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Last Updated September 20, 2003

Welcome to the BattleSphere FAQ. This document will answer all of the most Frequently Asked Questions about BattleSphere, and save you from having to ask. The creators of BattleSphere have less and less time to answer all the questions they receive in E-mail, so please check this document before writing them with questions.

NOTE: Since this BattleSphere FAQ is a work in progress, everything in this FAQ is subject to change without notice.


  • Compiled by Clay Halliwell:
  • HTML Conversion by Douglas Engel

    Leading Particulars

    Publisher ScatoLOGIC Inc
    Developer 4Play
    Released February 29, 2000
    Product # J9807E
    Media 4 megabyte (32 megabit) cartridge
    Players 1-32
    ProController Yes
    JagNet Yes
    CatNet Yes


BattleSphere Gold™

  • Q. Did someone hack the ScatoLOGIC website and make this stuff up?
    A. If they did, they sure put a lot of effort into it. It took days to create the web pages for this new product, and we had the actual product to use for photos and screenshots, etc. Who would spend that kind of effort to fake something?

  • Q. Is this some sort of terrible Joke?
    A. This is for real.

  • Q. I ordered BattleSphere Gold™ and the Demo CD™ and JUGS™, but I got an email back saying I don't need to buy all those things. Why won't they sell me all of it?
    A. Because BattleSphere Gold™ has the Demo CD and JUGS included for free. ScatoLOGIC is trying to be nice and save you from ordering duplicates by mistake. If you are really interested in obtaining extra JUGS or Demo CD kits, then just let them know that is really your intention.

  • Q. Does BattleSphere Gold™ run from CD?
    A. No. BattleSphere Gold™ is a cartridge based game.

  • Q. Why isn't BattleSphere Gold™ a Jaguar CD Game?
    A. When the catridge encryption code was discovered, ScatoLOGIC took the JUGS-DD™ code they had written a few years back, and started work on making a new title (which is now one of the hidden bonus games) on cartridge with JUGS-DD™ included on it. BattleSphere Gold™ was originally going to be a CD based game designed to run with the JUGS-DD™ cartridge installed. A lot of material was stripped out of the game to try and get it to fit into the memory footprint of a CD game, but it compromised the quality of the game, and networking with BattleSphere™ wouldn't function. When pricing for the new cartridge came in at nearly the cost of the original BattleSphere™, and the CD version of BattleSphere™ was not shaping up well, it was obvious that this was a costly dead-end which few people would want to buy. By this time the BattleSphere™ executable had already been reduced in size enough that it became apparent that BattleSphere™ and JUGS-DD™ could fit into a single cartridge and there would still be a lot of space left over for enhancements. Hence, BattleSphere Gold™ was born.

  • Q. Does BattleSphere Gold™ require a Jaguar CD unit?
    A. No. BattleSphere Gold™ is a cartridge. You only need a JagCD unit if you want to use the JUGS-DD™ feature to play other CD based programs.

  • Q. How many new secrets are in BattleSphere Gold™?
    A. BattleSphere Gold™ actually has about 2.5 times as many secrets as the classic version. The secrets include brand new graphics, bonus hidden games, special features, new special effects, and more. As much or more hidden changes were added as there were added visible changes seen when you first load BattleSphere Gold™.

  • Q. If anyone ever comes out with a clone of your ingenious JUGS-DD™ CD encryption defeater, how will I know if the CD's are compatible?
    A. JUGS-DD™ conforms to the Standard Jaguar CD-ROM Disc Format. This way, it will run any existing title, as well as any future titles which follow the standard. Chances are that all new CD's will be compatible, as no developer making a CD would want to exclude the majority of his CD market by supporting a proprietary CD format.

  • Q. My Professor says that formatted file structures on a small NVRAM are a really bad idea. You don't use one for CD saved games, do you?
    A. Your Professor certainly knows his stuff. Formatted File Structures accessed by multiple application programs are trouble just waiting to happen. One errant program or power glitch can corrupt the entire file system and lose everything in storage. Besides that, the overhead of a file table and all the entries within and the checksums required in vain attempts to protect it from corruption consume too much of the prescious NVRAM in a needlessly wasteful manner. The only logical solution is for individual programmers to share a NVRAM 'heap'. Since the jaguar programmer community is so open and close-knit, there will be much cooperation and harmonious relations in this area.

  • Q. I just developed a game using your JUGS™ Development Kit and now I want to publish it. I don't know anything about CD programming and it looks really confusing. Can you help me?
    A. ScatoLOGIC is committed to supporting the Jaguar Developer Community with a whole suite of JUGS-DD™ support facilities. We offer everything from licensing CD Boot loaders to get your program up and running painlessly, to CD mastering, Duplication, and even package design. email us and we will be happy to help!

  • Q. I am working on a game and I need only 5 bytes of NVRAM to save the settings. How do I get some NVRAM allocated to my project? Please don't tell me I have to go through some convoluted file system in your NVRAM and find indexes and pointers and a bunch of work just to save my 5 measley bytes?
    A. You're in luck! There's a NVRAM heap space allocated for each project. contact us with your requirements and we will allocate some space in the NVRAM for your project. Failure to follow the guidelines recommended in this list will result in denial of ScatoLOGIC approval of your program. The official list so far is:

    JUGS-DD™ NVRAM Allocation Table



    Address Range


    BattleSphere Gold™

















  • Q. Does BattleSphere Gold™ network with the regular BattleSphere™?
    A. Yes! A lot of work went into making sure that the new version of the game would network with the older version. A large portion of the demand for the new game comes from previous BattleSphere™ customers wishing to network the two games together. The only difference when networking is that the older version will only display the old-style graphics.

