In the latest episode of "Iwata Asks," Nintendo president Satoru Iwata headed down the ivory staircase of the Kyoto office to visit with his lowly serfs in the Wii Sports Resort development team. He sat in a throne opposite team members Zenichi Yamashita, Takayuki Shumamura, Takuhiro Dohta, and Kenta Sato to learn about the development of the upcoming game, set for release in North America on July 26th.
Kenta Sato moved from being the programmer of Wii Sports tennis to the table tennis and swordplay programmer in Wii Sports Resort. Takuhiro Dohta worked on the disasterous Wii Sports boxing, and used this Iwata Asks to justify his game, as it came together "in an incredibly short space of time," according to Iwata. Takayuki Shumamura went from Vision Trainer on the DS to Wii Sports Resort, and Zenichi Yamashita, programmer of baseball and boxing of Wii Sports, moved to Check Mii Out Channel and then Wii Sports Resort.
While most on the team shared the same experiences with the limitations of the Wii Remote and had the same opinions, Sato explained how limiting the Wii Remote accelerometer could be in his experiments, and wished the controller could detect better movement. His excitement returned when he heard about the Wii Motion Plus. "All those things we hadn't been able to do up to now would become possible."
Dohta noted that the motion twisting of the Wii Remote had an inherent lag due to gravity prediction, but the Wii Motion Plus eliminated this problem. In one technical demonstration, the developers could manipulate a doll by twisting and turning the Wii Remote and Motion Plus peripherals. They all exclaimed "Sundome!" which means that they could stop the doll at the exact, precise moment they wanted to.
The idea of a Wii Sports sequel came about well before the creation of Wii Motion Plus, but was put on hold when the developers couldn't come up with clever new ways to enjoy sports. The idea was revived when the Wii Motion Plus was introduced.
Miyamoto stepped in to introduce what he had in mind as "The Island Concept." Here, he wanted to produce a place that had a personality like Mario or Donkey Kong, and could take on a life of its own, potentially licensing it out as a franchise. The idea started in Wii Fit but it has been expanded in Wii Sports Resort as Wuhu Island. Miyamoto hopes to continue with concepts starring this island in games such as adventure titles, role-playing games, and city building simulations.
When Wii Motion Plus made its debut at E3 2008, the team made ready Frisbee Dog, Sword Play, and Power Cruising. The team had a fourth game in mind to demonstrate Wii Motion Plus: Archery. The team had produced a test version by then but wasn't convinced that Wii Motion Plus had the ability to read small, slow, and subtle movements that's necessary in that sport. Obviously, that changed throughout development, and Wii Sports Resort features a very accurate rendition of archery.
The development team fought with an inherent problem of the Wii Motion Plus's gyroscope technology: temperature drift. As players move the Wii Remote, it would gradually get out of sync due to subtle changes in temperature and humidity. It was an issue so strong that the team was worried that it couldn't make Wii Sports Resort. It got to the point where the designers conceived of a sword fighting game where you only swung the sword once to prevent drift. Drift was a problem in Wario Ware Twisted on the GBA as well, but the designers got around it by keeping games at five seconds, and recalibrating at the start of the next game. Eventually the problem was resolved with a technique that Miyamoto's holding close to his chest. But it's a technique that actually calibrates the sensor as it's being moved – the more it's waved, the more accurate it gets.
The choice to call the game Wii Sports Resort came about when the idea of "Wii Sports 2" was being thrown around. The original title was to be "Wii Sports 2 – Resort," but those gamebangers at Nintendo of America helped streamline the name by insisting the "2" be dropped.
Table Tennis was brought in as a "resort" title instead of regular tennis for two-fold: the team wanted to keep repeat sports appearances to a minimum, and the Wii Motion Plus seemed tailored for the more subtle, rapid fire gameplay of ping pong. Airplane Flyover evolved from using an analog stick to using the Wii Remote exclusively because it felt more intuitive to the player.
Bowling and Golf have been reintroduced in Wii Sports Resort, with improvements. The team wanted to improve the control and experiences in both games: adding a 100-pin challenge and tweaking the throwing in Bowling, and improving the swing and adding 18 holes to golf. The team managed to get more holes into the final product while the hardware team continued final work on the Wii Motion Plus devices, giving the Wii Sports Resort team the extra time it needed.
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