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The worst system to code for...


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#21 Lost Dragon

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Posted 25 September 2016 - 08:06 PM

Also, to be 100% fair, the Jaguar wasn't the only console of that era to have it's potential ignored...

 

Spare a thought for Commodore CD32 owners who'd been expecting something special in the form of Elite:Frontier, hopefully some degreeof texture-mapping thanks to the hardware's AKiKO chip, CD music at least, but Gametek were supposed to of said expected sales were not enough to justify the amount of extra work texture mapping etc would require, so simply didn't bother with it.


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#22 Lost Dragon

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Posted 24 December 2016 - 04:35 PM

As i'm sure by now, most folks realise i simply pass on findings, i make no attempt to window dress how a developer felt about ANY Atari hardware, be it A8, ST, Jaguar, Panther, Lynx etc and simply give the comments as i find them, so this isn't a case of yet more Jaguar bashing from an ex-owner, but another coders PERSONAL viewpoints on it...

 

 

But in researching for Shinto tonight i found this:

 

Interview - Vincent Baillet:

 

Jaguar: ultra weird console where everything was lame, so many challenges.

 

https://translate.go...ent/&edit-text=

So, even though he list's Jaguar among his favourite machines to develop for, he makes clear it was also 1 of the most akward....

 

 



#23 atarilbc

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Posted 25 December 2016 - 12:23 PM

Interesting that the quote came in a response to a question about his favorite systems to code for. Maybe he liked the challenge?

The best hardware platforms are always built with the developer in mind. Nintendo products are almost always driven by software goals. Both 3do and most of the PlayStation line were produced with a keen awareness of developer needs. The Atari 3200 was reportedly cancelled do to an unfavorable response from Atari Inc. programmers.

In comparison, the Jaguar was hardware focused. The guys at Flare and Atari Corp. were hardware guys. They delivered a platform with great specs that was difficult for programmers to work on. The games would be cool as long as there was enough horsepower - programmers would figure it out. I think one of the reasons Atari focused on the hardware specs so much in Jaguar marketing is that the hardware was the beginning and end of their vision. Had Atari integrated a top-rate software house as part of the design team, maybe they would have launched something with better tools and mitigated some hardware bottlenecks. Unfortunately, Atari Corp.lacked in-house software expertise and didn't have relationships with the great third-party software houses of the day.
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#24 Lost Dragon

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Posted 25 December 2016 - 04:27 PM

Sony often claimed the PS2 the complex hardware was brought about after developers wanted ability to code to the metal, compared to the rigid fixed library nature of the PlayStation 1...though developers did code their own routines in cases.

Sega made the Dreamcast with Windows C.E O/S to be developer friendly, but they over rode it quite often.


So there doesn't seem to be a 1 solution suits all approach.

#25 Lost Dragon

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 10:59 AM

I think as well as looking at coders who've documented the issues they had with the bugged hardware, limited Ram, DSP issues etc with Jaguar hardware, as well as Atari's insistance games were texture-mapped, even when they knew it'd cripple the frame rate, they look at the industry as a whole, before thinking perhaps the Jaguar was unfairly treated.

 

 

 

I don't think any of us bought a more 'powerful' system to see worse versions of games or mere ports of games...

 

 

Amiga owners had to suffer ST ports, C64, Amstrad CPC owners all too often saw ZX Spectrum Ports, A8 owners often lucky to get ports at all.

 

 

PS1-to- Saturn ports were often handled badly...

 

As a Dreamcast owner i saw too many PS1 games ported over just with better frame rate and textures, little real use of Dreamcast potential etc.

 

But if you look close enough, the understanding why games turned out the way they did, is often laid very bare...

 

 

Limited time, budget, user base, understanding of hardware etc.

 

 

Plus to many a conversion was simply a job, guys were simply earning a wage, this week they were tasked with converting Genesis code to Jaguar, after that they might be working on Saturn, PS1 etc projects..

 

They weren't lazy or poor coders, often hands were tied and it frustrated them when they had shown far better could be done, but likes of Atari or I.D insisted hardware be written too in a specific matter.

 

 

It shouldn't be viewed as a negative the Jaguar 68000 was used, it had a role to play in the overal hardware set up....

