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Could there ever be repro Jaguar CD units?


KrunchyTC

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It's a serious bummer seeing homebrew Jaguar games that need the CD add-on, when barely any exist, and the ones that do go for thousands of dollars. Especially when the games are just ST ports. I can understand if making carts is not feasible for the developer, but playing CD games is not feasible for the player either. If there were reproduction CD units, that would reduce the pain a bit.

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10 minutes ago, KrunchyTC said:

It's a serious bummer seeing any homebrew Jaguar games that need the CD add-on, when barely any exist, and the ones that do go for thousands of dollars. Especially when the games are just ST ports. I can understand if making carts is not feasible for the developer, but playing CD games is not feasible for the player either.

 

Umm, what?

 

None of the 'just ST ports' I've done need the Jag CD.
AFAIK, only a handful of homebrews 'need' the CD, such as Philia which steam video.

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3 minutes ago, CyranoJ said:

 

Umm, what?

 

None of the 'just ST ports' I've done need the Jag CD.
AFAIK, only a handful of homebrews 'need' the CD, such as Philia which steam video.

Maybe they were fake, but every now and then I'll come across pictures of jaguar CD game cases that seem to be ST games ported to the jag. obviously ST games don't CD space.

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4 minutes ago, KrunchyTC said:

Maybe they were fake, but every now and then I'll come across pictures of jaguar CD game cases that seem to be ST games ported to the jag. obviously ST games don't CD space.

 

Yeah, and they'll be from ebay/etsy scumbags selling them, which is why I lock everything to the GD now.

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As I think about this, it seems to me that most homebrew that can be found in a CD format comes from a time before Saint's Jaguar Game Drive, BigPEmu's CD emulation, and AtariAge being a Jaguar homebrew publisher.  Also, it was a time were there was less interest in the Jaguar generally, and most people who were actually interested in playing new games for the platform had a Jag CD.  Another thing to note about the difference between carts and CD's, especially for the couple decades after 1996, is that even though many homebrew games can easily fit on a cart, a stack of encrypted CD's (after the encryption keys were found) is far easier to produce.  Especially for the typically one or two person team involved in making a game. It is important to note that CD's were not exclusive for this time, with publisher Songbird Productions making cart releases of abandoned games like "Skyhammer" and "Phase Zero".

 

I believe at the time there was a calculus being made by developers that made a CD release the obvious choice.  That calculus may have included:

  • The cost and availability of parts (shells and pcbs for carts were new old stock, and were a dwindling supply).
  • Time taken to actually physically produce the game (carts take much more time to physically produce).
  • How many people from the tiny pool of people capable of playing the game will actually play the game.
  • How many of these small handful of interested players had a CD unit that worked (probably most if I had to guess). 

 

I believe a slow reversal in the preferred format has happened within the past ~10 years, in favor of cartridge releases, for the following reasons (in no particular order):

  • Having the original Jaguar cartridge shell molds being in good hands to produce new plastic for carts has made new plastics more accessible.
  • Custom PCB's that use modern parts that make producing and flashing the actual cart less tedious for a small team or individual.
  • The general disappearance of local and online shops that can produce a professional looking small batch of CD's at a reasonable price.
  • Seemingly the amount of people who want to play games and don't have a Jag CD now outweighing those who do have a Jag CD.
  • AtariAge being a publisher that is willing to produce cartridge copies of homebrew releases for the foreseeable future. As well as Songbird Productions continuing to be a publisher for new Jaguar content.

This is just my perception, but there seems that there are a considerable amount of new people showing up to the Jaguar party 25 years late, and there aren't enough CD units to for them to enjoy the older homebrew releases on real hardware.  At least when I was considering what format to publish Flappy McFur on, this was the perception I had.  I'm inclined to believe that this has been one of the largest incentives for developers to begin favoring a cart release for new homebrew games, and the other pieces of the puzzle appeared naturally and miraculously (the molds for the shells) and fell into place as a result. 

 

Thankfully, it seems many homebrew developers are taking advantage of this reversal of incentives, looking back at their older games, and opting to do cart re-releases of older homebrew titles, often as a compilation of games.  Reboot is a good example of this with their compilations "Brawn and Brains" and "Rebooted" including most of their older releases, as well as the "Dr. Typo Collection" that includes Dr. Typos work over the years.  A good example of this transition from CD to carts as a preferred homebrew format happening in real time are @Orion_'s consecutive CD/cart releases of many of his games starting about a decade ago.  I believe it is also important to note that Piko Interactive has opted to use carts exclusively for their licensed Atari ST ports, like "Custodian" and "Impossamole", showing an example of a preference for carts from a relatively newer publisher.

 

I obviously went beyond your question @KrunchyTC, but it was fun to think through this a bit for my own sake as I have been lucky enough to experience both formats being used by homebrew Jaguar developers.

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1 hour ago, BitJag said:
  • The general disappearance of local and online shops that can produce a professional looking small batch of CD's at a reasonable price.