  • Q. Why all the secrecy surrounding BattleSphere Gold™?
    A. Two reasons. First and foremost, we had to go into stealth mode when it became obvious that someone we had confided our ideas to was leaking the information to competitors. Secondly, the release date couldn't be predicted and we didn't want to generate false excitement for a product we had no firm release date for.


  • Q. How can I get a copy of BattleSphere???
    A. The first batch of BattleSphere Cartridges SOLD OUT  within a few weeks of it's release. In the time period since the first batch was cartridges were produced, the price of the required EPROM chips QUADRUPLED as they became in short supply. A second batch of cartridges was built at considerable cost, to accomodate those who missed the first shipment. At this time there are no more cartridges in stock and the availability of the necessary components is still in question. At this point in time it is uncertain whether a third batch will be constructed.

  • Q. Why can't some other EPROM Chip be used?
    A. That's potentially a good idea. However, the cost of smaller eproms together exceeds the cost of the larger ones. (i.e. a pair of 16 Mb Eproms cost more than one 32Mb Eprom)

    Add to this the considerable investment in designing and tooling a new circuit board to accept the multiple EPROMS.

    Add to this the current inventory of carts ScatoLOGIC has already invested heavily in which accept only this chip.

    Also consider that any new designs with a new layout would risk overloading the Jaguar's memory bus. There are no published timing and load specs for this interface, so any design could be potentially harmful to the Jaguar, or simply be flakey or not work, as it would use chips and layouts not officially approved by Atari.

    Another often overlooked fact is that any new circuit we design would require an expensive FCC approval test (since this would be our first filing, it would cost between $6,000 and $7,000). Without the FCC approval, we would not be able to legally sell carts to anyone using them in a residential environment. If we did, we could face severe fines and potential jail time for violating the regulations.

  • Q. Why doesn't ScatoLOGIC sell the rights to produce BattleSphere to Telegames or Songbird?
    A. Simple. To persuade Hasbro to release the Jaguar into the public domain, 4Play offered that all profits from the game would be donated to charity. Because of this agreement, any company selling BattleSphere must also give their profits to charity. No 3rd party producers seem charitable enough to accept this agreement and produce BattleSphere.

    Additionally, there are a number of strict quality issues which no other producer seems willing to meet. (Full-color decals applied properly aligned, Cardboard box inserts, Gold cartridge contacts, etc.)

The Creators

  • Q. Who is 4Play?
    A. 4Play is:
    Scott Le Grand
    Graphics and game programming, polygon engine, game design, sound effects, and some of the options and setup screens
    Douglas Engel
    Networking code, sound and music engine, cool intro, artwork, ship design, game design, sound effects, menus and high-score screens, NVRAM drivers, joystick drivers, the "story" screens, pause screens, setup screens, and the ship selector, etc...
    Stephanie Wukovitz
    Music, game critic, math wizard
    Tom Harker
    All that annoying CEO business dude stuff, the CatBox, game critic. Traitor. desserter. Ceased participation in 4Play in mid 1998 and failed to fulfill his obligation to build our cartridges. 

    NOTE: As of April 18, 1997, Scott Le Grand and Stephanie Wukovitz were married! Congrats!

  • Q. Who is ScatoLOGIC?
    A. Scott LeGrand, Douglas Engel, and Stephanie Wukovitz created ScatoLOGIC, which is the publishing company which produced the BattleSphere Cartridges

  • Q. Who else contributed to BattleSphere?
    A. Here's an incomplete list, sure to grow:
Damien M. Jones For the "Julia" code he donated from the ill-fated Virtual VCS.
Tom McComb For donating all of the CAD 3D programs to us.
John Harris For all of his feedback on playability.
Mark Santora For his playtesting and video production.
Clay Halliwell For maintaining the BS FAQ.
Bill Longworth Thanks for the 1084 monitor! It was a godsend!
Ralph Barbagiallo For fixing an absolutely horrible-sounding MOD.
Ralph@Cybercube For providing us with InShape, our object builder.
Jer Horwitz For not being afraid to speak his mind about our ideas.
Allen C. Huffman The GOD of Cool Samples.
John Mathiesen For answering 100 or more questions.
Bill Rehbock The GOD of Alpine Boards and general Atarian coolness.
Tim Wilson The man behind our configurable radar scheme.
YaK Inspration for us all.
The guys on the BattleSphere topic This game's YOUR fault! :-)
on Genie.
Various competitive system fanatics Keep it up, your stuff's hilarious! After all, we all know
that the 16 BIT JAG SUX!
Star Raiders, Doom, TIE Fighter, Our 4 strongest inspirational computer games.
and Iron Soldier
Babylon 5 The coolest show on the air right now.

