The Game Creator’s Conference was held earlier today in Japan. At the event Nintendo’s Masaru Mitsuyoshi was joined by Capcom’s Masaru Ijuin to talk about the Switch.
The big news to come out of this joint session was, of course, that Switch development kits only cost 50,000 Yen (Well, the Nintendo Everything article says they’re “planned” to cost that.) That’s around $450 to $500 (exact conversion according to Google is $443.05, but it’s often not done exactly by that). This is very cheap. Very. If I had any game development or design talent (I don’t, unless bad RPG Maker games with characters based on an unnamed video game forum’s NFL thread posters counts) I’d even get one.
But moving on.
They said that the Joy-Con controllers weren’t included in the explanation docs at first because they were still in the research phase. Ijuin says that there was only the touch panel form-factor and nothing like the Joy-Cons. He said that because of that he wasn’t sure at the time in what way it would be portable, but after seeing the Joy-Con he thought “I got it!”
The hardware specs for the Switch are focused on high-performance and low energy usage, allowing it to achieve nVidia Geforce’s high performance in TV while still using the same device running on a battery in handheld mode. They talked about how they achieved this in portable mode and how it’s different from smart devices. Explaining that they’re adopting an original OS that leaves plenty of memory and resources left for games.
Nintendo says that if you switch from TV mode to portable mode it will not disconnect, due to a high priority on wireless.
The talk then moved to development of games while the hardware itself is still being developed. For Ultra Street Fighter II, Capcom used their MT Framework engine. Since it had good results beforce, had been used on previous Nintendo systems and also their staff was used to it as well.
While working to add Switch compatibility to MT Framework, Capcom developed an environment to examine the hardware. This initially excluded support of hardware-specific features and network and sound. Next they began to develop a PC emulator in parallel. They were provided a GPU emulator by Nintendo capable of recreating the same shaders as the Switch hardware on PC, this made it easier for Capcom to create a PC emulator.
It only took a month, with two programmers, for them to port basic engine features to the Switch. To compare, they said it took four months with four people on 3DS, and three months with five people on Wii U. The speed they were able to achieve this was also helped by having their programmers be more accustomed to porting. As well as the hardware itself being much easier to understand.
Capcom says that initially there wasn’t enough main memory space, especially compared to other consoles, but that Nintendo listened to their requests and increased the amount to fit their expectation.
There was also talk about whether they should use a capacitive or pressure sensitive touchscreen. They considered the costs of each and and ultimately went with a capacitive screen.
They talked about needing a high-load application to test CPU clock and power consumption. Early on they didn’t have many environments to do this, but because Capcom was able to understand the hardware so quickly Nintendo had Capcom work on it (I’m a little unsure about this, the Nintendo Everything article says “Nintendo offered Capcom to work on the task”)
Capcom and Nintendo worked with each other to polish up the hardware, using each other specialties. It was a two-way collaboration that helped them build a trusting relationship while going through the trial-and-error process.
Capcom had asked about having a feature that can adjust the GPU’s clock speed based on the scene being rendered, but Nintendo said that even with a lower speed it wouldn’t give an advantage due to rendering times being longer. This was said in relation to the SOC power consumption taking a bigger toll on the GPU than the CPU, in a part of the talk about issues to examine for the future.
Lastly, Capcom said they’re working on implementing Switch supprt into the RE engine (used in RE7), and that they want to bring AAA titles to the system.
All this information is from the Nintendo Everything article (a couple things are worded oddly), so check that out below.
I’ve also posted it on the forum.