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Opinion of the Atari Jaguar.

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The funny thing is the fans that still clamor for 3D games on the Jaguar that it's really ill suited for.

Yes! There seems to be the opinion--not at all unique to Jaguar fans--that a "good game" has to "push the hardware to the max", regardless of what platform it was designed for. I wrote the following in the context of arcade hardware, but I think it's applicable here, too:

 

I think the idea that a "good game" has to "push the hardware to the max" is a leftover notion from the 2600 and other very old consoles and computers, when you had to pull all kinds of tricks to get the hardware to do things it wasn't designed to do. This was a necessary skill for game designers because they were trying to implement new types of games at a time when the hardware was so limited, but by the time you get into the 1990s, the hardware is no longer as big a limitation as human imagination.

 

 

Game players don't care what the hardware is theoretically capable of doing, or the extent to which the game exploits it ... they only care about whether the game they're playing right now is fun for them or not, and you don't necessarily have to "push the hardware to the max" to achieve that.

This is an especially crippling mindset in the realm of Jaguar homebrew, because it seems to me that 2D games and other ideas which don't set out to somehow "prove" the Jaguar's 64-bitness are written off as "unworthy" of the Jaguar. I've fallen into that trap myself, but I think it's important to fight that impulse, because it can make the very prospect of starting a Jaguar homebrew project seem too intimidating. Creating a 3D game with all the music and the atmosphere and the production values of a polished commercial release is an impossibly difficult job for someone working for fun and in their spare time, and as I said earlier, it isn't necessary for anyone to impose those kinds of expectations on themselves to create a fun game.

 

EDIT: As I stated in my clarifications below, I don't mean to imply here that developers shouldn't set out to do ambitious projects, but merely that anyone interested in developing for the Jaguar shouldn't feel under pressure to create "the next Skyhammer," or something of that scale. My apologies if I was unclear on this.

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This is an especially crippling mindset in the realm of Jaguar homebrew, because it seems to me that 2D games and other ideas which don't set out to somehow "prove" the Jaguar's 64-bitness are written off as "unworthy" of the Jaguar. I've fallen into that trap myself, but I think it's important to fight that impulse, because it can make the very prospect of starting a Jaguar homebrew project seem too intimidating. Creating a 3D game with all the music and the atmosphere and the production values of a polished commercial release is an impossibly difficult job for someone working for fun and in their spare time, and as I said earlier, it isn't necessary for anyone to impose those kinds of expectations on themselves to create a fun game.

 

So i should just quit now and do a puzzle game?

 

Whilst i think theres a place for simpler games, puzzle games 2D games of course, theres a place for all kinds of games and they should all be appreciated on their own merits. Do you feel that nobody should "aim high"? Is that such a terrible thing to do? :(

Edited by Atari_Owl
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So i should just quit now and do a puzzle game?

 

Whilst i think theres a place for simpler games, puzzle games 2D games of course, theres a place for all kinds of games and they should all be appreciated on their own merits. Do you feel that nobody should "aim high"? Is that such a terrible thing to do? :(

I never said that you shouldn't; I merely said that not everyone has to. It isn't necessary for every homebrewer to feel that they have to build the next Skyhammer; as you said, there's room for all kinds of games.

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Ahh i think i misinterpreted you .. the "impossibly difficult job" phrase i think threw me somewhat.

No problem. "Impossible" might have been too strong a word to use. I really should have said that it's outside the means of most independent developers to do a commercial-quality 3D game, but my hat is off to those who try!

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The criticisms in my earlier post were directed at the community that has evolved around the Jaguar, rather than at the Jaguar itself.

 

Understood. I was just pointing out that it wasn't public rejection, it was that the public didn't know about it. Good points you make though.

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the system rocks and has some great, unique games.

 

Some of the fanbase, however, tend to be a little too fanboyish and obsessed.

 

I'd agree with the above but I don't know anything about the Jag scene or it's forum prowlers. When I purchased mine the specs were amazing and I truly felt Atari could make a big comeback. All the games I bought were awesome especially Club Drive and Cybermorph.

 

In the end it's a matter of taste. Either the style of Jag games gets under your skin or it doesn't.

Edited by theloon
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I think being a good programmer AND a good game designer may be a rare skill combination. Gorf was one person I know who had both talents. Not saying that anyone else around here does not have both talents just that in my mind it would seem rarer to combine both into one.

