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Designing Games for Nintendo\'s Handheld Platforms:. The transition from GBA to DS. Abstract. Games for traditional handheld platforms have always presented the designer with a set of challenges and opportunities quite different to those that the console or PC designer must face.

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designing games for nintendo s handheld platforms

Designing Games for Nintendo\'s Handheld Platforms:

The transition from GBA to DS.

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

abstract
Abstract
  • Games for traditional handheld platforms have always presented the designer with a set of challenges and opportunities quite different to those that the console or PC designer must face.
  • The Nintendo DS, with its unique display and input possibilities, adds yet another set of challenges of its own, while offering developers a chance to pursue the holy grail of game design: innovation. The hardware itself seem explicitly designed to goad us into taking bigger risks and trying new things.
  • How, then, do handheld developers approach this enticing new piece of hardware? What are the expectations? The rules? Where are the pitfalls?
  • How does the development of a DS game, specifically the creation of its design, differ from that of a GBA title, or a console title for that matter?

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

overview
Overview
  • Introduction
  • Nintendo
  • Handheld Platforms
  • GBA
  • DS
  • Traps
  • Strategies
  • The Design Process
  • The Development Process
  • Summary
  • Q&A

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

introduction
Introduction
  • Who am I?
  • Who do I work for?
  • What do we do?
  • What have we done on GBA, and where are we currently at with DS?
  • Why talk about this now, before we’ve got all the answers?

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

nintendo
Nintendo
  • What values and qualities are associated with a Nintendo game?
  • Who plays games on Nintendo platforms?
  • Where do independent, third-party developers fit in to Nintendo’s plans?
  • What does all this mean when you sit down to design a game for a Nintendo platform?

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

handheld platforms
Handheld Platforms
  • Some specific design considerations, when developing for a handheld.
    • User interface
    • Game structure
    • Visual presentation
    • Use of audio
  • The diversity of situations in which handheld games are played.

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

slide9
GBA
  • Constraints.
  • Expectations.
  • Haven for ports and “classic” gameplay…
  • …but also a place for neglected genres to flourish and grow once again.
  • Emphasis on gameplay over both innovation and “wow” factor.
  • First party releases and licensed product.
  • Who plays GBA?

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

the ds is announced
The DS is Announced
  • Top responses:
    • What? Two screens? You mean like Donkey Kong?
    • If one screen is fun, then two screens means *twice* the fun! </sarcasm>
    • Huh?
    • Um.
    • LOLROFLMAO!

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

introducing the ds
Introducing the DS
  • A picture says a thousand words.
  • With Photoshop, however, you can say even more…

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

introducing the ds take two
Introducing the DS, Take Two
  • Tech specs (in designerese):
    • Ability to do some 3D stuff.
    • Two screens.
    • Stylus and touch screen control.
    • 4 face buttons.
    • Microphone.
    • WiFi connectivity.
    • Game sharing.

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

slide23
DS
  • Constraints.
  • Expectations.
  • Is there place for ports and multi-format releases?
    • Modular design.
    • Linked settings and stories.
  • Emphasis on innovation.
    • Can this go to far?
    • Is this the expense of gameplay depth?
    • What are the risks involved in re-inventing the wheel?
  • First party releases and licensed product.
  • Who will play the DS?

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

traps
Traps
  • 3D or not 3D?
    • No analog stick. Control is key, and must be designed around two types of fundamentally 2D control input.
    • 2048 triangles.
    • Camera control.
  • Touch screen use.
    • When, where and how?
    • More importantly: why?
  • What’s the second screen for?
  • Quick – how many thumbs does the player have?

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

strategies
Strategies
  • Minimising risk.
    • Technology.
    • Design.
  • Prototyping.
  • Looking beyond console and handheld gaming for inspiration.
  • Modular design.

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

the design process
The Design Process
  • GBA
    • Points of reference.
    • What is the game like?
    • Okay, so how is it different?
  • DS
    • Points of reference.
    • How does the game stand up, on its own?
    • How does it use the hardware? Does it justify being on the DS?
    • Where’s the familiarity?
    • Where’s the newness?

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

the development process
The Development Process
  • GBA
    • Legacy from 16-bit console development.
      • Tools.
      • Production pipeline.
    • Scheduling.
    • Implementation.
    • Testing.
    • Quick ramp-up. Known quantities.
  • DS
    • Pre-production.
    • Looking ahead at scheduling, implementation and testing.
    • New tools.
    • New pipeline.
    • Flexibility, experimentation and the ability to make mistakes.

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

summary
Summary
  • Look further afield for inspiration. Break habits. Leave your comfort zone.
  • Find ways to prototype, test and evaluate.
    • Play your game as early and as often as you can.
  • Strike a balance between novelty and substance.

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

slide29
Q&A
  • Fire away!

David Hewitt AGDC 2004

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