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Maes
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Preface: I had mentioned time and again how I had written an angry and bitter complaint letter to my favourite computer magazine back in 1996, when they published a negative review of Final Doom, which I perceived as a personal blow. That, combined with an anti-Doom sentiment that pervaded the magazine's articles for some time now (every FPS review was made in the tone of it being the next "Doom killer", only to be bitterly proven wrong and falling short of expectations), prompted me to write a quite angry letter. A letter which I translated from the original Greek .txt file for you all to read.

Keep in mind that this was written when I was a hot-headed, know-it-all, spoiled-brat etc. 16 yo that took no fucking shit from nobody and especially about DOOM (well...maybe I needed to play less and get out more but let's not open other old wounds...).

It's important to know that I was very frustrated because of how shitty Windows 95 was, how game requirements had gone way up very soon (the jump from 486-class games to Pentium was very sudden, for whoever hasn't lived it, and the difference in computing power was almost an order of magnitude. Also, RAM was at a premium and Windows 95 made things even worse), and so seeing them picking on the only game that was playable on my system...

I decided to post it in Doom General because it may arouse the interest of those curious about Doom's history, PC gaming and the perceptions of a total Doomhead from 1996 (me :-p). Certain statements are patently wrong (e.g. I didn't know that Doom can't actually reach 70 fps) and some judgements too harsh, but many are sharply to the point, even after all those years.

But let's read the letter, mostly intact, except for some anonymization. The magazine's name is unchanged though, and it still exists. Capitalization was left as is. Also, the letter pretty soon degenerated into a bashing of the gaming industry, the magazine itself, and assumed messianic and eschatological overtones in the end. Yup, I really did need to get out more.

To the best of my knowledge, the letter was actually sent to the magazine, but never published. I can see why ;-)

RIP AND TEAR!


A VERY angry and young Maes said:

Dear PC Master, first of all I’d like to congratulate you for your contents, which really cover all the spectrum of informatics, ranging from games and hardware all the way up to expensive commercial packages. No other computer magazine in Greece has this versatility and this so particular way of presenting stuff that you have. Kudos, then!

However you must have your “downs” now and then, huh? I mean, what was that all about with that unfair and unacceptable review of FINAL DOOM in issue 78 of PC MASTER? Sound and graphics 55%? Gameplay 85%? Overall 65% ?! What you did was the very least SACRILEGIOUS, HIGH TREASON in the eyes of every true gamer!

How could you do that to a game that in December 1994 (issue 57) had scored Graphics 91%, Sound 94%, Gameplay 99%, Endurance 97%, ATMOSPHERE 100% [Note: yup, they had really written that in the review. No other game ever received an “atmosphere” rating], 97% OVERALL? But I’m sure that the actual issue at hand is another one, isn’t it?

Ah, DOOM. I can hear a lot of you folk laughing and saying “but DOOM is dead by now!” or “…is this guy straight from the…’past’ or what?”, “but now we have QUAKE” and other things along these lines.
There are many blokes out there who would like to “get rid” of DOOM once and for all.

Not that QUAKE isn’t a great game too, but DOOM is its equal in many points, which I can support: e,g, many things that were mentioned as new and exclusive features in QUAKE already existed in some form in DOOM: e.g. doors that open to the touch and shootable switches existed in DOOM since day one, and don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about [Note: in their overly enthusiastic review of Quake, they actually mentioned these things among Quake’s “exclusive improvements” over Doom. So justice had to be done].

Doom’s environment is 3D [Note: they called it "illusion of 3D", which I couldn't stand], but it has a small limitation for which however none ever complained, and is exactly what gives DOOM the fastest 3D rendering engine in the PC gaming world: it only allows one floor and ceiling per ‘sector’, thus making the construction of bridges, multi-floored buildings, slopes etc. impossible. However many level designers have managed to approximate this sensation (sic), it’s up to them and their ability.

