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Fubar512

Flight Sims, Circa 1990

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Here's an episode of "the Computer Chronicles", a television series that ran from 1981 through the early 2000s, on public TV (PBS) here in the US. You may find this particular episode quite interesting, if not quaint.

 

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"These flight simulators have been the best selling category of entertainment software for years!"  Man, how times have changed!  Great video, thanks for sharing.

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The two things I found the most interesting was the comment about how good the graphics are which in are modern context are laughable, but when compared to a flight sim my dad had on an old IBM computer which was instrument only is quite impressive, and one of the Mac games talked about at the end as I remember playing it on computers at school at the time.     

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These sims were simple enough that anyone could pick them up and play without having to invest in expensive peripherals. Flightsims were still selling well until the late 90's shift towards increasing complexity and realism for realisms sake. Jetfighter and F-15 were hardly more complex than today's Ace Combat, but they felt authentic enough to be convincing.

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The two things I found the most interesting was the comment about how good the graphics are which in are modern context are laughable, but when compared to a flight sim my dad had on an old IBM computer which was instrument only is quite impressive, and one of the Mac games talked about at the end as I remember playing it on computers at school at the time.     

 

Well, keep in mind that for the most part, 3D graphics really did not exist on PCs until 1996, with the advent of the Voodoo 1. That opened the flood gates, and within a year's time, we had Jane's F-15, Red Baron 3D, etc.

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The old sims were still 3D. All the 3DFX card did was switch the rendering to hardware, while earlier games had to invent software renderers which constrained what could be done with the CPU. In fact GPUs are so good at handling vast amounts of data we now have compute shaders to help further offload the CPU.

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Gunship, 1986

F-19 Stealth Fighter, 1988

A-10 Tank Killer, 1989

M1 Tank Platoon, 1989

F-15 Strike Eagle II, 1989

MiG-29 Fulcrum, 1990

Red Baron, 1990

Birds of Prey, 1991
Chuck Yeager's Air Combat, 1991

F-117A Nighthawk, 1991

Gunship 2000, 1991

Harrier Jump Jet, 1992

Task Force 1942, 1992

F-15 Strike Eagle III, 1992

Dogfight, 1993

Strike Commander, 1993 (first game to offer both Gouraud shading and texture-mapping in software, as far as I remember)

TFX, 1993
Star Wars : X-Wing, 1993
Dawn Patrol, 1994

Pacific Strike, 1994

1942: The Pacific Air, 1994

F-14 Fleet Defender, 1994

Star Wars : TIE Fighter, 1994

Wing Commander III, 1994

EF2000, 1995

Su-27 Flanker, 1995

Mechwarrior 2, 1995

Wing Commander IV, 1995

Star Wars : Dark Forces, 1995

 

And that's only those I can cite off the top of my head...

 

So yes, 3D games were definitely not a thing prior to 1996 and 3DFX...  :biggrin:

 

PS : Added a few more, and that's not even counting the games using 2D sprites for planes in a 3D world.

Edited by Gunrunner

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What a good memories! My first flight sim was Flight Simulator 4. Then came Chuck Yeagers Air Combat, Fleet Defender, LHX, Aces of the Pacific, and a lot more...

 

I realize that then were a sim for each era and scenario, they were more specific (WW1, WW2 Pacific, WW2 Europe, Desert Storm, Cold War...)

Now we have "a few" sims, but their content is almost every aviation era.

 

Examples:

il-2 with CUP: From WW1 to Vietnam and some moder jets

Strike Fighters: Almost every conflict and scenario since WW2

FSX: All the world

 

Now we have a lot of content in a few sims.

Then we had a lot of sims with less content.

Edited by mono27

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Also got big a list (to much spare time once ago :biggrin:) of almost 40 flight sims, but only some of them are from the 90's.

 

Anyone played: " TOPGUN: Fire at Will ! ", from Spectrum Holobyte ?

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Gunship, 1986

F-19 Stealth Fighter, 1988

A-10 Tank Killer, 1989

M1 Tank Platoon, 1989

F-15 Strike Eagle II, 1989

MiG-29 Fulcrum, 1990

Red Baron, 1990

Birds of Prey, 1991
Chuck Yeager's Air Combat, 1991

F-117A Nighthawk, 1991

Gunship 2000, 1991

Harrier Jump Jet, 1992

Task Force 1942, 1992

F-15 Strike Eagle III, 1992

Dogfight, 1993

Strike Commander, 1993 (first game to offer both Gouraud shading and texture-mapping in software, as far as I remember)

TFX, 1993
Star Wars : X-Wing, 1993
Dawn Patrol, 1994

Pacific Strike, 1994

1942: The Pacific Air, 1994

F-14 Fleet Defender, 1994

Star Wars : TIE Fighter, 1994

Wing Commander III, 1994

EF2000, 1995

Su-27 Flanker, 1995

Mechwarrior 2, 1995

Wing Commander IV, 1995

Star Wars : Dark Forces, 1995

 

And that's only those I can cite off the top of my head...

