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Its 1993, you're in charge of the Jag, what do you do?


A_Gorilla

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Actually the jaguar was no harder to program for than any other console really. gcc being bug free was a software problem and it should have been fixed.

 

So if you can code an efficient bug free machine descriptor for the GPU utilizing main you'd be the first.

 

Machine descriptors is a science in itself especially if you hope ro deal with all the Jaguar bugs too.

I aggree thought that this needed to be completed but easier said than done.

 

The biggest difference I suggest would be to make the jaguar a CD machine from day 1. That way discs could be mastered more cheaply than cartridges - Even with the HW in the same state a lot of good 2d games could have been produced ( rivalling NeoGeo CD at least )

 

 

I think the CD could have helped but the tools....the tools....

 

Fixing the very few HW bugs would have opened up the GPU use ( and maybe saved money by not requiring external DACs for the audio )

 

Well at very least we would have no stalls and we'd get closer to the 27 mips and not the 18 with careful

interleaving. We would not have to re align addresses by hand in main for the GPU and we could write small

C snippets efficiently because the entire two megs would be able to hold and allow the GPU to execute it.

The uart would work right and the blitter would have a command buffer. dual port the registers at very least.

The blitter and OPL should have had its own VRAM. Extra cost or not.

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Actually the jaguar was no harder to program for than any other console really. gcc being bug free was a software problem and it should have been fixed.

 

So if you can code an efficient bug free machine descriptor for the GPU utilizing main you'd be the first.

 

Machine descriptors is a science in itself especially if you hope ro deal with all the Jaguar bugs too.

I aggree thought that this needed to be completed but easier said than done.

 

Strange thing to say - I think a working gcc would be enough, it doesn't have to be the most efficient version :) - and there's nothing really that special about machine descriptors.. There are/were lots of cpu's out there way more complex and buggy than the gpu

 

 

 

The biggest difference I suggest would be to make the jaguar a CD machine from day 1. That way discs could be mastered more cheaply than cartridges - Even with the HW in the same state a lot of good 2d games could have been produced ( rivalling NeoGeo CD at least )

 

 

I think the CD could have helped but the tools....the tools....

 

Tools 15 years ago were pretty crude for all systems - ( The 3d0 was an exception in some ways , and the PSX was praised for it's libraries )

Libraries and samples could have been a bit more prolific of course :)

 

Fixing the very few HW bugs would have opened up the GPU use ( and maybe saved money by not requiring external DACs for the audio )

 

Well at very least we would have no stalls and we'd get closer to the 27 mips and not the 18 with careful

interleaving. We would not have to re align addresses by hand in main for the GPU and we could write small

C snippets efficiently because the entire two megs would be able to hold and allow the GPU to execute it.

The uart would work right and the blitter would have a command buffer. dual port the registers at very least.

The blitter and OPL should have had its own VRAM. Extra cost or not.

 

Extra cost is everything for a console.. If you really want a better machine at cost Atari should have gone with the Jaguar 2 chipset :)

One thing with the 68k that is easy to ignore now is just how much programmers were used to it at the time, and how it would help Megadrive/ST/Amiga ports

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Strange thing to say - I think a working gcc would be enough, it doesn't have to be the most efficient version :) - and there's nothing really that special about machine descriptors.. There are/were lots of cpu's out there way more complex and buggy than the gpu

 

 

Well if its so simple...please...by all means write one then.

 

 

Tools 15 years ago were pretty crude for all systems - ( The 3d0 was an exception in some ways , and the PSX was praised for it's libraries )

Libraries and samples could have been a bit more prolific of course :)

 

 

Nothing as crude as the Jaguar.

 

[quote name='Crazyace' post='1442433' date='Wed Jan 9, Extra cost is everything for a console.. If you really want a better machine at cost Atari should have gone with the Jaguar 2 chipset :)

One thing with the 68k that is easy to ignore now is just how much programmers were used to it at the time, and how it would help Megadrive/ST/Amiga ports

 

 

And is exactly why the Jag failed....it needed updeate classics and new gen titles not the same old same old.

3D0 OR PSX did not rely on Amiga Megadrive and ST titles. It would not have saved 3DO either. We did not

want the same old same old ona next gen machine so that is just another strike against the 68k.

 

And fixing the bugs in the original hardware would have been the least they could have done.

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There are so many reasons Jag failed - the hardware was almost the least of the problems.

What was needed was the 'best' of the Amiga/ST conversions - and also the new games , and the console conversions.

 

I've got way better things to do with my time than anything to do with gcc - ( and if I have to touch gcc it's not going to be for the jaguar :) ) for hobby programming I'll use assembler

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Why are you comparing DC with Jaguar?

