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Old May 24, 2007, 06:57 AM   #1
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Wii - graphics, controls & future (long)

(Disclaimer: I own a Wii, Gamecube, N64, and played the SNES and NES to death. Also.. 360, Xbox, PS2, PS1 etc..)

After having a Wii for a couple of months now I still have very mixed feelings about it. As much of a cliche as it is ( !) I have had a Wii party, and several friends who have no interest in games had great fun in Wii Sports. A few of them are now thinking about buying too, and the relatively low price tag certainly helps.

However:

Graphics: I was pleasantly surprised how well Twilight Princess looked, for a SD game on a HD TV. I was playing in 576i (even though 480p seems generally recommended, I found 576i to be sharper). Sure, the environment, character and lighting models are relatively simplistic, but the graphics are sharp, and it doesn't detract greatly from the game. It certainly shows if you design a game with the console's limitations in mind, you can produce a game which still looks very, very good.

Another game I tried on the Wii was Prince of Persia Rival Swords, and this game seems to take the other approach, with more complex models and effects but the graphics appear very pixellated.

I know people will say graphics don't matter, only gameplay does. But I have to take issue with that point. How can you have ambience in a game, when you're walking towards a ray of light coming from a window and it's so horribly pixellated (looks more like dithering or compression artifacts actually) it just jars you out of the game mood. Or you're trying to sneak up behind a guard, and he runs forwards towards you - it's so pixellated you can't even see which way the guard was facing!

I think there is certainly going to be a big market for Wii-specific games, but I'm very dubious about any market for ports from other consoles as time goes on. (I'm sure some will say "no loss"! but I think the more games on any console, the better as far as I'm concerned).

Controls:This was the main reason I bought a Wii, I foresaw games where you hold the controls and wield them just as you wield tools/weapons in real life (just like the early Wii adverts show). And certainly in Wii Sports that's the case and the games (while basic) play beautifully. That's not the case in Twilight Princess (generally) or Rival Swords. Instead, you find yourself wiggling or shaking the controllers to execute a sword slash.

Instead of being a more obvious, intuitive, immersive control scheme, it's even more obscure than a normal game controller. Why shake the Nunchuck from side to side in Zelda to do a spin attack? How is that in any way "better" than hitting a button or rolling a control stick?

Maybe (I hope!) future Wii games will employ the controls far better, but the games I've played thus far bar Wii Sports, the controls require more thought and time than a gamepad would.

Any thoughts? Any good Wii games which use the controls better than "wiggle to turn left", "wobble to turn right"?
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Old May 24, 2007, 07:40 AM   #2
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Part of the control problem with Zelda is that it was developed originally for the Gamecube, then ported to the Wii and had the whole Wii-control thing tacked on.

Plus then, if you had to swing your arm with the Wii remote to execute a sword slash, you're gonna have a sore arm after an hour or so.
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Old May 24, 2007, 08:06 AM   #3
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Old May 24, 2007, 08:13 AM   #4
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About graphics- of course they matter. But only to the degree that you know what's going on. Not to be confused with video quality (RF versus HDMI/Component, lolzers), if you can't see what's going on then it's no good.

I've been in a few lectures hosted by adamant 2D game makers (mostly GBA devs) in that they praise any 2D game circa NES because you can see everything that is important. Early 3D would have cloudy graphics and it's only been since last gen that 3D has gained the clarity of 2D. Even in some 3D games on the DS you get the loss of clarity. But anyroad, graphics matter only until they are legible, after that any graphical boost is just a bonus. So long as neither the game is fuelled by the graphics or that graphics hinder the game.

I agree about the Zelda controls. They do seem a little strange at first. I don't know if this is classed under augmented reality but the notion of just using your arms in such an exertive way for a prolong time adds to the immersion, regardless of how precise it is. At first I was very conscious of the controls but as I started performing quick shots with the slingshot it all fell into place.
Normally when I play a game there will be moments every few minutes where I metaphorically step back and realise I'm holding a fixed controller pushing buttons. I may be doing half of them things with the Wii controller, but during Zelda (and so far only Zelda and Wii Sports) I just forgot what I was holding and it just became a natural extension.

By far the worst implementation of Wii controls is SSX Blur which I find a confusing and awkward experience. I'm slowly getting to grips with it now but I found the controls to hinder the game up until this point.

