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NES development manual?

NES development manual?
by on (#34855)
Does anyone have an official Nintendo Entertainment System development manual that they'd be willing to share to the NESdev community?

I talked to someone at #nesdev who has a copy, but he wasn't willing to share. He said most of the information in it was already available at nesdev.com and that it was written in terrible broken English. I offered to pay him for it, or to pay for shipping to borrow it, in order to scan it into PDF form, but he wasn't interested.

I thought it would be a great boon to have the original manual that American developers used to make games in the 80s.

by on (#34856)
It's likely proprietary information (trade secret), and definitely copyrighted.

by on (#34858)
What? So is reverge-engineered Super Mario Bros source code and all the ROMs you guys routinely share and play.

Screenshot graphics of video games is art from the game, which is copyrighted also.

by on (#34875)
What proprietary information/trade secrets? I thought the NES patents and whatnot expired...or does that not apply here?

by on (#34885)
Other than as a collector's item I suspect the official manual would be useless. There's already lots of hardware docs about the NES on the internet, which - even though they have their limits - are way better than documents written by some japanese engineers with poor english skills. Try reading the Genesis or (especially) the Saturn docs from SEGA and you'll see what I mean. The only official developer's manual I've seen so far that was well-written is the one for the GBA.

by on (#34887)
What about these? They're pretty useful, aren't they?

http://emu-docs.org/Genesis/sega2f.htm
http://www.io.com/~nickb/atari/doc/stella.txt

I think every little bit of information would help, even if some of it is restated. It would help, for instance, to sort out what is false in some documents out there, and perhaps serve as a base for the Wiki. And for me it would serve as a confidence booster to see what the professionals had to work with back when they were actually making games.

But... I can understand if no one wants to scan it for fear of it being proprietary material -- which it is -- although for what it's worth I did once email David Perry about Sega Genesis development manuals and he responded with a chipper "Sure, I'd be happy to put it online. I will if I find one of my old copies" and "I'm surprised it's not up on the net already." So maybe I have it wrong, but yeah, it's been 20 years since the thing was commercially useful, and if it's occasionally (rarely?) being sold on ebay, then I don't see what's wrong with a PDF or .txt version being up online for hobbiests. I mean, even as a historical curiousity, I think it would have value, right? I mean, people collect Mario watches and Zelda stickers and stuff.

by on (#34888)
Stan Stepanic?

by on (#34890)
eh ?

by on (#34891)
Quote:


I haven't read the VCS doc, but that Genesis doc is pretty poor IMO. They manage to write long documents (though much of it is figures) but still leave out a lot of useful information. The Saturn docs are even worse.. it's like 1,000 pages (seriously) of engrish that reads like a data sheet. The YM2612 manual from SEGA is decent though, I'll give them that.

Don't get me wrong, feel free to spread the NES docs if you get hold of them if that's what you want - making information available is usually good. But I don't think they'll provide any new information (or explain things better) compared to the docs that are out there already. It's like 15 years too late for that.

by on (#34892)
If anyone has a copy and is too lazy to scan it online, I'll be happy to buy it from them (if you don't name too high of a price...) or borrow it from you (and pay for shipping, then send it back, after I scan it). Photocopies are good too, of course.

I'm not listening to teh naysayers here. Sorry.

by on (#34894)
Due to their rarity relative to literally any other console's manuals (except Neo Geo), I don't think you could get a hold of them for anything under "too high of a price" since you'll have to purchase them from a collector who can't differentiate between valuable and invaluable information. The same could be said for the mysterious Intelligent Systems Famicom or any older first party equipment whose functionality and convenience without a doubt couldn't hold a candle to a free emulator, yet would command an outrageous price to other collectors who believe someday they'll learn to use them.

by on (#34895)
I've got this 'Introduction to Saturn Game Development' dated April 13 1994, can't remember the site where I got it. It's pretty detailed and coherent (well, it's a SOA doc). I'll upload the pdf if anyone's interested.

by on (#34896)
Sure, I'm interested. Upload it to mediafire.com or somewhere (if you don't have a site)

by on (#34897)
http://www.mediafire.com/?x1engbml1tb

That should do it.

by on (#34898)
Aww sweet, this rules!! Thanks so much

by on (#34901)
That one and a lot of others is available here..

by on (#34904)
Good grief! Why isn't there this kind of information available for the NES??

by on (#34905)
prochainement!!

by on (#34906)
Quote:
Good grief! Why isn't there this kind of information available for the NES??