For the DC I haven't seen a great deal of homebrew

 

Why DC/Jag? Because you stated the following:

 

Crazy:

Actually the jaguar was no harder to program for than any other console really.

 

So, logically, If the Jaguar is no harder than ANY other console to for program, really, as you said above, then what is the matter with a Dreamcast comparison?? Or now are you now saying only consoles from the Jaguars' time and older require the same skill level to program? Which would be a false statement also.

 

What have you coded for the Jaguar? Nothing I suspect. :ponder: Then how can you say it's not hard to program for if you've never tried it? Your going by generalities in coding, proprietory systems such as the Jaguar require getting up to speed. Why are you disregarding what two people who HAVE programmed the Jag are saying? Please re-read what Gorf is trying to tell you in all of his posts, if you really want to learn something about the Jaguar, as well as my quote from Tursi (Harmless Lion) below:

 

Also, If you haven't seen the hundreds upon hundreds of Dreamcast homebrews & apps, demos, etc. Then you just aren't into the Dreamcast as I and countless others are. Their all over the DC sites. And there's more emulators that run well on the DC, than probably any other console. Linux is the tip of the iceburg on the DC.

 

Gorf:

...the Jag is hard to code.

 

Harmless Lion(Tursi):

The Dreamcast really was a beautiful machine to program - and the ease of getting software into it mixed with the power to run things well without substantially hard work is what has earned it such a collection of homebrew stuff. The Jaguar has a significantly higher bar, and while I've threatened to throw mine through a window a few times, it's been fun squeezing anything out of it. I will get Martian Attack to the state I intended, though it'll always be a bit of a minigame. Whether I do a second game for the Jag is a tougher thing to predict, time is not something I have the luxury of very much of. (But it'd be nice to do something cool.

 

Crazy:

DC was a lot later - and it was easier in some ways as the hardware was more capable

Also there were a lot more DC's than Jaguar's sold....

 

So you do realize the DC is easier to program for. :) Then your "Jaguar is NO Harder" statement by your own admission, is false. A lot more DCs being around is not relevent in programming difficulty- but indicates more people wanting to play and program it - I wonder why? ;)

 

P.S. Didn't mean to be blunt, but you are wrong with your; "The Jaguar is no harder than any other machine to program for, really" statement. Everything everybody in the Jaguar community has told over the last few years indicates the Jaguar is a real bitch to program for. This directly translates into - not much software for the Jaguar and a shitload for the DC. DC is a cakewalk, or breeze to program for as I'm told by Gorf & Tursi. All consoles are not the same just because they are really all just computers. I really do wish you were right about this though. :)

Edited by ovalbugmann
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I guess I should have qualified the statement with 'at the time' - I assumed that the topic was about '1993' not 2007. I didn't think of the DC ( or even PSX ) in my original statement, as they didn't exist at that time

 

Regarding the DC shareware - a lot of the emulators run on DC because DC is faster, so it's easier to take a PC emulator and recompile it. The jag isn't as fast so a lot of homebrew needs more work ( optimisation or complete rewrites )

 

I'm not disregarding what other people are saying :) just understanding what they are saying.

What I've done before is immaterial really.. I personally enjoy low level programming ( I like 2600 programming ) and I understand pretty much all of the consoles at a very low level ( both from experience programming them, and general interest )

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There are so many reasons Jag failed - the hardware was almost the least of the problems.

What was needed was the 'best' of the Amiga/ST conversions - and also the new games , and the console conversions.

 

I've got way better things to do with my time than anything to do with gcc - ( and if I have to touch gcc it's not going to be for the jaguar :) ) for hobby programming I'll use assembler

 

Your best bet with the jag. I suggest the 68k become an interrupt controller.

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There are so many reasons Jag failed - the hardware was almost the least of the problems.

What was needed was the 'best' of the Amiga/ST conversions - and also the new games , and the console conversions.

 

Best of never helped a new console...something different and exciting. Updated classics is what the Tramiels

promised and never delivered but for a title or two. Being a wanna be is what killed the Jag...you have plenty

of Amiga/ST looking titles for the jag...more would not have helped becausethose are what killed it. 64 bit next

gen multi media system in the time of 16 bit dominance with titles looking not to much beter than 16 bit titles

had no good effect for Jaguar whatsoever. The machine needed more classics updated along the lines of T2k.

Atari should have had an arcade machine for each game for each team working on that particular title.

