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  1. #1
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    Screen resolution and colour tricks of OCS/ECS games

    So iv'e had a look at games with a high number of colours to see how they did it, inspired by this thread:
    http://forum.classicamiga.com/forum/...on-OCS-ECS-AGA
    And also an arguement with an artist friend of mine who worked on some megadrive stuff 'Amiga games are 32 colour, megadrive could display more than that' (Yes, these are the 15 year old arguements that come from an industry filled exclusively with fanboys...and girls).

    Your average game will be in the resolutions/bit depth that Phantom quoted in that topic , but some are much higher in colour count.And some try to con you... As a games artist, and Amiga freak, I find this interesting. I'm going to post some pictures with some theorising.

    Pioneer Plague
    Quite early, and not brilliantly drawn, but appears to be a fixed HAM palette of 256 colours. from an era of ST ports this is very cool!
    pioneer_plague_04.png

    No second prize
    Gives a the impression the game is in 26 colours. But it's actually appears to be a 16 colour game screen, and a 16 colour dash, with shared palette colours to make the two blend. The new screen starts where the last line of the 3D road meets the HUD.
    no_second_prize_04.png

    Settlers
    Looks like it's the same thing again, but the main game screen has 40 colours on it. so probably halfbrite.
    settlers_16.png

    Trex warrior
    Getting complicated now. 87 colours on screen in this one, more elsewhere. It actually has 3 seperate copper fades going on, adding to the colour count. One for the sky, another for the sea, and another for the sun. A seperate screen with it's own palette for the HUD. And i'm betting the 3D is actually 16 colour (due to the lack of chunky, as we all know) -Frontier does the same thing.
    trex_warrior_08.png

    Universe
    Having spoke to some coders, this game is apparently changing the palette entries for each line.Up to 200+ colours in some scenes. Similar to how some Atari ST art packages got more colours on screen.
    universe.png

    Fire And Ice
    Plenty going on here. looks like three screens. One for the game screen, and two for the map. The map might just be one screen with copper palatte manipulation to change the reflection colours though. Multiple copper bars as well. Looks like four. End result is 170+colours on screen.
    fire_and_ice_05.png

    Lionheart
    184 colours going on here. two seperate copper fades, later you get some water reflection like fire and ice. In areas with no copper bars/reflection....it's in plain old 32 colour mode
    lionheart_07.png

    For comparison, most megadrive games have between 28-45 colours (A couple slip over this). SNES between 90-150, (quite a few manage over this). So not to shabby from 1985 hardware.
    Last edited by Khephren; 23rd February 2011 at 15:06.

  2. #2
    Very interesting! I remember reading an article on Universe - yes, the coders of it said they modified the palette during the display of teh screen, very clever! I never knew about Lionheart, it certainly looks good from the screenshot.

  3. #3
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    Thanks, i'm not a coder, so hopefully some more tech savy people will fill us in
    The fixed HAM palette in Pioneer Plague is very interesting, only that Coder seemed to use it. Sadly he passed away I wonder if that means AGA could have a 1000 colour fixed palette mode without fringing?
    Lionheart was drawn by one of my favourite pixel artists: Henk Nieborg http://www.henknieborg.nl/ he also did several other Amiga games. The best looking other than lionheart was probably
    'The Misadventures of Flink'. I just missed out working with him when I was doing nintendoDS stuff for EA

  4. #4
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    Burger Time Champion, Sonic Champion Harrison's Avatar
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    That is very interesting. Great detective work. Really shows just how good coders were in the 16/32bit era, and how much they could get out of the Amiga hardware. Also shows just how well designed the Amiga architecture was. I bet a lot of coders today couldn't do similar tricks because they now have hardware powerful enough to allow bad coding. Imagine if today's coders wrote code to the same level as they did then, hitting the hardware level directly.

    BTW, have you looked at the Shadow of the Beast games? Would be interesting to find out how many colours their screens contain.