Then you have games like Excite Truck. If they gave that regular controls I'd likely never play it. The control and sense of speed have immersed me more than any game on my PC at resolutions past HD and control schemes more precise than a standard or Wii controller.

It's a funny ol' thing and I can't put my finger on some details either. All I am sure about is that I'm having the most fun of my gaming life on the Wii.

edit: I'm playing in 576i too my TV deinterlaces and I don't see any loss in quality or see any flicker. Just a bit more crisp. Good ol' Pal. I've always wondered if the better TV resolution is why HDTV hasn't really taken off here.
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Old May 24, 2007, 08:57 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raggedjimmi View Post
About graphics- of course they matter. But only to the degree that you know what's going on. Not to be confused with video quality (RF versus HDMI/Component, lolzers), if you can't see what's going on then it's no good.

I've been in a few lectures hosted by adamant 2D game makers (mostly GBA devs) in that they praise any 2D game circa NES because you can see everything that is important. Early 3D would have cloudy graphics and it's only been since last gen that 3D has gained the clarity of 2D. Even in some 3D games on the DS you get the loss of clarity. But anyroad, graphics matter only until they are legible, after that any graphical boost is just a bonus. So long as neither the game is fuelled by the graphics or that graphics hinder the game.
I totally agree with this statement. That is why Wii Sports is so good with simple graphics. And Wario Ware too. But for instance in Prince of Persia, if you can't even tell if a character is facing you or away its a big problem.

Quote:
I agree about the Zelda controls. They do seem a little strange at first. I don't know if this is classed under augmented reality but the notion of just using your arms in such an exertive way for a prolong time adds to the immersion, regardless of how precise it is. At first I was very conscious of the controls but as I started performing quick shots with the slingshot it all fell into place.

By far the worst implementation of Wii controls is SSX Blur which I find a confusing and awkward experience. I'm slowly getting to grips with it now but I found the controls to hinder the game up until this point.
I see SSX Blur on some peoples must get list of the Wii (on the same level as paper mario and zelda). But you are making me reconsider.

I am also divided about Zelda. First, its a great great game. But, I also don't quite feel like the controls make it any better. wiggeling the controls IS the same as pushing a button. I think I would like this just as much with a regular controller.
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Old May 24, 2007, 09:01 AM   #6
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Part of the control problem with Zelda is that it was developed originally for the Gamecube, then ported to the Wii and had the whole Wii-control thing tacked on.

Plus then, if you had to swing your arm with the Wii remote to execute a sword slash, you're gonna have a sore arm after an hour or so.
I take it then you've never had a lengthy session playing Wii Sports Tennis or Boxing!

The degree of force shouldn't matter (much), but for the Wii controls to be a genuine benefit for the system, the control actions need to be similar to the in-game action. If so, they add to the immersion in the gameplay. If they're completely different (such as one sword move in Rival Swords involves swinging the WiiMote downward 3 times, then the NunChuck 3 times, then pressing A, which bears no relation to the end-action) it just add a degree of confusion to the control system.

On the Zelda issue - I really hope so. I can't wait to see what a Wii-specific Zelda might play like.
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Old May 24, 2007, 09:25 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raggedjimmi View Post
But anyroad, graphics matter only until they are legible, after that any graphical boost is just a bonus. So long as neither the game is fuelled by the graphics or that graphics hinder the game.
I'm one of those people who prefers immersive games - pull across the curtains, crank up the sound and soak up the ambience. I've long argued that the sound & music are a crucial part of creating this in-game atmosphere (one of the reasons I love Bungie games so much is the quality of the sound effects and the music of Martin O'Donnell).

But improved graphics are playing an increasing role here too, and in gameplay. Such as in 'shooter' games, being able to see your opponent is carrying a BFG and making a speedy retreat. Or in free-roaming games like Saints Row being able to read the road signs and navigate accordingly, instead of flicking back and forth to the in-game map. Or in stealth games with 'real' light models being able to see and use the shadows, and alter the shadows by destroying and disabling lights.

That's why Gameplay versus Graphics arguments have always annoyed me; they're not mutually exclusive, they can complement each other.

With the 'low end' tech route they've chosen, I think Nintendo may have cut themselves off from lots of ports from the 360 and PS3, but it just means they may have pigeon-holed themselves into a softcore gaming market that dwarves the hardcore market!