 

I've got way better things to do with my time than anything to do with gcc - ( and if I have to touch gcc it's not

going to be for the jaguar :) ) for hobby programming I'll use assembler

 

 

But it's not walk in the park even if you were to have to do it for a non hobby system. I know something about

machine descriptors but I wont even attempt to write one, just knowing the small amount I know about them. It's

not an afternoon of coding and if it were that easy Atari would have done it...the fact is they attempted it and it was

hardly working. BrainStomr has been around for quite some time and if they had a hard time with it, my guess is

it wont be a cakewalk for a hobbiest by him/herself.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Now that I think of the DreamCast senerio maybe their was no way to save the Jag cause a few years later Sega in developing the Dreamcast did all that was stated above and then some...and failed(not as badly as the Jag min you but still a failure). The Dreamcast was the best of all worlds It was easy to program for(Windows CE was built in so building and porting games was a breaze), it had 3rd part support, the controller was not hated, it was inavative w/ modem support built in the system, it had mostly 5 star games, it had very few crap games(none unplayable), they still were sold at most retailers.

 

Atari and Sega lived similar Video Game lives both sold portable units of similar popularity, both only had 1 successful system in their lifespan, both started as Arcade devisions, both had so many failed systems that towards the end of their lives few consumers/retailers believed that they would ever be successful again.

 

The problem w/ both companies was that Atari w/ (5200, 7800, XE) and Sega w/ (Sega CD, 32X, and Saturn) had delivered high priced consumer electronics that the companies refused/stop supporting 2 or so years into their life. Since most people don't buy a system till year 2 most bought a system and almost immediately could no longer purchase games for said system. Needless to say it pissess off both consumers and merchants. Merchants loose $$ consumers loose faith in brand name.

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Now that I think of the DreamCast senerio maybe their was no way to save the Jag cause a few years later Sega in developing the Dreamcast did all that was stated above and then some...and failed(not as badly as the Jag min you but still a failure). The Dreamcast was the best of all worlds It was easy to program for(Windows CE was built in so building

 

 

Sega essentially gave up on the DC and one of the reasons was the ease of copying the discs.

I think they also felt the new slew of DVD based units would blow them out of the water. The

GD-ROM was another PS1 lesson in why exclusivity is not always a good thing.

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In 1993 ?

15 years after, I am not sure Atari could have been saved...

 

The problems came years before. I would go at the release of the STE, which should have realle been a STEnhanced (68020, new graphics mode with at least 256 colors).

The STE was a nice succes (at least in Europe), but was too close from the ST, then the PC (and in little measure Amiga) take the lead. And game companies left the boat.

Even for the Falcon, this was too late, no big thrid-party games, but a lot a new small companies. This was refreshing, but not enough to make the Falcon a hit.

This was the same with the Lynx and Jaguar (small third-parties, sometimes with really good games like Super Burnout during Jaguar lifetime, or Battleshere after Atari fall). No big titles = no public success.

 

So, a better STe would have keep game companies (at least european) into Atari neighbourhood. Bringing these companies to the Lynx (remember of Nintendo third party politic, these company would have love to work on console market, being unable to work with Nintendo). I would not have cancelled the Panther, which would have been close from th STE, but better. Convince 3rd parties to jump into Panther train.

Then come the Jag, 3 or years after, really and completely developped, not rushed.

 

 

OK, but the test is taking the 1993 situation, not the 1989 one :D

Excluding an alliance with 3DO, Sega or Sony (which could have been a good option)...

The major error of the Jaguar launch was to rely on viral marketing (no real advertising, test market, Atari thought people were waitin gafter them and would do their job by looking for information on the JAguar... Sony bought the market and won by KO)

A new console need games. Japanese developers would probably not have follow Atari. American and European had the choice between 3DO or CD32 (most of old Atari/Amiga developpers were more confident into Commodore than Atari). So the 1st thing would have been to restore good relationships with computer game developpers, and encourage them to jump into console world on Jaguar. This have partially been done (remember Ubi Soft and Rayman which was Jaguar exclusive). Encourage newcomers to join the Jag (free dev kits ?)

More games, more quality games (coming from PC rather than ST - Wing Commander anyone ?)

 

Concerning game development, better tools (put more money and time on this part) a better support to developpers. Newcomers welcome, but they need help. Most of them failed because they weren't help by Atari.

 

 

And probably fail like Atari did... :(

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I would not have rushed the Jag, waited one year more, to launch a Jag/CD combo with several AAA titles.

 

I don't think the Jag could have competed with the PS1 under any optimal circumstances. If it had the hardware to do AvP at 30 frames per second, maybe, but then you're talking about a totally different console vs. what actually came out.

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I would not have rushed the Jag, waited one year more, to launch a Jag/CD combo with several AAA titles.

