Sunday, November 20, 2005


I´m on vacation until December 4th. Please keep me posted about new developments in the comments, if you would be so kind. Thank you all in advance.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Revealing the ´Revealing the Revolution´ blog

I have never tried to pay much attention to those alleged Insiders that claim to know all about the Revolution. They have usually done a good enough job exposing themselves without any intervention. I must admit, though, that Revealing the Revolution has not exactly lent itself to being easily shrugged off. Here is what the author writes about himself:
I've seen many fakes on the internet about Nintendo's next big thing...if you care about REAL information, bookmark this page. It will be updated a few times every week. I can assure you that what I say is authentic. I am not a hoax...and you will see that in the coming days. Again, don't expect to see "leaks" of game screens or anything of that nature. Do I have access to these mysterious screens? In a way...but that's not a risk I'm willing to take. I apologize. Please try to keep this site sort of on the "down low." Thank you.
Now, I am sure you will agree that this guy is either not after the kind of exposure as fakers like Seriousgamer007 are - or, at least, he is a million times more clever than them. In my books, at least, his claims are worthy of closer inspection. There are too many to list them all here. But here´s a flavour:
* In the extremely early stages right now is a MMORPG game set in the Mario universe.

* There will be an African American lead character in one of the earlier "Revolution" games.

* The new redesign of the DS will be "Revolutionary".

* The first explanation of what is revolutionary about the system itself will still be revealed this year.

* "Revolution" is not the final name anymore.

* Broadband will offer full support. 56K connections will work with most of the games, don't worry.
Those are all bold claims that eventually will show the author off as either right or wrong. None of this ´Believe! A Revolution is coming!´ crap that doesn´t help anyone.

I hope the author will not think that I am violating his request of keeping a low profile by posting this here. After all, this is only a humble blog with hardly more than a thousand visitors a day. And I think we will all benefit from having his claims either confirmed or quashed. That is why I posted the following guestbook entry on his site.
Dear Insider.

I am a television journalist reporting about games, as well as the owner of the well-respected blog Definitive Nintendo Revolution speculation. I would very much like to verify your authenticity. I have good enough contacts with Nintendo to do this without compromising your anonymity.

For example, you must have been visiting either Redmond or Kyoto, albeit as a guest. From those visits, you will have noticed mundane details about the interior design or office routines, such as hotels where guests are commonly booked into.

You would only be able to answer those questions if you really had contacts with Nintendo and had visited their premises. Through my contacts I can easily verify your answers. This has great advantages for all of us. We will know if what you say is trustworthy and you will gain full credibility, while remaining completely anonymous. I strongly suggest you agree. Since there are no disadvantages to you doing so, refusing my request will show you up as an impostor.

Thank you in advance.

Yours sincerely, Andreas.
I am looking forward to his response. This little trick helped kill one alleged insider blog already, if you remember. Let us see what will be revealed about ´Revealing the Revolution´.

Source: Revealing the Revolution

Monday, November 14, 2005

Revolution release rumours and DS makeover

How soon can Nintendo churn out a new system? Some guy on the GameSpot forums claims he overheard a Nintendo representative talking to the store manager in a ´Best Buy´ in Lexington. This is what was apparently discussed:
The rep (and Im absolutely positive this is the real thing), said the system would be selling for $249.99. There will be one controller and one add-on nunchuck style attachment. I suppose Ninty will be relying on the Gamecube pads for classic gameplay unless you buy a classic attachment. Im not sure if this is new news or not, but Im positive this will be the price.

They also talked about shelf space and what they would need in order to display the system properly. In listening, I overheard a June 2006 date mentioned for release. Seems funny they are talking shelf and kiosk space this early. Perhaps, Ninty has some in store surprises coming up relatively soon. The only other thing I heard from the conversation that might be of any interest is that the displays are "unconventional" as compared to typical kiosk displays.
It´s been pointed out in other posts that the likelihood of display stands being discussed at this time is very small. Also, it would be a little early to talk directly to stores about pricing and release dates when the date is well over half a year away. I myself believe this story to be bogus. The claim of a June release date, however, does match the inside information SPOnG had for us some weeks ago.

Speaking of SPOnG, they have new information that a redesigned DS will come out very soon. And it may match the Revolution in terms of style:
“A new DS is just months away,” we were told. “It’s not a secret at Nintendo anymore that the design of the original alienated a lot of potential customers – customers the DS was aimed at. As the machine expands, a redesign is certain, and closer that (sic) you might expect – by E3 it will have been revealed. Think iPod and you’ll get the idea.”
That a redesigned DS is in the works is no secret. Nintendo execs have been mentioning this lately and I have been told this myself. They learned their lesson in terms of style, they told me.

