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Old 19 February 2019, 11:06   #1
roondar
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Amiga & Consoles - frame rates, game quality and hardware specs

This thread is an offshoot of the NeoGeo Metal Slug conversion thread, where on page and 11 onwards a small off-topic discussion started between me, Hewitson and idrougge.


To give a little bit of context:

I feel that the Amiga has plenty of high quality games and that the very best of them are of no worse 'quality' than what the 16 bit consoles offer. I also feel that the Amiga offers more 'types' of games to play and that some of the best games you could play during the 16 bit era were part of those 'types' and not available on consoles to begin with.

Furthermore, I feel that the discussion on game frame rates as indicator of 'crappiness' is extremely silly. Some of the very best games ever made run at fairly low frame rates. To me then, the idea that a game running at 25FPS is automatically a poor game is very, very odd.

Lastly, I feel that the discussion about hardware specs is bordering on being disingenuous. The Amiga had great specs when first released and it was only several years later (when the 16 bit consoles were released) that it started to lag behind in that area.

---
Now I'm going to continue the discussion that we had in the NeoGeo Metal Slug conversion thread here. To not clutter up my reply to idrougge with this thread opener, I've made two posts back to back. This will not be my new habit

Last edited by roondar; 19 February 2019 at 11:17. Reason: Layout
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Old 19 February 2019, 11:07   #2
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Two small points here:

1) I believe you mixed up me and Hewitson in this reply (you repeatedly seem to call Hewitson by my name). I've ignored this in my reply below.
2) Like I told Hewitson, I'm more than willing to discuss this but this thread is not really the place.2) I have made a new thread for this discussion. Yay!

Quote:
Originally Posted by idrougge View Post
Actually, he expressively picked games that are held in high regard, so as to make a point. He could easily have picked a Tiertex game, but he chose not to.
If the games are highly regarded then they obviously aren't poor games. Simple logic at work.

Quote:
Leaving objectivity aside, if we step back from the Amiga perspective for a while and just look at the games from an "objective" perspective, most Amiga games just don't fare very well. Frame update is a major factor — take any game released on more platforms than the Amiga and the ST, and the Amiga version will perform poorer. That is not just a matter of development resources, but the amount of effort needed to make a game with equivalent performance on the Amiga.
This comes back to what I've said before - games designed for much more powerful hardware and then ported down are indeed going to perform worse on the Amiga. This isn't rocket science.

The problem here is one of expectations and not of the hardware or Amiga games in general being poor. I am not arguing the Amiga's hardware is better than the consoles. I'm arguing that holding the Amiga to those standards is kinda stupid.

Quote:
Again, Roondar never said that Amiga games couldn't ever be done in 50 fps, but the fact that even Andy Braybrook couldn't reach 50 fps in a game where the Amiga was the lead platform should tell you more about the Amiga's hardware capabilities than about the capabilities of the individual programmer.
Repeating a false statement won't make it true. There only needs to exist a single game on the Amiga that does certain things for them to be possible on the platform. Again, that is simply how logic works.

But in this case it's even more silly to say things like this. We don't have just one example: there are plenty of 50FPS games on the Amiga of the very type we're talking about here that just so happen to be very similar in how busy they are. As such, the hardware clearly can handle these games. Claiming it can't be done after seeing it being done a multitude of times is really rather silly.

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Unfortunately, the competition at the time was the ZX Spectrum, the C64 and the Atari ST. When the Amiga reached its prime, that was no longer the competition.
Which is not relevant. The point made was that the Amiga had poor specs. This point was clearly false at time of the Amiga's release (and this held for a few years thereafter) so it's absolutely not a valid thing to say. Again, this is more about what people (wrongly) expected years later rather than any inherent problem with the hardware.

Note how this is an Amiga exclusive problem - no one seems particularly fussed that a 1985 EGA PC or Atari ST can't compete with the Megadrive or SNES in terms of graphics, but the Amiga is immediately considered poor if it (rather predictably) also doesn't manage. Which is why I disagree with the whole notion so strongly.

Quote:
I think Roondar does understand, but a lot of Amiga owners (my younger me included) do not. Making an Amiga game according to 1991—1992 standards is an entirely different affair than making a game according to 1991—1992 Megadrive standards.
As it should be, considering there is a generational difference in the hardware involved.

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I won't question you on this point, but even the shitty games were even shittier on the Amiga, if they were ever ported. And I think that's part of Roondar's point — given the amount of passion necessary to make a truly great Amiga game, you could make an even better console game. Given that most console programmers weren't as passionate, the console hardware really is that much more powerful.
I think you may want to reconsider this point about passion. Console software companies such as Konami, Capcom, etc were well known for being notorious perfectionists. They spent a lot more time and effort on releases than was done on Amiga games.

