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Old 06 July 2010, 00:43   #1
john4p
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Question 320x200 games in 4:3-format or letterboxed?

These games all draw only 320x200 pixels in-game:

Ambermoon&Amberstar, Another World, Bubble Bobble&Rainbow Islands&Parasol Stars, Cadaver, Centurion, Chuck Rock, It Came from the Desert, D/Generation, Defender of the Crown, Dogs of War, Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder I&II, F/A-18 Interceptor, Falcon (and almost any other flightsim), Fire Force, Frontier: Elite II, Giana Sisters, Gods, Golden Axe, Harlequin, Hunter, HeroQuest II, IK+, Jaguar XJ220, James Pond I&II, Lamborghini American Challenge/Crazy Cars III), Last Ninja Remix, Leander, Legend, Lemmings I&II, Lotus I-III, Lost Patrol, Lost Vikings, Moonstone, MYTH, Navy Seals, North & South, Nuclear War, P.P. Hammer, Panza Kickboxing, PGA Tour Golf, Pirates!, Populous I&II, Powermonger, Prince of Persia, Pushover, Qwak, Robocop 1&3, Speedball 2, Shadow of the Beast I-III, Silkworm, Starglider II, Stunt Car Racer, SuperCars I, Targhan, Test Drive I&II, The Chaos Engine, Uridium II, Vroom, Wings, Wings of Fury, Wrath of the Demon, Xenon I&II, Zeewolf


With square pixels that means they're in 16:10-format.
But on NTSC-displays 320x200-games were stretched into 4:3-format (with non-square pixels).
Most Amiga-users were Europeans though with PAL displays meaning they got to play all of these games with square pixels letterboxed (or with 1 huge black border at the bottom), didn't they? ("they" = "we" in most cases )

Now which format were these games really intended to be played at? 4:3?
So the majority of Amiga users always played the above games in the wrong format (since most didn't bother to switch their 1084-monitor into NTSC mode or just played on PAL TVs)?

Or are there differences - were some 320x200-games supposed to be stretched to fill a 4:3-screen while others where intended to be played with black borders on a 4:3-screen?

Having some of the above games vertically stretched to fill a 4:3-screen just wouldn't feel right in my opinion...
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Old 06 July 2010, 01:19   #2
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Would some of the titles be 320x200 as a side effect of them being ports from the Atari-ST?
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Old 06 July 2010, 01:33   #3
hipoonios
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Remove those black borders when possible pls.

The right way: [ Show youtube player ]
The wrong way: [ Show youtube player ]

But the aspect should never be off... ie on a 4:3 screen, don't stretch a 320x200 to 320x240/256. Instead keep black above and below. If it's a widescreen monitor the above and below black can be removed for better fitting.

My 2 cents.
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Old 06 July 2010, 10:06   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexh View Post
Would some of the titles be 320x200 as a side effect of them being ports from the Atari-ST?
Yes. Were they also supposed to be stretched to 4:3 on Atari ST? Or were they intended to have black borders?


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Originally Posted by hipoonios
But the aspect should never be off... ie on a 4:3 screen, don't stretch a 320x200 to 320x240/256.
The question was "what is the intended aspect"? Apparently 320x200 games DID fill 4:3 NTSC-displays.
NTSC pixels are taller than they are wide...
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Old 06 July 2010, 10:14   #5
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ask DaveC... he seems to be an authority on everything...
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Old 06 July 2010, 10:22   #6
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Haha, DaveC is the reason I've created this thread. We were talking about this in a thread at GP32X's forums...

I thought I'd consult the Amiga experts from EAB.
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Old 06 July 2010, 10:25   #7
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Yeah I know, I was following the thread there too.
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Old 06 July 2010, 10:26   #8
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Ah, okay.
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Old 06 July 2010, 10:33   #9
alexh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john4p View Post
Yes. Were they also supposed to be stretched to 4:3 on Atari ST? Or were they intended to have black borders?
The PAL Atari ST had borders on all sides in the form of hardware limitation with a maximum low resolution (non-overscan) of 320x200.

Makes sense if you're designing a screen and gfx for a 16-bit game for both platforms that you stick to 320x200
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Old 06 July 2010, 10:47   #10
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But they probably didn't have these borders on 4:3 NTSC-displays.

So the hardware-limitation of this 320x200 obviously had its seeds in the limitations of NTSC.
Now did the game developers design their games in 320x200-mode with square or with NTSC pixels in mind?

If the Atari ST games were almost only designed for the PAL market then they created them with the black borders in mind. Were most games only designed for Europe?

edit: If there only was this 320x200-mode even for the PAL Atari STs then obviously the PAL Atari ST games were designed with the black borders in mind.