 

So yes, 3D games were definitely not a thing prior to 1996 and 3DFX...  :biggrin:

 

PS : Added a few more, and that's not even counting the games using 2D sprites for planes in a 3D world.

Sorry to disagree, but those are all 2D titles, as they were software-rendered. True 3D -gaming did not exist until hardware accelerators came along, starting with the voodoo 1 in '96. I've been messing with PCs since I built my first system in 1985, and even had a few of those titles.  They were all 2D.

 

For example, Falcon 3.0 is 2D, as is the later Hornet 3.0, which came out in 1997.  However, Falcon 4.0 is true 3D, as is Hornet Korea.

Edited by Fubar512

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Boresight, you say Top Gun Fire at will?

I always wanted to play that sim but never could find it back then. It looks great because I am a Tomcat fan.

Now, it is easier to find but I am not sure if I would enjoy it because its age.

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Boresight, you say Top Gun Fire at will?

I always wanted to play that sim but never could find it back then. It looks great because I am a Tomcat fan.

Now, it is easier to find but I am not sure if I would enjoy it because its age.

 

Yes, search about it on youtube.

I believe regarding the F-14, it's the PC flight sim most similar to the movie TOPGUN.

About graphics I believe it's a little better than "Fleet Defender".

 

It does have an history/plot to help contextualize the actions around the globe: Miramar; Cuba; North Korea and Libya.

Although it's not as realistic as Fleet Defender avionics/features wise, it isn't "arcade" genre also; maybe a "light sim".

 

But on the other hand, some missions of "Fleet Defender" do have some fictional elements, where in TOPGUN: Fire at Will! you have no fiction whatsoever, only air combat and some "geopolitics" history with great immersion feeling.

 

Read my impression about it post # 28, link below:

 

http://combatace.com/topic/82408-top-gun-campaigns/page-2

Edited by Boresight

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@Fubar, oh, thanks, I forgot Falcon 3.0 in that list, and by the way, you couldn't be more wrong.

 

Let me see, according to your conception of a "true" 3D game, if you played Mechwarrior 2 in its software-rendered version the game was 2D, but play it in its Mystique or 3Dfx version, only adding effects and not using a rewritten engine, and suddenly it is a true 3D game ?

I know, you'll pretend that since they were different versions they weren't the same game thus making your point, regardless of the actual nature of the code.

Let's take Unreal then... Are you suggesting that in software mode it is a 2D game, but activate Glide and it suddenly is a 3D game.

 

You are trolling me, right ? You have stupid ideas at time, but I've not known you to be that out of touch with reality.

 

3D game doesn't mean it is using hardware accelerated 3D, just the way it manages spatial positions of objects and the generation of polygonal objects (excluding some "sprite in a 3D world" games - early Wing Commanders and LucasArts sims - as well as some voxel based games which weren't really 3D).

 

Come on, even Julhelm pointed out your mistake.

 

Oh, and let me add yet another example :

 

Elite, 1984

Edited by Gunrunner

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3D game doesn't mean it is using hardware accelerated 3D, just the way it manages spatial positions of objects and the generation of polygonal objects (excluding some "sprite in a 3D world" games - early Wing Commanders and LucasArts sims - as well as some voxel based games).

 

 

Exactly, an example would be Novalogic's Armored Fist 2 and 3, Comanche 3/Gold and the first two Delta Force games. They use a voxel engine, without hardware acceleration. Most of the stuff is 3D (lots of polygonal stuff), only a few 2D sprites are used for special effects and such. Even PSX games are not hardware accelerated, but that doesn't mean they are not 3D or don't use polygons at all.

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One game i miss in the list. It was Flight Simulator Toolkit FST by Domark.

It was the first time you could create terrains, planes and flightmodels.

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Good one Gepard, the first plane I made for it was a Mirage 2000. It was 1993 and it was very much 3D.

 

@ Blaze95, true but some voxel games were weird, which one I can't remember but they weren't using a true 3D world representation but 3D objects, I remember an action RPG but not its name.

