Livestream 6/23/22 – Radeon DDR

The video card landscape was a bit all over the place in the late 90s. 3dfx with their Voodoo series were at the top of their game but their dominace was waning with competitors coming out with constantly improved solutions. nVidia had hits with their TNT and TNT2 lines and had welcomed board partner manufacturers after 3dfx shunned them. ATI had seen success with their Rage 128 series but by 2000 that was pretty long in the tooth.

ATI decided to make a new video card architecture from the ground up which resulted in the very first Radeon card: The Radeon 64 DDR. While the card was not usually at the top of the benchmarks it was a very solid card. Above all it handled 32 bit color with little performance hit which would have been a decent selling point. ATI took some creative liberties with the different version of the card and it wasn’t always clear which one you were buying. For example the 32 MB version ran at a lower clock rate than the 64 MB version sent out to reviewers. Likely not the first time benchmark results were skewed but it left a bad taste with customers.

Today the 64 DDR in retail format is the one to have as it runs at the highest clock available. It’s still a very solid card albeit without anything in particular standing out. That said it made for a very interesting GPU June stream so check out the replay below.

Livestream 6/2/2022 – 3dfx Banshee

GPUJune 2 is in full swing! Videos are dropping fast on the official playlist for the event for everyone to check out. As a reminder GPU June was started by Nathan, aka Pixel Pipes, last year asking content creators to focus on retro GPUs. It was a big hit and a lot of really cool videos came out of that.

One of my contributions to the even is that during the month my livestreams will focus on a GPU each time. Normally I might stream a single game or an entire console library. However for the first one that landed on the, frankly gorgeous, Voodoo Banshee from Gigabyte. The Banshee cards came at a time when 3dfx was attempting to make all in one cards that didn’t need a stand-alone 2D card like the previous Voodoo 2. There were some concessions to not cannibalize sales however and it’s missing some features. A higher clock speed is the compensation for that and this model from Gigabyte was the fastest version.

It makes for a terrific 1998 video card and allows you to play a ton of games at respectable performance, all while enjoying that broad compatibility afforded by the Glide API. It’s a great card and the stream was a lot of fun so check it out below.

GPU June 2 Playlist:

Livestream 4/28/2022 – Starcraft

If there was one game to truly solidify Blizzard as one of the major players in the RTS genre it was Starcraft. While the earlier releases of Warcraft and Warcraft 2 brought them major success Starcraft became an international phenomena. LAN parties across the globe lit up pitting the different factions against eachother. Online matches were fought bitterly to the last unit. A new generation of competitive RTS game had arrived. Part of the esports world grew out of Starcraft as it expanded its reach.

While the multiplayer aspect of Starcraft is what gave it the lasting power it still has, the singleplayer campaign is what hooked me. Weaving a tight narrative that borrowed heavily from properties like Aliens and Starship Troopers, it set itself apart. I was glued through the whole campaign which played very different between the 3 factions because they were indeed extremly different. Blizzard’s polish shines through with each faction being so balanced even with those glaring differences.

Revisiting the game is a total blast from the past so check out the replay below. This was a hard one to stop for the night for!

Doom Gets Ray Tracing

You don’t need to spend much time introducing Doom. It’s Doom! But while the game may hold a special place for many retro gamers, there are many ways to play it on modern machines. One such option is using the modern engine prboom+. This is similar to gzdoom allowing it to run on current hardware at higher resolutions and many quality of life improvements. A recommended way to play the game on your modern computer.

This opens the door up to some more modern mods as well. One such mod is the one just released by sultim-t where they added ray tracing into the game! It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of adding ray tracing to older games as it often fits the “simpler” geometry very well. Look at Quake 2 RTX as a more recent example.

So what you get is a much more atmospheric, deeper Doom than you might be used to. Shadows are truly dark, the foreboding feeling of dread lurking around every corner. Ray tracing and Doom were made for eachother. I was so excited to see this I had to make a video on it so check it out below to see it in action.

Livestream – 3/24/2022 – Max Payne

While many games try and emulate the experience of playing a movie few get quite as close as Max Payne did in 2001. Dipping deep into the crime noir-thriller with comic book styled story panels, and constant narration done go into the mind of Mr Payne and his motivations, it was something new. At least when I played it back then!

The game was also the first one to utilize the “bullet time” system where you can press a button to slow down time and make glorious dives while unloading 2 guns at the same time, John Woo style. The game holds up surprisingly well with design ideas still being seen in modern shooters. Narrative game design is something we are used to any more but the way this game does it was definitely novel, at least to me, back then.

While this game is somewhat unforgiving to my mediocre skill level it’s still really fun to play. Most people seem to have played it which helps make it more fun to stream as well. Check out the replay below!