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Woolie Wool

System requirements of extreme '90s vanilla wads

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What sort of computer did you need back in the mid-late '90s for really extravagant vanilla wads like GothicDM I/II, Eternal Doom, Hell Revealed, Alien Vendetta, etc.? Especially in 1996-97 some people still used the 486, which was barely enough for 35 fps in iwads at 100 MHz and the 133 MHz "5x86" chips were rare and expensive, so the worry that your computer might not be fast enough for Eternal Doom or Hell Revealed had to have been a thing for some players. Has BTSX been tested with old hardware as well?

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I had a Pentium 1 100mhz CPU and 8mb of ram in the mid 90s.  I never found a Doom wad back then I couldn't run.  However, I was like 13 and had no idea what framerate was, lol.

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1 minute ago, guitardz said:

I had a Pentium 1 100mhz CPU and 8mb of ram in the mid 90s.  I never found a Doom wad back then I couldn't run.  However, I was like 13 and had no idea what framerate was, lol.

Then again I didn't have internet to download the cool wads.  I had to stick with things that came on discs like The Lost Episodes of Doom and the hundreds of D!Zone garbag maps.

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for the early Doom years my pentium 90mhz handled all pwads without issue, with the exception of HR32 with its Thing count, and Icon of Sin maps where I let stuff spawn for 20+ minutes. By the time gothic99 came out I and everyone I knew was onto way better hardware (k6/2 450MHz in my case), which rendered no sweat.

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486 dx 2 66, 4mb video card and you could get 35fps on low detail no problems, especially on simple maps.

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Low detail and simple maps aren't really what I'm talking about. I'm talking about really heavyweight maps and megawads, running at high detail with no border.

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How hard would it be to write a routine to estimate framerate on a classic machine by tracking the number of segs, visplanes, things etc and weighting the length of the thinker list? I bet you could write a heuristic to predict the relative FPS from those elements, calibrate it on some real hardware, and then hardcode it into Crispy Doom or whatever as a way to realistically simulate the performance of, say, a 486 DX2-66.

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Posted (edited)

That could work quite well, though the 486 platform in particular varies much more than "how much CPU than you have" with the extreme differences that can result from various amounts of cache, northbridge and southbridge chips, the speed of the video card's memory, etc. Blzut3 told me that a 33 MHz 486 PC can beat a 133 MHz under certain circumstances just by having better chips in it, and an ISA video card can similarly beat a VLB card just by having faster VRAM.

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7 hours ago, Woolie Wool said:

 and an ISA video card can similarly beat a VLB card just by having faster VRAM.

 

Speaking of, having a discrete video card was unheard of in doom's day. I was very lucky/unusual in that I had access to a prototype in 1995 because my father worked on it - the Cirrus Laguna3d - but even that was AGP slot. It had a short list of compatible games/applications, I only remember Thief and quake2. 

 

But ISA and the dos era? How did that work... was it just active all the time handling even the command prompt/desktop rendering? Who was making them, who was buying them? What applications were demanding enough to require one?

 

tl;dr I wouldn't consider a 486 with a discrete gpu "typical"

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Uh, I'm pretty sure having a graphics card as a separate component goes all the way back to CGA?  Maybe you're thinking of 3D accelerators.

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, Vorpal said:

Icon of Sin maps where I let stuff spawn for 20+ minutes

Hm, how long was that demo where someone won the "finish Icon of Sin with as many kills as possible" contest by proving that you can stand in a corner safely and just let the monsters telefrag each other forever? I didn't realize that it might have been difficult to record due to lag.

 

edit: ok, 18 minutes.

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2 hours ago, Vorpal said:

 

Speaking of, having a discrete video card was unheard of in doom's day. I was very lucky/unusual in that I had access to a prototype in 1995 because my father worked on it - the Cirrus Laguna3d - but even that was AGP slot. It had a short list of compatible games/applications, I only remember Thief and quake2. 

 

But ISA and the dos era? How did that work... was it just active all the time handling even the command prompt/desktop rendering? Who was making them, who was buying them? What applications were demanding enough to require one?

 

tl;dr I wouldn't consider a 486 with a discrete gpu "typical"

That's complete nonsense, 2D video cards were absolutely a thing and absolutely essential for any kind of computer--it was integrated graphics that were almost unheard of., or integrated anything--the only port on an AT motherboard was for the keyboard. Even serial and parallel required an I/O card! There were even "2D accelerators" that had hardware blitting, more/faster VRAM, and higher resolutions than standard VGA cards.

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Heh I definitely don't remember "2D" video cards in that era - maybe they typically came packaged with the motherboards and I never touched them and assumed they were just part of the motherboard. Certainly I never spent money on such a device until ~1998, so I must have been getting video somehow the 10 years prior to that.

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5 hours ago, Vorpal said:

Certainly I never spent money on such a device until ~1998, so I must have been getting video somehow the 10 years prior to that.

 

Yeah, you (or more likely, your parents) did.  You might not have known it, but you did.  Take it from someone who is old enough to have been buying systems for themselves in the mid-90s, a video card was definitely part of the loadout.

 

 

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As I remember it, that was what was so exciting when the 3Dfx Voodoo stuff came out. Video cards at the time didn't always have dedicated 3D acceleration, so you used to have to take the output from the 2D card and daisy chain it into the Voodoo card. Now of course those only worked with OpenGL (If I remember correctly) and did absolutely nothing for Doom. But it made a huge difference in Quake!

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3Dfx cards used their own Glide API, a modified and simplified version of OpenGL that was much faster on old hardware.

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