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Gryson
06-24-2018, 03:56 PM
Recently, an interview was conducted with Hideki Sato on his life and his time at Sega as part of an oral history research project documenting the game industry in Japan. The interview transcription is over 150 pages long. If you don’t know, Sato was in charge of Sega’s consumer R&D department for many years and took part in the development of many/all of Sega’s consoles. He later served as Sega’s president.

I’ve translated for Sega-16 a few interesting snippets of the final part of the interview that relate to the Sega Saturn.

The full transcripts can be found here: Interview Transcripts (http://pubs.iir.hit-u.ac.jp/ja/pdfs/index?did%5B%5D=2&cid%5B%5D=6&cid%5B%5D=7&q=%E4%BD%90%E8%97%A4%E7%A7%80%E6%A8%B9&s=dd&ppc=20)

Highlights
• More information on Sega of America’s desire to use the 68020 in the Saturn
• Changes made in the Saturn design in response to the PlayStation
• Difficulties that third party developers had with the Saturn, and the lack of early support from Sega
• Sony’s strong support for third party developers
• Sega intentionally limiting Saturn production due to being unwilling/unable to bear the losses they were taking on sold units
• The strong advantages Sony had in manufacturing cost and flexibility
• Ken Kutaragi telling Sato that Sega should become a third party to Sony

On the MC68020 and why the SH was chosen:


Motorola had the MC68020, the successor to the MC68000. It was a strong-selling 32-bit CISC microprocessor. Sega of America, who were developing their own 16-bit Genesis games, wanted to use the MC68020 in the Saturn. That would have allowed for essentially updated versions of the current types of game software, and the development libraries could easily be done. They wanted to go for forward compatibility.

However, from my viewpoint, this lacked the necessary “jump” in technology. I thought that it might be okay to move forward with such a continuation of the current technology, but all the same, I felt we needed to move in a new direction, to change things up. Compared with the 16-bit generation, we needed to move away from mask ROMs, from solid-state memory, which was too expensive. CD-ROMs had become cheap, but the technology was no longer new. The PC Engine had already been using it for years. We needed something more.

At the time, Hitachi happened to be developing the SH processor. After seeing the specs, I was impressed by its high performance. I decided to go with it, even though it was still in development (this was a very rash move for me). The SH is a RISC (Reduced Instruction) CPU, and at that time, NEC was also developing one, the V Series. I felt that Hitachi’s SH was good, so I went with that.

On how the Saturn design changed in response to the PlayStation:


The Saturn actually had just one CPU at the beginning. Then Sony appeared with its polygon-based PlayStation. When I was first designing the Saturn architecture, I was focused on sprite graphics, which had been the primary graphics up to that point.

So I decided to go with polygons (due to the PlayStation). However, there weren’t any people at Sega who knew how to develop such software. Of course, we had Yu Suzuki in the arcade department, but I couldn’t just drag him off to the console department. He was developing titles like Virtua Fighter and Virtua Racing. The expertise of all of the developers we had was in sprite graphics, so there seemed no choice but to go with sprites. Nevertheless, I knew we needed polygons. Using various tricks, adding a geometry engine and so on, I changed everything. In the end, just like the PlayStation, we had pseudo-polygons built on a sprite base. I felt no choice but to design a sprite-based architecture. Having said that, after some significant progress, pseudo-polygons did represent a “jump” in graphics in a certain way. There was a distinction of sorts. The processor was very powerful and could support 4,000, even 5,000 sprites, and I thought we could make the graphics work using a sprite engine after adding the Yamaha and such.

It seemed like we were finally nearing completion. Then, the final PlayStation was revealed. It supported 300,000 polygons. Well, that was ultimately a bunch of lies, but… When you compared the Saturn with the PlayStation, we were completely missing something. The response that I chose was to add another SH processor, so we ended up with two SH-2s. By chance, the SH supported two-way cascaded data transfer. You could add a second processor and connect them in a cascade and get multi-CPU performance. When you get to about the PlayStation 3, multi-processors had become common, but the Saturn was the first home console to use multi-processors. So I added a second SH-2, but I felt that the ‘impact’ was still weak. Well, the SH-2 is a 32-bit processor, and we had two of them, so we could call the Saturn a 64-bit machine. It’s a dirty way of getting to 64-bits. But we revealed the CD-ROM-based Saturn using 64-bits as our sales point.

On the difficulties of developing for the Saturn:


At the beginning, there was no compiler. You had to program the SH in assembly. The people at Sega were good at assembly. That’s all they had been using on the MC68000. C, C++ were too slow to use.

However, third parties struggled with programming the SH in assembly, and there were two of the CPUs along with a CD-ROM. We asked third parties to make games, but without development libraries, they couldn’t do anything. They’d take a week and barely even be able to get something to display on the screen, let alone be able to start making a game. Our third party support was awful. The hardware was incredibly difficult to use. However, if you worked with it a bit, you could get a ton of sprites, with scaling and rotation and so on.

On Sony’s support for third party developers:


Sony was good at supporting PlayStation third party developers. Why? Sony didn’t have a development department. They didn’t have a software department. What do you do if you don’t have a software department? You ask somebody else. Sony went to Namco, to Taito, to Konami. They said that they were putting together a game console called the PlayStation, and they invited these companies to develop games for it. Sony exerted all its efforts on supporting third parties and enhancing their collective powers. Sony CEO Norio Ohga himself went to talk to the third parties. From their perspective, it was a big deal for Ohga to come and ask this. From Namco’s viewpoint, if they put out Tekken, they could compete evenly with Sega’s Virtua Fighter.

The number one game in the PlayStation world was Ridge Racer. And Konami being Konami, they had their typical games. It’s obvious that the PlayStation had the better games. No matter how much effort Sega put in on its own, it wasn’t going to be enough.

So Sony went to Namco, Taito, Konami, and others, and they said here are the specs, and don’t worry, there aren’t two CPUs or anything difficult like that. They said the PlayStation will be easy to develop for, and here are all the development libraries we’ll put out. Sony had a very easy-to-use SDK (Software Development Kit). And Ohga himself was making these offers, and the third parties were told they could port all of their own titles, and so on. With all of that, it certainly seemed like the PlayStation was better.

On Sega’s losses associated with the Saturn and their response:


So we released the Saturn in 1994, and as I said before, there were two SH-2s. In addition, memory was expensive at this time, and we were using a large amount, so costs were very high. For each Saturn sold, we lost about 10,000 yen ($100). That’s how the hardware business works. But the goal was to recoup the losses from software royalties. If there are lots of third parties, lots of games sold, and we get 2,000 yen for each, it’s possible. However, if software sales are weak, and for each console sold, we’re ultimately losing 5,000 – 6,000 yen, what’s going to happen from the business perspective? We’re going to stop selling consoles. This later became a huge problem.

Every month, or even every week in Sega’s case, we had meetings to examine the current situation. Each department would report on where it stood in relation to its goals. So, imagine if the sales goal for the end-of-year sales war is, say, 3 billion yen, and the profit goal is 300 million yen—but wait, the profit is in the red. That profit is a very important factor, so what does the business side do? They decide that it’s not necessary to have sales of 3 billion yen. Instead, 2 billion yen will do. In other words, they stop selling 1 billion yen’s worth of hardware. That way, if each unit sold is losing 5,000 yen, and we extend that to 20,000 units, that’s 100 million yen lost. By stopping the sales of 20,000 units, in a way that becomes 100 million yen in profit. So they slammed on the brakes in terms of unit distribution. Even though there were people that wanted to buy the console, Sega didn’t want to sell it, because the more they sold the more they went into the red.

From the perspective of the third parties, they saw that Sega was curbing the sales of the Saturn. The more consoles there were, the more games would be sold. But if console sales were being limited, then this created a serious problem. As they say, poverty dulls the wit. This led to a negative feedback loop.

On Sony’s manufacturing advantages and Kutaragi’s invitation to become a third party:


To launch a new console, you really need 50-60 billion yen at the least. You have to sell those first million units. If your costs are 30,000 yen per unit, then that comes to 30 billion yen for 1 million units. And you have to design the hardware and create the electronics, make the molds and do the tooling, and this will soon use about 10 billion yen. And then you have to create the games and do advertising. You need about 500-600 people. Without all this, you can’t launch a home console. You can’t do it little by little. You really have to go all in.

Sony had annual sales of 3 trillion yen. They made their own CD-ROM drives. They had their own semiconductor factories. Once when I was talking with Ken Kutaragi [the creator of the PlayStation], he said “Hideki-chan”—he refers to me using the “chan” diminutive—“Hideki-chan, there’s no way you can beat me. Where are you buying your processors? From Hitachi. From Yamaha. What about your CD-ROM drives? You’re buying everything. By buying from Hitachi, Hitachi is profiting. You can’t make anything yourselves. We can make everything ourselves, including custom parts. We have our own factories.” Near Nakashinden, they had a huge factory where they made audio equipment that they were using for the PlayStation. Their cost structure was completely different.

“That’s the way it is, Hideki-chan,” Kutaragi told me. “So quit the hardware business. Why not just do software? We’ll give you favorable treatment.” He wanted us to go third party. We had been going for so long in the hardware business, for better or worse, and to go third party now? We had been half-heartedly successful in America once, and this made it impossible to quit the hardware business. Maybe if the Mega Drive, the Genesis, had been a failure, things would have been different. But we had a strange taste of success.

At that time, Sega’s brand image was incredible. When you powered on a Sega console, ‘SEGA’ would always appear first. Even if it was a third party game from Namco (or anybody else), Sega’s name always appeared first, followed by Namco’s. So anybody that had a Sega console, it didn’t matter what game they played, they would see Sega’s name. This helped plant the Sega brand in peoples’ minds. This was incredibly effective. To go from that to a Sony third party… Well, we had already started so it was too late.

I would have a polite dinner with Kutaragi about once every three months. He’d tell me that because we released a console last time, they would be the ones to do so this time. We are the same age, although he’s two or three months older. I would call him the polite “Kutaragi-san,” although sometimes I’d call him “Ken-chan.” Because I was two or three months younger, he’d say “Hideki-chan, please give up!”

So we released the Saturn, and in the end, it came down to software. It’s obvious, but what do consumers look forward to? They want fun games. And that’s where we failed.

There is, of course, much more content than this, but it is beyond me to translate everything. I've tried to focus on the good stuff.

I believe this is the most detailed description of the Saturn's fate that we've ever gotten from the Japanese side.

Thoughts?

Leynos
06-24-2018, 04:16 PM
All the wrong choices. Should have worked cohesively with SOA to come to a middle ground on how the hardware should be designed.

Team Andromeda
06-24-2018, 04:54 PM
Thought the SH2 was added at the last minute but then had some doubt so nice that was cleared up once and for all.. Also nice to hear that unlike the at rubbish that came from Tom; on how he was looking to work with Sony that he knew the Saturn spec was rubbish.. It turns out, that not only did SEGA not know about the PS, SOA was pushing for a lesser spec Saturn, with a lesser CPU. If Tom and his bunch at SOA had their way, the Saturn would have been even more outclassed for 3D Vs the PlayStation.


Little shocked to see SEGA were losing so much on each Saturn sold at the start.

The tools and lack of Sonic and transparent effects are for me the major failings. Thanks for the interview and I think it finally shows what a lair Tom really was.

Barone
06-24-2018, 06:24 PM
So the mighty geniuses at SOA were willing to choose a puny 68020? Lol.

Thanks a lot for the translation.

foxnoodles
06-24-2018, 07:11 PM
we had Yu Suzuki in the arcade department, but I couldn’t just drag him off to the console department

Wut? He couldn't grab a guy to help you out with the architecture of the main product? wut?


The processor was very powerful and could support 4,000, even 5,000 sprites, and I thought we could make the graphics work using a sprite engine after adding the Yamaha and such.


It seemed like we were finally nearing completion. Then, the PlayStation was revealed. It supported 300,000 polygons.

Right, and he had no idea...


At the beginning, there was no compiler.

The people at Sega were good at assembly. That’s all they had been using on the MC68000. C, C++ were too slow to use.

How? Is this Sega or some kind of FeiHao booth in China? Stuff like this doen't happen lol even in indie companies.. Well hire people god damn it and come up with everything needed.. that's how it's done?


p.s. Thanks for the translation this is kinda huge.

Gryson
06-24-2018, 07:33 PM
Wut? He couldn't grab a guy to help you out with the architecture of the main product? wut?

That might be a fault in my translation. Based on previous stuff he and others have said, I think he means that Sega didn't have anybody at all who knew how to make polygon-based games (not anything to do with the architecture). There was a big concern that their developers were really good at sprite-based games, and they'd have serious issues if the system was entirely polygon-based. He meant that he couldn't just reassign Yu Suzuki to start developing console games, since he had his hands full with arcade game development.


Right, and he had no idea...

Well, something caused him to add the second SH-2 at the last minute. It seems likely that, as he says, the strength of the PS caught them off guard. What are you thinking?


How? Is this Sega or some kind of FeiHao booth in China? Stuff like this doen't happen lol even in indie companies.. Well hire people god damn it and come up with everything needed.. that's how it's done?

I guess that's what happens when you're using a brand new processor, and you add a second one at the last minute! It was likely very difficult to develop an SDK when your most experienced programmers are struggling to figure the hardware out (see Yuji Naka's comments on how nobody knew how to program the Saturn). And they seemed to put a priority on getting games out.


p.s. Thanks for the translation this is kinda huge.

You're welcome!

foxnoodles
06-24-2018, 07:52 PM
That might be a fault in my translation. Based on previous stuff he and others have said, I think he means that Sega didn't have anybody at all who knew how to make polygon-based games (not anything to do with the architecture). There was a big concern that their developers were really good at sprite-based games, and they'd have serious issues if the system was entirely polygon-based. He meant that he couldn't just reassign Yu Suzuki to start developing console games, since he had his hands full with arcade game development.


Well, something caused him to add the second SH-2 at the last minute. It seems likely that, as he says, the strength of the PS caught them off guard. What are you thinking?

I think both topics lead to this guy being a retrograde or something, as he stated he had this "strange taste" of being a winner (on sprite based market) he never even mentioned that Arcade was a huge part of Sega's business and success back in the day and it was all about 3D for more than a decade, not to mention that Sega released Virtua Racing with SVP, which was a polygon processor, but he didn't even try to ask for help from people who actually do it? It sounds weird to say the least. Kinda seems that he didn't wanted anyone else to be involved in this for selfish reasons? Cuz the whole story sounds like a very one man oriented deal. If what he says is true, then he singlehandedly destroyed Sega. Also where was the Marketing dep head all this time lol?


As for the software, well again, He coulda hired "spec ops devs" from the original CPU manufacturer(which in 99% of the time provides you with at least a simple assembly translator for drivers or something like that and even a hardware demo, the one they use for testing), don't know, sounds fishy.
Also he's contradicting himself when he says that at on hand the goal was to get software loyalties and on the other hand he never did anything that would help to achieve it(no SDK, no SDK after 6 months, year, no bootable firmware updates that could be loaded from a CD, nothing)

Gryson
06-24-2018, 08:06 PM
I think both topics lead to this guy being a retrograde or something, as he stated he had this "strange taste" of being a winner (on sprite based market) he never even mentioned that Arcade was a huge part of Sega's business and success back in the day and it was all about 3D for more than a decade, not to mention that Sega released Virtua Racing with SVP, which was a polygon processor, but he didn't even try to ask for help from people who actually do it? It sounds weird to say the least. Kinda seems that he didn't wanted anyone else to be involved in this for selfish reasons? Cuz the whole story sounds like a very one man oriented deal. If what he says is true, then he singlehandedly destroyed Sega. Also where was the Marketing dep head all this time lol?

Keep in mind the timing here. The initial development period occurred right when Model 1 was just out. See his other quotes from 1998 interviews:


We were also stuck on whether to focus game development on sprite-based games, or new 3D CG games. Sprite-based games were what Sega had done up till then, so we had a lot of built-up experience there, both in a personnel and technology sense; it seemed like a waste to just throw it all away. And Sega only had a few internal teams dabbling in CG design. We therefore decided to give the Saturn the ability to handle both kinds of games, with a robust sprite and CG engine. However, although we’d separated the two engines well enough in a hardware sense, creating games for the Saturn turned out to be a little difficult. The software development libraries were also insufficient, so third parties saw the Saturn as a difficult system to develop for. We sold 5 million systems in Japan, but we struggled in the overseas market.


When the Saturn was being designed, the video game industry was right in the middle of the transition from sprites to CG. In the arcade world, you could see this contrast between the System 32 boards, capable of displaying 300,000 sprites, and the Model 1 boards which ran Virtua Fighter and showed the future of polygons. In order to not lose all the assets and know-how we’d accumulated in previous years, we first thought about basing the Saturn on the System 32 boards, but we inevitably realized that it would be best to have polygon and CG capabilities too, so we included both in our design. It was done in the spirit of having the best of both worlds, but it also kind of felt like we were splitting the baby, and not doing justice to either. (laughs)

There were two candidates for the CPU. The first, which Sega of America was pushing for, was the 68020. It had good compatibility with the 68000 processor and would be easy to use, but its limitations were also clear. The other option was the RISC CPU: it seemed much more powerful, but for several reasons, the risk was also much higher (just as the name “RISC” implies!). As it had always been with Sega, we needed a home console that would be powerful enough to handle our arcade ports. That being the case, we took the risky-but-idealistic path and selected the RISC processor, the Hitachi SH2.

http://shmuplations.com/segahistory/


As for the software, well again, He coulda hired "spec ops devs" from the original CPU manufacturer(which in 99% of the time provides you with at least a simple assembly translator for drivers or something like that and even a hardware demo, the one they use for testing), don't know, sounds fishy.
Also he's contradicting himself when he says that at on hand the goal was to get software loyalties and on the other hand he never did anything that would help to achieve it(no SDK, no SDK after 6 months, year, no bootable firmware updates that could be loaded from a CD, nothing)

It was a brand new processor in a very complex architecture. I think he realizes it was a mistake to expect much from it early on, but it does seem like Sony had their back to a corner.

Silanda
06-24-2018, 08:33 PM
I see the 68020 comment is being used to bash SoA again, but that's not really fair unless there's some context: we don't know when they were saying this. If the Super-H series hadn't been released at that time, and AFAIK that came on the market in '93, this could have been in '92. If it was that early, and the expected release date was sooner than it ended up being, going with a familiar architecture could have had some appeal. Still, it seems strange to me that they would have wanted the 68020 unless we're missing something; that chip had been available since '84 and the 68040 had become available in '91.

With hindsight it's easy to see that going with a low powered chip would have been a mistake, however, in '92 the Playstation was still compatible with the SNES, and AFAIK the 3DO hadn't even been demoed. What was expected of future consoles was still unclear.

EDIT: I'm also confused about his comment regarding the ability to render 4000-5000 sprites. Is he talking per frame? If so, since the Saturn uses sprites/quads instead of polys, wouldn't that work out at the equivalent of 300000 polygons per second at 60fps?

Barone
06-24-2018, 08:52 PM
I see the 68020 comment is being used to bash SoA again, but that's not really fair unless there's some context:
I was being playful given the fact that SOA personnel interviews usually paint SOJ personnel as idiots and the same just happened but in the opposite direction this time.

Of course, we would need to know the context to understand where they were coming from, also assuming that everything stated by Hideki is true and accurate (which most people here always do for SOA-related interviews).

But SOA's handling of the 32X did went in the same direction Hideki indicates here: "That would have allowed for essentially updated versions of the current types of game software, and the development libraries could easily be done. They wanted to go for forward compatibility.".
And that also makes sense IMO with the 32X having no specific components for 3D.

Silanda
06-24-2018, 09:11 PM
I was being playful given the fact that SOA personnel interviews usually paint SOJ personnel as idiots and the same just happened but in the opposite direction this time.

No problem. To be honest, I was responding more to TA's comment that paints Tom Kalinske as a liar without sufficient proof.


But SOA's handling of the 32X did went in the same direction Hideki indicates here: "That would have allowed for essentially updated versions of the current types of game software, and the development libraries could easily be done. They wanted to go for forward compatibility.".
And that also makes sense IMO with the 32X having no specific components for 3D.

That's true. It kind of makes me wonder how complete the picture we have of the Saturn's development history is, and when a successor to the Mega Drive was first proposed.

Barone
06-24-2018, 09:27 PM
Probably a far from complete one.

It would be interesting to know what kind of console or add-on SOA was really pushing for.
Conjecturing a little bit but based on what we know, it seems to me that what SOA wanted was an upgraded Genesis with a 68020, with some extra RAM, upgraded palette and probably a just a simple audio solution for the garbled PCM playback which would run regular Genesis games just fine.

Something which could actually make a lot of sense for 1993, especially if they were targeting that Jaguar audience.

It would also be very interesting to know which games from the competition potentialy ignited these discussions. I mean, it's hard to buy that it was all just due to DKC or the Jaguar release.
There might be a lot more to it than what we know; developers' feedback or something else that made they go for another hardware upgrade after the somewhat recent release of the Sega CD.

Gryson
06-24-2018, 10:28 PM
EDIT: I'm also confused about his comment regarding the ability to render 4000-5000 sprites. Is he talking per frame? If so, since the Saturn uses sprites/quads instead of polys, wouldn't that work out at the equivalent of 300000 polygons per second at 60fps?

He's speaking about things that happened over 25 years ago, so I would take any specific numbers to be vague approximations (in other words, I don't think he's checking any specs when giving the interview). But yes, I think your math is correct.

By the way, the thing I find most interesting here is that Sato never seems to consider the Saturn a success in Japan. He makes it clear that the Saturn was costing Sega heavily, and that it pushed third party devs away.

His broad analysis is that the Saturn failed because the complicated hardware, lack of dev support, and Sega's unwillingness to fully commit pushed third parties away. This ultimately resulted in a system that lacked a variety of strong games, a system that Sega was trying to prop up alone.

I find this analysis much more interesting than the typical "Saturn failed because of Kalinske's surprise launch at E3" or "Saturn failed because of Stolar's comments at E3" approach (e.g. this article (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/14/sega-saturn-how-one-decision-destroyed-playstations-greatest-rival)). As Sato says, it all comes down to the games.

Team Andromeda
06-24-2018, 10:45 PM
No problem. To be honest, I was responding more to TA's comment that paints Tom Kalinske as a liar without sufficient proof.
In various interviews Tom made out how he was meant to have been In talks with Sony over Hardware. Yet t we have from the main Hardware man in the whole of the SEGA group, the confirmation that Sony making a console was a susprise..

Tom also told Retro gamer that he and his SOA team thought the Saturn was under powered Hardware and he knew that at the time.. Looking over how Tom made out the Saturn was in fact more powerful, back in the day We now also learn SOA was pushing for a Saturn with a less powerful CPU; hardly a major jump and would have been closer to the NEC FX in terms of CPU.. That's before one moves on how SOA or SOJ didn't get on, if we listen to Tom, never backed up the main SOA tech guys.

One doesn't need or have to try hard, to show Tom for the spin King and lair he is.. Also Sat-San doesn't hit out at SOA, even admits the tools were rubbish and simply says SOA wanted the lesser CPU for very good and sound game development development reasons.