General Questions

  • Q. What is BattleSphere?
    A. BattleSphere is a first-person, single or multi player, networkable 3D space combat simulator for the 64-bit Atari Jaguar. It's also a dessert topping and a floor wax.
  • Q. What is the story behind BattleSphere?
    A. 800 years in the future, the seven dominant races of the galaxy are at war. Stealing a plot idea from an ancient Star Trek episode, they have agreed to confine their hostilities to Sector 51, a spherical sector of space formerly used by the Earth government to secretly test new weapons and starships. Each race has sent its best soldiers and military hardware to participate in a tournament of space battles in this Battle Sphere. The race that wins the tournament will be given control of the galaxy.
  • Q. What are the play modes?
    A. There are 5 unique play modes in BattleSphere:
    Training (1 Console)
    Mission-based series of 20 short levels which introduce the player to the control scheme and enemies within the BattleSphere.
    Free-For-All (1-16 Consoles)
    This mode pits you up against up to 15 other ships in an all-out battle to reach a selectable number of points or kills. You will re-generate after getting killed after a configurable time delay, with a 1 kill penalty. The first player to reach the goal is the victor! This is something like "DeathMatch" in Doom or Quake.
    Gauntlet (1-2 Consoles)
    The player(s) are given 1-6 starbases to defend against waves of incoming enemy fighters, bombers, capital ships and strange things until all starbases are destroyed. Periodically, a destroyed starbase will be replaced.
    Alone Against the Empires (1 Console)
    A game similar to the classic Star Raiders. The universe is broken up into 64 or so spherical sectors. Some of those sectors, close to the center, contain starbases. The outer sectors contain armadas of enemy ships, enemy starbases, and random strange things (all depending on the skill level). Play proceeds as the enemy ships head for the center in order to destroy the starbases. Enemy reinforcements will arrive at the edge of the universe as long as there are enemy starbases. Play continues until 1) All friendly starbases have been destroyed (you lose) or 2) All enemy forces have been eliminated (you win). There can be up to 5 friendly and 9 hostile ships in each sector.
    BattleSphere (2-8 Consoles)
    Two alien races at a time are placed in the Battle Sphere with a number of starbases and capital ships. The object of the mode is to capture the enemy team's bases using special energy weapons... but you need to accumulate kills to be able to upgrade your ship to be able to carry these weapons. Once you upgrade your ship, you can dock with your bases and load up on special weapons. But watch out! If you get destroyed, you have to start over again. Once you have sufficient weapons to conquer a base, and you get through the enemy fighters defending it, you can lay into it and take it over. Once the base is yours, you can go after the next. Be careful though because the enemy may not want you taking over their base and may take their own base down with a last-ditch bombing run, if it looks like you're about to conquer it! A single round will take from 20 minutes to an hour to complete, depending on the skill level.

  • Q. What are the alien races?
    A. There are 7 known alien races in BattleSphere:
    Resemble the human race's concept of demons, and it is believed that Earth legends of demons were caused by the arrival of an Oppressor strike force that was somehow destroyed soon after it reached the planet. They once controlled 80% of the known galaxy but have been slowly losing their hold as they encounter one disaster after another. The Oppressors will do anything to regain their former hold on the galaxy.
    An all-female slave race of the Oppressors until the sudden arrival of the Telchines 50 years ago weakened their hold, leading to a brutal rebellion and double blow to the Oppressors which destroyed half of their empire. The Se'Bab were bred for beauty and obedience. This has translated into extreme xenophobia towards all other races and extremely aggressive, almost suicidal battle tactics. The Se'Bab bare one breast at all times in defiance of male power.
    Appeared 50 years ago and are presumed to originate from a neighboring galaxy. Their advanced craft brutally vaporized a section of the Oppressor's empire which indirectly triggered the rebellion that freed the Se'Bab from their Oppressor masters. The Telchines do everything in threes and are obsessed with the 5 Platonic solids. Their ships have threefold symmetry. No one has ever seen a Telchine and lived. They appear to be transforming space around their empire.
    Lizard-like beings whose ships seem to be alive. They are rumored to devour their prisoners after interrogation. Their capital ships resemble snakes and lizards, and can reproduce if sufficient resources are supplied. Their weapons are tailored to achieving the paralysis and capture of other ships for this purpose rather than simply destroying them.
    Last surviving descendants of the human race, mostly wiped out by a scourge of retroviruses and accumulated debt from placing their entire GPP into developing absurdly powerful weapons. As a result, their ships are based on modified 20th century technology, have lousy maneuverability, but do incredible damage if they manage to hit anything. Watch out for their self-destruct systems! The other races decided to include them in the tournament mostly on the fear that they'd activate one of their many budget-busting Doomsday Devices had they not done so.
    A feline race that follow the Slith wherever they go. An uneasy alliance exists between them, but it has been suspended for the sake of the tournament. There is the general belief that there will be some form of power-sharing between them if either race wins the tournament. The Ocatanut focus on stealth and speed to overcome their enemies. Frequently, they will then share their kills with the Slith.
    The sworn enemies of the Ocatanut and the Slith. They are hawk-like predators who blend speed and firepower in their ships. They are fixated on coup-like behavior and they tend to make a great show of any kill, making sure their victim knows who it was who has beaten them. It is believed that the Se'Bab and the Thunderbirds have been sharing technology.

