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Jaguar Developer Hardware
Become a Jaguar Developer
Jaguar Developer Hardware
The low-down on Developer Hardware.
What do I need, Jaguar wise?
You need some form of development kit for your Jaguar. There are now FOUR choices available, but only TWO choices are strictly legal and available. The two solutions are both very good, but do remember that the Jaguar Server is the more commercial solution, and more existing developers own the Jaguar Server than any other system at present. These development kits basically give you a means to send your own code to the Jaguar, and then invoke it. That's all. The rest is up to you, Atari can't help, and development is secret.
Official Atari Devkit or Cross Products Devkit
Jaguar Server Devkit
The Jaguar Server devkit will ONLY work with an Atari ST family machine at the time of writing, but Roine is working to make it compatible with IBM PC compatibles via the PC parallel port. A special cartridge plugs into the ST, and the other end of the ribbon cable connects to the Jaguar- which MUST be modified first by Roine, or by someone experienced with electronics. The Jaguar needs a new ROM fitting, and some soldering doing, not a job for the faint-hearted. You can send your machine off for upgrade, or buy one with JS fitted.
Beyond Jaggy Lines Devkit
The Beyond Jaggy Lines devkit will ONLY work with the Atari ST family machine at the time of writing, but Bastian is working to make it compatible with IBM PC compatibles via the PC parallel port. It is MUCH simpler to get working at the Jaguar end than the Jaguar Server. You get a new ROM. You fit it to the Jaguar. (That's not necessarily so easy as your ROM may well be soldered into the Jag.) Cable wise, all you need is a special cable to connect from the parallel port of your Atari ST to the JOYSTICK port on your Jaguar- presumably controller port two. I intend to get hold of a BJL devkit ROM ASAP and try it out.
What do I need, computer hardware wise?
ATARI ST FAMILY
Most software development tools for Jaguar are available for the Atari ST family. You can use an ST, STe, TT or Falcon. Probably the Falcon would be the preferred machine with lots of RAM and lots of hard disk. Atari recommended a Falcon for Jaguar development, and if you were to get hold of a CD development kit, that REQUIRES an Atari Falcon even if you had a PC based development kit. The CD emulator runs on the Falcon, and you need a PC formattted (FAT) SCSI hard disk attached. Remember a Jaguar CD can be 790Mb, so get a big hard disk.
You can use an IBM PC compatible with an ST emulator (see the Jaguar Server Home-Page for more information) but you still need a REAL Atari ST in order to do the actual uploading to the Jaguar, but that will be changing, check the Home-Pages for more information.
IBM PC COMPATIBLE
If you decide to do development on an IBM PC compatible, and can find some tools, you need a FAST machine. Something like a Pentium 100 or better would be ideal, but I've been using a 486 DX/2 80 and it gets me by although I'd prefer really to be using my 686/150+, but some software expects DOS, and you may also want to use an ST emulator.
If you can get the official Atari devkit or the Cross Products devkit, both these products were once available in both Atari ST and IBM PC compatible versions. Both versions will work with an IBM PC compatible, connecting to the parallel port on the PC. What you MUST HAVE on your IBM PC compatible is a bi-directional parallel port, (EPP or ECP), you cannot use either of those official devkits without that facility on your machine.
What do I need peripheral wise?
Peripherals for Jaguar development are really just a matter of common sense. There is NOTHING (other than that bi-directional EPP or ECP parallel port) which is essential, but I would recommend the following items to create your graphics and sound from personal experience, bearing in mind I had a tight budget, and you might too.
Yes, a small scanner, black and white or colour, is VERY useful as it lets you import into the machine your hand drawn graphics. There is nothing like an artist preparing images with pen/ink or pencil. The results for a real artist are nearly always superior.
A graphics tablet, with a touch pad pen, is ideal for creating hand-drawn graphics. Real art is not so popular these days for logo screens etc., being pushed out by pre-rendered images, but many people still believe real hand-created artwork is more impressive, and as an artist myself I tend to favour it for title screens.
FRAME GRABBER/VIDEO DIGITISER
This item, commonly known by either or both of these names, is essential if you want to show other people your work. Although you can sit down and create a masterpiece, in all likelyhood the majority of non-developers will not see what you've done until, if, you can get it published. A frame-grabber is ideal as it can capture the image direct from the TV to your PC. It is also useful to capture images or real objects or people using a video camera attached to the composite-video port of the card.
MICROPHONE, SOUND CARD
This may sound stupid- but not really. My development machine does NOT have a sound card, but I do have a machine with a sound card. The development machine is not really going to need sound, it is a coding engine, most probably your main machine, however. The Jaguar will be playing sound files in a completely different way to the PC, and so you may well find that apart from sound sampling, you don't use it. The microphone will be required if you wish to sample speech for the game. You may of course just use an audio samples CD, widely available.