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GoatLord

Doom 64 EX looks a lot better pixelated.

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There's a really nice option in the menu that lets you switch to a nearest-neighbor rendering mode, which gives it a nice blocky look. Playing it this way, I noticed just how slick the textures are, especially the gothic ones in later maps (such as the grimacing gargoyles). The enemies look less like blurry turds and the overall game is just sharper. To anyone who doesn't like the art style of Doom 64, I suggest playing it this way. I've always enjoyed the game's aesthetic, although as I've become more proficient at illustration and graphic design, I've found some elements to be lacking. The pixelated rendering mode seem to alleviate some of this nastiness for me, and overall makes the game look, ironically, a lot better.

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IMHO, any game with pixel-art in it looks much better pixelated than whatever filter you could ever put on it would look like. it makes everything look sharp and pop out, so i can see why you enjoy playing D64 EX this way. i'll remember that setting whenever i want to play the game again.

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I don't play with Bilinear anyways since it causes framedrop for me. The only graphical filter that I can say is up to snuff would be the xBLRV4 family, and then only with really grimy or cartoonish games. I wish it was available in more emulators.

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I don't think the original filtering applied from the N64 matches the bilinear which the port uses, I feel the pc bilinear is making it look worse than the N64's own filtering.

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I don't remember seeing a difference. In either case, texture filtering doesn't look good with older hardware. Big, chunky, blurry pixels on highly angular models just looks bad. Sprites look cleaner and sharper without filtering. But hey, it was the mid 90s. Shit was cool back then.

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N64 filtering only used three samples instead of four. Normal bilinear filtering looks smoother but I can't find any example images right now.

Filtering is a weird thing for me and whether I prefer it on or off really goes on a game-by-game basis. In some cases you can tell the textures were definitely designed with it in mind and they look terrible pixelated, in other cases games that forced filtering on still look better with pixelated textures.

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Dragonsbrethren said:

In some cases you can tell the textures were definitely designed with it in mind and they look terrible pixelated, in other cases games that forced filtering on still look better with pixelated textures.

I agree with that, I find the original Doom's don't look so good with texture filtering applied.

However the less sampling might actually work better than higher sampling since Doom 64 was made with it.

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I prefer pixels for textures and sprites, with the benefits of enhance lighting and effects etc, like a combination of both worlds.

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I honestly think D64 looks better with filtering (for the most part, a few exceptions though). It was designed with it in mind, and the flaws of the limited textures become more apparent without it (for example, the flipped textures with repeat columns/rows in their center). That, and stuff like the gritty rusted metal textures look like garbled messes of pixels to me in nearest as there's so much contrast between each pixel, it was definitely made with blending in mind.

Of course, PC Doom looks better without filtering. They knew there'd be sharp edges, so they felt no need to exaggerate the differences between neighboring pixels and thus gritty stuff looks appropriately gritty without looking like a mess or looking flat. Add filtering and it loses its gritty look due to the blending.

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Doomhuntress said:

IMHO, any game with pixel-art in it looks much better pixelated than whatever filter you could ever put on it would look like. it makes everything look sharp and pop out, so i can see why you enjoy playing D64 EX this way. i'll remember that setting whenever i want to play the game again.

I don't consider Doom 64's sprites to be pixel art, though. They're model renders.

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Then neither is half of Doom's resources.

Either coming from photographs or clay figures.

I mean honestly, pixels are pixels, and it's something nice that you look at. Ergo, pixel art.

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I suppose the topic's turning into a more general "do we like filtering?" than just what's in the OP, but I'm definitely of the "pixels good, filters bad" concept when it comes to games with low-resolution graphics. In such cases like Doom (and its N64 counterpart), the graphics are meant to look good at a pixel level ("pixel art" definitions aside); smearing it removes all the intended detail and makes things look wonky IMO.

D64 is a bit of an odd case, I suppose, since it did have filtering on it originally, but I'm wondering if that was a hardware-enforced thing since the N64 is weirdo. I'm curious to know if the original devs would've turned it off if they could -- I would've. :P

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I bet they could have turned it off. I noticed that in Starfox 64, for instance, the medals you're awarded for high scores/full completions--which show up in the overworld between levels--are unfiltered! I've never seen any other unfiltered image in an N64 game.

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Pretty good example of low res textures made better looking with filtering:

Quake Knight Pixelated
Quake Knight Filtered

(From this article on Quaddicted if hotlinking isn't allowed)

I usually turn filtering off in Quake, but you'll have a hard time convincing me that knight doesn't look better with it on. The armor looks like smooth metal and the blood spatter looks like more than a collection of red pixels. You do lose some of the contrast between armor sections, but IMO it's worth the tradeoff.

