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Programming IT Technology Entertainment Games

Students Create DS Game to Scoop Dev Prize 29

Posted by Zonk
from the nicely-done dept.
VonSnouty writes "We've heard a lot about how Valve's Portal was originally a Digipen student project, and Microsoft is also looking to tap the amateur scene by opening up its dev environment, XNA. But creating a prototype for a DS game? That's ambitious. A team of students in Scotland has just won a prestigious competition doing exactly that though, albeit using a Wacom tablet and a PC. The gameplay is an innovative mix of Pikmin, Pic Pax and Mario, and sounds pretty cool."
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Students Create DS Game to Scoop Dev Prize

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  • development kit (Score:2, Informative)

    by stsp (979375)

    From TFA:

    Go on, somebody give him a development kit.

    Here you go [devkitpro.org].

  • My group at Tech's trying to do a DS Port too, although it probably won't look as fancy since we're just aiming to make a drawing program out of it.

    Glad to see we're not the first.
    • by dslauson (914147)
      Why would you be "glad to see you're not the first"? Is it not a desireable thing to be the first to do something innovative?

      "Whew. I sure am glad somebody beat me to the punch. That would have been aweful if I had done it first".
      • by mcmonkey (96054)

        Why would you be "glad to see you're not the first"? Is it not a desireable thing to be the first to do something innovative?

        I can see situations where it may be conforting to not be first, if only for the confort of knowing at least one other person in the world shares the same brand of mental illness.

        Am I the only one who's walked into an empty conference room and wondered, am I first or was the meeting moved and nobody told me?

  • by stsp (979375) on Friday September 01, 2006 @11:21AM (#16024253) Homepage

    From TFA:

    Nintendo machines are traditionally hard for established companies to get a foothold on, let alone students.

    Well, I'm a student, too, and I'm working on the port of Linux to the DS. And no, we do not have an official development kit. We use gcc and tools supplied by the homebrew community.

    And there are countless others who are developing games and other applications, too. I'd say most of them are students. See here [dev-scene.com]

    Another difference to what TFA describes and the homebrew scene is that the homebrew scene is largely open source.

    Since the team couldn't actually get hold of a DS development kit, Metalheads was made on a PC using a Wacom tablet in place of a touchscreen.

    Doh. They obviously haven't informed themselves well before writing the game. They could have written it for real hardware and tested it on real hardware. See here [devkitpro.org]

    • by kwayle (767043)
      However this was written for the Dare to be digital Competition. http://www.daretobedigital.com/ [daretobedigital.com]

      Much easier to write it on a notebook and be able to take screenshots/videos to show the judges and not to mention sticking it on a projector rather than to get them all to crowd around the one ds that you've flashed so you can run your own code on. So maybe they though about it a lot more than you give them credit for.
      • by stsp (979375)

        Much easier to write it on a notebook and be able to take screenshots/videos to show the judges and not to mention sticking it on a projector

        Point taken.

        rather than to get them all to crowd around the one ds that you've flashed so you can run your own code on.

        It could still be argued that a game designed for the DS should be presented on a DS nonetheless. The judges should take the time to give the game a spin on a real DS if they could.

        And you don't need to modify (or flash, as you put it) the DS

  • Well... (Score:4, Informative)

    by JMZero (449047) on Friday September 01, 2006 @11:28AM (#16024304) Homepage
    DS development is quite pleasant and easy to get into. It's about $80 in hardware (for a flash GBA card - $40 more if you can't find a proper Wifi card to run WifiMe) - or free if you're satisfied with emulation (which you probably shouldn't be). The hardware has a few tricks, but so does every platform. The information on development is extremely easy to find (try "Google") - there's plenty of tutorials, samples, and what not to get you started.

    The game itself looks ambitious and was probably a fair bit of work - but claiming he can't do it on the DS without help is decidedly unambitious if you ask me. Of consoles for homebrew, the DS has to be one of the most well documented/easiest platforms you'll find.
    • by tepples (727027)

      It's about $80 in hardware (for a flash GBA card - $40 more if you can't find a proper Wifi card to run WifiMe)

      Actually it's not 40 USD more, and WiFiMe works only with DS systems from before 2005 Q4. What you see is what you need [jk0.org]:

      • DS Lite: $130
      • MAX Media Launcher: $25
      • GBA Movie Player: $25
      • CF card: $15
      • CF writer: $14
      • Set of precision screwdrivers: $1
      • Paperclips and cellophane tape: Steal them from the office
  • Myth (Score:4, Informative)

    by stonecypher (118140) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .rehpycenots.> on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:02PM (#16024535) Homepage Journal
    You know, it's not actually that difficult to get into DS game development at all. The only significant hurdle is finding someone to pay to do the actual cart manufacturing. It's not god-awfully expensive, but it's more than I had originally expected; I wish I wasn't NDA bound to not give a number, but you can work out an upper bound with some common sense, and I'll just say "it's near that upper bound." If you can convince the people at Nintendo that you're not just going to turn around and sell the SDK, they'll usually sell you one for much cheaper than the price they quote on http://warioworld.com/ [warioworld.com]. If you'd rather take the simple route and jus get going, the homebrew SDK [devkitpro.org] is free, is GCC, and is quite easy to use.
    • Just out of curiousity, did you show nintendo a homebrew demo of some sort to get the SDK? Or did you take another route?
    • Erm complete BS. You not only need cart manufacturing, you need a license from Nintendo. You _need_ a devkit (with compiler/linker and binary signing tools) and you _need_ a marketing/packaging company. Unless you have a million lying around, this is _well_ beyond your average homebrew and indie effort.

