Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

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Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

Yes if selling, no if not selling
11
44%
Yes for both selling and not selling
2
8%
Depends
6
24%
No
3
12%
I don't know
1
4%
I don't care
2
8%
 
Total votes: 25

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Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

Post by Nikku4211 » Sun Nov 01, 2020 7:15 pm

I've heard from several different people that a big thing preventing people from getting into SNESDev is the expectation that their games live up to the standards of officially licenced SNES games from the 1990s.

I personally hate the expectation that modern homebrew SNES games should match the expectations of a commercial SNES game from the 1990s. It's like people expecting indie games in general to be as big as B-grade productions, especially those made by one-person teams.

There's a dark side to impressive feats of dedication, especially by former nobodies. As more of them happen, they start to become expected, and now considered standard for indie games.

I don't want people to get caught up in trying to make 'better' graphics, 'better' sounds, and 'better' music. You shouldn't have to try to make the next Chrono Trigger, or the next UT2015.

I just wish more people would make much smaller SNES projects.
Last edited by Nikku4211 on Thu Nov 05, 2020 8:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

Post by never-obsolete » Sun Nov 01, 2020 7:42 pm

I tend to agree. Make what you want at whatever production value you want. Even tech demos are neat. Then again, I have no aim to sell anything or to try and get a job in the industry.

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Re: Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

Post by creaothceann » Mon Nov 02, 2020 4:32 am

Is the audience going to use the source code that often comes with homebrewed games? Are the games offering new or at least well-done game mechanics or levels, or maybe an interesting story? Because these are pretty much the only things that homebrew games may offer since they generally lack the manpower for graphics and audio.

For anyone who doesn't care about the source, homebrewed games are not different from other games.
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Re: Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

Post by secondsun » Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:04 am

Developing games for the SNES is hard when you compare it to developing games using Unity or godot. The resources for learning how to develop on the hardware are scattered and are more reference guides than newbie friendly tutorials. Even if you have the skills and knowledge, there are a lot of seemingly "simple" choices that affect a lot about how your homebrew experience will go. Do you use WLA, asar, or ca65? Do you use an emulator or real hardware? Etc.

Once you've sorted the "how" of SNES homebrew, you still have to make a game. Making a good game with a good gameplay loop, adequate graphics and sound, fun controls is really hard and time consuming. There's a lot of testing and iteration before it is ready to be put up for sharing and public feedback. There's work to be done in making a space for new SNES home brewers.

I'm not sure where the best place to start would be; lurking in the chat I see lots of works in progress and small conversations, on the forums I see a lot of very detailed technical discussion, and on the various wikis and rom hacking sites we have a whole range of content. Unfortunately, aggregating and editing this content for new developers is its own skill and separate from game design.

With all that said, in response to $SUBJECT if people have high expectations that are keeping them from doing and enjoying SNES homebrew then we have the opportunity to lower those expectations and bring in new community members. We can do that by making a dedicated community space for new developers and maintaining it.

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Re: Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

Post by Nikku4211 » Mon Nov 02, 2020 8:35 am

secondsun wrote:
Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:04 am
Developing games for the SNES is hard when you compare it to developing games using Unity or godot. The resources for learning how to develop on the hardware are scattered and are more reference guides than newbie friendly tutorials. Even if you have the skills and knowledge, there are a lot of seemingly "simple" choices that affect a lot about how your homebrew experience will go. Do you use WLA, asar, or ca65? Do you use an emulator or real hardware? Etc.

Once you've sorted the "how" of SNES homebrew, you still have to make a game. Making a good game with a good gameplay loop, adequate graphics and sound, fun controls is really hard and time consuming. There's a lot of testing and iteration before it is ready to be put up for sharing and public feedback. There's work to be done in making a space for new SNES home brewers.

I'm not sure where the best place to start would be; lurking in the chat I see lots of works in progress and small conversations, on the forums I see a lot of very detailed technical discussion, and on the various wikis and rom hacking sites we have a whole range of content. Unfortunately, aggregating and editing this content for new developers is its own skill and separate from game design.

With all that said, in response to $SUBJECT if people have high expectations that are keeping them from doing and enjoying SNES homebrew then we have the opportunity to lower those expectations and bring in new community members. We can do that by making a dedicated community space for new developers and maintaining it.
Yes, I understand that homebrew development for a console like the SNES is hard compared to using Unity or Godot for PC game development. The same applies to any other retro console.

It just seems that the NES and GB development scenes have been bigger than the SNESDev scene even before NES Maker or GB Studio came out.