Yet again, the Japanese show their class and respect

Gryson
06-24-2018, 11:11 PM
In various interviews Tom made out how he was meant to have been In talks with Sony over Hardware. Yet t we have from the main Hardware man in the whole of the SEGA group, the confirmation that Sony making a console was a susprise..

Why do you say this? I didn't intend that in my translation (that it was a surprise). Edit: Made translation clearer.

My understanding is that Sato was first designing a sprite-based system, and then he heard about the PlayStation and decided he needed to incorporate 3D, and then when the PlayStation was officially revealed (or some such), he decided he had to include a 2nd SH-2.

The interesting thing related to Kalinske's Sony-Sega tie up is that it probably wasn't the incredible deal Kalinske thought it was. Sato and Kutaragi knew each other and had discussed Sega going third party for Sony. Sato explains clearly why this would never have worked due to the huge success of the Genesis. Kalinske called this "the stupidest decision ever made in the history of business," but I doubt he knew what discussions had actually taken place.

Blades
06-24-2018, 11:18 PM
WOW! Thanks for the post!

I would be open to contributing for a full translation...

Silanda
06-24-2018, 11:40 PM
In various interviews Tom made out how he was meant to have been In talks with Sony over Hardware. Yet t we have from the main Hardware man in the whole of the SEGA group, the confirmation that Sony making a console was a susprise..

Tom also told Retro gamer that he and his SOA team thought the Saturn was under powered Hardware and he knew that at the time.. Looking over how Tom made out the Saturn was in fact more powerful, back in the day We now also learn SOA was pushing for a Saturn with a less powerful CPU; hardly a major jump and would have been closer to the NEC FX in terms of CPU.. That's before one moves on how SOA or SOJ didn't get on, if we listen to Tom, never backed up the main SOA tech guys.

One doesn't need or have to try hard, to show Tom for the spin King and lair he is.. Also Sat-San doesn't hit out at SOA, even admits the tools were rubbish and simply says SOA wanted the lesser CPU for very good and sound game development development reasons.

Yet again, the Japanese show their class and respect

AFAIK at the time Sato was head of R&D, but any decisions regarding relations with Sony at that time may not have involved him, especially if they were at a preliminary stage. As the former SoA CEO, Kalinske is better placed than Sato to comment on business dealings that were going on behind the scenes at the time. Also, where does Kalinske say it was more powerful? Or are you referring to hype when the Saturn was new, because if so, well duh! A CEO of a company is never, ever, going to say that their new hardware is anything other than the best thing ever. They're certainly not going to publicly say "hey, our competitor's system's more powerful than ours, go buy that instead".

I don't think Sato says they knew nothing about the Playstation, or that its existence was a surprise, and what he does say jibes with what has been claimed for years: that the Saturn was upgraded in response to Sony revealing details.

It was also confirmed by Joe Miller that SoA wanted to use the chipset offered by Silicon Graphics, assumedly because they weren't impressed by the Saturn. Calling Kalinske a liar is libellous without proof, and without knowing when this 68020 discussion took place, and in what context, there is no proof.

axel
06-25-2018, 12:24 AM
Cool interview. The hypothetical 68020 system sounds like the "Genesis Plus" idea that preceded the 32X, an upgraded console with more colors and sprite capabilities. There's no way a 68020-based system would have been considered next-gen in 93/94, unless it was going to have another chip to handle the graphics like the Jaguar.

The 68040 could have given them good performance and backwards compatibility, but I think those were still pretty expensive at the time. Hitachi must have been giving Sega a great deal on chips to use them in three consoles and arcade hardware.

When he says you could "cascade" the processors what does that mean? Take the output of one CPU and feed it to the other? That works great if you can do it but not the easiest thing to program, particularly in ASM, and a huge inconvenience for anyone trying to port a game from another platform.

I disagree that Sony owning the factory gave them a decisive advantage. If that were the case companies would never outsource anything. It still costs money to make chips whether the factory belongs to you or your supplier. Buying from other companies meant Sega could shop around from vendors who had to compete for their business.

Blades
06-25-2018, 01:05 AM
It still doesn't answer the question of why the Saturn was as bad at 3D as it was, especially since we know now it was designed for 3D. Surely, Sega had the know-how to build a proper 3D machine. How did Kutaragi, with no experience, manage such a home run design-wise and Sato fail so poorly at it?

He doesn't really touch on that in the interview, aside from implying that the Saturn was designed before the PSX and was outdated when the PSX was announced and that Sony could build the components cheaper because they had their own factories.

Seems like he's implying that the parallel architecture and quads were simply a bad call on his part.

Team Andromeda
06-25-2018, 03:19 AM
Saturn was always going to do 3D, but with Sprite based hardware. Adding the 2nd CPU was SEGA quick fix and it confirms that SEGA didn't have the 1st clue Sony was entering the console market, much less any idea over their spec.

So Tom is not telling the truth over that, much less over the SOJ relationship. Tom did a lot of good work, but he can't and just will not own up to his and SOA bad calls and planning in the 32bit age.

Reminds me a lot of Robbie Beach and MS he did so much good for MS with the 360, but called it all wrong for the XBox One.

zyrobs
06-25-2018, 07:04 AM
A 68020 based system could be sufficient, assuming they have a video chipset fast enough and a very strong t&l co-processor for the 3d calculations. The Model 1/2 wasn't an industry leader because it had a strong main cpu, but because it had extreme video fillrate and a lot of co-processors to do the 3d math. Same for the Playstation too, for that matter.

Team Andromeda
06-25-2018, 08:06 AM
A 68020 based system could be sufficient, assuming they have a video chipset fast enough and a very strong t&l co-processor for the 3d calculations. The Model 1/2 wasn't an industry leader because it had a strong main cpu, but because it had extreme video fillrate and a lot of co-processors to do the 3d math. Same for the Playstation too, for that matter.

The 6820 wouldn't have been good at all, it was clear that Motorola had lost the 32 bit CPU battle and SOA looked a CPU that was lesser than that in the Falcom. Model 1 didn't have a great CPU, but it was backed up by even more Co-Processors than the Saturn and was even harder to programme, used quads and cost a fortune. SEGA did the best they could with the tech they could use and afford.
The tech was good enough and even a single SH2 CPU for the Saturn would have marked a huge jump, given the gfx saw in Alien Trilogy. The main issue was how badly SOA called it and how badly they handled the 32bit transition and getting their pipelines up to 32bit levels a focus on an underpowered Add-On with an outdated media format, and then SOJ making rubbish launch tools, no 3D Sonic and no main Sonic game, not trying hard to get Square on the Saturn and a lack of main sequels to fan fav Arcade and Mega Drive games

Gryson
06-25-2018, 09:11 AM
I would be open to contributing for a full translation...

Time-wise, it's much too much for me to do. But I will eventually do the Mega Drive related stuff.


When he says you could "cascade" the processors what does that mean? Take the output of one CPU and feed it to the other? That works great if you can do it but not the easiest thing to program, particularly in ASM, and a huge inconvenience for anyone trying to port a game from another platform.

Not sure - the literal word he used was the English "cascade." Somebody who knows more about the SH-2 than me could answer (I know next to nothing).


I disagree that Sony owning the factory gave them a decisive advantage. If that were the case companies would never outsource anything. It still costs money to make chips whether the factory belongs to you or your supplier. Buying from other companies meant Sega could shop around from vendors who had to compete for their business.

I'm not sure I follow. Sony could save big time on manufacturing because they could buy from themselves at cost. Sega had to pay profit margins to all of its suppliers. Sega couldn't just open up factories to manufacture everything - that was way beyond their means. Sony already had the established infrastructure for manufacturing CD-ROM drives, for example.


It still doesn't answer the question of why the Saturn was as bad at 3D as it was, especially since we know now it was designed for 3D. Surely, Sega had the know-how to build a proper 3D machine. How did Kutaragi, with no experience, manage such a home run design-wise and Sato fail so poorly at it?

He doesn't really touch on that in the interview, aside from implying that the Saturn was designed before the PSX and was outdated when the PSX was announced and that Sony could build the components cheaper because they had their own factories.

Seems like he's implying that the parallel architecture and quads were simply a bad call on his part.

He does say the Saturn was initially designed for 2D and that the 3D evolved from that, but there was always a consideration for the 2D aspect; he didn't want to alienate their current programmers, who only knew how to work with sprites.

Sony was able to design its own 3D processors while Sega was working with mostly off the shelf parts. Kutaragi had a very clear focus on 3D.

By the way, here's an interesting article about how Virtua Fighter inspired Sony to pursue 3D:


Akagawa said that it was challenging to properly budget and push for games that used 3-D graphics.

"What if we make the PlayStation using 2-D hardware? Such an idea was seriously considered," Akugawa said.

Former Sony Computer Entertainment chairman Shigeo Maruyama explained that Sony employees visited other game companies to see how 3-D graphics could be presented, as no one inside Sony besides "father of the PlayStation" Ken Kutaragi really understood it.

"Personally, I had no idea of the specifics concerning what PlayStation games could do," Maruyama said. "I was giving presentations on it without knowing much about it."

Around that time, Sega's revolutionary arcade game Virtua Fighter became a huge hit in Japan, wowing arcade crowds with its early use of polygonal graphics to produce a game in the popular one-on-one fighting genre.

"Once Virtua Fighter was out, the direction of the PlayStation became instantly clear," said Maruyama.

https://www.wired.com/2012/09/how-virtua-fighter-saved-playstations-bacon/

Cafeman
06-25-2018, 10:17 AM
Thanks for the translation!

bpguimaraes23
06-25-2018, 01:28 PM
So the mighty geniuses at SOA were willing to choose a puny 68020? Lol.

Thanks a lot for the translation.

Would that be a big deal? There are arcade boards more powerful than the Saturn that use the same CPU. Assuming the graphics hardware was good enough, I mean.

Barone
06-25-2018, 03:48 PM
A 68020 based system could be sufficient, assuming they have a video chipset fast enough and a very strong t&l co-processor for the 3d calculations. The Model 1/2 wasn't an industry leader because it had a strong main cpu, but because it had extreme video fillrate and a lot of co-processors to do the 3d math. Same for the Playstation too, for that matter.
Both Model 1 and 2 were extremely expensive.



Would that be a big deal? There are arcade boards more powerful than the Saturn that use the same CPU. Assuming the graphics hardware was good enough, I mean.
At which cost?

Rating processor is always a bs exercise but for what I've read:
Highest clocked 68020 was 33 MHz (and probably expensive at that but let's not even talk about it) and it's rated at 5.36 MIPS.
PS1's CPU was rated at 30 MIPS; Saturn's SH2 figures varies from 25 MIPS to 37 MIPS for each.

Good luck going forward with a 68020 and relying on other co-processors and chips which would have to be far better than the PS1's.
I can see a Genesis 1.5/Plus using a 68020. I can't see a serious 5th gen contender using one.

Also, for context, the Amiga CD32 used a 68020 clocked at 14.32 MHz back in 1993.


IMO the SH2 was the saving grace of Saturn design, not the issue.
The VDP1 is pretty underpowered when compared to the competition though.

Leynos
06-25-2018, 04:21 PM
Cool interview. The hypothetical 68020 system sounds like the "Genesis Plus" idea that preceded the 32X, an upgraded console with more colors and sprite capabilities. There's no way a 68020-based system would have been considered next-gen in 93/94, unless it was going to have another chip to handle the graphics like the Jaguar.

The 68040 could have given them good performance and backwards compatibility, but I think those were still pretty expensive at the time. Hitachi must have been giving Sega a great deal on chips to use them in three consoles and arcade hardware.

When he says you could "cascade" the processors what does that mean? Take the output of one CPU and feed it to the other? That works great if you can do it but not the easiest thing to program, particularly in ASM, and a huge inconvenience for anyone trying to port a game from another platform.

I disagree that Sony owning the factory gave them a decisive advantage. If that were the case companies would never outsource anything. It still costs money to make chips whether the factory belongs to you or your supplier. Buying from other companies meant Sega could shop around from vendors who had to compete for their business.
What about the 68LC040? It was a lower cost version.

bpguimaraes23
06-25-2018, 04:26 PM
Both Model 1 and 2 were extremely expensive.



At which cost?

Rating processor is always a bs exercise but for what I've read:
Highest clocked 68020 was 33 MHz (and probably expensive at that but let's not even talk about it) and it's rated at 5.36 MIPS.
PS1's CPU was rated at 30 MIPS; Saturn's SH2 figures varies from 25 MIPS to 37 MIPS for each.

Good luck going forward with a 68020 and relying on other co-processors and chips which would have to be far better than the PS1's.
I can see a Genesis 1.5/Plus using a 68020. I can't see a serious 5th gen contender using one.

Also, for context, the Amiga CD32 used a 68020 clocked at 14.32 MHz back in 1993.


IMO the SH2 was the saving grace of Saturn design, not the issue.
The VDP1 is pretty underpowered when compared to the competition though.

I don't know. That Is why I asked. Many people suggest that the Saturn would be better of with a single cpu and a dedicated T&L processor instead of the dual CPUs. So I wonder if it a Saturn with a 68020 and it's own "GTE" couldn't be possible. Maybe better.

Leynos
06-25-2018, 04:29 PM
Time-wise, it's much too much for me to do. But I will eventually do the Mega Drive related stuff.



Not sure - the literal word he used was the English "cascade." Somebody who knows more about the SH-2 than me could answer (I know next to nothing).



I'm not sure I follow. Sony could save big time on manufacturing because they could buy from themselves at cost. Sega had to pay profit margins to all of its suppliers. Sega couldn't just open up factories to manufacture everything - that was way beyond their means. Sony already had the established infrastructure for manufacturing CD-ROM drives, for example.



He does say the Saturn was initially designed for 2D and that the 3D evolved from that, but there was always a consideration for the 2D aspect; he didn't want to alienate their current programmers, who only knew how to work with sprites.

Sony was able to design its own 3D processors while Sega was working with mostly off the shelf parts. Kutaragi had a very clear focus on 3D.

By the way, here's an interesting article about how Virtua Fighter inspired Sony to pursue 3D:



https://www.wired.com/2012/09/how-virtua-fighter-saved-playstations-bacon/
Your not wrong with the factory. Something similar happened more recently. Apple was taking up the parts Nintendo needed for the Switch screen and helped cause the shortages they had last year. The factory was making the component for Apple Iphone and Switch. I believe they later moved to a different supplier for their screens and the shortages stopped.

zyrobs
06-25-2018, 04:59 PM
I don't know. That Is why I asked. Many people suggest that the Saturn would be better of with a single cpu and a dedicated T&L processor instead of the dual CPUs. So I wonder if it a Saturn with a 68020 and it's own "GTE" couldn't be possible. Maybe better.

It could be possible and very feasible, but only if the video hardware was strong enough. That's what really held back the Saturn - programming difficulties would get resolved over time, but the VDP1 was SLOW so they could only do so much with it.

axel
06-25-2018, 07:54 PM
I don't know. That Is why I asked. Many people suggest that the Saturn would be better of with a single cpu and a dedicated T&L processor instead of the dual CPUs. So I wonder if it a Saturn with a 68020 and it's own "GTE" couldn't be possible. Maybe better.

You could start with a 68020 but it doesn't solve the problem you still need other hardware to render 3D. It would be like the Namco System 22, it's got a 68EC020 (probably handling the input and some game logic) but all the rendering is done by DSPs.

axel
06-25-2018, 08:00 PM
I'm not sure I follow. Sony could save big time on manufacturing because they could buy from themselves at cost. Sega had to pay profit margins to all of its suppliers. Sega couldn't just open up factories to manufacture everything - that was way beyond their means. Sony already had the established infrastructure for manufacturing CD-ROM drives, for example.

Yes, there's an advantage if your factory happens to be the most efficient in the world at building that particular component. Otherwise, not so much. It's like asking "why buy your food in a grocery store when you could grow it all at home?"

bpguimaraes23
06-25-2018, 08:18 PM
You could start with a 68020 but it doesn't solve the problem you still need other hardware to render 3D. It would be like the Namco System 22, it's got a 68EC020 (probably handling the input and some game logic) but all the rendering is done by DSPs.

I’m pritty sure system 22 had dedicated rendering hardware in addition to the T&L DSPs. It was actually the system I had in mind on my first question. I was working with the assumption that a 68020 Saturn would be a completely different design than what it is in reality.
I was just wondering if the 68020 would be a real desadventege if the graphics hardware and overal design were better.

Team Andromeda
06-26-2018, 05:46 AM
I don't know. That Is why I asked. Many people suggest that the Saturn would be better of with a single cpu and a dedicated T&L processor instead of the dual CPUs. So I wonder if it a Saturn with a 68020 and it's own "GTE" couldn't be possible. Maybe better.

It's clear that CPU wouldn't have been good enough and even a single SH-2 would have outclassed it by a long short. I can see why SOA would go for that CPU, but like Atari going for it in the Falcom, it was clear that Motorola had lost the 32bit CPU battle and their CPU's just weren't good enough and I'm amazed SOA were pushing so hard for it, but then again with their handling of the 32bit era, maybe not.

Sik
06-26-2018, 07:03 AM
Still, it seems strange to me that they would have wanted the 68020 unless we're missing something; that chip had been available since '84 and the 68040 had become available in '91.
The Mega Drive used a 68000 which is a CPU that came out in 1979 (9 years earlier than the console itself).

Consoles weren't about using the latest and greatest back then. In fact it was with the 5th generation that it started to change (see: switch to RISC processors because the cheap CISC ones were way too slow).

Team Andromeda
06-26-2018, 07:42 AM
The Mega Drive used a 68000 which is a CPU that came out in 1979 (9 years earlier than the console itself).


But that was a good CPU, The trouble was with the 68020 it wasn't that great and the likes of Intel, NEC, ARM and hell even Hitachi were moving forward and offering better CPU and RISC ones at that. So if Tom and his crew had his way, the Saturn would have been even more crippled.

Sik
06-26-2018, 07:59 AM
The point I was making is that there were better CPUs by 1988 and we could be also asking why Sega didn't use one of those instead of the 68000.

Kind of a moot point since the Saturn used the SH-2s instead. Though goddamn, it really sounds like they didn't they think it well with the tools (and also the lack of a Sonic game early on, I bet that the Saturn would have attracted more people with it and publishers would have given more attention to the Saturn as atrocious as it was simply because there'd be more money there).

Sega also screwed up by early on claiming it had "64-bit class performance" then having games like Virtua Hydlide (awful framerate) or Wanchan Connection (awful framerate and small viewport! double whammy there). It seems that until Panzer Dragoon they didn't have anything decent in terms of 3D and in fact all the cool stuff seemed to be getting announced for the 32X x_x (source for this paragraph: me watching the Sega Video Magazine issues from that period)

axel
06-26-2018, 10:06 AM
The point I was making is that there were better CPUs by 1988 and we could be also asking why Sega didn't use one of those instead of the 68000.

Kind of a moot point since the Saturn used the SH-2s instead. Though goddamn, it really sounds like they didn't they think it well with the tools (and also the lack of a Sonic game early on, I bet that the Saturn would have attracted more people with it and publishers would have given more attention to the Saturn as atrocious as it was simply because there'd be more money there).

Sega also screwed up by early on claiming it had "64-bit class performance" then having games like Virtua Hydlide (awful framerate) or Wanchan Connection (awful framerate and small viewport! double whammy there). It seems that until Panzer Dragoon they didn't have anything decent in terms of 3D and in fact all the cool stuff seemed to be getting announced for the 32X x_x (source for this paragraph: me watching the Sega Video Magazine issues from that period)

The 68k was just such a common processor in the 1980s, it was in so many arcade boards it made a lot of sense for a console. The SH-2 wasn't. It's incredible they didn't have a Sonic game ready to go on day one, none of the launch titles really showed off what the system could do. Panzer Dragoon was OK but not my kind of gameplay.

When I saw the Saturn I had no idea what kind of performance it was capable of, it really looked to my friends and I like they had just put the Genesis, Sega CD and 32X into one unit and called it a day. They needed a killer app at launch and didn't deliver.

Team Andromeda
06-26-2018, 10:49 AM
The point I was making is that there were better CPUs by 1988 and we could be also asking why Sega didn't use one of those instead of the 68000.

Not really and not for the price SEGA was getting them at. Intel chips cost too much and they didn't start to get their act together until the likes of 486 and then the Pentium. Even the main man behind the Atari ST said that Motorola had lost the 32bit battle for CPUs and using it in the Falcom was a mistake.


it really sounds like they didn't they think it well with the tools

Did that hurt the Mega Drive, Master System ? I belive Atari were the 1st to do it with the Atari Lynx not that help the system vs the Game Gear or Gameboy. I think too much is made of the tools, after all it never heled back the PS2 or helped the Cube or Dreamcast which were said to offer great power and the best development tools around at the time.



Sega also screwed up by early on claiming it had "64-bit class performance" then having games like Virtua Hydlide (awful framerate) or Wanchan Connection (awful framerate and small viewport! double whammy there).
That's just PR . I mean just because the N64 was 64Bit did that mean it could outdo the 32Bit Daytona USA Model 2


Also Virtua Hydlide wasn't a launch game and Panzer Dragoon came out a mere couple of weeks after it. Virtual Fighter was a huge jump over the MD and Gran Chaser offered better 3D gfx than anything possible on the MD and run full screen at 30 fps and Deadlus looked really good too.
Think more of the screw up was the 32X, which half the time couldn't outdo the Mega Drive or Snes for 2D graphics and where it 3D games run like crap.

stu
06-26-2018, 02:04 PM
Well this was certainly an interesting read and I would like to say thanks to Gryson for translating this part of the interview and would like everyone else love to see the rest of the interview translated gradually over time. (Rep given)

My thoughts mostly revolve around Hideki Sato's contention that SOA wanted to use the 68020 chip in the Saturn. Personally speaking this is the first I've heard of the MC680202 chip being considered for the Saturn, has there been any other mention of this? None of the very early spec sheets ever mentioned it ( the 2 I recall being mentioned was the NEC V series chip and obviously the Hitachi SH chip).

I also don't recall this chip ever being mentioned by any of the high ranking members of SOA when they were being interviewed (I'm thinking of Joe Miller, Scott Bayless etc) IIRC they only have talked about 2 main SOA suggested alternatives to the Saturn system - the SGI chipset based system and the Nvidia NV2 powered V08 platform.

I could however be wrong on that and would love to learn more regarding this aspect - I actually got the impression that SOJ were rather secretive regarding new hardware at that time and that SOA didn't get a whole lot of say in any plans, in fact I read that SOJ kept the wraps on the SegaCD development right up to the launch and SOA had a hard time getting hold of prototypes for development purposes. The 1st Sega hardware platform that I knew SOJ consulted SOA on was of course the 32X and SOA seemed very on board with the SH2 at that time which also does not quite gel with the assertion from Sato that SOA was against the use of the SH2 chip.

I'm not going to be as crass and disrespectful as TA and start calling him a liar and all that libellous BS - this was over a quarter of a century ago after all, maybe he misremembered the exact chip, tbh I'm not sure, it was very interesting nevertheless.


