Official NES Homebrew Seal of Quality

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Goose2k
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Official NES Homebrew Seal of Quality

Post by Goose2k » Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:51 am

I see a lot of homebrew games put on the "official NES seal of Quality" or create a little spin on it with their own company logo.

Has the idea of creating an "public domain" homebrew seal of quality every come up? Something generic that any one of us can grab an put on our games? Something that gives that nostalgia feel, but also communicates that this is actually a new game that runs on actual NES hardware.

Edit for clarity: The goal is not to indicate quality. It would not require approval to use.

Here's a super quick mock of the kind of thing I am thinking of (I am not an artist, or writer):
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lidnariq
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Re: Official NES Homebrew Seal of Quality

Post by lidnariq » Thu Jun 25, 2020 10:34 am

I wouldn't use anything that visually close to the original seal. It's definitely trademark infringement, although N might not care.

At the very least, do something that makes it obviously parody, like RetroUSB having a cartoon seal(pinniped) in the middle.

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Re: Official NES Homebrew Seal of Quality

Post by tepples » Thu Jun 25, 2020 3:38 pm

I mentioned earlier that Tengen had its own seal resembling what would later be called the diamond-shaped flower emoji (U+1F4A0).

Image
Photo of Tengen game sleeve on dkoldies


(Tengen became Time Warner Interactive and later merged with Midway to become what is now Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, or WB Games for short.)

But what would be the requirements to self-certify with the seal that the scene agrees on? Anything like what Plutiedev proposed for Genesis? (See previous discussion of Plutiedev guidelines.)

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Re: Official NES Homebrew Seal of Quality

Post by Goose2k » Thu Jun 25, 2020 4:29 pm

I think the Lizard one is pretty nice (although is kind of looks like a warning label).
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bngrybt
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Re: Official NES Homebrew Seal of Quality

Post by bngrybt » Fri Jun 26, 2020 11:49 am

I'm kind of a fan of anyone just having whatever weird seal they want. Reminds me of the Tengen diamond or the Wisdom Tree shield. That stuff is just as nostalgic to me as the Nintendo seal. I've also thought it'd be cool if someone did repros of some of those weird old cart shapes as well instead of everything just looking like the official ones. I'd love to do a release housed in a Color Dreams-style cart someday. The grip on those is great for the AVS and BLW-mod systems.

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Re: Official NES Homebrew Seal of Quality

Post by calima » Sat Jun 27, 2020 1:59 am

Plastic molds still cost 10k+. Industrial-grade 3d printing is good quality, but you'd probably pay 10-20$ per cart, ordering from shapeways or similar.

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Re: Official NES Homebrew Seal of Quality

Post by DRW » Sat Jun 27, 2020 5:39 am

In my opinion, self-made quality seals are pretty pointless.


Official Homebrew Seal of Quality:

There is no brand or company or consortium called "Homebrew". So, what should this seal communicate? Does it mean that I cannot call my game a homebrew game if it doesn't have that licence?

Or consider this: Am I allowed to use your seal for each of my games without asking first?
If yes: Then the seal has no meaning since I could slap it on anything.
If no: Why would you claim the generic name "homebrew" for yourself? That's like having a seal for a softdrink that says: "Includes official water."


Tengen Seal of Quality:

That's pointless as well: "The games made by Tengen are actually approved by Tengen." Well, duh! No shit, Sherlock!

Nintendo had a Seal of Quality because they are a hardware manufacturer who has third parties produce games for their consoles. So, they introduced the Seal of Quality to tell the customer that all those Konami, Capcom and Squaresoft games are actually approved by them while the Tengen and Codemasters games are not.
And of course, their own games need to get that seal as well then, logically.

But if you're purely a software developer, what am I to make out of this Tengen seal? Am I really to believe that some games by Tengen don't get the seal, to tell the customer that this game of theirs is crap and that the people shouldn't buy it? Yeah, sure.
I mean, my games don't need to get a DRW seal.


So, to me, only two kinds of seal make sense:


A seal by a community.

Like if we had an NESDev Seal of Quality where the community decides wheher a game gets it.
But this only really makes sense if there's actually a genuine review process and the seal isn't put on any buggy and glitchy ROM that a 13 year old hacked together.

The NESDev community is the place for NES development, so if they introduced their own seal, this would genuinely communicate that a game with this seal is something that will actually work on your NES and will be playable and is a full game and not a one level tech demo.


A joke seal.

Like the RetroUSB "Seal" of Quality that has the animal called seal in the middle just for a pun.
Or some other tongue in cheek or nonsensical stuff, like a seal that assures you that no animals were harmed for the making of this game or stuff like that.
Or a seal that directly parodies the Nintendo seal, but with a twist message, like if the seal explicitly communicates the message: "Truly independent, done by actual basement dwelling nerds, not tainted by a soulless corporation."


But a seal with a generic name (Homebrew Seal of Quality) without any joke behind it (it looks like it genuinely wants to communicate that the game is a quality product) is relatively pointless.

And if it's just for nostalgia, for having any kind of seal like the games back then, take the seal, but give it just a neutral message: "Homebrew Seal" (as in: "This is a homebrew game") instead of "Official Homebrew Seal of Quality".)


Besides, the "Lizard" one isn't a quality seal, just a simple information for which system the game is. Totally different thing altogether.
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Re: Official NES Homebrew Seal of Quality

Post by Bananmos » Sat Jun 27, 2020 7:06 am

A joke seal...
Just wanted to say thanks for writing up the exact thoughts that I think a *lot of us* have whenever this question pops up.

I'm still perplexed to see some people people bringing up ideas to have some form of "official seal" for homebrew games. A large point of pursuing the (pretty crazy) idea of developing for a console retired many decades ago is exactly because we want to pursue a childhood programming dream that doesn't make much sense commercially (unless you do a successful Kickstarter for your game I guess, but even then I think the return-on-investment is low compared to any other market).

