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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) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:59AM (#16024075) Homepage

    From TFA:

    Go on, somebody give him a development kit.

    Here you go [devkitpro.org].

  • 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]

  • 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.
  • Myth (Score:4, Informative)

    by stonecypher (118140) <stonecypher&gmail,com> 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.
  • Re:Myth (Score:5, Informative)

    by stonecypher (118140) <stonecypher&gmail,com> 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
  • Re:Myth (Score:3, Informative)

    by stonecypher (118140) <stonecypher&gmail,com> on Saturday September 02, 2006 @08:13PM (#16031191) Homepage Journal
    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 with the SDK, then you can pretty cleanly replace your stubs and not worry about becoming bug central. If it's a system you haven't done yet, then yes, it would be useful to do it in the homebrew SDK just to learn the machine. If the game industry is new to you, having a functional demo on real hardware makes getting investment much easier, so it might be useful for those reasons too.

    If on the other hand you're a pro gamedev from a different platform, then you won't have a hard time getting money, the machine's gonna be stuff you already know, and so for them, no, it's probably not worth the hassle, and just wait a week until Nintendo sends you a kit.

    Different strokes for different folks. For non-pros, the homebrew SDK is a minor miracle.

    b) Is the official SDK significantly better to be worth using?

    Well, you can't sell games make in the homebrew SDK at Walmart. :D In response to your real question, yes there are a few things that the real SDK does significantly better - the homebrew SDK doesn't do NiFi at all, for example, and its sound stuff is acceptable whereas the real SDK's sound stuff is quite nice. What you really want to know is "is the homebrew SDK good enough?" On almost every front, yes. WLAN is still a hassle, but thanks to my bounty [tri-bit.com] which led to Steve's work [akkit.org], the Internet is within your grasp using normal TCP and UDP.

    The homebrew SDK is just fine. Give it a try.

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