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Indie Developer Explains How Nintendo Made Him a Wii U Believer

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Xander Davis now planning CIDER for Wii U

The Wii U has endured a lot of negative press for various reasons and in some cases, we're sure many would agree, criticism has focused on genuine weaknesses in the system's early days. While various developers and publishers have voiced support and optimism for Nintendo's console, a good number have also spoken negatively and shared views on where Nintendo has — in their view — gone wrong with the hardware.

One of these developers down on Wii U in past times was former THQ and Vigil man Xander Davis, who spoke in damning terms of the Wii U GamePad as a "gimmick" and referred to it as a "$400 Xbox 360 seven years late". That was in an interview with notenoughshaders.com back in August 2012, but the developer has now published a blog post that explains why his opinion of the system has changed.

Davis is the founder / owner of Astrogun, which is currently working on a "Mythic Sci-Fi Action-Adventure Game" called CIDER, which will have a top-down perspective. When fans of the studio expressed an interest in seeing the title on Wii U, Nintendo approached the developer pro-actively and provided the documentation outlining the steps to publishing on the system. Davis has stated that the terms "looked great", and that he then went out to buy a Wii U to experience the system for himself.

While the full blog post outlines a number of key reasons why his opinion has changed so substantially, one of the most telling examples given is that, in Davis' view, you need to try the system to truly appreciate what it can deliver.

None of these things ever truly clicked with me until I rolled the dice and finally just bought the console and a proper first-party Nintendo game for it. I was basing a lot of my assumptions on deductive logic from a large web of industry-related factors, many reasons that suddenly don’t matter. Now that I’ve played it, I’ve enjoyed it. In a metaphor inspired by the above Smash Bros / Fight Club mash-up, sometimes you only “get" Fight Club when you start playing its game. And in combination with all other four reasons here, I think Wii-U’s best days are indeed ahead of it.

Perhaps most importantly, from an indie games perspective, Davis highlights that Nintendo is opening up the system to developers, and shares his belief that it'll reap the rewards of that policy.

I can’t go into details, but from what I’ve read of the initial Wii-U Developer overview, Nintendo has set the bar for their support and terms to make indie development very attractive. This is a win for indie devs and it’s a win for gamers. The console is about to get a lot of great content.

...I’ve come to believe, especially now, that the Wii-U’s fate is in our hands. If we make great games and make them for Wii-U, it can be an awesome console.

We recommend reading the full blog post, but it's another encouraging example of a figure in the industry appreciating the Wii U and planning to bring content to the platform.

Thanks to Emily Rogers for the tip.

[via cidergame.tumblr.com]

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User Comments (48)

Captain_Balko

#2

Captain_Balko said:

I agree that you really have to play it to 'get' it. My friends were very skeptical, but after some Nintendoland and Zombi U they saw the Wii U in a different light. Although some are hardcore PS fans, they are now considering buying a Wii U after having played it.

FiveDigitLP

#3

FiveDigitLP said:

Yeah, that's what I usually try to tell people. You really have to play it. I didn't seem to have that issue when I was excited about the console. The advantages of the screen in the controller seemed obvious to me, but that doesn't seem to be the case for everyone.

Harrison_Peter

#5

Harrison_Peter said:

I have a feeling that fans of the DS (or 3DS) will be quicker to appreciate the GamePad without actually playing a Wii U. But for a lot of people, the hands-on experience makes a difference.

MrWalkieTalkie

#6

MrWalkieTalkie said:

Playing with the Wii U and it's many abilities rather than judging it's appearance without so much as touching it makes all the difference.

Yorumi

#8

Yorumi said:

To me this really shines a light on some of the negative press the wiiU is getting. I've said before there's an anti-nintendo bias even among professional game devs. They're rejecting the system because it's nintendo first, and then cover that up with excuses.

Sure there's legitimate criticism but it makes you wonder, how much of it is driven by rationality and how much is driven by bias.

I'm glad he was able to give the system a chance and was mature enough to admit he was wrong, that's a quality rarely seem anymore.

Wolfgabe

#9

Wolfgabe said:

He makes many solid points. The Wii U is one of those things where you don't really understand it till you have tried it. And Nintendo is really killing it with indie support

ScorpionMG

#10

ScorpionMG said:

@Captain_Balko thats what happened with my friends! Now one of them already has a wii u with zombiU and just dance 4 and he is a hardcore PS fan.
PS. He loves the wii u chat too :P

Brian1010

#12

Brian1010 said:

For me, too, the appeal of the GamePad lies with the ability to play off TV. I didn't think it was that big a deal before I bought the system, but boy is it useful...in fact, some games are better suited for it (like Little Inferno...no reason to use the TV if you're playing with the Gamepad). The flexibility you have with control schemes is a huge plus, imo, and not something you can get on other platforms.

Anyway, good for this dev, and if they put their game on Wii U (and it's good, natch), I'll be glad to support it.

ikki5

#15

ikki5 said:

well, this is good to hear especially after the dismal announcement of the Wii U e-shop releases for this week.

