Wednesday, June 29, 2005

++EXCLUSIVE++ Psyco3ler speaks ++EXCLUSIVE++

Yes, I have managed to contact Pablo Belmonte, aka Psyco3ler, the creator of the infamous ON clip.

Until now, noone was able to determine exactly whether the ON clip was a hoax or some kind of clue. "Mario looks fake", some people said. "How could he have predicted that ´creative brain´ quote from the press conference", others asked. Well, all the answers are here in the first interview by Pablo, I believe. I am only aware of him posting on the Spanish forum I mailed him a whole bunch of questions, which he kindly answered.

On a legal note: you are free to republish this entire interview or quote from it, as long as you do not alter the content in any way and quote this website as its origin. Thank you.

* Do you have any connection to Nintendo? Did you ever work for them or know someone who works for them? Was the clip ordered by anyone at all, or did you decide to produce it yourself?

No, I don’t have any kind of connection, but quite the opposite. The first “Fan Fiction” I published on the net, called “Super Mario Universe” had as a slogan “I’ve known Nintendo for 20 years, it is time for Nintendo to begin to know me”. I do all this so that I can form part of thais company which I love. I’m aware I’ve got no chances of being taken on by Nintendo: I haven’t studied in Digipen, I’m not American or Japanese, I don’t use the programs they use, I don’t have many years of experience creating games… I’d never pass their personal departments tests, though this doesn’t mean I can’t be more useful for them than all those who seem to have a bigger academic formation than me. Nintendo has been my inspiration, their games have woken up, fed and shaped my creative abilities, I think like Nintendo, I live its philosophy, I know what their fans want, and even without ´giving up my style, I can make people doubt if my creations don’t come from a big professional Nintendo team. Nothing of this is taught at any university however prestigious it may be, but unfortunately that’s not going to be reflected on a job interview. The reason for all my “Fan Fictions” is to show all this, and on the way expressing myself about everything Nintendo does which I don’t agree with (mostly, releasing new ideas they should have released years ago, and which for that reason lose efectivity).

* In the clip, you anticipated a few things: talking about the different sides of the brain, the ability to create games as well as play them. How could you know these things before Reggie Fils-Aime talked about them at the press conference? Secondly, you anticipated that the Revolution could be connected to a computer monitor. Also, the reflection in the DVD being inserted seems to show the Revolution console. And the outlined console below the Gamecube (with a question mark on it) looks similar too. Did you really just guess all that? How do you explain that Reggie said ´Be prepared to let your right brain run wild´ after the clip was released?

It’s obvious they’re just coincidences. The thing is, when something is done sharing the same philosophy of doing things, coincidences increase. As I’ve said before, a part of myself thinks like Nintendo, I can anticipate their releases and intentions (obviously, this isn’t a rule, I sometimes fail, perhaps because of the influence of games by other companies, hahahahaha). The trick is mixing what I’d like Nintendo to do as a fan and what I believe they’re going to do as a company; it never fails. And about that thing of using both your brain sides, I think it would be quite succesful to allow users to create their own games. Nintendo has always taken care of making games that players can personalize, and I’m not talking about changing the colour of the menu, of course. The 64DD had the intention (relatively speaking) of exploiting the creative part of players allowing them to save or overwrite parts of a game. The most recent example is Animal Crossing, a game in which Nintendo has invested a lot of years, not regarding the technical section, but regarding the approach: the participation of the user in the creativity and the game. All this is already part of the past: just looking at things like this it was possible to infer Nintendo would talk about using both sides of the brain. Thay had talked about it in the past, though they didn’t say it in an E3 presentation. “Electroplacton” or “Nintendogs” are games that seem “irrelevant” compared to the spectacular games of PS3 or Xbox360, but Nintendo wanted them to be highlighted in this years’ conference. The reason is that they also reflect the idea of fostering users’ creativity in which Nintendo is so interested and which on the other hand is understimated by the competition.

* In the clip you abbreviate the Revolution´s name to RS. IGN has reserved the URL (though it is not active yet). Is that another coincidence? Are you in contact with IGN at all?

It’s another coincidence. I’ve got no contact with IGN and I don’t know what that domain means.

* The clip is very impressive. If noone ordered it, why did you make such a big effort? Is the message on this high-res still really from you? It was posted by someone called Yugulator (on this forum).

Yes, that messege’s mine and I know Yugulator. Mi intention from the beginning was what I did with the F-Zero clip: explaining on the clip itself that it was made by a fan, and not by Nintendo. A few minutes after having finished it, I uploaded the Nintendo ON clip to a server whose direction is known only to me to show it to some friends. I don’t know very well how, in 20 minutes time, it was already travelling around the Internet and provoking quite a commotion. I told Yugulator to write that message to clarify why I had done it, because I hadn’t had time to put a warning on the clip itself, and I didn’t want people to make up things, although I haven’t been able to avoid it.

* Why does the clip end so abruptly? What day did you want to release it and why?

I wanted mi idea about the new Nintendo console to be released before the E3 so that I would demonstrate that, instead of showing something really exiting and revolutionary related to virtual reality, they’d present something related to develop cheaper games to sell more of them and getting more money from users offering just a minimun in exchange. For that reason, and because of some setbacks I had, I decided the clip wouldn’t have an ending, it would finish with what the little time I had until the E3 allowed me.

* How do you explain the flash animation seen on Are they just copycats? Have you had contact with William McClean (owner of the website)?

That web page isn’t mine. Mi clip is a free clip, done for hobby, without a profit motive or because of fame (it just has the intention of expressing my principles and on the way saying “hello, I’m here” to the people in Nintendo). Therefore, as the author of the clip I haven’t got any problem in having webs from all around the world linking to the clip or making reference to it. Up to now, hasn’t put any advertising on the web page to earn money of my clip, so I didn’t pay much attention to it until I discovered that website was spreading around the net the rumour that the clip was theirs. When I realized this I hurriedly wrote to MeleeWebDesign asking them about their intentions and reminding them they couldn’t neither use the content of the clip nor plagiarize the design to get any money. In the only answer I received they “challenged” me to prove in the United States or Great Britain that I have a certificate proving that clip and its contents are mine. This answer has showed me that perhaps their intentions aren’t so good. But, on the other hand I find it quite funny thinking how they’re going to prove before a judge the clip is theirs, because not only do I have the originals but also I could make the whole clip again without any kind of problem. There are people who are really mean.

* Is the ON logo your design? Or does it come from a different source?

All the merit of that logo comes from the amazing designer Miguel Iranzo (better known as “Atari Baby”). I like to count on him and have his opinion in everything I do. We’ve always won all desingn contests we’ve participated in together.

* If the clip is all made up, is there any kind of significance to the numbers from the castle count: 002.150.014, 211.348.824 and 512.000.000?

It’s just a counter that counts the castles seen on screen. Anything else is a mixture of coincidences and people’s fantasy.

* Is there any significance to the technology shown? Are you aware of ´Augmented Reality´ technology? What was your inspiration for the proximity sensor shown?

Everything that appears in the clip is totally real. Nintendo ON isn’t only the Internet clip, it is a whole philosophy about what Nintendo would have to do to sweep aside its competition. The creation of the console is based on existing data, techniques and technology. The proximity radar is based on military armament used for instance in some cars to detect how close the other cars are when you park. In this case, it works this way: the radar sends waves and takes them back, deducing the distance from an object nearby from the time it takes to the waves to go there and come back. NintendoON uses this technology to create an image in grey-scale of the player’s hands, in which each shade of grey matches with proximity and remoteness, being the whiter the closer and the darker the further.In this way it could calculate the movement of a finger and apply it to a virtual button introduced into your hand by the console’s viewer. In the original clip I had been preparing for months, everything was perfectly explained, because it lasted around 30 minutes. However my 250-megabyte hard drive, where I stored all the information, broke before the E3. In the final clip, all these explanations where absolutely neglected.

* What type of software did you use and exactly how long did it take you to produce the clip? Yugulator claims it took you a week. That seems far too little time to me.

