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Porting: iPhone to Nintendo DSi


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#1 elodman   Members   -  Reputation: 117

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 12:55 PM

Greetings Maestros,

Could u plz. help me answering these porting questions?


It is a company level task for me, but I hardy find any info on them neither on stackoverflow nor tomsguide.
In addition, not much further info is available for me/us about these questions either.

(Some kind of widely used authorized NDS develop tools are owned by the company for sure.)

1. You have to port an existing AAA iPhone 3D game for the Nintendo DSi.
List what are the 3-4 biggest challenges on the programming side.

2. If you have to port a “Assassins Creed" -like game from the iPhone to Nintendo DSi.
a. How many members will you have in your team, and in what role?
b. How long will this project last?

 

----------

Until now I heard these answers:

 

1)

- vram management, 512kb, manage memory banks etc. its really a different world than modern phones
-2048 triangles rendering limit ( i dont remember exactly ) - but the ds
can only draw a fixed number of triangles, so if your source game is
not tailored that way, you can run into troubles

 

- Very strict polygon limit
- No shaders
- Not much memory
- Impact of extra screen on HUD design and controls
- No multi-touch
- No floating point unit
- Limited CPU power

 

2)

a very rough estimate gut-feeling :
4 coders, 3 artists, 1 designer, 1 producer = 9 people * ~9 months.

 

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

 

Could u further elaborate or confirm these answers?


Many thanx for any help. 

It would be quite important for me.

 

Good-Byte.


That was the time, the Golden Age, when C-64 and Amiga ruled!

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#2 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 19618

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 01:27 PM

That port doesn't make much sense. The two are completely unrelated systems. It would certainly *NOT* be an easy thing.



Assassin's Creed had several hundred people work on it. The end game credit screen rolled on and on and on for over five minutes.

You are not going to do that kind of port in 6 FTE years.

If you had all of the original assets you might be able to do it in somewhere between the wide range of 30-150 FTE years, but we would need much more information before coming up with a more accurate estimate.
Check out my personal indie blog at bryanwagstaff.com.

#3 Ravyne   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6883

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 03:50 PM

I wouldn't even say that a port of a (high-end) iOS game is possible to the DS or DSi, it'd be more-or-less a ground-up re-write and likely one filled to the brim with compromise -- The 3DS, sure, that system is still a lot less powerful, but at least there aren't the kind of hardware-architecture hurdles that exist in a DSi port. The DS and DSi have more in common with the GBA and 16 and 32-bit consoles, than with a modern smartphone -- that is, it contains dedicated and specialized hardware with a peculiar programming methodology, rather than a more general-purpose system.

 

Having the art assets probably doesn't even buy you much -- models will have to be completely re-worked, animations too. You might save a bit of time with textures by down-scaling them, but you'd still need a human to intervene because the texture format and reduced size will probably introduce artifacts or make things "muddy".

 

Then there's all the purely art and editorial stuff you're gonna have to do, like changing or dropping FMV sequences to keep the rom-size small, or compensating for design things that a high-res iOS device afforded, but which the miniscule DSi resolution of 256x192 does not.



#4 elodman   Members   -  Reputation: 117

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 11:38 PM

Thanx frob and Ravyne!

 

 


Assassin's Creed had several hundred people work on it. The end game credit
screen rolled on and on and on for over five minutes.

You are not going to do that kind of port in 6 FTE years.

If you had all of the original assets you might be able to do it in somewhere
between the wide range of 30-150 FTE years, but we would need much more
information before coming up with a more accurate estimate.

 

But maybe iPhone games are not so huge, as their PC and great Console ports / originals?

 

Unfortunately I am not very familiar with workload estimation metrics, so I am curious why you mentioned

-once 6 FTE years  ( methinks 1 person's full 6 years work, calculating 40 workhours a week)

-then 30-150 FTE years?

 

(I just cannot see why so great differecne exists without seemingly any reason - at least for me)

 

Contorversial rumors I heard, saying this "porting" would really requre some divine intervention because of pure platform / hardware differences, and this would rather be a huge project, a conversion.

