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3do rendered some very good graphics especially for its day

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Anarchist420

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The 3DO had way more graphics than the Saturn did though. alpha blending, look at road rash, alone in the dark 2 (vs one eye'd jack's revenge), doom, and myst. D looked inferior on Saturn also. Pretty much every game on both systems will look better on 3DO b/c 3do do 16 or 24 bit color while Saturn only had 24 bit palette but only 12 or 15 bit on screen colors; 3DO games aren't anywhere near as pixelated nor grainy. Also, despite the Saturn's name its processors don't all much precision in the far clip plane (everything is rendered close up).
 

Exophase

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Apr 19, 2012
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Pretty much every game on both systems will look better on 3DO b/c 3do do 16 or 24 bit color while Saturn only had 24 bit palette but only 12 or 15 bit on screen colors; 3DO games aren't anywhere near as pixelated nor grainy.
3DO has a 320x240 15-bit color framebuffer, and an interpolation chip upscales it to 640x480 w/24-bit output. The only contribution the framebuffer makes to the upscaling is in two corner-weight bits, one which has to be shared with the LBS of the blue channel.

Saturn uses 15-bit (or 8-bit) rendering for 3D. You can mix 24-bit stuff on the 2D chip. So between the two it's Saturn that has real 24-bit support, although I doubt games used it very much.

What Saturn had and 3DO lacked was gouraud shading, although the blending model was additive, which doesn't really work like it's supposed to. 3DO on the other hand did have multiplicative blending, and you could vary the inputs per-pixel using values from the texture. For some reason. Saturn games didn't use a lot of shading anyway, maybe because it was a big burden to compute the color values.

Also, despite the Saturn's name its processors don't all much precision in the far clip plane (everything is rendered close up).
Neither system has any notion of far plane clipping at a hardware level, all rendering is done by projecting 2D sprites to the 2D framebuffer. If 3DO games have a greater draw distance (if that is really what you're talking about) it'd suggest it can render more quads and/or the engine was better written.
 

zerocool84

Lifer
Nov 11, 2004
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.

It's a big part of why the Wii U has so few third party games. It still uses a slow 32-bit PowerPC processor, while everything else has moved on to x86-64. Plus the GamePad adds some extra mechanics to the system as well. Just not worth the time and effort for such a small install base.

Nintendo shot themselves in the foot by keeping such a tight leash on third parties. Both Sony and Sega quickly learned how to use that to their advantage. You lure more flies with honey than vinegar.

The N64 struggled because Sony won over third parties, and due to the cartridges. While the system was responsible for some of the best games of all time, none of those were third party.
.
The lack of third party games on the WiiU, like you said, is because of Nintendo being Nintendo and not because of the architecture of the processor. The WiiU having a PowerPC is not the reason why it doesn't have tons of third party games, it goes back to them not courting them like you said from back in the N64 days. PS3 was extremely difficult to develop for but it got huge third party support. Nintendo keeps relying on its first party games and while they almost always deliver great games, you miss out on the tons of insanely good third party games if you only have a Nintendo system.
 

Anarchist420

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Neither system has any notion of far plane clipping at a hardware level, all rendering is done by projecting 2D sprites to the 2D framebuffer. If 3DO games have a greater draw distance (if that is really what you're talking about) it'd suggest it can render more quads and/or the engine was better written.
Bladeforce had a lot of fog so I don't know what I was thinking there; Battletryst (by Konami) for the M2, however, had a huge far plane as the M2 used some kind of w-buffering.
Now the original development platform for Road Rash was the 3DO so that may have something to do with it.
3DO has a 320x240 15-bit color framebuffer, and an interpolation chip upscales it to 640x480 w/24-bit output. The only contribution the framebuffer makes to the upscaling is in two corner-weight bits, one which has to be shared with the LBS of the blue channel. Saturn uses 15-bit (or 8-bit) rendering for 3D. You can mix 24-bit stuff on the 2D chip. So between the two it's Saturn that has real 24-bit support, although I doubt games used it very much. What Saturn had and 3DO lacked was gouraud shading, although the blending model was additive, which doesn't really work like it's supposed to. 3DO on the other hand did have multiplicative blending, and you could vary the inputs per-pixel using values from the texture. For some reason. Saturn games didn't use a lot of shading anyway, maybe because it was a big burden to compute the color values.
Well Myst, Road Rash, Doom and Alone in the Dark 2 looked better (at least to me) on the 3DO than the Saturn; much smoother and well blended on the 3DO than on the Saturn. Saturn (even on my model 1 so it wasn't the DAC or any other circuitry) games looked a little too sharp or often grainy and I don't recall and 3DO (at least not on the Panasonic FZ-10 model) games looking too sharp.

