Sunday, July 31, 2005

Rev screenshots and the Moz La Punk debate

On this thread on the Moz La Punk boards they posted a number of pics and I can reveal one of them to be fake - so they all must be. Some person on this GameFAQs thread already suspected it to be from a CG movie. It is. It´s from Back to Gaya, the first German CG movie. See the picture in question on a German movie site here. Click on the second square (underneath the toad) and you will see the very screenshot.

EDIT Almost all the other screenshots have since been proven fake as well. They are all rendering examples for the Brazil Rendering System used with 3D Studio Max and Autodesk. Here are the cinema scene, the female face and the twenties street scene. The older guy is missing, but who cares now anyway?

EDIT I originally did kick up some controversy about the reliability of the Moz La Punk site in this post. What really made me say that was the BMW motorcycle helmet being sold as a leak. Well, here´s its creator claiming that the site was not in the know on this. Read it for yourself.

Thought_Epiphany writes:
I see that it is probably useless that I post here, seeing as how everyone has pretty much said everything that needed to be said. Anyhow, I am thought-epiphany, the guy people were talking about who supposedly tried to pass a mockup as a leak. That was just me goofing off one time, I never did it again. (I didn't actually intend for it to spread over the net like wildfire either, I just was goofing around with my board-buddies) I made the "black ON helmet" way in the beginning. The Japanese "Development Kit Manual" photo "leak". It was just as a joke and it wasn't from Moz la Punk, it was just on his message boards. Initially, although some thought about it enough to disprove it, it was pretty convincing as it was not a hit and run. I did a damn good job of making myself sound like a legitimate developer, answering every question and so on. Because of this Moz posted it on his site JUST BECAUSE it was convincing enough that it could have almost been real. In the article he said he didn't know if it was or not, but supposedly it was a leak from a developer on the boards. He never claims anything is real, and since there have been so many fakes since the beginning he really won't post anything anymore unless it has info. to back it up. It wouldn't matter if he did anyway, because he always says he doesn't know if it's legitimate, but it is interesting. You do the same thing. Also, what the members of Moz la Punk's boards do having nothing to do with Moz or Moz's blog. It's the members. But that doesn't matter, because with a bit more investigation (like actually reading the thread) you would have realized that nobody was saying the pics were real (in fact the first post said he didn't know, he just found them on another board). Sorry for not paragraphing, it's not worth it and I'm tired. So if it bugs your eyes or if you don't bother reading it all, oh well. Anyhow, I've always liked you Falafelkid, you always try to look at things and find the truth, but you slipped up on this one.

Again, thanks for your comments here. But I think you (and everyone at Moz La Punk) should have tried harder to stress that only you knew you had done them. You being one of the prime members, this incident really made me question the site´s validity for good. And I hardly think you can blame me for that. Anyway, thank you for sharing your views.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Xbox360 controller gets keyboard treatment

In slightly off-topic news, it looks like the Xbox360 crowd will be treated to an unusual controller as well: one with a full keyboard integrated. Thanks to GamersReports for the story and pic. So Nintendo aren´t the only people going for something revolutionary. HANG ON! Maybe this IS the revolutionary feature - and Microsoft stole it already... (not entirely serious) What do you think?

Is this the controller?

This is a really interesting patent (found by VIEWTIFULGX991 on this Nintendo forum thread, as well as Luigi2 commenting on my last post). Here´s the abstract:
A graphics system including a custom graphics and audio processor produces exciting 2D and 3D graphics and surround sound. The system includes a graphics and audio processor including a 3D graphics pipeline and an audio digital signal processor. The graphics system has a graphics processor includes an embedded frame buffer for storing frame data prior to sending the frame data to an external location, such as main memory. The embedded frame buffer is selectively configurable to store the following pixel formats: point sampled RGB color and depth, super-sampled RGB color and depth, and YUV (luma/chroma). Graphics commands are provided which enable the programmer to configure the embedded frame buffer for any of the pixel formats on a frame-by-frame basis.

It´s mainly concerned with technical stuff about graphics signals (as far as I can make out). But it must concern the Revolution, because it was filed in March and the controllers shown are wireless. Here´s the detailed description of the image referred to as Figure 1 (the reference numbers denote the resepctive components as shown in the image).

FIG. 1 shows an example interactive 3D computer graphics system 50. System 50 can be used to play interactive 3D video games with interesting stereo sound. It can also be used for a variety of other applications.

In this example, system 50 is capable of processing, interactively in real time, a digital representation or model of a three-dimensional world. System 50 can display some or all of the world from any arbitrary viewpoint. For example, system 50 can interactively change the viewpoint in response to real time inputs from handheld controllers 52a, 52b or other input devices. This allows the game player to see the world through the eyes of someone within or outside of the world. System 50 can be used for applications that do not require real time 3D interactive display (e.g., 2D display generation and/or non-interactive display), but the capability of displaying quality 3D images very quickly can be used to create very realistic and exciting game play or other graphical interactions.

To play a video game or other application using system 50, the user first connects a main unit 54 to his or her color television set 56 or other display device by connecting a cable 58 between the two. Main unit 54 produces both video signals and audio signals for controlling color television set 56. The video signals are what controls the images displayed on the television screen 59, and the audio signals are played back as sound through television stereo loudspeakers 61L, 61R.

The user also needs to connect main unit 54 to a power source. This power source may be a conventional AC adapter (not shown) that plugs into a standard home electrical wall socket and converts the house current into a lower DC voltage signal suitable for powering the main unit 54. Batteries could be used in other implementations.

The user may use hand controllers 52a, 52b to control main unit 54. Controls 60 can be used, for example, to specify the direction (up or down, left or right, closer or further away) that a character displayed on television 56 should move within a 3D world. Controls 60 also provide input for other applications (e.g., menu selection, pointer/cursor control, etc.). Controllers 52 can take a variety of forms. In this example, controllers 52 shown each include controls 60 such as joysticks, push buttons and/or directional switches. Controllers 52 may be connected to main unit 54 by cables or wirelessly via electromagnetic (e.g., radio or infrared) waves.

