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The MiiVerse: Turning a console into an MMO

04. June, 2012Tags: Miiverse, MMO Blog

Nintendo MiiverseIt's the week of E3. I'm writing this entirely oblivious to what the week will bring. I have my work area set out – popcorn, cool beverage, list of reasons not to get excited about the Microsoft conference – and this week I’ll be lost in the world of video games. Nintendo, rather cheekily, has pre-empted everybody else with a short reveal on their website, presumably so that we can learn about some of the Wii U games coming from EA and Ubisoft, and have revealed something rather interesting. The console’s GUI, its way of interfacing with both the player and the network of friends and players digitally surrounding him, has taken a great deal of influence from the MMO and, helped by a few rumours, it could be a great way to find friends when released this autumn.





MiiVerse, which we were helpfully told is short for Mii Universe (thanks for looking out for the little bit of dense person inside of me, Nintendo), is a pretty spectacular idea. As with the last two major Nintendo hardware releases, you’ll create your Mii when you first boot up the console, a newly high-definition representation of yourself on screen. Here is where things get interesting: from the home page, the place in which you select which game you’d like to play, Mii characters of people using that game will appear gathered underneath. If you struggle, you simply open the home menu (which doesn’t disturb your game), open the chat area of the game which you’re playing and you’ll see help, advice and the sounds made by other people stuck in the same location. Within seconds you can go from playing a single player game to playing a game with the help of strangers.

Keeping Connected

But it’s more than a simple way of communicating between players – it goes deeper than that. There will come a point in which the MiiVerse is available via smart phones, tablets and PCs, a thought which takes the massively multiplayer aspect of the Wii U to the next level. Somebody away from the game - stuck on the other side of the country bored on a train or in traffic – can offer advice and encouragement and aid your progress without needing to be at the console. The console also offers voice chat and no doubt a bevy of other social features which will keep you constantly switched on. Some developers are even putting the MiiVerse in their games, allowing people to converse with you when you die at a certain part or on a world map. For the first time in gaming history, the technology has reached a point at which the “massively multiplayer” is going to be a key part of any gaming experience.

Mii Universe social network

Unlocking Awards

But it goes one step further than that, at least if the rumours are to be believed. Nintendo didn’t touch on achievements, or Wii U Points as their rumoured to be called, but may do so during their conference on Tuesday. Achievements, for those of you that have never played consoles, Steam or any of the most popular MMOs, are a virtual way of showing off your progress through any given title and are an important part of gaming today. Whether it’s unlocking the most powerful spell, collecting every item in the game or simply sliding down the fireman’s pole in Ghostbusters, it’s nice to let people know how quickly you’re playing the game and how much you’ve chosen to explore the world at your fingertips. If the rumours turn out to be true and the Wii U does have its own points system, Nintendo have chosen to handle things in a rather interesting way, a way that automatically pitches player against player and encourages the quest for digital rewards.

Developers are apparently being given the ability to add brackets to the way in which the points are awarded, allowing unlocks for people that receive a certain amount of points in a single game. Earning points can grant you access to exclusive weapons, multiplayer skins or other proof of your superiority (because achievements DO matter you know, people). When you’re struggling with an achievement? Well, simply jump into your home menu and ask the people around you how they managed to do it. Help is really only a few moments away, and that feeling of security, that feeling of community, is about as MMO as it’s possible to be without the need to “kill 10 harmless, innocent bunnies.” Competing against friends for digital points is an important part of life with a 360 or a PS3, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Nintendo have tried to take things a step forward now that they’ve finally seen the sense in adding such a system.

Sony? Microsoft?

Nintendo have really taken the communal route in their new console and while I wouldn’t say it’s strictly an MMO, the MiiVerse has quite obviously been very much influenced by the people and spirit of the MMO world. I imagine this sort of always-on connection is also a handy way to monitor piracy, something Nintendo have had a problem with in the past, but I’ll ignore the cynic inside of me and say that this is just their way of bringing people together, of making a world of Wii U players available from your very own living room, without the pesky need for introductions and awkwardness between people who have never met. I’ve said it in articles before and I’m glad to see it coming true: this is the future of gaming. It’s a social game in and of itself and, knowing Nintendo, it’ll end up with more “players” than any other MMO on the market. Sony and Microsoft will definitely follow suit, improving social connectivity in their own next-gen consoles, whenever they’re announced.

The Conclusion

As the internet improves around the world and we can do more things, faster, without the worry of being penalized by the evil ISPs, the world is going to get smaller. We’re already able to interact with people around the world in seconds, but joining a forum or disturbing a questing party in World of Warcraft can be intimidating. Nintendo are looking to break down those walls and are offering an MMO of sorts, a massively multiplayer world straight from the Wii U’s homepage. Am I considering getting one? I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. But we’ve been stung by Nintendo before and I’ll be waiting to see the software announced on Tuesday before I make my final decision. Whatever happens though, Nintendo will be known as the first console manufacturer who brought a little bit of MMO into the console world; they won’t be the last.

M. Growcott
© 2012 -

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