QUAKE doesn’t have this limitation, of course, but in all QUAKE levels I’ve seen this feature is only used sparingly, mainly for small bridges and short slopes, while its very existence makes the game painfully slow (and needlessly so), especially compared to DOOM.
Some of QUAKE’s features (e.g. the ability to freely look up and down) already existed in HERETIC and its sequel, HEXEN, which use DOOM’s engine and have no performance penalty for doing so.

Also, it might be true that QUAKE’s “real 3D sprites” may be more realistic than DOOM’s 2D sprites, but their very existence, too, slows the game down to a crawl. I mean, seriously, a QUAKE room with more than 30 enemies, wouldn’t be horribly slow, even with a PENTIUM PRO @ 200 MHz? I have seen locations in DOOM with dozens of enemies at once, hordes, mobs, at the pre-maximum view window size, with HIGH DETAIL (another useful option which was unfortunately removed from QUAKE) on my 486DX/40 while I still had 4 MB of RAM, that were lightning-fast, according to DOOM’s FPS meter (20-24 fps).

Really, of all the games you reviewed in that fatidic issue 78, which one could even run on a 486 with 4 MB? That’s another point of strength for DOOM.

Also, the status bar: DOOM’s was simple, functional, clear, and the clearly visible visage of our hero made us feel the one and the same with him, love him, feeling joy or pain along with him according to the circumstances. On the opposite, that microscopic, sheepish looking face they put in QUAKE could never cause those same feelings.

What else is there to say? How about the DUMB, oh wait, I mean the ULTRA DUMB weapons of QUAKE? Somehow we started with kickass weapons such as the ‘Chainsaw’ that has grinded tons of daemonic meat (a DOOM’s exclusive), to the ‘Plasma Gun’, to the one and only BFG 9000 (Big Fucking Gun 9000), and we ended up with…axes and nailguns in QUAKE. You could hardly define this as “progress”.

What about the enemies then? Almost all of the classic and successful enemies that made DOOM so famous are gone, disappeared instead of making an improved return. Where else will you find something like the CACODEMON? The CYBER DEMON? The BARON OF HELL? The ARCH VILE? Only in DOOM! Let alone that DOOM has more lively colors, yet it also manages to have those famous “dark locations” that you claim are “typical of QUAKE”… [Note: Yeah, they also mentioned that as an exclusive trait of Quake]

Then, if we stick to the overall graphical presentation, I firmly believe that in SIMPLE VGA MODE, QUAKE is way worse than DOOM, much slower and demanding in comparison for what it offers. SVGA mode is another story, and only in that case could QUAKE be considered superior to DOOM (then again, only if you have a Pentium 133 and above, with 16(66) MB of RAM). However, when played in full screen and HIGH DETAIL, DOOM is pure delight and requires VIRTUALLY NOTHING to run compared with modern games: a 486DX/66 with 4 (and not 8, just 4 MB) is enough for full screen, HD and 36 fps, while a 386 DX/40 is enough for pre-maximum window size at LD and 25 fps. Any Pentium from 75 MHz onwards should theoretically give 70 fps at HD, that’s better than a PLAYSTATION!

I mean, really, if someone saw for the first time QUAKE and then DOOM (on a machine capable of running both perfectly), I’m pretty sure that he would find DOOM more lively, faster, smoother, slicker, more SATANIC and ATMOSPHERIC than QUAKE. For QUAKE, he would probably only notice the slightly more varied environment, and the prettier “water”. But NOTHING else.
The enemies (in QUAKE) would appear to be slower, the weapons would suck ass, and gameplay would also appear slow and tedious in comparison.
An expert DOOMER, on a good machine (to have fast gameplay) can easily make short work of these turtles that pretend to be QUAKE’s “enemies”.
But what if he witnessed them on a machine that can only run DOOM well? In that case he would add that DOOM is technically light years ahead of QUAKE, tech-wise, and that the latter is simply…unplayable!

[Note: I had made a pun between “cannot be played” and “unplayable”, as the former means that something is actually too good to defeat/overcome].

Honestly, when there’s such a heavy frame drop at the slightest movement, it’s hard up to impossible for someone to aim accurately, which is often fatal (just try in play QUAKE on a 486DX/40 with 8 MB, which FIY ROCKS DOOM and tell me if I ain’t right).

