Mike MGarcia's Games Development Blog

A hobbyist Mobile/PC/Android/Console game development blog

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A Net Yaroze Postmortem and gamedev lessons learnt

In 2016, I spent most of my spare time hacking away with the old playstation, Net Yaroze.
You can see all my Net Yaroze blog posts here.

My previous experience with the Net Yaroze was back in 1999.
I bought it after seeing a UK OPSM (Official PlayStation Magazine) demo disc video saying it was discounted:

At the time I was a IT student (Computer Science), I started in software development, programming C/C++, win32/MFC/OpenGL and Java.
But I majored in information systems (Enterprise), in the mid/late 1990’s business ERP products were all the rage!
It took me about a year to go through the manuals and Black Art of 3D Game Programming before actually starting anything substantial.
On my Christmas break of 2000 for 3 months, I remember being locked away in my room and crunching so hard, I was actually looking forward to the start of uni!
I learnt how to master the clunky 3D format and made a 3D side scrolling demo, with animated block people, very much like minecraft.

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Click here to see/read more.

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Friend: Robert Swan (Rob the Swan Dev)


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Rob Swan, started his game development career in 1997 with the Net Yaroze 😄
He made some very well known games on the PS1, thanks to the Official Playstation Magazine (OPSM) Demo CD’s (PAL regions).
His most famous PS1 game being Adventure game:
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Up to 2015, it was still relatively hard to get an ‘indie’ (bedroom/hobby coded game) onto a console.
The only exception being Android consoles (micro consoles), now just called AndroidTV boxes.

A while ago I found out about the Xbox One Dev Mode, which was launched in March 31 2016.
It basically turns any retail XBox One into a UWP device (Windows10) and you can target it via Visual Studio 2015 (community edition is free), Unity3D also has UWP support.

This feature, is still new, with UWP officially launching on XBox in 2017.
You need a DevCenter license (19USD once off) which lets you put apps on the Microsoft store.

When the XBox is in Dev Mode mode, it’s limited in memory and CPU’s it can use.

I’m not interested in using C# nor DirectX, but there is a Microsoft openGL wrapper called Angle which is in C++ and supports UWP.

This is pretty good of Microsoft to do this!
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Sony unfortunately, doesn’t have a real ‘indie’ friendly platform, requiring a business entity.

More Info:
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A Net Yaroze Member - Looking back and forward

So I’m working on a Net Yaroze game now (abbreviated to NY or Yaroze for short).
And as a Net Yaroze member, I have access to the old Sony newsgroups which I search when I get stuck in the hope of finding answers, which I normally do.. and sometimes it’s even my past self! lol! :/ doh!

Well… today I came across something worth sharing, see newsgroup post below.
Here’s a Commodore 64 intro I coded up on the Net Yaroze:

To the un-aficionados, The Net Yaroze, was the only game console, hobbyist development system, with an official retail release.

Now, If you look even closer at that list, the only other “true” 3D console in the same era/generation was the Nintendo 64! - 3D console games were still very new in the mid 90s.
Not only that, but it didn’t require assembly! (programming directly to the hardware)
It was programmed in higher level languages such as C/C++, Lisp and I’m sure others.
This was very important, as it allowed for easy porting (portability) from other non-assembly platforms ie DOS/Mac/other 32bit machines because it didn’t talk natively to any hardware.
It’s also a lot easier to read and write code and develop for and at that time C/C++ was being taught in universities anyway (before Java).

10 Years prior, when the 8-bit computers were in homes, their manuals included an explanation on how to develop for it, most commonly in basic.
But people taught themselves assembly and coded games and released them to the public.

Wikipedia says that the Develo PC Engine development accessory predates it, but it’s not a development kit.
A development kit includes a target device to run the actual target builds on, commonly a PC daughter board or a seperate unit.

So the idea wasn’t completely new, except it was the first gaming console to do it and the last unfortunately (XNA/PSVita aren’t retail hardware kits and the HYDRA kit isn’t a console, it’s a kit), .
But I still find it strange because at the time (mid 90’s) the idea of the ‘bedroom indie game developer’ was fading fast in popularity with the 16-bit micros and PC computers.
Mostly because games required better art assets and more complex logic, which one person couldn’t do as a hobby in a timely manner (a few weeks).
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Links Net Yaroze & PSXDEV related material.

General feeds

My Net Yaroze related pages

Great interviews of Net Yaroze members

Youtube feeds: Yaroze PSXDEV

Tweeter feeds: Yaroze PSXDEV


Development stuff

I use code::blocks I did some videos on how I set it up here:
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The Net Yaroze (which means, Let’s do it in Japanese) is was an official hobbyist programmable Playstation from Sony (SCEE).
It was launch in 1997, and I remember reading about it in a Playstation magazine, it was $750 US about $1400 AUD.
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At that time I just started programming part-time, and I wasn’t sure I could do it.
In 1998 I started a Diploma in programming and in March 1999, I had a Net Yaroze! (I still have my acceptance letter in my CV!)

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Is the future Micro-consoles or Microcomputers?


Overview:
  • The big 3 Console manufacturers have stagnated
  • Mobile hardware and Google Android is advancing rapidly
  • Convergence of Mobile HW/SW into the desktop domain
  • Resurgence of the microcomputers (high-end Android appliance)


Micro-consoles

Below is my reply (based on personal thoughts and experiences) to Rob Weber’s 2014 Predictions for the Mobile Gaming Market.
He writes:

6) Micro-Consoles Will Become Extinct

It was fun to watch projects like Ouya from start to finish on Kickstarter. There was a lot of hype in 2013 but after a few failed attempts to build great micro-consoles, this trend will completely fizzle out and die in 2014.

I also have watched the micro-console space of 2013 and the whole buzz around android gaming.
The first wave of micro-consoles was Ouya and playjam’s gamestick.
Both of which used 2011-12 GPU/CPU, 1G RAM and 8GB of on board storage.
These were interesting to me but I didn’t want to spend $100USD each year on out of date hardware with a throw away controller, I didn’t see the point.
Surprisingly, these two are still being sold at the same price with the same hardware in 2014! wow!
Add to this, their overpriced, limited proprietary ecosystems and you have a recipe for a disaster.

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The top row, Ouya and Gamestick are both low-end micro-consoles.
The Mad Catz MOJO, bottom left, is a high-end micro-console microcomputer.
The Nvidia Shield, bottom right, is a hand-held with HDMI out and obviously not a micro-console by definition.

These two low-end, cheap units (top row) are really only good for running the apps they sell in their stores: games.
Those expecting a fuller and open Android experience would have rooted the device and side loaded apps, ie google play, but obviously this is not it’s intended use.
Unfortunately, you are still bound to that older hardware, so it’s performance and usage would be limiting.
Also, the hardware may have been subsidized by sales in their ecosystem, which means they’re business model is now broken.
This could explain why Ouya 2 still hasn’t been mentioned.

So do these gaming micro-consoles want to follow in the foot steps of the ‘big three’ (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo) console manufacturers?
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