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Broken lighting system in MI1 CD?


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The CD version of The Secret of Monkey Island is known to have introduced a number of bugs, or what appear to be bugs. The clock tower, Lemonhead's missing lines... These are well-documented issues, and have in fact been (optionally) corrected in recent ScummVM releases.

 

But there seems to be another bug in the CD version which I have never seen mentioned anywhere.

 

I was checking out this playthrough of the rarer VGA floppy version (the one with VGA graphics, text-based inventory and the original soundtrack) when I noticed something:

 

 

It seemed to me that character sprites looked a bit darker than the ones in the more common CD version (VGA graphics, icon-based inventory and CD audio; the one included as Classic Mode in the Special Edition). After checking different scenes in that video, I realized that it's not that the sprites are darker per se: instead, the VGA floppy version seems to have a a very basic "lighting system". The colors of character sprites change a bit depending on the scene (or "room", I think would be the more technical term). They use slightly darker colors when it's a dark or night scene, and they use brighter colors when it's a bright or daylight scene. Presumably, they do this so they integrate better with the environment.

 

You can check it out in the video: compare Guybrush's colors when he's, say, inside the circus tent to his colors when he's talking to the Voodoo Lady.

 

However, in the CD version this feature is nowhere to be found: all characters default to the brightest setting in every single scene. As a result, whenever there's a particularly dark scene, characters kind of appear to be glowing in the dark.

 

And this is where it gets really interesting: the Ultimate Talkie edition mod (which as you probably all know uses the Special Edition to generate an enhanced, fully-voiced CD version) seems to fix this and includes a similar feature. In fact, it appears to do more than just fixing it: it improves it. There's at least one scene/room in the game (the very first one, with the lookout by the fire) where Guybrush's colors changes depending on where he is standing inside that particular room. He looks brighter when he's near the fire, and darker when he walks away.

 

You can see it in this video:

 

 

Notice how the colors of the sprite become brighter when he approaches the fire. In the VGA floppy version, this specific transition does not seem to exist (the darker colors are used even when he's near the fire), but the colors do change from scene to scene. In the CD version, they don't change at all: all characters use the brightest colors everywhere.

Therefore, it seems to me there are two possibilities:


a) LucasArts completely forgot about this feature when creating the CD version. The author of the Ultimate Talkie edition added it from scratch as an enhancement.
b) This "dynamic lighting system" was originally developed as a feature of the CD version, but for some reason it was bugged/not properly enabled (if I'm not mistaken, the CD version was upgraded to the same SCUMM version used in Monkey Island 2, which did use some form of "dynamic lighting", so it would make sense). The Ultimate Talkie edition fixed this bug so that it works as intended.

 

Now, the Ultimate Edition is fantastic. It has many enhancements and it shows an amazing attention to detail, so option A is entirely possible, I would say. Still, option B strikes me as a bit more likely, if only because the improvement to the lookout scene seems weirdly specific. And even if you disregard that particular improvement, it's pretty bizarre that LucasArts would deliberately remove an entire feature of the VGA floppy version when developing the CD version. But I'm mostly a layman in all these SCUMM intricacies, so I really don't know.

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I haven't looked into it but it could be one of these commands:

  • Palette intensity (this was a command in SCUMM v6+ but I don't know if it existed in earlier versions)
  • The lights command which could either be used for a light beam or to set the lights in the room (again in v6+ so I dont know about earlier)

Decompiling and comparing the scripts would confirm if its one of those commands.

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Posted (edited)

There are indeed quite a few clever additions in the Ultimate Talkie version - and yeah, at least some of the lighting changes (if not all of them) are added in it. The basis for it is the same color-lightness command discussed in another thread (oh heck, I'll slip up sooner or later, so let's just call it by it's real name now... palette-intensity - the name is in the CMI debug info anyway). I.e. the one also used when fading the "post-credits" at the end of MI2. As well as more "simple" single color changes when entering rooms, e.g. changing guybrush's shirt color when entering the jail.