(Also heard from a non-professional: would probably put 15-25 people on it - 2-4 designers for touchscreen-specific functionality conversion "on-paper", 8-16 programmers to port the game and 3-6 3D Model artists to adjust the models and textures if necessary.  Would take some months.)

 

What further pieces of info would be required?

Source and destination platforms are given, and we could assume the company is using the most modern, efficient authorised Nintendo development tool. (Although I still don't know how much those NDS tools help, if they lessen coding time in C?)

 

I just need a magnitude estimate of people / time consumed but I think I cannot support any more info unfortunately.
(I used to be a database programmer and thus being non-familiar with game / phone / console platforms and tools)

 

----

Many thanx for any help!!

(Sorry for my insisting upon this topic, but "solving / estimating" this issue would be a real life saver for me.)


Edited by elodman, 22 February 2013 - 12:42 AM.

That was the time, the Golden Age, when C-64 and Amiga ruled!

#5 C0lumbo   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2148

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 04:04 AM

I'm the one who suggested the 9 developers * 9 months estimate on your TigSource thread (although the prerequisite of existing NDS tech to build upon seemed to have gotten lost).

 

I think you're not really going to get an accurate estimate off the internet. The problem is that porting a 'AAA' iPhone game to NDS is really not possible. Newer iOS devices easily outstrip PS2 power, and if you look at PS2 games that have been ported to NDS, you'll see that they're nowhere near the scope of the original.

 

So really, what you'll be doing is creating a new game from scratch using the original title as inspiration. You can't estimate how long it takes to make a game from scratch in isolation from decisions about the scope, feature set and quality of the game, but maybe what you can do is compare it to budgets of other titles. This article http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2010/11/3ds_development_could_cost_triple_that_of_ds_software suggests NDS projects usually come in at approximately $53,000 to $527,000, and using the industry standard $10,000 man month (http://www.altdevblogaday.com/2011/11/13/10000-is-the-magic-number/) for our back-of-the-envelope calculations, that buys you between 5 and 52 man months of dev time.

 

While those average figures give you some ballpark idea, I'm not sure on the reliability of the source, and the 'average' game on NDS probably equates to shovelware, and falls significantly short of AAA. I reckon you could easily double the team size AND the duration on my original estimate if you want to make a very high quality NDS title, but I'd suspect that going up too much beyond that is overkill. 150 FTE ($18 million budget at a $10,000 man month) in particular sounds rather on the high side to me.
 

Having said that, there's a big difference between what a 10 man team at, say, Rockstar Leeds can acheive versus what some cheap-as-chips outsourcing company can achieve with the same man-power. My estimates are based around what a high-quality, high-cost team can acheive. So talking about man-power in isolation of budget is also a bit difficult, generally, you'll get what you pay for (if you hire a team that costs only $1000 per man-month, then don't expect they'll be able to achieve great results with just a ten man team). So perhaps if you're outsourcing to a very cheap company in a low cost country 150 FTE might be realistic or even insufficient.



#6 frob   Moderators   -  Reputation: 19618

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 09:13 AM

So really, what you'll be doing is creating a new game from scratch using the original title as inspiration. You can't estimate how long it takes to make a game from scratch in isolation from decisions about the scope, feature set and quality of the game, but maybe what you can do is compare it to budgets of other titles. This article http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2010/11/3ds_development_could_cost_triple_that_of_ds_software suggests NDS projects usually come in at approximately $53,000 to $527,000

Either those are incredibly skewed or they are talking about really crappy games.

I've worked on 7 DS games. Each was a successful game, about as close to AAA as you can get on DS without actually being from Nintendo. Each had a development budget of between 1.2M and 2.5M. That is in addition non-development costs, such as first-party certification, marketing, and other costs which are generally as much or more than the development budget.

That was our budget WITH AN EXISTING ENGINE. If we didn't have an engine I would estimate an additional quarter million or more.
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