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Graphic card emulator

Run faovrite games on old PC without super graphics card
  (+9, -13)
(+9, -13)
  [vote for,

A software emulator pretends to be a grand graphics card. The game you just downloaded doesn't give you a "sorry you must upgrade your hardware to see this game" but rather works with your old display and hardware, thinking it has the best of the best. Of course it cannot really show you all this fantastic graphics, but once in a while it will give you enough info to understand what you were supposed to see. You can even set it to show everything in a smaller window, in lesser bit-rate or any other tweaking settings (video compression etc.)

Then I could show my friends what roller coaster tycoon is, without them having to buy a new computer.

pashute, Apr 30 2006

Dhruva dhruva_chaos@yahoo.co.in
Google.com [nero84, Jan 21 2009]

Oldblivion http://www.oldblivion.com/
Allows you to play Oblivion if without shader model 2.0 [Bad Jim, Jan 22 2009]


       and I would be able to run it on my laptop
pashute, Apr 30 2006

       You do realize that the old graphics card may not be able to handle even the most minimal settings on a modern game. Try to run Doom 3 or Oblivion on a GeForce 2. Not gonna work.
croissantz, May 01 2006

       This is still no replacement for actual harware. Sure, you'd see a picture there, but the game you're trying to "play" would be nothig more than an overglorified, UNplayable slideshow. By giving the program in question the illusion that it's running on a competent machine won't make it magically run like it was designed. If it requires a GeForce FX5600 or better, its not EVEN gonna run on a GeForce 2 PCI. Man - you must be running something really archaic if it won't support RCT ...
Letsbuildafort, May 01 2006

       Compressing can do a lot, and you WILL get the game. Not an UNplayable slideshow, but rather an interesting fun but less flashy game.   

       Example: RCT3 or Doom. You could get along with wire-frame hands and guns, wireframe enemy, wireframe coasters. Background images can replace most of the terraining. The game would still be playable, and the thrill could still be reached, by cleverly choosing small portions to be completed, while others are emulated.   

       I think this is bakeable.   

       RCT3 does not run on 80% of PCs I know of, simply because most PCs are not rigged up for games. This is true at work, at the public library, most laptops over a year old (and there are many of those) and even new laptops don't have what is needed for RCT3.   

       Of course older versions of RCT run on anything (even a PC XT with enough memory added......)
pashute, May 01 2006

       I agree that this is bakeable, because if just wireframe were used and the driver just pretended to do textures, anti-aliasing, filtering and the like, there could still be useable graphics. Something like Non-Photorealistic Quake but without the blueprint-like looks would seem feasible. However, i think it would probably mean rewriting the game engine itself rather than the driver, so that means releasing the source code, and that's only likely on older games anyway. However, it might then be possible to run them on PCs which were old even when the game came out.
There was a version of Castle Wolfenstein that ran with EGA graphics on a 286, and if that had been done as wireframe maybe it would've run on the original Hercules hardware. Then there's text mode Quake of course.
nineteenthly, May 01 2006

       3d graphic boards use R3 or DirectX which in turn call the hardware with math routines. It IS possible to catch both calls to the software graphics layer AND to the hardware, and smartly decide what to do with it.   

       Its a great idea and deserves a few more buns.   

       Halfbakers! I call on you to give credit to good and useful ideas not just funny ones!
pashute, May 01 2006

       //It IS possible to catch both calls to the software graphics layer AND to the hardware, and smartly decide what to do with it.// At the expense of more hardware.   

       I think if you're intending just to make something work, then it is valid. From a game developer's stand point, its never going to work. For instance: I spend hundreds of hours making a game intending it to be played in the context that I set forth. I.e. the environments, the atmosphere and feel of the game. I'm sure if the creators of Doom3 would want you to run everything in wire frame so you could play it on your Apple IIc, then they would have bundled it with that option. However, I stand firm from the developer's stand point that if the new game takes advantage of newer technology to provide an entertaining experience to the player as-devised, then no, this can't work.
Letsbuildafort, May 01 2006

       Games like Doom3 can be hacked via plaintext configuration files, as I recall one dude got it working on a PII 400 with 256mb ram and a 12mb Voodoo 2 graphics card.   

       Of course something like this idea is already possible with mildly tweaked to seriously hacked display drivers. No software emulator necessary. It's not extraordinarily difficult either.
sp1tf1re, Mar 03 2007

       I think this is an excellent idea, a huge amount of effort is put into developing backwards compatible hardware, why not backwards compatible software? If it doesn't detect the card necessary to render moving 3D curved objects and the like, it will just render a wireframe equivalent. As [Lbaf] says, it will require a lot of work from games developers, but it will increase their potential market.
wagster, Mar 03 2007

       //As [Lbaf] says, it will require a lot of work from games developers, but it will increase their potential market//   

       I'm not sure they'd want that market segment. The developers continue to make bigger, faster, flashier games because of the WOW! factor that gamers want. If I'm a developer, I don't want to create something that looks top flight, only to have someone playing it in "wireframe mode". These days games seem to be less and less about the game play anyway, take the visuals out and you're left with not much.
Noexit, Mar 05 2007

       Presumably, that's why they haven't bothered so far.
wagster, Mar 05 2007

       How Do I Download It?
yunantidus, Jul 15 2007

       This is exactly what MesaGL does, a software-only implementation of OpenGL APIs. Presumably, if you were playing DirectX games through Cedega, which in turn made calls to OpenGL, and were running Mesa, then this is already baked.
ironfroggy, Jul 15 2007

       If you can't afford the new PC, how are you buying games?
Giblet, Jul 17 2007

       Software rendering underperforms horribly compared to purpose built hardware. However, most of the work a modern graphics card does is unnecessary. Strip away HDR, AA, DOT3 etc and you are left with a game that is slightly less pretty but requires a tiny fraction of the power. Even with so-called minimum detail, there are often unnecessary features that could be turned off to get the game running on lesser computers.   

       Personally I would have the result rendered with the graphics card anyway, since most computers have some sort of 3D hardware and it is usually a lot faster. Wireframe is going too far IMO.   

       One problem that I can think of is model geometry. A game that assumes a modern graphics card will expect it to handle lots of triangles. Automatically reducing the number of triangles in a model is tricky, although not impossible. Whether this kind of thing can be done on the fly or not I don't know. Vertex shaders can make geometry so you cannot ignore them the way you can ignore most pixel shaders.   

       I think the way forward might be to encourage game crackers to make low detail/no shader hacks. They should help people who don't want to buy hardware, not people who don't want to buy the game! A little personal attention helps with the model problem. See the Oldblivion link for an example. With any luck game developers will eventually be embarrassed and make their games scale down as far as they can go.
Bad Jim, Jan 22 2009


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