Sometimes all it takes is awareness and a change of direction for everything to change.
Image Credit: Nintendo
Mike Wikan was a designer producer on Metroid Prime. It was in the Reece Reilly’s Talkz podcast that he expanded on Retro Studios and whose interview NintendoLife spotted. He returned in particular to the crunch periods of the first Metroid Prime and how Nintendo changed things to prevent the studio from breaking out.
Here are some freely translated excerpts:
After Metroid Prime we were rarely in a crunch, we had changed leaders between the first and the second.
We had a crunch on 2, but it wasn’t the nine month death march we experienced on Prime 1. It was the worst.
There are two times where I worked 48 hours in a row with an hour of sleep, and a cut of days of 36 hours, during the last nine months we have been present 24/7 …
At the end of Prime 1 development, everyone was ready to leave Retro Studios, we were in the ‘we’re broke’ mindset. I had two job offers from two different companies. To their credit, Nintendo found out what was going on and decided to buy out the company. They put Michael Kelbaught in charge. He’s adorable, really good, he was the head of Nintendo’s QA department before. He said “give me a few weeks to change that” and he did. He restored faith in leadership and society. I loved working for Nintendo.
The interview ends with promises that Metroid Prime 4 will be awesome. We agree that even when a game sucks, the designers say it’s great before it launches. However, this is Metroid Prime 4, and considering the first three are awesome, we’re going to place our faith in Mike Wikan’s promises.