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Last updated on Oct-18-2019 Download

Grand Theftendo videos/dev details now online

Grand Theftendo videos/dev details now online
by on (#78450)
The coverage/extended videos from the GDC talk are now online. Finally after what... 7 years since its announcement you can see it in action.

Although it wasn't and would never be anywhere near what Retro City Rampage is, digging through the old code and stuff there's still potential there. Knowing what I know now a pretty decent GTA game could be pulled off on the NES. The main issue is sprite flickering (which is why the sprites are so small). We put up with it in so many games (TMNT), but I feel like it'd be even more annoying in GTA. (flicker demonstration)

I doubt I'll ever have time to finish GT, but it would be fun to dig back into that stuff one day. First thing I would do is build a source level debugger into an emulator integrated with Visual Studio or another good IDE. Having something like that would take NES development to the next generation.


by on (#78451)
Awesome. Any code ever going to be released? And did you find anything out about MMC5 that wasn't known before? Thanks for the videos and stuff, hope this can get you into the world of XBLA/WiiWare games, seems like a great start. Sad it never saw a release or completion, but it goes to show what can be done.

by on (#78452)

I've been in the industry for nearly as long as the project's been in development so that gave me the "in" I needed to start my own studio. The new pseudo-8-bit project Retro City Rampage is indeed coming to XBLA and WiiWare later this year :)

As far as I recall, I posted everything I knew about MMC5 on should have the stuff. I can't remember if I discovered anything groundbreaking.

by on (#78453)
Cool. That's sweet. Maybe now that this will be nearing completion it'd be time for some NES programming again, or a new 8-bit inspired project. The world needs more 8-bit games!

by on (#78488)
I see that it will come out on Xbox/wii but what about PS3? Some kind of promotion deal that didn't make it possible for that platform?

by on (#78509)
Banshaku wrote:
I see that it will come out on Xbox/wii but what about PS3? Some kind of promotion deal that didn't make it possible for that platform?

MS aggressively forces exclusivity upon all XBLA games they "publish". Despite them not giving a penny to the developer or any promotional guarantees, it's exclusivity or no XBLA for you. The only other option is going through another publisher such as EA, but I'd already spent 6+ months pitching and negotiating and although I was in talks with other publishers, biz takes a lot of time and negotiating is draining. Had I continued pitching to other publishers the game would've been delayed even more due to so much of my time spent on biz, not enough finishing the game. It was very eye opening though and a learning experience for the future.

by on (#78511)
No experimenting with going with Wii and PS3 and dropping the 360? I think M$ would let you do the 360 release when you would give Sony 100% of the profit.

I think this game will be a huge hit either way, suck they don't allow you to put it on the PS3 market too. And knowing how far it got just on the NES, I can't wait to see what awaits for the 360 version.

I am assuming the Wii version is done and the 360 version is still being since it's 95% done, what shall be your next project? Think it'll be another 8-Bit remake? :)

by on (#78512)
There have been cases of games that turned down exclusivity so MS told them to hit the road. Machinarium is one.

Still finishing XBLA stuff then there's stuff to finish on the Wii. Mostly the system specific fluff like Wii menu integration, etc.

Lots of ideas for the future but focusing on the task at hand right now, getting RCR out the door.

by on (#78513)
Awesome. Gonna take some time off and work your way back into the community at all? That'd be pretty sweet.

Also, how much resources did you have to get to obtain the Wii Developers License? I looked at it and it seemed pretty big and something now only one person could take the chance to do.

Did the NES version get someone to fund it? If so....there could be a decent number better NES demos being made if that was also a option in the later future for their games?

by on (#78520)
Getting licensed by console devs requires tons of hoops to jump through. #1 is you pretty much need industry experience (or in special cases have an high profile indie award winning game). I've spent thousands on incorporating costs, legal fees, devkits, over $10K on office rent, etc. It's no easy task. Getting a game onto XBLA costs more than people realize, even if it's 100% done. Testing, localization, worldwide ratings, etc. will run you $50K-$100K, although your publisher can handle this you'll be paying for it in the end (and then some).

If you want to become a licensed dev, get a job in the industry for a bit. Heck, even if it's only for 6 months. Also be aware though that the biz side of even running a tiny company+doing PR is a full time job. Everyone underestimates this, myself included. Then again, if I knew how much work it was, I might not've done it haha. But in all seriousness, it's best to start a little console dev with a team, not by yourself.

