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The Future is Jag Shareware! - The Atari Times

The Future is Jag Shareware!

Commercial games are few, time to write your own
by Gregory D. George

August 1, 1996
Atari has always been a company of firsts. They created the first arcade video game (Pong), the first mass-market console (2600), the first color portable game system (Lynx), the first home computer with a built-in DSP (Falcon), and, of course, the first 64-bit console (Jaguar). Now, the Atari world is on the verge of yet another first: Shareware on a console.

The most difficult obstacle with providing shareware on a console like the Jaguar is a cheap and easy media to distribute it with. That pretty much excludes any form of cart right off. (The point of shareware is to create cheap games!) You could do shareware on CD's because they're cheap, but not many people bought Jag CD's, thus excluding a large base of users. So rather than using the most obvious, we need to think of a new form of media for Jag shareware.

Wouldn't it be great if you could just download a game straight from your computer to the Jaguar? It might take a minute, but it would certainly be cheap and relatively easy. However, one of the advantages of having a game console is that you don't need a computer to play games. How many people who have Jaguars also have computers?

Also, there will have to be some form of cable built to interface the Jaguar with the computer. Preferably using a port that every type of computer has!

Wait a minute. What if the Jaguar could interface with a standard SCSI CD-ROM, or floppy drive? While both are relatively cheap for Jaguar owners, they both present unique problems. Obviously, floppy disks don't hold much data which would disappoint Jag owners. However, they are much cheaper for the programmers to distribute than CD's would be. (Have you priced a CD burner lately?) In addition, JagCD owners would be quite upset if shareware CD's didn't work with their prized units.

Another important factor with console shareware is how to get it in the hands of Jag owners. Unless it's done on some form of electronic media, such as floppy disks, this shareware might never even be noticed. For example; If the shareware was done on some form of re-writable cartridge, there still is a piece of hardware required. Where are you going to be able to buy such a device? Who will manufacture it? Now that most big chains have, or soon will, drop the Jag entirely, it will be hard for us to obtain a copy of BattleSphere let alone a piece of Jag shareware.

Even if we figure out a viable way of distributing Jaguar shareware, who's going to write it? There is, of course, the group called "The Underground" who started this shareware idea in the first place. But we would like to know what games they plan to write, when they will arrive, and how many people are involved.

Perhaps people with programming abilities should join this shareware movement and buy themselves a Jaguar Server. In case you haven't heard, this is a device that plugs into the Atari ST's cartridge port and then to the Jaguar itself. In case you're interested, the url is at http://hem.passagen.se/l

If these shareware writers aren't careful, they could become another Atari first that was forgotten. But if they discover a cheap form of media, create a distribution network, and design tons of games, they could literally write themselves into history.

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