Small, blue, spikey and fast as lightning... It's Barry The Nomad!!!


I've been wanting this to happen for such a long time, and now finally the stars and planets are in the right alignment, for the arrival of a brand new correspondent here at the Dreamcast Junkyard.

He's no stranger to these parts, you'll have seen his small, blue, rodent-like form scuttling over every post that appears on this hallowed site. Equipped with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Sega, a lightning quick sense of humour and an uncanny affinity with Northern England, despite living in the land of the Liberty Bell (that's Philadelphia to me and you), Barry has been a staunch supporter of the Dreamcast Junkyard for the last year or more.

I'm sure I've seen this guy somewhere before...
As well as this he has been the main contributor over at our sister site, The Saturn Junkyard and the sole creator of, and contributor to, the very excellent Nomad Junkyard, which can be found residing in the sidebar of these very pages.

Anyway, that's enough waffle from me, I'm just dying to see what flows from his creative... erm... nib (?) over the next few days, weeks and months. So without any further ado, I give to you, the one and only, Barry The Nomad!!!


19 comments:

Barry the Nomad said...

Thank you FK! Happy to join the team.

On a side note: Does anybody know where I can buy one of these Dream Casts? I really should get to playing one before writing about them. I assume they still make them. :)

The GagaMan(n) said...

Don't forget his brilliant articles over at Sega Memories! :)

Cazre Thomas said...

@Barry the Nomad

Last time I checked they don't make the systems anymore, but eBay is your best bet at least for my second DC it was

A Moomintroll said...

Barry: You really don't need one, I recommend taking an epson stylus printer (one of the old grey ones),
sawing it into a rough square and drawing a circle on the top with a permanent marker.

Place it next to your TV and tell anyone that asks that it's the best console ever made.

For the blog, write any shit.

Barry the Nomad said...

@A Moomintroll:

Thanks for the tips! Expect a lovingly written PS2 retrospective here at the Dreamcast Junkyard!

fatherkrishna said...

"For the blog, write any shit."

LMAO Nice one Moomintroll!

Tomleecee said...

yep, any old shite will do!

DCguy said...

Hi, there!

Long-time Dreamcast obsessive and occasional DCJY reader here. I have to say that the Top 100 poll is what really made me take another look at your excellent site and I have to congratulate you on it.

Barry the Nomad mentions the PS2 and I've already noticed from looking at your archives that there hasn't been a PS2-related blog or really any mentioned of it at all. Considering that Sony's black monolith was the Dreamcast's main rival -- first as an over-hyped idea, then in reality -- and was responsible for its demise, surely it deserves a bit more attention (even if only in the negative). What I was thinking... have any of you guys considered doing a hardware comparison between the Dreamcast and PS2? Ask a casual gamer about the two consoles and almost invariably they'll tell you that the PS2 was not just more powerful than the Dreamcast, but much more powerful -- which is not true. I think it would be great if one of you guys did a blog setting the record straight. The Dreamcast was an extremely well-designed and balanced system whose components were very modern and high-end for the time. It was easy to program for and (speaking figuratively to make a point) was more than the sum of its parts. The PS2, by contrast, was a very compromised and flawed system that had some very good on-paper specifications along with some very bad ones. Sony gave it a DVD drive when the format was still new and expensive, and were forced to cut corners to keep the costs down. Again, figuratively speaking, the PS2 was less than the sum of its parts. The majority of games that appeared on both systems, thus offering a direct comparison, looked better on Dreamcast (the reason more often than not was due to that console's hardware anti-aliasing and higher resolution).

These are the ways in which I know the Dreamcast's hardware is superior to the PS2's:

Better Resolution
Native 640x480 output, i.e. HD 480p (PS2's native resolution is 640x400 or 400i, which is interpolated from 320x200 -- all its resolutions higher than 320x200 are interpolated)
VGA support (PS2 has very limited VGA support and the few games that support it actually look WORSE than on a regular TV)

Smooth Edges
Hardware anti-aliasing prevents 'jaggies'

Better Textures
Double the video memory (8 vs. 4MB)
5:1 VQ Texture Compression (PS2 has NO texture compression!)

Better Audio
More sound channels (64 to 48 -- listen closely to Rez on both systems)

PS2 Observations:
In practice, the PS2 tends to have longer load times than the DC.
Both Fat and Slim models can overheat relatively easily and slow down or freeze a game.
'Disc Read Errors' are fairly common (the PS2 equivalent of a computer crash)
Green DVD movies when output via RGB.
Very limited 60Hz support for PAL games.
A very 'safe' and uninspired games library with a large number of tie-ins and sequels. Top PS2 games, by sales and fan lists, tend to be franchise titles (e.g. GTA, MGS, GT, FF). Unlike the Dreamcast, innovative and original games make up a tiny portion of the PS2's library.

