WARNING: This is a post about Nintendo. That is all.

So, there’s a few things that are still floating around my head with regards to Nintendo, Revolution (or whatever it will now be named) and, of course, gamers. Firstly, let me talk to you about a concern I have that includes all three of those topics.

Imagine it’s 50 years ago and you own a black and white TV. You read in the paper that a revolution is coming – COLOUR is on its way to TV. “Amazing!”. You’re excited, you talk to your TV-watching friends. Your friends are excited. The potential is huge! There is endless talk of how shows will look and you all decide that you simply can’t wait to watch all your old black and white programs on your colour TV.

Hang about. What’s the point of thinking in black and white? You should be thinking in colour! Right?

So why are gamers thinking in black and white? Those staunch supporters of the Revolution, those gamers who’ve neither seen it with their own eyes nor held it’s controller yet somehow KNOW the future it will have – those gamers typically back up their statements with how Nintendo’s machine with become the best platform for first person shooters (FPS). Explanations spew forth on how the controller will behave and entire control schemes are devised to demonstrate how, say, Half Life 2, might be easily controlled via the Nintendo remote. The problem is that, they’re so caught up in this train of thought they’re unaware of the fatal error they make: they’re thinking in black and white.

You cannot justify a forthcoming revolution by demonstrating how it will repeat recent history.

If Revolution supporters are arguing their case by stating how gaming will go into new and unexplored territory then what is the point discussing decades old games? An FPS on the Revolution amounts to nothing more than an FPS with a tweaked control scheme. A revolution? Hardly.

“Look at my great new TV – its got a huge screen, its got remote control!”
“Yeah, but all the programs you watch are still in black and white”

Here’s a challenge to Revolution supporters – don’t tell me how I can play my old style games on this box of tricks. Doing so does nothing to convince me it’s a better product than anything already on the market. Insisting that it is by showcasing how old ideas can be tweaked just demonstrates how easily you miss the point of this being a revolution, of being new, of being different. But to convince me, you’re going to have to make me imagine something I’ve not imagined before. You’re going to have to work hard at that. You’re actually going to have to think.

This isn’t a criticism of Nintendo – this is a criticism of unthinking Nintendo loyalists. The best way you can prove me wrong is to rise to the challenge. Don’t take the most obvious, easy route. Show me what you’re made of.

[and breathe]

Recently, there’s been some less-than-glowing feedback of the Revolution from some fairly large players in the industry. Mark Rein, VP of Epic and chief salesman of Unreal technology gave a pretty damning statement against the machine. I have no doubt that some of his attitude is coloured due to his business with Sony and Microsoft. At the same time, I’m not prepared to dismiss him as a ‘moron’ as so many gamers suddenly have. Unreal engine technology, whilst not necessarily exciting for you as a user of the end product is pretty damn important. It’s middleware and, with today’s lengthy projects and expanding costs, middleware is absolutely crucial to 80% of game development. Leading techonolgy middleware such as Unreal Engine is often developed in conjunction with hardware technology. Epic speak to Nvidia, they share technology, the exploit each other’s knowledge. Mark Rein isn’t some kid who wrote a couple of games in SEUCK. This is a guy who understands the correlation of software to hardware development – particularly in the field of emerging technology. I do believe there is some personal interest and political bias in his statement but his words should not be dismissed just because they don’t sit happily with gamers.

Just as significantly, a news article has reported that THQ, a successful third party developer with enough weight to garner some fairly major licenced properties, has suggested that 20% of their development resources will be directed towards Revolution development. Now, on the surface, this seems to be pretty bad news. On the whole I’d say it’s fairly generous. Consider the three current gen systems. Does Gamecube represent 20% of the Western market? Absolutely not. Whilst 20% is clearly less than one third, it’s considerably more than Nintendo might be worth on a strict development-to-sales ratio. In essence, it’s a reflection of Gamecube’s performance and THQ’s faith in Nintendo. Some feedback has suggested “well, they don’t need as many resources as the Revolution will be based on Gamecube development kit and will be easier to program for than the PS3 or X360”. Whilst I can’t dismiss the comments about that challenges of developing for PS3 hardware I utterly dismiss a gamer talking about how easy or complex game development might be. Sounds harsh, I know, but gamer’s can’t even grasp how much they don’t know – let alone accept they’re ignorant.