  • Q. Are there any secret races?
    A. ;-)

  • Q. What kinds of ships are there?
    A. There are 5 different ship types. Each ship has certain capabilities and limitations based on the type. Each race will have certain capabilities or restrictions to further differentiate their ship types. No two ships are the same. The three types available to the player are:
    Fast-moving, but lightly armed and lightly armored. Very difficult to destroy tough opponents with.
    Slightly slower, but more powerful and more heavily armed. Good for general purpose use.
    Very powerful and heavily armored ships. Difficult to kill, easy to kill with. Usually reserved for the best of the best pilots.

    The two other types which are only computer controlled are:  

    Capital Ships
    In Alone Against the Empires mode, you will be able to order friendly capital ships and escorts to attack or defend certain sectors. Typically these are very large, powerful, and hard to kill. 'Nuff said.
    Stationary bases used for repair and reloading. Destroying or capturing these ships is a main objective of several play-modes.
  • Q. How many ship designs are in the game?
    A. Since we know each race has 1 of each of the 5 ship types, one can deduce that there are at least 35 different ships.

  • Q. Are there any secret ships?
    A. But of course.

  • Q. What weapons are available?
    A. There are 6 different weapons at your disposal:
    Basic offensive weapon. Most ships mount multiple lasers, which can be set to fire in rotation or simultaneously.
    Proximity-fused explosives that drop out the back of your ship.
    Seek and destroy the currently selected target. Can be shot down. If fired without a target, fly straight out from your ship.
    Stasis Bolts
    Freeze what they hit for a limited amount of time. Cumulative effect for multiple hits.
    Plasma Bolts
    Basically glorified lasers which do not deplete energy.
    Base Bolts
    Computer virus-laden power surges used as a tactical weapon for conquering enemy starbases or reinforcing friendly starbases under base bolt assault from an enemy. Base bolts have no effect on ships.

  • Q. Are there any secret weapons?
    A. No.

  • Q. Does the enemy AI exploit all available weapons?
    A. Yes, depending on its IQ setting.

  • Q. What weapons do capital ships and starbases use?
    A. Lasers, homing missiles, and plasma bolts.

  • Q. What special powerups are available?
    A. Base bolts and ship upgrades in Battle Sphere mode as well as regenerations in Gauntlet and Alone Against the Empires. You're on your own in Free-For-All.

  • Q. Are weapon powerups bought, collected, or earned?
    A. Earned.

  • Q. Do exploding ships have a blast area effect?
    A. No, but colliding with the debris from exploding ships does cause damage. It's not uncommon to destroy one ship in an enemy formation, then have the debris fly off and destroy other ships in the formation.

  • Q. Do any ships have unique abilities?
    A. No. The speed, turn rate, shield strength, shield recharge rate, and reactor power varies from ship to ship.

  • Q. Are there commandable wingmen?
    A. Yes. You can order a wingman to either attack (if hostile) or defend (if friendly) any target. Wingman commands affect all friendly ships in a sector simultaneously. If you issue the wingman command with no target selected, your wingmen will rush to defend you.

  • Q. Are there adjustable difficulty levels?
    A. Yes.

  • Q. Are there any planets, asteroids, or gas clouds?
    A. No.

  • Q. Can you collide with or shoot the debris from destroyed ships?
    A. You can collide with it but you cannot shoot it (bummer, eh?).

  • Q. Can you dock with starbases?
    A. Yes. This is occasionally necessary for repairing damage and reloading weapons. You don't physically dock with the starbase though... you park outside the starbase, and a robot emerges and ferries the supplies to your ship. If you attack and destroy a starbase during docking, the robot will turn hostile and attack you. If enemy ships enter the sector during docking, the robot will abort docking and attack the enemy (you can't dock while there are enemies in the current sector).

  • Q. Is there any kind of energy management?
    A. No. All ships have unlimited energy, and each ship system is free to suck as much energy as it needs.

  • Q. In cooperative pilot/gunner mode, does the gunner's crosshair "float" onscreen to stay pointing at the same area of space during maneuvers?
    A. No.

  • Q. Can the pilot and gunner fire different weapons at once?
    A. No.

  • Q. Is there lead-computed targetting?
    A. Yes. The sight is a blue crosshair that transitions to red as you close in on the perfect "lead" for the target. There's also a beeping sound that increases in frequency as the perfect lead is closed in on.

  • Q. Can you target specific parts of ships?
    A. No.

  • Q. What radar views are available?
    A. BattleSphere's two radar screens provide front and aft views. This cannot be changed.

  • Q. What information is provided by the radars?
    A. Enemy X/Y positions are presented as they would appear looking fore and aft from the ship (with the aft view mirrored). Distance is indicated by blip intensity. There are different color codes for friendly ships, enemy ships, player-controlled ships, and starbases. Currently targeted ship is highlighted in white.

  • Q. How much freedom of movement is there?
    A. The full six degrees of freedom... your ship can pitch, yaw, and roll, fly forward and backward, and go anywhere in the game universe.

  • Q. Do sectors wrap around at the edges?
    A. Yes. You have to use your warp engines to move between sectors.

