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Wed 6th Jan 2010

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Arkaein commented on Review: Thorium Wars: Attack of the Skyfighter...:

Hello everyone, I'm the lead developer for Thorium Wars: Attack of the Skyfighter. I thought I'd take this opportunity to address some of the questions about the game.

@3dcaleb the game definitely makes use of the 3D effect. In fact, almost all of the game can run at a full 60 FPS even when the 3D is enabled. You should be able to see a trailer in the eShop that was captured with the 3D effect enabled at medium strength (probably only in the North America eShop).

@binkster Attack of the Skyfighter has a tunnel-based mission, but unlike the original Thorium Wars this mission is mostly about obstacle avoidance, with a much wider variety of obstacles. There aren't any extremely difficult turns to navigate, like in the first game. Checkpoints are also a more frequent, and at lower levels of difficulty (which can be selected before starting any mission, even mid-campaign) you can use a lower speed in the tunnel.

@Kilroy I think there are only 3 missions in total that have any repeat spawning enemies, and their use is much more focused. The greater power of the 3DS compared to the DSi has made it easier to use larger numbers of non-respawning enemies, with just a few mission sections using respawning where it is most appropriate. Even in these cases, we've taken care to reduce the frequency of respawning.

@AVahne while the total playtime for the game can vary a lot from person to person, we think there is a lot of replay value after completing the campaign. The game features three levels of difficulty, with performance-based medals awarded separately for each mission and level of difficulty. So if you play through the game on medium difficulty, you can challenge yourself on higher difficulty, or try for perfect runs on easier difficulty. Fastest mission times are also tracked, and with three different fighters you can replay missions using a different fighter for a new experience.



Arkaein commented on Feature: Kickstarter's Wii U and 3DS Campaigns...:

@Anguspuss I have no personal interest in Star Command, but your post interested me, so I looked into it.

You claim they promised "delivery" of the PC game in August 2012, but that looks like when their kickstarter ended to me, so the PC version has been in development for about a year and a half. A little long maybe, but it looks to be under active development.

And you complain about the mobile version, but that was the original planned version! Their first kickstarter was for the mobile version, and the second kickstarter which you backed was for the PC version. So of course the mobile version was done first. There is even a complaint on kickstarter blog from someone who backed the mobile version about the second kickstarter.

Overall, you complains about Star Command seem a little baseless. They delivered their mobile title from their first kickstarter. They missed release dates, but if that was a problem for you then you probably shouldn't have backed their PC project before while they were still working on the mobile version.



Arkaein commented on Bike Rider DX2: Galaxy Pedals Towards a North ...:

The multiple ratings systems are actually a fairly small part of the cost of a European release.

Much larger costs are the needs for translations of the game's manual and content. The process of converting the text and making everything fit is tedious, error prone (the game testers have to verify text in multiple languages that they don't speak), and fairly expensive.



Arkaein commented on Review: Coaster Creator 3D (3DS eShop):

@gomez: I'm the Lead Developer for Coaster Creator. We're aware of the crashing issues, and a fix has been submitted to Nintendo, which will hopefully be approved and available soon.

In the meantime, please see the post I wrote in the Coaster Creator impressions thread in the forums for details on the problem and a workaround to prevent the crashes:

edit: posted before I saw gomez's edit to his own post. Anyone experiencing a crash, please see the linked discussion.



Arkaein commented on Coaster Creator 3D Ride Starts on 28th Februar...:

Hey everyone, I'm the lead developer of Coaster Creator 3D from Big John Games. I thought I could answer a few of the questions that have popped up.

@undead_terror no carts flying off the track and no riders will be ejected from their seats and die, gruesomely or otherwise. We talked about adding this feature, but it would have significantly increased development time and cost. Also, Nintendo doesn't allow games to turn Miis in mangled, bloody corpses.

@DreaddJester we absolutely used realistic physics in the coaster simulation, so that the current speed is based on the starting height, current height, and length of track traveled. It's easy to build tracks that the coaster won't make it through. Fortunately it's also pretty easy to fix these tracks! This is especially significant in the Career Challenges, which require modifying tracks to achieve specific goals, which always includes the requirement that the coaster can complete the track.



Arkaein commented on MDK2 Dev Will Never Develop for Nintendo Again:

The whole 9 months comment is quite misleading. Nintendo certifies games within a couple of weeks after submission, and once they pass they are usually available for download in a few more weeks (unless the developer requests to hold them back for a later date).

If the certification process took 9 months for MDK2 that means that the first submissions had several violations of Nintendo's requirements. These could be crashes or other bugs, or errors in terminology, lots of things. The first time a studio submits a game to Nintendo it's easy to have lots of violations, but once one game is completed successfully you learn what's important and it becomes easier for later game submissions.

