Atari Jaguar Related Quotes (Jan.22,1994)

From: Atari SIG (xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 02/20/94-12:49:42 PM Z

From: xx004@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Atari SIG)
Subject: Atari Jaguar Related Quotes (Jan.22,1994)
Date: Sun Feb 20 12:49:42 1994

 :: Volume 3 - Issue 1       ATARI EXPLORER ONLINE       22 January 1994 ::

//// Jaguar Quotes

//// John Mathieson <> - Jaguar designer:

   Why is Jaguar better than 3DO? Well, you really need to find
   someone who has programmed both. We believe Jaguar is at least
   twice as fast as 3DO, and provides a much better environment for
   developer's. Jaguar has a variety of processing elements, the GPU
   RISC processor, the blitter, the object processor which generates
   the display, and the audio DSP, as well as the good old 68K. These
   were all designed to be as general as possible.

   The object processor provides all the processing power you need to
   do classic 2D games like most of the Sega/Nintendo ones. It is a
   zooming/scaling smart sprite/playfield type processor. Games like
   Crescent Galaxy use it pretty heavily. It is a 64 bit engine.

   The GPU and blitter provide the power you need for 3D. The GPU has
   the processing power you need for 3D arithmetic, with specialised
   matrix stuff, and very fast multiply and divide engines. The
   blitter does the actual rendering, and generates in hardware the
   shaded (and Z-buffered if you want it) pixels at a rate limited
   only by the speed of the 64 bit DRAM bus.

   My understanding of 3D0 is that it is a glorified 2D architecture,
   and is not good at things like polygon rendering. The architecture
   of a machine is what makes it fly - ensuring there are no
   bottlenecks that hold everything else up.  We think Jaguar does a
   good job at this. Give the games developers time to get to grips
   with it and we should see some games that will knock your socks

   The amount of RAM on the CD is not what defines its performance.
   PCs can fetch full motion video off CDs with very little RAM in the
   CD. Access delays are best reduced by spinning the disk faster, as
   a large part of the delay is the time the data takes to load. The 2
   Mbytes of 64 bit RAM in Jaguar provide plenty of space for loading
   CD games into, loads of RAM in the CD would not help, it would be
   slower as the cartridge port is "only" 32 bits.

   The programming environment that developers get is supported out of
   Atari in Sunnyvale, and I am not sure what it contains. They run a
   developers only BBS and should have lots of stuff for developers on
   it. ... most of the developers I met don't like too much API type
   software given to them, they just want to pile into the hardware
   and get on with it. It is difficult with a new machine to have a
   lot of software for the first developers of course, because as soon
   as the hardware is available it gets shipped to developers....

   By 2D graphics I mean games like Sonic or Crescent Galaxy, where
   the animation involves just moving things around. 3D is stuff like
   Cybermorph or a flight simulator where things move in perspective.
   The definitive reference work is "Computer Graphics, principles and
   practice" by Foley and van Dam et al., published by Addison Wesley.
   This is a brilliant introduction to the field, and without it
   Jaguar would not be what it is.

   I think you will find that most of the best PC games will end up on
   Jaguar. Jaguar is as fast at animating 16 bit pixels as a 486 DX2
   66 is at 8 bit pixels - this is not just my opinion but comes from
   Rebellion software who are writing Alien versus Predator and
   Chequered Flag. Jaguar has 2 megabytes of RAM, and when this is
   combined with 2 megabytes of ROM (16 megabit cartridge) has more
   memory than most PCs. These cartridges are bigger then they sound,
   because all bitmaps on Jaguar are true colour images and can
   therefore be JPEG compressed.