About the software I use: I know I dont’t do anything illegal because I don’t earn money with what I do, I haven’t signed the clip with the intention of advertising myself and I haven’t published the clip myself anywhere. But, since I’ve “borrowed” the software from my design school, I prefer to answer your question saying I made the clip cutting everything out of painted paper and recording it all at a determinate hour of the day in which you couldn’t see the wires I used to move everything. About the time it took: it’s true I made it in a week, not because I wanted it that way, but because I lost all the information in my hard drive and I only had a week before the E3. It was either doing everything in a week or doing nothing.

* Did you completely remodel the Super Mario 64 castle or did you get the map from somewhere?

Yes, I did all the modelling and the textures from scratch. I’ve laughed a lot reading some comments of those who say “that’s very easy: you just have to de-compilate the game from an emulator and it’s done”. I’d like them to come and tell me how that is done, because I would have saved a lot of effort.

* If I may ask, how old are you? Do you work only for What is your job precisely? What kind of training have you received?

I’m 23, at this moment I don’t have a job, and when I finish the four subjects I still have ahead in my design studies, I’ll see what to do. I collaborate with and I’m the director of a group of friends who make parodies and shortfilms, called “elCorral”.

* Have you created the spectacular videos on If so, you did a lot of clips on Nintendo games, Metroid and F-Zero especially. They must have taken you months. Were any of these contract work in any way? Is that really your website? Are you connected in any way to Matt Langdon of Ontario, Canada (the owner of

I know somebody called Sachit (though I don’t know if he’s Matt Langdon, I’ve never heard that name) but we don’t speak much because I’m not very good at English. And yes, the clips on that web are mine. I’ve been doing “Fan Fiction” for a long time, I’ve done it about Zelda, F-Zero, Metroid, Perfect Dark and Nintendo ON. Many years ago, a lot of Nintendo fans knew me for my drawings in a Nintendo 64 magazine. I think I’m in a phase of learning, so when I finish a clip, I feel embarrased of the previous ones.

* Has anyone else approached you about the ON video? Has Nintendo been in touch with you after the clip was released?

After releasing the clip I’ve received some interesting offers, but I’ve preferred to go on with the projects I had before the clip. I didn’t have the intention of finding a job (if it wasn’t with Nintendo itself). No, Nintendo hasn’t said a word.

Of course, the whole interview rests upon this person really being Pablo Belmonte, which I´m absolutely convinced of. I approached the owner of the El Rellano domain. He forwarded my mail and it is obvious that he is working directly with Pablo, because Pablo produces a great deal of the site´s content. There was only one detail that made me question his authenticity: The mail signature read ´Psycho3ler´ with an ´h´, rather than ´Psyco3ler´, which appears on the site and videos in question. So I asked three additional questions to make sure he really was the creator of the videos:

* On the hidden El Rellano page, where do you get to when you answer the riddles at the end correctly?

Nothing interesting, it’s a zone only for those who form the group “elCorral”. If you can answer everything (and only we know the true answers), you get to a web with the unfinished or provisional versions of what we’re preparing at that moment.

* Just a personal question: I really like the soundtrack. Where did you get the music from? Who is it from? I would very much like to buy it! ;)

It’s a song by the great Harry Gregson-Williams, from the film “The rundown”, which I can’t recommend you because I haven’t watched it.

* Is your nickname Psycho3ler with an ´h´? Wasn´t it spelt without an ´h´? Sorry to ask (I am a journalist and have to ask this): Is there any way you can prove that you are Pablo Belmonte?

The “H” variety depends only on the language. “Psyco” is “psycho” in English, so I use Psyco3ler in Spain and Psycho3ler for things in English. However, it doesn’t follow any logic, you can read it as “Psychotriller” in English or as “chico tresler” in Spanish. I find ambiguity in names funny, it’s great that everyone says it differently, and all of them are correct. And about proving I’m Pablo Belmonte, I might need to show my ID card when I find people taking profit of my work or earning money in an illegitimate way, or pretend to talk on my behalf. By the moment, I’m not interested in proving anything, as I’ve said I have no intention of advertising myself. Whoever I am I’ll continue expressing my principles through my work and my main intention is not needing to sign or saying who I am to make everybody know that it’s me who is behind a good job.

It is clear from all three answers that the mail really was from Pablo. If you are still in doubt and speak Spanish, go to his ID page on the Vandal forums and read all his entries. You will find that his posts there match exactly what he told me, in content and style. I think that pretty much eliminates any possibility of an imposter.

Finally, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to Pablo for taking his time to answer all these questions in such great detail and, of course, for being such an inspired artist. Muchos gracias, Pablo!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Something going ON?

Either way, here´s poster number 5:

Ad number four

Today must be super-post monday. Here´s another ad:

It´s courtesy of the good people at the Nordic Hardware forum where the very first ad was posted. They got it from INMHS, along with a very cryptic message:

N- There are errors but they are deliberate errors. They look fake but are not. If you look close enough there are many clues here and everywhere. They all lead back to ONe thing. There is no E3 style revealing of the revolution because it does not need to. There will be many fakes ON the day.

PS Dont row up the nile without a ore -V

Unless INMHS starts to be a bit more precise than that, this one must be regarded as a fake.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Thinking outside the box

Because I am still wrestling with the ads, I did some research on the slogan used on them. Most people have thought that ´thinking outside the box´ is just a stab at Microsoft. Well, it may be more than that. The expression relates to a puzzle, where you need to connect nine dots (arranged in the shape of a box of three lines of three dots each) with no more than four lines. You need to do this in one stroke, i.e. not disconnecting. The puzzle can only be solved when you think ´outside the box´ and consider reference points other than the dots. Here´s an image of that, courtesy of author Jim Pinto.

This little brain teaser is often used in management training. In fact, a Google search on the expression comes up with a number of hits where the following image is shown in relation to the puzzle:

Now, I don´t know if you all remember but the cube in the picture looks exactly like one in the launch ads for the Gamecube:

EDIT Just for proper citation, here are the creative credits for this ad.
Agency: Leo Burnett USA
Executive Creative Director: Jonathan Hoffman
CD/Copywriter: Broke Brockenbrough
CD/Art Director: Bill stone

One such site is FRS consultants, where you find directly underneath the cube image something very familiar to us:

Uncanny, isn´t it? Well, it gets better. Back to our Google search and the second hit is this page by a New York psychic called Ellie Crystal. On the page, you find the same cube pictured above with the following text:
Are you trapped inside the box - the emotions of the game? Thinking 'outside the box' means balancing lower frequency emotions - fear, anger, etc. With higher frequency emotions and therefore not being controlled by your emotions. Let it all go ... it's just an illusion in time.
With her talking about illusion in time, I followed a link to a page called sandbox of time and found these photos:

Do they just remind me of Super Mario Sunshine? Certainly very akin to videogames. On a further page, there is a lot of stuff on brainwaves and both sides of the brain:
When you drop a small stone in water, you see waves. Similarly our heart and our brain have wave patterns. (...) Usually the left brain and the right brain waves are independent. They reach peaks independent of each other. During meditation and deep relaxation, the left brain waves and the right brain waves happen together. For both, the peaks are reached together. This is called synchronization.
And finally, on this page, I found the following photo of crop circles, tying in neatly with the second Revolution ad, which also shows a hexagon.

What am I trying to say with all of this, you wonder? Well, I guess I learned why there´s all these N-gamers about. I wasn´t even expecting to find any mysterious clues - and they were all over the place. Of course, I don´t seriously believe that Miss Crystal has anything to do with Nintendo. But... I may just send her a mail, to make sure.

But disregard these weird coincidences, if you will, and consider the box puzzle from the beginning. It shows one thing: The expression from the advertisement is potentially much more than a cheap slogan, quickly thought up. There´s much more to it. And, perhaps, we may even be tempted to say the same about the ad itself.