Of course, the console doesn´t look like what we expect the Revolution to look like. In fact, the patent refers to an ´example system´. And, similarly, the controllers may not turn out like the ones pictured at all. Nevertheless, this is one of the few patents that are definitely dealing with the Revolution. And the description of the graphics are a good read.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Three websites to mull over

Welcome to another Super Thursday Post-A-Thon! Just little tidbits to keep you amused.

First of all, has sort of updated their site. They added the sentence ´It´s an ON thing´ to the Nintendo wallpaper. Also, some clever person on a forum somewhere pointed out that you can see the face of a frightened woman in the smaller sphere. However, that´s already in the original. Scary nevertheless. And while you´re looking at it again, don´t these two spheres resemble the two disc formats used for the Revolution and its logo?

Secondly, there´s this mock-up logo an anonymous poster drew my attention to. It´s from this Spanish Revolution blog and was posted alongside a pixelated image from the GameCube demo of Mario128. The latter can only be fake. I like the logo a lot, though. Mind you, Resolution is an awful name for a console and I even suspect the Spanish text to be openly satirical about it. Babelfish doesn´t really pick up on those subtleties yet. (apologies if you have read this in my comments two posts back).

Thirldy - and saving the best for last - the Canadian Nintendo site has a menu section called ´What´s going on´. It´s essentially a news section with features on the Nintendo Power giveaway, press clippings and the like. But there´s more. The menu section dealing with events is called ´On tour´. Those Canadians, eh? ;)

Nintendo marketing guy reveals more info?

There´s new release date rumours courtesy of this Gamespot forum thread. Read it yourself.
my girlfriend's dad works for nintendo. he does something with marketing/promotion or something like that. i am a huge nintendo fan and i'm always begging him for any info on the revolution but he is not allowed to tell me anything. however, today when i asked him for any new info he told me that nintendo will be releasing everything soon. how soon? he wouldn't tell me. all he said was that he's seen and used the revolution and that i shouldn't worry so much because it WILL in fact live up to all the hype and then some. word for word he said to me "stop worrying so much about the new system. i've played with it and it's amazing. it will shatter your expectations. think about the greatest system ever and times that by ten. that's the revolution. when the time comes, we'll tell you everything. but don't lose any sleep over this. now stop asking me so many questions." he wouldn't tell me anything else even though i literally begged him for about an hour.

Now, if that is fake, there is surprisingly little info here. It seems all quite understated - not the usual "I know someone who has seen the controller and it´s made of pure gold and plays the violine" type of claim we usually get. Unfortunately, I think it´s still fake. When pressed by other posters, the guy revealed the name of the person to be Derek Hanley. The poster himself lives in Texas according to his profile. I phoned NOA and they knew noone of that name. Nor do they have a branch in Texas. The only Nintendo-related people working in Texas are PR company Golin Harris´ staff and the guys at Retro Studios. Now, Retro do not employ marketing people. And Golin Harris has noone listed by thast name at their Houston and Dallas branches. So I guess this rumour is fake. That doesn´t mean, however, that Nintendo won´t reveal the controller soon. Just hang on in there!

Miyamoto interviewed by Gamespy

Yup, the good people at Gamespy have interviewed Shiggy (thanks again to Raphael for pointing this out) - here are the good bits:
"The idea that somebody might look at the Revolution controller and think, 'Oh, this is too much for me' is something that I would really regret. That is something I would love to avoid if I can," says Miyamoto.

"The controllers for this generation do not look fun to use. You don't look at any of the controllers and think, 'Wow, I want to play [with] this.' You look at these controllers and think, 'Oh my God, it looks so difficult.' That scares people away.

"Actually, at Nintendo, we're not even sure which is better. Is the + control pad the better way to, go or is the analog stick the better way to go? I haven't really been able to decide which is best." (...)

"With the Revolution we're hoping to do is utilize the interface to create more interesting and unique games." (...)

"We're looking at utilizing the functionality of the Revolution and its user interface to create really unique gaming experiences." (...)

"What we really want to do is create something that's not frightening to the user that is usable for a Zelda-type game. We're going to have to figure out a way to marry both those ideas."

Miyamoto says that Nintendo has created such a controller. Asked about all the secrecy surrounding the new controller design, he says, "Graphic chips are one thing. Those are hard to imitate. But if we showed our controller, we'd be revealing way too much. It's very easy to copy. We really want to present our interface, the controller, with software as a package."

You can read about how soon that may be in my next post.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Next-gen Sonic

It may be blurry, out-of-focus and filmed with a cheap camera at a weird angle, but this next-gen Sonic demo is simply spectacular - and must be real. I am contacting SEGA to get some official confirmation. But there is no way this is fake. It´s real and, more importantly, real-time. A presenter says so. She also announces: "This next level of graphics may be coming sooner than you think."

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Finally, another mock-up

Thanks once again to Phalanx for the picture. In difference to him, though, I will go on record as saying this is a likely contender. I just can´t guess what the black square is supposed to be. Any ideas on that?

EDIT Actually, I just had an idea on that myself. What if it´s a screen?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Miyamoto interviewed by EGM

The good people at Electronic Gaming Monthly have interviewed Shigeru ´Shiggy´ Miyamoto. The interview is not up on their site yet, but fans apparently copied it from the magazine´s paper edition. So the original source is not confirmed. But I have copied it from my good friend Phalanx´s blog and that means reliability. Anyway, here goes (formatting is mine):

EGM: Speaking of the virtual console, might older offline multiplayer games, like Mario Party, be altered so you could play them online with the Revolution?

SM: We know that we will offer the past games for sure. But we are discussing the possibility of having older games like Mario Party playable online. So if our discussion goes well, and if the technical aspects of Revolution also go well, that's possible.

EGM: You've said the Revolution controller will be unique - do you worry about it alienating developers? Say Splinter Cell comes out for all the next-gen systems; might the Revolution controller be so different that it'd be tough to map the controls onto?

