For anyone that knows me even slightly, you'll be aware that I have a Playstation 4, and I used to be an Xbox 360 player. These days, I'm pretty much exclusive to the PC, minus a few exceptions like Final Fantasy XV and Destiny, that I can only play on consoles. So to mention that I've applied to become a Nintendo Developer, might throw some people off. I've never mentioned Nintendo as a platform I play games on, so why the sudden interest?
Actually, I've always been a fan of Nintendo. Whilst their games haven't been ones I've wanted to play personally, I'm very much aware of how diverse their catalog is, and how brilliantly designed their games are on a consistent basis. When I was younger, I used to love playing on my N64, and I always used to play with my brother on the GameCube. Some of my fondest gaming memories were on the N64 and GameCube. Ocarina of Time, Lost Kingdoms 2, Luigi's Mansion, Pokemon Stadium, Star Wars Rogue Squadron Series, the list goes on!
As I grew up into a teenager however, I started to become much more action orientated. My exposure to Halo on the original Xbox helped pave the way to playing more action-based titles, such as Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell, Call of Duty, Gears of War, and Timesplitters. Once I got the whole FPS/Action genre out of my system, I went into another phase of Japanese titles. Doting once more on the J-RPGs from the East, and importing them for the PS3 and PSP/Vita. I eventually moved away from my Xbox 360 completely, and focused on more Japanese orientated genres on the PS3 and PSP/Vita. Eventually, I finished by settling back into a high-end Gaming Laptop and becoming absorbed in all kinds of genres equally.
Whilst I'm still a heavy PC gamer, I've started to miss those Japanese-inspired titles that always have a certain feel and atmosphere to them that I just don't get in Western games. Things like Dark Souls 3 had me engaged for 100 hours intensely without becoming boring or stale, and a focus on games like Final Fantasy XV had reminded me once again, that there's something about the Japanese style of Game Development that resonates heavily within me. It might be because I grew up on Final Fantasy and Zelda during my early gaming years, but there's definitely something that I'm still connecting with in their approach. Perhaps I value a heavier focus on world-building and narrative, more than I do on the actual mechanics/action points of games?
In any case, I've decided that with the Nintendo Switch development console being so affordable, and having myself become interested in the console in general as well strangely enough (I never bought a 3DS/Wii/WiiU before!), that I was going to register as a developer, and try my hand at creating a similar kind of experience to what I used to enjoy as a younger gamer. My dream has always been to create a JRPG of some measure. Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX being my favourite JRPGs of all-time, it's no surprise to hear that I want to make my own equivalent version of these games.
I feel with the Nintendo Switch that the hardware isn't so advanced that I feel obliged to take full use out of it, and its grounded approach to realistic and moderate level of hardware, means that for an indie developer, I can use these comfortable restrictions to stop placing so much focus on graphics/features/tech, and focus on the experience first and foremost. I feel that if I had a PS4/Xbox One dev kit, I'd be focusing too much on how pretty I could make the game look, because I'd have all of this horsepower to play with!
There's a methodology that's used in the world of art, where many creatives will assert on themselves a list of restrictions in various forms. Sometimes it's as simple as setting a theme for yourself, limiting yourself to a number of colours, or maybe going as specific as how many brush strokes or number of objects you can place in your creation. There's something to be said about having restrictions in art however. After all, art is never finished, only abandoned. So to have yourself adapt to a list/theme/restrictions/ruleset, I think that fosters creativity rather than squanders it.
Since I've been adopting a low-poly PS1 style of art, I've had to keep poly-counts low, and textures within a reasonable resolution, which has actually helped me learn a lot quicker and produce a lot more work without sitting around thinking of what I'd like to make today. The restrictive sense of this art-style has meant that I've been able to focus more on what I want to make, rather than how. The how has been answered for me for every step of the process. You will need to start with really basic shapes and build up from there, you will need to keep resolutions of textures low, or to downscale them afterwards. Levels need to be thought of as a grid, more-so than complicated and natural shapes. The style has really helped limit my scope and create a focused direction for where my work takes me.
I'm hoping the Nintendo Switch will allow me the same. A standardised piece of hardware, with regular controllers, no fancy online features like there are with PSN/Xbox Live to worry about. Achievements etc. won't really come into it either. I can focus on the games, and a simple/streamlined piece of hardware to develop for. PC development is great, but creating stuff for different systems and hardware is a bit tedious when you have to consider compatibility problems. The Switch will be nice to develop for, because I know the exact experience everyone will have. That's what I've always loved about consoles, is that you know that for a set price, you get the same experience as everyone else, and it's been optimised for that platform.
With this kind of limited/restrictive approach to my development again, I'm hoping that this helps me focus on producing a great game for a specific platform, which will help me work quicker and learn faster as a result. No worrying about LOD distances for different levels of quality on a PC version, or having the near-unlimited budget (for an indie) of graphical resources and overwhelming features list from an Xbox One or PS4 platform. I get a nice, strong, capable console, with good hardware, good controllers, and a simple development environment to engage with.
Big thanks to Nintendo for making the Development Kits of the Nintendo Switch so affordable. It's because of that move that people like me are happy to jump aboard, and see what we can contribute to the Switch's ecosystem of games and applications. I just have to decide now what sort of game I would like to see myself make, as I think I'm still under the development-skill needed for a JRPG. I might start off with Dino Hazard (ResidentEvil/DinoCrisis type experience), or maybe go even simpler with Kooler World being a nice 3D Marble/Ball Platformer to start with? Anyway, just wanted to mention that I'd applied, and what my intentions are for moving forward with this!