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Desert Tank - A little history of a forgotten game by Martin Marietta and SEGA

camineet

Banned
Mar 30, 2007
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Desert Tank was one of the earliest MODEL 2 games made, I think it was 2nd, right after Daytona USA.













http://www.ibiblio.org/GameBytes/issue21/creviews/destank.html
DESERT TANK by Sega
Coin-op Arcade

Reviewed by Nathan Cochrane

Desert Tank combines all the playability of the evergreen Battlezone with the latest hi-tech imagery of Sega's Model 2 CG texture-mapping technology. Placed in the role of a tank commander you must take on the might of a sinister computer intent on destroying civilization.

Developed by America's Martin Marietta, one of the world's foremost military simulation designers, the player has the choice of either a beginner's desert course or the expert canyon. The graphics are superb, using the same 32-bit 300,000 polygon/sec engine as found in the acclaimed Daytona.

Screen layout is simple and functional, with score and armour strength listed in top left hand corner, a map of the area in the bottom left and mission time countdown in the top right.

VR buttons control the viewing aspect, which can be placed just behind the tank, inside the turret or for a more strategic approach in a high, overhead tracking plane.

The directional controls consist of a steering yoke and fire buttons. Fire buttons control either the high powered cannon or lethal machine guns. A gear stick and acceleration pedal control speed and forward momentum.

Desert Tank represents an unparalleled gaming experience that will be enjoyed by cyber-grunts of all persuasions. If war is your thing, but getting killed isn't, then Desert Tank is the game that will make all your wet dreams come alive.



http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1295/is_7_63/ai_54968180/pg_4
In 1995, defense giant Lockheed Martin spun off a subsidiary game technology company called Real 3D that sells graphic boards to leading game companies, including Sega.

The contractors sound a little defensive when asked if it's a good idea that they are selling war technology to the same people who brought you Sonic the Hedgehog. "There is nothing secret, nothing defense-sensitive about the technology," says Lockheed spokesman Carlton Caldwell.

In fact, by developing video game technology through Real 3D, Lockheed Martin has gotten so much better at making fast, cheap chips that they have been able to sell some of this technology back to the Department of Defense, a process they call "defense conversion-reinsertion."

It turns out that the games designed by the defense contractors aren't all that popular. Reality is simply too mundane for garners. While enthusiasts may appreciate a simulator that has the buttons and switches of a real tank, the players usually don't want it to move or reload as slowly as the real thing. "Lockheed did probably the worst tank game ever done," says Quantum3D's Smith. "It was very realistic but boring. Sega had it on their arcade machines for about a week, and that was that."

A negative comment about the Martin Marietta/Lockheed Martin Real3D developed game from a Quantum3D guy? They were the high-end commercial/industrial arm of 3Dfx, a direct competitor of Lockheed /Real3D at the time, no wonder...

I don't think Desert Tank was boring, I found it to be pretty fun even though its no Daytona or VF2. I'm actually enjoying it more than Alien Front Online. The only game of it's kind that can crush Desert Tank is Namco's Tokyo Wars.

http://www.gameai.com/r3dgames.html
Desert Tank

The first Real3D game was Desert Tank, an arcade shooter/simulator in which you must guide a tank through a series of dangerous missions. Regrettably I didn't have a thing to do with it, but I envy the guys who did. It's one of the very few 3D polygon games that doesn't restrict where you can go; you're pretty much free to explore as much of the world as you wish (until your time runs out or you're killed, of course). The game is only available as a 'deluxe' cabinet style game (much like the larger single-seat Daytona games). It runs on the Sega Model 2 board, pushing 300,000 polys/second at 30Hz.

Some screen shots from the game are to the right. Since it came out just before the Web "got big", you probably won't find anything on the Web about it (I sure can't, anyway). You'll have to go to a large arcade (such as a Dave and Buster's) to find it due to the size and expense of the cabinet, but it's a fun game and well worth it. Trust me.

It's true about Desert Tank being one of the first few 3D polygon games that does not restict where you go. About 2 years before Mario 64. It's really amazing for the time.


http://www.n-sider.com/articleview.php?articleid=485
The History of n-Space

n-Spaces beginnings can be traced back much further than its founding in 1994. Surprisingly, Erick S. Dyke dreamed of owning his own video game company all the way back in the fifth grade. I was like a little kid in fifth grade and I wanted to do video games from doing work on TRC to using Intellipipes, and all that stuff. My parents were reminding me this morning of this Commodore pet they bought me, recalls Mr. Dyke. I wanted to do games. Then I went to college and reality set in.

