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GoatLord

If Doom 64 had been 3D, which engine would it have used?

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Not that any of us can answer this objectively, so obviously this is opinion-based. I think the Quake engines would have made it look pretty ugly, as neither Quake nor Quake 2 looked very good on the N64. Being that lighting is integral to a Doom game, the Goldeneye engine would have also been a bit ass-y, because while it looks pretty good, the models only respond to ambient light (much like the N64 Quakes). The Turok 2 engine produced some beautiful lighting effects and decent-sized environments, so that might have worked. The main problem is that you'd only battle two to five enemies at a time, even with moderate polygon counts, so firefights would have to be intense and involved.

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Probably an in-house engine.

Midway was never dependent on other game engines for their works, especially with their home releases.

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Super Flip said:

Probably an in-house engine.

This. Although, I can totally see the choice sticking with 2-D opposed to trying to make a fully 3-D game at the time. We were in a world where 3-D models just looked completely terrible, especially on Nintendo 64 hardware.

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The only real issue with Goldeneye and Perfect Dark's models were the square feet I recall.

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I do recall the angularity of all the feet in those games as a distinct visual quirk. Even more so, every character's perma-clenched fists:



Edit: Heh, I used to think those flat boxy feet made some of the characters look like ducks. *QUACK!*

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I'd just like to know if Doom 64 would run better with Rare's in-house super-optimized microcode for the GPU :P

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It's amazing how many older Nintendo systems had potentially very powerful hardware, but terrible architecture and design choices that bogged them down in the end.

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I actually really liked boxy hands and feet for some reason. It legitly bothered me that Protocol Droids in Dark Forces II had saucer hands instead of fists.

Would it have looked good in Doom in 3D? I dunno. But whoever makes .md2 models for JDoom again should make 3D versions of the D64 monsters.

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Examples? Ho ho ho!

The SNES used sample synthesis. This was rather clever as it allowed for realistic-sounding instruments and an incresed level of atmosphere in songs over the Genesis' raw synth. However, the amount of ram the system had for sound only amounts to about 64k, pretty damn tiny for sampled sound of decent quality.

So to make up for this, they ran everything through Gaussian sampling, leading to the infamous "muffled" sound of a lot of early SNES games.

There's also the system's CPU, which is incredibly slow and actually based off of the NES's 6502. It's thought that Nintendo originally wanted for the SNES to be backwards-compatible, but alas it never came to be.

This means that a lot of special effects done in software like in many Megadrive games (sprite rotation, custom drivers for various tasks, on-the-fly decompression and loading) aren't as feasible on the SNES and usually require dedicated hardware.

The N64 I'm not as familiar with. Though I do know it had cartridges to deal with, small texture cache, Z-buffering the programmers themselves had to control, and the fact that the namesake 64-bit instructions were a pain to use and many games opted to run the system with 32-bit ones instead (Like Mario 64).

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The N64's CPU actually has to go through another device to get at main RAM. Bogs the system down terribly. No sane system engineer can explain a motherboard layout this bad.

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Shane said:

This. Although, I can totally see the choice sticking with 2-D opposed to trying to make a fully 3-D game at the time. We were in a world where 3-D models just looked completely terrible, especially on Nintendo 64 hardware.

JDoom proved this. The 3D models were awful, and though they were basically made by hobbyists rather than industry professionals, it's hard to see how they could look much better. Doom's monsters only ever looked good as sprites.

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Quasar said:

The N64's CPU actually has to go through another device to get at main RAM. Bogs the system down terribly. No sane system engineer can explain a motherboard layout this bad.

Except maybe the engineers who created the Saturn, which is about ten times more inefficient.

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Jaxxoon R said:

It's amazing how many older Nintendo systems had potentially very powerful hardware, but terrible architecture and design choices that bogged them down in the end.


I always was amazed at how "dirty" the Nintendo designs were, compared to Sega: Sega's machines up to the Megadrive were actually quite "vanilla", using the tried-and-true Z80 and 68000 also used in many arcade games, as well as the same type of sound hardware (PSG, FM synth + samples), and in fact the Master System and the Mega Drive are much better for classic (especially pre-90s) arcade ports IMO.

