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by Ethos

Life for the Future of the Waggle: The Glorious “What If?”s

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

This is part 3 of a 3-part discussion of  the past, present, and future of Motion Controls in the game industry. We’d suggest you begin reading with part 1. Then again, we know different folks have different strokes.

Part 1 – Life at the Dawn of the Waggle

Part 2 – Life at the Descent of the Waggle

*In this article, Ethos writes the first half and Riddles writes the second half. Try not to get too confused. We have faith in you.*

This works better than Wii. But does that mean anything?

Ethos:
Luckily, I don’t have really embarrassing quotes to support this article, because now it’s time to take a look into waggle’s future. Or, hopefully a future when we don’t have to use the term “waggle”.

Like Riddles pointed out, because of all our hardcore gamer hatred toward what motion controls have come to represent – casual gamers, shitty software, broken promises – we’ve forgotten that they’re not necessarily the enemy.

Tossing away all of the stigma, integrated motion controls are actually intriguing to me. If I’m playing Forza 4 and look to the right, I think it would be intuitive and immersive for the camera to subtly shift to the right as well, allowing me to take a better look at my rear view mirror or the track ahead.

In Sony’s Sports Champions, the Playstation Move acts as a sword in of the mini games. While it gets old as a stand-alone, the accuracy is satisfying, especially in contrast to the Wii. It makes me remember the days when people would get excited for lightsaber and Zelda games for the realistic swordplay.

Of course, this brings up the other topic of turning gaming into a standing exercise activity, which I absolutely do not want as a whole. But as I was touching on earlier, I think a healthy integration would be ideal. And – hopefully – possible.

Look at our constant example of Nintendo. While games like Super Mario Galaxy have tacked on waggle for a spin move, Riddles brought up the example of Kirby. And he’s right, there are tasteful motion additions that work and couldn’t really be done in another way. This was also the case in parts of New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

So does this mean that the gaming community has finally reeled in enough casual gamers to start turning them hardcore? Is Nintendo’s release schedule an indication of this already? Or is Kinectimals a giant enough step in the wrong direction to dash any hopes of a happy compromise? Does Sony already have the perfect compromise? I’ll brush off the responsibility here and let Riddles answer these questions.

I *could* puke.

I *could* puke.

Riddles:

Of course I’m left with all the difficult shit. Regardless, I’m more than happy to answer the above questions – to the best of my abilities.

Nintendo may be doing a bit of an about-face right now, who knows. Frankly, I doubt it, because if Nintendo’s made anything clear in the past, it’s that they’re going to do whatever the fuck they want. So if they are, in fact, making a shift back towards a more core experience on the Wii it’s because… they want to. Not because we bitched. And I honestly don’t really see why they’d want to. They have an endless, endless supply of suckers to sell their crap to. The suckers, as it were, have been far kinder to them than we ever were. (If kindness is measured by dollars, that is.)

And yes, Kinectimals is enough of a step in the wrong direction to dash any hopes we may have at the moment. Hell, the Kinect in and of itself is essentially all the shitty aspects of the Wii on crack. The Wii took motion control technology and placed it on a pedestal that it never should have sat on. Now, Microsoft has taken that pedestal, attached a phallic device to it, and are currently in the process of deepthroating their brains out.

Here’s the thing: as long as motion controls are considered a selling point, we aren’t going to see many examples of tasteful integration. As long as we’re all still stupid enough to eat up the flashy ad campaigns that show happy families flailing their bodies about, then we’re going to continue to see companies churning out the Kinectimals and the Wii Fits and what have you.

Taking motion control technology, packaging it up with cute names like Kinect, and selling it as a separate experience from traditional gaming is *not* the way forward. If the industry can ever get over the fact that OMG YOU CAN MOVE AND STUFF ONSCREEN MOVES OMG then we can start talking.

Then, and only then, we can begin to figure out  how we can fit motion controls into the gaming experience; instead of how we can fit the videogame experience into motion controls.

You wanna know what I think? Sony had it right with the Sixaxis.

Life at the Descent of the Waggle: Shattered Dreams

Friday, November 5th, 2010

"So like... how is this better than pressing a button?"

It often pays off to be a cynic.

Granted, when the Wii was first revealed to the world, I didn’t hate it. I didn’t go batshit ga-ga over it like a certain Ethos did, but I was intrigued. More than anything, though, I was about to blow my load in anticipation of Twilight Princess. That was the main reason I reserved my unit before release.

