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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 12:04 pm 
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I think games are fun!

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:25 pm 
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I see some people making comparisons to the Atari 2600 scene. Here's the only lasting negative effects I've noticed over the years:

* Some of the C and assembly crowd decided to be prejudice and intentionally hinder efforts
* Some game makers early efforts/tribute and/or novelty games got demonized (usually by the crowd above.)

Other than that the scene continues to grow. Interesting, horrible, "generic but pretty", "unique but ugly" and everything in between has been made with varied success.

Classic gaming evolves or it turns into a negative mess with a dwindling population of "experts".


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 12:31 am 
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I'm pretty excited aboot this, it may very well be the first Kickstarter I support.

I have ideas of an Astrosmash and Ganja Farmer ports to the NES.

How long till the SNES Maker becomes a reality? :twisted:


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 2:34 am 
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I actually went ahead and backed this! This literally is my first kickstarter that I've backed. I like the idea of making games for old consoles. In fact I'm not really a PC gamer and actually prefer console gaming. I only got the software.

Currently there are about 1,000 people backing this. If I had to make a prediction I would guess that only about 10% or less of these people will make serious projects.

Making games is incredibly difficult and takes much more commitment than the average person would guess.

As for the SNES maker, hopefully if people see that NES maker was successful and people are interested in it then others might release their own tools too in a similar fashion.

For example, gamester81 is working on Justic Beaver, which is one of the most advanced SNES homebrews out there. Him and his team that are working on that project could release their tools and do a SNES maker kickstarter. There is a coder who is making a new genesis game Tanglewood, after he is done with this game he could also release all of this tools and make a genesis maker.

It just depends on if people want to sell or share their own resources when they make homebrew games.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:05 am 
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The tools used by "pros" don't even resemble Game Maker. It'd be a lot of work to make a SNES/Gen dev tool fit the easy Maker form, far from as easy as you make it sound. Though for 32k + 12k per module, perhaps some could be persuaded, haha.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:42 am 
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Erockbrox wrote:
It just depends on if people want to sell or share their own resources when they make homebrew games.
calima wrote:
The tools used by "pros" don't even resemble Game Maker.

Yeah, it's not like developers program tools that enable themselves to create their games with a few clicks. Many things in the games are probably included by hand. Also, many parts are written specifically for this very game.

So, there's a huge difference between making a singular game and making a tool to make games. The sum of the tools that you use for one game does not equal a game maker tool.

For example, in my case, I only have a bunch of tools:
A program to convert bitmap files into NES CHR data.
FamiTracker and the FamiTone programs for music.
And a tool to convert text files that contain dialogs into C arrays with the corresponding format that are needed to display the texts in the game.

That's basically it.

Tile values for character animations are coded by myself for each character type. I don't feel like creating a complicated tool where you can drag and drop tiles.

Level data is done by hand as well. Because unlike "Mystic Searches", my meta tiles for a screen do not have a fixed 8 x 8 or 16 x 16 pixel size. My meta tiles are stored by-object:

For example, one meta tile might be a house. It stores the width, the height, the palette index, the information whether it's treated as a wall or walkable space and then all separate tile values.

Inside the screen data, I simply put the meta tile type and its x and y position and that's it: Two bytes per object per screen and minimal writing.

That's why I'll probably design the screens by hand instead of spending a huge amount of time to create a program where I can drag and drop the objects.

You couldn't turn my game into a completely different game without doing a good bunch of at least manually editing text data, most of them in C syntax.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:23 am 
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slobu wrote:
Classic gaming evolves or it turns into a negative mess with a dwindling population of "experts".


While i agree principially, nes homebrew has been on a steady course of organic growth (with the occasional growth peak as a consequence of popular titles such as battle kid, super bat puncher, and i expect HH'86 is one such, too) nowhere close dwindling.

In an organisation, healthy growth is not too much, not too little. You need to have capacity and be able to pass on knowledge and culture at the same rate of growth. If a company needs to establish whole new divisions wholly consisting of freshmeats, that's huge risk as the growth may unintentionally self-harm the corpus of the venture. Of course, homebrew isn't a company but a decentralized network of hobbyists and enthusiasts each with their own drive and aim, so it's more sturdy in that sense. There's still a very material reality though.

New tools for new niches are always good, and i'm looking forward to see what NESmaker and its users will bring to the table. I'm sure some stuff will be brilliant! Though, the cheer popularity of NESmaker might be a potential problem the community needs to tackle in some way - how do we pass on information in a way that's helpful to the new crowd while maintaining time to do what we want? The NESDEV wiki, 6502.org, the newbie subforum here, Nerdy Nights, and this wikibook are the goto resources, but even they are geared towards the technically interested (as has been a requisite).

Next problem, and i think it might potentially be a more serious one. I hope this will not happen, but in case it does, i think a discussion wouldn't hurt.