SM: Well, of course, the idea is that the Revolution will sell and sell and sell so it becomes the standard in the industry. [Smiles] However, at least for the launch period...we designed the controller so it can play any of the different conventional styles. After all, we are talking about it playing games from our past machines via the virtual console. So don't worry.

EGM: Why make the DVD player optional with Revolution? And how will it work - is it an attachment or a remote or what?

SM: The majority of households already own a DVD player or two. We don't want them to spend extra money just to have a console which happens to have DVD capability. And the DVD player isn't going to be an attachment; it´s going to go inside the machine so you won't even be able to tell the difference.

EGM: You've promised Wi-Fi for the Revolution but will it also have a standard Ethernet port?

SM: No, it doesn't have an Ethernet port. However, through the USB port, it´s possible to have Ethernet with an adapter. Considering where the machine will be placed in the household, we think it would be difficult for people to route the typical Ethernet line to it. Also, we're considering connecting the DS with the Revolution via Wi-Fi.

EGM: Some people are saying Nintendo has given up trying to lead technologically and is focused on innovation.

SM: I don't think the Revolution's graphics will be inferior in any way to Xbox 360 or PS3. Even if you look at Zelda on GameCube - I don't think that looks inferior to what the competition is touting as "next generation" visuals. But we think there are more important things for now than making the system work with a high-definition television. The majority of people won't be playing our system with an HDTV, though with the Revolution, 480p resolution will be standard. We are not taking graphics and technology lightly - we are trying to make the best-balanced machine that will appeal to the most people.

EGM: Moving on to other games - we know Smash Bros. is coming to the Revolution, but what about DS?

SM: We're thinking about it.

EGM: What about Luigi's Mansion? Is that series over, or will we ever see another?

SM: The director often says, "Make another one! Make another one!" and I want to use Luigi again.

EGM: Any chance we'll see another Pikmin?

SM: Nothing´s set in stone yet, but the interface we're creating for the Revolution is well suited for Pikmin - I think it would be a good match. Not much I can say other than that.

EGM: Will we ever see anything more of Stage Debut a technology demo that allowed players to map their face on in-game characters?

SM: Yeah, I want to do something with it.

Providing this interview is real, there are some intriguing points to pick up on, here. Most interestingly of all, Miyamoto seems unusually bold in his assertion about market leadership. At E3, I asked him whether he thought that Revolution could return Nintendo to the throne, so to speak. And he was much more coy, essentially avoiding my question by saying something like "it´s not about market leadership". That´s all they ever said until now.

Secondly, about the Ethernet connection, could that be another clue? Now, a normal ethernet port is near the work area, a console in the living room. But most people don´t have a separate study, so the desk wouldn´t be too far away from the television. I guess that could reiterate the rumours that the Revolution will be far more portable than anyone would guess. The size of three stacked DVD cases is already an indicator that Nintendo might redefine the term ´home console´.

Thirdly, there is the bold assertion that Revolution graphics would not look inferior to the competitors´ standard. No comment needed here. I´m just relieved.

Lastly, the Pikmin comment is probably the best clue about the controller yet, coming from the horse´s mouth. In my opinion, that reaffirms some sort of gyroscopic technology. But also the rumour about advanced voice recognition comes to mind. Remember the whistle for the roll call in that game? I just had a mad idea. What if the controller really had no buttons (or just very few) and some functions (the A, B, X and Y buttons for example) were completely covered by voice control? All buttons that don´t need to be kept depressed could easily be substituted by voice commands. In this particular example, you would line up the Pikmins using the gyros and shout out the orders they should perform. It´s a mad thought, I guess and I´m hungry, tired and dehydrated. So please go easy on me in discussion ;P

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Let´s count our blessings

First of all, I don´t have any real information for you in this post. I am just shocked by most people´s reactions to Capcom´s recent decision. Most likely, there will be no Resident Evil 5 for Nintendo Revolution. Allow me to be deliberately provocative now: So what? Sure, Resident Evil 4 was an almost flawless game and I very much enjoyed playing it. But its predecessors in the series were far from perfect. Controlling characters in Resident Evil Zero was like steering a car and quite frustrating to everyone but the most loyal fans. So why start whining about a game we know almost nothing about yet?

And even if the new installment lives up to its expectations, it´s still only one game. I very muched enjoyed playing Resident Evil 4, but to be honest I preferred playing Eternal Darkness and I preferred playing Metroid. I don´t want you to flame, I would just like you to realise that it´s just one game, albeit a good one. There will be other good games. And where is everyone´s excitement about a new piece of hardware gone? The way I see it is this: We will get a console that will feature something more or less groundbreaking. At the very least, the Revolution will have gyroscopic controllers. Some kind of haptic device also looks likely. Maybe there will be pressure sensitive pads, there could even be some kind of brainwave measuring device or maybe there will even be stereoscopic 3D projection or an augmented reality visor.

So let´s count our blessings. Don´t let this one announcement kill all your excitement about a console that really could turn out to be a revolution. Think about all the things the console could turn out to be... Until we know, this is a bit like the outcry about the lack of high definition. As I commented before, it´s asking for ketchup without knowing what´s for dinner.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Sega comments on Revolution

Simon Jeffrey of Sega has been interviewed by Nintendo Power. He has said a number of things about the Revolution. Read the entire interview here.

NP: Do you think that those rising costs might lead to even more cross-platform games, and if Nintendo decides to do something radically different with Revolution, is that going to potentially discourage third parties from supporting the platform? Or do you think it might be attractive in terms of trying something different?

SJ: A bit of both, probably. I think it depends how Nintendo rolls out its third-party relations. We’re very excited about the prospects of Revolution, because, like we were talking about earlier, the Nintendo platforms have been great for Sonic and the classic franchises. We think Revolution can absolutely be the same. But I think you’re absolutely right. If Nintendo does choose a different model than Sony and Microsoft, then it might be very difficult for some third parties to adopt this three-pronged, multi-platform approach.

