FMV quality

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Martin III
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FMV quality

Post by Martin III » Wed May 08, 2013 12:09 am

This topic, coming on top of my latest Snow Job post, will probably make it seem like I'm in a griping mood today... But honestly, this isn't something which bothers me. I'm just puzzled.

Here's what's puzzling me: I've always heard that the Saturn isn't good at FMV, and the 3DO is. This had me a little extra psyched to try out some of the FMV-driven offerings on the console, since I always thought FMV on the Saturn looked darn impressive. Yet I've now accumulated a significant library of 3DO games (not huge, not even moderate-sized, but significant), and by and large, the FMV I've seen on the system is inferior to what I've seen on the Saturn.

The most obvious examples are Star Wars: Rebel Assault and Guardian War, where the FMV looks outright poor, but the bulk of the video I've seen on the 3DO has a graininess beyond what I'm used to seeing on the Saturn. Gex and Sword & Sorcery, the only two games I have on both consoles, fit the trend; the FMV is slightly sharper on the Saturn ports. Psychic Detective and Iron Angel of the Apocalypse admittedly have more impressive FMV than many Saturn games, but even they aren't at the level of Solar Eclipse, Grandia, and Lunacy.

So have I gone nuts, or what?

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Post by JohnnyDude » Wed May 08, 2013 3:47 am

I've noticed a difference in quality between 3do games for sure. The bad quality videos you see might just be because of the amount of compression used for the video. I know there were also several different video formats available for 3do developers to use, but I'm unsure if this accounts for any quality difference.

In my opinion, the game with the highest quality video sequences is wing commander 3. The amount of graininess is the most minimal I've seen on 3do. So, maybe that's a good game to compare to?

Immercenary and The Horde also had good quality video, although I'm unsure if it compares.

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Post by Trev » Wed May 08, 2013 4:47 am

I agree w/Johnny, WCIII has excellent fmv ... although no Saturn version to compare to sadly.

Brain Dead 13 is the best example I can think of (off the top of my head anyway) were 3DO fmv totally trumps the Saturn.

I'd be curious to check out the Saturn version of Quarterback Attack. I though the 3DO version had pretty top notch fmv all things considered ... and since the entire game is fmv driven, it would make for a good comparison.
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Post by Anonymous » Wed May 08, 2013 8:23 am

I must agree. The 3DO has excellent FMV capabilities, as WC3 easily shows. However, it may very well be that Saturn has better FMV titles or scenes overall in the library. Just because a system is capable of more, doesnt mean the developers wanted to, or were able to, tap all of that power for any number of reasons.

A system is never really better than the sum of its games. So overall you may be right in that the saturn has better FMV-scenes as such, but as a machine, the 3DO might still be better at displaying FMV. Its all down to compression as already mentioned. Just look at how far between the best looking VCD titles are compared to the worst.. I only have a few so far, and Terminator 2 (philips cdi release) is very clear compared to Unstoppable (not sure of the release, but it is a western release with no subtitles), or Crow 2 (a hong kong release). Im not sure what format the WC3 FMV plays in, but as for mpegs, the 3DO displays it very well, depending on source material. I cant really speak of FMV or VCD on the Saturn since ive never played one, much less watched any FMV or VCD on one.

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Post by Martin III » Wed May 08, 2013 2:09 pm

Thanks so much for the answers, guys! Very helpful stuff.
JohnnyDude wrote:I've noticed a difference in quality between 3do games for sure. The bad quality videos you see might just be because of the amount of compression used for the video. I know there were also several different video formats available for 3do developers to use, but I'm unsure if this accounts for any quality difference.

In my opinion, the game with the highest quality video sequences is wing commander 3. The amount of graininess is the most minimal I've seen on 3do. So, maybe that's a good game to compare to?
Awesome. I haven't played my copy of Wing Commander III yet; I've watched the intro video, but my memory of it wasn't sharp enough for me to make a judgment. Lately I've been feeling more anxious to finally pop it in.

By "different video formats", do you mean like Cinepack and True Motion? If so, by way of comparison, it is my understanding that those were the only two formats available to Saturn developers.
Trev wrote:Brain Dead 13 is the best example I can think of (off the top of my head anyway) were 3DO fmv totally trumps the Saturn.
Hmm... I'd like to agree, but I thought the reason why the Saturn version looks so much worse is because it was compressed onto a single disc?
Trev wrote:I'd be curious to check out the Saturn version of Quarterback Attack. I though the 3DO version had pretty top notch fmv all things considered ... and since the entire game is fmv driven, it would make for a good comparison.
I have pondered getting the Saturn version of Quarterback Attack, if for no other reason than it goes for very, very cheap. The trouble is, I don't have a 3DO version to compare it to. (It's times like these that I wish all of us lived in driving range of each other...) How's the game run on 4DO? Close enough to make a comparison when I get the Saturn version?

