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Spectre01

Software vs GL (hardware) mode

Software vs GL (hardware) mode  

70 members have voted

  1. 1. Which do you prefer?

    • Software
      37
    • OpenGL (hardware)
      33


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I've been trying out the PRBoom+ software renderer lately, after exclusively playing in OpenGL ports for over a year, and want to see which the community prefers. I do like authentic retro look compared to GL but it does have its drawbacks. Mainly, I find it reduces visual clarity and creates a kind of messy look with textures losing colour or "browning-out" based on distance. It also doesn't mesh with any kind of vertical look due to the excessive warping of map geometry compared to GL mode. Also, performance on large maps with high monster counts takes a big hit. i.e. 30FPS in software vs 60FPS in GL shooting all the crap in nuts.wad. I know the latest truecolour mode in GZ/QZDoom fixes some of this stuff, but I'm mostly interested in how people perceive the original software renderer compared to OpenGL.

Edited by Spectre01

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Software rendering at decent-to-high resolutions is my preference (in all idtech1 games). To some extent this is probably the result of habit/familiarity, though I would reject the notion that it's due to 'nostalgia' or anything quite on that level; given the choice between an 'authentic' software 320x200 screen or your average out-of-box GL sourceport display, I would pick the GL option without hesitation. I like a certain minimum of fidelity/clarity in my 90s FPS graphics, I suppose, anachronistic as that may be.

 

My main reason for preferring software is a question of mood lighting, I suppose. Doom (and its siblings) are designed as dark and gloomy games (even Heretic and its comparatively cartoony palette), and the simulated contrast feature's interaction with the engine's functionally infinite draw distance is something I'm inclined to view as a matter of stylization, giving these games an extra bit of unique visual texture, rather than as a limitation or failing to be overcome or 'corrected.' The truth, of course, is sensibly somewhere in between these two posts--Carmack and id went with something that was technically efficient/convenient within the bounds of what they were trying to achieve with the engine (which was uncompromising speed of simulation, so far as my Luddite grasp of engine creation can conceive) that also happened to suit the mood of the game's diegesis taking shape.

 

While more relatively recent builds of some GL ports (particularly recent iterations of GZDoom) have added a lot more rendering/lighting model options that make GL rendering much more inviting to my particular tastes, I guess it's also worth considering that I've been playing the game for a long time, since long before the options on the other side of the aisle were quite as customizable or feature-rich. To me, without a great deal of tweaking, the vast majority of GL displays always looked far too bright and washed out, like being inside one of those mass-merchandise interior decor superstores or the like (shooting demons at your local Crate & Barrel, now there's an idea for a 'city' map!). Excepting the other extreme of the GL lighting model extreme, of course, where something that would look like a dim/dank but perfectly navigable underground cave (for example) in software looks like an impenetrable coal-black screen with a goofy tangerine corona from a nearby torch prop!

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Software to me just looks ugly. Like you say the "browning out" of textures into a muddy mess doesn't sit well- even colours that are different eventually just go into a brown-grey mess in the dark. OGL gives the option of more colours, better lighting and all round improvements. I'm aware people do like the "old school" look and that is cool too, but personally...it's gross. :I

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i wish there was a way to make opengl not look bad so that i can truly enjoy the silky smoothness of it :c

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In the last few years I turned into a complete software freak. The very best looking maps seem totally ugly and boring in OpenGL to me. Like it completely sucks the life out of everything, makes rooms plain, removes all depth, and stripes the game of its trademark surreal tone.

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It's possible too you can get rid of all the ugly filtering though that OGL "forces" on you- first thing you do is turn off the filtering and it looks 10x better, not to mention you can do a lot more with lighting options with the newer versions of Geezee- hell even revert back to a hybrid Software like look!

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I started playing Doom in 1995 on a Mac Performa 6200 with a Motorola PowerPC 603@75Mhz. Woo Hoo! But that was enough power to play at 640x400. The only machine on which I had to play 320x200 was my beloved Amiga 4000 Tower, which had a Motorola 68060@57Mhz, just a teence too weak to work at 640x400. However, when I played Doom on a 20-inch Toshiba TIMM at 320x200 with that machine, it looked flat-out awesome. The TIMM was an unusually cool monitor that topped out at 800x600. I have no idea why it was made, but it came in handy for Amiga people.

 

I was happy enough with Doom at 640x400 software, until the first 3dfx Voodoo cards appeared. First, I bought one for my Pentium 133 PC to play GLQuake. Then I bought one for my new PowerMac clone which packed a PowerPC 604@132Mhz. Why? To play GLQuake. ;D And wouldn't ya know, I eventually bought one for my Amiga, too, and for the same reason.

 

And then, GLDoom happened. I think I mostly played it on my Mac, since that's where I did all my mapping, and basically, I never looked back. I was able to play Doom at 1024x768 and with wall textures that looked much more real. I even liked how the sprites looked. We had the early versions of Boom by then, but I didn't like scaled-up software mode.

 

I'm not a huge fan of the fake-contrast. It's like you're being followed by a spotlight all the time, and I suspect it gives me motion sickness watching light race along walls. FWIW, I think ZDoom does that better than than PrBoom.

 

OGL Doom doesn't look washed out to me, and IMO, it seems to handle gradient lighting better. I simply can't stand the graininess of software rendering. Even at hi-rez, it's still grainy. And even as I write this, I'm going through a mapset in PrBoom, at 1920x1080, checking for errors, for example midtextures bleeding through floors, which never happens in OGL. So far, it isn't happening in software, either, but there's 2 maps to go. And then there's those texture bleeds if ZDoom/PrBoom doesn't like where a vertice is placed.