Making a game and ensuring it is fun and well done is hard and time consuming no matter what console you are developing for. It's a lot of work, virtually nobody has the time, and I fully understand that.

The 'adequate graphics and sound' part is again what I was talking about in the first place. I'm sure most people here would agree that 'adequate' graphics and sound means those that are comparable to commercial SNES games from the 1990s.
These 'adequate' graphics and sound take way too much effort to make, and once again, if you compare to PC indie games, some of those games don't even try to impress people with graphics.

But maybe we shouldn't even compare retro homebrew to indie PC games at all. I know that some retro homebrew developers do want to turn their games into a business usually aimed at video game collectors that competes with 25-year old games, but maybe we'd have no chance against indie PC games even if we package our genuine retro console game in an easy-to-use emulator and sell it on Steam.

It's very hard to create and maintain a new dedicated community space for new SNES developers, so how do we have the opportunity to make such a thing? I mean, wasn't the SNESDev subforum made for this purpose in the first place?
creaothceann wrote:
Mon Nov 02, 2020 4:32 am
Is the audience going to use the source code that often comes with homebrewed games? Are the games offering new or at least well-done game mechanics or levels, or maybe an interesting story? Because these are pretty much the only things that homebrew games may offer since they generally lack the manpower for graphics and audio.

For anyone who doesn't care about the source, homebrewed games are not different from other games.
Good point. The audience isn't going to care about the source code of new homebrew retro games, and since we're one-person teams that can't compete with B-grade studios, we can't offer a well done fine-tuned gameplay mechanic that's very, very fun, nor can we offer da BEST STORY OF ALL TIEM or even a remotely interesting plot.

But we might as well not even try to.

Homebrew games usually don't try to impress anyone for any reason, as the primary source of fun with them is programming the games for the developers themselves. Homebrew really works best when it is just a fun hobby for the developers rather than an attempt at a successful business or an attempt at a 'magnum opus'.
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Re: Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

Post by secondsun » Mon Nov 02, 2020 9:01 am

It's very hard to create and maintain a new dedicated community space for new SNES developers, so how do we have the opportunity to make such a thing? I mean, wasn't the SNESDev subforum made for this purpose in the first place?
(Warning, liberal use of the royal we incoming)

We make a thing by making a thing (and tautologies are tautologies). I think the first step would be a stickied post for newbies that introduces the resources we refer to and provides a guide to development for the SNES that regulars can support to some extent. From there we can make a point of producing, linking, and amplifying newbie friendly content, post postmortems, works in progress, etc. We would need to show the work being done so newbies can put together metrics that can achieve and feel proud of. The goal of this would be to create a pipeline where newbies can become regulars and help more newbies.

Another idea is we can have weekly "Work in Progress Wednesdays", "Screen shot Saturdays", "Music Mondays" or other such regular events that have the purpose of soliciting new content and discussions. The actual timing and themeing isn't important as long as it is regular and supported by the regulars.


The 'adequate graphics and sound' part is again what I was talking about in the first place. I'm sure most people here would agree that 'adequate' graphics and sound means those that are comparable to commercial SNES games from the 1990s.
These 'adequate' graphics and sound take way too much effort to make, and once again, if you compare to PC indie games, some of those games don't even try to impress people with graphics.
You've hit the nail on the head. It is easy to find communities on other platforms with a huge amount of "programmer art" projects. Newgrounds back in the day was full of it and we (well I) loved it. Unfortunately with the SNES the majority of the work we reference are the best of the best games from the 90s or rom hacks of those games. If we want to lower expectations we have to celebrate, curate, publish, and promote things which meet those lowered expectations.

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Re: Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

Post by Nikku4211 » Mon Nov 02, 2020 9:33 am

secondsun wrote:
Mon Nov 02, 2020 9:01 am
We make a thing by making a thing (and tautologies are tautologies). I think the first step would be a stickied post for newbies that introduces the resources we refer to and provides a guide to development for the SNES that regulars can support to some extent. From there we can make a point of producing, linking, and amplifying newbie friendly content, post postmortems, works in progress, etc. We would need to show the work being done so newbies can put together metrics that can achieve and feel proud of. The goal of this would be to create a pipeline where newbies can become regulars and help more newbies.

