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Leeroy ST

Most graphically Impressive 3D games on the Atari ST/Falcon?

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I was replaying Hunter and Real Robocop 3 recently and I wonder what the most graphically impressive 3D games are on the computer.

 

When you look at effects, scope, mechanics, visuals, and frame rate what games do you usually think of?

 

It's already crazy the machine can handle 3D, but I'm wondering if any 3D games really pushed the hardware.

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I'll put forward the following:

 

Cybercon 3 - An ambitious action-adventure from the creators of Interphase and Carrier Command with some vast environments and cryptic puzzles.

Epic - The end of the line for F29/Robocop 3 creators DID, at least as far as the ST went, and some nice cinematics and 3D space blasting.
Frontier - The entire galaxy on floppy disk from Elite creator David Braben. Plays at a snails pace on an 8MHz ST though, even at the lowest settings.

Formula 1 Grand Prix - The first installment in one of the great sim racer franchises from Sentinel and Stunt Car Racer creator Geoff Crammond.

Substation - An FPS for the STE. It's neither particularly fast nor pretty though, just impressive for the fact that it exists.
 

The hardware wasn't really capable of doing anything special for 3D on the ST though, other than that it had a fairly powerful CPU for the time and a lot of RAM to store look-up tables in. Other than that, it mostly comes down to how quickly you can draw a triangle, which is why the disparity between early 3D games and later ones isn't exactly huge.

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2 hours ago, Matt_B said:

which is why the disparity between early 3D games and later ones isn't exactly huge.

Would you mind expanding in this, because I'm not sure which "3D" your talking about that didn't have huge disparity next to the ST. 3DO and PS1? Those were pretty big jumps.

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2 minutes ago, Leeroy ST said:

Would you mind expanding in this, because I'm not sure which "3D" your talking about that didn't have huge disparity next to the ST. 3DO and PS1? Those were pretty big jumps.

I mean the early and later 3D games on the ST itself.

 

Later systems with support for 3D graphics built into the hardware were obviously going to be a lot more capable though.

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2 minutes ago, Matt_B said:

I mean the early and later 3D games on the ST itself.

 

Later systems with support for 3D graphics built into the hardware were obviously going to be a lot more capable though.

I thought the Falcon and Mega were much more capable of drawing than a standard st or ste?

 

I recall some thread here mentioning both (mega/Falcon) could handle Acorns Starfighter iirc.

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OK, let's see categories of 3D games in those years, in order how they appeared on diverse computers:

Variable shape/sprite scaling - so same shape, but drawn at different scale served for giving distance perspective. Combined with special drawing of race track, for instance. Example: Pole Position. And plenty of other games.

Wireframe 3D, with calculations of distance, angle - first real 3D. Objects were shown with lines only,  as some kind of simplified contour of triangles, polygons . First one was Atari's Battle Zone - I saw it in 1980 as arcade console.  

And Atari ST was enough powerful for this kind of 3D in low res. I guess that Starglider was most known one. And of course there was Battle Zone conversion too, although little different than original, mostly because color mode. Funny that they did not monochrome version - especially as most of Atari games for ST worked in both - color and mono mode. Starglider too.

Polygon 3D - polygons were filled with one of colors available, what gave much better 3D look. And that was approx top of what 8 MHz 68000 CPU was capable - fast enough, with 16 colors. Actually, was better than on Amiga what has little slower CPU clock, and bigger video RAM, and custom chips helped not in this.

Good looking and with best frame rate are Trex Warrior and No Second Prize . Still very good frame rate: Flight Simulator 2, Starglider 2, Warhead, and many more.

And I would mention Resolution 101 as example of combination of sprite and polygon 3D - very good frame rate.

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5 hours ago, Leeroy ST said:

I thought the Falcon and Mega were much more capable of drawing than a standard st or ste?

 

I recall some thread here mentioning both (mega/Falcon) could handle Acorns Starfighter iirc.

Those machines are certainly better than a regular ST, but not by enough to expect a qualitative difference in the sort of graphics they can do.

 

The Mega STE has a faster CPU, and that's pretty much it. You don't get the full benefit of it with most games because it's only operating faster when using the cache memory, and writing to the screen is no faster than on a regular STE. You're usually just looking a few fps here and there, which can still be nice for a game like Frontier, that's only borderline playable on a regular ST.