3D after all?, part II

I have only just come across this EE Times article, published at the end of May. It relates to Neurosky, who were mentioned a month or so ago on the Nintendo forums and who I wrote this post about.
Five companies, including a Bluetooth headset provider, game console maker and trucking company, are said to have signed up to market end-user products containing NeuroSky's chips.(...)

NeuroSky is working with videogame console makers on an application to sense the mood of the gamer and adjust the game accordingly. "It's like having a dancing partner who follows your lead," said Yang.

In difference to a possible Nintendo / NASA connection I wrote about in the first part of this post, this new (old) article actually mentions that the investor is a console manufacturer. That means it´s down to the big three. Now, the very idea would hardly be considered by Microsoft or Sony. So it pretty much has to be Nintendo.

If you read my old post on Neurosky, thoughts on thoughts, this technology is nowhere near as advanced to allow the gamer to steer a car or negotiate a 3D environment. If it´s just a matter of sensing the mood of the gamer and adjusting the game accordingly, that could indeed be a possibility. I remember there were rumours before the E3 that Nintendo would include this very kind of feature. If I remember correctly, the rumours related to a heart rate monitor. The practical upshot is the same, though. You are playing a horror game that knows when you are afraid. Doors unlock only when you have calmed down. That could well be a possibility.

Sorry if you have come across this before. I know this was posted two weeks ago on this Nintendo forum thread. But the story received too little attention, I guess. I didn´t see it until now, anyway.

EDIT The EE Times posted an earlier article concerning Neurosky. Here´s the interesting bit:

NeuroSky (Santa Clara, Calif.), a fabless design house that consists of U.S. chip designers and neuroscience experts from Moscow National University, is developing a dry sensor product, a signal processing chipset, and intellectual property (IP). The company also claims to have an exclusive license to brainwave interpretation algorithms, which were developed in Russia.

The company said it will embed these components in a lightweight, low-cost headset, which will interact with separate electronic and electromechanical devices in "neural-mapping" applications. Initially, it will focus on three applications: sleep/drowsiness detectors for the automotive and industrial markets; therapeutic solutions for attention deficit disorder (ADD) problems; and gaming consoles. (...)

The company, which has 17 employees, has obtained less than $1 million in funding thus far. It plans to raise some $3-to-$5 million of Series A financing in the near future.

The funding will enable the company to develop its product line, which is slated for 2006. This funding will also be used to put the chipset into production, strengthen its patent portfolio, and boost its marketing and sales efforts.

Just to show they will be able to mass-produce by 2006. Happy speculating, everyone!

The price of the future, part II

I was just trying to trace the alleged connection between Nintendo and the stereoscopic technology company ´Virtual Vision´ (a subsidiary of Emagin, who have in turn been rumoured to work with Nintendo before). I didn´t find any hard evidence concerning this topic, but I came across an interesting quote about costs, though. Lots of people seem to think that a technology like AR (with high-end gadgets in the five figures price range) could never be mass-marketed as a videogame tool. But it´s possible and it´s been done before. Remember the Nintendo Power Glove? Wikipedia describes it like this:

The Power Glove is a controller accessory for the Nintendo Entertainment System made by Mattel. This controller was unique in the fact that it was a glove instead of the normal controller. On the glove it included a set of controls like a normal controller. It also included a program button and buttons labeled 0-9. A person would hit the program button and a numbered button to do various things (such as increase or decrease the firing rate of the A and B buttons). Along with the controller, someone could move their hand in various movements to control the character on-screen. It was based on the patented technology of the VPL Dataglove, but with many modifications that allowed it to be used with a slow hardware and sold at an affordable price.

But what do you think that gadget cost as a high-end prototype? Well, I found the info on that. The following quote is from a Business Week article, entitled VIRTUAL REALITY - How a Computer-Generated World Could Change the Real World. It was published on October 5, 1992.
Entertainment is one of the first beneficiaries. Nintendo Co.'s $99 Powerglove, a simpler version of VPL's $ 8,800 Dataglove, lets video-game wizards play with hand gestures and has already helped spawn a host of VR-like video games.
The cost discrepancy between the professional tool and its mass-market videogame equivalent is staggering: the latter is only a little over 1% of the price of the former. And remember that there´s still a profit margin in there. This example helps us to understand that cutting edge technology can easily be brought down to an acceptable price, given reduced quality. This ties in with what Rick Shie, POC´s senior vice president told me some weeks ago. The costly ingredient of stereoscopic 3D projection are the projectors, he said. But, he had added, it was all down to what quality output the client desired.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Revolution in stores by Xmas 2005?

Well, strap yourselves in and buckle up. We´re going on another rumour rollercoaster ride here. The good people at Game Asylum have the Revolution up for pre-orders for $299 (apparently reduced from a list price of $499) and available by Christmas 2005 right here. Thanks to Mets987 for posting that link in this thread on the Gamefaqs boards.

Game Asylum is a Yahoo store without any retail outlets, the company being based in Casper, Wyoming. Though they are an online only store, they claim to be quite big, especially in the wholesale business. Here´s what they claim:
With one of the worlds largest selections of video game accessories for over 35 video game systems, is the world's leading source for video game hardware. Major companies regularly order from our pages. Our client base includes businesses and personal users of video game products. Some of our customers include Boeing, CBS 48 Hours News Magazine, Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Vivendi Universal Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Sony Computer Entertainment of America as well as thousands of households around the globe.

Now, I would very much doubt them being the world's leading source for video game hardware. Also, they don´t seem to be too up to date on their next-gen stuff. They list the PlayStation3 correctly as available by 1st quarter 2006. Incidentally, for the same price as the Revolution. $299, reduced from a $499 list price.

What really makes me question the site (even more than the amateurish web design) is the PS3 logo they show, which is a pre-E3 mock-up, albeit a good one. They also show it in their homepage intro, which is reminiscent of those old Amiga demos. It just doesn´t look like a professional page.

