An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby BlankVector » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:14 pm

The results really look amazing. Great technique 8)
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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby dml » Thu Nov 15, 2012 11:48 am

BlankVector wrote:The results really look amazing. Great technique 8)


Thanks. I got distracted the last few days, in discussion over other projects so I haven't done much since my last post but I'm going to try to get the demo and tools ready and onto my site quite soon so I can move onto something else. It's waaay too easy to leave something half-done and I'm trying not to let that happen here :)

I'm not going to use the R-Type level now for the demo, since Mr Bod is doing a very fine job with that on his own project and has put a lot of hard work into it - I'll have an alternative map prepared which achieves the same goal.

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby junosix » Mon Nov 19, 2012 9:03 pm

Bloody hell, looks awesome :)

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby dml » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:16 pm

I have updated the demo so multiscroll is now working properly and the scrolling pauses from time to time to show the effect when static. I haven't done anything else yet as I've had a bad cold and busy with work stuff. I should have a new version soon with a decent map and some moving objects in it.

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/12947585/CCDEMO2.zip

Again, best tried on a real STE. If you get 'corrupt' graphics it usually means it can't find/load the 4 datafiles, which it expects to find next to the TOS. I zipped them up on a PC and the filenames are lowercase but I think it shouldn't be an issue when transferred across...

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby TheNameOfTheGame » Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:18 pm

Really cool effect. Amazing what the old ste can do :D

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby dml » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:27 pm

I did a quick test using level data from one of the Metal Slug games - 181 colours in, 51 colours out. (ignore the splash screen which reports 48c)

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/12947585/CCDEMO3.zip

The map dimensions are a bit smaller than the 320x256 display so some solid white tiles are visible at the margin.

Still testing with some other material and different settings to see what works best.

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby Scarlettkitten » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:38 pm

I love Metal Slug and that is amazing dml 8)
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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby dml » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:56 pm

Scarlettkitten wrote:I love Metal Slug and that is amazing dml 8)


I made another Metal Slug level just for your nice feedback :)

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/12947585/CCDEMO4.zip

It's a bit washed out - needs some tuning. But I think it's not too bad for a first go.

86 colours in that one (504 in the original). 4166x256 pixels. bottom border should be open in the last 2 demos posted but I didn't test it much so YMMV.

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby EvilFranky » Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:02 pm

Very impressive Doug. I only ran it on Hatari as my STE is packed away at the moment, but I can imagine how good it will look on an RGB screen :cheers:

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby Scarlettkitten » Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:04 pm

Superb 8) I'd love to see someone tackle a game of this style or a conversion of this on the STe.
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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby Xerus » Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:52 pm

dml wrote:I did a quick test using level data from one of the Metal Slug games - 181 colours in, 51 colours out. (ignore the splash screen which reports 48c)

https://dl.dropbox.com/u/12947585/CCDEMO3.zip

I tested it on my Falcon (impossible with my STE because the files take too octets for a 720 disk) with an old monitor SC1425.
Verdict, It works great for the vertical scroll part :D
In the horizontal part, the sky (in the high) flickers a little too.
Choosing better colors to avoid flicker somes parts, your technique is perfectly valid, the flickering is few or no noticeable :thumbs:

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby dml » Thu Nov 29, 2012 1:43 am

Xerus wrote:I tested it on my Falcon (impossible with my STE because the files take too octets for a 720 disk) with an old monitor SC1425.


Yeah it works on the Falcon since it's using the 'compatible' blitter & hscroll hardware. The lower border won't be opened though so you'll see 200 pixels vs 240-ish on an STE.

Xerus wrote:Verdict, It works great for the vertical scroll part :D
In the horizontal part, the sky (in the high) flickers a little too.
Choosing better colors to avoid flicker somes parts, your technique is perfectly valid, the flickering is few or no noticeable :thumbs:


I can't choose or influence the colours directly but I do have 10 or so parameters I can use to guide the conversion. With this you can trade fidelity/colour count against flicker or reduce solving time. The palette solving algorithm currently takes about 25mins using 6 parallel threads on my 4-core i7 PC for decent results, or about 1 minute for a quick test. It's quite compute-heavy.

