The Secret Developers: Wii U - the inside story

Digital Foundry :

"I was there when Nintendo first pitched the Wii U to developers, I worked on the hardware extensively and helped to produce one of the better third-party titles. Now, as the fate of the hardware looks uncertain after a second Christmas of disappointing sales, I wanted to tell the story of what it was actually like to work with the console, and with Nintendo, and perhaps give some context to the mixed fortunes of the machine and its third-party titles.

But first, let's go back to the beginning. The genesis of a new games console generally follows a standard pattern. Initially there is a prolonged period of research and development internally within a manufacturer where the goals and hardware designs are sketched out. These then go through a process of refinement with the hardware parts manufacturers, based on their technology and, obviously, cost."

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NYC_Gamer1594d ago (Edited 1594d ago )

This article speaks on what many of us have been saying on the web..Wii U hardware isn't up to par and how the console wasn't really built with 3rd party developers in mind.

LOL_WUT1594d ago

Yea and it's a shame Nintendo just went for the easier solution thinking it'll sell off the brand alone all while trying to get a head start on the competition. ;)

Qrphe1594d ago

That's not what it's saying exactly. It says that Nintendo's support has been terrible which also has pushed developers away beyond low system sales.

N4g_null1593d ago

This guy works for a huge publisher... also everyone was cracking the gpgpu nut while he was trying to get his kit linked. It sounds like he was coding the system all wrong also. You are suppose to treat it like a ps3 wraped in sram lol. Your code has to be modular basicly. Also if your performance is lacking you are suppose to delay and fix your cave man code. By releasing a game with missing features you are just asking to get fired.

The tool chain isnt as sexy as others if you got in before the new revisions. That is true... but he is harping on cpu speed when he obviously had a hard time with the ps3.

Also the quality of code has to be pretty high... which is why you wont see as many buggy games on the wiiu because of their submission system.

im sort of glad bad coders where weeded out. Its only going to make them flock to the other platforms.

Its clear to see also nintendo needed to get this kit out to real coders. Since then we have gotten almost shader 5 like results from this kit. This is the epic vs gears of war situation all over again. Dont find your own solutions blame some one else for making you rush out a project.

simply build your skill... gpgpus are very new. No one has any real skill with them unless you are talking about ps3 programmers and compute shader programmers.

What you will see is a bunch of 3rd parties get up to speed with compute shaders because another studio shows them up.... then suddently the big publishers are going to ask.... why cant you do that?

The games are coming and the sdk is getting way better. I know programming is hard, learning new ways is hard... but the new ways are way more powerful. Im so glad that ps4 and xbone did go that route.

mmj1594d ago (Edited 1594d ago )

I've said many time and had my head chewed off by irate Nintendo fans, the main problem with Wii U is price.

The reason why Wii U is selling poorly is because it's losing sales to 360/PS3, Wii U is not even remotely close to being 'next gen' so it shouldn't be priced as such, they even say in the article that its CPU is actually worse than 360... people aren't going to get ripped off to play a couple of first party exclusives.

Once its price is lowered to be competitive with 360/PS3 it will start to sell better.

lilbroRx1594d ago (Edited 1594d ago )

And every actual verifiable source says the opposite of what you are saying.

Price drops have been here since the beginning for the Wii U and they never moved units. Only game did as games are the only thing that matters.

If power was ever a deciding factor in consoles, then the PS1 and PS2 would have lost horribly because they were both the weakest of their generation all around.

The CPU is actually stronger than the 360's when used proplerly . Most devs simply aren't familiar with the architectural difference. The GPU is also more than twice as strong. This is why the 360 and PS3 version of Project C.A.R.S were dropped and not the Wii U.

It is known now that most of the devs were using only "1 core" of the CPU in launch game because they didn't know how it worked(this is what a lot of devs are complaining about about with the lack of support for Nintendo and why some thought it was weaker). Those games using 1 core still ran nearly on par with the 360/PS3 version's of games.

Qrphe1594d ago

>PS and PS2 the weakest

It's like the Saturn nor Dreamcast ever existed

wonderfulmonkeyman1594d ago

Generations are defined by sequence, not specs.
Its a next gen machine whether you agree or not.

mmj1594d ago (Edited 1594d ago )

Well regardless of what generation people see it as price is defined by features/specification.

Which console would you recommend for someone wanting to play online?

...for a huge catalogue of games?

...for bluray?

...if they are on a tight budget?

The fact is Wii U doesn't have much going for it compared to even 360/PS3 aside from a few exclusives and it likely won't even be a consideration for anyone wanting a 'next gen' console.

Wii U will be replaced by Nintendo in a couple of years with a console probably still weaker than PS4... would that make the new console a newer generation than PS4 simply because it's next in the sequence? I don't think so, generation is relative to the technology a console has and how long it is expected to last. Wii U will be dead long before PS4/Xbone.

wonderfulmonkeyman1593d ago

Yes, mmj, it would.

Only by sequence.

As for the rest of the points:

Wii U is getting plenty of games.

Blueray is unimportant since most people already have a player.

Wii U is a very thrifty option for a next-gen console for those on a tight budget.

There are over 4.3M and growing people who find it to be a perfectly reasonable consideration, and it won't be replaced in a mere two years from now, let alone killed off by the competition.

Nintendo's gamecube survived being outsold without being ditched early, so will this.

Doom&gloom predictions of death once again take a back-seat to firm logic and the lessons proven by Nintendo's own history.

The Wii U isn't going to die.
It IS a next gen console.
Haters can deal or ditch, and it won't matter which.

XXXL1594d ago

I'm enjoying my Wii U for what it is... A secondary console to complement my PS4.

RicardJulianti1594d ago

I have my Wii U for the Nintendo classics....and a gaming PC for everything else.

