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The worst system to code for...

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#41 Lost Dragon

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 11:32 AM

Talking of the Genesis...


Mark Cerny makes a very good point in this months RetroGamer magazine when talking about 1st developing on the hardware:


'...as with any hardware, it 1st feels luxurious and then within a few months your back to feeling that the hardware your working on is underpowered.'


So the point here is, even IF the Jaguar chipsets had been bug free, Atari's development tools a lot better, i'd wager developers would of soon started to fault other flaws..the megre amount of ram, no REAL hardware support for texture-mapping etc.


The more coders push hardware or have bigger ideas for what they want to produce on it, the more obstacles they will find preventing it.

#42 Clint Thompson

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 08:29 PM

I don't think texture mapping hardware support is a fair flaw to point out or a flaw at all. The Jagauar had goraud shading that hardly anyone ever used. Martin Brownlow wanted to use much faster shading for Missile Command but Atari would've have it and instead made him texture map the game to death.

The memory constraints are kind of legitimate, especially in regards to cache bug of the GPU and inability to jump directly within memory. It's like modern day CPUs, if you disable the cache on the CPU, performance drops quite significantly.

However, every time someone may want to point out that the Jaguar is incapable of good performance, I want to point them in the direction of Rayman. Atari wanted it to be a machine it wasn't. Fans wanted it to be a machine it wasn't. The Jaguar just didn't have a fair chance regardless, too many things crippling it before it even got released and it all goes back to Atari.
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#43 Clint Thompson

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Posted 23 May 2017 - 08:41 PM

One other very fair thing to point out was it's the first time all game titles originally MSRP started at $69. After taxes for a single video game, that's absolutely absurd. To think that people or parents would pay $69 for Skiing and Snowboarding for a $259 system that is slightly better when you can get it on the cheaper SNES and much cheaper game for the same game, parents listened to Atari and they Did The Math.
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#44 Lost Dragon

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 02:40 PM

Put it this way, when your 'forcing' or at very least putting heavy pressure on developers to Texture-Map everything, just to compete with current 3DO games, never mind next generation hardware like the Sega Saturn and PS1, the fact you want it, even though you know yourself it's going to cripple the frame rate, then the fact your system cannot compete in this area with the 3DO, is a pretty hefty flaw.


Games like Hoverstrike (cartridge) Super Cross 3D, WMCJ (when things get busy) etc..hardware was never designed to shift big sized texture maps and yet this was a system Atari had us believe would be able to handle a decent conversion of Quake?.


As likes of Mike Diskett found, when your trying to convert Pentium PC games to Jaguar and your restricted to rendering plain polygons (Magic Carpet) it looks poor.


Atari wanted more PC conversions, but didn't give the developers the hardware to pull it off.


Jaguar a fantastic machine for high resolution, rich colour 2D games a la Rayman, 2.5 FPS titles like Doom, AVP...photographic enviroments etc...



But it should never of been asked to attempt full screen texture mapping, but Atari did ask this very thing and the hardware shortcomings/flaws, call them what you will, were exposed for all to see and the Jaguar's reputation suffered even more.



John Carmac himself highlighted just how 'easy' it would of been to triple the Jaguar's Texture Mapping by having 2 64 bit buffers and described the actual Jaguar set up as unfortunate ('The Blitter could do basic texture mapping of Horizontal and Vertical spans, but because there wasn't any caching involved, every pixel caused 2 ram page misses and only used 1/4 of the 64 bit Bus').


To a non-tech head like myself it sounds like a serious oversight on the part of the design team..what we basically got was the Panther MK 2 rather than a true 3DO contender.



People point out Hover strike S.E on Jag CD, cleaner textures, improved frame rate, texture-mapping etc, but game still set on dark side of the moons..is it not?


The fact Atari were supposed to be considering adding a texture-mapping chip to Jag CD at 1 point, if claims are true, suggests they too knew it was a weakness of the original system.

#45 Lost Dragon

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Posted 24 May 2017 - 02:51 PM

John Mathieson himself admits in hindsight Jaguar should of been able to run C and do Texture Mapping, when the team started designing Jaguar Gouraud shading and running games in Assembly seemed enough, he stated they were wrong on both assumptions.


So there's no shame in admitting it was a key oversight on part on the teams part, he states he's not sure just what team could of done differently given limits of avaiable chips, but there would of been a different emphasis....


Flare sold the Jaguar to Atari as a CONCEPT, Atari funded it's development, so if they didn't want to stump up for more advanced 3D abilities...





