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DoomUK

32X Doom

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Why did they bother including music in this port at all if the following collection of farts and burps was apparently all that the Genesis/32X audio hardware could muster?

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The Genesis has a sound chip that is very similar in capabilities to the classic OPL2 (and even has a 4-op mode like the OPL3). It has already been set that they simply were lazy and used a bunch of generic sounding timbres instead of programming it with the GENMIDI lump. The effect is not unlike the "sound" you will get if you use an OPL2 card as a MIDI device under Windows.: yech.

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SeanWJF said:

32x was capable of far better music than what was presented.


Until some of the 32X programmers comes forth and "confess", I will always assume that they threw in the music as an afterthought or that it was quite low in development priority. Probably someone had came up a working blob (but without any finesse such as timbres, pitch/volume variations etc.) and near the forced "out of the window" date of the project one of the pointy-haired say "just throw it in" without any chance to finetune it.

The Jaguar port apparently took this to the extreme and they threw in nothing at all, while the SNES one obviously had music high as a concern. The PSX/3DO ports had less problems with their music being CD based (confirm?) so they simply slapped in a recording and hey presto, they had music. None of this Z80/OPL/OPN programming stuff necessary!

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Maes said:

The PSX/3DO ports had less problems with their music being CD based (confirm?)


For the PS version only the title/intermission music is CD audio. The level music uses a tracker like format, most of them surprising consisting of only a few samples.

Don't know about the 3DO, going to assume it's CD audio based on it's complexity.

The Jaguar port lacks music because the DSP units used to render the game are tied to the sound hardware, leaving no processing power to play it. This is why you only have music during the title and intermission screens. I'm sure Carmack would have wanted music for this port, but the system is a complete clusterfuck.

The Genesis is capable of a lot better sound-wise, but who knows how much processing power it's using just to run the game. After all the 32X was a rushed piece of shit meant to compete with the SuperFX chip. If Sega had learned from the original NES and designed their Genesis cartridges to carry co-processors like the SNES did, the 32X/Sega-CD boondoggle likely would have never happened.

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Scet said:

If Sega had learned from the original NES and designed their Genesis cartridges to carry co-processors like the SNES did, the 32X/Sega-CD boondoggle likely would have never happened.

Well, I know the Genesis version of Virtua-Racer used a co-processor, without a 32x or Sega CD.

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Scet said:

The Genesis is capable of a lot better sound-wise, but who knows how much processing power it's using just to run the game.


Let's see. A "32X" is actually a superset of the Genesis, and the 68000 and Z80 of the latter remain fully usable (as are its sound and video subsystems). Now being Doom a game that cannot be accelerated by the usual 2D trickeries, the bulk of the workload for what regards the rendering falled on the twin SH2 CPUs the 32X had. Combined, you had roughly the raw number-crunching power of a contemporary 486...and nothing more. No 3D circuitry, no Amiga-like audio DSP, not even NEO-GEO like super-powerful 2D circuits. Just dumb, raw power (not much of it, either). It was like programming for MS-DOS, only worse.

The digital sound effects were channeled through the 32X's DSP unit (well..it's a stretch calling it a DSP though, as it required software mixing), while the music was played through the Genesis usual synthesis module YM2612, very similar to the OPL3.

The same exact sound modules used for any other Genesis game. In games, the "sound code" was usually handled by the Z80 CPU (itself powerful enough to run entire Master System games, and here used just to drive an OPL-like chip). Even if they didn't use the 68000 or Z80 for this task in Doom, the amount of data required to play a shitty timbre and a good timbre is entirely comparable and in any case, laughable.

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Scet said:

For the PS version only the title/intermission music is CD audio. The level music uses a tracker like format, most of them surprising consisting of only a few samples.


Yes. The PSX has a hardware wave mixer that supports pitch shifting (so it can be used for rudimentary wavetable synthesis). It has 16 channels, but they are used not only for the sequencer music, but for all of the sound effects as well.

That being said, having studied it a bit I am of the opinion that PSX Doom could have made reasonably faithful reproductions of the original MUS files. I believe the choice of ambient musics was a design decision, not a technical one.

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Maes stated that the 32x music used "The same exact sound modules...for any other Genesis game." I own a number of Genesis games and every single one of them has better music than what I just heard. Maybe they couldn't program a guitar synth that didn't sound like shit (pun intended).

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At least that song is in key.

