So I have this dream, right, that I’ll one day make a video game. I’ve wanted to be a video game developer for as long as I can remember. I went and learned all kinds of programming languages and about the industry as a whole for several years. And it wasn’t that long ago that I decided that I wanted to specifically make arcade-esque games for handheld consoles.
Unfortunately, my choices were limited. Like, severely limited. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to work with Nintendo of America, inc. Or, in the very least, work for a third party developer making games for Nintendo consoles. So of course, my first thought was to get a Nintendo DSiWare development kit. DSiWare seemed like the perfect platform to start my development career! But alas, Nintendo is VERY strict on who gets to develop for them. From Nintendo’s development site:
1. Developer Qualifications: An Authorized Developer will have demonstrated the ability to develop and program excellent software for Nintendo video game systems or for other game platforms. In addition, an Authorized Developer will have a stable business organization with secure office facilities separate from a personal residence ( Home offices do not meet this requirement ), sufficient resources to insure the security of Nintendo confidential information and in order to ensure an effective environment for working with Nintendo and/or its Publishers. Nintendo provides Authorized Developers with highly confidential information and many of Nintendo’s Publishers also rely on recommendations and referrals to Authorized Developers. For these reasons, Nintendo exercises a very high level of care in evaluating Authorized Developers.
2. Confidentiality Agreement; Release of Confidential Information: If approved as an Authorized Developer, your company will receive written software programming specifications for Nintendo platforms, and the ability to purchase software development tools solely for use at that company’s business location. Authorized Developers will have access to Nintendo’s Software Development Support Group’s website to discuss all development issues and receive technical updates. Each employee of an Authorized Developer who has access to the Nintendo proprietary information will be required to sign a suitable confidentiality agreement with the Authorized Developer, with terms at least as strict as those in the NDA. If your company did not intend to enter into the NDA, then DO NOT access our proprietary website or any of our confidential information, and immediately notify us that you are declining to proceed as an Authorized Developer.
3. Game Development: Rights granted to an Authorized Developer for Wii, Nintendo DS, or Nintendo 3DS extend only to the use of Nintendo’s proprietary information for the development of games on Wii, Nintendo DS, or Nintendo 3DS. No rights are being granted as a result of being approved as an Authorized Developer to manufacture, market, promote or otherwise exploit developed games or the Nintendo proprietary information, whether incorporated in hardware, software or accessory formats. Any such rights will, if granted, be pursuant to a separate License Agreement with Nintendo.
4. Development Kits: Approximate development costs range from $2,000 to $10,000, depending on the size of your team. Financial stability is expected by Authorized Developers in order to purchase the necessary development equipment for your project.
5. Game Publishing: Becoming an Authorized Developer does not mean that any game you develop will be published. If your company is developing a game on Nintendo platforms for retail distribution, it is your responsibility to secure your own business agreement with a Publisher having a License Agreement with Nintendo for the specific platform.
If your company is developing a WiiWare, DSiWare, or Nintendo 3DS eShop game, it is in Nintendo’s sole discretion both whether to offer you a Content Development and Distribution Agreement and whether to release your game.
Now, I have no problem with NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). I would take them dead seriously and would remain within the law at all times. None of Nintendo’s confidential material would get out to anyone through me, I would stake my life on it. The problems begin to arise at this line:
“In addition, an Authorized Developer will have a stable business organization with secure office facilities separate from a personal residence ( Home offices do not meet this requirement ).”
Yeahhh…I’m a homebrew developer. In other words, I work from home.
Another problem is with this line:
"Approximate development costs range from $2,000 to $10,000, depending on the size of your team. Financial stability is expected by Authorized Developers in order to purchase the necessary development equipment for your project."
Mmmhmm… I can’t afford that!!! Holy crap, Nintendo, that’s expensive as Hell! $10,000? Just for a development kit ALONE?! Jeez!
And then there’s this:
“Becoming an Authorized Developer does not mean that any game you develop will be published.”
Now, of course I know that they have a quality assurance team, and I’d never release anything with my own name on it unless it was a pretty decent product. You know, I wouldn’t want to make MYSELF look bad or anything, let alone Nintendo. But after spending $10,000 for a development kit, plus the thousands and thousands it would take just to secure an office in a commercial zone, all the physical and networking security, and all the monthly payments THAT all ensues, well…knowing that after allll that, there’s no guarantee I’ll even get to publish my game when it’s done is, well, a bit of a downer, to say the very least.
Needless to say, I won’t be making games for Nintendo anytime soon. >_>
So then, of course, I looked at SONY. The “PSP Minis” platform looked right up my alley. Now, SONY doesn’t charge nearly as much as Nintendo does for their development kits. That’s awesome. Unfortunately, they still require the minimum of having an office building in a commercial zone, and I simply can’t afford that. I have a home office. That’s where I do my work. Period. If they can’t accept that, well then, I can’t deal with them.
So, since Microsoft doesn’t have a portable device that ISN’T a phone, there was only one other place for me to turn to.
Apple’s development requirements are soooo much more lenient, and I applaud them for it. It’s still going to require some start-up costs, but the good news is, if I develop iOS applications, I can work from home. In fact, I can work from anywhere! The only costs involved are the annual $99 per year for having Apple store the iOS application on their own servers and sell it in their own store, and the cost of a “development kit.” And how much is that? Well, however much I can score an iPod Touch for. Yep, they don’t require a “development kit” in the sense that it’s a special type of product that’s open only to the developer like with other companies. Nope, with Apple, ANY iOS device can be used as a development kit. And that, my friends, is awesome. Like, really awesome. Seriously lowers the bar on developing for their platform.
The only problem I have with Apple is that they require you to build the application on a Mac running the latest OS and updates. This is obviously a cash grab by Steve Jobs, forcing people to buy one of his computers in order to develop for iOS, while for anything else I could use any operating system (my personal favorites being Linux Mint and Ubuntu Linux, two distributions of GNU Linux, obviously). This is going to cost me however much I can get a computer (preferably a laptop so I can go anywhere with it) running the latest Mac OS with all the updates installed.
Unfortunately again, Macs seem to retain their sell value much better than “normal” PC’s, even though they’re made out of EXACTLY the same damn parts! This makes no sense to me…what people are paying all that money for is the OS itself, not the computer it runs on. I could BUILD a computer and buy Mac OS from Apple.com myself and install it (i.e. making a “Hackintosh”) for FAR cheaper than it would be to buy a Mac from Apple directly. Problem is, Apple does a damn good job of blocking many Hackintosh’s from receiving certain updates. No idea how, and I’m sure there’s plenty of people who get around this easily, but I’d much rather I just get something and it work out of the box for development. For everyday computing, a Hackintosh would work just fine, but for development, it’s a little more complicated than that.
So, here’s what I’m up to now: saving up for an iPod Touch 4th gen and a laptop running Mac OS X v 10.6.7 with decent specs so I can begin application development for iOS. I’m already a registered Apple developer, just not an “iOS” developer. I’d like to change that.
Wish me luck!
Robert B. Healy III, HealyHQ™
Peace, Love, Harmony, and all that Jazz.