EDIT: It was 16 bit color for 3DO not 15 bit. So the 3DO had better color blending (look at the gradients for example) which makes sense given the superior blending even to the PlayStation which may have had better lighting but inferior smoothness of colors. 3DO had it the games the hardware the software the competition kind of didn't.
 
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Exophase

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EDIT: It was 16 bit color for 3DO not 15 bit. So the 3DO had better color blending (look at the gradients for example) which makes sense given the superior blending even to the PlayStation which may have had better lighting but inferior smoothness of colors. 3DO had it the games the hardware the software the competition kind of didn't.
Uh, no it wasn't. The colors were 555 RGB. The extra bit was used for corner-weighting. VDP1 on Saturn had 16-bit framebuffers too, where the extra bit was used for other stuff like distinguishing paletted and non-paletted pixels.

I don't think you know what you're talking about when comparing blending on PS1 vs 3DO either. You've basically got two stages at work on both: modulation of texels then blending them with the framebuffer or a constant. 3DO has effectively 20 levels of modulation, PS1 has 256, and 3DO's levels are arguably less useful since they go up to 4.0 (PS1's up to 2.0). 3DO can blend with (A + B), (B - A), and (A ^ B) optionally dividing those by two. PS1 can do (A + B), (A + B) / 2, A + (B / 4), and (B - A). So while 3DO can do these weird subtractive halving and XORing modes they're not really that useful.

To get something resembling real alpha blending on either of them you need to do it in two passes using the framebuffer as a texture. Fortunately, this is something both 3DO and PS1 can do, but Saturn can't.

What much of your preference probably boils down to is liking the smoothing done when upscaling, not the rendering capabilities.
 
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Ichinisan

Lifer
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I don't understand how anyone ever liked 3DO. My friend had one and I played it at some department stores. The games were all terrible and looked bad. Other than gimmicky full-motion video, I'd seen 16-bit games that looked better. Overwhelmingly, 32-bit games of that era just looked unclean to me. Gameplay felt loose and awkward, you could even see this in the commercials. Even as a kid, I didn't like the gimmick of CD-ROM video. The actual 32-bit games looked and felt bad while my 16-bit games were extremely polished and had tight control. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, Donkey Kong Country, etc... Even 8-bit games like Super Mario Bros. 3 were much more satisfying.

I was super-happy with NES, SNES, and Sega Genesis and never had any desire to get a 3DO. Back then, I was really poor. I still felt sorry for people with a lot more money than me when they had wasted it on a 3DO. I would never have considered buying it back then unless I was filthy rich. Even then, I doubt I would have found any games I'd want to play. From thrift stores, I now have a 3DO in my collection with a big library and lots of accessories. It's not fun.
 
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HeXen

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Dreamcast is all that matters. Last of the great classic consoles and the best.
 

Anarchist420

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Uh, no it wasn't. The colors were 555 RGB. The extra bit was used for corner-weighting. VDP1 on Saturn had 16-bit framebuffers too, where the extra bit was used for other stuff like distinguishing paletted and non-paletted pixels. I don't think you know what you're talking about when comparing blending on PS1 vs 3DO either. You've basically got two stages at work on both: modulation of texels then blending them with the framebuffer or a constant. 3DO has effectively 20 levels of modulation, PS1 has 256, and 3DO's levels are arguably less useful since they go up to 4.0 (PS1's up to 2.0). 3DO can blend with (A + B), (B - A), and (A ^ B) optionally dividing those by two. PS1 can do (A + B), (A + B) / 2, A + (B / 4), and (B - A). So while 3DO can do these weird subtractive halving and XORing modes they're not really that useful. To get something resembling real alpha blending on either of them you need to do it in two passes using the framebuffer as a texture. Fortunately, this is something both 3DO and PS1 can do, but Saturn can't. What much of your preference probably boils down to is liking the smoothing done when upscaling, not the rendering capabilities.
That's probably it. I am sorry for any arguing as you know your programming. I want to learn but I can't with the tranquilizer corrupting my brain's natural and logical state.