Let alone that, when so many books have been written about a game, so many editors and new levels were created for it, so many sequels were made (DOOM,DOOM II,ULTIMATE DOOM,FINAL DOOM), when it has become a new discussion topic for such a long time, when it’s still used as a reference whenever something “new” and “better” comes out, when at last it affirmed the PC’s dominance in gaming, by sending (at last) thousands of AMIGAs, ATARIs, SNES straight to the trash bin, and made the AMIGA goers WORSHIP the PC and its real power, when it set new quality and most importantly, technical excellency standards which many game companies today CANNOT follow, when it (almost) created a new religion…can it possibly die so easily?

You gotta understand, Doom is not like one of those stupid commercial games “designed” for Pentium and/or WINDOWS 95 (want some examples? Here you go: FOOTBALL, HELLBENDER, KRAZY IVAN, XS, et al.) that will forever pass into oblivion and indifference between two issues of your magazine, and whose dumb demo versions waste 100s of MBs from your magazine’s CD-ROM each month, MBs which could be used much more creatively: source code, MODs, S3Ms, DEMOS (not commercial ones, but demoscene demos like FUTURE CREW’s etc.), DOOM levels, utilities (is it possible that on a 650 MB CD-ROM there are only 10-15 mediocre utilities to be found?). I actually rejoiced when some game companies announced their intentions to “kill off” DEMOS once and for all. Hallelujah!

DOOM is the LIVING LEGEND, it is the MASTER, the LORD, the GOD of video games (and not only).

Doubtlessly, QUAKE is like day and night compared to DOOM in many aspects, but there’s nothing going on about it that will make it into the “new King”. If it had kept certain of Doom’s good aspects, which allowed it to sit on top for so many years, then maybe it could, but it didn’t, so there’s not a chance in hell.

Really, if DOOM is considered so “outdated”, then why does every gaming magazine and gaming company compare every DOOM clone with DOOM itself? The very same DOOM that was released in 1993 and 1994? Why did DOOM’s first serious contender, DARK FORCES (yeah, I consider THAT one as a serious opponent) has remained in the dark since it was released? Maybe because it’s IMPOSSIBLE to even touch THE GOD?

All other games will ALWAYS be called DOOM clones, to be reminded of their inferiority compared to GOD itself, DOOM! On the other hand, trying to compare DOOM with POOR or even TONGUE-IN-CHEEK knockoffs such as DUKE NUKEM 3D, RISE OF THE TRIAD, THE TERMINATOR: RAMPAGE etc. is really pointless. Sorry, but there can be no serious grounds for comparison. None of them has Doom’s fast and precise control or attractive gameplay. Even if it may disappoint many of you fellas, DOOM’s shotguns are going to roar for a long, long time to come, and endless hordes of demons will be slaughtered in its name.

Last edited by Maes on 01-08-10 at 22:29

Old Post 01-06-10 10:02 #
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GreyGhost
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Evangelical zeal in .txt format.

Old Post 01-06-10 10:11 #
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myk
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Doom IS a religion.

Old Post 01-06-10 10:33 #
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Maes
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myk said:
Doom IS a religion.


And apparently I was its prophet...if only I knew ;-)

Old Post 01-06-10 10:35 #
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Mr. T
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I bet they had fun reading that lol

Old Post 01-06-10 11:33 #
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GreyGhost
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Maes said:


And apparently I was its prophet...if only I knew ;-)

Prophet of Doom - that'd make a good custom title. ;-)

Old Post 01-06-10 12:15 #
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Maes
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Mr. T said:
I bet they had fun reading that lol




Heh if I knew about 1337 speak back then, I'd probably shorten the letter to "H0w fuc|<1ng |)4r3 j00? DOOM s1 t3h p4wn 4dn t3h h4x j00 fux0rs I'm g0nn4 rijp j00r @$$ w1+|-| 4 r4z0r d1ld0!!1!!!111!!onehundredandeleven!!!11!".

