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New Vulkan Renderer For Mednafen PSX Core

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Introducing Vulkan PSX renderer for Beetle/Mednafen PSX

There's a new article up on Libretro about a new renderer option for Mednafen PSX that uses Vulkan. I haven't tried it out yet. I'm not a big fan of upscaling for PSX personally, but I know a lot of people are. The article's full of a lot of wonderful technobabble like "PSX renders one primitive at a time, so it is quite obvious that we need to aggressively batch primitives."

Pfffsh...well yeah. Everybody knows that.

Batch Primitives.jpg

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I am not a fan of upscaling PS1 games either but the new Vulkan PSX core is pretty damn sweet especially with the PGXP enhancements (though the OpenGL hardware renderer has this too).

Certain games make better use of the upscaling compared to native resolution, so far I have found games that have polygons on top of pre-rendered backdrops look best. I posted a couple of screenshots of Final Fantasy IX in an earlier thread and I think it looks amazing. Full on polygonal games look decent enough depending on the art style, something like Spyro the Dragon looks really good. Another really nice benefit of this core is that it handles the 2D elements such as speech bubbles and UI text separately so it doesn't ruin the look by upscaling that as well.

For 2D games though obviously leaving it in native resolution with just a shader looks best.

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That particular example does look pretty good. Late titles that fit into that specific set of circumstances (polygons on top of prerendered backgrounds) do seem to get the biggest benefit. My issue is that a lot of the earlier titles are low-poly to the point that upscaling just makes them look bizarre/completely wrong.

Can you set the renderer as part of the new per-game overrides? Those are core-level so I would think so, but I'm still on latest stable. That'd be pretty handy for this.

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I fairly certain you can using the latest nightly. I also have a separate install of Retroarch just for Vulkan as well. it was just easier that way :)

I did notice on games that are the other way around from FF IX it looked odd. For example Dragon Quest VII which uses 3D backgrounds with 2D sprites for the characters the effect just isn't as good as FF IX. Spyro looked really good due to the cartoonish art stye. Omega Boost and Colony Wars looks great because it's just space and no extra crap to worry about.

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I'll have to check it out. Chances are I'll end up going back to good ol' native resolution but I'm still curious.

It's gonna turn this:

2182492-150px_cloud_strife_field_model.j

Into THIS:

6840c1c133e54e5d7c6d9ad5baa45f6e.jpg

Ultra HD 4k 3D HDR Mega-Textures in Real-Time™

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Hehe yeah I haven't tried FF VII since I don't have the game.
 I guess I will bite the bullet and download it to try it out, I am not  a FF VII fan though. Yeah im that one guy who actually dislikes VII LOL.

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Just now, lordmonkus said:

I am not  a FF VII fan though. Yeah im that one guy who actually dislikes VII LOL.

h7nIhbk.gif

It's okay. To each their own. Within the context of when it was released it was pretty amazing. I was completely blown away by it in 1997. I still think it's great, but I don't pitch a fit when others don't; especially if there isn't any nostalgic connection to it. The story is kindof typical Final Fantasy nonsense that just goes with the territory - not completely incoherent or terrible but certainly leaves you saying "O...kay" every once in a while. I still think the gameplay holds up just fine though, despite the dated trappings. I still love it, even though I know it's certainly not perfect.

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I guess I should go back and try it out. I just remember seeing it back in the day when it came out and really disliking the way the game look. I also really did not like the early 32-bit polygonal graphics, they really bothered me back then when it was new. It's not simply a case of they didn't age well, I just really hated the look back then. I would have preferred if FF VII was done with pure sprite work like how the Lunar games were done on the PS1.

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For me it's the music, FF7 has some of the greatest video game music of all time, especially Aeris(th) theme and One Winged Angel.

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Yeah I am sure the music and story are amazing and now with the Vulkan rendering I will download and check it out. Maybe it's time I actually play it or throw it in the backlog pile of "to play" games, lol.

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2 minutes ago, lordmonkus said:

I just remember seeing it back in the day when it came out and really disliking the way the game look. I also really did not like the early 32-bit polygonal graphics, they really bothered me back then when it was new. It's not simply a case of they didn't age well, I just really hated the look back then. I would have preferred if FF VII was done with pure sprite work like how the Lunar games were done on the PS1.

That's fair. The graphics really haven't aged very well, no question there.

Have you played Suikoden 1 or 2? Those are completely sprite-based. Suikoden 2 is my favorite console RPG of all time. You don't have to play Suikoden 1 first, but there are a lot of returning characters so it helps. You can import your clear save into 2 as well. I actually hadn't played it when I first played through 2 though, and I still loved 2. Absolutely wonderful game.

4 minutes ago, madpossum said:

For me it's the music, FF7 has some of the greatest video game music of all time, especially Aeris(th) theme and One Winged Angel.

It definitely does have some really great music.

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That's the thing though, for me it's not a case of the graphics haven't aged well, they were bad to me back then.

