Interview with Dan O’Leary of N-Space

The N-Space Team

Our second interview, but this time it is with Dan O’Leary, Founder of N-Space. N-Space is responsible for creating the fantastic Call of Duty games for the Nintendo DS. I’ve played them all (apart from Black Ops), and they’re really good.

This interview talks about the Nintendo 3DS in general, and what the nice folks at N-Space have in store for us 3DS users!

Hit the break for the interview!

When Nintendo announced the Nintendo 3DS via a press release, what were you initial thoughts? Did you think that Nintendo could pull off 3D with the need for glasses so well?

Nintendo has a long history of innovation and we trust them implicitly. That said, glasses free 3D sounded like a lofty goal. An engineer at n-Space had previous experience with similar technology that he felt was very promising, and we knew that Nintendo weren’t likely to repeat the mistakes made with Virtual Boy. We were very excited to see the end result and learn what other plans our friends in Kyoto had for the successor to the best selling console of all time.

Seeing as you’ve had the 3DS dev kit for awhile now, what positives when it comes to developing games does the 3DS have?

Nintendo does a great job providing the tools and support we need to stay focused on making games. The 3DS gives us a unique feature set to work with, allowing n-Space to make products that are different in look, feel and interaction than what you’ll find anywhere else, giving gamers fresh experiences to enjoy. The combination of touch screen and traditional buttons, dual displays, powerful 3D visuals, microphone, gyroscope, StreetPass, rom-based storage, eeprom and SD card storage and more, all well integrated into a robust, well-designed, cost-effective handheld. It’s just a great piece of hardware, all around. As usual, the technical specifications are “right sized” and the development hardware is affordable and well-made.

What’s your favourite part of the 3DS? Is it the 3D effect? The improved processing power? Or something else?

Again, I think it’s the total package and the true potential for the combined feature set. The 3D effect is certainly “magical,” and its impression is much more long-lasting than many feared it would be. After the initial “wow” moment wears off, I find myself more drawn into the worlds. The 3D really adds another dimension (pardon the pun) to the graphical quality of the 3DS, which is already a very capable piece of kit. Not only can this hardware draw lots of polygons with tiny pixels on a bright, saturated screen with great texture resolution, it supports full screen effects and shaders to give that “next gen” look.

About the 3D effect, do you think it’s as innovative as the Nintendo DS’ touchscreen? Do you think that it can actually add something to the gameplay?

I think the DS’ real innovation was not the touchscreen alone, but combining it with a dual screen display that allowed designers to create entirely different experiences. I don’t think that the 3D effect is as innovative in that way, but I do believe we will find clever ways to take advantage of it beyond its purely cosmetic appeal. Mr. Miyamoto and our other friends at Nintendo have talked many times about how the display allows players a greater sense of relative position and size that improves the timing and feel of jumps in 3D platformers. I believe that is just the beginning.

Seeing as you primarily develop First-Person Shooters for the DS, do you feel that Nintendo let you down by not adding another Circle Pad? Is it a step back?

The Circle Pad is great – it’s easily the best feeling analog pad on any handheld. How could it be a step backwards? That said, I have to admit that it’s very challenging for us to take advantage of it in addition to the touchpad. Left-handed people, like myself, can’t use the Circle Pad and a stylus simultaneously.

Are you developing a game for the Nintendo 3DS as of now? Or are you still throwing around ideas?

We currently have three 3DS titles in development, one for 2011 and two for early 2012. All of them will be announced at or before E3 early next month. We’re very excited to share them with the world and hope that many of your readers will look forward to their release.

Call of Duty: Black Ops, N-Space’s latest release

Will you be developing a Call of Duty title for the 3DS? Are you working on it now?

We’ve had a great run with Activision, releasing four Call of Duty DS titles in as many years, but I cannot say what the future may or may not hold for n-Space and that great brand.

With the inclusion of SpotPass, it means that developers can offer downloadable content to customers, will a 3DS COD title use SpotPass to offer DLC such as map packs? Like they do on the PS3/Xbox 360? Quite a lot of 3DS users I know are clamoring for developers to utilize SpotPass.

SpotPass is a great feature that we’re all (gamers and developers alike) just starting to wrap our heads around. I only recently received my first game-related SpotPass update – a new puppy on Nintendogs. It worked really great and was a nice surprise, but I think we’ll have to wait for the June launch of eStore to better understand how Nintendo plans to support this and what they will allow Publishers to do with it. Regardless, you can expect n-Space to take full advantage of the tools we’re provided.

Lastly, what do you think of StreetPass? Does your team have some good ideas for it?

We LOVE StreetPass! Many of us at n-Space have our own 3DS and are constantly on the hunt for the comforting green glow of a visitor to our Mii Plaza. I have 70, about 15 of which are adorned with the super secret end boss hat! We’ve also all finished the puzzles and are quite ready for some new content. I really hope this will be addressed in the June 6th update.

StreetPass has tremendous potential and it’s something I’m personally trying to support through StreetPass Orlando, a local group of 3DS enthusiasts that does monthly meetups to get their StreetPass on. Hundreds of these groups are active around the world – it’s a really exciting Grassroots effort with no official ties to Nintendo and very little support.

StreetPass DC was the first group and its founder, Joshua Lynsen, has recently started StreetPass Network to provide connectivity and guidance for the entire community.As for our ideas for StreetPass, you’ll have to wait for some upcoming announcements and details to follow. You can expect all of our titles to support this great feature to some degree.

Thanks Dan for giving us your time for this interview, it’s been a good interview, thank you! Do you have any closing comments?

Thank you for your interest in n-Space and the opportunity to talk about this great new handheld. Keep an eye out for our product announcements and join us on Facebook for regular updates!

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