December 11, 2012 3:00 AM | Staff
There are plenty of indie game studios that would kill to work with Nintendo, and release games for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U home console -- but getting the behemoth publisher to notice your team can be far more difficult than it sounds.
While a lot of studios apply to become licensed developers and pray that Nintendo takes note, for others it's the other way around, as Nintendo itself approaches them. One such studio is Broken Rules, the team behind And Yet It Moves on PC and Nintendo Wii, and Chasing Aurora, a launch title for Wii U.
How exactly did a studio with a single PC title under its belt attract the attention of one of the world's biggest game publishers, to such an extent that they were granted a space in the launch lineup of Nintendo's latest console?
"They started working with us because someone at Nintendo liked And Yet It Moves, and saw that it would be a good fit for the Wii," explains Felix Bohatsch, co-founder of the Vienna, Austria-based studio.
"The same someone helped us jump over the bureaucratical hurdles Nintendo (and every other big company) throws at you when you want to work with them. It helped that we already had a company, an office and generally acted as professional game developers."
Indeed, this is one of the main stumbling blocks that a lot of smaller studios fall at -- Nintendo requires that you have an office space dedicated to your company, rather than working remotely from home together.
Bohatsch continues, "After we launched And Yet It Moves, we've been in close conatct with Nintendo and shown them - along with other publishers - our prototypes. They liked what they saw [in the Chasing Aurora prototype] and as we were there at the right moment, they sent us a Wii U dev kit and asked us if we could make the launch.
This was, he notes, an offer than was "impossible to resist," and the studio immediately set to work building a Wii U-specific multi-player-heavy version of the title.
But how can other studios replicate the success that Broken Rules has had with Nintendo, or was this simply a one-off case that would be tricky to replicate?
"I guess the official way is to apply to become a licensed developer. I'm not even sure how to do that," admits Bohatsch.
"But I do know that Nintendo keeps an eye on festivals, awards and expos and generally knows what's going on in the indie scene. A Nintendo representative saw And Yet It Moves in the IndieCade showcase of E3 and approached us afterwards. So a good start is to get your game out there and get people talking about it."
As for the company's work on Wii U, Bohatsch describes his time developing for the console as "comfortable," and is excited to watch his game's community take shape.
"We had our game engine's core ported in under a month," he says. "Of course it took way longer to please the Q&A department of Nintendo. I see it as free testing though, and think that all games really benefit from that process."
"I think that the eShop turned out well and I really enjoy mingling with players of Chasing Aurora in Miiverse," he continues. "Having a dedicated social space for your game is awesome!"
But it's not all fun and games. "The thing that really bugged me was the big day-one-patch," notes Bohatsch. "I'm sure that kept - and maybe still keeps - people off the eShop."
He isn't quite sure that the studio has priced their game correctly either.
"The pricing was all our decision, and yes, I have to admit that Chasing Aurora is overpriced," he tells us. "I always have a hard time finding the right price for a game. For Chasing Aurora it was even harder, because we were so busy getting the game ready for launch. We just didn't have time to step back and consider the game as a whole."
He adds, "Luckily the Nintendo eShop is more like Steam or the iPhone App Store so Chasing Aurora and its pricing can and will evolve."
[Mike Rose wrote this article originally for Gamasutra.]