I also found the relatively close contacts that Hideki Sato kept with Ken Kutaragi thoughout the "war" between the Playstation and Saturn very interesting and also Sega's unwillingness to go 3rd party, seems to indicate that Sony did not view Sega as an enemy, but were rather aiming more at Nintendo which isn't really surprising.




AFAIK at the time Sato was head of R&D, but any decisions regarding relations with Sony at that time may not have involved him, especially if they were at a preliminary stage. As the former SoA CEO, Kalinske is better placed than Sato to comment on business dealings that were going on behind the scenes at the time. Also, where does Kalinske say it was more powerful? Or are you referring to hype when the Saturn was new, because if so, well duh! A CEO of a company is never, ever, going to say that their new hardware is anything other than the best thing ever. They're certainly not going to publicly say "hey, our competitor's system's more powerful than ours, go buy that instead".

I don't think Sato says they knew nothing about the Playstation, or that its existence was a surprise, and what he does say jibes with what has been claimed for years: that the Saturn was upgraded in response to Sony revealing details.

It was also confirmed by Joe Miller that SoA wanted to use the chipset offered by Silicon Graphics, assumedly because they weren't impressed by the Saturn. Calling Kalinske a liar is libellous without proof, and without knowing when this 68020 discussion took place, and in what context, there is no proof.​

Well said. I totally agree with what you said especially the underlined part. Rep given.

Team Andromeda
06-26-2018, 02:32 PM
TOM is like some GOD and a cult on here. Anyone who disrespects him is the devil and anybody who doesn't believe in him ins wrong .

He's been found out to be the lair and the spin king he always was. From from working with SONY ( clear SEGA didn't have a clue) and from thinking the Saturn was underspeced (like he told Retro) Tom and his crew wanted a Saturn with even less power and I believe the MC680202 CPU has been brought up twice before in various interviews and I'm sure one is still up on shmuplations.com.
And can one imagine, if Tom was having dinner with Ken Kutaragi? Then it would hav not only would have been TOM could have had the PSX, but also the PS2 too.


Hideki Sato shows his class and doesn't look to discredit SOA or single out or blame people from SOA and admits to some of his own Team failings, the complete opposite to spin king that is Tom Kalinske. What a great SEGA man and a true SEGA legend Sato-san is.

Gryson
06-26-2018, 04:57 PM
My thoughts mostly revolve around Hideki Sato's contention that SOA wanted to use the 68020 chip in the Saturn. Personally speaking this is the first I've heard of the MC680202 chip being considered for the Saturn, has there been any other mention of this? None of the very early spec sheets ever mentioned it ( the 2 I recall being mentioned was the NEC V series chip and obviously the Hitachi SH chip).

I also don't recall this chip ever being mentioned by any of the high ranking members of SOA when they were being interviewed (I'm thinking of Joe Miller, Scott Bayless etc) IIRC they only have talked about 2 main SOA suggested alternatives to the Saturn system - the SGI chipset based system and the Nvidia NV2 powered V08 platform.

I could however be wrong on that and would love to learn more regarding this aspect - I actually got the impression that SOJ were rather secretive regarding new hardware at that time and that SOA didn't get a whole lot of say in any plans, in fact I read that SOJ kept the wraps on the SegaCD development right up to the launch and SOA had a hard time getting hold of prototypes for development purposes. The 1st Sega hardware platform that I knew SOJ consulted SOA on was of course the 32X and SOA seemed very on board with the SH2 at that time which also does not quite gel with the assertion from Sato that SOA was against the use of the SH2 chip.

It's been mentioned before by Sato in 1998. I linked to the interview two pages back, but here it is again:


There were two candidates for the CPU. The first, which Sega of America was pushing for, was the 68020. It had good compatibility with the 68000 processor and would be easy to use, but its limitations were also clear. The other option was the RISC CPU: it seemed much more powerful, but for several reasons, the risk was also much higher (just as the name “RISC” implies!). As it had always been with Sega, we needed a home console that would be powerful enough to handle our arcade ports. That being the case, we took the risky-but-idealistic path and selected the RISC processor, the Hitachi SH2.

http://shmuplations.com/segahistory/

Note that he never says that SOA was against the SH2, just that they had put forth the 68020. I imagine it was at a very early stage of planning.

It's also interesting in what he doesn't say: he never mentions the SGI chipset that SOA secured a potential deal for. The fact that SOJ was willing to look at this chip shows that they did include SOA in some decision-making (as you might recall, Joe Miller says that SOJ turned down the chip because there were practical concerns about how many chips could be made quickly, as well as possibly being turned off by non-Japanese tech). I'm not sure if Sato was involved in that at all, though, or maybe he's just forgotten.

Silanda
06-26-2018, 06:09 PM
TOM is like some GOD and a cult on here. Anyone who disrespects him is the devil and anybody who doesn't believe in him in wrong .

He's been found out to be the lair and the spin king he always was . From from working with SONY (quite clear SEGA didnb't have a clue) and from thinking the Saturn was underspeced (like he told Retro) Tom and his crew wanted a Saturn with even less power and I believe the MC680202 CPU has been brought up twice before in various interviews and I'm sure one is still up on shmuplations.com.
And can one imagine, if Tom was having dinner with Ken Kutaragi? Then it would hav not only would have been TOM could have had the PSX, but also the PS2 too.


Hideki Sato shows his class and doesn't look to discredit SOA or single out or blame people from SOA and admits to some of his own Team failings, the complete opposite to spin king that is Tom Kalinske. What a great SEGA man and a true SEGA legend Sato-san is.

I think it's a bit rich calling anyone defending Kalinske a cultist when, as far as I can see, you're reading into statements and jumping to conclusions based on your own preconceived views that SoJ >>> SoA.

Again you're calling a man a liar, with no proof whatsoever, when you're in no position to make that judgement. You're clinging on to a comment from Sato about SoA wanting to use a 68020 without any knowledge whatsoever of when that discussion took place, what the context of that discussion was, or even who was involved on the American side. Also again, Sato wouldn't necessarily have been aware of any dealings with Sony. Even if he had been, it's not pertinent to an interview about his experiences in hardware and software development, and he might not have felt at liberty to discuss it; it would have been outside of his responsibilities at Sega, and AFAIK Japanese ex-executives tend to be more reluctant than American and European ones to discuss things that were confidential, even if they are no longer relevant to the business. Why the hell wouldn't there be people defending him given the lack of evidence?

Joe Miller corroborated the account that SoA pitched the concept of using a MIPS powered SGI chipset to SoJ, and that it was rejected. That hardly fits your narrative of SoA wanting a weaker Saturn, or was Miller a liar too?

Expressing doubt that someone's recollections are telling the whole story is one thing, outright accusing someone of being a liar without proof is quite another.

Team Andromeda
06-26-2018, 07:58 PM
The main is a lair and he spins all the time.. He contradicts himself all the time. Back in 1995 in a 2-page open letter to Usenet, Tom went on to say how the Saturn was more powerful than the PS, only to recently tell Retro gamer that he always thought the Saturn hardware wasn't up to it. He made out how he and SONY were working on Hardware another lie, never mind the bull he told over the Saturn early USA launch . Tom made out that SOA and SOJ didn't get on, not backed up by any of the key staff at SOA be that Miller, Bayless or Marty Franz.

The N64 wasn't SOA idea and it was offered to SEGA, just like the Lynx chipset was. SEGA was right to turn down the N64 hardware, not so right for the Lynx mind but live and learn.

If left to the SOA guys we would have had a 32 Bit Saturn with a CPU that could barely outclass the CDi, or Falcom CD32. Nice one Tom.

Silanda
06-26-2018, 08:56 PM
The main is a lair and he spins all the time.. He contradicts himself all the time. Back in 1995 in a 2-page open letter to Usenet, Tom went on to say how the Saturn was more powerful than the PS, only to recently tell Retro gamer that he always thought the Saturn hardware wasn't up to it. He made out how he and SONY were working on Hardware another lie, never mind the bull he told over the Saturn early USA launch . Tom made out that SOA and SOJ didn't get on, not backed up by any of the key staff at SOA be that Miller, Bayless or Marty Franz.

The N64 wasn't SOA idea and it was offered to SEGA, just like the Lynx chipset was. SEGA was right to turn down the N64 hardware, not so right for the Lynx mind but live and learn.

If left to the SOA guys we would have had a 32 Bit Saturn with a CPU that could barely outclass the CDi, or Falcom CD32. Nice one Tom.

As for the Usenet thing, no shit, he was correct from a certain point of view and was trying to sell a product. But your attitude here is quite clear: if a SoJ employee put positive spin on the Saturn's specs, it's just PR, if Kalinske did it, he's a liar. Also, unless they were specifically asked (please quote them if they were), engineers not mentioning regional corporate rivalry within management does not mean that it wasn't there. Michael Latham's impression of the situation regarding Eternal Champions 3's cancellation definitely implies a level of pettiness amongst some of the Japanese management:


(With regards to SoA management forcing through the release of the 32X version of Virtua Fighter, which Latham was a producer on, when SoJ objected to the additions to the game) ...Joe Miller and Tom Kalinske were having none of it and got Sega Of Japan upper management to relent and ship our gold master as is. There was a deep price to pay for that day. A couple of months later Eternal Champions 3 was killed by Sega Of Japan and the property was pretty much all but eliminated from Sega history. Now you know what was the last straw. I knew this risk but I bleed blue even now and I wasn't about to let down our customers who bought a 32X or any title that shipped with our name on it.

You know what? I don't think I'm going to argue any more. It's clearly pointless; you're going to repeat the same things over and over again as if they're facts, offer nothing to back up your claims, and ignore any counter arguments. And FFS, it's the Atari Falcon.

Gryson
06-26-2018, 09:46 PM
Michael Latham's impression of the situation regarding Eternal Champions 3's cancellation definitely implies a level of pettiness amongst some of the Japanese management:

Eh, that's not quite what he's said before:


Sega of Japan felt that Eternal Champions was keeping Virtua Fighter [Saturn] from being more successful in the US and that it would be better if the company focused on only one franchise

http://www.sega-16.com/2005/02/interview-michael-latham/

I'd take it with a grain of salt.

stu
06-26-2018, 10:19 PM
It's been mentioned before by Sato in 1998. I linked to the interview two pages back, but here it is again:
http://shmuplations.com/segahistory/
Note that he never says that SOA was against the SH2, just that they had put forth the 68020. I imagine it was at a very early stage of planning.

I must admit I've note seen that interview before, but my point was more that the SOA staff interviewed in the past had never mentioned that they had suggested using this Motorola processor before to SOJ (to my knowledge anyway).




It's also interesting in what he doesn't say: he never mentions the SGI chipset that SOA secured a potential deal for. The fact that SOJ was willing to look at this chip shows that they did include SOA in some decision-making (as you might recall, Joe Miller says that SOJ turned down the chip because there were practical concerns about how many chips could be made quickly, as well as possibly being turned off by non-Japanese tech). I'm not sure if Sato was involved in that at all, though, or maybe he's just forgotten.

As Silanda pointed out in his earlier post it would help to put some context and maybe a timeline as to when the 68020 was being talked about and maybe some kind of confirmation from the US side too. As for SOJ's distaste for non-Japanese tech we can see clearly that with them choosing the Japanese designed Katana system over the US developed Blackbelt when trying to decide on the final spec for the Dreamcast.




I think it's a bit rich calling anyone defending Kalinske a cultist when, as far as I can see, you're reading into statements and jumping to conclusions based on your own preconceived views that SoJ >>> SoA.

Again you're calling a man a liar, with no proof whatsoever, when you're in no position to make that judgement. You're clinging on to a comment from Sato about SoA wanting to use a 68020 without any knowledge whatsoever of when that discussion took place, what the context of that discussion was, or even who was involved on the American side. Also again, Sato wouldn't necessarily have been aware of any dealings with Sony. Even if he had been, it's not pertinent to an interview about his experiences in hardware and software development, and he might not have felt at liberty to discuss it; it would have been outside of his responsibilities at Sega, and AFAIK Japanese ex-executives tend to be more reluctant than American and European ones to discuss things that were confidential, even if they are no longer relevant to the business. Why the hell wouldn't there be people defending him given the lack of evidence?

Joe Miller corroborated the account that SoA pitched the concept of using a MIPS powered SGI chipset to SoJ, and that it was rejected. That hardly fits your narrative of SoA wanting a weaker Saturn, or was Miller a liar too?

Expressing doubt that someone's recollections are telling the whole story is one thing, outright accusing someone of being a liar without proof is quite another.


As for the Usenet thing, no shit, he was correct from a certain point of view and was trying to sell a product. But your attitude here is quite clear: if a SoJ employee put positive spin on the Saturn's specs, it's just PR, if Kalinske did it, he's a liar. Also, unless they were specifically asked (please quote them if they were), engineers not mentioning regional corporate rivalry within management does not mean that it wasn't there. Michael Latham's impression of the situation regarding Eternal Champions 3's cancellation definitely implies a level of pettiness amongst some of the Japanese management:

You know what? I don't think I'm going to argue any more. It's clearly pointless; you're going to repeat the same things over and over again as if they're facts, offer nothing to back up your claims, and ignore any counter arguments. And FFS, it's the Atari Falcon.


Yes unfortunately every time the subjects of Saturn development, SOJ/SOA and/or Tom Kalinske is brought up on here TA starts to incoherently rant and rave and post his incomprehensible bullshit almost every time. Thankfully I've just started to tune it out.

Team Andromeda
06-27-2018, 03:41 AM
As for the Usenet thing, no shit, he was correct from a certain point of view and was trying to sell a product. But your attitude here is quite clear:


You miss the point, he was even not telling the truth to Usenet or wasn't telling the truth to the Retrogamer, either way he's a lair on the record. Tom made out that SOA and SOJ didn't get on, not backed up any of the key people at SOA, in fact listen to Bayless, Miller and Marty SOJ busted a gut to help SOA and they had a great working relationship. Like I say to some here, TOM is GOD and anyone who doesn't believe in Tom is the devil and wrong, like all non-believers


And here's what Atari's ST main man Shiraz Shivji had to say about the 68030 CPU


The problem was that Motorola had lost the processor battle, this processor was clearly inferior to the 386 and 486 from Intel and there was no way Atari could compete with Motorola processors

And yet SOA wanted to go with the lesser Motorola 32bit 68020 CPU for the Saturn. Another example of just how inept SOA and Tom were in the 32bit battle. Still, listen to TOM at CES, Greendog was going to show the world how the USA made Platform games and was going to be bigger than SONIC.
With out Sonic, tom would never have sold as many MD units. That's what the Saturn really lacked, a good Sonic game

Silanda
06-27-2018, 05:59 AM
Eh, that's not quite what he's said before:



http://www.sega-16.com/2005/02/interview-michael-latham/

I'd take it with a grain of salt.

It is what he said in the more recent interview though. He didn't recount the experience of the Virtua Fighter core team being furious at the additions to the 32X version before (he actually states that he hadn't spoken about it before), while he has now. I only quoted the end of the interview for brevity, and I don't see any reason to doubt what he's saying. Perhaps the >10 years between interviews made him feel more comfortable in giving details now.

Team Andromeda
06-27-2018, 06:30 AM
It is what he said in the more recent interview though. He didn't recount the experience of the Virtua Fighter core team being furious at the additions to the 32X version before (he actually states that he hadn't spoken about it before), while he has now. I only quoted the end of the interview for brevity, and I don't see any reason to doubt what he's saying. Perhaps the >10 years between interviews made him feel more comfortable in giving details now.

Nintendo wasn't better at keeping it systems going for longer and EC hardly outsold either SF II never mind Mortal Kombat, never mind going up against VF or Tekken. How anyone could think EC would do better than VF, Tekken, never mind SF II, MK III on the Saturn is beyond me. More so when the 1st game didn't sell that good on the MD and the Mega CD version and the spin-offs were a complete flop and to try and make out that the Japanese side was additions to the 32X version is simply laughable. When the Japanese staff programmed the game and the main team at AM#2 were busy on Remix and VF II. If SOJ really wanted to be childish like he makes out, they woudn't have let them work on VF, much less bring it to the 32X.

I feel sorry for him and that EC didn't get backing, but it was hardly the game to take on the might of VF or Tekken, when the MD came couldn't outsell SF II or Mortal Kombat on the Mega Drive and I think the Mega CD version of MK sold better than EC on the Mega CD too.

Gryson
06-27-2018, 09:22 AM
As for SOJ's distaste for non-Japanese tech we can see clearly that with them choosing the Japanese designed Katana system over the US developed Blackbelt when trying to decide on the final spec for the Dreamcast.

It's a lot more complicated than that, though, and saying it that way reads like some antiquated Japan Bashing (https://duckduckgo.com/?q=japan+bashing&t=h_&ia=web).

Sato actually talks at great length on the 3Dfx (Black Belt) vs PowerVR (Katana) issue. There was a huge division in the Japanese leadership at Sega on this, and it led to some serious bad blood. Shoichiro Irimajiri was adamant that Sega choose the 3Dfx system, and Sato fought back. Sato's main concern was that 3Dfx was too far removed from the manufacturing process (they didn't have their own manufacturing facilities) and wouldn't be able to make manufacturing/design changes beyond the initial stage in response to changing needs (especially cost, which Sega was very concerned about). Working with NEC to manufacture the PowerVR chips (which, by the way, was non-Japanese tech) would give Sega much more leeway in this regard.

Eventually, after many long debates, Isao Okawa made his decision to go with Sato and the PowerVR (which caused Irimajiri to comment, "This company is crazy").

zyrobs
06-27-2018, 10:04 AM
The 68020 comment may have been for the SGI system, or maybe even the 32x. We don't know the exact circumstances. From that Sato interview, we only that SOA suggested it is used for a Megadrive successor which is meant to be compatible with old games. That sounds like the 32x to me, and it would make more sense for it to be suggested for that.

Leynos
06-27-2018, 05:00 PM
Power VR was a better chip, wasn't it? I think the main drawback is 3DFX had a popular API back in the day.

zyrobs
06-27-2018, 05:57 PM
I also don't recall this chip ever being mentioned by any of the high ranking members of SOA when they were being interviewed (I'm thinking of Joe Miller, Scott Bayless etc) IIRC they only have talked about 2 main SOA suggested alternatives to the Saturn system - the SGI chipset based system and the Nvidia NV2 powered V08 platform.

The V08 / NV2 chip was planned in mid 1995 when Sega was looking to build a console that can play Virtua Fighter 3 at home. A game that wouldn't be out until late 1996.

One of the STI coders has an anecdote about that, Sega went to Nvidia for a presentation, and the hardware they presented gave a black screen. The engineers checked to see what is going on, they tried again, black screen. The deal was dropped on the spot.
He also mentioned that 3dfx had a software package that allowed them to model hardware in a 100% accurate way, to prevent them from falling into the same situation. It is probably why 3dfx was pushed as a serious contender for the Saturn 2 (as the media called the Black Belt then).

Silanda
06-27-2018, 06:16 PM
Power VR was a better chip, wasn't it? I think the main drawback is 3DFX had a popular API back in the day.

Probably, but we don't know for certain. PowerVR was the probably the better choice if 3dfx were offering something like the Banshee, especially if the 3dfx solution had inherited things like the Voodoo 1-3's limited maximum texture size. If it was something custom... who knows?

gamevet
06-27-2018, 07:00 PM
So the mighty geniuses at SOA were willing to choose a puny 68020? Lol.

Thanks a lot for the translation.

It was probably a bit faster than SOJ’s proposed NEC V60 @16Mhz. And having the ability to interface it with co-processors like an FPU could have given it some decent 3D support.

Gryson
06-27-2018, 07:33 PM
It was probably a bit faster than SOJ’s proposed NEC V60 @16Mhz.

This is probably incorrect information. I believe it originates from early magazine articles, such as Mean Machines Sega 11 (Sept 1993):


Saturn is a CD-based machine, with all software for the machine being released on disc. At the heart of the beast is a custom-built 32-bit processor. It's based roughly on the existing V60 NEC 32-bit chip. However, Sega have spent considerable time upgrading the (admittedly rather old) chip, increasing its performance considerably. The current prototype processor runs at 27 MHz -- that's compared to the Megadrive's 7.61 MHz processor and the Super NES's 3.58 MHz. Comparing speeds isn't the best benchmark though -- even if the V60 was forced to run at a paltry 3.58 MHz, it would still process similar tasks a lot quicker. This is because the Saturn chip is 32-bit meaning that is inherently faster and it's a RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Chip) -- this basically means that program code is simpler and thus quicker to execute.

https://segaretro.org/index.php?title=File:MeanMachinesSega11UK.pdf&page=8

That quote is full of wrong. For example, the V60 is a CISC chip, not RISC. And Sega announced its partnership with Hitachi for the SH chips in Sept 1993, so they would have been in dealings well before that.

The confusion is simple: the V60 was used in the System 32 and the Model 1.

Sato clears this up in the interview - the SH was his original choice for the Saturn.

zyrobs
06-27-2018, 09:33 PM
If that issue is dated september, then it was most likely made back in the summer, at which point they may have still used the V60.

Or does Sato specifically say that the SH2 was their first and only choice?

Gryson
06-27-2018, 09:50 PM
If that issue is dated september, then it was most likely made back in the summer, at which point they may have still used the V60.

Or does Sato specifically say that the SH2 was their first and only choice?

That article isn't trustworthy for its several errors. First, it's not even clear that it's referring to the V60 ("based roughly on the existing V60", yet refers to it as the V60 later). Second, the V60 had a max clock of 16 MHz (the article lists 27 MHz). Third, the V60 is CISC, not RISC. It's a mess.

Sato says that the Saturn had one CPU at the beginning, and from context it is clear that he's referring to the SH-2 (I went back and checked the source).

I suppose it's possible that very early on, somebody said that they were considering using the V60, since it was used in Sega's arcade hardware. At the same time, game journalism being what is was, it could just be a rumor based on the arcade hardware.

Edit: I should point out that the specs of the beefed up V60 in that article are nearly identical to the SH-2 specs: 28 MHz, 32-bit, RISC. It really seems that they just attached the V60 name to the SH-2 (which would make sense given the timing).

zyrobs
06-27-2018, 11:45 PM
The 28.6 MHz and 26.8 MHz (rounded up to 27) both comes from system dot clocks and the NTSC clock, so they are fairly common. It is obvious that the article makes mistakes, but at that point no data was confirmed; they most likely had to source japanese rumours, translated, and it is possible that neither the translator or the writer of the article were technologically adept enough to know about the details. For all we know it was their source that assumed the V60 in the first place. It is noteworthy that many technological articles at the time made grave misidentifications even when they had the actual hardware in their hands (Edge did a Saturn teardown and mistook a bunch of the chips for other ones).


First, it's not even clear that it's referring to the V60 ("based roughly on the existing V60", yet refers to it as the V60 later).
In the context of the article, the V60 they meant later was the customized one they wrote about earlier on.



Second, the V60 had a max clock of 16 MHz (the article lists 27 MHz).
They did mention that they customized it to reach higher clocks.

