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Happy Birthday ATARI JAGUAR!

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:54 pm
by Crusty Starfish
It's Birthday time for one of Atari's biggest flops (and boy did they have some flops in their history!) - BUT I STILL LOVE THEM :lol:

To celebrate the 64bit system, I have some stonking inside looks at game production and the system itself. Loads of info to post, so please do read and learn :D

To start off, we have something from ID software: Doom

Developing on the Jag started out fun, but pushing the jag hard
started showing up some architectural problems.

The system suffers from a critical lack of balance. The central
processor is well over an order of magnitude slower than the risc
chips, but the risc chips are not suited to running the entire
program because of their small fixed code memories.

There is quite a bit of power there, but you have to go through
contortions to get a lot of it.

The worst problem is that the system has some hardware flakyness when
all the processors are banging on the bus at once. This is what
causes the network errors (they aren’t really network errors, they
are game errors that show up by different things happening on the two
systems). In hindsight, I should have just run the net game without
all the processor overlap. It runs a good deal slower, but it
doesn’t get the errors.

Of course, I would do several things differently if I was doing the
project again. I know for sure how to make the rendering code 50%
faster. This would allow you to either increase the horizontal
resolution from 160*180 to 256*180, or increase the speed to 20 fps
from 15, or run totally full screen at the same resolution with a
more complex world.

The problem is that Jag DOOM usually becomes speed limited by the
game logic, not by the rendering code. The problems of movement
clipping and line of sight calculation for all the monsters are more
difficult to run efficiently on the risc processors. The basic actor
logic is too bulky and spread out to run on one of the risc chips,
but it is really a bit too much for the 68k to handle when the
rendering is taking up most of the bus bandwidth.

We are not working on any more jag projects at the moment (Quake is
taking up all my time). We gave Atari a lot of our time and effort,
and we are now in a “wait and see” mode. If they hit their sales
projections, we will probably do something else late next year. We
are probably going to license the jag DOOM code to some other
companies though, so you might see a similar game before that.

John Carmack

In all likelyhood, there will be no port of Quake to the Jaguar.
-Shawn Green
Project Manager
id Software

John Carmack quote , discussing Jaguar AVP:

J.C: First off, let me say that I hope AvP is a great game and sells very
well. I want the Jaguar to be successful.

I haven’t seen AvP in a long time, but the early version I saw was
only running about 12 fps. I’m sure they have improved it, but I
doubt very much that it runs 30 fps.

The jaguar can only generate about two million textured pixels a
second, even if it does nothing else. This is because the blitter
cannot take any advantage of the wide bus or fast page mode cycles
when performing single pixel operations (it can do about 10 times as
many gouraud shaded pixels).

I expect AvP to have a greater pixel rate than DOOM on the jaguar,
because it was designed exclusively for the jag’s capabilities, and
it has a simpler engine with single floor / ceiling heights, strictly
diminishing light, and orthogonal walls (once again, they may have
improved it since I saw it).

I expect they will both run simillarly. DOOM will run at a lower
resolution, but with a more complex world (and it will network). Buy
both of them!

Re: Happy Birthday ATARI JAGUAR!

Posted: Tue Dec 04, 2018 9:56 pm
by Crusty Starfish
American Business News section on Beyond.

Original Battlewheels mentioned.

Jun. 23–Kris Johnson hoped the first game produced by his company,
Beyond Games of Salt Lake City, would propel him into the competitive
video market.

But he soon discovered how brutal the video-game business can be. Johnson,
28, and friends spent countless hours making “Battle Wheels” for Atari’s
hand-held Lynx system. The machine was discontinued shortly after “Battle
Wheels” hit store shelves.

“We got no exposure,” Johnson chuckled. “That machine had been out two
years, and they phased it out right when we released the game.”
Now, Johnson and his crew are about to release “Ultra Vortex” for Atari’s
Jaguar system.

“Ultra Vortex may not be a blockbuster,” Johnson said. “But it will
definitely be a decent seller.”

It’s the dream of every small game manufacturer: produce a unique game,
get a big company such as Sega or Nintendo to buy it and cash in on the
voracious appetites of video-game buffs. In 1994, Americans spent $21
billion on video machines and games.

Many try, but few succeed, says Ron Johnson of Electro Brain Corp. in Salt
Lake City.

It’s been six months since his company produced a game. The market is
saturated, he said, and the only way to compete is to keep up with changes
in technology. And that costs money.

“Only a few companies capture 80% of the video-game market,” said Johnson,
no relation to the Beyond Games owner.