If you were seriously going to use it for a game you'd probably not try to convert an entire map using one palette (as I have done here) as better results can be achieved using raster splits or transitions between palettes for different areas of each level. This way you get more colour and less problems with flicker for each sub-area. That has it's problems too - the sprites need to be duplicated/reconverted for each palette - but 'life is hard' on retro hardware, always. :-)

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby RA_pdx » Fri Nov 30, 2012 8:37 pm

Two really nice techdemos! :)

:coffe: Otherwise i don´t think anyone really could play such a game for a longer time because its too much flickering. Colors have to be very close to avoid annoying flickering.
I have also made some small tests like yours in the past. Its not easy to use this technique in a real game because it needs a lot of memory and you need a constant frame rate of 50 or 60 Hz. However never give up!

Another test i did: Use 8 colors (or even less) for a Spectrum like background and the others for sprites. There is not enough cpu time left for action games but can be used for puzzle games, adventures and other stuff like that. Maybe also a game like IK+ with thousands of colors would be possible. The results were very promising!
>> > raZen/Paradox < <<

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby dml » Sat Dec 01, 2012 9:49 pm

RalfZenker wrote: :coffe: Otherwise i don´t think anyone really could play such a game for a longer time because its too much flickering. Colors have to be very close to avoid annoying flickering.
I have also made some small tests like yours in the past. Its not easy to use this technique in a real game because it needs a lot of memory and you need a constant frame rate of 50 or 60 Hz. However never give up!


Not sure what to make of this post. It' is mostly comprised of sweeping generalizations (nobody could play such a game, memory, framerate, subjective flicker argument), ignoring solutions and trades already offered / implemented by earlier posts on the subject - sometimes in quite a bit of detail. You have also pIanted the idea that I might be giving up? These are classic red flags, so rather than arguing the same points again or wasting time on more demos I find myself filing it here... :|

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby RA_pdx » Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:58 am

:?: :?: :?:

Sorry, i don´t want to blame you.

I am off - that´s too childish for me.
>> > raZen/Paradox < <<

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby CiH » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:41 am

Not sure what to make of this post.


Sorry, i don´t want to blame you.


I don't think that the original post was made with any harmful intent from my careful reading of it.

I would say that out of all of the people in the Atari scene, DML has the ability and is prepared to put frankly rocket science levels of research and effort into getting this concept to work, so don't underestimate him! :cheers:
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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby Zamuel_a » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:42 am

Otherwise i don´t think anyone really could play such a game for a longer time because its too much flickering. Colors have to be very close to avoid annoying flickering.
I have also made some small tests like yours in the past. Its not easy to use this technique in a real game because it needs a lot of memory and you need a constant frame rate of 50 or 60 Hz. However never give up!


I don't think this technic is suitable for all kinds of games, but some would definetly be nice to see. I don't think puzzle games are good or other games with a static background since you would notice the flicker and it might be annoying, but in a shoot em up with a scrolling background it would be nice. It had been cool to make a modern shoot em up game with many colors on screen and big explosions and such stuff and then 16 colors is a big limitation. In a game like that the only thing that is more or less static is the player space ship so that one could be made with "normal" colors.

I had liked to see a game like this on the Atari
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9KwJTikctQ

It is a rather easy game to make, only the player, enemies and shots and the background is only an animation but it needs good graphics so I think this tecnic is the ony way to do it on an STE.

Memory is only a problem if you want to make it for a 0.5Mb ST, but a new game today should ofcourse use a 4Mb STE and if I understand it correctly the graphics only takes twice the amount of memory so it's not that much more. If it was used in a game like the one in the URL the background animation wouldn't take more memory anyway since you get the animation and color frame at the same time.
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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby dml » Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:41 pm

RalfZenker wrote::?: :?: :?:
Sorry, i don´t want to blame you.


With hindsight, it's possible I just completely misinterpreted your message. I don't know. It read to me like a quick, broad dismissal of much effort, but I could have easily misunderstood the whole format. In that case I apologise.

I just came out of hospital and was not in good health or state of mind which probably doesn't help. No bad feelings one way or the other.

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby dml » Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:55 am

Zamuel_a wrote:I don't think this technic is suitable for all kinds of games, but some would definetly be nice to see. I don't think puzzle games are good or other games with a static background since you would notice the flicker and it might be annoying, but in a shoot em up with a scrolling background it would be nice. It had been cool to make a modern shoot em up game with many colors on screen and big explosions and such stuff and then 16 colors is a big limitation. In a game like that the only thing that is more or less static is the player space ship so that one could be made with "normal" colors.


I think that's fair and reasonable...

