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Everything posted by MrFlibble

  1. Actually I like how the sand and rock textures came out grainy, they're too smoothed in the original Manga image (which I also had to apply surface blur to to get rid of the faux JPEG compression artifacts it created because the model was trained on JPEG images). Also if you look closely at the Hummvees, at least you can see their mounted guns in the second image, which are almost indiscernible blobs in the Manga one.
  2. I've been increasingly interested in the possibilities of scaling up video game graphics using neural networks recently, and after a relatively brief but overall productive stint with waifu2x I realised its limitations and tried out ESRGAN. While this network, like many others of this kind, is intended to process photographic images and not video gamer graphics, a model was trained by one of the users that is quite suitable for art. Without going into much detail, I scaled up three official screenshots from Command & Conquer, The Covert Operations and Red Alert, then downsized them to 640x480 and converted to the respective original palettes: Note that this was done purely for fun/out of curiosity, but the results are pretty interesting!
  3. Actually I just tried a different network from the same developers as ESRGAN, SFTGAN. Unlike ESRGAN, this one does not scale up the image itself, rather, it processes input scaled by other methods to recover texture detail. So I fed it some waifu2x images, and the results seem quite more suited to C&C screenshots: The images got sharper but also feel more jaggy though. I think this could produce possibly better results with renders as well.
  4. Market-wise, competition with Steam is theoretically a good thing, but absolutely no idea how this plays out in practice. As for giving out free games, giveaways still happen pretty regularly as far as I can tell, but the more this happens the more I am just like "what's this game, never heard of it, I don't need it anyway". But that's just me, I'm not keen on many modern titles.
  5. Oh cool, I didn't know about this category That's what buggers me a bit. The original game is internally consistent yet frozen in its time so to speak. Whereas of the remaster, I cannot tell how it will turn out in after all of course but somehow I cannot bring myself to not think of it as a "new" game. Whatever the developers do there will probably be a huge overhaul of the graphics at any rate because the DOS 320x200 stuff cannot look good by simply redrawing it at a larger scale, because the models have very scant detail (luckily there are high-res renders for almost anything for the artists' reference), unlike StarCraft's art which is still pretty detailed even though it may be considered "low-res" by today's standards. I'm somewhat concerned that if the developers take a conservative route with only bringing the visuals and sound to higher quality and resolution, that would inadvertently serve to highlight how dated the game itself is (don't get me wrong here, Command & Conquer the first game is my favourite). Possibly it's just me but makes me think in the direction I tried to describe above. There's also the context. C&C came out in 1995 when it was one of the pioneers of a budding new genre, built on the foundation that was laid out by Dune 2. There was a logic to its coming into existence, and the authors also managed to nail the Zetigeist of that era so to speak. But today the remasters seem to have been announced mostly because it's a trend, everyone else is doing this, so why not these games too? And unlike StarCraft which has few rivals in terms of popularity to this day, it seems that C&C and RA have become somewhat of a niche. I mean, even among those who play and love both (or either) game(s), how many would really like to see the recreations follow the closed-up view of the DOS versions? I'm almost certain many are used to the Windows 640x400 look of these titles, not the original DOS look of C&C. And even that aside, there's a balance to be kept between appealing to the "old-timers" who remember the original game, and everyone else, if they would care at all (your replies above appear pretty sceptical of this).
  6. Maybe I worded this wrong, I meant to say that back in 1995 when you got C&C and installed it, there was a framing story that the "game" is actually advanced military software that allows you to command real-life troops in a real life conflict that was happening right now, with you, the player, having been recruited by either side of the conflict to command their forces. This was supported not only by the internal consistency and narrative of the game but also by the fact that it depicted a world that was very little different from the real world of 1995. The TV and news clips, maps and other stuff are all there to support this immersion. However it's over 20 years since then and the world has changed in many ways, as a result detaching this aspect of the game's story. I mean, I don't know about you or others, but whatever the remastered version turns out to be I probably won't bring up a level of suspension of disbelief to maintain this immersion that was intended by the original developers back in 1995. I mean to say that there's no way around the fact that the original Command & Conquer depicts a very close future, but that "future" has now become "past". The remaster may or may not emphasise this fact, but this, shall we say, discrepancy will exist because the remaster will be a new, modern title (by which I simply mean its time of release, not any implied design particularities). So do we imagine that the player of the remaster is the commander, or that the commander is a fictional character from the fictional 1995-and-beyond timeline? If I were working on the remaster I'd at least ponder the ways of playing around with this. To conclude and avoid further misunderstandings I'd like to emphasise once more that nothing I said above concerns making the game more accessible to "modern audience" as in "players unfamiliar with classic RTS games". I never intended to suggest anything like that, sorry if my wording was misleading.
  7. Here's a thing I thought concerning the remaster of Command & Conquer (reposting from another forum). Originally, C&C envisioned a modern conflict, implied to be happening "twenty minutes into the future", and it is actually one of the central themes around which the entire setting of the game is built. For example, EVA is not simply a fancy name for the user interface, it is supposed to be military software used for remote battlefield command from a personal computer, with the player being invited to be that commander by installing the game. This is drastically different from all the other games in the series that take place in time frames outside from the present, and the commander person is accordingly a fictional character whose role the player assumes but does not necessarily identify with (TS ditched the player commander convention entirely, only to bring it back in Firestorm). I believe that great care must be taken to preserve this unique atmosphere of the first game in a proper remaster, something from which the Windows 95 Gold edition unfortunately started to deviate (for example, the high-res menu fonts no longer match the green EVA font used in the FMVs like shown above). The thing is, Command & Conquer has become "retrofuturistic" with the passage of time. For example, the intro sequence with switching TV channels before tuning into the GDI/Nod transmissions makes a lot less sense today than it did in 1995, especially to the younger audiences. Of course it can be accurately preserved, but then again it could be reimagined in a modern way (e.g. by imitating web browsing instead of watching TV). There's no immediate answer to which is the right approach, but it highlights the fact that updating a game like C&C for a modern audience and tech goes beyond simply redrawing graphics in higher resolution and adding interface improvements. My personal opinion is that leaving everything as it is would be a sloppy job. This leaves two viable options, either update the setting to a modern one (2018 instead of 1995), or emphasise the fact that it's 1995 while sacrificing the "twenty minutes into the future" feel and making the result a true piece of retrofuturistic fiction. Either way it would require some creative talent to pull off properly I guess.
  8. Hope they'll aim to recreate the scale of the original DOS version, not how the graphics ended up in the Win95 hi-res mode, and that they won't forget to keep the aspect ratio issue in mind: At any rate, it's probably going to be a bit more complex than with StarCraft's graphics, but I do hope they'll be showing the WIP stages and consult with the community as the Reddit post suggested.
  9. These games are permanently free at GOG.com (and Steam if available), and for a considerable period of time already. Also the Steam release of Shadow Warrior includes several pre-release version of the game, some very different from the final product.
  10. MrFlibble

