It's Hard To Make A Game When Nintendo Doesn't Use Xbox Live, Says Dev

It's Hard to Make a Game When Nintendo Doesn't Use Xbox Live, Says Dev

An unidentified developer of a third-party game that launched with the Wii U -- and man, that shouldn't be too hard to narrow down -- has written for Eurogamer a thorough post-mortem of his studio's experience developing for the console. It touches familiar themes of the console's struggles, but in a more detailed, firsthand way.

The money quote, though, comes from his team's dealings with Nintendo as they tried to build their game's online capabilities even though support for them would be coming very late in the console's development. His team would offer certain scenarios to Nintendo to ask how things might work, "all the time referencing how Xbox Live and PSN achieve the same thing.

"At some point in this conversation we were informed that it was no good referencing Live and PSN as nobody in their development teams used those systems (!) so could we provide more detailed explanations for them?"

Nintendo's inexperience with online systems and features is the biggest shortcoming the writer outlines in his recap. Indeed, they're why the Wii U needed that crushing, 1GB mandatory day one patch: Basically, he says, Nintendo was still working on its network operating system as the console was being manufactured. (Indeed, Nintendo wouldn't start shipping consoles that didn't need the patch until well into 2013.)

Launch day came around and the answer became clear: Nintendo was late -- very late -- with its network systems. In fact, the only way to access their systems fully was to download a big patch on day one that added all these missing components. Without that patch a lot of the release titles would have been only semi-functional.

The remainder of the piece adds an informed, technical underpinning to the notion that, in terms of performance, the Wii U rests more in the spectrum of the previous console generation than the current one. Nintendo wanted it to consume less power so the machine would have a quiet living room aesthetic, he writes, thus its processor "might even struggle to do current-gen (PS3 and X360) titles."

All this raises a legitimate question about the console's future, if third-party studios are faced with developing a title that can sell better on two high-powered consoles, and the effort needed to port it onto a poorly selling platform. "The notion of next-gen titles being easily portable to the Wii U just doesn't work," he says. "The gulf in power is just too high," and other features are incompatible.

"The first-party developers at Nintendo will make the hardware sing -- they always do -- but the situation looks grim for those of us in third-party development."

It's a long, warts-and-all read, definitely worth your time on a Sunday.

Secret Developers: Wii U -- The Inside Story[Eurogamer]


Comments

    That's easily a problem with Nintendo hardware. If they don't try to court third party developers on their own - they may be reduced to handhelds and becoming third party.

      No. They have enough money to completely bomb out the next two consoles worse than the Wii U.

      *edit, spelling correction.

      Last edited 13/01/14 9:58 am

        How so? Nintemdo arent going to release two more bomb consoles. Someone will step in (eventually) and make some serious decisions. Wont surprise me if they go third party like Senno suggests.
        I think Iwata and Miyamoto need to retire amd let some younger people steer mintendo in the right direction..

        Last edited 13/01/14 4:05 pm

          Personally I think the best thing for Nintendo to do is to unify their next handheld and console, sort of a reverse WiiU.

          A high powered handheld based on phone/tablet technology that can output to a TV but be low powered enough to run of batteries.

          One marketing and R&D budget and their first party developer teams won't be as stretched thin as they are now.

    Doesn't this seem a bit weird when we've from other developers saying they had no problems developing on Wii U ?

      and look at all the great new third party games coming to Wii U! (heavy sarcasm).

    "Launch day came around and the answer became clear: Nintendo was late — very late — with its network systems. In fact, the only way to access their systems fully was to download a big patch on day one that added all these missing components. Without that patch a lot of the release titles would have been only semi-functional", what a cop out. xbox one needed a patch just to play games on day one, still does.

      There us a difference here though, this is software the developer could use to develop online systems for games on the Wii U, where as Xbox live wouldn't have changed since they got the dev kits

        Agreed...

        But then again.. was the original Xbox Live's start back on Xbox just as "smooth"? Remember this is Ninty basically starting online from scratch as well.

        While I realise that online network/capability should be in the norm and Ninty should cop equal flak for not getting into this feature as soon as possible it's also rather unfair to compair what is basically a "new" online system to an existing one (ie. PSN/Live) thats been running at least 1 generation before.

        Ninty has a lot of catching up and working to do for sure but it won't serve them much if they just piggy back PSN/Live either. They need to make their network "their own"

        I'm sure launch game developers for the other two consoles also needed to deal with a fluid software stack. They likely wouldn't have been in this particular area though.

        If you were developing for the Xbox One and were relying on the entire user base being "always online", it might have come as a shock when that requirement was removed.

    Homer: They don't look that flashy.

    Executive #1: Sir, Americans do not like flashy cars. They want plain, economical vehicles.

    Homer: And they don't look like they can tear up the road.

    Executive #2: Sir, Americans don't want cars that are burners. They want good gas mileage.

    Herb{enraged}: Americans don't want that?! Homer, what country do you come from?

    Homer: America!

    Herb: You hear that, you buffoons? America! That is exactly why our business is going down the tubes! You are not providing people with what they want; you are telling them what they want! Homer, I want you to help me design a car that will appeal to the people of this country. I want to pay you $200,000 a year!

    Homer: And I want you to let me!

      Dunno what this has to do with the article..

        It means they think Nintendo has decided what they think customers want.

          But the joke of that Simpsons episode was that the executives actually did know what the customers (on average) wanted, and Homer's preferences just happened to be way out of the ordinary.

          How, then, should we take this episode and apply it to the article? Is the unnamed third-party developer like the executives - knowing what the market actually wants - or like Homer - an outlier?

            It's not that the executives knew what people wanted, they knew what would sell. What people want and what they will buy is often very different.

    Loving AC4, hope the next one (if it's as good) will hit Wii U as well.

    Not really sure where they can go after having ship warfare though...

    Possibly in a Navy somewhere. Or some big new mechanic?

    The shipwreck will only start taking on more water once PS4/Xbone gain traction.

      Shipwrecks don't take on water. They're already wrecks.

    Nintendo really needs to make sure the next console is built with the third parties and that online is worth using. If they make a next gen console that can compete with the Xbone abd PS4, coupled with third party support and thier tier one line up of IPs, they will out sell all.

    I don't care for Nintendo particularly, but hopefully the Wii U fiasco will be their PS3 wakeup call.

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