Cazre Thomas said...

@DCguy

Thanks for that! I never knew that stuff, but all current consoles fail when it comes to originality against the DC

Barry the Nomad said...

DCGuy, You've basically written the article for us! Great idea for an article.

I myself am not interested in a PS2 comparison, but another DCJY writer may be. Hell, even if I wanted to do it, I couldn't as my PS2 is a piece of crap and shitted out on me after 7 years of use. Meanwhile I have three Dreamcast's that have yet to fail after 10 years of use.

Moe said...

Don't forget the Dreamcast's clever and efficient Tile-Based Deferred Rendering of polygons:

The conventional approach to 3D graphics involves triangles and what is known as the Z-buffer. In this method, each triangle is described by x,y, and z values. A 3D chip starts in the distant back and draws all the triangles for that Z-value. Then, when the chip is done with all those triangles, it starts drawing everything at the next Z-value, which covers up part of the layers behind it. This process is repeated over and over until the chip finally reaches the camera and is very similar to painting pictures on a canvas, one on top of another, over and over.

With a conventional 3D architecture, the sky is drawn in its entirety first, then a few mountains, then a few skyscrapers, then a few more, a plane, and finally the village that's closest to the camera. The problem with this approach is that a lot of time is wasted drawing things the viewer would never see. About half of the sky is being covered up as well as the skyscrapers that are being covered up.

The PowerVR chip used in the Dreamcast looks at the whole scene, or more accurately at tiles that divide up the screen. The chip check pixel by pixel to see which polygons are closest to the camera (and hence the only one the viewer sees) and then renders the tile all at once. The trick is that the PowerVR is only drawing what the viewer can see so time isn't being wasted.

Chris said...

Mr Nomad, before you write your PS2 retrospective I would humbly invite you to read the following article from gamepilgrimage.com. The page is currently down so I include it in full:

Chris said...

Pt.1

PS2 Tomfoolery

The PS2 is the console that killed one of the greatest consoles to ever grace the gaming market, with marketing, hype and press releases alone. I say that it killed the Dreamcast because it outsold it 2:1 in the same market, at twice the price, with a fraction of the game library. Why the Dreamcast was shut down is a bit more complicated than just that.

"Building Steam"...

Was it the reputation of the Playstation 1 that made the PS2 a success? The Sega Genesis was a large success in the United States. Yet when the multiple-CPU containing successor, the Sega Saturn, was released, the consumer was nowhere to be found. During the Saturn's life, the masses kept buying the Sega Genesis and Genesis games. They eventually chose to go with the Playstation instead of the Saturn, a decision that is most often linked to many Saturn games having looked slightly worse than the average Playstation game, and to that the PS1 consistently having more games on the retail store shelves.

Conversely, 248 titles were made for the Dreamcast during it's lifetime in the US, but the masses all pinched their pennies for the PS2, and kept buying PS1 consoles and what few PS1 games worth noting after the DC's launch were released. In addition, the Playstation 2's launch games almost all looked slightly worse than Dreamcast games, due to complex and unorthodox hardware, aliasing problems and low resolution display and textures. Despite the Dreamcast's 2.5 million console lead and roughly 200 title lead of at least equal quality, it was the PS2 which took off almost immediately. Selling out for nearly six months, while it was Fall of 2002 before its library reached 300 titles, made the PS2's the most successful launch of all time.

"Superior marketing"

Was it superior marketing on Sony’s part that made the PS2 a success? From the DC’s US launch to the PS2’s, Sega advertised in game magazines, online, but only in select areas on television. Instead of bombarding with television ads, Sega launched the first efficient gaming network, based on limited 56K technology, and actually offered Dreamcasts for free to people who would just sign up for 18months of Sega’s SegaNet service. The free Dreamcast deal was called, by Sony execs, a change in the console distribution paradigm. In addition to that, Sega easily put out more games for the Dreamcast, themselves, than any other publisher. All of the games Sega released were of the highest quality and originality. All these things, and a $50 price drop in the console’s retail price, in its first year, did not manage to make the Dreamcast a success.

Still, some speculate that it was advertising from the giant corporation that made everyone hold their breaths for the PS2. Yet, there was virtually no ad campaign at all for PS2. Sony didn't have to advertise the PS2. By October 2000, preorders for the PS2 had surpassed what they could manufacture of the console for six months.

Chris said...

