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NES game contents database and long term goals for databases

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Recently in a couple different threads, talk has picked up regarding whether VGS should expand the database past just homebrew games and stores. So, I figured I'd make a thread to focus our discussion.

In the many threads from the past (link1link2link3, and many more I didn't include because there wasn't a substantial amount of discussion), the general consensus boiled down to a few points.

  • The database should provide something different from already existing video game databases, otherwise there's little reason to duplicate those efforts.
  • It should not require additional tech to get it started unless someone can present a working prototype. Data entry can be more easily community-sourced, but unless someone has done the work, there's no use in requesting price or collection tracker from the start. Maybe these things could be added on later, but they should definitely not be the current focus.
  • We should expand the scope of database gradually one obtainable goal at a time. We have already done this starting with the stores and homebrew databases, and should continue in this fashion.

So, where do we go from here? Well discussion sparked back up again when Gloves raised the idea for turning the NES Sealed Game Contents list into a database. I think this would be a great next step as most of data is already mostly collected, it just needs to be entered into the database (which will still take a lot of work, but is definitely an obtainable goal). So, the first goal for this thread should be to nail down exactly what fields and other things we want for that database.

The next goal of this thread should be to discus our longer term goals for the database. It would be nice to get a roadmap for where we want to take the database as that may shape some decisions we make now.

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Posted (edited)

Here's a collection of the discussion for making the NES Sealed Game Contents list into a database. The primary topic is figuring out what fields we like to include.

@Trifecta posted an initial list given below:

  • Cart
  • Box
  • Manual
  • Poster/Map
  • Nintendo Power Card Subscription Advert
  • Warning Document
  • Registration Card
  • Dust Sleeve Type
  • Box Production Code
  • Manual Production Code
  • Other (For miscellaneous information)

Or perhaps the "Other" field could be used to input the Box and Manual Production Codes, among other things if they aren't able to have their own category.

@Mr. CIB suggested adding "Release Date" and "Publisher"

@DoctorEncore added,

Quote

I would put all the inserts into one free text field or one field with a multi-select drop down menu (obviously we'd have to populate the list of inserts). This field should only be filled with info from confirmed openings of sealed games.

Cart, box, and manual could all have additional sub-fields for production codes (or ROM codes/dates for the cart) that are optional. A single game would have numerous box and manual production codes, so we would need a signifier showing which code was from a sealed copy being opened.

Also I'd add a developer and composer field.

For release date, it should either be free text with a specified format or allow for partial dates (i.e May 1990 or just 1990) since we don't know the exact release dates for some games.

 

Edited by 0xDEAFC0DE

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Next, here's a summary of the recent discussion about what else to do with a database (there has been some editorializing on my part so see here for more recent discussion).

In the NES Sealed Game Contents thread there as been some talk as too if we want to expand the list to include possible game contents for games where a sealed copy has not been opened. @Trifecta has said that they're working on a list for that. If we decide we would want to add this to the NES Sealed Game Contents database, we would need to make it clear what the source of the information comes from. But, some might want to keep these as separate lists, so that's that would need more discussion. Similarly, if we were to expand the database to include a list of NES, would we want to keep that separate from the contents list, or expand on top of it.

Here's another idea by @Joshua Rogers

2 hours ago, Joshua Rogers said:

I have my own 100% database in mind, however I suspect it's quite different.
Mine is a database of every single variant, across all regions. I guess only a couple people here on VGS know how annoying all the non-us regions are, but I've finally worked on a nice way to display all the data from all the regions in a nice format. Similar to how NA's database was, but NA's database did not account for variants or regions very well.. I don't remember exactly what WATA said (I know nearly nothing about what WATA is as i'm not an ntsc collector/follower..) but I think they said it would be impossible to track every single variant of every game: but why would it be impossible? sure some games have 100 different versions (SMB 1, for e.g.) but the rest only had a few production runs. It can be done, and it will be done! Maybe it's a bit harder to track the order in which certain variants were released but that's not what I intend on doing.

I also don't think I'll be making a user interface for it in the same way as yours (letting people use it as an app or whatever to mark off what they have / what they don't.)

