|Falcon 4 - Hardware Update and Padlock Views
by Leonard "Viking1" Hjalmarson
The weekly Falcon 4 fix is here! I want to lead off this article with a bit of surprising news with regard to hardware. Simply put, 3dfx Voodoo2 is no longer in the lead with F4!
HUH? Pardon me? Did you hear that right?
Take off that helmet and listen up troops! I've been playing with STBs V4400 for well over a month now, and the most recent driver release of 1.31 allowed me to get a fix on a comparison to my Wicked3d-2, running Metabytes latest driver revision of 2.6.
To my delight, the STBV4400 with Riva TNT was now 20% faster than V2 in F4. However, it was 20% faster at higher resolution! I ran my V2 (12 meg) board at 800x600, the highest currently allowed for a single V2 board in Falcon 4. I ran the TNT (16 meg) at 1024x768 and at 1152x864. Both these resolutions look FANTASTIC in Falcon 4, and both ran faster than 800x600 under Voodoo 2.
Granted, Falcon 4 is only just hitting beta, and that's why I'm not giving you actual numbers. But the other thing you need to know is that F4 LOOKS better under Direct3d on TNT or the Matrox G200. Colors are richer and textures nicer. I'm not entirely sure what is happening here, but this could also be related to the AGP support. I've been trying to find out exactly what AGP support will mean for F4, but it IS in place and so it's likely contributing to image quality and frame rate.
This means that Banshee could be an interesting option. Not only will Banshee likely equal or surpass the speed of the STBV4400, it will also come with AGP support (granted, not 2x support in its initial offering, so the V4400 will still maintain its lead as an AGP board. Note also that the TNT will move to .25 micron process in the new year with an increase in clock speed).
Ok, enough of that, on to the screen captures. The above shot was taken from the demo in December of 1997. Compare to the shot below. You'll have to bring up the larger shots to get the fulll detail. (All shots 800x600).
In the above recent shots you'll notice far more detail in the cockpit, in the HUD, and also on the maverick camera display itself. Below is a night shot of the same kind of action. Yes, the night gets darker than this!
Now for all those who have been hassling me endlessly for padlock and action shots! Here is some damage for you fire hounds... In this series of shots you will see the same action from a number of views: first, padlock F3 style. This particular padlock now comes in two flavors: plain vanilla classic padlock, and with sidebar screen added for enhanced SA (toggle with SHF M).
Now take a look at the same shot with the enhanced SA feature toggled off.
The first shot above shows the old F3 style padlock, which divides the screen into two sections. In the left section you get a pictorial orientation that represents the centerline of your aircraft in relation to your current target. At the same time, the virtual cockpit slews in relation to your orientation to the target. One simply places the center line over the target box (yellow box with symbol at left just above the gauges) and then pull back on the stick until the target pops up in the main screen.
The advantages of this view are twofold: you never lose your orientation to the ground; and you can actually locate your target in such a way that you can perform some combat manouvers relative to your target WITHOUT having to place the target in your forward screen.
Finally, the same view from an enhanced FOV (field of view) virtual cockpit. This mode is with padlock OFF.
Now let's look at the no cockpit padlock option.
The other padlock option is represented by the two shots above: its an extended field of view with no cockpit. When you first call up this view you will likely see the middle screen above, with three boxes superimposed on your screen (I've colored the pointer at left middle with grey, its actually green like the HUD indicators).
The three boxes represent your two main MFDs and a current target view in the center. As you follow the large pointer (which rotates around the screen according to need) you will find your current target and the middle screen disappears, as in the nearer shot above.
As I've tried to make clear in previous articles, there is SO MUCH in Falcon 4.0 I can keep on with previews indefinitely. My goal is to write a full mission report as soon as possible. Stay tuned!
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Last Updated September 16, 1998