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EnigmaticCoder

Is console development fun?

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For a long time now, I've been thinking about buying a Dreamcast to tinker with. I know that programming for any platform is essentially the same, but I'm sure there are a few key differences. For one, I assume that I would have to modify the hardware, which is a novel idea, although I'm not savvy with hardware modification. I'm sure that there are some special homebrew libraries as well, but are there any major differences when programming for a console? Is there a greater payoff after the completion of a game? By the way, I'm not ready to get into three-dimensional development. Would this set me back?

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Original post by anothrguitarist
For a long time now, I've been thinking about buying a Dreamcast to tinker with. I know that programming for any platform is essentially the same, but I'm sure there are a few key differences.

The differences may be substantial, but the challenge of learning a new model is part of the fun.

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For one, I assume that I would have to modify the hardware, which is a novel idea, although I'm not savvy with hardware modification.

You don't need to. The Dreamcast will boot from a CD-R (not CD-RW!) with the correct structure.

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I'm sure that there are some special homebrew libraries as well, but are there any major differences when programming for a console? Is there a greater payoff after the completion of a game?

The payoff is wholly subjective, and up to you - it's a function of how much of a sense of accomplishment you have. In terms of libraries, everyone pretty much uses KallistOS (aka KOS) now. It's basically a port of the GNU toolchain and some NetBSD libraries to allow for self-booting games under Dreamcast, with access to virtually all peripherals.

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By the way, I'm not ready to get into three-dimensional development. Would this set me back?

There's an SDL port for Dreamcast. 2D won't be a problem.

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There are not fun to program on a console, mainly because the lack of information and the lack of a proper sdk will not help at all. Also, debugging is a real deal.

Plus, if you add the fact that to work on a out-of-business console then the number of potential users will be dim.

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Original post by eng3d
There are not fun to program on a console, mainly because the lack of information and the lack of a proper sdk will not help at all. Also, debugging is a real deal.

An SDK is just a library, a collection of convenient routines to help you perform common tasks. Doesn't matter if it's official or unofficial; so long as it exists - and that's what KOS is - then you can develop with relative ease.

Debugging is legitimately challenging, but there are two options here:
  1. Run the code in an emulator, which reduces the complexity of getting debug code running and makes it easier to iterate; or

  2. Modify the hardware to support remote execution, letting you run a debug build from your PC on the console hardware, interrupt, step through, and monitor.


You'll probably want to do both. You'll probably also want to pick up two Dreamcasts, one of which you'll turn into a development kit (modify its hardware) and the other you'll leave as is (test machine, to replicate your users' experience).

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Plus, if you add the fact that to work on a out-of-business console then the number of potential users will be dim.

Speculation. Did you know that they still release MasterSystem games in Brazil? Did you know that a commercial homebrew/indie game was released for Dreamcast this month?

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Original post by anothrguitarist
By the way, I'm not ready to get into three-dimensional development. Would this set me back?



Given that, I have to advise you not to complicate things with console programming. It will likely do nothing but confuse and annoy you, due to your skill level.

Stick with learning the basics for now, there's no need for you to spend hours upon hours to simply get a "hello world" on a console. Just buy a console controller for your PC and stick to that, if that's what you desire. You will learn much much more and make so much better use of your time, and the results will be much better.

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I can only comment on PSP homebrew development, but it was fun, very fun.

It's very rewarding taking a game you've already made for PC and porting it over, and playing your masterpiece on the train.

Next up I'm gonna have a go at PS2 homebrew, which isn't far from PSP development from what I've heard.

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Thanks for your opinions. I was reading the KallistiOS documentation before Data Structures and Algorithms yesterday, and someone mentioned that they have done some Dreamcast homebrew. It all looks very exciting to me. I think the prospect of creating a game for a machine dedicated to gaming* is incredible. I'm pretty optimistic about the whole situation because I am willing to work through the road blocks. And if by chance, I hit an insurmountable wall, I can move on and appreciate the knowledge I gained.

I admit, I was pretty biased already when I created this thread, but I wanted your opinions nonetheless. I was sure that there was someone else who had been in the same boat as me and was willing to share their experiences, whether grim or grand. Anyways thanks for your input; I'm not too worried about blitting now that I know there is an SDL port for DC, but I am a bit anxious about the inevitable pitfalls. Anyways, ratings++ for everyone who has shared their insight thus far.



*Unless you count the web browser

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