Interview: Designer Luc Bernard Talks Wii U And Crowdfunding His Vision
Posted by Damien McFerran
The man behind Eternity's Child is back
A long-time fan of Nintendo, Bernard has been watching the recent developments on the Wii U and 3DS with interest, and has just launched a crowdfunding campaign for Imagination Is The Only Escape — a title which tackles the touchy subject of the Holocaust and was originally slated for release on the Nintendo DS and WiiWare.
We caught up with Bernard recently to chat about where he is right now and any possible plans for his games on Nintendo platforms. We're pleased to report that no pugs were harmed during this interview.
Nintendo Life: What have you been up to since the days of WiiWare? You seemed to have a lot of projects in the mix when we last spoke to you.
Luc Bernard: Well the past few years I've actually been working for lots of different publishers. I have produced and consulted design-wise for a lot of various big companies, but I will admit that it's not somewhere where I think I feel comfortable any more. I'm probably too crazy to work in this sector!
Some projects had to be put indefinitely on hold for example, but I have decided to resurrect what I believe to be my most important title: Imagination Is The Only Escape.
Luc Bernard: They never saw the light of day, sadly. In the case of Eternity's Child, WiiWare publisher Alten8 never finished porting it. Mecho Wars ran on Wii, but WiiWare was simply not profitable enough to make it worth releasing — that's why it ended up on the PSP and PS3 instead.
Nintendo Life: Do you think Nintendo did enough to help indies back in the days of the Wii and DSi?
Luc Bernard: Personally speaking, Nintendo back in the day just were horrible to me and the sales on WiiWare ended up being terrible for so many fellow developers. You had to spend so much to get things published and ported, and when you are a small indie none of that is justifiable. Nintendo's developer relations back then were among the worst I had encountered. Mind you, I love Nintendo and I just think back in the day they should of hired some other people to handle indies — from what I hear, they've sorted that.
Having said that, I am not the easiest person to handle — you can ask the previous publishers I've worked with!
We actually did get our games running on Wii, but the time and money that it would cost to publish — combined with and the low sales of WiiWare — meant that it wasn't even worth it.
Nintendo Life: Nintendo has recently changed its stance on indie developers and has become a lot more accommodating — what are your thoughts on this? Have the recent changes encouraged you to revisit Nintendo platforms?
Luc Bernard: I will be honest, I like the Wii U but the publisher I was working for this year was not interested in a Wii U version of the game I was working with them on. As a designer I think it's a neat machine, but it's very hard for most publishers to want to make a financial investment in the Wii U.
As for myself, I have no plans to release the new Mecho Wars on Wii U. However, that doesn't mean I'm ignoring the system — I've recently decided to crowd-fund Imagination Is The Only Escape. Now that I can finally get it out independently, if we raise enough funds I want to do a Wii U version, since I believe everyone has to try that title. It is such a important game for the industry as a whole.
Nintendo Life: You've supported platforms like iOS and Android recently — do you still consider traditional consoles as a viable platform for selling games or has the market changed in your mind?
Luc Bernard: I love consoles. I believe mobile and consoles are two different markets; consoles are like a cinema experience, and mobile is more like a "YouTube" experience — by that I mean mobile games are meant to be played in smaller bursts. Take a game like Mass Effect, for example — who would want to stay for hours on their phone playing it, even if it were possible?
Nintendo Life: You've been quite critical of in-app purchases in the past — what are your thoughts on Nintendo moving into this area with Steel Diver?
Luc Bernard: I used to view in-app purchases as evil, but I changed my mind recently. I guess it's because it seems that's where the mobile market is heading — I do believe that freemium is a better fit for social and multiplayer titles, but I would rather buy single player experiences with no in-app purchases. I suppose it depends on what is being offered — if it's a whole campaign that's awesome, but if it's just a new gun then that's a bit of a shame. But then again, developers have to make a living somehow.
Nintendo Life: What are your future plans for the Wii U and 3DS eShops?
Luc Bernard: As I said, I would like to do a Wii U version of Imagination Is The Only Escape if we manage to meet our funding goal, since it would be a perfect fit for the console. As for the 3DS, sadly I don't think any game I make can run on it. You may think that sounds silly, but games with huge 2D textures take up a lot of memory and then to port it to a platform like the 3DS takes time. If a publisher wanted to port one of my games to the 3DS I would of course say yes, but I certainly couldn't do it alone.
Nintendo Life: What are your thoughts on the Wii U and 3DS as gaming platforms?
Luc Bernard: The 3DS has such a amazing library, I just wish the online store was as good as the PlayStation Network. As for the Wii U, as a designer I see all the insane possibilities that the GamePad allows. I will be interested to see what some of the crazier designers out there do with it though. It hasn't been expanded on nearly enough yet.