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What was the Jaguar truly capable of?

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That statement is obviously true right now, but do you guys think it was back then? It seems to me that compilations such as Namco Museum started to appear in the second half of the 90s but got terrible reviews at the time, because they were too expensive (full retail price) for primitive games from the early 80s at best. Of course it doesn't mean that nobody bought them, but the way nostalgia works, you need at least 20 to 30 years for games, movies or music to become very popular again. I guess Minter is advocating for Tempest 2000 and Defender 2000, which may be great games but I really am note sure they were system sellers alas…

 

Niche market at best, remakes of 80s classics were no system seller at all. If you look at the big hits of the 90s, people wanted better graphics (of Course!) and Fresh, memorable characters. That were the expectations, especially for a 64 bit next gen System, those were my expectations when I got the Jag in 1993! Except Tempest 2000 all other Remakes got lukewarm Reviews at best, Jeff Minter failed to make an Impression with Defender 2000. So no, I disagree with JM.

Edited by agradeneu
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Yes. The '90s had a slew of retro remakes that were popular, particularly in the PS1 era. Asteroids, Space Invaders, Centipede, Missile Command, etc. Then there are the compilation packages (Williams and Atari's Greatest Hits, Activision Classics, Namco Museums, etc). The earliest Namco Museum began in Japan in 1995, while the first iteration of it hit the USA market mid-'96. A couple of these as well as some of the retro remakes (like Asteroids) received the Greatest Hits treatment, which is an indicator of their popularity.

Nobody bought a PS1 because of that - nobody. But for Ridge Racer and Wipe Out and other titles considered Fresh and new and " groundbreaking". The Jag was MUCH too early for a modern Retro console. Retro got big in the last couple of years but surely NOT in the 90s.Tempest 2000 came as an one off, odd surprise hit. But that can't be generalized. Plus Tempest 2000 was the only decent game on the Jag for like half a year, there were only like 4 other (rather unimpressive) games to select from.

Edited by agradeneu
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Love a Minter quote:

 

 

" I certainly wouldn't say the 68K was useless, although naturally you'd

use the GPU for anything compute-intensive. The 68K was fine for

running odd bits of game logic though - and convenient 'coz you didn't

have to keep paging code into the GPU address space. I basically used

to run graphics on the GPU/blitter, logic and controls on the 68K side.

 

I think one of the main failings of the way the Jag was handled was that

Atari weren't picky enough about the software that they released. There

were too many "ho-hum" games that were OK but didn't really make you

want to go buy a Jaguar. I think Atari missed a great opportunity,

especially that retro-remakes are getting so popular - they had the

rights to some of the best classics of all time, and excellent

reworkings of their best titles should have been available at or shortly

after launch.

 

If Jag had launched with a really hot reworking of "Star Raiders" (done

properly by someone who really loved that game) and had it as the

pack-in at launch, then followed up (quickly) with excellent reworkings

of some of their classics, I reckon a lot more people would have bought

the system...

 

Also, at times it seemed to me that the producers at Atari wanted to

stick a load of stuff like texture mapping - which Jag sucked at, as it

had no hardware assist for proper texmapping - into games just because

it was trendy, rather than doing stuff that really played to Jag's

strengths (like Gouraud-shading with a high poly count). So you ended

up with games that had trendy texmaps and ran at one frame per Sunday

(Hover Strike anyone?) instead of nice, smooth, lightsourced

Gouraud-shaded stuff, which IMO looks very cool anyway, and which you

can do at a decent clip on the Jag.

 

Rule #1 of game design is that you should design with the strengths of

the target hardware in mind. Too many people don't seem to realise

this. This is why the best games are created by designers who are also

coders, or who are at least technically proficient enough to grok the

target hardware deeply. Otherwise you get the designer coming up with

all these wild and outrageous ideas, and the poor coders having to

shoe-horn them into a hardware context that can't really sustain them."

 

 

Hover Strike 1 frame per Sunday ...a classic Minter Statement

 

Atari had good coders, like Rob Zdybel, but not enough good Designers, not enough good Artists. Hover Strike is technically impressive but no fun at all. Bubsy is solid coding but the Level design seems like an afterthought, pointless random mazes.

Atari had no Miyamoto, a man of "creative wisdom" who can imagine fantastic characters and Worlds people want to play. Why should a coder be bothered to design Levels if someone else could do it better? Nintendo and Sega had big teams for Sonic and Mario where Artists and engineers were working hand in hand. Nintendo created quite most memorable games of the 90s on quite limited hardware because they got that balance right and others took lessons.

 

Atari themselves were not interested in producing quality Software it seemed, They sold the Jaguar like someone would sell a car - its all about (theoretical) HW specs! Then I think Atari really could not afford to be picky with Software Releases because they really struggled to get ANY Software support for the Jaguar after they rushed the thing to market.