There's a really limited niche market that i think is bordering saturation already.
NESmaker is a highly effective means of production in the sense that
-it lets you put out a game at the fraction of the time it takes to develop a game from scratch.
-it drops the bar for minimum competence required to make a game
-it similarly drops the stakes in that less invested time, insight, effort and experience is required.

These things are benign in themselves. But i think we can expect (pardon the cynicism and please remember that i'm positive about this) a higher ratio of shovelware, as all these parameters allow you to make a product without experience. Everyone has a dream and an idea, but being able to make good design is a long road of hard earned experience.
When you're able to make a product without it being informed by reasonable amounts of prior design experience, the product is likely to be of questionable entertainment/use value.
For hacking and retrodev, that's what freeware is for. The kazzo bundle, however, is geared at making commercial products (or rather, cartridges in general are because of the high reproduction cost). And then it also really helps having experience doing business and marketing if you're planning on self-releasing.

Worst case scenario (not saying this will happen, just that it's a possibility): KS gets flooded by vapor/shovel/burn, much like the board game scene has experienced with the availability of self-publishing aids/printers (the board gaming scene is huge and a lot more sturdy than the homebrew gaming scene, mind you), which narrows the opportunity to put out your "blood sweat and tears" game you've been making over 3-5 years on the table.

I don't know what happened in the 2600 homebrew scene, but ostracizing someones' creative output just because it was made with a process-cutting tool doesn't sound very friendly - or productive.

Some strategies i can think of:
-Much like the record industry, there might be a new need/natural market demand for publishers to curate releases and guarantee professionalism as far as commercial things go. That will help retro/homebrew gamers make informed decisions and be able to make a fair judgment in what would could be a "wild west" slightly akin to the Atari 2600 baloon market. If you put things to scale, the record industry is a pretty matching analogy - lots of practitioners of the musical trade (and increasingly so with the arrival of cheap, easy-to-use recording gear and DAW:s), high physical reproduction and distro costs paired with the free-for-all realm of internet. + the competition for plain attention is tough as nails.

For individual devs/small teams:
-Make sure your game offers something Mapper 30 + NESmaker currently can't (then again that might not be part of your vision, or a reasonable step for your first homegrown game).
-Get really good at marketing, (downside: spend a lot of time on marketing you'd otherwise spend on design and development).

Silver lining:
-The popularity of NESmaker will likely expand the market itself for new-made NES games too, as more retro gamers become aware of the homebrew scene.

Lastly, a philosophical question:
-Is it really homebrew if it wasn't bedroom coded? "Indie" seems more appropriate somehow.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 8:37 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:

I don't know what happened in the 2600 homebrew scene, but ostracizing someones' creative output just because it was made with a process-cutting tool doesn't sound very friendly - or productive.


In 2600 land, Batari Basic made it really easy for people to make games. Like NES Maker, a talented and dedicated developer can make something awesome with it, or somebody can just release some quick and dirty garbage. It's a little bit different from NES Maker (Because it still requires programming), but it does handle all the hard work for you, so that making an Atari game becomes a breeze.

But the 2600 homebrew scene is still thriving, despite the existence of some quick and dirty garbage games. The biggest differences, as far as I can tell, are:

1. With more games, very few people buy EVERYTHING that gets released (which means that sales of any given game would be a bit less)
2. Games get noticed based on quality of the game instead of just by existing.

If you make a good game (either in plain assembly or using Batari Basic), people will notice it, play it, and buy it. If you make trash (in either assembly or basic), people might not.

The other interesting thing with the 2600 scene is that there's really a single publisher, AtariAge, that's well respected. Al (the guy that runs it) does a pretty good job of curating things so that it's not filled with garbage. That's nice for developers and buyers. As a developer, if AA picks up your game, it's good advertising for you. As a buyer, you know if you buy from AA, you won't get total trash.

Another big difference in the Atari homebrew world is that more developers give away their roms for free (even if they also sell a cart). I don't know how that impacts things sales-wise. (my suspicion is that it doesn't decrease sales as much as you might think, but I have no idea)

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:49 am 
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All I know is, when I first arrived on nesdev I mentally prepared myself for the scene *already* being flooded with great titles and that it might be really hard to make something that would even get noticed at all. I got lucky and got in early apparently, but now that nesmaker is coming along I realize I never did this for any external reasons whatsoever, I create because I must. It's what my old friend Ted calls an "imperative to create." If nesmaker completely saturates the market and my planned kickstarter fails and I am able to only produce 5 copies of my next game for close friends, so be it, I am going to complete the game anyway. The very act of creating and playing my own game is the #1 reason why I do this to begin with. In this social media drenched world it is actually pretty challenging to maintain this attitude since from all angles the world seems to be screaming: "MAKE A BIG DEAL OUT OF YOURSELF"; but I am using all my strength to do so (maintain the attitude of create for its own sake) because I don't think I'd remain sane doing this for any other reason, financial or social or otherwise.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:25 am 
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Well, this brings up another point...

