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Behind the Scenes of Wii U Software Development

Unknown Lamer posted about 10 months ago | from the should've-used-emacs dept.

Wii 92

Sockatume writes "Digital Foundry has published an article from an anonymous but trusted developer outlining the challenges of developing for the Nintendo Wii U. The piece confirms some common perceptions of Nintendo, such as their attitude to third party developers, and presents a few surprises, like networking code not being made available to outside developers until the console was almost on sale."

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People actually liked the controller? (3, Interesting)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 10 months ago | (#45949907)

Almost immediately after the reveal the emails starting flying asking what people thought of the new console design and specification. The almost universal answer was, "I like the new controller, but the CPU looks a bit underpowered".

Funny, when they revealed it, I was underwhelmed by the controller. I thought: this looks so pointless, it's like a tablet that you can't carry around.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (1)

psavo (162634) | about 10 months ago | (#45950013)

I like the controller. Much better having menus/maps on hands than going to menu and dig there. And then there's the asymmetric play (from common games seen in LEGO Marvel where other player can wander off and see his things on pad controller instead of splitscreen).

Re:People actually liked the controller? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#45950511)

I like the controller. Much better having menus/maps on hands than going to menu and dig there. And then there's the asymmetric play (from common games seen in LEGO Marvel where other player can wander off and see his things on pad controller instead of splitscreen).

I like the controller concept; but it's pretty awkward that it was released (and both the BOM teardowns and the pricing of individual controllers suggests it wasn't inexpensive compared to the console as a whole) at the same time that the market is being flooded with iPads and Android tablets, many markedly more competent, classier screens, etc.

Given that the console market is highly price sensitive, and the Wii U draws serious flack for being underpowered, it's a pity that they had to blow the cash on a dedicated, mediocre, peripheral rather than a set of buttons that snap onto one of a few major tablet types and a dollop of software.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45950855)

They wanted to get the mechanics and success of the DS handheld systems to the console. The only way to replicate that mechanic is the Gamepad.

Personally, I enjoy it. The battery life is short, but I think that is done to make it lighter and easier to hold. The Pro Controller, though optional, is my favorite since the Gamecube controller. Feels nice and solid. I do wish they brought back the analog shoulder buttons.

As for the price, there is a reason it costs less than the others of the same generation, and the way they made the tablet, allowed it have better response times than the TV or any competing dual screen setup.

Could it have been better done? Perhaps. Is the problem as much of a hyperbole as people keep mentioning? Nope. I do think they released some what early, but releasing at the start of the next summer would not have helped much. The hardware was finished, but the software has kept most people waiting. Now they have the best library of the generation (had the best since Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate released).

Re:People actually liked the controller? (2)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 10 months ago | (#45950055)

It just looks unwieldy to me. I mean, I have big hands and generally like a bigger controller (I like the 360 controller over the PS3 controller, for example), but even I have to balk at the Wii U controller. To me it looks even more uncomfortable than the old Dreamcast controller.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about 10 months ago | (#45950095)

Have you tried one? It's really nice, having the controls separated like that is much easier on your wrists and posture in general.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 9 months ago | (#45950197)

I haven't actually tried one, and so fair enough. Maybe it's a perception problem more than anything else. People see the controller (especially parents looking to buy it for their kids) and are intimidated by it--kind of the exact opposite of the Wii controller, which was so simple.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45951145)

That's the front and the back of the problem, really. People who try it like it, but unlike the Wii it's very hard to get people to that first step. It's not even easy to demonstrate in a store because of the size of it. I usually hop on the first demo pod I see of a new system, but I didn't get a shot on a WiiU until months after launch when someone brought one to a reunion. Completely shattered my expectations of what it would feel like in use.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45953093)

I have the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker for the Wii U. The tablet is really nice because you can:

1) Always have a map up
2) Manage your inventory when something really tedious is going on (like climbing a giant ladder)
3) Swap items on the fly rather than pausing
4) Display menu information that would have otherwise been hidden (seeing the different song options rather than going into the menu, memorizing, and backing out)

Give some of the games a shot at a store or something like that. The gamepad is surprisingly good and useful.