 

The Falcon has a few more things going for it in that the bus is faster, there are extra chunked video modes, and the DSP can speed up some of the calculations. That said, it's still doing software rendering. Comparisons between it and the Archimedes are complicated because they've got different strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately I'd see no reason why it couldn't do something like that machine's version of Starfighter 3000. It's all just flat shaded polygons over a carpet-tiled ground layer, after all; you just might have to suffer a lower frame rate, less polygons in the objects, a shorter render distance, etc. It absolutely couldn't do anything like the 3DO port of the same game though because that's using a lot of the signature features of its hardware generation such as texture mapping, lighting and shading.

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Robocop 3, when it is executed on a STE machine, performs faster than ST

 

Obviously, programmers implemented a rectangle filling technique using the blitter; also it is probably that the game integrates an overdrawing avoidance code,

or a previous scene reuse as a more advanced technique in order to speed up rendering.

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The 3D game that most impressed me was Starglider II.   I never owned a Falcon so can't judge that.

 

That said, I was not often impressed with early 3D--  too blobby, too slow.   I usually prfered a highly detailed ISO game to 3D

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Epic was pretty spectacular at the time, the first time I flew through that space battle level it was like being in Star Wars. Of course you would have to be quite tolerant of the spectacularly low frame rates on busy scenes, I am but a lot of people today seem to go mad if anything drops below 60fps.

 

I would also second Crammond's F1, I still don't see how it is possible on the ST. Hunter also.

 

I did quite like Thunderhawk and Simulcra. Campaign is also amazingly ambitious, but again the frame rate can get single digit at points.

 

 

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IIRC Epic does take advantage of 68030 CPU's, right?

 

Be interesting to hear someone's take on it running on a TT030,

Falcon, or accelerated ST machine...  :)

 

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Posted (edited)

Vroom (mix of 2D and 3D) and No Second Prize were very good technically. Stunt Car Racer too.

I also remember being technically impressed back then by Virus (its polygons + the number of particles), Starglider 2, Falcon, Elite and Carrier Command

Edited by Keops
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Here's Zero 5 on the Falcon, which seems to be a much different game than the Jag version.

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, zzip said:

The 3D game that most impressed me was Starglider II.   I never owned a Falcon so can't judge that.

 

That said, I was not often impressed with early 3D--  too blobby, too slow.   I usually prfered a highly detailed ISO game to 3D

It's why I mentioned if any had "passable" or better frame rate because The few 3D games I've played save Robocop 3 are very slow. I heard Achimedes and early Macs had better times with frame rate than the ST and Amiga though in the early 90's, but outside Starfighter I'm not aware of any of the earlier games on Acorn, and I know nothing about Mac before mid 90's.

 

But ST wise I was curious to know what games have reasonable speed, seems there are a decent amount mentioned already I wasn't expecting.

 

2 hours ago, Sauron said:

Here's Zero 5 on the Falcon, which seems to be a much different game than the Jag version.

 

 

 

The Jaguar was third person so that's already a big difference, like you said it seems it's just a shared title but two different games.

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5 hours ago, DarkLord said:

IIRC Epic does take advantage of 68030 CPU's, right?

 

Be interesting to hear someone's take on it running on a TT030,

Falcon, or accelerated ST machine...  :)

 

No idea, one to try when I get my collection over from the UK.  I have some vague memory of it not working right (maybe the sampled sound track), but not sure on that one :)

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Here's a comparison video of Frontier running on a Mega versus a regular STE.

 

The difference isn't massive, but it's noticeable particularly when the frame rate starts to dip.

 

 

And here's the same game on a Falcon, which is a lot faster.

 

 

 

 

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Another one that impressed me was Flight Simulator 2.0.   The main reason it impressed me was I first played the game on an 8-bit which ran at something like 2fps there.

 

Compared to that, the ST version had a faster framerate, more polygons and a cool picture-in-picture feature where you could watch your plane from another plane.   So my feeling at the time was "wow, this blows the 8-bit version away!"   But if I played it now, it might not hold up so well.

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11 hours ago, Keops said:

Vroom (mix of 2D and 3D) and No Second Prize were very good technically. Stunt Car Racer too.

