As reported last week, there was rumor that SEGA's Dynamite Dekka (sequel to Die Hard Arcade which ran on SEGA's Saturn arcade hardware the ST-V Titan board) was to be shown at the The Amusement Showcase International (US arcade show) running on PowerVR Second Generation hardware. Well, the rumor is false. The game was shown at the show but it was running on SEGA's Model 2 hardware.
Phantasy Star for Katana?
Information from Next Generation Online:
Stolar's main purpose now will be to prepare for the launch of Katana. The new president has three goals for the new console that will launch in 1999:
1.breakthrough first- and third-party
"I have always believed that Sega has the assets to capture and maintain the dominant share of the videogame console market. We have the biggest and most creative software development teams in the world, some of the most popular videogame characters and properties, and a brand awareness that most companies would kill for," said Stolar. "We're going to focus our efforts to better utilize Sega's core strengths so that in working closely with our software partners, retailers and consumers, we will all win."
Warp's Katana action-adventure that once was under development for the ill fated 3DO/Panasonic M2 system and then for the Saturn, is as mentioned previously to be released for SEGA's Katana. At the Tokyo Game Show today with SEGA not releasing any information on the Katana, Warp has gone ahead and announced that they will be showing D2 on the Katana, May 23rd in Japan. SEGA has not yet indicated on what date the Katana will be introduced. We can only expect that SEGA will show the Katana system in full before May 23rd or on that date.
Katana Arcade Game to Be Shown
GamesMansion brings us the first ever screenshots from the PowerVR Second Generation accelerator card! As mentioned earlier, SEGA Katana's graphics chip will be based on a version of the PVRSG.
Here is a quote from article at GameMansion:
What these images neatly illustrate is the precision with which PVRSG accelerates graphics. Instead of muddying the images on-screen in the name of smoothing, the card uses extremely advanced filtering to supply all the colour, fogging, reflective and light-sourced effects that coding teams demand these days. We hope to bring you the first benchmarks from this card within the next six weeks.
The Katana is clearly on a roll with a steady string of announcements by developers who are working on games that will run on SEGA's next generation console. The latest comes from the company Revenant Inc., which is developing a game called Akolyte. The game looks to be some kind of 3D action/adventure type of game. A quote from their site: "Revenant, Inc. is dedicated to developing world class realtime multiuser gaming worlds for the purposes of entertainment and enrichment." This hints at the multiuser aspect of Akolyte. This would fit in well with the communications ability of the Katana. (Source: DreamFusion)
The Tokyo Game Show is on for March 20th to the 22nd. Even though SEGA of Japan has already indicated that they will not be using this show to introduce the Katana, there still might be something shown like maybe some video footage of games that are running on the Katana hardware. Saturn 2 Tech Pages will have the info when it comes in!
CD-ROM Prices Are Falling through
SEGA is hiring!
Here is the latest speculation over the Katana release date, courtesy of the New York Times (Saturday, March 14th, 1998) national edition.
"Now, SEGA will have to court retailers all over again when it brings its new console to market, which is expected to be Internet interactive. The company is secretive about the new machine but has said it plans to introduce it in the fall"
This quote is from an article in
that issue concerning SEGA's withdrawal of the Saturn from the North American
market. Introduced in the fall may indicate the Japanese market as the
article did not indicate which market.
The game 'Skies' from SegaSoft is rumored to being one of the games that will appear on the Katana. Paradigm the developers behind this game are reported to be in the process of securing a Katana Development kit. No indication has been given if Paradigm or SEGA will do the port. If you want to see some PC screenshots of this game, then check out the Skies Website. (Source: email by Rajeev)
A Quote From TechWeb
Sega "will focus on developing a
powerful platform" to attract a wider range of customers and support from
a wider range of third-party software publishers, the statement said. This
could be achieved, the company said, "by establishing alliances with such
key industry players as Microsoft."
Recently there was news that Capcom signed on to produce games for SEGA arcade version of the Katana hardware. Today, IGN indicated that they have received information from SEGA of Europe that Street Fighter 3: 2nd Impact is too be released for the Katana home console. This is one title will all will be eagerly waiting to see if the Katana is a 2D powerhouse along with being a 3D powerhouse.