Twilight Princess was a great game, sure. But, that was no thanks to the Wii, and we all know that now. At the time, many of us were just all too enthralled with the fact that you could make Link swing his sword by flailing the Wii-mote. That was “immersion,” for some reason. Tear away the fad-glasses, and you can see that the tacked-on control scheme for Twilight Princess was, at best, a harmless substitute for what came before. At worst, it was unresponsive and unwieldy. More than anything it was just pointless. Substituting a flail for a press of the B button is *not* revolutionary. In any way.

The sad thing is that it all went downhill from there.

Not long after Twilight Princess, I bought Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, a game that, ironically, didn’t even use Wiimote controls. (I played with a GameCube controller the entire time).

After that…

Oh, I bought Metroid Prime 3. The game is one of the better examples of motion controls (because it showcases pointer controls rather than just waggle) but it pissed me off because it was too damn easy, and the atmosphere suffered. It felt dumbed down. And then I realized that Nintendo was doing just that: dumbing us down. Or trying to.

We were all hoping that Nintendo’s revolution was going to attract a whole new crowd of gamer, and convert them to our side. Essentially. The passer-by would gravitate to the Wii because of its accessible and interesting control scheme, and eventually learn what it was to be a gamer. That’s what we all wanted.

What we got instead was a crowd of bandwagon morons who bought the thing not because it was a gaming system, but because it was the goddamn Wii. And the Wii was the thing to have. It was the hot Christmas gift; it was the new household amenity to sit snugly atop your DVD player in the family room.

It wasn’t marketed as a videogame system. Nintendo had made a toy. A hot novelty toy. An exciting gimmick. They already had their target audience of suckers; the hardcore gaming world could go to hell.

In fact, I’m pretty sure they very pointedly told us to go to hell on more than one occassion. What else could they have been attempting to communicate with that 2008 E3 presser?

And the shovelware. The fucking shovelware. Every cheap shit studio in the world rushing to get their crap published with tacked-on waggle controls to take advantage of the fad. Every major publisher commissioning an obligatory, dumbed-down waggle-happy port of every big name release. Within months of the system’s release, this wasn’t the exception, but the rule when it came to the Wii’s software library. There were some scattered bright spots to be found, but most of these were in the form of first-party titles. And hell, even some of those were on the verge of shovelware. Wii Music, anyone?

And let’s not forget the utter insult that was Wii MotionPlus.

But, I digress. The point here isn’t to bash Nintendo and their Wii, necessarily. That’s been done enough. The point, here, is that Nintendo took what could have been an actual revolution, and whored the fucking shit out of it. Motion controls have proven that, when properly implemented, they can enhance a gaming experience. They don’t always have to define a gaming experience. Look at Kirby’s Epic Yarn. A game on the Wii that makes very limited use of the Wii’s motion sensing capabilities. But, when it does make use of said capabilities, it’s a sensible addition.

More developers need to learn this simple fact: just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you necessarily need to use it. Twilight Princess would have been a stronger game if it used motion controls only for the bow-and-arrow. Y’know, the only implementation that actually enhanced the experience.

Nintendo’s done a hell of a job sullying the name of motion controls, and that’s why it’s difficult not to cast a wary eye towards the PlayStation Move and the Xbox Kinect. I’ll take the opportunity here to admit that I’m fairly impressed with the Move’s lineup of current and upcoming titles. The Kinect notsomuch, as it were. But while it’s too early to judge the fates of either, both devices reek of cash-in. I’d have more respect if Sony and Microsoft had bided their time and released these new technologies alongside new systems.

I’ve done a lot of meandering in the last 800 words or so, but I suppose it can all be summed up a little like this: Motion Controls aren’t the enemy here, they’re the victim. Nintendo took the concept and, for lack of a new (or better) phrased, whored it out. What should have been a minor evolution in the games industry was blown out of proportion, mishandled, and sullied. The question now, is: can all the wrongs of the past four years be righted? Is there a future for motion controls in the core gaming experience? Or will it forever be associated with the with the wankerish “casual” crowd and their collection of shovelware?

Life at the Dawn of Waggle: The Embarrassing Optimism

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Ethos when he was young and (even more) naive.

