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Programming Games

Ask Slashdot: Are The Days of Homebrew Gaming Over? 181

Croakyvoice writes "A few years ago the Homebrew community went from one console to another releasing some excellent software, from the Days of the Dreamcast the first breakthrough homebrew console, to the PSP which gave us the first handheld Nintendo 64, GBA and PSX emulators on a handheld. The last few years we have seen Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony and Apple all bring out means to thwart homebrew development. The app store on both Android and iOS have taken many homebrew devs over to try and break the market. The major consoles have so many firmware updates that the days of Homebrew seem to be numbered, is there a way back for the Homebrew Community?"
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Ask Slashdot: Are The Days of Homebrew Gaming Over?

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    • I wish I had karma to spend on this.
    • Indeed. And I see a looong list of games for the XBL Indie section. Same for obviously amateur games in the Android market. Not to mention all the PC games I see in HIB's and the like.

      Seems to me "homebrew" has become a more legit thing, embraced by various platforms. Not killed.

      • All the more reason that Homebrewers are the gaming hipsters, because now it is accepted and common its dead and uncool.
      • Welllll...not that I'm gonna argue that point but I think what they are talking about is traditional homebrew, where since you could hack your way to bare metal you could squeeze a little more out of it, kinda like how we all PEEKed and POKEd our way around the C64 back in the day. Also a big part of homebrew was emulators and ports, so you could play just about anything anybody could manage to get to run on the chips.

        Now THOSE days are well and truly over, I mean good look getting a Win 3.x or Genesis emul

    • This is about the fourth time I've seen this in a week here and almost never before that.

      But there may be a gaping flaw:

      "Won't someone Think of the Children?"

    • Re:No (Score:4, Funny)

      by Lord Lode ( 1290856 ) on Monday July 30, 2012 @04:25PM (#40821827)

      Short answer: no.

      Long answer: nope.

    • It's really getting old to have it under half of the submissions.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ninjackn ( 1424235 )
      Can we, as a community, get over Betteridge's Law of Headlines? Please? I'm seeing it all over slashdot recently and it really is just the latest incarnation of FIRST POST. While "no" may end up as a valid answer to the headline, it kills the discussion by religiously applying an adage instead of introducing replies to the summary with new facts, anecdotes or questions. Sure the headline might be crap but that doesn't mean we need to reply back with crap.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        There is no conversation to be had when a headline & story is so uninformed. It's just some writer trying to justify having their job. The article is wrong, the answer is no, nothing more can be said.

    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shadowrat ( 1069614 ) on Monday July 30, 2012 @04:54PM (#40822183)
      While i agree the answer to this submission is a resounding, "no", this is in ask slashdot. The very nature of these submissions are always going to be questions. isn't Betteridge's law intended to be invoked in journalism? This isn't a journalistic article. It's legitimately someone's question. BLOH doesn't state that the answer to all questions is no.
      • by Bobtree ( 105901 )

        The headline is not the question asked by the submitter.

      • How To Clean Up My Work Computer Before I Leave?
        the Best Linux Setup To Transition Windows Users?
        Preempting Sexual Harassment In the Workplace?
        Open Source Employee Vacation-Day Tracking Software?
        What's Holding Up Single Sign-On?

        I'd have to say that Betteridge's Law is intact.

        • I double dare you to submit an article with the subject line: "Are you functionally literate?"

      • More to the point, what the question is really asking is what the modern outlets are for homebrew/indie game developers. Of course, the answers are "there are plenty":

        - Web (Flash/Java/HTML 5)
        - Android
        - XNA
        - Most crucially of all, modding

        Most big studios love you modding their engines, because who uses your mod must have (in theory) bought the game.

  • Easy. (Score:5, Insightful)

    You can write a "homebrew" choose-your-own-adventure text game in minutes or hours at most.

    Without some understanding as to what the author means by "homebrew", this question can't really be answered effectively.

    Perhaps if there were an article linked, we'd get that additional information...

    • I should also add: perhaps coincidentally it sounds like someone is planning on pitching OUYA to us again very soon...