Y'know the 3DO graphics would've looked rather lousy had they only been the same res as most saturn games. Saturn games looked wonderful often, but they were often sharp to the point of graininess and they were kind of dark. Still, I believe that in tech terms, the Jaguar version of Rayman looked the best; then the PlayStation version then the Saturn one. The reverse order is my preferences for the artwork actually; the two aren't 100% mutually exclusive though because the artwork depends on the tech.

Didn't most Saturn games output to NTSC TVs at 320x224? Just wondering.
 

BarneyFife

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Aug 12, 2001
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Dreamcast is all that matters. Last of the great classic consoles and the best.
Agreed. I can't believe it failed. It was way ahead of its time. I remember playing NFL 2k or whatever it was called and it destroyed Madden and playing online against other people with a dialup and how smooth it ran.

I think the big console push started around 1995 with the 3do, Saturn, Playstation all coming out. I remember the Philips Cd-I too. That was an exciting time for me. I would buy all the gaming magazines I could find to read what was happening.
 

mmntech

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Sep 20, 2007
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The lack of third party games on the WiiU, like you said, is because of Nintendo being Nintendo and not because of the architecture of the processor. The WiiU having a PowerPC is not the reason why it doesn't have tons of third party games, it goes back to them not courting them like you said from back in the N64 days. PS3 was extremely difficult to develop for but it got huge third party support. Nintendo keeps relying on its first party games and while they almost always deliver great games, you miss out on the tons of insanely good third party games if you only have a Nintendo system.
It's part of it though. Recompiling code from 64-bit x86 to 32-bit PowerPC is time consuming. Costs money that would be better spent elsewhere, and ultimately pushes back release dates. Plus you have to add in functionality for the touch screen. A lot of devs just can't be bothered going through that expense.

Also the PS3 really suffered from lack of third party support in its early years because of the Cell. A lot of that first crop of games to come out were inferior to the 360 version. That really didn't start to change until about 2008-2009.

But, I agree that Nintendo's long history of antagonizing third parties is largely to blame. That goes right back to the NES era. If you wanted to publish a game for the NES, you couldn't make games for other consoles. Period. You couldn't even handle your own production. Carts had to be made by Big N. That only began to turn around in the 16-bit era when a desperate Sega started making offers devs couldn't refuse. Sony followed on that model for the 32-bit era and completely crushed their competition. I think the final blow was when Square jumped ship.

Nintendo's a bit behind the times as well with online, which I think is irking a few third parties off. From what I've heard, online multiplayer isn't as popular in Japan as it is abroad. Which is why their systems are so focused on local multiplayer. Problem is every Western third party has to have an online component these days.

Full disclosure, I do own a Wii U and I like it despite its flaws. However, it badly needs more content and better direction. Anybody see their joke of a Black Friday sale on the eShop?
 

sxr7171

Diamond Member
Jun 21, 2002
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The follow up to the 3DO, the M2 was a beast for it's time (1996 I think).

Saturn's graphical forte was 2D games, especially 2D fighters. Some of the 2D fighters required a RAM expansion card for higher res graphics.

The PS2's Emotion Engine main processor was a beast of an IC for it's time. Unfortunately, it was burdened with vertex, geometry, and lighting unlike the GC and Xbox which had full 3D T&L GPUs. Also, most devs only used one of the two Vector Units. Games like Ratchet & Clank, MGS3, GT, Shadow of the Colossus really allowed the system to shine. I really wonder how well even the Xbox's CPU could handle some of those. I also like to ponder how much better the PS2 would've been with more memory, multi-pass texture mapping, higher clocks, and another vector unit. I feel it would've been as good as the Xbox. PS2 is probably my favorite console architecture even if it wasn't the best.