It would have saved me and them some time, as well as making my point more powerful ;-)

Old Post 01-06-10 12:42 #
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Mr. T
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Maes said:



Heh if I knew about 1337 speak back then, I'd probably shorten the letter to "H0w fuc|<1ng |)4r3 j00? DOOM s1 t3h p4wn 4dn t3h h4x j00 fux0rs I'm g0nn4 rijp j00r @$$ w1+|-| 4 r4z0r d1ld0!!1!!!111!!onehundredandeleven!!!11!".

It would have saved me and them some time, as well as making my point more powerful ;-)



That's better :-P

Old Post 01-06-10 12:44 #
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Vegeta
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So true. This should be added to the DOOM bible or at least to a DOOM museum.

Old Post 01-06-10 13:32 #
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Bucket
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The case for marijuana.
Kids need to chill the fuck out.

Old Post 01-06-10 15:01 #
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Gez
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The thing is that they were right to rate it less than the original, since it wasn't the original. Nothing new in the engine or its capabilities. Not even some new enemies and weapons, like at least Doom 2 had over Doom. It didn't even have the innovations brought to the engine by Heretic and Hexen. Of course, given the way it was developed, it wasn't going to have ACS, inventory, flight and freelook. But reviewers don't care about that, they care about the finished product, not how it was done. And they see that what's sold as a new game is in fact a couple of sets of maps for an old game.

It was an expansion pack sold as a new game. Like if GT and Id just grabbed some mods made by the community and sold them. Oh snap!

Old Post 01-06-10 15:10 #
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Intel17
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading that. And it turns out you were right -- look at how big of a community the original DOOMs have today.

The last time I played Quake was years ago. I never finished Duke3D. None of these games hold a candle to the original DOOM.

Old Post 01-06-10 15:34 #
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Post of the Year Nominee 2010.

Old Post 01-06-10 16:01 #
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esselfortium
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Recommendation: someone go set Maes' custom title to the entirety of that letter.

__________________
essel.spork-chan.net - doom stuff, artwork, and music by esselfortium

Old Post 01-06-10 16:46 #
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Patrick
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Ask Maes about Final Doom?

Old Post 01-06-10 16:51 #
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scalliano
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Take heart, mate. Let's face it, If PCM had published your letter they would have just given the usual purile games-mag-bitch-slap about how they're right and you're wrong. I've read enough of them in my time.

But, yeah, DOOM > Quake. Here we are, roughly 14 years after that letter was writtien and Doom still hasn't been killed off. Not even Doom 3 managed it.

Old Post 01-06-10 21:16 #
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Abyssalstudios1
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Wow.

Was there any sort of reply?

Old Post 01-06-10 21:51 #
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Maes
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Abyssalstudios1 said:
Was there any sort of reply?


I'm sure they just threw it away after wiping their ass with it, since I didn't include stamps for returning it to the sender :-p

As I had stated in another thread, this letter was actually based on a less abrasive version, that was more "Doom vs Doom Clones" in tone, which I had written before that Final Doom review was published but never sent.

There was already an anti-Doom sentiment pervading the magazine (or at least the guy who regularly did the FPS reviews), who used no half-terms in crowning each and every new FPS "The new king" and "The Doom killer". E.g. the Dark Forces review terminated with the phrase "Doom is dead. Long live Dark Forces" -> HA HA HA HA HA !!!

The Final Doom review was pretty much the drop that made the glass overflow, and so I modified the original letter using no half terms on my side, either.

I think I had sent them another one, later on, which was even MORE abrasive but it complained about the state of PC gaming compared to its glory days in 1993-1995 ('tis was in late 1997-early 1998, exactly in the mid the dark transitional period for PCs between 1995-2000). I also sent another one, more carefully worded that got published after some censorship...yup, I had something to communicate ;-)

Old Post 01-06-10 22:11 #
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Abyssalstudios1
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Maes said:



E.g. the Dark Forces review terminated with the phrase "Doom is dead. Long live Dark Forces" -> HA HA HA HA HA !!!




I need to figure out who this guy is...

