Super VGA Library by Zypher Software

Although I will not enter the realm of the ethics of the use of others' libraries in this review, I will throughly analyze the SVGA Library v2.5 by Zypher Software.

The SVGA library has some terrific graphics abilities, but was not built for speed. With a maximum resolution of 1280 X 1024 X 256 colors, SVGA is truly in a class all its own. However, practicly, 640 X 480 & 800 X 600 are sufficient resolutions and sometimes far more so for most applications. The memory and larger, more detailed graphics required make these options time consuming for the programmer and downloader. In addition, many monitors don't even support the higher resolutions. While impressive, in reality it is not sensible to design programs which require such high resolution.
The other functions of the library, particulary the XMS functions, can make an application stand out above the rest. When making a utility of some sort, the high resolution capabilities can allow a comfortable Windows 95 feel, if programmed correctly. A user friendly environment is nice, but the 320 X 200 X 256 QB screen 13 feel can ruin the entire effect. The higher resolutions make the application more professional. However, this is best left to utilities. Use of the XMS functions make loss of QB memory a vague memory. While graphics are no longer limited in size, they do suffer other tradeoffs. The harsh truth is that XMS is relatively slow; and while page flipping is supported, it can slow a do-loop from 2000 loops a second to 35 loops a second.


Using SVGA for gaming:
For simple, single-screened games with little movement (and perhaps more stratedgy), I would highly recommend the SVGA library. For example, the SVGA library can make the simple lunar lander game look much more appeasing without taking away from gameplay. The SPRITEGAP, & SPRITEPUT functions are indespensable. However, with larger games, such as a real-time strategy-warfare game, the SVGA library should not be considered. While offering high resolution and storage capacity (XMS) it is simply too slow. However, when less animation is required, the SPRITEPUT function is invaluble. The programmer has the ability to PUT sprites using a transparent color nearly as quick as PUT. With SPRITEGAP, the background is GETed and the image SPRITEPUTed simultaneously. The icing on the cake: these functions work outside of the screen as well. In QB, PUTing an image that would be slightly off screen is quite illegal. But with SVGA, the problem is solved. The programmer can even define his/her own visible window to PUT or GET. The PCX loader is also a plus for title screens.


Using SVGA for utilities:
I would definately recommend the use of this library for utilities. The XMS capabilities allow GETing of large areas of the screen. Usage: getting backgrounds before displaying dialog boxes, message boxes with predefined background images, icons, etc. The PCX loader is useful for making an image editor, for example. Overall, the high resolution gives an utility a professional look and feel; they offer the programmer endless possibilities.


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Copyright 1999 by Timothy D. Mowrer for Secret Weapon Software.