   [Jaguar's blitter] can move anything between a 1 bit pixel and a
   64-bit datum in one transfer, it can move rectangular areas of
   them, it can clip while it does it, it can scale the moved data,
   rotate it, skew it, it can draw lines, it can synthesize 4 Gouraud
   shaded pixels simulataneously , it can treat colours as
   transparent, expand one-bit per pixel maps (character painting), it
   can generate 16-bit Z buffer values and compare them with the Z of
   the pixel already present and clip as required, etc., etc. It would
   make a wonderful Windows accelerator, but games have a much broader
   requirement, and its great for those too,

   Jaguar's GPU is un-specialized, that is its strength. It is a fast
   32-bit RISC processor with lots of smart RISC features to increase
   throughput and make it easier to program. It does have some
   functions that are particular to its application, like matrix
   instructions, and hardware multiply and divide units, but it is
   basically a fast general purpose processor. It's well matched to the
   68K because the 68K does all the un-intensive high level game-play,
   control and graphics stuff, while the GPU does the low-level 2D and
   3D maths, which involve very intensive and repetitive stuff.

Bill Rehbock <> head developer honcho at

   The architecture of Sega-CD and Jaguar are so different, that you
   really can't compare the CD-ROM buffers "apples-to-apples." The
   Jaguar can even read directly from the CD into system RAM directly;
   keep in mind that the base Jaguar was designed to incorporate
   serial bit streams coming from CD, or the synchronous serial port
   (cable set-top, telephone, etc.) with minimal additional support.

   Q: Given development time, could CM have had completely
   texture mapped landscapes?

   Q: Could the hills have been in the distance, growing closer rather
   than just popping up?

   Q: Could there have been a digital stereo soundtrack accompanying
   the game?

   Q: Could the ship have had texture mapped logos, battle scars etc?

   Answers: Yes; stay tuned for the sequel to Cybermorph

   P.S. The Jaguar can support surround sound in several ways, all
   better than the SNES.

//// Mike Fulton <> answers a question about
what kind of TV to buy to best enjoy a Jaguar on:

   Buy the best TV you can afford, with the features you are looking
   for. Really the only consideration regarding Jaguar is that if you
   want the best picture, you want a TV with either S-video inputs
   (also called S-VHS at times, these are getting to be fairly common
   on higher quality TV/monitors these days) or RGB inputs (rare, but
   not unknown).

   Jaguar's resolution isn't really a factor as far as this goes.
   However, as long as we're on the subject, strictly speaking, the
   Jaguar's video resolution is programmable, so some games may have a
   resolution of 320x200, some games may have 384x240, some may have
   720x480, and so forth.

//// Rob Nicholson <> talks about an
interesting un-limitation about Jaguar Audio:

   The number of channels is limited by software. The faster you can
   write your DSP code, the more channels you can mix togther.

//// John Carmack <>, Technical Director
at Id Software, answers why Id chose to port DOOM to the Jaguar.

   Feel free to quote this.

   We have a few reasons for not developing on the 3DO, but
   development machine bigotry isn't one of them. I used an apple IIGS
   for snes development (I am never, EVER, going to work with nintendo
   again), and I am suffering with an atari falcon for Jaguar work
   until I can port the tools to NEXTSTEP. I wouldn't turn away a mac
   based environment.

   The biggest reason is that I doubt that 3DO is going to become a
   huge success. $750 is way out of line for a pure entertainment
   machine. Was the NEO-GEO a success two years ago? We bought one,
   but we don't know anoyone else that did. I doubt there will be all
   that many units sold.

   To make matters worse, there are over one hundred third party
   licensees suposedly developing on 3DO. If there were only a couple
   companies developing for it, they might make money. I predict there
   is going to be some serious lossage going on in the 3DO developer

   The other major argument is somewhat philosphical. I don't like
   what people expect out of CD games. Does anyone think that the
   cheeseball dialog in crash and burn is a GOOD addition? It turns my
   stomach. People expect CD games to have tons of digitized speech
   and video, and the 3DO is going to be strongly associated with it.
   The joke here is that if we ever do a CD version of DOOM, you are
   going to get the game and "The Making of DOOM" a one hour feature
   film. Companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars putting all
   this media into their games, and it often actually detracts from
   it. We don't want to be part of this crowd.

   I would rather cut down to the essentials and fit on a cartridge
   than uselessly bulk up on a CD. I have a minimallist sense of
   aesthetics in game design.

