In the second entry of this 2014 'Year in Development' series, Curve Digital's PR and Marketing Manager — Rob Clarke — talks about the company's busy year of Wii U eShop releases and Nintendo's support for 'Nindies'.
It’s six o’clock, and I’m at the bar alone at a busy restaurant alone in Cologne city centre, waiting for a dinner organised by Nintendo. I'm early, because everyone else has been showing games at the show, but our game Stealth Inc 2 isn't ready to be shown to the public quite yet. I've spent the day meeting other developers — including the people working on Shovel Knight and Affordable Space Adventures — and doing interviews with the press.
After a while staff from different parts of the eShop team start to filter in and we take our seats, fending off several German couples trying to lay claim to our massive 30 person table. Most of the rest of the group is getting taxis down from the show and are stuck in traffic, but within a few hours the table is full; twenty different developers from all around the world sharing experiences, exchanging Twitter details and taking photos with the #nindies hash tag. The developer next to me orders sauerkraut; I stick with food I am more confident in pronouncing.
A meetup of Nintendo Indies like this wouldn’t have been the same a year before. Nintendo have come a long way in embracing both indie games and the digital world. Everyone who loves games, even if they don’t yet own a Wii U or a 3DS, is going to benefit from a company the size and reputation of Nintendo turning its gaze towards this part of gaming, not just the people sitting at this table. Of course, there’s no denying Nintendo’s step towards Indies has been slower and less visible than the other platform holders. They can’t boast the same roster in terms of pure numbers as their competitors.
There are no senior executives at Nintendo jumping on stage at E3 armed with impeccable shirts and studio make-up to tell us, with pitch perfect timing, about the latest blockbuster indie hit blasted through cinema speakers and projected on a 300 inch screen. Perhaps though, Nintendo’s attitude represents the independent community far more accurately than the lustre of these shows. The lights of E3 fade quickly, and it’s the open, supportive and positive approach we’ve found when working with Nintendo that is so much more valuable when you’re trying to get noticed alongside a world of multi-million dollar franchises.
I might have been early for dinner, but it’s fair to say Curve arrived a bit late to the party this year where the eShop is concerned, especially compared to the amazing releases and announcements from developers like Nyamyam, Yacht Club Games and Knapnok Games, but hopefully our titles have made up for our tardiness with four games released in four weeks in the latter half of the year.
We’ve talked a lot about the development and design of Stealth Inc 2 and it’s not really my area, but I will say the team here worked incredibly hard to get the game finished in time and on budget, and everyone is really proud of what we’ve done. Designers and marketing people tend to take the spotlight when a game is launching, but Stealth Inc wouldn’t be the game it is without our developers, artists, composers, QA team and producers all putting in a great deal of time and effort over the last year.
Talking about all those different teams makes us seem pretty big for an indie studio. We’re certainly not as small as many other developers releasing on the eShop, but one of the bonuses of having a big team of talented people is that we’ve been able to help solo developers and smaller groups start to bring their games to the eShop when they otherwise wouldn’t have had the time or the money for another platform.
Next year we’re planning to release at least six more of those games, and we hope to bring as many of those as possible to the Wii U. Some of these will be ports, and others will be brand new releases launching on the Wii U at the same time as other consoles. We’ve already announced OlliOlli, Ultratron and Nova-111, but we’ve got at least one more brand new indie game to announce next year for the Wii U.
It’s a good feeling not only to reflect on a great 2014 but also be able to commit to doing that again with Nintendo and Nintendo fans next year. We’re very excited about the future of digital on the Wii U, and we can’t wait to see how other developers use the system in the future. Here’s to 2015!