When a game that has been announced for WiiWare seems to take forever to come out, this is probably why. The game may have been submitted but was found to have many bugs to fix. Any time news comes out of a game with bugs in it, just remember that without Nintendo's certification process it would have had more problems.



Arkaein commented on Feature: How 3DS Brings a New Dimension to the...:

@DarkKirby : what you suggest with regards to graphics power wouldn't really work, even if it was feasible. If more power was added game developers (like me!) would be just as likely to use that extra power to put more stuff on the screen as to ensure that the game always runs at 60 FPS in stereo 3D.

The bottom line is that any scene will take more processing to display in stereo than it will without stereo, no matter how much power is available. Whether to tune a particular game to achieve 60 FPS with stereo 3D enabled is a design choice. Most studios seem to prefer optimizing for non-stereo 3D to achieve 60 FPS, probably because this allows more detail to be put into the graphics.

Optimizing for 60 FPS with stereo enabled would essentially be leaving a lot of power untapped whenever stereo 3D is disabled.



Arkaein commented on Nintendo Reconfirms Wii U Will Not Make Wii Ga...:

Guys, the reason this won't happen is because upscaling doesn't work for many types of game graphics.

It's been mentioned that some 3D games seem to upscale well. I've seen Super Mario 64 played in upscaled emulation, and the 3D polygons had obviously sharper edges. Any 3D hardware can render a scene to any size display and get a sharper image for larger displays.

However, certain elements looked horrible. The GUI, which is made of 2D fonts and icons, looked horrible. You can't realistically upscale 2D images, because the individual pixels have to either get directly magnified (and look blocky compared to the sharper 3D scene), or smoothed, which makes them fuzzy.

Other elements are in between. Textures will look essentially the same, since there is no more detail in the texture to magnify, but it won't look any worse because 3D textures are already filtered as part of the rendering process.

Some elements would probably fail disastrously. Any game which uses a full screen post-processing effect, such as blur or lighting bloom (used in Twilight Princess and Mario Kart Wii, or my studio's recent Big Bass Arcade for WiiWare), will probably not upscale at all. The reason why is that the initial scene is rendered to a FIXED-SIZE image in the system memory, and then this image is modified using special techniques, and then the final result is copied onto the screen. The only way to upscale properly would be to modify the code to use a larger internal texture buffer, which may not have even been possible when run on the original hardware. A game using this technique would look NO DIFFERENT with hardware-only upscaling applied.

These reasons mostly apply to DS games as well. This is why when you play a DS game on the 3DS you have a choice between using the original resolution, or a larger version that is a little blurry. The larger version is upscaled naively after the display image is completely rendered, and is the best that can be done without modifying the original game code.



Arkaein commented on Review: Christmas Wonderland (DSiWare):

@Lobster: If I may promote my own studio's work just a bit, our Spot It! Challenge hidden object game for DSiWare received a 6 here on Nintendo Life (just one mark less than Yard Sale Hidden Treasures: Sunnyville, which received a 7). It's also only $2.



Arkaein commented on Points Burning a Hole in Your Pocket? Try Burn...:

@JayArr and @n0body: Nintendo has final say on pricing, but developers/publishers almost always get the price they want for a game. My studio (Big John Games) has never been told we had to set a different price than what we requested for any WiiWare or DSiWare game we've released.

Big Blue Bubble must have wanted that price. The description says that the iOS version is $0.99 but has extra levels available as DLC. It doesn't look like the WiiWare version offers DLC, but the description says that over 100 levels are included, so maybe they figure the price is more comparable to what you would pay for the iOS version plus a bundle of DLC?

I've never played the game, but it would be useful to know what is included. The iTunes store page lists $0.99 DLC just to remove ads, which we know wont be present in the WiiWare. Not sure how many levels are included in the main iOS download.



Arkaein commented on Europe, This Is Your eShop Launch Day Line-Up:

@RyuZebian: It sounds like Photo Dojo when that was released. Get it during the free download period and you keep it for free forever. Get it later and you have to pay for it like a standard download.

Clearly, Nintendo wants to create an added bit of urgency for people to both buy a 3DS and access the eShop.



Arkaein commented on Review: Art of Ink (DSiWare):

@theblackdragon: actually most of my comment concerned the end of your response in #7, where you seemed to take issue with the game even being made ("some things you just don't make games about, y'know?"), and the compared the seriousness of playing guitar badly with doing a tattoo badly. You could make the same argument about any game that simplifies an activity with serious real life consequences.