Upon completing school at Michigan Tech, Erick landed himself a job at General Electric Aerospace (GE Aerospace) in Daytona Beach, Florida. Once there, he promptly began work helping to create advanced military simulators for the United States government to help train the next generation of soldiers for the 21st century. I was going to be happy doing military simulations at GE Aerospace. Then they got the contract with Sega and I got on that project, explains Erick. I was able to get into the blood again, had a window of opportunity, and here we are.

During the early 1990s, these advanced computer-imaging systems were extremely expensive and basically limited entirely to Defense Department contracts. In 1991, GE Aerospace began to explore the possibility of retooling their space age 3D graphics technology for commercial applications. This very same technology can trace its roots directly to the first Visual Docking Simulator used for the Apollo lunar landings in the late 1960s and early 1970s. At the same time, Sega Enterprises Limited was actively researching new ways to push its arcade hardware to produce much more photo realistic graphics. This led to a contract between the two companies that would ultimately result in the development of the now famous Model 2 arcade board and its flagship title, Desert Tank. They were working on a project with Sega doing the Model 2 arcade chip and making a game for Sega called Desert Tank, tells Geist producer, Ted Newman. All three of them (Erick Dyke, Dan O'Leary, and Sean Purcell) spent two months in Japan working at Sega trying to get Desert Tank done on time. They actually worked right under Yu Suzuki.



After playing it in Nebula a bunch of times, I started imaging a what a sequel could've been like. Maybe with some added strategy to the simulation. I thought, why not a Desert Tank II that's a blend of Desert Tank, Herzog Zwei and Return Fire? Then I remembered they rarely make sequels to unpopular games (or do they :)

Anyway for now I'm just glad Desert Tank is emulated in playable state in Nebula.
 

Jacobi

Banned
Jun 11, 2004
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Are you fucking kidding me? 300,000 polygons per second? Computers will never be able to do this
 

Manp

Member
Jan 16, 2006
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Jacobi said:
Are you fucking kidding me? 300,000 polygons per second? Computers will never be able to do this

it's 300,000 polyGons. that's even more impressive!

:)
 

Raistlin

Post Count: 9999
Jun 17, 2004
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camineet said:
Desert Tank was one of the earliest MODEL 2 games made, I think it was 2nd, right after Daytona USA.





http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1295/is_7_63/ai_54968180/pg_4



I don't think Desert Tank was boring, I found it to be pretty fun even though its no Daytona or VF2. I'm actually enjoying it more than Alien Front Online. The only game of it's kind that can crush Desert Tank is Namco's Tokyo Wars.

http://www.gameai.com/r3dgames.html



http://www.n-sider.com/articleview.php?articleid=485




After playing it in Nebula a bunch of times, I started imaging a what a sequel could've been like. Maybe with some added strategy to the simulation. I thought, why not a Desert Tank II that's a blend of Desert Tank, Herzog Zwei and Return Fire? Then I remembered they rarely make sequels to unpopular games (or do they :)

Anyway for now I'm just glad Desert Tank is emulated in playable state in Nebula.


Thanks for that poster with the Lockheed Martin references ... it brings back a lot of memories for me!



While I've always played video games (I believe me and my brother received the Atari 2600 around 1980 or so?), it wasn't until I saw Sega's Model 1 HW that the seed of interest in computing as a serious career was planted. Until that point, it was just an entertaining hobby.

It wasn't just the fact the HW had some of the first true 3D graphics (hey, it was a big deal back then :p), but the fact that a top defense contractor (a 'real' company ... that does serious work) was pioneering this type of cool technology ... it certainly piqued my interest in the field.




The seed wasn't ready to germinate though. While I was young, I used to do some coding on my C64 ... but I never ended up jumping on the PC bandwagon. Didn't even have one until college. As a matter of fact, I really had no interest in computing while in high school. Then again, I had no interest in pretty much anything as a career path ... and instead just partied all the time. :p

After screwing around switching majors for a while in college ... I ended up choosing CS. Why? Its hard to say. In large part, it was related to who much graduates where being paid at the time versus other careers. However, I had to have at least some interest in the field or why would I have picked it amongst the 'top 5 paying fields for bachelor degrees'?