The NES OTOH, was essentially a bunch of hardware hacks: a "dirty" CPU (the 6502 is much 'dirtier' than the Z80 programming-wise, almost RISC-like), tons of custom chips, with the top of it all being a decoupled PPU that addressed its own memory independently (CHR ROM), essentially making the NES a Harvard Architecture machine (!), serial-protocol controllers etc.

The SNES was an even bigger hardware hack: "weird" CPU, loaded with custom DSPs, etc.

In this light, the N64 seems like an obvious continuation of this design philosophy. Maybe all those hacks and custom chips can give a distinct advantage in some cases, but it's easy to overdo it (Atari Jaguar...) and end up like the Amiga.

Being "vanilla" with run-of-the-mill hardware isn't necessarily a Bad Thing: take a look at the Neo Geo..it's essentially a Mega Drive on steroids.

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Chu said:

Except maybe the engineers who created the Saturn, which is about ten times more inefficient.

That probably draws from originally being a 2D only machine, but when they realized 3D was the next big thing instead of going back and re-engineering the system they loaded it up with a bunch of extra processors.

It was in fact a reasonably powerful system, just a bit strange. Nowhere near as strange as the N64, but it didn't have the market share to make up for that.

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Jaxxoon R said:

That probably draws from originally being a 2D only machine, but when they realized 3D was the next big thing instead of going back and re-engineering the system they loaded it up with a bunch of extra processors.


There's nothing wrong with that. Actually, that's how the most successful gaming machine architecture (the humble IBM PC compatible derivatives that we still use today, everyday) still gets by: a barebones, CPU-only system, with EVERYTHING as a hardware add-on (even basic 2D graphics capabilities) supported exclusively by OS-level drivers.

Even modern consoles use essentially this architecture. The days of the custom hardware-laden, super-optimized, OS-less console or dedicated arcade machine where games bang directly on the hardware are long gone. Everything today is much more "vanilla", from an architectural point of view.

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I have to say that I am extremely amused by how awkwardly constructed some of these old consoles were.

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GoatLord said:

I have to say that I am extremely amused by how awkwardly constructed some of these old consoles were.


Some were like this due to extreme stinginess, in an era where electronic components (especially anything digital/involving computer memory) were indeed expensive. Atari 2600, I'm looking at you.

Some were quite vanilla, all things considered (e.g. the Colecovision or Master System, if you make an exception for its backwards-compatible crap), while others like the Intellivision and NES were pretty exotic, by comparison.

For some reason, the most "vanilla" systems used a "square" Z80 and later a 68000, while the most exotic/"dirty" ones a more "rogue" 6502 or a derivative thereof...

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I think characterization of the 6502 and 65816 as unusual or "rogue" is incorrect. Its function and instruction set were actually inspired by the Intel 8080, IIRC. Anyway it was one of the architectures that assembly hackers of the time were widely familiar with, and therefore it was an excellent choice on Nintendo's behalf. I doubt the systems would run significantly better with power-equivalent Zilogs.

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Not just Nintendo, but apple, commodore, and a few others I think. That processor was everywhere.

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Quasar said:

I think characterization of the 6502 and 65816 as unusual or "rogue" is incorrect.


I read several times programmers "hating" the chip for "features" such as e.g. a fixed-size, fixed-location stack, or it being described as a "precursor to RISC-architecture".

And certainly, compared to the "straight" and "square" Z80 (which was actually backwards-compatible with the Intel 8085), it must have appeared quite a "rogue" and "dirty" CPU by comparison.

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Actually, Doom 64 could've just used whatever was used to Power Quake II on the N64. I remember Q2 being pretty smooth on the N64, although maybe not as good as Quake II for the PSX (Best PSX shooter as well, imo. ALthough videos of PowerSlave also show it with a very smooth framerate, as opposed to the sluggish rates of Doom, Duke, and worst of all, HeXen, the latter, coincidently, running rather good on the N64 with sprite rotations).

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Quake 2 PSX looked horrible compared to the PC version, and many levels had to be cut into sections just so the system could handle them.

The walls looked like they rotated partially when you were a certain distance away, at least Quake 2 64 didn't have those problems and it felt like an expansion to those who owned both the PC and N64 versions, the ambient music was a nice touch too.

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