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Originally Posted by raggedjimmi View Post
I agree about the Zelda controls. They do seem a little strange at first. I don't know if this is classed under augmented reality but the notion of just using your arms in such an exertive way for a prolong time adds to the immersion, regardless of how precise it is. At first I was very conscious of the controls but as I started performing quick shots with the slingshot it all fell into place.
Normally when I play a game there will be moments every few minutes where I metaphorically step back and realise I'm holding a fixed controller pushing buttons. I may be doing half of them things with the Wii controller, but during Zelda (and so far only Zelda and Wii Sports) I just forgot what I was holding and it just became a natural extension.
That's exactly how I hoped the Wii controls would be used. It's certainly so in Wii Sports, a little less so in Zelda I feel. For instance, I hoped you'd fire the bow and arrow by holding the controls as you would the bow itself, and the strength of shot would be determined by how much you stretch; but no, you just point the Wiimote at the screen.

I'm sure the next generation of Wii games should see the developers a little more in tune with the new control scheme.

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edit: I'm playing in 576i too my TV deinterlaces and I don't see any loss in quality or see any flicker. Just a bit more crisp. Good ol' Pal. I've always wondered if the better TV resolution is why HDTV hasn't really taken off here.
Funnily enough, I bought the component cable as they advised 480p would be sharper, but with the new cable 576i still looks better. I don't have any qualms about an "SD" console any more after seeing the sharpness of Zelda on a 37" HDTV.
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Old May 24, 2007, 09:37 AM   #8
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Plus then, if you had to swing your arm with the Wii remote to execute a sword slash, you're gonna have a sore arm after an hour or so.
This is true... for the first day. Since then even the 6 hour long Wii parties haven't so much as sprained a muscle for anyone present. I was hoping it'd last longer (I love the morning after burn after a marathon or long hike).
I had the same first day muscle hurting experience with GoldenEye and Mario 64, only limited to my thumbs.

Which is a little interesting - I seem to get cramps from time to time using a standard controller, and too long on a PC FPS and my wrist will be hurting. But a lengthy Wii session results in no pain. Probably down to the split controller design which lets me sit back in a chair using both arm rests, or any other comfort inducing position. Also the way each Wii game has the controller being used in a different manner, that helps my hands.
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Old May 24, 2007, 09:45 AM   #9
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That's why Gameplay versus Graphics arguments have always annoyed me; they're not mutually exclusive, they can complement each other.
They're not. However the public seems to work like that. Back in the PS1 days the Sony players used to say graphics don't matter.
Even Devs work a little like that. You have games like GoW that really push modern GPU's whilst absolutely lacking in any original gameplay (people claiming it a "best of" of previously similar games). Then you have games like Wii Sports that focus away from graphics and give you something new.

In an ideal world a dev will make a brilliant, addictive and original game. Then they will up the graphics. But most of the time they don't, as it's seen as a pointlessly lengthy exercise that might not even make them more money (unless your game prides itself on visuals - Crysis for example).
How many experimental games have you seen running the Unreal 3 engine?
Indy and less popular studios will try to make a name for themselves with addictive and good games (Geometry Wars anyone?), replacing the fact they can't buy these super engines with unique art direction. Big studios even do this to save time and money.
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Old May 24, 2007, 10:21 AM   #10
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I've always wondered if the better TV resolution is why HDTV hasn't really taken off here.
No. Cost is the only thing prohibiting the take up of HDTV broadcast in the UK. HDTV sales themeselves are constantly growing and make up 80% of TV sales today in the UK. HDTV broadcasting will florish, as soon as it becomes widely available and at no extra cost to consumers, like it is in many parts of the world.
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Old May 24, 2007, 11:23 AM   #11
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Graphically, I think the 3rd party games have been disappointing on the most part. They reuse old game assets. That's the problem.

I was playing Super Mario Sunshine a few days ago because I haven't earned more than 25 Shines... but I have to say I was impressed by the graphics the GameCube was able to push. And Twilight Princess was another example of quality GameCube graphics. I remember a developer from Factor 5 said how developers can push the graphics on the Wii much further, and I agree with that.

Controller-wise, the Wii is in an experimental stage, unfortunately. Developers aren't investing enough time to figure out good controls.