As far as rumour articles go, I find it believable. But it would indeed make more sense to have the SH2 from the start.

gamevet
06-28-2018, 01:10 AM
This is probably incorrect information. I believe it originates from early magazine articles, such as Mean Machines Sega 11 (Sept 1993):



https://segaretro.org/index.php?title=File:MeanMachinesSega11UK.pdf&page=8

That quote is full of wrong. For example, the V60 is a CISC chip, not RISC. And Sega announced its partnership with Hitachi for the SH chips in Sept 1993, so they would have been in dealings well before that.

The confusion is simple: the V60 was used in the System 32 and the Model 1.

Sato clears this up in the interview - the SH was his original choice for the Saturn.

There is a hint in the interview where Sato talked about NEC developing their V series CPUs, so that is where the question has to be asked. When did Tom suggest the 68020?


At the time, Hitachi happened to be developing the SH processor. After seeing the specs, I was impressed by its high performance. I decided to go with it, even though it was still in development (this was a very rash move for me). The SH is a RISC (Reduced Instruction) CPU, and at that time, NEC was also developing one, the V Series. I felt that Hitachi’s SH was good, so I went with that.

stu
06-28-2018, 01:45 AM
It's a lot more complicated than that, though, and saying it that way reads like some antiquated Japan Bashing (https://duckduckgo.com/?q=japan+bashing&t=h_&ia=web).

Sato actually talks at great length on the 3Dfx (Black Belt) vs PowerVR (Katana) issue. There was a huge division in the Japanese leadership at Sega on this, and it led to some serious bad blood. Shoichiro Irimajiri was adamant that Sega choose the 3Dfx system, and Sato fought back. Sato's main concern was that 3Dfx was too far removed from the manufacturing process (they didn't have their own manufacturing facilities) and wouldn't be able to make manufacturing/design changes beyond the initial stage in response to changing needs (especially cost, which Sega was very concerned about). Working with NEC to manufacture the PowerVR chips (which, by the way, was non-Japanese tech) would give Sega much more leeway in this regard.

Eventually, after many long debates, Isao Okawa made his decision to go with Sato and the PowerVR (which caused Irimajiri to comment, "This company is crazy").

I wasn't attempting to conduct "Japan Bashing" just showing that they tended to choose Japanese produced chips. (yes I am aware that PowerVR was designed in the UK by VideoLogic/Imagination Technologies, however NEC at the time was the sole manufacturing partner for the chip when it was launched and of course they are a Japanese company.


The V08 / NV2 chip was planned in mid 1995 when Sega was looking to build a console that can play Virtua Fighter 3 at home. A game that wouldn't be out until late 1996.

One of the STI coders has an anecdote about that, Sega went to Nvidia for a presentation, and the hardware they presented gave a black screen. The engineers checked to see what is going on, they tried again, black screen. The deal was dropped on the spot.
He also mentioned that 3dfx had a software package that allowed them to model hardware in a 100% accurate way, to prevent them from falling into the same situation. It is probably why 3dfx was pushed as a serious contender for the Saturn 2 (as the media called the Black Belt then).

Yes it is true that the V08 system would of been a post Saturn system, I only mentioned it as Joe Miller had talked about the SGI and the Nvidia projects but (to my knowledge) had never mentioned that SOA had suggested the use of the 68020 in the Saturn.
In fact the closest I've found to a Motorola chip being talked about being used in the Saturn was from an old issue of EGM. However as you'll see they mention the 68030, not the 020 and in fact they talk about it being a customized version by Sega/Hitachi and so likely to be inaccurate.


EGM reported that this new Saturn project was likely to use a Motorola 68030 processor. It also became increasingly unlikely that this new project would not be compatible with Mega Drive or Mega-CD software[2] (https://segaretro.org/History_of_the_Sega_Saturn/Development#cite_note-:File:EGM_US_052.pdf_p66-2).


https://segaretro.org/History_of_the_Sega_Saturn/Development

https://segaretro.org/index.php?title=File:EGM_US_052.pdf&page=66

Team Andromeda
06-28-2018, 04:58 AM
That article isn't trustworthy for its several errors. First, it's not even clear that it's referring to the V60 ("based roughly on the existing V60", yet refers to it as the V60 later). Second, the V60 had a max clock of 16 MHz (the article lists 27 MHz). Third, the V60 is CISC, not RISC. It's a mess.

Sato says that the Saturn had one CPU at the beginning, and from context it is clear that he's referring to the SH-2 (I went back and checked the source).

I suppose it's possible that very early on, somebody said that they were considering using the V60, since it was used in Sega's arcade hardware. At the same time, game journalism being what is was, it could just be a rumor based on the arcade hardware.

Edit: I should point out that the specs of the beefed up V60 in that article are nearly identical to the SH-2 specs: 28 MHz, 32-bit, RISC. It really seems that they just attached the V60 name to the SH-2 (which would make sense given the timing).

Well said, but in an interview with the AM#2 team that made the SGL toolset, they said that at the beginning the Saturn was going to have an NEC CPU (said to be the V60, but never confirmed in the interview) but it was dropped because it was too slow for 3D.

Team Andromeda
06-28-2018, 05:01 AM
Probably, but we don't know for certain. PowerVR was the probably the better choice if 3dfx were offering something like the Banshee, especially if the 3dfx solution had inherited things like the Voodoo 1-3's limited maximum texture size. If it was something custom... who knows?

Power VR was one of the best choices SOJ ever made. It was a stunning bit of tech, that still today holds up well. I would have liked to have seen the Power PC CPU used in the DC, but guess it was too expensive.

Blades
06-28-2018, 05:54 AM
in fact I read that SOJ kept the wraps on the SegaCD development right up to the launch and SOA had a hard time getting hold of prototypes for development purposes.

Try impossible. SOJ didn't tell anyone anything and SOA was pitching the Sega CD without knowing anything about it beyond that it used CDs. Then when they did receive a functional prototype, it had major issues.


Further frustrating the Sega of America staff was the construction of the add-on. "The Mega-CD was designed with a cheap, consumer-grade audio CD drive, not a CD-ROM," stated Scot Bayless, former Sega of America senior producer. "Quite late in the run-up to launch, the quality assurance teams started running into severe problems with many of the units—and when I say severe, I mean units literally bursting into flames. We worked around the clock, trying to catch the failure in-progress, and after about a week we finally realized what was happening," citing the need for games to use more time seeking data than the CD drive was designed to provide.

gamevet
06-28-2018, 01:20 PM
I remember reading that story about the CD drives catching on fire. It was hilarious.

axel
06-28-2018, 02:44 PM
Maybe I'm not understanding the quote but since the Mega CD is only a 1X drive wouldn't it be functionally identical to an audio CD player anyway? I don't get how seeking to another part of the disc would cause it to catch fire unless there was something seriously wrong with the motor.

Gryson
06-28-2018, 04:06 PM
Try impossible. SOJ didn't tell anyone anything and SOA was pitching the Sega CD without knowing anything about it beyond that it used CDs. Then when they did receive a functional prototype, it had major issues.

Eh, that's just more "incompetent Sega" stuff from Latham. He has the biggest chip on his shoulder. Bayless tells a much more neutral account:


I joined SOA as a Technical Director right at the end of ’90 and, if memory serves, we started getting preliminary technical information about Sega CD very early in ’91. All the documents were in Japanese, and the guys in Tokyo just didn’t have the infrastructure to translate them, so we started hiring local translators just to get caught up on the docs. The first breadboard dev kits started showing up early in the spring. They were huge, fragile beasts, sensitive to electrical noise and prone to random lockups, but that’s the nature of prototype systems. By summer, we were in full burn, trying to get both our internal titles and several key external projects up to speed. That left us only a few months to launch; it was nuts. We literally worked around the clock all the way up to the launch in New York.

http://www.sega-16.com/2012/03/interview-scot-bayless/

As he says, the Sega CD prototypes were full of problems, but they were prototypes after all.

And in response to axel, the full quote gives more technical info:


The Mega-CD was designed with a cheap, consumer-grade audio CD drive, not a CD-ROM. Quite late in the run-up to launch, the quality assurance teams started running into severe problems with many of the units - and when I say severe, I mean units literally bursting into flames. We worked around the clock, trying to catch the failure in-progress, and after about a week we finally realized what was happening. The specified limit on time spent seeking the heads versus playing a track was 5 per cent. Some of our video-based titles were running around 90 per cent. We were causing the motors in the drives to catch fire.

https://web.archive.org/web/20140216124431/http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-02-22-the-rise-and-fall-of-sega-enterprises

stu
06-28-2018, 04:54 PM
Eh, that's just more "incompetent Sega" stuff from Latham. He has the biggest chip on his shoulder. Bayless tells a much more neutral account:

Frankly that comment is up there with TA calling Kalinske a liar. While I'm sure that Latham had some bitterness towards SOJ due to the cancellation of his game, we have to remember that the development of the MegaCD came before that so I don't we can totally discount his account, plus even Bayless gives the impression that SOJ only brought SOA in towards the end of the development phase and therefore was a very last minute rushed affair, also it seems it was left to Bayless' team to save Sega's ass with regard to the inclusion of cheap CD drives. Imagine if they hadn't caught it and the product had launched like that. He states right there "Quite late in the run-up to launch, the quality assurance teams started running into severe problems with many of the units".

It would of made the the Xbox 360 RROD affair look tame in comparison.

Team Andromeda
06-28-2018, 05:35 PM
Frankly that comment is up there with TA calling Kalinske a liar. While I'm sure that Latham had some bitterness towards SOJ due to the cancellation of his game, we have to remember that the development of the MegaCD came before that so I don't we can totally discount his account, plus even Bayless gives the impression that SOJ only brought SOA in towards the end of the development phase and therefore was a very last minute rushed affair, also it seems it was left to Bayless' team to save Sega's ass with regard to the inclusion of cheap CD drives. Imagine if they hadn't caught it and the product had launched like that. He states right there "Quite late in the run-up to launch, the quality assurance teams started running into severe problems with many of the units".

It would of made the the Xbox 360 RROD affair look tame in comparison.

So one still can't accept that Tom is a lair and really if one needs to go on about the Mega CD drives. Even the biggest corps have hardware issues be that MS with the 360 or Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Gryson
06-28-2018, 05:46 PM
Frankly that comment is up there with TA calling Kalinske a liar.

Please don't drag me into that stuff.

I don't find Latham very trustworthy. I'm not sure what you mean "we have to remember that the development of the Mega CD came before that." True, but the interviews he's giving came after it. He shows a certain bitterness in these interviews.

He's said things like this:


We were told that there was going to be a thing called the Genesis 2. It was going to be another version of Genesis—an entire system. The only difference was that it was going to have double the colors and a lower cost.
So Joe Miller said, “Oh, that’s just a horrible idea. If all you’re going to do is enhance the system, you should make it an add-on.” He said, “If it’s a new system with legitimate new software, great. But if the only thing it does is double the colors … ”

which Miller has denied:


It certainly wasn’t a revolt, and it wasn’t a matter of us or me standing up and saying “no, that’s a bad idea.” I don’t think I ever said that… [Laughs]… I don’t believe I ever said to anyone from SOJ who came over with the original idea that it was bad idea because that wasn’t the kind of relationship we had. I had more respect for all of them than that.

And he's said this:


They didn’t want to send us working Sega CD units. They wanted to send us dummies and not send us the working CD units until the last minute because they were concerned about what we would do with it and if it would leak out. It was very frustrating.

which doesn't really jive with Bayless's account:


we started getting preliminary technical information about Sega CD very early in ’91. All the documents were in Japanese, and the guys in Tokyo just didn’t have the infrastructure to translate them, so we started hiring local translators just to get caught up on the docs. The first breadboard dev kits started showing up early in the spring. They were huge, fragile beasts, sensitive to electrical noise and prone to random lockups, but that’s the nature of prototype systems.

Where do you get that "SOJ only brought SOA in towards the end of the development phase"? That was almost a full year before the Mega CD launched, and a year and a half before the Sega CD launched. According to Bayless, they were receiving what would seem to be early prototypes.

And then there's the self-contradiction on the previous page of this thread concerning the cancellation of his game.

Do I discount everything Latham has said? No. But when there's an apparent contradictory account (such as Bayless's), I tend to trust that over Latham's.

If you are really interested in the history, then I suggest being a bit more skeptical about what people have said. Perhaps do some research on bias.

If you just want to push some skewed perspective to fit your own preformed notions, then the best of luck to you.

At least I'm trying to bring something new to the table.

Blades
06-28-2018, 05:59 PM
^Thanks for the analysis, it does sound like Latham had an axe to grind. I didn't see most of the other quotes before from Bayless.

Gryson
06-28-2018, 06:15 PM
^Thanks for the analysis, it does sound like Latham had an axe to grind. I didn't see most of the other quotes before from Bayless.

:ok:

By the way, I've hunted down more information on the pre-SH2 phase of Saturn development. I will get it translated soon. Preview: Sega was considering about 10 different processors early on, and they had nearly finalized one of them (it wasn't the SH2).

Blades
06-28-2018, 06:36 PM
Lol you crazy. I love it.

By the way, I Bing translated some of the interview. Never knew the Game Gear’s portability was tested at a ski resort!

Sik
06-28-2018, 07:45 PM
:ok:

By the way, I've hunted down more information on the pre-SH2 phase of Saturn development. I will get it translated soon. Preview: Sega was considering about 10 different processors early on, and they had nearly finalized one of them (it wasn't the SH2).
But people will still berate SOA for having the 68020 as one of the candidates.

zyrobs
06-28-2018, 08:11 PM
:ok:

By the way, I've hunted down more information on the pre-SH2 phase of Saturn development. I will get it translated soon. Preview: Sega was considering about 10 different processors early on, and they had nearly finalized one of them (it wasn't the SH2).

Where do you find this info?

Blades
06-28-2018, 08:17 PM
Probably Sato himself.

parallaxscroll
06-29-2018, 12:23 AM
Sato actually talks at great length on the 3Dfx (Black Belt) vs PowerVR (Katana) issue.

I would love to be able to read more of what he said about 3Dfx-Black Belt vs PowerVR-Katana.

gamevet
06-29-2018, 12:34 AM
So one still can't accept that Tom is a lair.

No, I don't accept that Tom is a lair. Does said lair contain dragons?

Leynos
06-29-2018, 01:45 AM
No, I don't accept that Tom is a lair. Does said lair contain dragons?

And QTE's

Team Andromeda
06-29-2018, 06:58 AM
But people will still berate SOA for having the 68020 as one of the candidates.

And so they should, SOA wanted to go with that CPU at the time SOJ were looking at the SH2 and had already dropped the NEC CPU because it wasn't good enough and yet SOA still wanted to with the 68020. And Gryson posted, the Retro gamer interview with Scott Bayless on the making of the Mega CD paints a very different picture in how SOA had early kits long before the system launched in the USA,.much like how Scott paints a very different picture to the working relationship with SOJ.

Sure they had issues with the Hardware, but CD was new tech and even the best corps can have issues and even catching fire too. Like with the Samsung note 7

Sik
06-29-2018, 09:58 AM
Dude, they had ten candidates, I'd expect a bunch of those would be shit from sheer quantity (possibly even worse than the 68020).

Team Andromeda
06-29-2018, 10:30 AM
Dude, they had ten candidates, I'd expect a bunch of those would be shit from sheer quantity (possibly even worse than the 68020).

You seem to miss the pint that after SEGA Japan looked at rejected many and was about to go for the SH-2, SOA were pushing for the 68020.

zyrobs
06-29-2018, 10:36 AM
You seem to miss the pint that after SEGA Japan looked at rejected many and was about to go for the SH-2, SOA were pushing for the 68020.

Stop pulling facts out of your ass.
We don't know when and we don't know in what form did they push for the 68020. It could have been before the SH2s, it could have been after; it could have been before the Saturn as a concept existed, it could have been for a different megadrive successor, it could have been for the 32x, it could have been for the SGI system, etc.

gamevet
06-29-2018, 10:55 AM
You seem to miss the pintthat after SEGA Japan looked at rejected many and was about to go for the SH-2, SOA were pushing for the 68020.

Maybe it’s because the pint isn’t available in his area?

Seriously. There’s this little program called MS Word. You can write your comments in there and then cut and paste. It’ll really help you to be a better writer and speller.

Sato mentioned that it was a 68020, but EGM magazine said it was a 68030. The 68030 is no slouch, especially at 50Mhz.

parallaxscroll
06-30-2018, 01:25 AM
Sato mentioned that it was a 68020, but EGM magazine said it was a 68030. The 68030 is no slouch, especially at 50Mhz.

https://i.imgur.com/oFZ4ooK.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/OD25L6b.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/CXK8svG.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/COZRm5q.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/gZfjhU0.jpg

https://i.imgur.com/U9glC1k.jpg

Team Andromeda
06-30-2018, 08:03 AM
Stop pulling facts out of your ass.
We don't know when and we don't know in what form did they push for the 68020. It could have been before the SH2s, it could have been after; it could have been before the Saturn as a concept existed, it could have been for a different megadrive successor, it could have been for the 32x, it could have been for the SGI system, etc.

One is hadly pulling facts out ones bottom. When the head of SEGA entire R&D confirmed that when he was looking at the SH-2, SOA were pushing for the 68020.
If Sato-san had said that SOA were pushing for the 68020 when he was looking at the NEC CPU fair enough, be he clearly says it was at the time he was looking at the SH2.


Looking over that I highly doubt the SGI guys would look to use such a rubbish CPU to power their hardware and Scott Bayless and Marty Franz confirmed that day one after the phone call from SOJ, they looked to use the SH-2 from the Saturn and its what Marty drew on the paper.

Team Andromeda
06-30-2018, 08:12 AM
Sato mentioned that it was a 68020, but EGM magazine said it was a 68030. The 68030 is no slouch, especially at 50Mhz.


Mags are based on speculation and would also lose various info due to poor translations Ect. Who do you think would know the most. The head of SEGA R&D or a video games mag? Looking over that if we listen to you and Tom.
SEGA could have had SONY hardware, which has now been shown to be totally false and this comes from the then head of SEGA's R&D. Much like how SOJ and SOA didn't get on, or back in the early days of this board how SOJ kept SOA in the dark over the Saturn

When its clear as day, that not only did SOA know all about it and were pushing for a crappy CPU, but most of the gaming press knew of and about the Saturn.


It's pretty clear Tom a lair, but also SOA was pretty useless in making the jump to the 32Bit transition. Still to their credit they made a better development interface than SOJ.

Gryson
06-30-2018, 10:09 AM
One is hadly pulling facts out ones bottom. When the head of SEGA entire R&D confirmed that when he was looking at the SH-2, SOA were pushing for the 68020.
If Sato-san had said that SOA were pushing for the 68020 when he was looking at the NEC CPU fair enough, be he clearly says it was at the time he was looking at the SH2.

Don't jump to conclusions. And seriously, tone down the "Tom is a liar" thing. You're only pushing people away from whatever it is you're arguing for.

There are many reasons why Sato's statements might be inaccurate, not the least of which is that he's talking about things that happened 25 years ago.

Leynos
06-30-2018, 12:46 PM
Maybe it’s because the pint isn’t available in his area?

Seriously. There’s this little program called MS Word. You can write your comments in there and then cut and paste. It’ll really help you to be a better writer and speller.

Sato mentioned that it was a 68020, but EGM magazine said it was a 68030. The 68030 is no slouch, especially at 50Mhz.

He doesn't need word. Just Grammarly plugin for his browser.

Leynos
06-30-2018, 12:50 PM
One is hadly pulling facts out ones bottom. When the head of SEGA entire R&D confirmed that when he was looking at the SH-2, SOA were pushing for the 68020.
If Sato-san had said that SOA were pushing for the 68020 when he was looking at the NEC CPU fair enough, be he clearly says it was at the time he was looking at the SH2.


Looking over that I highly doubt the SGI guys would look to use such a rubbish CPU to power their hardware and Scott Bayless and Marty Franz confirmed that day one after the phone call from SOJ, they looked to use the SH-2 from the Saturn and its what Marty drew on the paper.

Well now you are just making up words let alone facts. ROFL.

Team Andromeda
06-30-2018, 01:05 PM
Don't jump to conclusions. And seriously, tone down the "Tom is a liar" thing. You're only pushing people away from whatever it is you're arguing for.

There are many reasons why Sato's statements might be inaccurate, not the least of which is that he's talking about things that happened 25 years ago.

He's a proven lair and we now grasping at straws; Its ok for Tom to recall what he did at SOA over 25 years ok, but not for Sato-san the man was the boss of SEGA R&D and designed every SEGA console ever made. Sato would know more than any when it comes to hardware. And in his interviews he conducts himself so much better, doesn't look to blame others, to scapegoat SOA or make up stories on how he and Ken had dinner and he could have had the PS or PS2. All in stark contrast, to utter crap that comes from a Tom interviews when he looks back

zyrobs
06-30-2018, 01:08 PM
One is hadly pulling facts out ones bottom. When the head of SEGA entire R&D confirmed that when he was looking at the SH-2, SOA were pushing for the 68020.
If Sato-san had said that SOA were pushing for the 68020 when he was looking at the NEC CPU fair enough, be he clearly says it was at the time he was looking at the SH2.


Looking over that I highly doubt the SGI guys would look to use such a rubbish CPU to power their hardware and Scott Bayless and Marty Franz confirmed that day one after the phone call from SOJ, they looked to use the SH-2 from the Saturn and its what Marty drew on the paper.

All we know is that SOA suggested the 68020 at some point.
We don't know if they were aggressively pushing it, we don't know if they suggested it before or after the SH2 was selected, we don't know anything other than that they suggested it at some point.

But, you said that they were pushing for a 68020 even after the SH2 was chosen. That's bullshit you made up.

TrekkiesUnite118
06-30-2018, 01:13 PM
I'm honestly surprised that TA isn't on everyone's ignore list by now.

zyrobs
06-30-2018, 03:50 PM
I'm honestly surprised that TA isn't on everyone's ignore list by now.

Ideally he should've been banned years ago.

Barone
06-30-2018, 03:52 PM
^Along with Thief and a couple of other trolls.

Team Andromeda
06-30-2018, 04:31 PM
But, you said that they were pushing for a 68020 even after the SH2 was chosen. That's bullshit you made up.

I never said SOA were pushing for the 68020 after the SH-2.In the interview when Sato-san was looking at the SH-2 he said SEGA America was pushing for the 68020 and while it was a risk to go with Hitachi he felt it would be a bigger jump, so we know the time line.

I know Tom K is worshipped like a cult leader to some.. But the man has not told the truth over Sega America and Sega Japan working relationship, told bare faced lies over how happy he was with the Saturn spec, talked utter tosh over having access or looking to work with Sony Hardware and as looked to blame staff and scapegoat SOJ.

Sik
06-30-2018, 05:02 PM
You know, looking at those magazine scans:

this machine is presently expected to be based on a new Sega/Hitachi highly customized 68030 processor
Hitachi? Highly customized? What are the odds that the magazine misguessed the CPU (bad rumors?) and this was actually related to the SH-2?

zyrobs
06-30-2018, 06:33 PM
You know, looking at those magazine scans:

Hitachi? Highly customized? What are the odds that the magazine misguessed the CPU (bad rumors?) and this was actually related to the SH-2?

