Gizmodo's Developers Cubed series offers a behind the scenes look into Australia’s up and coming dev scene. This week: We chat with Nic from Sydney-based games developer Nnooo about why all development isn't just iOS development and why it's important to carve your own niche.
Developers! Developers! Developers! It's not just Steve Ballmer’s favourite sweat-laden catchcry! If you'd like to be featured in Developers Cubed, shoot a note to alex.kidman at alluremedia.com.au. I'd love to hear from you.
Who are you and where do you work? My name is Nic Watt and I'm the Creative Director (and technically CEO) of Nnooo an indie games company based in Sydney, Australia
Why do we know you? What have you created? We have created several successful franchises for WiiWare and DSiWare and are now turning our hand to the next generation of consoles with games for Nintendo 3DS and other unannounced consoles. Our most successful projects have been Pop, a launch title for the WiiWare service; Pop + Solo a sequel to Pop for DSiWare and our myLifeCollected series of applications for DSiWare which includes myNotebook, myPostcards and myDiary; finally escapeVektor our latest game was released to critical acclaim at the end of last year on WiiWare.
Our current projects include escapeVektor for Nintendo 3DS (and other platforms - to be announced) and Spirit Hunters Inc an augmented reality RPG for DSiWare and Nintendo 3DS.
What platforms do you develop for? We develop for home and handheld consoles primarily. In particular Wii, Nintendo DSi and most recently Nintendo 3DS. We have recently started working on some other platforms too which we hope to announce in the near future.
What are you working on right now? We are working on Spirit Hunters Inc for Nintendo DSi and Nintendo 3DS. It is an augmented reality game where you search the real world for hidden, cute, spirits to battle and capture. Players take the part of a recently initiated member of Spirit Hunters Inc, a global task force set up to investigate more and more frequent occurrences of spirits entering our world from another dimension. The player must align with one of the six elements (Fire, Ice, Water, Light, Shadow and Fungal) and then explore the real world looking for these cute but malevolent spirits, draw them out into battle and then either defeat or capture them. As the player levels up they can purchase new abilities and items to make themselves more powerful.
We are also working on bringing escapeVektor to new platforms including Nintendo 3DS. EscapeVektor sees the player coming to the aid of Vektor who is trapped inside their device's CPU. Each level of the game is a maze-like puzzle where the player must take possession of the whole maze and then escape. However enemies patrol the mazes and there are hazards like cannons and electric fences to avoid.
What do you think about the rise and rise of App Stores? How has it influenced your titles? I think the rise of the App Store has led more people to become aware of digital content and it has pushed more power back into the hands of developers rather than publishers which is a great thing. I do think that too many commentators are focusing on a few red-herrings when announcing the early demise of traditional consoles.
In particular it seems that a lot of commentators have looked at iOS's growth and compared it to Nintendo DS and PSP's demise and made the judgement that iOS is the only contributor to the demise of these devices. Where I differ in opinion is on a couple of points:
The Nintendo DS and PSP are/were old hand held consoles at the end of the life while iOS devices are the new kid in town. This means that sales of these devices were dwindling as they were becoming old, boring and long in the tooth. This happens to all hardware. People are naturally attracted to new devices over old so new ones will naturally accelerate while old ones decelerate.
When the Nintendo DS first launched it proved a massive success in part due to novelty (the first touch screen games machine and dual screens) so much so that it has gone on to become the most successful handheld games machine in history.
I think a large part of the attraction to iOS devices for gamers has been due to novelty — the great multi-touch display, free apps in abundance, an easy purchasing experience and great online connectivity.
When you combine these two factors A) old hardware which is becoming dated and B) new hardware which is sexy and exciting it is not hard to see why iOS has had such a meteoric rise.
I think the next few years it will be interesting to see where things go for dedicated games consoles, but if you look at the last year Nintendo 3DS sold more units of hardware in 8 months than the original Nintendo DS (the worlds best selling console) did in a year.
What's your favourite app that you didn't create? I know this is going to sound crap but I don't really have a favourite iOS app. I love my iPhone but have recently stopped using all but the basic features of the device. I seem to be perfectly happy with Mail, Safari, Calendar, Address Book, Music, Remote, Twitter, Facebook and Currency. Other than that I seem to just look at my iPhone screen, not find anything interesting and turn it back off again.
What phone do you use? Why? I have an iPhone and it is undoubtedly the best phone I have ever used. I love the interface, how fast and simple it is to use and most of the time how it keeps me constantly in touch with what is going on on my twitter, facebook and email accounts! As I mentioned above I don't really use it for much more than regular phone things (and updating my statuses) but even so I would be hard pressed to want or need a different one.
What advice do you have for budding Aussie developers out there? Start small, be laser focused and don't try to jump into ponds where there are a lot of big fish already. Carve your own niche.