If developers would put in the same amount of time they do for PS3/360 development, games on the Wii could really be amazing. Developers are discouraged by Nintendo's first-party and second-party success, historically. They need to pick up the ball and start pushing out real games with the proper control systems and graphics.
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Old May 24, 2007, 11:43 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by raggedjimmi View Post
In an ideal world a dev will make a brilliant, addictive and original game. Then they will up the graphics. But most of the time they don't, as it's seen as a pointlessly lengthy exercise that might not even make them more money (unless your game prides itself on visuals - Crysis for example).
How many experimental games have you seen running the Unreal 3 engine?
Indy and less popular studios will try to make a name for themselves with addictive and good games (Geometry Wars anyone?), replacing the fact they can't buy these super engines with unique art direction. Big studios even do this to save time and money.
Actually, I think there's an interesting parallel with the film industry here.

The cost of making a new console game - just like the cost of a new movie - is going through the roof, which in turn means the developers (or, more likely, the publishers) need to generate a lot of sales just to break even. In light of that, they're far less likely to stray from the tried and proven formulae; better to put a lot of money into people/studios with a proven track record, make sequels of successful franchises, and market the hell out of them.

They could try to make an innovative, original game; but there's an inherent risk in that and the stakes are too high - you can't really blame them!

That's why indy game development - just like indy movie making - is likely to produce more interesting titles going forward. I saw the results of a recent Indy games competition online, and the breadth of genres and gameplay was impressive.

I really hope all three consoles this generation are successful, as each is likely to add something different to the mix. Such as the Wii offering simple games with innovative control methods, the PS3 offering games with movie tie-ins and the movie included on the Bluray disk, and the 360 with its exceptional online support.
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Old May 24, 2007, 11:49 AM   #13
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Controller-wise, the Wii is in an experimental stage, unfortunately. Developers aren't investing enough time to figure out good controls.

If developers would put in the same amount of time they do for PS3/360 development, games on the Wii could really be amazing. Developers are discouraged by Nintendo's first-party and second-party success, historically. They need to pick up the ball and start pushing out real games with the proper control systems and graphics.
I think with the Wii sales figures, there's certainly an incentive now to consider original titles for the Wii, and not just port existing titles as an after-thought. That SHOULD mean more thought going into how to make the most of the Wii's controls.
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Old May 24, 2007, 05:06 PM   #14
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Hey guys....I'm getting some serious artifacts using composite cables on my 32" LCD HDTV...whats up with that?

I'm thinking its the composite cable that is screwed up....damn it looks so bad. I tested the AV connectors on the back of my LCD and no artifacts with the PS3 or 360


Anybody having this problem with composite....its really annoying....makes it look like the pixels are going crazy dancing around.


UPDATE: Oh S$# I think I have a problem....
http://forums.maxconsole.net/showthread.php?t=40821


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Old May 24, 2007, 05:28 PM   #15
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I think with the Wii sales figures, there's certainly an incentive now to consider original titles for the Wii, and not just port existing titles as an after-thought. That SHOULD mean more thought going into how to make the most of the Wii's controls.
Definitely. The Wii was a high risk system. But the risk has paid off (Dev kit shortages anyone?). It makes me sound like a PS3 player, but more games will come. I just can't wait to see where these cheap dev kits are going to take the industry. For once any genius Tom, Dick or Harry out there, they will be able to dev games for the Wii. Though either downloads or proper discs we will be getting plenty of indy/creative games.

I just really hope the Wii brings us closer to the golden age of gaming, aka. the Amiga. Just being able to walk into a shop and buy a game from a bedroom coder. Public Domain needs to rise up again and from a money and ease of developing PoV it will only happen on the Wii
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Old May 24, 2007, 07:36 PM   #16
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Anybody having this problem with composite....its really annoying....makes it look like the pixels are going crazy dancing around.


UPDATE: Oh S$# I think I have a problem....
http://forums.maxconsole.net/showthread.php?t=40821


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I am hoping there is either a recall soon or my Wii does not suffer that problem. Keeping WiiConnect24 definitely gets the Wii cooking.
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Old May 24, 2007, 07:39 PM   #17
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I think the Wii is a great and innovative idea. The only thing is I think the controls could get real old, real quick. That is the main reason I didn't get a Wii. When I get home from a long day of work I just want to plop down in a chair with a cold beer and play a game of baseball or football. I don't want to be jumping around, swinging my arms, and doing cartwheels for a game.

I play sports games 99% of the time and if I really wanted to play a game of tennis or golf I would go and play with a real racket/clubs and real balls.
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Old May 24, 2007, 07:52 PM   #18
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I am hoping there is either a recall soon or my Wii does not suffer that problem. Keeping WiiConnect24 definitely gets the Wii cooking.
Yeah I've been reading up on it and it seems that WC24 burns the guts out of the wii...thats really sad because now I got to send this thing in for repairs and I don't want to do that...well at least Nintendo know that it is a problem.


