Gunman Clive HD Collection for Nintendo Switch Was Nearly Complete for Over Two Years Before Launch
The Nintendo Switch port of Gunman Clive HD Collection was nearly completed in late 2016. Here's why the port took over two years to come out.
Game development is often a process that lasts several years with teams big and small working hard and chipping away day after day on a title they are truly passionate about. That being said, some games and ports don’t always fit this mold, resulting in quirky, out of the ordinary development timelines. The Nintendo Switch port of Hörberg Productions’ Gunman Clive HD Collection is one such game.
Gunman Clive HD Collection launched yesterday, but according to creator Bertil Hörberg this port has been nearly finished for over two years. That’s quite peculiar, especially for a simple port with no new content. In order to find out why this was the case, I talked with Bertil Hörberg of Hörberg Productions to learn how odd Nintendo policies around the Nintendo Switch’s launch and other outside forces caused Gunman Clive HD Collection for Switch to have a two-year gap in its development.
Bertil Hörberg actually got his hands on a Nintendo Switch development kit a few months before the hybrid console launched. He was actually “briefed on the system back when it was still called the NX,” but didn’t receive a development kit until the “final models were available a few months before the systems launch.”
The hybrid console was hot and fresh, which made it quite enticing indie developers considering that the eShop would be much less crowded closer to launch. In order to “get started” and learn the ins and outs of the development kit, Bertil decided to start toying around with a Nintendo Switch port of Gunman Clive HD Collection, which bundles Gunman Clive and Gunman Clive 2 together; previously, Gunman Clive HD Collection was released on Wii U in 2015. He even confirmed in a somewhat playful manner on Twitter that Gunman Clive could run on the system back in January 2017:
I can confirm the Switch is powerful enough to run Gunman Clive 😜
— Bertil Hörberg (@BertilHrberg) January 13, 2017
Ever since the original Gunman Clive, which released back in 2012, Hörberg Productions has consistently supported Nintendo platforms. I asked Bertil what has drawn him to Nintendo platforms and he simply responded that the “3DS was a natural step” from Gunman Clive’s mobile roots back when he was working on that game. Once the game proved successful he was able to set up a “good working relationship with Nintendo” which eventually made bringing future Gunman Clive games to Nintendo platforms a no brainer.
He has actually toyed with bringing the Gunman Clive games to PS4 before but just says that he “never got around to it.” Bertil also has a bit of a nostalgic soft spot for Nintendo, but he tells me that “I try not to let that influence my business decisions too much.” With a development kit in his hands months before avid fans got the chance to pick up a Nintendo Switch, Bertil Hörberg solely started chipping away on the Nintendo Switch port of Gunman Clive HD Collection.
According to Bertil Hörberg, working on a Nintendo Switch development kit was actually a “really smooth” process so he had “most of [Gunman Clive HD Collection] up and running in about a week.” Bertil believes that “the tools and development environment have come a long way from the 3DS days” and also revealed to DualShockers that the system is “very straight forward, using a modern nVidia architecture and doesn’t require any special tricks to get things working.” We’ve heard how straightforward the system is to develop for before, as the Snake Pass team at Sumo Digital supposedly got their game up and running in a week as well.
“The tools and development environment have come a long way from the 3DS days.”
Bertil Hörberg had Gunman Clive HD Collection mostly up and running on Nintendo Switch after just a week sometime between November and December 2016, over a month before people even got a better idea of what the Nintendo Switch even was following its reveal. “In that time I got everything up and running pretty much perfectly with only a few minor things that I noticed later that I had missed,” said Bertil. “I still needed to change some system specific things before it could be released.”
Still, it’s very interesting to hear that the Gunman Clive HD Collection Nintendo Switch port, which only released yesterday, was nearly complete all the way back in December 2016. So, why didn’t the port release until now?
Ultimately, it was a combination of Bertil Hörberg wanting to focus on other projects as well as some slight pushback from Nintendo regarding direct indie ports with no new content around the time of the Nintendo Switch’s launch. Hörberg Productions had another project in the pipeline around the same time and “moved on” after tinkering with Gunman Clive HD Collection for Nintendo Switch that one week.
