Revolution Realized: digging deep to uncover the plot at N..



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Revolution Realized
We dig deep to try and uncover the plot at NCL regarding this
next-generation machine.

July 09, 2004 -

We all have vivid memories of our gaming youth. Games released in the
early days captivated the minds of children and adults alike. For
many, it was Shigeru Miyamoto's creation, Super Mario Bros., that
would forever open their minds to new worlds and ideas that could be
presented in the form of a video game.
Super Mario Bros. was something else. To compare it to the flashy
visuals and complex buttons schemes of today would be a great
disservice to the title's legacy. The game brought about an era of
tight gameplay that consisted of more than just a couple of flashy
colors to try and wax the eyes of keen onlookers. Nay, the game was
much more than a pretty picture. It showed that interacting with a
character on screen could entertain for hours, even with only a
handful of different obstacles. The suspender-clad hero had a great
sense of weight and momentum while controlling. He could also interact
with objects around him, such as jumping on enemies and smashing
bricks with his bare fist. In short, Mario did what nothing else on
the market did; it went to the proverbial drawing board and smashed it
to pieces. Mario, along with much of the break-out games on the NES,
started a true gaming revolution.

The year is now 2004. In the place of the simple-yet-functional two
button controller we have 7+ buttons, dual analog sticks that can be
moved in 360 degrees, analog shoulder buttons with 256 degrees of
sensitivity, and a digital pad. In order to progress you need to
control the position of your character with your left thumb, use your
right hand to move the camera, lock on ("lock on!?") to enemies, and
god help you if you get the camera stuck on a wall. The days of
telling your grandmother to press the button under her thumb to jump
have come and gone. While pressing those two buttons could probably
entertain her for hours in the past, it holds little to no relevance
in today's games.

What happened is simple; we have reached an age where games and their
controls are getting more and more complicated. As so called
"hardcore" gamers it is sometimes difficult to see the problem at all.
We have been so involved in these complex gameplay systems and
interfaces from their inception that we have learned incrementally.
People new to videogames do not have this luxury. Imagine, if you
would, someone who stops reading comics in the series' infancy and
then attempts to get back into the story 20 years later where the
characters and even the medium in which the story is told has all
changed. The president of Nintendo, Mr. Satoru Iwata, seems to feel
strongly about this point:

"I think the number of game players will decrease if the game industry
continues to pursue its current strategy of making software more
complicated and luxurious, which in turn requires customers to consume
enormous time and energy. Customers now find themselves hard-pressed
to keep up with the game developers' approach. If we put the brakes on
such a trend, we would be able to put the industry back on a growth
path. Nintendo was aware of this early on. We would like to market
such software and expand the sales of game machines." - Satoru Iwata

Viva la Revolution! Click on the image to learn all about Nintendo

The Nintendo chief paints a bleak picture of the crisis that is
perhaps more tame than the real-world scenario. Unlike movies,
interactive software requires the input of a live human being, and if
the interface and gameplay systems are too complex, what will compel
people to even consider playing "catch up" and adapt to the more
complex games of today? If Super Mario Bros. taught us anything it is
that the degree of fun is not necessarily proportional to the
complexity of the controls or gameplay system.

And lo! Nintendo has set the stage to bring all players back to the
"starting line." The Nintendo DS is the first glimpse of the new
Nintendo strategy. The touch screen, perhaps the main draw of the
system, can potentially remove any learning barriers by providing a
completely natural interface with your game. Simply take your finger
or stylus and draw Pacman. Simply take your finger or stylus and slice
vegetables in Wario Ware DS. Heck, just draw goofy pictures and play
virtual Pictionary with Picto Chat. No need for finger gymnastics or
half hour seminars on lock-on targeting.