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Homebrew generally refers to software for systems that do not provide any kind of native programming capability, i.e. games consoles. Writing software for PCs is just indie development, they are designed to run user code. At first games consoles were just hard to develop for because the tools were really expensive and hard to get, and then came more and more elaborate copy protection. The complexity of the hardware has also increased massively to the point where even official developers probably don't under

  • gaming is lots of fun when everyone makes up their own rules

  • Well, in the U.S. at least, if you could come up with enough campaign contributions to buy repeal of the DMCA, then sure. But considering the deep pockets of Sony, Apple, Disney, etc. it's going to cost you a LOT. Otherwise your only real shot is to get the Supreme Court to rule the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA unconstitutional. And as conservative as the Court is these days, you can pretty much forget that. The DMCA appears to be here to stay.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 30, 2012 @03:45PM (#40821371)

      Fuck homebrew. You want to write your own games? Do it on the PC. Until that's locked down at least. Homebrew is a distraction and a trick to build on a closed platform by prying it open temporarily with a hack. Don't do it. Put your effort into a platform that's actually open. Don't like the diversity of hardware and software? Well if you can build for a Nintendo Wii with it's underspec'd everything and still come out with something fun and usable, stop whining and build for the lowest common denominator on the PC

      • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Monday July 30, 2012 @03:54PM (#40821461) Journal

        I never understood why people target closed platforms as anything but a last resort. And the more people do it, the less open platforms there will be.

        • Because platforms like the PSP and the Nintendo DS were were the only portable gaming options on the market. Now with the rise of phones and tablets homebrew probably really will die because I can't really see a future for handheld consoles when tablets and phones do a much better job all-around. Once better controls are worked out for tablet games or peripherals for them become more common I don't think we'll see much in the way of handheld consoles unless Nintendo thinks up a new, compelling gimmick.

      • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Monday July 30, 2012 @03:55PM (#40821485)

        Fuck homebrew. You want to write your own games? Do it on the PC. Until that's locked down at least.

        The PC is never really going to be 'locked down'. If you look at the Apple app store, google play, etc. you can always release shitty student project games for free on those. The PC is no different, so long as you can download and run an executable you can play a homebrew game on it.

        The consoles are fundamentally different in that they are intended to lock you out of running arbitrary code - that's both good and bad. Bad if you don't have any other means of getting software, good if you want a device that is safe to hand to your 13 year old and know he's not going to accidentally get a virus and blank your data or the like. The consoles also require a certain level of quality and so on for games to show up there, that means you know that whatever you buy on a console will behave a certain way to some degree, you have no such guarantees on the PC. Which is why there's a market for both, not everyone wants to use their brain the think about games.

        But yes, generally, if you want to give away your product for free, and you don't want to be bound by onerous requirements the way to do that is PC or Apple or Google, not XBL/PSN/Wii.

        • Which will be Microsoft's demonstration of how not to lock down a platform. Expect shifting requirements, app-breaking security updates, complete incompatibility with Win 9 and the endgame: MS screwing homebrewer, developer and gamer alike when they pull the plug on their ill-conceivef monstrosity.
          • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

            What monstrosity is that? Metro is just a UI, I am still able to run directx 8 code on windows 8 without any problems it looks like (including the Long long long long depreciated directplay), and yes, I tried this to see if it would break, not for any other reason.

            Microsoft could certainly shoot themselves in the foot with the whole metro apps thing, but they might be able to massage all of them into fullscreen windowed mode applications and never have to think about metro again.

            There's nothing particular

            • by DingerX ( 847589 )
              It turns out that it really helps to have a keyboard to make a post. Permit me now, with the aid of my trusty Model M, to unpack what I said above. The posting used the admittedly irritating expedient of using the title as part of the body (again, typing on a touchscreen blows). Therefore, the first sentence should read:

              Don't forget the WIn 8 App store, which will be Microsoft's demonstration of how not to lock down a platform.
              The point, then, is that "the whole metro apps thing" will be shooting themselve
              • Actually, OS X still has Firewire support and new non-retina MBPs ship with a FireWire 800 port if I remember correctly. Apple's strategy is more along the lines of "let's fold everything into Thunderbolt so we can get fewer and smaller connectors", which at least makes some sense if you buy into the premise that thinner is better.
          • they pull the plug on their ill-conceive[d] monstrosity.

