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Adding scanlines to PC games

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Adding scanlines to PC games

Unread postby icycalm » 16 Sep 2014 15:06

Old PC games, basically the ones that released before LCD screens became prevalent, are unplayable to me on LCDs for the same reason pre-Xbox 360 games are. So I want to play Hitman, Thief, Deus Ex, etc. etc., and even Age of Empires II HD and all these upgraded collections like Rise of Nations Extended etc., but I can't on my current computers until I get my CRT shipped over from Greece. So I am thinking maybe there is a way to add scanlines to them as with the console and arcade emulators? I did a quick Google search that doesn't look very promising, and will explore this more later today or tomorrow:

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#safe ... o+pc+games

Let me know if anyone else knows something about this or can find something in the meantime.
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Unread postby Cassowary » 17 Nov 2014 06:19

If you haven't had your CRT shipped over yet, I have a solution. There is no software, to my knowledge, that adds scalines to PC games, but there are many pieces of hardware that add scanlines to an image directly through VGA. They supposedly create better results than software generators. Not having used one myself, I can neither confirm nor deny this, but a quick Google image search for "scanline generator" does seem to support this side. The cheapest one seems to be hardware enthusiast Toodles' T-SLG v1.6, available at his Godlike Controls website:

http://godlikecontrols.com/

It seems somewhat ridiculous that software filters for old PC games do not exist yet, considering the PC community's tendency to mod and tweak. Their utility may seem a little less obvious to most -- after all, most older PC games can be made to run at higher resolutions without any more difficulty than modern PC games. Still, some games simply need scanlines to be playable, not just to look good. Thief relies heavily on the player's ability to judge light values from a distance, but no light values look like they should on an LCD without scanlines. Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, aside from suffering from the exact same problem as the Thief games in its single-player campaign, had large portions of its multiplayer completely destroyed by the move to LCD, as it became impossible for anyone to remain hidden simply because most monitors couldn't display darkness sufficiently deep enough to hide a character. I hope somebody takes a hint, and soon.
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Unread postby icycalm » 17 Nov 2014 07:23

I will explore that option, thanks.

Interesting that you found mechanical reasons for using scanlines with these games. I was thinking only of aesthetic ones. I will make an article out of our two posts and credit you along with me, if you don't mind, so that someone who can do this thing might hear our wish and realize it.
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Unread postby Cassowary » 17 Nov 2014 07:45

I don't mind at all. In fact, I would be honored. Thank you very much.
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Unread postby icycalm » 29 Jan 2017 12:34

I will eventually be exploring the hardware solutions Cassowary mentioned, but for now I want to see if something can be done quickly and easily in software. This guy seems to be on the right track in that direction:

https://steamcommunity.com/discussions/ ... 1031207150

Zelmaricaroid™ wrote:In the meantime, I found an old post on the interwebs mentioning a program call RainMeter and adding scanlines that way (rainmeter.net) I'm tinkering with it now, and it seams like a good solution if you run games in fullscreen windowed mode. It requires creating and setting up of an ini file, but once thats done, your set. First step is to make a transparent scanline background image in photoshop or gimp at whatever resolution you want. So I made it past that step, but I can't figure out how to display the image in rainmeter. I have to invest more time into learning that program. I'll post instructions once I figure it all out. Too busy tonight. Seems like the solution we are looking for tho.


Zelmaricaroid™ wrote:So I mangaged to get my scanline image overlayed with Rainmeter. Tested shovel Knight and King of Fighters XIII. Both looked great, but framerates were in the 40s. My GPU is an 860m so it should be able to handle it. I don't get it, maybe some sort of vsync issue? So from there I decided to try other image overlay programs. I tried this http://imageoverlayutility.bitbucket.org/ and this one http://customdesktoplogo.wikidot.com/download. Which also both ran in 40-50fps range. The CustomDesktopLogo program actually is the easiest to use. You have to create your own transparent scanline image to use any of these. Here's mine if you guys want to use it: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz2IHk ... sp=sharing

I feel like we're heading in the right direction. I'll keep searching for a 'lighter' program or solution. In the meantime, you should try the last one I mentioned. Maybe it'll work better for you.


Zelmaricaroid™ wrote:Just tried it on my desktop pc (280X) which is hooked up to my TV. Works at 60fps! Looks decent, not as good as my vga scanliner tho. Might have to adjust the thickness of scanline image. Might look different depending on your TV or monitor.


Problem is I have the same laptop graphics card as him, so I won't get 60FPS either, but I am going to try it later anyway. Might be playable at least for the less intensive 2D games on Steam like those mecha sidescrollers I've been meaning to try.

Another solution for me would be to play and stream something like Ketsui on Mame with scanlines, instead of Mushi. So that's another option I will explore.

Here's something else to check out:

*NEW* How to add Scanlines to Freedom Planet ~ Using Reshade
https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/ ... =437407598

If anyone gets anything working, let me know.
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Unread postby icycalm » 29 Jan 2017 13:41

Another option I'd like to try is the PS2 emulated Mushi port with scanlines, if the emulator supports them, which I suspect it does. The limiting factor here again will be my laptop's power, however.

