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#51 Curt Vendel OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Oct 3, 2017 9:47 PM

Was Atari even considering an ST based game system?

Yes, Atari was considering an ST based game system as early as 86'   Atari was also looking at hybrid 7800/XE systems and other idea's.  John Hardie just recently shared a rather eye opening set of documents on a discussed project within Atari using the Panther case for a cost reduced 7800...  Despite the public perception that Atari Corp was focusing primarily on computers, they were in fact doing a lot of research into getting a new game console out very early on.



#52 Lost Dragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 4, 2017 9:32 AM

There has been a lot of misinformation leaked over numerous sites etc over the years and it's come from a number of sources.

The idea of putting all the UK Press coverage up on Assembler forum in 1 thread, along with what's been discovered since, was an attempt by myself to try and ensure anyone planning future articles on the Panther, has access to the most up to date information and isn't just going off old
Press and repeating the claims as fact.


I used articles in The One magazine, Lynx User Magazine etc as a starting point and then reached out to people from Psygnosis, Atari USA and UK, Tiertex, Domark, Tengen etc to clarify claims and discover more.

Leonard has been an interesting source of information

Kind enough to share a lot of technical information. .but mistaken on aspects of European software development...

I've a few misc articles discussing Panther to share..along with some other misc Atari related material..friend of mine will be scanning these on my behalf in the coming weeks and i will update this site when images go online.

I've witnessed 1st hand the childish demands to share everything this instance..on Unseen64 and later Assembler forum.

It's utterly pathetic and achieved nothing.

Atarimania has been given the remaining Atari documentation relating to the Lynx Scott Stilphen kindly forwarded onto me..it will appear when they are good and ready..as will other people's projects that have benifitted from the files Scott passed on..

But as long as people continue to look into abandoned projects like The Panther..freely share the info and work together as a community..It shouldn't really matter if the info appears now or over a course of many months..

As long as it's preserved and put in the public domain for all to enjoy.

Edited by Lost Dragon, Wed Oct 4, 2017 9:35 AM.


#53 Curt Vendel OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 4, 2017 12:51 PM

I see on Atari Explorer (amazing site, btw) that there's a Panther dev system. Who has it? Any software exist for Panther?

Curt, do you have a closet full of boxed Panther consoles you'd be willing to mail me as a Christmas present? icon_mrgreen.gificon_ponder.gif

I wish I did, how about me posting the Schematics, Netlists for the chips, PALs & PLAs ?   Not a nice nifty metal box, but the makings of making your own perhaps?



#54 Curt Vendel OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 4, 2017 12:54 PM

There has been a lot of misinformation leaked over numerous sites etc over the years and it's come from a number of sources.

The idea of putting all the UK Press coverage up on Assembler forum in 1 thread, along with what's been discovered since, was an attempt by myself to try and ensure anyone planning future articles on the Panther, has access to the most up to date information and isn't just going off old
Press and repeating the claims as fact.


I used articles in The One magazine, Lynx User Magazine etc as a starting point and then reached out to people from Psygnosis, Atari USA and UK, Tiertex, Domark, Tengen etc to clarify claims and discover more.

Leonard has been an interesting source of information

Kind enough to share a lot of technical information. .but mistaken on aspects of European software development...

I've a few misc articles discussing Panther to share..along with some other misc Atari related material..friend of mine will be scanning these on my behalf in the coming weeks and i will update this site when images go online.

I've witnessed 1st hand the childish demands to share everything this instance..on Unseen64 and later Assembler forum.

It's utterly pathetic and achieved nothing.

Atarimania has been given the remaining Atari documentation relating to the Lynx Scott Stilphen kindly forwarded onto me..it will appear when they are good and ready..as will other people's projects that have benifitted from the files Scott passed on..

But as long as people continue to look into abandoned projects like The Panther..freely share the info and work together as a community..It shouldn't really matter if the info appears now or over a course of many months..

As long as it's preserved and put in the public domain for all to enjoy.

Scott a very good researcher, so he will benefit many with info he shares, that you can count on.

 

I'm going to post up what I have on hand already and if others want to share it around, that's great.

 

Leonard can be a great source of information, but he can also be sometimes difficult to work with, but if he's helping, that's all that matters.



#55 Lost Dragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 4, 2017 3:51 PM

The Zip files Scott very kindly passed onto myself, regarding the 7800, Lynx and Jaguar, have benifitted a good few sites out there, from Assembler, Atari I.O, Atarimania etc..right upto Unseen64.

