Tag Archives: video game

Nicalis: Switch development is ‘light years ahead of what we were doing with Wii U’

Tyrone Rodriguez, the president of Nicalis, speaking to Polygon about developing for Nintendo platforms:

“The Switch is, by far the easiest and most programmer friendly so far,” he said. “I know this sounds like lip service to Nintendo, but it’s actually not. If this wasn’t true, we wouldn’t be able to get these games up and running as quickly as we have, and we wouldn’t be able to have a launch title. It’s light years ahead of what we were doing with Wii U.”

Nicalis has developed 18 games, eight of which shipped to Nintendo platforms—all eight to 3DS, two of which hit Wii U.

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Nintendo’s ‘Conductor’

Matt Peckham, writing for TIME, with a great profile of Nintendo’s Shinya Takahashi:

“If all of Nintendo’s content creators were to be seen as a symphony, then Mr. Takahashi is our conductor,” says Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aimé, when asked to contrast Takahashi’s role with Iwata’s. “What I mean by that is, it’s his decision to bring the different players in our orchestra onto a particular game or a particular initiative. He’s the ultimate decision maker in what gets played by the symphony or what gets created by Nintendo as a company.”

And to follow the metaphor through, audiences rarely get to see the conductor’s face. “He’s been creating this big show, but because you only see his back, you really don’t know him all that well,” adds Fils-Aimé. “But he drives the orchestra and he sets the pace and the bar for the performance.”

Fils-Aimé pushes back on positional comparisons between the preeminent role Takahashi now plays with the myriad ones performed by Iwata, Nintendo’s former “ultimate decision maker,” calling them “different roles, different times, different needs of the organization.” What’s changed, he says, is that after Iwata’s passing, the company decided it was time to ask its less visible luminaries to step up. It’s a a philosophy others in the company, like Miyamoto, have espoused in passing for years.

“The people that came out in the presentation, when you look at it from the perspective of Nintendo, they’re actually not new at all,” says Miyamoto of the varied group chosen to rep Nintendo’s Switch during the system’s January feting. Miyamoto, whose hands have touched virtually all of Nintendo’s storied IP, will be 65 this year, while the company’s new president, Tatsumi Kimishima, turns 67 in April.

Takahashi has a storied career with the company. I especially love his history with Wave Race 64 and 1080° Snowboarding, two of my favorite Nintendo 64 titles. His views on management are similarly inspiring.

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Nintendo 64 and Avoiding ‘Sequelitis’

Sam Machkoveh, Ars Technica:

Perhaps most notably, this was the last console on which Nintendo could rehash its older characters and series without fielding non-stop complaints about “sequelitis.” The console’s best first-party games were mostly sequels—Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Mario Kart 64, Star Fox 64, F-Zero X, even Wave Race 64 and Excitebike 64—and yet all of them felt incredibly new thanks to their steps up to fully 3D engines. Nintendo had been a purely 2D game-making company for nearly a decade, yet it somehow pulled off the transition to 3D gaming in pretty much every way that Sega flubbed its own total overhaul.

Yours truly, in a November 2014 post titled Iterative vs. Redesigned Experiences:

If the doomsayers are correct and Nintendo’s failure is eminent, redesigns are going to be required to prevent it. So far, the majority of first-party titles on Wii U are iterative: Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. Wii U, Super Mario 3D World, Pikmin 3, Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze. While not every redesign has worked in Nintendo’s favor (I’m looking at you, Star Fox Adventures…), they are at the very least refreshing. This is another reason why I think Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is genius; while it’s not a new take on a old classic (because there is no old classic!), it’s a new perspective from the Mushroom Kingdom. Until then, it’s back to smashing and karting.

Pokémon Go was the most recent example of a redesigned rather than iterative experience. Real-world Pokémon is an experience many fans have yearned for since the days of Red and Blue (or Green). Nintendo’s decision to make Niantic, Inc.’s Ingress a venue for real-world Pokémon was not only brilliant, but for a company that’s built their namesake on changing our perspectives, hidden-in-plain-sight.

With surprise experiences like Pokémon Go and Nintendo’s further foray into the new terrian of smartphone hardware, we are sure to see at least a handful of  redesigned experiences on mobile. With the NX, my hopes are not so high. But if anyone can reimagine the console experience, it’s Nintendo.

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Influenced by Divorce

Joe Russ, developer of Jenny LeClue, as quote by Polygon:

Growing up in a family of divorce is all about choices, and how your parents’ choices can greatly affect you — at least as much as them. It’s about accepting that sometimes the right choices have tough consequences.

These are the things I want players to be able to explore in the game and be part of in writing the narrative with us. Growing up is about making these choices and learning to live with the consequences. Becoming an adult is, for me, about understanding that you have responsibility for your actions.

Divorce is an interesting well of inspiration. This concept sounds intriguing. Looking forward to playing Jenny LeClue.

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Pipe Dream

Ben Kuchera, Polygon:

Mario Kart 8’s sales numbers are amazing. The attach rate between the game and the console is something that every console holder should envy, but the problem is that with so few consoles there is a ceiling to the total number of sales Mario Kart 8 can do. Even assuming the game will cause systems to move, it’s likely to be the worst-selling game in the existence of the series.

On the other hand, Watch Dogs is now the best selling new IP in the history of the video game business. It’s very hard to find any apples to match with these oranges; Ubisoft matched a game that was announced in near-perfect fashion with a huge marketing spend and a release that spanned five consoles. The news would be more interesting if the sales didn’t break records.

These two events tell us much about the opportunities in the video game industry right now.