Panther was described as the Ultimate 2D Graphics Engine all Jaguar did was add the GPU and Blitter to give it it's 3D ability.


And a general purpose DSP for sound extra....



It really is little more than Panther Mk II

#46 Lost Dragon

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 03:11 PM

Just want to add a little more to my points above:


1)Regarding the often cited lack of documentation avaiable to Jaguar coders, from atari regarding how best to use the Jaguar hardware and get coding etc, not eing given enough time to properly code, optimise etc:


David Brevik, who went onto code PC Diablo 1, 2, Hellgate London etc..talked of his time developing Genesis Super High Impact...


David: ' Back then when you made a game for the genesis or Super Nintendo, they just handed you the manual for the hardware and said Good Luck!-There were no development kits, nothing, you had to write your own assembler, make your own dev.kits...'


So hardly the best development enviroment and sounds NO different to that of the Jaguar enviroment.


He also talked of having to buy an expensive, 3rd party Genesis development kit and being told rather than the 3 months he had been told he ghad to code the title, Iguna now wanted it finished within a single month.


2)Jaguar 1st console to do 3D? as said earlier far, far from it, adding to the stock Genesis polygon 3D coding...



Dan Cuthbert (Argonaut) was doing Console polygon 3D initally on the ill-fated Konix Multi-system console, who's hardware he said lead to the Nintendo SFX chip for the SNES, but also wrote the 3D Demo on the Game Boy along with a 3D demo for the NES, which Argonaut took and showed Nintendo prior to getting the SNES FX Chip gig and he coded the gameboy Game X....



So if they could get the primitive GB and NES hardware doing (wireframe) 3D, i don't think it was too much to ask from developers to get to grips with flat shaded polygon 3D on the Jaguar.



Plus Lynx was doing Polyon 3D was it not with Hard Drivin and Steel Talons?


3)Speaking of which, this might be a UK based thing, but having grown up on a diet of solid 3D games on the lowly 520STFM:Carrier command, hunter, Midwinter, Cybercon 3, No second prize, Midwinter 2, Battle Command, Star Glider 2, Robocop 3 (DID) F-29 etc etc, i honestly did expect a lot more than simply higher polygon counts, more light sourcing etc from the custom chip packed, 64 bit Jaguar....

Edited by Lost Dragon, 30 May 2017 - 05:19 PM.

#47 Lost Dragon

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 02:44 PM

3D coding on NES and GB as mentioned.



Rebellion doing 3D long before the Jaguar.

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#48 Lost Dragon

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 07:00 AM

Back onto Jaguar: I was very surprised to stumble across a quote from a well known..vocal vocie in the Jaguar community, someone who on 3 other forums alone, i'd seen make the claim the Jaguar's true 3D potential was never realised, coders like Rebellion with Skyhammer could of done much, much more (comments about this left on YT video of the game), basically admit defeat on his OWN 3D Project on Jaguar... 


"Look for *** on PC or Dreamcast. Jag is dead, impossible to program and just plain futile to bother with anymore. The machine was too little too late even though it was the first NG machine out. Atari blew it and I am not going to waste any more time trying to get a reasonably fast 3D engine to work. Too many bugs in hardware to work around and the Jag could never pull of what the PC and Dreamcast can do for ****" 


Totally with him regarding coding for hardware like the dreamcast rather than Jaguar, but yes very very surprised to hear him admitting it really wasn't worth the effort trying to coax the Jaguar into doing anything close to what a team of coders had achived during it's commercial lifespan, espically since he appeared so scathing of what they had achived. 


When i look at things like Hoverstrike:U.L+ Skyhammer, fantastic as they are, you cannot help but notice the 'cheats' used to maintain a fast frame rate..your Hovercaft's cockpit accounts for around 50% of the viewing screen in the 1st and is huge in latter...so actual view windows are quite small. Phase Zero looks impressive, but it's a Voxel based engine... Dactyl Joust only had the most basic of A.I and Special FX running on it... 


As it stands..i honestly cannot see the homebrew scene coming anywhere close to what was attempted during the commercial era. I know some are experimenting on how Jaguar could of done things like 3DO Road Rash, but that's still way off something like Skyhammer in terms of texture mapped 3D.

#49 btbfilms76


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Posted 20 June 2017 - 12:50 AM

So who has what it takes to code the official Jag Bar video game? Let's give the nerd a run for his money
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