[Interview] Poi dev on moving from Wii U to Switch, going up against Mario Odyssey, and more - Nintendo Everything

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[Interview] Poi dev on moving from Wii U to Switch, going up against Mario Odyssey, and more

Posted on October 23, 2017 by (@NE_Brian) in Interviews, Switch

Switch has a major game landing this week in Super Mario Odyssey. It’s not the only 3D platformer heading to the console, however. Tomorrow, Poi is coming to Switch after initially missing out on Wii U.

We spoke with developer PolyKid just ahead of the launch to learn more about Poi. The studio chatted with us about the game itself, making the move from Wii U to Switch, and having to go up against Super Mario Odyssey in the same week.

Here’s our full discussion:

For those who haven’t heard about Poi previously, how would you describe the game?

Poi is a throwback 3D platformer where you play as two kids exploring vast worlds in search of Explorer Medallions. It’s very much a love letter to the 90s platformer collectathons, but using modern tools and technology.

Poi seems to take some inspiration from elements included in various 3D platformers like Super Mario Sunshine. Are there any key games that served as a stepping stone?

Definitely, we took a little inspiration from our favorite platformers and tried to mix them together in an interesting way. The levels and platforming design are very much Super Mario 64 inspired, but we also threw in Explorer Tools that kinda was inspired by FLUDD from Sunshine or even Zelda / Animal Crossing. There’s also a bit of Banjo Kazooie in there–meaning theres lots of different types of collectables and characters you’ll meet along the way.

There seems to be a collectipeda aspect of the game. How much is there to find in Poi?

A lot! There are 100+ Explorer Medallions–which are the main focus of the game–but along the way you’ll find locations, fossils, golden gears, costumes and more. We tried to tie each to a different character that you meet in the game.

How many worlds are in the game?

There are 5 main worlds in Poi with a bunch of smaller challenge levels and other areas with hidden secrets or Explorer Medallions. We thought about making another big 6th world, but we found that it added a lot of variety and mystery to have new areas to explore in places you might not expect.

Originally Poi was planned for Wii U; at what point was it decided to scrap that version and move to Switch instead?

After our Kickstarter, we were just very focused on getting the game out on Steam first since we felt that was where we would be able to build an Early Access community and continue to promote the game. And we needed to finish the game too! So as development continued and we learned about Nintendo Switch, we started asking Nintendo if there was any way we could get Poi on it. Luckily for us, we got in and were pleasantly surprised to find that it was going to be much much easier to bring Poi to Switch than it would be to the Wii U. So in the interest of time (and coolness factor of launching on a brand new system) we decided to focus on Switch development rather than Wii U.

Were there any difficulties in bringing the game over to the Switch?

Yes, for any game console you have a lot more constraints around memory, performance, size of the game, etc. So we had to get creative and optimize the game a lot to make sure it took full advantage of the Switch’s abilities. But luckily, Unity (the game engine we are using) worked pretty well out of the box so it was much simpler than what we had seen on Wii U.

We’re aware that the Switch version of Poi has some exclusive content. Can you talk a bit about that?

We wanted to make the Nintendo Switch Version a little special since we had always felt that Poi belonged on a Nintendo console. So we had our artist create some exclusive costumes for players to find, put in a lot of cool art to unlock in a digital artbook, and have the full soundtrack in there as well. Besides that, we added in HD Rumble and Joy-con support.

You’re working with Alliance Digital for the release of Poi on Switch. What made them a good partner?

Alliance Digital Media has been a great partner because they realized we’re just a small indie studio and so don’t have a lot of time to deal with giant contracts, endless meetings or other things that distracted us from making the best game we could. They have given us great feedback on how to improve the game and even helped test it for us, but at the same time they made it clear that we knew our game best and they just wanted us to keep doing what we were doing while they took care of getting Poi out there to the world. It’s been a truly great partnership so far.

How did the physical version come about for Switch?