EDIT As I promised, I just contacted Ellie Crystal. I actually rang her up and we ended up talking for over an hour, no less. Now, as we all knew, her pages have nothing to do with Nintendo. She was very intrigued about my call, though. And she explained to me that the slogan ´outside the box´ very much relates to games:
"To exist ´outside the box´ is to exist outside of physical reality. We exist in a hologram which is virtual reality, which one might conceive of as a game. In essence, the new Nintendo game console is a metaphor for moving human consciousness outside the game through the alchemy of time. The timing of the game console coincides with the movement of consciousness."
A lot of this makes perfect sense with regard to the Revolution. I then talked to her friend Ron, an IT specialist and industry consultant for the pharmaceutical industry. He commented on the possibility of a viral marketing campaign (what some people call the N-game).

"There is an enormous amount of stuff like that going on," he said. But it necessarily stays out of sight, because it is "crossing the line into the spam world." That´s a very interesting point I had not thought about before: A viral marketing campaign can never truly reveal itself, even when it is finished.

Lastly, Ellie brought in another friend, George. After learning about that advertisement, he pretty much knew the Revolution would feature an extensive online service. He simply interpreted how the slogan might relate to a game console.

Altogether I have had a very long and very interesting conversation. I would like to thank Ellie, Ron and George for their patience, their time and their comments. Even though I haven´t unearthed the mystery of the Revolution controller, I still had an excellent conversation with some very nice people and we have all learned something from it, I hope.

Yet another mock-up

In the midst of the alleged Revolution advertisement onslaught, there are still some people out there that busy themselves with humble controller mock-ups.

Courtesy of the good people at Gizmodo. Unfortunately, there is what appears to be a touch-screen on the thing. So I guess this one will never even get off the ground.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Revolution advertising real?

There is now a second Revolution ad out, similar to the first one below. Thanks to Raphael for sending me the link.

Now, the main tagline is the same as the first one, which seems to suggest that (if real) these posters would still be at approval stage. Below it reads ´get ready for change´, perhaps a tad too similar to Sony´s PS3 teaser poster campaign before the E3, reading Welcome chang3.

However, chatting to Phalanx from Revolutionrumors yesterday, I already started to feel that there was more to the first poster than I had initially thought. Look at the translucent effect. Especially the Nintendo logo seems to glow. That is probably because the poster is semi-translucent and there is a light source behind it. Also, it is clear that the poster is printed out at very high resolution and considerable size. You can tell by the person´s reflection in it and the relatively high resolution of the original. Let´s summarize:

* The translucent effect suggests it is printed on special paper.
* The translucent effect also suggests a light source behind the poster.
* The resolution and reflection of a person suggest it is quite big.
* The reflection of a person suggest it is behind glass.

Now any of of these points individually would have meant that a potential faker had gone to a lot of trouble to make sure his little creation would really stand out and be deemed authentic. But given all of these in combination, I simply don´t see how this could be a fake at all. The second one may have very low resolution and does not allow a thorough analysis. But it does further support my conclusion from the first poster, though. Especially poster number one is a far cry from a Photoshop job, it involves professional print jobs and professional display cases. I am not totally convinced, but I regard these posters as authentic.

I believe they are leaked entries in a competition, where various advertising companies prepare campaigns and the winner is given the actual contract. That would also explain the timing, which initially seemed suspiciously early to me.

EDIT Well, here´s a second opinion and from a professional, no less. My girlfriend, graphic designer and 3D artist, whipped this up in no more than 30 minutes:

So here´s my "You couldn´t do that in Photoshop" opinion out the window, I guess. To tell you the truth, I still believe this is real. But the arguments in favour certainly weigh far less than I had imagined. Who do you think is right? Me or my girlfriend?

EDIT Hold on to your horses: There´s a third one now that looks exactly like the first, only this one claims the Revolution will come August 2005.

Now I´m prepared to go on record that a 2005 release for the Revolution is not just next door to impossible, they actually share a room. There´d most likely be no third party titles for such a launch. And that´s not mentioning hardware production and marketing. Lastly, there´s a blurry image using the stylized Revolution front from this ad as well as the latest mock-up controller and ON helmet outlines. The former has been proven a fake, the latter is likely to be one, but here goes:

I´m more and more inclined to move back into the "Revolution ads are fake" camp - and I can already picture my dear girlfriend with that "I told you so" smile on her face that I probably deserve.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Open letter to Gamesradar

This is an open letter to Gamesradar, concerning their article entitled Full Revolution controller details finally revealed.

I am a tv journalist dealing primarily with games - and would like to say a few words about the little stunt you pulled yesterday.

You originally broke this story, then pulled a complete U-turn and pretended it wasn´t you. Originally you wrote:

(...) "This confirms Nintendo's new controller features just a d-pad, with two face buttons, two shoulder buttons and start and select buttons. "

(...) "So there we have it. A controller with a reduced number of face buttons and a touch screen that allows gamers to look around, move, and affect their level of acceleration, by tilting the controller."

You were completely sure you had just exclusively revealed the controller to the world. So sure, in fact, you never revealed the patent number (bad journalistic practise in itself). You simply wanted everyone to quote and link to your site. Then you rewrite the whole story to pretend it wasn´t you:

(...) "An ageing patent office document, cryptically resembling possible specifications for the controller of Nintendo’s new Revolution console, has sparked slight confusion among a small group of websites to notice the listing."

(...) "At first glance the patent document’s complicated technical jargon describes gyroscopic tilt technology and an LCD screen - features commonly mooted for Nintendo’s top-secret new Revolution controller - however closer inspection reveals that the listing is actually from technology Nintendo filed back in 2003."

Now you make it seem as if "a small group of websites" went trigger-happy on the post button.

However, to those of us who remember that it was actually you guys, it is clear from your quote "closer inspection reveals that the listing is actually from technology Nintendo filed back in 2003" that closer inspection is apparently not part of your standard routine before you post a story. You really have nothing to do with journalism. There´s thousands of blogs written by schoolkids that are more reliable than your site.

I would recommend you write an apology to your readers. Proper journalists would not have hesitated to admit their mistake, albeit one that ruins your reputation completely. I have known people working for Future back in Germany, when it existed there. They were dedicated journalists and they were all made redundant. You should really be ashamed of yourselves.

To all readers: Why don´t you drop Gamesradar a line to make them know how you feel about this?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Gamesradar claims Full Revolution controller details finally revealed

Check out this Gamesradar article. They claim they have got it all figured out. I´m not so sure, but see for yourself.

I have tried to trace this story up and I must come to the conclusion that Gamesradar has been a tad over-zealous here. Of course, I can´t be sure. But I have tried to find the patent on the U.S. Patent Office site, without any luck. Also, why don´t they simply link to the patent in question or, at least, mention either name or number? It´s very suspicious and not much to do with journalism I must say.

Lastly, it mentions a touch-screen. This has been specifically ruled out by either Iwata or Reggie at the press conference. Haptic screens fine, but no touch-screen. I just don´t see the revolution in this patent.

Revolution ad?

The decent blogsite Infendo has posted this picture (239KB), which allegedly is an advert for the Revolution. Here´s a downsized version pictofied.
As you can see, it is quite minimalistic in style, with only an outline on a black background and a stylized Revolution cosole at the bottom. The text reads:

Think outside the box. A new experience is coming. The revolution starts March 2006.

Well, it looks pretty well done. But I myself don´t think March 2006 is realistic at all. And even if it was, I don´t think there would be ad campaigns floating around this early. You wouldn´t even contact an advertising agency this soon, I guess. Any thoughts on that?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

EGM: classics with new look

Completely missed this: Electronic Gaming Monthly posted this story on Tuesday, already. But it seems quite important, so I couldn´t ignore it. They interviewed Satoru Iwata and, apparently, at least some of the back catalogue of games will have a different look to it.

"We are doing several experiments, including working with the original Super Mario Bros., with the new technology," said Iwata. "The game itself and the gameplay shall be identical, but the look will be different; it's possible that with Revolution, we may be able to see the old games with new looks."