The Suikoden games are in my collection and in the "to be played" pile.

I really did skip the Playstation era. I owned one but I only had it for a couple of months before selling it off. The guy at the game store was shocked I was bringing back Gran Tourismo to trade in after beating it in a week and telling him it was too easy. When the PS1 came out I was really into the PC side of gaming and nothing on the PS1 interested me. Quake and racing Sims like Grand Prix 2, Indy Car 2 and Grand Prix Legends were eating up most of my time. I also still had my SNES and Genesis which I preferred graphically over the awful 32-bit polygons.

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22 minutes ago, lordmonkus said:

That's the thing though, for me it's not a case of the graphics haven't aged well, they were bad to me back then.

Yeah, I can see that :P

I guess it's just that, for me, I don't have any issue with this:

So why would I have an issue with this?

ffvii_3__before-8212507.jpg

Cloud is about as far off from looking like an actual human as those white pixels are from looking like a mountain in Times of Lore, but in both cases I understand what it is that the developers are trying to convey so... why not just take it for what it is (despite the obvious shortcomings) and move on? I used to play text-adventures too though, so maybe I have a high tolerance :P

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Well like I said, I am going to take a new look at FF VII.

I think the issue for me back then was this. I felt that the early 32-bit polygonal graphics were a big step backwards even though technologically it was a huge step forward. I grew up playing games on the Atari 2600, Commodore Vic-20 and 64 so I had no problem dealing with bad graphics and using my imagination. But then came the NES and later the SNES and made the graphics looks amazing (for their time). With FF VI thing's were so detailed and clear and I loved it. Then came the early polygon days and we were right back in the abstract 2600 graphics but instead of blocky sprites, it was blocky polygons, it really did feel like a big step back to me. This was also during the birth of 3D accelerated graphics cards so I could run my Quake at 800x600 with anti aliased graphics instead of 240p non floating point rendered shit on a TV.

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Now this doesn't look too bad at all. Yeah the character models are a blocky but overall I can tolerate it. It's nice and clean and crisp and detailed instead of a massive pixelated blob that just burns my eyes like it used to back in the day.

Final_Fantasy_VII_(USA)-161205-155841.png

Final Fantasy VII (USA)-161205-155946.png

Final Fantasy VII (USA)-161205-160110.png

Final Fantasy VII (USA)-161205-160124.png

Final Fantasy VII (USA)-161205-160259.png

Final Fantasy VII (USA)-161205-160305.png

Final Fantasy VII (USA)-161205-160343.png

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4 minutes ago, lordmonkus said:

I grew up playing games on the Atari 2600, Commodore Vic-20 and 64 so I had no problem dealing with bad graphics and using my imagination. But then came the NES and later the SNES and made the graphics looks amazing (for their time). With FF VI thing's were so detailed and clear and I loved it. Then came the early polygon days and we were right back in the abstract 2600 graphics but instead of blocky sprites, it was blocky polygons, it really did feel like a big step back to me.

I think that's a little unfair. I mean let's be honest here, these aren't really any closer to reality than what you'll find in FFVII:
Final Fantasy VI.pngDiscernible? Sure. But so are FFVII characters. They're both pretty far removed from reality though. If you saw these characters in real life you'd have nightmares - their legs are coming out of their chest and their heads are about half their total body size.

While the models in PSX games don't look great, I think it's overly harsh to say they're basically polygonal translations of something like this:

suicide_adventure.gif

I love sprites! Don't get me wrong. And I love the 16-bit era too. But there's a lot of worthwhile adventures to be found on the PSX, and it'd be a shame to overlook them just over a matter of style.

And they don't all look as bad as FFVII's models either. There's certainly some bad cases, but there are good ones too.

yHLjT.png

50010c27eb16d.jpg

5650d1e61c64f897ac667d5a3bf39318.jpg

 

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It might be a little unfair, ill admit that and I definitely will admit I missed out on some great games in terms of gameplay. But those were my feelings at the time, I would have preferred they just continued doing sprite art versus jumping all over the polygonal art style until the 64-bit generation when the hardware was a bit more capable.

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Those small screen shots are not at all what it looked like blown up on a TV with the Playstations "wobbly" textures, thankfully we now have PGXP to fix that issue :)

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Things like wobbly textures/unstable polygons are only really apparent when upscaling and a high resolution monitor are involved though, which is why prior to PGXP I never considered upscaling worthwhile in any scenario. You're right, they didn't look like those screenshots, but they didn't look like this either. That's not to say it wasn't present, it just wasn't nearly as apparent. Native resolution on a CRT TV looked nothing like that. CRTs smoothed out a lot of the problems that are only present in a higher resolution environment. I mean, SNES games didn't really look like what we see in typical screenshots via emulators either.

I understand your point though. And I use PGXP myself!

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On the plus side though, I can now go back to experience and enjoy FF VII completely fresh :) Same with IX which was another game I really couldn't bear to look at but now it looks amazing.

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