(As an amusing aside, the Saturn version of one of Digital Pictures' other games, Corpse Killer, runs by far the poorest of any game I've played on SSF. The FMV, which looks great on an actual Saturn, appears all pixelated and blurry on SSF. I took some screenshots here if you want to see what I mean. And no, it couldn't have been a bad ISO; I was playing off the official discs. I'm told the problem has something to do with the way video was compressed for the game. ...Basically what I'm saying is, if Quarterback Attack has a similar problem, playing it on 4DO would really skew our observations. :) )
grimm wrote:I must agree. The 3DO has excellent FMV capabilities, as WC3 easily shows. However, it may very well be that Saturn has better FMV titles or scenes overall in the library. Just because a system is capable of more, doesnt mean the developers wanted to, or were able to, tap all of that power for any number of reasons.

A system is never really better than the sum of its games. So overall you may be right in that the saturn has better FMV-scenes as such, but as a machine, the 3DO might still be better at displaying FMV. Its all down to compression as already mentioned. Just look at how far between the best looking VCD titles are compared to the worst.. I only have a few so far, and Terminator 2 (philips cdi release) is very clear compared to Unstoppable (not sure of the release, but it is a western release with no subtitles), or Crow 2 (a hong kong release). Im not sure what format the WC3 FMV plays in, but as for mpegs, the 3DO displays it very well, depending on source material. I cant really speak of FMV or VCD on the Saturn since ive never played one, much less watched any FMV or VCD on one.
You know, I thought of the hardware capabilities vs. developer performance factor, but I couldn't figure out why it would work that way when FMV was considered the wave of the future during the 3DO's heyday. Not saying it's impossible - indeed, if the 3DO does have better video capabilities, I don't think there's any other possibility - but I wonder why it would work out that way.

You're definitely right about the 3DO having a wider division between its best-looking and worst-looking VCD titles... Even with my 3DO collection being much smaller than my Saturn collection, the disparity in quality I've seen is greater. Rebel Assault is the best example; I don't know of any game on the Saturn where the FMV is so far below the bar set by the rest of the console's library.

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Post by T2KFreeker » Wed May 08, 2013 6:02 pm

The 3DO has other examples of VERY good FMV. Even though the animation itself isn't the most impressive, but looks good for it's time, what about Dragon Lore? The Don Bluth games look amazing also. Daedalus Encounter is clean as Hell too. Looks almost DVD quality. Then there was also Phoenix 3. Not the greatest game ever, but the FMV was very good and clean looking. So, I agree that the 3DO has some really awesome looking FMV. As for you bringing up Rebel Assault, the PMV in that looks exactly like the PC version did, so it really isn't the 3DO's fault, it's just the way that Lucas Arts made the game, sadly.
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Post by 3DOKid » Wed May 08, 2013 8:53 pm

It was all new wasn't it? CD was new. People were getting to grips with the new 'stuff'.

Look at the vastly different qualities in the content of FMV. Total Eclipse's rendered intro, in terms of the CGI itself, it is not that great, draw dropping in 1994 but then look at Shockwave 2's CGI, it's astonishing.

Probably down to compression / encoding techniques and more likely the who, what, where and when. It was all ground breaking stuff in 1994 :) skills in that area alone would have been thin on the ground.

You have to think, stuff like shifting 20mb, 50mb and 100Mb video files around is trivial today, way back in 1993, it was probably a pain in the bum.

My home broadband service goes up to 100Mbs service on friday. In 1993 a corporate local network between a couple of office PCs was proud to run at 10Mbs, let alone the Internet connect. In 1995 I sold 64Kbs leased lines in the UK for around £10,000 a year ($16,000) to customers. This was cutting edge stuff. Today? A different world right?

I'm sure that the Saturns/playstations FMV shifting abilities were better than the 3DOs (although i'm not 100% sure) but lots of variables probably altered the quality.

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Post by 3DO Experience » Fri May 10, 2013 3:58 am

Getting back on topic compare these titles on Saturn & 3DO: Creature Shock, Space Hulk and D. That last one is a little tricky, D has some odd stuff in it and I've only seen recordings of the Saturn version which looked worse.