  • Q. The Jaguar's infamous for having games with crappy endings. Will the ending in BattleSphere be so amazing I will irrigate my trousers?
    A. Doug sez, "Something that people have forgotten is that truly great games do not end! Just look at games like Tempest 2000 or Asteroids or Space Invaders. These games go on forever, allowing the player to test his skill and his stamina, to achieve the best score. Some of the play modes continue forever and do not end. Of course, there are some play-modes in BattleSphere which do not continue indefinitely, and these play modes have endings on par with their contemporaries. For example: networked Free-For-All is the equivalent of Quake Deathmatching, which has a simple scoring screen to show the victor. BattleSphere does the same. A good game is judged by its fun-factor, not on how fancy the 'end' is. 4Play chose to concentrate on making the game fun and the framerate high, instead of spending a lot of energy adding frivolous endings that consume limited cart-space."
    NOTE: The BattleSphere mode does have unique, race-specific endings.


  • Q. How many consoles can BattleSphere network?
    A. 2 consoles with JagNet (JagLink required). 2-8 consoles with ScatNet™ (ScatBox™ required) or CatNet (CatBox required). Technically you can network up to 16 consoles, but this is not guaranteed to work. Note: As of 12/14/2002 a network of 10 consoles has been successfully tested.

  • Q. Can you network two Jaguars via modem?
    A. No, but it's not 4Play's fault :-(. In Doug's words, "It's the MODEMs that don't know how to deal with the unusual signals which come from the Jaguar. Someone decided to save a transistor gate or two in the Jerry chip and omitted the ability to alter important UART parameters. Someone else forgot to test the signals too."

  • Q. How many players does BattleSphere support?
    A. Up to 16 players (8 networked consoles with 1 pilot and 1 gunner per console).

  • Q. Does gameplay slow down as more consoles are networked?
    A. No. In fact the game actually speeds up, due to AI processing being equally distributed among all available consoles.

  • Q. When one consoles's frame rate drops, does everyone else's frame rate drop?
    A. No. BattleSphere's rendering engine runs independently of the main game logic and network code.

  • Q. How does BattleSphere handle node loss?
    A. Doug sez: "BattleSphere tries really hard to recover from interruptions of the network due to accidental disconnection from the network (you pull the network wire out accidentally) but due to circumstances beyond 4Play's control, there's a chance that one or more of the jags on the network will go deaf if you pull it out or plug it back in at just the right time.

    Due to reasons beyond our control (see modems) the network doesn't really know for sure that it's offline and so no messages pop-up to tell you that the network is down. The game will continue to update your "universe" and will patiently wait for the other nodes to send their own updates. If you reconnect successfully, then things will continue as normal. If you don't reconnect, then the whole game gets out of sync and you'll see bizarre things happening (shots go through things, etc.).

    If the network wasn't such a delicate balancing act to get running in the first place, we would have been able to make recovery from errors much more robust. There's just no point to doing that if Jags can go deaf on you for no good reason.

    BattleSphere also doesn't like node-losses due to power-down. If one Jag powers down, it will most likely cause the game in progress to behave in strange ways. If you reboot that Jaguar you will have to restart the game over on all the Jags because that node cannot "remember" the state of the game it was playing if it loses power. Quake and most other games don't support leaving a game and re-joining it later, so we don't see this as a major drawback.

    BattleSphere has an auto-node-detect sequence which it performs at the start of a networked game that assigns node numbers and whatnot, and if you cycle power, it will lose that info and the node will have to wait for a new game to begin so that the nodes can be reassigned.

    The point here is that you shouldn't have any problems if you don't fuss with the cables or you don't shut off your console mid-game.

    For what it's worth, I think a lot of Lynx games work the same way that we do."

  • Q. How is pausing handled in networked modes?
    A. Team play cannot be paused (don't ask).

  • Q. How many teams can there be?
    A. 2.

  • Q. Can you set an option so you can't damage teammates?
    A. No.

  • Q. Can you switch to the views of other players on the network?
    A. No.

  • Q. Do you get any special notification after killing a human opponent?
    A. No.

  • Q. Is BattleSphere networking subject to interference from Hell?
    A. No. However, in large networks, it may be susceptible to high levels of RF interference.

  • Q. Will BattleSphere still be fun even when it's not networked?
    A. YES!!! YES!!!! YES!!!!!


  • Q. What resolution does BattleSphere run at?
    A. 320x240, overscanned.

  • Q. What color depth does BattleSphere run at?
    A. The title and intro screens are full 24-bit color. Almost everything else is in 16-bit color, and there's a few menus and whatnot with 8-bit color (no need for any more). The game itself is 16-bit color.
    NOTE: 24-bit=16,777,216 colors; 16-bit=65,536 colors; 8-bit=256 colors

  • Q. Are the ships in BattleSphere texture mapped?
    A. No. The ships in BattleSphere are primarily gouraud-shaded. Texture mapping is used sparingly to provide detail on top of the gouraud shading, a technique 4Play calls "Decal-Mapping(tm)". These details consist primarily of race-specific logos and node numbers.

  • Q. Are any objects texture-mapped?
    A. Yes. Some small objects are fully texture-mapped.

  • Q. Are there animated texture maps?
    A. Yes. Ship damage textures are animated with electricity zapping around inside them.

  • Q. Are ships light-sourced?
    A. Yes. All 3D objects are light-sourced. Cockpit interiors are faux light-sourced as well.

  • Q. Is there light-sourcing from weapons?
    A. No.

