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rekrul
4th Jul 2007, 15:43
I played Thief Gold a couple years ago on an older system with a Voodoo 1 card and it worked perfectly, although the frame rate dropped in some areas.

I've played Thief Gold on my current system with a GeForce4 MX440 video card and I'm now playing The Dark Project so that I can compare the two.

In both, going underwater is a problem. On older Nvidia driver versions, the view would turn completely opaque when you went underwater and tilted the view down. I forget what version did this, but it made parts of the game unplayable. A later version simply darkened the view when underwater and you looked down.

With my current drivers, 81.98, there seems to be three different brightness/gamma levels while underwater. With the view level or looking up, you get a nice blue tint, which is how I remember it from my old system. When looking down, you usually get a dark grey tint, however on some occasions, the view will suddenly get so dark that you can't see anything. It's not completely dark because you can see a bit of texture every so often, but it's like someone turned out the lights.

This is very annoying to say the least, and makes swimming more difficult than it should be. I haven't played The Metal Age yet, but I worry that it will suffer from the same problem.

I was just wondering if anyone can recommend an Nvidia driver version that will play the original Thief games without problems. Note that I'm using Windows 98SE, so 81.98 is the most recent driver I can use.

Peter_Smith
4th Jul 2007, 16:54
The water issue you describe is a common and, I think, well-known "problem." I think it is related to the Dark Engine and not the video display. Maybe someone with an ATI card can confirm this (or not). I have played with many Nvidia cards and drivers, and they all seem to be the same to me regarding the water issue. It usually occurs only in deep water, for example, the cistern in Bafford's. I just ignore it. If I am blind and need to see, I look up.

On the other hand, there is another well known problem associated with poor rendering of dark textures (aka the bad sky) in Thief 2 that is definitely dependent on video card and driver version. I think this is separate from the water problem, but the two effects may combine to make it look worse. Regardless, if your card will work with drivers before 56.xx then you could revert to those drivers and T2 should look better in dark areas and the sky. I have used 45.23 and 52.16. Take a screen shot of a motley sky before changing and see if it gets better.

By the way, recent Nvidia cards in the 6xxx and above do not work with these old drivers, so if you upgrade you will be stuck with the bad sky. Hold on to your old MX card for playing T1 and T2. It will not work for T3, though.

Let us know what results you have.

rekrul
4th Jul 2007, 18:19
It usually occurs only in deep water, for example, the cistern in Bafford's. I just ignore it. If I am blind and need to see, I look up.

Easy enough, unless you need to go down, like into the cave with the spiders in Bafford's. The first time I replayed that mission recently, I ended up drowning because the view went dark right as I entered the tunnel and I got disoriented.


On the other hand, there is another well known problem associated with poor rendering of dark textures (aka the bad sky) in Thief 2 that is definitely dependent on video card and driver version. I think this is separate from the water problem, but the two effects may combine to make it look worse. Regardless, if your card will work with drivers before 56.xx then you could revert to those drivers and T2 should look better in dark areas and the sky. I have used 45.23 and 52.16. Take a screen shot of a motley sky before changing and see if it gets better.

Thanks for the advice. I tried 56.64 before and that had the problem with the view turning dark grey in the water, but I didn't try TMA. Someone on the TTLG forums stated that he used almost the same driver version with a different Nvidia card and the water worked fine. In any case, I've saved your message for future reference.


By the way, recent Nvidia cards in the 6xxx and above do not work with these old drivers, so if you upgrade you will be stuck with the bad sky. Hold on to your old MX card for playing T1 and T2. It will not work for T3, though.

I've been thinking of getting a new system in addition to this one, one that will play newer games, and if I do, Thief 3 shouldn't be a problem. Of course, I have some reservations about it, since I've read so many comments and descriptions of it that I'm well aware of how different it is. I'll play it eventually though.


Let us know what results you have.

I will. I'm almost done with TDP, but I don't think I'll start on TMA right away. I usually like to play something different in between.