 

Bottom line is that, IIRC, I've been playing OGL Doom since 1997 or so, and I see enough of software during playtests to know I have no desire to switch. 

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OpenGL here, but I also equally like software rendering. I've been trying out Jayextee's The Becoming mapset and personally, it looks better in software.

Although I try to stick with OpenGL whenever I can.

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I like them both equally. Doom1 and Doom2's campaigns look best in software without a doubt - The lighting and contrast is alllllll kinds of wrong in OGL. With that said, freelook looks better in OGL and I really like the glow that comes off torches/fireballs/etc, so it really is give and take. I picked software because it's the "correct" way to play the original campaigns but I like both equally and am glad I can choose between them whenever I like. In terms of visual clarity, both are equally clear as long as the resolution is the same.

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Software seems to look better with older, vanilla wads and helps mask the simple geometry and frequent texture misalignments. By the way, which video mode/port do most people use for software? I use 8bit in PRBoom+ since 32bit tends to dip the frame-rate a lot more.

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Good question. 8bit software in Odamex and ZDaemon, OGL w/ maxed out video quality stuff in Zandronum. For the rare occasion I play single player, I basically always use Choco Doom, so 8bit software of course.

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I first played Doom in 1994 when I was 10 years old, but never had a video card that could do OpenGL until I was 18.  So anymore, I'm tired of seeing software mode and its nearest neighbor filtering, and thus use OpenGL exclusively.  Same with Quake and Descent.  The only games I don't use OpenGL and nice filtering with are 8-bit and 16-bit console and arcade games.

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2 hours ago, Fuzzball said:

Software to me just looks ugly. Like you say the "browning out" of textures into a muddy mess doesn't sit well- even colours that are different eventually just go into a brown-grey mess in the dark. OGL gives the option of more colours, better lighting and all round improvements. I'm aware people do like the "old school" look and that is cool too, but personally...it's gross. :I

You however have forgotten mods built entirely around the 8bit lighting limitations, namely BTSX. Well okay, probably only BTSX, but it is a consideration.

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Unless its simply not going to work with the wad, I choose Software mode anyday. I never liked how GL-rendered ports handled lighting, as it always looks off to me, even if I have Software styled lighting in GZDoom. I also reckon the reduced color aspect of software's diminishing lighting adds a certain atmosphere to the levels, that is missing with true color rendering.

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34 minutes ago, Edward850 said:

You however have forgotten mods built entirely around the 8bit lighting limitations, namely BTSX. Well okay, probably only BTSX, but it is a consideration.

I played both episodes in OGL and never had a problem. I know the textures are supposed to look better in software, but I like them better in OGL. ;)

 

This is just one of those "different strokes" things.

 

Personally, I used GZDoom in Dark mode. The colors look nice and rich.

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You know what bugs me about Doom's palette is the green range is perfect across all distances, but the blue turns grey unless you're in front of it due to the diminishing light effect. I use 'palette' mode in GZDoom to emulate the 8-bit color look and as such using glowmaps for water for example areas that should be drenched in blue are washed out with grey. But green looks fine because it has no grey creeping into its range in the palette.

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I like software rendering, the diminished lighting effect is really nice. I do think it could be done better (things like BTSX definitely feel like they have that additional polish, and DM2PAL can help the base game quite a bit), but its overall okay and not a super huge deal in my mind

 

GL rendering can be nice though for mods that are trying to use it effectively, or mods that are trying certain other visual styles.

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I'm playing with GZDoom's hardware renderer. But I make it look softwareish, i.e. no texture filtering (for me Doom just has to be pixelated) and no lighting on fireball or torches or whatever. So I get what's IMO the best of both worlds.

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My choice: 320x200 software rendered, 8-bit colors at 35 FPS.

 

I mostly play in DOSBox or in Chocolate-Doom.

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4 hours ago, Steve D said:

I played both (BTSX) episodes in OGL and never had a problem. I know the textures are supposed to look better in software, but I like them better in OGL. ;)

 

 

Same here. It may be that the gradients have been tweaked a bit to look better with software rendering but in the end it's still 8 bit limited. I clearly prefer ther greater color fidelity of true color rendering over such apparently minor optimizations which most people will probably never notice. I for sure didn't when I tried it with software rendering to see what's up.

 

That said, I haven't been using the software renderer for actual playing since 1998 or so and if it still was the only choice I wouldn't be here anymore.

 

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I prefer hardware render.

I'm sure Carmack would have used it if the technology had made it to the PC before Doom was created.

It was neat to see it in Unreal and GLQuake, and finally Doom.

 

This doesn't mean I dislike software render however nor the source ports that only allow it. :)

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Software.

 

I generally prefer the way things look under a more restricted palette. And, to echo DotW, - to my eyes - the light just looks off with hardware rendering - generally too bright, with not enough contrast between light and dark. GZDoom's 'palette' tonemap is pretty good though, but for most part (that is, unless I'm playing something that requires hardware rendering) I've no good reason to use it over regular software rendering. And if you throw something like Urthar's DM2PAL into the mix, then the "browning out" mentioned in the OP isn't such a problem.

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They both have their uses depending on the map/mod, source port being used, preferred resolution and capabilities of the underlying hardware.

 

If we just stick to technical/performance issues, it's not unusual for OpenGL to be outperformed by SW in some specific scenarios, while for very high resolutions OpenGL is almost always preferable. Personal aesthetics preferences and/or map/mod requirements are another matter altogether.

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I wish GZDoom was able to HANDLE ITS OWN SHT

 

Recode the engine to not have ANY FPS limits.

 

PR/GLboom can play a giant map with no lag, but GZdoom will lag? wtf

GZDOOM should be able to play a giant map just as smoothly as PR/GLboom

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