Because the NES doesn't have like 10 different chips that are all programmable/configureable (the console that is, I'm not counting mappers).
Seems like that site is missing some, there are even more here. Most of these docs make for awful reading though.

by on (#34908)
Maybe go find some professional NES developer and ask if he/she still has any copies?

by on (#34921)
stalepie wrote:
I'm not listening to teh naysayers here. Sorry.

Who said nay? I simply pointed out the likely legal nature of the document, since people often assume there are no legal issues, or that some developer saying "it's OK" means it's OK. What's wrong with knowing the facts before making a decision that could affect this board's existence? I think caution is in order whenever dealing with Nintendo's (imaginary) property here.

by on (#34925)
We've only recently discovered some obscure hardware quirks, like DMC corrupting controller data. Obviously developers were aware of this problem, since so many games perform multiple controller reads. Perhaps this and other oddities we're not yet aware of are explained in the technical docs?

by on (#34956)
BMF54123 wrote:
We've only recently discovered some obscure hardware quirks, like DMC corrupting controller data. Obviously developers were aware of this problem, since so many games perform multiple controller reads. Perhaps this and other oddities we're not yet aware of are explained in the technical docs?

That's very possible. The official SNES dev manual has a "known issues" section which lists two problems. The first is a DMA issue that can cause the first revision of the CPU to lock up or otherwise behave abnormally if a DMA transfer finishes at about the same time an HDMA (H-Blank DMA) event takes place. The second is a PPU bug that causes one of the sprite overflow flags to be set incorrectly if sprites are positioned a certain way (the cause of the bug wasn't known at the time of the manual's release).

by on (#35002)
You guys seem to have gotten a bit off track. The guy was looking for official NES dev docs, not SNES, or Sega whatever docs.

by on (#35003)
Even more useful may be Japanese Famicom development docs. If anyone out there is willing to share them, please do so! (No, I can't read Japanese, but they could get translated, perhaps in piecemeal, and may contain information that isn't available anywhere else).

by on (#35007)
...and what do you expect with such docs? Do you believe there's some superb thing that's not covered by the community? What do you plan after all, I'm curious...

by on (#35008)
It's not all about me. There's other people that post here. I just think it'd be good for the community to have all the information that we can get our hands on.

by on (#35010)
Nesdev has been around for a long time and it's hard to miss; if someone has docs they want to share they will, and they won't need your coaxing.. You may actually turn someone off this way.

by on (#35012)
You guys are so weird. I'm sorry I came here.

by on (#35015)
Quote:
You guys are so weird. I'm sorry I came here.

We're people with our own ideas and conclusions about things, not sock puppets or well-bribed politicians who say yes to everything. :)

by on (#35019)
Quote:
You guys seem to have gotten a bit off track. The guy was looking for official NES dev docs, not SNES, or Sega whatever docs.


I think dvdmth's comment was referring to the fact that the official docs may contain info about various hardware quirks.

As for posting links to the Saturn docs, the reason I did that was because I was critisizing the quality of the docs that the hardware makers put out, and I wanted to illustrate that by showing some examples (and also because the TS seemed interested in console docs in general).

by on (#35021)
At least on gbadev.org, I've seen it explained that people in the homebrew and emulation scene avoid official documents because Nintendo still has exclusive rights in these documents under copyright law and possibly trade secret law.

by on (#35023)
Hah, right.. I can tell you that when gba homebrew first began everyone was using the official docs. Nowadays you don't really need them anyway because you've got Martin's gbatek site, and that's probably the main reason rather than respect for copyright.

by on (#35025)
blargg wrote:
Quote:
You guys are so weird. I'm sorry I came here.

We're people with our own ideas and conclusions about things, not sock puppets or well-bribed politicians who say yes to everything. :)


Well, you're mostly correct. I just happen to be a level 25 sock puppet. I bet you guys didn't know that, eh? ;-)

by on (#35107)
It was like 10 years ago by now, but I remember Andrew Davie mentioning the official docs on the nesdev email list. I could be remembering it all wrong, but I believe he said they RE'd the system on their own, then got their Nintendo license + docs later on. The general idea being that the official docs were vague and close to useless. Also I'm pretty sure he said he didn't have access to it anymore (it stayed with the old company or something), so I wouldn't bother him about it now.

I think by now the brightest in the NESdev community know more than anyone at Nintendo ever knew about the system, except maybe the chip designer. That being said, I would still be really interested in seeing those docs also, if only out of curiosity.

Also with the way Nintendo was selective and strict about licensing, I wouldn't be surprised if any lack of info in english was intentional. Hell, they posted their help wanted ad inside the Donkey Kong arcade ROM. Maybe they figured that reverse-engineers are the best kind of engineers, heh.

We do however have a seemingly official copy of the Famicom schematic here on the site, contributed by a gentleman who was designing a Famiclone.

by on (#35120)
Yes, we probably know more than official docs.

