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Iwata Interviews Wii Developers 32

Knuckles writes "On the Wii website, President of Nintendo Satoru Iwata conducts an extensive interview with the developers of the Wii. The interview comes in two volumes with three parts each. Iwata actually asks many tough questions, such as: 'In general, no engineer hates higher performance. As an engineer, didn't you experience any inner conflict when it was decided that we would not necessarily take Wii in the direction of sheer horsepower alone?' The interview is the start of a series according to the Wii website." More from the article: "Yes, it wouldn't look very natural beside a TV if it was too toy-like. And likewise, it wouldn't really be an amusing form of entertainment if it looked like some kind of AV equipment. With this in mind, we came up with 'A Design for Everyone', a concept created in order to allow as many people to use Wii as possible. Making Wii into a device that everyone likes is more important to us than a having fiercely individualistic design."
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Iwata Interviews Wii Developers

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  • by jZnat ( 793348 ) * on Saturday September 23, 2006 @01:26PM (#16168187) Homepage Journal
    Just like on Slashdot, all technological explanations can be simplified to a car analogy.
    Takeda: Of course, the issue of performance was not secondary. Anyone can realise low performance with low power. Others tend to aim for high performance with high power. With Wii however, Nintendo alone has pursued high performance with low power consumption. So, while Wii embraces cutting-edge technology and high performance, the direction it is aiming in is completely different from that of previous systems. When we look at the automobile industry, not every car is following the same evolutionary course. While some are trying to make faster cars, others are gathering public attention around the world with their hybrid engines. If automobiles can be used a metaphor, our industry has always been trying to compete over horsepower, even though not all cars are made to compete in F1 races.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 23, 2006 @01:52PM (#16168393)
      I could be wrong, but it seems to me that Nintendo is on a much more sustainable path in terms of console development (as compared to Sony and Microsoft). When you look at previous generations, at about 3 or 4 years into it people start losing interest in what is comming out and start looking to the next generation. If, like Microsoft and Sony, your main focus is on obtaining the highest performance (and most realistic graphics) you're eventually going to hit a point where the next generation is such a small improvement over the current generation people don't regain the interest in gaming. By focusing on creating a better user interface, and modest graphics improvements, Nintendo should be able to get several more generations of hardware out before they hit an improvement plateau.

      The only consern I would have with this approach is if their graphical improvements end up being too modest, will that prevent people from buying the system? Personally, I'm not sure; I do know that several people (when it was released) commented that the XBox 360's graphics were only marginally better than the XBox's graphics.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rolfwind ( 528248 )
        The problem is not the improvement plateau (all gaming consoles of the same generation are roughly on the same order of the magnitude with each other).

        For instance, few people today make much of the graphical differences between Super Nintendo and the Genesis even though at the time it was a big deal for them.

        The problem is that after a certain point with PCs/consoles, you have to pay 100% extra for an improvement of 10%-20% in performance.

        In consoles, I think many people will see it as better to just go fo
      • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Saturday September 23, 2006 @04:29PM (#16169545) Homepage
        Let's not forget... to get a system that can do High Definition normal mapped individual scales on every creature in the game, you may have to pay 100% more... but I can assure you to create that art asset cost a lot more than 100%+

        Which means that Nintendo can launch twice as many games on the same overall budget... to find out which ones stick. Brain Training was one of Nintendo's cheapest games to make, but it has sold tens of millions of copies as well as millions of DS's.

        Graphics were a bottleneck in gaming for a long time. You couldn't even get more than three sprites in a walk cycle on some of the old systems. On the PS2, you could do a full 3D walk cycle with inverse kinematics foot positioning adjusted for different skeletal systems. Graphics are about as good as they need to be at the moment, and other needs have arisen.

        For one, the controller is getting bad. Sure, we've got sholder buttons (courtesy of Nintendo), a diamond face button pad (Nintendo), analog control sticks (Nintendo), and analog buttons (Sony), but the thing is so unweildy and in need of streamlining. We're interfacing with the most hyperrealistic worlds ever created using functionally the same controllers we've had since the late 70's, though with more buttons. Even then, we're talking about LOW TECH in the late 70's.

        Another area ripe for development is Physics. Sure, you can skid cars now, and occasionally you can knock bottles over, but can you punch holes into walls? Does your character tip back further based on the weight of the item they're carrying? Can you aim your gun at the floor and skip a bullet off of it in Metal Gear Solid? Do we even have hair that gets close to sitting on people's shoulders, rather than hovering six inches above it?

        And finally, we need more advancement in art techniques. Sure, our art pipelines have been serviced well by the support industry of middleware providers, but it still feels like we're limited artistically and by production method from really unleashing the power of the end systems. Can we work on creating art assets in-game? Texture these things under changing lighting conditions? Near other relevant textures from the game? Can we extrude a 2d concept sketch automatically into the starting basis for the 3D models in the scene?

        There is a lot of work to be done. But for now, the graphics of a system aren't really the bottleneck to the next generation of power.
        • Sure, we've got ... analog control sticks (Nintendo)

          Self-centering analog sticks were used on the Vectrex, back in 82. Even in the late 70's, some dedicated game machines ("Pong-clones") had non-self-centering analog sticks. I know because I own one.

          Another area ripe for development is Physics. ... can you punch holes into walls?

