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First NES Homebrew Games on the Switch


SoleGoose
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Haunted: Halloween '86 by Retrotainment and Creepy Brawlers by MegaCat Studios are coming to the Switch. I haven't really seen much talk about it. That's kind of exciting news considering that the homebrew community has largely been ignored by the Big N over the years. I was at PAX West working the Retrotainment booth and got to demo HH86 to people, which was a weird experience. There were a lot of, uh, "mature" folk there (old, they were old), but a lot of kids came and picked it up and played it for a good long while.

Homebrew on the Switch, it's an interesting thing to think about. What are your thoughts?

 

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I'm very excited about homebrew making it to the Switch, my only concern (which I think has been a common concern with porting homebrew to modern systems) is finding a clear and consistent way to inform people that these games are made for, and within the constraints, of older systems.

A great game is great, no matter the platform it's designed for. I just know it's really really hard to give modern, and/or less informed gamers all of the expected bells and whistles of modern games, let alone explain sufficiently why they cant have them (but still be successful and not have your product rated poorly).

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I saw a lot of that type of bashing on Steam when people tried to port their stuff over. It was a steep, uphill battle to explain to people what was going on and why. Modern consoles hit a different audience it seems, though the battle is still real. The faux-retro genre of games has probably helped too in terms of getting people back into games that follow older conventions.

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53 minutes ago, a3quit4s said:

Is HH86 going to have updated graphics or something for the Switch or just a port over? It takes a ton of time and people to create modern day games, I thought people usually did the retro homebrew thing because it was one to maybe a few people working on a title?

Everything is the same for the Switch port, so far as I know.

A lot of homebrew games are made by one to a few people, but so are similar modern games. A game the size of HH86 9/10 times takes longer to make than modern games of a similar nature, since the code is all written from scratch and does not use libraries the way modern things do. Of course, any game can take as long as the dev wants, but assembly is much more intense and time consuming. Asset creation can be just as challenging and time consuming as well, even more so if trying to understand and work with the system constraints.

I haven't done modern dev, but every person I meet that does looks at me like I'm crazy for working on the NES and tells me how things would be so much easier if I'd switch.

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Interesting insight from someone who actually creates games, thank you for sharing! I can see where you come from , making an NES game is basically working in Assembly and newer games have engines they are running on and really just swapping characters and world textures and maybe some custom animation.

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Honestly, I find NES programming to be a lot simpler. It's definitely more time consuming, but I can fully understand what's going at a low level. In comparison, I do AAA level engine/graphics programming for my job (I'm new though so take this with a grain of salt) and the sheer size of the codebase makes everything more complicated. 

That being said there are many really good indie games out there made by one to a few people. I think most of these use a stock engine so that more time can be put into design and art, but there are even exceptions to that. 

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1 hour ago, 0xDEAFC0DE said:

Honestly, I find NES programming to be a lot simpler. It's definitely more time consuming, but I can fully understand what's going at a low level. In comparison, I do AAA level engine/graphics programming for my job (I'm new though so take this with a grain of salt) and the sheer size of the codebase makes everything more complicated. 

That being said there are many really good indie games out there made by one to a few people. I think most of these use a stock engine so that more time can be put into design and art, but there are even exceptions to that. 

This is true in all of computing.  I came out of college and got a job doing a lot of various, business development.  You have to ask a lot of questions of users to find their actual needs, talk about forms of UI elements to use, then learn the nuances application frameworks you might use to create the application.  There are also a lot of "black boxes" when you use all of these high-level tools and sometimes what's in the box creates unintended consequences. Those are where the real pain of software engineering comes into play.

About 5 years into my career my boss, who was both an IT manager and the engineering manager for a medical company, asked me if I wanted to switch over to embedded systems development where 100% of my work would be in C.  I jumped at the chance because I always preferred lower-level code when I was in school.

I was shocked how "easy" coding was and it made me realize that 95% of my difficulty as a business tools developer was really wrestling with the third party APIs, frameworks and the operating system.  Low-level C was mindbogglingly simple.

