NESMaker reviews?

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DRW
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NESMaker reviews?

Post by DRW » Sat Aug 11, 2018 2:36 pm

Now that NESMaker is officially out, have you seen any reviews on it?

Whenever I see anything about NESMaker, it's either by the people who created it or it's some stuff from January.

I myself have no use for the NESMaker since I create my games from scratch (and use C for the most part anyway), so I won't do my own analyzation on it. But I'd really like to know what the people who desired it think about it.

So, are there already product reviews and people presenting the tool in videos or articles?
My game "City Trouble": www.denny-r-walter.de/city.htm

Erockbrox
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Re: NESMaker reviews?

Post by Erockbrox » Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:49 pm

I backed NEsmaker. While I know some assembly I am a very visual person who needs to see a world map and have a level editor for making games. Also the assembly that I know is very basic, I can do things like when the player touches the block kill him or give me a coin in the coin counter. Easy stuff like that.

I backed the early versions so I had access to the version before its official release. I actually haven't played around with the official version yet so my review below is for the pi beta and the info may or may not reflect what the program currently has.

- Overall the program was very difficult to understand without a help guide. There are many hot keys and other small details that if you don't know them then its hard to make anything.

- Many things were janky and sketchy. For instance you can place tiles in a level editor by clicking on the mouse button, but there are other tiles to place in the level that require you to use the 1 key on your keyboard. It is the equivalent of closing a window in windows 7 by moving the mouse over to the X and pressing enter on the keyboard to literally close out a window instead of just clicking the mouse button. Seriously! I mean WTF???

- There are options like zoom in and out while editing on the overworld, but you have to know the hot keys to do this. There is no way to do it by the mouse like clicking on a button. So if you don't know the hot keys then you can't do jack crap.

- The level/overworld editor in my opinion needs work. Currently you can only edit 1 single screen at a time. I repeat only edit one single screen at a time. When I do this I forget what things I created on the other adjacent screens. In Lunar Magic (Super Mario World editor) you can view and edit an entire level at a time (like 30 screens). Just think if you could only edit one single screen at a time without looking at the other screens while making a game.

- There is a graphics editor, but it is so messed up in my opinion that I don't even want to use it at all. Like nothing works like you think it would. Like I try and select some pixels and it just paints over them. There are two different paint bucket icons and each do something differently and you can't even tell that they are paint bucket icons. I tried to copy and past an image from photoshop into nesmaker and it didn't allow this! However I talked to Josh the programmer and I think he will fix this later. In my opinion the pixel/graphics editor in nesmaker is disgusting and I only use the bare minimum of that just to get the graphics into the game.

Sorry for all of the negative points if Joe and the 8 bit team are reading this, but I think I have many valid points. Also remember this was my review for the pi beta and I haven't tested or used the official release yet. Overall if they keep on polishing up the program it might be decent, but from what I experienced it seemed like the program needed a lot of work. Also the logical choices that were made in some cases baffle me and it seems like the organization could have been a lot better. The logical organization of the program is something that I would never create if I were designing a program. Nothing is intuitive.

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Re: NESMaker reviews?

Post by dougeff » Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:43 pm

Currently you can only edit 1 single screen at a time
This makes sense, because these tools were first developed to make a single screen at a time game (which many early NES games were).

Hopefully, if they don't write a multi screen editor, they will allow some kind of export / import system...or at least a preview screen, where you could at least see the rooms stitched together, even if you can't edit them, like a zoomed out map view.

Same with the tile editor. If it's difficult, I really hope they add an import / export feature, since other tile editors are easy to use.

I don't want to "add to the dog pile"*, but being stuck with mapper 30 seems to be an issue with other potential users.

By the way, I was very impressed with the nesmaker tools, and the modular system they built. It might be too early to judge this product, which may be improving with time




*To dog-pile someone is to gang up on a person in mass criticism.
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DRW
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Re: NESMaker reviews?

Post by DRW » Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:15 pm

Erockbrox, thanks for your review.

Apart from the usability of the level editor, the thing that interests me the most is the whole "Make your NES game. No coding required" aspect:

Can you really define, for example, enemy behavior, items and game physics without altering Assembly code, either by a visual GUI or by using a simple script language?

Let's say I want to program an opponent who always does the following:

Running around in clockwise formation, then in another counter clockwise formation, and all this between two and five times.
Then shooting into the general direction of the hero either in a straight or diagonal line.
Then moving in a random straight line between six and 18 tiles.
Repeat.

Can I do this via a simple script that looks something like this?

Code: Select all

(
    (
        TURN(RIGHT)
        MOVE, 2
    ), 4
    (
        TURN(LEFT)
        MOVE, 4
    ), 4
), RAND(2, 5)
SET_HOR_DIR(GET_HOR_DIR_BY_X(HERO_X))
SET_VERT_DIR(GET_VERT_DIR_BY_Y(HERO_Y))
SHOOT
TURN(RAND)
MOVE, RAND(6, 18)
Or is the NESMaker just a tool to create graphics and build more screens for the adventure (or platformer or shooter) template program and every actual game behavior change is only done by altering the real Assembly code?

