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3DS homebrew without piracy may work, says Goodbye Galaxy Games
by John Polson on 02/19/13 03:07:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutraís community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


[This article originally appeared on sister site IndieGames. I thought the developer community here would enjoy this, too!]
3DS can have homebrew without it leading to piracy, developer Goodbye Galaxy Games claims. Boss man Hugo Smits says his PC and eShop software project, tentatively titled Indi3DS, could be a viable alternative to create games, demos or at least prototypes without purchasing an expensive 3DS devkit.

Developing on non-retail devices almost seems a thing of the past: Vita and mobile game developers can dive right in with retail hardware and $100 SDKs. While Smits' Indi3DS won't provide everything that the standard 3DS devkit can, he tells IndieGames that this could be a great starting point for indie developers who want to create 3DS games but are not official Nintendo developers.

"You can easily create a demo with Indi3DS... and try to find a publisher then get an official Nintendo license," he says, all with a retail 3DS and an SD card or even a QR code.

indi3DS_001.pngSmits arrived at the idea of indi3DS after realizing how long it took to compile the code and boot his game experiments on the 3DS. 

He blogged about being "really annoyed" at the large time and money investment needed to create a framework to develop for the 3DS, saying that all this work and the slow compiling time were why he has not released anything on the Nintendo 3DS, yet. 
However, by creating a simulator/emulator, he could run his games on his PC instantly. Once he was ready to test the game on real hardware, the eShop software could read the game data from QR codes or an SD card with a regular, retail 3DS.

The file size restrictions for these homebrew games would be only what the hardware, SD cards, or QR codes impose. "One cool thing about this feature, it's possible for developers to split the assets and source-code QR codes," explains Smits. "So, if you just made a quick small changes to the code, you only have to reload the source-code QR code (and not the assets)." 

Nintendo has managed to keep the 3DS homebrew-free, and Smits explains that his software would not open the console up to piracy. "The interpreter can only read my own code and not standard 3DS code," he says. 

"The whole reason for releasing this would be to allow people to develop homebrew without having the nasty side effects like piracy a lot of tools that were developed for the homebrew community were later miss-used to allow piracy."

Smits says he would release the programming-software for the PC for free and envisions the eShop software would cost a nominal $2 or even be free. He is currently gauging interest from consumers and developers before moving forward with the homebrew-enabling project.

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David Klingler
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I really hope this gets completed; what a great project.

Kujel Selsuru
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This sounds like a really cool project, best of luck with it.

Vedran Klanac
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I think this project is destined to fail and it is good that it goes that way.

Vinit Agarwal
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Why? Why would you want that? Can you give me one good reason why it's good for a project like this to fail?

Vedran Klanac
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a) what's legal base for this to succeed?
b) what does Nintendo gain from this?

David Klingler
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a) It doesn't create piracy because it uses an interpreter that translates his code, not 3DS code
b) Nintendo gains a greater number possible developers; something that Nintendo wants right now especially. It's a potential way for developers without a license with Nintendo to get in on something they normally wouldn't be able to, and perhaps in the end get a game on the system they normally would not have been able to. Even if it doesn't end up going quite that far, it would still be good for hobbyists as it would allow 3DS tinkering without promoting piracy. This could be sold as a kit that Nintendo could have a part of (via the eshop).

Eric Kinkead
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David is absolutely correct although I am no longer a fan of Nintendo after using homebrew to become a legitimate developer for Nintendo. In 1999 a programmer and I developed games on homebrew for gameboy color. It led to us not only being able to create fantastic demos that scored us deals with publishers, but also allowed me to set up deals with other homebrew programmers once I had "broken through" to the other side. My company ended up being one of the first companies in north America to launch a title with Gameboy Advance and I released a total of 7 titles on 2 Nintendo platforms. I ended up moving far away from Nintendo due to NoA not really putting any focus on creativity, catering only to publishers, and not caring for developers in the program. Nintendo is still so backwards and behind the times when it comes to development. Their development web page,, hasn't hardly changed since 1999 and speaks volumes for how it is to release a title through NoA's standard channels.

Vedran Klanac
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Totally agree with you Eric, as I have very similar story.

Hugo Smits
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Hey Guys, It's me Hugo Smits (the guy that is working on this project).

@Vedran: From a legal stand point I think it will be fine, since it does almost the
same stuff as Petit Computer for DSi-Ware (
WSzw) which is allowed and sold by Nintendo (through their
DSi-Ware store).

except my project is for 3DS and brings some improvement.


I agree with you on some points. For the past few years I have only focused on Nintendo,
creating many titles exclusively for DS. Even though I think Nintendo can make improvements on their developer plan, their market is still much friendlier and easier than iOS.

If you look at my titles ( they are all very creative and innovating (or at least I try to be). And they all found an audience.
So Iím really happy making things for Nintendo handhelds.

Eric Kinkead
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Hey thanks for sharing Hugo! Glad you have had success with your (obviously creative) downloadable games (that is what those are correct? DLC?) That was not an option when I was developing for them, so perhaps there have been some changes from working with traditional publishers. However seem to have had the opposite experience with iOS/Droid. bests and thanks for the article! I still wouldn't touch Nintendo with someone elses 10ft pole. :D