Nintendo said well before the Revolution was anything other than vapourware that they expected little in the way of third-party support. This was presented as a positive statement. That Nintendo could handle the demands of developing for their new console but they thought third parties wouldn’t be up to the challenge. Apart from the arrogance and conceit of such a statement it is hype, spin and bullshit. Third parties are, in essence, parasites. The attach themselves to the platform that’ll garner the best return for their investment. That’s not a criticism, that’s how it is. Now, if your platform has the smallest market share and least retail exposure then it’s likely that third parties won’t see you as attractive as, say, Sony. If you care to add being arrogant and stubborn as a company into the mix, the deal looks even less attractive. Additionally, if you release a statement that suggests that thrid parties aren’t as capable as you (whilst hiding the fact that you treat them pretty badly) then it’s only going to sour the deal even further.

Saying something and doing something else cuts both ways – this shouldn’t be forgotten. If Nintendo are going to suggest lacklustre third party support is down to Nintendo being too cool or radical instead of, basically, being a bitch to work with and not very rewarding then you can expect a similar mentality back. There’s been a wave of well publicised feedback from third party developers that have been presented on sites like IGN and subsequently pimped accross Nintendo forums as some proof of vapourware superiority. Sure. It’s nice when people say nice things about you. But it doesn’t cost anything to say something. As with the N64 and the Gamecube – we’re seeing lots of praise. Are we going to see lots of product? Will history repeat itself? It’s too early to tell. But I’m already hearing of disgruntled developers being dictated to by Nintendo about the sort of content they’ll have to include in their products to show off the Revolution’s controller. It’s seems like a lot of hard work for a very uncertain reward.

So, may ever-present challenge to gamers is to think more. Don’t assume an industry veteran is a moron because he said something you don’t like. Don’t dilute your arguments by confusing tweaks with originality. Don’t take your wishful thinking as gospel and for God’s sake, don’t EVER use sales stats or system specs in your argument unless you’re a business analyst or a programmer.

On a lighter note and as a reward for those of you who read this far I can tell you that the image at the start of this post is concept art for Super Mario Strikers. Looks suspiciously chav’d up to me.

9 thoughts on “Koffdrop’s continuing adventures in objectivity”
  1. I dunno, I thought it was kinda attractive myself ^_^

    Anyway, you make good points and theres not much I can say 0_o I understand what you mean on refinment instead or revolutionising, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what games devs come up with. It may not turn out to be a Revolution but then, is refinement such a bad thing?

  2. I totally agree with what you said about how a revolution isn’t justified by how it repeats recent history, a revolution should set out to do something new. Well, sort of.

    So, the Revolution should set out to do this, and I’m sure, from Nintendo’s part, they’re will be some new and interesting ways of playing games which will justify the console’s name. However, they will also be many genres and styles of games, such as FPS, that we have seen many times before, using the new control method. But is this a bad thing? Yes the Rev. is designed to do new things, and it is a bit annoying hearing people say ‘imagine Metroid on it!’ but I think, because the input is so different, when you play Metroid with the Rev. controller the game itself will [hopefully] feel fresh and new and will feel more then ‘tweaked’. Of course, that may wear off half way through the game. So maybe a revolution should also set out to make old things, which a lot of people love, better, while still managing to change lots of things. Maybe that’s a paradox, but the Rev. is by no means going to change gaming without a little help from old games. It shouldn’t just update the older games for the sake of it, but if playing an old FPS on the Rev makes me feel as if this how the game should always have played, then Nintendo have done something good. By playing FPS’s better then other formats, as well providing something new, the Rev. will seen as a winner in many people’s eyes.

    Whatever the answer, maybe Nintendo should never have called the console the ‘Revolution’. Because a lot of people could end up disappointed.

  3. I’ll comment on your first problem for now.

    You expect the average gamer to come up with genre defying ideas for a controller they haven’t touched?

    That’s great, it really is. Do you know how hard it is to come up with those kind of ideas? I’m happy at the moment just to discuss how the controller would make previous games better – because that’s what new controllers are supposed to do.

