Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
17 December 2005
Remembering 3dfx
Most of you are probably too young to remember The Great Video Card Wars. I, on the other hand, remember the joy of seeing transparency in the GLQuake console for the first time using a 3dfx Voodoo2. Pretty fricking awesome, I tell you.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting that a lot of the T-buffer effects 3dfx pushed right before it died have turned out to be pretty important:
  • Soft shadows
  • Depth of field
  • Antialiasing
  • Texture compression
Sure, these were also being pushed by ATI and NVIDIA -- eventually. My non-game-developer gut feeling that the image quality features pushed by 3dfx are ultimately more important than the transform and lighting (T&L) chips that were pushed by NVIDIA.

This isn't to absolve 3dfx. They should have dropped GLIDE earlier. They should have developed a real OpenGL driver. They should have had 32-bit textures and textures larger than 256x256 earlier. If they'd lined those ducks up first and then worked on T-buffer effects, we might still have them around.

Incidentally, if someone still has those demo movies showing the T-buffer effects, I'd sure like to have them for history's sake. I haven't been able to track them down.
--Matt Matthews at 22:42
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