Also, showing a list price of $499 for the Rev is the best indicator that they make this data up. We all know that Nintendo would never even think of a price in that category. Remember Gamestop listing the Rev as available in March? They must have just made it up. After all, they immediately changed the pre-order page after I (and undoubtedly thousands of others) sent them mails asking to confirm the date. So, I think it´s safe to unbuckle again and call this one a big fake.

EDIT Game Asylum just replied to my mail. Here´s what they had to say:
No sorry can not guarantee a specific date as we are only at the mercy of the manufacturer. The retail price is subject to change, but as it stands we have been told it is $299

Best Regards,
Team Asylum
$299 is a realistic price tag, but $499 as a list price is still ridiculous. Funny they don´t mention that here.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Xenias screens fake / ON site update

The originals to the alleged Xenias screenshots are here and here. They are hosted on Deviant Art, an online art community. They are by two different artists and were posted 7th of June and 4th of January, respectively. Of course, it doesn´t necessarily mean the pics are fake. But let´s not cling to straws, shall we? For all intents and purposes they are.

Thanks to Kraid for finding these links. I had also seen them posted on this Gamespot forum thread courtesy of Ser69 - who also originally posted them there, interestingly. Don´t know if they were first posted on Gamespot, though. But maybe he actually cropped them and added the logos. Who knows?

One interesting sidenote: that banner reading Revolution is actually in the original itself. Ah, well. One of those things, I guess.

Also, young master McWilliam has updated his site No more flash animation. There´s just this Nintendo logo with two blue spheres, one smaller than the other. They could be meant to resemble the official Rev logo, in turn resembling both Gamecube and standard size discs.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Xenias files

The Nintendo forums are buzzing with these two screenshots, apparently showing Xenias, an action game that is rumoured to be in development for the Revolution.

The screenshots are undeniably professional. Whether fake or not, they were made by graphic artists. If they are real they would have to be artwork because of the smooth edges, the character poses and unusual camera angles.

There is also a Revolution logo on a banner on the bridge in the second pic. It shows a half-circle with lines crossing through it. Here´s an enlargement of the logo.

The Retro Studio logo is shown in both pictures, which would suggest that Xenias (or X3N145, as it is spelt here) could be a new IP Retro is developing for the Revolution.

Lots of questions remain unanswered: Where did these pics really originate from? What is Nintendo´s and Retro´s official response to them? Where did the rumour about a game called Xenias originate from? Have Retro or Nintendo confirmed that Retro is working on a new intellectual property, alongside Metroid Prime 3?

Unfortunately, I don´t have the time to research this right now and answer some of these questions. But I will do so in the next few days. In the meantime, share your thoughts on them. Perhaps the alleged logo can guide us in determining whether X3N145 could be a reality.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Schooling Truthseeker / Dismissing DepthQ

I am afraid, I am going to have to do some proper schooling now. Lots of people seem to be in awe of Truthseeker´s blog and his critical approach. Why do some people think that he is so critical, though? All he does is repeat the claim over and over again:
(...) this is a FACT based blog, and I will NEVER get into the speculation surrounding the Revolution. I just provide, what is REAL, and what is NOT.

It´s certainly not because he provides his readers with any real research, balanced insight or the like. His latest post is about the digital projection company DepthQ. He writes:

Nintendo is listed as a 'client' of this company.

(...) For more info, head over to the website link provided. It is what it is folks, a CONFIRMED partner with Nintendo. It may, or may not be a clue on the Revolution, but at least we know THIS to be true.

Well, is it? It took me less than two minutes to do the most basic research on this business relationship. I didn´t even have to call these people up. I just went to their website and followed the link to the parent company, Lightspeed Design. On it, there is this page with quotes from the previous clients. First of all, it lists Nintendo of America as the client. The quote reads:

Don James, Nintendo of America

"I wanted to thank you for the fantastic job that Lightspeed did at E3. The computer graphics and laser overlay highlighted our products and got our message to the show attendees in a wonderful and entertaining way. With your help, it was Nintendo’s best trade show ever."

All this company did was provide NOA with 3D projectors at some E3. That´s all. It would have been that easy for Truthseeker to dismiss this rumour. Instead, he called it a:
(...) juicy tid-bit of information, that may reveal a portion of the Revolution "puzzle"(As Itwata stated in his E3 speech)

I will forgive him for the spelling. But this guy is just another juvenile blogger spreading wild rumours like the majority of kids out there, without ever bothering to provide his readers with any kind of research.

He claims to only put out stuff that is real. Instead, his journalistic routine involves no more than pressing Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V. Nothing else.

EDIT I feel I may have gone slightly overboard in terms of my language there. Calling Truthseeker a kid was not meant derogatory, I honestly thought he was a teenager. He´s not. My criticism for his lack of research remains. Worse still, he claims to have seen this quote but decided to leave it out. Anyway, he posted a reply to this post of mine on his blog. To present a balanced picture, I have copied it below:
Direct response to Falafelkid.

First off, I'd like to thank you for finding out, exactly what this company has done for Nintendo. Kudos. (Even though I had already determined that for myself, I had neglected to include that in my story for the readers of this blog. Although, I did provide a link to the company, as well as the FAQ) The more things we can put to rest, the better as far as i'm concerned.

Secondly, even though, you sound upset with me(For reasons I can suppose, but I'd rather hear them from you) I consider your blog one of the finest, for Revolution information, and speculation. It always promises to be a good read.

On a side note, my story(Actually garnered from the gamespot forums) was exactly what I said it was, a confirmed partner with Nintendo, nothing more, nothing less. I didn't speculate as to if it was the "secret" of the Revolution, or otherwise. I just gave the heads up, what the company does, along with a link. I stated, throughout my post, that it MAY have something to do with the Revolution, as in the puzzle Iwata himself mentioned. I didn't go off the deep end, at any time. It is, what it is. A confirmed partner with Nintendo. The full extent of thier relationship is not known to me, nor is it known to you.