Two Utah firms that have made it big are Sculptured Software Inc. and
Access Software, both of Salt Lake City. Sculptured converted the game
program for the popular, ultra-violent “Mortal Kombat” games for Sega and
Nintendo. Access stormed the market several years ago with the “Links”
golf series and recently, the interactive personal computer game “Under a
Killing Moon.”

“There are literally tens of thousands of products out there,” said Mindy
Cook, Access Software’s marketing representative. “I am sorry for anyone
trying to get into the market.”

Kelly Zmak, executive producer for Sculptured Software, said video-game
manufacturers — especially small ones — cannot focus on past successes
if they want to compete. The game industry, she said, is getting too
expensive to be passive.

“It can cost $3 million to $5 million to produce one game,” Zmak said.
“It’s not tough to get a single hit, but it is hard to be consistent.”

Beyond Games has spent nearly $100,000 to produce “Ultra Vortex.” Chris
Johnson would not say how much Atari paid for the game, but said his crew
should “have some fun” with the money.

“Ultra Vortex,” which took a year to make, will be shipped to Atari in
four days and should be on the market in July or August, Johnson said. It
will retail for $69.95.

The game is similar to “Mortal Kombat” and “Street Fighter” in that
different characters battle each other to the death. To make their game
unique, Beyond Games used 3-D computer renderings, stop-motion puppets and
costumed adults to create the movements of warriors such as Grok, a rock
monster, and Volcana, a woman who burns everything in her path.

Re: Happy Birthday ATARI JAGUAR!

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 3:57 am
by The Laird
The birthday was actually last month. I'm sure there will be something good in the magazine 8)

Beyond Games are still going, so they certainly did alright! I wrote a very in-depth archives on them for the mag, great bunch of guys.

Re: Happy Birthday ATARI JAGUAR!

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:07 pm
by Crusty Starfish
Yeah, but as nothing had appeared in the mag - I thought it a good idea to fill up a thread with Jag info - both good and bad!

Like this:

Atari made a lot of fuss over 64 bit aspect of Jaguar making it ideal for Networking...
Then only gave us Doom.
Battlesphere limped out after Atari pulled out of the Jaguar market and is only really played at Retro Events...
The dire AirCars was released by Songbird and you'd be hard pressed to find 8 Jaguar owners who wanted to play it.
And what was it with Jaguar and games that put you in control of or in the cockpit of an armoured fighting craft?
Hoverstrike Unconquered Lands
Iron Soldier
Iron Soldier II
I War
Phase Zero.
If it wasn't that it was Amiga/PC/SNES ports..
Or another FPS...
Or another old coin op updated.
And people say Sony killed originality with the PlayStation.

Re: Happy Birthday ATARI JAGUAR!

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:12 pm
by Crusty Starfish
Major Cuts at Atari

Apparently No New Jaguar Games to be Contracted

Don Thomas at Atari has confirmed that Ted Hoff, President of North
American Operations, has resigned, and Jack Tramiel, the chairman of the
board, who had been very much in the background for the past couple years,
has renewed his active involvement in the company. Atari has laid off a
number of employees, including Ted Taquechi, who produced a number of
Jaguar games and was the producer for the upcoming Phase Zero. Thomas
commented that he did not expect these cutbacks to affect upcoming Jaguar
and PC releases, stating that games being produced by people who were laid
off will be reassigned to remaining personnel. Phase Zero's new producer
will be Jon Skruch. Skruch and Larry Pacey, who oversee Atari's Jaguar and
PC developments respectively, both remain at Atari.

Thomas also confirmed that Jeff Minter, the programmer of the
incredibly popular Tempest 2000 and VLM, and the much-anticipated Defender
2000, has left for another company.

When Atari laid off a number of employees in November, IG ran a story
indicating that Atari did not plan to contract out any new Jaguar games.
In a subsequent interview with Don Thomas, Atari denied these allegations,
saying that they intended to continue to contract out Jaguar games to
outside companies. However, it now appears that in fact the original story
was correct. Jeff Minter was quite possibly the most popular Jaguar
developer, and other evidence indicates the likelihood that Atari had no
plans to contract out another Jaguar project to Minter: High Voltage
Software, who are responsible for White Men Can't Jump, Vid Grid, NBA Jam:
Tournament Edition, and Ruiner Pinball report that Atari has not contacted
them regarding any further Jaguar projects. Moreover, Beyond Games, who
coded Ultra Vortek, and were supposed to receive a contract for the sequel
to the incredibly popular Alien vs. Predator, have stated that Atari has
dropped the contract negotiations for that game, and have not been
responsive to proposals for a conversion to the Jaguar of Beyond Games'
Lynx hit Battlewheels.

Re: Happy Birthday ATARI JAGUAR!