What I imagine the journalists did, was combine two rumours:
- it uses a 68020
- it uses a highly customized chip by Hitachi (no cpu model given!).
Hence, a 68020 highly customized by Hitachi.

Keep in mind that these journalists were not experts in semiconductor processes & companies, and they didn't have a wealth of information ready to be dissected online in minutes. They had no way of knowing that the two rumours talk of different chips - they reported the info they had.

Also note: Hitachi did release their own 68k that was special in that it used the least amount of power, a necessary point for the Nomad. One could call it a chip "highly customized" by Hitachi, in a way.

Gryson
06-30-2018, 07:16 PM
https://i.imgur.com/gZfjhU0.jpg

I wouldn't put much faith in those old EGM articles. They were really half-assing it. This one references the 1994 Winter CES (held in January, 1994), and says:


The main processor of the Saturn is a customized 68030 unit developed by Sega and Hitachi...

And that concept art they seem so proud of is a direct copy of the one that Beep! MD published, minus the cartridge slot.

Here's the source, from the Nov. 1993 issue of Beep! MD:

http://u.cubeupload.com/gryson/BeepMDNov93.jpg

And that article clearly states that the CPU is Hitachi's SH chip. Literally all EGM had to do was subscribe to Beep! MD and find a translator and they'd be a step up from where they were.


Keep in mind that these journalists were not experts in semiconductor processes & companies, and they didn't have a wealth of information ready to be dissected online in minutes. They had no way of knowing that the two rumours talk of different chips - they reported the info they had.

True, but the Hitachi-Sega deal and subsequently the name of the chip were all reported in Japanese newspapers in Sept 1993 (it was big news). EGM was still saying that the chip was a 68030 into 1994. You'd think that a major gaming magazine would have at least some ability to access the Japanese media.

Team Andromeda
07-01-2018, 09:13 AM
True, but the Hitachi-Sega deal and subsequently the name of the chip were all reported in Japanese newspapers in Sept 1993 (it was big news). EGM was still saying that the chip was a 68030 into 1994. You'd think that a major gaming magazine would have at least some ability to access the Japanese media.

Yes or but like SEGA Mag UK, CVG, EDGE, Super Play and had a staff member based in Japan to report back all the latest news. But this was before the days of google and google translate and so sometimes the news would get miss translated; I remember CVG getting a fax with news on Slipheed on the Mega CD and in their rush to translation the news, they had it down as the game needed to extra cartridge to run, which they speculated on how it was needed to handle the GFX, Its turned out, that they missread the news of the game supporting the Japanese Mega CD Back Up Ram cart for saving lol.

But yes in mid 1993 it was wildy reported that the Saturn was using a Hitachi CPU and should have been clear to all. SEGA Japan even held a press conference to announce the news.

parallaxscroll
07-01-2018, 08:20 PM
Diehard GameFan of all magazines in the U.S., actually had more accurate Saturn info than EGM in their early coverage (aside from the mention of a quad-speed CD-ROM drive).

From Volume 1 issue 12 (November 1993)

https://i.imgur.com/D39gSAq.jpg

Sik
07-01-2018, 08:45 PM
Most of the points in that table there are a literal translation of the table from Beep! a couple of posts earlier. Yes, even the rewriteable CD part.

Also I could imagine Sega actually considering 4x at that point but for some reason didn't end up panning out.

Moirai
07-02-2018, 09:54 AM
Ideally he should've been banned years ago.

Bring back mrsega

Blades
07-02-2018, 10:23 AM
By the way, I don't know if people know this but this man has cataloged images and notes on every revision of the Sega Saturn that ever existed. The details are far more specific than the ones on Sega Retro and shows that some of the notes on Retro are wrong (such as the DAC differences between VA2 and VA4). Bing translate does a pretty good job with his notes.

https://www9.atwiki.jp/nannansei/pages/14.html

https://www9.atwiki.jp/nannansei/pages/15.html

Silanda
07-02-2018, 10:28 AM
Also I could imagine Sega actually considering 4x at that point but for some reason didn't end up panning out.

Perhaps, although I do wonder if it was a speculative guess on someone's part seeing as quad speed drives were the new hotness for '94. The re-writeable CD thing also sounds like a pie in the sky concept; CD-RW didn't exist yet, and a CD-R or magneto-optical drive would have been exorbitantly expensive at that time.

Sik
07-02-2018, 11:40 AM
There's also the issue that it wouldn't take long before somebody figured out how to use it to by-pass the Saturn's DRM.

I wonder if they mixed it up with the floppy drive? Apparently Sega was planning on it for the Saturn since early on (though it didn't end up coming out until 1996). Those are rewriteable disks technically, after all :​P

Team Andromeda
07-02-2018, 01:19 PM
I wonder if they mixed it up with the floppy drive? Apparently Sega was planning on it for the Saturn since early on (though it didn't end up coming out until 1996). Those are rewriteable disks technically, after all :P

The Floppy drive was pictured in the Saturn manual with the launch machine in 1994, so it was planned very early in and I bet that's where the rewritable info came from, not doubt in a miss translated bit of text; like I'm sure that the Saturn add on the cart was nothing more than some getting the wrong bit of translation from the planned 4-Meg Cart. A SOJ soruce did tell EDGE mag that the Saturn was looking to have a 4X speed drive, but I bet that was dropped due to costs.

Thief
07-02-2018, 01:28 PM
Those are two new ace avatars, Alec and Blades.

Sik
07-02-2018, 02:21 PM
The Floppy drive was pictured in the Saturn manual with the launch machine in 1994, so it was planned very early in and I bet that's where the rewritable info came from, not doubt in a miss translated bit of text;
Not a mistranslation, Beep explicitly said "rewritable CD-ROM". I'm guessing that Sega said "rewritable disk" and Beep extrapolated it to mean CD (・_・)

EDIT: also to note, both "disc" and "disk" in Japanese are written as "ディスク", so magnetic vs optical confusion is more likely to happen.

zyrobs
07-02-2018, 09:33 PM
The manual for launch Saturns also listed a HDD.

BonusKun
07-03-2018, 10:56 AM
Jesus how did I miss this shitstorm of a thread.

parallaxscroll
07-06-2018, 05:13 AM
Most of the points in that table there are a literal translation of the table from Beep! a couple of posts earlier. Yes, even the rewriteable CD part.

Also I could imagine Sega actually considering 4x at that point but for some reason didn't end up panning out.

The point is, in retrospect, GameFan did a much better job of getting accurate Saturn information to its readers than EGM did, and sooner, directly from Beep!

Gryson
07-06-2018, 08:40 AM
The point is, in retrospect, GameFan did a much better job of getting accurate Saturn information to its readers than EGM did, and sooner, directly from Beep!

GameFan was great in this regard. They had a whole section for news from Japan and would sometimes have interviews with Japanese developers.

parallaxscroll
07-06-2018, 10:14 AM
GameFan was great in this regard. They had a whole section for news from Japan and would sometimes have interviews with Japanese developers.

Yup, and it's awesome that every issue of GameFan has been archived: https://archive.org/search.php?query=GameFan&sort=titleSorter&page=2

Gryson, is there any way you could translate Sato's comments on 3Dfx & Black Belt vs PowerVR & Katana/Dreamcast ?

Would be much appreciated.

WarmSignal
07-06-2018, 04:06 PM
Off topic... but, does anyone else feel like normal text now looks left-slanted after reading so much right-slanted text?

Gryson
07-06-2018, 04:37 PM
Yup, and it's awesome that every issue of GameFan has been archived: https://archive.org/search.php?query=GameFan&sort=titleSorter&page=2

Gryson, is there any way you could translate Sato's comments on 3Dfx & Black Belt vs PowerVR & Katana/Dreamcast ?

Would be much appreciated.

Eventually... I'm working on some other things now (stay tuned!).


Off topic... but, does anyone else feel like normal text now looks left-slanted after reading so much right-slanted text?

:nod:

Blades
07-06-2018, 05:25 PM
Eventually... I'm working on some other things now (stay tuned!).

If you keep feeding us, we'll never leave you alone!

Leynos
07-06-2018, 08:20 PM
I'm shocked this thread didn't somehow devolve into Genesis vs SNES again.

parallaxscroll
07-13-2018, 12:19 PM
Eventually... I'm working on some other things now (stay tuned!).


Excellent, can't wait!

SonicTheHedgehog
09-21-2018, 07:58 PM
Fascinating interview but it seems all the things they (Sega) were talking about with regards to the design of the Saturn just wasn't good enough. They should of released a year later with a single CPU/DSP design with the machine itself using no more than 4 or 5 chips. A 1994/95 release just wasn't good for Sega just like it wasn't good for Nintendo but unlike Nintendo they couldn't wait until 96/97.

The 68020 would have been to weak and Sega wouldn't of been able to produce a powerful enough DSP to mitigate the weak CPU. Or the amount of DSP's they would have needed to offset the weak 68020 would of made the machine too expensive/complex. The 68030 still wasn't as powerful as the Playstations CPU at the same clock and offered far inferior Price/performance ratio. The 68040 was way too expensive and didn't offer good price/performance ratio either.

The SH2 offered fantastic price/performance but a single chip wasn't powerful enough with the way the rest of the machine was designed and using 2 SH2'S negated the good price/performance ratio an individual SH2 provided.

Basically i feel that as soon as the Saturn was out it was game over for Sega no matter what they did. They needed a better designed Saturn but they couldn't of afforded to release in 1996/97 as that would of given the Playstation to much time to grab the market and keeping the release date but streamlining the machine would leave it to weak for 3d gaming and the people wouldn't of accepted a purely 2d machine no matter how good it was.

Sega should have made the decision to delay the Saturn in 1993 to around August/September 1995 in Japan. I would of designed something like this:

SH3 @ 57.2mhz
2MB main SD Ram

0.5 micron 32 bit wide VDP1 doing BACKWARD rendered quads @ 57.2mhz
1.5 MB VRam (1MB for sprites/textures + 2x256kbit framebuffers) + texture cache

32 channel PCM (no FM Synthesizer chip)
1MB audio ram

SH1 on a 32 bit bus acting as both the audio chip AND CD-Rom controller
256-512KB CD-ROM

If you think about it they would have far fewer pin/trace counts with this design and less chips used as well as less motherboard space so i cant imagine it costing more and from what i have read online i get the feeling an August/September 1995 Japan launch would have been doable. Then release in the US/Europe around mid 96 at the latest.

I feel with a better 32 bit machine they would have got more 3rd party support and some of the 3rd parties that signed exclusivity deals with Sony would of been far more reluctant with a better machine from Sega being around aswel as having better games and better arcade ports and using the 4MB Cartridge we could have had respectable Model 3 ports like Virtua Fighter 3.

Dreamcast then could have been released a few years later than it's original Nov 98 launch due to the more successful Saturn and could have been more competitive with the PS2 not only because it would of been more powerful and could have used DVD-Rom but because Sega's 32 bit machine would of been far more successful and taken alot of sales from Sony's Playstation thus the anticipation for next gen Sega/Sony machines would have been evens.

Moirai
09-21-2018, 08:01 PM
I kinda like saturn the way it is

SonicTheHedgehog
09-21-2018, 08:07 PM
I kinda like saturn the way it is

The Saturn i.m.o physically looked lovely especially the Japanese Model 1 version and it no doubt had some absolute gems on it but there's no denying it wasn't desirable hardware for 3rd parties to code for especially compared to the PS unless you were doing a 2D game. and it wasn't good from a price to performance ratio like the PS either.

Oh and also there was a bit bigger gap in power between the PS & Namco System 22 and the Saturn & Model 2 arcade board thus Arcade to home ports tended to be a bit more impressive on the PS even though Sega Rally & VF2 looked really nice back in the day.

zyrobs
09-23-2018, 03:09 PM
I would of designed something like this:

That would've been equally expensive as the Saturn we got, and in the end not as powerful as the Playstation either, plus it had no advantage in 2d games without the VDP2. Also without the Sega deal on the SH1 and SH2, Hitachi might not have had enough reason to continue developing the line and there might not have been an SH3.

The 4mb cart would not have helped in 3d titles either, since it is wired up to the CPU bus. It can store more animation, but then the VDP1 has to do double the work to use it, and it just runs out of fill rate. See Marvel Super Heroes or Cyberbots, they both have more slowdown when using RAM carts.

I would've
- add ADPCM to the sound chip
- remove the 16bit work ram, make the SH2s use only 32bit SDRAM (this may be more expensive, but it would've made coding easier),
- redesign the CD system to use less than 4 chips (SH1, YGR, plus at least two controllers on the CD drive), and see if it is possible to put them all on the mainboard.
- remove the audio/video input form the cartridge slot (the MPEG slot would still have it), to make it have less pins, and thereby allowing for a less dense and more reliable connector. Or maybe even make memory cards use a serial link and only the RAM expansion to use parallel, so you can do both at the same time.
- make the vdp1 capable of drawing a textured pixel in less cycles. Preferably only a single cycle. Make each sprite pipeline use only the parts it needs, for ex. Mesh mode should be twice as fast but it isn't. This would require removing things like end codes, but they are not needed if the chip is fast enough. Basically make it draw pixels as fast as possible. It doesn't even matter if it uses backward texturing, as long as the chip is fast enough, you can come up with efficient workarounds for that. Maybe you could go full silly and have it use 2 banks of VRAM so you can upload textures to one while drawing from the other; assuming you can save enough cost on other parts like the CD block.
- add a RGB4444 mode to the VDP1, where you have 12bits of RGB pixels and 4 bits of extra bits for the VDP2 to use for priority or blending. This allows for far easier VDP1/2 integration, you can use full gouraud shading without precalculating lightning in CRAM, and you can now use both polygon transparency and polygon to background blending simultaneously (it wouldn't look perfect but it would be way better than mesh mode). 12bit would be still enough for colours, as it would look the same as if you'd use 8bit CRAM shading like in Exhumed, but it is way easier to set up. Plus the VDP2 could still use more colours on top of that. 12bit RGB would also save on texture size, allowing for crisper textures.
- change High Speed Shrink to have more states, turning into a primitive hardware mipmapping. Easier to do than to change the entire chip design to involve forwards texturing, and saves on VRAM since you don't have to store as many mipmaps.
- add a 256px and a 512px wide resolution to the VDP2. This would allow for 512x256 framebuffer in 16 bit colour which would make 3d games look extremely crisp while still having full colour calculation capabilities. The 256px mode would also allow for easier porting of old games, especially Nintendo ones but also stuff from Master System.
- decouple the video dot clock and the main processing clocks, so the system can run at full 28MHz even when using lesser resolution modes (because of the 256px modes).
- see if its possible to make the system use SDRAM only instead of SDRAM here and DRAM there. I imagine SDRAM is more expensive, but hopefully using less RAM types means larger bulk orders that would make things less difficult - plus some years later memory would become cheaper anyway.

This may not be cheaper with all the RAM changes, but it would be a heck of a lot easier to program for and have better 3d capabilities, assuming you can get the VDP1 fast enough. And if every part uses SDRAM then some years down the road it would be easier to combine certain parts into single chips, allowing for true cost reductions.

Waiting with the system until smaller process nodes are available, to make the VDP1 run twice the input clock, would be a possible idea as well. You'd lose a year in the redesign anyway. However it may have been much less successful if released a year later, since the Playstation was out in 94.

SonicTheHedgehog
09-23-2018, 04:03 PM
I don't see how my design wouldn't be as powerful as the PS1. With the 57.2mhz SH3 + 8kb cache and using 2MB SDRAM clocked at the same speed as the SH3 it would be noticably faster than the PS CPU. The VDP1 at 57.2mhz with the VRAM running at that speed + a texture cache and the total system bandwidth should be around 228.8MB/s compared to the PS 133MB/s.

Basically 1 SH and 1 VDP at double clocks with the ram at double clocks too. Alpha blending beyond half transparent would of been important if they could have done it. And i meant an advantage in 2d games from the standpoint of developers only having to worry about coding for 1 VDP and i heard that 2d games can't take advantage of 2 cpu's so surely 1 clocked twice as fast would benefit?

The DSP in the SCU clock doubled to 28.6mhz with double cache and the ability to do divide math and you would have something that would be good for matrix transformations. I would get rid of the video cd card slot and the internal save ram forcing gamers to buy cartridges to save their games but improve the cartridge/slot reliability and the ability to remove and insert cartridges whilst ingame.

As long as they can get it out by Nov 1995 and Sept 96 in Japan & the US/Europe they would of been in a much better position. And honestly it shouldn't have been more expensive as your looking at less pin/trace counts, less chips, less motherboard space and a year later release. I see your point about the SH3 existing due to funding from Sega for the SH1 & SH2 but honestly Sega wasted so much money elsewhere that they could of helped Hitachi with funds and still been ok financially if they had spent more wisely.

Then mabee try and partner with them on a long term contract so mabee they can use a Hitachi SH chip for the Model 3 instead of the Power PC 603 chip. The NAOMI arcade board would come out at the end of 1998 as usual with the design being the same but no home console so another hitachi chip in that. Then a 128 bit home console 2 years later in November 2000. Something like:

SH @ 400mhz on the 0.18 micron process + a vector unit like the SH4 with performance around 720mips
32 MB main ram @ 133mhz

Power VR GPU similar but not identical to the Kyro 2 GPU that launched for PC's in early 2001 clocked at 175-200mhz with 16MB V-RAM

Same amount of audio channels but double the audio ram and a more powerful audio chip capable of mpeg compression & mp3 playback as well as dolby support so mabee they could use a Hitachi chip for that. Adding a 2nd analogue on the controller horizontally to the right of the left analogue and moving A,B,X,Y down beneath it and adding an extra set of shoulder buttons would of been needed. It could of launched the following year around September 2001 in the US/Europe at $299.99 instead of the 199.99 price the original DC launched at.

Honestly they would of had to have made alot more money from the 32 bit gen as they spent alot designing the NAOMI and then there would be more money going out on a 2000/01 128 bit machine that would use new chips so it still wouldn' t have been easy for Sega financially but i feel they would of been in a much stronger position especially as far as there reputation goes.

zyrobs
09-23-2018, 05:59 PM
It wouldn't be as powerful because the PSX has the GTE to offload the heavy matrix operations to (the SCU DSP isn't equal to that and far harder to use), and because the VDP1 is extremely wasteful and has a poor feature set. Even at twice the clock rate, it wouldn't equal or even come close to the PSX GPU neither in quality nor speed. And without the VDP2, Sega can't easily port all their old games, which is a very heavy consideration in their hardware designs: even for the Dreamcast, they had the PowerVR2 customized for this purpose. Not to mention that without VDP2 you'd have nothing to scan the framebuffer for image output.
And you'd need to source twice as fast SDRAM and fab larger chips (which means poorer yield). The pin count may be lower, but the price of the chips could be higher.

SonicTheHedgehog
09-23-2018, 07:45 PM
Couldn't they have designed the VDP1 to scan the Framebuffer? At the most just have the VDP2 for Palette ram i think. Also wouldn't the SCU DSP at double the clock + double the cache and the ability to do fast reciprocal approximation be adequate to handle Matrix operations?

zyrobs
09-23-2018, 10:02 PM
That's not how the VDP2 CRAM works, and I doubt the DSP at twice the clock would be as efficient as the PSX GTE (which is said to be able to transform 1 million triangles per second max).

SonicTheHedgehog
09-24-2018, 02:17 PM
That's not how the VDP2 CRAM works, and I doubt the DSP at twice the clock would be as efficient as the PSX GTE (which is said to be able to transform 1 million triangles per second max).

Well the DSP at twice the clock with twice the cache and the ability to do divide math doesn't have to be more efficient than the PSX GTE just capable of performing 3D T&L. Honestly i don't know what else you would use it for.

Remember im just looking at the Saturn the way it is and trying to see if it could have been turned into a more efficient & powerful version of itself using less chips/pins and less motherboard space. Although im not educated in engineering so mabee i don't know what im talking about.

Gryson
09-24-2018, 03:16 PM
The SH3 wasn't released until around 1997, and as zyrobs said, without Sega's initial interest in adopting the SH, there likely never would have been an SH3. See:

http://www.sega-16.com/forum/showthread.php?33527-The-Story-of-the-Hitachi-SH-2-and-the-Sega-Saturn

I can't see how a delay of any sort would have benefited Sega. It would only have made the problem of Sony gobbling up all the 3rd parties even worse.

In my opinion, it was "game over" for Sega as soon as Sony entered the market. Sony's business strategy as outlined by Sato and talked about elsewhere was the real damning factor. Sega was never invested in 3rd parties the way Sony was, because Sega wanted to limit competition on its own platform. Even after Sega created basic development tools for the Saturn (I believe based off of Virtua Fighter tools), they kept them internal. As Sato says, Sega tried to do it all on its own (see the development of Panzer Dragoon Saga as an excellent allegory for Sega's unsuccessful attempts to do everything itself). But they didn't have the money to pull it off, and that just wasn't a viable business plan anymore. Nintendo suffered a similar fate, although to a lesser extent. And I don't think this was an easily solvable problem for Sega. Given the option, there was no way in hell Namco wanted to appear on its primary competitor's platform (and Sega sure didn't want Namco stealing sales away).

Conversely, the Mega Drive/Genesis is essentially defined by its 1st and 2nd party titles (with notable exceptions, of course).

SonicTheHedgehog
09-25-2018, 09:54 PM
The SH3 could of been ready for Sep 95 if Sega had signed a contract with Hitachi for exclusivity of the chips for a console in 1993. And a delay would of been extremely beneficial in that it would have allowed Sega to get there own house in order as in design a machine that wasn't as convoluted as the one we got.

Sony only gobbled up the 3rd parties in 1997 after the Saturn started dying and Sega announced that it wasn't in their future. If 3rd parties were told in the run up to the PS Japanese launch that they would have a choice of a more powerful machine that was also going to be user friendly from Sega in less than 12 months that was CD based they would of been all over it.

Sega still would have had challenges to overcome but they would of sold more 32 bit machines, had more games released for it, had a longer lasting 32 bit device and made a hell of a lot more money than what they did. Not that it would be difficult to do better financially than what ended up happening.

zyrobs
09-26-2018, 01:21 AM
The Saturn used 2 SH2s, 1 SH1, 3 custom ASICs, and two custom chips on its CD drive, all from Hitachi. Conservatively that amounts to 30+ million chips bought from Hitachi, not something you can just switch out with an exclusivity contract for a hypothetical console.

And besides this would only put the Saturn a bit closer to the PSX, but by 96 they are up against the N64.

Besides the SH2s were not the weak point. The weak point was the VDP1 and Sega's idiotic policies.

Blades
09-26-2018, 03:40 AM
To be fair, the SH2s were weak. The only reason there are two of them is because one wasn't competitive. Putting in two was a bad idea with only one bright point, being that Hitachi remains the primary chip supplier for Saturn.