That's were I come full circle, in a Lost-like plot twist. Not only did that original spark likely help guide me towards my career path ... but when I graduated, I ended up working in the defense industry. I'm still there now :)
 

camineet

Banned
Mar 30, 2007
8,073
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Onix said:
It wasn't just the fact the HW had some of the first true 3D graphics (hey, it was a big deal back then :p), but the fact that a top defense contractor (a 'real' company ... that does serious work) was pioneering this type of cool technology ... it certainly piqued my interest in the field.


That's when & why I really got interested in 3D graphics tech for gaming, because much of it came from the defence & simulation industry.

1992: General Electric Aerospace (Model 1)
1993: Evans & Sutherlan (Namco System 22)
1993-1994: Martin Marietta (Model 2)
1995-1996: Lockheed Martin (Model 3)
1993-1996 Nintendo 64 (SGI)


You might enjoy these posts

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.games.video/msg/9dca536bcacec449?dmode=source

Namco & Sega News

Here's the news:

03/26 1657 JAPANESE FIRM NAMCO TO DEVELOP COMPUTERS GAMES ...

TOKYO (MARCH 26) UPI - Namco Ltd., a Japanese leading game maker, will
jointly develop state-of-the-art computer games with Evans and Sutherland
Computer Corp., a U.S. firm specializing in computer simulation systems
, a
Namco official said Friday.
Evans and Sutherland, a Utah-based company, has supplied more than 600
flight simulation systems to the U.S. military, the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration, defense industry and private airlines, the official
said.
Namco plans to develop new computer games featuring three-demensional
computer graphics by the U.S. maker, the official said.
Sega Enterprises Ltd., Japan's No. 2 game maker and Namco's rival,
announced last August a joint effort for new high-tech games with the General
Electric Co. of the United States.
Industry analysts said Japanese game makers are likely to expand their
tie-ups with U.S. high-tech firms which have been hit by the country's defense
budget cut.

http://groups.google.com/group/sci.virtual-worlds/msg/ef3a84cdadae1767?dmode=source
The WASHINGTON POST, July 13, 1993, carries a story highlighting the
collaboration of high-tech military simulator manufacturers Martin
Marietta and Evans & Sutherland with Japanese game manufacturers, Sega
and Namco, respectively. Lots of tanks and shoot em up's. Your
former tax dollars at work...

http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washing...Utah+Firm+License+Tank+Simulators+to+Japanese
From the War Room to the Game Room
Martin Marietta, Utah Firm License Tank Simulators to Japanese


"We're not aware of anything this sophisticated out there," said Charles "Chip" Manor, Martin Marietta's spokesman. "The scenes will appear much more realistic than anything seen before this." Not so, said Marietta's main competitor in the Pentagon's combat simulator market, Salt Lake City-based Evans & Sutherland Computer. In March it announced a similar deal with Namco Ltd., another top Japanese maker of electronic amusement games, for a "next-generation" arcade game.

Its announcement followed by several months a decision by General Electric Co.'s aerospace division to sell simulator hardware to Sega. Since then, Martin Marietta bought GE's aerospace division, and is forging ahead with both Sega deals.

John Lenyo, marketing manager for the Martin Marietta simulator division in Florida, said Sega should have some of the non-tank prototypes in arcades by early 1994, and the tank game out by the end of next year.



http://groups.google.com/group/sci.virtual-worlds/msg/336e704cccb0d3db?dmode=source
CORPORATION TO APPLY MILITARY SIMULATION
TECHNOLOGY TO SEGA VIDEO ARCADE GAMES

The Corporation [Martin Marietta] and Sega Enterprises, Ltd., have
reached an agreement for the use of Martin Marietta's simulation
technology in the development of a Sega multiplayer electronic game.

The contract follows a joint-development, technology-transfer program
originally launched in 1992 between Sega, based in Tokyo, and GE
Aerospace in Daytona Beach. Martin Marietta combined its businesses
with those of GE Aerospace in April.

The new contract provides for specific application of Martin
Marietta's real-time phototexture simulation technology to Sega's
electronic games and potentially other entertainment products. The
technology provides the ability to produce continuous, life-like
imagery drawn from real-world photographic sources.