Arkaein commented on Review: Art of Ink (DSiWare):

@theblackdragon: you seem like you're taking the game a bit too seriously. While there is a place for hardcore simulation style games in any genre, the thing most people like about games is that they take all the tedious parts out of an activity and let the player focus on the fun elements.

Many game genres depict activities that require serious training and have serious consequences in real life. But do you really want every shooter to cover proper firearms storage, loading, and cleaning? Every sports sim to devote a large amount of time to practice, warm ups, and contract negotiations? There's an audience for these elements to be sure, but most gamers prefer to focus on the more immediate parts, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I can understand some of your criticisms, particularly the cases where aspects of the game sound like they are incorrect and not merely incomplete. However complaining about not including proper health and safety procedures seems a bit silly. It's a tattooing GAME, not a tattooing training simulation.



Arkaein commented on New Nintendo Console at E3?:

Makes sense. Announce at E3 2011, and likely demo to public at E3 2012 and release in fall of 2012.

That sounds reasonable, in that it would be 6 years after the release of the Wii, a slightly longer span than previous Nintendo consoles. An even longer cycle might be expected given how popular the Wii is, but the fact that the Wii launched as the least powerful of the then "next gen" consoles, and the fact that sales are declining (though still strong overall, relative to the other systems) gives Nintendo incentive and pricing flexibility to launch a new system that gets Nintendo caught up in terms of hardware power without a high price tag or loss leader strategy.



Arkaein commented on Konno: 3DS Won't Compete with Mobile Gaming Pr...:

@Kirk: I just checked, and Dead Space on the iPhone is $6.99. That's not really in the same ballpark as $0.99 and $1.99 games that seem to dominate the service.

$5-$10 is a reasonable price for decently large downloadable games because much of the difference between this price and typical retail pricing is made up by not having to share revenues with retailers and in some cases large publishers.

On the other hand with prices as low as $1, even if the developer got to keep everything it's still impossible to provide levels of content on par with retail releases.

@dimlylitmonkey: reducing prices will expand your audience, but there is a sweet spot in price that maximizes revenue which all developers and publishers try to find. Price too high and not enough people will buy the game. Price too low and everyone who wants the game will buy it, many of whom would have paid more, so you leave money on the table.

One of the problems with the game industry is that there are so many more games that are put out than movies nowadays, and games typically consume more time. In my own life, as an adult with a good paying job, I can tell you I never don't buy a game because of cost, but I've passed up lots of games because I don't have time to pay them. Dropping prices would save me money but it wouldn't get me to buy anymore games. For other people the situations is different, but even as a kid was willing to save up for one really good game instead of blowing money sooner on less expensive but also less compelling games or alternative entertainment.



Arkaein commented on Iwata Talks 3DS Expectations and Wii Successor:

@lipnox: Yes, TP was delayed to make it run on the Wii. The fact that SS is not being delayed for the Wii's successor should tell you that it will not be designed to run on that machine specifically with improved graphics whenever it comes.

And I hate to break it to you, but you are completely wrong about the Wii supporting 1080p. The hardware supports 480p maximum resolution. An improved Wii that did support 1080p would have absolutely no effect on existing games. The best a new system could do is upscaling the video signal the way a Blu Ray player might when playing ordinary DVDs, but this is not even close to offering true HD video.



Arkaein commented on Iwata Talks 3DS Expectations and Wii Successor:

@rjejr: there's no way that Zelda SS is being made as an HD version as well. Nintendo has never done anything like that, and there's no reason to think they will this time. If you wait for the next system all you will be doing is putting off playing Zelda SS.

When a new console does come out it will be with a new Zelda game (not necessarily at launch). Zelda TP coming out on two consoles only happened because of the timing and the fact that the Gamecube and Wii use identical graphics hardware, making it an easy port.



Arkaein commented on Nintendo Issues Warning on 3D Image Safety for...:

@lz20XX: Perhaps you're not familiar with the term CYA? It stands for "cover your a**". The whole point of a CYA warning is to preempt lawsuits, regardless of whether there is any real danger. So yes, that was basically my point.

@Token Girl: you do a good job elaborating on the one potential hazard that I hinted at, but I want to point out that no one has really proven that these screens are safe for adults either! I believe they are, but that's why I believe Nintendo is just watching out for frivolous lawsuits. If there were any likelihood of real danger from the device they probably wouldn't be bringing it to market.

In any case, there has been some evidence for years (though far from conclusive) that staring too long at anything close is bad for vision development, and may contribute to near-sightedness. This includes reading and TV as well as hand held video game systems. So limiting playtime on handhelds for young children is good advice in any case, regardless of whether a 3D effect is enabled.



Arkaein commented on Nintendo Issues Warning on 3D Image Safety for...:

I have a hard time believing this is anything other than a purely CYA move by Nintendo.