One question remains, however. Will only some games look different or will the Revolution hardware itself give them a different look automatically? I still believe that a technology like AR is a possibility.

Dev kits out, controller final

I have just heard that Revolution dev kits have been received by at least one Japanese third party developer. The kit includes the controller. Naturally, no word on the big secret. I also cannot say how long this company has had the kit. But at least we know the controller design has been finalised and third party development of Revolution titles is well under way. I cannot name a source, but I can guarantee you this information is 100% accurate.

This is still nothing to do with the news I´m waiting for. But I´m not sure if this piece of information might not actually overshadow that story.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Here we go again.

And, again, this is not the exclusive I will have in store for you within the next few days.

I´m trying to remain sceptical, but this one is the best shot so far. It´s a scan, allegedly from a Japanese magazine. A guy calling himself Ninja posted it last monday in this forum. I can´t read Japanese, though. What do you think?

EDIT The original link was down within only twenty minutes of my and another post on the Nintendo forum. I don´t go for conspiracy theories, as you all know. But that does seem just a tad suspicious to me, I must say.

No prophets without profits

First of all, I am still waiting to hear from my source and bring you some exclusive news. Please be patient for a few more days.

In the meantime, I would like to write about the self-declared prophets that just get far too much attention. Aries sent everyone haywire, Osoko Tanaka is now giving interviews to game magazines and Team Beta will dish out "more information (...) as we are given permission to release it."

And people believe them without hesitation. But why would these prophets risk their careers only to be able to share top secret info with us? Because they simply are not who they claim to be. Why do they do it then? To get attention and feel wanted, most likely. Every prophet is in it for a profit. They don´t just do this for the love of god, they have an agenda. Also, consider that no developer and no exec in their right mind would ever divulge any sensitive information because they would be violating non-disclosure agreements that entail hefty penalties.

The newest breed is different, though. These prophets claim to be just ordinary guys like us who have, apparently, stumbled on something big. There´s a guy calling himself INMHS trying to resurrect the so-called N-game on this blog.

Now, for those who don´t know: the N-game was a hunt for clues which started on the now infamous Moz La Punk blog. The idea behind it was that Nintendo was giving us clues that would eventually lead to discovering the Revolution´s secret. In technical terms, it´s a viral marketing campaign. Microsoft has done it with the Xbox360 - and it was quite a successful campaign. They put some dead-hard riddles out that, if answered correctly, allowed people a sneak peek of the console.

Is Nintendo doing just that? Fair enough, there are some weird clues out there. On Nintendo´s E3 page, there is a banner reading ´Drooling is good. Napkins available now.´ And in this Nintendo article, NOA_Matt wrote:

Word has it a secret alcove can be found deeper within the creature which houses the precious Nintendo Revolution. But gaining access to the Shangri-la of tomorrow's video game generation is to remain an electronic dream.

Right, that´s weird. Nintendo is toying with us here. They are teasing us. I don´t doubt that for a minute. But for a full-blown viral marketing campaign, there is just not enough there. The funny thing about the N-game is that thousands of people were pretending to play for over a month, but noone got anywhere. Even the Moz La Punk people recently declared it dead and a huge waste of time.

Now, this guy is trying to tell us that a new N-game is on and that he is pretty much in charge.

I got lucky, I suppose, in having people near to me who had information abou the videogameing industry. So, I and a few other people worked on this 'game'. We toiled through tech specs and rumours, patents and the chat rooms, and we came to a conclusion. We told a few people, and then we left it, satisfied in the knowledge of what we found. We had found it.
And then they found us.

We got contacted by people, whose names are quite familiar to many. We talked, and they started the first 'game'. They gave us clues, gave us hints. They helped us take our knowledge and turn it upside down, inside out, until we figured it out. The Revolution. It was confirmed to us. Our contact/s were happy, they had done their jobs. It was their game and we finished it.

But then luck truely smiled upon me. I was told something that the others weren't. I was told about a game, one that would probably never be confirmed or denied. It was to take place soon, in the year when people were most expecting a Revolution. 2005.

So, this game has started. It might not be backed by Nintendo, it might be. But what we are all playing is a game. And it is my turn to become part of that game. This 'N-game' is real. Everything you have seen is real, because it is part of the game. Parts might not be real in the sense that it is the Revolution, but it is real in the game. And that is what is important, the games we play. I consider myself part of the game, but my part is unique.

(...) I can't back up everything I say. I can't, because no one would believe me if I did. But when I said I was contacted, I was. No lie. But it wasn't anyone famous like Reggie or Miyamoto. Sorry if I led you to beleive that. But I was contacted by people who work on the technology that the Revolution uses for various things. Like the controller. I guess the only thing I can say to back it all up is that the technology is all...intertwined. So to get all the parts working, even the smallest tech provider has to know alot about the console. So that is all I can say.

So there´s this ordinary guy who, initially, stumbled upon information by means of research and then got contacted by a company working on the Revolution together with Nintendo. Why do people believe that nonsense? Why would a company that has been contracted by Nintendo to supply some hardware spend its time on PR campaigns for them? Noone has any vested interest, let alone resources, in running such campaigns for Nintendo, other than Nintendo itself.

Additionally, I think I have a pretty good idea about what kind of people are in on Nintendo´s surprise at this moment in time - and there aren´t many. After all, they seriously are concerned with competitors copying their idea. So they are telling next to noone. I just got back from a Capcom event today, at which Tatsuya Minami (producer for Resident Evil Zero and vice chairman of Capcom´s research & development committee) was present. Hardly any third party company is as close to Nintendo as Capcom is - and even they don´t seem to know yet. But, of course, some kids somewhere in the United States have been told. Like Seriousgamer007 on this thread in the Nintendo forums:

Specs of Nintendo Revolution are as follows

A quad core IBM 2.7 G5 processor. IBM and NEC worked on the system LSI
512 megabits of Mosys Ram developed in conjunction with NEC
System Performance of 2 teraflops.
Graphics Chip: Developed by ATI. The team working on the Graphics chip use to work at ARTX who use to be employed by Silicon Graphics.

Lauch Date is March 2006
System Price is 249.00
System with Visor and Metroid 3: 349.00
Games at Launch Metroid, Zelda
Mario 128 will follow in the Summer

What is Revolutionary about console:

(...) The secret is a new form of bump mapping that will enable many textures on one polygon. The Jurassic Park Dinosaur T-Rex was composed of only 40000 polygons yet had many hundreds of textures on it. Until now there was no way of providing that level of realism in a game realtime. Nintendo has finally found a way.

(...) If you are wondering about a visor. Well it is true. However it is an Accessory that will be in the same category as the U-Force, PowerGlove, Superscope etc. It is designed for just First Person Shooters and is not necessary/required to play any game on the Console. It is designed just for a more immersive feel and has been developed by Emagin. It will be available as a Bundle for the Console to include the game Metroid 3. This will be available for Launch.

Great! Care to upload the official box art, too? Maybe this guy already sells the consoles? His claims are just silly, his motivation probably very sad. What I don´t hack is that some people do take attention-seeking kids like this serious. This is the same guy who´s been seeking attention on the Nintendo forums for years. He also posted quite the opposite to the above only two weeks beforehand here:

Listen not one of us truly has an idea of what Nintendo is going to release. Everything is speculation until it comes out. No one knows what the Revolution is going to be whether it a visor,gyroscopic controller, make your own breakfast wafflemaker, or a UFO.

He even simply pasted a release date into Nintendo´s financial report in this thread. Whatever their particular reason to do this, whatever their agenda, whatever profit they are after: These guys are sad, sad people. Don´t believe a word they write.

Blogs like mine or this one by Phalanx try to separate facts from fiction and we don´t get thousands of clicks or comments for that. However, if we pretended to be a Japanese third party exec with a hobby of dishing out trade secrets to the world, would probably have to buy a few extra servers to accomodate the subsequent traffic.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Secret revealed

I have been able to access the secret download area of the El Rellano website, I referred to below. Before you read on, let me tell you that there is nothing of direct relevance to the ON clip. It is basically a ZIP archive of more of Pablo´s work. I have downloaded all but one of the videos, which I could not access. I will not link to any of the material directly, because a message on the page reads:

esta pagina es supuestamente secreta por eso os pedimos que, por favor, guardeis el secreto.