And they have been used as springboards for research which has born fruit which won't come to light until sometime in 2018 as they are part of much wider projects.


It just got absurd when certain individuals started making demands that Atarimania etc should post everything up as soon as they received the files.

We all have full time Jobs and lives to lead.

The research is done in our spare time.

Sounds like you encountered similar on Face Book..


Credit must also goto Frank Gasking of GTW.it was thanks to his contacts who used to work at Tiertex, that news of Strider II being greenlit for Panther development came to light..as did status etc of the Lynx title.

Not the greatest game in the world, but it deserves to be documented as another piece of the Panther history.

I find Leonard something of a curious affair to read when he's asked about things like the Panther...

A fantastic source of information and has helped clear up claims titles like Cybermorph and Crescent Galaxy started life on Panther, when others couldn't remember or didn't reply..

Plus has internal documentation that's simply superb...

But then starts making sweeping statements about no software development outside of Atari in the USA, despite likes of Peter Johnson, Jeff Minter, Jim Gregory, Guildo H. etc confirming/openly detailing work they were reported to of been doing at the time and other UK software houses talking about either having development kits but no work started or being offered chance to work on Panther, but declining due to Atari's poor standing in the industry.

Just a personal observation.

It looks like a long period in the wilderness..A fresh chapter or 2 on the Panther can soon be written..

With a much greater understanding of what was in development..how the hardware shaped up and how thoso who worked on it, felt it shaped up and what it might have meant for Atari had it been finished and released. .thanks to the community pooling resources.

It does seem a Marmite device to those who worked on it, if you excuse the UK reference..people either seemed to love or loathe it.

#56 Lost Dragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Oct 4, 2017 4:19 PM

It'd be great if something turned up which showcased the games Rob Zdybel and Gary Johnson were working on..Just to get a better idea of the potential launch line up.

The Crypt.

Conversion of Shadow Of The Beast.

Strider II

Minter's take on Star Raiders..

Mix of original and converted software..

But more remain to be found no doubt..

#57 Curt Vendel OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 5, 2017 9:48 AM

Panther was such a short lived blip it became the forgotten stepchild in Atari's history.

#58 Curt Vendel OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 5, 2017 9:50 AM

We hear lately the term Fake News...

Seems it was around decades ago, many biased gaming and computing mags gave a lot of false negatives towards the Tramiels and a result is as you stated, they were viewed poorly in the gaming industry.

#59 Lost Dragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 5, 2017 12:25 PM

Atari simply built a proverbial rod for it's own back by constantly promising what it never delivered via P.R statements to the UK Press..

UK magazines had annouced the 5200 heading to UK only to see Atari change plans..7800 was going to be next big thing..no,wait it's the XEGS to replace aging VCS system..

CDST annouced to combat CDTV..never appears.

STE going to be Amiga killer hardware..arrives and is anything but.

ST console rumours.

Panther hype machine starts..Atari quick to point out it isn't based on ST hardware and will be more powerful than SNES or Genesis..

No, wait we have canned that in favour of the even more powerful Jaguar..and Falcon? forget that, all resources now going on Jaguar.

Sam Tramiel wants wow machines..not just also rans..but Sam..you just told us Panther was going to be anything but just another 16 bit console..


It became a running joke..why buy an Atari machine now,when you know an Atari announcement about a more powerful machine is just around the corner.

When hardware did arrive it was often more expensive than Atari's inital claims,as were the games..didn't match up to the power Atari had claimed hardware wise either..

And if we had a fraction of the games Atari had promised us..we would be looking back at Atari in a far better light and lost games research wouldn't of had anything like the number of titles to look into.

Edited by Lost Dragon, Thu Oct 5, 2017 12:49 PM.


#60 Curt Vendel OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 6, 2017 10:15 AM

So I've updated the Jag section on Atari Museum, the Panther link now goes to an updated version of the page that was originally posted in 2003 or so on AHS and AEX.

 

http://www.atarimuse...nu/jagfiles.htm



#61 Lost Dragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 6, 2017 11:03 AM

Can't download netlist etc files on ipad..Safari won't allow it.

Smartphone browser downloaded them but says unsupported file type when i try and open them.

#62 Lost Dragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 24, 2018 1:01 PM

Not done with Panther findings just yet...