Edited by agradeneu
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The idea behind a thread covering the lost games some of the Jaguar's best known developers pitched to Atari only to have them rejected,wasn't so the forum could have yet another fantasy world speculation thread..

 

But rather to try and address a major critiscm laid at the Jaguar's library..it's high percentage of port's..and just show a lot of the 'blame' did lie with Atari itself..

 

They could of had a far wider range of exclusives.

 

I'd of much rather had a racing game by Eclipse than Rebellion.

 

Still,it was only an idea.

 

Atarimania a more suitable home for such material.

Edited by Lost Dragon
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Last developer quote, just so there is a balanced cross section of views.

 

Imagitec Design :

 

"At the start of the Jaguar Atari promised a lot but were unable to deliver,the GPU and DSP were cut back to half speed. The reason was that the chips could not handle the heat and could overheat and stop working.

 

Also you only had either 2K or 2K of instructions cache in the GPU - back to the days of the Sinclair ZX81.

 

Ok originally you were able

to run programs from outside the GPU's memory ( and DSP) but production machines could not. This meant that you had to have code inside the GPU to load memory from main 68000 memory. This was a pain.

 

Also the GPU and DSP

could read 64bits from main memory but internally it was 32bits - this meant that 32bits of the lovely 64bit read went into a memory address.

 

 

Other problems with the Jaguar was the more sprites on screen took more time away from the CPUs. Bubsywhich did run at 60 frames a second ( PAL 50 frames:

 

The Ali Baba level had a lot of small sprites per character - to

save memory but crucified the game since it placed a heavy burden on

processor time. But due to having 3 full screen sprites ( background , and 2 for the map - Bubsy could run behind things) we lost about 30% of processor time.

 

Another problem with Bubsy was that updating the visible tiles meant a loss of 40% processor time - this varied due to the amount of none

blank blocks.

 

We had to blit onto the map sprites. This was at most 72 16*16

blocks ( 256 colour). Depending upon how you needed to use the blitter it could be very fast but in most circumstances it would be slow.

 

Finally the sound was like the ST, would had create an interrupt and feed the sound chip the values.

 

Unlike the STE and Falcon where you could just play a buffer.

 

OK you had to create the buffer but that was in a nice fast tight loop).

 

 

The reason most of the first games were 16bit ports was that the

public knew the "characters", were comfortable and could bring in easy

money. It would introduce the Jaguar then new and original games would

follow - such as Iron Soldier. . But games like Tempest 2000 and Defender

2000 were still ports of arcade versions which Jeff Minter had done on the16 bits machines. Ok he tarted them up for the Jaguar."

Edited by Lost Dragon
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The DSP really is the best processor considering that it's the only chip that has full access to main memory and has the highest system priority... The whole idea of cutting off the 68000 always kind-of rub off as a bit of a waste in resource, but is perfectly understandable when it comes to it slowing the other processors down. At least the 68k has full access to memory versus the GPU. Memory is gold even on a unified architecture; I think all of the real action should happen with the DSP and 68K while GPU just drawing stuff to screen; it's just one big sprite machine with a lot of programmability. I think a decent 3D engine can be made using the just those two processors as a means of taking advantage of the their access to main memory.

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The DSP really is the best processor considering that it's the only chip that has full access to main memory and has the highest system priority...

 

21a43w.jpg

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Well technically the DSP is the second highest priority on the Jag system, but it has the highest among the other processors. :)

Edited by philipj

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Nobody bought a PS1 because of that - nobody. But for Ridge Racer and Wipe Out and other titles considered Fresh and new and " groundbreaking". The Jag was MUCH too early for a modern Retro console. Retro got big in the last couple of years but surely NOT in the 90s.Tempest 2000 came as an one off, odd surprise hit. But that can't be generalized. Plus Tempest 2000 was the only decent game on the Jag for like half a year, there were only like 4 other (rather unimpressive) games to select from.

I think your perspective is distorted. For one, we're not talking about the current retro scene--we are talking about the state of retro remakes, refreshes and compilations at the time (the '90s). Two, titles have never had to be "system sellers" in order to be considered popular, relevant or even important on any given console. The sheer number of remakes and compilations during this era alone show there was a big demand for them.

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I think your perspective is distorted. For one, we're not talking about the current retro scene--we are talking about the state of retro remakes, refreshes and compilations at the time (the '90s). Two, titles have never had to be "system sellers" in order to be considered popular, relevant or even important on any given console. The sheer number of remakes and compilations during this era alone show there was a big demand

 

Many of them, ironically, marketed as Atari products by Hasbro.

