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PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2016 10:57 pm 
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Miyamoto-san's words, as the designer (not programmer) of Super Mario Bros., do carry a certain weight in the Super Mario Bros sky debate. The translated text on Firebrandx's page implies that he was looking at palette entries 21, 22 and 11 or 2c. ("At that time, you could only have about three colors for the blue sky on the Family Computer.") Of course, he does not quantify how much purple he saw in the palette entry he used. But if he wanted a purer blue sky, $21 would be the preferable palette entry.

His preference does not mean that Nintendo had implemented any standard to calibrated all its NTSC monitors to show identical colors. The designers at Capcom, Konami, Rare or Sachen may have seen different colors when testing their games.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2016 7:30 am 
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That is a very good point, especially when you consider Rare and Sachen (as examples) being based in PAL territories (UK and Hong Kong respectively.)


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2016 3:32 pm 
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Would the RGB palettes for the games on the Nintendo VS System be any use in trying to guess intention? They seem to have different palettes for each game? Or at least a choice of PPU with that had different palettes?

From looking at MAME, unless it is wrong, it would seem that the sky in VS Super Mario Brothers has a purplish tint where as the bricks in VS Castlevania are pinkish / purplish in colour.

Now i don't know whether each game got to choose its own colour palette specifically for the game, but it looks like each one had a separate PPU and there were multiple PPUs to choose from with different palettes? So I would have thought that the designers would have chosen the colours for these palettes to match the home Famicom releases. Now this isn't necessarily the case - they may have wanted to change some colours they couldn't achieve on the home system, or they may have just done a quick and dirty palette conversion or they may not have done a good job of matching anyway. But if they did try and match colours then perhaps it gives some insight.

In terms of the Player's Choice 10 System, I imagine that this just has 1 RGB palette for all of the games (and therefore less helpful for showing intent), considering that the games are the same as the home versions just with a timer, unlike the VS System games.

Mind you even on the VS System, it seems that colour calibration of the monitor makes a huge difference, compare:

VS Super Mario Brothers:
Purplish blue
https://youtu.be/-lPW7Zx8uRQ?t=999

Sky blue
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKk2TkKRAC0

VS Castlevania:
Even more purplish than MAME (probably partially due to recording conditions)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxhhThfvMBA

Much more subdued purple like how i imagine the Famicom may have been:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t67qmcG7mnQ

MAME's is somewhat of a much lighter pinkish purple.

To be honest, I would imagine a lot of the arcade monitors aren't calibrated that well, as it also seems people tend to have an affinity for oversaturating and blowing out their colours for some reason because "more colourful = apparently better" even when it ruins the shading and subtlety.

But assuming MAME is correct, it would imply that the dark purple colour should indeed be slighlty purplish with a bit of red, rather than mostly red (so maybe the old version was more accurate in this regard).
Of course, this is relying on the assumptions I talk about above.

Again, in the end it's all personal preference unless you question the people who worked on the games.

What do you think?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2016 3:47 pm 
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The Famicom Titler and Famicom TV have the same 2C03 PPU as the PlayChoice. The 2C03 palette is known, and it differs in several ways from what you get when you run the NES output through any reasonable NTSC decoder.

I'm still interested in what would happen if you assume that a Super NES should be able to produce the same color as an NES through the same monitor. Anybody with a scope, an NES flash cart, and Super NES flash cart should be able to find the RGB values out of the S-PPU that produce the same center level, RMS amplitude, and phase as each NES PPU color.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2016 4:09 pm 
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notindeed wrote:
To be honest, I would imagine a lot of the arcade monitors aren't calibrated that well, as it also seems people tend to have an affinity for oversaturating and blowing out their colours for some reason because "more colourful = apparently better" even when it ruins the shading and subtlety.
The 50-unique-color 2C03 palette entirely consists shades that are 0% or 100% saturation when viewed in HSL space.
The 60-unique-color 2C04 palette adds a few more colors, but precisely one has a middling saturation value (a sandy/peachy color)


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2016 5:04 pm 
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Hmm from reading this and this, it would seem that although there were a lot of PPUs, they were mainly different for security purposes - scrambling the colour locations in the palettes of games, rather than actually changing the colours themselves.
Or was it a case of both?


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2016 4:41 am 
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The 2C03 and 2C05 are garish versions of the 2C02 palette ... just missing two extra greys.

It appears that the 2C04 took advantage of the cheapo DRM scrambling the 2C03's palette to add another 10 colors to address a few shortcomings.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2016 7:33 pm 
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Yes, after reading more, the VS Arcade palettes are all basically the same but mixed around and some with a few extra colours, like you say. So i guess they don't give as much insight as i had first thought - mixed up palette locations don't really count as different palettes per game.

I did remember seeing scans of the Akumajou Dracula manual though, and they give some idea:

Image

slightly washed out and yellowish scans but if you colour correct it, it still looks desat pinkish rather than outright red. Sort of a dark pinkish burgundy.
(Also it looks like they originally used the stairs colour for the main blocks judging from those pics).
With GIMP auto-white balance:

Image

Obviously, scans of photos of a tv screen in a printed manual won't give you a definitive swatch, but they will give some idea / insight into what was intended.