The other part of the plan is promising to be even more of a deviation
through the code-named Nintendo Revolution. Little is actually known
about Nintendo's next console save for a couple of very intriguing
quotes from Nintendo themselves. In short, the system is being aimed
at creating a true gaming revolution and not just upgrading the
technical specs as is current trend in the industry. In trade of only
upgraded visuals, Nintendo has made it clear that it will have
technical merits, but more importantly it will bring new ideas in an
easy-to-swallow form. We are here to try and explore these exciting

Before we continue, we need to be clear on one thing: we aim to look
at what is entirely plausible as well as some fairly imaginative
ideas. In an effort to minimize confusion, we will be rating any
examples as "plausible", "moderately plausible", and "no way." We
begin our first scenario design with what is possibly the mother of
all "plausible" theories; the gyroscope sensor system.

Nintendo Gyroid
Chance: Plausible

The purpose of an input device on a games machine is to allow the user
to control the on-screen action. The holy grail for such a device is
remove the "middle man" almost entirely, leaving you feeling as if you
are truly a part of the digital world without any complex devices to
distract you. And what better way to get closer to this vision than to
use completely natural real-world hand gestures?

In the past decade or so, several companies have developed
micro-machines that use gyration technology based on the science
behind a gyroscope. Let's do a quick refresher to see how that works
exactly. The idea behind a gyroscope is that if you spin something
really fast then it will have equal amounts of pressure on all sides
(virtually) and therefore can stay balanced. So imagine balancing a
disc on the middle of your finger. If you were to press down on one of
the sides it would surely fall off. However, now imagine that you are
spinning this disc at a very high velocity. When you go to apply
pressure to one side of the disc, your finger would be virtually
drawing a circle almost instantly around the disc. Since the force is
not being applied in any one area of the disc more than any other, the
disc remains flat. The phenomenon has led us to develop sophisticated
sensors that can be used to sense movement and angles. Such technology
has been built into things like airplanes, which feature more than 11
of these gyroscopes for their compass and auto-pilot. The important
thing to note here is that gyroscopes prove handy in motion sensors
because they will face one direction constantly (almost like the
needle of a compass).

In September of 2001 Gyration Inc., a leading manufacturer of
efficient gyroscope sensors, announced a deal with Nintendo. The
details of the deal were straightforward - Nintendo was to invest an
undisclosed amount of money into the company in return for the use of
the Gyration technology. Some interesting things were said around that

"Gyration intends to be the first company to produce game controllers
enhanced with gyroscopic motion-sensors, which have a tenfold
performance increase over accelerometer tilt sensors and add the
ability to sense yaw as well as pitch. A gyro-equipped, motion-sensing
controller provides a natural method of game control that draws the
player into the game and makes game play more enjoyable. The motion
sensor can take the place of a typical thumb pressure pad allowing
one-handed game play, or can be integrated into a two-handed
controller to add a dimension to game playing not possible with
traditional game controllers." - Gyration Inc.

"Unlike accelerometers used by all other motion game manufactures,
gyros can track the yaw axis motion that is critical for intuitive
game control. Yaw axis tracking allows users to naturally point and
move objects left and right much the way screen objects move on their
TVS without having to tilt the game controller." -Marc Harris,
Gyration Inc.

Essentially the player, by using natural gestures both horizontally
and vertically, can interact with the game he/she is playing in a more
natural way. However, to do so you would need a completely
revolutionary design to compliment the idea. Two such ideas are the
"glove" and the "handle." Imagine if you will, a glove not unlike
those used in the film Minority Report to control computers. A simple
device that would allow for you to move your hand freely while giving
extra commands by doing such things as clenching your fist or pointing
a finger. Moving your hand through the air could translate to movement
of objects on screen. The "handle" on the other hand, would probably
more down to earth. It could be like the handle of a light saber with
a button on top as well as next to the middle and trigger fingers. It
could be held upright like a gun for a bevy of titles and could even
be held sideways to simulate holding the top of a steering wheel. The
common thread here is that you must be able to move the controller
freely in the air while still allowing for some other input commands
via buttons, finger movements, etc. Now let's see what kind of
benefits the innovative hardware could deliver in the way of software

First, place yourself in Metroid Prime (MP:Evolution, if you will.) To
look around and aim you are now holding your arm/hand like Samus holds
her canon on screen. You would be able to control the aiming simply by
moving your arm as she does. Imagine playing multiplayer with friends
where your accuracy is now almost real-world in that you're wielding a
virtual gun when playing.