Katana Release Date
Katana to Come With A Modem?
Developers wishing to develop for the Katana will have a choice of two operating systems. One is a version of Windows CE 2.0 called Dragon. The other OS will be supplied by SEGA and is called Atlas. Atlas is a smaller more efficient OS then Windows CE 2.0. Atlas will have a graphics library created by SEGA called Ninja. The Atlas OS/Ninja graphics library along with Katana developer hardware is to go out to developers this month. Even though Atlas is a smaller more efficient OS then Dragon, do not think in anyway that Dragon is a inefficient OS, cause this operating system from Microsoft has received rave reviews from many technical publications and should not be confused with the negative reports given about Microsoft's other operating systems. Windows CE 2.0 is not Windows95 even though they share a lot of similarities.
Dragon: The main advantage of Dragon is that is will allow the easy conversion of games from the PC to the Katana. Dragon will take up at least 1.3 MBytes of Katana's main system RAM out of a possible 8 MBytes. It is unknown yet what amount of ROM space will be used by this OS or if the OS is going to be loaded completely from CD-ROM. Note that Katana may come with 16 MBytes of main system RAM depending on cost considerations. It would make sense for SEGA to include 16 MBytes of main system RAM, if SEGA wants PC developers to port their games across from the PC, since games on the PC are becoming more and more memory intensive. A version of Direct X 5.0+ graphics library is to be included with the Dragon OS. No information has been released on the minimum RAM requirements for Direct X 5.0+. Another main advantage of this OS is that we can count on Microsoft encouraging developers to port games over to Katana.
Atlas: Games will shine on this OS and there is no question that all of SEGA big hits will appear on the Katana using this efficient operating system. Atlas benefits greatly from the extensive experience SEGA garnered from the Saturn operating system. Any developer wanting to get the most out of Katana's hardware should stronglyconsider using Atlas and the 'Ninja' graphics library.
SEGA and Microsoft will most likely be charging developers a licensing fee for the use of Windows CE 2.0/Direct X 5.0+ and Atlas/Ninja. It is recommended that SEGA improves it 3rd party relations by giving away Atlas/Ninja so as to encourage higher quality games.
The Katana has a huge developmental advantage that the Saturn never had, in having two separate mature and complete 3D graphics libraries available early on. The ease of developing for the Katana is a order of magnitude greater because of having these libraries available.
Developers knowing that a giant like
Microsoft is supporting the Katana will more likely to want to develop
for this new console system. So far, SEGA is doing everything right to
turn katana into a huge success!
SEGA's console the Katana is suppose to come with 8 MBytes of graphics memory. Some people have questioned if this is enough memory. The items that will make use of this graphics memory will be 1) the frame buffer, 2) polygonal data (infinite planes), 3) code, and 4) textures. We will examine the memory requirements for these items.
Polygonal data and Code data:
This leaves 4 MBytes of graphics memory for texture data. The new second generation PowerVR graphics chips will come with a powerful and efficient compression algorithm called Vector Quantization. This algorithm uses a lossy compression scheme, meaning that information is lost in the compression process, which is referred to as distortion. The amazing thing about this graphics compression algorithm is that it can provide compression ratios as high as 8:1 with almost no noticeable loss of visual quality. The greater the compression, the greater the distortion of the image. As indicated, a compression ratio of 8:1 will allow for a image to have very little distortion. We will examine a few possible compression ratios to see how much texture data can be stored in 4 MBytes of graphics memory.
2 times compression: 2 * 4 MBytes
= 8 MBytes of textures
So as you can see Vector Quantization compression can provide for a lot of textures to be stored in 4 MBytes of graphics memory. It will be interesting to see how effective this compression scheme will work out to be. There is no question that the inclusion of the algorithm is a huge benefit to games that will be running on the Katana. Note: since textures are filtered and will be anti-aliased, any information that was lost with VQ compression will most likely not be noticed.