They say necessity is the mother of invention, but usually this means creating solutions for new problems. With retro gaming undergoing a massive revival more indie developers are looking back on old problems with a new perspective. Not content with merely mimicking the 8-Bit aesthetic of their childhood, The New 8-Bit Heroes wanted to make their own game within the actual limitations of the now archaic processor. From this desire the NESMaker software was born.
Creators Joe Granato and Austin McKinley were at PAX South this year to show off their new game development tool in-person as they launched their Kickstarter campaign. By the time the convention had wrapped up they had already annihilated their initial $32,000 funding goal. Having seen the tool in action as well as the attention their booth drew during the event this isn’t surprising.
Testing the Limits
NESMaker was initially conceived when Granato wanted a faster way to work with the outdated 6502 Assembly code. With the help of the teams tool developer, Josh Fallon he was able to come up with a better solution. Rather than spending hours tracking down changes in a single line of code they could instead rapidly change and prototype through a separate interface. At some point they realized that such a powerful tool could help other devs dive into 8-Bit game creation. All without the hassle of mastering a bulky coding language.
The software allows developers to create their game then flash it to a cartridge using a Kazzo USB Flasher. Higher funding tiers come with both the flasher and a reflashable cartridge from Infinite NES Lives to get things started. If you really want to go all out you can even pledge to get the Kazzo flasher in a stylish NES themed housing.
In it’s current iteration, NESMaker is still a bit rough. Since they created the software for themselves, user interface wasn’t a high priority. Kickstarter funding will help flesh out and optimize the UI. The team also wants to implement additional, genre specific features.
Ideally, developers will be able to select different modules depending on the type of game they are creating. The campaign has already unlocked the Adventure and Platformer specific modules. The next stretch goal unlocks features for RPG’s with Brawler and Shooter modules following closely behind.
Not too shabby for a couple of guys just trying to realize their childhood dream of making a NES games.