Quake's monster textures weren't even designed for filtering and they're improved by it. Now the wall textures, those unquestionably look better unfiltered to me. But other games' textures that were designed to be filtered look absolutely terrible with it off. Doom 64 isn't too bad but I leave the filtering on, mostly for the reasons Sodaholic pointed out.

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I dunno, man. Considering that the game uses a standard VGA palette and low resolution textures, it doesn't really look any better or worse with filtering. Both renderings have their charm!

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To me, that's a perfect illustration of what bugs me about filtering. Although the blood splatters look a lot more pool-like in the filtered version, filtering makes it much harder to see the carvings on the armor, hand details, and facial features. It also mucks up the rough texture on the wall rocks and floor tiles, making everything look like it's been saran wrapped. The trade-off isn't worth it, IMO*.

Granted, Quake is a funny case since its exceptionally blocky models mean that lots of folks find it equally ugly-as-hell either way, but that's another story. :P

[*I've seen cases (though I can't recall one offhand because DEAD_BRAINS) where individual sprites will look good with, say, hqNx filtering, but I've yet to see a low-detail game (with good art in the first place :P) that benefits from it as a whole.]

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If the doom 64 devs didn't use filtering the game would be slaughtered by the gaming press of that time IMO.

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Technician said:

The unfiltered knight looks better. The filtered example looks like he's been smeared with Vaseline.

Filtered looks better. Never played Quake filtered though.

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VGA said:

If the doom 64 devs didn't use filtering the game would be slaughtered by the gaming press of that time IMO.


I don't know if the devs thought about that or not but I think you're absolutely right about that.

I like my pixels sharp. I got my XRGB-Mini recently, now Genesis looks nice and sharp.. no more of that blurry shit you get on modern TVs these days.

http://i.imgur.com/QoDhOKK.jpg

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The model renders are very smooth. They were made with bilinear filtering in mind, most likely.

By the way, the clouds are pretty ugly with nearest neighbor filtering.

Jaxxoon R said:

Then neither is half of Doom's resources.

More than a half, actually.

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Avoozl said:

I don't think the original filtering applied from the N64 matches the bilinear which the port uses, I feel the pc bilinear is making it look worse than the N64's own filtering.

Playing a little bit on the N64 and then testing 320x240 in EX, it looks like EX is blurring a bit stronger than actually happens on the N64. But I think that could be due to differences between a CRT TV and LCD screen, rather than rendering inaccuracy. In either case EX could probably benefit from having a filtering option somewhere between bilinear and nearest.

There's another aspect to the Doom 64 filtering that most people don't realize. It drastically affects transparent textures:
nearest:
http://i.imgur.com/PYZPhPG.png

bilinear (accurate to N64):
http://i.imgur.com/elJfWUe.png

Cause: (I think I understand this correctly)
When blending is used on textures that have transparent pixels, there's a semi-transparent border formed around the solid pixels (solid pixel blended with transparent pixel = semi-transparent pixel). Doom 64 can't have semi-transparent pixels though, it's all or nothing. So what happens instead is a border color (aka "matte color") is used wherever blending would've made the pixel semi-transparent.

That matte color is saved within the individual image. Any color could be used, though I think they only ever used black. I only found out about this because I became very confused why the hell there was this white stuff showing up in the transparent textures I was making.
http://i.imgur.com/Ao1bd.jpg

Anyway, all the transparent textures were designed to display with this extra border; using "nearest" blending actually makes it easier to see through transparent textures than it was supposed to be, because the matte border doesn't exist then. It could possibly be considered a minor cheat, so something people speedrunning might want to keep in mind.

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Part of the problem would be that the Nintendo 64 has trilinear mipmapping; OpenGL only implements bilinear. So it's never going to look exactly like it does on the console.

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IMO there are very few instances where FPS pixel art looks good with filtering, even if it's designed with it in mind. Side scrollers on the other hand I don't mind so much.

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GoatLord said:

Why doesn't it support trilinear? Old format?

Significant extra complexity for a relatively small gain, I would guess. Use of trilinear mipmapping also necessitates anisotropic filtering unless you like weird angular distortion (which I think the N64 in fact does suffer from).

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Technician said:

The unfiltered knight looks better. The filtered example looks like he's been smeared with Vaseline.


That is how i feel about N64 in general, it looks like there is vasoline on my TV. Playing N64 on virtual console (wii) is much nicer visually.

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