"I will forgive him for the spelling. But this guy is just another juvenile blogger spreading wild rumours like the majority of kids out there, without ever bothering to provide his readers with any kind of research.He claims to only put out stuff that is real. Instead, his journalistic routine involves no more than pressing Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V. Nothing else."

I have no problem with your opinion of me, that's your buisness. The personal insults I can do without though. If by "juvenile blogger" you mean new to this whole blog buisness, then yes, I am. When people branch out, and try new things, thier level of professionalism goes up with time, and I hope that mine does just that. (I also hope that the readers can bear with me)

If you somehow meant that I am a young kid, with nothing to do, you couldn't be more wrong. I do this for fun. It's a hobby,(Gaming) and it always has been. My age(28), or my profession(Film Maker) has nothing to do with this blog, or the quality of the contents within. I never claimed to be a journalist(Even though I did have some schooling on the profession) nor do I do an overwhelming amount of research. If you had read some of my earlier blogs, you would have understood that. I use alot of common sense, and help from the fine forum regulars over at the MozLaPunk forums, as well as other blogs, and messege boards strewn about the Internet.

Pointing out my spelling errors, is juvenile. Attacking me for posting an interesting story, about a company that indeed has ties with Nintendo, is juvenile. Attacking my person, is juvenile.

What matters to me, and it would seem to alot of the readers of this blog, is the truth, about the up-coming Nintendo Revolution, and the secret function(s) it may posses. Spreading "wild rumours" is for blogs, other than mine. It's the reason for just posting the link, and what the company does, along with the fact that Nintendo is a client of thiers. Everything else, I left to the messege boards, and blogs. (The word Juicy, was included becuase it was the first time, a DIRECT LINK was found between a company providing a form of VR, and Nintendo)

In ending this rebuttal to your blog, I suppose I could call you names, and point out various spelling errors, but whats the point? You and me both, share a common theme;

We want to know what the "Revolution" is.

That's why I will continue to provide the readers of this blog, with a direct link to your blog, so that they may enjoy reading your fine work, and speculation.

Keep up the good work my friend, and I hope to read something of yours very soon,


Monday, July 11, 2005

Quickest fake ever proven to be one

Nice try, but now there are only dev kits up and running so far. It will be still half a year at least until they build an actual console that runs the games. If there already are actual Xbox 360 consoles that run software, they haven´t been around for long. So, quickest fake ever proven to be fake. Good effort, but only technically speaking.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Proof that Gorgonbox is a Navy site

The cryptic site Gorgonbox, which deciphers and encrypts messages in order to give users hidden clues, movies and pictures has been rumoured to be part of a Nintendo viral marketing campaign. It´s not. There is proof that it is indeed a Navy site, as has been speculated.

One month ago, the Bluejacket, an apparent Navy newspaper, wrote this article. At the moment the whole server seems to be down. Here´s the full text, copied from the Google cache:
Online video game new tool for recruiting
By Jeffrey G. Nichols CNRC Public Affairs

Your awareness is heightened. You sense someone is watching you, monitoring your movements, waiting for you to get closer. You have no time to waste; you need to reach the downed plane and extract the sensitive information. Your country is depending on you -- are you up to the challenge?

Navy Training Exercise (NTE) “Strike and Retrieve” is a new online video game that was developed by Commander, Navy Recruiting Command and its advertising agency to help build interest in and awareness of Navy high-tech jobs. It uses a hypothetical scenario to challenge the player to locate and secure top-secret documents from within a downed unmanned reconnaissance plane, all the while battling challenging underwater terrain, deep sea creatures and an opposing force also on the trail of the downed plane.

Strike and Retrieve has been developed to provide young men and women aged 17 to 24 with a chance to participate in a “highly sensitive, top-secret” mission. While Navy Recruiting continues to reach out to this audience via more conventional recruiting methods, gaming and interactive electronic media have increasingly become an aspect of this audience’s daily lives. Accordingly, the Navy is working to reach them via these new avenues.

Strike and Retrieve will draw participants and test their skills in different areas that Sailors in the Navy experience in their everyday life and challenge their own skills. There will also be an opportunity for players to learn more about the Navy while searching for special codes to help guide them through the game. The game directs players to to find the special codes. The initial version of Strike and Retrieve is downloadable from the Internet and is stand-alone (one player). Plans for future missions and versions that will grow with technology, the Internet and player demands are still under consideration and planning.

Strike and Retrieve is expected to be rated “E” for everyone. The game is mentally challenging, and while the game is aimed at a specific age group -- younger players -- more experienced players can also enjoy the game without fear of violence and gore.

The game is planned for launch on June 15. For more information on the game scenario, go to

There had been plenty of self-proclaimed insiders out there, pretending that Gorgonbox contained the Revolution´s secret. There is this blog on it. Also, there has been speculation about a zodiac trio, apparently being Iwata, Miyamoto and Reggie. Finally, all this nonsense is proven to be fake. If anyone should doubt the authenticity of the article, it´s on the server. No way to fake that. There is just no such thing as the N-game, people!

I cannot claim I found this article myself. But, again, my browser crashed and I barely salvaged the link. I couldn´t trace its source, though.

The touchscreen that "touches back"

While we´re on the subject of Immersion Corporation: I came across this press release, which details a technology that essentially combines a touchscreen with haptic feedback. The press release reads (formatting is my own):
TouchSense technology supplies tactile cues, noticeably absent in current touchscreens, providing a more intuitive, personal, and natural experience. Instead of just feeling the hard, unresponsive touchscreen surface, users perceive that buttons depress and release, just as physical buttons and switches do. This realistic and engaging response restores the rich tactile information conveyed through physical controls, such as when clicking a computer mouse, pushing a button, or depressing a membrane switch. System designers can synchronize TouchSense tactile sensations with sound and on-screen graphical images for an even more powerful user experience.