We kind of always knew that a lot of people who might be interested in Poi are probably not typical Steam users. So a physical version always made sense, but we had no idea how to go about and get one made until Alliance came along. We both agreed it made a lot of sense so here we are! And also, it’s been a dream of ours at PolyKid to actually have a game that we made in an actual box on a store shelf, so to say we are extremely excited would be an understatement!

If you had any experience developing for Wii U, how would you say it compares to working with Switch?

From our initial look into porting Poi to the Wii U, it would have been much more difficult to keep the game the same and get it running on Wii U at an acceptable quality. The Switch despite its size is really impressive and was insanely easier to get the game up and running. Nintendo really did things right this time around!

Poi is coming to Switch during the same week as Super Mario Odyssey. Are you concerned at all that your game will be overlooked a bit?

We we first started PolyKid, we would always worry about that kind of stuff, but now we realize that’s just how things go. And besides, we are LOVING this resurgance of 3D platformers like Super Mario Odyssey and A Hat in Time, so we think the more the merrier! We might get overshadowed a bit, but it’s not like people can’t play both.

Now that Poi is available on most major platforms, have you thought about what’s next for the studio?

A well deserved vacation! We’re going to enjoy spending time with some family and watching people play Poi. After that, we have some ideas but you’ll have to wait and see!

Nintendo Everything would like to thank the team at PolyKid for participating in our interview.

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  • moviereviewrsports

    “So in the interest of time (and coolness factor of launching on a brand new system) we decided to focus on Switch development rather than Wii U.”

    Yeah and why did you make a PS4 and Xbox one port? How many people buy this game? 2 people. The wii u version make more sense than PS4 and Xbox one version. You have the game running fine on the wii u. These type of graphics (look like an early xbox 360 game) can run easliy on the Wii U. Now do You think People would buy POI over Super Mario Odyssey? LOL HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHA. You should have release on wii u and switch not the PS4 and Xbox one.

    • theFooFighter

      The Wii u? Are you being serious? There’s more to porting than just graphics. Getting anything to run on the wii u even the smallest of Indies was a struggle when compared to other platforms simply because of the system architecture. It was hardly worth it when the Wii u was Nintendo’s main home console and it definitely isn’t worth it now nearly 8 months after the switch launched. This is the kind of game that sells best on Nintendo platforms but basically anything is bound to turn a better profit than the Wii u

      • moviereviewrsports

        “There’s more to porting than just graphics. Getting anything to run on the wii u even the smallest of Indies was a struggle when compared to other platforms simply because of the system architecture.”

        Ah No! Poi is using the Unity engine. This game can easily port to the wii u. This game is no high demand game. The devs switch the game to the switch because they think the game will sell. Its have nothing to do with architecture. Many games on the wii u uses Unity. Darksiders warmastered edition came out this year and look 10x better than this trash.

        “his is the kind of game that sells best on Nintendo platforms but basically anything is bound to turn a better profit than the Wii u”

        Wrong. This game will sell well on the wii u even the wii u is dead. They are small indie developer. They will get their money back. The wii u still have an audience.

        • theFooFighter

          If the game was going to sell on the Wii u they would have moved forward with the Wii u port. They’re a developer, they have access to stats and numbers than we don’t and chances are the numbers for that small amount of Wii u games that have released post switch aren’t good. Also unity is better optimized for the switch along with the PS4 and xb1. Graphics have nothing to do with architecture and engine support. I just read a article about a unity game being cancelled for the Vita and it was the same deal as poi. It would have been a hard port because of the weird tech so they scrapped it in favor of working on their switch and xb1 versions

          • moviereviewrsports

            “If the game was going to sell on the Wii u they would have moved forward with the Wii u port. ” BS. The switch version will flop harder than the Xbox One and PS4 release. If they made a wii u version the game will outsold both PS4 and Xbox one version all time. Games like this will sell on Nintendo console.

