You know those people that take part in developing for the NES, and they also have tons of unfinished games? Yeah, I have tons of unfinished games, myself. But there are those people that have no games finished. They seem fairly knowledgeable on the subject of NES development, but we never see much of what they do on the NES. I’m not referring to people that exclusively do timing tests and such to figure out bugs, or how to push the NES to the limits. Nopers, just those that always talk about coding their game, but not much is ever seen of their game(s), if anything.
See, there’s nothing a coder loves more than to be able to come up with an idea for a particular kind of engine, be able to see that engine come to fruition, and marvel in it. “Look at what I was able to do! Yeesssssss, my NES penis is HUGE now!” And then, what next? Well, time to learn how to do something else. Instead of taking what they have learned, wrap a game around it, and have something to show for themselves, they (seemingly) abandon it. On to the next engine. But whatever happens to these engines? Who knows. We hear of them, but never see them.
Since I picked back up on NES Virus Cleaner in early March, I’ve been on a rampage. Tearing through code, drawing some graphics, breaking out the graph paper to draw up new levels… I mean literally eating, sleeping and shitting NES Virus Cleaner. Then I got to a certain point and I noticed something. I slowed down. But why? I think it comes down to that one little phrase:
Bells ‘n whistles.
These things are what make a game a complete package. Without these, a game could feel totally different… and not as rock-solid. I’ll give you some examples of bells ‘n whistles on commercial NES games. This will give a good idea on why it’s a crucial element in creating a game.
1.) The Super Mario Bros. 3 map – Nevermind the change of music the person has on that video, just look at that map a second. Can you imagine that game without the face/bush/cactus things moving? What about the little “HELP!” bubble near the castle? Hell, even the enemy down there doesn’t necessarily have to be moving around, but he is. Very nice touches that add to the overall completeness of a game.
2.) Ninja Gaiden – I’m not even going to touch the cinema screens, because that’s one awesome story engine combined with a gameplay engine to make a superb experience on the NES. No, other little things. Like the palette fading in before each level begins. Like deciding to have the lanterns that you hit glow, or animate in some fashion.
I could go on and on, but the simple fact is, even title screens, intros to levels (such as the “Act #” screens on Ninja Gaiden), and even endings and credits. All of these are the bells ‘n whistles that make a game complete. Sound effects. All of these don’t really pertain to the main engine that you play on, but makes a finished product.
I’ve come to the conclusion that most people don’t like doing these things. They like to get an idea for an engine, make it, and that’s it. After going through this same process on the little game Pegs, and now NES Virus Cleaner, I can safely say that adding extras can get pretty boring, and slow you down a ton.
Someone else told me they think part of it is wanting to be perfect, and that might be true too. Whatever it is, in the end it just means they get recognition for knowing the NES inside and out, but no commitment towards a finalized game.