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Wii U and Indies: Will it Work This Time?

July 9, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

Trine developer Frozenbyte hadn't worked with Nintendo before the Wii U. However, when the publisher contacted Frozenbyte about the possibility of a title for Wii U, Frozenbyte's Joel Kinnunen says the studio was very interested.

"We were a little cautious at first before spending time with the dev kits," admits Kinnunen, "but when we got them and got the game running, that gave us confidence to go forward properly. Nintendo has supported us very well throughout."

For the Wii U version of Trine 2 -- a game which is already available for PC, Mac, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 -- Frozenbyte wanted to do something special with the game. "As always in game development, there's a million things you'd like to change in any released game," he tells us.

"Trine 2 was quite good but we still had a lot of things that sort of just lurked in the back of our minds, and we had been thinking about some new multiplayer modes as well. So we had the desire to make the game better and with Wii U we also had the perfect platform to do so."

He adds, "That's how Trine 2: Director's Cut was born. We were also working on the expansion campaign, so that is a great addition for Wii U, too."

Although Frozenbyte's experience with Nintendo is limited, the company is going into the upcoming launch with certain high expectations. "We are confident that the Wii U online store will be a very different experience [to the online store of the Wii]," says Kinnunen.

"We're going in with the expectation that Nintendo will be able to match or even surpass the other platforms this time around. Miiverse seems very intriguing and some of the features are a very good fit for Trine 2: Director's Cut. Our goal is to provide one of the best online multiplayer experiences for Wii U users."

Trine 2

Pwnee Studios is another team that has limited to no experience working with Nintendo prior to its Wii U development. The studio originally approached Nintendo about bringing its game Cloudberry Kingdom to the Wii, and Nintendo suggested that the studio should instead bring the game to the Wii U.

"We initially got excited when we saw that Nintendo was serious about revamping their digital marketplace," says Pwnee president Jordan Fisher. "Nintendo is also the father of the platformer genre, so we really wanted to pay respect to that and bring Cloudberry back to its roots.

"In terms of the new peripherals, we didn't seek out Nintendo with ideas in mind. We planned on doing a pretty vanilla port. It wasn't until E3 that we got inspired by the new hardware, and are now pushing to innovate with it."

Pwnee has found Nintendo to be very supportive every step of the way, says Fisher. "Ultimately though, how friendly the Wii U is to indies depends on how well the new digital marketplace performs. Talking to Nintendo we're excited about the changes they're bringing, but only time will tell how deeply Nintendo fans embrace the new marketplace."

In terms of online functionality and social connectivity, Nintendo is taking notes from the likes of Steam and other downloadable marketplaces, and making the obvious necessary changes to ensure the Wii U can hold its own online, Fisher believes.

He adds, "The Miiverse is ambitious beyond that, though, and must successfully pivot around a more casual audience. I don't think anyone is in a position to comment on how successful that will be, but I'm confident that at least core gamers will get what they want."

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

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Keith Nemitz
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I'm really rooting for Nintendo on this. The future of game platforms is so chaotic, I hope that many different kinds survive. I like my iPad and DS and Mac and Wii and PS3... games. Each platform seems to bring something special.

Leon T
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All sounds like good news. It will be good to see Nintendo work with smaller devs more. Since the eshop was miles better than WiiWare I have a little faith the WiU will have an even better digital store.

Francisco Javier Espejo Gargallo
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Until Nintendo doesn't make available their SDKs to everyone, it'll never really open to indies.

Joel Nystrom
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Making and releasing a game on the 3DS eShop is well within the grasp of a small indie studio - you just need to the balls to ask and go through with it. If the WiiU is the same I don't know, but nothing points to that it isn't.

I welcome both open and closed platforms, closed often has a more curated library of titles.

Francisco Javier Espejo Gargallo
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@Joel. The problem with Nintendo is that they are not open enough with their SDK licensing. They should give the oportunity to get an SDK and try and test what any dev needs. If after that, the game isn't good, then just don't approve the release. I've been a Nintendo fan from my childhood. My dream and goal in life is to become have an studio developing games exclusively for Nintendo. I've been 9 years doing games, and on the companies I did worked we tried twice to get their SDKs. Now am developing for iOS/Android on both, my contract company and a studio with my wife where we got 2 games released. We have plenty of ideas to be a successfull developer for 3DS now, but there's no way to get an SDK!!!

Joel Nystrom
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I don't share that experience, someone at your company must have pissed off someone at Nintendo =)