Pt.2

Media Hype

However, one prominent and reliable presence during the Dreamcast’s 13 month lead was inane babel, by still employed game mag "editors", promising constant greater than 60FPS, and greater-than Dreamcast quality texture sharpness and diversity in PS2 games. The reasons quoted for these wonders were the super powerful, better than a room full of Sun workstations (i.e. Toy Story 2 quality graphics), Emotion Engine and better texture clarity due to "streaming data off the PS2’s ultra fast DVD drive". There was also loving talk of beizer curves, Odd World Munch's Oddessy (which ended up seeing exclusive release on XBOX), GranTurismo 2000 (which came out in Fall of 2001), and movies of MGS2 (which had a not-so delightful surprise for everyone), but why would the public care about vaporware more than the Dreamcast's games that were already available on the shelf? In order for the pre-launch hyped version of the PS2 to not have been just vaporware, it would have had to actually come out as stated. Needless to say, what was advertised, and what was received in regards to the PS2 were two entirely different stories.

Project Reality

Sony's promise of Toy Story 2 Quality graphics in games was certainly just marketing hype. After developers started complaining about the 4MB VRAM not being enough for textures, Sony also claimed that the system didn't need as much texture memory because "it was powerful enough to render individual grains of wood in a door". None of that beats "grandpa" Ken Kuturagi's claim in 2000 that "You can communicate to a new cyber city. This will be the ideal home server. Did you see the movie 'The Matrix'? Same interface. Same concept. Starting from next year, you can jack into 'The Matrix'!'' Yet they didn't even get out a Network Adapter until late 2002, while the Dreamcast came with a modem and had broadband before the PS2 launch, and the Xbox comes with a Network Adapter out of the box. The fact that nobody would want to "jack in" to a PS2 with the same interface as The Matrix would be a small point to make.

Hardware manufacturers have made outrageous promises before. Nintendo promised no pop-up with the N64, which is something it largely succeeded at. Nintendo also made equally outrageous claims in regards to its own vaporware, "Project Reality". Nintendo claimed they would "combine three-dimensional graphics of the quality seen in films such as Jurassic Park and Terminator 2, with high- fidelity sound and an interaction speed around 10-15 times faster than the current 16-bit games." They also showed still shots of Silicon Graphics CGI with cutouts of Mario, Luigi and cast pasted on them.

Yet the N64 was outsold by the technically inferior Playstation consistently for its entire lifecycle. By September of 2003 the N64 had sold just under 18 million while the PS1 had sold over 22.5 million in the US, and Japan almost exclusively favored the PS1 after 1998. While that doesn't seem like a significant gap in sales, what that gap meant was virtually exclusive developer support for the PS1 over the N64, and the constant reminder from the media that the N64 was "failing".

That is significant, because it was Sony's claim that technical prowess alone that would make the PS2 gaming experience worth waiting for. Meanwhile Sega did promise that the DC was modular and could therefore be easily upgraded to compete for years to come. If history was going to repeat itself, what happened with the Genesis users eventually migrating to the Playstation would have happened again with PS1 users migrating to the Dreamcast, which had more games on store shelves, a better price point, more features and arguably better graphics. However neither Sega's empty promises nor their actual achievements caused millions of people to pinch their pennies for an entire year like they did for the PS2.

Chris said...

Pt.3

Factual Reality

Meanwhile the Dreamcast sold better, month to month, than any other console in history, except for the PS2 and including the Xbox and Gamecube. The Dreamcast's games reportedly weren't selling in 2000, except for Sega's sport titles and Sonic Adventure. The game sales could definitely not be blamed on lack of quality software. If anything it was an over abundance of extremely high quality software that was causing some games to languish on the shelves. That's not a claim anyone's tried to make though, so I won't either.

When the PS2 launched, it was twice the price of the Dreamcast. It had twenty seven games, the Dreamcast was approaching two hundred and fifty. All twenty seven of the PS2's games cost $50, and presented nothing new in graphics sound or gameplay for anyone who'd owned a Dreamcast. On the Dreamcast games could be had for $20-50 with no loss in quality of any kind to PS2 games. If either system could be blamed for having too much low quality software released in its first year, that blame would fall on the PS2.

So what was it? What was the issue, that caused the Dreamcast and it's software to not sell with so many great games coming out month to month, and the PS2 and its games, to so grossly outsell it? It was the Dreamcast being praised for ease of development, it was the PS2 that was being called complex and difficult to develop for. It was the Dreamcast which was relatively inexpensive and had leagues of great software in its library, it was the PS2 that was $300 and had 13 months of Dreamcast games to catch up with. It was the Dreamcast that had sharp high resolution graphics and texture quality, while the PS2 was openly mocked for aliasing issues, caused by lower resolution display, and blurry textures caused by the PS2 only having 4MB of VRAM. Though it is worth noting that unified Main RAM was available to developers that could and did greatly improve both issues by the end of its first year.

Speculations

Popular theories at the time were that Sega's reputation was so badly damaged by the Saturn, which less than 3 million people ever owned, and the 32X, which less than 500,000 people ever owned, that the 60-80 million user strong mass market just refused to buy the Dreamcast, even given it's strong line-up and 13-month head start.

