8 bit query:Is resolution more important to you than colour?

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Prof Mango B Coconut
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Re: 8 bit query:Is resolution more important to you than col

Post by Prof Mango B Coconut » Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:06 am

pforson wrote:What resolution(s) did the BBC Micro run in? - I always found the graphics on the Beeb to be both detailed and colourful.
640x256 rings a bell, but I remember it had 7 or 8 different display modes providing different resolutions and number of colours. I have another fuzzy memory that the higher resolutions weren't often used because they took up too much RAM.
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Re: 8 bit query:Is resolution more important to you than col

Post by Hiro » Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:17 am

Colour for me, even if the most important thing (8-bit era especially) remains that everything moves smoothly and you always can tell what's happening. From this point of view, I was lucky to be a C64 owner. And the colour palette of the 64, even if it's certainly not one of his strong points, is not that bad :mrgreen:
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Re: 8 bit query:Is resolution more important to you than col

Post by Matt_B » Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:19 am

The BBC has eight different graphics modes:
0 - 640x256 2 colours
1 - 320x256 4 colours
2 - 160x256 8 colours
3 - 80x25 characters, text only, 2 colours
4 - 320x256 2 colours
5 - 160x256 4 colours
6 - 40x25 characters, text only, 2 colours
7 - 40x25 characters, teletext, 8 colours

Most games tend to use either mode 1 or 2, but 4 and 5 are sometime used for memory hungry games on machines without any shadow RAM. Text adventures and, occasionally, some action games like the ones in Acornsoft's Arcade Action, use mode 7.

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Re: 8 bit query:Is resolution more important to you than col

Post by NorthWay » Tue Jun 18, 2013 7:14 pm

I'm more of a colours man, but the CPC should be the perfect yardstick to measure this by: All the screenmodes take the same amount of memory and bandwidth, so you just look at 320x200x4c and 160x200x16c games and see what you prefer.

I find that a very few games originally designed in mono look great in 4c, but for every Knightlore there is a Crafton&Xunx(sp?).

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Re: 8 bit query:Is resolution more important to you than col

Post by paranoid marvin » Tue Jun 18, 2013 7:38 pm

Speccy and C64 could do both. Look at Impossible Mission, Buggy Boy, Winter games etc. Same with the Speccy witth games like Lightforce. Generally speaking though the Speccy tended to have the better graphics whilst the C64 had the best colours. And I tend to find that those games with the best graphics tended to have the better playability than those with the most colours. The Speccy could do some wonderful monochrome graphics in immensley playable games.

Personally I feel that the more important difference between Speccy and C64 was in the audio department. Games like G'n'G and Commando were much better graphically and gameplay wise, but the (in these cases) vastly superior audio compensated (or perhaps made superior) the C64 versions. There's something about a great tune in a game that makes you want to keep playing.

So graphics over colour, but - perhaps - audio trumps them both.
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Re: 8 bit query:Is resolution more important to you than col

Post by TMR » Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:19 pm

If i popped my developer hat on then the answer would be both because they each present a different challenge when designing; right now i'm working on something that uses an 80x192 pixel resolution for example, trying to get something coherent out of that is proving... erm, challenging.

But as a gamer i'd much rather have colour than resolution. If you compare the C64 and Spectrum, the latter only has about 38% more pixels horizontally so the difference isn't vast and that trade off gets you some clarity; what may in many cases have been a hard-to-see cyan enemy over a cyan background is clearer because they're different colours.

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Re: 8 bit query:Is resolution more important to you than col

Post by joefish » Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:02 am

It's a really tough call between the Spectrum and the C64 as one has the resolution and primary colours and the other has the blockiness and more colours but a strange palette.

The thing is, though I like the hi-res graphics of the Spectrum, I don't like the sort of top-view shoot-em-ups with tiny sprites over a detailed background all done in monochrome. I'd rather have a plain background and coloured sprites and if they clash a bit just before they collide, let it be.

One advantage the C64 palette has over the other 8-bits is it lets you have bright distinct sprites over duller background colours. Neither the Amstrad nor the Spectrum have dull, muddy colours you can use for backgrounds to make the sprites stand out. Having said that, the C64 lacks decent distinct primary colours for its sprites. The page of C64 screenshots in the Retro Gamer C64 book looks like the printer has run out of yellow.

It's easier to look at the Amstrad where you still get 4 colours in the higher resolution. Certainly for games with small, detailed sprites (like Head Over Heels) I'd go for higher resolution and fewer colours. But then a pseudo-3D road racer is just perfect for fatter pixels as most of the sprites are wider than they are tall, and the roadway is mostly horizontal bands of colour so the number of pixels is irrelevant.

So really, it depends entirely on the game.

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Re: 8 bit query:Is resolution more important to you than col

Post by AmigaJay » Wed Jun 19, 2013 1:57 pm

Resolution, even Speccy owners could dream whilst playing Outrun, Enduro Racer etc with full colour, at least you could tell what arcade game it was...on the C64 that was not always the case!

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Re: 8 bit query:Is resolution more important to you than col

Post by joefish » Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:12 pm

AmigaJay wrote:Resolution, even Speccy owners could dream whilst playing Outrun, Enduro Racer etc with full colour, at least you could tell what arcade game it was...on the C64 that was not always the case!
A lot of problems with C64 arcade conversions was that programmers would try and use the hardware sprites for anything that moved, resulting in fewer enemies and smaller characters than the arcade original. That's not a screen res issue.

But when it came to sprites, nearly every game used lo-res, multicolour sprites rather than hi-res monochrome sprites. Though as you can see on a lot of MSX games, single-colour sprites passing over coloured backgrounds without any black outline masking look pretty terrible.

