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Omaha

Console Development Curiosity

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Omaha    100
Up front, one of my worst fears is Microsoft making a push to migrate all gaming off of the PC by trying to link it with the XBOX and pushing developers away from PC game development. I don't like this idea because frankly, PC game development is where I'd like to be headed, and that's not going to be for a few years. Right now I'm a "leaf node" on the corporate hierarchy as a programmer for a communications firm near Washington. However, eventually, I'd like to move into game development as that's what my goal has always been, but jumping in headfirst is rarely fruitful in a highly competitive market, experience never hurts, and at the time, this offer was far too good to pass up. The list goes on but the point is I probably won't be in the market for a game development job for five years or so. And I don't know what the PC game market will be like then. (Does anyone?) So then I ask myself, "Is console development really that unfathomable to you? You're given a fixed platform, most likely alot more freedom in what you can/cannot do and less worrying about interactions with other code... perhaps that is the way to go?" So, console programmers among us, how much of a quantum leap (funny we use that to mean a large jump when in reality it represents an almost infinitely small one) from PC development is it to console development? Are developer kits usually good stuff; I've heard bad things about first version stuff? Is there alot of relearning things, since each console puts its own little architectural spin on things, and this one has four processors, so inevitably if you want to exploit the full power you're going to need to write some hardcore low-level code. Just curious how different it is.

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PnP Bios    494
First, don't be affraid of big bad M$. They have done a lot of good things for us. Where ever they try to move gaming, that gap is filled by innovative independent development.

First off, the PC game market isn't going anywhere. Exclusive AAA titles may be xbox only, but thats a good thing for people like us. Back in the late 80's and early 90's, everything was for the NES, SNES, or Mega Drive. But at the same time, We got games like Wolf3d, Doom, and so on. Gaming will always wave back and forth between conputers and consoles. Pick up a copy of "The Ultimate Video Game History" published by Prima. Goes through Atari up to PS2.

Since you asked, console development can be a living hell or liquid sex, depending on the platform and development tools available. If you are only slightly interested, pick up the HAM SDK for the GBA, and a good GBA emulator. It will only cost you bandwidth.

Another, and a far more expensive option, is to get the Linux Kit released by Sony for the PS2. The only thing is that they are nearly impossible to find in the US.

What I myself have chosen, the Sega Dreamcast, is doing things the hard way. Documentation is scarce, the tools are difficult to use. You are almost garunteed to screw up an instalation of one of your compilers. You need a specialized version of the GNU GCC Toolchain for the SH4, and the ARM7.

The 3d hardware is nothing like what you would expect from a 'modern' system. Essentialy, what it is, is a glorified triangle pusher. If you have done any DOS coding, trying to use a graphics card, sound card, and joystick, that's about what it is like trying to use KOS.

But why am I still doing it, even after I have said all these bad things about it? Cause it's still a blast. There is nothing more powerful than the feeling you get when you see your program executing (properly) over a TV Screen.

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Omaha    100
I am by no means an anti-Microsoft fanatic, I'm just commenting on things I see and making rash predictions based on a lack of real information.

Actually yes, I did dabble in DOS programming and to this day I am still absolutely amazed that fantastic games like Ultima VII, TIE Fighter, DOOM and the like were as good as they were. The amount of effort behind projects like those must have been unfathomable.

I did once want to play with SNES programming, but I'll take a look at the GBA kit you describe and see if I can do the obligtory random dot routine.

Thanks,
Omaha

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
It's not all that different. Fixed target is the way to go. I never want to develop for a non-fixed target ever again. There's some hurdles to work around such as memory fragmentation and hardware limitations but these may be less significant in the next generation. Rotational media is something of a hassle but again people may move away from this. If you're good and careful and know what you're doing console development isn't that much different. Yeah first-gen documentation/hardware can be kind of a pain as we're figuring out with the PSP, but it's really kind of rewarding to be in on the ground floor (or close) for something like that.

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