I am a huge fan of Ben Kuchera and his opinions. While I usually agree (at least somewhat), I cannot help but find this one extremely impractical. Though Nintendo is filling a bathtub with buckets rather than a lake with flood-gates, what happened to the argument that software sells hardware?

Global Hardware Totals (in millions) via VGChartz:

Wii U: 6.21
Xbox One: 4.57
Xbox 360: 81.33
PS4: 7.82
PS3: 82.82

To evaluate the total Watch_Dogs market, let’s use the delta between current and prev-gen consoles + countless PCs. That is 151.76+ marketable machines. If this is the case, Ubisoft has successfully sold 4 million units of Watch_Dogs to an install-base of 151.76 million consoles + countless PCs. Nintendo has successfully sold 1.12 millions units of Mario Kart 8 to an install-base of 6.21. That is less-than 2% vs. 18% attach rate.

I actively applaud Ubisoft’s impressive figures but I see the success of Mario Kart 8 greater. Regardless of release date, Wii U unit numbers fall between Xbox One and PS4; Mario Kart 8’s success is only going to grow that number. How quickly that number grows remains to be seen, but early reports are positive.

To add, Ben’s dream of a multi-platform Mario collection release to third-party consoles seems appetizing albeit backwards. We will eventually see the release of the Mario catalog on the Wii U (and possibly 3DS) via the virtual console with added community support with the possibility of updated visuals (don’t cross your fingers). And, assuming Nintendo does not release Mario to third-party consoles, rather than release in a single bulk collection, the fan-base will continue to salivate at the trickling of legacy releases. To be completely forthright, I can’t remember a legacy release that I continued to play after 5-10 hours. Nintendo would be shooting themselves in the foot by releasing an HD legacy collection to Wii U owners let alone third-parties.

Though Nintendo admits they are already looking to the Wii U’s successor, any viable company should have a road map. Giving up the ghost only perpetuates the idea that Nintendo is weak. Instead, Nintendo’s ability to rebound a dire situation” with Mario Kart 8’s abundance of positive press and a phenomenal attach-rate (low install-base aside) should be considered an extremely gargantuan feat, offering a positive outlook on the future of Wii U.

My dream is that Nintendo 180s this dire situation with an impressive uptick in Wii U numbers and continued IP prominence.

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Club Nintendo stuck in Mario Kart traffic

Mike Futter, Game Informer:

While this may be frustrating, I try to see the positive in server issues like this. Nintendo has clearly been successful with its free game offer (and Mario Kart 8 is quite good) as people are crowding in to take advantage of the bonus title. You’ve got until July 31 to claim your game, though. There’s no rush.

Good call.

Since opening my copy of Mario Kart 8 last night (7p PST), I’ve had intermittent success signing in and have yet to redeem my freebie. Login and site navigation still feels sluggish. Still looking forward to my copy of Pikmin 3.

UPDATE: The following message was posted to club.nintendo.com roughly 2 hours ago:

Club Nintendo is currently unavailable due to site maintenance.
We apologize for any inconvenience.

Remember to hang on to your product registration codes and make a note of your serial numbers – we’ll be back soon so you can register your products.

Please note, it is not necessary to register your hardware to begin your warranty. This is done automatically at the retailer when you purchase your product. However, please check back to register your products for Club Nintendo benefits, including hardware warranty extensions.

Forum users please note, the Tech Support Forums will be in read-only mode during this time. All existing Forum topics, posts, and replies will remain available for those looking for technical assistance with Nintendo products. No new threads or messages can be created until Club Nintendo is back up.

Please try back later.

UPDATE 2: Club Nintendo seems to be back online, still with some spotty maintenance around account management.

UPDATE 3: Pikmin 3 is go.

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Game Play Has No Negative Impact on Kids, UK Study Finds

Game Play Has No Negative Impact on Kids, UK Study Finds
Games and Learning

Less TV. More games!

Headed into the study, the authors wanted to study both television and video games, arguing that connections with attention disorders, anger and other problems might be connected to both. Still, researchers wondered if “games may have more powerful effects due to active user engagement, identification with characters and repeated rehearsal and reinforcement.”

KEY FINDINGS

– Exposure to video games had no effect on behavior, attention or emotional issues.

-Watching 3 or more hours of television at age 5 did lead to a small increase in behavioral problems in youngsters between 5 and 7.

– Neither television nor video games lead to attentional or emotional problems.

– There was no difference between boys and girls in the survey results.

In my own experience, the participatory nature of video games adds stress, problem solving, and exploratory functions that can enhance one’s imagination. Speaking for myself (and hopefully many others), I feel that this medium has helped flesh-out ones creative passions be it storytelling, pattern assessment, communication, and/or technical know-how. ‘

As I am currently writing a book, I have found it easiest to open up a world by envisioning how I would explore a video game. I am able to more effectively envision the world through a first or third person view by relying on the mechanics that have been built into some of my favorite video games. The ability to attach myself to video game characters has had a profound impact on my writing abilities. My book may or may not be very good but the ease of writing it has been nurtured by a lifetime of gaming.

How have you benefitted from gaming?

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How a video game could help children with food allergies

How a video game could help children with food allergies
Polygon

Mmmmmm… educational gaming for health… yum 🙂

Elizabeth McQuaid, a psychologist at Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center, is overseeing the trial launch of a video game designed to help children with food allergies.

McQuaid teamed up with developer Virtually Better to test a web-based game for children 8-12. Researchers hope the software, which puts players in scenes intended to help them learn more about food allergies, symptoms and reaction management, will reduce the risk of allergic reactions.

– Polygon

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