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The Strife Commando

If John Carmack Wasn't Involved In The Saturn Port

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Posted (edited)

Remember Doom on the Saturn? It's hailed as a bad port for its frame rate and misinformation. Well see what happened was that originally it was going to have a custom engine that made the game run better, but Carmack stepped in and told them not to use it. That resulted in a more rushed development as they had to switch engines which meant not having the time to implement everything as well as not being able to get it optimized. The final result was the game not running very well as well as missing content. What would have happened if they stuck with the custom engine? Obviously the game would have run a lot better than what we got, and maybe the extra content would have been added since no extra time would have been wasted on switching engines. I believe it would have been a very good port if it wasn't for John Carmack. What do you think?

 

The European version had multiplayer, and the Japanese version of the game was more optimized. The US version was lacking and wasn't fully baked. It's clearly left unfinished. No special editions that fix it or anything. Just left as a failure.

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Posted (edited)

It was very disappointing, but at the time a lot of people were led to believe the Saturn was weak, and just blamed it on that. Completely different these days now that we know a lot more about the games development, the system itself, and have access to a number of games that showcase its actual potential, a lot of them that didn't make it to the US/Europe in the 90s.

I see no reason why the Saturn couldn't have had the same fantastic DOOM port that the PS1 did. Technically, being a 2D game at its core, the Saturn would've most likely handled that port better than the PS1 did. More CPU grunt and faster memory, let alone expandable too.

 

My hope is that someone in the Saturn homebrew community attempts to port over original DOS DOOM. The machine can easily handle it, and there is some real dedicated Saturn enthusiasts out there.

Edited by braders1986

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9 hours ago, The Strife Commando said:

The European version had multiplayer, and the Japanese version of the game was more optimized. The US version was lacking and wasn't fully baked. It's clearly left unfinished. No special editions that fix it or anything. Just left as a failure.

 

The US version DOES still have the multiplayer in the game code it seems, just that the option to select it from the main menu was coded out for whatever reason. Also pretty sure DF Retro managed to find out that the Japanese version running better was a myth.

 

Keep in mind that by the time Saturn Doom was released in Spring 1997 the Saturn was running a distant third behind PSX and N64 in terms of both sales and popularity, plus the fact that Doom in general was starting to get dumped on by critics for being "too old" (aka not Quake/Goldeneye/Turok). The chances of seeing just an enhanced version of an already released game would have been slim to none at that point, especially for the Saturn. Even GamePro's middling review for Saturn Doom pondered the idea of Final Doom getting a Saturn port, the closest we would have gotten to any sort of engine upgrade, which of course never happened.

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47 minutes ago, Mattfrie1 said:

 

The US version DOES still have the multiplayer in the game code it seems, just that the option to select it from the main menu was coded out for whatever reason. Also pretty sure DF Retro managed to find out that the Japanese version running better was a myth.

 

Keep in mind that by the time Saturn Doom was released in Spring 1997 the Saturn was running a distant third behind PSX and N64 in terms of both sales and popularity, plus the fact that Doom in general was starting to get dumped on by critics for being "too old" (aka not Quake/Goldeneye/Turok). The chances of seeing just an enhanced version of an already released game would have been slim to none at that point, especially for the Saturn. Even GamePro's middling review for Saturn Doom pondered the idea of Final Doom getting a Saturn port, the closest we would have gotten to any sort of engine upgrade, which of course never happened.

Such a shame that it ended that way.

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Things I've gleaned as a layman looking through that one big thread here gives me the impression that development was never going that smoothly, it seems like the port was overall slapdash, I'm not convinced it would have been great even with the better suited rendering (which we've never seen).

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1 hour ago, ChopBlock223 said:

Things I've gleaned as a layman looking through that one big thread here gives me the impression that development was never going that smoothly, it seems like the port was overall slapdash, I'm not convinced it would have been great even with the better suited rendering (which we've never seen).

Carmack admitted that he made a mistake, saying that he should have let them use the engine.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, The Strife Commando said:

Carmack admitted that he made a mistake, saying that he should have let them use the engine.

You keep saying engine when what you really mean is renderer. The engine is still technically the same, always was. 

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On 1/2/2021 at 8:15 AM, LuciferSam86 said:

Close but not cigar, Doom it's not a 2D game. It doesn't support 3D floors ( or other neat stuff in Quake) but nonetheless it's a 3D game.

 

http://www.classicdoom.com/doommyth.htm#doomdimensions

Okay how do you see the level map in an editor? (Not in Doom Builder's visual mode or anything like that) IN 2D. Basically in this context we're simply referring to the way the maps are stored.

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6 hours ago, Roebloz said:

Okay how do you see the level map in an editor? (Not in Doom Builder's visual mode or anything like that) IN 2D. Basically in this context we're simply referring to the way the maps are stored.

But maps are stored with floor and ceiling height information. How do you think they would even work otherwise?

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Just now, Edward850 said:

But maps are stored with floor and ceiling height information. How do you think they would even work otherwise?