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@Fubar, oh, thanks, I forgot Falcon 3.0 in that list, and by the way, you couldn't be more wrong.

 

Let me see, according to your conception of a "true" 3D game, if you played Mechwarrior 2 in its software-rendered version the game was 2D, but play it in its Mystique or 3Dfx version, only adding effects and not using a rewritten engine, and suddenly it is a true 3D game ?

I know, you'll pretend that since they were different versions they weren't the same game thus making your point, regardless of the actual nature of the code.

Let's take Unreal then... Are you suggesting that in software mode it is a 2D game, but activate Glide and it suddenly is a 3D game.

 

You are trolling me, right ? You have stupid ideas at time, but I've not known you to be that out of touch with reality.

 

3D game doesn't mean it is using hardware accelerated 3D, just the way it manages spatial positions of objects and the generation of polygonal objects (excluding some "sprite in a 3D world" games - early Wing Commanders and LucasArts sims - as well as some voxel based games which weren't really 3D).

 

Come on, even Julhelm pointed out your mistake.

 

Oh, and let me add yet another example :

 

Elite, 1984

 

Say so, and I can make you disappear forever, and no one would be the wiser  :biggrin:

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphics_processing_unit#1980s

 

 

 

1990s[edit]

220px-Voodoo3-2000AGP.jpg

 

Voodoo3 2000 AGP card

In 1991, S3 Graphics introduced the S3 86C911, which its designers named after the Porsche 911 as an implication of the performance increase it promised.[24] The 86C911 spawned a host of imitators: by 1995, all major PC graphics chip makers had added 2D acceleration support to their chips.[25][26] By this time, fixed-function Windows accelerators had surpassed expensive general-purpose graphics coprocessors in Windows performance, and these coprocessors faded away from the PC market.

Throughout the 1990s, 2D GUI acceleration continued to evolve. As manufacturing capabilities improved, so did the level of integration of graphics chips. Additional application programming interfaces (APIs) arrived for a variety of tasks, such as Microsoft's WinG graphics library for Windows 3.x, and their later DirectDraw interface for hardware acceleration of 2D games within Windows 95 and later.

In the early- and mid-1990s, real-time 3D graphics were becoming increasingly common in arcade, computer and console games, which led to an increasing public demand for hardware-accelerated 3D graphics. Early examples of mass-market 3D graphics hardware can be found in arcade system boards such as the Sega Model 1Namco System 22, and Sega Model 2, and the fifth-generation video game consoles such as the SaturnPlayStation and Nintendo 64. Arcade systems such as the Sega Model 2 and Namco Magic Edge Hornet Simulator in 1993 were capable of hardware T&L (transform, clipping, and lighting) years before appearing in consumer graphics cards.[27][28] Some systems used DSPs to accelerate transformations. Fujitsu, which worked on the Sega Model 2 arcade system,[29] began working on integrating T&L into a single LSI solution for use in home computers in 1995;[30][31] the Fujitsu Pinolite, the first 3D geometry processor for personal computers, released in 1997.[32] The first hardware T&L GPU on home video game consoles was the Nintendo 64's Reality Coprocessor, released in 1996.[33] In 1997, Mitsubishi released the 3Dpro/2MP, a fully featured GPU capable of transformation and lighting, forworkstations and Windows NT desktops;[34] ATi utilized it for their FireGL 4000 graphics card, released in 1997.[35]

In the PC world, notable failed first tries for low-cost 3D graphics chips were the S3 ViRGEATI Rage, and Matrox Mystique. These chips were essentially previous-generation 2D accelerators with 3D features bolted on. Many were even pin-compatiblewith the earlier-generation chips for ease of implementation and minimal cost. Initially, performance 3D graphics were possible only with discrete boards dedicated to accelerating 3D functions (and lacking 2D GUI acceleration entirely) such as thePowerVR and the 3dfx Voodoo. However, as manufacturing technology continued to progress, video, 2D GUI acceleration and 3D functionality were all integrated into one chip. Rendition's Verite chipsets were among the first to do this well enough to be worthy of note. In 1997, Rendition went a step further by collaborating with Hercules and Fujitsu on a "Thriller Conspiracy" project which combined a Fujitsu FXG-1 Pinolite geometry processor with a Vérité V2200 core to create a graphics card with a full T&L engine years before Nvidia's GeForce 256. This card, designed to reduce the load placed upon the system's CPU, never made it to market.