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:13 pm
by Crusty Starfish
PowerZone, side 234 on Sky One, 17/8-93
We have spoken about 3dO, Amiga 32, CD
Rom but what of Atari. The Falcon
(that's their new flagship computer)
does not seem to be doing much. The
specs on this machine sounds great but
with only UK sales of 7,000 the user
base is nearly non existent. So enter
the JAGUAR, not a car but a 64 bit
console machine also coming from Atari.

What with 8 bit machines, 16, 32 and now
64 when will it ever end. It is alright
to say having the fastest car in the
world but no good with a speed limit of
70 MPH. The same analogy can be said of
a 64 bit machine, it may be fast, have
zillions of colours but without either a
user base of software support it may as
well not be there.

The Jaguar has the support of companies
like US Gold, Elite and Ocean and
already games such as Human and the
brilliant shoot-em-up Raiden are near
completion so who knows Atari could be
back in the limelight again. One spin
off with Jaguar's development is that
there should be more Falcon games

Re: Happy Birthday ATARI JAGUAR!

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:18 pm
by Crusty Starfish
Commodore UK boss, David Pleasance didn't seem phased by Atari announcing the Jaguar, saying it wasn't even a true 64 bit product, Atari had gone the route of a cartridge based system at a time publishers were desperate to get out of releasing games on that medium.

He also said he didn't believe for a second all the nonsense Atari was saying about how the Jaguar CD Drive would hit retail at $100 (it actually arrived at $149.95)
By the time the Jaguar arrived in the UK and you attached the CD unit to it, it wouldn't be competitive, price wise to the £299 CD32.

Re: Happy Birthday ATARI JAGUAR!

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:19 pm
by Crusty Starfish
Lucas Arts had the Jaguar listed on the Registration card for Dark Forces, which got me excited, but sadly it was for nothing :'(

I talked Lucas Arts concerning the Jaguar and was simply told that "Lucas Arts likes to keep its options open, future Jaguar development is a possiblity."

High Voltage Software on abandoning the Jaguar :
Scott Corley, VP of software development, was quoted as
saying High Voltage will "develop for the winners. It takes a lot out of a person's life to develop a high-quality game--so much that it's not worth doing it for a platform that is going to die."

Re: Happy Birthday ATARI JAGUAR!

Posted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 10:58 pm
by outdated_gamer
imo the Jag was a miss-managed product that also had some serious technical shortcommings and lacked support and market penetration.

Stronger than the popular 16-bit systems but not enough to really impress, weaker than the 32/64-bit ones that followed it so it couldn't host the more advanced 3D titles.

Lacking many key titles, from the ultra popular Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II, to exclusives that could really push it into homes (AvP was fine but not enough, same with Tempest 2000 and Iron Soldier).

Having unique adds, but still being virtually unknown in many places.

It was the "Wii U" of it's time, except didn't have the flagship exclusives and recognizable brands to carry it.

With that said, I do think the system could have done better than it did, if only it had a bit better hardware setup, smarter advertising and better developer support.

But it would end in last place in any case, at the best it would be right behind the Saturn, which is not saying much as the Saturn also did quite poorly in the West.

The fifth gen war was already decided when Sony announced the price of the PS1 and became serious about investing some big cash into it's advertising and developer support.

Re: Happy Birthday ATARI JAGUAR!

Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:10 am
by The Laird
Aircars had nothing do with Songbird. It's also quite a good game once you get past the ugly visuals, especially in link-up.

Apart from being in 3D, Iron Soldier, HoverStrike and BattleMorph play totally differently.

It's like saying what is it with the SNES and games where you jump on platforms?

Re: Happy Birthday ATARI JAGUAR!

Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2018 5:51 am
by Crusty Starfish
The Laird wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 4:10 am
Aircars had nothing do with Songbird. It's also quite a good game once you get past the ugly visuals, especially in link-up.

Apart from being in 3D, Iron Soldier, HoverStrike and BattleMorph play totally differently.