Another idea is we can have weekly "Work in Progress Wednesdays", "Screen shot Saturdays", "Music Mondays" or other such regular events that have the purpose of soliciting new content and discussions. The actual timing and themeing isn't important as long as it is regular and supported by the regulars.
The 'adequate graphics and sound' part is again what I was talking about in the first place. I'm sure most people here would agree that 'adequate' graphics and sound means those that are comparable to commercial SNES games from the 1990s.
These 'adequate' graphics and sound take way too much effort to make, and once again, if you compare to PC indie games, some of those games don't even try to impress people with graphics.
You've hit the nail on the head. It is easy to find communities on other platforms with a huge amount of "programmer art" projects. Newgrounds back in the day was full of it and we (well I) loved it. Unfortunately with the SNES the majority of the work we reference are the best of the best games from the 90s or rom hacks of those games. If we want to lower expectations we have to celebrate, curate, publish, and promote things which meet those lowered expectations.
Good ideas. They really make sense. I wonder if a pipeline model like this has been tried before for other communities...
secondsun wrote:
Mon Nov 02, 2020 9:01 am
(Warning, liberal use of the royal we incoming)
Well, I don't think you are going to be able to do this alone, so 'we' is actually very appropriate in this case.
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Re: Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

Post by secondsun » Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:16 am

Nikku4211 wrote:
Mon Nov 02, 2020 9:33 am
Good ideas. They really make sense. I wonder if a pipeline model like this has been tried before for other communities...
Oh there are whole books written on doing this. The "core" of it is that you have a team of people who are producing content for an audience and advertising to that audience. The team is also responsible for participating so that the community looks like there are a variety of experiences, even if there is a bit of "performance" while the whole thing is bootstrapped. We have the benefit of having a community already, we just need to shape it.

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Re: Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

Post by Nikku4211 » Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:17 am

secondsun wrote:
Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:16 am
Oh there are whole books written on doing this. The "core" of it is that you have a team of people who are producing content for an audience and advertising to that audience. The team is also responsible for participating so that the community looks like there are a variety of experiences, even if there is a bit of "performance" while the whole thing is bootstrapped. We have the benefit of having a community already, we just need to shape it.
Wait... what book did you paraphrase all that from?
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Re: Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

Post by secondsun » Mon Nov 02, 2020 10:35 am

From several master's level classes in online community management ;)

Here's the syllabus :
https://www.cc.gatech.edu/fac/Amy.Bruck ... ing/oc/20/

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Re: Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

Post by Pokun » Mon Nov 02, 2020 6:00 pm

While high expectations of homebrew probably is a factor, I don't think it's really any different from any other console platform, and certainly not NES and Game Boy. Computer platforms may have lower expectations because there are much more homebrew on those (computers are made to be programmed after all) compared to quality commercial games. Quality of commercial games may also vary more due to there being no strict licensing and quality control that consoles usually has.

One big factor that the NES and Game Boy have bigger homebrew scenes is probably simply because these systems sold better. This means more people grew up playing these and shares a love for the system (meaning a bigger audience among both players and developers), and also that there are more reverse engineering done and more emulators and other tools that helps making homebrew easier.

Another big factor is that the SNES is much more powerful than the NES and Game Boy, but not powerful enough that it helps making things for it easier (I mean you can't use things like C or Unity as easily on the SNES as on modern systems). Higher resolution graphics generally means that it's easier to create art, but the SNES doesn't have high enough resolution to make that much of a different. Rather it's harder because the slightly higher resolution makes graphics a bit more complicated to make (at least if you are to live up to the expectations of the platform).
Sound is also much more complicated to make, requiring samples and a different processor with a separate machine language.
Then you have the much more complicated hardware in the SNES.

All this have stumped me many times when I've tried to make homebrew for the SNES. For me personally, art isn't such a big problem, but rather the technical stuff and the programming part, as I'm only a hobby programmer with no engineering education. The SNES has tons of hardware features and a very complicated address map. I find NES, Game Boy, PC Engine, MSX and all the Sega Systems up to the Mega Drive (though I haven't really programmed for the MD yet) all much more easier to create something on than the SNES.
I will return to SNES and make a game on it one day when I'm a better programmer though.

The "why is SNES homebrew not more popular than it is" question has been discussed in length here.

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Re: Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

Post by Oziphantom » Mon Nov 02, 2020 11:07 pm

any project must have a "Raison Detre" - why did you choose the SNES? If you just want better than a NES and have average graphics and limited sound the MD is over there and its 68K means you can just cheap out in C. So why the SNES? For the sake of making a SNES game, great its a SNES great WOOOOO. Most homebrew is wish fulfillment, i.e "since they where a kid they have always wanted to make a game for X". Blunder their way through a NES game is mostly easy enough.A SNES needs somebody who really knows what they are doing, it has traps and pitfalls for the unwary everywhere. The C64 scene lives on "we are going to push this machine so hard, make it do things it has never done before". But to push a C64 takes 1 year full time or 3 years part time. The SNES to push takes 3 years full time. So you make a SNES game and it doesn't look like a SNES game, then why did you put all the extra effort into making a SNES game when you don't need a SNES. Cut your dev time and effort and get the same result on another simpler machine.

