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A Look At The Wii's Indie Games

Discussion in 'Nintendo News & Rumors' started by James Temperton, May 3, 2007.

  1. James Temperton

    James Temperton WiiChat Feature Writer

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    [xFLOAT=left]http://www.wiichat.com/article-images/orb-119.jpg[/xFLOAT]When the Wii was in development Nintendo made a big deal about how easy, and thus cheap, it was to develop for. This factor potentially opens up a rather large window for indie developers and even bedroom coders to get in on the Wii action. Whilst we’ve seen quite a few small developers run excitedly at the Wii, the indie action has been rather quiet. Mysterious...

    Perhaps the best known indie developer on the Wii scene are Nibris. Some people claim they don’t exist, some people claim they are just making up a whole lot of stuff to get some attention. Well, having been in close contact with the people working at Nibris for quite some time now, I’m fairly sure they are the real deal.

    One thing is for sure, the Wii is the ultimate indie-friendly system. You can make a totally crap game (for very little money) in a very short space of time. Just look at what System 3 have managed. Indeed, just one look down the Wii charts makes for interesting reading. The most obvious thing to get from the chart is that the Wii is a very cheap console to develop for. This week’s list reads like this. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and 8 are all major software titles from either Nintendo, EA SEGA or Ubi Soft. In at 9 is Medal of Honor: Vanguard, a half-arsed port of a PS2 title, Heatseeker falls at 11 and is a game with amazingly basic graphics, nice use of the Wii control system and very little depth or development flair. The less said about Prince of Persia: Rival Swords the better (port) and indeed the rest of the chart is made up of ports, rushed out titles with gimmicks and more ports...yay.

    Big developers very rarely take risks. This enables them to maximise profit and minimise worry. What small developers do (like Nibris) is have a crack at something different. This is where the mysterious title Sadness comes into being. Indie developers could have a big say on the future of the gaming industry and on how well the Wii does and how much of an impact it makes on the gaming industry. During the last ten years the industry has become more and more bloated with big money and big corporations. EA, Ubi, Activision, THQ, SEGA, the list goes on and on. Companies like Nibris and Crossbeam Entertainment are a huge breath of fresh air. Anyone who isn’t excited about what they represent needs their head examining and slapping with a moist fish...

    So, let us take a look at what these two indie companies are up to on the Wii. First up, Crossbeam.

    Orb

    Genre: Action/Adventure
    Platform: Nintendo Wii

    Story-line

    The story-line in Orb finds players following the adventure of three students (Dyces, Simique, and Mahten) searching for their abducted teacher (Strysis). They find themselves traveling the world, across many different climates uncovering the secrets and past of their land, Delphire. That past includes genocide, war, revenge, and a bit of romance at times.


    Orb begins on the first day of the seventh month of the 532nd year of the Tunom calendar. The player has the choice of playing as Dyces, Simique, or Mahten. Depending on who they choose changes small parts of the storyline at the beginning, and offers very different gameplay as the story unfolds.

    Gameplay

    Orb is an action/adventure title that plays similar to Legend of Zelda with touches of Myst and Elder Scrolls 4. The player explores the land of Delphire, fighting through dungeons, exploring towns and ruins, meeting new cultures, and delving into the history of the world and the universe. The game is a third person game, and allows for in depth interaction with the environment and characters. Player will be able to choose a school of magic, learn it fully, craft their own weapons as they gain the skills, and even raise creatures.

    Thorn

    Genre: Action/Adventure
    Platform: Nintendo Wii

    Story-line

    The storyline in Thorn starts on Earth in 2276, 12 years after the Orbiter Rebellions. Michael Reaver was a Special Forces operative over intelligence at the end of the war, and has just gotten a special message from a friend and former squadmate sent from the 6th planet of a distant solar system. The friend, Andy Weiss, has fallen ill and is on his deathbed. Michael sets out for the system. As he arrives on the planet, he finds his friend executed, and himself arrested for the murder.


    Gameplay

    While players escape incarceration, travel to other planets, and interact with the local populations, they will uncover a deep conspiracy, as well as mythical beings, creatures, and a dark secret of humanity's past. Players will explore the world from both first person and third person perspectives. They will have access to vehicles, projectile weapons, and melee combat weapons such as swords.

    Players will have the choice of experiencing flying levels, stealth levels, action levels, and exploration levels. The game is very open, allowing players to travel from planet to planet, join groups like gangs and religious communities, and even communicate with people in other solar systems.

    What’s interesting about both these projects is the passion involved in their development. You really get a sense that the people working on these projects are making a game for the gamers that will end up playing it. Crossbeam are doing something extraordinary, they aren’t aiming to make money as even a remote priority. Just like when a great author writes or a great painter paints, they are creating art for the sake of pleasure. Admittedly, they haven’t revealed much information yet, which is a shame, but the other major indie developer floating around the Wii (and DS) is Nibris.

