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Thread: Was the Sega Saturn developed with 3d in mind from the get go?

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    Raging in the Streets bultje112's Avatar
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    Default Was the Sega Saturn developed with 3d in mind from the get go?

    This guy claims so:




    I have no knowledge about this, but it would change the saturns outlook in hindsight completely. From a laments persons view I do think the saturns 3d is heavily underrated.

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    Master of Shinobi Alianger's Avatar
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    Even if it was it wasn't designed that well or we would've seen better results in more games. This guy has a seriously annoying way of narrating btw.
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    What is his source for claiming VDP2 was added after the second SH-2?

    Think about what would be easier to add late in a console's development -- an entirely new video display processor, or a copy of a chip you're already using?

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    I haven't watched the entire video, but he needs to cite sources in order to be taken seriously.

    Quote Originally Posted by axel View Post
    Think about what would be easier to add late in a console's development -- an entirely new video display processor, or a copy of a chip you're already using?
    What I find strange about the idea that VDP2 was added as a counter to the Playstation is that it appears to be something from a 2D based design rather than a design based around 3D graphics. It was ostensibly a 2D background plane generator, with the added ability to scale, rotate, and blend those planes, and its most basic and obvious use would have been in 2D scrolling games and for "mode 7" type effects. Without VDP2, and with VDP1's limited power and built in effects, I suspect the Saturn wouldn't have looked anything like a 2D powerhouse. I suppose it could have been intended primarily to take some load off VDP1 in 3D games, but it's not useful in every scenario and does nothing to enhance the Saturn's actual polygon/quad rendering rate (only the way they're allocated in certain scenarios).

    I've no idea what the actual reality of development was, but it seems to me that without the second SH2 the Saturn would have suffered from reduced processing power, but that power proved hard to harness anyway. On the other hand, without VDP2 the Saturn would have been a fundamentally broken design, lacking in graphical features and performance expected for new 2D games of the era in addition to having a 3D feature set that was inferior to the competition. In no way do I claim to be an expert, so I could be entirely mistaken, but the Saturn without VDP2 makes no sense to me as a design irrespective of whether the system was designed for 2D or 3D, and that makes me doubt that it was added as a last minute fix.

    For years I've even half wondered if an early concept for a 2D Saturn could have been what became VDP2 and an addressable framebuffer; VDP2 would handle scrolling playfields, and sprites and/or a few polygons could have been software rendered on top of or behind those playfields. In that case, VDP1 would have been the chip added to make the Saturn more competitive (though obviously not late in development).
    Last edited by Silanda; 06-17-2018 at 04:02 PM.

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    Raging in the Streets Blades's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silanda View Post
    What I find strange about the idea that VDP2 was added as a counter to the Playstation is that it appears to be something from a 2D based design rather than a design based around 3D graphics. It was ostensibly a 2D background plane generator, with the added ability to scale, rotate, and blend those planes, and its most basic and obvious use would have been in 2D scrolling games and for "mode 7" type effects. Without VDP2, and with VDP1's limited power and built in effects, I suspect the Saturn wouldn't have looked anything like a 2D powerhouse. I suppose it could have been intended primarily to take some load off VDP1 in 3D games, but it's not useful in every scenario and does nothing to enhance the Saturn's actual polygon/quad rendering rate (only the way they're allocated in certain scenarios).

    I've no idea what the actual reality of development was, but it seems to me that without the second SH2 the Saturn would have suffered from reduced processing power, but that power proved hard to harness anyway. On the other hand, without VDP2 the Saturn would have been a fundamentally broken design, lacking in graphical features and performance expected for new 2D games of the era in addition to having a 3D feature set that was inferior to the competition. In no way do I claim to be an expert, so I could be entirely mistaken, but the Saturn without VDP2 makes no sense to me as a design irrespective of whether the system was designed for 2D or 3D, and that makes me doubt that it was added as a last minute fix.
    This. It doesn't make any sense otherwise. Even Hideki Sato said he tried to 'split the baby' with the Saturn, implying it was intended to do both 2D and 3D and wound up not doing either great. Also, it's worth mentioning that the Saturn was in development for a long time, and was hindered by this the most IMO. It was essentially a hot-rodded 1993 design inspired by the powerful parallel-based Model 1/2 arcade boards of the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blades View Post
    This. It doesn't make any sense otherwise. Even Hideki Sato said he tried to 'split the baby' with the Saturn, implying it was intended to do both 2D and 3D and wound up not doing either great. Also, it's worth mentioning that the Saturn was in development for a long time, and was hindered by this the most IMO. It was essentially a hot-rodded 1993 design inspired by the powerful parallel-based Model 1/2 arcade boards of the time.
    I thought the 2D games looked great! It wasn't *that* bad at 3D either, just too much work to get all the hardware to play nicely together. I think the video got that part right, 3rd parties had very little help and very little incentive to learn the Saturn when the PSX was a much easier system to program.