OpenGL appeared in the early '90s as a professional graphics API, but originally suffered from performance issues which allowed the Glide API to step in and become a dominant force on the PC in the late '90s.[36] However, these issues were quickly overcome and the Glide API fell by the wayside. Software implementations of OpenGL were common during this time, although the influence of OpenGL eventually led to widespread hardware support. Over time, a parity emerged between features offered in hardware and those offered in OpenGL. DirectX became popular among Windows game developers during the late 90s. Unlike OpenGL, Microsoft insisted on providing strict one-to-one support of hardware. The approach made DirectX less popular as a standalone graphics API initially, since many GPUs provided their own specific features, which existing OpenGL applications were already able to benefit from, leaving DirectX often one generation behind. (See: Comparison of OpenGL and Direct3D.)

Over time, Microsoft began to work more closely with hardware developers, and started to target the releases of DirectX to coincide with those of the supporting graphics hardware. Direct3D 5.0 was the first version of the burgeoning API to gain widespread adoption in the gaming market, and it competed directly with many more-hardware-specific, often proprietary graphics libraries, while OpenGL maintained a strong following. Direct3D 7.0 introduced support for hardware-acceleratedtransform and lighting (T&L) for Direct3D, while OpenGL had this capability already exposed from its inception. 3D accelerator cards moved beyond being just simplerasterizers to add another significant hardware stage to the 3D rendering pipeline. The Nvidia GeForce 256 (also known as NV10) was the first consumer-level card released on the market with hardware-accelerated T&L, while professional 3D cards already had this capability. Hardware transform and lighting, both already existing features of OpenGL, came to consumer-level hardware in the '90s and set the precedent for later pixel shader and vertex shader units which were far more flexible and programmable.

 

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Fubar512, and ? nothing in your copy-pasta actually proves your point...

 

Before the advent of hardware 2D acceleration were all 2D games "faking" it ? Were they truly 1D games, despite using 2D coordinates and 2D sprites ?

 

Are you also suggesting that 3D Studio, released in 1990, was not "really" 3D ?

 

What makes a game "true" 3D is a positive answer to both these questions :

- Does the game manage the position of the player and objects in the game world in three dimensions ?

- Are the objects in the game world dynamically created from a mathematical/algorithmic three dimensional representation ?

 

Let's consider the implications :

- A game where the world is built in pre-rendered 3D, and actual 3D objects move and are scaled around it (e.g. Grim Fandango, Little Big Adventure, Total Annihilation) ? "Fake" 3D

- A game where the world is built in true 3D, but where objects are 2D sprites, either classical or pre-rendered 3D (e.g. Wing Commander I, II and Privateer) ? "Fake" 3D

- A game where the world is built in true 3D and where objects are dynamically rendered 3D objects (e.g. any of the games I cite, including Elite and its primitive wireframe system, but also the original Battlezone) ? "True" 3D

 

Whether the game also include sprites for effects, or a 2D foreground for instruments, cockpit (unless you really want to argue that early DCS games were not true 3D games due to their 2D cockpits), weapons etc, is irrelevant.

 

What is even more irrelevant is whether or not the objects are textured or shaded; a simple transparent wireframe (1980's Battlezone) is enough to qualify as 3D.

 

Even more irrelevant is whether the calculations are the result of software executed on the CPU, low-level calls to the GPU, API calls offloading it to a GPU, or a combination of the two. It could be run by an army of monkeys and inputed back through punch cards, that wouldn't change the nature of the algorithms.

 

Does 3D acceleration hardware allow for better and better looking 3D games ? Certainly.

Are they a requirement ? Hell no.

Edited by Gunrunner

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I'm probably a bit younger than some of the crowd on here. My first combat sim was A-10 Cuba; I totally loved it back in the day.

I remember getting it & Ace Combat 3 about the same kind of time and, despite the latter being a far more expensive game, I much preferred the former.

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Thanks for the info Boresight, I will give it a try to Top Gun: Fire at will.

 

Another flight sim that gave me great plot/history and immersion was Strike Commander.

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Top Gun Fire at Will looked better than F-14FD, yes. But it played worse. Scripted campaign missions that required you to win to progress, and that's all there was.

 

I played the game for several hours till I got to a mission so tough I couldn't beat it. There was nothing else to do but replay that mission ad infinitum. I uninstalled the game.

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There were even a few games on the Amiga that used wireframe graphics with red/blue glasses for actual 3D.

 

Sublogic's JET is probably the earliest fully-3D flight sim I can think off. Unlike F-15 Strike Eagle, it had filled polygonal graphics with actual terrain, airfields and carrier landings. This in 1983 on a C-64.


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