    For other systems, as far as I remember:

    The Megadrive had a more limited 512 colour palette to draw from, similar to that available to the ST, but was meant to be able to display a maximum of 64 total colours on screen (split into 16 colour palettes for each of the 3 planes and a sprite field). I don't know what this console had that compared to the Amiga's blitter or copper. Anyone know?

    And the SNES had a much more complex video hardware, having a 15 bit colour palette to draw from, meaning 32,768 colours, so much more the OCS/ECS Amigas, but not as much as AGA. It also had available a lot of different screen modes, with them all giving scaling, resolution, number of layer (planes) and palette size options. Modes 3 and Mode 4 offered a 256 colour palette layer, and the most advanced, Mode 7 offered the ability to scale one layer of 128x128 tiles in a 3D plane, which could be interpreted as a 256 colour one-plane layer, or a 128 colour 2 plane later. And using tricks to change the matrix parameters for each scanline, perspective effects could be created.

    BTW, did you know that AGA HAM8 was actually not meant to have a colour limit, but was only limited by resolution? So in theory a lot more than 262K colours were possible on the screen.

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


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    If only coders back then had the knowledge/time... imagine all the awesome arcade/SNES/Genesis/FM-Towns ports on the Amiga!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Harrison View Post
    That is very interesting. Great detective work. Really shows just how good coders were in the 16/32bit era, and how much they could get out of the Amiga hardware. Also shows just how well designed the Amiga architecture was. I bet a lot of coders today couldn't do similar tricks because they now have hardware powerful enough to allow bad coding. Imagine if today's coders wrote code to the same level as they did then, hitting the hardware level directly.

    BTW, have you looked at the Shadow of the Beast games? Would be interesting to find out how many colours their screens contain.

    For other systems, as far as I remember:

    The Megadrive had a more limited 512 colour palette to draw from, similar to that available to the ST, but was meant to be able to display a maximum of 64 total colours on screen (split into 16 colour palettes for each of the 3 planes and a sprite field). I don't know what this console had that compared to the Amiga's blitter or copper. Anyone know?

    And the SNES had a much more complex video hardware, having a 15 bit colour palette to draw from, meaning 32,768 colours, so much more the OCS/ECS Amigas, but not as much as AGA. It also had available a lot of different screen modes, with them all giving scaling, resolution, number of layer (planes) and palette size options. Modes 3 and Mode 4 offered a 256 colour palette layer, and the most advanced, Mode 7 offered the ability to scale one layer of 128x128 tiles in a 3D plane, which could be interpreted as a 256 colour one-plane layer, or a 128 colour 2 plane later. And using tricks to change the matrix parameters for each scanline, perspective effects could be created.

    BTW, did you know that AGA HAM8 was actually not meant to have a colour limit, but was only limited by resolution? So in theory a lot more than 262K colours were possible on the screen.
    Hi Harrison, iv'e looked at a lot more, SNES, MD, ST PCE etc. As well as more OCS/ECS and AGA (Including SOTB). I was judging interest before spamming the boards though
    A for HAM8, I think we both posted about this on another thread. The old 'load mutiple DPaints with HAM8 images, and screen drag so they are all displayed trick' -some of the methods above are similar, but of course limited by the old 6bit palette.

    @Shoonay -If only UK publishers (And commodore) actually paid atention to the east back then, we would not have been so gob smacked by japanese shooters, fighters and RPG's. Megadrive, X68000 and PCE ports would definetly have been doable.

  7. #7
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    If I recall correctly, Body Blows Galactic pulled a HAM-mode trick for the backgrounds showing many, many more colours on screen than should normally be possible.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Khephren View Post
    Hi Harrison, iv'e looked at a lot more, SNES, MD, ST PCE etc. As well as more OCS/ECS and AGA (Including SOTB). I was judging interest before spamming the boards though .
    Please do post as much as you like about all this. Very interesting subject for all of us as the comparison between hardware and what was achieved in comparison is fascinating and an ever on going discussion between fans.

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


  9. #9
    You should do a blog about it if you've looked at lots of different systems - so everyone in the world can read about it.

  10. #10
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    Indeed, this is uber-interesting stuff no matter the system, please post moar!

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