During DeNA Tech Con 2018, DeNA briefly talked about the development of the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app, a free mobile app for parents to monitor their children’s behavior and play time on Nintendo Switch.
In the initial planning stages for the app, DeNA and Nintendo set out a vision for the app as a way for parents to have a peace of mind while giving control of their Nintendo Switch to their kids.
The developers had to take into consideration the diversity of people (obedient kids, unhappy kids, parents who want more control, parents who want less control, etc), different countries and cultures, as well as the various laws of each country. They also had to ensure the app has a layout that provides users a frustration-free experience.
Development of both the Nintendo Switch hardware and Parent Controls app progressed together at the same pace. Hence, many firmware milestones were met in the early stages of development, and crucial features were almost ready by launch.
Nintendo was in charge of planning, direction, graphics design, localization, and publishing duties for the project, while DeNA took care of planning support, graphics design support, Switch server development, and app development.
Communication was a very important aspect of the project. As DeNA is located in Shibuya while Nintendo is headquartered in Kyoto, every week, developers from each company regularly met via video conferencing every week. Video conferencing was a great solution as some developers were frequently on business trips. Developers from both companies met together at a single location at certain fixed intervals.
DeNA then proceeded to share how the Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app works in tandem with the Switch console. The moment the Switch is connected to the Internet, Parental Controls data is sent from the system and updated from the master server database. A similar technique is used for the app on smartphones, with a few variations.
One challenge the developers faced was providing real time updates to the Parental Controls app if the Switch happens to be connected to the Internet. At first, the team faced issues with the high number of server instances. This resulted in the use of Google Cloud Dataflow, so information such as play time, software played, downloaded games, and wrong password alerts can be sent to the Parental Controls app in real time without overloading the server.
Translated by NintendoSoup. Republication OK as long as NintendoSoup is properly sourced and cited.