Judging from the pictures, I adjusted 05 to be 95, 20, 47 as an approx of something closer to the "in-between dark red and pinkish, slightly lighter but desat" that it appears to be from the pictures.

Default Nostalgia (FBX) palette left, approx edit right:

Image Image

Now I'm not saying the edit is correct, I just wanted to get people's thoughts.

Also, I am preferring the olive green changes of Nostalgia FBX - it certainly adds more depth to the shading - That background in the underground sections of Wood Man's stage in Rockman 2 for example.

From what I understand, the NES-Classic (FBX) palette is just your rip off the palette that Nintendo have put out on their new emulation system?
It's just a bit confusing as you then talk about adjusting the olive colours to be brown (like in previous versions) but don't actually attach a palette that represents that. However considering old versions seem to have the adjusted brown instead of olive green, i would say the new more accurate ones are a lot better - they are close enough to brown to work as that and also add more depth to the shading when combined with brown.

Anyway, it is looking better, good job on all the effort. A lot of this is very subjective so don't worry too much - it all depends on how the different developers had their tvs / monitors calibrated when working on them. A compromise that looks decent in all games is all we can wish for :)

Thoughts?


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2016 7:45 pm 
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notindeed wrote:
... I did remember seeing scans of the Akumajou Dracula manual though, and they give some idea: ... slightly washed out and yellowish scans but if you colour correct it ... Obviously, scans of photos of a tv screen in a printed manual won't give you a definitive swatch, but ... Now I'm not saying the edit is correct, I just wanted to get people's thoughts. ... Thoughts?

You have already stated my thoughts. Summarised: using a printed book as a "reference", requiring further "tweaking" (because of the nature of the medium), is just as susceptible to the problem as the one I explained here -- but now it's in paper form (subject to whatever inks and paper pulp were used during that specific printing run, blah blah blah). I too can "colour correct" anything I want to look pretty much however I want -- kinda like those hue and colour dials on your old TV, re: chroma amplitude, and those implemented even in high-end CRTs.

In short: eye of the beholder.

Why is it so hard for people to accept there really is no "perfect palette" given how all of this works? Two decades and counting. I have a different theory.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2016 8:09 pm 
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That's basically what i said, in the end it is all personal preference.

Or rather, unless you can know how the developers monitors were calibrated and what they saw, you can't really know.
And even if you get it "right" for one game, other developers may have had their monitors set differently.

And then you consider that the NTSC standard changed in 1987, differing for both Japan and America (see viewtopic.php?f=21&t=13687#p162402 ).
This means if you capture things today your captures are probably from the wrong colour space.
I am guessing a lot of games released after they change would have been made on tvs with the old colour space anyway, but at some point they would have updated, knowingly or otherwise.

So yes, you will never get a palette that is perfect, but if people here want to try then you don't really need to insult them.

I do agree it's a bit of a wild goose chase, but at the same time palettes from this thread look a lot more natural than i have seen in a lot of emulators with super saturated crazy colours, so it's not all wasted effort.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2016 8:25 pm 
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I think what we have in today's emulators (ones that allow for a palette of your choice, *and* adjustment of brightness, saturation, contrast, and hue, ex. Nestopia) is sufficient -- especially in comparison to what we had in the late 90s emulator-wise. The NES's NTSC artefacting is unique/interesting to say the least.

I have no problem with people continually "adjusting" their palettes to match, well, whatever they happen to think "is the most accurate", it's just that... well, you actually paraphrased it quite well: "... it's a bit of a wild goose chase". What we've got today (and have had for a while now) is pretty wonderful.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 10:55 am 
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notindeed wrote:
Or rather, unless you can know how the developers monitors were calibrated

Even the developers' monitors literally mean shit.

For example, regarding the topic above: So, Miyamoto says that he wanted a purple-like sky for "Super Mario Bros.", that's why the sky color is supposed to be purple.

WRONG!

Miyamoto was only the designer for "Super Mario Bros.", not for the NES itself. So, when he says that he took this specific color because it matched what he wanted for the sky, this says nothing about what the designers of the NES had in mind when defining this color. It only means that Miyamoto's TV happened to show the sky color in a puple-like way. But the design choices of this 1985 game still say nothing about the intended specifications of the 1984 console.

So, even knowing how the developers calibrated their monitor means nothing when it comes to a general-purpose all-games-including NES palette.


And I want to repeat what I said earlier: I own two CRT TVs of exactly the same model. I have access to the hidden system menu. When calibrating both TVs with the exact same values, both TVs produce a different output.

So, the "most accurate NES palette" is not only an OCD-like attempt, it is objectively impossible.

That's not like finding the most accurate color for NES cartridge shells where you have thousands of shells that all look alike. For the NES, not even two identical TVs show the same colors. How can there, even in theory, be any kind of "most accurate" palette? The best you can do is: "I'm trying to create a palette that comes closest to my personal TV when it's set to the settings that I chose for it."