Old Post 01-06-10 22:30 #
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Super Jamie
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Maes said:
even with a PENTIUM PRO @ 200 MHz

Feel the power!

I am so glad you became a Doom fan instead of a Mac zealot.

Old Post 01-06-10 23:36 #
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PRIMEVAL
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lol that was amusing. I personally love Quake, but I keep it equal with DOOM in awesomeness. Something about Quake just draws me in, probably the more Gothic theme in it and slightly more modern weapons.

Old Post 01-06-10 23:56 #
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Viewtiful-Chris
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PRIMEVAL said:
lol that was amusing. I personally love Quake, but I keep it equal with DOOM in awesomeness. Something about Quake just draws me in, probably the more Gothic theme in it and slightly more modern weapons.


IMO, the weapons in Quake are redundant (Shotgun, Super Shotgun! Nailgun, Super Nailgun! Grenade launcher, Rocket launcher!) and all the environments look like puke.

Not enough variety or inventiveness.

Also, to OP, yeah... the GOD metaphors were a little extreme.

Old Post 01-07-10 00:24 #
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eargosedown
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Maes said:
on my 486DX/40 while I still had 4 MB of RAM, that were lightning-fast, according to DOOM’s FPS meter (20-24 fps).


I'm sorry, but this made me laugh for a good minute. Ah, the old days when anything over 20 was amazing. Technology sure has gone crazy huh?

Amazing how everything is still a Doom clone. You can put better graphics on it. You can use higher detail models instead of sprites. You can spend millions of dollars on motion capture animations... and you're still a Doom clone.


Krispavera said:
Post of the Year Nominee 2010.


Seconded.

Old Post 01-07-10 10:20 #
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Maes
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eargosedown said:
I'm sorry, but this made me laugh for a good minute. Ah, the old days when anything over 20 was amazing. Technology sure has gone crazy huh?




Well, motion pictures are still 24 fps.

Exceeding the framerate of what can be actually displayed and/or perceived by the human eye is also pointless, and is only there for e-peen purposes or for technical considerations (e.g. interlacing in traditional 50/60 Hz, compatibility with mains frequency, increased picture stability in CRT monitors and high-end CRT TVs, or especially high refresh rates in some specialty LCD monitors). The currently mainstead TFT TN monitors would also look like crap if the frame rate was actually 24, 25 or 30 fps, because they need to buffer and oversample their input several frames ahead in order to drive their el-cheapo display.

Anything over 20-24 fps appears ultra-smooth, at least if you have progressive scan. With interlaced displays, you may want to double that. In particular TV screens are made from two partially overlapping fields, so in order to get smooth motion you need to render double the frames (50 instead of 25 for PAL, 60 instead of 30 for NTSC etc.)

Old Post 01-07-10 12:22 #
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Super Jamie
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Maes said:
Exceeding the framerate of what can be actually displayed and/or perceived by the human eye is also pointless

Some beg to differ

Old Post 01-07-10 12:48 #
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Maes
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Super Jamie said:

Some beg to differ



Yeah, and the fact that the author hasn't mentioned persistence of vision even once adds to its credibility. Seeing the tree and missing the forest.

Old Post 01-07-10 12:58 #
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Graf Zahl
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Maes said:

Exceeding the framerate of what can be actually perceived by the human eye is also pointless,



Clearly wrong. 35 to 60 Hz makes a big difference, and even 60 to 85 is clearly perceivable as an improvement. Even though the human eye supposedly cannot see the difference.


Maes said:

Exceeding the framerate of what can be actually displayed is also pointless,



Correct. This will only create screen tearing and create choppiness almost like having too low frame rates.

In general I believe that synchronizing with the monitor is the best option. Anything more is indeed just 'e-peen' as you so aptly put it. ;)

Old Post 01-07-10 12:58 #
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Maes
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Graf Zahl said:


Clearly wrong. 35 to 60 Hz makes a big difference, and even 60 to 85 is clearly perceivable as an improvement.



In what context? CRT stability? Of course. But in many contexts frame rate is not the same as refresh rate.

In motion that won't be even be physically rendered on the monitor? Clearly not.

