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Mike Price - Jag Game Tester of Dante's Inferno & Video Game Journalist

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Please enjoy a detailed and wide-ranging interview with video game journalist and game tester / previewer Mike Price.

 

He talks about his role in video game journalism while working for Electronic Gaming Monthly. He also talks about testing and playing FLIP OUT and the mysterious Jag CD game Dante's Inferno.

 

http://www.arcadeattack.co.uk/mike-price/

 

Kind regards

 

Adrian

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Please enjoy a detailed and wide-ranging interview with video game journalist and game tester / previewer Mike Price.

 

He talks about his role in video game journalism while working for Electronic Gaming Monthly. He also talks about testing and playing FLIP OUT and the mysterious Jag CD game Dante's Inferno.

 

http://www.arcadeattack.co.uk/mike-price/

 

Kind regards

 

Adrian

Nice interview, thanks for sharing.

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Yet another fantastic interview.

Regarding Jaguar Dante:

Comment has been left on YT by Conrad Barski saying he worked on this and the demo shown was based on Jaguar hardware and development only reached the point of some early concept work and it never reached the stage of being a greenlit project. Edited by Lost Dragon

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Yet another fantastic interview.

Regarding Jaguar Dante:

Comment has been left on YT by Conrad Barski saying he worked on this and the demo shown was based on Jaguar hardware and development only reached the point of some early concept work and it never reached the stage of being a greenlit project.

Thanks Lost Dragon

 

Mike was ace to talk to. Do you know how Conrad could be contacted? or do you have a link to the post mentioned above? Would love to find out more about Dante's Inferno. Thanks again for your support.

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 ... YT link ...

That's the video where he commented..

Fingers crossed you can make contact with him.

Wow, that was one optimistic design (but it's easy to prototype on PC) :)

 

Good luck getting above 10 fps with the triple full-screen overdraw of the background polygons (there's easily over 3,000 Blitter textured stripes in all those background layers, I could go make a coffee while GPU would be in tight loop with Blitter)...

 

Jag can barely reach a useable framerate with textured scenes that have zero overdraw, and this game had, like, 3-4 background layers...

 

 

I suppose, you could cheat, and just use OP scaling for some of those layers (using pre-textured sprites at nearest camera zpos, upon entering the room/area), but I know for sure that jag's OP cannot do that in the overdraw that is present there. It could probably handle one tree layer (of course, at the effect of it looking funky).

 

But, given how many full-screen transparent bitmaps are there already, I am having serious doubts if OP would still have enough bandwidth for even one such layer (that's because unlike gpu/blitter, the OP scaling must run and finish at 60 fps, or else it glitches)...

 

 

There's one more [much more complex] option - to separate the framerate of front area (around player : GPU/Blitter) and background area (the trees and such: DSP). We could easily have 30-fps locked for the floor&input, and the background would be updated at whatever framerate the DSP would handle (via SW rasterizing, pixel-by-pixel). But, that's basically having 2 engines running in parallel. Good luck debugging that during commercial lifetime of jag :)

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Wow, that was one optimistic design (but it's easy to prototype on PC)  :)

 

Good luck getting above 10 fps with the triple full-screen overdraw of the background polygons (there's easily over 3,000 Blitter textured stripes in all those background layers, I could go make a coffee while GPU would be in tight loop with Blitter)...

 

Jag can barely reach a useable framerate with textured scenes that have zero overdraw, and this game had, like, 3-4 background layers...

 

 

I suppose, you could cheat, and just use OP scaling for some of those layers (using pre-textured sprites at nearest camera zpos, upon entering the room/area), but I know for sure that jag's OP cannot do that in the overdraw that is present there. It could probably handle one tree layer (of course, at the effect of it looking funky).

 

But, given how many full-screen transparent bitmaps are there already, I am having serious doubts if OP would still have enough bandwidth for even one such layer (that's because unlike gpu/blitter, the OP scaling must run and finish at 60 fps, or else it glitches)...

