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VizHouse on the 3DO M2; the sad end to a mighty piece of 90s hardware

VGEsoterica

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If you know me you know I collect and preserve a lot of prototypes/betas/prototype hardware and share it with everyone for free. If you don't know me...well that's what I do lolol. And SOMETIMES I spend three years hunting down one small piece of software to try and put the preservation and sharing of 3DO M2 software "to bed"....just to end up with VizHouse!

If you don't remember the previews for the 3DO M2 back in 1995/1996 it was supposed to blow the doors in against PS1 and N64. It was definitely more powerful than the 64 but some very poor planning on the Panasonic side ended up with them cancelling the console after it was already FINISHED and ready to ship. Tons of previews were in magazines for games that were intended to release in late 1996. Stuff like Ironblood, the original version of D2, IMSA Racing and many other games.

It got a short lived run as a Konami arcade board and Capcom started development of Power Stone as a 3DO M2 exclusive before moving it to NAOMI / Dreamcast. Even Sega ALMOST bought M2 tech in early 1996 before the deal fell through!

so what did Panasonic do? They sold the hardware as a kiosk. GM car demos, ATM machines, coffee machine software AND home design software; home design software intended for Japanese architects to mock up floor plans for clients before actually starting the build.

It took me THREE YEARS to find VizHouse...and I regret all three of those years haha...but preservation means preserving everything and NOT just the "good bits"

But yeah...that's the sad end of the 3DO M2...toilet design!

if anyone has any other "console hardware used for ridiculous purposes" examples I'd love to hear them!
 
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Drew1440

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This looks very similar to the home design applications that SGI had on their IRIX machines where virtual tours could be made for houses.
Looks like Panasonic wanted the M2 to have its use in the workstation market, wonder if any of their toughbook laptops used the M2 chipset?
 
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VGEsoterica

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This looks very similar to the home design applications that SGI had on their IRIX machines where virtual tours could be made for houses.
Looks like Panasonic wanted the M2 to have its use in the workstation market, wonder if any of their toughbook laptops used the M2 chipset?
Highly doubtful as I don't think Panasonic ever released a PowerPC based computer. I'll have to look up that SGI application. Would be interesting!
 

StateofMajora

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If it was more powerful than 64 it really didn't show in its prototype software. Most of those games didn't enable z buffering, and the 64 had a bit more memory bandwidth than m2. When you disable z buffer on 64 you could render more polygons as well.

Edit : the cpu on m2 might be better, it's got 2 processors and 8kb more cache. If the memory latency was better than 64, m2's cpu could be faster but I really don't know much about m2.

64's gpu though was really quite powerful in some ways like transforming geometry (think wave race) or lighting effects.
 
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Aesius

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Lol, I remember being super excited for the M2. Oh well...
It did have a lot of hype around it. My cousin was in his early 20s at the time and broke the news to me that it was dead. I think he was already getting gaming news on the internet back then while I was still waiting month to month on new EGM issues.

I kinda miss the days of overhyped consoles that either fell flat upon release (Jaguar, 3DO) or just never came to fruition (M2). It was fun being a kid and dreaming up how amazing they were going to be.
 
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VGEsoterica

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If it was more powerful than 64 it really didn't show in its prototype software. Most of those games didn't enable z buffering, and the 64 had a bit more memory bandwidth than m2. When you disable z buffer on 64 you could render more polygons as well.

Edit : the cpu on m2 might be better, it's got 2 processors and 8kb more cache. If the memory latency was better than 64, m2's cpu could be faster but I really don't know much about m2.

64's gpu though was really quite powerful in some ways like transforming geometry (think wave race) or lighting effects.
I mean games like Evil Night are above what the N64 could do graphically by a touch. But the thing is Evil Night runs at a locked 60 FPS where on the N64 you’d be getting in the high teens / low twenties.

not knocking the 64. I’ve got two and a large library. But M2’s “first gen” released arcade games show a slight improvement image wise while also running much faster. Had M2 released and we’d gotten to “end of console life” developed games I think that gap would have grown
 

Stuart360

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Appreciate you passion for this stuff. And yeah game preservation is important, even for stuff like this lol.
 
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MJackson

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if anyone has any other "console hardware used for ridiculous purposes" examples I'd love to hear them!

the Jaguar shell mould got re--used for dentistry equipment.


 

SkylineRKR

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The only thing I've seen of M2 was the original D2 pitch. It looked interesting but tbh the DC game is one of my guilty pleasures.
 