In motion that might* be rendered, but won't be perceived as intended? Maybe, since the eye isn't a frame buffer indeed, but nothing major.

*That interlacing thing again. 50i != 50p, and 50i != 25p.

There are valid reasons to "put up" with overengineered frame rates, but they are more more technical and psychological than physiological.

There's however the experience of generalized signal processing: extreme framerates and resolutions can be seen as the equivalent of processing a human voice recording at a ridiculously high sampling rate, such as 192 KHz with 32-bit precision. While clearly pointless for normal listening and playback, it's advantageous to do any intermediate processing of any signal in the highest quality available, even if it will have to be degraded in order to be used.

You can view high framerates as a sort of "visual oversampling": since the eye doesn't sample discretely and instantly, there will be some continued perception of motion even beyond 25 fps, but not too much beyond.

The merits of "visual oversampling" are discussed in this research paper.

Just like any real signal, human vision is continuous but bandwidth limited, aka there's a maximum limit to the detail you can perceive in a given lapse of time.

What does this mean, practically? That if instead of 60 fps you were shown 24 carefully crafted fps (with processing and time shifts to account for your visions' limited bandwidth) you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Dropping frames like it happens on fixed-frequency media is however a far cry from those "idealized" 24 fps, and putting out 60 fps or more is an easier way to compensate, just like 192 KHz audio can compensate more easily and cheaply for recording/playback artifacts than a $1000000 CD player.

Last edited by Maes on 01-07-10 at 13:25

Old Post 01-07-10 13:03 #
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Gez
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#2 by HeliumPhoenix at January 6th, 2010

The real issue here isn’t framerates per-se….but motion-delta framerates. How ‘fast’ something is moving on the screen translates into so many pixels of distance between the same object on successively rendered frames. If the frame-rate of update is high enough (and the resolution sufficient)……or the motion is slow enough, then the number of pixels ‘jumped’ by an on-screen object that is moving will small enough that it becomes imperceptible as a ‘jump’……it looks smooth. But, when the object is moving faster than the screen can update for the same delta in screen-space, the jumps get bigger, and soon it becomes not only perceptible, but noticible and distracting.

Motion blur only obscures this.

The ‘framerate’ resolution of the eye is around 80-100 Hz for a stationary object. Beyond that, changes that are faster (like a flashing LED) no longer are perceptible as changing, and appear to be a continuous (if slightly dimmer than always-on).

Moving objects are more complex, as it also involves the resolving power of the human eye (max around 1 arc-second). So, if your monitors resolution (and your distance from it) make 1 pixel to be around 1 arc-second wide/tall, then for NO noticible motion artifacts, your framerate needs to be fast enough that no object shifts more than 1 pixel in any direction per frame.

Of course, you also have to concern yourself with LCD or CRT response times too, as most LCDs shift on/off much slower than the GtG times they like to advertise.

So, if your LCD has a 5ms GtG response time, it’s On/Off response time is probably around 7-8ms. Which means a max displayable frame rate of 160fps or so. Anything higher than that is invisible (your monitor simply can’t display the changes that fast.)

There are a LOT of factors that interact when it comes to perception limits. And different people have slightly better (or worse) limits perceptually as well. So, claiming that 30fps is better/worse than 60fps is somewhat nonsensical, without more information on the type of motion, resolution, distance, and speed on screen that are involved for a particular game…

Old Post 01-07-10 13:25 #
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Maes
I like big butts!


Posts: 12473
Registered: 07-06



Gez said:
HeliumPhoenix's bunch of bullshit anal crap


Oh wow. 100 Hz eye perception? 160 Hz on a TFT? No comment. Let alone that marketing hype has reduced "response time" to pseudoscientific gimmicks just like those phoney 10000:1+ contrast ratios or those "100000 W PMPO MULTIMEDIA SPEAKERS"

If anything, consumer-grade TFT screens are not only locked to 60-75 Hz (at best), but they also suffer from effective input lag due to buffering, TN response time, motion compensation etc.

Old Post 01-07-10 13:30 #
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