Developer Interview: Eric Carter on Skylanders: SWAP Force for Wii U
Posted by Ron DelVillano
Producer discusses UI differences and developing on Wii U
At the time of writing, the launch of Skylanders: SWAP Force, the third instalment in the highly successful Skylanders game series, is just a few short weeks away. In preparation for its release, we were generously invited to tour Vicarious Visions headquarters in Albany, NY to learn a little more about the development process on the forthcoming game.
While at VV HQ, we had the opportunity to sit down with Eric Carter, producer on SWAP Force, and get a little more information on what’s in store for Wii U gamers.
Nintendo Life: Jumping right into it, what are some of the key differences between Skylanders: SWAP Force on the Wii U and other home console versions?
Eric Carter: Of course, the biggest difference is the GamePad. While you’re playing in the game - if you’re playing on dual mode - coming back from Giants we have the stats screen that displays a portrait of your Skylander and all of their current stats. In addition to the stats, we’ve added two other tabs that you can see by tapping the GamePad’s screen. The second tab is going to show you your current status regarding goals and objectives for the level such as how many collectables you’ve gathered. The third tab shows you a leaderboard, so all of your friends on the Nintendo Network who also play SWAP Force are going to show up on that screen and you can see where you stack up against them.
NL: Do only current friends show up on the leaderboard, or are you being compared to random players around the globe?
Carter: The leaderboards show only people who you are already friends with on the Nintendo Network.
But all of those features are during regular gameplay. One of the things that I think really makes the Wii U GamePad shine is when you go into your collection screen, looking at your hats, looking at your treasures. On previous games you just had the control stick or D-Pad where you had to click through, but we have created a drag and pull system for those collection screens so you can swipe through those collections.
NL: So you’ve made the collections much easier to navigate?
Carter: It’s absolutely easier to navigate. It’s so much nicer on the GamePad rather than click, click, clicking all the way through.
NL: Is there off-screen play available on the GamePad, or is it all restricted to the television?
Carter: There’s off-screen play. You can play only on the GamePad or you can play only on the TV if you so desire.
NL: Did you run into any issues developing for the Wii U compared to the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360?
Carter: Not particularly. The biggest issue was making sure that we were able to utilize the GamePad for some of those UI things. We have a touchscreen and we don’t want to waste that technology.
NL: On that same thought of not wasting technology, were you able to implement the GamePad’s near field communication functionality? Maybe as an easy way of detecting your Skylander figure?
Carter: No, we didn’t use the near field communication. We’re strictly using the Portal of Power. We basically did this because the NFC only has a certain amount of chips that it can read and we need to be able to read more chips for the figures to work.
NL: Beyond the GamePad functionality, does the Wii U version differ from the console releases?
Carter: The features are pretty much the same across the board apart from the UI specific elements on the GamePad.
NL: Can you tell us about any differences in the Wii version of Skylanders: SWAP Force?
Carter: The Wii version was actually developed by Beenox, but content-wise it’s the same. The same levels, it’s the same objectives, and the same story. Unlike the 3DS which has a totally different story.
We would like to thank Eric for his time