            This seems to be a very common last step in Microsoft product philosophy. Examples would be ActiveX, the Zune and .net as the preferred application platform.

  • Also No (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    There are a number of games made by enthusiasts for the systems that I grew up with. People are writing games for the C64, Atari 2600, etc. Not in the kind of numbers as back in their heyday, but there is still life non the less.

    These systems are well known, fully documented. All of the tricks are there to try out, lots of great sprite editors, assemblers, etc. There is no need to homebrew only on phones.

  • Look into XNA (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The Dancing Panda ( 1321121 ) on Monday July 30, 2012 @03:39PM (#40821293)
    As far as I know, you can still write a game in XNA, play it, distribute it, and indeed sell it in XBox Live.
    • But why would you do THAT if you can hack it together in Linux with SDL?!

      • Some of us have a skill set that's all Microsoft. My kid and I downloaded XNA and hacked out a rudimentary 2D game and a map editor in a couple of hours. I suspect I would spend at least as much time downloading SDL and getting it to work with Visual Studio. Run anywhere approaches usually mean a lot of work getting things to run correctly on the target platform. No thanks.

        • Then it's probably more difficult to use SDL in the so called "easy" Visual Studio, because in Linux all it takes is adding -lSDL to your compiler flags. Half a second of work.

          • Well, SDL can be finicky on non-Linux platforms. It runs well enough but on Windows you have to deal with no package management so you need to set up stuff by hand in order to develop for it. On OS X the development resources (headers etc.) were nontrivial to install properly the last time I tried but work as expected once you've got them.

            That's really a big advantage of having a package manager: Getting (supported) libraries set up for development is dead easy.
  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday July 30, 2012 @03:39PM (#40821295)

    Doesn't that kinda incorrectly assume the days of consoles haven't already ended?
    I suppose homebrewers can release long after industry support goes away.

    Its getting kind of bad in console land. My son's favorite game to play on the big screen is angry birds on the roku, when he's not playing on his ipod touch. At his age I was a little atari 2600 / Coleco monster. He does occasionally play some wii games, but the streamers and the app developers will eventually figure out multiplayer and then its bye bye consoles.

    • Re:Days of consoles (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gorzek ( 647352 ) <gorzek AT gmail DOT com> on Monday July 30, 2012 @03:54PM (#40821475) Homepage Journal

      You incorrectly assume that there is only one gaming market. This is like assuming there is only one car market.

      The gaming tastes of the Xbox/PlayStation audience can't easily be stripped down to work on iPhones and Nooks.

      What will likely happen is that portable gaming consoles will die off for all but the most demanding gamers. Portable gaming in general will move to general purpose mobile devices (smartphones, tablets.) Home consoles will stick around because there's a substantial market that wants them. Gaming on PCs will likely consist of two main markets: console ports and indie titles, with frequent overlap between them (indie PC games being ported to consoles, vice versa, etc.)

      This is actually a great time for "homebrew" development, if by "homebrew" we mean "people with ideas making them into reality without the financial backing of a corporation." The barriers to entry in game development have come down quite a bit in the past few years, as people realize you don't need to spend tens of millions of dollars to make a good game.

      • by vlm ( 69642 )

        Gaming on PCs will likely consist of two main markets: console ports and indie titles

        Maybe a 3rd market of obscure genres. May want to separate that from "indie titles". On my PC I like flight sims (think, like x-plane) and hex-based military sims (think, like almost anything matrixgames sells) and single player RPGs (think, like anything spiderweb/Jeff Vogel sells). Both are pretty much indie but they're not indie as in yet another "indie fps" or "indie car race game". It would be hard to kill off indie gaming on desktops/laptops without creating a walled garden.