I have Wii U & Wind Waker HD too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45980683)

... and, as the 2nd screen is useful, there is really nothing this tablet can do, that would not be available via some kind of "select" menu.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 9 months ago | (#45954849)

Replying to undo accidental negative mod. I might as well explain myself: I wanted to mark this as insightful because I recently came into possession of one of these consoles and have found the controller to be quite comfortable. For me the big feature of it is the audio coming from the controller itself. Yeah, the speakers aren't as good as those on my TV, but the stereo separation from a source that close is great!

Nintendo really did do something great with the controller, here. Pity the software library is still catching up.

My apologies for my pulldown-clumsiness, Sockatume.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (3, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | about 10 months ago | (#45950127)

Funny thing: I liked the old DC controller and the original Xbox controller. As long as you didn't hold them improperly, they were great.

The trick is, you are supposed to actually hold them in your HAND, not your fingers. That prevents finger strain and a lot of the RSI problems people get into with awkward hand positioning. The side of the controller goes into the crease between thumb and forefinger and across your palm, and your thumbs are free to use the buttons while your index and middle finger operate the triggers.

The Xbox controller was the first one I ever had a marathon gaming session with and felt no pain after. Couldn't say that about any of nintendo's controllers, nor the silly Playstation controllers that jab your hand with a too-short flange underneath each side and force you to curl your ring and pinky fingers in to try to hold it up.

It's ergonomics 101.

The other feature I "like" about the WiiU's controller is the theoretical ability to play a game on it while someone else uses the TV. Not enough to buy a WiiU, but I like the concept of the feature. The problem with it is that from what I hear, most companies don't really take advantage of that - they assume you have the TV running the game, and the pad screen available for some other form of readout, and so going to single-screen mode hurts your gameplay options.

I guess that's kind of like with the Wii's controller. There were a few games that used it really well, and a lot of third-party games (looking square at Activision here) where they implemented shitty controls to "show off" the motion-sensing features when there was no good gameplay reason to bother with motion-sensing anything.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45950213)

The problem with the original Xbox controller is that the palm grip is was terribly intolerant of hand sizes: if your fingers don't reach the sticks and buttons in that posture, you're going to have to assume an uncomfortable one. It would've been fine if MS were producing a bespoke controller per user, or every user's hand was exactly average-sized, but you've got to design in a tolerance for natural variability. The finger grip of more traditionally-shaped controllers accomplishes that.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (1)

Moryath (553296) | about 9 months ago | (#45950763)

Which is why they created the kiddie-friendly Xbox S controller in short order... pick which one you want.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45950961)

They originally designed that for Japan, based on the same assumptions about designing around the "average hand". As a consequence people there thought it was too large.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45951333)

The problem with every controller that is not the original Xbox controller is that it is too small for me. Controllers should be sold in small, medium, and large sizes, which would solve this problem completely. If designed carefully they can use the same internals.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45951447)

You'd have to make sure you got demand right, especially around the iffy launch time, but it's not as though the things are going to rot on the shelf if you overestimate a little one way or another.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45954205)

Or, if you have man-sized hands you could just not play console games. The saga of the Xbox controller proves consoles are designed for kids and frail underdeveloped pencil necks.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (1)

trdrstv (986999) | about 9 months ago | (#46016077)

The other feature I "like" about the WiiU's controller is the theoretical ability to play a game on it while someone else uses the TV. Not enough to buy a WiiU, but I like the concept of the feature. The problem with it is that from what I hear, most companies don't really take advantage of that - they assume you have the TV running the game, and the pad screen available for some other form of readout, and so going to single-screen mode hurts your gameplay options.

There's some games that you don't allow Off-TV play, but I'd wager there's more that do. Sure some games require you use both because they are designed for it, but even Nintendo has quite a few games that support Off TV play. Think of it this way if they're going to port Call of Duty / Assassins Creed or Batman to the platform, they were designed without a second screen in mind and had features added to use it. If you choose off-screen, you simply get the regular PS360 type experience.

For me one of the greatest added benefits is having DUAL SCREEN rather than SplitScreen gaming. My son and I play Lego Marvel this way. Rather than having the game do "dynamic splitscreen, or locked fix screen" you can tell it to give 1 person 1 screen and the other to someone else. This is a fantastic addition I've been wanting on PC for years, I think it's ironic the consoles did it first.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | about 9 months ago | (#45956101)

My three year old doesn't seem to have any problems with it. And her hands are pretty small.