I like to do things that haven't been done yet. I don't want to remake a game that already exists.

If 100 people make a sci-fi RPG NES game, then I would be 99% less likely to make one. I would make something else, but not that.

Also, with the low quality issue is another problem. You get lost in the flood. When lunar magic came out, 1000 Super Mario World versions came out. 900 of which are probably not good. Which ones? There might be some website that tracks all the releases, and ranks them, but it's very slow to try to figure it out for a casual observer.

But, with so much output, you might get 2-3 really good games coming out. That would be cool.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:29 am 
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dougeff wrote:
Also, with the low quality issue is another problem. You get lost in the flood. When lunar magic came out, 1000 Super Mario World versions came out. 900 of which are probably not good. Which ones? There might be some website that tracks all the releases, and ranks them, but it's very slow to try to figure it out for a casual observer.

Console Proles would argue that this is part of why consoles have lockout chips, so that the console maker can sort out the absolute crap and allow desirable games to surface more easily.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:47 am 
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dougeff wrote:
Well, this brings up another point...

I like to do things that haven't been done yet. I don't want to remake a game that already exists.

If 100 people make a sci-fi RPG NES game, then I would be 99% less likely to make one. I would make something else, but not that.

A planned future title of mine will be in the style of Dragon Warrior 1. nesmaker presumably will be able to pump out games like this easily, yet, I am still planning to do the entire thing myself including the engine even if it functionally seems 100% the same as what nesmaker could make. This is truly proof to me I do this for no other primary reason than the pleasure of coding and creating, itself. Everything else is just extra. Even if there are 100 similar games out, I'm still willing to compete against those, because I believe in my ability to tell a unique story, write good music, etc.

Coming up with original gameplay mechanics is something I still find confounding. I know some have said the owl in my game is original, but I mean it's not really, tons of games with familiars already existed (Mega Man 5, Shatterhand, 8 Eyes, and probably others). I have one idea for an original puzzle game, which I've attempted to mock up in pico 8, but I have yet to unearth any "game" there.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:58 am 
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The only thing that bothers me is that a large percentage of "newbies" who would otherwise stick with 6502/C and NES tutorials until they got proficient enough to develop their own games will simply give up on that and be satisfied with "only" a game in the mold of what NesMaker will potentially offer, much like how 95% of RPG Maker games look and play the same. I really don't want to see the "learning how to program old consoles is archaic, a waste of time and borderline wizardry" mindset coming back with full strength after the organic growth of programmers and projects for the NES we had with so many new people coming in willing to learn and produce a finished game.

gauauu wrote:
But the 2600 homebrew scene is still thriving, despite the existence of some quick and dirty garbage games.


Which doesn't mean much when 90% of the console's contemporary library was shovelware already :P

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:13 am 
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GradualGames wrote:
I know some have said the owl in my game is original, but I mean it's not really, tons of games with familiars already existed

I think the uniqueness is that you've combined a familiar subgame with a boomerang subgame. Not to mention the inventory/ability subgame. Shatterhand as an example doesn't do that. Often, unique features are "simply" new combinations of smaller, non-unique features. Identifying and combining subgames can sometimes be the key.

re: what drives a homebrewer - I think we can all agree the personal drive for homebrewing is varied. Some want to show off technical feats or elegant code, others want to tell a story, somebody wants to create for the sake of creating, others show and tell. Some are building up a portfolio, some might take a few hours off work from what profit margin there is to justify the time it takes, others needs a noncommercial hobby distinguished from work.

I think some of the old timers on this forum dropped off eventually because maybe they were primarily interested in uncovering the nooks and crannies of NES programming, but that's speculation on my side.

For me, physical release and knowing people enjoy something i've been part of doing are strong drives. I also take great pride in whenever i manage to become better at what i do, but the kick isn't as sweet if i hide it in my drawer on some drive. I should know since i've hidden much of my creative output there for a long part of my life. Oh, and i definitely want at least a solid percentage of my efforts to be recognized in the form of hundreds of copies eventually, i don't know why. It's just the way i tick.

punch wrote:
I really don't want to see the "learning how to program old consoles is archaic, a waste of time and borderline wizardry" mindset coming back with full strength after the organic growth of programmers and projects for the NES we had with so many new people coming in willing to learn and produce a finished game.

I sympathize with this sentiment.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:22 am 
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Contrasting the nes scene with the atari scene, I'm willing to bet there will be far fewer games made with nesmaker relative to this scene than batari basic games relative to the atari scene, simply because of the asset complexity involved with making an nes game. Even with the coding done for you, you still have a TON of work to do. I'd almost say coding is a fairly small portion of an overall game's project lifecycle.

One interesting thing I noticed is an awful lot of people on nesmaker's KS page and facebook page have asked about having some kind of asset store they can just piece a game together with. They have made no such promise, just tools for creating assets. I suppose it's possible with the extra funding they will wind up offering this anyway though.


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