Peter_Smith
4th Jul 2007, 20:34
Easy enough, unless you need to go down, like into the cave with the spiders in Bafford's. The first time I replayed that mission recently, I ended up drowning because the view went dark right as I entered the tunnel and I got disoriented.That's interesting. I have the black water syndrome where I first jump into Bafford's water from the well, but there it does not matter. If I adjust my view angle to horizontal, it lightens up, and I can proceed underwater with no problem. The deeper cistern that leads to the spider cave is lit more brightly. Since the light penetrates to the bottom of the cistern, I have never had that black water problem in there, even when looking straight down. That's with three different Nvidia video cards and numerous drivers. The bottom texture is a little darker, but definitely not obscured. I can see the entrance to the spider cave easily. The cave entrance passage itself is much darker, that's for sure. I can see the interior of the entrance passage more easily from outside, in the cistern, than I can when I enter it. When I enter it, the dark water syndrome takes over. Nevertheless, the entrance passage is short, and I can make it out well enough, so negotiating that passage presents no problem to me. Maybe something else is going on.

Perhaps your monitor is really dark. In that case, with recent Nvidia drivers like you have, you can make a custom color setting that will increase the gamma range in game. I increase gamma to 1.3 in a custom setting named Thief, which gives me more latitude for adjustment. If that does not work, perhaps there is some issue with your particular video card. In that case, I suggest you try the game on a system that has a more recent Nvidia card (and maybe a brighter monitor) and compare.

rekrul
5th Jul 2007, 04:34
That's interesting. I have the black water syndrome where I first jump into Bafford's water from the well, but there it does not matter. If I adjust my view angle to horizontal, it lightens up, and I can proceed underwater with no problem. The deeper cistern that leads to the spider cave is lit more brightly. Since the light penetrates to the bottom of the cistern, I have never had that black water problem in there, even when looking straight down. That's with three different Nvidia video cards and numerous drivers. The bottom texture is a little darker, but definitely not obscured. I can see the entrance to the spider cave easily. The cave entrance passage itself is much darker, that's for sure. I can see the interior of the entrance passage more easily from outside, in the cistern, than I can when I enter it. When I enter it, the dark water syndrome takes over. Nevertheless, the entrance passage is short, and I can make it out well enough, so negotiating that passage presents no problem to me. Maybe something else is going on.

I just replayed it a couple times and I think I may have jumped to the wrong conclusion. While the darker tint does fluctuate a bit between dark grey and darker grey, it never truly becomes back. However, the inside of that tunnel is quite dark, and if you happen to turn so that you're looking at the wall of the tunnel, all you see is black. When I was playing it, I was probably in the middle of adjusting my view, when I turned a little too far and was no longer able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I just tried that too, and it's possible to get disoriented enough that once you lose sight of the ends of the tunnel, it can be hard to find them again.


Perhaps your monitor is really dark. In that case, with recent Nvidia drivers like you have, you can make a custom color setting that will increase the gamma range in game. I increase gamma to 1.3 in a custom setting named Thief, which gives me more latitude for adjustment. If that does not work, perhaps there is some issue with your particular video card. In that case, I suggest you try the game on a system that has a more recent Nvidia card (and maybe a brighter monitor) and compare.

My monitor is fairly dark, but normally, it's not a problem. I've tried following various adjustment guides that claim that you have a properly calibrated monitor when you can see all the different shades of colors, but by the time I get the display bright enough to see them all, everything is too bright and washed out. It looks like a printed page that's been left out in the sun too long.

For example, here's what my display normally looks like;

http://img490.imageshack.us/img490/8502/screen1ue8.th.jpg (http://img490.imageshack.us/my.php?image=screen1ue8.jpg)

Here's what I typically have to do to it to be able to see all the colors/shades in calibration tests;

http://img490.imageshack.us/img490/2584/screen2ye8.th.jpg (http://img490.imageshack.us/my.php?image=screen2ye8.jpg)

I have increased my system's gamma for some games, but usually the in-game settings are enough. In Thief, if I turn the game's gamma all the way up, it's usually enough to see in really dark areas. For example, in The Haunted Cathedral, one of the controls for the lights is located on a platform in a tunnel with 2-3 burricks wandering around on the level below. In one direction is a fairly well lit tunnel with a little bit of water on the floor and in the other direction is an extremely dark tunnel that leads to a dead end with a hole in the roof where you can use a rope arrow to climb out. If I turn the gamma all the way up, I can see enough to find my way through this tunnel.