Re: People actually liked the controller? (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 9 months ago | (#45950271)

I have a Wii U and really don't use the tablet controller because battery life is so poor. That being said, the wireless non tablet controller is one of the best feeling and nicest controllers to play on of any system and any generation. Close to the Xbox controller but without the bulk, and light years better than the PS controllers, which you practically need to develop callouses on your hands if you plan to play for a while.

Re: People actually liked the controller? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45952807)

I haven't experienced a short battery life with it, sure, maybe in comparison to the Wii Remote, but the Wii remote doesn't have a touch screen.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (1)

the_scoots (1595597) | about 9 months ago | (#45950337)

I bought the console strictly for social play. The controller design excels at enabling fun multiplayer games for use in the same room by giving one player things the other can't see (a hide and seek style game for example). Keeping UI off the TV is nice, but not terribly effective when you have to continually take your eyes off screen to interact with your inventory, map, etc.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (1)

Xest (935314) | about 9 months ago | (#45950465)

I thought that too, until through a combination of a fire sale, the will of my girlfriend to play Lego City Undercover, and an onset of Mario nostalgia convinced me to impulse buy one.

Don't regret it at all. It's not perfect, I only seem to get 6 hours or so out of the main controller which is rather annoying if you want a longer session without recharging, and it needs more games, but what it has is all really good. I loved Pikmin 3, it was one of my favourite games of last year. The controller is surprisingly comfy, far more so than say the PS3's Dualshock controllers for example, and the pro controllers for classic mario style action are almost exactly like the Xbox controllers so are really comfy too.

It's what I wish the Wii had been, something innovative and different to what people call the "hardcore" gaming systems, but without the need to flap around like an idiot, something I got bored of rather quick with both the Wii and Kinect because gaming is a thing I do when I want to just sit back and chill.

I was a skeptic when I saw it, in fact I was so frustrated by the Wii failing to be worthwhile coupled with Nintendo's arrogance that I kind of wanted it to fail. But I warmed up to it and I love it now. I wish it had more games, but the few games it does have are almost universally excellent.

It's that casual getaway that I crave every now and then as a mostly "hardcore" gamer, but to date simply have never had because the Wii was shit and the Xbox 360/PS3 just didn't have anything close to the quality of more casual games as Nintendo manages to churn out with Mario and Pikmin etc.

Oh, and it's nice being able to throw Mario or Pikmin or something on when my girlfriend decides to take over the TV to watch something shit.

Re: People actually liked the controller? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45952687)

There is a higher capacaty battery for the controller. I have it and get roughly 8 hours of play.

Re:People actually liked the controller? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45950703)

I thought that too, but on a whim I bought one and actually really like the tablet setup. I can play games while the TV is in use but still be in the room with the rest of the family. Its nice being able to play the games from most places in the house (it's range isn't awesome, but acceptable). I never thought anything of it until I actually used it.

Kids. (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about 9 months ago | (#45951069)

The controller is cool. But.

If you have multiple kids, you'd have to buy extra "cool" controllers for each. And find games, if they even exist, that support multiple "cool" controllers. So basically Nintendo reduced it's marketplace to single people, households with only one child and the super rich.

.

Re:Kids. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45953033)

It's also compatible with Wii Remotes. I'm not suggesting that it is a suitable replacement for the actual gamepad, but there are options open for multiplayer.

Re:Kids. (1)

zerocommazero (837043) | about 9 months ago | (#45956051)

Score of 5?! Spoken like someone who has no actual knowledge of the console. 1.) The Wii U only supports one new controller. The games themselves are only designed for one player to use the new controller at a time. 2.) All other players use the standard Wiimotes, the same that came with the original Wii.

Re:Kids. (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about 9 months ago | (#45956791)

The Wii U only supports one new controller.

Well that's of course not true. From the Wii U tech specs: [nintendo.com]

"The Wii U console is capable of supporting two Wii U GamePad controllers, up to four Wii Remote (or Wii Remote Plus) controllers or Wii U Pro Controllers, and Wii accessories such as the Nunchuk, Classic Controller and Wii Balance Board."

.

