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The Homebrew Wars: Number of homebrew games for every retro system

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1 hour ago, Pixelboy said:

Are you a programmer?

Dont let him kid you, he only made the most unbelievable 7800 game ever. I bet he could make a killer Colecovision game. 

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Of course it could also be as simple as e.g. the Vectrex and Colecovision had their hayday at least 6-10 years before the NES and Genesis, so if people are interested in programming for the system they grew up with, the older systems have that many years head start which reflects in more (but perhaps sometimes simpler) games.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, TailChao said:

Nah, just another idea peddler.

You should realize that the odds of abandonning a project before its completion are much greater for an NES game that's proposed to reach the scope of commercial offerings (like 128K or more).

 

That's what I like about the ColecoVision, as a publisher: 32K represents a sweet spot where any bedroom coder can make a good game in a reasonable amount of free time, assuming he/she has a good understanding of the hardware and some programming experience. Anything over 32K requires a lot more dedication to carry the project through to the end, and not many have the drive (and the free time) to do this.

 

It should be noted that if you have access to a full IDE (Integrated Development Environment) with graphic editor, sound editor and whatnot, then making bigger games becomes a more manageable possibility, but it's not necessarily easier. You can still get bored of your own project and drop it when everything else in the universe seems more interesting than that last 20% of work you need to do to finish your game.

 

EDIT: And don't get me started on team programming. That may work fine when people are paid to do their jobs, but homebrew teams break up and go their separate ways very easily.

Edited by Pixelboy
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22 hours ago, stupus said:

1st gen:

 

Telstar Arcade -none

 

 

I keep asking for some(at appropriate times) but never see any. I wonder if the programming method is even known. 

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Pixelboy said:

You should realize that the odds of abandonning a project before its completion are much greater for an NES game that's proposed to reach the scope of commercial offerings (like 128K or more).

In case you, just like me didn't keep track, Rikki & Vikki for the 7800 is 512 kilobyte of code (*) + 256 kilobyte of music data as per the programmer's notes.

 

(*) Well, it says "game data" but I'll assume code in included in that number, not just graphics and level data.

Edited by carlsson
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3 hours ago, carlsson said:

Indeed. I would go as far as saying that Nintendo gamers and collectors are the most brand loyal of all in the retro gaming world. Many of those wouldn't bother for a second with a modern homebrew no matter how good it is, because nothing can match Nintendo's own library anyway. That itself leads to fewer people spending their time on making e.g. NES homebrews if there are other formats where their efforts will be more appreciated, able to sell more cartridges etc.

There are exceptions. That NES homebrew “Tailgate Party” was very popular and got a lot of press even though it was a simple bean bag toss game. Probably because it used the Power Pad. I could probably count on one hand how many Power Pad homebrews there are; Maybe on one finger. 

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I just added some more systems and was really surprised with the PSP & DS scenes... wow!

 

With all this data at hand, what would be the system with a best low sales/number of homebrew games ratio and which one would be the worst (i. e. dozens of millions of consoles sold and only 5-10 homebrew games)?

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15 minutes ago, carlsson said:

Of course it could also be as simple as e.g. the Vectrex and Colecovision had their hayday at least 6-10 years before the NES and Genesis, so if people are interested in programming for the system they grew up with, the older systems have that many years head start which reflects in more (but perhaps sometimes simpler) games.

It's not absolute, but I do think developer age certainly has an impact. Both the NES and Genesis are "in" right now, so we're seeing lots of large scale projects being developed for them. It's also been long enough that many of the kids who grew up with them could have worked professionally in either the game or software industry for several years.

 

On the flip side, because it's in "peak nostalgia" - you're likely to get coverage and purchases.

 

 

25 minutes ago, Pixelboy said:

You should realize that the odds of abandonning a project before its completion are much greater for an NES game that's proposed to reach the scope of commercial offerings (like 128K or more).

 

That's what I like about the ColecoVision, as a publisher: 32K represents a sweet spot where any bedroom coder can make a good game in a reasonable amount of free time, assuming he/she has a good understanding of the hardware and some programming experience. Anything over 32K requires a lot more dedication to carry the project through to the end, and not many have the drive (and the free time) to do this.

I do, and I agree it's more difficult to complete a project of that scale. But I'm just not seeing a drought of activity in the NesDev community caused by it. If anything they've been constantly improving their work and learning to organize more efficiently.

 

Not all developers are shooting for these targets either, plenty of teeny tinies.

 

 

10 minutes ago, carlsson said:

In case you, just like me didn't keep track, Rikki & Vikki for the 7800 is 512 kilobyte of code (*) + 256 kilobyte of music data as per the programmer's notes.

 

(*) Well, it says "game data" but I'll assume code in included in that number, not just graphics and level data.

Sure, but I don't think my "Programmer Card" having 768KB of data on it should matter. My point was moreso that "too difficult" is kind of silly in a medium where everything is work. Shipping a quality product developed in Game Maker already takes significant work. When you develop for an older platform you're willingly giving yourself workier work.

 

But that's just my opinion.

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One thing about the early 1980s is that ROM was expensive, limiting cartridge capacity, and handcuffing what programmers could do.  Today programmers can make cartridges for these old systems with roms dozens of times larger.  And they can take as long as they like to perfect their game.  In the case of the Atari 2600, powerfull coprocessors are enabling eye popping results.

 

You'd think that with flash memory cartridges that there isn't much point to manufacturing new cartridges.  But with some of these systems like the Vectrex whose lifespan was cut short their libraries are relatively small.  In these cases collectors are creating the demand for new cartridges.

