Is anyone interested in brand new games for Nintendo 64?

Discussion of development of software for any "obsolete" computer or video game system.
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greatkreator
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Is anyone interested in brand new games for Nintendo 64?

Post by greatkreator » Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:31 am

Is anyone interested in brand new games for Nintendo 64?

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tokumaru
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Re: Is anyone interested in brand new games for Nintendo 64?

Post by tokumaru » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:04 am

If you're gonna make games for the Nintendo 64 (or games for any other platform, really), make sure to actually use what the hardware has to offer, don't target a system "just because" and severely underuse its technical potential. As I see it, the only reason to develop simpler software for capable hardware is if that facilitates development and/or distribution somehow, which I'm pretty sure is not the case with the N64.

That being said, I'm not very fond of the Nintendo 64, I think that most of its games aged horribly (oh, the era of early 3D!), but the hardware looks capable enough to handle basic 3D games, which made with more modern aesthetics and quality control could end up being pretty cool.

calima
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Re: Is anyone interested in brand new games for Nintendo 64?

Post by calima » Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:38 am

In order to do 3d on the N64 legally, you cannot use Nintendo's libraries and microcode. There is no freely licensed microcode available. Do you have what it takes to write some?

The market is certainly there.

93143
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Re: Is anyone interested in brand new games for Nintendo 64?

Post by 93143 » Tue Nov 05, 2019 3:10 pm

The Nintendo 64 could also be a really capable 2D system, and was very underutilized as such. Weird how the PlayStation and Saturn got all those Street Fighter Alpha and Metal Slug type ports when the Nintendo 64 was clearly the superior platform.

If I've read the docs right, the N64 could copy unscaled indexed graphics with alpha-keyed transparency to a 16-bit RGBa framebuffer at 250 megapixels per second. Loading TMEM with 4bpp graphics you're only going to use once cuts that to around 200 Mpix/s - or, as I put it in another thread, eight Neo Geos. (Of course, that's with no overhead and no other RAM accesses. Minimizing overhead is a real challenge on the N64.) To be fair, the Neo Geo can scale its sprites; doing that on the N64, whether with nearest-neighbour or something more complex, requires the use of at least 1-cycle mode, cutting throughput to less than two and a half Neo Geos...

ROM cost might have been an issue for some games, but with the powerful CPU I imagine some fairly heavy compression would have been feasible without sacrificing performance. Nowadays this might be less important; it's certainly less insurmountable than a 2x CD-ROM reader combined with limited RAM...

On the other hand I don't know if there's much in the way of advanced non-proprietary 2D microcode either...
Last edited by 93143 on Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

strat
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Re: Is anyone interested in brand new games for Nintendo 64?

Post by strat » Tue Nov 05, 2019 8:01 pm

tokumaru wrote:If you're gonna make games for the Nintendo 64 (or games for any other platform, really), make sure to actually use what the hardware has to offer
There's a bunch of homebrew Jaguar games but I found one serious attempt at 3D.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7PzSY6fA_U&t=306s

libdragon is an open-source N64 library that was discussed here.
viewtopic.php?f=23&t=15988&hilit=n64

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greatkreator
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Re: Is anyone interested in brand new games for Nintendo 64?

Post by greatkreator » Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:34 am

Sorry I didn't clarify my question well.
I meant: whether it does make sense to make games for N64 as long as it just has the ordinary modern 3d graphics but having low resolution, low framerate, low polycount, low texture resolution, primitive animations and etc.
The modern 3d games provide all the same but with a much better quality. Higher resolution, higher frame rate, billions of polys, gigabytes of textures, sophisticated animations and etc.
Dislike 2d games which have their own very distinctive style and there is no question whether they are awesome or not. They are awesome and for them games must be made.

My question is caused by my age. I am from the NES, SNES, Genesis/Mega Drive generation. I can't "feel" it myself. That's why I am asking you because I can't answer it myself.

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Re: Is anyone interested in brand new games for Nintendo 64?

Post by Pokun » Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:47 am

I'm not sure I understand the question, but I'm also from the NES generation and I honestly think making Nintendo 64 homebrew makes as much sense as it does for making homebrew for NES or any other obsolete system. As long as you have a passion for the hardware you target and you are capable of handling it (which in this case seems to be very hard to do), I see no reason why it wouldn't make sense. It's a system with lots of personality, so if you could emphasize on that, I imagine it could produce pieces of art that embraces the era. Homebrew for the 64 is not growing on trees so I certainly would like to see more of it. And thanks to the Everdrive 64, it's easy to run it on real hardware nowdays. I'd personally love to dive into 64 homebrew, but I don't have the necessary time and knowledge of 3D hardware to do it right now, and there is no Nerdy Nights 64 to help me either.

I think early 3D games (I mean both the earliest 3D games without textures and PS1/N64 games) have aged about the same as early 2D games (I mean everything from the birth of video games and all the way up to about the early NES) has. Which means that you might need to get used to them first if you are accustomed to modern games, but they still generally play as good as ever if you do. The Nintendo 64 do have a gap between first-party and third-party games though. Early first-party games like Wave Race 64 still looks as fantastic as ever (even disregarding the water) while many third-party games are often dark, fuzzy and low on detail.

I'm not sure it would be a great system for 2D games though. According to interviews, it was designed for 2D games in mind in case 3D games would just be a trend, but I think 2D-objects generally seems to have jaggy outlines. I read it's because the small texture buffer of 4 kB which doesn't allow for very large resolutions on textures. It's the most clear in the 2D menu screens and HUDs in most games, and also in 2D games like Mischief Makers and in games that uses 2D sprites for characters and stuff, like Harvest Moon 64.