I should also mention that I have little intention of putting much effort into the ntsc/usa side of my database 😛

This is something that personally interests me as well. It definitely fits the criteria of providing something different from already existing video game databases. And I think VGS would be a good fit for hosting such a list given the amount of collectors we have here that care about variants. But, it would be a very large undertaking. Even just all NES variants might be too large of a scope to start with. We also would need a lot more discussion as the formatting and guidelines of this database.

On 5/19/2020 at 7:15 PM, Gloves said:

I'd like to at least stay away from subjective and/or changing information, such as prices and "rarity", to make sure things are somewhat "eternal", as best we can.

This is another good point that myself and a lot of people in that thread agree with. Considering a lot of people want a large comprehensive database with a lot of stuff with it, there is no feasible way to keep dynamic things updated without some automated system. But making that automated system brings us back to the point where we need a working prototype or it's not happening. So, it's best to focus on the "purely informational and fact-based" stuff.

On 5/20/2020 at 1:32 AM, Link said:

What I would like to see is every textual criteria sortable (possible if relevant fields are separated, such as city or ZIP) and linkable (in the case of games:  clicking on console, genre-subgenre, style, dev, publisher, characters, ports, series or sequels would take you to a view of relevant matches which can be filtered or sorted by additional criteria.
For instance, I look at list of NES games, find Kung Fu, and from there could be taken to NES games, Irem-published games, Data East published games, Nintendo RD1 games, Kung Fu series games [Kung Fu / Kung Fu Master / Spartan X] etc; results therefrom all sortable by platform, release year, etc etc) 
And many or most things should be able to include images (cover, screenshot, storefront...)

I know this is a huge and ambitious undertaking. But I’d say again if the framework is there, user input can fill it in. 

What we have now is not at all a bad start don’t get me wrong. 

Some more ideas for formatting stuff.

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Nice thanks for making this thread. I'll let the conversation go on a bit and stay mostly out of it, to let other people get their words in without me sounding like I'm dictating direction.

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@0xDEAFC0DE So, in making the database @Gloves wants us to start with NES since that is the logical first step, and then we can branch out to other stuff. We should start with licensed games, unlicensed games, and their contents. Then we can get into cart variations and such, console variations (although there are only 2), peripherals, and whatever else we think should be added. NES can be a "beta test" so to speak, and then we can apply that format to other systems, hopefully branching out into stuff up to current gen. Then we can refine and potentially add Metacritic scores, user scores, user reviews,  a "games like this one" thing, and sorting. Once we decide on a format to how we want to lay out NES, everything else should fall in place, it's just a matter of getting volunteers to work on systems.

We already have CiB contents lists for NES, SNES, N64, and GB, and those are just the ones I can list off the top of my head. We can use consolevariations.com as a guide to limited edition consoles and hardware revisions, and I believe they do controllers and peripherals as well. There are so many resources out there, and all we have to do is compile those and make it easy to navigate, and this site should be the (almost) one-stop shop for collecting and gaming that NA was.

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Create a blank database and assign a motivated mod to it so we can stop talking about it. Make an invite only club so the discussions can take place there about whatever the DB will be. 

Reminder, there is nothing different about VGS and NA when it comes to data. Gloves could easily sell the site for millions of dollars and all the hard work that went into the DB will be gone. Not saying he would but anything is possible. 

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1 minute ago, a3quit4s said:

Create a blank database and assign a motivated mod to it so we can stop talking about it. Make an invite only club so the discussions can take place there about whatever the DB will be. 

Reminder, there is nothing different about VGS and NA when it comes to data. Gloves could easily sell the site for millions of dollars and all the hard work that went into the DB will be gone. Not saying he would but anything is possible. 

True, but this time we'll be ready with back-ups 😁

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21 minutes ago, LaytToTheParty said:

@0xDEAFC0DE So, in making the database @Gloves wants us to start with NES since that is the logical first step, and then we can branch out to other stuff. We should start with licensed games, unlicensed games, and their contents. Then we can get into cart variations and such, console variations (although there are only 2), peripherals, and whatever else we think should be added. NES can be a "beta test" so to speak, and then we can apply that format to other systems, hopefully branching out into stuff up to current gen. Then we can refine and potentially add Metacritic scores, user scores, user reviews,  a "games like this one" thing, and sorting. Once we decide on a format to how we want to lay out NES, everything else should fall in place, it's just a matter of getting volunteers to work on systems.