Developing for the WiiU (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45949923)

Most developers say that developing for it is hard not only but also because they offshore the whole thing, to low quality places where they dont even know how to develop diferent from spaghetti code, in order to maximize profits.

I Am Anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45949945)

Trust Me

There are different opinions (1, Informative)

eennaarbrak (1089393) | about 10 months ago | (#45949949)

Apparently some other devs have come to a different conclusion: http://nintendoenthusiast.com/news/harder-develop-games-wii-u-case-says-renegade-kid/ [nintendoenthusiast.com] .

But hey, a bit of FUD keeps the day going.

Re: There are different opinions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45949995)

Nintendo Enthusiast, huh? In other news, the priest still guarantees that God is real and also wonderful.

Re: There are different opinions (1)

eennaarbrak (1089393) | about 10 months ago | (#45950081)

An argument stands by its premises, not by who makes it. Ad hominem much?

Re: There are different opinions (0)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45950155)

You literally just criticised it for being from an anonymous source.

Re: There are different opinions (1)

eennaarbrak (1089393) | about 9 months ago | (#45951351)

When there are plenty of contrary sources available, from non-anonymous developers.

Re: There are different opinions (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45951465)

Yet by your own words, "an argument stands by its premises, not by who makes it. ".

Re: There are different opinions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45953995)

LOL What a fanboi!

Just give up, eennaarbrak, you're embarrassing yourself.

Re:There are different opinions (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 10 months ago | (#45950037)

How can a first-person anecdotal account constitute FUD [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:There are different opinions (1)

eennaarbrak (1089393) | about 10 months ago | (#45950057)

From an anonymous source? But OK, go on believing everything you read on the interwebs.

Re:There are different opinions (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 10 months ago | (#45950087)

It hardly takes a planet-sized intellect to reconcile an early WiiU developer stating that it was an uphill struggle with incomplete tools, with a present-day developer years later stating that they find it really easy and that they think the other guy must have been using early and incomplete tools.

And neither constitute "FUD" in any sense but "thing that's negative about something I like".

Re:There are different opinions (1)

eennaarbrak (1089393) | about 9 months ago | (#45950147)

I don't mind negative things about something I like. I mind negative news about something I like, when the consensus is that the thing is hardly representative, without mentioning that fact.

Re:There are different opinions (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45950173)

It's hardly the only article to have elaborated on how bad Nintendo's developer support was in the run up to the WiiU launch. It's telling that all the rebuttals that you're citing are related to the current state of WiiU development, not the events that the article actually describes.

Re:There are different opinions (1)

eennaarbrak (1089393) | about 9 months ago | (#45950535)

"Digital Foundry has published an article from an anonymous but trusted developer outlining the challenges of developing for the Nintendo Wii U. The piece confirms some common perceptions of Nintendo, such as their attitude to third party developers, and presents a few surprises, like networking code not being made available to outside developers until the console was almost on sale."

I have read that time and time again, and every time it seems to indicate that this is the current state of affairs.

Re:There are different opinions (1)

stealth_finger (1809752) | about 9 months ago | (#45950895)

"Digital Foundry has published an article from an anonymous but trusted developer outlining the challenges of developing for the Nintendo Wii U. The piece confirms some common perceptions of Nintendo, such as their attitude to third party developers, and presents a few surprises, like networking code not being made available to outside developers until the console was almost on sale."

I have read that time and time again, and every time it seems to indicate that this is the current state of affairs.

If you read the whole article you couldn't fail to realise he's talking about early stuff. Key clues being the bit about ninty coming to announce the thing, all the talk of rapidly changing dev kits, the way he's talking about getting a game out for release, talking about ninty handling the transition to HD and the fact he says it's early days and most documentation for it is light or missing. Fair enough if you like it, more power to you, but don't try and change what they said to something you can defend against.

Re:There are different opinions (1)

eennaarbrak (1089393) | about 9 months ago | (#45951289)

The actual article (which I read two days ago) is bad enough for not providing an updated context, but I suppose it can be considered some kind of personal experience. The slashdot summary, however, make this seem as if it is the normal state of affairs.

Re:There are different opinions (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45950945)

Believe it or not, there's a thing in that summary* called a "link" that takes you to a big list of words - those are the actual article.