It's like saying what is it with the SNES and games where you jump on platforms?
I think your a little mistaken regarding Songbird and Aircars, if it wasn't for Songbird, the game would never of seen a release. As Carl himself has stated:
"It was my 1997 Atari Survey that convinced ICD to publish Aircars, since they did not originally believe even 100 people would purchase it. Whether you like Aircars or not, the survey did have a positive, direct impact on the Atari community. Carl Forhan"
So your kind of doing Carl an injustice saying Songbird had nothing to do with it.
Aircars takes a lot of critiscm for it's visual shortcomings, but it's rocking a decent frame rate and overcame the annoying terrain pop-in that did my head in on Cybermorph.The enemy A.I seemed pretty strong as well.
But it also shared the short comings of Cybermorph, no in-game music and a very annoying female voice going off all the time 😂
Hoverstrike, Battlemorph and Iron Soldier all share the same familiar features of being set in the future with you being sent on search and destroy type missions.
Control schemes differed but even when you saw a change of graphics for the landscape and the enemy vehicles from realistic (Iron Soldier) to Sci Fi (Battlemorph and Hoverstrike) you were either stomping along the ground in a Mech or hugging the ground in an attack hovercraft or space craft...
You weren't given the freedom of something like Starglider II or Starfighter 3000, which was surprising for a supposed 64 bit system.
The games mentioned just felt like the staple diet of Jaguar games at times.. terrain-skimming shooting being done in a typical polygon 3D Jaguar environment. Even limited or full screen texture mapping did little to dispel the sense of overwhelming familiarity.

Re: Happy Birthday ATARI JAGUAR!

Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2018 6:04 am
by Crusty Starfish
The Jaguar arrived at a very interesting time for myself.My dad's work meant we were pulling up roots and moving to the USA and we got see Atari operate in a very different manner compared to here in good old Blighty.
Atari Corp seemed very keen to get the media involved and showcase the Jaguar as being the next big thing, but with very mixed results.Coverage ran along lines of:
-CNN Future Watch Show having AVP
-Time Magazine having both 3DO and Jaguar appraised in the same issue, but the 3DO coverage dwarfed that of the Jaguar.
-CBS This Morning, sending a TV crew to Sunnyvale and the resulting TV segment had lot of coverage of Cybermorph along with shorter bursts of Raiden and Crescent Galaxy.
-Discovery Channel Hi tech toys for the holidays featured the Jaguar.
-Kron-TV an NBC affiliate featured the Jaguar.
One of Dad's mates worked for an IBM plant and he swore blind Atari allowed IBM to give 300 employees Jaguar's for free, but they weren't supposed to mention it as Atari were struggling to build enough stocks for the UK launch.

Re: Happy Birthday ATARI JAGUAR!

Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2018 7:51 am
by The Laird
Some copies of Aircars had already been sold prior to 1997 through Midnight Entertainment with Telegames as the distributor, in fact numerous people have released different versions of the game including B&C Computervisions and Beta Phase Games. Perhaps Carl isn't remembering it correctly and is talking about the first re-release? I myself own an original Midnite/Telegames version.




I am guessing you haven't really played any of those games properly. BattleMorph is a far superior game to Starfighter 3000.

I leave you to carry on quoting Ross now :lol:

Re: Happy Birthday ATARI JAGUAR!

Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2018 10:01 am
by Crusty Starfish
I can only comment on what information Carl put out at the time regarding Aircars, it's interesting you put up press coverage of it though as Carl did point out that he suspected the gaming mags did not review the final version of the game,GamePro in particular, so i am not sure which versions the magazines you show used.
As for quoting other people, whilst it's indeed true i have taken quotes from various sources online that people not familiar with might enjoy, i am trying to balance them with bits n bobs that i haven't seen mentioned before.
I'm not exactly sure why your getting so defensive over this.
It's the Jaguar's Anniversary and whilst i am sure the upcoming Jaguar feature on the Jaguar will be detailed, it can't hope to cover all aspects.
and do feel free pointing to where 'Ross' has written all of this? I'm assuming he is the Atarimania guy?

Re: Happy Birthday ATARI JAGUAR!

Posted: Thu Dec 06, 2018 11:45 am
by Crusty Starfish
I must confess i am rather taken aback by some of the responses in this thread.
Laird:You could of created a specific Jaguar information thread and shared the information you yourself have, I'm confident you have more than could be used in a solitary article on the Jaguar, no matter the occasion and the community here would of appreciated it.
Instead the moment one is created your jumping all over information i have collected from a number of online sources.
Now if it painted any aspect of the Jaguar or Atari or any of it's commercial development teams in a poor light or questioned anything you had stated in relation to the Jaguar, i could perhaps understand your vivid interest in my thread, but it hasn't.
Instead it's reading almost as if you feel you should be the sole authority on the Jaguar and your article will be all anyone needs to read.This is completely unnecessary and off-putting to anyone thinking of entering into further discussion here.
We see so little feedback on the articles the likes of yourself and others invest time in creating, do you honestly feel your approach here is encouraging to causal readers?.
I cannot honestly say i have ever encountered such from any other writer in any form (Freelancer or Full time staff), from any publication,regarding any subject.
I'm not aware i have broken any of the site rules by quoting from sources outside the realms of RetroGamer Forum, i haven't taken material from any publications by Future Publishing.
Perhaps the Community Team could take a few moments to advise me, before i post any further.