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Nintendo opens up development program - dramatically what's a barrier

#1 User is offline Techokami 

Posted 09 July 2016 - 10:10 PM

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So, a few days ago, Nintendo has changed their registration requirements for their new developer portal, which replaces Wario World. And it is so, SO much easier to become a developer.
All you have to do is go here:
https://developer.nintendo.com/
and Register. After an email confirmation, you sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. And... that is it. No wait times, no phone interviews. You get access to the same Wii U and 3DS SDKs as any other licensed Nintendo developer. You can purchase development hardware! And a new forum was started up for developers to discuss things.

I've been a Wii U developer for a few years now, but this is more amazing. Now I'm a 3DS developer, too! :D

No NX stuff probably because the SDK/devkits are still deeply in flux and only internal teams/second parties/damn close friends have access to proto kit. Personal guess as to when everyone else can access materials: probably after the NX is announced.

(inb4 use this for homebrew: no, bad user, read the NDA)
(inb4 use hax to make a retail unit a devkit: it's not going to be as good as a real devkit and also Nintendo will stomp your ass, so use kickstarter or gofundme to get a real kit)


#2 User is offline GerbilSoft 

Posted 10 July 2016 - 10:31 PM

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Some addendums:
  • You *can* use a hacked 3DS or Wii U for prototyping, but you do have to buy a devkit in order to publish. Otherwise, Nintendo will simply assume you threw something together with zero testing.
  • Do NOT sign the NDA if you ever intend to contribute to homebrew (e.g. Luma3DS), Nintendo emulators (e.g. Dolphin), or other unofficial software related to Nintendo, such as game hacking tools.

Since I'm a regular contributor to Nintendont, and I wrote a program to recover save files from GameCube memory cards, I won't be signing up. (I don't have any decent game ideas, anyway.) If you do have game ideas, I'd still recommend starting on PC, since that doesn't require any legal or financial investment.
This post has been edited by GerbilSoft: 10 July 2016 - 10:33 PM
Reason for edit: -linebreak

#3 User is offline Covarr 

Posted 11 July 2016 - 10:24 AM

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View PostGerbilSoft, on 10 July 2016 - 10:31 PM, said:

  • You *can* use a hacked 3DS or Wii U for prototyping, but you do have to buy a devkit in order to publish. Otherwise, Nintendo will simply assume you threw something together with zero testing.
  • Do NOT sign the NDA if you ever intend to contribute to homebrew (e.g. Luma3DS), Nintendo emulators (e.g. Dolphin), or other unofficial software related to Nintendo, such as game hacking tools.


I'm surprised these aren't things everyone can take for granted. They seem so obvious, y'know?

I'm the most tempted I've ever been to actually start working on one of the couple of game ideas I've had stewing in my head for a while. One is a comedy RPG inspired by Final Fantasy IV, Paper Mario, and Metal Gear among many others, and the other is a Four Swords Adventures clone with online. Of course, I'm not a programmer or an artist so there's two things I'm gonna need to learn. Worst case scenario, I build a working proto with a significant chunk of game, toss it on kickstarter to pay for good art, and get someone else involved, but I'd rather not because I'm horrible at managing people.

Are devkit prices locked behind the NDA? I don't wanna sign up for this right away, but I will if that's what it takes to find out how much devkits cost. If I end up doing anything for Wii U or 3DS, I may end up needing a kickstarter anyway (and therefore majority early prototyping and dev on PC) just to pay for that.

#4 User is offline GerbilSoft 

Posted 11 July 2016 - 10:32 AM

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View PostCovarr, on 11 July 2016 - 10:24 AM, said:

I'm surprised these aren't things everyone can take for granted. They seem so obvious, y'know?

You'd think, but there are idiots on other sites (GBATemp :v:) who signed up with the sole intention of leaking the SDKs and/or using the SDKs to contribute to homebrew.

