Brian.Washechek

What console do you recommend to program on?

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What video game system do you recommend I start my console game programming on? I'm looking for a programmable video game system + manual on eBay or Amazon. Can anyone help me out?

I'm O.k. with old-school. It matches the type of game(s) that I'm trying to create.   

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Unity will not deploy to either of those, so it's not an option. You will generally want a physical console to do this kind of stuff on, yes, but it usually doesn't need to be anything special. You will generally perform some kind of modification to the console to enable it to run homebrew software. If you want you can usually use emulators as well.

If your goal is not actual homebrew low-level development on these platforms... if you want to use Unity instead, that matters. Your platform options will be limited to the current major consoles supported by Unity (check their site) and you'll have to be an official registered developer for whichever of those consoles you want. Obtaining this may cost money and may involve applying for the license.

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It is one piece, but not the whole thing.

Most of the GBA homebrew died off a decade ago when smartphones proliferated and the GBA ceased manufacturing. Sites like GBADev.org used to be one of the go-to sites although I haven't followed them for a decade or so. 

If you go that route you will have a small and shrinking group of enthusiasts to help with issues, and unless things have changed dramatically the most common approach is to tell you to look at the raw assembly and figure things out on your own.  The entire development chain is unsupported, individuals figuring out from memory during their time working on the systems, from assembly dumps, and from the occasional illegal leaks that were cleaned up, individuals were expected to figure out on their own how to do everything.

If you're looking at putting something out for showing off, programming for your cell phone is probably going to be easier and include enormous support groups.

 

If you want to develop for GBA, you'll need at least an emulator (if legal in your location) and probably want a GBA and at least one programmable cartridge (if legal in your location).

Then you'll need to find the right libraries and compilers that target the platform. GbaDev can help with links to those, although they're likely suffering from link rot.

If you want to debug, you'll need to follow tutorials that either connect to an emulator for debugging, or try to find whatever you can to debug on the device. 

It is not an easy path, but if you particularly enjoy the device and want to invest the effort --- which will include learning to at least read assembly code --- it may bring some emotional rewards to you.

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    I see. My deal is that I want to develop for a console and I want to do it cheap/free. Do you have any other suggestions besides the GBA? I don't really want to develop for cell phones. I'm down to develop for stone age systems. The more ancient, the better.

   The GBA seems like an acceptable package. Could I get a complete list of hardware/software plus accessories needed to develop GBA games? Like a GBA and a disk writer and a development environment are all I can think of.

"

int main()
{
	char x,y;  
	unsigned short* Screen = (unsigned short*)0x6000000; 
	*(unsigned long*)0x4000000 = 0x403; // mode3, bg2 on 

	// clear screen, and draw a blue back ground
	for(x = 0; x<240;x++)   //loop through all x
	{
		for(y = 0; y<160; y++)  //loop through all y
		{
			Screen[x+y*240] = RGB16(0,0,31);  
		}
	}

	// draw a white HI on the background
	for(x = 20; x<=60; x+=15)
		for(y = 30; y<50; y++)  
			Screen[x+y*240] = RGB16(31,31,31);  
	for (x = 20; x < 35; x++)
		Screen[x+40*240] = RGB16(31,31,31);  

	while(1){}	//loop forever
}

"- I love that. It really resembles how I used to code. 

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There are plenty of console-like products on the market, that fully support Unity, and generally follow the development process of a modern Android device.

The Ouya, while dated, can be bought for cheap. NVidia's Shield TV is a very capable modern alternative, albeit a bit pricy. Razer's Forge, Amazon's FireTV... the list goes on.

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If you want to go even older you can try out older Home Computer systems, like the C64 or Atari. They are quite simple (albeit not without quirks), emulators are available and the systems are usually documented out the wazoo.

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Endurion, could you please give me info an Atari-like system? An Atari-like system sounds perfect. Look at this title screen screenshots from "Force Disruptor". It's an Atari imitation. The code is lost, but I still have some screenshots. I'd like to program it again.

Do you think I could purchase an old Atari plus empty cartridges and a writer to write games? If the answer is "YES!", then please send me some links.

FD title screen.png

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If you just want to do something that's needlessly hard and requires obsolete kinds of low-level fiddling, then you could just make DOS games :D You can run a DOS emulator on any PC. 

To make it feel like a console, you could buy a tiny linux computer the size of a gameboy cartridge and put it inside a box with a screen. Then you get to do a fun DIY electronics project too!