*Which I threw together in about five seconds, but still includes an explicit reference to the run-up to launch.

Re:There are different opinions (1)

eennaarbrak (1089393) | about 9 months ago | (#45951259)

A link is not an excuse for a misleading summary, and neither is the fact that you only spent five seconds on it.

Re:There are different opinions (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45951321)

Yes, it was a terrible error for me to assume that people would read the article, particularly if the summary was intentionally short on details. As your remarks, which have repeatedly operated under the assumption that the article was about the current state of affairs, so clearly demonstrate.

Re:There are different opinions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45960389)

This is Slashdot and you expected people to RTFA? Some people don't even RTFS.

Re:There are different opinions (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45950097)

So, on one side you have EG article with detailed explanations on why it is/was hard to develop for WiiU, with concrete examples, written by a dev. On the other side, on NintendoEthusiast, you've got the following statement:
"I am not a programmer, but from what I gather the Wii U is not more difficult to develop for than other platforms."

That basically sounds like a discussion of an adult with a 3-year old.

Re:There are different opinions (1)

stealth_finger (1809752) | about 9 months ago | (#45950917)

So, on one side you have EG article with detailed explanations on why it is/was hard to develop for WiiU, with concrete examples, written by a dev. On the other side, on NintendoEthusiast, you've got the following statement: "I am not a programmer, but from what I gather the Wii U is not more difficult to develop for than other platforms."

That basically sounds like a discussion of an adult with a 3-year old.

Don't forget it's a tweet, a renowned source of excellence and credibility.

Re:There are different opinions (0)

Moryath (553296) | about 9 months ago | (#45950141)

Wow. Getting a "debunk" from a PR blog called "Nintendo Enthusiast" about the WiiU... That's like trusting Fox News when they say the Tea Party aren't a bunch of racists.

Re:There are different opinions (1)

del_diablo (1747634) | about 9 months ago | (#45953459)

What tipped you off?

Code optimised for the PowerPC processors found in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3

Having worked on other hardware consoles, I suppose that we were rather spoilt by having mature toolchains that integrated nicely with our development environment. ----... ---- This doesn't sound bad, but when you are debugging and making lots of changes, these additional times add up. If you made 10 changes to a file in a morning, you could be spending over 50 minutes waiting for the linker to complete, which is a lot of wasted time.

Alarm bells *rings for the wrong reason

Look at it, read it trough. There is several hints that the writer is not a competent developer in quite a few meanings of the word. There is also backtracking of several of the statements.
I guess that is what happens when development turns into setting a bunch of third party tools in chain, including the compiler and Visual Studio.

Re:There are different opinions (1)

Daniel Hoffmann (2902427) | about 9 months ago | (#45954913)

Well it is possible the situation was pretty dire in the beginnings of pre-launch SDKs and gotten better from there. The system has been out for a while.

There are developers left? (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 10 months ago | (#45950043)

Based on EA's comments earlier last year, I'm surprised they even still HAVE third-party developers.

Re:There are developers left? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45950065)

Popular opinion be damned, there's always someone willing to do anything.

Re:There are developers left? (1)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about 10 months ago | (#45950079)

Apparently there is money to be made at doing it, or presumably they wouldn't.

Re:There are developers left? (1)

zerocommazero (837043) | about 9 months ago | (#45956099)

The reality is that EA got in a huff because Nintendo said no to Origins and how they wanted to handle the multiplayer scenario, basically forcing Origin into the equation. That's when EA drew a line in the sand and FUD campaign started.

There's software for the Wii U? (1)

coldsalmon (946941) | about 10 months ago | (#45950049)

That's the real news story.

Re:There's software for the Wii U? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45952591)

Yeah, seriously, people, stop making software for the WiiU! Otherwise, there'll BE software for the WiiU, and that would mean the knee-jerk opinion of teh intarnets would be WRONG, and that goes against Scripture!

Merketed product (2)

Dunbal (464142) | about 10 months ago | (#45950123)

I know lots of people who own a Wii (myself included), and amazingly few people who actually use it.

Re:Merketed product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45951027)

So you and your stupid friends represent the tens of millions of people who own a Wii? Idiot.

Re:Merketed product (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 9 months ago | (#45952105)

That may say more about you and your social circle than the Wii.

