TechRadar recently tried out early preview versions of EA Sports' first two titles that make use of Nintendo's Wii MotionPlus controller tech, Grand Slam Tennis and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10.
Both titles are out this coming June and we have to admit to being mightily impressed by the control and responsiveness offered by Nintendo's new controller dongle.
We quizzed the producers of both games to find out a little more about their own thoughts on Wii MotionPlus.
TechRadar: Can you describe the difference in control between the standard version and the Wii MotionPlus version?
Thomas Singleton (Grand Slam Tennis Producer): Wii MotionPlus certainly possesses great fidelity and, with that, it gives users an even more authentic one-to-one motion that maps to your in-game player. With Wii MotionPlus, wrist rotation is more significant because it detects at a higher frequency that you want to perform.
Specifically to Grand Slam Tennis, the big differences from Wii MotionPlus to non-Wii MotionPlus are the one-to-one backswing and the ability to force your player to hit a forehand or backhand. The aiming of the ball is taken to a more literal level so where you finish your swing is where you're going to place the ball. Whether you're going cross-court or down the line, you'll feel that difference with Wii MotionPlus. In relation to wrist rotation, you can continue to curl that ball even after you make contact. But without Wii MotionPlus, you'll experience a similar level of control, just not at same level of consistency.
Mike Taramykin (Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 Executive Producer): Both control schemes are fun to play and accurately reflect a real golf swing. The major difference between the two is that, with the Wii MotionPlus, we are able to pick up almost every nuance of your swing with a consistency that was not possible in the past. We know where the Wii Remote is and how it's oriented in 3D space so we can translate that into movement on the screen.
A slight rotation of the Wii Remote on your downswing will register as a slight draw or fade. A larger rotation will result in a larger draw or fade. The rotation reading is accurate and consistent. It's also easy now to hit low power shots by pulling back slightly on your backswing and following through softly. You could even hit a one per cent power shot. The fidelity is that good. In addition, your golfer's on-screen movements will be in near lock step with how you swing the Wii remote. This all works without the Wii MotionPlus as well but to a lesser degree of precision.
TechRadar: What technology inNintendo's add-on dongle deviceallows the Wii MotionPlus to measure the co-ordinates and movement of the players hand better?
Thomas Singleton (Grand Slam Tennis Producer): In our game it's calibrating your hand motion, your WiiMote position, in relation to the sensors and after getting that calibration from the sensors, it's detecting where you are in relation from the shortest sensor point; up to down, left to right.
So it truly is giving you that one-to-one control movement of your arm motion and then mapping it directly to that one-to-one movement of your character on screen. At times it's overly responsive. It had so much fidelity that at times we have limited that fidelity to make it a compelling experience and giving you full total control.
Mike Taramykin (Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 Executive Producer): The Wii MotionPlus incorporates a vibrating structure gyroscope. This device measures the vibrating structure's resistance to changes in orientation. By accumulating these incremental changes, we can calculate a very good estimate of the Wii Remote's orientation. There are other factors that can affect this process, but fortunately Nintendo provides us with a good software library that handles nearly all of them.
TechRadar: How easy was it implement Wii MotionPlus into the game? Was it a steep learning curve?
Thomas Singleton (Grand Slam Tennis Producer): We are very happy with our Grand Slam Tennis controls with and without Wii MotionPlus and definitely feel they are a step forward for Tennis on the Wii platform. Once we got the libraries and better understood what the device does, we reverse engineered and figured out how we were going to use it. Nothing comes easy in software game development but when you put creative minds together with great technology, anything is possible.
Mike Taramykin (Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 Executive Producer): Nintendo's software library made getting the Wii MotionPlus's orientation data from the hardware very easy. The more difficult components of integrating the Wii MotionPlus came from modifying pre-existing game code to support being controlled in new ways. For example, the golfer's swing animation system needed a couple weeks of work to support the 1:1 back and forward swing.
TechRadar: How did you map the motions of players into the game (in relation to Wii MotionPlus)?Did this involve alarge amount of data processing?
Thomas Singleton (Grand Slam Tennis Producer): Once we know where you're starting point is, we calibrate that, as you move your arm high, your player will map that directly one-to-one. As you swing high to low, your in-game player will map that exact stroke and in our game, the result will be a slice shot. That same philosophy is used for all motions. Moving from low to high will result in a topspin shot, just as it would in real tennis. It's a complex device that simplifies what people are doing and delivers their exact motions.
Mike Taramykin (Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 Executive Producer): The basic principle behind the golf swing tracking is relatively straightforward. We make the assumption that the Wii Remote's orientation directly corresponds to the player's position in their golf swing. We track changes in the orientation with respect to the expected swing path, giving us an angle that represents the swing's velocity. Accumulating this angle over time gives us the swing's position that we use to drive the golfer's on-screen swing animation and the nearly perfect 1:1 mapping of the player's movement.
TechRadar: Do you think Wii MotionPlus is going to appeal to all gamers? Or merely the hardcore that wants more depth from their gaming experience?
Thomas Singleton (Grand Slam Tennis Producer): I think it's going to appeal to the masses because it's great technology that takes the Wii experience to an even more literal level than ever before. You don't need to know how to play a video game, just need to know how to perform real life sports motions.
Mike Taramykin (Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 Executive Producer): Without hesitation I can say yes, it will appeal to all gamers. Who wouldn't want a noticeable increase in fidelity, accuracy and near perfect 1:1 motion? When it's applied correctly the Wii MotionPlus will make any gaming experience better. I should note that in Tiger we have multiple levels of difficulty with regards to the swing.
If the increased fidelity of our advanced swing is too much for you and you want a different experience you can choose the Standard swing. It gives you the same 1:1 movement and reads your motion the same way so it will feel like a real golf swing. The difference is in the way we interpret the results. We make sure that the results come out in your favor more often regardless of the movements you make.