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 Post subject: Just an idea I had
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:41 pm 
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I doubt anybody has the tools for this, but maybe there could be a publisher for homebrew games, that you could send them your game, and if they like it, they will put it in mass production and sell it, and the programmers get paid, and the people who manufacture get paid, and basically, we could turn homebrew NES games into a full fledged business! It would be cool because a lot of people want to show their games to the world but can't because they don't have the tools or the money.


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 Post subject: Re: Just an idea I had
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:24 pm 
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I was first going to say it's tough being a publisher in a niche market, but let's play this game! Some concerns on top of my head:

-The publisher will need to have better outreach than individual crowdfunding campaigns (kickstarter). Of course, a publisher could use such a service and build a brand name.

-Games need to be easily portable without too much manual labour to other platforms than the original NES.

-If sales of physical carts actually would ramp up: To keep assembling game cartridges less time-costly, The publisher might need to set up a workshop with multiple cartridge writers and a software tool to enable a semi-automatic production cycle. Maybe a chain of raspberries?

Step one, Write a batch of carts, assemble a few of the case+pcb:s as the batch is processing. swap carts as they become ready. Have someone folding boxes. step two: Assemble the rest together. Step three: sticker on front. Step three: package. Something like that.

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 Post subject: Re: Just an idea I had
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 3:05 pm 
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You mean like retrousb.com has been doing for a decade now? http://www.retrousb.com/index.php?cPath ... ffdfbd20d8


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 Post subject: Re: Just an idea I had
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:15 pm 
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DementedPurple wrote:
I doubt anybody has the tools for this, but maybe there could be a publisher for homebrew games, that you could send them your game, and if they like it, they will put it in mass production and sell it, and the programmers get paid, and the people who manufacture get paid, and basically, we could turn homebrew NES games into a full fledged business! It would be cool because a lot of people want to show their games to the world but can't because they don't have the tools or the money.

There are already multiple publishers that exist that fit this description. So... perhaps this is your lucky day?


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 Post subject: Re: Just an idea I had
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:34 pm 
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Yeah, AFAIK several publishers work like this, releasing games for many popular platforms. So... go finish a game worth playing and you might be able to take advantage of such services while they're still a thing!


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 Post subject: Re: Just an idea I had
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 6:28 pm 
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Yes, there are several. I was under the impression the OP meant something a bit different, though? (mass production, full fledged business). Maybe it got lost in translation to me

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 Post subject: Re: Just an idea I had
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 7:38 pm 
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It's a very tiny market. I'm not super talkative about it on the forum, but I'm pretty open about my hardware sales figures. It's not very safe to extrapolate from such a short period of time (2 years), but I'd say I ship maybe 750 GTROM boards per year. No one is going to make a business out of those numbers. Actually, I serialize my boards now, starting with my 2nd batch of GTROM you can see how many have been made by opening one up. 2000 of them, collect 'em all. :P And those are all for homebrew-type stuff, I won't sell to repro/bootleg makers.

Could a really well-made NES game break out and go beyond the usual crowd of NES homebrew buyers? I think so, but it's not easy. Battle Kid seems to have done pretty well, even though it's a damn frustrating game. I hope Haunted Halloween 85 and 86 are doing well. I hope Lizard does well, and Owlia, and Mad Wizard, and Isolation, and nevermind, I'll be sitting here typing game names all day. Tailgate Party certainly could have some appeal outside of usual NES players, but since it uses a peripheral it has that hurdle. But you can definitely tell that people work their asses off making these games because they're passionate about it, not for a source of income. A part-time minimum wage job pays better.

As for the cost of releasing a game on cart, yeah it is expensive. That's one of the problems I've been attacking in various ways. I'm pretty sure GTROM/Cheapocabra is the cheapest pre-assembled+tested NES board you can buy, got it down to $9.25 each in the latest batch. I sell cart shells very near the production cost (I was doing production cost exactly, but it's just a headache to calculate because it fluctuates a bit). Because I know people don't have tons of money sitting around, especially if they're been spending their time writing a game, I'm extremely flexible on payment. If a developer is about to do a release, I don't mind shipping the parts and collecting payment later. And I'll buy back unused parts. I'm working on some other experimental alternatives that would make releasing NES games even cheaper.. but that's to be revealed later.

What would be great to brainstorm would be ways to expose these new NES games to a wider audience. It's just not easy.