 

The alley also has a new script adjusting the palette-intensity based on distance from the light, there's a fix of the intensity at the Voodoo Lady, and it's also used to improve (yeah yeah, subjective) the fireworks at the end. There's a global script that's used for palette-intensity based on distance in the alley, the lookout, and the circus tent too.

 

Plus (just things I spotted at a quick look): The insanely slow Fettucini brothers talk has been adjusted to a more fluent speed by changing a lot of "wait-for 1 second" calls to "wait-for-message"; and there's a nice HighLand Productions credit inthere too. 😁 Thanks! I'll have to try this version.

 

To be clear - all of that is stuff added by LogicDeLuxe in the talkie version.

 

Edited by Serge
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Posted (edited)

Just to demonstrate what SCUMM was capable of without any changes to the engine - here's the simplest of LogicDeLuxe's scripts - the one from the alley - reconstructed by me for a glimpse into Actual SCUMM Syntax (variable names and script name are obviously lost on compilation, so those are my inventions). I hope Logic will forgive me for giving his secrets away 😋 LucasArts/Disney may not for giving away a bit of theirs.

 

script distance-based-lighting min-intensity, max-intensity, multiplier, target-x, target-actor {
	do {
		distance = ((actor-x target-actor) - target-x)
		value = distance * multiplier
		if (value < min-intensity) {
			value = min-intensity
		}
		if (value > max-intensity) {
			value = max-intensity
		}
		palette intensity value in-slot 208 to 255
		break-here
	}
}

 

The lookout scene is made in a similar way - although that one is written to specifically target Guybrush - and reused in the circus and this alley - while this one is more general (hence target-actor), because in this case it's actually targeting Fester Shinetop (i.e., it's called like start-script bak distance-based-lighting 192 255 -1 376 fester )

 

Lots of this kind of stuff is possible with SCUMM, although it's rare to see a fan actually do it so cleverly and subtly. As other examples, the dialogue system that appeared first in Indy 3 was pretty much written in SCUMM, making use of its capability to define the verbs in script - in other words, dialogue choices were just verbs. Little was added to the engine to actually support it, other than a way to save the default verb setup and restore it when the dialogue was done.

 

elTee also told me something I've never noticed - that the brightness of dark rooms in Fate of Atlantis is slowly increased, as Indy's eyes adjust to it. Also handled by SCUMM, not hardcoded into the engine itself.

Edited by Serge
Fixed some sleepy typos
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Thank you very much for your insight, Serge.

 

As I said, I already knew the Ultimate Talkie edition was amazing, but I guess it's even better than I thought. Absolutely superb work.

 

So, from what I understand, the official CD version simply disregarded this feature completely? That seems like a pretty unfortunate oversight. It's not that it doesn't look as good as the Ultimate Talkie; what's really surprising is that, at least in this regard, it looks actually worse than the older VGA floppy version.

 

I didn't include a video of the CD version in my previous post, but some scenes do look a bit weird. Especially if you compare them to the VGA floppy version. For example, take a look at the Mêlée woods scenes here:

 

 

And compare that to the same scene in the VGA floppy version (same video as in my previous post, but I've marked the appropriate moment):

 

 

Guybrush really sticks out in the CD version, doesn't he? He integrates much better with the environment in the VGA floppy version. It's pretty weird; the feature was already there but they removed it entirely in the supposedly superior release. I assume it was some sort of mistake when converting the game to a later SCUMM version.

 

I wonder if it would be possible (and inside the scope of the project) for ScummVM to "fix" this so that it at least looks the same as the VGA floppy version.

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Posted (edited)

Some of the colorization for the various swordfighting pirates may have been broken as well. They have different colors for their shirts, bandannas and trousers in the floppy versions, but they all have the same outfit colors in the CD version. That probably applies to the random pirates walking around Melee Town as well.

Edited by ATMcashpoint
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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Groggoccino said:

So, from what I understand, the official CD version simply disregarded this feature completely? That seems like a pretty unfortunate oversight. It's not that it doesn't look as good as the Ultimate Talkie; what's really surprising is that, at least in this regard, it looks actually worse than the older VGA floppy version.

