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Highlights of Nintendo's Third Party Roundtable

Wii U

9th June 2011, 11:59am

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Nintendo held a smaller roundtable today to highlight the relationship it has with third party developers. A few interesting announcements were made. Most of the attention was on Ubisoft, who Nintendo asked to be a key Wii U partner given their similar corporate culture and passions.

Satoru Iwata brought out Yves Guillemot, president of Ubisoft, to talk. Guillemot claimed social gaming will be the next big thing, and the controller screen and microphone means the Wii U will be able to easily facilitate it. Titles announced include Killer Freaks, Raving Rabbids, Ghost Recon Online, and Assassin's Creed. The games showed were all very early prototypes.

The Ghost Recon devs took to the stage and demoed the touchpad gameplay and 'always on' online services. The Wii U is perfect for the brand since it's a slower, 'think before you act' team-based shooter. A trailer shows using the touchscreen to change weapons, players talking to each other to coordinate attacks, calling air assaults and scanning maps. The TV screen has an up close view of the action, which is a standard over the shoulder twin sticks shooter. The controller has realtime information about enemy placement, friendlies, strategies.

You can place a marker on the map and it shows up on the TV for other players. The game features a perk system. One example is in a missile strike your tablet could show a drone camera view. The game will have a persistent online, personalised accounts, friends lists, matchmaking and stat tracking - all the stuff you've come to expect from a modern shooter. You can get a Ghost Feed on the controller if the TV's off or on a different channel that lets you track your friends' achievements and activities, and schedule matches.

Next up was Killer Freaks from Outer Space. It's a competitive multiplayer FPS designed exclusively for Wii U by Ubisoft France (Montpelier). It has tongue-in-cheek humour, aliens, mechs, guns. You can move the controller around to aim, and don't even need to watch the screen. Environmental destruction with the more powerful weapons. One versus one, using tablet and Classic Controller Pro. The latter is using the TV for his screen, while obviously the tablet will show that player a different view. Tablet guy has a top down view as an alien commander trying to destroy the bad guy by summoning and placing freaks.

New Assassin's Creed was next on display. Wii U has a powerful multi-core architecture and large memory capacity. Graphical assets are being used across all platforms - all shaders are present on Wii U. You can choose between a persistent map, interactive database, fast weapon selection or eagle vision for the controller as you please. A dedicated Quebec team is at work on the project. The team wasn't ready to confirm if it was a port or a new title, but suggested it was more of the latter.

It was then time for a Q&A. None of the demos showed two new controllers being used simultaneously. Ubisoft was asked if it's possible, but they dodged the question, saying it's not for them to disclose. They also left it to Nintendo to reveal if friends lists and accounts are system-wide. The persistent Ghost Feed will be very secure, given worries about the PSN breach. Multiplayer could potentially be cross-platform, but at this stage all they can say is it's definitely between Wii U users.

In total, Ubisoft has five Wii U games in development, of which three were shown today. With Raving Rabbids making four, that means there's a fifth we don't know about. Ubisoft said it was too early to tell how powerful the Wii U was compared to other consoles. The dev kits are still evolving and you need time to catch up with your game engines. They're still learning, but stressed that polygons don't equal good games. Dev team sizes are still the same - it's not any more arduous to develop for. They have lots more stuff in the works.

They wanted to dispel the suggestion that playing the system would be tiring. Given the sticks and accelerometer, you can make short, fast movements rather than overact. It was suggested by an attendee that the controller could notify someone away from the TV that there's a friend online to play against, but Ubisoft couldn't comment. Local multiplayer will always be around. They don't yet know the range of the controller, given it's all still changing.

As soon as we have assets for these titles, we'll put them up.

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