MS: Wii's almost suffered from its own success. It was this huge bubble of newness to the games industry. Looking at some of the stats I was reading the other day, it's almost three times as many games being released on the Wii platform in a year than on each other platform. You've got the Wii user-base getting inundated with lots and lots of games, and the vast majority of those are shovelware, or lacking in quality and depth. I think there's kind of a bit of a backlash against that, the perception that that's what the Wii platform is about. I think maybe that initial boom, wont bust, but it'll come back to something that's more realistic and reasonable, and we'll return to a more realistic, sensible approach to that platform. At the end of the day, there are so many Wiis in the world, it's going to be silly not to make games for the platform. We felt off the bat that if you put a quality game out there, surely it's going to sell as there are that many consoles in people's homes. I don't know, time will tell. I suppose the success of Natal and the PlayStation's own version of the Wii controller is going to be interesting to see as well.
SB: I think there's definitely an antagonism towards the Wii amongst gamers. I think A, because to some extent Nintendo has abandoned its initial audience in favour of the new market they've created, which makes people feel bad. And then there's just a general suspicion about motion controls. I think that the fact that all the platforms are going to have motion controls - you're going to have Natal or the Gem wand or whatever it's called - on the systems will mean that it's something that's going to stay. We'll just kind of get used to it. Certainly seeing some of the people that are more skeptical about these things, play this game and see what we've done, you can't ignore the fact that it does add something to the game. These kind of controls, these elements do add something to it.
I think we always from the start wanted to do it right. Our approach was that we as hardcore gamers wanted an element of precision out of the controls, so we didn't want woolliness from our Wii controls, which I think is one of the biggest negatives that people see when they play Wii games. So from the start, we said, you know, if our core control scheme is going to be based around using the Wii remote, with our flashlight mechanic, that control scheme has to be as good or better than a traditional scheme. So we have this beautiful control scheme, where you can look around quite fluidly, and you're fully in control, and it feels one to one. I hate playing twin-stick games on the 360 now that involve flashlights. I'm used to being able to just look around, and it's very natural and intuitive.
We put this game in the hands on non-gamers or non-traditional gamers, and they get the controls very quickly, whereas I've yet been able to get my girlfriend to play an FPS. She's always looking at the floor, the walls, the ceilings. We looked at Wii games we thought were strong. We like the idea you see in some games where there are frequent, little physical interactions with the world, so in our game, a lot of it is spent exploring, absorbing story information, looking around, enjoying the shadows cast on everything. We wanted to give you things to do that would make the world more real to you. These aren't necessarily challenges or puzzles, but just making you unlock doors, open cupboards and drawers using the Wii-mote. That kind of swapping between third-person and first-person makes it more real to you, makes you more immersed in the world. When we created those sequences we always said the Wii-mote controls have to still be precise. So most of our Wii-mote interactions are kind of driven with pointer controls, so there's a direct one-to-one relationship between what you're doing and what's happening on-screen. There's not much gesture stuff.
Q: Apart from throwing off the monsters, which feels very intuitive.
SB: Again, that's quite a simple and focused interaction. You know when you need to do it: they're on you. You very much thrust them off in the way you would do. It's not a case of, you're using some complicated device and you're given an arcane symbol to wave your Wii Remote through the air. We always wanted to have a very focused and precision element to the Wii controls, but they always give you something extra. These frequent little physical interactions you have in the world, they just draw you in. When you're doing those in first-person your brain's thinking like you're actually there doing those things. It just gives everything that extra little layer of making you feel as though you're walking around the world.