Note: Turn off your WC24 thing....it might burn the video card up in the wii.
http://youtube.com/watch?v=xdWnsw3Yckc



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Old May 24, 2007, 08:30 PM   #19
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How do you guys burn out your 360's and Wii's?! Mine is sat upright between the edge of TV cabinet and the Sky box and DVD recorder and it's never been warm to touch. 360 didn't break through overheating (at least I don't think so. there is nothing even near it in the middle of a desk!).

asxtb, you don't have to "go mental" when playing Wii games. Anyroad, after a busy day I used to play tennis or squash to wind down. But since they shut down our local court the closest I've been able to get is the Wii as 2ny used to say - different strokes I suppose. I don't work a manual job so I need that physical burn out.
Ps. You do know there are quite a few games on the Wii that don't use the motion control at all? Plus the whole Virtual Console and GC side of it...
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Old May 25, 2007, 12:14 AM   #20
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asxtb, you don't have to "go mental" when playing Wii games. Anyroad, after a busy day I used to play tennis or squash to wind down. But since they shut down our local court the closest I've been able to get is the Wii as 2ny used to say - different strokes I suppose. I don't work a manual job so I need that physical burn out.
Ps. You do know there are quite a few games on the Wii that don't use the motion control at all? Plus the whole Virtual Console and GC side of it...
I know, I was just exaggerating a bit. And I agree, 'different strokes for different folks', 'whatever floats your boat', 'whatever peels your banana'... Ok you get the point. I just feel the Wii is not for me. But like I said, I do applaud the system and the technology though. And I do know there are games that don't use the motion control, but again, really don't have any interest in them.
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Old May 25, 2007, 02:51 AM   #21
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Graphically, I think the 3rd party games have been disappointing on the most part. They reuse old game assets. That's the problem.

I was playing Super Mario Sunshine a few days ago because I haven't earned more than 25 Shines... but I have to say I was impressed by the graphics the GameCube was able to push. And Twilight Princess was another example of quality GameCube graphics. I remember a developer from Factor 5 said how developers can push the graphics on the Wii much further, and I agree with that.

Controller-wise, the Wii is in an experimental stage, unfortunately. Developers aren't investing enough time to figure out good controls.

If developers would put in the same amount of time they do for PS3/360 development, games on the Wii could really be amazing. Developers are discouraged by Nintendo's first-party and second-party success, historically. They need to pick up the ball and start pushing out real games with the proper control systems and graphics.

Honestly? Most of the third parties were avoiding Nintendo because of the bad sales of the GameCube, then E3 2006 happened, and developers rapidly started diving on board and trying to make games in under 6 months for launch. That's why all the third party games suck right now.

I actually wrote an article on a similar topic, it'll be up soon and I'll post it in a new thread.
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Old May 25, 2007, 02:52 AM   #22
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I think the Wii is a great and innovative idea. The only thing is I think the controls could get real old, real quick. That is the main reason I didn't get a Wii. When I get home from a long day of work I just want to plop down in a chair with a cold beer and play a game of baseball or football. I don't want to be jumping around, swinging my arms, and doing cartwheels for a game.

I play sports games 99% of the time and if I really wanted to play a game of tennis or golf I would go and play with a real racket/clubs and real balls.
Then you haven't played the system.

You can easily play Wii Sports Tennis while lying on the couch without moving anything but your wrist. Far cry from cartwheels.
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Old May 25, 2007, 08:59 AM   #23
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Then you haven't played the system.

You can easily play Wii Sports Tennis while lying on the couch without moving anything but your wrist. Far cry from cartwheels.
He said he was exaggerating. The problem I find is that if you play like that, then why not just use a regular controller?
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Old May 25, 2007, 09:27 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by sikkinixx View Post
He said he was exaggerating. The problem I find is that if you play like that, then why not just use a regular controller?
Because Wii sports with a regular controller would be pointless and rubbish?
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Old May 25, 2007, 09:50 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sikkinixx View Post
The problem I find is that if you play like that, then why not just use a regular controller?
The important thing (for me at least) is that the controller actions are analogous to the in-game actions, they don't have to be an exact match.

So if I can sit back on the couch and play tennis just by flicking my wrist back and forth, fine (though I actually do prefer to play standing).
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