This page is meant to be secret. For that reason we request you to, please, keep it secret.

Naturally, I will obey this request. For the benefit of everyone, I shall generally describe what you find in there, though. Apart from some clips unrelated to games, there are two videogame spoofs: one excellent piece on Silent Hill 2 and one rather cryptic clip on Wario Ware. All of the clips mainly feature real-life (i.e. non-animated) footage. Its style is similar to the ´Fecal Fantasy´ clip. It´s all quite different to the animations, but it´s just as meticulously done. Watching it, you get a real understanding of why Pablo might invest so much time making these clips. He must simply be a very dedicated gamer and enjoys making spoofs, spin-offs and tribute videos. I guess, they are a bit like fan fiction to him. Only he is able to draw on his outstanding talent for animation and his good ideas for making short films.

If you really want to enter the area yourself, click on the hidden icon in the lower left corner on the El Rellano main page, after clicking enter. Always choose the first answer until you get to the riddles. I suggest you reload the flash animation to look at all the various riddles. There is one which can be solved with a little deduction and imagination. Another one may need only a bit of internet research. You certainly don´t need to speak any Spanish or know any of the people involved personally. Just use Babelfish to translate the clues and your answers - and carefully examine the picture shown. You´ll get there.

On an important sidenote: I am about to post some groundbreaking news. I can´t quite say what it is yet. Come back daily if you want to be up to date.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Osoko is back, Melee updates.

Just to mention these recent developments, too: Osoko Tanaka published another two entries on his blog. As always, there is very little of any possible value in there. Here´s the only relevant bits:

You'll need a peripheric to can see games on HD-TV. (...) 4 cores means the most expensive system. Is better to be a dual processor. And best results. (...) Revolution Launch is expected to be on 2006.

I can tell you Nintendo was working in a new game for Revolution.
This game will be "mature". Nintendo wants to change his philosophie. It will be an action game and you will be able to use the "power" of the pad. For example, there will be some moments in which you'll need to be "silence" cause if you make some noise, you'll can be died on the battle(...).

He even gave interviews to some gaming sites not too long ago. I don´t know why journalists print his stuff without checking this guy´s really who he claims he is. In fact, in one of the comments on Osoko´s blog, some guy appears to accuse him of being Spanish rather than Japanese. The comments are in Spanish themselves, so I had to use Altavista´s babelfish to translate them.

ahh osoko tu no eres japones eres un espaniol que se quiere pasar de listo, por esos tus comentarios en ingles tienen esa estructura que le damos los que hablamos espaniol! ja! en fin, supongo que no hace danio un poco de fama facil...

ahh osoko your you are not japones you are espaniol that is wanted to happen of ready, by those your commentaries in ingles have that structure that we give those him that we spoke espaniol! ja! in short, I suppose that a little does not do danio of facil fame...

So this guy seems to suggest that Osoko´s use of English matches that of Spanish people. He refers to syntactical errors, I suppose, that may be common with native Spanish speakers.

Secondly, Melee Web Design updated their mysterious website The flash animation has been altered slightly to read "SOON" and "05". The graphics used for this bit are based on the same red squares with beveled edges that are used in the ON clip. Still no reply from young master William McClean, by the way.

Release date rumours

Over the weekend, people hungry for a reliable source on a possible release date got more than they had bargained for: two reliable sources on a possible release date. First of all, the retailer Gamestop lists Revolution games as being available March 1st 2006. They should know, shouldn´t they?

THESE guys say something quite different: Ubisoft, French gaming giant, have provided us with a diagram of when each console will launch. The info is from their current financial report. It shows a timeline split into territories, US and Europe are mentioned.

* PlayStation3 is listed as launching Q3 2006 in the US, but is not listed for Europe (meaning Europe will see the PS3 sometime 2007).

* Revolution is listed as launching Q4 2006 in Europe, but is not listed for the US.

If Ubisoft´s information is correct, the PS3 would be first in the US. But Revolution would be first in Europe. I never really thought anyone would consider launching in Europe before launching in the States. Ubisoft is an extremely credible source. But that would imply Gamestop got it all wrong. Very wrong. I had sent sent them an email about the alleged launch date. No reply so far, though.

EDIT Replies are posted as comments.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

The talented Mr. Belmonte

The talented Mr. Belmonte has been on my mind for a while. He is rumoured to have been behind the ON clip. I would like to contact him, but there is very little info to go on. So I´ve decided to compile everything we know about that elusive person.


To briefly recap, the name was first mentioned on this Spanish forum entry. The thread was started by someone calling himself Yugulator. He posted these high-res pictures, which supposedly prove the ON clip to be a fake:

Picture 0
Picture 1
Picture 2
Picture 3
Picture 5
Picture 6

The first is the important one. It shows the Mario castle from the end of the ON clip, two Marios and a message from the alleged creator, nicknamed ´Psyco3ler´. It reads:

It is not about it being a "fake", its about a complaint, It (the video) is an attempt to not simply stay with my arms crossed before the sickening ocean of commerciality that is affecting the industry of videogames, especially my loving Nintendo (the only company that preoccupies itself with contributing new things). Commerciality forces companies to put out new consoles every 2 or 3 years with the only intent being to erase the limits (set by current consoles) for game developers, This does not allow game developers to let their imagination run wild and delight us (the gamers) with transcendent new games. [The function of commerciality] is to make "good," "pretty"-(thanks to better consoles) and cheap (not precisely for the users) games in less time in order to sell faster.

It is not my style to vindicate my principles by chaining myself in front of some office or setting myself on fire at E3, I do it the best way I can, demonstrating my disagreement by sacrificing a week to make a video that demonstrates some of the most attractive qualities of a "real" console, that is, to imagine and project [these qualities] using today's technology, that despite its high cost, it allows; being inside the games, handling any kind of command made in a virtual manner via hands, using your own body like a joystick, using (for example) one hand to elevate in it Mario and taking him to the top of a palm tree and onto a platform to continue playing the game, allowing those who use glasses to use a visor that adjusts to our own vision, allowing players to create our own games, modeling characters with our hand, creating decorations using elements and "connect-a-dots" as if they were a Lego creation, Offering the possibility of playing a game on a television using the "eyes" of the console to "read" your hands by your commands, Multiplayer compatibility from only one console that shares a signal to other visors, and makes use of an "alpha" function in the visors that, joined with the “On” console, will allow you to play freely with friends in a first person shooter while the console projects a virtual world with explosions, enemies, and items.

Today, there exists technology for just that system I have described. In a few days Nintendo will present its "revolution" and I hope that it will not be another one of these deceptions that I have experienced over the last few years; hopefully Nintendo will not base the revolution on the idea of making new systems so simple as to not result in too much complications in fabrication and development, but enough innovation to attract the attention of the grand majority of conformist people (the casual gamers; the ones who don’t care about the true meaning of playing video games). If this happens, by misfortune, it will buy over “true gamers” (that are not conformist) because we love video games and there is nothing better to play. This philosophy is great from a business standpoint, but not right and lacks worth because it puts innovation aside along with betraying its followers (for this, there are other companies). I only hope that this 2005 E3, Nintendo demonstrates once again to everyone that they are the best, and that like the best company in the world that they are, present ideas that are ahead of its time that a simple fan cant think of.
(translated by Minotaur64)

Now, Yugulator wrote in his post:

ah, bueno.. por mi parte mi mas sincera enhorabuana a mi colega Pablo Belmonte, que cada día me sorprende mas

y xa los k decían k una persona no podía hacer eso... pues no estaban en lo cierto, a lo mejor una persona no puede, pero el, en una semana ha hecho esto (tenia preparadas mas cosas antes, pero se le borró el ordenador y solo fue esto lo que le dio tiempo a hacer)

todo esto podía haber sido mas creíble? por supuesto, pero gracias a Perrin Kapplan se tuvo que adelantar para poner el vídeo antes de que se desbaratara todo, jeje

A friend of mine translated it for me:

I´d like to send regards to my colleague Pablo Belmonte, who surprises me more each day. And those who said that one person couldn´t have done this... guess they were wrong. Maybe a person couldn´t have done it, but he did it in a week.