        Some other unkillable o

  • Not really. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot&worf,net> on Monday July 30, 2012 @03:41PM (#40821319)

    Unless homebrew means "writing software by breaking through console security", there's plenty of homebrew out there.

    The fact that Android is mentioned means the original question is vague to begin with!

    First off, Android has basically no restrictions - you can install any app any which way you want. There's no "security" to break through so homebrew is basically legitimized - anyone can download the Android SDK and whip out an app. For iOS, it's mostly true as well - homebrew apps games well, they just get the SDK, pay $99 and publish it.

    If you want apps that Apple doesn't approve, there's jailbreaking (all Apple devices except AppleTV have a method to do so - all iPhones through (and including) the 4s, iPod Touches and iPads), of which there's a homebrew community as well.

    And the Xbox has a homebrew games community they call Xbox Live Indie Arcade as well.

    Then there's the venerable PC which even with Mountain Lion can still run any valid executable code.

    Of course, if the question is about people breaking security for fun, there's iOS jailbreaking and console security busting.

    Between the PC, Xbox Live Indie Arcade, Android, and iOS, there's an outlet for one's programming talents that has legit paths that require no work to customize, really. And since the signing keys for the PS3 are public as well, the PS3 is also an open target that no firmware update can remove (though you can get your console banned from PSN if they discover "strange packages" installed on it).

    Perhaps the better question is - what is the real question?

    • by Jiro ( 131519 )

      Homebrew, as the term is usually used (of course there's no authority who can define English words), typically means writing code for a console in a way that isn't controlled by the manufacturer of the console. This doesn't have to mean "breaking through console security" since old systems like the Atari 2600 or Sega Genesis didn't have any security.

      Xbox Live and similar services are not homebrew. I suppose whether Android counts depends on whether you consider it a console.

      And homebrew, in this sense, *i

      • Not to mention, as the article alluded to, is that the rise of tablets and phones will eat away possible would-be homebrewers since they now have portable systems to work on (tablets) where they can actually get money on. People made homebrew for the NDS and PSP because they were portable systems. Phones and tablets now eclipse those systems. Nintendo is especially in a bind because tablets and phones are very much taking over casual gaming, and I suspect we'll start to see a little more serious gaming

      • >>I suppose whether Android counts depends on whether you consider it a console.
        Vizio just brought the $100 android powered GoogleTV unit to market. How is that not a console ?
  • by Dan667 ( 564390 ) on Monday July 30, 2012 @03:43PM (#40821331)
    that did not have any vendor lock-in problems ...
  • by JDG1980 ( 2438906 ) on Monday July 30, 2012 @03:45PM (#40821361)

    I don't understand what it is that people are being prevented from doing. If you want the widest possible audience for your DIY game and want to make a few bucks, go for iOS; $99 isn't that big a barrier to entry. If you don't want to pay the $99 and/or want to do one of the specific things with your game that Apple says you can't, write for Android. Or just code for a standard PC operating system. There is nothing special about modern consoles; they're basically just restricted and usually outdated computers. You can hook any modern PC up to your TV through the HDMI port.

  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stonecypher ( 118140 ) <stonecypher@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Monday July 30, 2012 @03:50PM (#40821419) Homepage Journal

    Between XNA, Steam, flash games, iOS, Windows Store, Kindle Store, Google Play, and the upcoming spectacular failure Ouya, the homebrew gaming scene is better than it has ever been.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Yes, and that's precisely the trouble. All the big names actually like and promote indie games now, and provide their own polish to the entire experience. Because of homebrew's terrible loss of obscurity, mediocrity, and hassle, hipster douchebags have precious few places to turn in these dark times.

      Frontalot [] explains this better than I can.