    You could play an FPS on a D-pad – but it doesn’t mean that the switch to Analogue stick wasn’t justified and the same goes for the Rev.

    But as for new ideas – it opens up a lot of doors.

    The controller gives you a 3D space which could be used for anything, it doesn’t limit you to that though as there’s an analogue stick as well. In conjunction there’s a lot of freedom.

    I’ll start off simply with a ping pong simulator – being able to use the rev exactly like a bat would be cool. Add the “numchuck” as an analogue stick and you get a hell of a lot more potential. You would be able to extend that pin pong simulator into a full blown tennis simulator, running around on the court with analogue stick whilst the remote monitors your “swing”.

    Now the obvious is out of the way, imagine how the remote could manipulate a physics engines. Controlling a string puppet for example, each movement depends on how you rotate the controller. This idea could be used for controlling planes, levels and a lot of other things.

    How that translates into games is up to you, but going for the obvious ideas again – I would love to see some kind of Puppet director game with microphone. You would control the acting, movement and the speech – without being limited to what they program. With the way the controller acts like a mouse you could draw in lots of detail on to the puppets, scenery and such, giving you virtually all the customization an original film of that style needs. Imagine making your own Team America.

    Drawing in 3D – I’m not sure how accurate it would be – but it could be used as a control method. Drawing a path that your character follows in a Lemming-esque game. And you could even control your character with the Analogue stick.

    And certainly for customization purposes. Customization mixed with the online prospects of the console is always going to be a highlight. The dream of making your own levels and trading it online is always going to be good.

    You’re after new ideas and obviously I can’t really give them you. I would be the world’s greatest games designer if I could make up a dozen completely new ideas in half an hour and sell them to a guy who hates Nintendo.

    Please tell me what you think as a games designer (not a Nintendo critic), what original ideas you would come up for the controller if you had to work with it?

  4. I’m unconvinced by a lot of what you say Retroid. Your opening statement of “the controller would make previous games better – because that’s what new controllers are supposed to do.” Is a particular case in point.

    I’m basically saying that we don’t need a revolution. You respond with “this will make old games better”. You’re not exactly convincing me we need a revolution.

    Nintendo’s biggest job is to sell the idea. Now, they can sell to their existing fanbase, of that I have no doubt. And it’s that fanbase that insist that the Revolution is The Way Of The Future. But I’m demonstrating (and so are you) how much of a challenge it is to convince NON believers that it’s worth investing in.

    So far, nobody has tackled that – I just get believers telling me to believe, not WHY to believe.

    I don’t want to think up original ideas for myself as I’m no longer in the profession and enjoy playing games as a consumer.

    Don’t get me wrong. I wan’t to be swept away with the freshness of it all. I want to be taken to a place I never knew existed. I want to be genuinely suprised and filled with wonder.

    And, to be honest, good design can do that without leaning on a radical gimmick (as I see it, and as nobody, as yet, can prove otherwise). Have a look at Shadow of the Colossus – not only does it have brand new challenges presented in an environment nobody could imagine until they see it – it tells a great story too.

    It’s about the games. It’s always been about the games. Nintendo loyalists always used to be the first to preach about how it’s always about the games.

    Now they’re telling me it’s all about the controller?

    Pull the other one!

  5. Nintendo may actually loose some its fanbase if they go down the road off the Rev. being the ‘second choice’. Nintendo fanboys will find themselves with a console they’ve brought as they’re first choice, only to find not enough depth in the games to warrant it good enough on its own, without a traditional console. Then again, this may cause many PS3/360 owners to buy it as an extra console, or novelty item, which could help Nintendo out a bit. Double-edged sword.

  6. @Panty:
    Can you please explain why games on the Revolution would not have enough depth? Nintendo have their bestselling lineup, it’s list of popular franchises ready for the console at launch, and shortly afterwards. With a Smash Bros, Mario, Zelda and Metroid title in development.

    I’ve never seen a person who purchases a Nintendo console for its third party games. Nintendo have always been known for their 1st party titles, and they’re planning every majoy 1st party for release with the Revolution. Along with the classic lineup of games available for download, the Revolution, I am sure, will release with a strong games database.