Re:Merketed product (1)

berashith (222128) | about 9 months ago | (#45953717)

i still use mine almost every day. (to watch netflix)

Sounds like a typical Asian technology company (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45950139)

I worked for a major Asian technology company (trust me, you have heard of them), and many of the problems with Nintendo in the article take me back to those days. They were totally out of the loop with consumer technology trends in America (as Nintendo seemed to be with PSN and XBox Live).

The English level was very low. Hey, it's their country, right? Well, yeah, but when you are trying to be a global company and working with developers all over the world, you can't waste a week while all your emails are translated. English emails were usually just ignored.

The company was very hierarchical and people who weren't of the Asian race didn't have much of a voice. Did those people who made the initial Nintendo presentation speak fluent English? I guarantee they had no pull at Nintendo HQ and probably couldn't even get their own questions answered at HQ.

The concept of working with 3rd party developers was completely foreign to them. When they did manage to get a partnership, the company assumed they were the boss of the 3rd party. More than one company told us to basically "fuck off" since the hierarchy and terrible communication styles were not worth dealing with,

Re:Sounds like a typical Asian technology company (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | about 9 months ago | (#45952443)

I've had similar experiences in the past, though I'd say it's specifically Japanese. I think a large part of the problem stems from how they teach English in their schools - it's actually compulsory right through to 18 (for those who stay in education that long) but is taught like Western schools teach Latin (ie. as an intellectual and linguistic exercise, not as a living, spoken language). I suspect that plays a big role in the decline of Japanese global competitiveness when compared to other East Asian societies (which teach English "normally").

On being unaware of Western trends - yes, that's very much true. It runs through a lot of their game developers too. Perhaps the worst example is Polyphony Digital, who when Gran Turismo 5 was nearing release confessed that nobody in the development team had played the Forza games (their biggest rivals). As a result, Gran Turismo 5 ends up feeling horribly dated in comparision to Forza 3, let alone 4 (even if it does have a bigger car list) and Forza 4 ends up becomig the de facto standard for console racing games. Even when Turn10 (the Forza developer) dropped the ball horribly with Forza 5, Polyphony still refused to learn from their mistakes and completely missed the opportunity to close the gap with Gran Turismo 6 by picking up a few key player-convenience features from the rival series.

The working-with-third-parties issue is, I think, more Nintendo-specific (Sony are quite good at it). Nintendo's arrogance in dealing with third party developers is legendary and you will certainly find many people in the industry who will privately confess that their feelings for the company verge on hatred. If they'd kept better relationships with third parties like Squaresoft, they could have done a lot to prevent the original Playstation from ever getting a serious toe in the market. I think part of the problem for Nintendo is that because their business model is so heavily built around games development (a more marginal activity for Sony and Microsoft), they forever see their third party developers more as rivals and partners (and love to mess them around via certification processes etc). If they can't figure out a way to square that circle, then they'd be best splitting the hardware (or software) business off entirely into a separate corporate entity.

Nintendo toolchains are a PITA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45950143)

As someone who has developed for the Wii, I can tell you that their toolchain was an absolute shambles.
I forget how many separate installers and patches and reboots you had to go through to get a development environment up and going, but it was more than 20.
The nonsense you had to go through to make disc images and such was truly awful.
I can only imagine the WiiU stuff is a hack on top of the Wii stuff, which itself was a hack on top of the GameCube (which wasn't even a cube), etc.

Developing for XBox360, on the other hand, was much more pleasant. Install Visual Studio and the XDK via two installers, and you were pretty much ready to go.

Article has been refuted from multiple sources (4, Informative)

JImbob0i0 (1202835) | about 9 months ago | (#45950149)

Following this 'anonymous developer' this article ended up being refuted by multiple developers ...

More bad blood and FUD by EA perhaps?

See more details here [nintendoenthusiast.com] and here [reddit.com] .

Re:Article has been refuted from multiple sources (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45950201)

Having developed for the Wii, the article sounds pretty much right to me.

Re:Article has been refuted from multiple sources (1)

Iceykitsune (1059892) | about 9 months ago | (#45950267)

Wii != WiiU

Re:Article has been refuted from multiple sources (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45950311)

Yes, I'm aware of that, but given I've experienced previous incarnations of their toolchain, APIs, test hardware, documentation, and the ridiculous hoop-jumping that is required to work with them, I find the description of the WiiU experience very credible indeed.