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    The VDP2 helps with creating bigger 3D worlds with it's infinite scale-able 2D planes used for floor/water in Panzer Dragoon and floor in Sonic Jam (play with background layer toggle in SSF emulator). In these situations they save on a lot of 3D processing power by doing some things in 2D instead of 3D.

    For me the combination of 2D and 3D make it a more unique console and some very unique visuals style provided by these combination. Just check out Radiant Silvergun, Tera Driver (which looks worse, more slowdown and lower resolution on PS1), Thunder Force V (again, worse on PS1). Not to mention combination of 2D and 3D age better then just 3D of the PS1.

    Not having infinite scaling planes also results in some floating lands in PS1 games (Dragon Quest VII and Final Fantasy Tactics come to mind).

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    Raging in the Streets Blades's Avatar
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    I thought the 2D games looked great! It wasn't *that* bad at 3D either, just too much work to get all the hardware to play nicely together. I think the video got that part right, 3rd parties had very little help and very little incentive to learn the Saturn when the PSX was a much easier system to program.
    I'm not saying it wasn't a great system, but it became a great system because of the goodwill and tenacity from the developers, the Saturn fought them every step of the way. By 1997 it just couldn't keep up without massive effort.

    To put things in perspective, it started life (according to Eidolon's Inn) as a consolized System 32, then augmented by requirements to display graphics similar to Model 1/2 which Sega R&D decided might be important in the long run. This is where I suspect the warped sprites 3D design came from rather than designing independent 3D and 2D processing systems. It still came out complicated and expensive. The PSX on the other hand focused almost exclusively on 3D (ironically inspired by the success of Sega 3D in the arcades) with a streamlined design and was not limited by 2D baggage from the last generation.

    It does make sense in perspective. I remember Sato saying in the same interview that at the time of the Saturn's development Sega had loads of 2D teams and only one 3D team (referred to as CG, probably AM2). With those numbers, even implementing half-assed 3D was probably a gamble. You don't have to look farther than the Playstation and Saturn's launch lineup in Japan. Full 3D games were rare, and Sega had more of them. When the industry shifted towards Model 2-like 3D, it was over for the Saturn and great for the PSX.

    Most of the games that came out for the Saturn were too arcade-like, which was a step in the wrong direction at the time. Even the launch Saturn boxes touted it as "the best arcade machine in the world!" Sega was trying to bring the arcade home, instead of continuing the Genesis' (best-selling) formula of long adventure games. Things changed by 1997 (Panzer Dragoon Saga), but by then it was too little too late. Had they capitalized on this, the Saturn could have avoided disaster with extremely strong 1st-party titles.

    I completely think that at the time of the Saturn's launch, Sega had the best artistic talent in the industry working for them. Which makes the design and death of Saturn even more sad considering. Bottom line, the Saturn was a bad design at a bad time from the very beginning. Consolizing a System 32 only made sense in 1992.

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    Like Silanda said and unlike the video intro promised, it just seems to be one more video with a lot of wild claims and no sources provided.





    Quote Originally Posted by Blades View Post
    I'm not saying it wasn't a great system, but it became a great system because of the goodwill and tenacity from the developers, the Saturn fought them every step of the way. By 1997 it just couldn't keep up without massive effort.

    To put things in perspective, it started life (according to Eidolon's Inn) as a consolized System 32, then augmented by requirements to display graphics similar to Model 1/2 which Sega R&D decided might be important in the long run. This is where I suspect the warped sprites 3D design came from rather than designing independent 3D and 2D processing systems. It still came out complicated and expensive. The PSX on the other hand focused almost exclusively on 3D (ironically inspired by the success of Sega 3D in the arcades) with a streamlined design and was not limited by 2D baggage from the last generation.