 

Better tools would of helped Jaguar development, but then so would of more money, far better realationships between Atari and developers, Atari allowing coders to code, rather than stating what a game should include...

 

 

List goes on.


Edited by Lost Dragon, 27 December 2016 - 11:43 AM.


#26 Clint Thompson

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 01:15 PM

Another thing I found interesting was how they required their cartidge casings to be used and the other laundry list of strange things as requirements.

Reading over the Kasumi Ninja II CD development exchange showed just how hateful everyone was by that point and it just seemed incredibly rude and unprofessional, even if they were right with disagreeing with developers.
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#27 Lost Dragon

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 03:39 PM

I've always viewed the Jaguar hardware as being at the end of a hardware evolution 1st started by the ill-fated Konix Multisystem and Atari Panther and not really in the same generation as the Sony Playstation, which although born from an ill-fated platform itself (SNES CD Drive) was redesigned from the ground up, to embrace what was clearly the future of gaming, texture-mapped 3D.

 

 

The Konix in particular seemed to be heading way from the more, established Japanese hardware designs as found in the PC Engine and Sega Genesis and whilst being harder to code for, allowed a far greater degree of creative freedom.

 

People like Jeff Minter, who you might of expected would of steered well clear of any new hardware, until it was firmly established, (after coding AMC'89 on Konix, leaping Antelope demo's on Panther and Llamazap on Falcon....)...embraced the Jaguar from day 1....

 

The issue of who was 'right' in any exchanges between Atari and developers is a curious one..Atari fund the projects and set limits on how long a title can stay in development for, how much storage space a developer can use and can and indeed did supply extra staff to assist with development, but it's become very clear at times their..ahem, involvement at times, was far from a good thing.

 

 

ATD being asked to texture map Battlemorph so it matched 3DO Shock wave was thankfully ignored by ATD...

 

 

Tiertex however went ahead and texture-mapped Super Cross with disasterous results.

 

 

Martin Brownlaw warned Atari over texture mapping missile command 3D...

 

 

Imagitec at the time (in likes of Ult.Future Games/Gamesmaster Mag) were very vocal about what Atari wanted from Freelancer 2120, but in fairness, said NOTHING about fact they themselves had used FAKE screens, over promised what game would deliver and all this based on code running on far more powerful PC hardware...something they failed to admit again in a feature RG mag ran with them, it seems...

 

 

Jeff Minter might of made better use of Jaguar hardware by coding to GPU more than he did with Tempest 2000 and i know Atari themselves had 'ideas' of what a CD based game (as Defender 2K was planned to be)...should feature-big sprites, fast action etc, but Jeff himself i still feel should shoulder some of the 'blame'...he'd messed with the Defender formula on ST Defender 2....

 

 

Plus hello Big Ship sprites in Andes Attack ST, Llamazp Falcon, AMC'89 Konix....can't blame that on Atari UK can you?

 

 

Plus who had idea of A.I craft rescuing humans being part of Defender is yet to be decided.

 

 

So, it's swings and roundabouts...as was with any platform before/after Jaguar.

 

 

Lot of UK coders loved the ZX Spectrum, fast CPU, high resolution etc, but then others prefered the C64, chunky sprites, yes, but hardware scrolling, more sprites than the A8 PMG system allowed, SID chip etc.

 

 

I've spoken to coders who prefered the ST as a development system, found the Amiga Blitter over rated, hated the Amiga O/S, then others who loathed ST couldn't wait to work on the Amiga.

 

 

SNES Vs Genesis boiled down to Mode 7, more colours Vs much faster CPU.....

 

 

 

The key factor Atari and Sega (espically with Saturn) failed to grasp was:You kept your developers sweet....

 

 

 

Pay up on time (and indeed simply pay them), give them the marketing support and stop pulling the rug out from under their feet...

 

 

Atari must of been a bloody nightmare at times....

 

 

ST CD and CD ST annouced, never arrives...

 

 

ST Based console, looked at, abandoned, becomes Panther, developers start working on, Atari can on favour of Jaguar.

 

 

STE simply seems to appear, released, ST code found to have issues on KEY games like Kick Off 2, requiring developers to patch....