Immersion first implemented its TouchSense force feedback technology in 1996 in gaming system peripherals. Since that time, it has been incorporated into numerous computer and video console systems; medical simulation systems; rotary controls in cars from BMW, Rolls Royce, and Volkswagen; and mobile phones from Samsung. TouchSense technology for touchscreens is the latest implementation.

(...) "TouchSense technology allows the user's sense of touch to join sight and sound for a more multisensory and engaging experience, one that can enhance performance, productivity, safety, or fun," said Dean Chang, Immersion CTO. "Touchscreen manufacturers and integrators can use this vibro-tactile, or haptic, technology to provide a more satisfying user experience for applications from automotive and industrial controls to point of sale, kiosk, and gaming."

(...) Immersion will begin selling demonstration touch monitors integrated with TouchSense technology, which will be suitable for testing design concepts, in June. Development kits for integration of the technology by OEMs or system integrators are expected to be available in Q3 2005. Immersion also offers design assistance and customized services.

If I understand the technology correctly, it has to do with the term vibrotactile. That is the area of expertise of the inventor that cropped up in the patent posted below. I know it´s a bit of a long shot. Especially since Nintendo has ruled out touchscreens for the controller. However, this simply is no ordinary touchscreen but a new technology altogether. But even if this is unrelated to Nintendo, we should be aware of its existence. If you are interested in more detail on TouchSense, check Immersion´s touchscreen page.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Haptic patent

Nixlax on this Moz La Punk post came up with this link to an Espacenet page, Espacenet being a European patent database. The patent specifies a Haptic feedback device with button forces, its abstract reads as follows:
A haptic feedback control device, such as a handheld remote control or handheld game controller, for controlling a graphical object within a graphical display and for outputting forces to a user. A housing includes a button, wherein the user engages the button with a finger. The button is depressible along a degree of freedom by the user. An actuator applies forces to the user through the button along the degree of freedom. A sensor detects displacement of the button along the degree of freedom when the button is depressed by the user. A process, local to the device, controls the actuator to generate the forces upon the button in the degree of freedom to provide a tactile sensation to the user contacting the button.

There is no mention of Nintendo, but (just to fuel some speculation) the controller shown in one of the pdf documents looks uncannily like the N64 controller. I´ve extracted the image for you.

I cannot find the matching entry with the US patent office. However, one of the inventors mentioned, Erik Shahoian, seems to work for Immersion Corporation. At least, there is this document on their server written by him. A google search on this name also returns a number of other patents dealing with haptic devices. There is this one called Low-cost haptic mouse implementations and this one entitled Vibrotactile haptic feedback devices. Obviously this person seems to be very active in researching haptic applications that could be used with videogame consoles.

Now, Immersion is apparently not tied to Nintendo - at least not officially - but Immersion has sued Sony and Microsoft for their use of a rumble feature in their controllers. They have not sued Nintendo. Some say that Nintendo´s patent predates Immersion´s, others suspect some kind of cooperation. Well, maybe here it is.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Logo and controller pics

Two new images to mull over, people.

First up is a logo that can be found on the aforementioned Industrial Property Digital Library of Japan. People have been posting this everywhere, commenting on how Nintendo had trademarked it. The logo certainly can be found. But there is no mention of who has reserved the rights to it. See for yourself. I´m hesitant about the logo.

Secondly, this is a simple controller drawing in the familiar ad style. Not too credible in terms of artistic execution perhaps, it´s almost no more than an outline (to go along with the ad-style Rev). In terms of shape and ergonomics it can´t be ruled out. But I would bet my money on it being fake, too. Finally, I can´t remember where I read these stories first. My Firefox just crashed and I need to go offline. They are both posted on numerous sites, though. Happy speculating, all.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Resurrecting Pablo

Thanks to an anonymous poster for the link to this blog by another one of those guys claiming to work for Nintendo out there in Japan. In his long post he tries something pretty brave, namely to resurrect the ON theory:
Nintendo ON is real, whatever you have heard about the ON being fake is absolutely not true, even regarding the interview with Pablo Belmonte. Pablo is a complete fake, he did not make the video, we at Nintendo did using our own in house crew.

Pablo is a fan boy, three years ago he did make the Mario Universe fake video clip to bring some hype for upcoming Nintendo games, and we thank him for that. He does want to work for Nintendo, he approached Nintendo of America many years ago but NOA simply did not have a position for him at the time. We NOJ were very intrigued by Pablo’s outstanding work, especially for his age and the way in which he has taught himself to use all these different designing tools to create his extraordinary videos.

Nintendo leaked the ON clip especially to cause mass hype before E3 but has continued to stay quiet, there is a statement in a recent article about the ON clip on and Perri Kaplin from NOA said ‘Who knows what comes next - virtual reality Nintendo gaming next, next generation?’ she says next generation, well as you already know this generation for Nintendo is still known as next generation as nothing has been officially released. This is a clue Nintendo is giving, I should know and I can tell you with all honesty it is the real deal.

Now, a week or so after my interview, 1up posted this feature on Pablo and the clip. They went into far more detail, outlining the exact timeframe of the production and even showing polygon grids of the models. After all this, it´s quite bold to claim it was real after all. Sure, the quality is almost unbelievable given one person worked on it for no more than a week. But (and this is just the first contention that springs to mind) an official video would never end that abruptly.

Anyway, we will know the truth about this guy shortly. I posted this comment:

Please tell me which hotel in Kyoto Nintendo uses for visits by NOA and NOE guests. It won´t show you up, if you answer. But I am in a position to verify this claim 100%. This info won´t be anywhere on the net. You should know though. If not, ask a colleague. The only reason for not answering would be not being who you claim to be. Thank you in advance.

Must say I´m feeling pretty smug about this. If he bothers to reply, I´ll call my contacts at Nintendo of Europe and find out about the hotel. If he doesn´t, we know already.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Good riddance

Right, I apologize for not posting anything new for ages. I had needed a break after posting the last two posts, which involved a bit of research. And as if it had known that, my modem broke. That also explains why I didn´t change the corrupted banner that made everyone believe my blog had been renamed to ´Bandwidth Exceeded´. Although I did like the 8-bit touch, that´s a thing of the past.