Now, I don´t normally post news concerning the DS here. I do see some relevance to the Revolution here, though. It seems clear to me that Nintendo will utilize connectivity features between the DS and Revolution. Hence, it will make sense to match these two systems in terms of style. The iPod comparison supports this. This also shows how soon Nintendo can churn out a new system. Albeit a revamped version of an existing platform, Nintendo seems more and more able to deliver products soon after their announcement. Further proof that Nintendo is going for the Apple approach of announcing products and launching them soonafter. And if that is true, a June release date for the Revolution doesn´t seem to be completely out of the question. Even though the story above seems more than unlikely.

Source: GameSpot forums, SPOnG

Thanks to: Connect Revolution

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Patent reveals 3D projection plans?

First of all, let me apologize for not posting anything about this patent earlier. The simple reason is that patents are notoriously hard to understand and this one may actually relate to stereoscopic 3D projection. It just needed a lot of time to dissect it properly and I was very busy in the last few days. To rush this post would not have done justice to this truly intriguing patent. I very much hope you feel that the delay in posting this story is made up for by its thoroughness.

To the topic at hand. The patent is entitled:
´Three-dimensional image generating apparatus, storage medium storing a three-dimensional image generating program, and three-dimensional image generating method´
The abstract reads:
´A video game apparatus as a three-dimensional image generating apparatus includes a CPU. The CPU works together with a GPU to generate and display a game image.´
Up to this point, the patent could relate to any videogame console I suppose. If you want to get acquainted with the type of language used in patents, I recommend you compare this one with a PlayStation2 patent I found.

It goes on:
´More specifically, some objects are arranged in a virtual three-dimensional space. The virtual three-dimensional space is converted into a viewpoint coordinate and then projected and converted.´
Now, this is unusual. If you check with the PlayStation2 patent, you will find no mention of the word ´projection´. Even an Eye Toy patent only ever mentions ´gaze projection´, meaning the direction in which the gamer looks.
´After the projection conversion, determination points are set corresponding to a specific object, and the degree of hiding of the specific object is calculated on basis of a Z value of the specific object and Z values of the determination points. According to the degree of hiding, the movement of a viewpoint is controlled or the brightness of the light source is changed.´
This is quite a mouthful. Let me try to translate this into plain English. First of all, the ´object´ mentioned is an in-game character (see FIG. 4 below). The term ´hiding´ really means a blocked view. The ´determination points´ must be some kind of anchor points around the character, a number of fixed points if you will. The ´Z value´ must be a depth coordinate, basically how far an in-game character stands away from the player. So this paragraph really talks about measuring the apprpriate distance between an in-game character projected into a room and the player; also to what extent the view of the character is blocked by objects in between him and the player. Let us turn to the images to see this more clearly:

FIG. 4
´FIG. 4 is an illustrative view showing one example of a virtual three-dimensional space developed on a video game apparatus presented in FIG. 1´
Note: FIG. 1 shows a Gamecube hooked up to a TV.

Clearly, the player is on the right, behind some kind of screen that could be a stereoscopic sheet of glass (refer to my older post 3D after all? for more information on this technology and type of projection). The fixed points around the character suggest that his projected image should appear to be partly obstructed by an object. This information needs to be recognized when the character is projected, calculated and projected again. That must be the reason why the abstract mentions conversion, projection and more conversion:
´The virtual three-dimensional space is converted into a viewpoint coordinate and then projected and converted.´

FIG. 5
´FIG. 5 is illustrative views showing one example of a method for setting determination points in case where no hiding material exists between a viewpoint and a hidden object;´

This illustrates a case where the in-game character is projected in full, because no objects are blocking the view.

FIG. 6
´FIG. 6 is illustrative views describing one example of a degree of hiding in case where a hiding material exists between the viewpoint and the hidden object;´

This illustrates a case where the lower left half of the character is blocked by an object.

FIG. 7
´FIG. 7 is illustrative views describing another example of the degree of hiding in case where a hiding material exists between the viewpoint and the hidden object;´

This illustrates a case where the entire left half of the character is blocked by an object.

FIG. 8
´FIG. 8 is illustrative views describing other examples of the degree of hiding in case where no hiding material exists between the viewpoint and the hidden object and in case where a hiding material exists between the same;´

This illustrates a case where there is a light source behind the character. Imagine Mario standing in front of the sun. When the character is partly blocking the light source, the intensity of the light should be dimmed accordingly.