 

Nah, the distance based lighting isn't something that was disregarded - it was never there in the original version. That all comes from LogicDeLuxe's mind. 🙂 The "palette intensity" verb was added in the first VGA SCUMM game and is used for lots of other things - including many of the fade-ins/fade-outs (e.g., as mentioned, at the end of MI2, and probably the FOA feature elTee mentioned) - it wasn't specifically intended for adjusting light, although it's also used for that in MI1 in lots of places - although just as an immediate change in costume intensity from one room to another - not a gradual thing. It's also used a lot for gradual changes in e.g. CMI - along with its (later added) cousin, "palette saturation" (used e.g. for muting Guybrush's colors when he walks from the Plunder Island Fort beach towards the Voodoo Lady's swamp).

 

3 hours ago, Groggoccino said:

Guybrush really sticks out in the CD version, doesn't he? He integrates much better with the environment in the VGA floppy version. It's pretty weird; the feature was already there but they removed it entirely in the supposedly superior release. I assume it was some sort of mistake when converting the game to a later SCUMM version.

 

I wonder if it would be possible (and inside the scope of the project) for ScummVM to "fix" this so that it at least looks the same as the VGA floppy version.

 

elTee showed me extracted costumes from the two versions, and Guybrush's costume is definitely different between the two - much whiter shirt in the CD version than in the original VGA. It may have been an artistic decision, or the CD version was made from a different build of the VGA version. I haven't compared the actual scripts to see if there are any differences there (other than the things needed to make the icon based inventory work, CD playback etc.) - but just the fact that the shirt is whiter means that even if the commands to adjust the intensity from room to room are still there, they have limited (bordering on unnoticeable) range to work within, because the shirt starts out close to completely white in the first place.

Edited by Serge
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This is all quite fascinating. I’d made the observation myself a few weeks ago after someone posted some VGA vs CD screenshots in Dosbox (therefore eliminating ScummVM inconsistencies) but we didn’t really get anywhere with figuring out why.

 

 

It definitely looks to me like the VGA palettes are right and suit the scene’s lighting, whereas the CD ones indeed look over-brightened.

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On 5/1/2022 at 3:29 PM, Serge said:

elTee also told me something I've never noticed - that the brightness of dark rooms in Fate of Atlantis is slowly increased, as Indy's eyes adjust to it.


I wrote that in the Amiga thread :) (Although I’m sure I’m not the only person who noticed it.)

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16 minutes ago, ThunderPeel2001 said:


I wrote that in the Amiga thread :) (Although I’m sure I’m not the only person who noticed it.)

 

Yeah, but elTee said it around the same time, while we were investigating the Amiga thing... Not sure which of you was first. 😁

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Posted (edited)

Yeah. It’s incredibly subtle in the VGA version. Almost imperceptible. But it’s very clunky and noticeable in the Amiga version (which I grew up on). It’s my interpretation that it’s supposed to represent Indy’s eyes “adjusting”. No idea if that was the dev’s intention, it just made sense to my 14 year old self :)

Edited by ThunderPeel2001
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3 hours ago, ATMcashpoint said:

That's exactly what it is. It happens on the screens where the "Look at" command is replaced by the "Touch" verb instead. It's a really cool little thing.

 

When I played it again recently I wasn't sure if it was the devs just making it slightly easier to solve the puzzle as time went on. I guess it can be both. Either way, it is, as you say, a really cool little thing.

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I don’t really have much to add in this topic, except that I’m really impressed you guys noticed this! It makes the original VGA version a much nicer project. Kudo’s to all of you!

 

Also, I noticed the Indy thing too on my last playthroughs (I replayed all 3 options), and I thought it was extremely awesome!

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1 hour ago, Laserschwert said:

I could swear that I read about the eye-adjustment thing in FOA before I've played the game. Was it maybe in the manual or the hint book? Maybe in a review...

 

Ah cool. I've never seen it mentioned anywhere (that I recall), but maybe it was mentioned. Especially in reviews of the time.

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