Proper time management is key for smaller indie developers juggling more than one project so priorities are constantly shifting. And according to Bertil Hörberg, Gunman Clive HD Collection for Nintendo Switch was “never a priority” at the time it was initially worked on, though Bertil did reflect on that decision, admitting that he should have “gone ahead with the release much sooner than I did.”
As I mentioned, there was actually slight push-back from Nintendo that also influenced this decision. While they never would outright discourage developers, Bertil did reveal that “right around the Switch launch they were still a bit restrictive about direct ports without any extra content.” While he couldn’t speak for them, Bertil believes that “they just didn’t want to flood eShop with ports right out of the gate, and I can’t blame them.”
While the Nintendo Switch eShop is flooded with new titles every week nowadays, back in March 2017 the store was much more heavily curated and restrictive with what content was allowed. We previously heard N++ developer Mare Sheppard complain about this in April 2017, saying that Nintendo told him that “they are focusing on games that will sell systems right now,” on Reddit. Bertil Hörberg’s comments seem to confirm that this was, in fact, a policy or at least a sentiment Nintendo had at the time regarding indie developers.
A lack of overt interest from Nintendo, the fact that Bertil “wasn’t feeling very well at the time so a lot of time went by with little progress”, and a preference to working on other projects are ultimately the 3-hit combo that stunted Gunman Clive HD Collection’s release after only one (very productive) week of development. That being said, even if the stars aligned perfectly and interest was there from Nintendo, Bertil Hörberg still stand by the fact that it “never really my intention to release Gunman Clive right away, it was only once my other project started loosing steam that I started considering it.”
He went to work on another project, though Bertil tells me that it “didn’t go anywhere.” Then, in September 2017, Bertil Hörberg and Daniel Ribera Olsen teamed up to work on a new game for Nintendo Switch and things started to go a bit more smoothly than they had with Bertil’s previous two projects. Towards the end of 2018, development began to wind down on that project, with Hörberg Productions saying that a “reveal will come soon.” For now, our latest look at this project is the following Tweet:
While today is all about Gunman Clive, here’s a little proof that my new game is still alive. More info on that soon….. pic.twitter.com/UZEFUa18TB
— Bertil Hörberg (@BertilHrberg) January 17, 2019
Initially, Bertil was planning on returning to the Nintendo Switch version of Gunman Clive HD Collection after that game’s release, but late last year, about two years since the first round of work had been done on the port, he decided to see what exactly had to be done to complete the Nintendo Switch version of Gunman Clive HD Collection. Upon closer inspection, Bertil told me that “as I was starting to look into the release process I realized that it would be less work than I had imagined to finish the port.”
He also determined that releasing Gunman Clive HD Collection on Switch would “serve as a good test run so I knew what to expect once I was ready to release my new game.” Work started once again on the port, and it was submitted to lotcheck on December 5, 2018. The game was approved on December 13 and its January 17 release date was decided upon soon afterwards. Over six years after the 3DS release of Gunman Clive, the full collection is now available to play on Nintendo Switch after a development with an uniquely lengthy gap in the middle of it.
Reflecting on the Gunman Clive series as a whole, Bertil Hörberg had the following to say, highlighting both the ups and downs of the series’ lengthy seven year journey:
“I never thought I’d still be talking about Gunman Clive almost 7 years after its initial release. What was initially a small mobile game, developed in less than half a year has somehow pretty much become my life’s work. I never expected it to be so successful, but I also didn’t think that the only thing I’d manage to release in all that time would be a sequel and countless ports, so there are some mixed feelings. But I promise that my next game isn’t far away now.”
Over that period of time, Bertil Hörberg has seen Nintendo’s “development tools and submission processes have improved a lot” and thinks that the impact this has led to a more open space for indie developers.”Obviously, there has been a huge shift in indie presence on their platforms, whether it’s because they’re more open or because more developers are realizing that they’re not that hard to work with and that there is a market there,” he commented. As for what he’ll think of the Nintendo Switch’s indie ecosystem, Bertil simply says that “I guess I’ll have to wait until I have some sales numbers.”
Gunman Clive HD Collection for Nintendo Switch is currently available for only $3.99. The first two Gunman Clive games can also be found on PC, Android, iOS 3DS, and Wii U.