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Post by JohnnyDude » Fri May 10, 2013 9:08 am

The type of content in the videos is definitely going to make it harder to discern which has better video quality. I think both systems (Saturn and 3do) supported 320x240. Unless someone knows better, I don't think any of the 3do videos made use of the pseudo 640 resolution option. I think that for the most part, higher quality videos simply required more disc space.

Somewhat useless trivia: Wing commander 3 is the only game I know of that made use of the 3dos "extended" palette system for its videos. This allows for more colors on the screen at once. This improves quality for sure, I'm not sure what the disadvantage to this format is (no other games seen to do it). It's probably underutilized because it's a 3do specific technology. The Horde uses the "extended" palette system, but only during the game, not the videos. Those are the only 2 cases I know of.

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Post by goldenband » Fri May 10, 2013 5:39 pm

How does FMV quality on the CD-i compare to the 3DO? Is there any consistent pattern, or is it heavily title-dependent?

I've seen/read a couple game reviews where, on that particular game (e.g. Space Ace), the CD-i version's video quality was said to outshine the 3DO version. That surprised me, though I know the CD-i's Digital Video Cartridge adds a lot of capability to the base system.

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Post by T2KFreeker » Fri May 10, 2013 6:01 pm

goldenband wrote:How does FMV quality on the CD-i compare to the 3DO? Is there any consistent pattern, or is it heavily title-dependent?

I've seen/read a couple game reviews where, on that particular game (e.g. Space Ace), the CD-i version's video quality was said to outshine the 3DO version. That surprised me, though I know the CD-i's Digital Video Cartridge adds a lot of capability to the base system.
I was going to say, bot Space Ace and Dragon's Lair on the CD-i, as well as Kingdom The Far Reaches have to have the mpeg Video Cart to work, so yeah, they are cleaner, but still not a fait comparison due to the extras. I do think, however, that the 3DO versions play better than the CD-i versions. The controls are just more responsive. Jaguar Dragon's Lair is the entire, complete arcade version, even with the "Missing" flaming Ropes segment and respawning animations. Sadly, the video is nowhere near as clean as the 3DO version. Controls are tight and very good at least. Then there is Space Ace on the Jaguar, a total Nightmare of a game. It is one of the cleanest looking games I have seen on that system, but the controls are totally broken. You are actually required to do the movements "Before" the stuff shines on the screen. Yeah, it's broken, and stupid expensive to boot because it's "R@R3". :roll: So, in these cases, 3DO is your best bet. They look great and play great and are much easier to find.
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Post by goldenband » Fri May 10, 2013 8:34 pm

^Thanks, T2KFreeker, that's very helpful.

I definitely don't see myself getting a Jaguar anytime soon, let alone a Jag CD, unless I have some crazy yard sale/flea market find. But I've been getting an odd hankering for a CD-i (probably because I've been watching too many Half-Blind Gamer reviews), and high video quality would be a selling point for me (albeit a small one).

Even so, I expect that I'll be sticking with the 3DO versions of all these for some time. :)

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Post by Trev » Fri May 10, 2013 9:36 pm

goldenband wrote:How does FMV quality on the CD-i compare to the 3DO? Is there any consistent pattern, or is it heavily title-dependent?

I've seen/read a couple game reviews where, on that particular game (e.g. Space Ace), the CD-i version's video quality was said to outshine the 3DO version. That surprised me, though I know the CD-i's Digital Video Cartridge adds a lot of capability to the base system.
Yeah, it really comes down to the power of the DVC ... games that use it often look stunning, and in those instances (imho) the Cd-I trumps the 3DO every time. Like T2K said though, it isn't really a fair comparison because of the extra hardware. In terms of Cd-I game & titles that don't require the DVC, the fmv isn't up to 3DO standards.
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Post by 3DO Experience » Fri May 10, 2013 9:53 pm

Yeah, it helps to have extra hardware decoding LOL. Unfortunately for me my CD-i died. Now when I try to turn it on it just puts out a sound that can only be described as a long farting noise.

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Post by Austin » Fri May 10, 2013 10:07 pm

The CD-i seems to have superior video quality with the DVC. Without it, it is still impressive for the time, but not quite up to par with what you had stock on the 3DO, Saturn and PlayStation.

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Post by T2KFreeker » Sun May 12, 2013 11:49 pm

goldenband wrote:^Thanks, T2KFreeker, that's very helpful.

