Questions tagged [graphics]

For questions regarding graphical - as opposed to text - processing and display.

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55
votes
6answers
14k views

How did old MS-DOS games utilize various graphic cards?

Nowadays each graphic card has some driver in operating system that translates some (typically) standard API such as OpenGL, so that programmers use some standardized API code to tell graphics cards ...
55
votes
6answers
16k views

Why do old games use flashing as means of showing damage?

When you play old games, especially platformers, a common "special effect" is rapid blinking of your character when they are hit. Also, enemies often blinked before dying. Not all games did this, but ...
48
votes
4answers
15k views

What causes that "organic fade to black" effect in classic video games?

This happens a lot on older consoles than this, but for this specific example, I'm picking what I spotted today: Harvest Moon for PlayStation. Here is a screenshot of the player just about to exit an ...
43
votes
2answers
9k views

Why were some early PC 3D cards unsuitable for 2D graphics?

Some of the early PC 3D graphics cards such as the 3dfx Voodoo Graphics cards had a passthrough port to enable them to switch to a secondary card to display 2D graphics. I am curious to know why these ...
40
votes
4answers
8k views

What determines the color of every 8th pixel on the Apple II?

On the Apple II there's an interesting way to add a little color to the bitmap, since the high bit select the palette used for the three-and-a-half pixels represented by the byte. Like this: 0: Black,...
39
votes
2answers
4k views

Was AGP only ever used for graphics cards?

Reading on the AGP spec, the little bits I've found on sites like https://old.pinouts.ru/Slots/agp_pinout.shtml, say: The Accelerated Graphics Port (also called Advanced Graphics Port) is a high-...
36
votes
3answers
10k views

Why did 80×25 become the text monitor standard?

Prior to the 1981 release of the IBM PC, the VT105 (72×20 1971), VT52 (80×12 1974), and VT100 (80×25 1978) text terminals were used on many Unix machines and the PDP-11 (probably the most widely used ...
36
votes
4answers
4k views

How did "Ballblazer" pull off fast, smooth, first-person, solid-model 3D on Atari 8-bits?

I remember the first time I saw Ballblazer, the 1984 game, running on a friend's Atari 800. The split-screen 3d graphics and fast action blew my socks off. Looking back, I get the impression there ...
35
votes
6answers
9k views

Using DRAM as a camera sensor?

Back in the days when COMECON (RVHP) was cloning digital ICs usually the first wave of such ICs were in a ceramic package with a glass window (similar to EPROM) to check for bugs and stuff while used. ...
32
votes
2answers
6k views

How did Elite on the NES work?

Elite was one of the earliest 3D games, wireframe only of course but still a remarkable accomplishment on 8-bit computers. Originating on the BBC micro, it was ported to many home computers, as well ...
31
votes
3answers
4k views

How did Elite do vertex transformation?

In 3D graphics, vertex transformation is the process of converting x,y,z coordinates in 3D space, to x,y coordinates on the screen. According to https://www.khronos.org/opengl/wiki/...
31
votes
5answers
4k views

Does every retrocomputer and console with NTSC composite output have 'artifact color' ability?

Artifact color is heavily associated with the Apple ][, since that is the only method the machine had to produce a color display. I was looking at the fantastic demo for IBM PC + CGA, 8088MPH, and I ...
31
votes
1answer
5k views

How can I create a split-scroll effect in an NES game?

Games like Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3 were able to scroll the playfield but not the status bar: The status bars are clearly too big to be sprites, yet they don't scroll with the ...
30
votes
3answers
4k views

Why did many 9-pin printers use only 8 pins for graphics?

In the answer to another question about printers, the following claim is made about 9-pin printers: The Epson MX-80, upon which many other printers were based, had nine round pins which were ...
29
votes
6answers
7k views

Was there a specific benefit to inverted (XOR) mouse cursors other than aesthetics?

As far as I can remember the inverted (aka "XOR") style of mouse cursor has been around as long as there have been mice. I mean something like this: (source) where the cursor shape is ...
28
votes
6answers
9k views

How did the early Macintosh computers update the display?

