Chasing Aurora was a launch title for the Wii U eShop, from successful indie studio Broken Rules. The Austrian studio is is also responsible for the WiiWare title And Yet It Moves, a cult classic that has received near universal acclaim. Wii U Daily reviewed Chasing Aurora here, but we wanted to catch up with the developers and find out just how their experience was working with Nintendo’s new console. We spoke to Martin Pichlmair about the game, the future, and what’s in store for Broken Rules.
1. How did Chasing Aurora evolve into what it is today and how long did you work on it?
Chasing Aurora has a very long story. Let me tell you the short version. It all started with Felix having a dream about flying. We set out to make fun prototypes with flight as the core gameplay. Then we threw away most of them and focused on a large exploration-based single-player flight game. As soon as the flying itself was fun we made a multi-player race-like flight game with it, that was much better than the single-player prototype. Then we switched back to the single-player and built a world, a story, characters, tutorials, environments, levels, and so on. At some point we realized that this game will take another year to develop. Since Nintendo had asked us if we wanted to do a Wii U launch title we switched projects again, back to the multi-player game. We used all the tech we had developed for the single-player and finished Chasing Aurora just in time for the Wii U launch. Now we’re working on the single-player game again.
2. When did you decide that the Wii U would be the perfect platform for the release of the game?
We wanted to make the game for console, mostly because you can’t sell offline multi-player-only games on any other platform. There was just no alternative to that. As a Nintendo developer we were of course eager to talk with them about our future. The moment they invited us to make a launch title we knew our target platform.
3. Did you have any special challenges when developing for the Wii U? How would you rate development for it against the Wii or other consoles?
It is far superior to the Wii. I can’t really comment on other consoles but compared to PC the thing I like most about console development is the uniformity of the hardware. Once your game runs on one device, it runs on all of them. iOS was the same in the beginning, but device fragmentation is an issue there nowadays. The most challenging aspect of console development is handling all possible errors that may occur. From unexpected actions of the players to hardware failure, everything needs to be checked and kept tabs of.
4. What was your experience like working with Nintendo to complete the game and through the QA process?
Nintendo’s QA got faster the closer we got to the finishing line. In the last weeks before the launch we were throwing new builds at them on a daily basis and they managed. I’m totally impressed by their professionalism, even under stress. Apart from a few of last-minute decisions, all of them understandable when you launch a product the size of the Wii U, Nintendo was awesome.
5. What made you decide to create a multi-player-focused game? Any inspirations there?
I think the biggest factor in this decision was that most of us enjoy to play local multiplayer games – sports games – Pro Evolution Soccer is one of my all-time favourites, Nintendo games like Smash Brothers and Mario Kart and indie games like Nidhogg and Pole Riders.
6. How do you feel about the performance of the game on the Wii U eShop so far?
This being our first launch title, we did not know what to expect. And we’re still puzzled by the dynamics of this launch. I can’t deny that I had higher hopes but this has more to do with my personal attitude than with the performance of the game itself. As for the game, the christmas sale did really well and the eShop is hitting his stride now. We’re still learning how to operate in this new and exciting environment.
7. With your experience with Nintendo and both the Wii and the Wii U, can we expect to see more titles from you in the future on the Wii U?
That depends on a lot of factors. Obviously, we’ve got the technology in place and the capability to make another Wii U title. Yet as a small studio we have to chose very careful what platforms we’re targeting. From the current perspective we plan to bring our next game to the Wii U. But I can’t see into the future, so I can’t guarantee anything at this point.
8. Are there any things you’d like to change about the whole process from concept to inception on the eShop?
That’s what updates are for, right? We’re working on an update (and a demo) for Chasing Aurora right now. It’ll feature Pro Controller support, performance increases, much better loading times, a harder single player mode and a couple of changes to the multi-player that are still under wraps for now.
Wii U Daily wants to thank Martin Pichlmair and the whole team at Broken Rules for taking the time to chat with us about Chasing Aurora and the development experience on the Wii U!