            Also unity is better optimized for the switch along with the PS4 and xb1. Graphics have nothing to do with architecture and engine support.

            Yes it does. Graphics is part of architecture. So if it not than Skyrim can port to the original wii right? When you making a game in Unity you have to know what you are doing. Small team cannot port a game on the wii u because they don’t know what they are doing. Even they said they have problems to port the game on the switch

          • theFooFighter

            You’re talking about downgrading assets to run on the Wii and that’s completely different from getting something like poi on the Wii u. You said it yourself it looks like a ln early 360 game. Graphics aren’t the issue it’s the weird system architecture making the port more trouble than it’s worth.

          • moviereviewrsports

            Okay the wii u have the same architecture than the PS3 and Xbox 360. Porting something like this does not take any work to do. These devs just want to make the switch.

          • theFooFighter

            Poi isn’t on the PS3 or 360 either. The Wii u is an outlier, it’s different, it’s tech isn’t standard and that’s what made it harder to deal with. If they really wanted to they could have gotten poi on the Wii u but no one wanted to because the Wii u is far from worth it in October 2017.

          • moviereviewrsports

            “Poi isn’t on the PS3 or 360 either.” Cause they don’t have the sdk. If they did no one will buy it

            “The Wii u is an outlier, it’s different, it’s tech isn’t standard and that’s what made it harder to deal with”
            The Wii U uses PowerPC. The Xbox 360 and PS3 uses powerPC also. No the wii u is not hard to develop

            “f they really wanted to they could have gotten poi on the Wii u but no one wanted to because the Wii u is far from worth it in October 2017.”

            It still will outsell the PS4 and Xbox one version. Also games are still coming to the wii u only small indies. If you are small studio You will make the wii u version also,

          • theFooFighter

            Nothing is coming to the Wii u. The switch got 14 games last week. The Wii u probably hasn’t even gotten 14 games in the past 6 months

          • moviereviewrsports

            I cannot count it all but here all the wii u games

            Search 2017 games and see what came out this year. Also I don’t play this game but Just dance 2018 is coming out this week on the wii u

        • ShonenJump

          Except darksiders/remaster isn’t made by a small indie developer 🙂 it cost resources which small indie devs not always has.

          • moviereviewrsports

            Yes Darksiders remaster was made by a small indie studio Kaiko. Also Nordic Games just publish the game

    • ShonenJump

      PowerPC is bottleneck on unity when you also develop for x86 consoles. Switch seems to have better optimization than wiiu architecture. Graphics isnt always a trouble. Big Games has a lot of variables and to have it work a certain way is (in this case with PowerPC)very very hard.

      • moviereviewrsports

        PowerPC is better than X86

        CISC – larger, more feature-rich instruction set (more operations, addressing modes, etc.). slower clock speeds. fewer general purpose registers. Examples: x86 variants

        RISC – smaller, simpler instruction set. faster clock speeds. more general purpose registers. Examples: MIPS, Itanium, PowerPC

        The wii u have modern technology. Devs was too lazy to make games on the wii u. Also POI devs are small team. If a team on 20 people can port this game on the wii u no problem

        • ShonenJump

          Unity engine with X86 to power pc isn’t a easy task.

          • theFooFighter

            Literally everything he said was just wrong. May as well been techno babble from a 80s cartoon

          • moviereviewrsports

            How the hell I am wrong. PowerPC are better than X86 fool. Even Arm is better than X86. PS4 and Xbox One using a Jaguar CPU clock really low. RISC is better than CISC. Ask any devs they will agree to me.

          • nemo37

            Refer to my comment above.

            Also, most OS/compiler devs and researchers have long moved past the CISC versus RISC debates, especially considering that none of the modern (post-late 1990s) general purpose CPUs are purely RISC or CISC. In reality, which architecture is better has more to do with the microarchitecture and how many general purpose functions it can perform. Case and point, hardware and platform developers chose ARM over MIPS, because while MIPS followed a more pure RISC style architecture, ARM chose to add features like SIMD and Thumb to its processors which are not RISC like but made the processor better for general purpose compute.