It seems very convincing so far that this patent deals with stereoscopic projection. However, there is a case against. In the description, it reads:
[0004] In the so-called computer graphics (CG) technology field well known to the general public, a virtual three-dimensional space is established, objects are rendered and a virtual screen is provided in this space, and a rendered (displayed) image is projected and converted, and displayed on the screen. According to the CG technology, it is necessary to control a viewpoint in order to determine an image seen from what position in the virtual space should be displayed. The control of a viewpoint is important especially in such a game where a three-dimensional image is rendered in real time according to input from a controller. More specifically, an object to be noted may be hidden by another object depending on the setting of a viewpoint, which makes it impossible to obtain an intended image. In such a case, it is a general practice to move the viewpoint to a position where the object to be noted is not hidden by another object.
Why is the screen sometimes referred to as a ´projection screen´ and sometimes as a ´virtual screen´?
[0005] For example, one example of such a conventional kind of three-dimensional image generating apparatus is disclosed in Japanese Patent Laying-open No. H9-167260 laid-open on Jun. 24, 1997 (document 1). According to document 1, if any hiding material such as another object comes in between an object to be operated and a camera in the game space, the camera is rotated and moved to a position where the hiding material does not hide the object to be operated. In this manner, the object to be operated is constantly displayed within the screen.
This sounds almost as if the patent may just relate to a method of generating an in-game camera according to the player´s controller input and based on objects that would block the view. At least, this is what some people have suspected it might only boil down to.

However, consider that showing a character on screen according to the objects that are in front of or behind him is neither new, nor is it a tricky operation when programming a game. There is simply no need to improve this technique, in my mind. Furthermore, the evidence in favour of this patent dealing with a technology that projects a 3D image into a room (much like ´Augmented Reality´) outweighs those few points that seem odd.

In my mind, the only real question is whether this patent relates to something that will be used with the Revolution console. And as far as that debate is concerned, we have had plenty mysterious comments that seem to suggest this. Again, I want to state that I am trying to remain sceptical about any kind of 3D projection. Especially the recent mock-ups by Seriousgamer007 (or other fakers) have made me more sceptical of this. And yet this patent seems to describe just that: 3D images projected right into your room.

On a final note, the apparent Japanese patent cited by Dead Rabbit in the comments to my anniversary post is unrelated to this. Once a patent is actually pending it must be given a different number. I did the same with one of the Sony patents mentioned above and I ended up with a Minolta patent to do with printers. I have also checked the German company that is mentioned in the apparently related patent (Heidenhain GmbH) and they are a company manufacturing precision measuring machinery and the like. The patent title may suggest that it could be related to the controller functionality (METHOD AND DEVICE FOR TRANSFERRING DATA BETWEEN ONE PROCESSING UNIT AND SEVERAL POSITION MEASURING DEVICES) but it is found only by searching for the publication number, rather than the application number (as mentioned in the US patent). And following the same routine with other patents leads to complete misses.

EDIT Since some readers doubt the significance of the patent, allow me to dissect the main claim given:
´A three-dimensional image generating apparatus for generating a three-dimensional image according to an operator's operation input, comprising:
1) ´an operation input detecting means for detecting the operator's operation input.´

This would have to be a receptacle of sorts, for example an infrared receptacle.
2) ´an object data storing means for storing object data for rendering objects forming a three-dimensional image.´

This would have to be the console´s memory.
3) ´a displaying means for displaying an image projected onto a projection screen within a virtual three-dimensional space.´

This would have to be a screen of sorts.
4) ´a virtual three-dimensional space generating means for generating said virtual three-dimensional space based on the operation input detected by said operation input detecting means and the object data stored in said object data storing means.´

This may be either the CPU or GPU or both, rendering 3D images.
5) ´a viewpoint controlling means for controlling a viewpoint within the virtual three-dimensional space generated by said virtual three-dimensional space generating means.´

This would have to be the controller.
6) ´a display image generating means for generating said image of said virtual three-dimensional space seen from the viewpoint controlled by said viewpoint controlling means, which is projected onto said projection screen.´

This I cannot identify. If this is different from 4) what is meant by it? And if it is, again, the chips generating a 3D image, why list this separately?
7) ´a depth value storing means for storing a depth value of each pixel of the image generated by said display image generating means.´

Again, this would have to be the console´s memory.
8) ´an object arrangement position storing means for storing at least an arrangement position of a specific object in said virtual three-dimensional space.´

Again, memory.
9) ´a determination point setting means for setting a predetermined number of determination points in a predetermined area containing the arrangement position of said specific object in said image.´

This may relate to a part of the program that calculates the reference points talked about above.
10) ´a determining means for determining whether or not a first depth value of the predetermined number of determination points set by said determination point setting means is smaller than a second depth value of said specific object.´

This may relate to a part of the program that calculates the depth and distance between two objects.
11) ´a degree-of-hiding calculating means for calculating a degree of hiding of said specific object according to the number of said determination points where it is determined by said determining means that said first depth value is smaller than said second depth value.´

This may relate to a part of the program that calculates whether an object is hidden by another object.

