Planet X3 is now available. Buy it here: Planet X3 for MS-DOS computers
Benedikt Freisen recently asked for the source code and added several new video modes to Planet X3. These include:
- Hercules 720×350 monochrome
- Plantronics ColorPlus 320x200x16
- CGA grayscale 320x200x4
- Tandy Hi-res 640x200x16
- EGA Medium-res 640x200x16
Now I’ll talk a little about how each new mode.
Hercules 640×300 monochrome
This was added to the CGA version of the game. It basically uses the same CGA artwork for the 640x200x2 mode, but scales it to make it fit the higher resolution of Hercules. Obviously this isn’t using native Hercules artwork and so it isn’t going to impress Hercules fans, but it does work and there is no need to use any sort of CGA emulator anymore to play Planet X3 on Hercules graphics cards.
Plantronics ColorPlus 320x200x16
Many later model CGA cards (such as those used in the Commodore line of PCs, for example) support a 320x200x16 color video mode, but unlike the Tandy machines, very little software is known to support it. Since we didn’t have any artwork designed for this video mode, the Plantronics mode uses the same artwork as the Tandy 160x200x16 video mode, but it does at least use the better font from the CGA 320x200x4 mode. So it actually looks a little nicer than the Tandy mode, and a LOT nicer than the regular CGA mode. Incidentally, I had to show a screenshot from the real hardware because DOSBOX doesn’t actually emulate this mode.
CGA Grayscale 320x200x4
So, this mode is a bit of an irony. It actually doesn’t work on most CGA cards. But it does work on some newer ones, and most EGA/VGA cards. Why you’d want to use it, who knows? But it actually looks a lot nicer than the usual CGA palettes. It kind of has a Nintendo Gameboy appearance to it.
Tandy Hi-Res 640x200x16
So, this mode is a very interesting hack. First of all, not all Tandy models support this mode. Only ones with 64K of video RAM do, such as the 1000TL series. To use this mode, you actually need to run the VGA version of the game. It will autodetect the Tandy video mode and use it. It actually uses the same graphics as VGA mode. This mode is twice the resolution, but half the colors. So Benedikt came up with a dithering algorithm that works surprisingly well. Unfortunately, the medium res Tandy mode (320x200x16) is the most common mode for games and is still not supported, but now there are at least two options. And I suspect this is one of the best-looking games on a high-end Tandy machine that has the hi-res mode.
EGA Medium Res 640x200x16
This mode, as you probably guessed, uses the same graphics trick from the Tandy Hi-Res mode, and thus also uses the VGA graphics set with a dithering pattern. EGA mode does require its own executable, which is PX3_EGA.
For existing owners of Planet X3, You can download the new executables here which will add the new video mode support. This is just the executables so it won’t be of any use if you don’t have the rest of the game.
Also, if you haven’t already, I recommend you join the Planet X3 facebook group!
Also, Planet X3 is now available for purchase in the web store, so feel free to share the word with anyone looking to pickup a copy.