Re:Article has been refuted from multiple sources (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45950403)

So some other people say that the development process is fine now.
That's great, but TFA isn't about what it's like now. It's about the time leading up to the launch of the system.

Re:Article has been refuted from multiple sources (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45951039)

I don't think you can call a collection of offhand tweets and casual remarks from developers a "refutation" when the article's about specific technical and toolchain issues.

Re:Article has been refuted from multiple sources (1)

Narishma (822073) | about 9 months ago | (#45953783)

Not to mention that those developers doing the refuting are all very small indie developers making small 2d games. The anonymous developer in the article sounds like a AAA developer. The situations are hardly comparable.

Re:Article has been refuted from multiple sources (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45955277)

I know someone closely involved Wii U development that confirmed the entire article. There were only a handful of devs that did Wii U games at launch that were network-ready with the Nintendo online infrastructure, so it's pretty easy to figure out what's the company involved in the article.

My contact's assessment of how Nintendo rushed with their prototypes, and the odd switch between "retail" and "debug" versions that didn't match or would crash differently on bugs on Nintendo's end also match exactly with the article.

Re:Article has been refuted from multiple sources (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45956133)

That's a link to three indie developers talking about their programming experience on the wii u. I'm totally sure a 3 man team making a 2d side scroller is pushing the system exactly the way a 100+ man team doing the latest port of a triple AAA title is.

What (didn't) happen to Nintendo? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 9 months ago | (#45950583)

What I'm always sort of shocked by is how Nintendo knows how to make good games; but their ability to make software seems stuck back in the era when you just built the hardware and let the ROM in the cartridge take over. It isn't a huge surprise that Microsoft approaches their consoles with a heavy dose of software and server backend (even if you don't like their software, they sure have years of experience with writing the stuff, and know a thing or two about running high-volume server operations). Sony is a bit of a surprise, their reputation on the software side for things like computer/minidisk connections, ebook stores, etc. is pretty fucking dire, and they do lag MS on the console side; but they've mostly risen to the occasion.

Nintendo seems to have almost entirely skipped the 'Consoles: Actually a specialized computer now, M'kay?' era. On the plus side, this usually means that they hit the lowest BOM (especially their handhelds, brutally minimalist hardware even today); but it's a total clusterfuck when they try to do anything that takes advantage of the power of having a real computer at your disposal...

Japanese (1)

glennrrr (592457) | about 9 months ago | (#45950907)

If it was taking Nintendo a week to translate questions from Japanese to English and then translate the reply. Why didn't this company have somebody on retainer who could translate the initial question into Japanese so questions could be answered in an hour?

Re:Japanese Oops. (1)

glennrrr (592457) | about 9 months ago | (#45950919)

I meant English to Japanese in the above.

Re:Japanese (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45951115)

It read to me that they were going through their own translator in the UK, but unless you're dropping really big bucks on somebody you're not going to get messages relayed in real time, especially out of office hours.

Re:Japanese (1)

glennrrr (592457) | about 9 months ago | (#45951151)

How much could it possibly cost to have a subscription to a translation service? It isn't as though speaking Japanese and English are super powers. My own wife does a great job translating English to Chinese and back again, and I doubt she'd charge anybody more than $60/hr for the work if she were in that business.

Re:Japanese (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45951265)

My impression that interpreting work is surprisingly expensive, and technical interpreting work (excluding law as its own special nightmare) even more so. You'd think they'd have the sense to have someone who spoke Japanese fluently on the staff in a casual role, but medium-sized developers don't have that option. I don't think the article was from someone like EA or Ubisoft, who you'd expect to have a direct pipeline to Kyoto.

Re:Japanese (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45953299)

It sounds like Nintendo's technical staff should hire the translator (or technical staff sufficiently fluent in English) based in Kyoto. Nintendo is big enough to be able to support a translator to handle the third-party developer relations and issues. There's no real reason why there should be an additional tack-on time going through a translator in the UK.

Re:Japanese (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45951193)

Apparently we couldn't.