    The Ultimate Free-to-Play PC Games List

    Dunno if you guys dig retro 2.5D FPS games, but recently the Ultimate Doom Total Conversion called REKKR was released. It requires either the Ultimate Doom or Freedoom Phase 1 IWAD to play, and any source port will do as it's fully vanilla-compatible. There's also a stand-alone IWAD version which you can get from here. Set in a fantasy world inspired by Norse and Celtic mythology and mediaeval history, REKKR will probably evoke thoughts of Heretic and maybe Witchaven but in fact it's a completely stand-alone project with its own take on level design as well as weapon and monster balance. Also here's a rather extensive review that highlights the main features of the game.
  11. MrFlibble

    What's the first game you really loved?

    It's either Prince of Persia (DOS) or Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, my memory is a bit fuzzy on which of these I learned about first, probably PoP still but I love both :)
  12. I just found a preview of the game which was originally published by the UK online magazine Game-Over! It includes several pre-release shots of the game in good quality, including the elusive image with the NATO logo on the sidebar: http://web.archive.org/web/19970117164151/http://www.game-over.co.uk:80/wip2/game-w.htm
  13. Oh, that's relatively simple, I search for them. Once I realised the potential of the Wayback Machine (which was a few years ago), I started digging what I could find. Once you discover a site or two (I was looking for shareware games, the links were in the supplied documentation), eventually you come across more links to other sites. Many game developers or publishers were glad to post links to positive reviews on their games' pages, gaming websites had links sections with links to more sites (many not preserved at all sadly) etc. etc. Also some people still keep knowledge of such sites, and searching Google Groups helps too. That said, most of the stuff I've posted here are very certainly chance findings I made while looking for something else altogether
  14. Yesterday I was randomly browsing archive copies of a Russian online/electronic gaming mag called PC Review, and they have two interesting shots of Red Alert in a guide/walkthrough for the game: Apparently these are screenshots from a working pre-release version of the game, with the main noticeable difference being the sidebar design which is very similar to that from C&C. I don't think I've ever encountered such screenshots before. The shots seem to show actual gameplay, no mock-ups. No idea if a pre-release version was sent out to reviewers or leaked, or any other way these images could have become public. Maybe via a trade show like E3?
  15. MrFlibble

    The Ultimate Free-to-Play PC Games List

    I'm a bit confused about what you mean when you say "abandonware". This term has clearly got negative rep in recent years, and my understanding that this is due to many old games having become playable again thanks to DOSBox and other emulator, while in the previous decade no one including copyright holders generally cared about titles that could not be marketed to modern platforms. "Abandonware" has no legal meaning, and probably may only serve as a vague hint about the likelihood of legal consequences for unauthorised distribution of certain games. I guess if a game is no longer sold and/or supported by the copyright holder, the safest and most neutral way to state that would be to say something like "product discontinued", not "abandonware" (any game can be pirated if you know where to get it). That said, you might want to add PowBall DeluXe, the free official Windows port of the DOS Breakout/shmup hybrid PowBall.
  16. MrFlibble

