Tower of Babel Dreamcast Tech Demo
The story of this technical demo:
May 1, 1998, 4 hours in the afternoon. In front of the New Otani , a luxury hotel in Tokyo , crowds of journalists crowd. In the ranks, the pressure is mounting. In a few minutes, SEGA will unveil its future console and its ambitions for the future. What could be better than this symbolic place to organize such an event?
The New Otani was built in 1964 to coincide with the Olympic Games of that same year and its prestigious setting perfectly reflects SEGA's wishes for years to come. The winds of change are blowing in the corridors of the imposing building of the company. Located in the Ôta district, and more precisely in the Haneda district, SEGA's parent company is only a stone's throw from Haneda airport. It is also in this district that we find the Namco companies or the giant Canon .
That day, the President of SEGA , Shoichiro Irimajiri is about to live an unforgettable moment. At this exceptional assembly, more than 1,500 people, publishers and actors of the “ Katana ” project, are present. The most important ( CEOs of NEC , Yamaha and Hitachi ) are called to take the stage alongside the President of SEGA . The opening, the much desired opening is there and revealed to the press. That day, a speech by Bill Gates (for the partnership with Microsoft and his Windows CE ) and several demos are displayed, one by one, on the giant screen installed in the large conference room.
The first, created by Tetsuya Mizuguchi ( SEGA Rally , REZ , Child of Eden , etc.), is a technical demo revealing the visual capabilities of the console. Shoichiro Irimajiri's modeled head can be seen slipping off a screen, before spinning around and speaking to the assembly with startling lip sync and realism (for the time). With this demo, SEGA shows the console's capabilities in terms of distortion of textures, visual effects, transparency, zooms, rotations… a real slap in the face that required a lot of work from the small team responsible for its design. Moreover, many had fun with the little nod to the title screen of a certain Super Mario 64.
Then, the journalists were able to discover the Babylon demo (or Tower of Babel , Babel's Tower in English). Concocted by the great Yu Suzuki (with music, it seems, by Kenji Eno ). Everything then runs at 60 images per second, with a resolution of 640 X 480, a nice technical demo for the time. Here is what the man was able to say about this tech demo.
Babel on a real Dreamcast
“We started working on this tech demo when I was asked to do something for the Dreamcast event. We started working on Monday, a week before the console presentation! To design this “ Babel's Tower ” demo, I was inspired by “ Eight Man ” and “ Babel Niseil ” (old Japanese anime) of which I am a fan. I prepared the sketches and other sketches as well as the storyboard [this consists of drawing the sequence scene by scene to know what is happening] in order to define the “scenario”. From that day forward, it took us ten days to complete this demo. ”
“The team consisted of a designer and two programmers and with this very small sample of people, we managed to set up this demonstration. If we had called in a specialist in cinematic scenes, it would have cost us between 10,000,000 and 20,000,000 yen (roughly, between 88,000 and 177,000 euros) for three minutes but we managed to do it ourselves- even without preparation. The Dreamcast is much easier to program than most machines, since everything is already in place (understand by that, libraries). Without being from the middle, it is even possible to understand how it works. If the demo includes around 1,000,000 polygons per second, the machine is able to hit triple without flinching. Obviously, it takes time and a lot of effort, but if you want to push it, the Dreamcast is capable of reaching 3,000,000 to 3,500,000 polygons per second. But we are still to see if the Model 3 is able to reach such a figure. Besides, the Dreamcast is superior to the Model 3 . When we designed the Dreamcast , we wanted to make sure that conversions between Model 3 and Dreamcast were smooth and stress-free. I really think we have designed the machine that will make us achieve this goal. It's true that the Dreamcast is a powerhouse for 3D, but don't imagine it can't handle 2D. It can produce very large 2D. This machine is truly amazing. I can't wait for the players to experience it. ”
A lot of evidence (camera shots, likeness) suggests that this tower and this demo were used for the creation of Kowloon in Shenmue II (the US unreleased version with debug menu to download here)
There are several versions of this technical demo. I was able to count 3. I will not be surprised if there are still others including the one with the music of Kenji Eno .
Release of July 7, 2021
January 1, 2022 release
Release of version 2 dated July 7, 2021 (unpublished)
If a version for emulator had already been unearthed in 2018, version 2 seems new and older (to be confirmed). System information is present in the game that is not on the 2018 demo. The dates of the BIN are different, 01.02.2000 for the first, 13.07.1998 for the second. The ideal way to start this technical demonstration of Babel is to use the "Demul" emulator.
You will find the technical demos of Tower of Babel in the files of all the GD-Rom Checkers under the heading: Dreamcast SAV discs, repair documents .
A debug menu is present, I will explain it to you in detail below.
You can download version 2 of Babel below:
Release of version 3 dated January 1, 2022 (unpublished)
This new version of Tower of Babel has was taken from a Dreamcast development kit. It includes, for the first time, music. It is now possible to play this technical demo directly on a console. As for version 2, a debug menu and system information are present on the screen.
You will be able Download the Katana Dreamcast Development Kit hard drive image under: Katana Dreamcast Dev Kit Release .
The debug menu and development options (Read the Readme):
Dreamcast Set5.20 / MP / PP BABEL for hardware verification 8/8/1998 SEGA ST S.UCHIDA R&D SYSTEM
START: Reset camera color and direction
Directional cross: Camera direction control
A, B, X, Y: Color change (to be checked)
Left and right trigger: Camera rotation left or right
A cursor appears on the screen, you can move it with the directional cross or the analog stick. To open the Debug Menu window, press B. You will access various options such as "Textures Viewer" or "Performance Meter".
START: The debug annotation display on the ON / OFF screen
Button A: Y filter ON / OFF
Button B: Fog ON / OFF
X button: Camera mode change (automatic / manual), continuous or freeze frame.
Directional cross (left / right): Forward or reverse rewind, at low speed, of the scene in manual mode.
Up / down arrow keys: Fast forward or reverse rewind of the scene in manual mode.
A + B + Start can be used to perform a soft reset from any pad.
Sega may have used Tower of Babel to test the Dreamcast dev kits before sending them to various development studios.
Cover Homemade (front, back and label of the GD-Rom) of Tower of Babel Tech Demo Dreamcast to download below:
Download the archive containing the Tower of Babel Homemade Cover
Open the desired image (in PNG) and print there, it is in the correct format.
Attention, important to read:
The CDI only works on the Demul emulator. If you burn it to a CD-R, you will have to play in VGA mode otherwise you will have a black screen with only the music.
The GDI works on the Flycast and Demul emulator
GDI and CDI work on GDMU in VGA mode only
You can also launch Tower of Babel in GDI or CDI on Dreamshell
You can download the technical demo running on a real Dreamcast below:
In connection with development : Tower of Babel Dreamcast Tech Demo version 2 and 3 - Dreamcast SDK, Tech Demo and Development Document Release - Katana Dreamcast Dev Kit Release -Scud Race Dreamcast Tech Demo