There was no funding. I just worked on GT and then RCR part time until two years ago when after years of saving I had enough to quit my day job and pay for all of those expenses above. It's fully self-funded.

In this day and age though, people are lucky because of the AppStore, etc. for far simpler distribution. A lot of people would disagree with that comment, but let me explain. Yes, the AppStore is saturated. Yes almost ALL games lose money. However, it's really not that different from any other platform. Only the top games make money on the AppStore, XBLA, PSN... heck even top games on WiiWare can lose money these days! That being the case, if you want your game to succeed you need to put a lot of work into the quality, polish, making sure it's "fun" at its core, market the HELL out of it... and if you do that, it doesn't matter if it's XBLA or the AppStore.

To put the AppStore in more perspective, if you do everything to make sure you create a top game which is destined for success (again, make a great game AND MARKET THE HELL out of it), you might sell 15K units TOTAL on WiiWare for $10, or 25K units a DAY at $.99 on the AppStore.

by on (#78523)
Wow, that sound amazingly tough, but still very doable as you say. I understand the app store thing, and I've been told by myself it's pretty much the only way to make decent money without going into a full-blown release. Even if it's only for XBLA, I consider many those games full blown games without disks.

And by a job in the industry, would programming and stuff directly associated with making a game be the only "industry" job? Or do you mean something more like working at gamestop, writing articles, etc.

I like to listen to the insight on the way you go to the point your at now though. I hope it pays off for you, with how your game looks, it looks awesome. I'm sure others here will also enjoy knowing what it takes, although like me am sad that the cost is so high.

Looks like my game may be ion XNA if I ever get to program a modern console. Oh well, I've got many years to work at programming general so it's fine for me.

So how late into the year are we talking for the release? I need to know how long I have to save my 1500 MS Points. Will it be 1200 or 1600 points? I may need to buy more.

by on (#78529)
The game looks pretty amusing, I hope the release goes well!

For an NES IDE, take a look at NESICIDE. It's not finished, but it's really impressive and has progressed quite a bit.

by on (#78530)
I commend you for hanging with it, Brian. I'll definitely be buying the game. It looks great.

by on (#78538)
Brian_Provinciano wrote:
If you want to become a licensed dev, get a job in the industry for a bit.

Which sucks for people whose family doesn't live near the industry.

by on (#78547)
Biggest problem for most people in NesDev: "he spent too much time focusing on the technology -- being a perfectionist on the engine and not working on the content"

So much discussion/debate/argument about new mappers, new complex boards, new tools, and no work on getting content to finish games using the existing stuff.

by on (#78554)
The game is looking great Brian! You've got some major cojones to go into business yourself. Much respect there man. I took one look at ESRB rating fees and SDK costs and decided I'd keep my day job :P

ibeenew2 wrote:
Biggest problem for most people in NesDev: "he spent too much time focusing on the technology -- being a perfectionist on the engine and not working on the content"

I think you'll find that on every platform, not just the NES. Every team-based game development effort I have been a part of has had two fracture points:

1. The coders spend most of their time going in circles over the "architecture".
2. The artists get bored and wander off.

by on (#78575)
Thanks everyone!

Nice to see someone's putting together that all in one IDE/debugger. I hope they see it through to completion!

Yeah you really have to enjoy the business side or at least be able to suck it up because it takes a lot away from the actual development unless you have someone else doing it. I often think about how much more impressive RCR would be had I been able to spend all that time on polish/development. Without the biz though it wouldn't be on track for the console releases nor would there be all the awareness/anticipation.

qbradq: It's true. building a team is very very difficult because few people have the drive to see things through. Every contractor I dealt with or tried to work with started off on the same page "this is the greatest project ever! I'd be on my deathbed and still working on it! Then a week later they're no where to be found. The worst were the few that were lazy, late and greedy all at the same time. The importance of setting up proper contracts and delivery guidelines are critical. In some cases they wouldn't perform to even a sufficient level despite their apparent qualifications. It's been a horror story trying to get help, but I'm not alone, happens to everyone. I'm lucky I'm not in the position of some friends of mine running larger studios where shoddy contractors/employees end up losing them hundreds of thousands or more. I'm lucky I was able to find some awesome audio guys and an awesome artist in the end to help out.

tepples: I recommend anyone unable to move near game development studios to then start making/shipping their own games, whether it be iOS or PC. If PC, push hard to get it into Steam, because that's getting towards the prestige of consoles and will impress the console makers. The important thing is shipping. If you can show them that you've shipped games they will take you more seriously. Risk is their #1 concern, and if you prove that you've seen projects through to completion that puts them at ease. You can also look into doing contract work remotely for other game studios, although it'll be far harder to do that for anyone other than PC developers and most want you to be on site even if a contractor.