As for 'even better' console games, that remains to be seen. There are only very few examples of games that were adequately handled in their conversion from console to Amiga. Dynablaster is the only example I know of the top of my head and that game is just as good as the console versions. It even runs at 60Hz on PAL displays. And then there's also the Amiga to MD/SNES ports that almost never worked out so well.

As for the shitty console games vs shitty Amiga games, I've seen so much drek on the SNES (less on MD but that's because I only got into the MD much later) that I can't accept that. The worst of the worst is just as bad on both.

Edit:
One final edit here. What I didn't mention in my reply, but do feel should be made clear is that IMHO the best of the best in Amiga games are not in fact worse games than the best of the best in console land. I mean this from a gameplay & 'quality vs specs' standpoint.

Last edited by roondar; 19 February 2019 at 14:52. Reason: Changed the text to reflect I made a new thread
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Old 19 February 2019, 11:58   #3
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Quote:
o me then, the idea that a game running at 25FPS is automatically a poor game is very, very odd.
Same thing for me. I'll add that I've got the impression that somes haven't ever played Amiga nor 16 bit console in the golden era. Reading that Chaos Engine is a crap game bcause of 25fps is absolutely non sense and pure bad faith.
Even in console standard, and at the tilme it was released, the Amiga version was highly praised. I've never seen anyone at that time, or read anything, complaining about the refresh rate of that game.
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Old 19 February 2019, 12:19   #4
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Being someone who plays a lot of console games, I think it's a shame that the focus of the Amiga was seldom to make arcade type games run at 50Hz, while they almost always did on the consoles - even the 8-bit consoles.

My biggest issue is often that it feels that graphics were more important than gameplay to lots of the Amiga developers back in the day, while I personally prefer a smooth playing game over flashy graphics any day.

So I think framerate is a big deal, and it often feels like games running at a bad framerate could have run way better then they do, which makes me think the coders were either inexperienced, ported a game from the ST not utilizing the Amiga hardware properly or just focused on the wrong things according to me.
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Old 19 February 2019, 14:01   #5
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well said roondar
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Old 19 February 2019, 14:21   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayminer View Post

My biggest issue is often that it feels that graphics were more important than gameplay to lots of the Amiga developers back in the day, while I personally prefer a smooth playing game over flashy graphics any day.
.
Ofcourse it was, with no social media to call them out for arcade ports they were able to sell their games based on screen shots on the back of boxes.

I myself much prefer a game running at 50FPS so I naturally warm to games like Hybris, Apidya, Clownomania, Transplant, Battle Squadron, Pac Mania, Jim Powers, Risky Woods, Turrican, Chuck Rock, TwinTris, Kick Off ... which I think are some of the best of the Amiga.

To say all games <50FPS is just nuts though.

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Old 19 February 2019, 15:23   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayminer View Post
Being someone who plays a lot of console games, I think it's a shame that the focus of the Amiga was seldom to make arcade type games run at 50Hz, while they almost always did on the consoles - even the 8-bit consoles.
I do think the Amiga had a bit of a raw deal commercially. Lot's of software houses primarily did quick ST ports and most others only invested minimally in getting a good Amiga engine going.

The whole 50 vs 25Hz issue is confounded further by the Amiga only getting to be popular so late in its cycle and the therefore high expectations of the user base - people expected results similar to much more powerful hardware and didn't seem to complain about 25Hz so it kinda stuck.

Note I'm not blaming anyone for this, it's just how it went. I'm convinced that if the Amiga had been popular straight at the beginning we'd have seen higher quality/not-ST port games much earlier. As it is, the market for the Amiga was so small for the first four to five years it was on the market that it just didn't make sense to invest in it much.
Quote:
My biggest issue is often that it feels that graphics were more important than gameplay to lots of the Amiga developers back in the day, while I personally prefer a smooth playing game over flashy graphics any day.
This I'd agree with. There were a lot of developers that cared more about numbers of objects on screen and flashy graphics tricks than there were developers that tried to make great games. Where I'd disagree is the notion that this is an Amiga problem. It happened on pretty much all systems (though it didn't always lead to lower frame rates - I'm looking at you, Shadow of the Beast/Amiga & Altered Beast/Mega Drive!).

The thing is that most games on most (retro) systems are poor games. There's only a few that are good and even fewer that are great. I personally much prefer to consider those few good/great games when considering the abilities of a system than pointing at all the bad stuff.

Quote:
So I think framerate is a big deal, and it often feels like games running at a bad framerate could have run way better then they do, which makes me think the coders were either inexperienced, ported a game from the ST not utilizing the Amiga hardware properly or just focused on the wrong things according to me.
Well, I am someone who also plays (and has played in the past) a lot of console games. For instance, I'm currently desperately trying -and as of now mostly failing- to get further in Salamander on the PC-Engine. Not an easy game.

