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licensing/game-dev kits

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hello, I am in sort of a dilemma. I have been actively involved with freelance game development on the PC for about 2-3yrs now. I have never EVER thought about console development...until I saw the gameboy advance. I am intrigued by this thing! Now here is the dilemma. Last year, I made a game called Jewels that I believe would really do well in the handheld market. I have given very serious thought to porting this thing over. I am aware that you can use emulators and gcc to develop for the GBA, but (IF I do this) I want to do it right. I''m gonna be as honest as I can here. My dilemma comes from my own ignorance. I have always seen the console market as something "those other guys" develop for...something that is totally out of reach for a lowly guy like me. So, I''ve never really looked into how it actually WORKS. How do I get an OFFICIAL dev kit from the big N? If I actually had the dev kit...does that give me the right to even develop for the GBA? Does anyone have any knowledge about how upstart console developers get their products distributed? I''m really trying to weigh my options here before I jump in. Besides the three specific questions I asked, does anyone have any other advice I may need to know or consider? I *greatly* appreciate any advice, jeff peck +skitzo_smurf+

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The only real way to get a official licensed dev-kit from Nintendo is to get a publisher interested in one of your games and go through them. Many people do this by writing demo games for the PC (making it as close to a GBA game of course) and going from there. You may also beable to directly apply to Nintendo first, if you have a very strong idea and business plan.

You can get info on the system and some useful tips on how to program for the machine, on the web. However as a developer, I would seriously suggest not using this info to actually try to develop a game, purely from the point that it isn''t 100% accurate by any means (yet anyway ;-) ), plus if any publishers/the big N found out about this, that would ruin your chances.

Overall, the GBA would definately be worth getting into as it will bring in a whole lot more revenue than PC games, especially when you consider that to make a PC game sell well, it has to be a top title. On the GBA to develop a top title can be conceivably done with a very small team, even by yourself if you can get some decent artwork/music.

I''d seriouslt consider going for it if I were you, however there is still the problem of getting a publisher interested (or, you could go directly to Nintendo. I can''t give out a contact mail, but if you go through thier site and e-mail them, I''m sure you''lll eventually find the address you want).

Good luck!

Marc Lambert


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Originally my plans were to try and get a publisher interested
in my work. I'm starting to agree with you about this being my
best bet. This in itself raised a few questions/concerns though.

1)Nintendo seems to be one of those companies that gets in touch
with YOU instead of vice versa. Is it likely to be any
different with a publisher?

2)Publishers scare me (no offense to anyone). I can't help but
worry about taking the shaft because of things I've heard in
the past (for example - having to surrender rights to my ideas
for X amount of years to the publisher). Has anyone had a
positive experience with a specific publisher?

3)As I see it (and as you suggested), probably the best way to
get a publisher interested is to show them the product. Before
I just go around sending out demos I think it would be best to
copyright everything I own. Is there an easy way to do this?
For example, I have heard that if you are an artist, you can
get whats called a poor man's copyright by sending your
artwork to yourself in the mail with a written statement of
intent to copyright inside the envelope. I have no idea how
true that is because I've never researched it. Any advice
from someone that has actually copyrighted a game in the
past would be very helpful.

I know I sound paranoid. Please understand that I read
slashdot.org EVERY day! This has taught me one lesson: You
CANNOT cover your ass enough in this world. Especially the
corporate world. A corporation is like a big bear and your
money-making ideas are like a phat peanut butter and jelly
sandwich inside a picnic-basket. NOT a good thing for the
picnic basket!!!

thank you,
jeff peck

Edited by - skitzo_smurf on August 23, 2001 1:12:15 PM

Edited by - skitzo_smurf on August 23, 2001 1:14:39 PM

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I think the suggestion made about writing a small version of the title on the PC would help you out here.

(Almost) everything original you produce is automatically protected by "intelluctual property" rights. You just need to make sure that you can prove it in court if the publisher decides to rip you off.

Having a working version of the game, and plenty of documentation will help. As will mailing copies to yourself (as long as you don't open it). You can also store items with a solicitor for not too much.

Here's something to be wary of though, ideas are difficult to protect and publishers have much more legal resources than you're going to get - so if they really want to steal your idea, they'll do it. But by having a working game you can try to suggest they've copied your *game*.

If it's a good title and you want to keep the majority of the rights to your ideas, then offer the publisher a license to produce a console version or something.

I think it might be worth speaking to a solicitor. I know they're expensive but a good one will certainly make sure your ass is covered. If you don't think your ideas are good enough to spend money to protect them, then what makes you think a publisher will spend money to aquire them?

Edited by - Eight on August 24, 2001 4:51:04 AM

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