Also, I belive programmers at Rare were british so they probably didn't know a word of japanese, so couldn't read official docs. Maybe that's why they uses so many tricks in their game : They reverse engineered the system instead of just reading the official stuff ?

And yeah official docs are typically un-technical and incomplete. I'm figuring this out by reading C64 official docs those days. I bet it would be the same with NES official docs.

Also, I remember that article from a MC-Kids programmer. He says some interesting things, like he could "purchase" options on the cart like a scanline counter or a SRAM+Battery. Maybe the programmer would decide what to "purchase" and then Nintendo decided which MMC it would be ? For example imagine a programmer deciding to purchase a scanline counter, but had a lot of headaches to work with 4kb CHRROM switching but his game ends up with a MMC3 anyway....

by on (#35123)
I thought I once heard they outsourced alot of nes projects....stil might've revved engineered it for the people they outsourced it to.

by on (#35173)
Jeroen wrote:
I thought I once heard they outsourced alot of nes projects....stil might've revved engineered it for the people they outsourced it to.

Yes, Nintendo--and probably most other companies--outsourced development in many cases. Some companies never actually had their own development team, and instead provided game ideas and resources to third parties. Read up on TOSE Software sometime, you might be shocked to learn how many of your favorite games were actually developed by the same company.

Hell, even the original Donkey Kong arcade game was developed outside Nintendo! It was developed by Ikegami Tsushinki, who also made Congo Bongo for Sega, which is essentially an isometric version of the same game.

The More You Know...

by on (#35174)
Games are developed by heads, not by trademarks. ;)

by on (#35301)
Why does it seem like to me that most people asking for official documents or devkits think they contain section information that will allow them to make some amazing game automatically or something?

I don't think official documents for NES would be very helpful at all compared to all the great information you can already get here at NESDEV and from emulator projects. If you want to make an emulator or a game or a hack of a game, all the information you need to do that you can find here. But if you aren't going to put forth the effort with things like learning how to program, no amount of official documents or devkits is going to overcome that.

So unless you just want a collector's piece I don't see why you'd want them at all.

by on (#35302)
BMF54123 wrote:
Hell, even the original Donkey Kong arcade game was developed outside Nintendo! It was developed by Ikegami Tsushinki, who also made Congo Bongo for Sega, which is essentially an isometric version of the same game.


Wikipedia's article on Donkey Kong conspicuously leaves this detail out.

by on (#35303)
Dwedit wrote:
BMF54123 wrote:
Hell, even the original Donkey Kong arcade game was developed outside Nintendo! It was developed by Ikegami Tsushinki, who also made Congo Bongo for Sega, which is essentially an isometric version of the same game.


Wikipedia's article on Donkey Kong conspicuously leaves this detail out.


I asked Steven Kent ("Ultimate History of Video Games") if he'd heard of this and he said no!

http://sadsamspalace.blogspot.com/2008/ ... -ones.html (in the comments at the end)

I noticed that Ikegami DOES have a Wikipedia entry of their own which makes claim to it, so I added a section to the Discussionpage of the Donkey Kong entry. It's particularly interesting that they sued Nintendo and that it took 7 or 8 years before they settled out of court.

Also regarding the manual, I asked someone who worked on an old American game and he said that distributing such stuff would land us both in court and that these are Nintendo's "family jewels" so to speak! I was really disappointed then, but then I realized he must be right. No great game has so far been made by amateurs using the reverse-engineered information on the web! There must be some fantastic secrets available in the official documentation, and that's why everyone is so reticent to reveal it!

For instance, what if some of the early Mario code examples matches Donkey Kong's... :P

I'm kidding. But, as I said, I think having all the information you can get your hands on regarding the NES machine, if you want to learn about it and all, would be good. I don't understand wanting to have LESS information, even if it's duplicative or only confirmative of what's already there. I searched the history of Nes Dev Boards 1 & 2 and I seem to be the only person who's ever asked about a development manual? Oh well. If I ever do make a game I'll try to do it on my own -- scratching that project I suggested, which tepples expressed interest in -- and I'll write a how-to guide explaining how to make it, to help beginners.

Thanks for the responses guys!

by on (#35305)

by on (#35308)
stalepie wrote:

Also regarding the manual, I asked someone who worked on an old American game and he said that distributing such stuff would land us both in court and that these are Nintendo's "family jewels" so to speak! I was really disappointed then, but then I realized he must be right. No great game has so far been made by amateurs using the reverse-engineered information on the web! There must be some fantastic secrets available in the official documentation, and that's why everyone is so reticent to reveal it!

