Interview: Nami Tentou Mushi – \"It\'s a smart choice for indies to venture onto Wii U\"

Nintendo has done something rather remarkable. The Wii was an interesting system that did very well for the company, but the indie scene never flourished like Xbox Live and PSN. Whether Nintendo intended to or not, the Wii U has become the home console for indie games. Every time you turn around, another established or upstart company is developing an eShop title.

Christopher Arnold of Nami Tentou Mushi may not be a household name yet, but after a successful game called PING on the Android market, things may be changing. Nami Tentou Mushi is priming up to release their first Wii U title: PING 1.5+. Learn about the company, the game, and much more in this exclusive interview.

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NE: Thanks for taking the time from developing to do this interview with us. Tell the readers who might not be familiar with you and your company, Nami Tentou Mushi, about both yourself and the company.

CA: Well, my name is Christopher Arnold and I handle the most of the duties from programming to marketing. The other members which are working on this project is Klas Magnusson, creating SFX, and @Bass_Ganon creating the music soundtrack for the game. Translators for PING are consisting of fans at this point with the quality check being done internally by us. We were originally planning on handling translations ourselves, but it seems we have a lot of dedicated PING fans.

The company Nami Tentou Mushi, LLC. was formed to help us seriously get into the game business and help take on employees. The name was actually both inspired by NINTENDO and Grasshopper Manufacture. \”Nami Tentou\” has a Nintendo-sounding ring to it while it’s actually just the name of a bug. A ladybug. It’s the same ladybug that’s imported to other countries from Asia for pest control. It’s a really unique name and it now stands out in search results, interestingly enough. The whole team consists of people that have a unique passion for video games. Especially that nostalgic/fun factor created from the 80/90s.

NE: PING 1.5+ is your first title on the Wii U. Why did you chose Nintendo over the competition?

CA:With the way PING was designed, it would actually be hard to find a good control scheme for just simply a basic controller. Even the OUYA has a touchpad on it which can assist during gameplay. Another reason why we would choose Nintendo, though, is that they happened to be the only company we bothered applying for. Our title would most likely be buried under the oversaturated markets of the PSN and Xbox Live. It’s a plus for us that Wii U doesn\’t have too many titles at the moment. It means will have great exposure on their systems and people that have never heard of us will discover us more easily. It’s a smart choice for indies to venture onto Wii U, even if the sales won\’t be as big as Steam.

NE: PING 1.5+ is a remake to Ping 1, which was released on Android, correct? How much additional content was added to the release to Ping 1.5+?

CA: In the original game, there was nine worlds, I believe, but I took off that last world for the remake because going the second time around, I didn\’t feel it was good enough to make it into the remake. Four worlds are being added but the levels are much bigger than the standard levels from the original PING, so I would have to safely say the content is being doubled.

PING wasn\’t originally a long game but more as a test of if I could even make a game. It was long a dream of mine, and Android provided that safety of making a game without the risk of failing involved. I\’ve actually made about $500 in just ad revenue from it, so it was actually a good free success. I\’m working on making specific content for the Wii U; I hope I can get something special in for the Nintendo users. At this point, I\’m just trying to get in as much content as I can before spring. I believe at $4.99 on Wii U, people will find the value exceptional.

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NE: For someone who isn\’t familiar with PING 1.5+, how would you explain the style of game to expect?

CA: At the way some of the levels are being designed, it’s almost escaping being a puzzle game and more of an arcade game. Most of the boss stages are inspired by classic Atari games but with a PING twist to make them different and original. The biggest chunk of the game is a puzzle, mainly aiming the cube through obstacles and puzzles while maintaining a low bounce count. For example, if the bounce count was five, you would only be allowed to bounce off of blocks, walls, items, etc. Someone once compared it to minigolf and I find that description accurate — athough it gives off a completely different vibe than that. And I haven\’t been light on the video game references in the game. There is even going to be a very special surprise who tries using the \’famous cheat code\’ in the game. I\’m hoping this secret will help spur sales.

NE: How was the process been working with Nintendo on this project?

CA: It’s been an amazing progress. I never expected to have so much personal contact with them while working on my project. Even Google Play’s customer service for developers is slow, but with Nintendo, I\’ve been talking to real people and getting solutions for issues right away. Which, so far, my only problems is just clarity on policies and specific parts of the API. They have a very well-informed team. You\’re not talking to just \’customer reps\’ but actually trained experts. It’s been extremely positive and I look forward to making more games for Wii U!

NE:You were very vocal on another website, saying that it was harder to work on the Wii U than other platforms. What exactly is the difference in your opinion between the Wii U and, say, the Xbox 360?

CA:As I was reading the article, the feeling I got from it was more of a gripe that Nintendo’s Wii U wasn\’t just \’click and build\’ to run their game immediately. That really irked me about it, considering it’s a new console without a previous software to build off of, since the leap from Wii U and Wii are so different. I don\’t have personal experience with the 360, but I\’m someone who has developed an Android game in pure Java and I found the Wii U to be just as easy for me to learn around.

They complained that they even had a hard time running a simple \’hello world\’ on it; that actually sends up red flags with me as to their experience. It’s not difficult like they say and it didn\’t take long for me to integrate into my workflow. I\’m actually having a bit more of a time understanding OUYA’s API library than Wii U’s. I wouldn\’t have said anything about the article if it was released around the time when it was actually relevant. It’s like bringing up the PSN’s hacked network problems a year later. It just doesn\’t make sense to bring that up now; it’s not news or the case anymore. It was resolved.

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NE: Any news on PING 2? Is it cancelled or just on hiatus?

CA: It’s on hiatus and, if it comes back, it probably won\’t look anything like it did previously. Most of that code of PING 2 from the Kickstarter was absorbed into PING 1.5+ and the FPS part was just tossed out — although we kept the scripts from it for future use; it was programmed in a Portal style. I was just excited about using the gyroscope possibly with it. My development time was shortened and a remake was easier to fit into a schedule.

NE: Do you have another projects planned for the Wii U?

CA: I plan on releasing several titles for Wii U, my next one not being retro. I want to try something \’new.\’ It really depends on the sales of PING 1.5+, which will affect the size of the project next. If I\’m able to justify it, I want to bring in more people to build a bit more of a unique and unusual game. At this point, it’s just brainstorming. When I find an idea that stands out to me, then I\’ll move forward with it. It has to be Wii U specific this time around, though.

NE: Any final words for our readers and those looking forward to your game?

CA: I hope that your readers find PING 1.5+ interesting enough to check out. It’s our first step into the real gaming industry and our first title is critical, so we really care about your response. We listen to every word that’s said. Really.

Be sure to follow Christopher and Nami Tentou Mushi on Twitter, \”Like\” them on Facebook, and visit their website!

Shawn Long
Our favorite youtuber ever, and long-time founding member of our family of sites. The "crass" from our Class vs. Crass podcast