The 3DS achieves its effect by sending different images to each eye. Of course, this is how real 3D objects in the real world look 3D as well!

The only thing that is different and which may be worrying Nintendo is that on a 3DS the eye may be focusing at a depth that is different than the perceived depth (the difference between the actual depth of the screen and the perceived depth of the objects in the scene). Maybe there is a potential problem because of that, but even so it doesn't sound like anyone has produced an actual study demonstrating a problem.



Arkaein commented on Take the Slots On the Go with Fantasy Slots DS...:

Hey guys, I'm the lead programmer for Big John Games, and although I didn't do much work on the DSiWare version of Fantasy Slots, I can tell you that all of the images you see on the DSi depicted in the trailer are from the actual game. Koops3, if you think the graphics are too good to be true I guess our team will take that as a compliment.

Also, since the press release didn't make it all that clear, there are actually eight total slot machines: two classic three reel style, and six of the more modern five reel video slots styles which have the adventure themes. There are a total of six bonus games, one for each of the adventure themed slots.



Arkaein commented on Review: Space Ace (DSiWare):

@DrKarl: I haven't played Space Ace or Dragon's Lair (except for maybe once or twice in an arcade over 20 years ago), but I don't think that BT Runner is at all in the same category.

Nothing in Runner ABSOLUTELY REQUIRES memorization if your reflexes are good enough, though in most cases it will be required for normal humans. However Runner makes heavy reuse of obstacle patterns within each level, so instead of learning every move at the micro level, you learn to beat that pattern and then remember larger patterns at the macro level.

Runner can still be a very frustrating game, but I don't think it falls into the unfair category the way it sounds Space Ace does. In Runner there are always visual cues that gives you a chance to respond to every obstacle.



Arkaein commented on Thorium Wars Blasts European DSiWare After Twe...:

@LuWiiGi: the length of the game is really dependent on whether you get stuck in any of the more difficult sections, but I'd say that for a new player it will take at least 4 hours to complete for someone who is very good at the game, and probably closer to 6 or 8 hours for a more average player.

I haven't played through all of X-Scape/Space Tank, so i can't really compare lengths.

The game tracks the best time for each mission completion, and I could probably speed run the game on Standard difficulty in about 2 hours. That really requires knowing the levels very well though, so no one is going to come close to that on a first play through.



Arkaein commented on Thorium Wars Blasts European DSiWare After Twe...:

@Oregano: actually, we did tweak the difficulty a bit, since that was the primary complaint.

The differences are not huge, and most people will still consider it a challenging game, especially on the higher difficulty level (there are two, Standard and Expert), but we think it will improve the experience a bit for most gamers.

And since the question is likely to come up, no, the North America version will not be updated.



Arkaein commented on Fantasy Slots: Adventure Slots and Games:

Hi Roebuck77, I'm the Lead Developer for Fantasy Slots. Glad to hear you're enjoying the game. Unlockables work in a few different ways:

Bonus Games - unlocked by triggering the bonus game once through the corresponding 5 reel slot machine (see the pay tables for details)

Suites - reach lifetime earnings milestones

Special Items (for decorating suites) - achieve certain scores or conditions in specific bonus games

Trophies (also for decorating suites) - achieve certain scores or conditions in specific bonus games for some trophies, reach lifetime earnings milestones for others

Good luck!



Arkaein commented on E3 2010: Wii 2 Will Probably be 3D, says Iwata:

Making a console support stereoscopic 3D is fairly trivial, as all of the technology is in the glasses. All that is needed for 3D display with shutter glasses is:

  • a video source that can display at a high-speed, fixed frame rate (say 120 Hz)
  • A video display that can output that high frame rate
  • a means of synchronizing the display and the glasses

The only thing preventing the current Wii from supporting stereo 3D is a limit of 60 Hz max fixed frame rate (and even that could maybe work, if shutters can be made to run at 30 Hz for each eye, but that might cause headaches). All of the real tech is in the display and glasses.



Arkaein commented on Madden NFL 11 Franchise Mode Gets Upgraded:

Ugh. All I've ever wanted from Madden is steady improvements on core gameplay mechanics, continued ability to use custom playbooks, and good online support.

Yet it seems that EA would rather tack on more minor features with less meaning each year, and then claim these changes "completely revamp" the game. Competition for this series is badly needed.



Arkaein commented on Capcom Growing Less Keen on Wii?:

According to VGChatz Okami sold twice as many copies on Wii as it did on PS2 (where I believe it was a disappointment). Zack and Wiki sold better, but "only" about 370,000 units.

I doubt they lost money on either game, especially seeing as Okami was just a port of a PS2 game.