And yet, I don't really agree.

I do agree that 50FPS is preferable to 25FPS and that you can feel and see the difference. Case in point: should I personally ever make a game, I'd put in effort to make it run at 50Hz.

But I simply don't agree this is a 'requirement'. The difference in gameplay, put simply, is just not that big and as such I consider it more a 'nice to have'. Not just because of my personal opinion, but also (as I've pointed out) because of the fact that quite a few 25/30FPS games are in top x games of all time lists.

To me that conclusively proves that for most people the frame rate used simply won't make a poor game great or a great game poor.

---
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgeezer View Post
So I naturally warm to games like Hybris, Apidya, Clownomania, Transplant, Battle Squadron, Pac Mania, Jim Powers, Risky Woods, Turrican, Chuck Rock, TwinTris, Kick Off ... which I think are some of the best of the Amiga.
Geezer
Ahem.. Battle Squadron runs at 25FPS
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Old 19 February 2019, 16:06   #8
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Quote:
Ahem.. Battle Squadron runs at 25FPS
Actually, IIRC it's a mix, the player always updates at 50 while enemies only update at 25. I could be wrong here since I haven't played it in a while.
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Old 19 February 2019, 16:24   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayminer View Post
Actually, IIRC it's a mix, the player always updates at 50 while enemies only update at 25. I could be wrong here since I haven't played it in a while.
The 50Hz Amiga games list (http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=80207) says it's scrolling at 50Hz but everything else is 25Hz. To me that's a 25Hz game. Though your opinion may vary
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Old 19 February 2019, 16:27   #10
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One example of late A500 games is also the type that to make the game look more modern and similar to what was available on consoles prioritised special parallax effects over everything else. I honestly don't understand how someone can play Mr Nutz. To me the enemies and other objects in the game are pretty much invisible due to everything except background and main character using only 7 colours.

One nice example is Lionheart which has basically 2 different engines. Some levels with less foreground colours and a nice parallax effect but also 'indoor' parts that drop the parallax backgrounds for more colours in the foreground game elements.
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Old 19 February 2019, 16:33   #11
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Play Bionic Commando. You can complain then
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Old 19 February 2019, 16:50   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roondar View Post
The 50Hz Amiga games list (http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=80207) says it's scrolling at 50Hz but everything else is 25Hz. To me that's a 25Hz game. Though your opinion may vary
I half agree, because I think Battle Squadron feels better than many games that update everything at 25Hz, it fools you a little. So I'd say it's somewhere inbetween
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Old 19 February 2019, 16:55   #13
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Yeah, updating the scrolling at 50Hz is a pretty easy way to improve the perception.

If you also add in 50Hz player sprite updates it IMHO starts becoming quite hard to note the difference in play between that and a full 50Hz game. Not impossible, but harder (especially if you're the one playing).
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Old 19 February 2019, 17:04   #14
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Very true, especially in a Shoot'em Up where you have your focus on the player sprite!
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Old 19 February 2019, 17:22   #15
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Nahhhh.. Battle Squadron is 50hz, Player sprite moves nice and smooth along with the scrolling... as do all of the bosses and bullets. Agree that the enemy ships are running at half speed though. It's a 50hz game for me.
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Old 19 February 2019, 17:31   #16
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Interesting. So one man's 50Hz isn't always another man's 50Hz

I do get where you're coming from here though. I don't fully agree myself, but the point is well taken.
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Old 19 February 2019, 17:49   #17
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Battle Squadron shows a solid green bar in WinUAE and according to Toni it means it scrolls with 25Hz/fps.


http://eab.abime.net/showpost.php?p=...&postcount=143


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Old 19 February 2019, 18:13   #18
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Originally Posted by Retro-Nerd View Post
Battle Squadron shows a solid green bar in WinUAE and according to Toni it means it scrolls with 25Hz/fps.


http://eab.abime.net/showpost.php?p=...&postcount=143


I know, but if it scrolled at 50 frames per second it would be too fast. It is blitting what is required to balance the speed of the scrolling and performance.

Not sure if I'm explaining myself properly here though.
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Old 19 February 2019, 18:16   #19
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The only thing that seems real 50fps in Battle Squadron are the player sprites though. Galahad said that ages ago too iirc. Apidya is a mix. It has 25fps scrolling, objects looks like 50fps but some mid boss/end boss stuff seems 25fps too.
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Old 19 February 2019, 19:44   #20
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Apidya is actually full 50 fps the last time I tested with winuae. Scrolling is indeed @25, but later on at parallax stages one layer is @50 and the main/frontmost is @25. All objects update at 50. That, to me, means that the main layer scrolls @25 simply because it'd be moving too fast at 50. Haven't seen a boss that updates half frame either, but I could be wrong, haven't played it through.
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