  • Q. What is the maximum number of polygons per ship model?
    A. 256.

  • Q. What is the maximum number of decal maps per ship model?
    A. The limit of decal-maps is the same as the number of polygons in a ship. Each map could be 1 polygon up to the limit per ship.

  • Q. How many different 3D objects were designed for the game?
    A. If you take into account all of the detail levels of all of the models, as well as all of the debris chunks and miscellaneous bits, there are over 400 different 3D models in the game.

  • Q. How far is the clipping "horizon" for objects?
    A. Far enough that most objects are down to 1 pixel by 1 pixel before disappearing, and those that aren't have NO clipping horizon.

  • Q. Does the rendering engine use load management?
    A. Yes.

  • Q. Uhhh... what exactly is load management?
    A. "Load management" is a corruption of "LOD management" (LOD means Level Of Detail). It refers to the use of variable-detail models. As an object moves farther away from the player, load management switches to successively lower-detail object models, easing the load on the rendering engine. BattleSphere uses 3-5 levels of model detail.

  • Q. Does the rendering engine use MIP mapping?
    A. No. No great loss since, as noted above, texture mapping is minimal.

  • Q. Uhhh... what exactly is MIP mapping?
    A. Midpoint Mapping. It's somewhat the same idea as load management, only applied to textures instead of polygon models. It uses successively smaller versions of a given texture, optimized to look good at a given distance. It has no effect on rendering speed.

  • Q. What frame rate does BattleSphere run at?
    A. Maximum frame rate: 60 FPS (NTSC)
    Minimum frame rate: 10 FPS
    Average frame rate: 30 FPS

  • Q. Will BattleSphere run on PAL/SECAM Jaguars?
    A. Scott sez, "We have tested BS on a PAL Jaguar regularly since about a year into its development. So far, it works just fine..."

  • Q. Does the starfield fly past when you're moving?
    A. No. Moving stars would only be seen if you were moving at a multiple of the speed of light, and if you were moving faster than light, your field of view would be contracted to a single point (see "Cosmos").

  • Q. If the starfield doesn't fly past, how will I know when I'm moving?
    A. Instead of moving stars, BattleSphere has random chunks of space debris flying past when you move.

  • Q. Do the stars twinkle?
    A. No. Twinkling is an atmospheric effect. BattleSphere is set in space.

  • Q. Is there real-time lens flare?
    A. Yes.

  • Q. If BattleSphere is supposedly played from the pilot's-eye view, why is there lens flare, which is only seen in cameras?
    A. Hey look, cows!

  • Q. Do ships become visibly damaged as you shoot them up?
    A. Yes.

  • Q. What are the explosions like?
    A. Explosions consist of several bitmapped explosion animations plus lots of out-of-control flying spinning ship pieces a la Babylon 5 and the Death Star battle in Star Wars. Each explosion animation is 16 64x64 frames in 16-bit color. The ship pieces are not just random shapes, but chunks of the actual ship destroyed.

  • Q. Are there any in-game 3D polygonal transparencies?
    A. All in-game transparencies are strictly 2D (sprite-based). Some of the menus have 3D transparent things on them though.

  • Q. Are there animated ships?
    A. Yes.

  • Q. Are there drive flares?
    A. No. However, engines illuminate in proportion to the thrust level.

  • Q. Are there running lights on the ships?
    A. No.

  • Q. Are there exterior ship views?
    A. No.

  • Q. Are there rear or side pilot views?
    A. No

  • Q. What information is displayed on the HUD?
    A. The following info is displayed, in the form of assorted bar graphs and icons:
    • Shield strength
    • Energy
    • Velocity
    • Thrust
    • Laser energy
    • Pilot's crosshair
    • Gunner's crosshair (if present)
    • Gun firing status and configuration
    • Current weapon and ammo remaining
    • Targeting brackets around all onscreen objects
    • Hull integrity
    • Lock-on warning
    • Missile warning
    • Kills
    • Score

  • Q. How many background bitmaps are there?
    A. Between 10 and 14.

  • Q. Early versions of BattleSphere had background bitmaps of large planets. What happened to them?
    A. Scott sez, "Thank the Jaguar's inability to render fast rotated bitmaps for the disappearance of the planets..."


  • Q. Are the sound effects in stereo?
    A. Yes.

  • Q. Are the sound effects Dolby Surround or Q-Sound encoded?
    A. No.

  • Q. Some "stereo" Jag games have such poor stereo separation that they might as well be monophonic, because you practically need headphones to hear the stereo effect. Does BattleSphere have strong stereo separation?
    A. Yes. Strong. Very strong.

  • Q. Is there in-game music?
    A. Yes.

  • Q. How many audio channels are there?
    A. BattleSphere's sound driver provides 6 stereo channels and 4 mono channels simultaneously (16 individual channels total). The channels are individually 8-bit, and are mixed into a 16-bit output. During gameplay, the stereo channels are used for sound effects and the mono channels are used for music. Outside of gameplay, the music driver is free to use all 16 channels.

  • Q. How many music samples are used for the soundtrack?
    A. This is still in a state of flux. However, 512K (4 megabits) of BattleSphere's ROM space is dedicated to music and instrument samples.

