Sega Saturn in 3D

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Roperious
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Sega Saturn in 3D

Postby Roperious » August 18th, 2020, 4:03 pm

Hi all:

Noticed that there was a thread recently entitled "Game Players June 95 Magazine". Some fellow named jon was making some comments about the graphical ability of the Sega Saturn. I note that Powerslave was absent from this thread. Also, the port of Duke Nukem 3D was impressive.

I would also point out that the current development of Saturn games is illustrating what the Saturn was capable of. For example, see this project:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPYEiDwZbRc

or this project:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhqMGLBhmc8&t=187s


For clarity, I am not saying that the Saturn was more powerful than the PS1. But the above videos demonstrate, as unpolished as they may be, that the Saturn was able to push some quads.

Enjoy the videos!

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VideoGameCritic
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Re: Sega Saturn in 3D

Postby VideoGameCritic » August 18th, 2020, 5:26 pm

Yeah these videos seem to indicate the Saturn was capable enough.

Where Sega apparently dropped the ball was the difficulty programming it's two-processor architecture. Heck, even Sega had a hard time figuring it out. Recall the the original Virtua Fighter released for the system was later replaced free of charge.

The Playstation has a reputation for making it easy to develop 3D games and that was the clincher I think.

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DrLitch
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Re: Sega Saturn in 3D

Postby DrLitch » August 18th, 2020, 8:22 pm

Roperious wrote:For clarity, I am not saying that the Saturn was more powerful than the PS1. But the above videos demonstrate, as unpolished as they may be, that the Saturn was able to push some quads.
Enjoy the videos!


In terms of pure polygon shifting capability the Saturn could probably keep up with the PS1. There is more to a game than throwing around polygons and getting a console to perform to highest spec is another thing. I wish Sega had time to learn the lesson of the Atari Jaguar. More CPU's does not necessarily mean better (outside of running AI subroutines - AI likes parallel processing) and back then dual core was a topic of R&D in IEEE journals. Not many high class programmers accustomed to dual CPU systems back then - use one CPU of the Saturn and get the DSP to do some of the heavy lifting and be done with it, even if clock cycles are wasted while the main CPU polls the other CPU tied to the Bus. The PS1 set the standard for console design - CPU and dedicated Hardware Accelerator (read GPU) that renders everything in hardware. No writing Assembly instructions to a DSP chip. Good tools set the PS1 apart, easy for EE or CE/CS grads to learn their trade on, easy means better software, ergo better looking games and so on.

The problem was not that the Saturn was unable, in theory, to render 3D comparable to PS1. The problem was in practice the Saturn was not able to render 3D comparable to the PS1. Games seem to indicate it. Outside of Dead or Alive and perhaps one or two others, it would take pretty strong coolaid to conclude that the Saturn was a good 3D system. 2D, awesome, outside of a botched Castlevania port and a pretty lousy Doom port. 3D wise, Powerslave is a bloody good game and looks nice. Tomb Raider was quite close to the PS1 version but the graphics for it sucked even back then. Anyone with a 486 or Pentium and 3DFX card would notice how rough the console ports looked. The best FPS on the Saturn does not hold a torch graphically compared to Medal of Honor on the PS1 for instance. Nothing on the 3D platforming side looks as good as Ape Attack or Spyro. It seems the developers hit a brick wall drawing a gaming world bigger than a small box without major draw in problems. Saturn is way more powerful that what we see, problem is Theory >> Practice. By 2002 they got pretty close to maxing out the PS1 and games like Legacy of Kain Soulreaver and Rayman looked incredible on the PS1 (DC owners of the time would beg to differ). I doubt they got even within 60% of what the Saturn is capable of. Someone hand coding for 5 years on assembly might achieve PS1 results, PS1 results that would take less than a year from a ground up build on the native PS1. In a world where time is money, no wonder the Saturn got the dregs.

Roperious
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Re: Sega Saturn in 3D

Postby Roperious » August 19th, 2020, 10:35 am

Totally agree. Sega botched their 32bit showing. On paper some of it made sense, for example, using the dual Hitachi chips in the 32x to get developers used to that programming environment. (Not suggesting that the 32x was a wise move!)

By and large, however, the Saturn really suffered due a large list of missteps that started before the first Saturn was ever rolled off of the assembly line.