            As for game/game engine developers, they do not deal with assembly code, so for them it does not really matter what the underlying instruction set is. For these devs microarchitectural features (like SIMD) that can be exploited using higher level languages (like C and C++) through preexisting frameworks put in place by platform/OS developers is far more important.

          • moviereviewrsports

            Unity supports both x86 and x86_64

          • ShonenJump

            Yes it does. But porting isn’t a easy task. From pc architecture to wiiu PowerPC even with unity can have struggles.

          • moviereviewrsports

            No. You can easily port the game on the wii u using Unity. Its really easily. The problem is devs are too lazy. So you tell me that this game cannot port on the wii u? Also Do you ever make a game before?

          • ShonenJump

            No i didnt. Did you make a game that you say is its easy? Game porting isn’t a easy as it sounds like.

          • moviereviewrsports

            Yes I made games. I am a game programmer and my company is called Phantom Games Studio. phantomgamesstudio.com.

            Also of course game port is not easy if the game is high demand. Skyrim can run on the wii u and even the GTA V. But porting cause money. If you have a team of 5 people and try to port something like POI yes its not easy.

          • Andrew Breneman

            ..Have You?

          • moviereviewrsports

            Unity3d only good for mobile and not pc or other platforms cuz unity base make on flash ! and rendering in run time , not compiled

        • nemo37

          The problem with your assertion is that X86 is no longer purely CISC and POWERPC (and ARM for that matter) are no longer purely RISC.

          On the Intel and AMD side of things, pretty much every single processor since the Pentium has implemented a micro-op backend, where CISC instructions are broken down into simpler RISC-like interactions for the CPU to execute. This has allowed Intel and AMD to implement many of the key features of RISC such as processor pipelining.

          On the ARM and PowerPC end of the spectrum, while the RISC-like load and store structure has been retained (pretty much the only RISC-specific feature that they retain in the front-end; and on the x86 individual load and store instructions are achieved in the back-end through micro-ops), CISC like instructions (that take more than a single clock cycle to execute) have been implemented. The addition of Altivec and Neon (which are non-integer based SIMD units) further violates RISC principles. The code compression techniques in the form of Thumb instructions and java hardware acceleration instructions in ARM processors are all further violations of RISC principles.

          What you stated about the clock speed is completely untrue. Firstly, clock speed has to do with the microarchitecture than it does with the instruction set employed. Secondly, PowerPC processors (including the PPC 750-based systems that were used in the G3 line of Macs as well as in GC, Wii, and Wii U) were notorious for not clocking as high as their Intel and AMD counterparts (again it had nothing to do with RISC versus CISC; and nevertheless the high IPC performance allowed the PPC 750 of late 1990s to beat an equivalent Intel processor at half the clock speed).

          Finally, the CISC versus RISC argument is all but dead for general purpose processors. There have been several scholarly articles that have investigated this issue and all have concluded that architectures like ARM, PPC, and X86 are no longer CISC or RISC; the term post-RISC has been used to describe newer versions of these processors.

          The only area where the CISC versus RISC argument still comes into play is for non-general purpose micro-controllers for very specific tasks (robotics, and highly specialized embedded systems). Those wishing to use a micro-controller in conjunction with real-time software/tasks will resort to specially built RISC-based micro controllers. Those that have to contend with memory starved situations (we are talking about situations were memory is limited to kilobytes) will employ a CISC-based design. Again this is something relegated to very specific tasks, and it is not applicable to things like PCs or consoles were general purpose processors are employed.

