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Interview: Carbon Fire Studios on Frenchy Bird

Frenchy Bird

When the two developers at Carbon Fire Studio decided they wanted to make a game for the Wii U, they didn’t hesitate to start work on a new Flappy Bird clone.

The popular mobile title was something they had enjoyed together on mobile and it was an experience they thought would translate well to the Wii U, while also being simple enough that they’d be able to learn the ropes of developing on Nintendo’s latest.

We spoke with Jérôme Labbe about his work.

Note: English is Jérôme’s second language.

What’s it like developing for Wii U?

It’s a nice experience, we can only talk about using Unity for Wii U because this is what we used to develop Frenchy Bird. We learned a lot of things, and we never felt really limited by the hardware or the tools provided by Nintendo.

What did you learn by putting out Frenchy Birds? What snags were you not prepared for?

The main lesson we learned is that it was a good idea to start with a small project like Frenchy Bird. We are only a team of two persons: a developer and a graphic designer. We have a day job and we worked on the game during the night and the week ends. Also, we never used Unity before so we had to learn how to use this great tool, and then we had to optimize things a lot : reaching 60fps on a game console is not as easy as it is on a PC. The main thing we were not prepared for was the time it took to comply with Nintendo high standard of certification. This was really a tedious process at first, but we know that this will be a lot easier for the next game. Also, we realized that self-publishing a video game is a LOT of work, you have to provide translations for the eShop descriptions for many countries, prepare graphical assets, create video trailers, and finally do all the communication and marketing yourself.

How much interaction do you have with Nintendo themselves when it comes to developing on their system? Are they hands off? Supportive? Merely an outlet for your game?

I would say they are very supportive. Their Wii U indie program is open to anyone, and I think they did everything right to encourage people to create games on Wii U. They will quickly answer to any questions a developer have, and will provide efficient help when you’re stuck using the tools they are providing to develop your game. Of course you have to do the communication about the game by yourself, this is not Nintendo’s job.

Despite lack of third party support, something obviously made you pick Wii U. What was it?

We choose the Wii U for many reasons. First of all, I am myself, a big fan of Nintendo. To release a game on one of their system still sounds like a dream to me. Secondly, to my knowledge, only Nintendo is accepting developers with no prior video game development experience. They won’t ask too much question, and just want you to quickly start developing on their system. Also, they do offer a free Unity Pro licence ! We thought developing for Wii U was a good opportunity to get noticed, because the eShop is not yet crowded like the App Store or the Google Play store.

Where you at all hesitant to put out a Flappy Birds clone?

Not really, and I will explain you why. I know a lot of people will react saying : Come on, this is already the third clone of Flappy Bird ! But the story is a little different. We began working on Frenchy Bird in May 2014, at this moment there were no other Flappy Bird clone on the Nintendo Wii U and we enjoyed the original game on our mobile phones. We thought this could be a good opportunity to clone a simple game like Flappy Bird for our first game. That way, we would be able to concentrate on learning how to develop for the console and how to include Wii U specific functions like Miiverse, Off-TV play and online ranking. I must admit we were really bummed when we learned about “SPIKEY WALLS”, we were thinking that we missed an opportunity, that we took too much time for making a clone…
But it was too late to cancel the development and we thought that 3D graphics, Miiverse integration and Online ranking could still make the difference.
I hope players will enjoy the game for what it is and will notice that we put some love while making it !


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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