Next, imagine Super Mario Revolution. Mario can ride on top of a
unicycle and hold a balance beam in the hopes that he doesn't fall
off. As you tilt the controller, Mario himself also leans in the
direction you point and subsequently starts rolling there. If that
weren't enough, you will have to lift the controller vertically to
make Mario lift the balance stick over his head so he can get it over
top of a large block. This setup would take the idea behind such games
as Super Monkey Ball and make it even more fun to control and bring
back some of that feeling that people had when first messing around
outside Peach's castle in Super Mario 64.

Your next outing with Link could be just as entertaining. Wield your
sword using the handle controller and make gestures to swing it in the
game. Hold up your arm with the bow and take aim in the real world to
hit a target. Controlling Link's movements, like Super Mario
Revolution, could be as easy as simply tilting the controller slightly
in any direction. Tilt it a little and you will walk, tilt a lot and
he will sprint.

Something else to consider is not a controller at all, but rather an
output device. Virtual Reality headsets can be used with gyroscopes to
sense where the player is looking with natural head motions. Ever get
angry at the camera in a game? For the two of you who didn't raise
your hand, the exit is located down the hall and to the left. With a
gyroscope-enhanced headset you could kiss the days of messy cameras
goodbye. Just move your head realistically to see what your
surroundings are. In fact, if you want to play a bit of fantasy here
you could go for the one-two punch with a headset-controller combo.
This would essentially be a high form of VR. While looking around you
could move your hand(s) in the virtual world realistically to interact
with objects, control the character, or even just move a cursor with

If we had to bet, we wouldn't put money on the full VR combination of
gyroscope headset and controller. If this does come to pass, you can
color us beyond impressed (especially if the cost can stay down.)
Instead, we feel there is a great chance that gyroscope sensors work
their way into Nintendo's next machine somehow. Not only did Nintendo
take an active interest in Gyration's technology, but they have also
been voicing their concern about complex games almost on a weekly
basis. This would be hardware advancing gameplay in the purest of
senses. The pieces of the puzzle seem to be coming together. Only time
will tell if it comes to fruition.

Eye See You
Feasibility: "moderately plausible"

On June 1st, 2004, numerous media bodies came across a new Nintendo
trademark. For all intents and purposes, everything pointed towards
the idea of a new camera device. Shortly afterwards, Nintendo also
made a public note that Mario Party 6 should be releasing this year
with an unconventional way of controlling the action. Coincidence?
Perhaps. But one thing is for certain, there is a good chance that
something is brewing over at NCL in terms of optical devices.

Many have already experienced the Eye-Toy peripheral for PS2 that
allows players to capture their figure on screen so they may interact
with objects with natural gestures. Sony has already stated that they
are hoping to integrate this Eye-Toy technology into their next home
console right out of the box. While the released device seems pretty
spiffy right now, there is something far more interesting on the
horizon in the way of cameras: infrared sensors.

What is infrared? In simple terms, it is light so red that it is
invisible to human eyes. The interesting thing about infra-red sensors
is that they see the infrared color the same way regardless of time of
day. An infrared photograph taken at noon looks the same as one taken
at midnight. Traditionally, this has been a great help to those who
have a need for night vision.

At E3 2004, a small conference was held whereby the different
panelists could speak of game interfaces and where they are heading.
One such example piqued the interests of onlookers - the infrared
Eye-Toy experiment. Demonstrated and created by Richard Marks (the
creator of the Eye-Toy), the camera went above and beyond the typical
fare. Instead of capturing a picture and using it to interact with a
game, the camera would use infrared to detect actual depth in front of
it. The demonstration was said to have Richard stand in front of the
camera, where a 3D mesh of himself was shown on the display. As he
moved, the 3D mesh would move accordingly. Finally, Richard could even
kick a virtual beach ball and make it fly accordingly.