 

Developers told to start working on games for the Falcon, no wait kill them or put on hold, do Jaguar versions 1st (Dino Dudes)

 

 

 

Whilst they are wasting time and resources switching code to platform to platform (Space Junk..Falcon then Jag CD), they could of been releasing commercial titles on established platforms like Genesis, SNES, Amiga etc

 

 

 

How much did Jim Gregory say HMS lost when Atari went under? £700,000?

 

 

YIKES.


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#28 Lost Dragon

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 07:28 PM

In researching for Shinto, i came across a post from Team 17, pointing out that the Jaguar ONLY recieved a conversion of Worms (from PC/PS1/Saturn code) because Ocean asked them to do it and it was pretty straight forward to port it...

 

 

Not because Team 17 wanted to convert it.

 

 

So maybe the next time people start on about how games that used the 68000 etc far too much, shouldn't be showcased, they should be thankful there was hardware in the Jaguar that developers did find code easy to move to, or we would of seen far less conversions as was and maybe no:

 

Syndicate, Pitfall, Theme Park, Cannon Fodder, Sensi Soccer etc etc....


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#29 Lost Dragon

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 08:36 PM

Andrew Whittaker talking of Jaguar AVP development:

 

".....all of the gameplay logic is done on the 68000.the AI was the most complicated part of the entire 

game, with over 256 strategies for each creature. The 68000 was ideal for that...."

 

On Question of Jaguar hardware itself:

 

 

AW : Weakest was some of the graphics bottlenecks, strongest really was the fact the 68000 could get on with gameplay logic 

whilst the GPU was doing graphics, giving a form of multitasking. 

 

 

AW : On any system games can be improved, even if its just gameplay. Technicaly speaking, the Jaguar was maxed out. 

 

1 man's opinion's of course :)

 

 

But nice to hear some praise for the 68000, just for once.

 

 

SOURCE:

http://www.yaronet.c...ard/topic/34541

 



#30 Lost Dragon

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Posted 29 December 2016 - 02:44 PM

"...There was always a danger that if you supported the wrong format, like the Atari Jaguar, that you would risk a lot of development resources".

 

 

David Darling (Codemasters-who'd supported the Atari:8 bit line and ST) talking in an interview with Gamestm magazine, back along.

 

 

Put up to show that even if Atari had got the development tools right from the very start, you'd still of had a lot of developers waiting until it firmly established itself before commiting to it.



#31 Lost Dragon

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Posted 06 January 2017 - 12:41 PM

Might as well continue to UPDATE this thread with mix of commercial coder viewpoints on the Jaguar hardware:

 

"We also wrote the odd piece of optimized I/O code that ran on the GPU – but the chip itself was so limited that we avoided it for the most part. The GPU was supposed to ship with access to more than 4k but we were told a bug late in the day reduced it from 64k to 4k – that would have made a massive difference to performance and programmers would actually have used it. Whether this is fact or a shade of grey I’m unsure but the 4k limit was illogical to say the least."

 

http://atariage.com/...ator-interview/

 

I know RG re-interviewed David some time after this original interview, but A)this one is avaiable online for FREE and B)The follow-up interview revealed nothing new, so original remains the best :)

 

 

And:

 

http://www.fultonsof...ry/playstation/

 

 

 

 

 

"Also, while the Jaguar had the first real hint of 3D acceleration, the two 64-bit processors weren’t really C-language friendly, so it took a master-class assembly programmer to get good performance out of the system. So a lot of projects included a lot of time for code optimization."

 

 

 

"As for 3D processing, the Jaguar GPU was great at doing 3D vector math, but you had to basically hand-feed the blitter individual scan line segments of each polygon at a time to do rendering. Projects involving 3D graphics had to devote at least a couple of months to the development of a good 3D rendering pipeline, to say nothing of the 3D game engine required to feed that pipeline polygons to draw."

 

 

 

With Atari rushing titles out, just to get SOMETHING out at retail, sadly Jaguar titles were never going to get the time they needed to get best possible 3D performance from hardware, let alone Atari insisting every damn thing in creation was texture-mapped, frame rate be damned.

 

 

If your interested in reading the thoughts on someone who worked with BOTH the Jaguar and PS1 and thus can give a totally unbiased approach to both platforms.