Burning_Spear

#16

Burning_Spear said:

Let's call this the way it happened: His feeling about the Wii U changed because Nintendo provided an attractive vehicle for him to release a game. THEN he had his epiphany. That out of the way, it's nice to see someone interested in the console and doing something to help it succeed.

MadAdam81

#17

MadAdam81 said:

My friend bought a Wii U after playing on mine, my sister wants to get one, and a few other friends are excited about the Wii U.
Don't know why Nintendo are relying on word of mouth, if they advertise in the right way, people won't need to play it first.
I think that the gamepad screen is 100 times more useful and fun than the DS and 3DS touch screen.

SilverArrow

#18

SilverArrow said:

Good. So good. Now let's get more people on board. :) I was tempted a few times to animate a Wii U commercial and post it on sites like YouTube, but I'm not a good computer animator. XD

ungibbed

#19

ungibbed said:

@Burning_Spear Very well said, but for any of the masses that have picked up the system, any good news is a morale booster.

I agree that many people don't understand the system until they actually get their hands on it. Much like the original Wii which looked completely silly as a game console, it has provided me with some of the most original games of the generation and again with Wii Motion Plus and experiencing 1:1 real world motion of your character. This made Skyward Sword truly great but the original kicker for the Wii of old was it's pack in. Wii Sports.

It now has roles in the rehab field in physical therapy that made exercise far mor entertaining and bowling for the system has been a hit five years going.

Back to the Wii U. What seems to be assumed is that the same couldn't be done with the Game Pad. Nintendo Land should be a solid pack-in for all Wii U SKU's to show its ability. I never would have believed that the GP had such accuracy until playing the Ninja game throwing stars just by swiping on the screen. No sensor bar required (Unless you use wiimotes with it).

Just even a single screen shot of MFS MW U paused just sharing a simple pic of my console gaming rig really surprised some who were still expecting classic Wii level graphics. My phone captured the extra detail and it blew him away. Yet when I told him I could watch a ball game and run the same game all on the GP, I think I drummed up another sale.

In the end it's always good to see some positive news on the Wii U than the rehash of the doom and gloom news that always makes me question myself if I was nuts buying this system now.

Granted I still have a PS3, I already have more games on the Wii U than I do for the PS3. When it comes to the amount of games though, my classic Wii library dwarves both still. With both retail and over $800 spent on virtual console classics alone.

GearsOfWarU

#20

GearsOfWarU said:

Cool article... I love my Wii U if you play it I feel you will feel the same way... Is this guy part of Darksiders 2 on Wii U ... If he is then thank you !!! Darksiders 2 is one of my Favorite games ;-)

GreatPlayer

#23

GreatPlayer said:

The game pad works well with Trine 2. I like the fact that you can draw in game accessories directly on the game pad.

unrandomsam

#24

unrandomsam said:

@Burning_Spear I agree. I am less bothered about the so called indie developers that just used to work for big publishers (I find the games made by these people to be technically fine but not actually a good idea in the first place). More bothered about the ones that have never had anything to do with the big publisher game industry they tend to have the genuine best ideas. (Even though the decent ones are few and far between.) I probably have 100 Indie games on Steam (That I actually wanted - some others that I wouldn't count that I got as part of bundles) there is about 10 I should have actually bought if that.

If I had bought the same things at wiiware/eshop I would have spent £1000 on 10 games I actually wanted to play. I just won't take that risk.

The process isn't transparent at all. (People stating it is easy - it might have been easy for them but they have provided no actual details - probably due to an NDA.)

I would pay Niaclis prices for Super Hexagon on 3DS it is great regardless of anything else. (I have it on PC and Android already but it suffers I think due to input lag on the higher levels for me. I can play the higher levels properly with vsync disabled (Causing Tearing) or on my brothers ipad). The 3D could make it cool. (It would have to be more than £15 for me to not get it immediately).

"Mythic Sci-Fi Action-Adventure Game" top down - if it is the same sort of thing as the Chaos Engine I would probably love it. Depends what the Adventure part of it entails and whether it is fun to play.

Volmun

#25

Volmun said:

this is alot of ppls problem with the wiiu thay dame it befor thay even play it -_- ik sevral ppl on PSN that do sigh set sevral strate...

Yoshis_VGM

#26

Yoshis_VGM said:

This is what I tell everyone. They'll say something like, "Eww, you have Wii U!? Wii U sucks!" In response, I'll say: "Have you ever touched a Wii U before in your life?" Believe it or not, all of them said no. If they were my friends, I'd invite them over to my house, and soon after, their view of the Wii U had changed...drastically. I agree with everyone else, you can't really "get" the whole point of the Wii U without actually trying it out.

ricklongo

#27

ricklongo said:

@Harrison_Peter I definitely agree with that. A second screen can do wonders for many games.

