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More Impressive 3D Engine: Rebellion vs. ID

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My dream Jaguar title (well, one of many): AVP 2, with the picture quality of the first AVP, but with the complexity, versatility and speed of the Doom engine. Oh and it would be on cd so we can have music and tons of game content.

 

The CD doesn't work like that.....

 

You are actually more constrained for content when using it due to the lack of 4mb cart address space, because you have to cram *everything* into 2mb of RAM.

 

It's always interesting to read this sort of stuff put into laymans terms, for the average (Jaguar) gamer like myself.

 

So, it sounds as though your saying that using CD actually HALVES your memory resources? Heh... I'm sure it's not at all that simple though, eh? :grin:

 

With this in mind, why is IS2 and HS:UL superior on CD > Cart re: textures into RAM and all that jazz? **out of my depth alert btw!**

 

I too, would have ignorantly presumed that using the CD format would have allowed for (for example) infinitely more elevator floors in AVP2, due to how the elevator allows for levels to be loaded individually, as opposed to vaster landscapes in a Highlander sequel etc...?

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I would say, smart planning where and when you want to use the gfx/sound. I guess the textures where taking too much space on cart, but on cd they had space for them. With smart planning they can load them into ram when needed and kick them out when not needed. I think thats one of the reasons (apart from performance reasons) why there is very limited textures and one of the reasons why in primal rage for example the sprites are smaller than the original. Bottom line is, the CD unit is crippled because Atari didn't add ram to it and made things more difficult for the devs than it could have been.

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A couple (hell, even one!) megabytes of RAM in the CD unit would have made all the difference in the world. Probably not to sales, though ;)

 

Bottom line is, the CD unit is crippled because Atari didn't add ram to it and made things more difficult for the devs than it could have been.

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You are actually more constrained for content when using it due to the lack of 4mb cart address space, because you have to cram *everything* into 2mb of RAM.

You're mangling concepts. What a CD-based game restricts is maximum simultaneous content. You can have more content total because the CD holds more data, but at the price that it can mostly only be loaded at level start or transition points. Highlander and Myst are pulling data off the CD constantly as you move around. The "content" in those games is far in excess of what could have been put on a cartridge.

 

Additionally, if you use streaming music (as IS2 and Battlemorph did), that frees up RAM that in a cart game would have to be used to store audio samples and a music player. So it's a tradeoff.

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And you're talking with no actual experience behind you.

 

You're mangling concepts.

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Couldn't edit, so here's more detail to expand.

 

 

First up, you lose RAM for the CD-Bios (admittedly, not much)

 

You also lose ram for the CD-buffer - because you can't just load from the CD directly into memory at a given address. It needs to shuffle via a buffer.

 

As you lose out on storage from the ROM space, you in effect have to design a less complicated game with MUCH lower memory constraints, as you have to shuffle things in and out.

 

It's much slower to fetch data from CD than ROM. Along the order of 'Please Wait a few seconds' instead of instant access. So you can't dynamically spool assets in during gameplay.

 

While the CD is spinning around doing it's thing, you lose control of the DSP - because that's how you control the CD. There goes one of your RISC processors.

 

Basically, unless you want to play Myst or have a really small game footprint, it is a far worse option for development.

 

And you're talking with no actual experience behind you.

 

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And you're talking with no actual experience behind you.

Apparently I have more experience than you in clearly expressing my thoughts.

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You're usually funny. This is just sad.

 

Apparently I have more experience than you in clearly expressing my thoughts.

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I still can't wrap my head around reading the word's Rebellion and impressive engine in the same line.

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I still can't wrap my head around reading the word's Rebellion and impressive engine in the same line.

 

What are your thoughts on Skyhammer and AvP vs. what John Carmack was doing with the Jag? I use him as an example because I think he was clearly the standard-bearer in the early-to-mid 90s.

 

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What are your thoughts on Skyhammer and AvP vs. what John Carmack was doing with the Jag? I use him as an example because I think he was clearly the standard-bearer in the early-to-mid 90s.

 

 

To butt in for a moment, I don't think it's a fair comparison for what Carmack did on the Jaguar. Clearly he didn't spend a great deal of time optimizing things the way he could for the Jaguar, so it's clearly not tapping into fully what's possible for the machine or his engine. I'd say while AvP and Skyhammer could have used some more optimization themselves, both those games were genuine efforts to push the Jaguar rather than port a pre-existing engine as quickly as possible.

 

Honestly, of all the FPS games on the Jaguar, the only one I feel that is absolutely as good as it could possibly be is Wolfenstein 3D. That was a stellar, no compromise port with suitable enhancements. It was also a more technically modest game than the others, however.

