“The Wii U is irresistable”; exclusive Broken Rules interview

10 mins read
Here at Digitally Downloaded, we recently got the opportunity to interview one of the upcoming developers on the Wii U eShop.

Broken Rules is having its latest title, Chasing Aurora, premiering on the platform come launch day. Naturally, being less than three weeks away from the Wii U’s launch, the urge to have a chat with a developer on the console was a natural instinct; here we have a chat with indie developer studio Broken Rules – former WiiWare developer of the digital chart-topper And Yet It Moves, which is now bringing its newest creation over to the Wii’s successor.

Based in Vienna, Austria, Broken Rules is an independent development studio that is seeing its most recent game take flight on the Wii U’s digital outlet after receiving an offer in mid-2011 from Nintendo to bring it over from its original home on Steam. A unique physics-based flight game with an amazing 2D vector and pixel-based art-style, Chasing Aurora makes inspirational and intuitive use of what the Wii U has new to offer.
Check out our inquisitive discussion with Co-Founder of Broken Rules, Martin Pichlmair below:
Digitally Downloaded (DD): Following the positive reception of And Yet It Moves on WiiWare, what persuaded you to develop a brand new title, Chasing Aurora, for the Wii U eShop?
Broken Rules (BR): It’s not so often that you get asked by a platform holder if you want to develop a launch title for a new home console. We could not resist that offer from Nintendo. A platform launch is always a huge chance, even for a small developer like us. We want to establish ourselves as one of the prime indie game makers on the Wii U.
DD: Chasing Aurora has displayed awe-inspiring use of the Wii U‘s gameplay mechanics so far. While the title was in development, was making full use of the console‘s new technology a top priority?
BR: Yes and no. There’s always the chance that features get too gimmicky when you try too hard to implement all that is new. Especially when a console offers this many innovations. We’ve experimented a lot, but then we decided to focus on a small number of key innovations we want to put to good use in this game. The one thing we did focus on is the GamePad’s screen which offers a second window into the game world.
DD: From what you’ve been able to create with the console, do you believe other developers like yourself will be able to make imaginative use of the Wii U’s more advanced features?
BR: Definitely. The hardware is great and the software too. Online is always a challenge but less so when the environment is as good as this time around. Given enough time and dedication we will see a number of very unique games. Even AAA developers try their best to come up with imaginative use of the Wii U’s unique capabilities.
DD: Probably the most exciting aspect of the Wii U is how it’s introducing us to the next generation of consoles. This is a bit of a long shot, but might you be able to give us a slight idea of how advanced the Wii U’s technology is, in your opinion?
BR: I think if we’re going to learn one thing from the upcoming next generation of consoles, it is the fact that technological advances are not that important anymore. The Wii already demonstrated amply that innovation in interaction design trumps innovation in chip design. While the Wii U is up-to-date when it comes to tech – especially the graphics tech is impressive – the main innovation is in the online systems and the new controller.
DD: You’ve had experience developing for WiiWare, and now the Wii U eShop. How did developing a title on the Wii U eShop prove in comparison to WiiWare?
BR: It’s much better. I try to formulate this in a non-technical way. The Wii U offers a very modern development environment. The eShop itself is also shaping up great. I’m looking forward to seeing it in action myself.
DD: From a developer standpoint, how much of an improvement would you class the Wii U eShop as being over WiiWare?
BR: I can’t quantify it and I’m also not allowed to disclose any details about the eShop. I think if you look at how the 3DS eShop compares to WiiWare you get a picture of how Nintendo is pushing things forward.
DD: Being a modestly-sized indie development studio, how would you describe your experience working with Nintendo over the course of development with Chasing Aurora?
BR: Nintendo is a huge company and we are just a few people. Yet they give us the impression that they look after us and that it is important to them what we come up with. They are very responsive and always helped us when we ran into trouble. We’re self-distributing, so help and support is all we ever requested. And we got plenty of that.
DD: So from your experience, do you believe Nintendo is fully intent on establishing their platform to be more approachable towards indie devs, this time around?
BR: Yes, I think so. From the technology to the bureaucracy, Nintendo has learned how to work with small companies. You can see in the launch line-up that their strategy regarding indie titles is working out.
DD: As an indie developer, do you think indie games have been starting to find a higher place in the industry lately?
BR: They definitely have. On the iPhone, the iPad, on Steam and also on consoles, indie games are getting more and more attention. I think it is a natural development. AAA budgets have been getting so enormous that publishers are growing more and more risk-averse. They have left the innovation to Japanese middle-tier developers (Dark Souls, Persona, etc.), social games companies and indies. It is a good time to be an independent developer indeed.
DD: Would you say the Wii U is shaping up to be an ideal platform for both newcomers and existing indie devs, especially with the existence of mobile platforms?
BR: Yes and no. Console development requires more effort than iPhone development. The QA by the platform holders is very strict. The hardware requires a lot of knowledge and experience. I think the Wii U will offer a couple of indie developers a good home. Just like the PS3 was a great platform for a couple of indies and WiiWare was for others, the Wii U will have its own group of dedicated indie developers. It’s easier to work with the Wii U than it was with the Wii or the PS3 though, so that group might grow rather fast.
DD: Many (including us) are eager to take Chasing Aurora for a whirl when the Wii U reaches households. Do you see yourself working with Nintendo again in future, and bringing more creations to the Wii U eShop?
BR: We will continue to tell the story of Chasing Aurora on the Wii U. The game was always conceived as a start of a series of games. It is not said that it’ll stay exclusive to the Wii U though.
DD: And just to finish up, do you see yourself picking up a Wii U at launch?
BR: Nothing beats playing your own game on a new platform. It feels like magic. Believe me.
We’d like to thank Martin Pichlmair for taking the time to talk to us.

– Farida Y

This is the bio under which all legacy DigitallyDownloaded.net articles are published (as in the 12,000-odd, before we moved to the new Website and platform). This is not a member of the DDNet Team. Please see the article's text for byline attribution.

  • Hearing that Nintendo approached them makes me happy to know Nintendo actually took that approach, and aren't simply sitting by not approaching developers for the Wii U.

    For Nintendo's and the developer's sake, I really do hope the eShop and Wii U online is well done and promoted in ways that can help the indie developers possibly go from just a digital release, to perhaps even limited run physical releases (like BIT.TRIP COMPLETE).

    They actually released a "dev" video earlier today on the game, if you like behind the scenes type stuff/coding and just seeing footage of the game, here it is:


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