RoboFu

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I remember a couple of gamefans back to back talking about the m2 and the Saturn upgrade add on…. MY YOUTH!! 😭
 
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StateofMajora

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I mean games like Evil Night are above what the N64 could do graphically by a touch. But the thing is Evil Night runs at a locked 60 FPS where on the N64 you’d be getting in the high teens / low twenties.

not knocking the 64. I’ve got two and a large library. But M2’s “first gen” released arcade games show a slight improvement image wise while also running much faster. Had M2 released and we’d gotten to “end of console life” developed games I think that gap would have grown
Evil night looks like a ps1 game. In terms of everything. Poly count as well which 64 could pump more. No z buffering nor texture filtering. Not only that - and I don't know one way or the other maybe you can tell me - but I wouldn't be surprised if the arcade board had additional ram compared with the home unit.

I'm not saying this is a fair comparison as the console never came out, but when you think of fully released games like banjo kazooie with smooth textures, z buffer and large levels at a reasonable fps, I kind of doubt the m2 would be a step up. It is surely better than ps1 though. I would have loved to see m2 come out and some dev like crystal dynamics to really give the hardware a go. Legacy of kain really pushed ps1.

I'm starting to wonder though if the console had an issue with z buffering as none of the games i'm seeing have perspective correct textures like most 64 software. Although Nintendo pretty much forced developers to use z buffering lol. Which i'm glad they did tbh.
 
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Chiggs

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3do was a sack of crap. literally worst console to develop for.

And to play, quite frankly.

In the summer of 1994, I was a starry-eyed gamer in my early teens who desperately wanted a 3do, but my parents flipped out at the $599 price. So I got a work permit and walked/washed dogs, and scooped up their shit, at a local dog kennel (thinking this was marginally better than fast food).

When I finally got my 3do, I realized the dog shit had followed me home and was now sitting in my entertainment center, where it would sit for one more year before being sold to fund the PlayStation.

Adding insult to injury, the price of the 3do dropped to $399 a few months after I purchased it.
 
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Redneckerz

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Jun 25, 2018
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Stuck in 1Q84.
The M2 remains a very entertaining piece of kit that sadly never was utilized well. I like to think it outperformed the N64 on the CPU front, but GPU wise, it would be comparable, especially since the SGI RCP could do a ton of stuff that would only be available on the PC later.


If you want to see / I am releasing it for free today for the community. You too can design dueling shitters!
I am more shocked by the fact that this somehow has a 2002 copyright. So this stuff was worked on still in 2002.

Imagine that. 3DO M2 tech was still being developed for even after the Original Xbox came out.

It reminds me of Namco's insane decision to keep PSX arcade hardware going on long after the machine was outdated, releasing System 10 in 2000 with a supposed 100 Mhz clock speed. System 10 got discontinued in 2004. ITs PS2 based successor saw releases still up to 2012 and something like the Sega RingEdge, released in 2009, saw releases still in 2017 whilst being more inline technically with the PS360 generation. (Border Break X Zero Plus was released in September 2017. Its not even listed on Sega Retro, which covers most Border Break releases with the obmission of Border Break X Zero).
Highly doubtful as I don't think Panasonic ever released a PowerPC based computer. I'll have to look up that SGI application. Would be interesting!
OH, but they did. (Its kind of cheating, i know.)
 

VGEsoterica

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The M2 remains a very entertaining piece of kit that sadly never was utilized well. I like to think it outperformed the N64 on the CPU front, but GPU wise, it would be comparable, especially since the SGI RCP could do a ton of stuff that would only be available on the PC later.


I am more shocked by the fact that this somehow has a 2002 copyright. So this stuff was worked on still in 2002.

Imagine that. 3DO M2 tech was still being developed for even after the Original Xbox came out.

It reminds me of Namco's insane decision to keep PSX arcade hardware going on long after the machine was outdated, releasing System 10 in 2000 with a supposed 100 Mhz clock speed. System 10 got discontinued in 2004. ITs PS2 based successor saw releases still up to 2012 and something like the Sega RingEdge, released in 2009, saw releases still in 2017 whilst being more inline technically with the PS360 generation. (Border Break X Zero Plus was released in September 2017. Its not even listed on Sega Retro, which covers most Border Break releases with the obmission of Border Break X Zero).

OH, but they did. (Its kind of cheating, i know.)
lol Panasonic Q is totally cheating

the latest software for M2 I know exists is kiosk software from 2003 showcasing Pontiac / GM cars. It may well have been manufactured and sold past 2003 but I can't say for certain.

The longest living hardware I still feel is either Neo Geo or NAOMI. NAOMI was in arcades FOREVER
 
Oct 26, 2018
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This system was destined to die right away. Similar to 3DO. It'd be a mid-way mark kind of system between PS1/Saturn and DC. 3DO was similar. In between the 16 and 32 bit systems.

I wonder if Panasonic ever made back their money in this. This M2 tech got used in kiosks and stuff later. I tried to google it but couldnt find it, but I swore I remember it being Panasonic buying M2 rights for $100 million. Maybe Im wrong.
 
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