Patience is a virtue with online gaming

Hello everyone at Cube Europe. I'm Conor and I'm honoured to be a part of the team here. Members of the forums at Nintendojo will know me as conorcubed. The following is an editorial from my site (which I'm now closing now that I'm working here) so I doubt anyone has read it, it's why Nintendo are wise to wait with online gaming and what they should do when it arrives. Enjoy!

Interesting thought - When Sony unveiled PS2 they said how much its online capabilities will revolutionize gaming. Then at E3 2001 while Nintendo were showing off their stunning Gamecube games Sony showed PS2s modem and talked a lot about how great online gaming on your PS2 would be. And now they've gone online in America and frankly, it's nowhere near a revolution with it basically being a PC with online surfing and e-mail and lets face it, we have PCs for that. And in Europe it's months away from even that. Now take Nintendo. They've remained tight-lipped about their online plans, only unveiling the two modems and have sat back watching Sony's mishap with a big grin on their faces and knowledge on what not to do.

A lot of people don't realise how important online console gaming actually is. Console games started 2D, then went 3D and since there is no 4D the next step (and there always has to be one) is online gaming. But because this is the next step in console gaming and indeed, the next step for Nintendo gaming it must be absolutely perfect. Can you imagine the outrage if Mario 64 hadn't have been proper 3D and a crap game? The step into 3D was executed perfectly and so must this step. Mario 64 being crap would be like Nintendos online servers collapsing on the first day and the online titles not being all that good and full of lag. Nintendo are wise to leave online gaming for a little longer so they can get it perfect, which I think is the reason for Nintendos tight lips and the wait for online gaming.

Miyamoto says that the wait is because Nintendo want to see how profitable online gaming can be but I think as well as that, they are trying to get everything right and have brilliant games ready. For online gaming has barriers that must be overcome. the main one, as any online PC gamer will tell you, is lag. Lag is the time it takes your commands to reach the server and then travel to all the PCs involved in the game. Basically it's the time between you clicking your mouse and your gun firing on the screens. Lag can differ between players by sometimes as much as a second. Now that might not sound like much but if an opponent drops down in front of you and fires a rocket in your face you'll need split-second reactions so that second or sometimes as little as a hundredth of a second can mean the difference between life and death. Lag is caused by the amount of people in a game being so high and this is where I think Nintendo will overcome this hurdle.

There would be no lag if say, only four or six players were playing. Now let me see, what Nintendo games would be brilliant with only that amount of players in multiplayer? Two words: Mario Kart. Another two: Smash Bros. There would be no need for powerhouse servers to cater for 30+ players at a time, just around half a dozen. Easy peesy. The other cause of lag is the graphics of a game. If you have ultra-realistic players running around gigantic arenas filled with lighting effects and detailed textures there's sure to be problems. But how about loads of players with stripped-down graphics. It worked for F-Zero X anyway. There was 30 cars racing at gum-flappingly fast speeds with zero slowdown and thats because, lets face it, the game was damn ugly.

But this is all just with the 56K modem because with the broadband modem 30+ players in a graphically intense game with no lag is possible. This will be the difference between the two modems in my opinion. For instance, if Perfect Dark Zero had online play you could play up to 10 players with 56K and up to 20 or 30 with Broadband. On the matter of online games Mario Kart is a definite, Perfect dark Zero is likely, as is Metroid Prime. But remember this, Miyamoto said that they had "a large number of online games in development". What these games are is anybody's guess but rest assured that when they get released everybody will be rushing to the shops to get a modem.

But when will this online revolution take place? For me, it has to be this coming Summer. During the first four months of the year big hitters like Starfox Adventures, Eternal Darkness, Phantasy Star Online, Galleon and others will be released. Then at the end of the year, there's Metroid Prime, Mario Sunshine, Zelda and the possibility of Mario Kart and Perfect Dark Zero. This leaves the Summer wide open for their online titles and the launch of online Nintendo gaming. Yes, we will have to wait but this wait will make sure that online Nintendo gaming will be the revolution we were all promised.

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