On Challenges of the Wii U Hardware
Diego Fernandez Bravo, producer, Ubisoft Paris, Rabbids Land
"The main development challenges come again from the second screen of the Wii U GamePad. The first is of course a design one: with asymmetric gameplay, we can create two different gameplay experiences, with two different controls and two different points of view, and keep a difficulty balance between both experiences -- and at the same time guarantee that both players are fully engaged and feel they are playing together. In other terms, we wanted the GamePad to bring added value to the players by not only being used as an extra controller, but offering a completely new gameplay experience.
"The second challenge was to keep the interest of the people watching the game when it's not their turn to play, and still be able to understand what is happening in the game, since they don't have easy access everything that is happening on the Wii U Gamepad. We had to take into consideration how to make the game interactive and fun both on and off screen."
Sebastien Dostie, project manager, THQ Montreal, Darksiders II Wii U
"Every new console has its development and design challenges, but once we decided to move the majority of the user interface to the GamePad, the rest of the game came together fairly quickly. We're very happy with the way the GamePad allows the player to stay immersed in the action without having to pause the game to review inventory, use their skill points, see their location in the game or in a dungeon, or check their objectives.
"THQ Montreal had a big advantage as we worked on the Wii U version in parallel, while Vigil Games developed the game for other platforms. At times it can be a challenge to keep up with all of the latest software, such as new SDKs, middleware versions, tools, art, code, and design changes, but that's typical of most distributed development environments. Adding the fact it was new hardware just increased our desire to get the most out of the new console."
Pierre Leroux, producer, Ubisoft Quebec, Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth
"I think our biggest challenge was transferring the motion elements of our game onto the gamepad. The gamepad responsiveness allowed us to create an experience that lets users feel the moves of their favorite heroes and villains simply by drawing on the pad. This gives our audience the chance to play a motion fighting game in limited space."
Albert Reed, CEO and co-founder, Demiurge Studios, Aliens: Colonial Marines
"Aside from figuring out how best to use the input device, nothing's really stood out as a particularly novel obstacle. There are a number of challenges implicit in creating a launch title for any new platform, and the Wii U is really no different. You're essentially developing at the same time first party is establishing conventions and guidelines. You work hard to evaluate the hardware, build best practices, and respond efficiently to new requirements and knowledge. There was one piece of important literature that required our staff to learn Japanese, though. That was cool.
"...One thing that has been an interesting problem is a physical one: asking players to iterate between looking ahead at a TV and down at their hands requires both physiological and mental mode shifting. Making sure our designs provide a usable 'flow' between these two gameplay positions has been interesting."
Guillaume Brunier, producer, Ubisoft Montpellier, ZombiU
"I think making good use of both screens was the real challenge. One week while playtesting the game, people would play without looking at the GamePad. The week after, they were not looking at the main screen. The first time we realized we had hit something was when we developed our lockpicking feature. The back-and-forth between the two screens became natural and really fit our setting."
Tom Crago, CEO, Tantalus/Straight Right, Mass Effect 3 Wii U
"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."