    You seem to dismiss the Revolution console simply with the fact that it does not live up to its name, it will not create a Revolution in gaming. While you diss FPS titles as having little different from existing shooters, you have not provided enough examples which disprove the Revolution as the next generation of gaming.

    You’re definitions of utilizing the controller as a “tweaked control scheme” is vague. That “tweak control” provides gamers with better precision and a new gaming experience. Not neccessarily a “revolution”, but a motion sensing FPS game certainly allows many gamers a style of gaming not available to them in the past. Gyroscopic mice cost hundreds this generation, allowing only the richest and most hardcore gamers to experience such game control.

    Your claim of dismissing a gamer when they mention the complexity of game development really shows you arrogance. I was a member of Digital Share forums, the one you left a month ago due to us “ignorant” gamers. I seem to recall you dissing the N64 cause of its game cartridges being harder to program than the PS1’s CDs. Isn’t that what you’ve dismissed in the post above? The complexity of developing games for a console, right?

    Since you did not respond to claims of the Revolution receiving 20% of THQ’s support as a positive thing, I will bring the point further. 20% of support, that leaves 80% for games for the other platforms. Remember that THQ also develops PC games, in addition to games on MS and Sony consoles. Plus there are outcoming games available for other platforms, including the Nintendo DS, GBA and Sony PSP. So divide the remainder of 80% up between the PS3, 360, PC, DS, GBA and PSP, of course not evenly, and you’ll find that 20% for ONE console is quite a lot. Even more so when compared to the amount of third party support Nintendo received this generation. And with games being easier to develop on Nintendo’s next home console, you can hardly say they are losing THQ’s support.

    Delete this if you want, Koffdrop, seeing as you do not appreciate replies that disagree with your views. As long as you’ve read the post… I have made my point.

  7. Seer,

    First of all, I know precisely who you are and what other nicknames you go by. Crowing about how you think you’ve got one over on me on the Digital Share forums by thinking you’re some master of disguise is a bit childish and pathetic. Just like calling yourself “Satoru Iwata”. It does rather show where your allegiance/idol worship lies.

    I dismiss the Revolution on a lot more than just it’s name. But the name chosen by Nintendo display their cocksure arrogance perfectly. I expect them to live up to their name and if they don’t or won’t do that then I’ll criticise them for it. I won’t just pretend that everything’s ok and that they can be as arrogant as they like just because they’re Nintendo. Quite the opposite in fact.

    It’s clear that you’ve not read or digested this post properly at all – you’ve just scanned it, decided you didn’t like it and sought to counter it. Unfortunately, you’re going to come off looking a bit hasty:

    I’ve never defined a control scheme for Revolution FPS games (one of my points was that OTHERS have, not myself) – I’m not here to speak for others so your accusation of my being ‘vague’ demonstrates your inability to read – or so it would seem.

    I stated the facts about the THQ decision. I then went on to explain why I felt 20% was a favourable percentage for Nintendo. You seem to have assumed I was saying the opposite and based your little rant on this. Although, your explanation of how 20% represents that majority of THQ’s development-per-platform decision is pathetically optimistic and based on your own idle speculation rather than the actual concrete news that was reported. So, in future try BOTH reading and sticking to the facts.

    Your dismissal at my dismissal of gamers not being able to understand game development is based on … what exactly? Your own experiences as a game developer? Hmm. I don’t think so. You just don’t like being criticised this way. As I said to you at the Digital Share forums – you haven’t even got a clue as to how much you DON’T KNOW – and then you come back here and prove me right. Go away, develop and publish a few current-gen games then come back and tell me how wrong I am. Remember, I’m a game developer and a gamer – I’m basing my statements on fact. What are you basing yours on?

    And, to prove my point, you misquote me on the development of N64 and PS1 games. My original point at the Digital Share forums was to correct your insistance that “A PS1 was just a SNES with a CD ROM – all the games were only about 60-80mb”. Game development on any platform is astoundingly complex (remember that before you Nintendo fanboys crow about developing for ‘easy’ Revolution versus ‘hard’ PS3). You would know this even if you’d made the simplest game for, say, a flash enabled web-browser. Firstly your comparison about game sizes is totally wrong (and can be proved as such by taking nearly any PS1 CD and putting it in your PC to see how much space is used) it is also totally irrelevant in demonstrating the complexity of something and, to top it all, you misquote both of us when you attempt to bring the point up.