    • If OUYA pushes hardware out the door and it functions , its a success. Anything after that is pure gravy. I really dont care about OUYA either way, other then id like to take advantage of the man-hours they are putting in making a viable android console. IM more interested in the detail of how they do it then if they are commercially successful.
  • other methods (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Monday July 30, 2012 @03:56PM (#40821505)
    Starcraft II implemented the best custom game making system in gaming history. Since SC1 ran steady for like 12 years and set records for the longest time on store shelves primarily because of user-made content, that makes sense. They're both RTS games but I made a board game out of a map :-P It's practically a programming language wrapped in a premade graphics engine so you can make any kind of game you want inside it. Many, many people have made tower defense and full blown RPGs with leveling and saving. Some are even D&D-based. So just because the big name consoles are blocking people out left and right doesn't mean people can't design their own games anymore.
    • Ever heard of, oh, let me think: Threewave's original Capture the Flag [], which spawned dozens of imitators just on Quake's engine alone, let alone the countless variations on I don't know how many different engines since?

      No? How about the original Team Fortress []? TF2 seems to be making Valve a buck or two these days, eh?

      Or, how about Rocket Arena [], a game mod with built-in maps, a matching system for 1v1, 2v2, and 4v4, complete with scoring system that carried across map changes?

      You want something even more

  • Homebrew isn't over (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Monday July 30, 2012 @03:57PM (#40821513) Journal []

    Wii homebrew still gets made, emulators get updated still. It's slowed down, but after we hack the Wii U, I imagine there will be a bunch of new stuff.

    Stuff still gets made for the Xbox 360, the PS3.

    Wouldn't even need to ask the question if you googled the various scenes.

  • by Antipater ( 2053064 ) on Monday July 30, 2012 @03:58PM (#40821521)
    When I homebrew, I create a batch of beer. Then I put it in a keg marked "BUD LIGHT (but better!)" and sell it to bars. But Anheuser-Busch served me a C&D and now I can't do that anymore. Is this the end of homebrewing?
  • You can always develop for this thing: [] It will be available to buy March 2013.
  • by Gravatron ( 716477 ) on Monday July 30, 2012 @04:08PM (#40821655)
    He says they lack homebrew, but I can go and get a XNA or playstation mobile license quite easily and make games. It seems what the GP has a problem with is the lack of easily accessible pirated content, which of course the platform makers try to fight.
    • Homebrew and piracy are cousins, that's true, but the homebrew scene on the PSP and the NDS was far more than just piracy. The NDS's homebrew scene sucked by comparison to the PSP's but people turned the NDS into a (shitty) mp3 player, movie player, book reader, and there was even a planner app. Somebody made a good roguelike POWDER DS for it, too.

      The thing is, the need for homebrew on portable systems has also gone down since phones fill these functions quite nicely. This wasn't so true during the NDS's

  • from the Days of the Dreamcast the first breakthrough homebrew console

    Say what? The Atari 2600's first homebrew came out in 95, a few years before the Dreamcast was even released.

    I've got a few 2600 projects underway. One's Space Rocks, an updated version of Asteroids: []

    another is Frantic, an updated version of Berzerk/Frenzy []

    ROMs for both can be found at my AtariAge blog. They can be played in Stella (cross-platfo

    • "This is another Atari game I'm working on that takes advantage of the ARM processor found in the Harmony/Melody cartridge.The game logic runs on the ARM processor while the Atari's 6507 CPU updates the display and other things which the ARM does not have access to."


  • Homebrew was necessary in the past because there was no outlet for hobby game developer to develop on "closed" game platforms.

    Today, there are SO MANY outlets for hobby game developers to create content that it is no longer necessary to "hack" a device to get your content on it.

    I don't think its a question that manufacturers are finding ways to "lock down" their systems, just that they have provided alternative ways to independents to get content on those boxes.

    For instance, why "hack" a homebrew game onto

    • "While some companies haven't quite figured it out yet (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo),"

      Seriously? Microsoft has had XNA for years-- in fact I think longer than Apple's iOS tools have been out.

      Sony is slowly, slowly, slowly getting there. But you're right that Nintendo has shown zero interest.