- it's not good for every kind of on-screen content
- it's not good for every kind of input (i.e. arbitrary/unprepared graphics)
- sometimes you can use parameters to get a good result, but sometimes it hits a plateau and doesn't improve beyond that point
- it's difficult to tell how good the results will be without trying it on a given input

Most of my tests were pretty quick, just lifting source material off the net and translating it with some 'suitable' parameters. I'd probably spend a lot longer on it if I was trying to produce something final. For example some content converts much better when you disable population weighting of the colours - and just assume the input colours are *all* important (e.g. pre-reduced graphics for games). Other content converts better with population weighting (hi colour stuff). Some content has excessive population skew - big flat skies which need to have flickering strongly suppressed and so on... it's not fire-and-forget for every image.

There's also quite a big difference between 'flicker' (strobing) - where one field has a different intensity from the other field, or patches where intensity is unequal - and what I call 'shimmer' which is intensity inequality at a pixel level. 'flicker' is very annoying and hurts the eyes, it really has to be prevented. this is what the field intensity-sort and interleave step is for. 'shimmer' can't be completely eliminated because the technique relies on this 'inequality' at pixel level - but it is 'managed' through scoring to ensure larger areas colour use values closer in intensity etc. etc. The effectiveness varies from image to image but the method in general works and can be tuned.

Zamuel_a wrote:Memory is only a problem if you want to make it for a 0.5Mb ST, but a new game today should ofcourse use a 4Mb STE and if I understand it correctly the graphics only takes twice the amount of memory so it's not that much more. If it was used in a game like the one in the URL the background animation wouldn't take more memory anyway since you get the animation and color frame at the same time.


Yes it takes about 2x the display memory and 2x the content storage as well. In fact I have found if you keep the graphics de-interleaved and in chunky form, the compression ratio is much better than the original graphics because it has been 'simplified' on the depth (colour) complexity axis and increased on the size axes and compression likes that sort of thing. It means JIT-decoding/interleaving before use which adds to decompression cost but the decompression cost is typically the main cost anyway. So in the end it can be less than 2x if you're short of RAM.

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby calimero » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:58 am

I can't wait to come beck home to test it on real STe. :)

Is there any chance to use this technique from GFA basic?
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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby dml » Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:59 pm

calimero wrote:I can't wait to come beck home to test it on real STe. :)

Is there any chance to use this technique from GFA basic?


That should be possible providing a vblank handler is set up to perform timely register loading for the video base registers at least. All you need then is a way for GFA to tell the vblank handler where the front/back buffer pairs live, and when they should be exchanged. Everything else could be done in GFA.

This is how the C demos work btw - the display handler is a small bit of asm, and the rest of the demo is C, with some asm/blitter tile drawing code for extra speed.

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby calimero » Sun Jan 13, 2013 5:20 pm

I just try it on Falcon and I got outofsync screen on Commodore 1084 monitor (via composite cable).

I want to try it on STe but size of all 5 files is around 1MB.

I try to compress it with Atomik packer but it wont works... Now I am trying JAM Packer...
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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby dml » Sun Jan 13, 2013 5:56 pm

calimero wrote:I just try it on Falcon and I got outofsync screen on Commodore 1084 monitor (via composite cable).


It's not 100% OS clean so it hits STE HW registers to set video mode etc. I expect your Falcon is getting a mixture of STE and Videl registers and ending up in a strange confused state.

Try changing the Falcon to ST-compat low or medium res, and run it from there. Don't run from the default Falcon video modes. Let me know how you get on.

(I can't think of any other reason it would refuse to work on the Falcon)

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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby calimero » Sun Jan 13, 2013 6:04 pm

dml wrote:Try changing the Falcon to ST-compat low or medium res, and run it from there. Don't run from the default Falcon video modes. Let me know how you get on.


it works! :) ... I am going to grab that Commodore monitor again...

EDIT:

holly poo! so entire MetalSlug demo (no.4) use only one palette with 16 colors ??

all demos looks like they come from Amiga ;)

it would be really to see full size game with this "trick"!
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Re: An interesting way to get more colours on an ST/E...

Postby dml » Sun Jan 13, 2013 7:21 pm

calimero wrote:holly poo! so entire MetalSlug demo (no.4) use only one palette with 16 colors ??


Glad it worked. I thought it might be that... the whole thing is a bit fat and inefficient as a demo but somebody might be able to make use of it with the right amount of care, attention and tweaking. I still haven't uploaded tools because i haven't got the configuration stuff exposed - it's all compile-time, and the output formats are not very helpful as-is. Will upload the convertor when I fix those things.


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