SonicTheHedgehog
09-26-2018, 05:34 PM
The Saturn used 2 SH2s, 1 SH1, 3 custom ASICs, and two custom chips on its CD drive, all from Hitachi. Conservatively that amounts to 30+ million chips bought from Hitachi, not something you can just switch out with an exclusivity contract for a hypothetical console.

They still could have used the SH1 in the machine and if they had gotten everything right i think 30m consoles shipped lifetime would of been easily achieveable which would of made even more money for Hitachi assuming they stuck with them for at least 1 custom ASIC.


And besides this would only put the Saturn a bit closer to the PSX, but by 96 they are up against the N64.

Well obviously they would have needed to add more features to the VDP1 as you elaborated on earlier and i think thats what Sega would of done if they had more time. There were numerous reports that the Sega team were forced to rush the Saturn out for late 94 in the end and at one point their president didn't even think it would be ready for 94 so i think giving them more time would have meant they could have had many more features resulting in not only a higher clocked VDP with faster more unified ram but a more efficient VDP1 even if it was still rendering quads. Assuming they are designing the machine that way from the start.

The N64 wasn't a threat to 3rd party support for Sega it was Sony and only from 1997 onward when Sega announced the Machine wasn't in their future. up until the end of 96 3rd party support was fairly close despite the fact that the PSX was the better choice for 3rd parties.


Besides the SH2s were not the weak point. The weak point was the VDP1 and Sega's idiotic policies.

The SH2's together offered poor price per performance and 1 on it's own wasn't powerful enough so they were a problem nonetheless. I agree the VDP1 wasn't good enough thats why i want double clocks for it and the ram but also more features to improve it's performance. I understand that using quadrilaterals wasn't as efficient as using triangles but im trying to keep that just to keep some of the identity of the machine as i think quads wasn't the main problem and could of been gotten away with if the machine was more powerful/feature rich and also easier to program for with better libraries all which i think was doable if Sega had a higher IQ.

I would have liked to have seen the cost of the 2 VDP'S and 3 sets of ram inc pin counts compared to the PSX GTE + ram as im betting Sega's setup was more expensive. If not then an arguement can be made to just keep both the VDP's but at higher clocks for them and the ram and more features for the VDP1 and getting them to work better with each other at a latter date of 95/96.

Even then i understand it would still be a challenge for Sega but there is no way they would have done worse than they did with Saturn in terms of units shipped and money lost.

Da_Shocker
09-30-2018, 07:17 PM
I'm going to address a few things that stuck out for me



Quote Originally Posted by Hideki Sato, part 3.2 pages 13-14
The Saturn actually had just one CPU at the beginning. Then Sony appeared with its polygon-based PlayStation. When I was first designing the Saturn architecture, I was focused on sprite graphics, which had been the primary graphics up to that point.

So I decided to go with polygons (due to the PlayStation). However, there weren’t any people at Sega who knew how to develop such software. Of course, we had Yu Suzuki in the arcade department, but I couldn’t just drag him off to the console department. He was developing titles like Virtua Fighter and Virtua Racing. The expertise of all of the developers we had was in sprite graphics, so there seemed no choice but to go with sprites. Nevertheless, I knew we needed polygons. Using various tricks, adding a geometry engine and so on, I changed everything. In the end, just like the PlayStation, we had pseudo-polygons built on a sprite base. I felt no choice but to design a sprite-based architecture. Having said that, after some significant progress, pseudo-polygons did represent a “jump” in graphics in a certain way. There was a distinction of sorts. The processor was very powerful and could support 4,000, even 5,000 sprites, and I thought we could make the graphics work using a sprite engine after adding the Yamaha and such.

It seemed like we were finally nearing completion. Then, the final PlayStation was revealed. It supported 300,000 polygons. Well, that was ultimately a bunch of lies, but… When you compared the Saturn with the PlayStation, we were completely missing something. The response that I chose was to add another SH processor, so we ended up with two SH-2s. By chance, the SH supported two-way cascaded data transfer. You could add a second processor and connect them in a cascade and get multi-CPU performance. When you get to about the PlayStation 3, multi-processors had become common, but the Saturn was the first home console to use multi-processors. So I added a second SH-2, but I felt that the ‘impact’ was still weak. Well, the SH-2 is a 32-bit processor, and we had two of them, so we could call the Saturn a 64-bit machine. It’s a dirty way of getting to 64-bits. But we revealed the CD-ROM-based Saturn using 64-bits as our sales point.


This pretty much confirmed all the rumblings we all hear about 2D being the main focus. IIRC the Saturn was simply suppose to be better than the Jaguar and 3DO but Sony ruined that. My thing is why oh why didn't they drag Yu Suzuki from his work to help out with the Saturn. Clearly nobody from Sega knew anything about 3D technology except for him.


At the beginning, there was no compiler. You had to program the SH in assembly. The people at Sega were good at assembly. That’s all they had been using on the MC68000. C, C++ were too slow to use.

However, third parties struggled with programming the SH in assembly, and there were two of the CPUs along with a CD-ROM. We asked third parties to make games, but without development libraries, they couldn’t do anything. They’d take a week and barely even be able to get something to display on the screen, let alone be able to start making a game. Our third party support was awful. The hardware was incredibly difficult to use. However, if you worked with it a bit, you could get a ton of sprites, with scaling and rotation and so on.

We all know that but the real question is why was the 3rd party support so abysmal? Both Battle Arena Toshindens looked bad on the Saturn then you have games such as Dead or Alive and I think Anarchy in Nippon(?) both used the VF2 engine and look pretty good. There are so many 3rd party ports on the Saturn that just look really really bad in comparison to there PSx counterparts.


Sony was good at supporting PlayStation third party developers. Why? Sony didn’t have a development department. They didn’t have a software department. What do you do if you don’t have a software department? You ask somebody else. Sony went to Namco, to Taito, to Konami. They said that they were putting together a game console called the PlayStation, and they invited these companies to develop games for it. Sony exerted all its efforts on supporting third parties and enhancing their collective powers. Sony CEO Norio Ohga himself went to talk to the third parties. From their perspective, it was a big deal for Ohga to come and ask this. From Namco’s viewpoint, if they put out Tekken, they could compete evenly with Sega’s Virtua Fighter.

The number one game in the PlayStation world was Ridge Racer. And Konami being Konami, they had their typical games. It’s obvious that the PlayStation had the better games. No matter how much effort Sega put in on its own, it wasn’t going to be enough.

So Sony went to Namco, Taito, Konami, and others, and they said here are the specs, and don’t worry, there aren’t two CPUs or anything difficult like that. They said the PlayStation will be easy to develop for, and here are all the development libraries we’ll put out. Sony had a very easy-to-use SDK (Software Development Kit). And Ohga himself was making these offers, and the third parties were told they could port all of their own titles, and so on. With all of that, it certainly seemed like the PlayStation was better.

Interesting with that being said I wonder how much Sega and Sony was charging 3rd parties back then.


So we released the Saturn in 1994, and as I said before, there were two SH-2s. In addition, memory was expensive at this time, and we were using a large amount, so costs were very high. For each Saturn sold, we lost about 10,000 yen ($100). That’s how the hardware business works. But the goal was to recoup the losses from software royalties. If there are lots of third parties, lots of games sold, and we get 2,000 yen for each, it’s possible. However, if software sales are weak, and for each console sold, we’re ultimately losing 5,000 – 6,000 yen, what’s going to happen from the business perspective? We’re going to stop selling consoles. This later became a huge problem.

Every month, or even every week in Sega’s case, we had meetings to examine the current situation. Each department would report on where it stood in relation to its goals. So, imagine if the sales goal for the end-of-year sales war is, say, 3 billion yen, and the profit goal is 300 million yen—but wait, the profit is in the red. That profit is a very important factor, so what does the business side do? They decide that it’s not necessary to have sales of 3 billion yen. Instead, 2 billion yen will do. In other words, they stop selling 1 billion yen’s worth of hardware. That way, if each unit sold is losing 5,000 yen, and we extend that to 20,000 units, that’s 100 million yen lost. By stopping the sales of 20,000 units, in a way that becomes 100 million yen in profit. So they slammed on the brakes in terms of unit distribution. Even though there were people that wanted to buy the console, Sega didn’t want to sell it, because the more they sold the more they went into the red.

From the perspective of the third parties, they saw that Sega was curbing the sales of the Saturn. The more consoles there were, the more games would be sold. But if console sales were being limited, then this created a serious problem. As they say, poverty dulls the wit. This led to a negative feedback loop.

And this is why the Bernie Stolar wasn't a huge fan of the Saturn people. I know some of ya'll have never got over his canning the Saturn in 97 or 98 but that is why.


To launch a new console, you really need 50-60 billion yen at the least. You have to sell those first million units. If your costs are 30,000 yen per unit, then that comes to 30 billion yen for 1 million units. And you have to design the hardware and create the electronics, make the molds and do the tooling, and this will soon use about 10 billion yen. And then you have to create the games and do advertising. You need about 500-600 people. Without all this, you can’t launch a home console. You can’t do it little by little. You really have to go all in.

Sony had annual sales of 3 trillion yen. They made their own CD-ROM drives. They had their own semiconductor factories. Once when I was talking with Ken Kutaragi [the creator of the PlayStation], he said “Hideki-chan”—he refers to me using the “chan” diminutive—“Hideki-chan, there’s no way you can beat me. Where are you buying your processors? From Hitachi. From Yamaha. What about your CD-ROM drives? You’re buying everything. By buying from Hitachi, Hitachi is profiting. You can’t make anything yourselves. We can make everything ourselves, including custom parts. We have our own factories.” Near Nakashinden, they had a huge factory where they made audio equipment that they were using for the PlayStation. Their cost structure was completely different.

“That’s the way it is, Hideki-chan,” Kutaragi told me. “So quit the hardware business. Why not just do software? We’ll give you favorable treatment.” He wanted us to go third party. We had been going for so long in the hardware business, for better or worse, and to go third party now? We had been half-heartedly successful in America once, and this made it impossible to quit the hardware business. Maybe if the Mega Drive, the Genesis, had been a failure, things would have been different. But we had a strange taste of success.

At that time, Sega’s brand image was incredible. When you powered on a Sega console, ‘SEGA’ would always appear first. Even if it was a third party game from Namco (or anybody else), Sega’s name always appeared first, followed by Namco’s. So anybody that had a Sega console, it didn’t matter what game they played, they would see Sega’s name. This helped plant the Sega brand in peoples’ minds. This was incredibly effective. To go from that to a Sony third party… Well, we had already started so it was too late.

I would have a polite dinner with Kutaragi about once every three months. He’d tell me that because we released a console last time, they would be the ones to do so this time. We are the same age, although he’s two or three months older. I would call him the polite “Kutaragi-san,” although sometimes I’d call him “Ken-chan.” Because I was two or three months younger, he’d say “Hideki-chan, please give up!”

So we released the Saturn, and in the end, it came down to software. It’s obvious, but what do consumers look forward to? They want fun games. And that’s where we failed.

This makes so much sense. Though the chan dig seems to be a bit unnecessary :D:D:D But the Megadrive failed in Japan. So being I guess a half-hearted success in America made Sega want to stick it out? Even though SoJ couldnt really gain any market traction in their own country?

Gryson
09-30-2018, 08:52 PM
Thanks for the thoughts. Some small comments:


My thing is why oh why didn't they drag Yu Suzuki from his work to help out with the Saturn. Clearly nobody from Sega knew anything about 3D technology except for him.

Yu Suzuki was at the forefront of a whole new generation of gaming technology. Sega undoubtedly wanted him there where he would have the biggest impact. Remember, Sega's primary focus in making home consoles in the first place was to give them a platform to freely publish their arcade games. Their arcade games mattered more than anything.


We all know that but the real question is why was the 3rd party support so abysmal? Both Battle Arena Toshindens looked bad on the Saturn then you have games such as Dead or Alive and I think Anarchy in Nippon(?) both used the VF2 engine and look pretty good. There are so many 3rd party ports on the Saturn that just look really really bad in comparison to there PSx counterparts.

When doing ports, 3rd party devs didn't bother to make use of both SH2s in many cases. So they were only using one under-powered CPU.


But the Megadrive failed in Japan. So being I guess a half-hearted success in America made Sega want to stick it out? Even though SoJ couldnt really gain any market traction in their own country?

That might be misunderstanding how the business was run. The success of the Genesis in North America was very much a point of pride for Sega of Japan. Since the 80s, many Japanese companies have targeted America as their biggest market, and that's precisely what Nakayama did with the Genesis (he's said as much). In this interview, Sato himself praised the success of Sega of America (and praised his "trusted friend, Tom Kalinske"). In other words, Sega of Japan never saw their market as only Japan - it was the world. Sega of America was a daughter company primarily responsible with advertising and distribution (and later development, of course), and it received heaps of praise for doing a great job.

So yes, I would say the Genesis being a success certainly made it difficult for Sega did drop out of the console market.

Da_Shocker
09-30-2018, 10:54 PM
Gryson, most 3rd parties didn't even use the VDP2 chip either. Hideki said that the 3rd party support was awful well damn why was it so bad? Looking back would it had been that difficult for Sega to provide 3rd party support on par with Sony? Most of the time the PSx would get the game first and then whenever the Saturn version would come out sometimes months later it would look worse than the PSx version.

Gryson
09-30-2018, 11:20 PM
It's because Sega didn't really value 3rd parties at the time.

This book (https://www.amazon.com/Revolutionaries-Sony-Playstation-Visionaries-Conquered/dp/0071355871) about the creation of the PlayStation, which I own but hadn't read in forever until forum member Folco mentioned it recently, talks about this in a bit more detail.

Basically, Sega was focused on using their consoles to promote their own games. 3rd parties were a necessary evil, in the sense that Sega needed them to expand the library of the console, but to do so meant introducing competition for their own games. So while they did want 3rd parties, they put the development of their own games ahead. Hence they didn't make development tools until much later.

Sony, on the other hand, didn't make any games for the PS1 from the start. Instead, they focused entirely on the 3rd parties. They worked very closely with Namco from the middle of 1993 (!) to create and improve the PlayStation SDK (the president of Namco said that they provided so much feedback to Sony that they were basically a 2nd party). They also went to companies such as Konami and actually involved them in the hardware development process (according to the book, Sony got feedback from Konami on what hardware and type of controller they would need and such).

Sony even had a verbal commitment from Square and Enix in 1993 to publish games on the PlayStation if Sony could sell 3 million consoles. That was huge.

MushaAleste
10-15-2018, 07:27 PM
So if SEGA took a 100$ USD hit per sold saturn console, what about the JVC and Hitachi variants? Did those companies make minus too?

zyrobs
10-15-2018, 10:28 PM
So if SEGA took a 100$ USD hit per sold saturn console, what about the JVC and Hitachi variants? Did those companies make minus too?

They were stock units, only the top of the case had a custom colour + logo, so it is fair to assume that they took the exact same amount to manufacture. The Hitachi probably cost more since it came bundled with the MPEG card.

But we don't know exactly who took the cost and in what way, especially since those companies were involved with manufacturing the hardware.

Blades
10-19-2018, 01:42 PM
This book (https://www.amazon.com/Revolutionaries-Sony-Playstation-Visionaries-Conquered/dp/0071355871) about the creation of the PlayStation, which I own but hadn't read in forever until forum member Folco mentioned it recently, talks about this in a bit more detail.

Just picked up this book. Thanks for the recommendation! It's very interesting.

Team Andromeda
10-19-2018, 01:54 PM
They were stock units, only the top of the case had a custom colour + logo, so it is fair to assume that they took the exact same amount to manufacture..

I'm not so sure, At a guess I would imagine Hitachi using its own manufacture plants to save on costs and the like. Its also thanks to the likes of JVC and Hitachi SEGA got such good sales in Japan, SEGA was also able to use Hitachi and JVC retails supply networks to get Saturn into to more shops and break Nintendo hold over Japan. Very much like how SEGA America had to fight Nintendo grip on the retail network in America

zyrobs
10-19-2018, 07:42 PM
Hi-Saturns and V-Saturns were assembled by the same manufacturers as stock units were (Seiyo Denshi, Tokai Denshi, Asahi Electron). The only special thing about them is the boot rom and the custom finish, and the fact they came bundled with MPEG cards.
IIRC the Hi-Saturn was sold as a high-end multimedia device, not simply game consoles, probably because of the MPEG card bundle.

I don't know how much their retail supply network helped, but keep in mind that they didn't make many of those units. V-Saturn comes out to 320k or so, Hi-Saturns to less than 40k (including less than 2000 Navi units).

Team Andromeda
10-20-2018, 02:44 AM
I don't know how much their retail supply network helped, but keep in mind that they didn't make many of those units. V-Saturn comes out to 320k or so, Hi-Saturns to less than 40k (including less than 2000 Navi units).

Hitachi didn't just use its supply network for its own branded Saturns, but also to sell SEGA's. In a intreview SEGA Japan said it was able to use Hitachi's then 700 odd supply outlets, which helped get the Saturn to more stores that wouldn't have been possible without the partnership.

Folco
12-22-2018, 12:19 AM
The SH3 wasn't released until around 1997, and as zyrobs said, without Sega's initial interest in adopting the SH, there likely never would have been an SH3. See:

http://www.sega-16.com/forum/showthread.php?33527-The-Story-of-the-Hitachi-SH-2-and-the-Sega-Saturn

I can't see how a delay of any sort would have benefited Sega. It would only have made the problem of Sony gobbling up all the 3rd parties even worse.

In my opinion, it was "game over" for Sega as soon as Sony entered the market. Sony's business strategy as outlined by Sato and talked about elsewhere was the real damning factor. Sega was never invested in 3rd parties the way Sony was, because Sega wanted to limit competition on its own platform. Even after Sega created basic development tools for the Saturn (I believe based off of Virtua Fighter tools), they kept them internal. As Sato says, Sega tried to do it all on its own (see the development of Panzer Dragoon Saga as an excellent allegory for Sega's unsuccessful attempts to do everything itself). But they didn't have the money to pull it off, and that just wasn't a viable business plan anymore. Nintendo suffered a similar fate, although to a lesser extent. And I don't think this was an easily solvable problem for Sega. Given the option, there was no way in hell Namco wanted to appear on its primary competitor's platform (and Sega sure didn't want Namco stealing sales away).

Conversely, the Mega Drive/Genesis is essentially defined by its 1st and 2nd party titles (with notable exceptions, of course).
Sorry for the late bump, I've only read this thread now.
I want to comment your post because you correctly identified the difficult spot all the traditional console manufacturers were once Sony entered the market.
This is regardless of the mistakes Sega or Nintendo may have done.
Essentially Sega and Nintendo grew stronger on the power of their in-house software and their strategy was based on their software pushing the console and being the main selling game on the platform.
All their business model revolved around making sure it was their in-house software that had all the advantage compared to the comepting software from third-parties.
Sony though, since they didn't have any worthy in-house development team , changed the equation for winning the race from who have the stronger in-house software to who have the more software available therefore giving third-party software an unprecedented role.
Sony may have not have the same talented developers that were at Sega but why bother? They could just get a deal with Namco.
What Kutaragi knew is that Sony could have produced the better platform in term of perfomance/cost and that by making enticing to third-parties in a way no one tried before it would have been enough to defeat Nintendo through sheer quantity and variety (of course among many games there were also the good ones).

Nintendo was the only pure gaming company that survived Sony revolution because they had deeper pockets, were more cautious, and could rely on their first-party games that had far better sales than Sega games (Nintendo was the biggest publisher in the world and it is still among the biggest publishers in the world today).


It's because Sega didn't really value 3rd parties at the time.

This book (https://www.amazon.com/Revolutionaries-Sony-Playstation-Visionaries-Conquered/dp/0071355871) about the creation of the PlayStation, which I own but hadn't read in forever until forum member Folco mentioned it recently, talks about this in a bit more detail.

Basically, Sega was focused on using their consoles to promote their own games. 3rd parties were a necessary evil, in the sense that Sega needed them to expand the library of the console, but to do so meant introducing competition for their own games. So while they did want 3rd parties, they put the development of their own games ahead. Hence they didn't make development tools until much later.

Sony, on the other hand, didn't make any games for the PS1 from the start. Instead, they focused entirely on the 3rd parties. They worked very closely with Namco from the middle of 1993 (!) to create and improve the PlayStation SDK (the president of Namco said that they provided so much feedback to Sony that they were basically a 2nd party). They also went to companies such as Konami and actually involved them in the hardware development process (according to the book, Sony got feedback from Konami on what hardware and type of controller they would need and such).

Sony even had a verbal commitment from Square and Enix in 1993 to publish games on the PlayStation if Sony could sell 3 million consoles. That was huge.
I (re)confirm that Revolutionaries at Sony is a book that should be read to understand why Sony was setup to dominate the console business with their first PlayStation despite being a new comer (a very resourceful one I add).
Nintendo and Sega own DNA that brought them to success, which was based on first-party games, was at the same time their strength and their weakness to hold the hegemony in the console market.
If you look at all the success stories Nintendo had afterward they were all achieved by being very "Nintendo" that is offering a unique selling point and then spread the console adoption with their own software.

Of course this works also in reverse that is Sony's DNA prevented them to understand and react when Nintendo changed the rules of competition with the PSP vs DS battle.
For Sony it was still matter of who offered the best tech and third-party would have surely followed since many of them were entrenched in the PS2 ecosystem.
Nintendo however designed the Nintendo DS to change the standard proposition, they though that by introducing new user interface that could lower the barrier to play games for less expert people they would open up a big new ocean of costumers (through software the used said new interfaces obviously, it's all about software and in Nintendo case it's all about first-party software).
Before the PSP and DS release everybody (even third-parties) heavily bet on a PSP victory but history proved that Nintendo was correct in their assumptions, just like history proved that Sony was correct in their assumptions with PS1.

Leynos
12-23-2018, 02:36 AM
I don't have a link for this because the article I read is from a website that no longer exists but early DS dev kits were a 2D machine. Basically a GBA with a touchscreen and a SNES controller. I have not seen a picture of that kit since then in maybe 2004-05. Many 3rd party early DS games were basically GBA games with touch added. I believe it mentioned that DS late in development upped the specs to have the 3D capability in response to PSP. This isn't confirmed but in a strange turn of fate. N64 shit the bed going with the cartridge. PSP going disc hurt it. People always spread SEGA panicked last minute with Saturn adding more chips to make it 3D capable. So seemingly where Saturn/N64 went wrong and PS1 went right, DS did the same thing and it worked.


People/media also predicted PSVita would also beat out 3DS. Oh well, they didn't win in sales but they won me over. Much prefer PSP/Vita.

Team Andromeda
12-23-2018, 07:37 AM
It wasn't the Saturn spec that was wrong that is just a rather lame excuse. The PS3 was a monster to code, its CPU was unlike anything around at the time and like the Saturn, it suffered from ports (unless it was the lead platform).
What killed the Saturn was the lack of a 3D Sonic game and the fact that SEGA saw fit to have its own rival with the 32X Vs the Saturn. A SEGA Just focused on one platform, would have done so much better and while it never would have beat SONY, it really could have outdone the N64 IMO.

