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First post, by Rekrul

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There may be exceptions, but pretty much every EGA DOS game that I've seen, appears to be using the default EGA palette. This is usually easy to spot because they all use red for the skin color of characters.

According to various sources, EGA had a full palette of 64 colors, at least one of which would have been perfect to use as a flesh color. So why did many/most DOS games just use the default palette?

Reply 1 of 28, by Harekiet

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EGA did not support 64 colors in the 320x200 mode to be compatible with cga screens only in textmode and the 640x350 mode did you have 64 colors

Reply 2 of 28, by SquallStrife

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My guess is: So they could easily re-use those assets on systems without the luxury of a 64 colour palette (or those with differing 64-colour palettes).

Edit: Ah, well, there you go!

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Reply 3 of 28, by VileR

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yep - the EGA's 200-line modes use pure CGA signals, no way around that. Perhaps IBM could have added separate x200 modes with extended palette support, but as it turns out (info), it's their own monitor design which killed that option.

some extended EGA chipsets (non-IBM) apparently supported such modes on multiscan or analog displays, but this kind of "super EGA" was short lived and never a standard.

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Reply 4 of 28, by Harekiet

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It's a bit of a shame that no more games added a simple vga detection and changed the palette when it ran on vga. Guess you could hack something like that into dosbox though.

Reply 5 of 28, by Rekrul

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I guess I wasn't clear enough...

I know that EGA couldn't use more than 16 colors at once. However those 16 colors could be chosen from a total palette of 64 colors.

The default 16 colors didn't include a proper flesh color, but that's what most DOS games used. For example;

http://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/ski-or-die/screenshots
http://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/police-ques … gel/screenshots
http://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/california- … mes/screenshots

Notice how all the characters have reddish brown skin.

EGA was a standard, meaning that every EGA card should have been capable of displaying the same colors (with slight variations due to different manufacturers). Using the default 16 colors wouldn't have helped them port the game to any other system, as no other system used the EGA palette by default. So the colors would have to be remapped anyway.

So I don't understand why so many games just used the default colors, rather than choosing 16 custom colors that would better fit their game.

Reply 6 of 28, by eL_PuSHeR

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Some games did a good use of the EGA palette. They are few but they exist.

There was also some french game (some Bob Morane maybe) that let you choose different EGA palettes.

- Phantom fighter

I will write down others when I remember.

Reply 7 of 28, by Harekiet

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EGA cards couldn't pick the 16 colors from the 64colors when they ran in 320x200 cga compatible mode. There's some special flip that gets enabled when the card is run in 320x200 mode that makes the video ouput cga compatible with only the 16 cga colors outputted. EGA Monitors detect this again and run the internal circuitry in cga compatible mode. VGA Cards simulate this by running the 320x200 mode with a default palette of 4 repeating patterns of the same 16 cga colors.

Reply 8 of 28, by VileR

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Rekrul wrote:

However those 16 colors could be chosen from a total palette of 64 colors.

....again, that's true only in high-res mode (640x350), not in 320x200 or 640x200, which is what most EGA games used.

the x200 modes send out a 4-bit color signal (RGBI - same as CGA), so the 16 colors are limited to the default CGA ones; the full 64-color palette is not available in these modes. If you want to get real technical about the reasons behind this, see the link in my previous post.

"then why did so many EGA games stick to low-res modes with less colors", you ask? - probably disk space/memory considerations, and more compatibility for folks who used their EGA cards with CGA monitors (this wasn't rare, since EGA monitors weren't cheap back then). And less video memory needed = more programming tricks possible (for scrolling, buffering etc).

It also saved the artists a lot of work when converting a game's graphics for EGA... 320x200 was a common resolution with CGA, Tandy, PCjr, VGA and other computer platforms too. So SquallStrife has a good point.

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Reply 9 of 28, by Fenyo

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Gods and Kings Bounty can use 64 color palette, and Gods looks much more better in 64 color palette mode, but your monitor also has to a 64 color support, usually a switchable button between 16/64 color mode.

Reply 10 of 28, by MusicallyInspired

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There were adventure games Les Manley 1: Search for the King and Altered Destiny by Accolade that had an "Enhanced EGA" driver setting which utilized a wider palette rather than the standard EGA. Looks quite nice, too. I wish Sierra and LucasArts would have had such an option. It was still limited to 16 max colours at a time, though. But the palette would change with each screen, IIRC.

Some screens on mobygames:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/les-manley- … ing/screenshots

http://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/altered-des … iny/screenshots

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Reply 13 of 28, by VileR

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Doing that stuff in low-res required both an "extended" EGA clone and a multisync or analog monitor (some of those later cards actually had vga connectors). Rambo III did something like that too.

could be interesting to try and work on a DOSBox patch to support this... I'll have to try out those games sometime and see what they're up to.

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Reply 14 of 28, by nikiniki

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Harekiet wrote:

EGA did not support 64 colors in the 320x200 mode to be compatible with cga screens only in textmode ...

Do you mean CGA monitor can display one of 64 palette color in text mode?

Reply 15 of 28, by VileR

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nah, Harekiet's post must have triggered a bug in your text parser 😉
it's more like this...

Harekiet wrote:

EGA did not support 64 colors in the 320x200 mode to be compatible with cga screens

only in textmode and the 640x350 mode did you have 64 colors

a CGA monitor cannot handle the 64-color palette in any mode.

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Reply 16 of 28, by MobyGamer

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MusicallyInspired wrote:

There were adventure games Les Manley 1: Search for the King and Altered Destiny by Accolade that had an "Enhanced EGA" driver setting which utilized a wider palette rather than the standard EGA. Looks quite nice, too. I wish Sierra and LucasArts would have had such an option. It was still limited to 16 max colours at a time, though. But the palette would change with each screen, IIRC.

Actually, those were just 16-color VGA, which could change the palette in 320x200x16 mode.

Some Banana Development ports such as Operation Wolf did, however, use so-called enhanced EGA cards' ability to do the same thing. Opwolf in particular supports Boca and Paradise EGA cards to display any of the 64 colors in 320x200 16-color mode. Run "WOLF.EXE r" to show the reconfiguration screen to see what the menu choices for these look like.

Reply 18 of 28, by nikiniki

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MobyGamer wrote:
MusicallyInspired wrote:

There were adventure games Les Manley 1: Search for the King and Altered Destiny by Accolade that had an "Enhanced EGA" driver setting which utilized a wider palette rather than the standard EGA. Looks quite nice, too. I wish Sierra and LucasArts would have had such an option. It was still limited to 16 max colours at a time, though. But the palette would change with each screen, IIRC.

Actually, those were just 16-color VGA, which could change the palette in 320x200x16 mode.

Some Banana Development ports such as Operation Wolf did, however, use so-called enhanced EGA cards' ability to do the same thing. Opwolf in particular supports Boca and Paradise EGA cards to display any of the 64 colors in 320x200 16-color mode. Run "WOLF.EXE r" to show the reconfiguration screen to see what the menu choices for these look like.

I played few qbasic games who use screen 7 but with different colours. But if you use EGA with dosbox, these games show actual ega 16 colours.

Reply 19 of 28, by nikiniki

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Joey_sw wrote:

for 350 lines mode, was EGA support between-scanline palette changes like color-0 changes in mode-4 CGA ?

No. You use PALETTE to specify a new colour. 16 colours are displayed at the same time of 64 colours. It's better than using the same tricks on CGA.