Yesterday, Nintendo updated its career website in Japan, with a post from Yusuke Inoue, talking about his work on the “News” feature on Nintendo Switch. For those who don’t know, Yusuke Inoue is a Network Programmer working at Nintendo Co. Ltd, in Japan. He previously worked on the Nintendo Channel (on Wii) and StreetPass (on Nintendo 3DS).
His latest project: the “News” feature on Nintendo Switch. If you have a Nintendo Switch, you come across it every time you turn on your console, with the three icons on the left of the screen.
Its development began with a meeting involving the various people who needed that feature, in order to determine what they wanted to realise with it. Back then, the specifications were not set in stone, and from his experience working on past projects (such as the Nintendo Channel), he knew that they would change several times over the course of development.
One thing he usually has to take into account is that development takes place in Japan. And so, after coming up with something that would meet the needs of the team in Japan, he would take a look at the requests from the teams overseas (Nintendo of America / Europe), and pretty often, the requests from Japan and abroad were completely different, and sometime even at odds.
As you can imagine, it generally takes many iterations (and a lot of time and effort) for Yusuke Inoue to come up with something that meets the needs of the team in Japan and overseas.
For this project, he decided not to set things in stone right from the beginning, as making changes along the way would be too hard (not to mention the risk of mistakes when implementing changes). Therefore, he consulted with the persons in charge in Japan and overseas regularly, and dealt with their requests in a flexible manner.
But as mentioned before, the teams in Japan and overseas often had completely different needs, and Yusuke Inoue sometime received requests for things that were really hard to implement.
So when someone with a request told him “I would like this”, he made sure to try and read between the lines, in order to find exactly what the person was asking for. Then after many back and forths, trying to find a way to meet the needs of both “parties”, he came up with the final specifications for the News feature.
Yusuke Inoue then explains that it took him almost a year to develop the feature, with a team of 4-5 people.
When working on something like a console, you cannot really see the end product in the wild until you go to the store where it’s sold. But with an online service like the News feature, you can see how it looks like in real time.
Naturally, launching an online service isn’t without its fair share of anxiety. For example, you don’t really know your service is truly working until you get the confirmation customers can access it.
For Yusuke Inoue, being able to witness the moment where customers from all around the world start using the online services you’ve spent months developing is one of the real joys of working as Network Programmer.