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WiiWare Focus - Steel Penny Interview

Posted by Darren Calvert

WiiWare World recently caught up with Jason Hughes, president of Steel Penny games who are one of the earlier third party development studios out there to put their money where their mouth is and develop something new for Nintendo's new WiiWare service.

With their pedigee as former Naughty Dog veterans we are hopeful that their first WiiWare venture Bruiser and Scratch will set the benchmark for games to follow. Whilst we don't know many details at present we are confident that this is no simple Flash game port to cynically jump on the WiiWare bandwagon and make a quick buck!

Here is some of what Jason had to say on the project:

WW: We know very little about Bruiser and Scratch - Can you tell us anything about the gameplay yet?

JH: We can't tip our hands too much at the moment. All I can say is that it's a puzzle game with cute characters, probably some unlockable characters as well. The puzzle quality is in the same league as Mahjongg in terms of complexity, but substantially easier than chess. And that it's technically a single player experience, but from our own play experience, people in the room will have a hard time not getting involved.

WW: When do you expect the game to launch on WiiWare?

JH: Mid-2008 is our target, but being a new service and our first Wii game, that's a guess.

WW: What advantages are there publishing this on WiiWare as opposed to the more established XBLA?

JH: The main difference is that Nintendo is not aggressively controlling the content, and as such it is far easier to become involved with WiiWare by smaller developers with lower budgets. In fact, Nintendo's professed goal is for the service to carry very small budget games. So, while there may be a few really top notch games for the service, given the developer sweet spot they're aiming for, I would expect more experimental gameplay and watch out for new game genres being born there. Contrary to the notion bandied about that "anybody can develop for WiiWare", realistically, the Wii is still a console platform and requires talented people on all sides of the development equation to build a compelling product. And Nintendo does have some standards that developers must meet. But in terms of hoops to jump through, there are fewer, and thus far seem fairly neutral towards developers and publishers in general. In all fairness, XBLA and PSN are set up the way they are for practical business reasons, so the jury is out on how sustainable the WiiWare development model will be for both Nintendo and early adopter developers, such as ourselves. It's a brave new world, so to speak.

WW: How easy is the WiiWare platform to develop for?

JH: It's three shingles more than a peacock. To answer your question requires something to contrast it with, and I simply won't go there. But I will say that the Wii is an exciting platform because of the unique controls, the wide demographic audience, and the anticipated WiiWare downloadable service--together that packs quite a punch. However, the Wii due to its uniqueness provides a set of challenges not found elsewhere in game development. In truth, no console development is "easy". All good games take time, patience, and skill to make a serious effort at entertaining people, and the development kit involved frequently is not the obstacle. When developers complain about the difficulty in using a platform, I chuckle. Many times, these are people who have not created a game for a platform, but chosen a platform for their game. The difference in focus is subtle, but important.

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User Comments (13)




hmm a puzzle game. i was hoping for mora of a platform adventure like crash bandicoot and spyro



Nigel said:

I don't understand what he means by "substantially easier than chess". In terms of difficulty, chess depends solely on your opponent's ability. There is no certain set difficulty level in chess. Unless he means that the game is easier to learn than it is to learn chess. But chess is pretty easy to learn. Oh well. Maybe he's never played chess.



Drizzt said:

Lot of WiiWare news. This game looks interesting I suppose. I'll keep my eye on it but it's not entirely catching my interest.



Boredom_v2_2 said:

I honestly thought this game would be like Jak and Daxter or Rachet and Clank because Bruiser and Scratch has the same idea for a title (ok that didn't make sense but you know what i mean). If it's going to be a puzzle game, i don't think i'll get this game.



Adamant said:

By "Mahjong", does he actually MEAN Mahjong, or does he mean Shanghai/Mahjong Solitaire, which is annoyingly often referred to as Mahjong in the US, making it completely impossible to know what people mean until they clarify?



JD1 said:

I think he means Mahjong as he mentions it with chess and both Majong and chess are strategy games against another player(s) where as Mahjong solitaire is not.



Roo said:

The guy above couldn't be any more right. We've got it rough here - we probably won't get as many VC games as other continents, and we probably won't get Super Smash Bros. Brawl 'til about 2019...



Damo said:

Our other WiiWare interview got linked by GoNintendo too - they must like us



whalleywhat said:

I really like his last comment about chosing a platform for a game rather than developing for a platform. Not too interested in the game, but I wish more devs had his attitude.



Wiiloveit said:

Since the team is made up of ex-Naughty Doggers, they should do a platformer that'll match their PSone Crash Bandicoot games. The ND versions were some of the best Playstation games available (in particular: CrashB Warped - one of my all time favourite games)

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