View PostCovarr, on 11 July 2016 - 10:24 AM, said:

Are devkit prices locked behind the NDA? I don't wanna sign up for this right away, but I will if that's what it takes to find out how much devkits cost. If I end up doing anything for Wii U or 3DS, I may end up needing a kickstarter anyway (and therefore majority early prototyping and dev on PC) just to pay for that.

They are, but I have some estimates from various sources. (I haven't signed the NDA so no u)
  • 3DS "Panda" system: $330 (this is for Old3DS; I expect New3DS would be similar)
  • Wii U CAT-R: $2000 (basic test system)
  • Wii U CAT-DEV: $3000 (more comprehensive debugging system; there was a photo of a Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric tester using one of these)


There's also some Intelligent Systems boxes for 3DS and New 3DS development, which feature DVI and/or HDMI connectors. They're commonly used at large events where they have 3DSes connected to TVs. (They include a 3DS dummy unit used as a controller.)

I'm not 100% sure if you'd also need to buy media (3DS flash cart and Wii U writable discs), since both 3DS and Wii U support full game installation. That's probably only needed if you were going to target a retail release.

I'd recommend prototyping on PC, then if you want to try a 3DS port, use an A9LH-hacked retail 3DS to start. Once you have a usable base, you can invest in actual development hardware.
This post has been edited by GerbilSoft: 11 July 2016 - 10:44 AM
Reason for edit: +IS 3DS

#5 User is offline Techokami 

Posted 11 July 2016 - 10:58 AM

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Devkit stuff clarification: For 3DS, you can KIND OF get away with just a Panda unit, but it's actually part of a different kit that you need to get the most out of it. It allows for flashing the firmware on the Panda, loading code directly, and getting proper debugging tools (like looking at what is going on in the GPU). It is priced in the same range as the Wii U CAT-DEV. If you go with just a Panda, you will need to buy a flashcard and programmer for it, and be unable to update the FW on the system or get access to proper debugging tools. Also, there are refurbished Wii U kits from the old Wii U Developer Program, they cost a lot less.

#6 User is offline Jayextee 

Posted 11 July 2016 - 04:38 PM

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Reckon I'll sign up for this.

I mean I did already make a Wii U game, but that was through a publisher; a guy who has a Wii U dev kit, whereas I don't (this has made for an interesting arrangement of sending builds and feedback via email and doing what I've nicknamed 'pen-pal bugtesting', an arrangement that's not really ideal). Said publisher seems to think the NX will use the Nintendo Web Framework my game (created with Construct 2) runs on, and if that's true it'll be a worthy investment I should reckon.

#7 User is offline .Luke 

Posted 13 July 2016 - 11:10 PM

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View PostGerbilSoft, on 10 July 2016 - 10:31 PM, said:

Some addendums:
  • You *can* use a hacked 3DS or Wii U for prototyping, but you do have to buy a devkit in order to publish. Otherwise, Nintendo will simply assume you threw something together with zero testing.
  • Do NOT sign the NDA if you ever intend to contribute to homebrew (e.g. Luma3DS), Nintendo emulators (e.g. Dolphin), or other unofficial software related to Nintendo, such as game hacking tools.

Since I'm a regular contributor to Nintendont, and I wrote a program to recover save files from GameCube memory cards, I won't be signing up. (I don't have any decent game ideas, anyway.) If you do have game ideas, I'd still recommend starting on PC, since that doesn't require any legal or financial investment.


I'm curious how they can tell you don't have a dev unit, if not, "Hey, we don't have anything on paper saying you bought one of these. :v: ". Otherwise, I imagine it would still be critical to test a game on a hacked system, if the hurdles Freedom Planet's WiiU port went through is anything to go by. (Crashes that were only triggered on retail systems instead of the debug units.)

#8 User is offline GerbilSoft 

Posted 14 July 2016 - 08:32 AM

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View Post.Luke, on 13 July 2016 - 11:10 PM, said:

I'm curious how they can tell you don't have a dev unit, if not, "Hey, we don't have anything on paper saying you bought one of these. :v: ". Otherwise, I imagine it would still be critical to test a game on a hacked system, if the hurdles Freedom Planet's WiiU port went through is anything to go by. (Crashes that were only triggered on retail systems instead of the debug units.)

