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What happened to the saturn port of symphony of the night?

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Artemis008
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What happened to the saturn port of symphony of the night?

Post by Artemis008 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:22 pm

Seriously? The Saturn to this day is home to some of the most gorgeous looking sprite based games, so why is sotn on saturn so much worse then the PS1 version? Shouldn't it be the other way around?

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Re: What happened to the saturn port of symphony of the night?

Post by X-3 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:31 pm

According to IGA, the Saturn port was handled by a different team and did not take full advantage of the Saturn hardware. Looking at it a bit deeper, the Saturn has a higher resolution than the PSX and does not support that console's lower resolution, so the team chose to stretch the picture leading to uglier graphics and worse performance. Oh, and the Saturn wasn't good with polygons and transparencies.

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Re: What happened to the saturn port of symphony of the night?

Post by Artemis008 » Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:32 pm

X-3 wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 3:31 pm
According to IGA, the Saturn port was handled by a different team and did not take full advantage of the Saturn hardware. Looking at it a bit deeper, the Saturn has a higher resolution than the PSX and does not support that console's lower resolution, so the team chose to stretch the picture leading to uglier graphics and worse performance. Oh, and the Saturn wasn't good with polygons and transparencies.
Couldn't they just pillar box it?

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Re: What happened to the saturn port of symphony of the night?

Post by е и ժ е я » Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:24 am

The Saturn did not have a proper library-supported dev environment. Code for it was written in Assembly if I recall correctly. Hence why it failed to attract the developer attention that the Playstation garnered. "Pillarboxing" was both uncommon and disliked by players at the time, and it would've required custom display code, and if the gameplay or appearance is worsened by the upscaling then the resolution is likely performed realtime. The game's render engine was likely repurposed from a company-wide all-purpose engine, not unlike Nintendo's Mario 64 engine - variants of which run Star Fox 64, Zelda, etc - which would not have been developed exclusively for the SotN project. This is typical.

'Virtual' resolutions are rarely handled by engine programmers, but rather these days are typically handled by any screen's scaling components or the device's output drivers. An engine should've been written from the ground up and the assets would've had to be made from resolution-agnostic files as they are today. Not many years prior, developers were plotting sprites on grid paper because such graphical utilities did not exist, were too resource-intensive, or they simply did not have access to them as games-development was only seen as a legitimate industry sometime past the mid 90s and thus lacked the investment capital. Likely, anyone working on the Saturn port was not nearly the best staff for the job, and may not have even had a full line of communication to the primary engine programmer.

Beyond all of that, the only games which ran at peak performance were typically those released by Sega. Due to the Saturn's rushed release and immature design, it also suffered from poor documentation. So the developers had to write on-the-metal instructions which was simply not even done on the Playstation, and they would've had incomplete support from Sega to do so. That the Saturn port of the game was released at all is what's remarkable.

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Re: What happened to the saturn port of symphony of the night?

Post by е и ժ е я » Sat Sep 09, 2017 5:00 am

To elaborate on the differences in software and why such high-quality 2-dimensional games exist for the Saturn, it is readily apparent that games on the Saturn were 2D because they had to be, due to the hostile nature of the development environment. This means that the best developers determined to support the Saturn's early launch were releasing the best product they could. Compare that to now, where 2D game projects are often the realm of hobbyists as well. The time period during the Saturn and PS competition was short and it marked a change in who worked on what in the industry. The best games on the Playstation were being developed in 3D because they could, and 3D was new and easier to market to players. To maximise their appeal and profit, the best development teams on the Playstation would've been typically working in 3D. This means that the 2D offerings on the Playstation would not have been necessarily designed as any sort of particularly talented developers. If they had the ability and the resources to impress, they would've sought to do so on a 3D project.

We should also consider that the Saturn was virtually dead in the water on launch, and it became apparent within the first year of fierce competition that it had already been passed over by gamers. Sega had a bit of money to burn in advertising, so they pushed the Saturn hard and many people knew of it but few were actually playing on it. This means that even while the system was current, at the end of its lifespan, the best developers were not typically working natively on it, and their work, if it could be back-ported to the Saturn... Well, that would've been done by others more indirectly, with a less direct understanding of the code's original function by merit of not having written it.

Just look at the release date. SotN's Saturn port launched to a Japan-only release in 98. The Saturn was dead in the States in 95 and abandoned shortly thereafter. The PS version of the game released first, in 97. That screams unintended back-port.

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Re: What happened to the saturn port of symphony of the night?

Post by I am nobody » Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:24 am

е и ժ е я wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:24 am
Code for it was written in Assembly if I recall correctly.
From what I've been able to find, you're right. The official Sega SDK docs include the SH2 Assembly specification, but there's also a link on the site hosting them to a C->SH2 compiler, and I found a blog post saying that at least one studio was using that by 1995. There's surprisingly little on the internet about what language devs actually used day-to-day.

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Re: What happened to the saturn port of symphony of the night?

Post by Artemis008 » Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:15 am

So it wasn't the porting teams fault, it was Sega's fault for releasing the Saturn early and with little documentation.

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Re: What happened to the saturn port of symphony of the night?

Post by е и ժ е я » Sun Sep 10, 2017 1:08 am

Artemis008 wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:15 am
So it wasn't the porting teams fault, it was Sega's fault for releasing the Saturn early and with little documentation.
Don't get me wrong, they could've made a solid port, but for the time it would've taken it wouldn't have been financially responsible. That someone was able to rejigger the engine to run on the Saturn isn't especially remarkable so much as the fact that they even bothered. As you've repeated, the system's architecture was complex and support was incomplete, very few studios actually made software for it. I'd guess they got it to a usable state but did not complete development, and it was shipped as a way of recouping the loss of the development.

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Re: What happened to the saturn port of symphony of the night?

Post by е и ժ е я » Sun Sep 10, 2017 1:11 am

I am nobody wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 8:24 am
е и ժ е я wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:24 am
Code for it was written in Assembly if I recall correctly.
From what I've been able to find, you're right. The official Sega SDK docs include the SH2 Assembly specification, but there's also a link on the site hosting them to a C->SH2 compiler, and I found a blog post saying that at least one studio was using that by 1995. There's surprisingly little on the internet about what language devs actually used day-to-day.
Yeah, I'm not certain the C compiler was actually available to all devs and beyond that, the Saturn had already clearly tanked by 95. By then it was mostly just spiraling the drain.

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Re: What happened to the saturn port of symphony of the night?

Post by Artemis008 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:23 pm

Do you think the Saturn port is fixable with the power of hacking? Or is it too far gone? If you just imported the non stretched graphics from the psx version, redrew the ones for the secret areas and pillar boxed it would it be enough to fix the load times and frame rate?

On the other hand, would it be easier to just hack in the secret areas into the psx version, since the Saturn is apparently extremely difficult to program for?

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