This question is about the Macintosh 128k, but if you can give an answer which describes one of the other very similar machines, that's good too. The bitmap was 512 by 384 pixels. Assuming that one ...
28
votes
10answers
2k views

Limiting factor on early color palettes

Early color computers typically had a limit of X colors used simultaneously from a palette of Y, a classic example being the Commodore 64 which could do 320x200 monochrome or 160x200 four colors, ...
28
votes
2answers
11k views

Looking for PC graphics demo software from the early 90s called "Unreal"

Back in the early 90's I remember downloading a graphics demo called, I think, "Unreal". This was on DOS on a standard PC and probably downloaded from a BBS. Identifying information: It ran for ...
28
votes
1answer
11k views

Did the Windows 95 screensavers use hardware acceleration APIs?

The windows 95 is known for introducing a couple of classic screensavers including: Maze, Pipes and starfield among others. It looks like DirectX is a collection of multimedia APIs but for this ...
27
votes
23answers
3k views

Which computers had redefinable character sets?

My first computer was an Exidy Sorcerer, bought in the late '70s. It featured a full keyboard including lower case, on screen text of 64 B&W characters by 30 rows, 2 MHz z-80 processor, up to 48 ...
27
votes
4answers
8k views

Why did old IBM-PC-compatible computers only have 16 colors available?

In the MS-DOS Editor, the only choices for colors were a collection of 16 colors: That's 16 colors: Black Blue Green Cyan Red Magenta Brown White Gray Bright Blue Bright Green Bright Cyan Bright Red ...
27
votes
2answers
4k views

What operations could early PC 3D accelerators perform?

As I understand it, a modern GPU is actually just a Turing-complete processor which happens to be heavily optimised for massively data-parallel workloads. (You can even buy "graphics cards" ...
27
votes
2answers
8k views

What is a subpixel in Super Mario Bros, and how does it relate to wall clipping?

What are "subpixels" in Super Mario Bros on the NES? How does it relate to wall clipping? At 4:42 in the following video, the notion is mentioned in the context of how it relates to "wall clipping": ...
27
votes
2answers
2k views

How to obtain 256 arbitrary colors with limitation of 64 per line in Amiga (ECS)?

The game Universe for Amiga boasted ability of use of 256 different Amiga colors available through the ECS chips, with only limitation of 64 colors in halfbrite palette (32 arbitrary + 32 at half ...
26
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3answers
5k views

Where did DOS store graphics fonts?

I remember using a wysiwyg print program called Fontasy for CGI graphics in DOS because of a lack of standardized graphics fonts. Companies were selling "font packs" for other type fonts. Prior to Win ...
26
votes
5answers
3k views

Did any Amiga 500 games or programs (apart from paint programs) use more than 32 colours?

While the Original Chip Set (OCS) and Enhanced Chip Set (ECS) Amiga computers had the 32 x 2 colour EHB (Extra Half-Brite) and 4096 colour HAM (Hold And Mofify) screen modes, where these ever used ...
26
votes
4answers
9k views

Is there a simple way to display ANSI art and animation files in a modern terminal window?

ANSI art and animations were prevalent on BBS systems in the late 80s and early 90s, and the ANSI art scene continues to thrive today. There are thousands of ANSI art files, with usual extension .ans, ...
26
votes
1answer
22k views

Why do 3D models on the PlayStation 1 “wobble” so much?

A memorable part of the PlayStation 1 experience was “wobbly” 3D graphics, where (supposedly) straight edges would warp, jitter and pulse as the camera panned across a scene. This was especially ...
25
votes
4answers
5k views

Z8410 DMA chip as GPU?

There are basically two ways to design a 2D graphics system: Provide lots of hardware support in the form of tiles, hardware scrolling and sprites, to put together each frame on the fly from a small ...
25
votes
9answers
2k views

What implementations of BASIC had a robust flood fill operator?

When I learned BASIC on Elektronika BK, I got fascinated with the flood fill (PAINT) operator: how does it know to get to all nooks and crannies of the shape to fill? I've devised an algorithm, tried ...
25
votes
6answers
4k views

How did DOS games manage to have multiple background layers?

Seems like VGA only has one background layer, it appears to be a typical bitmap screen like most home computers of the 80s (Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 etc.) where each pixel's color is stored in a ...
24
votes
8answers
9k views

Why weren't 80s arcade games programmed in C?

I know many arcade games from the 80s were programmed in 68000 assembly. This carried on probably well into the 90s, even though Motorola C compilers existed in the 80s. Why then weren't C compilers ...
24
votes
6answers
4k views

What techniques were used to reduce the required re-rendering in 3D programs?