          Not punch, but with rocket launchers... Volition's Red Faction, 2001.

        • Can you aim your gun at the floor and skip a bullet off of it in Metal Gear Solid?

          It's funny you mention that, one of the bosses in MGS did exactly that.

          Anyway ricochet shots are not common but they are around and have existed for years. Give the Flak Cannon in Unreal Tournament a try. It's basically a non-hitscan shotgun that bounces off walls. Or, the Tau/Gauss/Whatever it's actually called in the original Half-Life.

          Do we even have hair that gets close to sitting on people's shoulders, rather than hove

          • That's only true if you fill the solids...if you use manifolds (a 'shell' of voxels...which is what polygons approach when their size -> size of voxel :) ) you're essentially doing a compression of information. Sure, if the polygon approaches the size of a polygon, you loose the advantage (as a poly is defined by three vertexes and a voxel is essentially one vertex/point in space), but when you can define that crate (a standard spatial device used in games :P) using planes, you're much better off with a
        • Another area ripe for development is Physics. Sure, you can skid cars now, and occasionally you can knock bottles over, but can you punch holes into walls?

          I think the problem there has more to do with the implications of doing it. If you punch through a wall, you need to ensure something is on the other side to see. You also need to take into account things like being able to shoot the enemies in the next room through the holes. Those things potentially could make the level design much more complicated. Als
          • Hair is actually really hard to do. Clothing too. They take a lot of processing power. Bodies have a very small number of joints. Fabric and hair are flexible anywhere, making it a lot harder to model. They're also the kind of thing you're not going to notice 99% of the time while you're playing.

            I mentioned this because soft body deformations are one of the hardest things to do right in games. They also feel like they're a huge step behind the kind of leaps we've made in the visual realm. The girls in Fig
  • I found it interesting to get a tiny peek into how the console was developed.
  • Ashida: Umm, from the point of view of the designer, I would like to say that I hope you use Wii in its upright position, with the stand!
    This article makes me want to buy a Wii even more now after reading about everyones hardwork.
  • From TFA:

    Takamoto: The internal fan is another case in which having a clear goal from the beginning allowed us to achieve what we wanted. Because we had the clear goal of not letting the fan spin at night, the LSI team had to minimize the heat released from the ICs (integrated circuits), and the design team had to take into consideration the heat that would be trapped inside.

    Iwata: We really couldn't give up on that goal once we decided to make Wii a sleepless machine that stays on 24 hours a day. If

    • by 7Prime ( 871679 )
      To me, the Wii seems like the first usable DVD player/console, because of its remote. Trying to fumble through DVD menus and functions on a PS2 was insanely misserable, and a two-handed game controller just doesn't work as a user-friendly DVD player interface device. Sure, 3rd parties sell remotes for the PS2 and 360, but they aren't out of the box. Unless you have an HDTV, the Wii seems like a great DVD player if you don't already have one. I know that Sony wants the PS3 to be the media center, but if it d
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Psiven ( 302490 )
        Sadly, Nintendo has removed the DVD functionality to keep costs down, citing that most people have a DVD player. :P
        • you have got to be kidding... Not again ...

          it wasnt inbuilt/enabled by default last i heard. But have they realy removed it entirely ??? its using regular dvd format/size media now.. how on earth would switching to anything else make it cheaper for them ... i dont think they can save anything by changing to a drive that wont read dvds...
          • by Psiven ( 302490 )
            It was more than likely a descision based on lisencing fees, not hardware. I wouldn't have minded spending a little extra myself, but also wouldn't have liked a dongle either. My hope is that the ability will be hacked in later, but it's a shame it won't be built into the OS, as it's looking pretty nice.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mac Degger ( 576336 )
        Except, of course, that the Wii doesn't do DVD playback.

        Which I don't mind; I have multiple dvd players anyway, and it makes teh Wii cheaper since they don't have to licence the dvd encryption stuff.
        • "Which I don't mind; I have multiple dvd players anyway, and it makes teh Wii cheaper since they don't have to licence the dvd encryption stuff."

          They wouldn't have to, they could just sell DVD functionality on their online store thing. You don't think the XBox DVD dongle/remote really costs $30 do you? That price covers the encryption fees. Sony had to eat that money on every PS2 sold, even if not every consumer would even ever use the thing as a DVD player.
          • by 7Prime ( 871679 )

            I really really really really really really really hate DVDs. Too bad they're the standard these days.

            Seriously, are CDs the same way, do you have to pay anyone a license fee for a CD player to play music CDs?

  • Miyamoto Even back then there were people who wanted to play games with one hand, and of course, we understood how they felt. But at the time we said "Forget it!" (laughs)

    Web browser designers know the feeling too...
  • Here's something in Vol. 3 Part 2, which must've been put up more recently, that some people might find interesting, since I've seen its possibilities discussed repeatedly:

    Tamaki: Yes. To be honest, I only came to understand this way of thought when I started working on Wii's system functions. But like we've said, when you think of the variety of individuals that make up a family, and their range of interests, you understand that variations in price are only natural. There are people who won't hesitate to
  • Reading this it's clear how important it is that Nintendo make both the hardware and many of the games for their system. There's a great synergy there that none of the other console companies, or PC games companies, enjoy.

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