3gengames: By industry experience I mean working for a game studio developing games. BTW, XNA is neat but unless you rip off minecraft (which you shouldn't do) you're not going to be able to quit your day job on XBLIG. WinPhone7 is also a tiny market. Thing is, these markets are so small, if you're going to spend all that time making a great game, you're better off targeting Steam or such. Making a portable game and releasing it on multiple platforms is always the best, but by developing in XNA you're really limiting your ability to do that.

by on (#78584)
Yeah, it's been echoed in this forum a few months ago that XNA is just a toy compared to real stuff. PC development would be something within my relm I should look into more, maybe get away from the NES for a while. Although I feel a lot more at home doing HTML5 and Javascript, so maybe a web game would be nicer to work on.

And yeah, that minecraft clone is terrible. And the good games there are pretty much the only ones with a good idea that is well implemented, so it's more of a matter of a good idea XNA can do good. Miner Dig Deep is one I love, and possibly look at even trying on the NES, which would be cool but probably too much.

Never really had true info about the game development industry or from anyone [About to be, more so.] in it, very cool. Thanks for taking the time to come back here and not forget us....err, everyone else who was here. Gives us all hope inside I think. If you can do it, it shows it's possible. Just gotta have the drive as you said to get it done. Very uplifting and cool. :)

by on (#78613)
congratulations, very impressive stuff!
one question about the console ports: is your game being emulated on consoles or how did you port it over?

by on (#78635)
It's not emulated, although the core engine (primarily graphics) was built like an emulator. Basically instead of emulating 6502 it ran native code (written in C) which poked at the graphics engine to change the tiles/pals/sprites/etc. When I first started the non-NES version I was writing it in such as way that I could've ported it back to the NES by translating the C to ASM when the project was done.

Eventually though gameplay took the focus, as making a fun game for the masses is more important than achieving a technical feat if you're going to invest as much time and money as I have into the project.

I eventually had to take some liberties, primarily because of localization. Things like leaderboards just don't display nicely with 8x8 tiles (not enough room for rank+gamertag+entries) and certain languages have excessively long words. As a result, I had to add a variable size font layer over top, but unlike the horrendous Mega Man 9, it still looks authentic unless you're paying attention to the tile grid for fonts.

The engine itself enforces the NES limitations and doesn't even let me render stuff at a higher resolution or such. I did get flexible though on the sprite limits and number of sounds playing simultaneously for gameplay reasons. It also still has the proper NES palette fading, etc. (again, unlike MM9).

I also ended up transitioning the C over to C++ as it's a lot better language/more structured/cleaner.

Despite these liberties, none of the other NES-style games that've come out for XBLA/WW/DSiWare/etc. enforce the limitations as much as RCR does.

by on (#78638)
Brian_Provinciano wrote:
The important thing is shipping.

Does experience making open-source games count as "shipping"? Or does it have to be proprietary freeware? Or proprietary commercial software?

Brian_Provinciano wrote:
As a result [of localization], I had to add a variable size font layer over top, but unlike the horrendous Mega Man 9, it still looks authentic unless you're paying attention to the tile grid for fonts.

That's not really a liberty in my opinion, unless perhaps you're talking about MMC5's lack of support for CHR RAM. Compare an actual NES screenshot.

by on (#78640)
Your open source work would get you a gig at a game company (heck, I got my initial job in the industry because of all the free software/game stuff I'd been developing). Only hitch is that most devs (at least console devs) now expect all programmers to have 3D math skills, etc. for most positions, but you can get into working on frontends/UI/etc. first if you don't have that. It's funny because 70% of the work on these games really doesn't require you to know all that stuff, but AAA devs at least expect it.

The open source stuff likely won't get you a dev license with Nintendo though. Sony on the other hand is great to work with an you may be able to get a PSPminis license, a program they opened up to help out smaller developers and not make them jump through so many hoops. The only thing required to ship a PSPmini game is to buy the devkit and get an ESRB rating. The rating's about $500 now for downloadables (used to be far far more, but they've finally smartened up). Worldwide ratings would cost you a lot more though.

