Yesterday, Nintendo issued a vague press release announcing a program called WiiWare, which seems to have been intended to parallel Microsoft’s XNA framework in allowing garage developers the faint glimmer of hope of having their games available on their respective console’s download service. As an ideal, that sounds good to me, but the details are only now emerging. Slashdot has a link to Newsweek’s coverage of Nintendo’s system, with a bit of commentary of their own. Based on the revealed details it looks more as if WiiWare is going to be analogous to the Xbox Live Arcade, providing original downloadable content to supplement the Virtual Machine goodness that Nintendo has been gradually releasing. So, this isn’t necessarily an opening for independent developers to hop on to the Wii and gain an audience of casual gamers.
Nintendo will be approaching large and established publishers to create content for WiiWare, but their plans do allow for submissions of content from smaller developers. The most exciting thing about this current generation, to me, has been the widening cracks in the "console as a closed environment" claims that have defined previous generations. Clever folks have cracked other machines wide open, of course, but I’ve been honestly excited about Microsoft releasing an SDK (albeit limited) and the PS3 incorporation of YellowDog Linux. The interesting thing about the WiiWare announcement is that games selected for inclusion don’t seem to be subject to vetting by Nintendo; instead, they’ll get a little QA attention. If this means, practically, that they’ll be taking a wide variety of games from those developers willing to experiment, well… I’ll be a happy camper.
(It’s true. I’m a camper. I’m so ashamed.)
The other big news of note seems to be this. I’ve been on a Civilization IV kick for the last couple of weeks. I’m not as bad as Iain Banks, but I’d be lying if I said that my schoolwork hasn’t suffered; and I’m just a casual fan of the series. To have the franchise available on consoles and handhelds spells some kind of doom, in big, block letters, perhaps cut out of a magazine. "WE HAVE YOUR FREE TIME. FUCK I AM BORED." I’m particularly excited for the handheld iterations, and the PSP especially, since the DS already has a few good strategy titles. The PSP doesn’t have much in this genre, except for the more tactical stuff like Field Commander, which so far hasn’t yet allowed me to claim an enlightenment victory over my evil, primary-colored foes.
Now go away. I’m trying to dream about Fallout 3.