Popular theory for why the PS2 has outsold the Gamecube and Xbox more than 5:1 is because of it's head start and strong line-up. Yet this is did not happen for the Dreamcast.

Another popular theory for why the Dreamcast failed is that it wouldn't play DVDs nor was it backward compatible with the Saturn. What makes this a viable partial explanation, is that both the Xbox and Gamecube do not support DVD playback out of the box, nor do they support some pre-existing software library, and they have sold similarly to the Dreamcast.

Yet another theory was that Sega simply didn't have the resources to sit on the market and keep pumping out games, to build a userbase of their own, which has also yet to work for Microsoft or Nintendo with their current gen efforts.

Finally the most popular theory is that the PS1 was so popular, and is perceived to have created the move to 3D, which in turn made gaming "cool" to more than just gamers, and that the PS1 had such success on the market that it was perceived that the PS2 would have vastly greater numbers in its software library, is apparently reason enough for 60 million users to wait through the Dreamcast's head start, of 13 months, to buy a PS2, and only a PS2, even with three competing consoles with unique offerings and comparable to superior graphics on the market.

Chris said...

Pt.4

If the PS2 had come out in 1999 and been called Dreamcast, I think it would have been a laughing stock. As it was the Dreamcast was called, from day one, a “stop gap” by game magazines, pronounced dead on arrival by Working Designs and EA, and surpassed in every way by Sony’s PS2 vaporware. If it had been exactly like the PS2 turned out hardware wise, it would have been called a "high res N64, with blurry textures". The DC was called just that by one of Usenet’s resident trolls. Yet DC launch games still display better texture quality than any PS2 game. Go into the Dreamcast’s middle age software and you could say that there is a significant step up in graphical quality, in favor of the Dreamcast. If it had come out and been called Dreamcast, they all would have said that Sega didn't learn their lessons from the past about complicated hardware ruining quality of 3rd party software.

Until late 2003, the best examples of the PS2’s graphical capabilities are MGS2 and GT3, both of which took nearly one year to come out from the console’s launch date. Nobody in the media or developer community complained about how long it took for solid looking and playing PS2 games to come out. By comparison, it took Sega one year to launch SegaNet and successfully, with little lag time, put people online playing NFL2K1. It was an amazing achievement, especially considering that none of the current console manufacturers got their act together until 2002. What was the most often repeated comment about SegaNet? It took to long to get rolling. One year to successfully do something nobody else had ever done, or did again until two years later, was too danged long. And to make matters even more comical, noted game magazines applauded Electronic Arts for releasing the first online Football game, in 2002 for PS2.

The Playstation 1 had a lot of great games, but no more or less real gems than any other console worth noting. A simple click on the two links above will reveal that’s a fact, not an opinion. Yet game magazines give undue credit to the PS1 and the PS2, not for software content, but for worldwide sales. They repeatedly advertise how great Sony's consoles are, and then mention that their reason is only based on sales in the fine print.

Sony's proven that it can do everything wrong, and still be a massive success. Just compare the Sega Saturn US launch characteristics, to what Sony did with the PS2 for a great example. It makes no sense why the PS2 has become such an instant success, when Sega put forth such a plainly superior effort with the Dreamcast, and both the Xbox and Gamecube are plainly superior hardware by just their first generation software.

If you care what I think, it’s a sad state of gaming. Mindless brand-name following can only lead to very boring gaming years ahead. I say mindless, because if these consumers were of a “wait and see” attitude, they certainly would not have bought as many PS2’s as they did. The PS2 simply didn’t have exemplary software until nearly a year after its US release, it should have sold as the Xbox and Gamecube had sold as a result of their average game line-up. Hopefully this generation of gamers will also have the taste to start purchasing the games that really do something unique, and not reward software developers for sloppy designs too.

On the same note, none of this changes the excellent library of games that the PS2 does have, or their playability, or the fact that the PS2 is still part of this generation of hardware in every respect. The PS2's library certainly merits success with gamers and on the market, but it certainly does not merit the total dominance that it has achieved at the expense of all competition big and small.

(Source: www.gamepilgrimage.com/PS2success.htm)

Chris said...

Regarding how well the Dreamcast and PS2 compare technically, please read this article from the same site:

www.gamepilgrimage.com/DCPScompare.htm

The link works fine.

Tomleecee said...

you know, I actually just read through all that and found it very interesting. Cheers Chris. However, one thing that isn't mentioned in the article is that back when the DC was still in the shops, the majority of people still didn't know what the Dreamcast was! If I ask any of my 'casual gamer' friends now if they ever had, or even remember the DC, they say "what's a Dreamcast?!"

Barry the Nomad said...

I'm... not writing a PS2 retrospective...

Not to be rude, but holy Jesus can you say "too much text for a comments section"? I'll give it a read sometime, but still... woh.