  • Q. What kind of music will BattleSphere have?
    A. Mark Santora sez, "Take the energy of the Tempest 2000 music, give it more of a John Williams tone, and put it in Battlesphere. Now you know what to expect."

  • Q. Are there ship flyby sounds?
    A. No.

  • Q. Is there a computer voice?
    A. No.

  • Q. Does each race have its own weapon sounds?
    A. Laser sounds are somewhat race-independent with some overlap. This might change. Special weapons all sound alike.

  • Q. Will BattleSphere's explosions make me glad I own a subwoofer?
    A. Doug sez, "I think they are the best sound in the game. I overlaid the sound of a 1/2" cannon being fired into a Rubbermaid trash can to get that boomy bass sound over recordings of some other explosions we did. Took a long time, but sounds great."

  • Q. If I have a JagCD, can I drop a music CD in and have BattleSphere use it for the in-game music?
    A. No. CD playing would render networking inoperable, as the CD player uses some of the same internal hardware.

Other Technical Stuff

  • Q. How many ships can be in a sector at once?
    A. There can be up to 16 fighters, superships, capital ships, or starbases active simultaneously.

  • Q. How many shots can each ship have "in the air" at once?
    A. 15 shots (this is difficult to accomplish because the shots have a relatively short duration).

  • Q. What type of collision detection does BattleSphere use?
    A. A collection of bounding boxes, cylinders, and spheres. 4Play had BSP (Binary Space Partition) collision in there briefly but it was not worth the bandwidth it consumed.

  • Q. How big is BattleSphere's NVRAM chip?
    A. Doug sez, "We have our choice of 256 byte, 512 byte, 1024 byte, 2K or 4K NVRAM chips. Which one we eventually use will give us more things to save. The final choice will be based on pricing and availability of NVRAM chips at the time of manufacturing, amount of expected orders, cart's intended MSRP, etc. In other words, I've written code to access more NVRAM than any other Jag game (new low-level drivers). What we do with them is still up in the air."

  • Q. What save-game options are available?
    A. Highest level of Gauntlet reached can be accessed from the options screen; Some Easter Eggs have permanent effects (unless you reset the NVRAM). There are no saves in any of the other modes.

  • Q. What is the control set-up like?
    A. Depends on the setup you have selected and the mode you are playing. None of the setups are as simple as Cybermorph, etc.

  • Q. How does BattleSphere split up game functions among the Jag's many chips?
    A. Doug sez, "That's a toughie, since we've pipelined so much. It would take a whole master's thesis to explain what every processor did and how they all tied together. It is not simple at all.
    The easy ones might be:
    • Blitter - Final rendering of polygons to RAM and bitmap copies, GPU manager, DSP manager, RAM loader, etc.
    • Object Processor - Screen draws and overlays
    • 68000 - Keypad and housekeeping, watchdog, time sync
    • DSP - 1st stage polygon pipeline, networking, sound, music, timers
    • GPU - Game loop, collision detect, 2nd stage polygon pipeline, special effects

    Note that there's about 8 different "screens" in BattleSphere and each one uses the procesors a little differently. For example, the intro uses them in a different way than the main menu which is different than the ship-selector which is different than the gameplay views."

  • Q. Will BattleSphere support the VoiceModem, JagVR Helmet, or Team Tap?
    A. No.


  • Q. I want to make an Atari Jaguar product that works with BattleSphere, or the CD Bypass in BattleSphere Gold. Can I promote my product using BattleSphere as a reference?
    A. You may do so ONLY after your product has been compatibility tested by ScatoLOGIC or a ScatoLOGIC designated tester. There are already a number of officially Authorized "BattleSphere Compatible" 3rd party peripherals and programs. The definitive list is as follows:
  • Procontroller by Atari
  • JagDaptor by Mars Merchandising
  • Black-Ice-White-Noise by Ambient Distortions
  • Catbox by BCD
  • JagLink by Atari (2-player only)
  • Jag-Ads by Glenn Bruner
  • Painter by Sinister Developments
  • Any other product claiming to be compatible is NOT approved and false claims of compatibility could be subject to prosecution. We take misuse and misrepresentation of our products and phoney endorsements very seriously and will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.

  • Q. Does 4Play accept pre-orders for BattleSphere?
    A. No. We don't believe in that.

  • Q. Does BattleSphere ship with a keypad overlay?
    A. No. Not only would it add to the manufacturing expense, but BattleSphere's multiple play modes would require multiple keypad overlays.

  • Q. Will BattleSphere come out on any other game console?
    A. It might, but we would prefer to have a publisher backing such a project.

  • Q. Will BattleSphere come out on the PC?
    A. If all goes well. 4Play is currently in the very early design stages of writing an OpenGL-based BattleSphere engine.

  • Q. Will there be a sequel to BattleSphere?
    A. If sales warrant it.

  • Q. Will there be a CD add-on for BattleSphere?
    A. Not unless someone donates a Jag CD development system to 4Play. Even then, most likely not.

  • Q. Will 4Play be releasing a BattleSphere CD remix of the music, a la the Tempest 2000 soundtrack?
    A. Depends on how many people would buy it, and how busy Steph gets.

  • Q. What is "Star Battle"?
    A. The original title for BattleSphere.

