I had the occasion to have a long chat with Shin’en, indipendent team famous for Jett Rocket and FAST for Nintendo consoles. After a series of questions this is what Manfred Linzner told us. Finally in the gallery you can find a FAST Racing Neo exclusive screenshot the team kindly gave to us.
1) When have you started working on FAST Racing Neo? It was always meant to be on Wii U?
ML: We started on FRN right after we finished Nano Assault Neo. It was always a Wii U project.
2) How was the transition between Wii and Wii U in terms of programming? Was the documentation from Nintendo clear and simple?
ML: The Wii and Wii U have technical not much in common beside a similar CPU architecture. As the GPU is now fully programmable it is much easier to create custom effects and shaders then it was on Wii.
Documentation is quite good.
3) As a little but strong team, how have you managed the HD development, also compared to Wii?
ML: HD development was a big issue for us. We simply didn’t wanted to make games on Wii U that just looked like the games people played on their PS3 or XBox360. We wanted to make a big step beyond those consoles. We usually also only have one guy doing all graphics in the game. So we always need clever tech & decisions for our games to make them look on par or better then what you are used to.
4) Shin’en is very well known for the excellent use of resources and use of shaders, how can you describe working on Wii U? Have you suffered any limitations?
ML: You always suffer from limitations, regardless on which hardware you work. You always want more power, but in the end it’s more about your development philosophy.
We simply want to make the best looking games on Wii U, no matter what the limitations are. Fortunately we have a lot of freedom on Wii U because of the large RAM and very versatile GPU. So you usually just need to think a bit harder to achieve this or that, instead of using techniques most developers tend to use.
5) What can you telle us about FAST Racing Neo and what we can expect from the title in terms of evolution of gameplay?
ML: First of all we analyzed what people liked and disliked in the original Wii game. For instance, most people enjoyed the unique phase switching gameplay, because it’s something you have in no other racing game.
So we build on that but tried to make it more streamlined and more fun to use. Something most people disliked was the brutal difficulty in higher leagues, because the Ai was simply too perfect. We made sure that the Ai behaves more ‘human’ this time.
6) Developing during the Wii era and the initial Wiiware, how would you describe the changes of Nintendo’s approach on the digital content developed by indie and third party developers?
ML: WiiWare was something of a small test for Nintendo i guess, but now digital publishing is a big part of Nintendo and they really try to help developers in any way possible.
7) Have you ever been in touch with Dan Adelman and if so, what do you think about his layoff? Do you think that Nintendo’s relationship with indie developers will suffer from the departure of an important and reliable figure such as him?
ML: I met him when WiiWare started many years ago. He is a very friendly and competent guy. I don’t know exactly why Dan is no more at Nintendo but i wish him all the best for his future.
We mostly work together with Nintendo of Europe and there we have very nice and friendly contacts that really give their best for our games.
8) Have you ever thought about being a second party and has Nintendo ever asked you so? If not what were the reasons why you have decided to develop a project on PS4 and how was the impact with a different hardware company?
ML: We are not interested to be part of a bigger company. We are interested to make the games we dream of, in the best way we can, for as many people as possible. As the current consoles are much more similar then previous generations it was simply a logical step for us to expand.
9) Can you tell us about the sales of FAST and Jett Rocket franchise? Did the videogame audience well respond to those little, in terms of MB used, jewels?
ML: We are a very small company. So our costs for developing games are quite low compared to other companies. Therefore all our games, even on WiiWare were a financial success in the end. Also we get a lot of support from the press and our fans. This motivates us to continue with games that amaze people.