 

I don't think the Jag could have competed with the PS1 under any optimal circumstances. If it had the hardware to do AvP at 30 frames per second, maybe, but then you're talking about a totally different console vs. what actually came out.

 

Not a totally different console, but in 93/half 94, they could have corrected the bugs, made the Jag easier to develop for and make the devs use it's real potential (2D and 3D power, more storage, etc). The PS1 crushed the market only in 95/96. Sure, even with that the Jag could not compete with the PS1, but it could have better perfomed.

Edited by Pocket
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I would not have rushed the Jag, waited one year more, to launch a Jag/CD combo with several AAA titles.

 

I don't think the Jag could have competed with the PS1 under any optimal circumstances. If it had the hardware to do AvP at 30 frames per second, maybe, but then you're talking about a totally different console vs. what actually came out.

 

Ah, but that's just it, it does have the hardware. it's the bugs in the design that prevent one from making full use of that hardware. A year of bugfixing, and the resulting additional resources available within that year (cheaper RAM/m68020) would have removed the bottlenecks from the design, giving you more Area51-like capability rather than what did ship.

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I would not have rushed the Jag, waited one year more, to launch a Jag/CD combo with several AAA titles.

 

I don't think the Jag could have competed with the PS1 under any optimal circumstances. If it had the hardware to do AvP at 30 frames per second, maybe, but then you're talking about a totally different console vs. what actually came out.

 

It did have the hardware in it to do AvP at 30fps. It just wasn't used. AvP I believe uses mostly the 68k.

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Area51 probally benefited more from the Hard Drive and extra memory than anything else.

 

I think that everyone is focusing too much on the hardware bugs - The real problem was the games, and the release of add-ons that made the jag look silly..

 

Releasing at the same time - across the whole country, with the 1st years worth of games available on day 1.

If any H/W change - just ship with CD instead of cartridge

 

CD would make it easier for Atari to make product with less risk.. something that really worked well for PSX ( especially for publishers who didn't need to commit to buying large numbers of cartridges )

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I would not have rushed the Jag, waited one year more, to launch a Jag/CD combo with several AAA titles.

 

I don't think the Jag could have competed with the PS1 under any optimal circumstances. If it had the hardware to do AvP at 30 frames per second, maybe, but then you're talking about a totally different console vs. what actually came out.

 

 

 

It does have the hardware. There is a demo available showing AVP at a constant 30-60 FPS.

I';ve played it with my own two hands.

It was slowed at release due to OVERUSE of the bus choking 68k for game logic and AI.

 

The power is there and It has never been fully utilized.

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Area51 probally benefited more from the Hard Drive and extra memory than anything else.

 

No. That only added to its data mass ability. The blitter is what powers Area 51. Seen the sources BTW.

The the 030 makes a huge leap in difference. ITs at the same clock at the other two processors instead

of half and it sees the bus at a full 32 bits....then the same game was ported over to the MIPS and it ran

even smoother. You can see the difference if you can see the two machine versions side by side.

 

I think that everyone is focusing too much on the hardware bugs - The real problem was the games, and the release of add-ons that made the jag look silly..

 

 

The hardware was hard to code for and why the games sucked.

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Area51 probally benefited more from the Hard Drive and extra memory than anything else.

 

No. That only added to its data mass ability. The blitter is what powers Area 51. Seen the sources BTW.

The the 030 makes a huge leap in difference. ITs at the same clock at the other two processors instead

of half and it sees the bus at a full 32 bits....then the same game was ported over to the MIPS and it ran

even smoother. You can see the difference if you can see the two machine versions side by side.

 

I think the extra ram and storage is way more important - even now memory is king on consoles..

The CPU boost is great - but it changes the ability to run AI.. For an arcade game throwing a faster cpu makes sense - for a console it was just too expensive.

If they'd aligned gpu jumps properly in gcc and allowed the game to be written in C code maybe the 68k wouldn't have been as much of an issue - or we could have had Atari ST style games - with a panel at top or bottom where there was no OBJ activity to speak of and 68k running at high priority, and 68k idle during the rest of the display.

As you said, you've seen an AVP demo running at 30-60fps already :)

 

I think that everyone is focusing too much on the hardware bugs - The real problem was the games, and the release of add-ons that made the jag look silly..

 

 

The hardware was hard to code for and why the games sucked.

 

I still really disagree with this - the hardware was no more difficult than any previous consoles. Only the 3D0 offered a high level library at the time , if you coded for SNES or Megadrive or 32X or even SegaCD the jaguar was quite reasonable.

 

..

 

As an aside: If Atari had delayed the jaguar a year it's quite likely that no one would have developed for it - Sony and Sega were already showing developers the PSX and Saturn ready for then, and more devs would have tried the 3d0 - ( with the C model and 3D texturing hardware ) which would move perfectly to the japanese platforms.