American Developers could only talk to NOA, they talked the Nintendo Japan, which causes delays. Add to the translation issues and a week seams believable. (This was in the GC days, I'm told it hasn't changed since then).

Surprise? (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about 9 months ago | (#45950949)

New console's APIs are not finalized until last minute. How is this news?

What was this dude expecting? Having the APIs set in stone a year before launch on a brand new platform?

.

Re:Surprise? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45951287)

Lead time. If the net code doesn't become available until the console's literally on sale, either you don't do a launch title, or you do a launch title that assumes the net code doesn't exist.

Nintendo did the SMART thing. (2)

MindPrison (864299) | about 9 months ago | (#45952153)

Yes, it is underpowered, but do you really need that much power?

Let me first point out that when I first bought the Wii-U, the whole thing was a HUGE disappointment to me, it cost as much as a PS4, it had less power than an Xbox360, and the controller looked like a thing out of an 80s Fischer Price toy, huge, bulky and heavy - worst part of all...a RESISTIVE screen in our multi-touch society which made browsing on this thing, not as smooth as ANY tablet I know of. And the Updating mistake? Shortly after unpacking, I had to wait 3-4 hours for the thing to update...even on a 12mbit line, huge annoying update. And to no avail, the menues were horribly slow and annoying.

But...all that negativity aside, they actually did something right. Netflix was installed, and it was the BEST streaming app I've ever seen, not even on any of my other so called HD streaming devices...could even touch it. The practical video-selection menu on the Wii-U controller gave us an unbeatable feeling of browsing trough DVDs in a video rental store, and it could display information about the movie - while watching the actual movie on the bigscreen, this brought back the "hold-your-dvd-in-your-hands" feel when I used to rent/own movies back in the days, it was right - it felt good. And the streaming quality was totally unseen on any other device. It also recovered whatever you saw earlier...faster than anywhere, I was in Video heaven. That APP alone, saved the Wii-U for me when the lack of titles were so obvious

But the problems wasn't over yet, Nintendos endless arrogance shows up again and again, the Netflix APP stopped working properly somewhere mid April 2013 because a Nintendo update broke it. Netflix didn't respond to the thousands of complaints...and Nintendo left it up to its volunteers at the MiiVerse to try to help people re-install the App..but to no Avail, this "Black-Screen" issue with Netflix lasted nearly 5 Months before they actually fixed it. But after that - all was peachy in Nintendo land.

Nintendo DOES still have issues with connecting players online (eg. Camera / Chat features, and Wii Sports Bowling that rarely if ever connects with another player), Nintendo claims it's owners fault for having a too strong firewall, not all ports available etc...but nothing is ever wrong with Nintendos programming, needless to say...we've already had a team of experts on this (our cable supporters & full time technicians, who have even set up a special Nintendo Wii-U pass all on their routers, but to no avail - it IS actually Nintendos fault...but you know the Nintendo team, they are NEVER at fault.

So, what is so smart about Nintendo then? Well, they made this device available before EVERYONE else, this means...they've had a YEAR to iron out baby bugs and other startup issues. Today the Wii-U is a great little box with lots of 3rd party games sold for very low prices (we're talking dollar store prices here), and some great titles like Super Mario 3D World...which is in my opinion, worth purchasing the Wii-U for alone, it's a feast to gorge upon, but should have been released WITH the console back in the days of early release.

I was heading off to purchase an PS4, and it was quickly sold out in November/December. I could get one in January, but seeing how much fun I'm having with the Wii-U today, and remembering the launch issues it had...plus seeing the PS4 owners having problems abundance and a severe lack of fun titles...makes me think I'm doing just fine, and I suspect - so will a lot of people, expect to pick up PS4 cheap in the nearest future.

Oh well (2)

Jmac217 (3006299) | about 9 months ago | (#45952293)

I still like my Wii U

Re:Oh well (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45952675)

No, you clearly don't. Remember, this is the internet, you're not allowed to have your own opinion that goes against that of the masses here. That would be... unfortunate.

Re:Oh well (1)

tfranzese (869766) | about 9 months ago | (#45957489)

You're not alone. And every so often Nintendo drops a gem on you with little (Super Mario 3D World) to no (NES Remix) lead up. Between Steam and Nintendo, I couldn't be a happier gamer.
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