  • Q. Can I put scans of your products and screenshots on my really cool Atari Website?
    A. All data, programs, images, documents, bitmaps, sounds, graphics, and content are copyrighted. They can be reproduced only with express written permission of ScatoLOGIC. This permission can be revoked at any time, for any reason deemed suitable by ScatoLOGIC. Unauthorized use of ScatoLOGIC copyrighted material will lead to prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.

  • Q. When did development on BattleSphere begin?
    A. January 1994.

  • Q. How many lines of source code is BattleSphere?
    A. Approximately 350,000.

  • Q. How don't you spell 4Play?
    A. 4 Play, 4-Play, Four Play, Foreplay, Phoarpleigh.

  • Q. Is it true Atari canceled Space War 2000 after seeing Battlesphere?
    A. Most likely.

  • Q. Is the Jaguar really 64-bit?
    A. Yes.

  • Q. Are any of the pilots in BattleSphere wearing underwear?
    A. No.

  • Q. Can a guy in a bear suit play BattleSphere?
    A. Yes.

Secret Stuff

  • Q. Are there any Easter Eggs?
    A. Doug sez, "We were putting easter eggs in games before most people knew what computer games were!"

  • Q. How are secrets accessed?
    A. With encrypted 12-digit codes (heh-heh).

  • Q. How will the codes be released?
    A. Scott sez, "Unlike certain hoseheads, the makers of BattleSphere have built in the release of the cheat codes such that they are tied to someone somewhere achieving something within the game [like, finishing an entire game of AAtE without ever docking --Ed.]. We actively encourage such people to be the first to post such codes far and wide and to be the first to email that they found them to us so we can say who did what first on the BattleSphere web page..."

  • Q. How many secrets are there?
    A. At least 10.

  • Q. How do the secrets divide up, percentage-wise, between Cheats, Easter Eggs, and New Stuff?
    A. Doug sez, "33% Cheats, 53% Easter-Eggs, 43% New Stuff". Yes, that's 129%... this is due to category overlap.

  • Q. What codes and secrets are currently known?
    A. Check out the BattleSphere Code Submission Page.

  • Q. Are cheats disabled in networked modes?
    A. Yes.


Everyone knows that BattleSphere is going to be jam-packed with obscure references and in-jokes, and part of the fun of the game is going to be discovering all of them. A partial list of known jokes is presented here. More are yet to be discovered!

  • Enemy Races

    Many of the enemy races and their abilities are extrapolated from popular science fiction (good and bad) and other less obvious sources.

    "Oppressor" is Scott Le Grand's online handle. The Oppressors appear to be partially based on the aliens in Arthur C. Clarke's "Childhood's End".
    "Thunderbird" is Doug Engel's online handle. It's also one of his favorite models of car (Doug sez, "Actually, after 'classic' T-Birds. Ford's really screwed them up in recent years.").
    "Sebab" is Stephanie Wukovitz's online handle. It's also "babes" spelled backwards. The Se'bab appear to be inspired by the Moon-dwelling Amazonians that were constantly popping up in 50's sci-fi flicks.
    Obsessed with threes, the Telchines appear to be partially based on the aliens in Arthur C. Clarke's "Rendezvous With Rama". It might also be a reference to Babylon 5's Minbari, who also have a "3" fetish.
    A corruption of "smeg-head", a common pejorative on the British sci-fi comedy "Red Dwarf". "Smeg" itself is a shortened form of "smegma" (look it up).
    Every interchangeable lizard race from "Battle Beyond the Stars" to "Enemy Mine".
    Perhaps the race that inflicted Disney's "The Cat from Outer Space" on us? Sounds like a mangling of "cat" and "astronaut"... but is actually "tuna taco" spelled backwards.

  • Ships

    The ships in BattleSphere, while unique and beautiful in their own right, have been inspired by various designs from many sources. Most ships are true original designs, while others are tributes to favorite ships of 4Play. There are also original designs with in-joke names.

    A reasonable facsimile of Babylon 5's Starfury fighter.
    Falcon 303
    Much of BattleSphere's graphics and sounds were created on an Atari Falcon 030. "030"... "303"... get it? Oh never mind...
    Not just a Space Shuttle look-alike... in the game's story, these really are refurbished Space Shuttles. Originally known as "Ranger 3" (Buck Rogers, anyone?).
    More than a little similar to BattleStar Galactica's Colonial Viper.
    This cool-looking O'Catanut ship is named after Doug Engel's cat.
    Gauntlet, Level 42
    The ships on this level should look familiar to anyone who's seen "Mars Attacks!". And of course "42" is a significant number to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fans.
    Gauntlet, Level 69
    Has a reference to an old SNL character (Coneheads perhaps?). And the level number, "69" needs no explanation.
  • Miscellaneous

    • The location of the BattleSphere, Sector 51, is a play on Area 51, which is where the U.S. government keeps all those UFOs that keep crashing here.
    • The hardest difficulty level, "Starkiller", is a reference to Babylon 5's Captain John "Starkiller" Sheridan (as the Minbari used to call him).
    • The second-hardest difficult level, "Starfighter", might be a reference to the movie "The Last Starfighter".
    • The ancient Star Trek episode which inspired BattleSphere, was itself inspired by an even more ancient Arthur C. Clarke short story.
Copyright 2000-2005 4Play/ScatoLOGIC Inc.