I definitely don't see myself getting a Jaguar anytime soon, let alone a Jag CD, unless I have some crazy yard sale/flea market find. But I've been getting an odd hankering for a CD-i (probably because I've been watching too many Half-Blind Gamer reviews), and high video quality would be a selling point for me (albeit a small one).

Even so, I expect that I'll be sticking with the 3DO versions of all these for some time. :)
Want to see excellent FMV video capability on the CD-i with the VCD Cart, check out BURN!Cycle. I don't care what anyone says, but that game right there makes it worth owning a CD-i. :wink:
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Post by 3DO Experience » Mon May 13, 2013 12:23 am

Oh hell yes! Burn:Cycle is great, it's worth getting a CD-i for if you like cyberpunk. uh oh, getting turned on

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Post by Austin » Mon May 13, 2013 9:00 am

Burn:Cycle (IIRC) doesn't require the DVC (nor does it take advantage of it), but surprisingly the video still looks pretty damn good. That's one of the CD-i titles I really want to *eventually* finish. (Seeing as it took me 18 years to beat Chrono Trigger on the SNES for the first time though, it might take me a while to finally get around to it!). From the bit I played, it seems like it has a really cool story concept, and some interesting gameplay.

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Post by Trev » Mon May 13, 2013 11:04 am

And some people say Chrono Trigger isn't a long rpg ... :wink:

Back to Burn Cycle though, a really good game that would have benefited from using the DVC. I suppose it had the potential to reach a wider audience by not using it, although I do think the attach rate of the DVC was actually quite high.

In any event it does look good (especially considering the hardware it's running on) but it obviously can't compare to the DVC Cd-i titles in terms of visuals. Thankfully the whole atmosphere of the game kinda lends itself to a dirtier look, if that makes any sense ... I like the settings and overall style of the game.

The Sega Saturn got a PAL port I believe.
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Post by Martin III » Mon May 13, 2013 1:31 pm

Trev wrote:The Sega Saturn got a PAL port I believe.
Have you got a link demonstrating this? This would be nice as Burn: Cycle is a game I would like to play and I don't have a CD-i or any intention of getting one, but everything I've read indicates that Burn: Cycle is to this day available only for CD-i and PC.

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Post by Trev » Mon May 13, 2013 3:55 pm

Martin III wrote:
Trev wrote:The Sega Saturn got a PAL port I believe.
Have you got a link demonstrating this? This would be nice as Burn: Cycle is a game I would like to play and I don't have a CD-i or any intention of getting one, but everything I've read indicates that Burn: Cycle is to this day available only for CD-i and PC.
I'm sorry, I was actually thinking of Chaos Control ... :(

In my (weak) defense, the game was definitely announced for the Saturn ... how far they got w/the port I really don't know. Sorry to get your hopes up.
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Post by Martin III » Mon May 13, 2013 8:19 pm

Trev wrote:
Martin III wrote:
Trev wrote:The Sega Saturn got a PAL port I believe.
Have you got a link demonstrating this? This would be nice as Burn: Cycle is a game I would like to play and I don't have a CD-i or any intention of getting one, but everything I've read indicates that Burn: Cycle is to this day available only for CD-i and PC.
I'm sorry, I was actually thinking of Chaos Control ... :(

In my (weak) defense, the game was definitely announced for the Saturn ... how far they got w/the port I really don't know. Sorry to get your hopes up.
No worries. You did say "I believe" so I didn't let my hopes get up much.

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Post by Austin » Mon May 13, 2013 9:12 pm

Aw man, that's a bummer, you had my hopes up there for a moment, Trev. It definitely would have been cool to see Burn:Cycle on the Saturn.

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Post by T2KFreeker » Tue May 14, 2013 4:54 am

Whoops, I guess you guys are right, it didn't use the DVC. Still, an amazing game that looks outstanding, especially when you see what hardware it's on.
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Post by 3DO Experience » Wed May 15, 2013 3:49 am

I bought the UK version as it has a soundtrack CD and the case is wicked cool.

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Post by Trev » Wed May 15, 2013 3:53 pm

3DO Experience wrote:I bought the UK version as it has a soundtrack CD and the case is wicked cool.
I think all versions came that way (at least the initial print run) My US copy also had the soundtrack cd and the cool flip top like sleeve around the jewel case. I think there is extra documentation beyond the instruction manual also, but I can't recall exactly what they were off the top of my head.
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Post by Austin » Thu May 16, 2013 1:00 am

I will have to check mine. I don't think it has a soundtrack CD, but I may have just missed it.

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