  • I'm currently working on a homebrew modern jet combat flight simulator. For this I'm using JoGL+JOAL+JInput+JOCL. These contain embedded native libraries that work on lots of platforms (including, but not limited to Microsoft's platforms). The tools are all free/Free which means you can share everything with collaborators and clients without them having to get additional licenses. I use these technologies at the moment and apart from small variations between AMD and NVidia drivers on different platforms (w

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      linky please!

      • It's 'under the radar' at the moment. You can take that as me being full of b/s if you like, but as an indie/homebrew dev I'd prefer to STFU until very close to release (don't want to promise anything I can't deliver within the next half year). If you've seen or played DCS:Ka-50 or DCS:A-10C then just below that is the quality of product I'm aiming for, but multi-platform (and leveraging all those lovely Java technologies I mentioned, which have saved a huge amount of time - plus all the usual Java goodnes

  • While I agree with other posters that "homebrew" carries on but just looks different on different platforms, it is disappointing to see homebrew communities for older platforms fade out of existence. I was quite involved with the GBA/DS homebrew scene, but that has mostly disappeared by now. It's a ghost town over at gbaDev [] these days.

    There will always (hopefully!) be somewhere for hobbiest and independent game developers to show off, but homebrew console gaming as it has been defined during the last 10 yea

    • What did you do on the NDS? I enjoyed a lot of the NDS homebrew, maybe I used something you made. (assuming you mean you made stuff on it).

      I have to say homebrew on portable devices is also largely declining since phones and tablets are becoming much better gaming platforms that also serve a lot extra functions. the NDS was an awkward and bulky device to use to play books, movies, and music, but some people, including me, used it that way because we didn't own cell phones that could. Now, nearly everyone

      • by gauauu ( 649169 )

        I made Anguna [], a zelda-ish adventure game for DS and GBA.

        Oh wow, I haven't looked at that website in awhile. It's lying about the iPhone port -- I gave up on that when apple changed their developer terms one-too-many times during development.

  • You want homebrew? Now THIS is homebrew!

  • by physburn ( 1095481 ) on Monday July 30, 2012 @05:39PM (#40822611) Homepage Journal
    Writing a computer game hasn't really got much more difficult, but the standard of graphics is constantly improving, without an easy way to produce the stacks of graphics needed by a modern computer game, the home brew developer is stuck produce games that are further and further behind the curve of professional game development.


    Retrogames [] Feed @ Feed Distiller []

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

    I'm still coding Amiga demos you insensitive clod.

  • The major consoles have so many firmware updates that the days of Homebrew seem to be numbered, is there a way back for the Homebrew Community?

    I have a friend at the RIAA who was sympathetic when I explained your problems: an old business model that lacks technical relevance or customer demand. He said you should respond by suing your customers.

    I am not sure how this will help and to be honest neither did he, but he said that was the advice the RIAA's lawyers gave them and he's sure it's good advice bec
  • The last few years we have seen Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony and Apple all bring out means to thwart homebrew development. The app store on both Android and iOS have taken many homebrew devs over to try and break the market.

    Well I guess it depends on your definition of home-brew, but I think it is hard to make a game for iOS or Android that wouldn't be let into the store (unless you say crash on launch, or are noticed grabbing all the user's contacts without permission). It is in fact far simpler then it wa

  • by Tom ( 822 )

    Are you retarded or have you been living under a rock for the past two decades?

    I've been a gamer all my life, and I've been writing computer games for around 25 years. I've been having an eye on the games industry/scene for about as long.

    There were two great times for small indy developers - one was the early years, when graphics and sound where so limited and people didn't expect that much and a one-person project or a small team could bring out a full game that rivaled everything else on the market. Mostl

  • MonoGame and its mobile cousins allow you to target numerous desktop and mobile platforms with a single codebase. CSharp is a pretty good language, and XNA plus OpenGL and Open AL give you much versatility in exploiting hardware features to obtain performance.

    I work for a major game company. I've developed for the commercial desktop, mobile and console platforms.

    For hitting many platforms in one effort, MonoGame is pretty good. It's probably not so well documented as others, and it's got bugs, but it's o

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes