Nintendo 64 console with EverDrive cartridge

Nintendo 64 Part 12: Why Even Bother?

, Nintendo 64, Programming

In a future post, I’ll write about how I got audio streaming to work. This post is about the big picture.

Welcome New Community Members

What do you do when new people show up in the community? New people in the community are generally enthusiastic about game programming in general or have nostalgia for the Nintendo 64, but let’s face it, most people aren’t prepared for N64 development.

I want these people to have a positive interaction with the community. What I don’t want is:

  1. I don’t want to push people out of the community.
  2. I don’t want to, like, sit by and watch your dreams collide with reality, man.

I’ve become painfully aware that the things we say to new community members have a profound influence on whether these people join us or disappear. Therefore, we have to be careful what we say around new people!

What Would Fred Rogers Do?

”Do you think I can do it?” Someone asked.

It’s not a question of ability. I think nearly anyone can make a Nintendo 64 game, if they dedicate enough time to it, and if they have the support of community members who can answer questions and point them to resources. The real question is, “Should I choose to start this project?”

The most likely reason that you won’t make a Nintendo 64 game is not because it’s impossible for you to accomplish. Instead, what’s most likely is that you will decide that something else in your life is more important to you and is a higher priority than making a Nintendo 64 game.

This is normal and healthy!

This doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. Sometimes, quitting is just an affirmation of the other things in your life.

Why Bother?

Making a game for the Nintendo 64 is hard. Why even bother? Here’s my answer.

It’s a stimulating, challenging problem to work on. I get to be social with interesting people that have shared goals, which is crucial during the pandemic. And if I succeed, I’ll get to brag about it a little, right?


In horology, the study of clocks and watches, there’s a term called “complication” which refers to the features in a watch beyond just telling the hours and minutes. This includes calendars, alarms, timers, and automatically winding mechanical watches—like this one:

Picture of mechanical watch with Nintendo 64 controller in backgrounde
This watch winds itself as you move your arm.

I think the watch is cool, but I’m not under any delusions about how the watch compares to a $15 Quartz watch from Casio. A quartz watch is more accurate, more convenient, and lighter. Self-winding is a “complication”—something that you don’t need, but shows off the mechanics of the watch.

Making a Nintendo 64 game in 2020 is also a complication. It doesn’t make the game better, it’s just showing off the difficulty of the game’s development.

Because It’s There

Or you might compare this to mountain climbing. Climbers are excited by the prospect of climbing a new, difficult mountain. It’s exciting to push yourself to new limits, even if there is no trophy at the top waiting for you.

Mountain range
Captain Kirk is climbing a mountain… why is he climbing a mountain?

To Make Something

In the end this is mostly just a hobby, like knitting or painting. It’s faster and more convenient to buy a sweater, but we still have yarn stores.