We already have CiB contents lists for NES, SNES, N64, and GB, and those are just the ones I can list off the top of my head. We can use consolevariations.com as a guide to limited edition consoles and hardware revisions, and I believe they do controllers and peripherals as well. There are so many resources out there, and all we have to do is compile those and make it easy to navigate, and this site should be the (almost) one-stop shop for collecting and gaming that NA was.

Yes we definitely should start with NES. More specifically, the goal was to start transferring this thread to a database. However, this brings up some important considerations we need to decide. Do we just want to stick to things we have verified from opening sealed games? Do we want this database to include variants (if so should that be a separate database)? How do we want to handle expanding to other consoles? etc.

@ThePhleo posted even more things we would have to consider in his response to the Joshua Rogers quote I posted above.

1 hour ago, ThePhleo said:

Tracking them isn’t impossible, it just requires a rethinking of the archival process.

Some PAL games include 2 manuals for different languages, some PAL games have different boxart within the region (Adventures in the Magic Kingdom) or different sizes (Black Boxes) or different names (Adventure Island Part II Two, Adventure Island in the Pacific), or different release statuses (Yapon Rentals), or different seal types (Plastic, Sticker, No Seal)

It also requires you to consider Brazil, India, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Asia which are all really obscure Or relatively unexplored libraries (also add South Africa too now!)


It also requires you to throw out overall rarity because games like Air Fortress, or Lethal Weapon are like Panic Restaurant and Power Blade 2 over here, and games like Stadium Events are like Swamp Thing, or Kid Klown over there.

...

Then you Need to realize that NES just isn’t the end all of gaming and you should factor in cross platform releases And ports which means you now need To consider ALL of gaming which requires its own rules as well.

 

So to create a perfect NES database you need a perfect overall gaming database.

...

And then you run into Toyetic media like Pokémon which have all sorts of memorabilia attached and some of which isn’t related to the games but rather the anime or manga or movie or something else altogether.

and publications, accessories, consoles.

Theres no way to do it without a serious SERIOUSLY far far back view of the entire picture.


unless you draw some lines that is.

----------------------------

20 minutes ago, a3quit4s said:

Create a blank database and assign a motivated mod to it so we can stop talking about it. Make an invite only club so the discussions can take place there about whatever the DB will be. 

Reminder, there is nothing different about VGS and NA when it comes to data. Gloves could easily sell the site for millions of dollars and all the hard work that went into the DB will be gone. Not saying he would but anything is possible. 

I would prefer this discussion be in a public thread so that anyone can join in. If you do not wish to keep seeing the thread pop up in your feed you can click the ignore this topic button.

The difference between VGS and NA is the leadership. Sure Gloves could sell the database, but that applies to literally every community run project out there. Sometimes these projects do get hijacked by a malicious administration, but I have a little more trust that this won't happen with VGS.

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Tracking them isn’t impossible, it just requires a rethinking of the archival process.

Some PAL games include 2 manuals for different languages, some PAL games have different boxart within the region (Adventures in the Magic Kingdom) or different sizes (Black Boxes) or different names (Adventure Island Part II Two, Adventure Island in the Pacific), or different release statuses (Yapon Rentals), or different seal types (Plastic, Sticker, No Seal)

Everything listed here I respond with "so what? that sounds like it is important to make it a variant."
I don't want to go too much into detail how my database will work but.. If you have a line of data that contains some game, there is no reason that it can only be limited to 1 entry per column (i.e. manual). It is incredibly easy to make it so if there are multiple entries, it will show multiple entries.

It also requires you to consider Brazil, India, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Asia which are all really obscure Or relatively unexplored libraries (also add South Africa too now!)

Yup, and all of the other regions you didn't list too.

It also requires you to throw out overall rarity because games like Air Fortress, or Lethal Weapon are like Panic Restaurant and Power Blade 2 over here, and games like Stadium Events are like Swamp Thing, or Kid Klown over there.

Rarity guides are stupid.

Then you Need to realize that NES just isn’t the end all of gaming and you should factor in cross platform releases And ports which means you now need To consider ALL of gaming which requires its own rules as well.

Why? It's a database for NES games and maybe consoles / accessories.