 

 

1 thing i've always liked with this interview is that Mike makes clear just how poorly the PS1 version of Tomb Raider was running when 1st presented to Sony..5 FPS...

 

 

Even now (RG issue 163 20 years of icon:Tomb Raider, a prime example), the fact the Saturn version arrived 1st, but was buggy, lacked some of the PS1's special FX on things like water etc, always pointed out, but just how much work needed to be done on the PS1 version is so often over looked.

 

 

That's a hellva jump in performance..unplayable at 5 FPS to playable at 20 FPS, i could name soo many Jaguar games that could of used that kinda leap...

 

 

 

 

Cart version of Hover strike, I-War, Supercross 3D etc etc :)


Edited by Lost Dragon, 06 January 2017 - 12:48 PM.

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#32 Lost Dragon

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Posted 10 January 2017 - 05:41 PM

"Working on the Lynx naturally moved us onto the Jaguar. I remember when the hardware manual arrived in the post. A very powerful machine on paper. Unfortunately, Atari rushed it to market - it needed to go through a few more hardware revisions. Therefore, it was crippled, sadly."

 

Rob Nicholson, Hand Made Software.



#33 Lost Dragon

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Posted 13 January 2017 - 10:13 AM

Maybe we should rename this thread something like: Atari made the Jaguar..the Worst system to code for...by putting pressure on developers. Mentioned ATD with Battlemorph, Tiertex with Supercross 3D, Martin Brownlow with Missile Command 3D, Imagitec with freelancer 2120 etc ALL explaining how Atari wanted texture-mapping galore, just to compete with 3DO, Saturn and PS1 titles, even though everyone new Jaguar just wasn't designed to handle it....

 

 

 Time to add yet another voice: Lee Brigs, coder of World Tour Racing Jaguar CD.

 

 Lee has stated that the Jaguar's RISC processors were in his view, 'fairly nice' and not all that different from the SH-2's found in the Sega Saturn..it was just that Atari didn't build in any debugging support and thus as W.T.R had a 'huge amount of code written to the RISC chips', it was a time consuming and difficult task, to debug it. To make matters worse, Lee had wanted to include an option or at least a code, that would allow user to turn off the games texture mapping to improve the frame rate, bringing it upto 30 FPS which is same as PS1 Ridge Racer, but Atari wouldn't allow this....

 

 

 As he stated, Atari wanted texture mapping with everything...Atari felt they had to take on the competition on graphics stakes, even though the Jaguar simply couldn't do it. Also, as there's a lot of talk of optimised code (i.e Carmac re-writing Jaguar Doom), Lee admits he could of improved on W.T.R code, indeed he had planned another 3D racer on Jaguar (along with an Olympics game) that would use a modified version of of the W.T.R engine, just "cleaner and faster" code....

However he states: The game (World Tour Racing) fundamentally needed a more powerful machine. 

 

He praised the Jaguar hardware for it's Object Processor, as that allowed for 12 layers of Hicolour Parallax scrolling on screen, something you simply couldn't do on the Sony Playstation, but again said Atari simply wanted to do the texture mapped 3D thing and the machine just wasn't up to it.....

 

 So whilst we could of seen some wonderous 2D games, 'thanks' to Atari we all too often saw 3D games with frame rates as low as 5 FPS when things got busy....



#34 Lost Dragon

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Posted 14 January 2017 - 09:14 AM

 
Designer of:Attack Of The Mutant Penguins", chats about Jaguar hardware:
 
 
"The main problem area when programming the Jaguar is when you come to write 
GPU code for the simple reason that we couldn't debug it with the 
development system we were using (Atari's own). This meant that if something   
goes wrong (which it will!), it's very time consuming to track down any 
bugs. This means that most of the code tends to be written using the 68000 
which is very slow compared to the GPU/DSP. The other problem area for us 
was sound. We are displaying an awful lot of sprites at any one time  (up to 
400!) which leaves very little bandwidth for sound. This means that we can't 
have a lot of channels or high quality samples. The one fundamental problem 
with the Jaguars design is that all the processors use the same bus 
(mostly). This means that using any one processor steals time from the other four ..."
 