 

Initially these things were coded in assembly, a challenge even for experienced programmers.  Usually it was fans of the system who were both talented and motivated to make a game on their favourite system.  When higher level language compilers were developed, it really opened up access and developers were popping up that you wouldn't expect.  I wonder what motivates those that otherwise had no attachment to those systems.

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2000 Atari 2600 homebrews? I don't think so. Not even close. There could be a ton of hacks that do little to nothing to the original program or 15 min basic games that are nothing more than glorified demo code recompiles but none of those are worthy of being called a unique homebrew game.

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I just added the Atari 400/800/XL "Atari 8-bit" computers and the BBC Micro.

 

I was pleasantly surprised with the number of homebrews and type-ins for the Atari 400/800/XL.

 

By the way, can somebody explain the Atari 400/800/XL graphic modes? How many simultaneous colors are allowed? Wikipedia mentions hundreds of colors but the games I saw have around 5-10...

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@Shawn Thanks! After reading your comment, I checked and discovered that "homebrew" is mostly used for console games, while computer games made by non-professional users are called hobbyist.

 

However, I have spent hours trying to remove the hacks and non-playable demos, so that should not be an issue. The number of Atari 2600 games was taken from an Excel file linked by an Atari Age user (check the link in the first message) that already has filters in the columns to remove the hacks. In the end, there were around 2000 games (I was also surprised).

 

Perhaps I rename the topic "homebrew/hobbyist games", but the good thing is that each user can now use the links to correct the numbers and remove potential hacks/demos, or filter by Commercial homebrews only, or just ignore the computer games as they're not propietary hardware and are not officially called homebrew.

 

My main objectives are to measure how much love does each retro platform receive from modern developers, and how many non-commercial games did users create at the time. It's also a way to thank those awesome, hard-working developers that normally didn't receive any money from their games and to give them visibility.

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By the way, I wish console manufacturers such as Sony or Nintendo released every single developer tool for their discontinued consoles. Some companies such as Lobotomy software or even Konami could release their tools too. I don't see any reason to protect that software 20 years later. Hell, they could even arrange homebrew competitions for their old consoles to increase brand recognition and generate positive news among their hardcore user base.

 

I guess the main reasons are the potential legal issues, with some consoles even requiring illegal modifications to play homebrew games.

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Posted (edited)
43 minutes ago, IntelliMission said:

I just added the Atari 400/800/XL "Atari 8-bit" computers and the BBC Micro.

 

I was pleasantly surprised with the number of homebrews and type-ins for the Atari 400/800/XL.

 

By the way, can somebody explain the Atari 400/800/XL graphic modes? How many simultaneous colors are allowed? Wikipedia mentions hundreds of colors but the games I saw have around 5-10...

The Atari 800 should have 4-bit colour and 3-bit luminance for 128 colour shades, just like the Atari 2600.  You might achieve more colours using ntsc colour effects.

 

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

I wouldn't count type-in programs here, and only games created after the life of the system ended.

 

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

Regarding manufacturers releasing development tools for retired systems; I don't think they want to encourage the use of old hardware but rather maximise the sales of new hardware and games.

 

Edited by mr_me
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Posted (edited)
On 3/6/2020 at 12:15 PM, Swami said:

I keep asking for some(at appropriate times) but never see any. I wonder if the programming method is even known. 

Since they are not roms its probably pretty complicated and with a small fan base. Would be really cool though.

Edited by stupus
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Posted (edited)

With the telstar arcade most of the electronics is in the cartridge rather than the console.  My understanding is that there is rom code with the microcontroller in each cartridge.

Edited by mr_me
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Interesting, i know mess has not been able to dump/document them yet.

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Posted (edited)

Getting at the rom code is one thing.  The hard part is analyzing, documenting, and emulating in software the microcontroller; especially if no original documentation survived.

Edited by mr_me

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Posted (edited)
On 3/5/2020 at 9:41 AM, IntelliMission said:

NES/Famicom: Around 200 games

This obviously doesn't include mods/hacks correct? By homebrews are you just talking about new original games, or do all the different variations of mario, castlevania, zelda, and mega man games count?

Edited by Nintendo64

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@Nintendo64  No hacks, no demos. Just games. And yes, I'm also surprised by some of the numbers. There are a couple of ultra famous consoles, generation winners, that "should" have more homebrew games, such as the NES or the PS1. I hope I just didn't look at the right lists and these systems have actually more games.

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Posted (edited)

Oh ok so i guess mods are also not included. I always got mixed up when differentiating between a mod and a hack. I have over 600 mods or hacks for the NES alone, thats why I was wondering if those were included.

Edited by Nintendo64
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Posted (edited)

@high voltage To be honest, the second and third generation of consoles are basically the same for me. The "more resolution" is not enough to differentiate the systems and the "introduction of scrolling games" is a fallacy, as scrolling games were perfectly possible in "second generation" consoles and there were a few.

 

What constitutes a "second generation" system? I think the Colecovision is included there because it has a weird controller. By the way, I just found this Atari Age topic by googling "colecovision vs nes". An interesting read.

Edited by IntelliMission

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Posted (edited)

It would make the nes fourth generation but that would screw up the numbering so just call it generation 2.5.  How can the atari 2600 and the atari 5200 be in the same generation.  Intellivision is the only second generation system that has multidirectional hardware pixel scrolling.  You can leave out the generation labels they are meaningless anyway.

Edited by mr_me
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