He had prepared more, but his directory got deleted and he only managed to prepare this in the short time left.

This whole thing could have been more credible? Sure, but thanks to Perry Kaplan it had to be rushed, before it all fell apart.

Perry Kaplan should be called Perrin Kaplan and is VP for marketing and corporate affairs at Nintendo of America. Perrin did tell media before the Nintendo press conference that the Revolution was going to be "very, very sleek". The phrase "the most sleek" appears in the clip. Kaplan said that on May 13th. If I remember correctly, that was the same day the ON clip started to circulate. So this doesn´t really show anything. But apparently, as Yugulator suggests, Kaplan was the reason why the ON clip had to be rushed. Perhaps because of these comments. I am not sure. It doesn´t make sense to have to rush the clip because of her comments or actions. Their deadline, so to speak, was going to be the press conference. Or should they have aimed at pre-empting Kaplan´s comments about the console being sleek, in order to stir up rumours? In that case, how did they know she was to use that word?

Anyway, I tried to send Mails to Yugulator as well as to Pablo Belmonte. Naturally, no reply. I guess I´m not the only one trying.

What we are left with are a whole bunch of questions. Does Yugulator truly know the clip´s creator? Yugulator´s forum profile lists him as 18 years old and from Madrid. He registered three years ago. So he might be 21. In fact, he better if he is working with someone who can animate this well. Anyway, in case it was true, I checked the Spanish white pages for Pablo in Madrid. I found someone called PABLO ANTONIO LOPEZ BELMONTE, but haven´t tried to ring him yet. If it was the wrong guy, it would be kind of embarrassing. Especially not speaking any Spanish at all.


2.1) Animestyle.Info

The best leads should be the websites involved. Let´s start with Sachit.Animestyle.Info. This one is apparently Psyco3ler´s website. It´s a directory listing full of impressively rendered animations much like the ON clip. There are apparently some scenes in those files that are also in the clip. I haven´t downloaded all the content, so I haven´t checked this myself. But the clips on this site actually do bear the nickname.

Tracing the domain is tricky. It belongs to a Matt Langdon of Ontario, Canada. Two domains are referenced in the info. His email suggests that he is the webmaster at Blue Spark, which is an internet company located in Sevenoaks, England. A Whois search of this URL, in turn, lists a Mark Ryder in the same town.

The registrant´s company is named as Shadowcloud, which is a no-frills webmaster site, recording internet traffic. This URL, in turn, belongs to a Nickelas Brady of Santa Rosa, USA. His company is listed as Big Grip Productions (URL now defunct), apparently a music production company. From here, things get very confusing. This guy is seemingly involved in a number of websites and projects, together with a few other people, notably: Probizmedia, Midnightcurve, Stylish101 and Probizmedia. Now, you might think I´m insane for following this all the way up to this point. But I´m presenting this to you only because some of the sites registered by these guys are to do with games. One, in fact, is described as "A game dvelopement and Next Gen Gaming site!" Unfortunately, it is defunct. That´s all, probably no clue here.

EDIT: Just so everyone reads this, I am copying a disclaimer from the comments to this post.

Thanks for the mention, but for what it is worth, we are not connected with, ANIMESTYLE.INFO or Matt Langdon

We registered the domain when it was left to expire recently, as it fits our main business
Therefore I can only assume that whoever had it registered before had simply given up with it.



2.2) El Rellano

Now, our good friend Yugulator posted links to the pictures linked to above. They are found at This site has some stylish flash animation, featuring the stickman-type character that you see on all the mentioned pictures (though it is not shown in the actual ON clip, it should be noted).

The site offers three main options: past, present and future. ´Past´ links to a number of flash offerings and video clips, on and off the main site. Some are game related, like "Fecal Fantasy", a spoof on the "Final Fantasy" movie. The ´present´ option takes you to a fanpage for the ´Sims´ showing some kind of episodes. And the ´future´ option links to two projects: A Matrix spoof called Thes Madrix and some train project I can´t make sense of, showing two weird trailers.

But there is also a fourth option. In the left lower corner on the main page, you can click on a small figure. This will take you to another flash object which asks you questions, to which you can answer yes or no to. I answered yes a few times and received this riddle:

psyco3ler ordenó que jamás se le volviera a llamar asi. y por eso se le quedó de mote.

Again, I had to use Babelfish to translate:

to psyco3ler ordered that never it became to him to call asi. and for that reason it was had left of mote.

You are supposed to enter some kind of answer into a field below and proceed. Regardless of what I put in, nothing happens. But whatever that means, this site is definitely associated with the talented Mr. Belmonte. Or, at least, with Psyco3ler, should they turn out to be separate people, after all). For it must be noted that the flash objects and movie clips on this site are either crudely animated or contain live action footage. They seem worlds apart from the impressively animated clips on the other site. Either way, we are close.

A Whois search for El Rellano, as well as Thes Madrix returns an Antonio Barragan of Sevilla, Spain. He is linked to a company called Magic Touch, another web design company, frightfully reminiscent of Melee Web Design, the mysterious designers of the British Nintendo On site.

I believe that this is the closest we can get to contacting the alleged creator of the ON clip. I´ll try to contact Magic Touch tomorrow. Maybe I´ll even bother to get in touch with the people in Santa Rosa, USA. Also, I might give PABLO ANTONIO LOPEZ BELMONTE a try after all. I´ll let you know as soon as I have any kind of reply.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Some thoughts on thoughts

I have encountered a number of people who seem to believe that the revolutionary technology Nintendo has in store for us is actually to do with thoughts and brain waves. Based on the research experiments I linked to below, people on the Nintendo forum have come across a company called NeuroSky, which has already developed the same technology for the market. They even state on their website that they have an eye on the console business:

NeuroSky, a fabless semiconductor/module company, has developed a non-invasive neural sensor and signal processing technology that converts brainwaves and eye movements into useful electronic signals to communicate with a wide range of electronic devices, consoles, and computers.

A Whois search on Neurosky leads to a Korean company called Lims. They are even bolder in their assertions of what this technology can do:

Lims cooperates with Moscow University, KAIST, Choong Buk Technology University and several other academic institutes to integrate most up-to-date technology into our products. Lim's first product is neuro-headgear, which enables the users to control objects such as R/C toys wirelessly only with their EEG and EOG signals.

Now that sounds pretty bold, to be sure. They even back it up with some video clips. I have linked you to the smallest available size:

KBS broadcast (2,1 MB)
SBS broadcast (176 KB)
MBC broadcast (272 KB)
YTN broadcast (512 KB)

They all show pretty much the same: A guy wearing goggles with flashing diodes on, controlling a car with his thoughts, rather than a remote. It looks impressive, but my experience with this technology makes me slightly hesitant.

I have researched these projects for the television programme I work for. That is why I am familiar with the two research projects I mentioned in an earlier post. The Mind Games research group at the Media Lab Europe is one. The other is the Berlin brain computer interface at the FIRST institute in Germany.

I spoke to people on both projects and we eventually did some filming at the latter. So I have come to know this technology in detail. Here´s the reasons why it cannot be incorporated into a cutting edge game console at the moment:

* It does not work with every person, it only works for some.

* It takes about three hours of setting up for each individual player. They need to tune in to your brainwaves somehow.

* Your brainwaves can force no more than a simple decision between up or down, left or right or on and off. At the very most, a Pong style game would be thinkable. No more.

There were also some hints in Nintendo´s press conference that just wouldn´t fit with this kind of technology:

* "The revolutionary feature is nothing new", they said. "We just have not seen it applied to games." Well, THIS truly IS something new. Most people I speak to have never heard of this kind of stuff even existing.