Yes, flats are stored with 3D information, but lines are li- Oh and fuck it, let's not even argue about this anymore. Doom is 3D, thats it.

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10 hours ago, Roebloz said:

Okay how do you see the level map in an editor? (Not in Doom Builder's visual mode or anything like that) IN 2D. Basically in this context we're simply referring to the way the maps are stored.

 

How you see any data is dependent of how the programmer of the tool shows them to you, it has nothing to do with how the data is stored. If id decide to render the Doom Eternal strictly from a top down perspective with the next update, will it still be a 3D game, or a 2D game?

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1 hour ago, cybdmn said:

 

How you see any data is dependent of how the programmer of the tool shows them to you, it has nothing to do with how the data is stored. If id decide to render the Doom Eternal strictly from a top down perspective with the next update, will it still be a 3D game, or a 2D game?

Good point. Doom is 3D, but with limits that come with 2D-based line drawing.

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Posted (edited)

I guess the main takeaway from the Saturn version is Carmack really, really hated affine texture warping. Doom was still "relevant enough" that Carmack was worried about the perception the game could have if it was plagued with texture warp.

 

Fabien Sanglard's article on PSX Doom has a pretty good demonstration of it. In short, affine texture mapping is very, very fast - important on those mid-90s consoles that couldn't exactly do anisotropic filtering for practically free. (See the DOOM ON PSX: GPU section.) The PlayStation was actually just as vulnerable to this as the Saturn was, and you will see swim in some games on the system. The solution devised was to basically render the game as a bunch of 1px polygonal strips - mimicking the original renderer, and eliminating the problem. (It also means technically the PS1 is pushing lots of polys, however, and that's part of why performance can be so iffy.) The later industry standard would become LOD tesselation of surfaces - this is why the PSX version of Quake II runs so solid, for example, but you can also see textures shimmer slightly as you step between LOD levels of geometry complexity as you get closer to/further from a wall.

 

I guess on the Saturn, Jim didn't have enough time after Carmack's dictum, so he rendered it entirely in software. Solved the problem, but with no acceleration at all, and to have any hope at good speed at all, you needed to have the Saturn's twin VDPs cranking constantly.

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1 hour ago, Dark Pulse said:

In short, affine texture mapping is very, very fast - important on those mid-90s consoles that couldn't exactly do anisotropic filtering for practically free.

 

Did you mean perspective correct interpolation (and by extension, perspective correct texture mapping) instead? Anisotropic filtering is about combatting the blurriness introduced when using mipmaps or lower LOD textures for stuff further away in the distance. See:

 

https://www.scratchapixel.com/lessons/3d-basic-rendering/rasterization-practical-implementation/perspective-correct-interpolation-vertex-attributes

https://web.cs.ucdavis.edu/~amenta/s12/perspectiveCorrect.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anisotropic_filtering

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Well, let's be honest, Carmack just wanted the best for the game. He did admit that it was a mistake, but at the time it happened, he thought it was the best.

At least that's why I think.

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2 hours ago, Dark Pulse said:

I guess the main takeaway from the Saturn version is Carmack really, really hated affine texture warping. Doom was still "relevant enough" that Carmack was worried about the perception the game could have if it was plagued with texture warp.

 

Fabien Sanglard's article on PSX Doom has a pretty good demonstration of it. In short, affine texture mapping is very, very fast - important on those mid-90s consoles that couldn't exactly do anisotropic filtering for practically free. (See the DOOM ON PSX: GPU section.) The PlayStation was actually just as vulnerable to this as the Saturn was, and you will see swim in some games on the system. The solution devised was to basically render the game as a bunch of 1px polygonal strips - mimicking the original renderer, and eliminating the problem. (It also means technically the PS1 is pushing lots of polys, however, and that's part of why performance can be so iffy.) The later industry standard would become LOD tesselation of surfaces - this is why the PSX version of Quake II runs so solid, for example, but you can also see textures shimmer slightly as you step between LOD levels of geometry complexity as you get closer to/further from a wall.

 

I guess on the Saturn, Jim didn't have enough time after Carmack's dictum, so he rendered it entirely in software. Solved the problem, but with no acceleration at all, and to have any hope at good speed at all, you needed to have the Saturn's twin VDPs cranking constantly.

If only he realized that graphics are not important.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, intacowetrust said:

Did you mean perspective correct interpolation (and by extension, perspective correct texture mapping) instead? Anisotropic filtering is about combatting the blurriness introduced when using mipmaps or lower LOD textures for stuff further away in the distance. See:

 

https://www.scratchapixel.com/lessons/3d-basic-rendering/rasterization-practical-implementation/perspective-correct-interpolation-vertex-attributes

https://web.cs.ucdavis.edu/~amenta/s12/perspectiveCorrect.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anisotropic_filtering

Yeah, I did. Typed that up not long after I came home from work. My bad. :P

 

2 hours ago, The Strife Commando said:

If only he realized that graphics are not important.

