It’s been a pretty long road for the Project M, the popular Super Smash Bros Brawl mod that turns it into an experience more like Melee. Removed from tournaments because of unspecified legal issues, some slow development because of fading interest, competition with the latest Super Smash Bros game (which is more tournament ready than Brawl was)… it really could have been better in general.
But now, the project is seemingly over. Why? Because as the official site now says, the project team has disbanded and moved to more ‘professional’ ventures, with their work considered complete. Here’s the message from the team about the end of the project:
Six years ago, we started a journey born out of our shared love for competitive fighting games. Eventually, the electrifying passion that coursed through us arced out and drew in more people until our small circle of friends grew into a team, and that team grew into an international community. Project M and its community have grown larger than any of us ever anticipated, and it’s truly heartwarming to see all of the unforgettable connections and friendships that have been forged through this project.
Unfortunately, we’re here to say that we’re at the end of that road.
We’ve learned so much in the process of making Project M—accumulating life-changing lessons in communication, team work, professionalism, work ethic, and more—but there’s only so far we can take those skills in a volunteer project. With this in mind, we’ve made a difficult business decision: We’re ready to finish development here and move on to bigger and better ventures.
We realize that this will come as a shock to many of our fans. Please, forgive us. Again, it’s been an excruciating call to make, but it’s been made a bit easier by our satisfaction with the previous and final release, v3.6. We’ve spent six years polishing Project M, and rather than let it drag on through another several years of dwindling development and change-fatigue in the competitive circle, we’re going to consider our work complete.
In the mean time, we plan to be hard at work on new projects, built from the ground up. We can’t spill the beans just yet, but know that we’re looking towards a fresh start with brand new designs. Rather than splitting our focus, many of us want to dedicate ourselves to this new venture fully. In this way, we hope to maintain the level of quality and professionalism you’ve come to expect from us.
In summary, we are ceasing development of Project M (effective immediately) and will be making no further releases as we turn our attention towards an entirely new venture. As the PMDev team will be formally disbanded, please forward all official communications regarding Project M to video game attorney and business consultant . We appreciate your support and your understanding.
One final time,
Thank you for playing!
So what can do we think about this? Well on some level, we’re not surprised. Large fan projects are a difficult thing to keep running, what with the complete lack of potential to make money and the hours upon hours needed for development and testing. And with both Mushroom Kingdom Fusion and the URA Zelda Project both being cancelled due to team issues, motivation issues and a move to other projects, the voluntary shut down of this one isn’t really without precedent.
On the other hand, it does disappoint us, in that Project M was one of those fan works we thought was more well designed and built than the usual. This scene in general needs major projects to inspire people to start their own and to inspire both the game modding and fan game development scenes to aim for bigger and better things. Otherwise, we’ll end up in a rut where the only work being done by fans is on small, somewhat uninteresting things that don’t really show that much potential overall. Like the thousands of character texture mods for Smash Bros or the one world Mario demos over at sites like MFGG.
But either way, Project M is now finished. Will it be continued by a new team? Is there going to be a replacement? What do you think about these issues and the mod ending development?
Project M (official site)
If you’re someone who played a lot of Nintendo games during the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube eras, you may remember the Wave Race series. Made up of Wave Race 64 and Wave Race Blue Storm, it was a first party racing game franchise that had players take control of various jet-skis and race other characters to the finish line in a picturesque ocean setting.
And the series was pretty well received too, with both games having review averages of around 80% on sites like Game Rankings and Metacritic. But did you know that we nearly got a third game for the Wii?
Yep, as beta gaming site Unseen 64 has found out, a whole new Wave Race game was in development for the Wii at one point, and would have utilised motion controls in some sense. Here’s the video about it:
So what happened? Well, unfortunately for any Wave Race fans out there, Nintendo considered the game too risky after the cancelled Project H.A.M.M.E.R. (see these two posts for more details on that), and the game was rejected. Because it apparently couldn’t do enough to seperate itself from the jet-ski mini game in Wii Sports Resort.
