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My brother has taken an interest in making games on the DS (via PALIB). I'm worried that since its a homebrew game and homebrew development on the DS is not officially supported, his programming would go to waste.

Is there any significant differences in programming via PALIB over Nintendo's official DS SDK?

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Experiments are never a waste of time. Building standard products that overflow the market is, getting skill isn't. – Jasper Kennis Sep 12 '11 at 17:55
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Unless you've been employed in a company which is into DS development, there is no way you are able to have access to the official DS SDK. Using PALib is the next best thing for hobby developers to get into DS development. His efforts won't go to waste, the programming skills and experience he will learn upon completing a game is invaluable and will be an excellent addition for his portfolio to be included in his resume.

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Well, if his goal is to gain experience working with an embedded platform, I don't see any reason why working on homebrew games would be a waste of skills. Any skills he picks up there will transfer over to any other portable platform, such as working within memory constraints and on odd systems (DS's two screens and 2 processors). I recommend everyone do a bit of embedded device programming at some point, even if you don't do it professionally.

The DS's life as a commercial system is reaching near it's end so I wouldn't choose now to go into commercial DS development as it is. It's also fairly difficult to acquire an official DS SDK even if you are a semi-professional game developer with published games. As a result I do not have specific information on the DS (Nitro) SDK.

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It depends on how you look at it. Being developed by different parties there's bound to be differences in library calls and some data structures. Given that they're both addressing the same hardware and thus the same problems there's a lot of overlap too. Switching between library a and b is a lot easier than switching hardware paradigm, so working with PALib is a valuable lesson if you aspire to work for a NDS developer I'd think. As for being able to use his actual code - well, higher level utility libraries would be fairly portable if set up properly (C is C regardless of platform), lower level code would definitely need a rewrite. The extent of it I can't comment on - even if I could, I couldn't. NDAs and stuff. As Ben Ziegler said, getting a NDS licence is no trivial task, although I know it's possible even for very small studios, you'd need some serious history in game development.

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