One clever innovation in later C64 games was to use a multi-coloured lo-res sprite, then overlay a hi-res black outline sprite to both mask it and give it more detail. Quite a clever combination, though it limits the number of sprites you have spare.

Green Beret on the MSX pulls off a similarly neat trick - it uses the same black INK with varied PAPER colour scheme as the Spectrum version, and just draws the solid black masks of all the characters onto the scenery. It then overlays a single-coloured sprite exactly onto the masked area for each character, so each can be a different colour without clashing. You could still easily run out of sprites on one line, but at least it only needed one sprite for each character.

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Re: 8 bit query:Is resolution more important to you than col

Post by Commander Jameson » Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:11 pm

psj3809 wrote:
slacey1070 wrote:On the ZX81, you didn't get colour OR high resolution..... an option was a luxury.
I think its great many of us started with the 8 bits or earlier. As i really do appreciate many more things in games nowadays, price of games, quality of graphics etc. Of course the classic 8 bit games had a ton of playability which is the most important thing (not all granted, i havent got rose tinted glasses on, there was a ton of crap as well).

As we've mentioned before as a kid having quite an imagination helped when you had a cover of a game which was a drawing of an adventurer battling a dragon, you load the game up on your ZX81 or early Speccy and you're an asterisk fighting a 'D' !

Just makes me appreciate many more modern games much more now
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Re: 8 bit query:Is resolution more important to you than col

Post by Spector » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:03 pm

That description by psj reminds me more of 'Adventure' on the good old Atari VCS!
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Re: 8 bit query:Is resolution more important to you than col

Post by Mootown » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:48 am

Neither - I like nice, smooth scrolling, which the C64 did the best. I would argue the best looking C64 games have held up the best - Armalyte, Wizball, Creatures 2, etc... Arcade conversions aside, I preferred the C64 original games.

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Re: 8 bit query:Is resolution more important to you than col

Post by ivarf » Thu Jun 20, 2013 4:06 am

Spector wrote:
Prof Mango B Coconut wrote: Generally, though, I think I prefer higher resolution and speed.
In that case, you've knocked the Amstrad out twice!
You are wrong, the Amstrad CPC has better resolution AND color than the Spectrum. This can best be seen in 3D and isometric games. 160x200 in 16 colors, 320x200 in 4 colors or 640x2 in 2 colors. The colors can be placed anywhere without any limitations and a 27 color palette.
big-byte wrote:Resolution definitely. Compare Head over Heels on the Amstrad PCW to other versions. Due to the monitor having twice
as much resolution as the 'gaming' 8-bits. you could see a lot more on screen

http://www.headoverheels2.com/drupal/en/gallery/16
The Amstrad PCW has resolution of 720 by 256 with two green colors. The Amstrad CPC is close to that 640x200 in two colors.

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Re: 8 bit query:Is resolution more important to you than col

Post by merman » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:30 am

joefish wrote:
AmigaJay wrote:Resolution, even Speccy owners could dream whilst playing Outrun, Enduro Racer etc with full colour, at least you could tell what arcade game it was...on the C64 that was not always the case!
A lot of problems with C64 arcade conversions was that programmers would try and use the hardware sprites for anything that moved, resulting in fewer enemies and smaller characters than the arcade original. That's not a screen res issue.

But when it came to sprites, nearly every game used lo-res, multicolour sprites rather than hi-res monochrome sprites. Though as you can see on a lot of MSX games, single-colour sprites passing over coloured backgrounds without any black outline masking look pretty terrible.

One clever innovation in later C64 games was to use a multi-coloured lo-res sprite, then overlay a hi-res black outline sprite to both mask it and give it more detail. Quite a clever combination, though it limits the number of sprites you have spare.

Green Beret on the MSX pulls off a similarly neat trick - it uses the same black INK with varied PAPER colour scheme as the Spectrum version, and just draws the solid black masks of all the characters onto the scenery. It then overlays a single-coloured sprite exactly onto the masked area for each character, so each can be a different colour without clashing. You could still easily run out of sprites on one line, but at least it only needed one sprite for each character.
Green Beret on the C64 uses vertical interrupts to re-use sprites, allowing for the same number of enemies onscreen as the arcade game. There is some flicker, but it works.

And yes, overlaid sprites on the C64 were great.
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Re: 8 bit query:Is resolution more important to you than col

Post by Matt_B » Thu Jun 20, 2013 5:36 am

ivarf wrote:
Spector wrote:
Prof Mango B Coconut wrote: Generally, though, I think I prefer higher resolution and speed.
In that case, you've knocked the Amstrad out twice!
You are wrong, the Amstrad CPC has better resolution AND color than the Spectrum. This can best be seen in 3D and isometric games. 160x200 in 16 colors, 320x200 in 4 colors or 640x2 in 2 colors. The colors can be placed anywhere without any limitations and a 27 color palette.
big-byte wrote:Resolution definitely. Compare Head over Heels on the Amstrad PCW to other versions. Due to the monitor having twice
as much resolution as the 'gaming' 8-bits. you could see a lot more on screen

http://www.headoverheels2.com/drupal/en/gallery/16
The Amstrad PCW has resolution of 720 by 256 with two green colors. The Amstrad CPC is close to that 640x200 in two colors.
You can get a resolution of 720x256 (or even up to 768x272) out of the CPC by changing the CRTC registers to display in the border areas. It's prohibitively expensive in terms of the RAM you'd need to use on a 64K machine, but it's certainly possible.

Still, most games didn't use mode 2, or its hacked variants, for games for the reasons I gave above. You're stuck with the same vertical resolution and have to work with thin rectangular pixels. Games only used it on the PCW because that's the only mode it had.

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