Rob Nicholson, software development manager of Hand Made Software giving his views on it and the Jaguar :


Rob:"The display was built up from a display list of bit-maps (or sprites).
Each entry in the bit-map said "Display the bit-map at x,y". On each
scan line, the object processor scanned through the list and determined
which bit-maps were visible on the current line. It then filled a single
line video "buffer" which was then output to the video hardware on the
next scan line. It alternated between two scan line buffers.

The Lynx has a simple 160 x 102 pixel video buffer (4 bits / pixel) so
generates the display in a very different manner.

It could also scale and mirror the bit-maps (by reading right to left
and bottom to top) but it *couldn't* rotate. AFAIK, the bit-maps were in
varying bit-resolutions. I can't remember if the single line buffers
were 16 bit per pixel or 8 bit per pixel.

This display list type of system was pioneered in early arcade systems
and was used in the Atari VCS and 7600. It has the advantages that you
can have a mixture of a standard video buffer (except see below) and
"hardware" sprites. The bit-maps could be pretty much any size (aligned
to 16 bit boundary I think). The downside of the system was that if you
tried to display too much on one scan line, the system went crazy. The
screen started jumping all over the place. On the Panther, you soon hit
this limit - maybe 4 or 5 16 bit full-width sprites on each line. It was
certainly nowhere near 83,000 sprites on a real game.

The Panther had a pathetic amount of RAM. Maybe 128K. Certainly not
enough to create two bit-maps as big as the whole screen and implement
standard double buffering. I think there was 32K of static RAM for the
display list. This was a good idea as it sped up generation of the
display. The same system was used on the Jaguar but the object processor
was beefed up and made more flexible to handle other features such as
read-modify write (for shadows etc). Unfortunately, on the Jaguar the
display list was in normal DRAM which meant the whole system stopped
when the video processor wanted to access memory. It also meant that on
the Jaguar, the advantages of page mode RAM where accessing the next
byte/word along was often defeated as different devices (display,
blitter, 68k and GPU etc) kept reading from different pages.

The Jaguar was packed full over excellent ideas but the problems were
never weeded out. A shame really. As I said, a neat piece of hardware.
(except for the CD-ROM...)"


I found that online.

Thought it would compliment the personal views Jim Gregory gave me via my rather crude interview a while back ;-)

#63 Lost Dragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 24, 2018 1:08 PM

And here is Jeff Minter talking openly about it..

Wanted a separate post as Rob's comments were quite detailed.

Jeff:"Hmmm - well I certainly never had it displaying 65,535 sprites
simultaneously!

The sprite hardware was a lot like the OLP on the Jag, and had similar
limitations - putting too many sprites on one scanline would cause
"tearing" where the OLP had insufficient time to traverse the entire
list during the time of a scanline.  Also, sprites that were scaled up
would take twice the bandwidth of standard, unscaled sprites, ISTR.

I did a demo with this whopping great dinosaur about 2 screens high, a
couple of ground planes and 40 bouncing, scaling antelopes that bounced
along the ground.  ISTR that if you had too many beasts land at the one
time, you'd get a bit of tear at the bottom of the screen.

You could do some nice warping though by using an IRQ per scanline to
twiddle scaled sprite params... had some nice stuff with wibbly,
colour-cycling Mandy images that warped and scrolled, ISTR..."

\
(:-) - Y a K
/

Again comments simply found online after a bit of legwork.

Passed em onto a few sites who were planning features on the Panther and thought i would add to the collected info on here for the community to share..

I'd not seen them before.

#64 Lost Dragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:34 AM

Hmmn.

It appears at least 1 company approached Atari to try and licence the Panther technology after Atari had officially annouced Panther had been killed off in favour of the Jaguar, but details are so thin on the ground.

Company itself wasn't named, nor their plans for the Panther hardware, only that a similar approach had been made to Konix to use the abandoned Multisystem technology.

Another slice of the Panther story, that at this point creates more questions.

#65 Lost Dragon OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Aug 18, 2018 1:28 PM

Bit more from Rob Nicholson of HMS:


We (HMS) worked on the Panther protype. From memory it had a 680x0, maybe a
68010 or 68020 clocked at ~16MHz. It had a display processor similar to the
Jaguar object list processor, i.e. no screen. It didn't have much RAM, i.e. not
enough to double buffer the screen. Yes, Jeff did work on it and I think he
found a few problems.

We knocked together a few demos but nothing else before the Jaguar came along.

Rob.




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