    The Ultimate Free-to-Play PC Games List

    Happy New Year! I'd like to point out that the game BC Racers was very likely never released as freeware officially, the mistaken notion of such release probably originating with the Home of the Underdogs. At any rate, the page you're linking to no longer has the allegedly free version available, only a playable demo. You might also want to update/change the lists of formerly freeware games. Wikipedia links to some very extensive research done by good people (who actually contacted Sierra and other interested parties to establish the legal status of some games) which shows that Betrayal at Krondor, Caesar, Red Baron 3D and some other titles were temporary promotional giveaways only. The download links for these games you list are not at all official, and in some cases (e.g. Best Old Games) are downright "abandonware" sites which pirate stuff. Betrayal at Krondor, Caesar, Red Baron and Zork games are all sold at GOG.com.
  17. MrFlibble

    The Ultimate Free-to-Play PC Games List

    I just wanted to point out that It Came from the Desert and other Cinemaware games are apparently no longer distributed for free - at least, the Cinemaware site no longer has the downloads, and they are sold in a bundle at Steam - and realised that your link does not point to the Cinemaware site but to the Gamefabrique, which is basically a pirate site that at least previously tried to pass of console ROMs of old games bundled with emulators as "remakes" of said games, and now appears to just simply distribute these ROMs + emulators having dropped the entire "remake" ruse. I'd very much recommend removing any and all links to that sorry pretence of a retro gaming website. (Just my opinion though.)
  18. MrFlibble

    The Ultimate Free-to-Play PC Games List

    That game sounds like some more or less serious social commentary than pornography. Also, the term itself requires definition. Both Wikipedia and the Cambridge Dictionary agree that pornography is intended for sexual arousal and not for aesthetic experience (as opposed to erotic art). How is this to be judged for games? E.g. there's plenty of nudity in Daggerfall and there are sexual themes and there's some explicit descriptions in some of the in-game books (Dwemer on Khajit anyone?). Do you consider this game pornographic? Is it going off your list?
  19. The three classic titles that had been released as freeware now being part of the Ultimate Collection, are they still legit to distribute as freeware? AFAIK EA took down all the official download pages for those over the recent years. I cannot find the original C&C95 freeware announcement but the Red Alert download page clearly states that mirroring the disc images by third parties is not permitted (a request that was apparently disregarded), and the release is presented as such that it could be construed a temporary promotional action to celebrate the 13th anniversary of C&C. The official game pages from 2011 (C&C, RA1) offer to buy The First Decade and mention no free downloads.
  20. MrFlibble

    Forged Battalion

    I guess they don't want to tell you everything right away. You can with certainty tell that in this title: there will be lots of action with various units (ground and air at least) in large numbers, and probably base building, and there's an overall futuristic theme there will be some kind of unit customisation and branching tech/upgrade trees there will be a soundtrack by Frank Klepacki That's quite enough information to give a very preliminary judgement if this may interest further or not IMO.
  21. That's a good point, although I think that there might be legal ways to revoke a freeware license. But have the titles in question been released with the appropriate license files to confirm this status? In the past there have been several temporary freeware releases of very popular commercial games, including Sierra's Red Baron and Caesar (some of them listed here). In many cases these were in connection of a new game in the series being released, and at the time they were not marked as temporary promotional actions. In fact, IIRC the download of Caesar included a readme which stated something along the lines of "no technical support is provided for this game but don't complain - it's free after all", which is a rather typical statement for freeware releases that occurred back in the day (when some companies thought they could not make any more profit with legacy DOS titles), yet the licenses for these games only extended to the downloads that were temporarily available from Sierra's website and were since revoked.
  22. I just found several previews/reviews of the game available via the Wayback Machine with good quality pre-release screenshots (some in the GIF format): Computer Games Online news (16-01-1998) Computer Games Online first look (12-02-1998) Computer Games Online screenshots (16-05-1998) Computer Games Online preview (23-06-1998) Strategy Gaming Online review (15-10-1998)
  23. Eador: Genesis is free for a limited time from GOG.com: https://www.gog.com/game/eador_genesis
  24. MrFlibble

    The Ultimate Free-to-Play PC Games List

    Here's a few more games you might want to add to your list: Amulets & Armor (RPG, open source, liberated) Annex: Conquer the World (RTS, open source) Catacomb Snatch (shooter, open source) Conquest of Elysium II (TBS, liberated) Paranoia 2: Savior (FPS, freeware) Priority: Survive (RTS, freeware) Wyrmsun (RTS/TBS, open source) I also noticed that some of the games in the list are not stand-alone but mods for commercial games (e.g. Barista 2 and Pathways Redux are mods for Doom 3). It would probably be nice to have these marked somehow.