What are your thoughts on the Wii U, after working on it extensively?
TC: We have a long history of working with Nintendo platforms. And we really like the Wii U. Right now we have three titles in development, two of which will ship in the launch window. Obviously it's a tense time right now, as Nintendo iron out the final wrinkles before launch, but the experience for us to date has been very positive.
It's a powerful machine, easy to work with, and we genuinely feel as though the GamePad enhances the experience, especially on games like Mass Effect. The fact is, when you play Mass Effect 3 on Wii U, you'll be using that controller in a very different way to how you might have played the game on PS3 or 360.
The challenge for us, of course, was to make that control experience better and more intuitive. I'm confident we've done that. The fact that you can play the whole game on the GamePad is pretty cool too.
How did you end up doing so many Wii U titles?
TC: It's funny the way these things work out. Obviously we pursued the Mass Effect opportunity extremely aggressively. Once we signed that deal and started working on that game, we became pretty immersed in everything Wii U. We had a couple of other projects on the go, but ME3 was really the focus. And naturally, you're playing around with the hardware and you start to think about other ideas you have that might lend themselves to the console.
So we decided to put a bit of our own money into bringing something original to Wii U. That game, Funky Barn, has just been announced and will ship with 505 in the launch window. More recently Straight Right signed another deal for a Wii U title. It's another big one, and will ship in 2013. I expect it will be announced later this year.
Can you explain a bit more about how you ended up with a deal to develop Mass Effect 3 on Wii U? How is development coming along, and what have been some design challenges?
TC: I love BioWare and have always wanted to work with them; those guys are my heroes. Nintendo and Epic were also involved in the early discussions -- both companies with whom we have a close relationship. So after a couple of months of relentless pressure on my part, I finally convinced BioWare that we were the right choice to nurse their baby. We spent a lot of time talking them through how we would approach the project and I suppose we were able to point to a few past successes. It was a real coup for us.
The game is pretty much done. We're fixing bugs at present, and applying that final layer of polish. In terms of design challenges, the biggest challenge, to be honest, was not screwing it up. It's a great game on its original formats and we needed to ensure we didn't break anything.
So from our perspective we turned to the hardware and asked ourselves what we could do with the Wii U controller that might elevate the gameplay experience. We handled the thing gently, and I feel like the stuff we've implemented gels extremely well. We made the power wheel interactive along with the level maps, and you can give orders to squad mates via the map on the GamePad.