Peter_Smith
5th Jul 2007, 23:00
Well, it looks to me like you probably have your monitor set too dark, and that is the cause of your problem with Thief. One can't tell exactly from your monitor pictures what it should look like because color schemes are under user control. If you used a default scheme, Windows Standard, I could tell more. Nevertheless, the top picture looks definitely too dark for me. The bottom may be "too light", but again I cannot really tell. "Calibrated" is generally good, IMO. My procedure is to calibrate the monitor and then check Microsoft Word. If the white page with black text is just too brilliant, I tone it down a bit. After I have the calibration and Word set, I adjust my Windows color scheme so it is pleasing to me. The default Windows background colors are too light for my taste, so I make them darker. The key thing is the gray menu and button background (which you don't have) should be balanced. With these adjustments, I have Word looking good and the desktop looking good, but Thief may still be not so good. Then I use Nvidia's driver to set colors for Thief, and I am all set.

EDIT:

Here is what my desktop looks like (click on image)

<A href="http://home.comcast.net/~smithpd1/thief/desktop.jpg" target="_blank" <IMG SRC="http://home.comcast.net/~smithpd1/thief/desktop_small.jpg"> </A>

rekrul
6th Jul 2007, 02:46
Well, it looks to me like you probably have your monitor set too dark, and that is the cause of your problem with Thief. One can't tell exactly from your monitor pictures what it should look like because color schemes are under user control. If you used a default scheme, Windows Standard, I could tell more.

I was all set to post a screenshot of my desktop using the default Windows color scheme, I even uploaded it to an image hosting site, but as I experimented, I realized something;

Any gamma correction that is applied by Nvidia's prefs is applied after the image is sent to the card and before it reaches the monitor.

Taking a screenshot copies the screen as it looks to Windows, before the gamma correction is applied by the prefs.

I discovered this when I tried adjusting my gamma so that it would pass the tests on this site;

http://www.colormatters.com/comput_colorblind.html

And then took another screenshot. Both were identical.

In other words, I could turn the gamma up as high as it would go in the Nvidia prefs and any screenshot I took would still show the default Windows gamma level.


Nevertheless, the top picture looks definitely too dark for me.

That's the Marine (high color) scheme. It was standard with Windows 98, but I don't know if XP still includes it.


The bottom may be "too light", but again I cannot really tell.

I know. I meant it as a relative comparison of what my display ends up looking like when I try to adjust the gamma so that it will pass various calibration tests that involving changing the gamma until you can see all the colors or all the different shades of grey.

When I do that, the window borders are too bright for my taste and the top and left edges of buttons are hard to see.


"Calibrated" is generally good, IMO. My procedure is to calibrate the monitor and then check Microsoft Word. If the white page with black text is just too brilliant, I tone it down a bit. After I have the calibration and Word set, I adjust my Windows color scheme so it is pleasing to me. The default Windows background colors are too light for my taste, so I make them darker.

I've never liked white backgrounds on a computer. I prefer a light grey, or another color with a similar brightness. Right now, the background of this edit box is a sort of grey-green.

BTW, I discovered another graphical glitch, although this one doesn't affect gameplay at all. In the last level, the bubbles containing the creatures are often opaque instead of trsanparent like they should be. There doesn't seem to be any pattern to it though. Here's a couple screenshots, lightened to make them easier to see;

Just after it passed under the light bridge;

http://img396.imageshack.us/img396/5192/bubble1cb3.th.jpg (http://img396.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bubble1cb3.jpg)

Inside the cave;

http://img396.imageshack.us/img396/963/bubble2ht1.th.jpg (http://img396.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bubble2ht1.jpg)