Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Indie Game System

Screw the big 3
  (+4, -2)
(+4, -2)
  [vote for,

Small development teams rarely make games for game consoles anymore. Rather, they usually make them for PCs. Many people would rather play on a console than a PC.

The reason why is because Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft charge too much for devkits and the right to develop games for the system.

The idea is a cheap 2D game system that comes with an extensive SDK (for use on home computers). The company wouldn't need the royalties other companies get, because instead they would profit by selling the system itself to as many people as they can, and selling 1st party titles made by the best indie game designers.

There have been many great 2D games made by small teams in the past. These were released mainly on home computers, such as the Commodore 64 and Atari ST, and sold at low prices.

Such developments continue today, mostly for PC and a few for modded consoles. There are a few made for old systems, and also some for systems that never were mainstream.

I guess you could say this has sort of been done, citing non-mainstream examples such as the Sega Dreamcast (it had no copy protection mechanism), the GP2X, and the GP32.

Spacecoyote, Oct 20 2007

XGameStation http://www.xgamestation.com/
You mean kinda like this? [BunsenHoneydew, Oct 23 2007]

Hydra http://www.xgamesta...w_product.php?id=33
with an 8-core CPU [BunsenHoneydew, Oct 23 2007]

The Uzebox http://belogic.com/uzebox/
This is exactly what I was thinking of. [Spacecoyote, Nov 16 2008]


       I havent checked fully into it but wasnt the XNA development studio (for developing on Xbox 360) only going for $50. Allows one to use Visual Studio managed code (C# or VB) and DirectX. I am not sure if there is an extra cost ontop to have the games released, despite being an indie type game but at least it isnt too expensive to get started. Regardless i think you make a good point so [+] croissant from me.
quantass, Oct 21 2007

       XNA is free if you are not a company, but that version will only allow you to export PC games or play Xbox games yourself. The version for creating commercial Xbox games is due in March I think.   

       There are also a couple of plugins for XNA which make things a lot quicker and there are open source complete games which you can modify.
marklar, Oct 21 2007

       Another problem with the Xbox is it just isn't cheap. The idea is that the console would be so cheap it would have great market share (better than Xbox), encouraging people to dev for it.   

       Now you say, "How could you make this cheap?".   

       Well it doesn't need to have the latest hardware. Or even normal hardware.   

       Regular CDs could be the main game storage. CDs and CD drives are cheap. Additionally, USB storage could be used for saves, highscores, and downloaded games. A flash chip would store the firmware (perhaps Linux)   

       A 400mhz ARM9 SoC connected to a USB hub, A/V outputs, the CD drive and flash chip would probably be overkill. (actually that is pretty similar to the GP2X).   

       Of course even cheaper hardware could be used--hook a couple AVR microcontrollers up to some cheap A/V and USB related chips and you've got ultra cheap 8bit fun (small, probably less than 64k games could be stored on USB storage...think Atari 2600 style).   

       Of course, 2 cheap USB gamepads would come with the system. There would be USB slots on the gamepads, and they would come with at least 1 cheap usb storage stick.   

       Multiple machines could be networked through USB. Or with a USB (W)NIC, connected to other machines across the internet.   

       If the system grew popular enough, companies would start selling TVs with USB hubs in them, or even with the entire system included. Due to its modular nature, systems included in TVs would not be handicapped in any way (except that they are hardwired into that TV).
Spacecoyote, Oct 21 2007

       The reason that small teams don't compete anymore is not the cost of development kits. The reason is that developing games for a console and then placing them at an endcap in a superstore is a losing financial proposition. That's changing, however, with the advent of web downloadable console games, and there are many more examples of smaller teams tackling those. Developing and distributing a console is an even tougher battle, one that is unlikely to succeed without significant capital.   

       If anything, you could accomplish what you want by developing for the PC or browser, and then feeding the video to a TV video feed and using a controller that connects to the PC -- and those are as old as Pong, so I'm honestly not sure that there's anything new here.
theircompetitor, Oct 21 2007

       People like to have a *real* game in their hands, and a *real* system attached to their TV, so to be any kind of success, it has to be an actual console with physical game media.   

       I don't know how the whole "superstores are hard to get into" problem could be solved.   

       In the 80s Nintendo solved it by distributing the system and both 1st and 3rd party games. They also offered retail stores a decent profit margin, and customers a consistent price, and also promised to take back the merchandise and pay the stores back if any did not sell.   