I remember reading that Fez creator going on about how a second screen on the 3DS was a gimmick, and immediately thinking "I don't think this guy has ever played a game like Ocarina of Time 3D in the system".

jrob23

#28

jrob23 said:

wait. So this guy has nothing but poopies to say about the Wii U and he had never played it? And now, after seeing how good Nintendo is to indies he buys it and does a 180? Um...very douchey! He is (was?) exactly what is wrong with everyone's hatred towards the Wii U. These people make generalized false statements based on nothing but groupthink or what they heard about the system. They then broadcast their 'opinions' and we are in this mess we're in with the Wii U. You have EA saying it can't handle Frostbite 3...then weeks later saying that could change if the Wii U sells more consoles. It's maddening. I really hope Nintendo is able to find different partners than these yahoos and help turn smaller devs into giants via the Wii U. I applaud this guy's change of heart but seriously, he shouldn't have opened his trap initially before actually playing and trying to design for it.

Rect_Pola

#30

Rect_Pola said:

Thank you, someone gets it. I'm glad about the 180, but his earlier statements sounded a hair more vitriolic than deductive logic. Whatever;

Create unique, create fun, find success.

TruenoGT

#31

TruenoGT said:

Awesome! On paper, Wii U is my favorite console, it just needs more games to build momentum!

iHailPhilly

#32

iHailPhilly said:

It will start to sell well enough, just needs to continue to release compelling software.

B3ND3R

#33

B3ND3R said:

I have a friend who claims he is buying a Wii U sometime in July... After going to the Nintendo E3 event at Best Buy he changed his mind on Nintendo.. He was one of those "Wii U is DOOMED, Nintendo isn't going to be successful" Xbox drones, but I got him to try it, and he saw the light: Nintendo is about fun, not realism.

QuickSilver88

#34

QuickSilver88 said:

His prior statements make you wonder how many other devs trashing WiiU have never even touched it. Hell Nintendo should start a PR initiative and just send WiiU to different devs to get their support. I mean this guys comments were scathing and cheap. I am happy he did a 180 and was man enough to admit it. I think he is right in that its saving grace might be Indy content. Nintendo, its JAP friendly 3rd parties and Nintendo published 2nd party may be all the big titles we get, hopefully the Indies will give us some innovtative eShop wares to compliment the other stuff.

BlackStar9000

#36

BlackStar9000 said:

Out of all of the negative press, I remembered his past comment about it being a $400 xbox all too well. To see him flip sides further confirms my opinion that most of the hate on this system is because of blind ignorance derived from following the internet herd, corporate talk and just never actually spending any real time playing the system, I still imaging how great RTS games and MMORPGS like League of Legends would be on Wii U.

Sup

#37

Sup said:

As has already been pointed out by other posters above, this turnaround really lays bare the reasons for much of the negative thoughts and feelings surrounding the Wii U. Good on him for going some way to repairing the destructive comments he made, I suppose, but such uninformed opinion should never have been made public in the first place.

Havkri

#39

Havkri said:

Allthough i think its great he thinks differently about the wiiu, i find it really unprofessional of him to just judge a whole console without even having played it once...

Kage_88

#40

Kage_88 said:

Wait, he originally trashed the Wii U... without even playing it?

Well, that says a lot.

That aside, it's great to see Nintendo's machine starting to gain traction. There seems to be a lot of positive stories lately.

GamerZack7

#42

GamerZack7 said:

Nintendo had better start distributing white Premium Packs soon! I can hardly wait much longer!

Araknie

#43

Araknie said:

An Indie Developer destroying all the ranters in the world.

PS: Xbox One will have second screen with smartglass and PS4 will have second screen with PSVita. LOL!

element187

#44

element187 said:

BREAKING:::: Developer goes from trashing a system to supporting the system after he has a financial interest in console..... news at 11.

element187

#45

element187 said:

"Let's call this the way it happened: His feeling about the Wii U changed because Nintendo provided an attractive vehicle for him to release a game. THEN he had his epiphany."

@Burning_Spear Bingo... its not a surprise that his financial vested interest in the console changed his opinion on it.... Makes you wonder how many more devs out there that are downright attacking Nintendo, is it because of a real slight, or did Nintendo refuse one of their pitches for a deal or a game?

Dev_hater1: Hey Nintendo, can I work on StarFox?
Nintendo_rep: Heck no, we develop that internally

Dev_hater1 to gaming media: Nintendo sucks, its processor is horrible!

Sceptic

#46

Sceptic said:

Indie Devs will be the saviours of the WiiU. Fresh titles, new ideas. Unlike big N's lame regurgitations.

Pod

#48

Pod said:

Great reading.

I can definitely join the chorus in saying the terms for independent developers on the Wii U right now are pretty outstanding. They're looking for new, different, weird stuff, and they're reaching out directly to many of the indies who make such things.

I would hope that this drips down on the folks who joined WiiWare on the less attractive terms some years back, and that Nintendo helps them bring their games to the eShop, a faster and more vibrant store with a much more active audience.

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