October 27, 2016

Switch Reactions - Image & Form

Now that Nintendo has formally announced the Nintendo Switch, I wanted to ask the first European developers to get the development kits, a few questions to see what they thought of it. Image & Form might not be a name you know, but you will know their excellent titles, Steamworld Dig and Steamworld Heist, both releasing first on Nintendo 3DS.

Who better to speak to for answers though, than the CEO of the company, so my thanks to Brjann Sigurgeirsson, for taking the time to answer.

Now that Nintendo have unveiled the Switch, what were your reactions when you first saw it, thinking as a gamer?
The first thought, right at the very start of the reveal trailer, was "YES!" And I kept thinking "YES!" throughout! I was worried that they were going to do something less, say, having some Nintendo seniors sit and discuss "all the cool stuff" about the new system and actually not show it. If you compare to previous reveals, the Switch reveal was very, very tasty. 

And it also had the benefit of not ending people's speculations. Is it going to have a touch screen? How fast is the processor? And so on. They whetted the appetite of gamers, I can't imagine anyone being put off by it. Plus the fact that it LOOKS like a gadget I want. 

What about with your developer hat on?
That's a different story: we already knew the stuff we needed to know in order to develop for Nintendo Switch, and we knew that it would be less complicated than developing for 3DS or Wii U. The unveiling of Switch didn't change that feeling, but it was fun to see how the Joy-Con controllers detached/attached to the main unit.

Image & Form have a strong history of supporting Nintendo platforms, with both SteamWorld Dig and SteamWorld Heist, how do you believe Image & Form fans will respond to Switch when it is available?
They'll hopefully be happy once we reveal our plans for it and start publishing Switch games! :) It may just be me, but the Switch reveal itself was an important step and a good gauge of what people will think of it when it launches. It seems that most everyone is excited about Nintendo Switch, which is radically different from the expectations on Wii U - and for 3DS, for that matter.

I'm glad that Nintendo once again makes a console that is its own thing. It's nothing short of remarkable how inventive they've been throughout the years. They haven't always succeeded, but they've always been inventive.

With the staff now all in on the knowledge of Switch, how has the reaction been in the studio?
Ironically, almost everyone at I&F was at Sweden Game Conference the day it happened. Since we released SteamWorld Heist on the North American Wii U eShop on the same day (talk about Nintendo trying to steal our thunder!), I was in the office with Peter, one of our programmers who knew about it, and our community manager Julius, who is a huge Nintendo fan and didn't know a thing up until then. At first we couldn't get the live stream to work, and it was almost comical to watch Julius jump up and down with excitement and frustration!

We've kept the lid on tight, and the others haven't known. When me and our creative lead Olle HÃ¥kansson got out of the NOE headquarters in Frankfurt after having been "disclosed", we decided immediately that we would have to "let everyone down" when we got back home. Yes, we were now officially NX developers, and no, we can't tell you what it is. It's been hard in a way since you don't want to keep your co-workers in the dark, but easy at the same time - everyone's been very professional about it. When we explained the situation to them the day after being disclosed, it was actually someone other than me or Olle that suggested that we shouldn't talk about it even casually in the office. The less we talked about it, the easier it would be to keep it secret.

In hindsight we handled this really well. For example, me and Julius had even recorded a video well in advance explaining that we were indeed developing for the NX, which we aired an hour after the Switch reveal trailer. All the time up to the unveiling, that is, also when making that video, Julius had no clue what Switch was. :)

As an indie developer, you must travel a lot for work, do you see Switch becoming part of your travel bag?
I certainly hope so! It's actually ideal for that - you can show stuff to people on show floors just as easily as presenting on a big TV screen in, say, a conference room. Both scenarios are as likely during expos. This versatility is a huge advantage for the system.

Another obvious advantage is that it's a mobile device with a relatively big screen AND button controls. I've often thought that an attachable button setup to the iPad Mini would be fantastic. Well, here is a realization of that.

Has the history of working with Nintendo, granted you any sort of super-secret information that you are not able to reveal?
Yep! :D

Could you reveal something now?
Nope! Sorry! ;D

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