Folco
12-23-2018, 03:27 PM
I don't have a link for this because the article I read is from a website that no longer exists but early DS dev kits were a 2D machine. Basically a GBA with a touchscreen and a SNES controller. I have not seen a picture of that kit since then in maybe 2004-05. Many 3rd party early DS games were basically GBA games with touch added. I believe it mentioned that DS late in development upped the specs to have the 3D capability in response to PSP. This isn't confirmed but in a strange turn of fate. N64 shit the bed going with the cartridge. PSP going disc hurt it. People always spread SEGA panicked last minute with Saturn adding more chips to make it 3D capable. So seemingly where Saturn/N64 went wrong and PS1 went right, DS did the same thing and it worked.


People/media also predicted PSVita would also beat out 3DS. Oh well, they didn't win in sales but they won me over. Much prefer PSP/Vita.
You are thinking about Alpha Dream own devkit before they got the official DS devkit.
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DDexIhhXoAA4V1a.jpg

It doesn't prove that 3D graphics wasn't planned for DS (Mario & Luigi games on GBA and DS were all 2D).

N64 going with carts lost Nintendo a lot of third-party support but was also beneficial for Nintendo bottom line because without the CD subsystem the N64 was more cost effective.
https://i.imgur.com/QLBcV.jpg

"So seemingly where Saturn/N64 went wrong and PS1 went right, DS did the same thing and it worked."
That's because any analysis on the outcome between N64 vs PS1 and DS vs PDP that focus chiefly on optical medium/cart medium are wrong.

"People/media also predicted PSVita would also beat out 3DS."
Only who didn't know anything about the industry would have picked Vita over 3DS (as far as business success of course).
PSV, like WiiU, was dead on arrival,

Leynos
12-23-2018, 03:48 PM
That's not the kit I saw. It was a circuit board with 2 screens and a SNES controller. I know N64 going cart lost them 3rd party support (why I specifically mentioned it) and only just now 22 years later are they are somewhat recovering. On forums (SEGA fan forums mainly) are the people I'm talking about thought Vita would succeed over 3DS. The bullet points were a better tech and even rumors it would be cheaper to develop for NGP than a PSP despite the horsepower difference. For a fleeting moment, NGP (Next Generation Portable was the codename) seemed like it had the tools to at the very least be a worthy successor to PSP. Beat out the 3DS? lol no but may be successful. PSVita died the moment we found out about the memory cards and the nail that sealed its fate was AT&T. They were booed at E3 on stage live.

I know about the medium...again why I said it. You are telling me nothing new.

As for media. May I point you to this little gem. https://www.ign.com/articles/2011/10/22/the-playstation-vita-is-set-to-succeed

It's become a tradition every year for people to comment and rag on this idiotic article.

Folco
12-23-2018, 04:06 PM
It wasn't the Saturn spec that was wrong that is just a rather lame excuse. The PS3 was a monster to code, its CPU was unlike anything around at the time and like the Saturn, it suffered from ports (unless it was the lead platform).
What killed the Saturn was the lack of a 3D Sonic game and the fact that SEGA saw fit to have its own rival with the 32X Vs the Saturn. A SEGA Just focused on one platform, would have done so much better and while it never would have beat SONY, it really could have outdone the N64 IMO.
To outdo the N64 without PS1 third-party support you would need to outdo Nintendo software sales.

I don't think Saturn hardware performance was the biggest problem for Sega, the big problem was that the hardware wasn't cost effective and when Sega tried to be competitive with Sony they end up losing a lot of money.
If Sega lost less money or even could squeeze out little profits, they would have had a better chance with the next hardware cycle.

Nintendo had it's fair share of dud consoles but always had the resources to subsequently releasing a smashing hit because they were always profitable or when they lost money (3DS/WiiU era), they steered the ship and got tidy profits awaiting for the next hardware cycle.

Team Andromeda
12-23-2018, 04:54 PM
To outdo the N64 without PS1 third-party support you would need to outdo Nintendo software sales.

I don't think Saturn hardware performance was the biggest problem for Sega, the big problem was that the hardware wasn't cost effective and when Sega tried to be competitive with Sony they end up losing a lot of money.
If Sega lost less money or even could squeeze out little profits, they would have had a better chance with the next hardware cycle.

Nintendo had it's fair share of dud consoles but always had the resources to subsequently releasing a smashing hit because they were always profitable or when they lost money (3DS/WiiU era), they steered the ship and got tidy profits awaiting for the next hardware cycle.

SEGA had rather good 3Rd party support, but like with the consumer, SEGA made the 3rd parties have a choice of either developing for the Saturn or the 32X which really cost and hurt SEGA own systems.
SEGA with just one system to sell, one system to develop for and on would have been a much better SEGA and system to take the fight to Nintendo. What really killed and hurt SEGA was the lack of market share and I don't think it would have been that bad if SEGA was just behind one system. SONY and Nintendo have found it hard to developer and support more than one system with software and plenty of games and they had far bigger resoruces than SEGA yet SONY couldn't really support both the PS4 and VITA and Nintendo couldn't support the 3DS and Wii U.

Yet SEGA was looking to support the Mega Drive, the 32X, 32X Mega CD, Saturn, GameGear and also its Arcade divisions . It was sheer madness and really SEGA should have just looked to support just the Saturn and Arcades in 1995.


Its funny becasue if the PS3 had killed SONY (which it was very close to doing at one stage) All the points people use against the Saturn, would have been used against the PS3... Too hard to develop on, High Price at launch, Poor launch software, A mess inside, Being sold at a huge loss

Mega Drive Bowlsey
12-23-2018, 11:07 PM
SEGA had rather good 3Rd party support, but like with the consumer, SEGA made the 3rd parties have a choice of either developing for the Saturn or the 32X which really cost and hurt SEGA own systems.
SEGA with just one system to sell, one system to develop for and on would have been a much better SEGA and system to take the fight to Nintendo. What really killed and hurt SEGA was the lack of market share and I don't think it would have been that bad if SEGA was just behind one system. SONY and Nintendo have found it hard to developer and support more than one system with software and plenty of games and they had far bigger resoruces than SEGA yet SONY couldn't really support both the PS4 and VITA and Nintendo couldn't support the 3DS and Wii U.

Yet SEGA was looking to support the Mega Drive, the 32X, 32X Mega CD, Saturn, GameGear and also its Arcade divisions . It was sheer madness and really SEGA should have just looked to support just the Saturn and Arcades in 1995.


Its funny becasue if the PS3 had killed SONY (which it was very close to doing at one stage) All the points people use against the Saturn, would have been used against the PS3... Too hard to develop on, High Price at launch, Poor launch software, A mess inside, Being sold at a huge loss

Maybe but the difference is that Sony still had a lot of consumer confidence going for them off the back of the huge success of both the PS1 and PS2, whereas by the time the Sega Saturn was released in the mid 90's consumers were getting fed up with Sega releasing multiple platforms and then moving on to something else, instead of supporting consumers who had already shelled out good money for Mega CDs and 32Xs. Lose consumer confidence and you're fucked. That goes for any business not just the video game industry and it's a lesson that Sega learnt the hard way.

zyrobs
12-23-2018, 11:39 PM
The choice between the 32x and Saturn was the choice between two sinking ships - in North America, anyway.

Blades
12-23-2018, 11:41 PM
I do wonder what happened to Ken Kutaragi. I read Revolutionaries at Sony and it showed how innovative the company was when led by Ohga. I heard Kutaragi designed the PS3, and even though it went on to be successful, his superiors were not pleased with his work and removed him from Sony.


The choice between the 32x and Saturn was the choice between two sinking ships - in North America, anyway.

That's a little harsh to the Saturn I think, at least at launch.

Leynos
12-24-2018, 12:33 AM
Last I heard he was the CEO of Cellius a company owned by both Sony and Namco. They co-developed Ridge Racer on Vita but these days their website is offline.


Maybe after killing Nintendo's CEO he rode off into the sunset.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rSLInBkY9I

Team Andromeda
12-24-2018, 01:18 AM
Maybe but the difference is that Sony still had a lot of consumer confidence going for them off the back of the huge success of both the PS1 and PS2, whereas by the time the Sega Saturn was released in the mid 90's consumers were getting fed up with Sega releasing multiple platforms and then moving on to something else, instead of supporting consumers who had already shelled out good money for Mega CDs and 32Xs.

I think people overplay the Mega CD. It wasn't a failure and Nintendo also played the add-on game itself. SONY was in some serious trouble after the PS3, if MS had not cocked up the launch and development of the XBox One, SONY would have been in some serious crap.
They were bleeding money and every complaint about the Saturn one could have used against SONY and the PS3: Too hard to develop on, High Price at launch, Poor launch software, A mess inside, Being sold at a huge loss, Should have supported the PS2 for longer Ect.

One can only imagine the mess SONY would have been in, if it looked to support the PS2 for longer and looked to bring out on an Add-On for the system to prolong its life and looking to support 2 systems with software. That's what cost SEGA IMO Asking its consumers, its fanbase and its development teams and PR teams to pick which system to back the 32X or Saturn, whilst SEGA still trying to support the Arcades, the Mega Drive, Master System (in Europe), 32X, Sega Saturn, 32X CD. It was sheer madness. Nintendo can't handle much In-House support for the SWITCH even though its merged its Handheld and consumer teams, more than 2 years in the ammount of exclusives In-House developled titles for the Switch (that aren't Wii U ports) stands at like 2

Sony couldn't support the PS4 and Vita and SEGA were looking to support loads of systems.

It was madness of the highest order, along with the screw up of letting STI handle the 32 Bit production of Sonic, rather than giving it to the Sonic Team (making them make it) or like with Sonic CD have a separate arm of the team develope the game in Japan. No chance of beating SONY, but given the mess ups Nintendo were making with the N64 A SEGA just behind one consoles could really have taken the fight to Nintendo

Folco
12-24-2018, 10:17 AM
I do wonder what happened to Ken Kutaragi. I read Revolutionaries at Sony and it showed how innovative the company was when led by Ohga. I heard Kutaragi designed the PS3, and even though it went on to be successful, his superiors were not pleased with his work and removed him from Sony.

Kutaragi was put on the side after he over engineered the PS3 which cost Sony a few billion dollar of losses.
PS3 was a bloodbath for Sony.
Ironically he was victim of part of what brought him success initially.

Sony console division profits/losses:
https://www.mcvuk.com/.image/c_limit%2Ccs_srgb%2Cq_auto:good%2Cw_963/MTU1Nzk3Mjg4MTMwNzE2NzU1/console-cycle.png

To put in perspective Sony lost several time more money on PS3 than what Sega did on Saturn and Dreamcast.

EDIT:
As for what Kutaragi is doing now, the last time I heard anything about him he was named external director at Marvelous back in 2013 which ironically is controlled by the Nakayama family (Haruki Nakayama is Hayao's son)

Folco
12-24-2018, 11:01 AM
Its funny becasue if the PS3 had killed SONY (which it was very close to doing at one stage) All the points people use against the Saturn, would have been used against the PS3... Too hard to develop on, High Price at launch, Poor launch software, A mess inside, Being sold at a huge loss
In a way yes but it didn't exit the console business.
Sony shut up, eaten up billions of dollar of losses (because they could) and still retained the consumers and publishers confidence in fact PS3 overall still had the majority of third-party support (only difference with the past is that this time the leading version was usually for Microsoft console) and overall sold the same as Xbox 360 (though it vary from market to market).
So when Sony finally released PS4 and corrected its previous mistakes it moped the floor with Microsoft.

Team Andromeda
12-24-2018, 02:24 PM
In a way yes but it didn't exit the console business.
Sony shut up, eaten up billions of dollar of losses (because they could) and still retained the consumers and publishers confidence in fact PS3 overall still had the majority of third-party support (only difference with the past is that this time the leading version was usually for Microsoft console) and overall sold the same as Xbox 360 (though it vary from market to market).
So when Sony finally released PS4 and corrected its previous mistakes it moped the floor with Microsoft.

I quite agree. SEGA corrected a lot of the issues people had with the Saturn, but unlike with this gen. SONY didn't mess up the PS2 launch. If MS had looked to carry on with the drive of the 360 leading GPU a huge push for Live) and handled the spec and launch of the XBox One far better, SONY could have been in serious trouble.

MS spectacularly cocked up and mishandled the XBox One spec and launch, that was a gift to SONY and really helped them out of a whole.

Sik
12-24-2018, 03:28 PM
I'm not even sure the specs were a problem (that only started to really show its ugly head later), but the whole thing about stopping sales of used discs and requiring to go on-line at least once a day really irked people, and they went in into just the worst way possible too (they didn't even try to cover up)… and then the price tag, which even Sony didn't expect it seems (Sony executives thought Microsoft was also going to do $399 since they assumed nobody would be willing to pay more and… well… Microsoft managed to fuck up even that). I imagine that going to give that Sony presentation and realizing that you won't have to worry about getting booed because your competitor basically handed it over to you must have been weird.

I wonder how will it go for Microsoft next generation, seeing as the xbone screw up may have been even worse than the PS3 one.

zyrobs
12-24-2018, 10:42 PM
That's a little harsh to the Saturn I think, at least at launch.

Not really, no.

Team Andromeda
12-25-2018, 01:40 AM
I'm not even sure the specs were a problem.

The specs were an issue from the very day MS showed off the system long before it came out and let's not forget after SONY 1st showed off their PS4 spec. Not only was MS outclassed in the Memory dept, but also the GPU and to make matters worse, MS then development kit mandate meant that its already underpowered GPU had to reserve of 10% of its power for Kinect functions: making an already underpowered GPU vastly more underpowered compared to the PS4 In a lame pathetic attempt, all MS could do to counter was increase the CPU clock speed, untill it droped the Kinect mandate in mid 2014. MS went from the developers friend with the best GPU and the console to lead development on, to the One being 2nd best in every dept bar the sound and developers all picking the PS4 to lead development, which also given MS memory system of the One was even more problematic for 3rd party games getting the best out of the system



Thank GOD for Phil who came in and sorted out all the mess left via Don and his hopeless calls. Now the XBox Team have their Mojo back with the best and most powerful GPU console hardware out there, which was always a hallmark of the XBox until the One and like we see with the likes of Capcom the One X is the lead platform development

Sik
12-25-2018, 03:14 PM
I meant, the specs were a problem but I really doubt they were the major factor into that (especially given how we were running into diminishing returns anyway - early 8th gen was basically how 7th gen would have looked if it had the power to output 1080p at a decent framerate, there wasn't another blatantly visible difference otherwise). And I wouldn't be surprised if 9th gen is about doing the same but in 4K.

I was saying that Microsoft fucking up more basic concepts is what truly screwed up that launch. And unlike the 7th gen where PS3 just had a rocky launch but otherwise started being treated more or less on par with the 360 (even if it was clearly less popular), the Xbox One… let's just say that a lot of people completely "forget" that it exists other than as a quick punchbag. That makes it more like the Saturn than the PS3 and that does spell trouble.

Microsoft probably can plow through it though, they have a lot of money after all. The question would be more what they may decide to do with the Xbox management after the fact (Microsoft isn't exactly known for lack of infighting between departments, everybody wants to headhunt from the other departments).

Team Andromeda
12-25-2018, 03:49 PM
I meant, the specs were a problem but I really doubt they were the major factor into that (especially given how we were running into diminishing returns anyway - early 8th gen was basically how 7th gen would have looked if it had the power to output 1080p at a decent framerate, there wasn't another blatantly visible difference otherwise). And I wouldn't be surprised if 9th gen is about doing the same but in 4K.


MS image took a beating and they got sick of the of Digital Foundry pointing out how sub bar the XBox versions of 3rd parties games were. MS didn't put billions into developing the One X for nothing. The XBox team were really hurt with comparisons and no doubt the XBox One not being the developers choice to lead games on and got sick of the fanboys on the likes of NeoGAF making fun of MS.
But thanks to Phil that is all over, the XBox Hardware is selling in great numbers and he's got the development side back on track and also now had MS to invest in In-House talent. The next XBox will be a monster and will have some serious In-House talent to back it up. The name hunting MS have done to staff The Initiative is scary, there is some serious talent in that studio


SONY was left off by MS, with its horrible planning of the XBox One

Folco
09-14-2019, 04:24 AM
Just a heads-up , there are two new (compared when the thread was made) PDFs dated as January 30, 2019 with a fourth interview to Hideki Sato.
I really wish all these interviews were translated into english (machine translation is a pain).

Gryson
09-14-2019, 12:25 PM
There's also a book written by Hideki Sato that is coming out in a few days:

The Secret History of Sega's Home Consoles (https://www.amazon.co.jp/%E5%85%83%E7%A4%BE%E9%95%B7%E3%81%8C%E8%AA%9E%E3%8 2%8B-%E3%82%BB%E3%82%AC%E5%AE%B6%E5%BA%AD%E7%94%A8%E3%8 2%B2%E3%83%BC%E3%83%A0%E6%A9%9F-%E9%96%8B%E7%99%BA%E7%A7%98%E5%8F%B2-SG-1000%E3%80%81%E3%83%A1%E3%82%AC%E3%83%89%E3%83%A9% E3%82%A4%E3%83%96%E3%80%81%E3%82%B5%E3%82%BF%E3%83 %BC%E3%83%B3%E3%81%8B%E3%82%89%E3%83%89%E3%83%AA%E 3%83%BC%E3%83%A0%E3%82%AD%E3%83%A3%E3%82%B9%E3%83% 88%E3%81%BE%E3%81%A7-%E4%BD%90%E8%97%A4/dp/4198649847/ref=sr_1_1?qid=1568473718&s=books&sr=1-1&text=%E4%BD%90%E8%97%A4+%E7%A7%80%E6%A8%B9)

I'm sure there will be a lot of content overlap, but this is great news. Sato's oral interviews are a bit hard to make sense of sometime.

There's also a good chance that this book will be translated and published in English.

Team Andromeda
09-14-2019, 12:43 PM
So who we're going to belive Hideki Sato or Tom Kalinske?

Gryson
09-14-2019, 02:44 PM
Belief should never be a part of historical research. It doesn't matter who it comes from, personal accounts are practically guaranteed to involve some degree of bias, self-aggrandizement, selective or poor memory, second-hand info passed off as first-hand, or other such noise. The best we can do is to cross-check sources, gather more info, and above all approach everything with some skepticism.

As soon as someone says "So-and-so must be telling the truth because they are too respectable to lie" or "Such-and-such must be true or so-and-so would have denied it by now," we cease to do justice to the true history. More often than not, people are simply looking for evidence to support their preconceived notions, which were probably formed years ago when they read something in a magazine or heard something from a friend.

Team Andromeda
09-15-2019, 03:27 AM
Belief should never be a part of historical research. It doesn't matter who it comes from, personal accounts are practically guaranteed to involve some degree of bias, self-aggrandizement, selective or poor memory, second-hand info passed off as first-hand, or other such noise. The best we can do is to cross-check sources, gather more info, and above all approach everything with some skepticism.


Well if Sato-san doubles down and confirmes what he's already said, that he didn't know of the PS and how he and his team were caught off guard by the SONY. We're going to belive that or what Tom says and SOJ say the spec and turned SONY down because they knew nothing about games?

zyrobs
09-15-2019, 04:46 AM
Well if Sato-san doubles down and confirmes what he's already said, that he didn't know of the PS and how he and his team were caught off guard by the SONY. We're going to belive that or what Tom says and SOJ say the spec and turned SONY down because they knew nothing about games?

One does not rule out the other from having happened.

Team Andromeda
09-15-2019, 04:58 AM
One does not rule out the other from having happened.

I would expect the man that worked on and designed every piece of SEGA console consumer Hardware, SEGA has ever made and even most of the Add-ons (bar the 32X) to be at the forefront on what Tech got the green lite and what tech get turned down
'If' Sato-san says he was not aware of the PS tech and was shocked that 4000 Hardware Sprites wasn't enough when he leard of the SONY Tech.

That would be more factual and more able to stand up to scrutiny, but we'll see...

Gryson
09-15-2019, 09:15 AM
Well if Sato-san doubles down and confirmes what he's already said, that he didn't know of the PS and how he and his team were caught off guard by the SONY. We're going to belive that or what Tom says and SOJ say the spec and turned SONY down because they knew nothing about games?

I really cannot understand what point you're trying to get at. Can you rephrase it?

I suspect you're misunderstanding something or taking someone's comments too literally.

Team Andromeda
09-15-2019, 11:05 AM
I really cannot understand what point you're trying to get at. Can you rephrase it?

I suspect you're misunderstanding something or taking someone's comments too literally.


Looking over the various interviews Tom has given around the web. SEGA has been featured in various issues of RetroGamer and interviewed Tom Kalinske quite a few times; In one interview Tom said again how he had negotiated for SONY to supply SEGA Hardware, but when further in that he said SEGA Japan looked at the specs and turned it down, with SEGA Japan saying SONY know nothing about consoles. That is in direct contrast to what Hideki Sato in one of his latest interviews.

I'm sure you posted it and in that Interview/Feature, Hideki Sato clearly says he thought to turn 4000 hardware sprites into polygons was more than enough until he was shown the specs of the PS and how he then had to act and put another SH-2 into Saturn design and boosted the Sprite power. So one of those men is either not telling the truth or not remembering things clearly. I would simply say that when it comes to Hardware and what Hardware was actually on the table (either from SEGA or an outside corp) Mr Sato-san would be the person best placed to talk about what consumer Hardware SEGA was working on

Gryson
09-15-2019, 11:58 AM
In one interview Tom said again how he had negotiated for SONY to supply SEGA Hardware, but when further in that he said SEGA Japan looked at the specs and turned it down

Can you post this?

Team Andromeda
09-15-2019, 12:57 PM
Can you post this?

When I find it the issues in question, I will . And before I get the abuse or whatever. I'm not out to make out Tom is a horrible person, or that he did no good for SEGA and SOJ are wonderful at everything

Truthfully I think Tom and SOA were amazing in the 16 bit days, I like how Tom set up SEGA Soft, STI his handling of Sonic and the Mega CD and how they seemed to relish being the underdog and looking to make SEGA cool .

ILooking back I should have been more grown up and adult like and explained myself and my views in a more sensible way , I'm sorry to the board for that .

I just don't think SEGA were ever in talks or we given access to SONY PS hardware at any stage. To me SEGA Japan were caught completely off guard and hopelessly miss called and miss judgement the spec and development tools and pipelines needed for the 32bit gen, while SONY showed how it was meant to be done.

Gryson
09-15-2019, 01:31 PM
Are you referring to Kalinske's interview in Retro Gamer 117? Because as I recall, he doesn't say he was given access to the PlayStation hardware.

Anyway, the sequence of events as it's generally understood is this:


Sony and Sega begin initial talks about working together (probably in 1992). This was initiated by Okawa or Kalinske or some combination.
Ken Kutaragi and Hideki Sato spend six months discussing joint development, but they can't reach any clear agreement. Kutaragi only wants to focus on 3D, while Sato also wants to support 2D (for arcade ports).
Sega goes their own way. They work with Hitachi on developing the SH-2.
In early-mid 1993, Sony begins showing developers the 3D capabilities of the PlayStation (such as the T-Rex demo). Everybody is impressed, but nobody thinks it can succeed (including other PlayStation staff) because 3D games are too difficult to develop.
Virtua Fighter is revealed in mid 1993, and suddenly everybody is sold on the idea of 3D games.
Sato realizes that the Saturn's single SH-2 is not going to be enough to compete against the PlayStation (and the N64, which was also announced around that time) in terms of 3D capabilities.
Hitachi suggests adding a second parallel SH-2 in late 1993. Sega agrees.

