Articles tagged with development

Posted by James at 15:13
Speaking at the Tokyo Sandbox game developer event/mixer today, Inti Creates gave some insight into the development of 3DS and Switch release Blaster Master Zero. The reimagining of NES darling sidescrolling platforming/shooter hybrid Blaster Master took 35 people six months to make before arriving just in time for the Switch's launch day in Japan.

We also heard about the game's sales performance on the eShop; the Switch port of the game has currently racked up 80,000 copies sold. We weren't told whether this met Inti Creates' own expectations, but this is a fairly respectable figure for what was presumably a version of the game bolted on fairly late in development.

There are tell-tale signs that this was indeed the case: The Switch version of the game inherits the 3DS's strange 5:3 aspect ratio, and the game uses non-integer scaling to scale up to both 720p and 1080p resolutions, so it's fairly clear that the game wasn't originally planned to be on Switch.

In any case, 80,000 sales for the Switch version alone should have net Inti Creates a tidy amount of revenue and would have almost certainly justified the cost of the port. Whether the game sold enough for them to have broken even is hard to say, since we lack information about sales of the 3DS version, and we don't know whether the 35 staffers working on the project were solely dedicated to it or were working on other games. The former is more likely there.

Regardless of current sales, Inti clearly plans to make sure Blaster Master Zero has long legs. Last week it released an update to the game which added a new, remixed difficulty setting, and it's currently working on new DLC characters who are more than just a palette swap.
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Posted by James at 09:34
Unity announced today that it will be supporting the New Nintendo 3DS with its range of development tools, including the Unity game engine, which powers a wealth of big and small games from both independent and larger developers and publishers.

This is big news, and an especially good move for Nintendo. Its challenge is to ensure that the 3DS platform receives ample long term support as it approaches its twilight years, as the company and its in-house development teams and partners shift their focus toward its next generation platform, codenamed "NX".

So far, the 3DS has received slim pickings as far as independent games go, despite the handheld playing host to some breakout hits last year.
Proper Unity support should go some ways towards fixing this.

While Unity is only supporting the beefier New Nintendo 3DS -- and thus a large portion of the 3DS install base cannot be targeted by developers -- it's giving developers another low-cost avenue to port or create their content without having to work on a bespoke 3DS title from scratch. This brings with it far less risk.

Still, New 3DS is currently sitting at a comfortable 2 million units sold and counting. Add to this the consideration that owners of Nintendo's latest (re)iteration are going to be more invested in 3DS games than those stuck with old hardware and it would seem that Nintendo's plucky handheld is set up to receive longer-term third party support.
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Posted by James at 09:14
Despite being the fastest selling PlayStation ever with over 20 million units sold, Sony's PS4 isn't doing quite so well in Japan, with lifetime sales for the region currently sitting at 1.3 million units.

The weak performance of all three current generation systems in the region last year likely contributed towards Japan's console market decline, now estimated to be worth just •369.55bn in 2014 -- down by almost half from its •688bn total in 2007.

Regardless of this, Sony does not appear to be resting on its laurels in garnering more PS4 support from Japanese publishers. Speaking with 4gamer (and translated by Siliconera), Nippon Ichi Software's president confirmed that all future titles developed by the publisher will strictly be on PS4 and Vita. He mentioned the following as one of the reasons behind this decision to drop PS3 development:
"Sony have been supporting us, so weíve been able to make commercials, and have been able to get such merits for sales promotion.Ē

Last September, at Sony's pre-Tokyo Game Show event, the company revealed a sizable amount of PS4 titles and cross-platform PS4 and Vita titles from third party partners such as Falcom, Marvelous and Compile Heart.

At the time the support seemed strange, given PS3's far larger (and still fairly active given these kinds of games) install base. On top of that, these developers are used to working with the PS3 after many years of investment into the platform -- producing a PS4 version of games that'd comfortably fit the lower power PS Vita would be higher cost.

With Sony offering support to publishers who choose to invest in PlayStation 4, it all makes sense now, and it's a situation that's likely to pay off for both parties. Sony receives games it would prefer to have on its latest platform, and gets developers familiar with developing for its hardware sooner rather than later. Third parties benefit from increased visibility and promotion for their titles, and those developing cross platform PS3/Vita titles can make the switch to PS4 with less risk.
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Posted by Duane at 09:58
Sony and Unity Technologies have today announced that the tool suite will be available to those with a license to develop for Sony's PlayStation Vita handheld console, allowing developers to take full advantage of the features of the console plus those of PSN.

What this means to me and you is that the Vita will become even more Indie friendly, and both parties have gone to some effort to bring attention to this with the recent release of Zoink!'s "Stick it to the Man".
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Posted by Mark at 12:14
And a valid question it is.

Games designer Tadhg Kelly queries at a certain length as to why British-developed games lack any obviously British character.

In particular, he draws comparisons between Japanese games such as Metal Gear Solid or Resident Evil which reflect America through a Japanese lens, and British games like Operation Flashpoint: Red River, which- to his eyes- reflect "just" America, as opposed to a British take on the country.

It's worth a read, particularly as Kelly ends the piece by pointing out that while the hard-won Tax Breaks may well help the British games industry short term, it may be better served by finding- and using- its identity.

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The publisher was Japanese and the developer was foreign. Even inside Japan, when you work in two different companies, they always blame each other for any small mistakes, so that's pretty much what happened in those two games -- blaming each other

Keiji Inafune explains why Capcom's not been having much fun lately. [Joystiq]
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You're customers, what would you prefer to do: Buy a game like Infinity Blade for $6 with plenty of gameplay, good production values that offers a visceral experience; or pay 99c for something you play once and never ever go back to?

Mike Gamble, the only man at Epic Games without a ridiculous nickname, tells the assembled throng at Epic's Unreal University event that iDevices can handle a bit more than Angry Birds. [CVG]
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Posted by Mark at 17:28
Since yesterday brought us the news that What We're Playing Champion Of The World The World Ends With You might be getting a sequel, it gives us an excuse to post about the game without having to shoehorn it into an unrelated article.

So about a year after its 2008 release, Gamasutra ran a postmortem of the title, by three of its creative leads Takeshi Arakawa, Tomohiro Hasegawa, and Tatsuya Kando.

It is interesting to read that a lot of the things we came up with in our weekly WWP mini-analysises, and indeed things brought up when two of us included it in our 'Best Of 2008' list, were also on the minds of the people behind the game.

That link again: Postmortem: Square Enix's The World Ends With You (Gamasutra)
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The PS3 is still far and away better than anything else thatís ever been made... except maybe the 360, ... Itís a great time to be a developer, Itís not like working with the Sega Saturn or the PS2, where these are really kind of quirky, cranky, architectures that are not, well, architected, I would say.

John Carmack, on how much easier his job is nowadays. [Gamesô issue 107 via NowGamer]
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Posted by Mark at 18:03
In what looks like an ongoing series in videogame usability, Edge have polled Bungie, Codemasters and Black Rock Studios designers to see what they think of certain things that generally get gamers' goats, such as unskippable cutscenes, HUDless gaming, and mandatory tutorials.

What is interesting, is how some of them seem to be a kind of necessary evil, rather than just being 'bad' design on their own.

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