(Note that I consider console games running on PC via emulator as PC games too, hence why I mention this in this thread.)
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Unread postby recoil » 29 Jan 2017 18:20

I tried out this solution: http://customdesktoplogo.wikidot.com/download

It's a quick and dirty way to get a scanline filter on a game and it doesn't work in fullscreen mode for Mushihime-sama.

1. Scroll down and download v2.1

2. Unzip the file and run "CustomDesktopLogo" application

3. A settings window should open, if not, right click the overlay image that appears on the bottom right, or right click the task bar icon, and then hit "Settings".

4. Click "Change Image Folder" and navigate to your scanline image. I used the one suggested here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bz2IHk ... sp=sharing

Make sure the image is rotated. Use the "Drop Folder Mode" to drag and drop the image or to lock it to a fixed position and act as a filter.
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Unread postby icycalm » 07 Feb 2017 00:32

A scanline thread on NeoGAF with some interesting posts and pictures:

Why don't pixel-art indie games give the option of scanlines?
http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1341323

The answer to his question is that "indie" devs don't know what a scanline is.
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Unread postby recoil » 07 Mar 2017 03:12

This is a pretty good scanline solution: https://reshade.me/

1. Download Version 3.0.6 and run the application

2. Click "Select Game" and navigate to the exe of the game you want to install the filter on (eg. C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Arcana Heart 3 LOVE MAX\AH3LM.exe)

3. Once you locate the exe file, it will ask you to select a rendering API to use. For Arcana Heart, I picked Direct3D 8/9.

4. After selecting an API, it will ask if you want to download some configurations. Click "Yes", it will give you a list of effects to install. Uncheck all and select "CRT".

5. Run the game and open up the Reshade overlay with Shift+F2 and follow the prompts. Toggle "AdvancedCRT". The filter will immediately apply.

6. Change the settings to your liking. The important settings are Resolution and Scanline Intensity. I set those to 3 and 2, respectively.

Before
20170306174355_1.jpg

After
20170306174358_1.jpg
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Unread postby icycalm » 07 Mar 2017 12:59

One clarification. When recoil says "follow the prompts" he means the tutorial. It took me a bit to figure this out.

Beyond that, I had some issues, but I solved them. When I tried the Direct3D 8/9 option, I was told that it failed to extract, or something like that. Then I tried the Direct3D 10 option and it extracted fine, but when I started the game there were no effects loaded, even though I had picked the CRT effects to be loaded. Then I tried the Open GL option and again it failed to extract. Finally, I tried the Direct3D 8/9 option again in exasperation, and this time it extracted fine and the effect loaded fine and I was able to play the game with scanlines.

GGXXACPR_Win 2017-03-07 11-15-36.jpg


I am playing at 1080p fullscreen, and though I am sure it's far from arcade perfect, it still looks very good and I love the size of it on my 42" TV. I am using the settings recoil recommended for the moment, but what I would like to eventually do is find a photograph of a CRT running the arcade version, and then based on that try to mess with my display and resolution choice and the shader effects to get closer to that ideal. I have a 720p projector here, so I think that would be the ideal choice for quality+size, but I am some ways off clearing up enough space in my apartment to set that up, so until then my LCD should do fine.
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Unread postby quash » 08 Mar 2017 14:32

This is awesome! Thanks for this, recoil!

I was messing with the settings for a bit but your settings seem to be the best. I did also enable the "Colorfulness" filter, which makes the colors warmer. This is about as close as it'll get to a CRT without owning one.

I haven't performed any extensive tests, but just from playing a few matches there's no discernible input lag with this program.

As an aside, if you haven't already, I highly recommend disabling VSync in +R; it adds roughly 5 frames of input lag.
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Unread postby recoil » 27 Sep 2017 07:07

I found some settings that work for vertical shooters, settings below in the Dodonpachi image.

mushi.jpg

dodonpachi.jpg

The main change you need to make is to resolution, you'll want to keep it between 4 and 4.5 for vertical scanlines. Also, I streamed Mushihime-sama with similar settings.
https://www.twitch.tv/videos/177813886
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Unread postby recoil » 27 Sep 2017 07:11

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Unread postby icycalm » 27 Sep 2017 11:58

That's great news, I can't wait to start streaming Mushi again.
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Unread postby recoil » 12 Jun 2018 05:35

I've been messing around with adding scanlines to games on consoles using my external capture card. The only drawback is the input lag when playing through the capture card preview, but I imagine using an internal capture card would cut down the input lag, maybe even entirely. Regardless, here's the results and comparisons so far:

MMP (target look, arcade version):
mmptarget1.jpg

MMP (2x scanline, 360 version):
mmpscan.jpg

As a comparison, here is M2's scanline work in the PS4 version of Dangun Feveron:
m2dangun.jpg

I also attempted Kuru Kuru Kururin, here's the shot from icy's Tetris review:
kurutarget.png

Here's what I have so far, from the Wii U version:
kuruscan.jpg
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Unread postby icycalm » 15 Jun 2018 13:26

Note that my Kururin screenshots on Patreon are nothing to aim at. I made them in five minutes in an online app just so people can have an idea of what I am talking about. I don't even think they are the correct resolution.
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