Thursday, September 17, 2015

New Simulation Game Hardware: The Wii U

I understand the Wii U is over 2 years old, but I believe there is still some untapped potential for using the Wii U for simulation games.

Technical Details:  
  • ·         CPU - IBM Power-based multi-core processor setup.
  • ·         GPU - AMD Radeon –based High Definition GPU.
  • ·         Memory - Flash memory 8 GB with the Basic Set or 32 GB with the Deluxe Set. Supports USB storage.
  • ·         Media - Wii U and Wii optical discs. Downloadable software.
  • ·         Networking – Wii U can be connected to a wireless IEEE.802.11b/g/n connection. The USB ports support Wii LAN Adapters.
  • ·         Video output – Supports 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p and 480i. Compatible with HDMI, Wii Component Video, Wii S-Video Stereo AV and Wii AV.
  • ·          Audio output – Uses six-channel PCM linear output via HDMI connector, or analog output via the AV Multi Out connector.
  • ·         Open source – The Wii U console includes open source software.
  • ·         Price - $300 for Deluxe Set
  • ·         Size – 1.8 inches high, 10.6 inches deep and 6.75 inches long.
  • ·         Weight – 3.5 pounds
  • ·         Wii U GamePade – Wii U’s controller comes prepackaged with console. The GamePad incorporates a 6.2 inch, 16:9 aspect ratio LCD touch screen, as well as traditional button controls and two analog sticks. Includes a D-pad, L/R stick buttons, A/B/X/Y buttons, L/R buttons, ZL/ZR buttons, Power button, HOME button, - (select) button, + (start) button, and TV control button. The GamePad also includes motion control (accelerometer, gyroscope and geomagnetic sensor), a front-facing camera, a microphone, stereo speakers, rumble features, sensor bar, a stylus  and NFC functionality. Contains chargeable lithium-ion battery.

How It’s Used: So the main thing to note about the Wii U and the whole purpose of writing about it is the Wii U GamePad and what it can be used for. On Nintendo’s tech stats site they say that the Wii U GamePad controller removes the traditional barriers between games, players and the TV by creating a second window into the video game world. Other than the GamePad, the Wii U is just like the average conosole. What Nintendo had written for a marketing grab really speaks the whole truth. The Wii U GamePad gives you something more from the world or universe of the game you are playing, if done well of course. As stated in the Specs for the GamePad, it has a motion controls, a camera, and the screen is a touch pad. All of the features can be used for the games and apps developed for the console. There is even an app that simulates Augmented Reality, the same as the 3DS. The touch pad is even sensitive enough to draw detailed images on and that will segway us into the Social Implications of the device.

Social Implications: Since the launch of the console and device, Nintendo developed what is called the MiiVerse. It’s pretty much the online social network for all owners of a Wii U and 3DS. Users can send messages and draw images to post in the ‘verse’. There is also a help center for players to help other players get through certain levels. The online connectivity also allows for PVP gameplay, but doesn’t feature microphone support yet.

What type of Games is it Made for?:  The Wii U was primarily made for entertainment games and not at all for serous or simulation games. That being said, it doesn’t mean that serous games can’t be developed for the Wii U.

Downfalls: Aside from the low sales figures at launch, the Wii U does have one downfall. Compared to the PS4 and Xbox One, the Wii U is not as powerful of a system. This would limit how high end the software could be to run, but for simulations and serous games, I think it would do just fine.

Is It Successful? As of June 30th of this year, the Wii U has sold over 10 million units. Nintendo has stated that this has definitely turned over a profit for them. As said before, it has had some trouble in the recent past, but since has carried on. With Mario Maker, a new Star Fox, and a new Zelda game, I think the Wii U will have a secure future.

New Games to Develop: At the beginning I stated that the Wii U had untapped potential for both entertainment and serous games. For entertainment games, I know a seemly simple way that new games could be developed for the Wii U. Well, they wouldn’t be new games, but new on the Wii U that would be a very fun way to play. Take just about any game with large item menus, make the Wii U gamepad a quick way to access the items and use any with a tap of the touch screen. For simulation games, I was thinking of an Architectural program. This idea came to me from Mario Maker, World of Goo, and Minecraft. Players would use the gamepad to draw and build structures out of materials given to them. The program would also have its own physics system and this would test the stability and strength of a structure to teach students about Architecture. For more in the workplace usage, many companies use scanners and trackers with touchpad functionality. The Wii U gamepad could simulate these types of devices along with using the Augmented Reality to pseudo scan labels and track items. This next development idea for the Wii U that mixes entrainment and serious games comes directly from Pokemon Art Academy for the 3DS. Simply put, make a version of this game for the Wii U or develop and totally new Art teaching game. These are just a very few of the ideas for development that I have and have to yet to see implemented in the Wii U.

The Wii U may be 3 years old, but the hardware is great to consider when developing serous or simulation games in the future.

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