I also remember being technically impressed back then by Virus (its polygons + the number of particles), Starglider 2, Falcon, Elite and Carrier Command

 

How about Simulcra? (sp?) Not mentioned much but it's one of my favorite games...

 

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I'm guessing that you mean 3D polygon games in your question, because there are a number a games eg. Vroom (thanks Keops) that use polygons in pseudo 3D.
Including interesting games though that operate in 3D, or first person, or calculated isometric (Virus) we have an (incomplete) selection:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyeYjw3zjSc the world according to nordlicht (voxel demo)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tqDfR0gVis Graeme Souness vector soccer (rubbish framerate but ambitious)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hbr2m85nqBg advantage tennis (fast vector players)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xd6S7xAmfZc MIDI maze 3 (16 player FPS)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oy90R039b1g hover sprint (16 player racing)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAQV3AhzivE trex warrior (thanks ParanoidLittleMan)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjUM-WLVflA operation harrier (polygon topdown)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPWGK6ccbEI rotox (polygon topdown)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRtUDy2fCYY wild Wheels (Rocket League)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwaUaQrHmJo alpha waves (First 3d platformer, 2 player)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7LmewWr-LQ vroom multiplayer (still smooth)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCvx2O5M69E STRay Doom (doomlike demo ~10fps)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAzN0AQKzKU substation (STE only, 25fps, destruction imminent and wolfenstein run on ST)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68onQ1Etff4 legends of valor (ultima clone)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCBhgl8NEKg resolution 101 (polygons and scaled sprites)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lV1VPStC52I microprose golf
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEea8u-vzlk&t=1057s F1GP (lots of detail)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bN3gro0TwN4 No second Prize (50fps)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W05EIWujCw8 Stuntcar racer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q56DJ4p-Agk starglider 2 (run 1mb to get music, runs 640x400 as well as 320x200, detailed solar system)
https://youtu.be/o7MqcOp0J9E drakhen (RPG, scaled sprites)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HyoRTN2EaY tower of babel (3d puzzle)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZOpDpg7wUE&t=361s archipelagos (first person puzzle, scaled sprites)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHQJbLsqNQE powermonger (low framerate but lots of detail)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnahB4dmBLQ thunderstrike (non-flat filled 3d landscape with high framerate)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSaYA3AgVgo midwinter 2 (ambitious GTA-style with non-flat landscape, but low framerate)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHvlNYDPEmU mercenary 3 (open world, pretty quick)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjVeZ9c9fLM virus (with zarch for comparison)
https://youtu.be/xzGJcx7Nzuo powerdrome (wipeout but harder to control)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4tTn2QThRk&t=1218s robocop3 (FPS, virtua fighter etc sections)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjlwJQaSH04 epic (amiga here but not any good ST clips)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbS4KcFG2B0 simulcra (thx Darklord, forgot about this)

 

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7 hours ago, DarkLord said:

 

How about Simulcra? (sp?) Not mentioned much but it's one of my favorite games...

 

Apart from by me a few posts up ;)

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4 hours ago, Zogging Hell said:

Apart from by me a few posts up ;)

 

Oh, missed that - apologies!

 

(I do really like the game though)

 

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18 hours ago, DarkLord said:

 

Oh, missed that - apologies!

 

(I do really like the game though)

 

 

Me to, apart from the bits you actually have to fly over the gaps, the frame rate drops and the control is a bit squiffy. The rest of the game is a winner though, highly underrated.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/22/2021 at 1:53 PM, masteries said:

Robocop 3, when it is executed on a STE machine, performs faster than ST

 

Obviously, programmers implemented a rectangle filling technique using the blitter; also it is probably that the game integrates an overdrawing avoidance code,

or a previous scene reuse as a more advanced technique in order to speed up rendering.

This is interesting: “using blitter to speed up rectangle filling”. 
Petari write that Amigas custom chips could not speed up 3D games. 
As far as I read, only recently some Amiga demo scene coders did some examples of 3D filled polygons using blitter. 
 

Can somebody confirm that Robocop 3 is using blitter on STe to speed up 3D. 
And does Robocop 3 use blitter on Amiga as well?

 

some years ago I open thread on EAB on this topic... http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=77162

 

 

btw

Crown of 3D Creation on Falcon is probably best 3D game for Falcon :)
There is also impressive 3D example on YouTube by AnimaInCorpore...

Edited by calimero

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