Or another example: How easy is it to change the slippery default game physics of "Mystic Searches" into a "Zelda"-like "Press d-pad and immediately walk, release d-pad and immediately stop"?
My game "City Trouble": www.denny-r-walter.de/city.htm

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Kasumi
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Re: NESMaker reviews?

Post by Kasumi » Sat Aug 11, 2018 9:24 pm

DRW: https://youtu.be/eHmw8RitQFs?t=20m52s (If the link doesn't automatically take you there, it's 20 minutes 52 seconds in)

It's not as robust as what you describe.

You can also change the movement speeds with sliders. You can see the sliders here https://youtu.be/eHmw8RitQFs?t=7m44s (7 minutes 44 seconds in)

There are parts of it that are cool, but I do think especially the beginning setup is extremely complicated. I also think importing graphics is really, really harder than it needs to be.

Music import seems neat. Load txt, and you even get preview playback. https://youtu.be/nRTRWwJu8jc?t=3m40s (3 minutes 40 seconds in)

I wish graphics were as easy as music to get in. I think a lot of the beginning setup can and should be easier. As it stands I think there are people that might give up before they get to the better parts of it.

Erockbrox
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Re: NESMaker reviews?

Post by Erockbrox » Sun Aug 12, 2018 4:12 pm

I think a lot of the beginning setup can and should be easier. As it stands I think there are people that might give up before they get to the better parts of it.
I took off for the summer so I had a lot of free time. It took me like 2 weeks to get a game up and running and to try and understand the program. That is 2 weeks of off time. The average person works full time and has just a few hours here and there. I could see several people who simply don't have the time to learn the program who just end up getting frustrated with it.

I expect several people to just not make anything at all. This is why I am suggesting that some modules just come pre-made with a character, enemies, blocks already set up. Yes, you don't get as much customization because its pre-made, but at least some people could make a game out of it, where otherwise they wouldn't.

Nesmaker is a cool program because of what it can do, make NES games, but in my opinion it has a steep learning curve and I personally struggled to learn some of the core concepts.

I personally think that it is too technical for the average user. Like you have to be a game developer already to use it.

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Re: NESMaker reviews?

Post by dougeff » Thu Aug 16, 2018 5:35 am

It looks like NESmaker has it's own forum.

http://nesmakers.com

28 WIP projects, and 1 completed (as of Aug 16)
nesdoug.com -- blog/tutorial on programming for the NES

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Re: NESMaker reviews?

Post by nesrocks » Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:05 am

I opened the program, realized I can't do anything without watching tutorials and closed it hoping to reopen it on version 2.0. The interface is too raw and unintuitive.
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Re: NESMaker reviews?

Post by dougeff » Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:02 pm

Same with the tile editor. If it's difficult, I really hope they add an import / export feature, since other tile editors are easy to use.
To correct myself...the NES maker can import .chr files and can import nametables. Here's a video of using NES Screen Tool to make graphics for the NES maker.

https://youtu.be/V2DAFi2-cxI
nesdoug.com -- blog/tutorial on programming for the NES

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Re: NESMaker reviews?

Post by Erockbrox » Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:11 am

nesrocks wrote:I opened the program, realized I can't do anything without watching tutorials and closed it hoping to reopen it on version 2.0. The interface is too raw and unintuitive.
I 100% agree with you. When I first opened the program I was confused as hell and struggled to get the basics understood.

Start watching these videos here. These are the newest ones.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N31cfM2 ... e=youtu.be

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DRW
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Re: NESMaker reviews?

Post by DRW » Sun Aug 19, 2018 3:19 pm

Kasumi wrote:DRW: https://youtu.be/eHmw8RitQFs?t=20m52s (If the link doesn't automatically take you there, it's 20 minutes 52 seconds in)
Thanks for the information.

I'm really curious when there will be general reviews in the form of actual articles or videos.
My game "City Trouble": www.denny-r-walter.de/city.htm

Skrotebag
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Re: NESMaker reviews?

Post by Skrotebag » Sun Nov 10, 2019 11:01 am

Nesmaker license for sale, say £20? Proceeds go to Cancer Research UK. PM me.

Here's my experience of the software in late 2019 using v4.15

I'm 50 and have been a software developer on and off for 30+ years, wrote various bits of the NHS PAS systems, I wouldn't say I'm the sharpest bit in the byte, but I'm not exactly a noob. While the NES platform was fairly new to me, I've been diddling with 6502 since Oric days in the 80's and understand low level stuff down to chips reasonably well. That said, I was attracted to Nesmaker due it being advertised as a fairly slick WYSIWYG tool; just because I'm a green-screen nerd doesn't mean I don't like to take it easy sometimes, I can't physically spend too long on computers these days due to nerve damage (young-uns, watch your posture at work!) and thought I could have a bit of fun with Nesmaker.