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The thing is, and I have written this on multiple occasions so I don't wanna go into detail. AvP looks good on pictures. The walls, the enemies, and even the Face Huggers look very high res for the time. That's where AvP shines.

But I don't find it impressive since so much else was sacrificed for it. You mentioned the speed of the Alien and how smooth that looks. So isn't it strange that the slower the chracter, the more choppy the game gets? It is a contradiction of how this usually works, more speed = more workload for the hardware = slowdown. Rebellion cheated and made the slow characters move choppy by design. Like there are too few animation frames, you can actually see the screen switch instantly from one view to another if you tip the d-pad just a moment.With the Alien, the frames are just displayed in quicker succession. Think of a flip book. If you flip the pages slowly, you see the single pictures. The faster you flip, the smoother it gets. That's how AvP seems to work, and it is akward. The game is designed with the Alien in mind, and the Marine just has the animations change slower.

 

Also, did you notice that in many corridors you cannot really move right or left, like you are stuck between the walls? And how your shots often hit the walls eventhough you can clearly see you aimed past the wall?

 

I am no coder, but those are all indications to me that the game is not actually technically impressive. On any system you can make graphics more impressive than in other games in some regard, if you are willing to sacrifice other elements for it. Rebellion seems to have traded a good hit detection, good movement and animation frames for a high level of detail. There is too much lost to me that way. Still a fun game, but not on a technical level impressive to me. Whenever I play it just feels akward and clunky.

 

Doom on the other hand, and Wolfenstein are silky smooth. They allow pixel per pixel movement in any direction, you never feel like you have a flip book in front of you, or that you are confined to rails in a corridor. And you have can look farther than in AvP. In AvP everything is swallowed by darkness soon, arguably for atmosphere (I doubt that), Doom gives you a better draw distance afair.

 

 

Skyhammer I do not own, and never played it. All I can say is from YouTube vids. I'd say it was a bit over ambitious and ended up quite choppy with the towering skyscrapers around you. If I had to pick the best looking 3D game on Jaguar it would be Iron Soldier 2 or Phase Zero, if voxels are counted.

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To butt in for a moment, I don't think it's a fair comparison for what Carmack did on the Jaguar. Clearly he didn't spend a great deal of time optimizing things the way he could for the Jaguar, so it's clearly not tapping into fully what's possible for the machine or his engine. I'd say while AvP and Skyhammer could have used some more optimization themselves, both those games were genuine efforts to push the Jaguar rather than port a pre-existing engine as quickly as possible.

 

Honestly, of all the FPS games on the Jaguar, the only one I feel that is absolutely as good as it could possibly be is Wolfenstein 3D. That was a stellar, no compromise port with suitable enhancements. It was also a more technically modest game than the others, however.

 

I have read that it was a pretty quick job by Carmack - but by his own account, he seemed pretty happy with his work:

 

http://beta.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=4215&cid=1225529

 

He only mentions a few things he would do differently and spends most of his time acknowledging the limitations of the system. I agree, that with more time and resources, it sounds like Doom could have been better optimized for the Jaguar - but that's true of any project.

 

Basically, there is a law of diminishing returns here and he seems satisfied with the tradeoffs he made. Probably because, in the end, Doom is a pretty good freaking port, and for a long time, it was the best console version.

 

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The thing is, and I have written this on multiple occasions so I don't wanna go into detail. AvP looks good on pictures. The walls, the enemies, and even the Face Huggers look very high res for the time. That's where AvP shines.

But I don't find it impressive since so much else was sacrificed for it. You mentioned the speed of the Alien and how smooth that looks. So isn't it strange that the slower the chracter, the more choppy the game gets? It is a contradiction of how this usually works, more speed = more workload for the hardware = slowdown. Rebellion cheated and made the slow characters move choppy by design. Like there are too few animation frames, you can actually see the screen switch instantly from one view to another if you tip the d-pad just a moment.With the Alien, the frames are just displayed in quicker succession. Think of a flip book. If you flip the pages slowly, you see the single pictures. The faster you flip, the smoother it gets. That's how AvP seems to work, and it is akward. The game is designed with the Alien in mind, and the Marine just has the animations change slower.

 

Also, did you notice that in many corridors you cannot really move right or left, like you are stuck between the walls? And how your shots often hit the walls eventhough you can clearly see you aimed past the wall?