Moving ahead, Nintendo could integrate such an idea into their next
console to make for some interesting gameplay ideas. Imagine playing
Super Smash Brothers: Revolution, where you can take images of your
bedroom in 3D and they become the stage. Your book case, bed, pillows
and more could all be used as the battlegrounds. Or how about throwing
jabs and dodging virtual blows in Punch Out Revolution? This would
technically be possible with the infrared technology.

Is this something Nintendo will explore? Right now it is hard to say.
Nintendo seems bent on releasing a camera device of some kind given
the information we have. Whether or not they will release an infrared
version of the camera is hard to say.

"I think we can come up with something more unique than the Eye-Toy
all the time. We really want to be the number one R&D team." -Yoshio
Sakamoto (Nintendo R&D1)

Coming from the same group that brought us the innovative and
addictive Wario Ware, these are encouraging words. We grade the
infrared camera system as a moderately plausible venture.

Console Tablet
Feasibility: "moderately plausible"
If the Nintendo DS has taught us anything, even at this early stage,
it's that a simple idea can create a potential seachange in video
games. When Nintendo first discussed the concept of introducing two
video screens - with one being touch-sensitive - it was an approach
that didn't convince everybody. And yet, if you read the impressions
provided by those who have actually played DS themselves, you'll come
away having read almost nothing but positive comments.

If we look specifically at the touch screen technology in DS, we can
see something that essentially amounts to a completely new style of
interaction for video games. Although touch screen technology has been
around for many years (and has been widely used in everything from
public information kiosks to gambling machines to PDAs), it has never
been seriously introduced into the world of video games.

Enter Nintendo's "Revolution" - a home video game system that promises
to fundamentally change the way that we play games. The question here
is simple; how can touch screen technology be applied to a new home
game console?

To answer that question, we have to step back momentarily and look at
Nintendo's current game console: GameCube. When GameCube was unveiled,
Shigeru Miyamoto made a point of talking about the little plastic
handle on the rear face of the unit. Specifically, he expressed the
view that game consoles are getting to be too much like home
electronics devices, which sit there amongst your other equipment and
never move. GameCube, on the other hand, would be something that you
could pick up at any time and move around the house with great ease.
The inclusion of the handle is almost like a psychological tool, to
encourage the owner to pick it up and shift it around.

This very basic idea of portability also relates to two other key
points; requirement of the TV and family-oriented design.

Unless you were to use one of the small LCD monitor peripherals that
have been released over recent years, you'd require a television set
to play your games. By default, this significantly limits the mobility
of a home game console; it always needs to be hooked up to a TV to
play and therefore, it has very little mobility.

In addition, GameCube has somewhat followed the N64's tradition of
being a "party machine". The inclusion of four controller ports, as
well as the arrival of games like Super Smash Bros. Melee has helped
to further establish this image. At the same time, Nintendo's
introduction of connectivity-based games (such as The Legend of Zelda:
Four Swords Adventures) has further underlined Nintendo's desire to
push the traditional home game console in new directions.

Based on these considerations, a "tablet console" with a
touch-sensitive screen could provide some solutions to traditional
problems, as well as opening up entirely new game design

To get a stronger idea of what this console could look like, it might
be a good idea to take a look at Sony's Airboard, which is essentially
a Tablet PC combined with a television set. In terms of size and
dimensions, the Sony Airboard could be quite similar to the Nintendo
GameTablet (a very cool and innovative code name for the new
system...ahem). The key difference, of course, would be that the
GameTablet is entirely focused on gaming. You could also expect the
GameTablet hardware to contain a number of important game-related
features, including "traditional" game controls (ie: a control stick
mounted to the left of the screen and a button cluster mounted to the
right), a stylus for the touch-sensitive screen, built-in Wi-Fi
capabilities, a built-in microphone and various other features.