For instance, what if some of the early Mario code examples matches Donkey Kong's... :P

I'm kidding. But, as I said, I think having all the information you can get your hands on regarding the NES machine, if you want to learn about it and all, would be good. I don't understand wanting to have LESS information, even if it's duplicative or only confirmative of what's already there. I searched the history of Nes Dev Boards 1 & 2 and I seem to be the only person who's ever asked about a development manual? Oh well. If I ever do make a game I'll try to do it on my own -- scratching that project I suggested, which tepples expressed interest in -- and I'll write a how-to guide explaining how to make it, to help beginners.

Thanks for the responses guys!


The reason no "great games" have been made from the public documents available is because no one here is a paid professional working for a company like Konami or Capcom being told it's their job to make a new NES game. You don't seem to understand that we have more information now than alot of NES developers ever had. I also think you are confusing making a game on the NES with making a game in general.

If you're going to make a game on the NES, the first thing you need to know is how to PROGRAM. And then how to program a GAME. Once you understand those, then you need to learn how to program a game for the NES specifically. Many people here have asked about "how do I get started" and people here will tell them the same basic things that we all know. You need to learn 6502 assembly programming. You need to read technical documents about the NES. You may want to look through the disassembly of a professional NES game too.

I just find it so strange that you think there is some some of trick or secret to making a NES game. There isn't. It's just good old fashioned hard work. And that should be obvious because if it were easy, you wouldn't be here now talking about how no one has made a new great NES game.

And to be clear, we all would like to see new great NES games here. This is afterall a community all about the NES.

by on (#35310)
I SAID I WAS KIDDING!!!!!!!!!!!

dumbasses

by on (#35311)
That sort of attitude will get you nowhere. If you're going to resort to childish behaviors you should go join another forum.

by on (#35313)
There ISN'T another forum! This is the only NES dev community in the world! AND IT STINKS.

by on (#35314)
It stinks why?

by on (#35315)
Game Over sez Gunpei Yokoi programmed Donkey Kong.

by on (#35317)
Why does it stink? Does it stink because you can't get access to a document that few of us have access to, and you think they're withholding it out of malice, or does it stink because you're too lazy to find the information, which many of us have already made available, or even to ask questions about it?

An official NES document is extremely rare and hard to come by. Not many people are willing to part with it, and scanning a document of a few hundred pages takes a VERY LONG time, and TONS of effort that not many are willing to go through if there is little or no information in it that can't be found elsewhere.

In the time you've spent complaining about not having the official NES documentation, you could have read up about how to program for it, and all the little nuances, and you could have probably coded some small test demo in the time you had left over. But you can't (or won't) see that there is very little (if indeed, anything left) that can be learned from the official NES docs.

And yet you claim that the community stinks, even though we've tried to be as helpful as we could (really, I too would like to see these docs, I don't deny curiosity on my part). You claim that we haven't written any decent games (which is not completely true) because we lack the official NES documentation, because you hope to find some hidden nuggets of truth stowed away. Yet you will not take the words of those who actually HAVE the documentation and have read it themselves.

Listen. Calling us names, telling us we stink, calling into question our individual talents or throwing a temper tantrum every time things don't go your way is NOT going to get us on your side. We've worked hard to help out one another and build up this community, and we don't shun newbies simply because they don't have the knowledge But we simply can't abide people who act childish and bitch just because a few people who have documentation you don't (which isn't of real use anyway) can't be bothered to scan it or send it to you through the mail, purchasing notwithstanding.

by on (#35375)
It stinks because I'm too unintelligent to understand the available information and I wish I was given a few more brain cells at birth.

by on (#35376)
I'm sorry I insulted this place and the people here and I wish everyone the best.

by on (#35378)
The reason you don't understand is because you have yet to put the time and effort into learning about it. The time required could be alot depending on your existing skills and knowledge. None of us here learned all we know in a day or a week. If you decide you are serious about learning and willing to put forth the effort, NESDEV is a great place to find information. You clearly seem interested in the NES and want to see new NES games. While the technical issues of programming might seem too far out for you, there are other areas you could invest some time in. While all games have to be programmed, they also have to be designed. Graphics must be drawn and music must be composed. But it's ok if none of these creative areas seem like what you want to do. There's nothing wrong with just being a fan of the NES and enjoying playing NES games.

by on (#35379)
Trust me, it's more than possible to learn about programming the NES/programming in general with no previous knowledge. I'm living proof. I started with absolutely zero knowledge of programming. I really didn't know what a byte was, and for all I knew the 6502 Jump instruction is what made Mario jump on the SMB games.