   Many developers are planning on waiting out the eary 32 bit
   hardware wars, but I want to do a cool product even if it doesn't
   make tons of money. Sandy (our map designer) semi-derisively calls
   DOOM jaguar my "reward" for writing DOOM pc. "Good job, you can go
   play with your new toys." :-)

   Our initial appraisal of the Jaguar was "nice system, but Atari
   probably can't make it a success". But when I got the technical
   documentation, I was VERY impressed. This is the system I want to
   see become a standard platform.

   I was slated to do a cut down version of DOOM for the super
   nintendo SFX chip, but I kept thinking about how cool a jaguar
   version of DOOM would be, and nintendo kept rejecting
   wolfenstein-snes for b*****t reasons (a golden cross bonus item
   might offend christians. right.).

   We finaly decided that we didn't want to be a part of the
   chicken-and-the-egg problem of new systems not attracting customers
   because developers haven't written for the platform because there
   are no customers. The jag is cool, I think it has a shot at
   success, and I am going to put my time where my mouth is.

   Why the jag is cooler than the 3DO (from my point of view):  It
   only costs $250. The bulk of its processing power is user
   programmable. The 3DO has a capable main processor (a couple times
   better than the weak 68k in the jag), but most of its power is in
   custom hardware that has narrow functionality for affine
   transformations. The jag has some stupid hardware for z buffering
   and gouraud shading, but I can just ignore it and tell the two
   27mhz risc chips to do EXACTLY what I want. A 64 bit bus with
   multiple independant processors may not be the easiest thing to
   optimize for, but there is a LOT of potential.

   There will probably be a version of DOOM for 3DO. We are talking
   with a few companies about licensing out the port. It would be kind
   of fun to do it here, but I am eager to get to work on the next
   generation game engine that will make DOOM look puny...

Ted Tahquechi <> steps into a conversation
about the size of the Crescent Galaxy cart:

   //// The 16 megabit answer is right. Do remember though that there
   is a LOT of compression going on in a Jaguar cart, and there is
   actually MUCH more raw information in the carts than 16 megabits.
   I think the figure I last heard was 56 megabits for C.G.

//// Don Thomas <> tells how to order Jaguar
Tees, caps and Polos, direct from Atari:

   You asked for them, you got them!

   Jaguar Tees, Polos and caps! Premium quality, color designs on
   black. Perfect apparel for your next shopping trip to the Mall!
   <hint> Makes great gifts!

   T-Shirts and Polos available in M,L,XL adult sizes.
   Caps are adjustable.

   T-Shirts are $13.95 each.
   Caps are $13.95 each.
   Polos are $19.95 each.

   I have approved a minimum $3.50 S&H on any one of these items,
   otherwise the $4.95 minimum applies if added to cart or cable
   orders. California shipments will have 8.25% tax added. All prices
   in U.S. funds only. All shipments via U.P.S. Ground to North
   American locations only.

   I have a limited number in stock now, but I have been asked to
   allow 4 to 6 weeks for delivery as we expect to sell through
   rapidly and may have to back order fast.

   Best way to order is by fax @ 408/745-2088. Make certain Visa or
   MasterCard number and expiration is provided as well as ship to
   address and anticipated billing amount. Also indicate size, if
   applicable. You may also call 408/745-2089 (voice) during normal
   business hours Pacific time.

   You may send a money order if you wish to:

   Atari Corporation
   P.O. Box 61657
   Sunnyvale, CA

   Thanks for your valued support!

Jaguars for rental at BlockBuster Video! Don explains:

   To help put those Rental License concerns to rest, I have been
   told I can let people know that BlockBuster will be receiving
   Jaguars (specially packed for the rental market) within a couple
   weeks in the San Francisco and New York markets.

   If you have been toying with the idea of getting a Jaguar, here is
   your opportunity to "try before you buy". If you already have a
   Jaguar, this is a chance to try new carts as they come out. All
   Jaguar supporters should regularly let their BlockBuster store know
   that they made a great decision to support the Jaguar!

//// Editor: Since Don's post, there have been reports of Jaguars
//// showing up at SF-area BlockBusters!

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