 

 

There's one more [much more complex] option - to separate the framerate of front area (around player : GPU/Blitter) and background area (the trees and such: DSP). We could easily have 30-fps locked for the floor&input, and the background would be updated at whatever framerate the DSP would handle (via SW rasterizing, pixel-by-pixel). But, that's basically having 2 engines running in parallel. Good luck debugging that during commercial lifetime of jag :)

To my untrained eye, it looked like just a prerendered background with some scrolling, kinda like Final Fantasy VII. The choppy sky scrolling also reminded me of some scenes on FFVII.

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To my untrained eye, it looked like just a prerendered background with some scrolling, kinda like Final Fantasy VII. The choppy sky scrolling also reminded me of some scenes on FFVII.

Yeah, I understand - the camera angle for this particular scene is not exactly exaggerating the 3D aspect of it, so it kinda blends. I suppose other scenes (which we never got to see) would show the 3D better.

 

Unfortunately, each of the layers is mapped onto a polygon that after transformation has different length of left edge compared to right edge - hence you must draw it scanline by scanline - an incredible waste of Blitter's performance given the overdraw of the layers.

 

I suppose we could fool the eye and just have one simple 2D background layer (to give some parallax effect) and only one 3D background layer - this could run up to 20 fps, but wouldn't look nowhere near as good as this.

 

 

Of course, every "room/area" would have to load the textures off CD. This would be impossible as a cart game, given the texture detail. That constant loading would get annoying for player real fast...

 

 

 

A game design like this needs fully HW-accelerated texturing - like Saturn or 3DO has. And I would argue this wouldn't be a 60-fps game on either of those (given the amount of wasted bandwidth on overdraw), let alone poor jag...

 

 

Honestly, MetalGearSolid from PS1 would be less demanding on jag than this (even though it has 3D characters), as its 3D scene elements can at least be evenly distributed between gpu/dsp/68000 - e.g. do scene transform and characters on DSP, draw environment on gpu/blitter, and do scene management on 68000 - all nicely in parallel.

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https://youtu.be/2eUETofCC-4

That's the video where he commented..

Fingers crossed you can make contact with him.

 

This is probably trivia at this point, but Conrad was a Lisp guy and has since moved onto Clojure. I'm a Clojure developer, so imagine my surprise when I hear the reference to working with 90s Atari in this recent interview: https://defn.audio/episodes/2018/02/26/conrad.html.

 

If you're interested in Lisps, his Land of Lisp book is highly reputed.

 

I don't know him, but he should be easy to get in contact with.

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This is probably trivia at this point, but Conrad was a Lisp guy and has since moved onto Clojure. I'm a Clojure developer, so imagine my surprise when I hear the reference to working with 90s Atari in this recent interview: https://defn.audio/episodes/2018/02/26/conrad.html.

 

If you're interested in Lisps, his Land of Lisp book is highly reputed.

 

I don't know him, but he should be easy to get in contact with.

 

Technically it's possible to port LISP to the Jaguar thanks to "FRANZ LISP" prototype open source code for the "Motorola 68000" processor...It was originally for a prototype SUN-1 Workstation written in C and was abandoned in favor of an ANSI version called "Common LISP". I don't know how far one would get using LISP on the Jag, but the idea is pretty intriguing to me considering "Crash Bandicoot" for the Playstation 1 was written in LISP; they customized the language just to make games on the PS1 using Alegro Common LISP.

Edited by philipj

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And the reason why anyone would actually want to have a LISP on jag is ?

 

I highly recommend reading the gamasutra's interview on the LISP usage in Crash Bandicoot.

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And the reason why anyone would actually want to have a LISP on jag is ?

 

I highly recommend reading the gamasutra's interview on the LISP usage in Crash Bandicoot.

