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Designing Games for Nintendo's Handheld Platforms: PowerPoint Presentation
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Designing Games for Nintendo's Handheld Platforms:

Designing Games for Nintendo's Handheld Platforms:

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Designing Games for Nintendo's Handheld Platforms:

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  1. Designing Games for Nintendo's Handheld Platforms: The transition from GBA to DS. David Hewitt AGDC 2004

  2. 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

  3. Overview • Introduction • Nintendo • Handheld Platforms • GBA • DS • Traps • Strategies • The Design Process • The Development Process • Summary • Q&A David Hewitt AGDC 2004

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

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  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. Introducing the DS • A picture says a thousand words. • With Photoshop, however, you can say even more… David Hewitt AGDC 2004

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  22. 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

  23. 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

  24. 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

  25. Strategies • Minimising risk. • Technology. • Design. • Prototyping. • Looking beyond console and handheld gaming for inspiration. • Modular design. David Hewitt AGDC 2004

  26. 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

  27. 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

  28. 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

  29. Q&A • Fire away! David Hewitt AGDC 2004