          Here are a few good articles on the matter that you can read:

          1. http://cse.hcmut.edu.vn/~tnthinh/ACA/PostRISC.pdf

          2. http://archive.arstechnica.com/cpu/4q99/risc-cisc/rvc-6.html

          The RISC versus CISC issue was largely settled on in the late 1990s (as was the fact that by that point most CPUs were neither purely RISC or CISC). Unfortunately, it still gets used as a talking point by lay individuals often recycling outdated theoritical information from the late 1980s and early-1990s. The problem is that the industry has long moved on from the RISC CISC debate onto other things.

          In addition, I am in the group that believes none of the CPUs used in stationary consoles this generation have been particularly good. The Jaguar exhibits terrible IPC performance (again not related to it being RISC based but has more to do with AMD’s design choices in the microarchitectures; and of course Sony and MS going with that architecture to direct financial resources into the more important GPU). The Wii U’s processor should technically have superior IPC performance for integer based operations (again nothing to do with it being RISC based), but it lacks advanced SIMD units (which is quite important for games) and it has fewer cores.

  • Jacob Groves

    Huh? This game is a joke because it wouldn’t against Super Mario Odyssey as we all know Mario Odyssey sells going be massive. Your game will sells poorly on Switch just like Xbox One and PS4 versions. Lol your game is also trashed.

    • moviereviewrsports

      It should have been on the wii u and switch exclusive. Bad move to make the switch and no one cares about the game lol

    • theFooFighter

      The hell? Why do you feel the need to be so negative about this game? It looks decent, obviously not on the same level as Odyssey but it will probably do well in the long run like a lot of other switch Indies

  • DiscoGentleman

    I’ll keep my eye on it and pick it up in the future.

    • dimension gamer

      my thoughts exactly aswell

  • Jefferson Boldrin Cardozo

    I don’t really wish this game to fail or anything, but with it being released so close to Mario Odyssey I couldn’t care less about it while I would consider buying it a month ago or in a near future, and I know more people who think the same. Releasing this close to Odyssey was definitely a stupid move…

    • theFooFighter

      If it reviewed well this is the kind of game I’ll buy at launch then ignore for a while. I can see myself playing it after I beat Mario but before doom and Skyrim come out

      • moviereviewrsports

        Stop damage control and try to give this dev some credit. The game will fail launching Mario Odyssey same time

        Reviews : Destructoid – 8.0, Games.cz – 6.0, Hardcore Gamer – 7.0

        The game came out Feb for the PC and it have 3 reviews lol

        • Hidden Flare

          Dude just calm down a bit. Yeah the game won’t do well now but it can still be good and fun for some. And just because Foo sees different doesn’t mean he’s wrong.

  • Reggie

    I like their response about going up against Super Mario Odyssey. Yes it inevitably will be overshadowed by it, but they’re right that it’s just how things go. It’s the same for a lot of other video game genres. I’m glad that they’re being positive about it. The resurgence really is a good thing.

  • Hidden Flare

    I do not think it will sell well right now but hey maybe in time it will. Like after Mario Odessy. I wish the developers luck.

  • Padre

    So what is this game? Looks really generic.

  • nemo37

    I think the game will not reach its maximum potential because of its release date window. On a personal note though, I’m game to purchase it. Most reviews I have read seem to be in line with what I am expecting, which is a decent collect-a-thon style platform game with somewhat lack of refinement.

  • Melatelo

    That release date is absolute suicide. No idea what they were possibly thinking with that release date.

  • I’m waiting to try this game 🙂

  • Tlink7

    Plankton is this game, Sponge is Odyssey 😛

  • RoadyMike

    Heard this game was decent
    Not great, but decent. Will keep this on radar

  • Max

    Reminds me more of FreezeME than it does A Hat in Time.

  • Kyoko

    The Game is $15 on steam and $20 on PS4/One… but is $30 on Switch for some reason…

    I was thinking on getting this, but I will have to wait for a big discount to happen.

  • R.Z.

    I should get this game, but it’s not really a good time for so many reasons …

  • shouldve stayed on wiiu