 

Pushing the Jag, yeah I like seeing the most being gotten out of the Jag,whether its in 3D or in 2D(NBA Jam or WMCJ, Ruiner etc) Not necessary for a good game but who wouldnt want the best of both worlds. A game that pushes the Jag and is fun to play. :)

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Well, I like the Jaguar and will always keep my Jaguar/CD- combo. But I am not a fan of it anymore. I can understand those hardcore Jaguar fanboys in a way... Me (as many others maybe) spent all my money for this damn cat, just to see it fail at the end. The Tramiels sure made a nice holiday with my money! The games cost about 100 - 150 DM back then, pretty much and I paid thousands for my (once) complete Jaguar collection. It's a good console with some excellent titles. But it will never get the games it deserved (thanks to Atari_Owl's project I think one will come pretty close)! And that is why many fanboys are upset and try to change that past... but we live here in today and Atari did fade away...

 

And I think the Jaguar was always treated as a 3-d console as Atari made it one by releasing Cybermorph as a first game. The Jaguar has amazing 3d capabilities, but not regarding textures and that is his weakest point. Maybe there could have been a niche for it if they focused on the "multimedia" some more... but the mpeg-cartridge was never released, nor other stuff beside the excellent VLM in the Jagur CD...

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Actually I don't understand what the problem is with 3D on the Jaguar. Sure one could say that in direct comparasion the Jag is more powerful or more suited for 2D but some of my most played and beloved Jaguar games are in 3D like Iron Soldier 1+2 for example. Nothing wrong with that. To this day it is the mech game I enjoyed the most out of all games I played in this genre, fancier graphics or not.

The Jag does 3D just fine. Problem are the people who compare it to Saturn/Psx 3D graphics, as those stupids at Atari did aswell and forced more textures onto engines that weren't capable of it.

Now someone like Atari Owl comes along and builds an engine which is capable of even better 3D graphics with gorgeous textures like we have never seen on this system and equals some of the stuff we might have seen on some of the newer consoles. Perfect. And I am very much looking forward to that.

But to say that the Jag is not good for 3D when you have games like Iron Soldier, Battlemorph and Skyhammer (although it suffers from slowdown)is just wrong. It is perfectly capable of delivering cool 3D games. Some may look less advanced than stuff on other systems but as it seems even that boundary has been crossed.

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Actually I don't understand what the problem is with 3D on the Jaguar. Sure one could say that in direct comparasion the Jag is more powerful or more suited for 2D but some of my most played and beloved Jaguar games are in 3D like Iron Soldier 1+2 for example. Nothing wrong with that. To this day it is the mech game I enjoyed the most out of all games I played in this genre, fancier graphics or not.

The Jag does 3D just fine. Problem are the people who compare it to Saturn/Psx 3D graphics, as those stupids at Atari did aswell and forced more textures onto engines that weren't capable of it.

Now someone like Atari Owl comes along and builds an engine which is capable of even better 3D graphics with gorgeous textures like we have never seen on this system and equals some of the stuff we might have seen on some of the newer consoles. Perfect. And I am very much looking forward to that.

But to say that the Jag is not good for 3D when you have games like Iron Soldier, Battlemorph and Skyhammer (although it suffers from slowdown)is just wrong. It is perfectly capable of delivering cool 3D games. Some may look less advanced than stuff on other systems but as it seems even that boundary has been crossed.

It's not so much a problem with it pushing polygons, it cannot do texture mapping quickly. I remember a quote from a Jag programmer that said Atari's insistence of adding tons of textures to the game (as opposed to flat or gouraud shading) made his renderer 22 times slower!

 

The other thing to keep in mind is, the Jaguar did not have any hardware to assist with transforming polygons (i.e., matrix multiplier) like the Playstation did. All transformation and rendering code was done in software.

 

So while it is at a disadvantage compared to the Playstation, and IMHO could never pull off something as fast and good looking as Crash Bandicoot, it did have some fine looking and fun to play 3D games. I really like the flat shaded look of Zero 5. Battlesphere is fluid smooth and has very tasteful use of small textures, but it mostly just a shaded game. I prefer shading on the older systems anyhow, it looks so much better than blocky and or warped textures on low polygon count models.

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Atari should have stuck to the Jaguars forte and released more basic 3D games like Iron Soldier and I-War. They could added just a few more textures and created high detailed sprites or digitized sprites with many frames of animation and had some really great looking games. I wonder how Hoverstrike would have played with 80% less textures! Because that game is almost perfect to me, if it would have had a little less slow-down when multiple enemies appear it would have been perfect.