It could be worse:

Cyanosis said:

That song + Maes' Doomguy's forced and painful chocolate shotgun = perfect.

Don't leave out the avatar either.

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natt said:

That being said, having studied it a bit I am of the opinion that PSX Doom could have made reasonably faithful reproductions of the original MUS files. I believe the choice of ambient musics was a design decision, not a technical one.

It was also a legal one:

I was the Manager of Music Development at Midway (San Diego) when Id partnered with Midway to do the console versions. Id was in the middle of a dispute with their original composer and decided they needed a new audio guy. After taking a tour of the Midway San Diego audio department and spending some time with me, Id decided I was the guy they wanted to do the sound and music. I was honored that the company placed their trust in me and I wasn’t about to let them down.

http://www.gamescares.com/main/index.php?Itemid=29&catid=23:interviews&id=445:aubrey-hodges-interview&option=com_content&view=article

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GoatLord said:

Maes stated that the 32x music used "The same exact sound modules...for any other Genesis game." I own a number of Genesis games and every single one of them has better music than what I just heard. Maybe they couldn't program a guitar synth that didn't sound like shit (pun intended).


Well, there has been some hackish research posted here on DW (on some older 32X related thread) that confirmed that, yes, they were indeed using the good old Genesis sound source just as any other game.

The only thing that was not easy to find was where the timbre information was coming from, but certainly it was very, very simplified compared to what the hardware was capable of doing (it could be at least as good as the PC OPL2 version, if not JUST like it, since technically the OPL3 and YM2612 chips have minimal differences).

TL; DR: they underutilised the sound hardware in 32X Doom, plain and simple. You can get the exact same problem -well, perhaps sounding A BIT better- under Windows if you have an OPL2/OPL3 card and use the FM Synth as a pure MIDI device. Play E1M1...and you will understand why I call it Squarewave Banjo Syndrome ;-)

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Sodaholic said:

Well, I know the Genesis version of Virtua-Racer used a co-processor, without a 32x or Sega CD.


My point was that Nintendo had designed their cartridges to carry extra hardware from the start. SNES cartridges have a secondary address/data bus for co-processor communication. The Genesis cartridge pin-out is bare-bones and the chip Virtua-Racer uses is memory mapped, likely the reason why it's the only game to do so and why it appeared so late in the consoles life.

Maes said:

the amount of data required to play a shitty timbre and a good timbre is entirely comparable and in any case, laughable.


I was unaware of how the 32X dealt with the sound hardware and if the situation was similar to the Jaguar. It does appear to be a pointy-haired decision, the game was likely rushed since it was a 32X launch title.

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Ugh, I played that version but I don't remember that... and I'm glad I don't remember that...

I woulda just not had music lol

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Lüt said:

At least that song is in key.

It could be worse:


Either they were incredibly lazy and didn't even bother listening to the tracks on the final product all the way through, or the guy that did the music was not at all musically inclined and so couldn't hear that things sounded wrong.

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DoomUK said:

Why did they bother including music in this port at all if the following collection of farts and burps was apparently all that the Genesis/32X audio hardware could muster?

*E1M1 Video*


Everybody, please stop dissing that track; can you fart the E1M1 theme just as good?

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Scet said:

After all the 32X was a rushed piece of shit meant to compete with the SuperFX chip. If Sega had learned from the original NES and designed their Genesis cartridges to carry co-processors like the SNES did, the 32X/Sega-CD boondoggle likely would have never happened.

Sorry but thats nonsense. If Sega were so short sighted then the Genesis wouldn't have been equipped with the comms port that was ultimately used for the SegaCD.

The 32X was pretty much the beginning of the end for Sega. Sega of America basically screwed it up for Sega because they were convinced the 32X was going to be a success. Despite that the industry as a whole largely ignored their attempts to promote the system to developers. Fact is that Sega Japan had already decreed that the Saturn was the future of the company (quite rightly, in my opinion) yet Sega of America were not prepared to accept they'd wasted their investment in the technical research behind the 32X.

I hold Bernie Stolar personally responsible for Sega's downfall and I'm sure many other classic-Sega fans share the same opinion. Its a tragedy Sega Corp was reduced to a marginal player in the video game industry.

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DaniJ said:

Sega of America were not prepared to accept they'd wasted their investment in the technical research behind the 32X.


Call it "research".... the thing was brain-dead and badly designed even by the standards of the day.

