Starcat's ATARI Jaguar
Development CD v1.1
Next up is the review on the starcat dev CD available via Lars
Hannig for an amount of no less than 17 Euros.
Including his own development library that, besides some startup
code includes a set of routines that might help you getting
started (character output, ICE decruncher etc.).
First thing to mention, the CD's root comes with a concise
index.html showing a table of contents. Everything comes along
in RAR-archives which is ok with me. Here follows a list of what
I have found to be included with the collection:
Includes Lars Hannings dev library mentioned above that might
help beginners getting started by offering a set of useful
routines such as startup-code, object-list builder, joypad
reading, CLUT loading and much more.
I haven't tested the library but for a start it seems like an
easy to handle solution reading about all that stuff that is
The same directory also contains some documentation (html) about
how to install and use the lib.
4 and 8bit versions of Bastian Schick's uploader for BJL for MS-
DOS. Since these are outdated and don't work with Windows NT or
above I'd recommend using an up to date loader which is
available via jagware and coded by zerosquare on the web:
Usage is quite straightforward and the same as in Bastian
A little image processing utility for windows that accepts a
wide range of input formats and is capable of creating Jaguar
compatible binary files for inclusion with your own programs.
sadly this package is rather outdated and doesn't run under
Windows NT or above, period.
Includes a wide range of development utilities such as madmac,
aln, the alpine debugger, tga2jagpeg and tga2cry converters for
ATARI TOS machines. very comprehensive and essential to people
about to develop on their ST/TT/Falcon as a host system.
Basically the same as the MS-DOS uploaders for ATARI TOS systems
and BeOS equipped PCs. refer to the section above. The BeOS
version must be considered untested.
CD burning tool for windows for people that want to create their
own encrypted Jaguar CDs - outdated.
MS-DOS uploader for flash card users. Untested but probably
incompatible to OS versions like Windows NT or above again due
to direct access to the parallel port.
packICE, the famous ATARI ST compression utility. not much to
say about it except being an excellent packer.
uploader for ATARI TOS systems for Jaguar Server users.
This program will strip the GEMDOS header from jag-files so you
will obtain a bin-file which might required for some uploaders
JagCinepak movie compression tool for Macintosh users, untested
but prolly outdated.
A great GPU/DSP disassembler for MS-DOS, might be useful.
A very good image viewing tool that lets you dump CrY or RGB
format chuncks from raw Jaguar ROM files. still runs under
windows 2000/XP etc.
Linux version of madmac, aln, wdb and rdbjag. refer to the
section about files/tools/atari_tools.rar.
MS-DOS tools for creating your own encrypted Jaguar CDs. i never
attempted to do so, so these remain untested.
MS-DOS version of files/tools/atari_tools.rar, only works with
an emulation like dosBox under windows NT and above - essential.
Splitting utility for creating your own ROM catridges for MS-
Now follows a list of useful documents in the table of contents.
Especially dox.html (Jaguar Underground Docs) and jag_v8.pdf
must be considered an essential lecture imho. The Midsummer
document describes the Jaguar 2's internals which had to be
cancelled due to known reasons - very interesting read,
nonetheless. That machine would have rul000rzed!
Then there's a list of included example source code which some
of might be useful for learning purposes. I'll go into detail on
that further below:
Interesting to read in particular are the examples provided by
ATARI Corp. itself which are the 3d demo, examples, source and
the workshop including various examples on how using the
BLITTER, coding the GPU/DSP, some screens like a GPU mandelbrot
fractal, start-up code and so on. Unfortunately I haven't ever
managed to get the 3d demo to run, but according to the source
code (partly in C) it claims to be able to support clipped and
Z-Buffered Gouraud shaded, texture mapped and texture mapped +
Gouraud shaded polygons. We could see a bit of that engine in
action in TNG's little 96Ktro from 2004.
Most of the other examples won't run with BJL without
modifications or at all, but it's still a very good thing to
read if you want to learn how to implement various things with
the Jaguar. Also worth looking at are the BPEG codec which
refines a lossy image standard for the outdated JagPEG and which
might be useful when including larger images with ROM cartridges
or BJL demos. LZJag brings an LZtype packer but GT Turbo has
already ported my LZ77 decruncher to the GPU so I'd recommend
you to use that one ;), you can grab it here:
The object example V3 is also necessary if you want to learn how
to use object lists with the Jaguar's OP.
Now there's a rather short list of demos for your Jaguar, which
i except for the games found to be rather useless but still fun
to watch (e.g. the CrY colour picker and the Starcat
Developments Demo 1):
There's not much to say about those demos except the Jaguar's
capabilities have yet to be exploited in a demo judging from
those little "teasers" ;).
Last but not least we have a collection of miscellaneous ROM
dumps some of which are Copyright protected and thus to be
deleted (from a CD??) unless you are in possession of their
originals, i.e. on the Jaguar's/Jaguar CD's EPROMs game
cartridge ROMs. The latest version of the BJL firmware is also
At the bottom we have the full list of game ROM's (Their
distribution on a CD is still illegal imho but I don't want to
sound fussy as I think it's good fun to play them in Project
Tempest, the first actually useable Jaguar Emulator for windows,
which is included in the last file).
I won't give any ranking, but it's good to see someone was once
willing to put some effort into collecting the full set of
software and documents described above in a time when they
weren't spread out that much on the web. Another advantage is
the clearity of how things are made up on that CD, i.e. a full
html table of contents rather then a plain directory-tree to
browse. On the other hand it's quite a let down to see how much
of the stuff is outdated and mainly unusable due to that and
hence I surely wouldn't be willing to pay 17Euros (!) for a CD
like this with stuff that can be found mainly on the world wide
web anyway. If you have a similar opinion, but if you are going
to get started on coding your Jaguar I'd suggest you to take a
look at the following URLs:
(you can grab ATARI's whole development environment, the Jaguar
crossGCC and example sources and some more plus a little C
example source to get you going on that page. I'd suggest taking
a look into ATARI's "startup.s".)
(online version of the Jaguar Underground Docs - erroneous at
some places but great read, nonetheless)
(get assistance from some experienced coders and developers on
their board, also read news on recent new hardware developments)
(also a very good forum if you are looking for support)
(swapD0's site with some promising and up to date development
tools, mainly for BeOS but some also seem to get compiled for
(ATARI Corp.'s original software to create encrypted ROM and CD
images, useful if you plan to do so. Besides there are some more
interesting files such as development snapshot packages related
to the canceled Jaguar II, schematics, hardware designs, the
complete Jaguar VLM source code (!) etc.)
What to say finally? Well, I hope I managed to rouse a little
appetite for some more Jaguar demo coding ;). Feel free to drop
me a line to firstname.lastname@example.org in case of more specific questions.
STAY COOL - STAY ATARI!
ray / tSCc for Alive, 2006-08-10