    It does make sense in perspective. I remember Sato saying in the same interview that at the time of the Saturn's development Sega had loads of 2D teams and only one 3D team (referred to as CG, probably AM2). With those numbers, even implementing half-assed 3D was probably a gamble. You don't have to look farther than the Playstation and Saturn's launch lineup in Japan. Full 3D games were rare, and Sega had more of them. When the industry shifted towards Model 2-like 3D, it was over for the Saturn and great for the PSX.

    Most of the games that came out for the Saturn were too arcade-like, which was a step in the wrong direction at the time. Even the launch Saturn boxes touted it as "the best arcade machine in the world!" Sega was trying to bring the arcade home, instead of continuing the Genesis' (best-selling) formula of long adventure games. Things changed by 1997 (Panzer Dragoon Saga), but by then it was too little too late. Had they capitalized on this, the Saturn could have avoided disaster with extremely strong 1st-party titles.

    I completely think that at the time of the Saturn's launch, Sega had the best artistic talent in the industry working for them. Which makes the design and death of Saturn even more sad considering. Bottom line, the Saturn was a bad design at a bad time from the very beginning. Consolizing a System 32 only made sense in 1992.
    In a lot of ways, the Saturn is just another iteration of old Sega business' practices which this time faced tougher competition/different context.
    And it's also a result of some gambles which simply didn't pay off.

    Ex:
    With the Mega Drive it did pay off to release the console ahead of Nintendo. With the Saturn it didn't work.
    And there are many reasons for that but one that maybe they downplayed and people nowadays seem to completely ignore is that the SNES doesn't delivered a major performance improvement and, actually, in many cases it represented a downgrade (you can go there look several reviews of the early releases complaining about the slowdown in its games).
    The SNES also didn't have a price advantage over the MD AFAIK.

    With the Saturn it was totally different. It was both the under-performing hardware and the most expensive one when compared to the PS1.
    Sony was a new player but huge one and which went with a very strong worldwide launch strategy, unlike the PC Engine had.
    The N64 did look both in specs and in games (Super Mario 64) way more powerful than the Saturn.


    Ex #2:
    Mega Drive went with packed pixel while both PCE and SNES used planar graphics.
    In the long run, it gave the MD some palatable advantages with animation-heavy games, which end up getting more and more important during that gen (especially in the western marked). It was easier to cram more animation frames and it was also easier and faster to decompress them.
    This can be considered a gamble to some extent and it did bring some unexpected yet positive outcomes.

    Saturn's use of quads didn't pay off. Aside from the technical complications it brings to the rendering of certain effects and efficiency, the industry simply ended up taking a different direction.
    All the modeling tools and APIs were geared towards triangle-based rendering after some time.

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    Death Adder's minion FORS YARD's Avatar
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    "At this point the ... [Saturn] system is about 40% developed and Sega hasn't decided between one 32-Bit CPU or two."
    - Kei Kuboki, GameFan December 1993
    If GameFan is to be believed, a single CPU was at least under consideration early in the Saturn's development. The second CPU probably wasn't "thrown in at the last minute", but it also doesn't appear to have been an intrinsic part of the system's design from the beginning.

    "Sega has spent the last nine months or so playing catch-up with Sony after a publisher-friend tipped Sega off about the power of PlayStation. New specs and development tools only recently arrived with third parties, superseding Sega's original description of the project. The main difference between them is apparently the addition of more dedicated processors taking work away from the two CPUs."
    - Next Generation Premiere Issue (January 1995)
    To add some fuel to the fire, Next Generation implied that multiple processors could have been added late in development. VDP 2? SCU? Whatever that chip is that handles the CD-ROM drive? It would be interesting to know for certain.

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    Raging in the Streets bultje112's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thief View Post
    The VDP2 helps with creating bigger 3D worlds with it's infinite scale-able 2D planes used for floor/water in Panzer Dragoon and floor in Sonic Jam (play with background layer toggle in SSF emulator). In these situations they save on a lot of 3D processing power by doing some things in 2D instead of 3D.