It did take me time to learn though. And I'm not saying it's easy, but it's definitely possible, even with what little documentation exists.

by on (#36939)
Just tossing an idea out here, but what if someone who had the official documentation typed it up on his (or her) computer into their own words, and made their own little diagrams of stuff that Nintendo had diagrams of? Would that still be illegal distribution, even though it was in their own words (so therefore not an EXACT copy), or am I wrong? >.>

I ask this in part because I'm curious about whether that would be illegal, and also because I'd really like to see the docs as well, if possible.

by on (#36941)
No it wouldn't be illegal, but leaking the documents in any way would violate confidentiality if they obtained the documents through legitimate means. Someone who purchases official documents off eBay shouldn't have anything to worry about however.

by on (#36942)
I don't see the problem. For starting out, there is plenty of helpful and documented information. If something isn't explained to the fullest and or a slightly vague, then use the forums or dev chat channels. I mean, considering some of the other platforms - there's quite a bit of info on the NES architecture.

It's true that the NES is not the *simplest* console to start coding on. If you find it a bit overwhelming, then go try out another system. The original B&W Gameboy is dead simple, has a great debugger, lots of info, and lots of demos and example source code. Then come back to the NES. Many concept cross over between consoles. Or you can stick it out and just start with the NES. Like anything else that requires self study, get as much info as you can and spend hours pouring over it. Make your own notes of what you interpret of that information. Try to confirm some things/concepts with others that are familiar. Write simple, simple, simple demos to test out what you know or to verify. Etc. Nobody is born knowing how to code for the NES, so you have to start somewhere.

by on (#36944)
Kizul Emeraldfire wrote:
Just tossing an idea out here, but what if someone who had the official documentation typed it up on his (or her) computer into their own words

Copying only the facts, not how they are expressed in words, is not an infringement of copyright.

tomaitheous wrote:
The original B&W Gameboy is dead simple

There are plenty of people on this board who are not a big fans of 8080-family CPUs such as that of the 8-bit Game Boy. I'd almost recommend that people start out on Allegro, then go to GBA, and finally NES if they want to enter NESdev through the Game Boy line.

by on (#36945)
Quote:
There are plenty of people on this board who are not a big fans of 8080-family CPUs such as that of the 8-bit Game Boy.


:D I'm not a big fan either, even though it was my first console/CPU. 65x>8080/z80. Though the cpu is pretty simple/straight forward in design and easy to code for, albeit pretty slow instruction cycle times (T states). But the video hardware is nice and clean for the GB. Very simple and easy to understand imo.

by on (#36948)
tomaitheous wrote:
The original B&W Gameboy is dead simple, has a great debugger, lots of info, and lots of demos and example source code.

Was this hironical ? I remember info about the original Gameboy being almost notexistant I tried to find info about it and all I know about it is that it has a Z80 CPU and that its screen has a lower resolution than the NES.
It this wasn't hironical I should have to try again.

Also, the SMD componants in GB's and GBC's cartridges are quite discouraging as opposed to good old full size componants in NES cartridges, easier to replace to make your own programms. I'm unsure if any GBA devcart also support GB/GBC, as it looks like no DS devcart support GBA.

by on (#36949)
Quote:
I remember info about the original Gameboy being almost notexistant I tried to find info about it and all I know about it is that it has a Z80 CPU and that its screen has a lower resolution than the NES.


When was this? I made my first demo in '99-00 and there was tons of info. Not to forget the awesome GB and GBC 'Otaku no Gamboey' cribsheets. (We need some NES and PCE Otaku cribsheets!) Matter of fact, I wrote my first demo with a hexeditor (no assembler) with the aid of that sheet. No$GB was the debugger I used then. There were lots of sites dedicated to GB/C dev too, plenty of source/examples, utilities, and such.

by on (#36951)
I remember seeing a good bit of GB information but really I don't think I saw anything comparable to the wealth of information we have for the NES.

by on (#36952)
It's silly to think about making a manual. Plus, most people are mixing up "how to program" and "technical schematics" subjects.

by on (#37626)
Celius wrote:
for all I knew the 6502 Jump instruction is what made Mario jump on the SMB games.


that was cute.

by on (#37629)
Roni wrote:
Celius wrote:
for all I knew the 6502 Jump instruction is what made Mario jump on the SMB games.


that was cute.

I second that :)
Re: NES development manual?
by on (#107045)
I was just wondering whether there had ever been any progress on this? Did/Has anyone got there hands on the official manual of the NES?

I myself have managed to acquire quite a few of the official documents for various consoles online and of course this would be another treat. Please see all of the above as to why I am enquiring.

Sorry to bump such an old thread. Sorry if it is against forum rules to make such a request.