 

Naughty-dog used LISP for character animation and such... The rest of the game was done in C and Assembly. What turned me on to LISP was actually seeing a version of it work in "AutoCAD" during a CAD class session a few years ago (I took up Computer Aided Drafting back in the day). I only seen it once in a demonstration where we typed a few codes in AutoLISP, really a "follow by example" kind of thing with that, where a 3D clock was created in code with 3D extruded numbers placed in the clock via LISP with clock hands spinning in a looped animation; all 3D objects coded in AutoLISP. With more coding, it could've been synced to a real time clock scheme, which was what made the demo so memorable. Although "Crash Bandicoot" used LISP for character animation, LISP can be used to do full on 3D and have been used in the past on lesser machines excluded the 68000 processor itself... I don't know how practical real-time 3D is in LISP particularly on the Jag, but it's still a fascinating idea IMO. I always wanted to try my hand with LISP again, but its just an idea at this point.

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Here's a video of a LISP based 3D editor that was used to develop the Nintendo 64 system...

 

https://youtu.be/gV5obrYaogU

Edited by philipj

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I don't know how practical real-time 3D is in LISP particularly on the Jag, but it's still a fascinating idea IMO.

It makes about as much sense as "I heard that <great artist> uses <exotic brand> pencils. If only I had the same pencils, think about the fascinating things I could draw!"

If you want to achieve anything, stop dreaming about building castles in the sky. Start by actually building a garden shed.

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Naughty-dog used LISP for character animation and such... The rest of the game was done in C and Assembly. What turned me on to LISP was actually seeing a version of it work in "AutoCAD" during a CAD class session a few years ago (I took up Computer Aided Drafting back in the day). I only seen it once in a demonstration where we typed a few codes in AutoLISP, really a "follow by example" kind of thing with that, where a 3D clock was created in code with 3D extruded numbers placed in the clock via LISP with clock hands spinning in a looped animation; all 3D objects coded in AutoLISP. With more coding, it could've been synced to a real time clock scheme, which was what made the demo so memorable. Although "Crash Bandicoot" used LISP for character animation, LISP can be used to do full on 3D and have been used in the past on lesser machines excluded the 68000 processor itself... I don't know how practical real-time 3D is in LISP particularly on the Jag, but it's still a fascinating idea IMO. I always wanted to try my hand with LISP again, but its just an idea at this point.

OK, I'll admit I've done only very simplistic LISP coding - like few lessons out of the book and it was about 25-30 years ago. At that time, I was already familiar with Atari BASIC, 6502 Assembler, Turbo Pascal 5.0 and had started 80286 Assembler coding. LISP really didn't stand a chance in that comparison, so I didn't loose more time with it. I don't remember much of it now, but I do however clearly recall that I found it absurd to leave assembler for LISP, as LISP wasn't nowhere near as generic as ASM and the range of applications that made sense for LISP was minimal. Note that I was doing heavy graphics coding at the time and LISP was patently laughable in that regard.

 

The only hypothetical reason that I can conjure is if somehow, in that era, assembler totally missed you (no idea how could you have had a coding career without having working knowledge of ASM at those times - but let's just say you somehow dodged it) and you got hired by a company that was LISP-heavy and stayed there for a decade, losing all other coding skills, leaving you with expert knowledge of LISP and zero of assembler.

 

Then, it would have made a bit of sense...

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Start by actually building a garden shed.

 

Is this proof that Zero is secretly a relocated Brit??? :D :D Garden shed's are where it's at! :D

Seriously though, don't even wait for someone to tell/show you how to do something, jump in, make a mess, experiment, build something, learn.  Cat's a diverse creatures, they can be skinned in many many ways!

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Is this proof that Zero is secretly a relocated Brit??? :D :D

Well... I don't drink wine, find eating snails and frogs repulsive, think Bill Bailey is a very funny and talented comedian, live in a region where it rains every other day, and consider French TV series bloody embarrassing when compared to the kind of stuff the BBC produces.

 

So what do you think?

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Well... I don't drink wine, find eating snails and frogs repulsive, think Bill Bailey is a very funny and talented comedian, live in a region where it rains every other day, and consider French TV series bloody embarrassing when compared to the kind of stuff the BBC produces.

 

So what do you think?

 

But can you say in a fluent British accent "Bugger" and "Bollocks!" ?

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