This interview was originally published on N-Europe on 27th August 2008, and was one of the first interviews with a WiiWare developer – and the first officially confirmed developer, to boot- following the announcement of the service earlier that year. I did a lot of news, media, and interview coverage on the studio and the game, and feature in the ‘Special Thanks’ section of the Plättchen’s credits.
WiiWare was announced earlier this year as an original online content distribution service, which allows smaller developers to unleash their ideas on the Wii audience with games that would not ordinarily be published or released in stores. Bplus were the first developer to announce support for the service following WiiWare’s announcement, unveiling Plättchen: Twist ‘n’ Paint, a brilliant new puzzler-shooter that takes full advantage of the Wii Remote. We caught up with Bernd Geiblinger, the Art Director of Plättchen and got the chance to ask him a few questions about this innovative new game.
N-Europe: Can you tell us a bit about your game, Plättchen , and how does it incorporate the Wii Remote?
Bernd Geiblinger: Plättchen: Twist ‘n’ Paint is an intelligent puzzle shooter with 3D gameplay elements and the freedom to paint and to repaint any Plättchen, the puzzle tiles in the game, to any color of the rainbow. Players select the color just by twisting the wiimote and with it the color wheel on screen. Plättchen of a similar color will react with each other but will not, as in other games, disappear instantly. A big thing in the game is the action-centric shooting part, which we will reveal at a later date. We often try to compare Plättchen: Twist ‘n’ Paint with classics like Tetris, Picross, Point Blank or Puzzle Bobble, but the game is so different that it just isn’t comparable with any of them. Stay tuned for a completely new experience unlike anything before. Along with a unique 12-player simultaneous multiplayer mode, a huge number of other surprises await you.
To describe a little better how the game feels, we have asked members of the Austrian GameClub-TestTeam to give a little statement about what they think of Plättchen: Twist ‘n’ Paint so far:
Kim Dinh (GCTT): You can complete a level within a few minutes; however it may take you weeks to accomplish it perfectly.
Christoph M. Ster (GCTT): The most intriguing thing about Plättchen is that it is easy to understand on the surface but offers great depth beneath.
Thomas Erlinger (GCTT): Twist the Wii Remote, move the pointer, shoot them and repaint them – Plättchen is an amazing state-of-the-art game controlled only by your wrist.
Markus Beste (GCTT): Plättchen is the worlds 1st true puzzle shooter.
Philipp Spindlbeck (GCTT): This is the first game since Tetris that has the potential to become the new reference for puzzle games.
Q: What support is there from Nintendo for WiiWare?
Bernd: Essentially, games for the Wii download service are developed in a very similar way to those released on disc. Nintendo offers a fast and competent support as well as sophisticated development tools that allow us to unleash the full potential of Wii’s graphics and controller capabilities.
Q: How do you expect Plättchen to sell?
Bernd: We feel that Plättchen: Twist ‘n’ Paint will attract a very wide audience and thanks to the simplicity and comfort of the download service we hope that a large number of people will have the chance to come in touch with Plättchen.
Q: When were you informed officially about the existence of WiiWare?
Bernd: Officially, we heard of WiiWare the same time when you did. Unofficially, Nintendo suggested a game concept we proposed to them before Plättchen to appear on the upcoming download service as early as 2006.
“We often try to compare Plättchen: Twist ‘n’ Paint with classics like Tetris, Picross, Point Blank or Puzzle Bobble, but the game is so different that it just isn’t comparable with any of them.”
Q: Have Nintendo given you any limits for size of WiiWare titles, or any other limits or requirements?
Bernd: There exists a limit in terms of size a download game is allowed to have. Plättchen: Twist ‘n’ Paint was designed for the Wii download service from the beginning and with all the features our game boasts we are going to push the borders to the maximum.
Q: Nintendo says WiiWare will be available “Early 08”, though George Harrison has stated that the service could launch as early as this year depending on what games are ready. Do you have a more specific date, and will Plättchen be available on its launch?
Bernd: Since most developers have been informed about the service only recently, we expect it to launch sometime in February or March of 2008. We will do our best to enrich the lineup with the availability of Plättchen: Twist ‘n’ Paint from the beginning.
Q: What do you estimate the selling price of Plättchen to be in Wii Points?
Bernd: At this time we are not in the position to discuss exact numbers. We can only assure you that both Nintendo and the developers will place the games at a price point that is affordable for everyone.
Q: What was your motive to develop a WiiWare game rather than a game for the Xbox Live Arcade? How do you see WiiWare stacking up against a rival service like Live Arcade?
Bernd: Wii allows developers to deliver a game experience like no other console currently available on the market. That made our decision very easy. Nintendo suggests developers to create unique software that really stands out. This will make the Wii download service, like the console itself, very different to anything the competition offers.
“Wii allows developers to deliver a game experience like no other console currently available on the market.”
Q: You have a “to be announced” project for the DS. Can you tell us anything about this title?
Bernd: We plan to release a whole series of games under the umbrella term “HARDWARE” that are connected by a deep and extraordinary story. Exceptionally, each of these games will be of a completely different genre and will use the features of the Nintendo DS like no other game did before.
Q: Do you have any other projects in the works, or ideas floating around?
Bernd: Currently we are completely focused on Plättchen: Twist ‘n’ Paint, but we have a bunch of crazy game concepts waiting to become reality. Prepare to use common things in your household like never before!
Q: Are you worried about the public awareness of the game, since it won’t be on store shelves?
Bernd: Absolutely not. Everyone who is online with Wii won’t be able to resist looking into the Shopping Channel to find out what the new original download games are all about.
Q: Do you feel that WiiWare will be capable of having a significant impact on sales of ordinary games, or do you believe that WiiWare and physical software can coexist without any unnecessary biting?
Bernd: The Wii download service will complement to ordinary game stores rather than replace them. All in all, we think that people will buy more games than before because of the price advantage that enjoy download games over software sold on discs.
“Publishers are very often reluctant to give teams with little experience in the videogame industry the chance to realise their ideas. We believe that the Wii download service is a real opportunity for many small developers.”
Q: Do you think a service like this will be of credible benefit to smaller developers?
Bernd: Publishers are very often reluctant to give teams with little experience in the videogame industry the chance to realise their ideas. We believe that the Wii download service is a real opportunity for many small developers, especially for start-ups, to gain a foothold in the business and to bring their often really fresh and innovative ideas to the market.
Q: Given the Wii’s ‘gameplay over graphics’ mantra, do you think WiiWare offers a viable place for developers to have fun with motion-sensitive ideas, without the actual hassle of producing a full, ‘proper’ game?
Bernd: We have the opinion that download games can be as good if not better than disc games in terms of both graphics and gameplay. We feel though that we will see many very small games that focus primarily on the idea. We are really looking forward to play all the masterpieces of creativity that would never have materialised without the Wii download service.
Q: Who do you think would win in a fight between a paper clip and a hair brush?
Bernd: That’s an easy question for a game designer. Just look at both of them. Who would you rather be, the big and ugly hairbrush monster or the small and clever paper clip? If that’s a game, you are the hero, and the hero always wins.