3DS for handheld gaming of course.

for we are many1593d ago

Same here. Wii U + PC + 3DS. Best of all worlds.

krubele141594d ago

Lazy dev didnt even mention the wii u 32mb of edram, shin en says that fast racing neo on the wii u will support 4k-8k textures that already makes the wii u leagues ahead of ps3/360, project cars devs say the wii u version of project cars will have all the pc features. Those are devs that actually true to make good use of the wii u hardware. Criterion was able to get better draw distance, frame rate, resolution, lighting, shaders, and pc textures on the wii u version of need for speed most wanted making it the best console version. This article is bull shit. Shin'en was able to make nano assault neo on wii u using only one of the wii u cpu cores and still had it running 720p 60fps and they never had a prob with the wii u hardware. And every indie dev says nintendo is very helpful in helping them develop for the wii u.

lilbroRx1594d ago

The Wii U also has GPGPU techology which the PS3/360 do not. It has DX11 equivlent graphics and a more advanced Shader Modal which the PS3/360 do not.

Nano Assault was actually running at 1080p 60 FPS initially but the devs said that 1080p added no real visual different and decide to drop it to 720p while using more post fx.

Qrphe1594d ago

They didnt have enough resources to do 1080p while keeping other settings. Of course, they worded it nicely.

lilbroRx1594d ago

@Qrphe: That is not what that meant or what they said at all. You are just trying to spin what they said to your liking.

They also said they didn't even optimize the game at all. As the person above states, they didn't even used the other 2 cores of the CPU.

They could have got it to run at 1080p with even more effects without any problem. They were under time constraints to get it out for launch, though, so their wasn't enough time.

Stopping speaking from ignorance and trying to make up things to attack the Wii U with.

ZainreFang1594d ago

He did mention the eDRAM.

"I've also seen some concerns about the utilisation of DDR3 RAM on Wii U, and a bandwidth deficit compared to the PS3 and Xbox 360. This wasn't really a problem for us. The GPU could fetch data rapidly with minimal stalls (via the EDRAM) and we could efficiently pre-fetch, allowing the GPU to run at top speed."

N4g_null1593d ago

Which is why code is fed thur the gpu also... Remember it is a gpgpu not just a gpu.

basically he just had tunnel vision and didn't want to recode any thing. That is understandable if you just like chatting and making tea.
the cpu is for things that just run better with branching logic.

the concept of a gpgpu just went over their head completely. Does being bias just make you dumb or something?

slivery1594d ago (Edited 1594d ago )

I don't know how many times I have had explain something so simple but 4k-8k textures is nothing special, it really isn't. So many games use higher textures if not more these days even back on PS3 and Xbox 360.

You are getting textures and native resolutions totally confused. I never understood people bragging about things they literally have no concept of.

It looks so ridiculous when even the highest end PC's now struggle running native 4k resolutions and 8k is so far off why even mention it now when 4k still is pushing the most advanced tech now. Again that is native resolutions, not textures which is a huge difference.

I own a Wii U, I enjoy it, I love it actually but Shin'en gets way too much credit for the games they make, even I will tell you this. I love Nano Assault on Wii U and 3DS but seriously it isn't some massively complicated game or of any huge scale to require that many hardware resources let alone even need to use more than one core on a new CPU. Nano Assult is the best looking game they have made but still the small scale of the game isn't giving much credence to what Shin'en says, their other games do not even compare most their games have been on DS, 3DS and Wii. So are you seriously going to brag about the power of those systems? I owned them all also but seriously who cares if your system isn't the most powerful.

So old already.

Fast Racing won't need that many resources either so I would hope it does have good graphics knowing that, it should.

I just get really tired of people taking developers comments out of context. Shin'en says textures and everyone assumes they said 4k-8k native resolution.

I also don't understand why just because one developer says one thing, it automatically means every other developer having trouble is a liar or just trolling Nintendo. Yea I am sure they spent their hard earned cash developing for the Wii U just to troll the system, makes plenty of sense.

Does it mean the system is doomed? Does it mean every developer will have the same problems.. Of course not.

It will not matter what system it is, there will be developers who complain about it or developers who just loved every minute working with it. It is not different than any other human being with a brain and the ability to form their own opinions.


"1080p added no real visual different and decide to drop it to 720p"

OKAY.... I can agree that there is not a huge difference between 720p and 1080p but to say there is no visual difference, that is total bullshit. Bottomline the game would look better in native 1080p compared to native 720p. Certain things like that are just the facts of life, just like no human is immortal yet, sometimes you just have to face the facts instead of completely ignoring them.

N4g_null1593d ago

The sdk is sitting here in front of me and yes 4k to 8k textures are supported. Tessellation is also supported yet no one I know is using it yet in a retail game.

Read the article... this guy was rushed as they tried to get info from japan. While gpgpu computing was just being finalized.

He axed feature and didn't even realize there where more cores or that they would have to use a shader model 4 system and then move up to 5.

there code was made for a different box period and where not giving any time to test the box.the sdk exposes every thing if they would justlook. Hey but you got to get those ddeadlines so you can capture those hype dollars though.

theizzzeee1593d ago

It's funny you quoted a comment about 1080p but, seemed to disregard it's meaning. Real has meaning that's why it was in the statement otherwise then it would mean what you said. I think Shin'en deserves the credit they get. If, you can make a game look that good on 81MB I think that's well skilled. I mean soundtracks might be bigger than that.

Qrphe1594d ago (Edited 1594d ago )

People still claiming 1080 makes little difference when compared to 720p is just delusion.

Ck1x1594d ago

Well you have to think it probably is really game specific though!
A game like SM3d World already has very crisp and clean textures, what would 1080p have provided over 60fps and possibly even great lighting and effects for that art style?

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