Earlier this year, Sega introduced a low-cost computer graphics
circuit board that combined its expertise in circuit board design with
Martin Marietta's computer graphic image processing technology.

In a parallel development, Sega also will adopt a Martin Marietta
visual database generation program system as an integral part of its
gameware development. The system was designed to rapidly model large
areas of actual terrain and create realistic three-dimensional moving
models.

In a joint statement, the two companies said, "This latest agreement
will accelerate the conversion of advanced image-generation technology
to mass market applications. Our initial efforts already have set new
standards for image quality. We will soon be able to deliver products
as visually compelling as the movies and orders of magnitude more
stimulating than previous game experiences.
 

Tiktaalik

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Aug 6, 2004
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looks like a precursor to the more common Tokyo Wars. I've never seen this game, was it ever produced?
 

Raistlin

Post Count: 9999
Jun 17, 2004
44,490
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camineet said:
That's when & why I really got interested in 3D graphics tech for gaming, because much of it came from the defence & simulation industry.

1992: General Electric Aerospace (Model 1)
1993: Evans & Sutherlan (Namco System 22)
1993-1994: Martin Marietta (Model 2)
1995-1996: Lockheed Martin (Model 3)
1993-1996 Nintendo 64 (SGI)


You might enjoy these posts

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.games.video/msg/9dca536bcacec449?dmode=source



http://groups.google.com/group/sci.virtual-worlds/msg/ef3a84cdadae1767?dmode=source


(I'd like to read that entire article)


http://groups.google.com/group/sci.virtual-worlds/msg/336e704cccb0d3db?dmode=source

:)

Thanks for the posts!
 

camineet

Banned
Mar 30, 2007
8,073
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temp said:
I didn't know SEGA was a defense expert.

SEGA isn't the defense expert :)

SEGA relied on defense experts: General Electric Aerospace / Martin Marietta / Lockheed Martin / Real3D for 3D graphics capability in arcade.

Tiktaalik said:
looks like a precursor to the more common Tokyo Wars. I've never seen this game, was it ever produced?

If you mean was Desert Tank produced as in, was it made and released, yes it was,
but it wasn't very successful.

Tokyo Wars was relatively much more successful. More fun for most people because it was a 2-player vs tank game in tighter spaces. significantly better graphics (System Super 22).

It's really an interesting match-up in several ways:
Sega vs Namco
tank game vs tank game
Martin-Marietta graphics chipset (in MODEL 2) vs Evans & Sutherland graphics chipset (in System Super 22)


Onix said:
:)

Thanks for the posts!

Welcome. I forgot to include these two 3-page articles:

from Next Generation issue 8


from issue 11


I so very much wanted Real3D/100 for home gaming use for PC, Saturn upgrade or a Saturn 2. What happened was, Lockheed Martin announced consumer graphics card for
$180~$200 in 1995 yet it was talking up the midrange professional Real3D/100 which is the chipset that was shown (and most of us thought we'd be getting that) The consumer chip (i740 for Intel integrated igraphics and Lockheed Starfighter cards) that was in development was entirely different (we did know this in 1995), much less impressive/powerful than Real3D/100 and came 2+ years later.

I believe Lockheed Real3D could've beaten 3Dfx, PowerVR and especially Nvidia, if Lockheed had leveraged its full capabilities for a consumer chip. The i740 was pretty bad by 1997 standards. They should've partnered with TSMC if not Intel and actually released the Real3D/100 as a consumer product. It would've blown the holy hell out of Rendition Verite, 3Dfx Voodoo1, Videologic PowerVR PCX1, PCX2, 3DO M2, Nvidia Riva 128, ATI Rage, everything S3 had and any of the other consumer 3D chips of the mid-late 1990s. I even think Real3D/100 competed well with 2nd/3rd-gen 3D products that had much higher paper specs (Voodoo2, TNT, Banshee, PowerVR2). Then assuming a hypothetical Real3D-"200" and its successors had done well, many of our PC and console games would be driven by Lockheed 3D graphics instead of Nvidia and ATI.

BTW for those that don't know, Sega's Model 3 board did not use the midrange Real3D/100. Instead Model 3 used two of the highend Real3D Pro/1000 GPUs. I don't think the /100 would've been that expensive to mass produce-and THAT was Lockheed/Real3D's biggest failing in 3D graphics, not producing or having produced the kickass tech they had. That's where 3Dfx and Nvidia with their inferior technology won (which got better with constant defections of SGI's brightest minds to both companies and ATI.
 