It was supposed to bring 3D graphics and superior processing to the Genesis, but it didn't include any 3D accelerating circuitry (so in that respect it wasn't even comparable to the SuperFX chips, let alone to the Saturn or PSX), and it didn't even boost 2D capabilities other than adding a 15-bit color mode (hell, it even relied on being able to use all of the Genesis hardware in combo and overlay sound/video). They just threw in two (not even impressively powered) extra general purpose CPUs, and handled everything in software. At most you could have flat-shaded polygons or (very poor) texture mapping.

Audio? Just two stereo channels to be handled with software mixing, just like contemporary PCs did with tracker music, uncomparable with what the basic SNES had built-in.

Somehow, it was the less console-y hardware Sega ever made, resembling more a weak 486/33 with a basic VGA and a Sound Blaster card for sound.

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You're not wrong. The "research" I was alluding to was the hair-brained scheme they cooked up to interface the 32X with the Genesis itself. Quite what was stopping them using the existing comms port I guess we'll never know (they could have designed a solution that sits between the Genesis and the SegaCD).

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DaniJ said:

Sorry but thats nonsense. If Sega were so short sighted then the Genesis wouldn't have been equipped with the comms port that was ultimately used for the SegaCD.


It's hardly nonsense, Sega was short sighted. The SNES, NES and Master System all had similar types of expansion ports. What I'm talking about is per-cartridge based expansion that would have made the 32X unnecessary. This type of system had been implemented in the NES, long before the Genesis and then subsequently ignored by Sega's designers, likely to save on the cost of a few pins.

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One reason they didn't want to use in-cart hardware was the added cost.

Virtua Racing, the one Genesis game that did actually use an in-cart chip, retailed for MSRP $99.95. I dunno if you were anything like me back then, but only little rich boys got $99.95 games back in the mid-90's.

And even for having the in-cart hardware, it still looked pretty shitty.

SNES was not immune from this either. The MSRP for most SNES games was $59.99. Games bearing extension chips such as the Super FX, C4, SA-1, and DSP series usually ran $69.99, some even more - some were as high as $99.95 like Virtua Racing.

So now imagine if you had a line of "32x" games, each containing hardware equivalent to the 32x. What did it cost again? Yikes. Nobody would have bought those games, especially when they looked, sounded, and played often times WORSE than the SNES port of the same game.

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A 32X plus Virtua Racing Deluxe was £210 on release in the UK. Virtua Racing on the MegaDrive was £70 on release. The consumer was effectively presented a choice; buy the best version of the game and a platform to run subsequent games on (for three times the asking price of the hugely inferior MegaDrive version) or just shell out for the MegaDrive version.

The 32X shipped with three superb games; Virtua Racing Deluxe, Starwars Arcade and DOOM. If all three had been released on the MegaDrive* with in-cart hardware then you would have still had to fork out £210 and you'd still have the crap versions. Sega even gave you vouchers with the system for £10 off five further games.

Consequently the kids I knew who had parents that could afford it received the 32X as a Christmas present and they picked up the other two games at a later point.

* Obviously only one of which actually got released on the MegaDrive but that's beside the point I'm illustrating.

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buttspit said:

Everybody, please stop dissing that track; can you fart the E1M1 theme just as good?


Seriously, can you?

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I have tried in the past and even have some recordings (who wants some!!!); and though they got better, they were nothing like the scatological work of art that humbles the 32x port. But I always hold the track with respect because it pulls off what nobody could.

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I think the music would have sounded fine if they had used some other instruments. It's obvious they couldn't get a decent sounding guitar synth. I mean, the 3D0 version, with its kickass music, actually features TRUMPETS in "Untitled."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2E9njHP53-4&feature=related

With some creative instrumentation you don't necessarily have to use distorted electric guitars.

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The 3DO supports full CD quality audio, it isn't even comparable.

A better comparision is the SNES versions music.

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GoatLord said:

I think the music would have sounded fine if they had used some other instruments. It's obvious they couldn't get a decent sounding guitar synth ... With some creative instrumentation you don't necessarily have to use distorted electric guitars.


Here is another Mega Drive game which uses a distorted guitar sound:


Spot the difference? It's all down to the implementation, rather than the instrumentation itself. In the right hands, the Mega Drive's paltry FM sound chip could deliver the goods in spades (Streets of Rage, anyone?).

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Lüt said:

At least that song is in key.

It could be worse:


What sounds...quite good actually! Very eerie and evil.

Somebody should remix E1M8's music so it's off key like that.

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