BROWN color, istead has dark yellow. I do not see any difference in RGBI and Windows 16 color display. Only one GREY level added. ZX spectrum has 2 BLACKS. Maybe some VGA cards or drivers do something.

The 16-color Windows palette has 100% saturation for the bright colors (RGBI has 2/3), and the dark colors are only half as bright (vs. 2/3 again for RGBI). That's aside from the dark yellow. Not exactly a day-and-night difference, but to me it's quite noticeable.

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Reply 86 of 96, by rmay635703

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Jo22 wrote on 2020-09-21, 05:42:
Cyberdyne wrote on 2020-09-21, 05:02:

Well Commodore 64 had also only 16 colors to choose from, but it had better and more natural colors. Thath IBM/ZX Spectrum RGBI Pallette is not natural for games.

Yes, C64 colours looked softer, more pastel also, I think.

C64 not really having blue must suck

Reply 87 of 96, by Rincewind42

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rmay635703 wrote on 2022-02-11, 18:25:

C64 not really having blue must suck

No, it does not. The C64 palette is glorious, whether it's the product of a lucky coincidence (very likely) or not. The best and most artist-friendly 16-colour palette of all time.

I remember some C64 retro fans asking the creators of the VIC chip about what kind of thinking went into the selection of the colours, and the answer basically was "LOL, we just picked something we liked, plus we tried to keep the costs down".

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Reply 88 of 96, by Jo22

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I assume that the C64 designer had got more freedom, also, because the VIC II wasn't RGB based.
So there was no need to consider providing support for RGB monitors.
The softer colour palette they had chosen worked quite well over Composite or Luma/Chroma (proto S-Video).

PS: The palette would also have been nice on Windows 3.x back in the day.
There was a palletized 16c VGA driver that allowed to go beyond the default RGB colours of EGA/CGA.
In theory, Windows 3 could have had adopted the eye-friendlier C64 palette, thus.
On the other hand, the full Windows system palette uses 20c colours, if the graphics hardware allows it. So another 4 colours were needed.

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Reply 89 of 96, by Scali

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I read somewhere that the VIC-II was originally designed in a way that all 16 colours could be chosen individually by implementing the correct resistor and capacitor values in the circuit. So each colour had its own set of components.
But to cut costs, they reduced the number of components in the chip, and re-used the same components for multiple colours. Which meant that they were no longer the optimal colours chosen by the designer, but rather an approximation.

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Reply 91 of 96, by pan069

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Maybe not the best image, but quite some time ago I was trying to take screen grabs of the Bitmap Brothers game Gods. In the below image you see the 320x200 frame buffer dump (garbled) but when you resize that to 352x181 you get the correct alignment (they resize the framebuffer for smooth panning).

The game is only 16 colors and I have added the palette at the top.

Another 16 color VGA game I really have great admiration for is Syndicate. Unfortunately I have no good screen grabs of that one.

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Reply 92 of 96, by wbahnassi

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Pirates Gold! is a gorgeous 640x480 16-color VGA game, as well as Incredible Machine (the first two at least). Syndicate has both modes (hi res 16-color during in-game and low res 256 color for menus outside gameplay).

Operation Wolf! is a 16-color VGA game (EGA assets with color redefinition only when selecting VGA/MCGA).

Reply 93 of 96, by Rincewind42

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pan069 wrote on 2023-08-06, 10:23:
Maybe not the best image, but quite some time ago I was trying to take screen grabs of the Bitmap Brothers game Gods. In the bel […]
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Maybe not the best image, but quite some time ago I was trying to take screen grabs of the Bitmap Brothers game Gods. In the below image you see the 320x200 frame buffer dump (garbled) but when you resize that to 352x181 you get the correct alignment (they resize the framebuffer for smooth panning).

The game is only 16 colors and I have added the palette at the top.

Another 16 color VGA game I really have great admiration for is Syndicate. Unfortunately I have no good screen grabs of that one.

gods.png

FYI, DOSBox Stagings logs information about the screen mode on mode changes, so probably that's the easiest way to spot games that use EGA modes but with custom VGA palettes. Gods is one of them, Prehistorik 2 is another one, same deal for Dark Seed (I think all these have already been mentioned).

Scali wrote on 2023-08-06, 08:56:

I read somewhere that the VIC-II was originally designed in a way that all 16 colours could be chosen individually by implementing the correct resistor and capacitor values in the circuit. So each colour had its own set of components.
But to cut costs, they reduced the number of components in the chip, and re-used the same components for multiple colours. Which meant that they were no longer the optimal colours chosen by the designer, but rather an approximation.

I read the same thing. Plus I read that there was a lot of colour variation between individual machines on the original breadbin version. Plus there are two revisions of the palette if I remember correctly, and the colours have different luma values between them, so they blend differently. Things got much more predictable with the C64C, both on the VIC and the SID fronts (the analog 8580 SID filters are much more predictable and standard across different C64C machines vs the 6581 in the breadbin version).

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Reply 94 of 96, by root42

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wbahnassi wrote on 2023-08-06, 11:00:

Pirates Gold! is a gorgeous 640x480 16-color VGA game, as well as Incredible Machine (the first two at least). Syndicate has both modes (hi res 16-color during in-game and low res 256 color for menus outside gameplay).

Operation Wolf! is a 16-color VGA game (EGA assets with color redefinition only when selecting VGA/MCGA).

Did we mention the Legend adventures, such as Spell Casting already? Many beautiful 16 color graphics even with custom palettes, even on EGA.

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Reply 95 of 96, by Scali

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Rincewind42 wrote on 2023-08-07, 07:23:

Plus I read that there was a lot of colour variation between individual machines on the original breadbin version. Plus there are two revisions of the palette if I remember correctly, and the colours have different luma values between them, so they blend differently. Things got much more predictable with the C64C, both on the VIC and the SID fronts (the analog 8580 SID filters are much more predictable and standard across different C64C machines vs the 6581 in the breadbin version).

Yes, that could be.
There are various revisions of the VIC-II and SID chips.
And the 65xx-series of chips were manufactured on a process that was very inconsistent. This meant that there was a lot of variation in analog components such as resistors and capacitors. That explains why no two SID-chips sound the same.
The same is probably true for VIC-II chips, although the visual differences may not be perceived as quite as dramatic as the audio differences.

The 85xx chips have their own unique glitches though.
Fairlight recently made a demo with the so-called "VIC gray dot bug".
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oumOXRaAgSg

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Reply 96 of 96, by Rincewind42

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Scali wrote on 2023-08-07, 10:15:

Fairlight recently made a demo with the so-called "VIC gray dot bug".
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oumOXRaAgSg

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