So now, imagine a straight up Emotion Engine @ 500 MHz + 3D T&L multipass texture GPU + 128 MB memory. *Drool*

Well most games were not really using the architecture except for some first party titles. Honestly, and you might hate me for saying, some Dreamcast games looked better than most PS2 games imho. Soul Calibur was a launch game and it, to me, looks better than a lot of PS2 games.

I felt the Dreamcast was truly ahead of its time.
 

sxr7171

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Jun 21, 2002
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Full disclosure, I do own a Wii U and I like it despite its flaws. However, it badly needs more content and better direction. Anybody see their joke of a Black Friday sale on the eShop?
Lol. I just saw that. I kept scrolling down after I saw all FIVE deals. I then realized that was it.
 

corvusd

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Apr 21, 2020
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Uh, no it wasn't. The colors were 555 RGB. The extra bit was used for corner-weighting. VDP1 on Saturn had 16-bit framebuffers too, where the extra bit was used for other stuff like distinguishing paletted and non-paletted pixels.

I don't think you know what you're talking about when comparing blending on PS1 vs 3DO either. You've basically got two stages at work on both: modulation of texels then blending them with the framebuffer or a constant. 3DO has effectively 20 levels of modulation, PS1 has 256, and 3DO's levels are arguably less useful since they go up to 4.0 (PS1's up to 2.0). 3DO can blend with (A + B), (B - A), and (A ^ B) optionally dividing those by two. PS1 can do (A + B), (A + B) / 2, A + (B / 4), and (B - A). So while 3DO can do these weird subtractive halving and XORing modes they're not really that useful.

To get something resembling real alpha blending on either of them you need to do it in two passes using the framebuffer as a texture. Fortunately, this is something both 3DO and PS1 can do, but Saturn can't.

What much of your preference probably boils down to is liking the smoothing done when upscaling, not the rendering capabilities.
Hi,

I am a very passionate for retro machines. Especially this 32bit era. My favourite machine is Sega Saturn(and SEGA in general in fact :)). But I have devotion and respect to 3DO, Jaguar and PS1.

Thanks for this awesome post. I have could learn a lot thank to this and you. And thank for share your knowledge.

But I have two doubts:

1) How the PS1 can handle 256 levels of alpha, when not have alpha channel or even only the GPU can handle RGB555(only 24bit RGB888 for direct colour not for 3D) format for textures? In the same way, 3DO can handle textures in RGB555 in theory this machine also have the same levels that PS1, 32 levels. No?
2) SS can hand alpha blending in the same way that these machine. But whit the VDP2. VDP2 have modulation(more advance that these machines, at 5bit or 32 levels, for until with 3(2 with transparency and 1 opaque) VDP2 Screen at same time) and have additive/sum blending, in this case only this type of blend. Plus If you sum the VDP1 data with the VDP2 features you can have very similar effects that 3DO or PS1, not the same but similar.

Greetings!

PD: Sorry for arrive so late here. I hope not disturb you. Thanks again.
 

WhiteNoise

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Jun 22, 2016
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I remember seeing the 3DO on the showroom floor. I was so amazed by what I saw. I had never seen a console with graphics like that. It was the coolest, then I saw the price and I think it was $749. Back in those days, I was making min. wage and I knew I would not ever own it. Luckily my friend had parents with money so they bought him one and wow I played the crap out of that system every time I went to his house. Such an awesome fun time!
 
Mar 11, 2004
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LGR just had a video on a Creative 3DO expansion card for PC

Nvidia made some weird Saturn add-in card (that I guess could only play some Saturn games that were ported for it?).
 
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GunsMadeAmericaFree

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Jan 23, 2007
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I remember buying a Goldstar 3DO used for about 80 bucks and enjoying Icebreaker and The Horde on it a lot. A couple of years later, I bought several Sega Saturns on closeout at Wal-Mart for $30 each, then found games at yard sales for years afterwards.
 

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