But now for the news: Seriousgamer007 who was the biggest self-proclaimed prophet and attention-seeking kid on the Nintendo forums and elsewhere has thrown in the towel. He´s admitted he´s fake in this Nintendo forum thread.

This piece of news comes only a few days after the ominous Nin-Sider blog came out of the same closet. INMHS and the new contender Anonymous Sam posting on this moz la punk article are still in there.

But INMHS blew his cover in a private mail to me, in which he wanted to get me to believe his story. When talking about his findings last year, he kept referring to the Revolution as N5. That was never an official codename that was used in the development community. Everyone who was actually involved in the project called it Gamecube Next. So that´s him off the board.

Anonymous Sam went out in style, when he kept on referring to Reggie and Peter Kaplan as NOA´s marketing team. Wasn´t Peter actually Perrin, people asked. Yeah, he replied, but everyone called him Peter. (For all of you who don´t know, Perrin Kaplan is a woman.)

Well, I have crossed all four kids off my list a long time ago. And good riddance to all of them! It all goes to show: Don´t believe the hype.

Friday, July 01, 2005

3D after all?

Now this could truly be big news right here. There is a very interesting link circulating the community now. It´s to NASA´s so-called Small Business Innovation Research / Small Business Technology Transfer program (SBIR/STTR), which "provides an opportunity for small, high technology companies and research institutions to participate in Government sponsored research and development efforts in key technology areas."

The particular page details one of three such projects with the Physical Optics Corporation (P.O.C.) of Torrance, California. This project is entitled "3-D Visualization System for Robotic Teleoperations" and is described as fololows.
High quality, real time 3-D visualization system with no position restrictions for viewing and no hardware for the viewer to wear.
That´s interesting in itself. But the potential bombshell is hidden under the heading ´Commercialization´:
* $750,000 contract with U.S. Army to develop technology for medical imaging
* $300,000 of support from Japanese company to develop for game applications
I have just had a very interesting conversation with Rick Shie, the company´s senior vice president. To begin with, I tried to pull the old trick on him, presupposing what you are actually asking about. So I asked him outright about Nintendo´s $300,000 involvement and what practical use the gaming giant was getting out of this investment. His answer was to note that he got plenty of mails about this matter today, already. He then went on to say that he is bound by a non-disclosure agreement (N.D.A.) and couldn´t say too much about it. Mr. Shie didn´t confirm the company in question was Nintendo, but he also never denied it. Given the fact that I boldly presupposed the connection in my question, I regard this a very likely scenario. Every company with such a contract is bound by an N.D.A., but that doesn´t prevent them telling people who they´re NOT working with.

If this is true, an important question remains, though: Is Nintendo trying to implement this technology with the Revolution? Or are they merely gearing it up for future use? To answer this, let´s briefly go into the technology involved. The project is internally referred to as a "3-D Real-Time Video Display System". These two images are courtesy of P.O.C.
* The components are a triple-CPU computer network called ´Chromium Cluster´ for processing the images provided by a 3D-input source. Each CPU contains a 1.6GHz Pentium 4 processor with 512 MB of DDR. Incidentally, didn´t Iwata mention the same RAM specification? I am no hardware buff, so this could just be a coincidence, I guess.

* The data is forwarded to two LCD projectors generating a stereoscopic image (meaning one image for each eye) via turning mirrors (to flip the image, I guess).

* This is projected onto a holographic display screen (built into some kind of table in the prototype shown, but other implementations are possible). The screen makes the system unique, because it does away with goggles or any other hardware the viewer would need to wear.

* The last important component is the interfacing software. It is compatible with "Windows PC based 3-D software such as OGL (Open Graphic Language), Direct X, 3D Max, and MAYA.OBJ. The software will work with operating engines such as LINUX and Quake III."

This last point is very important to note, because this means games will not have to be specially programmed to be compatible with this technology. Rick Shie specifically mentioned that he had demonstrated the technology to people who had brought their laptops with them and plugged them in to see their own 3D data (from CAD programs or 3DS Max), transform into true 3D.

I asked Mr. Shie if all these components could be packaged in a videogame console for a maximum price of $450 (which I believe is the maximum amount a console could cost its manufacturer). He said that the major cost components are the projectors and the clients would have to assess the quality - price ratio. The holographic screen, he said, could easily be mass produced. He did say, however, that the best possible application, in his mind, was in arcade halls. So it´s still possible that they are actually working with Sega or Namco on this one and it´s destined to become the next arcade blockbuster. But still, a home version of this technology is "possible to implement," according to Shie.

Also, its big advantage over previous 3D systems is that the system is ´frequency matched´, significantly reducing symptoms of fatigue and strain on the eyes. I am sure we would all agree that this would be Nintendo´s first and foremost pre-requisite for getting back into 3D visuals (after the Virtual Boy fiasco).

Lastly, let´s discuss if the company would be up to the job of supplying a videogame giant. P.O.C. is one of those companies that impact on almost everyone´s life but who noone has ever heard of. They are a small systems integrator with a very varied portfolio. they are apparently very big in the cellphone sector, supplying displays to global players in this market. They also do lots of government research, hold dozens of patents with plenty more pending and often license their technology to third companies. They have been around since 1985. They are undoubtedly up to the job, in my opinion. Let´s discuss.

But finally, I would also like to urge everyone to not contact P.O.C. anymore. We have found out as much as they are going to say at the moment. They are under an N.D.A. and receive too many mails already. Also, there is simply no point in contacting them if you are not a member of the press with official credentials. Please don´t contact them anymore! Also, once again thanks to Raphael (quoting this source) for telling me about the story.

EDIT As I realised now, the story was first posted on my good friend Phalanx´s blog in this post, quoting someone, apparently claiming to be a developer, who came up with the link. I can´t vouch for this guy, though. I´m trying to contact him.