Running even a 1 man studio is tons of work though, so I recommend everyone work for another studio until they feel ready to go on their own. The amount I learned at other studios was critical. I really would've have been able to get where I am today without the experience (even if I somehow did get the console licenses). All the stuff I didn't know I needed to learn like the production process, working with artists, etc. --I had no idea how much more there was to it than me just sitting in a chair and coding. Each console also has a thick BOOK on all the little certification requirements and these can take a month alone to code (ie. must display EXACTLY the correct message when saving a game, must display for N seconds, what happens if they pull out the card before, during, after, what happens if someone tries to start the game with controller #2, HUNDREDS of these things --for each console). It's a lot more relaxing to be able to go home at 5 without the weight of everything on your shoulders. This thing's a 7 day a week job and I haven't had a vacation in years (all my money goes towards keeping afloat until this thing ships, even had to cash in my retirement savings and have a mortgage on the line).

Cool, nice demo! I had actually avoided simulating CHR RAM until recently due to character customization. The pedestrian CHR are generated from pieces (heads, bodies, colour mapping) and I used to do this in the pipeline. However, since I added character customization (the character can select something like 80 different heads) I needed to make it dynamic (wasteful to store every animation pre-generated for every combination).

I also simulate a small bankswitched area of the BG CHR for water, etc. This would've been a pretty sweet mapper lol.

by on (#78644)
Very cool info. And open source work will possibly get you a small job? That's good to know it's not too hard to at least get into somewhere. And how it still semi-emulates the sprites and stuff is awesome. I'll have to replay Megaman 9 though and see what it looks like, I thought it was awesome looking. Even for maybe going with too many colors and small details like that, I think that game was a great idea at least. The demo was awesome.

by on (#78646)
Brian_Provinciano wrote:
Your open source work would get you a gig at a game company

Then the problem becomes one of moving somewhere where I'd have no relatives with whom to share living quarters. (Yes, as much as it embarrasses me to say it, I'm a "symbiont single".) As I understand it, that would involve saving at least a couple years' worth of my salary because I imagine that game companies are located in places with a substantially higher cost of real estate than, say, northeast Indiana. Or did I miss something?

Only hitch is that most devs (at least console devs) now expect all programmers to have 3D math skills

I know what a 4x4 matrix mul is, and I have done a little work in Blender so I know what a bone is. Do those count for anything?

Sony on the other hand is great to work with an you may be able to get a PSPminis license

I'd look into this, but has been down for over a month now. "Temporary error: Can't contact the web server. Try again later." I found that URL in this press release and on SCE DevNet, both of which I found through Google scea developer relations.

Each console also has a thick BOOK on all the little certification requirements

Thicker than, say, Google's Android developer manuals or Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines from the Mac OS Classic days?

Cool, nice demo!


by on (#78649)
Many companies will relocate you (even fly you down for an interview), but it's most likely if you've been in the industry for a while. I was lucky in that when I started, I got a job working on those Jakks TV Games systems which was very much like an NES/Genesis so my skills at the time were very applicable. Following that I worked on PS2 Genesis emulations then PSP Arcade emulations then worked up to original titles like Sonic Rivals for PSP. They company was in town though, also fortunately.

You've got the skills to get a job in the industry. Just certain positions like gameplay programmer on a AAA game will probably be harder to nail without further industry experience.

tpr is the right site. Probably just down because of the PSN issues right now. It's very easy to port stuff to the PSP though so if you did plan on doing a PSPmini game, you can just work on something with the same screen res until it's back up. I'm not sure how PSPminis sales are though. In this day and age you generally want to hit as many platforms as possible and make your code/art portables/scaleable.

Haven't seen the Mac guidelines but it's about a month of work first time through. In addition to all the proper messages, controller states, etc. (ie. on Xbox you need to support goofy things like the "Big Button Pad" as well as the controller and remote for at least the core operations), you also need to make your code somewhat asynchronous for cases such as writing to the leaderboards and waiting for it to complete.

Starting a company, developing a game, handling all the cert requirements, game ratings, marketing, etc. is a lot to bite off at once without a team and some prior experience. You can do it, but just a fair warning not to underestimate it all.

by on (#79081)
I can't believe this is running on a NES! Unbelievable. I hope that at some point after RCR you'll release it, maybe without story mode, I would enjoy just having the open world and just go around shooting people and stuff:)

by on (#79610)
Maybe you could team up with bunnyboy to get a special cart made that is capable of running RCR on a real NES.

by on (#79612)
But the NES version isn't past basic demo phase?