 

1993 was better, as the competition was the 32X and the 3d0 - ( and the comparisions between jaguar 3d and 3d0 3d could be explained away by the difference in price )

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Area51 probally benefited more from the Hard Drive and extra memory than anything else.

 

No. That only added to its data mass ability. The blitter is what powers Area 51. Seen the sources BTW.

The the 030 makes a huge leap in difference. ITs at the same clock at the other two processors instead

of half and it sees the bus at a full 32 bits....then the same game was ported over to the MIPS and it ran

even smoother. You can see the difference if you can see the two machine versions side by side.

 

I think the extra ram and storage is way more important - even now memory is king on consoles..

The CPU boost is great - but it changes the ability to run AI.. For an arcade game throwing a faster cpu makes sense - for a console it was just too expensive.

If they'd aligned gpu jumps properly in gcc and allowed the game to be written in C code maybe the 68k wouldn't have been as much of an issue - or we could have had Atari ST style games - with a panel at top or bottom where there was no OBJ activity to speak of and 68k running at high priority, and 68k idle during the rest of the display.

As you said, you've seen an AVP demo running at 30-60fps already :)

Even a 68020 running at the same speed, truely nothing but the 68000 with a 32-bit data bus, would have eliminated a bottleneck in the design
I think that everyone is focusing too much on the hardware bugs - The real problem was the games, and the release of add-ons that made the jag look silly..

 

 

The hardware was hard to code for and why the games sucked.

 

I still really disagree with this - the hardware was no more difficult than any previous consoles. Only the 3D0 offered a high level library at the time , if you coded for SNES or Megadrive or 32X or even SegaCD the jaguar was quite reasonable.

False. The CD-32, also available at this time, also offered a high level library. Heck it offered a full fledged embedded OS in the design. The SNES, Megadrive, 32x, SegaCD, none of them offered as much capability as the Jaguar, nowhere near as much flexibility. The Jaguar simply overwhems with possibilities
..

 

As an aside: If Atari had delayed the jaguar a year it's quite likely that no one would have developed for it - Sony and Sega were already showing developers the PSX and Saturn ready for then, and more devs would have tried the 3d0 - ( with the C model and 3D texturing hardware ) which would move perfectly to the japanese platforms.

 

1993 was better, as the competition was the 32X and the 3d0 - ( and the comparisions between jaguar 3d and 3d0 3d could be explained away by the difference in price )

A year of bug fixes would have made the Jag's 3D outperform the 3D0's, don't forget. I've been studying the .net's. The Jaguar's bugs were not difficult to fix, and truely did throttle back the performance of the whole system. In all of my testing, I can't figure out a way to utilize even 1/4 of the DSP, for example.

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Thanks downix. Could not have said it better.

 

I coded for many of the old machines and I'll tell you right now,

The Jaguar is no Sega, SNES or 3DO.

 

All of these systems have WELL SUPPORTED processors and tools. The Jag did not. I've coded

in machine language most of my coding life and this machine is NOTHING like any of the others before it.

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I think the 68020 was pretty overrated - by 1993 there were other choices ( ARM was better for 3d0 - and I think one of the cheap IBM 386/486 clones would have wiped the floor with the 020 , and the flair lineage meant that they new how to interface with x86 arch ) but I still think that the 68k wasn't as important ( or as much of a millstone ) as you imply - with a longer lifecycle more optimised games would have come out.

I didnt consider either the CD32 or the CDi as competition - and in the case of the CD32 no games used high level libraries, it was pretty much talk directly to copper and control the blitter in the same way as the jaguar. - Did you really think that CD32 3D games used library functions?

Compared to some of the strange cpu's ( even the sound cpu on the SNES - which was a sod to debug on ) there was nothing really exotic about the Jag. The object processor was pretty easy to use compared to the 7800 ( I hated holey DMA ) and the gpu/dsp instruction set was really clean compared to TI or even motorola 56k dsps ( although I did have a soft spot for the 210x analog devices dsp )

Even when using it the crossproducts brief interface / debugger worked in pretty much the same way as the tools used on the SNES and megadrive.

 

I found the use of the SCU/DSP on the saturn to be very difficult to debug :) although you are correct in one way that higher level libraries did eventually arrive.. I never saw them with my kit though :( )

 

I have fond memories of Need for Speed and RoadRash on the 3d0 - they held up very well against Ridge Racer and other early PSX racers. It would be interesting to see just how close the jaguar could get, but my feeling is that no 'reading of the nets' is going to help here :)

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