Anyhow. I'd read a fair bit about it, understood that it was something of a WIP, but from watching the tutorial videos and mega spangly marketing bumf I thought "How wonky could it be?"

TL;DR - very wonky

Criticism TL;DR - essentially undocumented, very buggy, WAY mis/oversold in its current state

Worth it? TL;DR - worth it to utterly useless, depends on your time constraints, luck, patience, ASM/NES experience and goals

My experience TL;DR - frustration and disappointment

I dutifully watched and followed the tutorial videos, built the tutorial projects. You'd better, as there is literally no documentation, a small, one page html file that just describes what is evidently on screen in front of you before just giving up completely. Literally, there are just empty headings. Oh, and a full quarter of it is an introduction to ASM6 and programming scripts. No programming eh?

While the GUI is certainly iffy (things don't always save) and a complete mash up of sliders, boxes, value fields etc with little coherence, I didn't mind it. It was awful, but it worked, I don't mind learning things with foibles, and I've supported countless WIP's in the past, it's nothing I didn't expect.

What really started to boil my p155 is when I ever so tentatively (after how many hours of videos?) started to try and write something of my own. A bit of a multi screen pac-man clone, really not much of a leap away from the tutorials. As soon as you have an issue you are on your own. Well, you're not, there's a pretty active forum and some very nice people on there. I identified the issue with help, but I had no idea of why it fixed it on one screen but not others, isn't it global control in the GUI? I suppose I could ask the forum again, but I can't just sit going 'Durr, help me...' forever, I'm a professional programmer for gods sake! Really wish I had documentation...

For the benefit of those who haven't sat through all the videos, it's important to stress how little information on the program they actually convey beyond 'do this and you can do this', they're really very thin and unhelpful once you actually want to do something not exactly the same.

Ok, I'll try again using other module bases, there's one without scrolling that's supposed to be lighter. Nope, same issue. Oh, apparently that's buggy too, doesn't say what though.... I'll ignore it for now. Oh, my player seems to be skipping screens. Right, it's a known bug with a patch. Oh, that doesn't work. Forum suggests ASM edits....nope. Maybe I can follow the ASM and figure it out.....really wish I had documentation. The ASM is commented to some degree, but overall you're on your own working out the big picture.

Oh, and this is where I call B0ll0cks on "No coding". If you're having to follow ASM in lieu of documentation in order to get the program to do anything useful (a player, moving between screens reliably using walk/no walk tiles), you are programming, full stop, period, EOL.

Hours down the line it just got to the point where I said, "Hang on, I paid money for this and I'm banging my head on the keyboard and debugging THEIR tool!"

Now, people HAVE developed games with Nesmaker, so it must work to some degree, maybe I'm just unlucky, impatient, whatever, but I think I gave it something like 30ish hours and found my experience utterly frustrating and the tool not at all what was advertised. I've learned dead programming languages and finished projects on awful 70's mainframes in less time. In another 30 hours I have no doubt I'd have progressed, but this was my personal limit and I'd literally got nowhere.

6502 is fun. Debugging 6502 in someone elses sketchy, massive codebase, trying to understand how it all fits together (only to benefit further Nesmaker experience rather than understanding NES/ASM) is not fun.

I just couldn't make it work on REALLY simple levels without taking it to bits, I'd no idea how far down this level of bugginess went, forum posts on the bugs I was seeing just petered out and I had had enough. If you've more time, have later versions, whatever, maybe you'll do fine. The promise of Nesmaker is actually good, I can see that, but it's sold as something utterly different from the state it's currently in.

This is not software that matches its advertising image or description, and to sell it with no demo option is a very poor show indeed.

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Re: NESMaker reviews?

Post by dougeff » Sun Nov 10, 2019 12:30 pm

Thank you for that. I have also noticed some glitches / bugginess in the NESmaker games.

I was hoping they would spend some of the $253,000 to... oh I don't know... hire someone in the nesdev community to work on those issues.
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DRW
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Re: NESMaker reviews?

Post by DRW » Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:22 am

Thanks for the detailed review.

This is pretty much what I would have expected from this tool.

After all, it was invented by someone
- with no prior programming knowledge
- who tried a "Zelda"-like game as his first ever attempt
- who never finished this project and who now claims that his little demo game ("Mystic Searches" "Mystic Origins") is much more than he had originally in mind for the actual game
- who then got sidetracked by creating NES Maker instead of finishing his original project
- who seriously believes that "working on NES Maker is working on "Mystic Searches"" (Yeah, in the same way as carving wood to build a new instrument is considered working on an opera.)

So, yeah, it was to be expected that the NES Maker doesn't deliver what it promises.
Last edited by DRW on Tue Nov 19, 2019 4:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NESMaker reviews?

Post by kikutano » Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:34 am

My question is, why you should make a NES without coding? To me the only reason to make games for NES is to understand how to program for old console with limited hardware, it's all about challenge. NES Maker take off all of this, so why should I make games for NES with a tool? Why don't use Unity or Godot?

Anyway, it seem to be a good tool, but for now I'm not interested to use it.

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