 

<snip>

Doom on the other hand, and Wolfenstein are silky smooth. They allow pixel per pixel movement in any direction, you never feel like you have a flip book in front of you, or that you are confined to rails in a corridor. And you have can look farther than in AvP. In AvP everything is swallowed by darkness soon, arguably for atmosphere (I doubt that), Doom gives you a better draw distance afair.

 

<snip>

 

Great points. I see the trade-offs that you're talking about. I don't have the same experiences aiming or getting stuck, but I have seen people new to the game kludge through it like that.

While Doom has its own trade-offs (music and resolution) - gameplay is clearly in the forefront.

 

I think the trade-offs, for the time and for the system, make a lot of sense to me. More importantly, they don't *feel* like compromises to me. But I'm starting to understand the detractors better.

 

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Couldn't edit, so here's more detail to expand.

 

 

First up, you lose RAM for the CD-Bios (admittedly, not much)

 

You also lose ram for the CD-buffer - because you can't just load from the CD directly into memory at a given address. It needs to shuffle via a buffer.

 

As you lose out on storage from the ROM space, you in effect have to design a less complicated game with MUCH lower memory constraints, as you have to shuffle things in and out.

 

It's much slower to fetch data from CD than ROM. Along the order of 'Please Wait a few seconds' instead of instant access. So you can't dynamically spool assets in during gameplay.

 

While the CD is spinning around doing it's thing, you lose control of the DSP - because that's how you control the CD. There goes one of your RISC processors.

 

Basically, unless you want to play Myst or have a really small game footprint, it is a far worse option for development.

 

Thats really interesting, i already knew about a couple of the disadvantages you mention, though. I understand that at the end of the day, you can get better performance out of the Jag on cart format that in cd format.

 

But i was thinking about a really well optimized engine for the CD unit, like Hover Strike cd, Iron Soldier 2 cd and Battlemorph. Those games run at least as well, or better than their cart counter parts, while adding a lot more content to the games, than posible on the small cartridges from back in the day. So, given those examples, i dont see why you couldnt get an enhanced Aliens VS Predator engine on cd, that took advantage of the massive amounts of space on cd. Or even better, a cart/cd combo!

Edited by sd32

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I just found this post one the NEXGAM forum:

http://forum.nexgam.de/index.php?page=Thread&threadID=75652

 

I dont know if its for real, but they posted a list of enhancements that AVP CD would have over the original, and they were aiming for an improved engine, that, instead of being similar to Wolfenstein 3D like the original, they were aiming for something ala Doom. So, Rebellion really tought it was posible to get AVP image quality and enviroments like in Doom, in a single package.

 

Reading the list of improvements they were planning, it really seemed like a dream come true!

Then again, i have no clue were they got that list, or if it is for real. And also, we will never know if Rebellion was really up to the task of getting so much out of the Jaguar ;) . Or maybe its a list of improvements that a suit at Atari wanted for the sequel, without taking into consideration the Jags true capabilities :-D !

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I would say, smart planning where and when you want to use the gfx/sound. I guess the textures where taking too much space on cart, but on cd they had space for them.

 

Sure, but can you imagine the loading screens in AVP at every other room, like old HalfLife did :) ?

 

You open the door, the CD starts to spin, few seconds pass, the game completely halts, of course in the middle of the shooting/fleeing, and finally resumes.

 

That's surely a great price for more textures :)

 

 

With smart planning they can load them into ram when needed and kick them out when not needed. I think thats one of the reasons (apart from performance reasons) why there is very limited textures and one of the reasons why in primal rage for example the sprites are smaller than the original. Bottom line is, the CD unit is crippled because Atari didn't add ram to it and made things more difficult for the devs than it could have been.

Yes, the CD does allow for more frames of the animation, but if your memory is crippled by the buffer already, do you really think you can double the amount of RAM for animations frames ?

What CD does allow here, is that each level can have completely different enemies (and textures) - e.g. environment variety of art assets.

 

But the variety of art assets within currently loaded environment has to be sacrificed, since you have less RAM.

 

Now, of course, you can design a game, where it is impossible to go back more than, say, 15% of the level - for example by putting artificial bridges or natural obstacles (a drop-down, cave, river, ...) , thus being able to constantly swap in/out sections of the level. This technique is being used all the time nowadays - it's called a Corridor. And I'm sure we ALL LOVE Corridors, right :) ? Move forward, shoot, pick up the phone, push the button to auto-cover, auto-heal and auto-shoot everyone, step out into bathroom, return back to see the enemy patiently waiting till you pick up the controller :)

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Rebellion cheated and made the slow characters move choppy by design. Like there are too few animation frames, you can actually see the screen switch instantly from one view to another if you tip the d-pad just a moment.With the Alien, the frames are just displayed in quicker succession.

