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Wii U is 'hard to get across,' says ZombiU dev

The Wii U has had trouble communicating its value to consumers at large, as Nintendo president Satoru Iwata admitted. Xavier Poix, who is managing director of Ubisoft's Annecy, Montpellier, and Paris studios, told GameSpot that's because it's just not as easy to show it to people as was the friendly-looking Wii.

"The depth of what you can do with that console is really hard to get across unless you play with it," Poix said. "It's different from the Wii, where seeing was believing. With the Wii U, people really need to experience it."

The Wii U's troubles with messaging extended to ZombiU, which perplexed some players with its heavy use of the GamePad paired with action on the TV screen. Poix oversaw its development and said, like the console itself, there was no easy way to relate the experience.

Some games broaden their appeal with multiplayer modes. But ZombiU's Dark-Souls-esque connectivity and unique zombie-overlord-versus-survivors mode was just as abstract as the GamePad to most consumers.

"The whole idea of the asymmetrical gameplay and using two screens to do two very different things is not simple to explain to people. ZombiU was designed to be a game for core players launching with a new Nintendo console. We should have communicated better in this respect to let people know what kind of experience to expect. It wasn't obvious enough that there would be a new controller and new gameplay and a new skill set to develop."

10 comments

  • yienwae-perezfam-miiz - February 14, 2013 10:38 a.m.

    Personally, I find the Wii U Gamepad as an extension to what gaming can possibly evolve to. The ability for 2 player coop without splitting the TV Screen along with the possibility of having two players play a multi player online without having to split screen opens up new doors. I like the way ZombiU was handled and how it takes advantage of the Gamepad features. Could it have been made better? Yes, absolutely, but I also know that development and release dates are always a factor in terms of getting a product released on time. I think the Wii U has numerous possibilities and if Nintendo comes through on the possibility of supporting a 2nd gamepad on the console, it could cause a shift to traditional gaming as we know it. The key is can 3rd party developers take full advantage of the possibilities, or are they going to 'stick' to what is comfortable and safe? Only time will tell.
  • FoxdenRacing - February 7, 2013 9:05 a.m.

    Well, then the solution is obvious. Don't build games assuming gamers will get it, and absolutely don't build games that demand gamers get it for those critical first 5 minutes of gameplay. Study the classics, where the entire game was a tutorial for the lead-up to the last boss. Why is there a coin, a super-mushroom, and a lone goomba in the first 5 seconds of Super Mario Brothers? It teaches you how to deal with foes, what a '?' block is, what might be in it, and gives you a free 'hit' for the other side of the pipe. By the end of the first level, you've been introduced to every powerup. By the end of the first castle, you've been introduced to the basic version of every concept in the game. That wasn't accidental. It was all carefully planned, because the devs knew they could take nothing for granted. Today's devs are spoiled on the relative stagnation of games input since late in the PS1 era: 2 sticks, 4 face buttons, 4 shoulder buttons, and genre-specific conventions that have grown up around them. They can design games knowing that returning gamers will assume those conventions, and the crucial 'introductory' material can be skipped. This is also why those games have trouble hooking new players, the people that aren't already used to the control format and conventions. Those games assume you know the format and conventions, and are unduly harsh on new players because of it. For the WiiU specifically: the way to build conventions is to introduce them slowly. Build a game that starts off with the regular Wii controller. Then give them the nunchuck, getting them used to two-handed play and analog sticks. Then a level or two later, introduce a non-interactive feature like a map, that displays on the pad. Then give them something interactive on the pad. Then slowly transfer all the functionality to the pad, until the player is using its controls and its screen seamlessly. At the end of the game, the players will 'get it' without ever having to sit and actively think about how it works.
  • brickman409 - February 6, 2013 7:20 p.m.

    anyone who thinks wii u is a gimmick obviously haven't played it before
  • Bloodstorm - February 7, 2013 8:53 a.m.

    It is the use of the controller that makes it a gimmick. When the controller is used in a natural, non-intrusive and intuitive way, then it will cease to be a gimmick. Right not, all I've seen is a clunky gimmick, and fantastic games made worse by unnecessary use of the game pad. Until then, it is a gimmick. The bad kind of gimmick. Not the kind that gives your product the competitive edge, but the kind that adds unnecessary features to something that already worked just fine.
  • brickman409 - February 7, 2013 7:54 p.m.

    It is quite obvious that you have only seen it. If you have ever held one before, you would know that it is not clunky at all or obtrusive. It is very lightweight and comfortable to hold. It adds to a game's experience.
  • bboyd - February 16, 2013 11:27 a.m.

    And where, exactly, did I mention anything about how the controller felt? It feels fine, but it doesn't add any worthwhile gaming experiences in my opinion. Please refrain from attributing words I did not speak to me.
  • brickman409 - February 16, 2013 7:33 p.m.

    I wasn't speaking to you I was replying to bloodstorm, for some reason gamesradar's thing replies to both of you or something
  • bboyd - February 7, 2013 9:07 a.m.

    Oh, please. . . just speak for yourself from now on. I can tell you that I have played the Wii U, rather extensively, and still have no interest in purchasing one. It's a bit too early to say the console's tablet controller is a "gimmick" per se, but I have yet to play anything spectacular on it. For note, I have indeed tried NSMB:U, ZombiU, Scribblenauts Ultimate, and Nintendo Land
  • Bloodstorm - February 6, 2013 6:11 p.m.

    What is hard to get across is Developers realizing that needlessly shoehorning gimmicks into your games makes everyone lose.

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