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Well, it's definitely an ill-fated system. I have a decent little collection, but really I tend to only play it to make fun of it. It was never given the time to properly develop, but it's no use talking about what could have been, all we have is what was, and the Club Drive Cat is our mascot. Games that I actually enjoy because they're of decent design, concept, and play are (in no particular order):

 

Ultra Vortek

I-War

Hover Strike (either version)

Breakout 2000

Dragon's Lair

Iron Soldier

Raiden

Super Burnout

Tempest 2000

White Men Can't Jump (don't ask)

Wolfenstein 3-D

 

That's about all it has for the most part. Primal Rage and Iron Soldier II are two other games of note, but I don't own them.

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Atari should have stuck to the Jaguars forte and released more basic 3D games like Iron Soldier and I-War. They could added just a few more textures and created high detailed sprites or digitized sprites with many frames of animation and had some really great looking games. I wonder how Hoverstrike would have played with 80% less textures! Because that game is almost perfect to me, if it would have had a little less slow-down when multiple enemies appear it would have been perfect.

 

If you remember, Atari was working on "Fight for Life" until they saw Sony's "Battle Aren Toshinden" at which point FFL was delayed. No one was doing 3D really. UBIsoft did a parallax scrolled Rayman (excellent job). The Wolfenstein 3D engine worked very well on the Jag. For the most part, early games weren't 3D though. As a matter of fact, there were only a handful of developers outside Atari that understood the architecture and technology behind Tom, Jerry, Blitter, DSP etc. to maximize the power of the Jag. Code writers were doing amazing things on the Falcon but for some reason, developers that were interested in the Jag, couldn't maximize their games to be what they truley could have been. Hence the dissappointing sales for games that were lackluster and when Sony and Battle Arena arrived, people jumped ship. I tried over the years to buy another Alpine and Stubulator and take time to write good code but I couldn't find one that worked. I'm still looking for a good unit and a Falcon as well. I used to have them all, Falcon, Stacy, ST, Developers kit, Lynx etc. At any rate, you are correct. The Jag was capable as many have demonstrated after it's demise.

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I love the length of the controllercord the most if comparing with the other systems from Atari. One can sit far away from the screen without dragging the console along with me

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I also get the impression--possibly mistaken--that Jaguar developers were under a certain pressure to do PlayStation-style 3D games, even though this wasn't something that the hardware and/or the development tools were well-suited for.

 

The funny thing is the fans that still clamor for 3D games on the Jaguar that it's really ill suited for.

That seems to be an Atari phenominon overall- a craving for re-imaginings or demakes, like "GTA 2600" or ports of Nintendo games. I think a lot of folks have a perverse fascination with pushing the console beyond it's intended use.

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That seems to be an Atari phenominon overall- a craving for re-imaginings or demakes, like "GTA 2600" or ports of Nintendo games. I think a lot of folks have a perverse fascination with pushing the console beyond it's intended use.

I gave some of my opinions about why this is so in my earlier post (#26), but I think it's also just good old-fashioned hacking (in the original, non-pejorative sense): the desire to explore a system and to see what you can make it do.

 

As for the trend toward favoring "re-imaginings" or outright ports of other games, I think this is an unfortunate evolution in homebrew game development. If anything, you'd expect independent homebrewers to be the most likely of all game designers to break from tradition and to experiment with weird new ideas in gaming, since they have the luxury of being free of commercial influences and motivations. But, with the way the hobby has evolved, the question of "what game should I make next?" more often than not becomes "what existing game idea should I try to recycle?" It's fine to start with the support of preexisting ideas if you're just learning a system for the first time, like using training wheels while learning to ride a bike, and for people who see homebrew development primarily as a technical challenge, I suppose preexisting ideas can give them something to chew on without burdening them with the added task of perfecting a new game design. I understand all that, but I'd still love to see more effort put into new game ideas, and more demand for them among classic gamers in general.

 

AtariAge user mos6507 started a whole thread on this topic, and framed the issue better than I can.

