The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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Screen resolution, CRTs and proper depictions of games

by Erik_Twice Mon Apr 27, 2015 1:50 pm

As most posters here know, old games were not designed to be displayed on modern LCD screens and so the image we might see of them is not accurate as they would on an old tube screen. Stretching, sharp lines, lack of blending or missing graphical effects are common issues and I know most of you guys take measures to combat them.

But I've never quite looked into it in a really deep manner and I read an article today that really made me think about how not just old games, but old computer games are displayed:

No, MS-DOS games weren't widescreen: Tips on correcting aspect ratio

Rectangular pixels can't be displayed by modern square-based screens. I've checked and it's true, Guybrush looks short and chubby instead of his normal self. And while I know people keep old CRTs for console or arcade games, I really don't know of anyone that keeps old computer CRTs around and I hadn't even thought about messing with Dosbox's settings.

What do you guys think of this? And what do you do to combat it?
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Re: Screen resolution, CRTs and proper depictions of games

by Exhuminator Mon Apr 27, 2015 2:12 pm

Erik_Twice wrote:And what do you do to combat it?
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Re: Screen resolution, CRTs and proper depictions of games

by dogman91 Mon Apr 27, 2015 3:51 pm

I use a CRT, which displays the games in their proper aspect ratio without having to stretch/distort the image.

MAME has this problem in spades for people without CRTs, as they use a WIDE resolution for games such as Capcom's for example, which are actually intended to be displayed in 4:3. Battletoads is simply ridiculous in this regard (512 x 224 pixels !!!) On a CRT though it actually allows for more (condensed) detail with the extra pixels.
Plus the tearing that is caused by the sometimes odd video timing of those arcade games...

Speaking of which, a problem with playing DOS games today is that a lot of them run at 70hz, which causes screen tearing on monitors that are stuck at 60hz (a lot of LCDs, and standard definition CRT TVs. CRT computer monitors don't have this problem).

I found a modified version of DOSBox that allows you to adjust the config to skip those extra frames that cause the tearing with games that run over 60hz. Makes side-scrolling games much more tolerable. Super smooth as well; like you're not even skipping frames at all. I forget which thread I found it in, but it was on the VOGONS message board somewhere. All the vsync builds of DOSBox I found simply don't eliminate the tearing, but this one does. I can upload it somewhere if anyone is interested.
Here's an example of the config options:
Code: Select all
# enablehz: Speeds up emulation by skipping frames when emulated video refresh rate is greater than
#           this. Only affects Dosbox on Windows and only if output=ddraw, fulldouble=true, and
#           Dosbox is in fullscreen mode. Valid values are integers. Minimum value 0 means
#           auto-frameskip is disabled. A good value is 1 Hz more than monitor's refresh rate.
#           Values greater than 1000 are interpreted as 1/1000th of a Hz,
#           while values equal or less than are interpreted as Hz. Default value: 61000


# overridehz: Override emulated video refresh rate. This can slow down, speed up, or completely break
#             emulated games. Value 0 is the normal Dosbox behavior: the refresh rate is emulated
#             accurately and not changed. Values greater than 1000 are interpreted as 1/1000th of a Hz.
#             Other values are interpreted as Hz. Default value: 0


Random (cellphone) pic of the Warcraft 1 title screen from DOSBox through a VGA-to-component box to the CRT TV I also use for consoles:
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