It’s true, folks.

Before my current and upheld standing of objective arbitrator, before my respected status of critical game journalist, before the great wonder that you all know as Riddlethos, I was a drooling, slobbering Nintendo fanboy.

I am currently 3 years sober, but the building hype and release of the Nintendo Revolution turned Nintendo Wii unfortunately took place 4 years ago.

For you, dear readers, I am swallowing my pride – more than usual – and revealing some pretty embarrassing things I typed up on the internet before my Riddlethos days. Before my Lusipurr.com days. Hell, even before my RPGamer days.

Perhaps I was finally trying my hand with the Playstation, but that didn’t stop me from thinking that Nintendo could do no wrong. Back in those days, I only had an eleven inch Commodore 64 monitor to play games on, and so my Gamecube was plenty to keep me happy for the most part. I was fully caught up in Nintendo’s “Revolution” bullshit and was prepared to defend anything the company revealed.

In the first of my embarrassing quotes, let me direct you to this mild gem the day the name “Wii” was released.

Jokes = people asking about the origin = people finding out about the system = people realizing it’s an awesome system.

Note my willingness to call it an “awesome system” the day it was officially revealed? I know with all the current shovelware, it’s easy to forget the days before we had actually tried the Wii. I remember believing that the controller would be capable of operating perfectly in 3D space. I don’t know why I thought this was a good thing for gaming, but back then, this was a new prospect. It felt like technology was progressing and the sci-fi images of gaming helmets and full-body immersion was slowly coming to fruition. And plus, who was Nintendo to abandon the hardcore gamer?

Anyway, with nothing but fanboy imagination to go off of, hype built to an insane level. Just take this awful quote from an old online journal entry.

Wii!
Wii!
Wii!!!!!
Give. Me. Wii. Now.
Now. Please.
Oh god.
Please.
…please…

Pretty much a picture of me back then.

There’s a bunch of other – less embarrassing – rambles interspersed within that blush-worthy mess, but it’s all boring stuff about how I don’t know where I should go to line up and how I hope Twilight Princess is good.

But it wasn’t just the hype that caused myself and others to think the Wii was the shit. Take this quote from after the launch.

All my friends love the system. They have a blast with Wii Sports.

Thinking back, this was true. People were excited about the Wii. It wasn’t just a mini-game machine in people’s minds. Not only that, but Wii Sports did an excellent job at tricking the user into thinking that the Wiimote was more accurate than it was.

In fact, most people (myself included) thought that Wii Sports would be a jumping point and that software would only get more accurate and involved after that. Little did we know that Wii Sports would sadly still be the best use of the controller all the way up to the release of Wii MotionPlus.

Unfortunately, this next quote proves that even blatant waggle had me sold at the beginning. This is probably the most embarrassing one because I didn’t have the defense of not having played the system before…

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Twilight Princess might still take a backseat to Ocarina…
THAT aside it is still the most ridiculously fun and incredible experience.

The Wiimote just adds to the brilliance and the MIDI soundtrack is actually giving more nostalgia than it is giving me annoyance at lack of orchestration.

So go, friend. Get a Wii and get it now. Reserve your unit. Love it forever. Realize the Revolution.
Remember, the Nintendo Wii IS the Nintendo Revolution.

You better thank me for this, readers. I know Riddles will never let me live it down. I was actually defending and praising the use of waggle for Link’s sword. Not only that, but I tried to come up with a reason why MIDI was better than orchestrated music.

I think we all forget how quickly the Wii has made us all bitter about motion gaming. Sure, I was an extreme example of a supporter, but the general mood was more optimistic back then. People were excited for involved and unique gaming experiences. Now that Nintendo has very quickly dumped on the waggle crap, the Move and Kinect launches garner nothing but disdain from the hardcore crowd.

I expect nothing else, but it’s interesting to look back and come to terms with the fact that the launch of mainstream motion controls in today’s gaming landscape wasn’t met with exactly the same negativity across the board. There was excitement about the possibilities of a new input device in the once exclusive gaming community we all held so dear.

But I’m beginning to talk about the sad present state of motion controls. The state that caused that same drooling fanboy above to not play his Wii for a year and groan with everybody else at Sony and Microsoft’s “me too” motion releases. And that is for our resident pessimist, Riddles, to handle. Look forward to that depressing mess soon.