Agree with every point made with the exception of affordable professional CD production disappearing, at least in the immediate future or time being. Maybe from a local level but I’ve never even considered local being a possibility. If anyone is looking for help to publish pressed CDs with professional packaging, you’re welcome to send me a message. 
 

I’ve got multiple projects that would make far more sense to release on a CD than cart but the chances of it being a successful release due to the limiting factors you outlined push me away from bothering. Less about money and more about reach.
 

At one point I said “never again” on another Jaguar CD release but, I tend to stand behind the ‘never say never’ mentality because really, you never know. There’s always going to be the handful of hardcore purists and collectors who just want the full, real-deal experience of using actual hardware., which I can fully appreciate. 
 

With the way things are going for the JagGD though, I can’t imagine it being much longer before every single CD game is running on the cart by the end of the year including VLM. There’s only a handful of CD games that currently don’t work but it looks like Saint is making progress on that as of recent.  Add on the upcoming possibilities with JagStudio using the GD as a massive bank switching cart and file loading system that will be far more reliable than the JagCD is, and it’s a done deal. I’m currently doing things I never imagined the Jaguar would be possible doing.. so, call me a believer and convinced. 
 

At this point, I view the JagCD as an overvalued liability and is why I sold mine a while back. Part of me still wants one but the non-collector part of me moved on.

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2 hours ago, BitJag said:

As I think about this, it seems to me that most homebrew that can be found in a CD format comes from a time before Saint's Jaguar Game Drive, BigPEmu's CD emulation, and AtariAge being a Jaguar homebrew publisher.  Also, it was a time were there was less interest in the Jaguar generally, and most people who were actually interested in playing new games for the platform had a Jag CD.  Another thing to note about the difference between carts and CD's, especially for the couple decades after 1996, is that even though many homebrew games can easily fit on a cart, a stack of encrypted CD's (after the encryption keys were found) is far easier to produce.  Especially for the typically one or two person team involved in making a game. It is important to note that CD's were not exclusive for this time, with publisher Songbird Productions making cart releases of abandoned games like "Skyhammer" and "Phase Zero".

 

I believe at the time there was a calculus being made by developers that made a CD release the obvious choice.  That calculus may have included:

  • The cost and availability of parts (shells and pcbs for carts were new old stock, and were a dwindling supply).
  • Time taken to actually physically produce the game (carts take much more time to physically produce).
  • How many people from the tiny pool of people capable of playing the game will actually play the game.
  • How many of these small handful of interested players had a CD unit that worked (probably most if I had to guess). 

 

I believe a slow reversal in the preferred format has happened within the past ~10 years, in favor of cartridge releases, for the following reasons (in no particular order):

  • Having the original Jaguar cartridge shell molds being in good hands to produce new plastic for carts has made new plastics more accessible.
  • Custom PCB's that use modern parts that make producing and flashing the actual cart less tedious for a small team or individual.
  • The general disappearance of local and online shops that can produce a professional looking small batch of CD's at a reasonable price.
  • Seemingly the amount of people who want to play games and don't have a Jag CD now outweighing those who do have a Jag CD.
  • AtariAge being a publisher that is willing to produce cartridge copies of homebrew releases for the foreseeable future. As well as Songbird Productions continuing to be a publisher for new Jaguar content.

This is just my perception, but there seems that there are a considerable amount of new people showing up to the Jaguar party 25 years late, and there aren't enough CD units to for them to enjoy the older homebrew releases on real hardware.  At least when I was considering what format to publish Flappy McFur on, this was the perception I had.  I'm inclined to believe that this has been one of the largest incentives for developers to begin favoring a cart release for new homebrew games, and the other pieces of the puzzle appeared naturally and miraculously (the molds for the shells) and fell into place as a result. 

 

Thankfully, it seems many homebrew developers are taking advantage of this reversal of incentives, looking back at their older games, and opting to do cart re-releases of older homebrew titles, often as a compilation of games.  Reboot is a good example of this with their compilations "Brawn and Brains" and "Rebooted" including most of their older releases, as well as the "Dr. Typo Collection" that includes Dr. Typos work over the years.  A good example of this transition from CD to carts as a preferred homebrew format happening in real time are @Orion_'s consecutive CD/cart releases of many of his games starting about a decade ago.  I believe it is also important to note that Piko Interactive has opted to use carts exclusively for their licensed Atari ST ports, like "Custodian" and "Impossamole", showing an example of a preference for carts from a relatively newer publisher.

 

I obviously went beyond your question @KrunchyTC, but it was fun to think through this a bit for my own sake as I have been lucky enough to experience both formats being used by homebrew Jaguar developers.

I appreciate the long and helpful response! I only just got into the Jaguar scene a year ago when I finally found my first Jaguar console. I am looking forward to future Jag homebrews!

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4 hours ago, Clint Thompson said:

At this point, I view the JagCD as an overvalued liability and is why I sold mine a while back. Part of me still wants one but the non-collector part of me moved on.

