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Turtle Paint for NES


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Hi everyone!  I wanted to share with you my completed NES game, Turtle Paint.  I'm not going to copy and paste what I wrote up on the Kickstarter page. You are welcome to read those details there. I'd rather openly talk about its background with all of you!  Hope that's cool!


To introduce myself, my name is Joe. I discovered NES homebrews back when Eskimo Bob was on Kickstarter. That was my first supported game, and I am one of the five names in the end credits. That opened a new world for me, and I since supported many other games.  But I never thought I could make one. Maybe a hack, but not a game totally my own. Then NESmaker came along.

I followed and supported that project on its promise to make making NES more accessible to people like me. I have a background in database management, can handle many logical problems and would describe myself as knowing enough to be dangerous, but not quite fully skilled at programming. NESmaker was an awesome tool to get my hands on. I still remember feeling so energized when I compiled my very first game with a little turtle on a beach that couldn't even move correctly because I messed something up.

From there, I kept learning and would join in NESmaker's first Byte-Off competition. I was proud of my first Turtle Rescue game, but would never have guessed that Howard Phillips (yes, the Nintendo Power guy himself) would announce my game as the best of the competition. I went on to fix some of the wrongs of that demo game, but decided against calling it "completed." I had a grand vision for that game and I knew that I didn't have the skills to get there just yet. I decided to start a different project to get myself out of my comfort zone and learn more. That project became Turtle Party, a mix of Mario Party and WarioWare style games. I spent 8 months on that when Byte-Off's second competition was announced. I would need to start a new project for that, yet I was feeling overwhelmed and couldn't think of what I'd do. It would dawn on me to make a coloring book game, surely no one has done that on the NES, right?


Turtle Paint is a game that is designed to be the exact opposite of a challenging and stressful experience. It is meant to be a relaxing, comfortable and even lazy game. Something that you can fiddle around with and not commit effort to. But maybe, you'll catch yourself having spent more time on it than you thought because it was that enjoyable. That is what I was aiming for.


I would eventually learn of "Color-A-Dinosaur" after I posted my game online, and its negative response. I played it and I saw how limiting of a game it was. It had three colors and only four palettes. And all of the artwork felt the same as it was just sixteen different species of dinosaurs.  Turtle Paint was already establishing itself as going in a different direction. I talk about those differences in my Kickstarter, so I won't repeat them here. But the point is I felt rather confident that I was not going down the exact same path as that game.


I know that to some people, using NESmaker comes off as a "cheat" to some, and games using it may have a certain stigma to them. I want to say that I have nothing but the utmost respect for those that can build their own games from scratch, and who know exactly how to manage all the crazy things you need to do to communicate with the NES what it is supposed to do. Right now, I cannot do that. But, I can take someone's starting point and manipulate it enough to make a stand-alone product.

Turtle Paint is not a cookie-cutter game. It actually utilizes NONE of the NESmaker's module bases (Adventure, Platformer, etc.) I started by picking and choosing code that would work for my point-and-click game and left out other code that had pretty much nothing to do with it and would just waste space, such as anything related to enemies. I customized a lot of code to not make the game more flashy, rather make it perform as expected, like more precise tile collision with the pointer.

I also want to address that a few months back, a Twitter conversation started about bugs in completed NESmaker games. I took that thread to heart, and invited its OP to do play-testing on my title, along with others whom I could count on to find any issues. They did find some, and I shot those bugs down. I am confident to say that Turtle Paint is as well debugged as it can possibly be. If someone doesn't like the genre of my game, I can't help that, and I can accept that criticism. But a broken game is not something I want to put out there.

Thanks to all that read all of this babble. There are many here that I respect beyond words, and I only want to share my project that I am very proud of with all of you!

Thanks! 🙂

Edited by TurtleRescueNES
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12 hours ago, TurtleRescueNES said:

I know that to some people, using NESmaker comes off as a "cheat" to some, and games using it may have a certain stigma to them.

It's definitely not a cheat. I think the more prevalent stigma you'll meet it that relying on Nesmaker is both a major limitation for yourself, and an unnecessary challenge in certain areas.

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4 hours ago, Sumez said:

It's definitely not a cheat. I think the more prevalent stigma you'll meet it that relying on Nesmaker is both a major limitation for yourself, and an unnecessary challenge in certain areas.

Thank you and I can't argue with that statement. I know I'm bound by its structure and codebase, though I have been breaking free of it in certain areas. An example of this is there is an upper limit on the number of CHR tilesets the tool will recognize. Since my game is dependent on needing more graphics than anything, I had to get creative in using more than the tool was expecting.

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