    For me the combination of 2D and 3D make it a more unique console and some very unique visuals style provided by these combination. Just check out Radiant Silvergun, Tera Driver (which looks worse, more slowdown and lower resolution on PS1), Thunder Force V (again, worse on PS1). Not to mention combination of 2D and 3D age better then just 3D of the PS1.

    Not having infinite scaling planes also results in some floating lands in PS1 games (Dragon Quest VII and Final Fantasy Tactics come to mind).
    also ps1 is full of texture warping, which has aged even worse, saturn I see almost no texture warping.

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    Quote Originally Posted by axel View Post
    What is his source for claiming VDP2 was added after the second SH-2?

    Think about what would be easier to add late in a console's development -- an entirely new video display processor, or a copy of a chip you're already using?

    I don't know, because of the 1st set of concrete specs of the Saturn was of the Saturn 32 channels of sound, the 27Hz Hitachi CPU. I doubt anyone knows for certain, but my guess was on hearing the PSX spec's. SEGA reworked the VDP 1 and the added a 2nd SH-2.
    SEGA Lord is right in that the Saturn was always designed to handle 3D and that was confirmed by SOJ then AM#2 R&D chief Tadahiro Kawamura and why SEGA changed the Saturn planned NEC CPU to the Hitachi one After tests showed the NEC CPU to be too slow for 3D calculations
    Last edited by Team Andromeda; 06-18-2018 at 04:19 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thief View Post
    The VDP2 helps with creating bigger 3D worlds with it's infinite scale-able 2D planes used for floor/water in Panzer Dragoon and floor in Sonic Jam (play with background layer toggle in SSF emulator). In these situations they save on a lot of 3D processing power by doing some things in 2D instead of 3D.

    For me the combination of 2D and 3D make it a more unique console and some very unique visuals style provided by these combination. Just check out Radiant Silvergun, Tera Driver (which looks worse, more slowdown and lower resolution on PS1), Thunder Force V (again, worse on PS1). Not to mention combination of 2D and 3D age better then just 3D of the PS1.

    Not having infinite scaling planes also results in some floating lands in PS1 games (Dragon Quest VII and Final Fantasy Tactics come to mind).
    Agreed. With the Saturn, you had monster 2D and really good 3D GFX (sort of libe a perverse reverse of the PS 2D and 3D to that of the Saturn) and the Saturn shone when games used that combination, but sadly it also made the Saturn rather crap at handling ports of PC/PS games.
    Panzer Dragoon Zwei is
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    Presented for your pleasure

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    Just to give some people a time line of the Saturn spec's leaks

    Here's EDGE Issue 1 October 1993 (bare in mind Mags are published a month in advance and this was before the internet and so news from Japan took weeks to get back) and to give people an idea of the time like. 3DO was on the cover and the likes of Gunstar Heroes on the MD was being reviewed.


    [/url]IMG


    Edge Issue 5 Feb 1994 In the review section for that month was the likes of Cannon Fodder on the Amiga and ActRasier II on the SNES




    Edge Issue 7 April 1994 and where you got concrete specs direct from SEGA and with got the USA version of Lunar and Doom on the PC in the review section

    Last edited by Team Andromeda; 06-18-2018 at 06:12 AM.
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    Video is good despite lack of sources. The burden of proof is not on this guy to show that the Saturn was designed with 3D in mind (that's obvious).

    The burden of proof is on anybody that says Sega designed the Saturn as a 2D system. Is there any evidence at all to support this? Or is it just more of the "incompetent Sega" myth?

    As mentioned in the video, the earliest Saturn games (e.g. Panzer Dragoon) which were already in development by the end of 1993 (before the hardware was even finalized) were all 3D games. And Sega's whole outlook was innovation and bringing the arcade home (Model 1 and subsequently Model 2 games were HUGE at the time of the Saturn's development).

    Also, keep in mind that the Saturn probably had many design proposals and prototypes dating back to 1992. That some of those were based on System 32 is not surprising, but that doesn't make the Saturn's ultimate design a hodgepodge of last minute changes.

    By the way, the whole "Saturn can't do 3D" thing goes way back to when the Saturn was alive, and people have been trying to dispel it since then: http://www.shinforce.com/saturn/info...pabilities.htm

    Overall, I don't find much controversial about what he said.

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