    You have perfectly demonstrated why fanboy gamers such as yourself are so easy to dismiss when they rant on about game development. Every time you open your mouth you appear to put your foot in it.

    Now, you’re always welcome to comment on Koffdrop.com. I’ll decide whether the comments are worth publishing or not as, for some reason, I’ve received some flaming comments from children – that’s why I have tighter comment control than I used to. If you do wish to comment, please make sure you have read and understood the article you are commenting on. Make some effort to read it AS IT IS rather than as your prejudices dictate. Oh, and don’t go crying back to the Digital Share forums to quote all of this and have your ignorant fanboy friends pat you on the back just because, like you, they can’t accept how clueless and biased they are.

    I look forward to future comments from you. And don’t worry about changing your name again – this site identifies commentators in a smarter way than that.

  8. I have read your commentary and found it rather interesting. Interesting in a way that I can see your point of view. Even though mine differs, I try to put myself in your shoes so to speak, to see it in a different light. I happen to like the direction Nintendo is going in. I feel, there way of thinking, will change the way we play games. Before you start calling me names like fanboy, child, etc. etc. etc. Let me explain myself very simply. I am 33 years old. I have enjoyed video games for years. I was a big diehard gamer. My first system was the Maganavox Oddessy. I also, thru the years have had Atari, Intellivision I, II, and III. Colecovision, all Nintendo, Sega and Sony’s systems. Blah blah blah so on and so forth. Never owned or even played a Xbox though. But lately in the last few years I have been extremely bored with games. Every once in awhile Nintendo comes out with something I like and I start getting hooked again. But ultimately I tire of those too. So I am looking forward to different ways to play, experiance and enjoy games again. Call me a fanboy if you will, but in my honest oppinion, Nintendo makes the better games. So I am a loyalist when it comes to them. I own a PS2 and there are a few games that interest me, but then it where’s off. I don’t need the best graphics, the best cut scenes, the Grand Theft Auto games which bore me after a few minutes. So I look forward to Nintendo’s new ways their trying to implement in there system. Be it with the new controller, classic downloads or whatever. I don’t fear change. Hell give me even shorter games, I have a life, wife, kids and a time consuming job. I say bring it on, I welcome it. What really bothers me though is the way you cut down others for there loyalty. I have never been a member of Digital Share but I do visit it daily. Hell, I even visited them when they were in a different forum. There is many there that are very knowledgable. There are many there who are Nintendo fans but still reconize what Sony and Microsoft have done. But you resort to name calling and bashing, which is truly bull. I respect your oppinion, why not respect some of theirs. Just cause you say your a developer, doesn’t mean your knowledge is any more greater than some of theirs. Thats like saying you have to be a mechanic or an engineer to know anything about cars. It’s bull. I have heard Mark Rein’s comments but i have also heard from many others from gaming companies that dispute what he says. I am not saying he’s right or wrong. I guess we will wait and see. All three companies spin there hype and bull and I for one, am waiting for Nintendo’s Revolution. Alot of people think one minded, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I for one am willing to try something revolutionary.

  9. Well, firstly, let me just remind you that I deliberately stated (in the previous post) that I am a member of Digital Share. And as far as the members went, I took most notice of your posts. No, I was not attempting a pathetic disguise.

    Perhaps the IP, or my post at the OPEN general discussion forum at Digital Share gave it away. But no, I believed that another name owuld be appropriate, since you seemed to be tired of reading my so called “rants” from my blog and DS forums. This way, perhaps you would at least read my posts.

    Let me also apologise for any flaming/spam replies you’ve received here. Just so you know, most are not made by members of Digital Share, but others you’ve managed to pee off in your posts.

    Thank you for allowing me to reply, I will try best not to flame. I will be making a full reply (flame free… mostly) to your post here and the ones at Digital Share later.

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