* Reggie´s talk of "get ready to let your right brain go wild" hints at creating something, perhaps altering games somehow. That cannot be done with this kind of technology.

* The key to the revolutionary feature is "all access gaming". That makes no sense, regarding this technology.

Now, I know that these companies claim bold things and show impressive stuff. But is it truly ready to be implemented into games, as they seem to claim? I must doubt the accuracy of these claims, considering the two institutes I named above appear on a lower level of implementation. Yet they are associated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Fraunhofer group, respectively. Okay, so the MIT pulled the plug on their Media Lab in January. But I just don´t see how two research institutes could be lagging behind private enterprise.

Let´s assume there is a great deal of exaggeration involved on part of the Korean manufacturer. After all, they do have a product to sell. Well, they will at some time in the future.

From Russia with love

Someone in Russia loves us. For they have sent us exclusive snapshots of the Revolution controller, along with some explanatory notes in cyrillic. Here they are:

Some people on the Nintendo forums have been kind enough to type some of the cyrillic out letter by letter to get "Нет никаких кнопок на диспетчере какой так когда либо". This can be used with Altavista´s Babelfish translator which translates the words as "There are no buttons whatever on the dispatcher of what so when or"

Sounds plausible this time? Well, I was kind of tempted to believe this might be real. But I just don´t understand why there would be any cyrillic. Let´s think:

* A Russian company has received a dev kit and this is part of the manual? Unlikely. I know of not a single Russian company that would be developing console games. Russia and the Ukraine are really big on the PC, but nothing else. I am sure we can rule that out.

* A Russian company has been licensed by Nintendo to develop some part of the controller? Unlikely. Because if the cyrillic had been supplied by Nintendo to tell the Russians how the controller worked, the controller would already exist. There would be no need for any such input. If, on the other hand, the Russian company wrote that text, why would they need to tell Nintendo how the controller worked that Nintendo designed? It´s not making sense.

My theory is this: It´s a big, big fake with a capital ´F´ and great big bells hanging off it. Only it´s been done better than that BMW motorcycle helmet thing, see below. For that, someone just pasted an article from Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu into the pics, I believe. This time, someone went through the trouble of actually writing the text himself. But the text seems far too general to be of any kind of relevnce to any company involved in supplying the hardware or, indeed, a software developer. And even if the latter was true and it was part of a dev kit, I don´t see why such a kit would go to Russia. And even if there was a console developer out there, the manual would not have been translated into Russian! I´m from Germany and I´m sure that the dev kits given to German studios are all in English. Now read the above text again and count each "and even if" I wrote. Sceptics: one, believers: nil, I´m afraid... I seem to have switched sides since my first threads.

EDIT On a Brazilian forum, someone posted a follow-up picture of the mock-up.
It´s signed Zombie Wario - so it´s just fan-art, really. But I like the idea, so here it is.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Asking for ketchup without knowing what´s for dinner.

I´m very disappointed with how the exciting banter about the Revolution´s secret seems to have largely turned into a debate about why Nintendo is not going to jump on the high-definition bandwagon. My first thought about that is: You don´t know just what revolutionary feature that console will bring to the market. It might be something that would make us go ´wow´ for reasons other than pure resolution. In fact, I am sure it will do just that. That is what Nintendo has promised, anyway. If the Rev really will make use of some form of AR or Haptics, who´s going to demand HD then? Noone. So, firstly, wait until you know what´s for dinner before you ask for ketchup.

Secondly, let´s imagine we are Nintendo. It´s down to a simple economic principle: The question for any console manufacturer considering HD relates only to the installed hardware base. If everyone had it, everyone would cater for it. But not everyone has got an HD set, so you ask yourself: To what extent has HD penetrated the market already? Further, to what extent will it grow within the average life cycle of the next generation consoles (say, about four years)?

Looking at the US, about six million people have HD-ready equipment in their homes right now. That is very little compared to the entire population and is not sufficient for us to consider supporting it. Near the end of the next-gen life cycle, it could be the majority of households, though. That would support the argument to include HD. But there is a little contention here: it could, it is expected to, it will according to analysts... This is where I may even compare HD technology to something like the Blu-Ray standard, see below. HD may not have a direct competitor, but there are a variety of standards and, furthermore, there is always the chance that a new technology will just not catch on. Often, even, it is the high quality option that becomes unpopular with the users.

VHS won against the far superior Video 2000 and Betamax. The Nintendo Gameboy won against the far superior GameGear and Lynx. And why is that? They simply turned out cheaper. Bottom line. And, as I said, even without any direct competition, quality might just not catch on. Remember the Laserdisc? Where did that one go? Didn´t it have the same industry support to begin with that HD enjoys now? So, to put it plainly: Without a sufficient user base at this moment, it may not make economical sense to include HD technology in a next-gen console. It all depends on how that technology sells in the next four years. And we don´t know. The next four years could prove Microsoft and Sony right. They could prove Nintendo right. But we´ll just have to wait and see. So, a lot of people out there should stop acting as if they know already.

PS3 heading for trouble?

Implementing new technology without sufficient market penetration can be very, very risky. Sony may have gone too far betting everything on their Blu-Ray standard. The talks about a hybrid between the rivals Blu-Ray and HD-DVD have stalled. And now there is this news on the Maxell site.

The press release says that the HD-DVD format achieved a major victory over Blu-Ray, in that the former standard can now be produced on standard DVD-Recordable production lines. Blu-Ray, by comparison, requires a completely new production method. Where does that leave the PS3? Until the console hits the market, Blu-Ray could have lost that war entirely. And unless Sony pulls the plug on Blu-Ray and switches sides, their console could be doomed, I guess.

Sometimes it pays off to approach a new standard hesitantly, especially when it has not penetrated the market significantly. And this seems to support Nintendo´s policy, both with regard to the Gamecube and online, as well as the Revolution and High Def.

EDIT There´s an interesting article over at Gamespot about this. The two teams are going to talk about another compromise. That would entail Sony put their PS3 plans on hold. Spring 2006 was unrealistic anyway. This could mean December, I guess.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The next hoax

Unfortunately, the mysterious website turns out to be almost definitely fake. The person behind the ominous company Melee Webdesign (which doesn´t seem to be registered anywhere) is called William McClean. He just turned 25 and must have been a Nintendo fan for some time. He´s still registered with this Nintendo fanpage. Though he never posted much, it´s clear that he owned Nintendo systems and is probably a fan. Before getting, he had a number of other websites dealing with Nintendo; namely, and They are all defunct now. I saw the last one and, though decently done, it was a microsite, at best. What intrigued me was that the flash intro to the new site - cunningly titled pre-release.swf - looked quite impressive for a fanjob.

He is probably a professional web designer, alright. In that sense, the company is most likely real. But simply the fact that he must be described as a Nintendo fan strongly suggests the whole thing was done on his own initiative - so it´s a hoax. If he wanted to attract attention to his company, it´s a successful hoax to boot. I emailed him and confronted him with my findings. I´ll post his reply once (and if) I get it.

The price of the future

On the Nintendo forum, I came across a number of very specific contentions to do with AR, which I researched and would like to address one by one.

1.) AR is too expensive to implement

This is a common misconception. AR is not necessarily an expensive technology. There´s two types of AR, depending on whether images are projected onto a screen or onto a head mounted display (HMD). We are talking about the latter, here. It´s been around for ages and found a number of niche market applications, such as in the army or medical fields. Sure, if you go out and buy an HMD for your PC it will set you back a four-figure sum (at places like TekGear, for instance). These are high quality tools, most likely used by professionals only. A consumer product that aims for a mass market, however, need not be so expensive.

Read the following quote from this 2002 Chicago Tribune article, mirrored on a manufacturer´s website:

Stryker Instruments of Kalamazoo, Mich., is working on an augmented reality system for orthopedic surgeons, where the doctor sees an X-ray image of a bone superimposed on his view of it. In less-technical terms, the system could be described as X-ray vision glasses.