 

 

Anyways, NA's database was good but had its problems. Problem #1 was that it did not list distributor; this is incredibly important when it comes to PAL regions. Problem #2 is that it did not differentiate between each type of box/cart/manual. e.g. a "NES-SM-GBR" box may have come with a "NES-SM-GBR-2" cart, but not the other way around. The solution: brute force with a little bit of ingenuity 🙂

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@0xDEAFC0DE I was thinking of a sub-section format. We could have an "NES" section in the database. Inside that section "games" could be one of the subsections. Inside the "games" subsection, we could have the agreed upon "complete licensed NES set" as well as "unlicensed games" and "prototypes" and maybe even "homebrew NES games". I'm not too knowledgeable about NES variants, but I feel like they should be in that "games" folder with everything else, but not in the complete licensed set. However, we need to make it clear that Stadium Events is not a variation, since it includes a completely different rom made by a different publisher.

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lol the rich editor doesn't work in my browser (freebsd, firefox 76.0.1), feel free to edit my posts so it actually looks normal

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Posted (edited)
44 minutes ago, LaytToTheParty said:

@0xDEAFC0DE So, in making the database @Gloves wants us to start with NES since that is the logical first step, and then we can branch out to other stuff. We should start with licensed games, unlicensed games, and their contents. Then we can get into cart variations and such, console variations (although there are only 2), peripherals, and whatever else we think should be added. NES can be a "beta test" so to speak, and then we can apply that format to other systems, hopefully branching out into stuff up to current gen. Then we can refine and potentially add Metacritic scores, user scores, user reviews,  a "games like this one" thing, and sorting. Once we decide on a format to how we want to lay out NES, everything else should fall in place, it's just a matter of getting volunteers to work on systems.

We already have CiB contents lists for NES, SNES, N64, and GB, and those are just the ones I can list off the top of my head. We can use consolevariations.com as a guide to limited edition consoles and hardware revisions, and I believe they do controllers and peripherals as well. There are so many resources out there, and all we have to do is compile those and make it easy to navigate, and this site should be the (almost) one-stop shop for collecting and gaming that NA was.

Things to note:
Some console boxes have 10+ variants. Even in one region (PAL-B Super Set comes to mind.)
How sure are you of those CIB contents? Are you sure which box variant goes with which? e.g. in the PAL-A region, there does not exist Wrestlemania Challenge NES-W9-AUS. The only version (known..) is NES-W9-AUS-1. Some manuals are coded the same but are widely different too. So what good does saying "nes-xx-zz box" goes with "nes-xx-zz cart" goes with "nes-xx-zz manual" if the codes of the products are inconsistent?

also to note: ends up the NES went to a lot more countries than we knew. i will write about this in ~4 weeks when my university exams are over. but due to this, we are fucked for a lot of pal-b.

israel region is easy, only 4 games released for it (this is confirmed, not by people finding only 4 games but rather i have confirmed only 4 games were translated / released as -ISR.) others not too hard too. differentiating pal-b regions is not fun though... german games not same as austrian, etc..

Edited by Joshua Rogers
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I will only be a part of this if people recognize the fact that Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt did actually come with a retail box. It included a console and controllers.

I'm actually serious, why is this not a box? It's cardboard. It contains a game and a manual. Just because it's larger doesn't make it not a box.

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1 hour ago, 0xDEAFC0DE said:

Yes we definitely should start with NES. More specifically, the goal was to start transferring this thread to a database. However, this brings up some important considerations we need to decide. Do we just want to stick to things we have verified from opening sealed games? Do we want this database to include variants (if so should that be a separate database)? How do we want to handle expanding to other consoles? etc.

@ThePhleo posted even more things we would have to consider in his response to the Joshua Rogers quote I posted above.

----------------------------

I would prefer this discussion be in a public thread so that anyone can join in. If you do not wish to keep seeing the thread pop up in your feed you can click the ignore this topic button.

The difference between VGS and NA is the leadership. Sure Gloves could sell the database, but that applies to literally every community run project out there. Sometimes these projects do get hijacked by a malicious administration, but I have a little more trust that this won't happen with VGS.