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Re: Is anyone interested in brand new games for Nintendo 64?

Post by gauauu » Wed Nov 06, 2019 10:37 am

tokumaru wrote:If you're gonna make games for the Nintendo 64 (or games for any other platform, really), make sure to actually use what the hardware has to offer, don't target a system "just because" and severely underuse its technical potential. As I see it, the only reason to develop simpler software for capable hardware is if that facilitates development and/or distribution somehow, which I'm pretty sure is not the case with the N64.
I disagree -- sometimes targeting a system is just because it seems fun and you want to target it. Sure, you might not sell much, but there's absolutely nothing wrong targeting a system "just because" (as long as you don't expect others to share the level of enthusiasm that you have for your game).

I mean, there are tons of games out there for newer platforms that underuse their technical potential.

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tokumaru
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Re: Is anyone interested in brand new games for Nintendo 64?

Post by tokumaru » Wed Nov 06, 2019 11:31 am

gauauu wrote:I disagree -- sometimes targeting a system is just because it seems fun and you want to target it. Sure, you might not sell much, but there's absolutely nothing wrong targeting a system "just because" (as long as you don't expect others to share the level of enthusiasm that you have for your game).
As I see it, there are about 4 things that justify MAKING games for any given system:

1- You're fond of the system and want to spend time with it;
2- Your game's design is a good fit for the technical capabilities of the system;
3- Development for the system is convenient;
4- Distribution for the system is convenient;

However, the OP asked about interest in CONSUMING games for a specific system (at least I think he did), and point number 1 isn't particularly relevant to consumers unless it's a system with very little community support, in which case even the most basic games will stand out simply because they're the only ones around. Consumers usually don't care about the development process either.
I mean, there are tons of games out there for newer platforms that underuse their technical potential.
Sure, and convenience of development and/or distribution is probably the reason. Highly popular systems like the NES, the SNES and the Genesis that sold tens of millions of units in the past are still being used by tons of collectors, and there are publishers who can promptly release your games in cartridge form, or you can just send a little ROM file over the internet. Current generation systems are being used in millions of households, and indie development is easier than ever (or so I heard). PCs have been used for game development since forever, and everyone has at least one of those at home that can be used with the tons of frameworks that are available for free on the internet. These platforms aren't always chosen because of their technical potential, sometimes it's just their presence and popularity, which translate to bigger audiences and more development tools.

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Re: Is anyone interested in brand new games for Nintendo 64?

Post by calima » Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:09 pm

Pokun wrote:I'm not sure it would be a great system for 2D games though. According to interviews, it was designed for 2D games in mind in case 3D games would just be a trend, but I think 2D-objects generally seems to have jaggy outlines. I read it's because the small texture buffer of 4 kB which doesn't allow for very large resolutions on textures. It's the most clear in the 2D menu screens and HUDs in most games, and also in 2D games like Mischief Makers and in games that uses 2D sprites for characters and stuff, like Harvest Moon 64.
The official controller's d-pad is good. As for jaggies, that's an implementation detail. Nothing stops you from using multiple textures for an element, or sw-rendering it all. IIRC Paper Mario looks very good.

93143
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Re: Is anyone interested in brand new games for Nintendo 64?

Post by 93143 » Wed Nov 06, 2019 2:10 pm

Pokun wrote:I'm not sure it would be a great system for 2D games though. According to interviews, it was designed for 2D games in mind in case 3D games would just be a trend, but I think 2D-objects generally seems to have jaggy outlines. I read it's because the small texture buffer of 4 kB which doesn't allow for very large resolutions on textures. It's the most clear in the 2D menu screens and HUDs in most games, and also in 2D games like Mischief Makers and in games that uses 2D sprites for characters and stuff, like Harvest Moon 64.
calima's right, it's an implementation detail. TMEM is 4 KB, which is more than big enough to give you smooth edges on an alpha-keyed texture, especially considering texture data can be as low as 4bpp. Mostly you get jaggies when you zoom in too far (or if you're using HLE at high resolutions).

Also, like I said earlier, the RDP is perfectly capable of drawing untransformed indexed pixel graphics with Boolean transparency, like on older systems. In fact, if that's all you're doing (no zooming, no blending), you can quadruple the fill rate by using copy mode, which bypasses most of the render pipeline. Nobody complains about jaggies in Street Fighter III...

Transforms and blending require the use of the pipeline, so you're stuck with at least 1-cycle mode for such stuff. But the hardware is still very flexible. Antialiasing can be turned off. If you want nearest-neighbour texture scaling instead of trilinear filtering, it's there. Even blend effects unsupported by the blender, like clamped addition, can be done if you want to mess around a bit, although it does hit the fill rate any way you slice it.

I assume lots of this is microcode-dependent. The libdragon thread has results in it that suggest it is not using copy mode for unscaled sprites, and I don't think anybody (commercial era included) has ever gone to the trouble of loading part of the framebuffer into TMEM in order to get the color combiner to do jobs the blender won't. I get the impression that the state of play in hobbyist N64 development is closer to the "cool, I got something to work" stage than to the deep exploitation stage the SNES and MD have reached...

And yes, if the microcode you want doesn't exist and you don't feel like rolling your own, you can just software-render everything. There's a very credible port of Doom that's literally just the PC version recompiled for the VR4300; it doesn't touch the RCP at all.

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