Stryker's see-through head-mounted display is made by Microvision Inc. of Bothell, Wash. Its president, Rick Rutkowski, said the firm is working on a version that bounces colored light beams off a tiny, vibrating mirror onto the inside of the user's glasses. Scanning back and forth, the beam forms a full-color image with the resolution of a computer display, with brightness adjusted to contrast with the background. The display could even have a bifocal arrangement, with the user looking down to read the screen and up to see the landscape, he said.

The units should resemble ordinary glasses. Prototypes are already being tested. "We expect to see low-cost production in 2004, with an end-user price around $100," he said.

Imagine what adding a bulk order in the numbers Nintendo would be interested in could do to that price.

Further, the Gartner group apparently estimated that "by 2014, more than 30 percent of mobile workers will be using augmented reality."

2.) AR is not a controller

Sure, AR needs to be complemented by a controller. This is commonly a gyroscopic device. Tiger Telematics also opted for this double solution in designing their Gizmondo (see this press release in PDF format.) So, yeah. A gyroscopic controller would have to go along with an AR visor or goggles. But I need not remind you people of the Nintendo / Gyration connection. Or do I?

3.) An AR visor / goggles would be too big

This contention can be easily shrugged off. AR works with goggles, no bigger than ordinary glasses, see the article quote above and my links to some AR projects below. Check the videos, AR goggles can be as light and tiny as you want.

Helmet is a hoax

Okay, so the helmet is definitely fake. A guy called Will on the Engadget thread linked to the picture of the original (440KB); it´s a motorcycle helmet by BMW. He placed it next to the apparent dev kit manual cover in this one and there´s no mistaking.

But don´t despair. There is fresh rumour. The British web design company that had registered the domain (and who had previously a very simple still on it with no further links) have revamped the site and are showing a cool flash animation on it that looks kind of official. The swf object is titled pre-release. And another intriguing detail: The message in the end reads ´Nintendo ON - comming soon´, obviously insinuating some kind of communications function.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

High res pics of the helmet

Is the revolution really a helmet?

Some pretty intriguing pictures have surfaced today on the infamous mozlapunk blog. They claim to show the technical manual accompanying the Revolution´s dev kit. The manual´s cover shows a pretty cool looking helmet alongside the Revolution. There are also pictures of what is said to be an NDA, a non-disclosure agreement, common in this industry.

As much as I´d like to believe it... the supposed NDA is fake. The original photo is found here.

I do not claim to have found this myself. It is courtesy of someone on the above mentioned mozlapunk blog and this Engadget thread calling himself ´yeoz´ linking to this rather cryptic and mysterious blog.

The original picture shows someone at the Electronic Frontier Foundation or EFF. They are concerned with Digital Rights Management or DRM. Of course, I could have posted rumours on how Nintendo is also busy implementing DRM for the Revolution, but... I wanted to be journalistic about this.

The person on the photo is called Seth Schoen. He is the EFF´s staff technologist. I emailed him and got this reply:

I find this very amusing. I have never heard of Nintendo's Revolution before now and have no connection to this hoax. The picture of me that you see documents a letter that I wrote to the editor of Wired News around 2002 to ridicule shrinkwrap licenses. The envelope had seals and text indicating that Wired was promising to publish my letter by the act of opening it.

It's certainly true that video game consoles have been implementing DRM and that I have been critical of them for this. I was involved in advising Andrew "bunnie" Huang prior to the publication of his book _Hacking the Xbox_, and I support the creativity of people who find new ways of using console machines.

That said, I do not own any console machines, nor do I want to buy one, precisely because they have become so encumbered with licensing. I also don't follow the console markets closely except when there's some kind of legal dispute of interest to me. I recently bought a new computer solely in order to play Stepmania because I love DDR but didn't want to buy a game console machine designed to play only software produced under license with Microsoft or Sony. My hope is that "convergence" will mean that the video game console, mobile phone, and set-top box markets will become open-platform general purpose computers, rather than that the PC will become a game console, mobile phone, or set-top box.

Thanks for letting me know about the hoax.

You´re welcome. Thanks for clearing this up for us. Once again, rumours seem to turn out false... but strange things are afoot.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Augmented Reality is reality already.

Posting some of my last post also on the Nintendo forum, some people thought that AR couldn´t possibly be viable for today´s game industry. People thought that it would require hardware that no end user could afford for decades to come. Well, they are greatly mistaken. AR technology is readily available and has been in use for years, even for games. One of the most prominent examples is the ARQuake project developed by students at the University of South Australia. Another is the AR version of Pacman, developed at the Mixed Reality Lab at the National University of Singapore. Serious, you wouldn´t believe what scientists are able to create with perfectly ordinary hardware. Slightly off-topic, check out the Mind Games research group at the Media Lab Europe. They build interfaces that allow you to control games with your brainwaves. That´s right! To control a game you just think of the direction you want an on-screen character to move in. Seriously, you guys wouldn´t believe what science has in store for us. And we don´t know this stuff not because that technology is too high-end to bring to the market. Often, it´s just not researched well enough or noone has been willing to take the financial risk of developing it for the mass market.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Not virtual, but augmented reality?

I have spent the last few days browsing the Nintendo forums. It´s hard work to sift through the bulk of irrelevant posts and repeats. But I have come across a number of interesting posts. For instance, some people still believe that the ON video clip was real after all. Also, they were wondering if Aries - the name of the infamous blogger claiming to be an Ex-Nintendite - was an abbreviations of sorts. I remembered I had read something about that and googled it. Aries could well stand for Augmented Reality Immersion Entertainment System, or so it is claimed. Incidentally, augmented reality is exactly what is portrayed in the ON video. And this is a significant find, I believe. Because it´s the first time the two main rumour sources, who have up until now been completely separate und unrelated, are linked. In fact, they become one. Aries never mentioned the ON video, I believe. And in the clip, there was nothing that would have hinted at Aries. But augmented reality becomes the link between the two. For your benefit, I have copied an abstract of what the technology involves below. Read it and watch the video again. Exactly six minutes into the clip, you see the player´s bedroom transforming into a Metroid map. That is exaclty it. Read it for yourself - I´ll be back soon with more.

Augmented Reality (AR) is a growing area in virtual reality research. The world environment around us provides a wealth of information that is difficult to duplicate in a computer. This is evidenced by the worlds used in virtual environments. Either these worlds are very simplistic such as the environments created for immersive entertainment and games, or the system that can create a more realistic environment has a million dollar price tag such as flight simulators. An augmented reality system generates a composite view for the user. It is a combination of the real scene viewed by the user and a virtual scene generated by the computer that augments the scene with additional information.

Courtesy of Jim Vallino from the Rochester Institute of Technology

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Does form perhaps follow function?

Hello all. I have spent the night before flying out to E3 (and pretty much every day after returning from it) reading other people´s blogs on the Nintendo Revolution. So much has been discussed in great detail, particularly the comments by the ominous Aries and more recently Osoko Tanaka. But still I just think some obvious details have been missed.

First of all, I would like to discuss the shape of the console, especially when inside the vertical stand. In it, the console rests at an angle to the player, as if it needed to facilitate some kind of signal interaction with the elusive controller. The angle would suggest the controller to be level with the player´s torso or head, perhaps even with the player standing up.

Don´t you guys think the setup would suggest some kind of projection method, after all? Miyamoto even said in an interview with Famitsu that Nintendo was not in the business of selling TVs by pushing the High Definition standard. Anyway, the console standing at an angle is a significant detail, I am sure. Why else would you want to do that? It´s just increasing the risk of the Revolution being knocked over. So it must be more than a mere design feat.

Of course, Nintendo said that the console could be used either vertically or horizontally. But maybe not all games would require this kind of feedback. Or if they do, at the very least, you could still place the console horizontally for Gamecube titles.

What do you think? A further indication of my idea could be that in the behind-closed-doors presentations of the prototype the front flap would not open and was even hinted at to conceal the revolutionary aspect of the console.