Last edited by john4p; 06 July 2010 at 11:31.
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Old 06 July 2010, 11:58   #11
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Personally I prefer to see games displayed in a square pixel aspect even if it means letterboxing, and I believe that's how they were intended to be displayed, since Europe and our PAL standard was the big market, and a square aspect is just easier to work with.

The Amiga hardware has no fixed heights in its display modes and can display any number of scanlines up to the limits of the format. My brother's PAL TV automatically switches to 4:3 when it gets a 60 Hz signal, and in this mode it shows a total of 224 scanlines, but I think a real NTSC display will show the full 240 lines (anyone who knows?).

I think the main reason many Amiga developers went with the short 320x200 (even if they could have used say 320x240) was because to them it was the established resolution that could be viewed by the biggest audience --> more sales.
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Old 06 July 2010, 12:06   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john4p View Post
Now which format were these games really intended to be played at? 4:3?
Quote:
Originally Posted by john4p View Post
Having some of the above games vertically stretched to fill a 4:3-screen just wouldn't feel right in my opinion...
Hmm
Hmmmmmmmmmm
Well, I guess there is an 'intended' format, yet the question is if you shouldn't just try the the possibilities and decide for yourself then. Just had this crazy picture of someone sitting in front of his monitor and thinking 'Damn, this looks butt-ugly... but that's how it is intended to be played!'.

would also vote for square/letterboxed btw
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Old 06 July 2010, 12:16   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john4p View Post
But they probably didn't have these borders on 4:3 NTSC-displays.
Unknown.

Quote:
Originally Posted by john4p View Post
So the hardware-limitation of this 320x200 obviously had its seeds in the limitations of NTSC.
Most likely.

Yes I'd say most games developers were European for Amiga and ST development I'd say targeted PAL systems first and so they were drawn for square pixels. Later, developers started to target PAL 60Hz and some look more natural in this aspect ratio.

Quote:
Originally Posted by john4p View Post
If there only was this 320x200-mode even for the PAL Atari STs then obviously the PAL Atari ST games were designed with the black borders in mind.
Most, later the hackers worked out tricks to do overscan which made it into games.
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Old 06 July 2010, 12:21   #14
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Mystery solved. Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TCD
'Damn, this looks butt-ugly... but that's how it is intended to be played!'

Last edited by john4p; 06 July 2010 at 12:26.
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Old 06 July 2010, 15:33   #15
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Quote:
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Personally I prefer to see games displayed in a square pixel aspect even if it means letterboxing, and I believe that's how they were intended to be displayed
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Old 06 July 2010, 18:17   #16
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Quote:
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I think the main reason many Amiga developers went with the short 320x200 (even if they could have used say 320x240) was because to them it was the established resolution that could be viewed by the biggest audience --> more sales.
I dunno about anyone else, but I went for a full 320x256 when I was developing stuff on the Amiga, and my TV displayed all of it just nicely. Did PAL Amigas even use 320x240 in any games at all?

D.
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Old 06 July 2010, 19:54   #17
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For what it's worth, on NTSC Amigas, 320x200 was indeed vertically stretched to 4:3 on a standard 1084(S) setup. Yes, the pixels were distorted, but that's how us NTSC users "remember" the display looking. Certainly not 1:1, but it's all a question of purist vs. nostalgia...

Rodney
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Old 07 July 2010, 02:06   #18
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Just look for a circle or a sphere in the game, and use the setting, which makes it truly round.
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Old 08 July 2010, 06:27   #19
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Ahh, the wonderful world of PAR (pixel aspect ratio). 320x200 tells you nothing about the correct PAR. In order to obtain that, you need to know the dot clock of the horizontal resolution for the video mode, to the TV/monitor. Then, you can tell what percentage of the active line 320 horizontal pixels represent. Only then can you get the correct PAR.

Quote:
NTSC pixels are taller than they are wide...
NTSC has no horizontal pixels. The digital to analog device has pixels, but NTSC can show whatever 'resolution' from 1 pixel to 13.423mhz (13.5mhz is on the recent redefinition of NTSC since the digital era starting in the early 90's). The 'pixels' are only taller than they are wide, if the dot clock is high enough.

Quote:
Now which format were these games really intended to be played at? 4:3?
If the viewing device was 4:3, then yes. But you don't scale the 320x200 image to 320x240 or 320x256 or whatever. You pad the image. Of course, you need the correct PAR from the dot clock before you do anything.

Not only is this an advance topic, but graphic developers (well, game artists) tended to ignore correct PAR anyway. Which makes matters even worst. They also could have been working on an mis/un calibrated TV/monitor too
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Old 08 July 2010, 10:26   #20
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^ Thanks for this technical explanation. Glad we now have worldwide standards of 1920x1080 and 1280x720.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bronko
Just look for a circle or a sphere in the game, and use the setting, which makes it truly round.
Nothing to add there.
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