Oh my god stop talking what you're saying is completely idiotic. The gameplay as an Alien seems smoother for two reasons:

 

1. The Alien has a much higher turn and movement speed (you turn/move more per frame), so the low frame rate is less apparent.

2. In the Alien campaign the levels have a much lower AI density. As a Marine, every level is packed with Aliens trying to move toward you at all times, while as an Alien, the levels are lightly populated with Marines who patrol randomly. So the renderer does actually get to run a bit faster, on average, under the Alien campaign.

 

This ignorant nonsense about Rebellion setting a different frame rate for each character has been kicking around since AvP was released, spread by people who don't know anything about programming. Remember how people used to say that the asteroids in 2600 Asteroids flicker because of bank switching? This is exactly that kind of technical cluelessness.

Edited by ZylonBane

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2. In the Alien campaign the levels have a much lower AI density. As a Marine, every level is packed with Aliens trying to move toward you at all times, while as an Alien, the levels are lightly populated with Marines who patrol randomly. So the renderer does actually get to run a bit faster, on average, under the Alien campaign.

 

 

no the marines have more AI than the aliens PLUS more animations:

4 times more cause of the 4 perspectives (front side left right and behind) and they also can move into different directions

 

aliens only move straight to you !!! never back

if you combine HUD map and radar you see they always walk straight to you and they cannot walk even a small angle around a passage.. just straight to you

 

so if you think they are tricki its only because of mapgeometry if there is a corner between you and the alien you can wait 1000 years it never will come!

but a marine will !

Edited by Otto1980

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@ZylonBane

Excuse me, but I don't believe that before some of the active Jag coders (you are not one)confirm, which they did not do when I wrote down my theory before. And I say "my theory" because I never read it anywhere, it is just my own assumptions based on playing the game. That's what you do when you don't have actual info from the devs, you think about what could make sense. If you disagree, that's fine. But don't speak in such a tone.

 

Actually I did not even mention different framerates. I mentioned different speeds in playing back the animation frames, making the gap in between animation phases mor apparent the slower the playback.

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Actually I did not even mention different framerates. I mentioned different speeds in playing back the animation frames, making the gap in between animation phases mor apparent the slower the playback.

 

I understood this is what you were saying the first time I read your post.

 

The way people talk to others on Atari Age always ebbs me back towards lurking - which is why I only have 20-30 posts since 2008. I don't know why this forum is the way it is. I have gone to computer and/or Atari meetups since the late 90s and this tone simply doesn't exist in the culture.

 

And it's not "the internet." I'm plenty active elsewhere and people's posts aren't presumed idiotic until after a little scrutiny. ;)

 

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It's sometimes hard for me to put such abstract ideas in words, since English is not my native language.

 

So, as another example of what I mean: Imagine the game is always running at 30fps. ALWAYS. For th Alien to be so fast, every frame gets a new "animation" phase, a slightly changed perspective. For the Marine to be slower yet feel choppier, it is stll 30fps. But instead of having a new animation play for every frame, they only play a new one on every 3rd frame. The result would be the same animations as the Alien, but played back slower, thus making the Marine move slower, an making it feel choppy because the pictures don't change fast enough for feeling like a fluid motion. it is still close to being smooth, which makes me think Rebellion did it on purpose hoping that the slowsest character would still feel smoth enough, but ulimately missing the target by a little bit.

 

It may be totally wrong, and I am no coder. But at least I did give it some thought and came up with a logical explanation for the game's very unusual behavior. Even if it is wrong I find being called idiotic for actually trying to be unnecessary.

 

But not all of AA is like that. It's just thag the forum is very frequented, and as such there is always a good chance some unfriendly fellows are among the users too.:)

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no the marines have more AI than the aliens PLUS more animations:

You have confused the words "density" and "complexity".

 

"Lower AI density" means there are not as many AIs (monsters) in the level at the same time.

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You have confused the words "density" and "complexity".

 

"Lower AI density" means there are not as many AIs (monsters) in the level at the same time.

I haven't really played AVP, so I am merely curious - is the Alien behaviour different from Marine in terms of AI ? Does Alien crawl over walls and ceiling (as in the PC version) ? If not, then they must use the same pathfinding routines - thus the CPU performance cost of their movement is identical.

However, every single characteristics that is different (meaning, if one entity has more types of behaviour than the other one) will affect framerate.

 

What kind of a pathfinding do the Alien/Marine have ? How far can they track you across the level ? Proper pathfinding on a 68000 is very expensive...

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