While some games lets sale Undertale for example don't push a PC to its limits and they are "spectrum" spec, they are not really "spectrum" spec and push and break the rules. But these are artsy projects that generally find a niche market. Undertale has kind of pushed passed this, but its the exception rather than the rule.

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Re: Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

Post by tokumaru » Tue Nov 03, 2020 5:23 am

The average retro gamer, not familiar with the specifics of game development, will have certain expectations after hearing the expression "SNES game". They will most definitely use the commercial releases from the 90's as a basis for comparison.

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Re: Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

Post by Nikku4211 » Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:05 am

Oziphantom wrote:
Mon Nov 02, 2020 11:07 pm
any project must have a "Raison Detre" - why did you choose the SNES? If you just want better than a NES and have average graphics and limited sound the MD is over there and its 68K means you can just cheap out in C. So why the SNES? For the sake of making a SNES game, great its a SNES great WOOOOO. Most homebrew is wish fulfillment, i.e "since they where a kid they have always wanted to make a game for X". Blunder their way through a NES game is mostly easy enough.A SNES needs somebody who really knows what they are doing, it has traps and pitfalls for the unwary everywhere. The C64 scene lives on "we are going to push this machine so hard, make it do things it has never done before". But to push a C64 takes 1 year full time or 3 years part time. The SNES to push takes 3 years full time. So you make a SNES game and it doesn't look like a SNES game, then why did you put all the extra effort into making a SNES game when you don't need a SNES. Cut your dev time and effort and get the same result on another simpler machine.

While some games lets sale Undertale for example don't push a PC to its limits and they are "spectrum" spec, they are not really "spectrum" spec and push and break the rules. But these are artsy projects that generally find a niche market. Undertale has kind of pushed passed this, but its the exception rather than the rule.
The first question can be answered with nostalgia. I'm specifically nostalgic for the SNES, since I've played those games on SNES9x(a shitty old emulator) when I was little. I haven't played Mega Drive games until years later, so my nostalgia there isn't as strong.

I've also played some NES games around the same time, and on the real console, too. I think I got more nostalgic for the SNES because SNES9x let me disable different video layers, allowing me to get a sense of how each game works.

I guess again, it's wish fulfillment for me, too, because ever since I was around 5, I wanted to make a SNES game, despite the PS3 and XBox 360 and Wii being the most relevant consoles at the time.

So you're saying the SNES hardware is significantly more complex than the NES' hardware enough to take way more time to make software for?

I guess I'd put all the extra effort making a SNES game that looks nothing like a SNES game to use the different abilities in more subtle ways, and because I find it more unique and different. I know I sound like a hipster who's style over substance.

Yes, UT2015 doesn't exactly match the capabilities of any known previous console or computer, as they occasionally 'break the rules'. This is how I'd use the SNES, as it has less limitations than the NES, so I can make a partially NES/GBC-style game and yet 'break the rules' whenever I want.
tokumaru wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 5:23 am
The average retro gamer, not familiar with the specifics of game development, will have certain expectations after hearing the expression "SNES game". They will most definitely use the commercial releases from the 90's as a basis for comparison.
Yeah, and that's a shame that they don't understand the difference between games made by one person and games made by an entire development team. To me, it's like someone compared some small game on Itch.io made by some guy to Super Mario Odyssey(Switch).

Early SNES homebrew games like Shoot Your Load (by Anthrox, no it's not porn) were harder to distribute due to there not being as many places online for SNES development, as well as the internet not being as popular until the SNES was in its 'shovelware-only' era of commercial releases. So of course, there wasn't a lot of SNES homebrew games back then, so there's nothing to compare to.

One point of my rant is that we shouldn't have to pander to an audience as if we are a business if we're not selling our game for $$$.
It just makes me wonder how indie games that are nothing like AAA releases get away with being sold for $10 or $20 (or even $40, Yacht Club Games) rather than people saving up for a $60 AAA release.
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Re: Are High SNES Homebrew Expectations Justified?

Post by psycopathicteen » Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:29 am

Alisha's Adventure would've taken much less time if I had the foresight of every possible thing I wanted to add to my game.

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