In conclusion, I don´t understand why there is a difference between 4) ´virtual three-dimensional space generating means´ and 6) ´display image generating means for generating said image of said virtual three-dimensional space´, unless the display mentioned in the latter is indeed a tangible display, i.e. hardware.

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office, Patent Abstracts of Japan

Thanks to: Dead Rabbit

No more news this year?

I have received inside information that Nintendo will not release any more news this year. Apparently, they will not try to counter the Xbox360 launch with more information about the Revolution or a preview of the games, as I had previously thought. However, N-Sider has just posted that another Nintendo representative told them the opposite story:
Nintendo is officially disclosing plans to release new info regarding Revolution in the coming weeks.
"...we do plan to release more information about the system by the end of the year, which may include details about the games or the final name of the system."

-- Nintendo Representative
It's likely this will happen before Christmas; possibly much sooner (given the approaching launch date of a certain competitor).
Now, this is very confusing. All I can say is that my source is very reliable, though I wish he were wrong.

Sources: N-Sider

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Valve´s Gabe Newell on next-gen consoles

Gabe Newell, founder and president of Valve (the good people who brought us ´Half-Life´) has uttered some harsh words regarding the next-gen consoles. In an exclusive interview with Electronic Gaming Monthly, he was saying that the new platforms needed to help software developers to figure out how to beat ´World of Warcraft´, which he called the most interesting game property out there:
"When I look at the strategies that are being put forward by Microsoft on the system´s side or on the Xbox side or Sony or Nintendo. They are not making my life easier. Like the PlayStation3 makes my life as a software developer much harder. All of a sudden I´m supposed to figure out how to have this asymmetrical, multi-threaded game, right? And I have never written a single line of multi-threaded code ever. It´s not like I was lying awake, saying: ´I need to rearchitect every line of code I´ve ever written in order to get it to work.´

"One of my junior programmers who is writing game code rather than system code could slow things down in a real world case by a factor of eighty. Because they are doing something out in the AI or in the game dll, which used to be totally safe, and now all of a sudden the whole system slows down and then one of the really experienced programmers will have to go in and say: ´Oh, you can´t tell but you ran out of registry space and this other thing happened and no, there´s no debugger that shows that to you.

"Writing for SPEs and writing in a PlayStation3 environment ... it´s like ... There are incredibly few programmers who can safely write code in that environment. You make tiny little changes to code running on one of the SPEs and the entire thing will grind to a halt. And you have no visibility in to why that is happening. It´s just sort fo magically running really, really slow. (...)

"This was not a problem that we were lying awake late at night, saying ´Oh, we would really like to take this on right now.´ We were worried about little things like billing and forums and Wikis and things like that.

"I totally see why Sony wants people to write code that runs on seven SPEs and a central processing unit, because that code is never going to run well anywhere else. They are saying: ´Make your code not run on anything other than one of ours. We´re betting that we will have market share that´s so high that anybody will have to write code for our platform and other people will just starve the air from the other platforms by absorbing everybody´s R&D budget and making their code less portable."
Please appreciate that this is a word for word transcript of a long interview session. I have not changed anything, so this is not written language.

I find it amazing, though, how frankly Newell accuses Sony of making their system unnecessarily complicated. He just doesn´t seem very enthusiastic about bringing anything to PS3. And although he includes Nintendo in his criticism, he should be most sympathetic about the Revolution. After all, it´s the only console that most likely won´t have a multi-core processor.

For those of us who are technologically challenged, here´s a little explanation by a guy called Deth:
SPE stands for Synergistic Processing Elements which are used in servers to cope with multiple tasks. The 360 and PS3 have different ways of running. The PS3 has one core running at 3.2ghz, the SPE’S replicate this speed. That means 8 SPE’s each running at 3.2ghz. It says at the top it has 7 SPE’S but one is defected which means that it will only be used if the machine is working overtime.The ps3 is 2 times the power of the 360 due to this. Also in terms of memory they both have 512mb RAM in total. But what you don’t know is that the XDR ram runs 4.5 times faster than that of the GDD3 RAM which the xbox 360 is using. The ps3 can also produce better video output resolutions at 1080p. Xbox is not Wi-Fi ready but PS3 is. Also the discs sony are using have a lot more space as you all should of noticed this allows for expanse and realtime worlds to be stored onto one disc. The PS3 also has much more USB’S. Do not get me wrong i do not hate the 360 its just not as powerful as the PS3. But what gamers need to keep in mind is that its the games that matter and you should never system power over that. And which one do i think will be more expensive? Its quite obviously the PS3 due to the components that are used.
I cannot verify this information. But it was mainly meant as an explanation of what an SPE is.

Sources: Electronic Gaming Monthly, PS3 Focus forums