The best way to describe this new type of game console would be to
provide you with several examples of how you'd use it, depending on
the game you're playing.

For example, imagine Animal Crossing on GameTablet. You could use the
stylus to actually write letters in your own handwriting. Or, if you
wanted to make your own clothing, you could use the control stick to
rotate the clothes around in 3D and the stylus could be used to slice
pieces of fabric away. Another alternative might be that you could use
the stylus to take a wooden chair in your house and carve patterns
into it. Or perhaps you could sketch a design for your own custom
wallpaper. Additionally, it would be quite possible to visit other
towns easily, by utilising the console's on-board Wi-Fi capabilities
(you could visit towns on other "in range" GameTablets, or you could
even potentially visit a town on someone's Nintendo DS version of the

Another example might be a music game, where you could sit the
GameTablet flat on a table and have four people sitting around it. One
person could use the stylus to hit musical notes in sequence, while
the other three sing together in tune (a built-in microphone would be
responsible for monitoring that). Alternatively, two to four people
could sit around the unit and mix music in real time together, either
by using their own stylus or by using an additional controller (one
person with the konga controller and one scratching a virtual record
with a stylus, perhaps?)

In addition to these specific examples, the GameTablet would be ideal
for connectivity-based games by default (as two screens are
automatically involved, should the player connect their console to the
TV). But with GameTablet's next generation specifications, it would be
possible to play a version of Four Swords Adventures in full 3D. The
possibilities on that front are endless, especially with the addition
of touch screen capabilities.

At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves how feasible this type
of technology really is. Although various products that utilise this
technology do exist, there simply isn't anything out there that would
compare to a true next generation game console with this type of
design. In truth, such a design would be far too expensive for
Nintendo to produce, especially considering all of the additions that
would be necessary (the addition of Wi-Fi and microphone, the
relatively large touch screen panel and the need to compress the
console's parts into a relatively small space). Nonetheless, the DS is
an example that this type of technology is being pushed by Nintendo,
as an alternative to traditional methods of game interaction.


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On 10 Jul 2004 00:22:54 -0700, (R420) wrote:

>Revolution Realized
>We dig deep to try and uncover the plot at NCL regarding this
>next-generation machine.

R420 - will you please stop cross posting into the uk groups. How many
times do I have to ask before you give it a rest? Do you even read
followups to your posts, or you just doing it to get up people's

Pink 5 : "Hey Base One! My little robot guy's head got blown off. Is that bad?"


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fine. if it bothers you THAT much, I will make SEPERATE post for uk groups. (Neil Hopkins) wrote in message news:<>...
> On 10 Jul 2004 00:22:54 -0700, (R420) wrote:
> >
> >
> >Revolution Realized
> >We dig deep to try and uncover the plot at NCL regarding this
> >next-generation machine.
> R420 - will you please stop cross posting into the uk groups. How many
> times do I have to ask before you give it a rest? Do you even read
> followups to your posts, or you just doing it to get up people's
> noses?


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Dang, do you have to post the whole thing? A link is fine, posting an
article that large is bad netiquette.

"If you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in
Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have reasoned
out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?"

--C.S. Lewis


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On 10 Jul 2004 14:47:56 -0700, (R420) wrote:

>fine. if it bothers you THAT much, I will make SEPERATE post for uk groups.

Thank you - that's much appreciated.

Pink 5 : "Hey Base One! My little robot guy's head got blown off. Is that bad?"


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"Grand Inquisitor" <> wrote in message
> Dang, do you have to post the whole thing? A link is fine, posting an
> article that large is bad netiquette.

I read it, and appreciated him posting it.

Netiquette? Is it 1997 still?

"To infinity and beyond!"


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DBR wrote:
> I read it, and appreciated him posting it.
> Netiquette? Is it 1997 still?

I also read the article, when it was first published on IGN. He should
just have posted a link and maybe a snippet of text.


"If you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in
Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have reasoned
out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?"

--C.S. Lewis