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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 9:00 am 
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Six and a half years ago, when I released Concentration Room, we had a discussion about the limited complexity of 1- and 2-person homebrew games back then compared to later commercial NES games that had a full team behind them. Since then, I've been involved in such a team for Haunted: Halloween '85. But nowadays, games outgrow even a whole studio.

Via Slashdot I found an article on The Guardian about the rise in game complexity since the 8-bit era.

Today, creating the most advanced, triple-A games has become too big a task for a single developer leading to the rise of what is best described as a modular approach, where different developers work on different parts of a single game.


Video game publisher Ubisoft acquired Reflections, a studio known for driving games, and put it to work making driving sections of larger games. This financially shielded it somewhat from the success or failure of a particular game.

Is there a way for this sort of collaboration to work in the NES scene, apart from the obvious multicart approach? I can think of a couple NES games with gameplay that diverse. The first is Vice: Project Doom (aka Gun-Dec) had platforming, Spy Hunter-style driving, and Operation Wolf-style shooting. There's also Battletoads, which appears to use a largely separate engine per level. Or are there too few NES developers to make it practical to farm minigames out to other developers?


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:09 am 
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Everything is possible with money ;) Trying to do anything bigger with entirely volunteers will crash and burn 99.98% of the time, as history has shown.

I'm not sure the lack of developers is a serious issue, though obviously I'm biased. A year ago I had never developed for the NES, and it didn't take long for me to get up to speed. A couple weeks to get familiar with the system quirks, a week practicing, then I needed to write some tools that took a couple days. Before this, I had a background of a Linux dev with various embedded platforms and random thingies.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 11:42 am 
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After my current projects are completed, I will be looking to work with a team on some kind of large project. NES or SNES.
I've had a few people contact me with offers to contribute music or graphics. I think a group project would be a good idea, and could greatly speed up production of what would otherwise be a year long project.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 12:09 pm 
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Perhaps you could hire a bunch of Indian guys for very cheap. In that country there is a lot of coding geniuses and their country is very cheap.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 12:28 pm 
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I've always wanted to know to main reason as to why there are so few homebrew games, or at least any beyond the complexity of an early 80's game. The worst has probably already past for me in regards to making a game engine and I already know I'm one of the least qualified people here (or at least I was). Because of this, I don't believe that coding is the issue, but creating content is like artwork and sound composition. I know game design would get me to, because it's hard to do anything that hasn't been done before, (I actually have a unique idea, but it wouldn't work on a 2D system) and if your game is story dependent driven, then you need to come up with that too.

What I plan to do is release my game engine and try to get people to use it so anyone who is interested in anything I'm doing could help me (or vice versa, but I imagine they'd want to use their own game engine for that then.) I think I'm a good artist so I could create good artwork, but I'm slow as molasses. I really wonder how many people have used 3D models and had them pre rendered for their games, (like DKC) but then went over them later to make them look more like traditional pixel art. You might have to kind of start over from scratch, but at least everything will be proportional across animation frames and will give you a sense of where everything is supposed to go, like arms and legs. Of course, creating 3D models for a game takes time also, but for things that have a ton of animation frames, I'd say it's worth it, especially if they're really big like in a fighting game.

Bregalad wrote:
their country is very cheap.

Can I buy their country? :lol:

One last thing though, I've heard many people say that collaborative projects mostly fail, but frankly, I haven't even seen anyone here try to do a collaborative project unless they're all PM each other. Why make it private anyway? It seems like you could have a thread about your game (which many people do) and just say what needs to be worked on and anyone can offer help, just put their name in the credits or something. I don't think any of us are doing this with intent to make money, so why not? If you don't like what someone is trying to do, just don't use it.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 1:20 pm 
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Bregalad wrote:
Perhaps you could hire a bunch of Indian guys for very cheap. In that country there is a lot of coding geniuses and their country is very cheap.

There are risks that come with that cheapness, too.

I worked for a company that thought they could hire programmers remotely like that. They wrote a bunch of boilerplate kinda code when he started, and as soon as they perceived the code wasn't being reviewed they switched to doing nothing, just making tiny edits to comments etc. and checking them in once a day to make it look like they ware working. In regular phone calls they'd say they were working on this or that, were just trusted, I guess. It "sounded" like they were saying the right things, at least for a while. It was a few months of this before someone noticed they hadn't done any real work, but we'd already paid quite a bit by that point, and they basically just disappeared and were untouchable by us. Also for the project managers, suddenly realizing that a man-year or so of work you expected just doesn't exist, that was a huge setback. (This project eventually ended up failing, by the way. This was part of it.)

Not saying that fraud is normal for India's remote programming labour industry, I'm sure there's plenty of honest work being done, but there's a volatility in remote work that you have to manage, and finding workers you can trust is one of those factors. There's more time spent making sure they do the right thing, more time spent communicating ideas that a local team would understand quickly, more chances to make mistakes along the way, etc. Sometimes you end up paying the difference anyway just in lost efficiency.

Other times you might get lucky.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 4:54 pm 
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The whole class of "track-and-field" games have multiple game modes that could be done mostly-independently.
Quote:
The first is Vice: Project Doom (aka Gun-Dec) had platforming, Spy Hunter-style driving, and Operation Wolf-style shooting.
Only can think of one with four modes:
Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode: flying shooter, sniping segment, 3d mazes, beat-em-up explorer

Three has a few, you mentioned, plus:
Bayou Billy (aka Mad City) likewise: beat-em-up, shooting gallery, Rad Racer-style driving.

Two, you get a significant chunk of games.