      In fact, the license from Nintendo is one of the most expensive components - and usually why you go through a licensed publisher to get the appropriate licensing. The marketing and manufacturing of the cart i
      • Re:Myth (Score:5, Informative)

        by stonecypher (118140) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .rehpycenots.> on Saturday September 02, 2006 @08:02PM (#16031160) Homepage Journal
        Erm complete BS.

        Yeah, I do this for a living, thanks.

        You not only need cart manufacturing, you need a license from Nintendo.

        Which they will happily give to anyone who can afford manufacturing. Takes about a week. Ask Sandy Hatcher at NOA for details.

        You _need_ a devkit

        No, you don't. The devkit is built on CodeWarrior. Nintendo allows GCC and RVCT binaries instead. There is no requirement to use any official tools except when working with the Wifi Connection. Of course, since in context I was talking about an amateur, this doesn't actually matter.

        (with compiler/linker and binary signing tools)

        Uh, developers don't get signing tools; if they did the signature would long since be leaked. We get DSes that don't make the signature check in the first place, instead.

        and you _need_ a marketing/packaging company.

        There is no requirement to have a marketing company, whether or not it's good business sense, and Nintendo handles the packaging whether you want them to or not.

        Unless you have a million lying around, this is _well_ beyond your average homebrew and indie effort.

        Actually, the minimum run of demo carts is currently 1700 units. You can have your game manufactured for roughly the price of a Honda.

        In fact, the license from Nintendo is one of the most expensive components

        There is no fee for the license at all. It's the SDK which costs money. Warioworld tells you it's $10k, but Nintendo almost always cuts a major break on the price.

        and usually why you go through a licensed publisher to get the appropriate licensing

        Wrong. It's about the price of manufacturing, like I said.

        The marketing and manufacturing of the cart is also higly expensive

        Marketing costs on a AAA game are generally in the neighborhood of $300k. Manufacturing is generally closer to $5m. Please stop pretending to know things you don't actually know.

        Nintendo and other manufacturers also require a minimum run of 10,000 units.

        On the DS it's 1700. On the GameCube it's 450. On the Gameboy Advance it's 500. These numbers are publically available on warioworld.com [warioworld.com]. On the Playstation 2 it's 2000. On the XBox it's 1500. On the XBox 360 it's 2500. On the PSP it's 3000. Please stop pretending to know things you don't actually know.

        To actually do all this from scratch, is pretty rare.

        True. So what? We're talking about a few guys making a demo on a machine, not how to publish. Way to get off on a tangent about nothing.

        Btw - the NDA for Nintendo doesnt bind you to not giving the price per cart

        Yes, it does. I suspect you don't actually have a copy, but in case you do, look at page six line 34. Why would you pretend to know something like this?

        last time I checked its not even posted on the devsite (warioworld)

        Correct, because it's a protected trade secret, and they give different prices to different developers, which is why the NDA forbids you from discussing it.

        Devkits, and components are, not manufacturing carts for sell through.

        This is true, but of course, has nothing to do with a few guys making a demo on hardware.

        There is no Myth here - access to game development is not easy if you are not well financially backed

        No business is easy without money. The game business isn't any different. What you're failing to comprehend is that investment just isn't that hard to come by. I got into the industry on a demo I wrote in three weeks of my spare time, by shopping around for some investor who wanted into the game industry and believed in my product. It took me about a month to find him.

        I don't understand why you're trying to tell me about my j
        • We need to be able to mod "+1 Owned The Parent".
    • I suppose two questions I would have for you would be...

      a) How difficult would it be to transition from the homebrew SDK to the official one? Would it be worth doing any real work to begin with before transitioning?
      b) Is the official SDK significantly better to be worth using?

      I might also suggest anonymous posting for those NDA issues. But if I actually signed my name to one, I might feel a bit more bound to respect them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by stonecypher (118140)
        a) How difficult would it be to transition from the homebrew SDK to the official one? Would it be worth doing any real work to begin with before transitioning?

        Well it's like transitioning from OS/2 to Windows. It has the same general list of stuff, targetting the same general hardware, but the names of API functions and the order they want arguments in is different. It's not challenging, but it's a big hassle.

        Would it be worth any real work? Depends. If you follow GoF Strategy Pattern [tri-bit.com] and wrap dealing
  • I should point out that it's Pac-Pix not Pic-Pax. As it's one of my favourite DS games I thought I should mention it! :)

Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself. -- A.H. Weiler

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