I keep ignoring them and people keep making new ones 🙂

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2 hours ago, 0xDEAFC0DE said:

In the NES Sealed Game Contents thread there as been some talk as too if we want to expand the list to include possible game contents for games where a sealed copy has not been opened. @Trifecta has said that they're working on a list for that. If we decide we would want to add this to the NES Sealed Game Contents database, we would need to make it clear what the source of the information comes from.

I'm making a 100% Contents list/thread with pictures that are games that are confirmed to be 100% complete by opening sealed games. That doesn't mean I have to be the one to open them. During my research I've been talking to several people who are the original owners of games that were the ones who cracked them open. I'm including those into the list along with the ones Austin, DrEncore and myself have opened as well as the entries on Wiz's list.

That's what I meant. Confirmation from sealed games all the way, whether it be from this community or outside of it.

 

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6 minutes ago, Trifecta said:

I'm making a 100% Contents list/thread with pictures that are games that are confirmed to be 100% complete by opening sealed games. That doesn't mean I have to be the one to open them. During my research I've been talking to several people who are the original owners of games that were the ones who cracked them open. I'm including those into the list along with the ones Austin, DrEncore and myself have opened as well as the entries on Wiz's list.

That's what I meant. Confirmation from sealed games all the way, whether it be from this community or outside of it.

 

 

33 minutes ago, a3quit4s said:

I keep ignoring them and people keep making new ones 🙂

 

46 minutes ago, Code Monkey said:

I will only be a part of this if people recognize the fact that Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt did actually come with a retail box. It included a console and controllers.

I'm actually serious, why is this not a box? It's cardboard. It contains a game and a manual. Just because it's larger doesn't make it not a box.

I've just moved this discussion to collecting general so more people see it. And yes, that is a box @Code Monkey and we'll discuss it once we get there.

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, LaytToTheParty said:

I've just moved this discussion to collecting general so more people see it. And yes, that is a box @Code Monkey and we'll discuss it once we get there.

I don't think we need yet another thread. The goal of posting this one was to focus discussion that was happening in several related threads. I think that the discussion is best kept in the Suggestions & Feedback forum considering it is gather feedback on a forum feature.

I appreciate your enthusiasm, but we do have to take these things a little slower so that we can hear feedback from other members.

Edited by 0xDEAFC0DE
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Alright, my bad. I figured we could get more members, like @Bubbapauls, on board with this idea and have more people working on it. As I said to @Code Monkey, we will cross that bridge (what counts as a box, contents of NES games, contents of variants, contents of games from other regions) when we get to it. What exactly do you still want to discuss before we start adding to the database? And @Gloves, what software does the site use? What languages is it compatible with? I think our first step in building the database should be transferring the NES lists from the "Big List of Lists" over, and then we can get down to checking for inaccuracies.

 

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1 minute ago, LaytToTheParty said:

Alright, my bad. I figured we could get more members, like @Bubbapauls, on board with this idea and have more people working on it. As I said to @Code Monkey, we will cross that bridge (what counts as a box, contents of NES games, contents of variants, contents of games from other regions) when we get to it. What exactly do you still want to discuss before we start adding to the database? And @Gloves, what software does the site use? What languages is it compatible with? I think our first step in building the database should be transferring the NES lists from the "Big List of Lists" over, and then we can get down to checking for inaccuracies.

 

The forum software is Invision Community (every page in the footer gives a link that says "Powered bu Invision Community". The code base is a PHP framework.

I should note that I don't have quite as "direct" access (easily) as the "database access" that many devs would be thinking of. We have an interface through which we can build databases, and these function as structures. I'm not popping onto MySQL Workbench and sending SQL to a database to build anything, and if possible would like to continue avoiding doing so.

One of the reasons I went with this forum software is to AVOID situations that some people seem still concerned about, such as me going rogue and selling the place, and to keep things accessible for the next person/people who pick it up; I'm a developer, but I make no such assumption of whoever else may one day take the reigns.

