Become A Jaguar Developer

Become A Jaguar Developer

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Frequently asked questions of developers.


The Atari Jaguar technology is still the intellectual property of JTS/Atari Corporation, subject to a number of patents, and they expressly deny any source of information on their technology. They do not support, condone or assist any Jaguar enthusiast in their endeavors to write Jaguar software. Information on the Jaguar architecture is found from other enthusiasts and due to the stringent NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) which all developers need to sign, Atari accredited developers cannot afford to speak about development or share their resources with non NDA developers. Eventual publication of any Jaguar "underground" programs is still distinctly unlikely at this time, and most projects will take over a year to complete.


What do I need, skills wise?

You need to be able to program, and program extremely well. If you can only program in BASIC, Pascal or COBOL, and nothing else, FORGET IT. You need to be able to program in ASSEMBLY LANGUAGE, although it is possible to find a 'C' compiler capable of working with the Jaguar. The 'C' compiler still requires some assembly language knowledge really.
You should already know or be learning:-
HEX, and BINARY numbers.

You will need to learn from JagDox:
(The languages are similar.)
You need to be able to read VERY technical low-level information and understand it. Getting your hands on a real Jaguar devkit, or a Jaguar Server or BJL kit will NOT help you understand the code. The devkit is much like a floppy disk drive on a PC. Just because you have a slot to put something in doesn't make the job of writing software any easier. Read the unofficial documentation, Jag-Dox. If you don't understand it now, don't expect to understand it any more when you start coding. Trial and error with actual code clearly helps over time.

You will also need to be very versatile, or have friends who can provide these resource skills- bitmap graphics creation (on Paint-Shop Pro at worst), 3D models creation (if you plan on writing polygon code) using something like 3D Studio, SoftImage, Autocad or something similar, sound creation or capture, music composition for MOD format or similar (you can devise your own format, or write a MOD player) and marketing skills. Marketing skills are often the first skill to be utilised unfortunately, way before any of the other skills like programming or project design.


Anything else I need?

What you need most of all is determination. The Jaguar is not an easy machine to program for, and nearly everything is hard to do, and the underground documentation, just like the Atari documentation, is lacking in clarity in many areas, and devoid of examples. The machine is incredibly powerful, but debugging Jaguar programs is not an easy task, and you may well find yourself turning your machine OFF and ON again quite frequently at first.
The other thing you need is to KEEP YOUR PROJECT QUIET. Do not fall into the trap of telling everyone how 'cool' your game is going to be as soon as you start coding. You will find that the old programmers' adage that you should "increase the time-scale to the next level, and double the estimate", becomes all too true. In other words if you estimate ONE WEEK to finish some code, think TWO MONTHS... If you continually talk about dates, and then miss them, you rapidly look ridiculous.