All of that said, lots of fun to be had there!

jon
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Re: Sega Saturn in 3D

Postby jon » August 19th, 2020, 12:30 pm

I paraphrased this from the Saturn's Wikipedia page. Don't argue with me, argue with this.

A criticism was that the Saturn used 2D sprites to generate polygons and simulate 3D space. The PlayStation functioned similarly, but featured a dedicated "Geometry Transfer Engine" that rendered additional polygons. As a result, several analysts described the Saturn as an "essentially" 2D system. Steven L. Kent stated: "Although Nintendo and Sony had true 3D game machines, Sega had a 2D console that did a good job with 3D objects but wasn't optimized for 3D environments."

thunderjohn
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Re: Sega Saturn in 3D

Postby thunderjohn » August 19th, 2020, 1:59 pm

The thing with Saturn is that the A-teams kept the best progamming tools for themselves and didn't share. Yuji Naka threatened to leave the company if they shared the Nights engine to the struggling Sonic X-treme team. This happened again with the N64, where Nintendo,Rare and Factor 5 used microcode to work wonders with the machine, and it shows. Just compare Mario 64, Banjo and Donkey to something like Gex or Body Harvest. They are words apart. Back to Saturn, there is a playable copy of Virtua Fighter 3 somewhere, and that's what I wanna see to this day.

strat
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Re: Sega Saturn in 3D

Postby strat » August 20th, 2020, 1:22 pm

Just compare Mario 64, Banjo and Donkey to something like Gex or Body Harvest.


Nintendo supplied third-parties with a variation of the same microcode used in Mario 64. Also, reverse-engineering N64 games found devs who customized their microcode were still using Nintendo's as a base which they modified.

https://hack64.net/Thread-Fast3D-Microcodes
https://olivieryuyu.blogspot.com/2020/0 ... ne-of.html

On the contrary of what could be suggested by Factor5, the graphic microcode of both Indiana Jones and Battle of Naboo was NOT developed from scratch. It was obviously developed with the source code of the F3DEX microcode supplied by Nintendo in its SDK, which is just an optimized version of the Fast3D microcode used by Super Mario 64. Of course most of the graphic commands were rewritten along with many major additions (the size of the microcode is about twice as large as the other ones) but its core is quite similar with the very first game of the console.


WRT Sonic X-Treme, Yuji Naka never liked the game to begin with.

ThePixelatedGenocide
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Re: Sega Saturn in 3D

Postby ThePixelatedGenocide » August 20th, 2020, 5:12 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvRG_v8XpC0

Sonic R's coder explains why the Saturn was nearly impossible for other developers to wrap their heads around.

It's not just the quads or two processors. Or even the polygon limits. It's really all about the human limits. This system was designed for robots.

Here's the more in-depth version, for those of you with coding experience:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8plen8cLro

jon
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Re: Sega Saturn in 3D

Postby jon » August 20th, 2020, 9:38 pm

I’m very curious as to what kind of 3d you’re saying the Saturn is capable of. I’ve never once seen someone describe what type of 3d worlds the Saturn could make.

I’ll say an example of what the Saturn could never come close to doing is a level like Assault on Cyburbia from Twisted Metal on the PS1. That game came out in the PS1’s first months in 1995. That level is huge. And there’s lot of enemies too. The Saturn has no 3d games where you can control a car or a plane in a fully 3d world. Warhawk was released really early too, a flight combat game.

I vividly remember being laughed out of threads for talking about the Jaguar’s 3d capabilities. I’ve played 3d Jaguar games where you control a car or a plane. And I don’t see any for the Saturn. I’ve never played a 3do but games like Starfighter are more advanced 3d wise than anything on the Saturn which has never really had a 3d game like that. It’s basically accepted that the Saturn can’t make those types of games.

Is it possible that there’s untapped potential. Maybe. But I got laughed out of threads talking about the Jaguar’s potential. I know people are fond of the Saturn. But c’mon, it’s not even powerful enough to have a game where you can control a car in an open 3d world.

brendand
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Joined: April 13th, 2016, 4:59 pm

Re: Sega Saturn in 3D

Postby brendand » August 21st, 2020, 1:09 am

@jon the Sega Saturn also has a Starfighter game https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2NQqm2NmLE


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