Just recently the studio behind the charming Unravel spoke of an interest in working on the NX. The problem? They have no idea what it is. Though some secrets may or may not be leaking out of Nintendo and partners recently, the actual concept itself remains under wraps.
Picking up on Coldwood Interactive's ball is Thomas Mahler, Moon Studios CEO and director of the critically acclaimed Ori and the Blind Forest, who weighed in on a NeoGAF debate on the topic. He's been rather scathing, stating that he expressed interest in working on Nintendo's forthcoming system but got turned off by the lack of information regarding an NX release date and devkit access. He suggests that more kits should be supplied to prospective developers, especially if Nintendo intends to launch - as has been widely speculated for some time - in 2016.
This is actually THE singlest [sic] most annoying thing for every dev out there. We also talked to Nintendo and got absolutely nothing - I'll never understand that. And just to be clear, it's not just Nintendo, every hardware manufacturer is treating their devkits and their unreleased consoles like they're the second coming and are insanely secretive about it to a stupid degree in todays [sic] time. It's not even that the hardware isn't finished (duh), but you could at least give me the goddamn specs, so we'd know what to build s**t for!
What's needed to sell hardware is goddamn good software. With Nintendo not having any devkits out there at this point and probably even wanting to sell it in 2016, I can already guarantee that they'll just not have any software support, since nobody can just jumble games together in less than a year. I mean, you can, but it'll be garbage.
The same is true for Engine Support - Get Unity and Epic to support these consoles WAAAAY ahead of release. By the time the console launches, it should be EASY for developers to develop games for these systems, things shouldn't just only start at this point. I want the goddamn devkits or at least proper hardware specs ideally 2 years before release - Keep all the developers updated, start a forum where devs can chat and figure out all the problems everyone's having, instead of everyone just having to deal with it. None of that's happening anywhere.
The comments around engine support seem interesting, as you'd expect studios like Mahler's to have a decent idea of what support is in the pipeline, though not necessarily aware of all details. He went on in a further post, clearly frustrated by the situation and sharing his views on engine support, third parties and competition NX faces in attracting developers.
I am sour on this issue. Treating hardware like it's your baby and keeping it away from devs is exactly what you don't want to do in 2016 and one would think that Nintendo learned their lessons with the software-drought the 3DS and the Wii U were both suffering from. The Wii U never recovered from it and the 3DS needed a price-slash and a huge turnaround to remedy the situation after that.
Also, it's not like I have no experience with this - Having 'engine support' doesn't necessarily mean that you can actually make builds and have a proper developer environment ready. I'd be literally SHOCKED if any of these engines support any platform features the NX might have to offer at this point. Shocked.
Nintendo should at this point be sending out devkits to whoever wants it - They need software and if they'll again only rely on 'unprecedented software support' from the likes of EA, I wish them the best of luck. They'll need indies and smaller studios to step up and make use of their (hopefully) innovative hardware. At this point, they need devs WAAAAAAAY more than the devs need them. Steam, X1, PS4, etc. are all super nice environments in which developers can thrive - The NX isn't yet, so they need to sell devs on it. They're not doing that by keeping everything close to their chest. It's just a silly situation.
It's a pretty strong outburst from a developer that's near the top of the Indie scene at present. Let us know what you make these comments below.