       Instead of developing a new system, another method could be just buying up a bunch of unopened Dreamcasts and creating the same developer/user culture around it.
Spacecoyote, Oct 21 2007

       If you're talking about inventing the software, look into PyGame.
If you're talking about inventing the hardware, that's a matter of huge bucks.
If you're talking about inventing the market share, that makes the aforementioned bucks look like pocket change.
lurch, Oct 21 2007

       This is quite good. Computer lovers baked this a while back when making custom computer games got a bit boring. However, making custom console games is harder (trust me). Making them legally is harder (I still swear there's a law somewhere that makes my fiddling legal, but I can't find it.) A legal indie corporation with actual game-maker software making certain games sounds good. As long as they only make the best (making all of them would waste a lot of money), this is feasible. I could get my Doom Slayer series out there!
Shadow Phoenix, Oct 21 2007

       The idea is all-encompassing. The development kit (not Pygame, that would be too slow for cheap hardware, think C & SDL instead), the hardware, and the distribution of 3rd party software (and creation/distribution of 1st party software) all in one.   

       I know inventing/manufacturing the hardware can't cost *that* much, if cheap off-the-shelf parts are used and manufacture is outsourced to China. Geeks invent gadgets using little more than their leet skills and junk lying around.   

       As for the market share, if the system is promoted well enough and its a good enough value (tons of games would have to be included so folks don't have to wait for releases at launch), the market share will create itself.   

       BTW: Doom Slayer?
Spacecoyote, Oct 21 2007

       Oh, come on. You do better. I made the name "Doom Slayer" in 2 seconds when I realized that I was making a nameless game. It's basically a modeled version of Halo 2, with added darkness, demonic changes to everyone and stuff like that. Of course, had your idea been baked, I would have a better name and a less Halo-copied game. Give me a better name and I swear I'll implement it. I'll even let you name the chainsaw-gun I am currently trying to add (borrowed from Gears of War, of course)!
Shadow Phoenix, Oct 22 2007

       Another alternative to new hardware would be to get a mini-itx x86 board with commodity RAM, CD-ROM drive and USB flash storage. Fix the hardware so you don't have driver issues to worry about. You could add a graphics card if you wanted to do 3D games. I think lots of people would find it easier to develop for x86 systems.
Srimech, Oct 23 2007

       //chainsaw-gun I am currently trying to add (stolen from Gears of War, of course)!//   

       Type "chainsaw launcher" into the hb search facility.
skinflaps, Oct 23 2007

       I wonder if it would be possible to easily write a devkit for MAME-compatible games - does anyone know much about the development of these games?
hippo, Oct 23 2007

       [hippo] MAME is an emulator for a wide variety of different systems that were put into arcade cabinets. You could try to pick one of those systems and write a new game for it, but I think it'd be much easier to write a new game in PyGame or something similar.
Srimech, Oct 23 2007

       //mini-itx x86 board// even though most people would be more comfortable developing for x86, its not that hard to develop for ARM (especially if the ARM system runs Linux), and ARM boards are way cheaper than mini-itx.
Spacecoyote, Oct 23 2007

       [skinflaps], it isn't a gun that shoots chainsaws, it's just a gun with a chainsaw built in.   

       [spacecoyote], ARM is pretty good. I can see it working for a small company.
Shadow Phoenix, Oct 24 2007

       [Spacecoyote] I like ARM, it's certainly nicer to write assembler for than x86. I just like mini-itx boards because they have connections for commodity RAM, USB, usually TV-out, and the linux distributions for them are usually better developed. When you say ARM boards are cheaper, do you mean in quantity or can you get retail boards cheaper?
Srimech, Oct 25 2007

       How much are mini-itx boards retail? There are places selling ARM dev boards of various styles for around $100 retail.
Spacecoyote, Oct 25 2007

       Hey, that is a semi-enhanced insult to my programming! It is based around Halo 2 (without a model, I get terrible graphics), but I have fused my own ideas and a few cameos from other games into a fairly good game. It centers around a homeless man who accidentally enters a Hellrift created by Osama bin Whatshisface. He gains great powers and fights the beings of Hell to save the world. Yeah, I need a better plot. The 11th level is based on the Halfbakery, with skeletal fish beings attacking you until you obtain a Bun Key. Actually, I might add HB weapons to the game or it's sequel. Sadly though, I am poor and this game is on shaky copyright ground, so no distribution.
Shadow Phoenix, Oct 25 2007

Spacecoyote, Nov 16 2008


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