 

 

(Going by memory.)

 

 

Many of them, ironically, marketed as Atari products by Hasbro.

 

(Going by memory.)

 

 

Well, Hasbro the shovelware company. Wehre are they now? :-D

Edited by agradeneu

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I think your perspective is distorted. For one, we're not talking about the current retro scene--we are talking about the state of retro remakes, refreshes and compilations at the time (the '90s). Two, titles have never had to be "system sellers" in order to be considered popular, relevant or even important on any given console. The sheer number of remakes and compilations during this era alone show there was a big demand for them.

 

Its somewhat proven that you cant be sucessful on the Videogame market without original, fresh games. Actually Atari DID plunder their backcatalogue: Atari 5200, Atari 7800, Atari Lynx, Atari Jaguar. You know what? All systems failed, people did not buy.

Edited by agradeneu

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What gaming history has proven, time and time again, is that superior hardware is often not what wins out. Money for development and marketing, relationships with 3rd party publishers, with retailers, that's what can be the difference. Regardless, the Jaguar was inferior in actual capabilities than the Saturn, Playstation and Nintendo64. It was better than the 3DO, but not by much. It displayed far less colors than the big 3. The polygon count was 10% of those, which is laughable. It had less RAM, and the sound was hideous compared to the others. Having multiple CPU's was also shown to often be a detriment, as the PS1 and N64 were easier to code on than the Saturn.

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I think your perspective is distorted. For one, we're not talking about the current retro scene--we are talking about the state of retro remakes, refreshes and compilations at the time (the '90s). Two, titles have never had to be "system sellers" in order to be considered popular, relevant or even important on any given console. The sheer number of remakes and compilations during this era alone show there was a big demand for them.

Before calling my perspective "distorted", first try to comprehend the Basic meaning of it correctly. Fair deal.

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What gaming history has proven, time and time again, is that superior hardware is often not what wins out. Money for development and marketing, relationships with 3rd party publishers, with retailers, that's what can be the difference. Regardless, the Jaguar was inferior in actual capabilities than the Saturn, Playstation and Nintendo64. It was better than the 3DO, but not by much. It displayed far less colors than the big 3. The polygon count was 10% of those, which is laughable. It had less RAM, and the sound was hideous compared to the others. Having multiple CPU's was also shown to often be a detriment, as the PS1 and N64 were easier to code on than the Saturn.

Even as much as I love the Jag, no way would I ever say it's better than the 3DO. At least in terms of specs and memory for sure. The 3DO wasn't a $700 monster for no reason. If Atari could have made the Jaguar a $700 system, I can't even imagine what kind of monster it could have been capable of, outside of a few major hardware crippling bugs of course lol

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What gaming history has proven, time and time again, is that superior hardware is often not what wins out. Money for development and marketing, relationships with 3rd party publishers, with retailers, that's what can be the difference. Regardless, the Jaguar was inferior in actual capabilities than the Saturn, Playstation and Nintendo64. It was better than the 3DO, but not by much. It displayed far less colors than the big 3. The polygon count was 10% of those, which is laughable. It had less RAM, and the sound was hideous compared to the others. Having multiple CPU's was also shown to often be a detriment, as the PS1 and N64 were easier to code on than the Saturn.

 

I remember when I first wanted to do Jaguar stuff, I thought the Jag could do what the PlayStation 1 was doing back in the late 90s till I got wise over a period of time... Deep down I wanted the Jag to do something on the level of the PS1 or the Sega Saturn, which it can but with limitations due to all of the hardware issues. The topic is turning into a history topic a bit, but can be very necessary in trying to find out what's actually feasible for the Jaguar and what's not. The PS2 had a crap load of processors in it and was considered hard to program, but was very flexible at the same time with more stuff to work with compared to a single processor 3D game console with a graphics chip. Because of that, the range of what's possible is wider, but for the Jaguar, you actually have to look backwards in time before all of the trendy stuff that was out by SGI, Sun Workstation, and other graphic systems that were out around the Jaguar release in the mid 90s that could do what the Jaguar couldn't do... Maybe a few things you can find here and there from consoles like the PS1, Saturn, and N64 that can be applicable for the Jaguar if you're lucky, but you need a very different and exclusive pipe-line when it comes to the Atari Jaguar. Any modern pipeline even Open GL 1.0 would be a challenge for the Jag without making some very extreme and specific optimizations.

Edited by philipj

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What gaming history has proven, time and time again, is that superior hardware is often not what wins out. Money for development and marketing, relationships with 3rd party publishers, with retailers, that's what can be the difference. Regardless, the Jaguar was inferior in actual capabilities than the Saturn, Playstation and Nintendo64. It was better than the 3DO, but not by much. It displayed far less colors than the big 3. The polygon count was 10% of those, which is laughable. It had less RAM, and the sound was hideous compared to the others. Having multiple CPU's was also shown to often be a detriment, as the PS1 and N64 were easier to code on than the Saturn.