First off, I have no intention whatsoever of doing so (selling) ever for any reason. I won't go into too much detail suffice to say that I GAVE UP money to make this happen - I was previously working directly with GoCollect, on their payroll as a freelance contract web developer and designer. I walked away from that due to conflict of interest and ideology in order to bring this forum to light, with the community being the force behind it being #1. I don't want this group of people to live under a Dain or a GoCollect, and the moment I start acting in any such way I encourage you all to call me out so I can either curb that shit, or fuck off. I've also already turned down money for running ads on the site from a couple of companies that will remain unnamed. Not that I begrudge them for offering, honestly it's humbling and wonderful that people were so interested in our forum that they see value enough in it to invest. But fuck that, honestly - if we have a sponsorship of any form then we'll be beholden to "playing nice", and nobody in the community would want that. Go ahead and say "Fuck GoCollect" or "Wata sucks" or whatever, they are companies and we are free to judge them as we see fit, and it's going to stay that way.

/rant

I tend to ramble on these things and make mini novels because I'm passionate about it. I've been searching for YEARS for a community that I can give my all to and goddamned if it ain't this one. And if that flame ever fizzles, it'll be handed over wholesale to an existing staffer, more likely an admin, to take the reigns. That person would be heavily vetted by the community. 

Anyway.

Yeah, migrating one of the existing lists to a database is the most feasible and likely scenario for us to start with.

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As for getting more eyes on this, feel free to @ people as you've already done. They'll get notified and come looking. Observe: @LaytToTheParty

Just don't go crazy and @ the whole forum or something.

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8 minutes ago, Gloves said:

As for getting more eyes on this, feel free to @ people as you've already done. They'll get notified and come looking. Observe: @LaytToTheParty

Just don't go crazy and @ the whole forum or something.

Haha. I haven't gotten to that point. Not yet, at least 😝

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2 hours ago, Code Monkey said:

I will only be a part of this if people recognize the fact that Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt did actually come with a retail box. It included a console and controllers.

I'm actually serious, why is this not a box? It's cardboard. It contains a game and a manual. Just because it's larger doesn't make it not a box.

Yeah, man!  It always botherd me that NA's database listed Miracle Piano as not having a box, with a little red "No Box" symbol.  Was it sold as a loose cart?  Of course not; it came in a box.  As a CIB collector I only count SMB/DH complete if you've got the Action Set, SSVB/NWC if you've got the Sports Set, etc.  In fact, a stand-alone WCTM cart is only complete if you have the one box it came in: the Stand-alone retail release of the Power Pad.  And on it goes...

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4 hours ago, 0xDEAFC0DE said:

if we want to expand the list to include possible game contents for games where a sealed copy has not been opened.

At first I thought they should be separate lists, to avoid possible confusion, but it shouldn’t be difficult to include a marker denoting verified or unverified.  

4 hours ago, 0xDEAFC0DE said:

if we were to expand the database to include a list of NES, would we want to keep that separate from the contents list, or expand on top of it.

imo, expand on top of it. So that looking at a given game, you have the ability to access any of the information VGSdb has about it. As I understand it, such info return flexibility is why you use a database, instead of spreadsheets or flat lists. 

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3 hours ago, Code Monkey said:

I will only be a part of this if people recognize the fact that Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt did actually come with a retail box. It included a console and controllers.

I'm actually serious, why is this not a box? It's cardboard. It contains a game and a manual. Just because it's larger doesn't make it not a box.

Fight the power!

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54 minutes ago, Link said:

At first I thought they should be separate lists, to avoid possible confusion, but it shouldn’t be difficult to include a marker denoting verified or unverified.  

imo, expand on top of it. So that looking at a given game, you have the ability to access any of the information VGSdb has about it. As I understand it, such info return flexibility is why you use a database, instead of spreadsheets or flat lists. 

Exactly. Once we have the list of games in, you guys can make edits and revisions. I'm not really a CiB collector, so I'll leave the "contents" up to y'all to decide. However, I would like to add descriptions for games, plus genre, release date, publisher, and more. Once that's done, we can add even more, and then branch out to other systems.

We need to make it easy enough so anyone can edit and add missing information, but also include a way to see past edits and who has made them. For example, if @Gloves kept trying to change the platform of Super Mario Bros from NES to Phillips CDi, we would be able to see that and issue a warning or suspend his editing privileges. This way, we can have multiple people editing and revising at once, but a way to make sure no one spams or trolls. We could also add a "lock" feature, which would allow the mods to "lock" a section that is confirmed to be accurate from further edits (i.e. @Gloves wouldn't be able to change the platform of Super Mario Bros).

Nothing against you, Gloves, just thought you'd be fun for the example. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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