    Officially accredited by Nintendo as a developer for both major systems, Nibris have some exciting plans in the pipeline. A number of DS games are being supported by two major Wii offerings, Sadness and Ride Over the River (ROTR). This is a small Polish company who are passionate about Nintendo about videogames. The guys working on the projects for Nibris are nuts about Nintendo and know what makes a good game. They aren’t under pressure from a big company and they are very much seen as a part of the gaming community. Exciting times indeed.

    Previously Nintendo have promised that the Wii Shop Channel will be opened up to small, Wii-specific titles (a bit like the XBOX Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network), this again opens up another significant opportunity for indie companies. No distribution costs, no need for a publisher and instant accessibility for a massive ready-installed base of users. Small start-up companies like Nibris and Crossbeam are taking on some very ambitious projects and I for one really hope they suceed. This, coupled with the increased presence of smalltime developers on console ‘arcade’ networks could eventually change the face of gaming forever.
     
  2. ottoman

    ottoman Banned

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    great article, and i was looking for some info on Thorn and Orb. thanks!
     
  3. Wii_BrEnDo2007

    Wii_BrEnDo2007 Gran Turismo

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    both look good
     
  4. Skorp

    Skorp WiiChat Member

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    I thought Orb/Thorn were cancelled? *looks at you for an answer*
     
  5. kingkoy

    kingkoy WiiOwner

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    sweet definitely getting both
     
  6. David328ci

    David328ci WiiChat Member

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    This is good news. The big players in the developer scene such as the ones mentioned the article put out alot of junk. Taking few risks also equals making games that are boring and anything revolutionary. Small companies need ingenuity and that is what creates games that are worth playing.
     
  7. WiiZero

    WiiZero Game Wiizard

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    Yeah CSE my fav well it's on Wii chat that's a sign of it being officialish
     
  8. blueradio

    blueradio get crunk.

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    lolz the wii is so alternative.
     
  9. Rolex

    Rolex Moody Loner

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    I think that the tale of the tape will be when these titles are hands on products and we can all judge the quality of these smaller devs - and I agree with James, that the current crop of piss poor ports (ppp's :prrr:) are lacking in imagination and are just quick buck titles...so more innovative / competent titles is definately something to embrace!

    Independents have always given that little bit more, taking the Darling brothers, RedRat etc.. for example and all the countless smaller titles that appeared on the early home computer games systems - Spectrum, C64, Atari XL,ST etc.. so the future's looking bright with the advent of this more nurturing approach to game dev.. Couple this with Nintendos seemingly ideal platform for showcasing games like this, then we have a win win situation...

    The main question I have at the moment is..

    "Why; when the sales of Wii are phenominal; is it taking so long to set up a demo channel to, not only showcase new smaller/indie titles but to allow access to tech demos?"

    Instead of "Everybody Votes Channel" *sigh* can we have the In-development channel they promised and get smaller devs showcasing titles or even the minigames, hell anything which will play with the Wii and experiment with it's control system in a non-full blown format, a bit like the old 8-bit demos in the 80's [fujiboink, MTV music sample] - that was where the real bedroom devs came out to play, why can't it happen again?

    FujiBoink
     

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  10. markmanuel18

    markmanuel18 WiiChat Member

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    This Projects might very well be nonexistent, I thought they where scrapped.
     
  11. R_man_5k

    R_man_5k WiiChat Member

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    I really hope that Thorn does come out!!! when I think about what could be done with the system and the controls... I just cant wait for stuff like this to get to us!!! we just need the games!!! I know at launch all systems go through a lull.. but come on. developers should be cranking out some good things soon.
     
  12. WiiZero

    WiiZero Game Wiizard

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    I'm pretty sure the project does exist and it's not scrapped you know nothing
     
  13. drewster2k

    drewster2k WiiChat Member

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    Thanks for the info, i havent hear of either of these games until today, ive just taken a look at the main page of crossbeam aswell, hope they release some screenshots soon.
     
  14. ciper

    ciper

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    I call shenanigans. "Indie" developers may be embraced but the "bedroom coders" are most definitely shunned. Currently there is a significant effort to get unsigned code running on the Wii and the only way to do it is in GameCube emulation mode.

    Nintendo has really screwed up this time. In the past ModChips were used to boot homebrew applications by many. There is even a Gamecube version of Linux! Now the modchips are primarily used to copy games since they are unable to boot unencrypted Wii executables.

    In other words Nintendo has punished the people who aren't interested in stealing games :(
     

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