 
 

Edited by Lost Dragon, 14 January 2017 - 09:18 AM.


#35 Lost Dragon

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Posted 21 January 2017 - 07:51 AM

FRANCOIS BERTRAND :

 

"The main disadvantage of FFL, when you compare it to the competition, is the platform it's running on. I think that I really pushed the Jaguar hard with this title, but after just 1 and a half months on the Playstation, I can tell you that the Jaguar cannot compare on the 3D side. There is a lot of cool stuff on the Jaguar, but it's certainly not the 3D."

 

http://www.atarihq.c...x/bertrand.html



#36 Lost Dragon

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Posted 14 March 2017 - 09:04 AM

ftp://ftp.pigwa.net/stuff/collections/atari_forever/www-magazines/MyAtari.net/04/jaguar.htm

#37 Lost Dragon

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 02:22 PM

http://www.atarihq.com/jeo/archive.htm

 

If people want to hear the thoughts on Jaguar coding, hardware, Atari itself...

 

 

JEO 0101 (March 27/1997) has interviews with/ or comments from:

 

Lee Briggs..World Tour Racing (Jag CD)

 

Martin Brownlow-Missile Command 3D

 

Matthew Gosling-Zero 5

 

 

All 3 make very interesting comments about how and why games turned out as they did.

 

Lee Briggs Interview in JEO 0103 Vol 1/Issue 3



#38 kamakazi20012

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 05:07 AM

I think most of the difficulties in developing for the Jaguar were related to a few other factors.

Fact: The Jaguar was the first, and only console, to have a graphics processor capable of generating 3D graphics. No other console could do it until Saturn and PS1 came out later. In hindsight, a new type of gaming environment meant development that developers were just getting started in understanding.

The Atari Jaguar, in my mind, has become an icon. It's Made in the USA which is not something seen in electronics any more. As much as I am anti-Jack the Jaguar is a sexy beast and the only Atari Corp product I am really partial to. I would love to see more done with it.
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#39 Clint Thompson

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 05:27 AM

I've slowly started to jump into programming the Jaguar in a very cheating fashion by using Rb+ - it really gives you an idea of what the system is capable of and quickly makes you realize the limited resources it has. Primarily being RAM. 

 

The one very interesting feature I like about the Jaguar are the ability to have objects in different resolutions. The character can be 4bit, the background can be 16bit and then the sprites can be 8bit, for example. Maybe it's like that on other consoles, I don't know but it seems unique in its ability. 


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#40 Lost Dragon

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 06:19 AM

Not quite sure i'd agree with Jaguar being 1st console able to generate 3D graphics...

 

A stock Genesis console could do Polygon 3D games:F-22, LHX, Hard Drivin,, F-1, Red Zone, Kawasaki Super Bike Challange,  M1 Abrams Battle tank, Block Out, F-15 II, Mig-29, Race Drivin,Corporation (Cybercop), etc etc...

 

Maybe not at great frame rates, sometinmes clever coding used both the 68000 and Z80 chips, but despite what Jez San claims,  Genesis could do 3D out of the box, Sega's SVP chip just helped a great deal with maths needed.  

 

 

The SNES CPU was too slow on it's own, cue the SFX chip and sega needed the SVP chip for the much more demmaning 3D of Virtua Racing, but coders were doing Polygon 3D games on the Genesis, a good few ported from ST/Amiga.

 

 

Jaguar 1st home console i'm aware of, to use Parallel Processing and a move away from industry standard means of coding to systems CPU..which in Jaguars case the CPU was meant to be used for background tasks, rather than key component..instead coders should of used DSP, Tom, Jerry, Blitter and Object Processor, but that took a far greater understanding and a lot more time, espically given bugged chipsets and poor documentation.

 

Sega Saturn developers in Japan have talked of being used to Parallel processing development on the coin-ops of that time, so took knowledge to Saturn and were able to use it wisely.

 

 

But prior to that as i said people used Genesis Z80 and 68000 CPU's in tandem...

 

Then the Sega Genesis and Sega CD 68000's in tandem, Jaguar just another evolution, throwing even more custom chips developers way, so CPU free to do mere house keeping.


Edited by Lost Dragon, 23 May 2017 - 11:47 AM.





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