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Dreamcast and IIRC PS1 (or was it PS2) had homebrew communities at one point.  I haven't checked them out for a long time though.  You could also try a raspberrypi, although I don't know if the video acceleration hardware is open or not (I think its a closed source blob).  GBA or DS homebrew might be the way to go, but as hodgman said old DOS PC is a pretty good choice as well.

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13 hours ago, Brian.Washechek said:

Do you think I could purchase an old Atari plus empty cartridges and a writer to write games?

I think that about the same way I think that if you buy a piano you could play songs by Chopin, Mozart, and Beethoven.

Yes, with the right tools and sufficient experience and training and effort people can create the games.  Someone with sufficient training and experience can use an instrument to play concert pieces. Someone with the right background and the right sporting gear can play sports at professional or pro-am levels.

Few people choose to do it, but it is certainly possible.

 

You could buy all the tools, that is the easy part.  You then need to learn how to program, learn how to design and build games, learn how to develop on the assembly language the computer used, learn the exact timings of the cpu instructions because that was how they coordinated what appeared on the screen.

Most of the programmers on those early systems were mathematicians (often with bachelors or masters degrees in mathematics) who could take many mathematical shortcuts because they understood the math at a deep and fundamental level, finding ways to implement the algorithms that exactly equaled the time requirements, making tradeoffs between math results to fit the timings perfectly.

That doesn't mean you could not do it, many people invest the time and effort to do it. Just like many people invest the time and effort to learn to play the piano to master levels.  But understand that you're talking about a long journey before you reach the destination you're discussing.

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13 hours ago, Brian.Washechek said:

Look at this title screen screenshots from "Force Disruptor". It's an Atari imitation. The code is lost, but I still have some screenshots.

So you already know how to program and the screenshots are from a game you made on your own... :)

I know only little about Atari 2600, but i guess it has no graphics unit, probably you need to change the color of the cathode ray at exact the right moment driven by raster interrupts or something - ugh, that's a true pain.

Also, for vector graphics 8 bit systems are a bit slow, Elite on C64 had 10 fps (although this is full 3D so more math involved).

And are you aware you have to code in Assembler? (but looking there: http://nesdev.com/ i see there is a C -> 6502 compiler - i wish i had this when i was young. But i don't know if performance is close to handmade assembly code. However there is active NES homebrew, may be much more attractive than Atari.)

Or you could just wait for the upcoming Atari Box: Maybe it has open Linux OS, powerful hardware... sounds totally awesome.

 

 

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If you are looking for the best opportunity to get a name arround people I suggest you first find out what console is played most actively, and over time you will have people interrested (the honestly curious gamer will treasure a piece even if its graphicly very simple i think) so even up to date consoles are not out of reach. depending on game engine and what you are used to. Best results come out when you create something for your self in the first place, and put everything else secondary :)

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Just now, Infinisearch said:

You'd need a devkit... I don't think there's a homebrew community around modern consoles yet.

not a homebrew community, but taking a look at unreals terms for publishing is worth it. and the engine is quite stunning with all the support. If and why is not important, but making the first milestone sometimes pays of well for the community. You could take the lead in that aspect in the name of homebrewers, or you could keep searching. Remember: the fun begins with the most important part: you :D

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and taking the opportunity to ask for consoles to be made open for home developement is up to us. Again, who takes the lead has the bragging rights right? Realisticly speaking a company is made of people, might be buisness but its done by humans after all. I bet someone has an ear for new ideas, in my opinion it would be an idea worth sharing. but it takes time and energy and we drifted off topic here, hope you're comfortable with it.

Edited by Robert Stoppel

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"Approval processes vary from platform holder to platform holder, contact them directly for more information and to access Unity console deployment builds."

Thats from the unity site.

and then there's this: http://answers.unity3d.com/questions/947248/how-do-i-put-my-unity-game-on-a-ps4-disk.html

 

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I guess setting up a company that releases homebrew games would be awesome... but thats all... lots of work and money investment. Not very realistic unless its the buisness model you would like to go for... thats way in deep in my opinion... alternatively you could publish for the computer, hope for a small community to form and go to hacking it onto various consoles from there... also best console is the smartphone if you want people get interrested, everyone has it, there is room for designing your own buttons, might push the smartphone console industry into a direction and add some location based features in as well... opens up new experience opportunities I suppose... also I apologize for being too lazy to do the research

 

Edited by Robert Stoppel

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