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 Post subject: Re: Just an idea I had
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 9:04 pm 
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My first gig even closely related to software some 16-17 years ago was packaging interactive cd-roms and educational games for users of the age 3 up to 11. The market was swedish-speaking children only, so pretty limited. The house did everything from development to testing to publishing to packaging; i think a dozen people worked there on a busy day. Where i'm going with this is that the physical end product filled a floor up close to the ceiling in a pretty large room before the shipments were sent to a distribution center bound for supermarkets and malls, and that supported a production house of a handful, while cd:s are cheaper than pcbs, so there's that. I also think they needed to pay a license for a partnership with a tv channel, but anyway. The homebrew scene is naturally much, much smaller than that, even though it is international (it being small is also part of the charm). I'm agreeing a discussion on strategies for homebrew games to reach outside the 'inner circle' may be beneficient, even though it's still a hobby mostly/a hobby for most.

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 Post subject: Re: Just an idea I had
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 9:35 pm 
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Idea 1: Unified marketplace. Trusted* self-publishers and other publishers have one site selling physical copies. Like a mini etsy or storenvy for this purpose. Find all games in one place. Decentralized management of store items per publisher. Concern: Without a common distribution center, shipping will ramp up if you place games from different publishers in the same shopping cart.

*Some sort of invitational to avoid unauthorized repro carters.

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 Post subject: Re: Just an idea I had
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 9:49 pm 
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That's what Amazon Marketplace and Fulfillment by Amazon are supposed to be. But Amazon requires all mass-produced items to have an EAN barcode, which means the publisher owes a sign-up fee and an annual fee to the local branch of GS1, as well as another annual fee to Amazon.

If only Amazon Appstore reached devices with fire buttons...


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 Post subject: Re: Just an idea I had
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 10:06 pm 
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Besides, nothing on amazon ever ships to the EU in my experience :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Just an idea I had
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:47 pm 
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tepples wrote:
If only Amazon Appstore reached devices with fire buttons...


This is getting a little out there, but.. Cheapocabra cart with bootloader, connected via USB to Appstore-capable device?


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 Post subject: Re: Just an idea I had
PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 4:20 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
Besides, nothing on amazon ever ships to the EU in my experience :roll:


Yeah, that's exactly what I'd like to offer with Broke Studio; France/Europe distribution, to reduce shipping costs from Canada/US and provide a better visibility (or at least help with it).
I was really surprised to see how many French people were interested in Twin Dragons when I launched the Kickstarter campaign !

If some of you here are interested, let me know by MP.


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 Post subject: Re: Just an idea I had
PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 4:40 am 
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Likewise, i've been toying with the idea if setting up shop in sweden, with primary reach of scandinavia, with a limit of the EU, possibly britain when the separation is complete. Sending mail to and from GB has been expensive for as long as i know. I wouldn't mind if there's more actors - that might just mean a more rational and environmental-friendly distribution, if shipments travel shorter this way.

For it to work relatively risk-free/low-maintenance, the (work)shop wouldn't keep prepackaged games in stock, but rather a stock of unwritten, unlabeled cartridges of popular mapper types (NROM, UNROM, GTROM), and burn them on demand. Devs and brand-specific publishing umbrellas like retrousb and khan games wouldn't need to prepackage the games, in turn, if a reasonable deal can be made on all parts. Moreover, stickers and boxes take less storage real estate when not pre-assembled. A deal between distros could then be made that if a customer from country A makes an order from a distro in country B, distro A reassigns the task of delivering to the distro in Country B, with appropriate compensation. The divide would be whoever'll have the lowest shipping price to the customer. Simply: the one shortest delivery time and/or price of shipping takes the gig.

That's where a unified shop front might come in handy. A sort of alliance of distros. I don't know if it's feasible, that particular idea just came in the middle of the night yesterday. It would help address troubles specific to shipping within the EU, at least.

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Last edited by FrankenGraphics on Thu Jun 15, 2017 5:09 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Just an idea I had
PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 4:55 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
Idea 1: Unified marketplace. Trusted* self-publishers and other publishers have one site selling physical copies. Like a mini etsy or storenvy for this purpose. Find all games in one place. Decentralized management of store items per publisher. Concern: Without a common distribution center, shipping will ramp up if you place games from different publishers in the same shopping cart.


A common marketplace dedicated entirely to homebrew NES (or homebrew "classic console" in general) games would be really, really cool! Right now, if you want to buy a homebrew game from a publisher like RetroUSB or INL, you have to venture into poorly advertised slightly dodgy personal pages of these guys. It's not really visible "from the outside" of the homebrew community itself.

The fact that you can only buy from US retailers is definitely an issue as well - an optimal solution would be a shop with its own stock, available to ship within both US and Europe, that would immediately reach a much larger target audience, but even just having a common storefront that's better at advertising the games (but really just forwards orders to the actual retailers/publishers) would be a huge step forward.


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