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As for the trend toward favoring "re-imaginings" or outright ports of other games, I think this is an unfortunate evolution in homebrew game development. If anything, you'd expect independent homebrewers to be the most likely of all game designers to break from tradition and to experiment with weird new ideas in gaming, since they have the luxury of being free of commercial influences and motivations. But, with the way the hobby has evolved, the question of "what game should I make next?" more often than not becomes "what existing game idea should I try to recycle?" It's fine to start with the support of preexisting ideas if you're just learning a system for the first time, like using training wheels while learning to ride a bike, and for people who see homebrew development primarily as a technical challenge, I suppose preexisting ideas can give them something to chew on without burdening them with the added task of perfecting a new game design. I understand all that, but I'd still love to see more effort put into new game ideas, and more demand for them among classic gamers in general.

 

To be truly free to design & explore new gaming concepts, you don't want to be anchored by the limitations of 20+ year old hardware.

 

Exactly the kind of innovations you speak of happen all the time, but very, very rarely on old Atari hardware - rather on modern devices with way more multiples of processing power and fancy new player interaction techniques. The kind of platforms where you can implement pretty much anything you can imagine with little difficulty vs the kind of platform where you have to be a real hacker as you say - to be able to jump through hoops and perform all manner of perverse feats just to make stuff happen that the end-user is, 99 times out of 100, going to be totally unaware of anyway :) With old machines, it's often the joy of making the systems do things they weren't meant to rather than aiming to bring brand new gaming experiences to a handful of retro-head gamers... gamers who are fans of their system precisely because of the nostalgia/simplicity/simple and pure gaming fun/whatever other reason that ties them to their outdated hardware.

 

I'm not saying it can't be done. I try to keep up with the things happening in browser-based gaming. A lot of people pooh-pooh it without ever giving it a chance and for that they miss out on a lot of interesting games. There are plenty of thoughtful takes on old ideas and also some truly elegant retro-styled games that hide some very clever understanding of how games work behind a handful of colours and some over-sized pixels. I think it's unfair to expect much of what is good about all that to come out of the confines of ancient hardware that is inherently highly technical.

 

Basically it's asking someone/a small team not only to have a deep technical understanding of the old hardware platform but also for them to have the imagination and creativity to think of something nobody already did in the last 20-30 years. If such a person/team exists, I suggest they stop wasting their time playing to an audience of a couple of hundred people & go share their talents with millions of eager gamers craving this new experience.

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I love the length of the controllercord the most if comparing with the other systems from Atari. One can sit far away from the screen without dragging the console along with me

 

And now here we are in the modern world, where you can pick up a controller left on a table by a child, accidentally press a button, hear a distant "beep" and have to walk to the other side of the house to turn the bloody Playstation off you just accidentally turned on :P

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The funny thing is the fans that still clamor for 3D games on the Jaguar that it's really ill suited for.

Seems Jag programmers really have to pull some rabbits out of their hat to get decent 3D results. Can't find much to fault Zero 5, Battlesphere or Iron Soldier for though. Heck, even Battlemorph and Cybermorph to a lesser extent. AvP might be a tad slow, but Doom and Wolfenstein zip right along.

 

Phase Zero looks and plays really nice considering the textures and all they have going on.

 

I'm perfectly fine not playing 3D games if they're not going to play well though. Towers II and Hoverstrike are a couple of examples. I-War would be fine, just wish it was a little more speedy.

 

And I agree about the comment of using 1993 as an "excuse" for the 3D games. Early 3D just didn't hold up well at all. A lot of PS1 games are particularly ugly today. Especially on an LCD. I don't feel that way with the Jaguar though. At least most of the games aren't throwing multiple blocky/blurry/distorted polygons at you where they don't belong. Think I am developing a better appreciation for the cat and what was done on it as each year passes. lol

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I prefer shading on the older systems anyhow, it looks so much better than blocky and or warped textures on low polygon count models.

 

Full ACK - just look how badly Wing Commander with its blocky textures has aged in comparison to X-Wing with its shaded polygon models.

 

Thorsten

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I recently bought a boxed Jaguar for $150 and I don't regret it. My favorite game for it so far is Trevor McFur in the Crescent Galaxy. I always collect games complete in the box and I think the Jaguar games look really nice next to eachother on my shelf. The controller I have (3 button) is really comfortable too, in my opinion.

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I absolutely love my Jaguar! I hear talk of all these other games coming out for it and Atari Owl working on games but I dunno where to find or buy these games :? ...anyone can point me in the right direction?

 

When the AA store was open I see their section of 2600 Homebrews but NONE in the Jaguar section? Is there future plans to purchase homebrews/aftermarket/reproduction games for the Jaguar when the AA store comes back?

Edited by Mark T

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