Some of you people still think that Nintendo had a bunch of 100 completely identical monitors that they used in-house and gave to their developers and the marketing department, right? That's why you think you can listen to game designers or have a look into old Nintendo magazines to find the "definite" palette, right?
Guess what: Miyamoto's TVs and the TVs those pictures were taken with were no better or worse or any more or less "definite" than your or my CRT TV.

It is an analog signal, consisting of voltages. There is no "most accurate" palette.
It's not like with the "Mona Lisa", where the colors are actually physically there and you can check the original painting for it. For the NES, there was never an "original" or "master" color palette to begin with.

If you think that the word of a game developer has any weight on the topic at hand, simply ask me. I programmed a game for the NES. My color choices were based on FCE Ultra/fceux. There you have it: Me, an NES developer, took FCE Ultra's palette as the basis. Now you have the most accurate palette. End of story. :roll:

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 12:12 pm 
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DRW wrote:
It is an analog signal, consisting of voltages. There is no "most accurate" palette.

What could be more accurate than the palette that, when fed to the Super NES S-PPU, produces the same voltages?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 2:55 pm 
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tepples wrote:
What could be more accurate than the palette that, when fed to the Super NES S-PPU, produces the same voltages?

While this may get you the most *technically* (hopefully my use of the word is understood given the context) accurate palette, it changes absolutely nothing with regards to what the original artist/graphics designer saw and chose (because of how it looked on their setup). In other words: while what Miyamoto saw as "a slightly purple hue" to the sky may be true for him/others around him, but a different developer with different equipment (different calibration -- or more likely no post-factory calibration at all!) might have used the same colour in their game because it was blue. Both accurate, i.e. both were what were intended by the designer.

I remember back in the late 90s having a conversation along these lines with folks doing emulators. I even went as far as to use my ATI All-in-Wonder Pro card to capture NES output in attempt to make an "accurate palette". Guess what my comparison base was? The TV itself. The "adjustment" of the palette was pretty obvious: either I adjusted the colours in the palette that was captured, or I adjusted the hue/colour on the TV itself to match what the PC/capture had. Which is "accurate?" (The answer is: both are) It's not like there's a Pantone colour chart/swatch for the NES. ;-)

I feel like my above two paragraphs are starting to get philosophical, almost a kind of Schrodinger's box-type scenario.

I honestly think designers/developers simply looked at how their characters showed up on the graphics design workstations and on the TV hooked up to the Famicom and said "yeah, that's about right" and went with it. I can't imagine long-winded meetings about palettes or "well that colour looks a little purple-ish, so let's go with the other index" -- I imagine it was more like "hey Curt, can you try making the protagonists hat more green? No? Okay, that's fine".


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2016 3:19 pm 
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tepples wrote:
What could be more accurate than the palette that, when fed to the Super NES S-PPU, produces the same voltages?

Would this work?
Does the SNES work with definite RGB values respectively values that can at least be converted to RGB? If yes, would another console that also works with RGB values produce the same colors when the same voltages are used?

And if you can answer all this with yes, then why didn't you say this earlier, let someone do it and be done with this whole topic instead of letting the people here hopelessly philosophize about stuff like what Miyamoto saw when he chose the colors for his games or what some magazine shows?

koitsu wrote:
While this may get you the most *technically* (hopefully my use of the word is understood given the context) accurate palette, it changes absolutely nothing with regards to what the original artist/graphics designer saw and chose (because of how it looked on their setup).

Well, this one cannot be solved, but this shouldn't be the problem anyway. Unless you try to create one specific color for each game, it doesn't matter what Miyamoto saw, just like it doesn't matter what Miyamoto saw on his TV when choosing the colors for SNES games: The accuracy of the palette doesn't change one little bit with the knowledge about game developers' TVs.

Proof: Bitmaps on the PC have definite RGB values. But if a designer has a shitty screen and therefore converts his drawn images into bitmap files and uses the wrong colors, then this doesn't mean that the RGB value in the bitmap is not a 100 % correct value of what the sprite looks like in the game. It might not match the drawn image, but there's a 100 % correlation between the three bytes for the color in the bitmap file and the way the image is shown in the game. Therefore, the game has a definite palette that is identical among all PCs, Macs and all types of x86 emulators.

So, I do believe that if this can be done, we really have "the" definite palette.
Of course, this only works if there's really a definite 1:1 assignment between the analog signal and the SNES. And the output needs to be identical when I use another console with an RGB-based palette.

And of course you need to be able to decide which of the 16000 colors actually corresponds to the specific NES colors. I don't know if people will be able to decide which of the 50 or so red shades that look like NES color $16 will be the identical value to $16.
Or do you have the equipment to measure the actual analog signal (voltage etc.) and then you simply cycle hrough all the colors individually until their analog signals matches with the one on the NES?
And will there be a perfect match? What if one of the NES colors has, let's say, a color brightness of 83.6253 %, but on the NES, you only find colors with 83.6250 % and 83.6256 %?

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