But what do you think? Are you disappointed that we never got a new Wave Race game for the Wii? Would you have bought one if it was available?
A few months back or so, we posted an interesting video from Unseen64 about Project H.A.M.M.E.R. and its… somewhat turbulent development at Nintendo. Covering everything from the game’s inception to its storyline changes to Wii Smash branding the game took on at a later date, it was an interesting overview of a Nintendo game that never came to be.
And now, Tamaki at Unseen64 has posted a second video about the same game. What’s more, this one has quite a few interesting details about Nintendo’s development costs, culture clashes and other internal affairs that just have been seen to be believed. So here’s Project H.A.M.M.E.R. – The Story Continued:
So what’s interesting here? Well for one thing, we see exactly how poorly the game was conceived and designed, with all the focus being placed on storyline and aesthetics rather than gameplay and mechanics. Literally the first thing they made were the CGI cutscenes, which apparently cost more than a million dollars to create.
This waste of money was so bad that Miyamoto himself apparently chewed the team out for it, and from Tamaki’s comments in the video, it was almost an instutionalised issue at Nintendo Software Technology. Mario vs Donkey Kong 2 cost the same amount due to fancy cutscenes, and it’s implied from the video that Metroid Prime Hunters may have had a lot of money spent on this stuff too.
In addition to that, the video also talks about the management team trying to find scapegoats for their own failings, the director for the game being an obnoxious [insert insult word here] and more than half NST’s staff leaving Nintendo due to the working conditions for this game. It’s definitely an intriguing video to watch.
But what do you think about the situation behind Project H.A.M.M.E.R., as discussed in this video? Do you feel a bit disappointed about how NST was being run at the time, and how a seemingly promising team of game developers has now been reduced to making tiny apps and endless Mario vs Donkey Kong sequels?
It’s by beta gaming site Unseen64, and it is one hell of a great look at the game’s development and its downfall. From Project Hammer to Machinex to Wii Crush, it covers the project’s many iterations, development issues and eventual downfall in detail. You can watch the full video:
So what do we think about this fiasco? About the stuff in the above video?
Well, to be honest… it’s just plain ridiculous how badly Nintendo screwed up this game.
For one thing, as the video points out, there was a huge amount of culture clash between Japanese and American game designers/developers that caused the company to pretty much completely ignore any feedback brought up by their American staff. That’s pretty bad in itself, especially when the company is being accused of being ‘nationalistic’ and it causes whole projects to collapse in on themselves.
And well, the design stuff was just plain nuts. I mean, trying to retool it into a cartoony Wii Sports style game called Wii Crush?
Do they seriously not know what appears to gamers outside of Japan?
Did they seriously think that a game like this would just perfectly into the Wii Sports mould?
It just boggles belief.
They then apparently topped it all off by making working conditions so intolerable that they lost the staff from 1080 Avalanche, Wave Race and Metroid Prime Hunters because of it, and then basically caused the team to get relegated to Mario vs Donkey Kong titles for the eShop…
You know what?
If this is true (and given it’s Unseen64, it probably is), then Nintendo has a massive cultural problem.
And we don’t think there’s much of a way to fix this. Okay, you could theoretically replace the entire management team, more fairly distribute power between Japan, North America, Europe and their other regional branches and start hiring outside talent in droves. But given Nintendo’s unwillingness to move on with the times and understand what’s needed to do well, I strongly suspect that’ll never happen.
So what can be done? Hard to tell, but if something isn’t done, then the chance that something like this fiasco will happen again is pretty much certain.
Just a few hours ago, Nintendo announced that all Wii and DS online services were going to be shut down on May 20th 2014. And as per is the norm, the internet went absolutely ballistic. Nintendo’s forcing people to buy their new games they said! Mario Kart Wii and Smash Bros Brawl still have life in them say yet others.
But is this really a bad thing? I don’t think so, and hence here’s why I consider the DS and Wii’s online services going away potentially one of the best things to happen to the systems…