No Wii for Thee?

A very interesting story at Kotaku theorizes that the name Wii is a trick… that the real name is going to be revealed at E3, and this mock naming is effectively nothing more than a PR stunt.

Crazy? Here is the first clue, “By letting the gaming community vent now about the name, they will be less distracted as launch titles for the system are announced and initial reports about what it’s like to play the games begin to come in.” Allowing your audience time to vent is not SOP in a name announcement, and also telegraphs that Nintendo knows what a stinker this name would be.

Second, it’s not possible to engineer a worse name for this product.

Third, and this is a big one, there are no trademarks registered by Nintendo nor by any dummy corp in the U.S or over there for Wii. This is unprecedented for Nintendo and it is not possible that his is an oversight. If Wii were the name, they would have registered it. In fact, no new trademarks have been registered by Nintendo at all. This leads us to conclude that Nintendo has in fact registered the real name under a dummy corp, which is SOP when trying to keep a name a secret prior to launch.

If this turns out to be true, and for Nintendo’s sake I sure hope it is, this could be quite the coup for Nintendo.

New GTR2 Screens Show Carnage

GTR2 Damage

10tacle and SimBin have released a number of new screenshots of GTR2 in action, showing off the rather impressive looking damage model.

One of the major innovations of this new title is the completely re-designed damage model, and in particular the true-to-reality reproduction of the vehicle physics in collisions.

Spectacular loops, flying sparks, torn off body parts and tires flying around are just a little taster of what the powerful engine is capable of. Improper handling of the HP-strong engine of the car might cause lasting damage. Man and machine stretching their limits as well as the extreme challenges on the circuits make power units go up in smoke and flames every once in a while.

Lots more screens after the click.

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Sega Rally Powerslides to Next Gen

Sega Rally Logo

Called simply Sega Rally in Europe, or the slightly more American sounding Sega Rally Revo here in the states, the new game will feature deformable surfaces that will change the nature of the circuit from lap to lap.

Vehicle selection affects driving strategy in SEGA RALLY REVO, as race course surfaces dynamically deform upon repeated contact with vehicle tires and changing weather effects. SEGA RALLY REVO features a variety of fully deformable surfaces, from gravel-littered tracks and smooth tarmac roads, to snow-covered mountain passes. This means no two laps will ever be the same, and drivers can skillfully lower their lap times as they hurtle their chosen world-renowned rally vehicles down photo-realistic courses only made possible on next-generation hardware.

Driving skills will also be tested by SEGA RALLY REVO’s advanced AI which allows NPC drivers to dynamically adapt their driving style to the varied racing surfaces. Players can enjoy a comprehensive single-player campaign as they travel the globe racing the best drivers in the world. SEGA RALLY REVO also features online capabilities, with multiplayer splitscreen modes offering an extremely competitive rally experience against drivers around the world.

The game is being developed by Sega’s new “SEGA Driving Studio” team, who, by the sounds of things, will be focused exclusively on delivering fun racers like this.

You can read the full press release after the click.

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Tokyo Xtreme Racer on Xbox 360

Shutoku Logo

IGN has the details on the 360 racer that’s slated to ship in Japan in July. Shutokou Battle X will still exclusively feature night races, but will let you race at three different periods of the night (ooh), and will also feature online play.

This new type of racing seems to be included primarily for the game’s Xbox Live racing mode. While Famitsu does not reveal the number of players that can take part in a single race, it has been confirmed that you can set up rules prior to start and take part in a ranking mode after the race ends. The game lets you display your tuned up cars in a garage for all to see. Good thing Genki has beefed up the game’s tuning options!

Full Story at IGN

Revolution Renamed, Pee-Pee Jokes to Follow

Nintendo has declared the official name of the Revolution ahead of E3. The name? Wii. Yes, as in “we” or “oui” or, ahem, “wee.”

Wii has a distinctive ‘ii’ spelling that symbolises both the unique controllers and the image of people gathering to play. And Wii, as a name and a console, brings something revolutionary to the world of video games that sets it apart from the crowd.

So that’s Wii. But now Nintendo needs you. Because, it’s not really about you or me. It’s about Wii. And together, Wii will change everything


In-Game Advertising Getting Massive

Splinter Cell Advertising

Microsoft is apparently putting the finishing touches on a plan to buy up Massive Inc., one of the leaders in the world of in-game advertising. Over the past few years Massive has established itself with a number of big companies like Ubisoft (can you spot the in-game ads in the above Chaos Theory screenshot?). The deal is reported to go down for between $200 and $400 million, and honestly that’s a very, very good price to get in on what’s going to be a huge revenue maker.

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EA Pays Up

Remember all the controversy about EA working their coders like slave drivers? You know, kinda like every other game developer in the world? Well, it seems they’ve given up the fight and have settled with their employees.

Software engineers have won a $14.9 million settlement from Electronic Arts, in a settlement of a California class-action lawsuit over unpaid overtime, following a similar $15.6 million settlement reached in October with graphic artists.

According to the new settlement, some of the entry level programmers will be reclassified as hourly workers, making them eligible for overtime pay. In return, they will be allowed a one time grant of restricted company stock, but will no longer receive stock options or bonuses.

Full Story at Gamasutra

Will game coders start to turn into “normal” coders and work more typical hours thanks to this? Or, will the entire game development industry get off-shored just like the rest of the software engineering industry? Time will tell…

Steering with your Brain?

As seen at Slashdot, Dean Takahashi at the Mercury News has a report on the rapidly improving state of neural interfaces.

Sensors in the head gear — whether headbands, headsets or helmets — measure electrical activity in the brain that scientists have studied for decades. Using NeuroSky’s chip technology, the system can distinguish whether a person is calm, stressed, meditative or attentive and alert. Beyond games, the system might be useful for determining whether drivers are so drowsy that they need an alarm to awaken them.

Full Story at Mercury News

It sounds like we’re still a long way off from truely being able to control a game with our minds, but these sort of interfaces could provide an interesting extension to games; games that respond to our emotional state as much just like they react to how hard we push on a button or how far we push down on a pedal.