They have a record of who bought dev units through their site. If you try to publish a game and it says you don't have one, it'll be rejected immediately.

With regards to crashes on retail but not debug: I wouldn't be surprised if there was some leftover debug code using services that only function properly on dev units, e.g. printf() or the like.

#9 User is offline Covarr 

Posted 14 July 2016 - 01:05 PM

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View PostGerbilSoft, on 14 July 2016 - 08:32 AM, said:

With regards to crashes on retail but not debug: I wouldn't be surprised if there was some leftover debug code using services that only function properly on dev units, e.g. printf() or the like.

Wouldn't this be something super easy for a compiler to catch? I can't figure how something like that could go unnoticed.

#10 User is offline GerbilSoft 

Posted 14 July 2016 - 01:21 PM

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View PostCovarr, on 14 July 2016 - 01:05 PM, said:

Wouldn't this be something super easy for a compiler to catch? I can't figure how something like that could go unnoticed.

It definitely would, but that requires knowing what you're doing. :v:/>

Not saying this was definitely the problem or the programmers didn't know what they were doing, but the number of programmers who treat the compiler as "magic" and don't know how to do anything outside of Visual Studio is higher than you'd believe. (Check sites like Stack Overflow for an example.)
This post has been edited by GerbilSoft: 14 July 2016 - 01:22 PM

#11 User is offline .Luke 

Posted 15 July 2016 - 12:03 AM

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View PostGerbilSoft, on 14 July 2016 - 08:32 AM, said:

They have a record of who bought dev units through their site. If you try to publish a game and it says you don't have one, it'll be rejected immediately.

With regards to crashes on retail but not debug: I wouldn't be surprised if there was some leftover debug code using services that only function properly on dev units, e.g. printf() or the like.


Wow. Nintendo's standards are pretty high, but it's usually for good reason. Who wouldn't hate buying a game that half-works or doesn't boot?

And that makes a lot of sense. At first, I wondered if the differences in RAM capacity would be an issue, (Dev units usually have twice what the retail ones do, right?) but debug-specific stuff sounds more realistic than what I had in mind.

#12 User is offline Candescence 

Posted 17 July 2016 - 04:12 AM

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View Post.Luke, on 15 July 2016 - 12:03 AM, said:

View PostGerbilSoft, on 14 July 2016 - 08:32 AM, said:

They have a record of who bought dev units through their site. If you try to publish a game and it says you don't have one, it'll be rejected immediately.

With regards to crashes on retail but not debug: I wouldn't be surprised if there was some leftover debug code using services that only function properly on dev units, e.g. printf() or the like.


Wow. Nintendo's standards are pretty high, but it's usually for good reason. Who wouldn't hate buying a game that half-works or doesn't boot?

And that makes a lot of sense. At first, I wondered if the differences in RAM capacity would be an issue, (Dev units usually have twice what the retail ones do, right?) but debug-specific stuff sounds more realistic than what I had in mind.

Yeah, while dev kits usually have higher specs in certain areas, these are usually for debugging purposes, with the actual games being constrained to only using the kind of specs retail hardware would have, which is fairly easy to do on an OS level - the PS4 retail hardware has 8 GB of RAM, but games really only use roughly 5 GB, with the rest being allocated to the OS, along with at least one CPU core to ensure that the OS can run in the background without interrupting gameplay.
This post has been edited by Candescence: 17 July 2016 - 04:14 AM

#13 User is offline Techokami 

Posted 17 July 2016 - 04:43 PM

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Yeah a lot of the expanded capabilities of devkits are for the sole purpose of better debugging. Got a weird graphical bug? You can set a breakpoint in the code, and step through things with your computer while it runs on the devkit, so you can isolate the issue and fix it. Being able to directly look inside the GPU helps immensely, too.

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