Team Andromeda
09-15-2019, 01:44 PM
No it's not 117 . Ken Kutuargi told Edge after being dropped by Nintendo the decision from the very top of SONY was to go alone and chart their own course, so was Ken lying to Edge ?

Phil Harrison also told EDGE that SONY screwed and used SEGA.In his words while SEGA American was talking up Ground Zero Texas , he was secretly showing off PS hardware to have developers leave SEGA and work for their system.. Phil said SONY needed experience to develop on CD and the Mega CD was the most viable and best option

Sato-san says he was supprised at the PS tech spec , so that alone says to me SEGA Japan did not know SONY plans or if they did SONY early tech was so poor , SEGA Saturn original plans for 4000 sprites was more tham enough.

I don't buy it myself .

Gryson
09-15-2019, 01:55 PM
I think you need to develop a better sense of context, and understand that people often speak in hyperbole about things that happened many years ago. In other words, don't take everything so literally. It's possible for Ken Kutaragi to say that Sony made the decision to go alone AND for Sony to entertain the possibility of working with Sega in some form.

PlayStation development was still at a very early state in 1992 when Sega and Sony were in talks. Things were drastically different by the time Sony began inviting hundreds of developers to see the PlayStation demos in early-mid 1993. Then, with the release of Virtua Fighter and the announcement of the N64, it was clear to Sato that something had to be done to improve the 3D capabilities of the Saturn.

Nowhere does any of this contradict the idea that Sony and Sega had initial talks about working together, a point which has now been supported by several people with first-hand knowledge.

Team Andromeda
09-15-2019, 02:34 PM
In other words, don't take everything so literally. It's possible for Ken Kutaragi to say that Sony made the decision to go alone AND for Sony to entertain the possibility of working with Sega in some form.


The issue I would put to with that is, People at looking at it with SONY has it is now, not in the past tense. Back in the early 90's Ken and his team, were only a small team of fewer than 50 people. Not big enough to work on multiple console projects. In the Edge feature, it wasn't just Ken, but ket people of the PS team and none say SEGA had a chance to work with SONY.

Also, Sato-san says early in, SEGA was looking to use an NEC CPU and SEGA America was pushing for a Motorola CPU. Ken said that one of the 1st components of the PS was the Mips CPU due to SONY experience of using it for their work stations.
If Sato-san and his team were working with SONY for 6 months on the project, why didn't Sato-san look to use MIPs knowing full well that whats SONY was going with, or look to triangles?

Blades
09-16-2019, 12:56 AM
Hitachi suggests adding a second parallel SH-2 in late 1993. Sega agrees.

Didn't Sato-san say that he found the "cascade" feature of the SH-2 mostly by chance, and decided on it himself?

zyrobs
09-16-2019, 01:00 AM
Looking over the various interviews Tom has given around the web. SEGA has been featured in various issues of RetroGamer and interviewed Tom Kalinske quite a few times; In one interview Tom said again how he had negotiated for SONY to supply SEGA Hardware, but when further in that he said SEGA Japan looked at the specs and turned it down, with SEGA Japan saying SONY know nothing about consoles. That is in direct contrast to what Hideki Sato in one of his latest interviews.

You are remembering wrong.
- SOA wanted to develop a joint console with Sony, splitting the hardware costs and the licensing fees. Hardware was not mentioned. SOJ shot it down saying Sony don't know videogames.
- SOA wanted to use the Silicon Graphics chipset for the next console, SOJ shot it down with a few bullshit reasons - we know it's bullshit because SGI fixed all the issues mentioned and SOJ still said "uuuuh no" and went with the Saturn. They most likely already had the Saturn in the pipes, so they politely scoffed them off. Tom told the SGI guys that maybe they'd have more luck with that other videogame company whose name begins with "N", and this chipset ended up powering the N64.

This is not to say that SOA did not have any other projects or suggestions going on inbetween those two, like looking at the 68020 and saying SOJ "this CPU is nice, it could work for a new console because it is more powerful than the Genesis and we can easily work with it". Without knowing the exact hardware or the exact timing, we can only speculate what these other projects could have been. For all we know they could have dated way back to 1991 or 1992.

zyrobs
09-16-2019, 01:15 AM
Are you referring to Kalinske's interview in Retro Gamer 117? Because as I recall, he doesn't say he was given access to the PlayStation hardware.

Anyway, the sequence of events as it's generally understood is this:


Sony and Sega begin initial talks about working together (probably in 1992). This was initiated by Okawa or Kalinske or some combination.
Ken Kutaragi and Hideki Sato spend six months discussing joint development, but they can't reach any clear agreement. Kutaragi only wants to focus on 3D, while Sato also wants to support 2D (for arcade ports).
Sega goes their own way. They work with Hitachi on developing the SH-2.
In early-mid 1993, Sony begins showing developers the 3D capabilities of the PlayStation (such as the T-Rex demo). Everybody is impressed, but nobody thinks it can succeed (including other PlayStation staff) because 3D games are too difficult to develop.
Virtua Fighter is revealed in mid 1993, and suddenly everybody is sold on the idea of 3D games.
Sato realizes that the Saturn's single SH-2 is not going to be enough to compete against the PlayStation (and the N64, which was also announced around that time) in terms of 3D capabilities.
Hitachi suggests adding a second parallel SH-2 in late 1993. Sega agrees.


Kutaragi decided on the Playstation going full 3d after seeing Virtua Fighter, and that may have been too late if they were already doing demos of the hardware in mid/late 1993. There was an interview where they specifically state Virtua Fighter being the deciding influence on what direction to go with the hardware, so they must have seen it earlier.

Either they saw an earlier demo of Virtua Fighter from early 93 / late 1992 (if it was ever demonstrated that early!), or I'm mixing up my facts and they were talking about Virtua Racing instead which did came out in 92.

Team Andromeda
09-16-2019, 02:42 AM
So, here's one of the interviews with Tom by Retro he's done a couple and where some of the facts are changed over the years.

https://i.imgur.com/TQ9KnVB.jpg

There's a few little issues with that. I'll look over SONY America doesn't do R&D, but it differs from you say Gryson and a few others; Far from Ken working with Sato-san for 6 months, it was SONY working to a SEGA America tech spec, Tom mentioned the Mega-CD time of when SONY signed up to developed for the Mega CD/SEGA CD, the trouble with that was, if we listen to Ken and part of the PS team, at that stage the PS chipset was well into development and Phil was going around the world trying to court developers

What's also strange, is how Tom said Joe Miller was designing the system, yet in any interview that the late great man gave (even with this great site) there's was nothing from Joe about that, but just talk of possible deals with Silicon Graphics or even Nvidia.
Tom then says about wanting the Saturn to be Online (which was always part of the design) but at that time, they was no way SEGA could include a Saturn with a built in Modem or to overlook it wasn't part of the PS-X desgin at all
and if we listen to Sato-san, Sega America were actually pushing for the 32Bit Motorola CPU, which would have meant the Saturn would have been even more underpowered)


So somebody is getting their facts wrong and not remembering things clearly when it came to developing SEGA 6 console

Team Andromeda
09-16-2019, 02:44 AM
You are remembering wrong.

Not really. SEGA were right to turn down the N64 chipset. It wasn't that great, hugely expensive and massively delayed and development on the N64 was said to no easier than the Saturn.
Still Nintendo had the Mario Team to save the day, while SEGA Japan let the Sonic Team make whatever they wanted and allowed SOA STI to handle the 32Bit Sonic. Which back then was a mistake and looking back now, was a total cock up. Sonic Team should have been made to develop Sonic for the Saturn

Team Andromeda
09-16-2019, 03:08 AM
Kutaragi decided on the Playstation going full 3d after seeing Virtua Fighter, and that may have been too late if they were already doing demos of the hardware in mid/late 1993. .

By June the 24th of 1992 the PS X was already well into development going the 3D route with ken asking for almost impossible gate arrays and where againt most of the top Brass at SONY where The decsion was made to 'Go it alone' and 'Chart our own Coruse' by the SONY Boss, well thats was the PS team told EDGE in its 3 features on the making of the PS The PS Team also said Star Blade from Namco was said also said be a big influence for the move to 3D. Then again Namco was actually ahead of SEGA in the tech race at that time with System 21 coming out years before Model 1 and System 22 beating Model 2 Ken Kutaragi also said the success of VF vindicated his decision to go 3D, rather than 100% influenced it.

Phil Harrison said that in mid-1993 he was showing off the PS tech, which at that at that time was the size of an office photocopier and where he had issued getting it through UK customs given the secrecy of the unit and where the tech demo was just one side of the T-Rex face and an F1 demo which never made into actual production

So I would say the PS was always meant to be a 3D powerhouse

Gryson
09-16-2019, 02:32 PM
Kutaragi decided on the Playstation going full 3d after seeing Virtua Fighter, and that may have been too late if they were already doing demos of the hardware in mid/late 1993. There was an interview where they specifically state Virtua Fighter being the deciding influence on what direction to go with the hardware, so they must have seen it earlier.

Either they saw an earlier demo of Virtua Fighter from early 93 / late 1992 (if it was ever demonstrated that early!), or I'm mixing up my facts and they were talking about Virtua Racing instead which did came out in 92.

That's not quite correct about the 3D. Please see the book Revolutionaries at Sony for more info. But basically, Kutaragi wanted the system to be 3D from the very beginning. It was everybody else who didn't buy into it. Kutaragi was obsessed with 3D after seeing one of Sony's 3D workstations in the 1980s. He was hell-bent on making a 3D-focused game console, while nobody else really got it. This summarizes well:


When Sony was developing the PlayStation in the early 1990s, videogame graphics were transitioning from 2-D sprites to 3-D polygons. However, Akagawa said that it was challenging to properly budget and push for games that used 3-D graphics.

"What if we make the PlayStation using 2-D hardware? Such an idea was seriously considered," Akugawa said.

Former Sony Computer Entertainment chairman Shigeo Maruyama explained that Sony employees visited other game companies to see how 3-D graphics could be presented, as no one inside Sony besides "father of the PlayStation" Ken Kutaragi really understood it.

"Personally, I had no idea of the specifics concerning what PlayStation games could do," Maruyama said. "I was giving presentations on it without knowing much about it."

Around that time, Sega's revolutionary arcade game Virtua Fighter became a huge hit in Japan, wowing arcade crowds with its early use of polygonal graphics to produce a game in the popular one-on-one fighting genre.

"Once Virtua Fighter was out, the direction of the PlayStation became instantly clear," said Maruyama.

Had Virtua Fighter not been released, Sony might have saddled PlayStation without the capability to render high-end 3-D graphics, which would have put it well behind the technology curve compared to the Saturn and Nintendo 64.

"With great timing, Sega saved our hides," Maruyama said.

https://www.wired.com/2012/09/how-virtua-fighter-saved-playstations-bacon/

There is a passage in Revolutionaries at Sony that specifically describes Sony showing off the PlayStation's early 3D demos to huge rooms of developers and everybody being crazy impressed but still not getting on board because they thought 3D games would be impossible to develop. The announcement of Virtua Fighter was the point where everything shifted. Virtua Fighter basically confirmed that Kutaragi had been right all along.

Team Andromeda
09-16-2019, 04:40 PM
There is a passage in Revolutionaries at Sony that specifically describes Sony showing off the PlayStation's early 3D demos to huge rooms of developers and everybody being crazy impressed but still not getting on board because they thought 3D games would be impossible to develop. The announcement of Virtua Fighter was the point where everything shifted. Virtua Fighter basically confirmed that Kutaragi had been right all along.

I've seen that, The issue with that was, In the making of The PS Ken and Phil told edge that after Nintendo had turned down SONY. Ken had been secretly working on the PS and for it to be leading in 3D. Edge was even told of a date and it was on the 24th of June of 1992, some what before VF. VF I think showed that ken was right and vindicated because VF was talking sales away from established 2D fighters in Japan like the Street Fighter II and III.

I also find it hard to believe, that developers were thinking 3D games for the home or the Arcades were impossible to develop, before VF. When had the 3D polygons games from Atari and Namco in the Arcades and SEGA also making Model 1 in 1992 and a quite a lot of highly advanced 3D polygons games on the Amiga and PC long before VF.




https://live.staticflickr.com/1595/24347191612_16fb23d8ab_o.jpg

No mention of SEGA and nothing about working with Sato-san for 6 months and June 1992 is long before VF was shown, much less SONY jumping on the Mega CD. So lets see what Sato-san got to say on the subject

Gryson
09-16-2019, 05:03 PM
I also find it hard to believe, that developers were thinking 3D games for the home or the Arcades were impossible to develop, before VF. When had the 3D polygons games from Atari and Namco in the Arcades and SEGA also making Model 1 in 1992 and a quite a lot of highly advanced 3D polygons games on the Amiga and PC long before VF.

It doesn't really matter what you believe. There are plenty of accounts supporting that Japanese developers thought this in early 1993, including Namco.

But please note that they didn't say that 3D games as a concept were impossible. Obviously that wasn't true, since there were plenty of 3D polygon-based games at the time. Their point, as I understand it, is that 3D games were very limited in genre (e.g. racing, space shooting, that kind of stuff) and not expressive enough for the kinds of games they wanted to make. Virtua Fighter basically showed that smoothly-animated character models could be well-done using polygons. It showed that, rather than limiting the genres, polygons opened the doors to entirely new genres. At least, that's my memory of what was said.

Gryson
09-16-2019, 06:18 PM
Some quotes from Revolutionaries at Sony (please just read the book :)):


Over a three-month period starting in May 1993, a team consisting of Maruyama, Tokunaka, Akira Sato (today vice president of SCEI), Yuji Takahashi (today executive managing director of Polydor), and Kutaragi visited more than a hundred companies throughout Japan.

Says Akira Sato, who was responsible for formulating the PlayStation marketing strategy: "Looking at the status quo, it was obvious that we were no match for Nintendo. We were asking software houses to participate knowing that they would refuse. When we asked them to join us, the software houses all said, '3-D computer graphics won't happen for another ten years. Only people who have no idea of the realities of software development would talk about programming games in computer programming language (C)...'"

When executives at software houses said, "3-D computer graphics won't happen for another ten years," they were simply being realistic. It was commonly accepted in the industry that game manufacturers would not be able to easily and cost-effectively manipulate 3-D computer graphics for quite some time--let alone incorporate them into home-use game machines.

Namco, for example, found it utterly inconceivable that 3-D computer graphics could soon make its way into the home market. They responded to Sony at their first meeting: "The PlayStation represents extremely advanced technology. We doubt that it can be applied to consumer equipment." Namco had been concentrating on computer graphics technology for years and had already incorporated real-time 3-D computer graphics into its arcade games. Namco's assertion that the PlayStation's technology could not be applied to consumer equipment showed their pride in their research efforts.


Sega's 3-D Computer Graphics: Virtua Fighter Turns the Tide

Kutaragi and his team will never forget the events of August 26, 1993. The Sony side sat in a room in their office, located in Makuhari at the time, waiting for a meeting with Company C (well known for its combat games) scheduled for that afternoon. The meeting commenced at 2 pm, but the mood was definitely strange. It was the team's second meeting with Company C, and what they were saying completely contradicted their words from the first meeting. Company C had said emphatically at the first meeting, "Does Sony really want to commit suicide with the game business? Ours is a 2-D-image culture; we have no interest in 3-D images..." Company C, however, said that it was still considering Sony's proposal, so a second meeting was arranged for August 26.

The day came. As at the previous meeting, a verbal description of the platform was followed by a video demonstration, but this time there were no questions about the hardware. The difference between 2-D and 3-D was not mentioned either. Company C was now taking a positive stance.

What had made them change their minds? "Sega's Virtua Fighter," one of them said. "It's awesome. We were amazed--computer graphics really move in 3-D!"

Sega had unveiled its arcade game Virtua Fighter at the Makuhari Game Show that day. The group from Company C had attended the game show in the morning and dropped in at the nearby Sony office that afternoon on the way back. They had been overwhelmed by Virtua Fighter. That the 3-D images of Virtua Fighter had been commercialized had made a tremendous impact on them.

Virtua Fighter had quickly transformed software developers' attitude toward Sony. Before it was released, they had been unimpressed by Sony's demonstrations and remained skeptical about the seriousness of Sony's intentions. But Virtua Fighter changed all that. Having seen 3-D images move before their eyes, software houses began to take PS/X seriously. Some even began to initiate contact with Sony, saying: "We understand that Sony is working on 3-D computer graphics. Could you tell us about it in more detail?"

Says Tokunaka: "We can't thank Sega enough for the timing of Virtua Fighter's release. They proved at just the right time that it was possible to make games with 3-D images. From then on, the tide turned in our favor."

zyrobs
09-17-2019, 12:17 AM
Nice one, I didn't knew about that book, I only read that one interview that pointed to VF. Yeah, the timetable makes way more sense now.

Team Andromeda
09-17-2019, 04:58 AM
It doesn't really matter what you believe. There are plenty of accounts supporting that Japanese developers thought this in early 1993, including Namco.


It's not that I don't believe, NCL had to go to the UK because they had no 3D tech or development tools what so ever when Making Star Fox I'm simply saying Atari was leading the way for use into Polygons in the Arcades in the '80s and then Namco came along with System 21 and blew away everyone away with StarBlade: Which the SONY PS team said had an influence and even members of the Panzer Dragoon Team, bring this game up as their inspiration (rather than SEGA's own 3D games) Virtual Racing had a huge impact and if anything had more detailed and better graphics than VF .Ok, they're crud now, but there were many 3D polygons on the Amiga Jimmy White wowed so many along with F29, GP F1. I remember playing TFX with incredible 3D visuals on the PC in the shop and it was awesome. To this day I'll remember playing Alone in the Dark on my mates father PC and it was utterly incredible, I think at the time the most impressive thing I saw in the home (at the time).

3D polygons were clearly the future for lots of styles of games, long before VF. I think many Japanese developers just didn't have the tools or editors to design 3D polygons games. Well, at least that's what Dylan Cuthbert or Gregg Tavares say. Gregg Tavares told Retro AM#1/Wow didn't even have a 3D level editor system (to test the level in 3D) and designed the levels/stages on pixel paper LOL

Team Andromeda
09-17-2019, 05:12 AM
Some quotes from Revolutionaries at Sony (please just read the book :)):

The point you see to miss is as Ken/PS Team told EDGE, Ken had already gone for 3D in 1992 and that was the direction he was going long before VF. VF just reinformed how Ken was right, to the SONY board. The PS team told EDGE at that stage of development most of the SONY board didn't want to enter the console market at all (they saw it as a toy sector)I find it amazing that you're overlooking what Ken/PS told EDGE. If Ken and the PS design team wasn't going all-out 3D before VF, when did Ken say he needed 1 million gate arrays. It was clear, if not entirely serious Ken was hell-bent on making a pwerful 3D system even before VF

That's to overlook no mention of SEGA at all, no mention of working with Sato-san, but Nintendo is talked about and mentioned in the EDGE feature. Just like with the Snes and NES Mini Nintendo seem to get away with everything and people look to dig up any dirt with SEGA.
In 'Revolutionaries at Sony' book Does is say if the SONY' PS was being designed to SEGA's America specifications or talk of how SEGA turned down the PS Hardware?

Gryson
09-17-2019, 05:37 PM
Here’s an updated, more thorough timeline of events:


1988 to 1991: Sony develops a CD-ROM add-on for the SNES, but the deal famously falls apart.
Early to Mid-1992: Sega is in the early stages of Saturn development and is searching for a CPU.
May 6, 1992: Sony terminates all talks with Nintendo.
June 24, 1992: Ken Kutaragi reveals that he has secretly been developing a new 3D-based console separately from the SNES-compatible machine. Sony president Norio Ohga makes the decision to continue development.
Mid-1992: After discussions with Tom Kalinske, Sony of America president Mickey Schulhof suggests to the Japanese board a partnership with Sega. Sega chairman Isao Okawa also requests that Sega consider this. Hideki Sato and Ken Kutaragi meet over a period of months to discuss the development of a next-generation console. Kutaragi is convinced that it should be fully focused on 3D, while Sato thinks it should also have good 2D sprite capabilities. The heads of Sega and Sony eventually meet, but Sega decides not to follow through with a partnership due to an apparent lack of interest from Sony and due to the risk posed by Sony to a much smaller partner.
Late 1992: Sega decides to go with Hitachi’s new RISC chip, the SH, for the Saturn.
May-July 1993: Sony visits many software developers to gauge their interest in the PlayStation. They show a 3D graphics demonstration made using an expensive Silicon Graphics system (the PlayStation hardware is not yet ready). They are thoroughly rejected and are told that 3D is still too advanced for home consoles and that the game industry is founded on 2D graphics.
August 23, 1993: SGI and Nintendo announce partnership to develop a 64-bit home console.
August 26, 1993: Sega’s Virtua Fighter is revealed. Developers are amazed by the 3D graphics and become interested in developing for the PlayStation.
September, 1993: Sega is concerned that Hitachi’s SH-2 is underpowered (likely influenced by the Nintendo announcement and by Sony’s demos). Hitachi suggests using two SH-2s in parallel, and Sega agrees.
Early October, 1993: A prototype LSI chip is completed and put in a new prototype PlayStation that is able to achieve real-time 3D graphics.
October 28, 1993: Sony reveals the new PlayStation prototype to over 60 software companies. Everybody is impressed by a texture-mapped 3D demo of a T-Rex, inspired by Jurassic Park.
Early 1994 (?): Sega adds VDP2 or improves Saturn in some other way in response to PlayStation (this is mostly rumor from Western gaming magazines after the fact, so it needs to be verified).


People criticize Sega for not knowing early on that 3D was going to rule the 32-bit generation, but it really seems that nobody knew aside from a few visionaries.


Further reading:
https://mdshock.com/2019/03/18/sega-and-sony-new-insight-into-the-partnership-that-never-came-to-be/
http://www.sega-16.com/forum/showthread.php?33527-The-Story-of-the-Hitachi-SH-2-and-the-Sega-Saturn
Revolutionaries at Sony

Team Andromeda
09-17-2019, 06:31 PM
It's a nice time line, but Ken feature with EDGE said nothing about SEGA at all , that after talks ended with Nintendo, he was instructed by the SONY president for SONY to go alone and work on their own . Phil Harrison said that he was going around the country with PS prototype Hardware (Not Silicon Graphics systems) in spring of 93 and how it was his 1st task at Sony . You think Moto mouth Phil would have said SEGA had the opportunity, but in typical SEGA style they cocked it up

Din't Sato say that the additional SH2 was added in direct response to PS specs and that at the time he thought 4000 Hardware sprites was more than enough , before getting the PS specs .

Also Grydon, does the book talk of Toshiba involvement in making the PS . It seems that only EDGE covered that part .