Air Fortress: side-scrolling shooter+ on the station
Blaster Master: platform shooter + overhead shooter
Captain Skyhawk: Isometric shooter + 3d shooter (+ dock with the space station as sub-mode)
(Famicom)Challenger kinda has two modes, sidescroller and overhead?
Contra: Run'n'gun + perspective shooting gallery (not sure what to call it. Wild Guns is mainly in this mode though.)
Darkman: Platforming beat-em-up + picture-taking shooting gallery
Dr. Chaos: Shadowgate-ish adventure + platformer
Fester's Quest: Overhead shooter run'n'gun + 3d mazes (which SNES? Jurassic Park later would also do)
The Guardian Legend: vertical shooters and Zelda-ish overhead.
(Famicom) Layla: run'n'gun + side-scrolling shooter
Nightshade: Point'n'click adventure + 2d fighter
Return of the Joker: beat-'em-up + side-scrolling shooter
Rygar: Overhead, sidescrolling.
Snake's Revenge: Overhead, sidescrolling.
Star Wars: driving mode + side-scrolling platformer
T&C II: Thrilla's Surfari: isometric 3d-stunt skating + sidescroller sharkriding
Ultima series: overhead RPG, 3d-maze segments (see also: Phantasy Star)

Weak 2-modes:
Silver Surfer, Lifeforce/Salamander: Vertical shooter, side-scrolling shooter.
StarTropics (I/II): Overhead RPG, Zelda dungeons.
Xexyz: side-scrolling shooter + platform explorer
Zelda II: Overhead RPG, side-scrolling combat scenes
The Koei strategy games (e.g. L'Empereur have the strategy level, and the tactical battle-level, which are different engines.

These are just the ones I know about.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 5:25 pm 
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Most RPGs have at least 2 modes, overhead walking, and in battle mode.
Many also have mini-games.

One of my favorite parts of FF7 was the snowboarding game.
Ff8- card game.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 5:40 pm 
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but FF7 isn't for NES (well, okay, there is that one FF3?derived HKO).
Oh, right.
Magic of Scheherezade: Zelda-style adventure + RPG battles. (Combat exists in Zelda-like mode, making it more a 2-type than a typical RPG)


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 12:45 am 
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Many adventure games mix in a platform engine or other things.
Also there are many games like Akumajou Special: Boku Dracula-kun that has lots of different mini-games between levels.

Goonies II: platform segments + point and click adventure
Portopia: adventure + one RPG-style 3D-maze segment
Erika to Satoru no Yume Bouken: adventure + overhead walkabout mode
Turtles: platform action + overhead action + swimming level
Platoon: side-scrolling mode + first-person mode in mazes
Rescue - The Embassy Mission: side scrolling sneaking mode + sniping mode + rope climbing mode + first-person action mode
Galaxy Odyssey (FDS): scrolling shooter + overhead action
Kieta Princess (FDS): platform mode + overhead mode
Kid Icarus (NES version): scrolling platform action + platform dungeon exploration + scrolling shooter (in the Japanese version the final level is less like a shooter though and doesn't auto-scroll)
North and South: turn-based troop movement on map + real-time action battles + platform mode when capturing trains and fortresses
Super Mario Bros 3: stage select map, platform (auto-scrolling and non-auto-scrolling both in multiple directions), Mario Bros platform mini-game, lots of bonus mini-games.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 8:18 am 
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Every time I see this thread title I read for a moment:

"Managing complexity by deleting minigames"

...and it makes a lot of sense to me. Every game I've worked on has had lots of extra stuff in the original design plan; there are always pieces of that design that are supposed to be removable as the remaining resources inevitably shrink faster than expected. Theatre often works this way too, where whole scenes of dialogue might be cut to conserve time, sets, etc.

NES games are no exception, SMB3 has evidence of some cut minigames: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts-BYFKB7uc


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:26 pm 
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tepples wrote:
Today, creating the most advanced, triple-A games has become too big a task for a single developer leading to the rise of what is best described as a modular approach, where different developers work on different parts of a single game.

Unfortunately, the new Doom game suffered from this method. The single player campaign was great, while the multiplayer was very... lacking. The in-engine content was balanced for single player, and seemingly left alone for the multiplayer end of things, resulting in a severe gameplay imbalance.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 11, 2016 10:11 pm 
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A counter-opinion though: I don't think it's actually complexity (ie different game modes or mini games) that makes most homebrew feel sub-par. I think it's lack of content and polish. More programmers doing different game modes won't necessarily fix that. It's taking the time to design more and better levels, a good difficulty curve, polished graphics and controls, etc, that will make a bigger difference in perceived homebrew quality.

A lot of old games with varied modes just stunk, really.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2016 7:40 am 
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gauauu wrote:
It's taking the time to design more and better levels, a good difficulty curve, polished graphics and controls, etc, that will make a bigger difference in perceived homebrew quality.

That's how I feel about the whole thing. Out of making a game, I feel coding is the least of anyone here's problem. If NES development is anything like SNES development here, than people have even gone above and beyond what has been done in just about any commercial game (or at least we're working on it. Psychopathicteen seems to be done though for the most part, just some improvements). In terms of graphics, sound, and content though, no. I really think people need to collaborate on just one main game and bounce ideas of each other and improve what the other has done. It seems 90% of homebrew here is just about done in secret, and more than likely, it seems to fail too.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2016 7:58 am 
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Espozo wrote:
I really think people need to collaborate on just one main game and bounce ideas of each other and improve what the other has done. It seems 90% of homebrew here is just about done in secret, and more than likely, it seems to fail too.

How much of the secrecy has to do with feeling that you won't be able to sell something on cartridge if the ROM image has already been distributed to the public without charge?


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