This is exactly why I sold mine also, and I don't miss it. A repro JagCD makes no sense nowadays with the proliferation of the GD. I think it's best that developers and publishers move on to taking advantage of the added conveniences we have now. CD releases on the Jag were pointless 10 years ago once making carts became easier for everyone, and it's even more pointless now.

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22 minutes ago, Sauron said:

This is exactly why I sold mine also, and I don't miss it. A repro JagCD makes no sense nowadays with the proliferation of the GD. I think it's best that developers and publishers move on to taking advantage of the added conveniences we have now. CD releases on the Jag were pointless 10 years ago once making carts became easier for everyone, and it's even more pointless now.

Which honestly, is really good news. If the Game Drive can achieve all CD capabilities, thats the best thing.

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On 4/12/2024 at 12:07 AM, CyranoJ said:

 

Yeah, and they'll be from ebay/etsy scumbags selling them, which is why I lock everything to the GD now.

The crap thing is that this causes some impossibilities.  Like I think a CD based collection of all your ST ports would be amazing.  But since the GD doesn't work with the CD, it means you couldn't really protect them from the ebay/etsy scum and villainy.  I haven't been using my GD that much, as I have the CD plugged in, and rather leave it there for the occasional on-cart game, and of course the VLM.  Though now I have a Nuon I should use...

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On 4/12/2024 at 12:21 PM, Clint Thompson said:


Agree with every point made with the exception of affordable professional CD production disappearing, at least in the immediate future or time being. Maybe from a local level but I’ve never even considered local being a possibility. If anyone is looking for help to publish pressed CDs with professional packaging, you’re welcome to send me a message. 
 

I’ve got multiple projects that would make far more sense to release on a CD than cart but the chances of it being a successful release due to the limiting factors you outlined push me away from bothering. Less about money and more about reach.
 

At one point I said “never again” on another Jaguar CD release but, I tend to stand behind the ‘never say never’ mentality because really, you never know. There’s always going to be the handful of hardcore purists and collectors who just want the full, real-deal experience of using actual hardware., which I can fully appreciate. 
 

With the way things are going for the JagGD though, I can’t imagine it being much longer before every single CD game is running on the cart by the end of the year including VLM. There’s only a handful of CD games that currently don’t work but it looks like Saint is making progress on that as of recent.  Add on the upcoming possibilities with JagStudio using the GD as a massive bank switching cart and file loading system that will be far more reliable than the JagCD is, and it’s a done deal. I’m currently doing things I never imagined the Jaguar would be possible doing.. so, call me a believer and convinced. 
 

At this point, I view the JagCD as an overvalued liability and is why I sold mine a while back. Part of me still wants one but the non-collector part of me moved on.

I think the one thing I could argue the JagGD would never replace... ease of getting music to run through the VLM.  Unless it magically grows network support and can stream off of a NAS/Plex/Whatever.  Sure you could put MP3s on it, or something.  But with all of the gotek drives and images and dealing with flash drives elsewhere, adding a musical playlist to that sounds exhausting... Though I'm likely just a weird one, and enjoy putting on an album and staring at my TV while colors dance about.

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Answering the actual question, even though the prior responses provide the more rational feedback: If someone really wanted to make another run of Jaguar CDs, I think the only non-trivial components are:

  • The "Butch" ASIC. https://wiki.console5.com/wiki/500490
  • The Jaguar cart connector for cartridge pass-through (Could be viewed as optional, but I wouldn't buy one without this).
  • A case, of some sort.

I don't think anyone has a stash of Butch chips. I'm sure Best has a handful lying around, but if you really wanted to build hundreds/thousands of these things, you'd probably have to reverse engineer and recreate Butch in an FPGA or something. I doubt it's that complicated, but there are only a handful of people with the skills required, and they'd probably come back with "why?"

 

Because it'd be awesome, that's why! But it probably wouldn't be a profitable venture, especially if you take the developer's time into account at a reasonable rate. Someone would have to be doing it just for the sake of doing it.

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In addition to what has already been said, I have to imagine the Jag CD units selling today are mostly being scooped up for "the shelf" as collectors put it. There'd be zero interest from that crowd in a repro Jag CD, even if it was remotely feasible to produce.

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ODE = Optical Disc Emulator. The whole thing. Its supposedly meant to come with ribbons and so on per unit.

I'm skeptical. Will there be full memory track support and cart support for protector? See how it goes.

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8 hours ago, dariusxg said:

ODE = Optical Disc Emulator. The whole thing. Its supposedly meant to come with ribbons and so on per unit.

I'm skeptical. Will there be full memory track support and cart support for protector? See how it goes.

So with your logic I can order the 3do ODE from that same seller and not need a 3DO? Interesting, because that's not at all how an ODE works. But you're the expert on "disc emulators".

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3 hours ago, dariusxg said:

No.. it will replace the Jag CD. You still need the Jaguar of course.

Curious, where do you think the ribbon cable from the ODE plugs into the Jaguar? Do you think he has also written his own Jag CD BIOS? 

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The ODE only replaces the CD transport (motor, laser, etc.)  It does not replace anything else.  You couldn't for example plug an ODE into a stereo system and playback music with it.

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