But there was a BIG trade off. When all you have is a light-weight kernel (or kernal for the Commodore folk) there is so much code that needs to be written to do anything.  I enjoyed all of my work on that project, but it took me nearly a year to finish a task, that I could have probably completed in 3 months had it been for the PC.  This wasn't because I didn't know how to code in C.  I did.  It was because I had to write larges portions of what would have been operating system code, as well as small helpers/tools that would have been a part of any high-level, OO programming language.

I've glanced at NES development and it does look "super easy" and seems all to familiar.  The lack of a kernel makes it seem even simpler but, man, there's a lot of work that one has to do in there just to get something working on the screen that's actually engaging.  Props to you guys who keep this alive.  I really would love the game but right now my biggest hurdle is patience. I fully admit that high-level languages have completely spoiled me.

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3 hours ago, 0xDEAFC0DE said:

 In comparison, I do AAA level engine/graphics programming for my job (I'm new though so take this with a grain of salt) and the sheer size of the codebase makes everything more complicated. 

..... I think most of these use a stock engine so that more time can be put into design and art, but there are even exceptions to that. 

That's the trick. Using a stock engine, you could whip out a game like HH pretty quickly. The thing that makes NES games doable with a smaller team is the relative size and fewer assets and game complexity. Making those same games (with same level of expectations) on a modern platform, with an out-of-the-box engine, would be a lot easier.

 

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Homebrew on the Switch, it's an interesting thing to think about. What are your thoughts?

I'm glad they were able to do it (seeing your game run on other platforms is always fun, and it will mean more sales for them, which is great), but conceptually, NES homebrew on the switch it isn't very interesting to me.  I don't know about this particular case, but the Steam versions of these things are usually just a bundled rom+emulator. That's not inherently any more compelling to me than using my existing emulators. (which is why I'll buy a homebrew ROM for $10 but won't buy the steam version for $10 unless the rom is easily extractable)

Haunted Halloween is a well-made game, but what makes it interesting to me is that it's a NES game. The same game on the switch or xbox doesn't add any appeal for me.

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19 hours ago, neodolphino said:

I'm very excited about homebrew making it to the Switch, my only concern (which I think has been a common concern with porting homebrew to modern systems) is finding a clear and consistent way to inform people that these games are made for, and within the constraints, of older systems.

A great game is great, no matter the platform it's designed for. I just know it's really really hard to give modern, and/or less informed gamers all of the expected bells and whistles of modern games, let alone explain sufficiently why they cant have them (but still be successful and not have your product rated poorly).

Yep.

That is a tough  job that I unfortunately or fortunately have. We battle it at the bigger shows for sure. We just gotta keep pushing #8BitLegit games.

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29 minutes ago, IBtiM said:

Yep.

That is a tough  job that I unfortunately or fortunately have. We battle it at the bigger shows for sure. We just gotta keep pushing #8BitLegit games.

Word, yo.

Also, welcome Tim!! 😄

Reconsider going to MAGFest so we can start more fires under bridges!

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Just now, Fleck586 said:

Its awesome news and I plan to support it. I thought it was interesting when Mega Cat got Coffee Crisis on the eshop. Would that have been the first general retro homebrew on the Switch?

I will have to ask. I am not sure if that is game is a 1:1 port  of the Sega Genesis  cart. If it is 1:1, you may be right.

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1 minute ago, IBtiM said:

I will have to ask. I am not sure if that is game is a 1:1 port  of the Sega Genesis  cart. If it is 1:1, you may be right.

I wouldn't know as I don't buy Genesis stuff, but I love NES brews and have supported both you and them for those. Congrats either way, Tim!

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Just now, Fleck586 said:

I wouldn't know as I don't buy Genesis stuff, but I love NES brews and have supported both you and them for those. Congrats either way, Tim!

We thank you so much for the support. We are very stoked to be on the Switch and are looking forward to making more 8-Bit Legit games built from the ground up.

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37 minutes ago, Fleck586 said:

Its awesome news and I plan to support it. I thought it was interesting when Mega Cat got Coffee Crisis on the eshop. Would that have been the first general retro homebrew on the Switch?

That was on sale for a buck earlier this week; not sure if it still is?

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