Yet some people seem to long for more corporate control in the form of some "approval" of your personal work of passion. That just doesn't make any sense to me.

But I'm all for parody seals, animal or not. They always feel like a nice touch to a good homebrew purchase. :)

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Re: Official NES Homebrew Seal of Quality

Post by toggle switch » Sat Jun 27, 2020 7:39 am

rather than longing for corporate control i think it's more about making a product that looks like it could have been contemporaneously released on the system.

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Goose2k
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Re: Official NES Homebrew Seal of Quality

Post by Goose2k » Sat Jun 27, 2020 8:52 am

My original post:
Has the idea of creating an "public domain" homebrew seal of quality every come up? Something generic that any one of us can grab and put on our games? Something that gives that nostalgia feel, but also communicates that is actually a new game that runs on actual NES hardware.
I'm not sure how you go from that to:
Yet some people seem to long for more corporate control in the form of some "approval" of your personal work of passion.
There is no brand or company or consortium called "Homebrew". So, what should this seal communicate? Does it mean that I cannot call my game a homebrew game if it doesn't have that licence?
My point was simply that many homebrew NES games include a version of this seal. I am not suggesting we create a seal that a random consumer sees and thinks, "Ohhh the 'Homebrew Seal of Quality'! I'll buy this because I know it is good!". Regardless of their intent, the original Nintendo Seal didn't even do that.

I would like to create one that:
  • Triggers some nostalgia.
  • Communicates this is modern homebrew (not a retro-looking Steam game, and not an actual 80's NES game).
  • Is Public Domain.
The goal is NOT to indicate quality. It does NOT require approval to use.

Creating one has a number of hurdles to overcome:
  • Artistic skill.
  • Avoiding copyright infringement.
My thought was that one could be created and shared with the community to use as they wish, rather than each member (who may not have the skills needed) having to create their own.

I'm not sure how that could in anyway be considered controversial, but this is the internet...

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Re: Official NES Homebrew Seal of Quality

Post by lidnariq » Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:05 am

I want the "homebrew seal" to be a cartoon seal hanging on the top of a tankard of beer now :P

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Re: Official NES Homebrew Seal of Quality

Post by M_Tee » Sat Jun 27, 2020 9:03 pm

I've previously expressed my thoughts on seals like these (and other forms of imitation such as imitating box layout, company logos, etc.):

https://twitter.com/mteegfx/status/1179874032633516032

Basically, from the early days of hobbyist/aftermarket NES ventures, there's been a transition that's followed this pattern of growth:
* direct copying (including trademarked elements with zero change)
* imitation (miniscule changes such as wording, but the reference to the original is heavy and clearly intended)
* parodying (heavily changed, but the joke's obvious)
* abandonment (embracing entirely original marketing/design)

This transition can be seen both in the community as a whole, as well as in the individual work of many of its members. As a whole, it's coincided with the decline in the community's acceptance of bootlegs (repros), which is why you still see a lot of the imitation/parodying on bootleggers' sites, but not a whole lot of it in recent homebrew.

I'd say we've been increasingly moving toward entirely original work since 2016 or so. You can also see other homebrew scenes (megadrive and master system) moving through the earlier stages of these growing pains today.

As such, seeing a "seal of approval" on a homebrew would have the opposite effect of indicating quality, instead indicating that it's probably early work (either early for homebrew in general, or early in the individual developer's body of work). (Not to say that some homebrewers haven't come out swinging with excellent work right off the bat though.)

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Re: Official NES Homebrew Seal of Quality

Post by Bananmos » Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:25 am

Goose2k wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 8:52 am
My original post:
Has the idea of creating an "public domain" homebrew seal of quality every come up? Something generic that any one of us can grab and put on our games? Something that gives that nostalgia feel, but also communicates that is actually a new game that runs on actual NES hardware.
I'm not sure how you go from that to:
Yet some people seem to long for more corporate control in the form of some "approval" of your personal work of passion.
There is no brand or company or consortium called "Homebrew". So, what should this seal communicate? Does it mean that I cannot call my game a homebrew game if it doesn't have that licence?
My point was simply that many homebrew NES games include a version of this seal. I am not suggesting we create a seal that a random consumer sees and thinks, "Ohhh the 'Homebrew Seal of Quality'! I'll buy this because I know it is good!". Regardless of their intent, the original Nintendo Seal didn't even do that.

[...TLDR...]

I'm not sure how that could in anyway be considered controversial, but this is the internet...
I guess I was extrapolating from other recent discussions, where someone even suggested approaching Nintendo for putting an official seal on NES homebrews... :P

But my point still stands: To me, the best nostalgic use of the seal is to just use whatever funny parody you fancy. There's no need to create any community effort to rate games in terms of quality - that's what Youtube reviews are for in 2020.

When the only purpose of the seal is for nostalgia, just use the opportunity to do some satire of it. No need for anything more elaborate than that.

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Re: Official NES Homebrew Seal of Quality

Post by Erockbrox » Sun Jun 28, 2020 2:29 pm

I promise you that you can find bad games with official seals of quality on them.

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DRW
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Re: Official NES Homebrew Seal of Quality

Post by DRW » Sun Jun 28, 2020 4:38 pm

Erockbrox wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 2:29 pm
I promise you that you can find bad games with official seals of quality on them.
As far as I remember it, the Seal of Quality wasn't so much an indicator that the game is good, but that the game actually works. Just look at the glitchy mess of an "Action 52" and then compare it to even the biggest crap like "Back to the Future": No matter the gameplay quality, but from a technical viewpoint, all of the officially licensed games actually function as a game should.
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