Native for Jaguar
We were always fascinated by this machine, unfortunately like with every
console it is not just possible to sit down und develop, usually you need a
devkit. As I recall Jaguar devkits were around 5000$ back then, so that was out
Around 1996, there were some rumours spread that there was a cheap solution from
a swedish guy. He modified your Jaguar so you could transfer program from an
ST. Funny enough just googleing brought up this:
The homepage still looks exactly like I remember it from 15 years ago. So we
sent our Jaguar to this swedish guy and he did the modification. A couple of
days later it arrived and we tested all the examples that were available
publicly back then. It was just a couple of programs like Jagtris from 42Bastian
Schick and some sprite scaling. All worked very well with this so called
JagServer. Years later we discovered that Matthias Domin (the guy who is doing
ImpulseX) at the time did exactly the same by sending his Jag to Sweden.
There were no "official" docs available so we worked with the so called
Of course they were not as good as the later available official ones, but they
did their job well.
For all that are not really aware of what the Jaguar is, here's a small summary:
The machine was developed around early 90-92 by basically three people. They did
not only build some Custom GFX and Sound Hardware like most other consoles by
the time but instead opted to also do their own RISC processors which sounds
like a crazy idea for such a small team. The machine consists of a well known
68000 (running at around 13.3mhz) 2 RISC processors, one is called the GPU and
is "bundled" with a blitter and a fast sprite processor in a single chip, the
other one is called the DSP. Both these chips are 32Bit. The machine comes with
2MB Dram. The GPU chip is sitting on a 64 Bit Data Bus. Very nice specs for the
time if you compare them to their closest competitors (by company size) like the
As we started with Jaguar, the whole game was done in 68000 assembler as we knew
the processor from the Falcon already. The game suffered a lot of slow downs
early on as the 68000 has a hard time getting some bus time with heavy sprite
processor (its called object processor in the Jaguar) use. These slowdowns were
coming from the 68k not being able to create the object list fast enough.
Rendering those sprites was no problem, the Jaguar is very fast at putting 2d
sprites on the screen.
We then converted the heart of the engine to the GPU. Afterwards the game ran
easily at 60 FPS. The whole Native engine has probably around 3kb in the GPU.
The blitter is used only very little, some of the graphics are mirrored in Y
direction with it, that's all.
The DSP is uncompressing the data as needed, the ICE Packer is used for that
task. It would still have been easily possible to add at least Sound FX. I donīt
know why we didnīt do that, probably because there was no memory left for
samples. The game was developed on a Falcon with 14 MB, a program called Devpac
was used for the programming side. For the graphics we used Lightwave for
modelling and rendering and our own sprite editor.
Compared to the Dreamcast game Sturmwind the engine shares some similarities,
probably because of the same person programming it. I would call the Native
engine a subset of the Sturmwind feature set.