“WSS” is similar to a 2.5D game (a 3D game with movements on 2 axes).
The player will control Goro, a village chieftain on his quest to trace the Sey, a vital beverage robbed by the infamous Yokai.
In order to accomplish his destiny, the hero uses his twin axes to slay his enemies but also to propel himself into the air. He can also swing them around as if they were grapple hooks.
Just like any good warrior, Goro owns some shurikens as well, and some bombs that become quite handy when it comes to cleaning up enemy-filled zones.
There you are on your way for an exotic adventure, braving an increasing difficulty that will remind you of your favorite old school games and will take you from game over to ecstatic victory.
– Exotic worlds and beautiful 3D graphics.
– Hardcore oldschool gameplay.
– Awesome music and crazy voice actor.
– A unique environment style for each level.
– Several ways to follow the path of the Sensei: dive in or play with finesse!
– “Dev-Time” challenge: beat the developers’ time if you can!
– A Time Attack mode with 30 “hair tearing” levels!
– Wii U™ control options: Wii U™ Gamepad, Wii U™ Pro Controller, Wii U Remote™, Wii remote™ + Classic Controller Pro™, Wii Remote™ + Nunchuk™
– Off-TV mode
About the Studio
Upper Byte Studio, the French indie studio behind Wooden Sen’SeY, is a tiny team with only two members: Cédric, the creative force, and Camille, the insane coder.
Their ultimate goal is world domination… But for now, focusing on making nice polished games with hardcore old school gameplay and beautiful graphics will be enough!
Upper Byte Studio intended to establish a brand new universe with WSS, in terms of lore as well as character design. For that matter, they were influenced by Japanese culture. Indeed, the designs of the main character Goro, along with those of the other characters, are directly inspired by the “Kokeshis”, traditional Japanese dolls.
Upper Byte Studio’s goal was to transcribe the feelings that marked their gamers’ experience when they used to play retro games in the 80’s and 90’s.
With WSS, the progressive control of the character and its possibilities in terms of gameplay goes along with the increasing game difficulty.
They wanted to take the player back to that good old frenzy of repeated attempts, each time more precise and accurate. For the player, it also means to progress by taking risks that sometimes won’t pay – except in terms of mastery!
They also wanted to bring up this thought they often had: “No, I won’t give up, otherwise I will forget the path for this level next time I play it, I absolutely have to finish it!”
WSS was designed with a specific vision: whether it relates to game sensations of pleasure – and sometimes frustration – or to a refreshing experience brought up by each new level’s own music and graphical assets.
The combat sessions are inspired by good old “Streets of Rage” gameplay and the underwater level is a cover of their friend Alex Kidd’s gameplay!
For the anecdote:
– In level 7, the cage pays homage to their friend Eric Chahi.
– Pay attention in level 2, a Pacman is hiding somewhere!
– There is something of the first Half Life in level 9: do “unforeseen consequences” sound familiar?
The Game’s manufacturing Process
The studio began with implementing prototypes. It took them 6 months of testing the functionalities before they were able to come up with a gameplay according to their desires.
Once they were satisfied with the selected features, they created a test level. It would demonstrate the tone of the game as well as the features they were expecting to incorporate in the final version.
It is only at that stage that they were able to start producing. One year of labor was necessary to create this new, original universe.
Once this was done, a first version of the game was released but the developer’s lack of marketing tools quickly became obvious.
First, they decided to partner with Neko Entertainment and push WSS a step further by adding a Time Attack Mode that would include about thirty levels.
They also wanted to approach Nintendo and develop the game on the Wii U™. They had the chance to test the early Unity version for Wii U™ and one year later, here’s the console version!
In short, WSS took three years to be where it is now!
For the first released version in 2012, Upper Byte Studio had underestimated the communication and marketing needs. Despite attending conventions and receiving awards for their game, they still did not have enough visibility … the game was not selling!
After that, the main challenge was to coordinate the work of two studios. On top of the phenomenal amount of work required for this game, Upper Byte Studio had to continue providing their services and delivering clients’ orders so they could live (and survive). They had some difficult times, doubts, ups and downs which were tough to overcome. Thankfully, a third partner joined them on porting the game on the Wii U™ platform!
Developing on Unity for the Wii U™
Porting the game on the Wii U™ was a long and complex process, but it was not like the developers weren’t expecting it!
They “signed up” for working with an alpha version of Unity for the Wii U™, which came along with some surprises and setbacks. People at Unity were really helpful with them and pro-active: most of the technical difficulties they faced were rapidly resolved. Almost all the system related troubles were handled by Unity (access to backups, error messages, specific hardware optimization) – which allowed the team to focus on the rest!
There was a lot of optimizing: game physics, partly done manually, were way too greedy. They had to be clever and build shortcuts and cheats in order to run the game’s dynamics in an efficient and smooth way.
The developer’s great pride – that also caused them some dark circles under the eyes during that time – was the graphical quality. The game is fully optimized at 720p with antialiasing, dynamic shadows, glow, reflection on the water and water retraction, textures in maximum high resolution!
They did not have any experience on a HD console. Developing a game for the Wii U™ taught them to be rigorous and to expect the highest quality. The famous “Seal of Quality” that they had seen since they were kids affixed on their favorite games’ packaging suddenly had a very real significance.
This first game development on Wii U™ – together with Neko Entertainment’s friendly support and its long experience of developing on Wii U™ – gave them a most valuable knowledge. Today, they are much more serene when it comes to start any new project!