Inspired by this GameDev question. 3D rendering is expensive. With 2D games it's easy to not re-write the buffers every frame, like in Super Mario Bros where the PPU is instructed to render the level ...
22
votes
5answers
5k views

Why were 3D games on the Amiga not faster than on similar 16 bit systems like the Atari ST

It seems that 3D games, especially simulations like Falcon, were not faster (fps) on the Amiga than on the Atari ST - even a bit slower due to the CPU clock. I was wondering why this is the case, ...
22
votes
4answers
4k views

Why was NEC able to wrestle PC graphics standards away from IBM?

The dominant standards for PC graphics in the 1980s were the ones introduced by IBM. This included MDA and CGA with the original IBM PC, followed by EGA shortly after the PC/AT, and then VGA with the ...
22
votes
2answers
959 views

How do I use shadowed memory to render Super Hi-Res quickly?

The Apple IIgs video memory is controlled by the 1MHz Mega II chip, so directly accessing the Super Hi-Res page in bank $E1 is slower than accessing other memory. How can I render in "fast" memory, ...
21
votes
3answers
4k views

Typical dpi of dot matrix printers available in the 1980s

I have several printouts from what is presumably a dot-matrix printer, dated 1987. When zoomed in on these, you see the usual stair-step patterns on diagonal lines. However, it's difficult to ...
21
votes
2answers
7k views

Why do NES sprites flicker when there are a lot of them?

Sometimes, NES sprites flicker when there are a lot of them, like at 1:19 in this video of Super Mario Bros. Why did they do this?
21
votes
2answers
1k views

What's a good way to implement this "splashing water" effect on the C64?

This pillow fighting game set in Venice depicts the two opponents fighting on a wobbly gondola on a canal. It was apparently known as "Pillow Fight" in English and as "Kissenschlacht&...
20
votes
9answers
9k views

Can modern AI be used to program impressive graphics effects on very low performance home-retrocomputers, in particular 'A 3D-rotating-cube'

Can modern AI be used to program impressive graphics effects on very low performance home-retrocomputers, in particular 'A 3D-rotating-cube', effects that would be too difficult for a human to ...
20
votes
11answers
6k views

640x480 color display in 1980

I'm working on an alternate history story in which the protagonists, Silicon Valley computer entrepreneurs, are trying to release a graphical workstation in 1980, with the capability of displaying ...
20
votes
9answers
2k views

Were there any commercially available graphical interfaces before the apple Lisa?

I just finished the Steve Jobs biography and I thought... Was the apple Lisa really the first commercially available Graphical interface? This is just out of interest but I'll be really interested ...
20
votes
3answers
3k views

When and what was the first 3D acceleration device ever released?

Plain and simple, we know that consumer level 3D acceleration devices roughly appeared in the middle of the 90s, with brands like Matrox, 3DFX, Nvidia and so on. However, such technology for sure ...
20
votes
4answers
6k views

Why not one pixel per color clock?

Early home computers and game consoles output video to TV sets. The NTSC color clock frequency is 3.58 MHz. This informed the design of some video systems: http://pineight.com/mw/index.php?title=...
20
votes
1answer
5k views

Why BGR color order

Blue Green Red (BGR) byte ordering exists in a few image processing libraries "for historical reasons", mostly because it seems to have been a Microsoft standard. Does anyone know the historical ...
20
votes
2answers
1k views

Fate of mystery Motorola RMS graphics chipset (68486 + 68487)

I recently learned that mid 1980s, Motorola was working on a discrete graphics chipset that would be a great leap forward from its 6847 Video Display Generator and 6845 display controller. It was ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

How to check the C64 graphics mode used by Maniac Mansion

I have been investigating the MS-DOS port of the C64's Maniac Mansion game. The original MS-DOS port used the C64-specific character map to draw the various backgrounds in the game. I noticed that ...
19
votes
3answers
5k views

When did hardware antialiasing start being available?

An important step towards 3D gaming was the ability to scale sprites or tiles by nonintegral factors. Examples of the former from the eighties were the arcade games Pole Position, Outrun, Space ...
19
votes
5answers
3k views

Was 1991's Hellcats the first instance of incremental screen updates?

In case you have never seen it, 1991's Hellcats was a seminal release on the Mac. It ran at full 8-bit color and could, on a newish machine, drive three 1024x768 screens at the same time. Nothing on ...
18
votes
3answers
4k views

Are pixels on the Commodore 64 square?

Are "tile pixels" the same size as "sprite pixels", and are they both square (ignoring the rule that multicolor sprites can only be colored in groups of two pixels)? By "square" I mean that the ...