PAL Borders

Discussion in 'General Video Gaming Chat' started by annefromuk, Jan 17, 2002.

  1. annefromuk

    annefromuk
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    I decided to open a new thread so I can use a new Subject Title.

    Its not because of lazy developers.

    Its take a lot of aditional coding to have 50Hz/60Hz versions on the same game as the the dynamics and other stuff actually get updated slightly differently.

    Plus no amount of extra work can get rid of the big black borders on some PAL version games, please do not forget that PAL TV's have 100 more lines of resolution than NTSC, this involves more graphical processing, its a fact that the PS2's vram buffer is not large enough to cope with full screen PAL resolution without making sacrifices in other areas (this might change in the upcoming third generations titles like Stuntman, as they have found a new way to use the limited PS2 vram buffer)
    The Xbox has shared system/video ram so the developers can choose how much to allocate to Video Buffering (and solve the border problem)

    Project Gotham has been confirmed as having a PAL 60 Hz mode, and hopefully all PAL games will (unconfirmed reports suggest it is set in Dashboard, but it could be set in game).

    PAL is not being dumped on, there is no reason to buy an American NTSC machine other than to save a bit of money.
    Even if all the Xbox PAL games are 50Hz (which they are not)
    I would rather benefit from the extra 100 lines of resolution (just under 20% better more than NTSC)
    PAL is better, its just console makers (and not the developers) who have been lazy in designing the hardware, as an example I will use a PAL game from the same developer, the Dreamcast DOA2 was better than the PS2 DOA2 because the Dreamcast had a better buffer arrangement (due to NEC making the PowerVR graphics chip optimised for both NTSC and PAL)

    Anne

    PS NTSC is not as good as you think, anyone heard the phrase NTSC = 'Never Twice the Same Color'
     
  2. lechacal

    lechacal
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    I take your point, and I'm certainly not arguing that NTSC is superior to PAL. That would be pretty stupid.

    I'm not saying that the games should be 50/60Hz switchable (necessarily) either.

    It's just that a few years ago the norm was to do a proper PAL conversion when the time came to release the game in PAL territories. These days it doesn't seem to be the case. It's all very well to have "100 lines of extra resolution", but if what you get is 100 extra lines of black then what's the point? May was well just get the NTSC version that will at least be viewed at full-screen rather than with the borders.

    PAL = Picture Anguish for Limeys
     
  3. Bozza

    Bozza
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    annefromuk

    Not meaning to have a go, but your comment on developers not being lazy is not a valid one.

    Capcom make great games but are very lazy when it comes to PAL conversions. The only games that have had a 60Hz option in PAL regions have been on the Dreamcast because the 60Hz mode was carried out by the hardware and not the software, the same is true of PS2 but Capcom have not used this option. Using this option does not take up any more memory or add any more load to the main CPU as this is all carried out by the video output so there is no excuse.

    As for PS1, this was carried out by the software, I have seen a PAL game with an added 60Hz option before the game has loaded. This took all of an hour and a half by an inexpeirenced programmer.

    My Sega Saturn is chipped to run import games, I have a switch on it which runs all games at 60Hz, this again puts no extra load on any part of the machine.

    You say you would prefer the extra 100 lines of resolution, well you can keep them while I play Tekken 3, VF3 etc at full speed, try comparing Tekken 3 PAL vs NTSC, there is no contest.

    Bozza Wins
     
  4. annefromuk

    annefromuk
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    Ok

    Let me explain some more :D

    When there is borders on a game it is because the Developer could not use the 100 extra lines due to either hardware or development time restrictions.
    The borders are there because the game is only using 480 lines, and thus leaves a 100 line border (don't forgot 480 lines on PAL takes up less vertical space than 480 lines NTSC as the lines are closer together on PAL)

    The PS2 was designed with a frame buffer to cope with a resolution of 640 x 240 (because it is interlaced) this makes it very hard for a developer to code a game to use PAL on a PS2. Even though over a second PAL and NTSC use the amount of bandwith, PAL needs a bigger buffer to display each frame.

    Here is a comparison of the diferent formats :
    PAL resolution is 720x576 at 50Hz
    NTSC resolution is 720x483 at 60Hz
    PAL-60 outputs a NTSC signal using PAL colour codes at 30 fps
    HDTV resolution proposed for use in Europe is 1280x720 (720p)

    So you can see that if the Console was designed with a better Graphics display method, then PAL-60 would be easier to implement than standard PAL, as the console would do the colour conversion (the Xbox has converted a Region 0 PAL DVD to NTSC so hopefully it can convert NTSC to PAL-60 with no problems).

    Anne
     
  5. Bozza

    Bozza
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    Anne,

    I understand the points made but thepoints you make about hardware or development restrictions I feel are what the official responce would be from a software house.

    The resitrictions on hardware are not true, every console that I have bought ( and still own ) from the MegaDrive have been converted to run games at full screen and full speed with no hit on performance on the hardware.

