Gaming on the Playstation and Xbox Platforms
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racketboy
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PS1 Hardware Strengths and Weaknesses?

by racketboy Sat Jul 22, 2017 12:41 pm

I'm trying to get a better feel for what each console was like from the perspective of a game developer/programmer.

If anyone can share their knowledge, I'd greatly appreciate it. I'm guessing the best comparisons would be the Saturn and the N64. If you happen to have any sources/links of conversations from developers one challenges and benefits, that would be really cool ;)

Here's a few notes that I grabbed from the PS1 101 post to get the ball rolling
http://www.racketboy.com/retro/sony/ps1 ... ners-guide

Strengths

* Featured the Geometry Transformation Engine, which would allow it to process on average 360,000 flat-shaded polygons per second, and 180,000 texture mapped and light-sourced polygons per second.

* Could handle up to 16.7 million colors, with 24 bit color depth, resolutions ranging from 256×224 to 640×480, and up to 4000 8×8 pixel sprites at any time

* The Playstation is much easier to emulate accurately than both the Sega Saturn and the Nintendo 64. (Anyone have notes on why this is?)


Weaknesses

* Could only display quickly moving polygons in lower resolutions. Textures also sometimes appeared grainy. The machine was designed with 3D graphics in mind, so 2D graphics had to be saved in as multiple polygon textures.
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Re: PS1 Hardware Strengths and Weaknesses?

by Segata Sun Jul 23, 2017 1:23 am

Texture warping was a downside to PS1 games.
Always out matched when it came to 2D games vs Saturn. Mainly because Saturn had the RAM carts required to play those games and they had to squeeze it down to less than 2MB worth for PS1. Often less animation and colors.

It's a misconception SS was bad at 3D. It was a beast in it's day but few took advantage..SEGA barely did even. SS could do transparency but easier and quicker to do a mesh. PS1 just was super easy so many ports between the 2 esp 3D games PS1 just looked like it outclassed SS.
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Re: PS1 Hardware Strengths and Weaknesses?

by isiolia Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:07 am

Segata wrote:It's a misconception SS was bad at 3D. It was a beast in it's day but few took advantage..SEGA barely did even. SS could do transparency but easier and quicker to do a mesh. PS1 just was super easy so many ports between the 2 esp 3D games PS1 just looked like it outclassed SS.


AFAIK it was less that it was entirely bad at 3D, but that it was built around doing quadratic surfaces instead of triangles like most other systems used (and still use). Sega wasn't the only one to try that route at the time - nVidia's first chip, the NV1, did too - but support and performance were low. About half of the games that supported the NV1 were PC versions of Saturn games, and some cards even included Saturn controller ports.

Still, that's probably why Saturn stuff is less commonly emulated, since the basic geometry of in-game assets doesn't match up with what practically all consumer 3D hardware is built to deal with.
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Re: PS1 Hardware Strengths and Weaknesses?

by racketboy Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:55 am

isiolia wrote:
Segata wrote:It's a misconception SS was bad at 3D. It was a beast in it's day but few took advantage..SEGA barely did even. SS could do transparency but easier and quicker to do a mesh. PS1 just was super easy so many ports between the 2 esp 3D games PS1 just looked like it outclassed SS.


AFAIK it was less that it was entirely bad at 3D, but that it was built around doing quadratic surfaces instead of triangles like most other systems used (and still use). Sega wasn't the only one to try that route at the time - nVidia's first chip, the NV1, did too - but support and performance were low. About half of the games that supported the NV1 were PC versions of Saturn games, and some cards even included Saturn controller ports.

Still, that's probably why Saturn stuff is less commonly emulated, since the basic geometry of in-game assets doesn't match up with what practically all consumer 3D hardware is built to deal with.


Great info!

How goes that compare with the 32X or even the SVP chip that was used on the Virtua Racing cart for the Genesis. I'm just curious how consistent Sega was with their approaches...
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Re: PS1 Hardware Strengths and Weaknesses?

by marurun Sun Jul 23, 2017 11:35 am

The PS1 was designed for fast 3D math with low accuracy. Thats why 3D models tended to have lots of gaps. Also it didn't do perspective correction on textures, which is why they tended to wiggle around and warp a lot. It did, however, feature basic texture and audio compression. Textures lost quality and looked grainy and filtered as a result, but audio tended to sound pretty good for the space it took up. The PS1 also had full alpha transparency, unlike the limited transparency capabilities in the Saturn.

Much like the Sega Genesis, Sony did many production runs with varying hardware quality. The first run units had CD drives prone to failure but a hifi quality d/a converter and amplifier.

The PlayStation was ultimately quite easy to develop for and far easier to optimize performance for than either the N64 or Saturn. It followed a very standard 3D model, had acceptable amounts of memory and cache in all the right places, had hardware motion JPEG decompression built-in, but as a tradeoff had weird jitter and gapping on textures and models. It also had the filtered textures issue. It also lacked the ability to do discrete background planes, so floors could end up with gaps and jittery textures.
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Re: PS1 Hardware Strengths and Weaknesses?

by racketboy Sun Aug 13, 2017 9:35 am

Anybody else have anything to add before I turn this into a draft of an article?
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Re: PS1 Hardware Strengths and Weaknesses?

by marurun Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:27 pm

Don't use my language about low math accuracy. Rather, you will want to note that the ps1 uses fixed point math and therefore polygons snap to a grid rather than transitioning smoothly to new locations, which is why polygons can hitter around. I may have been wrong about texture compression. I do not think the ps1 has either texture compression or filtering. It does lack perspective correction as well, which explains the texture warping.
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Re: PS1 Hardware Strengths and Weaknesses?

by CRTGAMER Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:29 pm

racketboy wrote:Anybody else have anything to add before I turn this into a draft of an article?

Perhaps a mention of history leading to the Playsation; the failed merger of Nintendo and Sony add on disc reader? The Playstation as the first dedicated disc based video game console bringing in a new level to gaming thru the increased memory of the disc along with video and music tracks.
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Re: PS1 Hardware Strengths and Weaknesses?

by ZeroAX Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:29 am

CRTGAMER wrote:Perhaps a mention of history leading to the Playsation; the failed merger of Nintendo and Sony add on disc reader?


I think that's pretty standard knowledge by now, especially if you are into gaming enough to be landing on this website.
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Re: PS1 Hardware Strengths and Weaknesses?

by racketboy Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:31 am

ZeroAX wrote:
CRTGAMER wrote:Perhaps a mention of history leading to the Playsation; the failed merger of Nintendo and Sony add on disc reader?


I think that's pretty standard knowledge by now, especially if you are into gaming enough to be landing on this website.


Besides that is more of a PS1 101 content -- I'm using this thread for a spin off post to give additional info purely on technical strengths and weaknesses
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