Zenith

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Feb 17, 2006
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I so very much wanted Real3D/100 for home gaming use for PC, Saturn upgrade or a Saturn 2.

there are Model 2 emulators. most of the games on them are Saturn ports.
 

Kosma

Banned
Feb 22, 2007
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Not forgotten by me :/

PS: Posting from my newly build PC. in the middle of update hell.
 

Flavius

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These are the types of threads that make me glad to be a part of this community.

Never heard of Desert Tank before, at least not to best of my recollection.

Informative and entertaining post, OP.
 

Mamesj

Banned
Jul 30, 2007
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Jacobi said:
Are you fucking kidding me? 300,000 polygons per second? Computers will never be able to do this


no no no, they meant when all arcade cabinets of the game are running at once, that'll equal 300,000 per second.
 

camineet

Banned
Mar 30, 2007
8,073
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Zenith said:
there are Model 2 emulators. most of the games on them are Saturn ports.
I know there are MODEL 2 emulators, Nebula M2 v0.6 is the latest.

Real3D/100 has nothing to do with the MODEL 2 board. No games were designed for Real3D/100 AFAIK, since it was used only in workstations and as a midrange professional PC card. MODEL 2 pre-dates the Real3D/100 chipset by a few years.

Also, none of the MODEL 2 games are Saturn ports. All MODEL 2 games pre-date the Saturn translations of those MODEL 2 games.


Flavius said:
These are the types of threads that make me glad to be a part of this community.

Never heard of Desert Tank before, at least not to best of my recollection.

Informative and entertaining post, OP.


YEah, it was educational for me as well, I learned stuff as I put that OP together.

Desert Tank may or may not be the first game to be developed for the legendary MODEL 2 board. If not Daytona. Daytona was certainly the first to be introduced/released, but I don't know which one was actually developed first--my limited understanding is, they were designed more or less in parallal, mainly during 1993, as the MODEL 2 board itself was being completed, and both games were released in 1994, before Virtua Fighter 2.
 

camineet

Banned
Mar 30, 2007
8,073
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I saw a cab once in my area, can't remember where though.

As a single-player experience, I find Desert Tank much more fun and interesting than Alien Front Online. There's more depth to the controls, and although it's considered an arcade simulator, it's by no means a true tank sim, it's just an arcade game with controls that take some getting used to. You can raise and lower the turrent (unlike AFO) select from 3 'VR' views (AFO gives you 2) use a machine gun (none in AFO) which will overheat with too much use. Shoot distant objects, destroying almost everything. The goal is to break through several checkpoints and destroy enemy strong points. It's VERY challenging even on the easy course. The graphics aren't too great, but this is an early MODEL 2 game that's less on-rails than most of them. While I like AFO, I think DT has more depth. As I said before though, Namco's Tokyo Wars is the most fun of these 3 tank games.
 

Srider

Banned
Feb 3, 2005
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Reading your post reminds me of the time I visited SGI during its dying hours. The halls filled with abandoned SGI stations laying about was a pretty sad sight to behold.

Now I have a better picture of what happened in that area.
 

camineet

Banned
Mar 30, 2007
8,073
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Srider said:
Reading your post reminds me of the time I visited SGI during its dying hours. The halls filled with abandoned SGI stations laying about was a pretty sad sight to behold.

Now I have a better picture of what happened in that area.

Yeah.

Before Nvidia, ATI and 3Dfx, 3DLabs, Videologic and the other smaller ones there were probably only 3 companies that could do amazingly good realtime graphics:
GE Aerospace / Martin Marietta / Lockheed Martin Real3D, SGI and Evans & Sutherland.

Most of the engineers that worked at those companies in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s are at Nvidia or ATI now.
 

djtiesto

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Jul 26, 2004
28,047
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camineet said:
That's when & why I really got interested in 3D graphics tech for gaming, because much of it came from the defence & simulation industry.

Thanks for posting the links, I work in the defense industry (same company as Onix though a different location), specifically their simulation dept. For the past 2-3 years, much talk has been made about applying COTS-style gaming technology (Unreal 3 engine gets namedropped a lot) to drive simulations, since what we're using now is fairly obsolete, even though it was cutting-edge at the time.