    As for development times, it is usually months after the original JAP or US release that the UK get their version which in 98% of cases still have borders, there is absoloutly no excuse for this. Most of the games that are released in this country are ports of US games with perhaps minor changes like title screens, names etc so the fact that it is easy to implement 60Hz or at least the option leaves the company that released the game with no excuses. If it wasn't for Sega optimising their Saturn games or having a 60Hz option on Dreamcast games I feel that even today we would all be playing games in this country with Panaramic vision!

    I don't obviously know what you do for a living so I don't know how informed you are on the subject ( I'm certainly no expert ) but if what you state about PAL games needing a bigger buffer for each frame is running 60Hz ( with an unofficial mod ) then the game would not run or run very badly. this has not happened in the cases that I have seen.
     
  6. annefromuk

    annefromuk
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    Its easy to mod a NTSC console to display PAL-60 as they are nearly the same signals.

    Its 50Hz PAL that needs a bigger buffer and not 60Hz PAL

    50Hz PAL has more lines in a frame, so the buffer has to draw more (although less frequently)

    60Hz PAL uses the PAL-60 standard, this was created by DVD Manufacturers I think about 8 Years ago, all they did was use NTSC signals but use PAL colour coding (as NTSC colour coding is not very good)

    So it is easy to mod a NTSC console to display PAL-60 as it is not converting the Hz or Signal and only adding PAL colour coding to an NTSC Picture.

    This means PAL-60 is smoother than PAL because there is only 483 lines (NTSC) so the frame buffer can be coded the same as the NTSC version due to same Hz, same lines.

    The problems is with 50Hz PAL because of mores lines in the frame, means more additional processing (and bigger buffer)

    Anne
     
  7. Bozza

    Bozza
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    Sorry,
    I should have been more specific. When I was talking about moding a console to run 60 Hz, I ment NTSC not PAL-60, the only console that outputs PAL-60 is Dreamcast, everything else ( on games at least ) will only output PAL-50 or true NTSC, this includes consoles as old as MegaDrive. Thus the point I made earlier about no extra hit on performance to a console when running a pap 50Hz non optimisd picture to a true 60Hz NTSC or PAL 60 picture is still valid ( I think anyway).
     
  8. annefromuk

    annefromuk
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    PAL-60 is NTSC, apart from the colour coding (both are 720x483 at 60Hz). This allows for PAL conversions to be identical to NTSC originals.

    PAL is 50Hz at 720x576, I don't know how to calculate bandwith usage for diferant sizes, but its simple to see that 100 more lines in a single frame requires a bigger buffer to store the information.

    This way you can understand the reasons for bad PAL conversions due to the need to reprograme the buffer, but there is no excuse for PAL-60 game not being the exactly same as a NTSC.

    I believe all games should be PAL-60 as nearly all TV's support this standard, and its 50Hz PAL that the developer should decide to add or not (as 50Hz is what gets all the complaints due to border/speed).

    If there was only a 60Hz version of the gameand not 50Hz, this would benefit everyone.

    Anne
     
  9. museumsteve

    museumsteve
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    I posted on the other thread, but it belongs here..

    On very good authority (inside info) Xbox WILL include a 60hz option in the dashboard..which is great news for most..
     
  10. zetmoon

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    A PAL playstation also ouputs PAL-60 when playing US games.
     
  11. jonnyhilly

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    I'm a game developer/programmer, and have been making games for about 15 years. I've made both PS1 and PS2 games.

    There can be alot of work involved in converting NTSC to PAL.
    for a start, all of your menu screens dont fit anymore, they are the wrong size. So you need 2 sets of artwork, one for each screen size.
    All your screen layouts for icons and text will be in different positions, and will need to be edited.
    IF the game was originally intended for 1 territory, then you might be stuck right there allready. e.g. If you have a full screen menu picture...hand drawn 8 months ago.... how do you draw an extra 100 lines or artwork at the bottom.... you can't.
    It has to be planned at the start of the project. all the art needs to be generated to work on PAL
    I am guessing some games with "black borders" were such projects

    There IS a hardware performance problem with NTSC to PAL PS2 conversions, you only have a certain amount of video memory in which to fit all your graphics on PS2.
    Note that this memory also includes the screen (not just textures)!!! So if you change to a PAL sized screen buffer. then the space for your textures just got smaller, then not all your textures fit into memory any more, which means you either need alot more data handling to swap textures in and out of memory on the fly 50 times a second, which will slow your game down. Or you have to shrink the textures so they will fit into video memory, which is alot of work, and makes your textures look more blurry.

    There is usually plenty of work involved. in converting to PAL

    Don't blame the developer, blame the publisher.. the developer only does what the publisher pays them to do.
    Publishers want lots of quality, but never want to pay for it, heh heh
     
  12. drskhaled

    drskhaled
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    straight from the horses mouth, canne argue with that.
     
  13. David Mackenzie

    David Mackenzie
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    Can't argue that there's a LOT of work involved in the PAL conversion progress, especially not with a developer. Is it really an issue anyway if the game has a 60hz or 480p option?

    One thing though

    Couldn't you scale those graphics to the higher PAL resolution in Photoshop?

    This is all why I don't buy PAL stuff though. The PAL GameCube games don't even support 480p.
     

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