Well, Carmack cared more about the presentation. The graphics are a part of that. As he said, he'd rather strip a port back to keep the essence of a game intact rather than try to cram it all in but compromise the presentation.

 

That's why some of the Doom ports are missing levels and such, and yet still "feel" like Doom - better levels or monsters be missing but the game plays very similarly to the PC original, than to have them in but have to compromise elsewhere.

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22 minutes ago, Dark Pulse said:

Yeah, I did. Typed that up not long after I came home from work. My bad. :P

 

Well, Carmack cared more about the presentation. The graphics are a part of that. As he said, he'd rather strip a port back to keep the essence of a game intact rather than try to cram it all in but compromise the presentation.

 

That's why some of the Doom ports are missing levels and such, and yet still "feel" like Doom - better levels or monsters be missing but the game plays very similarly to the PC original, than to have them in but have to compromise elsewhere.

That's just not right.

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9 hours ago, The Strife Commando said:

If only he realized that graphics are not important.

If only you realized that graphics are one of the cornerstones of a game along with story and design.

 

But i guess Carmack should have asked The Strife Commando first, back in the day.

 

That's just not right.

6 hours ago, The Strife Commando said:

That's just not right.

Who are you to declare that? You know jack about game development or the porting of code and having to decide what works best relative to the platform. 

4 hours ago, The Strife Commando said:

Well look what presentation got the Saturn version into.

Oh dear Johngod made a decision that in hindsight was not the best one - considering the port developer originally had a renderer that hitted 60 fps. That's just not right, right?

 

Or maybe Carmack is human like everyone else and does not always have a flawless prediction of things. 

 

This jacked sense of entitlement is very snobbish indeed.

 

Can you remember a decision you made that in hindsight was not the best one? Because i can.

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5 hours ago, Redneckerz said:

If only you realized that graphics are one of the cornerstones of a game along with story and design.


Well sure, but there's another cornerstone - gameplay. It's not like Carmack didn't understand that too, after all he wrote the original renderer which struck a good balance between power and speed. I doubt that he told Rage not to care at all about how fast it runs... he probably assumed they would be able to come up with a solution. If he was standing over their shoulders the whole time, I bet he would have realized how bad it was. I'm just imagining a Star Wars Holiday Special kind of situation. Lucas insisted that it would be all about Wookiees and that was basically it, then when he saw the result he realized it sucked.

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26 minutes ago, magicsofa said:


Well sure, but there's another cornerstone - gameplay.

I like to think that Graphics + Story + Design = Gameplay as a result.

26 minutes ago, magicsofa said:

I doubt that he told Rage not to care at all about how fast it runs... he probably assumed they would be able to come up with a solution. If he was standing over their shoulders the whole time, I bet he would have realized how bad it was.

Or perhaps not. Carmack's an engine coder primarily - Thus relying on others to complete the picture. As such the game is technically pretty sublime, but lacks in other departments.

 

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TBH it's not too hard to see why affline texture mapping bugged Carmack so much. Here's another game that can optionally use affline texture mapping:

If not managed properly, it can look hideous and pretty disorienting. I don't fully agree with Carmack, I think he should have let him experiment more with the old codebase, since perhaps there are some ways like how playstation devs would use the high triangle throughput of the machine to subdivide polygons that would let it run better, but if you're just drawing the world without any sort of compensation, you get something like this video.

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1 hour ago, Redneckerz said:

I like to think that Graphics + Story + Design = Gameplay as a result.


I meant gameplay in a more specific sense, maybe "mechanics" is a better word. Saturn Doom's gameplay suffered because the controls were less responsive. Other elements of the experience like artwork and plot can sometimes "bandage" a flaw like that, but I would still say "it has a great story but cumbersome gameplay."

 

1 hour ago, Redneckerz said:

Or perhaps not. Carmack's an engine coder primarily - Thus relying on others to complete the picture. As such the game is technically pretty sublime, but lacks in other departments.


Again, the engine is responsible for rendering the game world fast enough for the desired experience...

 

26 minutes ago, SaladBadger said:

TBH it's not too hard to see why affline texture mapping bugged Carmack so much. Here's another game that can optionally use affline texture mapping:


<Descent video>
 

If not managed properly, it can look hideous and pretty disorienting. I don't fully agree with Carmack, I think he should have let him experiment more with the old codebase, since perhaps there are some ways like how playstation devs would use the high triangle throughput of the machine to subdivide polygons that would let it run better, but if you're just drawing the world without any sort of compensation, you get something like this video.


Wow that's horrendous. In all my years of Descenting I never saw warping to that extent. I played with very low resolution at times too... is it not enabled by default in the original game? Maybe I'm only remembering ports?

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yeah it's not enabled by default, in Descent 2 it's a secret mode enabled by entering the cheat "bittersweet", which is so named because it increases your framerate while making the graphics look abysmal. It's actually a fair bit faster, perhaps a factor in why early consoles mostly used affine texture mapping.

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