 

What history has proven again and agian is that superior games people want play will win out. All other things are secondary really. I dont get why People here really think the SNES and N64 were easy to develope for?? The hardest part isnt even mentioned here - making a game actually fun to play! Getting some Code to run properly on a specific Hardware does not make a game fun.

Edited by agradeneu
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I think your perspective is distorted. For one, we're not talking about the current retro scene--we are talking about the state of retro remakes, refreshes and compilations at the time (the '90s). Two, titles have never had to be "system sellers" in order to be considered popular, relevant or even important on any given console. The sheer number of remakes and compilations during this era alone show there was a big demand for them.

 

The sheer number of E.T. carts buried in New Mexico desert show there was a big demand for them. LOL. I would say the sheer amount of compilations marked the beginning of "cheap shovelware for quick buck ( some people might fall for it) era", which would be a more honest view on the subject really..

Im sorry but compilations are just as inevitable as flies around a honey pot - zero investment, cheap to publish, easy Profit.

Edited by agradeneu

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Well technically the DSP is the second highest priority on the Jag system, but it has the highest among the other processors. :)

Please, please, please, before offering advice and making plans, make something that can support your opinion.

 

Because right now it's cringeworthy. Do you really think past and current Jaguar developers never read the docs?

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Just to add my two penneth :

 

The Jag is capable of it's current software catalogue period. Everything else is horsepucky.

 

If someone wants to move the capability discussion forward then grab a computer and get coding.

 

I know it's hard, not from the coding point of view, just hard to devote the time, but with the advent of RB+ nobody has any excuses anymore.

 

So roll up the sleeves, grab a computer and get coding - who knows, next week you may have a button mashing, ear bending, processor melting shmup written :)

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Yup--walls of text from EDGE magazine 23 years ago don't mean a thing. Some guy REing Daytona from YouTube videos and talking about how he can do it in 30fps on the Jaguar doesn't matter either.

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The DSP really is the best processor considering that it's the only chip that has full access to main memory and has the highest system priority... The whole idea of cutting off the 68000 always kind-of rub off as a bit of a waste in resource, but is perfectly understandable when it comes to it slowing the other processors down. At least the 68k has full access to memory versus the GPU. Memory is gold even on a unified architecture; I think all of the real action should happen with the DSP and 68K while GPU just drawing stuff to screen; it's just one big sprite machine with a lot of programmability. I think a decent 3D engine can be made using the just those two processors as a means of taking advantage of the their access to main memory.

 

O_o

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Please, please, please, before offering advice and making plans, make something that can support your opinion.

 

Because right now it's cringeworthy. Do you really think past and current Jaguar developers never read the docs?

 

Well that's why they call this a forum right... So i can put my opinions out there. If opinions can't be freely given, then that defeats the purpose having a forum. You know as well as I know that the DSP is only 32bit processor that have full access to main ram unhinged without a workaround at full speed despite being on a 16bit bus, it's the only processor that controls all of the i/O ports on the system and is sited by Atari themselves for these facts.

Edited by philipj

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Well that's why they call this a forum right... So i can put my opinions out there. If opinions can't be freely given, then that defeats the purpose having a forum. You know as well as I know that the DSP is only 32bit processor that have full access to main ram unhinged without a workaround at full speed despite being on a 16bit bus, it's the only processor that controls all of the i/O ports on the system and is sited by Atari themselves for these facts.

Opinions are fine for subjective things, like saying "game X is more fun to play than game Y".

For objective things, opinions are pretty much worthless, actual evidence is where it's at.

There are already hundred of pages of uninformed opinions in this forum, we don't need more.

 

You know as well as I know that the DSP is only 32bit processor that have full access to main ram unhinged without a workaround at full speed despite being on a 16bit bus, it's the only processor that controls all of the i/O ports on the system and is sited by Atari themselves for these facts.

What? I don't know what you're reading, but you're reading it wrong.

Reality check: if the DSP was the ideal processor to run everything on, and if that was obvious from the docs, do you really think nobody would have noticed in 25 years?

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You know as well as I know that the DSP is only 32bit processor that have full access to main ram unhinged without a workaround at full speed despite being on a 16bit bus, it's the only processor that controls all of the i/O ports on the system and is sited by Atari themselves for these facts.

 

The 68000 is:

 

a 32-bit processor

has full access to main ram unhinged without a workaround at full speed

is on a 16bit bus

can control all the IO ports on the system

 

Just sayin'

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