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IGN64 feature article on N2000 (pre-Dolphin/GameCube) from early 1999

camineet

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I have been searching for this specific article for quite a while, today I finally found it.

It was published shortly after PlayStation2 technology had been revealed.

Also note this article was published about 2 months before E3 1999 where Dolphin was announced, and about 17 months before GameCube was revealed at Space World 2000.


It's Alive!

IGN64 brings you the scoop on Nintendo's ArtX-designed 128-bit console.

March 15, 1999

It was fall of 1997 when Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) filed a lawsuit against startup ArtX. In the suit, SGI claimed that ArtX, staffed by 20 former SGI engineers and led by that company's former head of Nintendo operations Wei Yen (the division responsible for the architecture of Nintendo 64), could not help but utilize SGI company secrets in the development of future ArtX technologies.

Despite SGI's claims, in May of 1998 Nintendo officially contracted ArtX to develop its next-generation hardware. Incidentally, with no settlement reached, SGI quietly dropped its claims against ArtX and development of Nintendo's secret console continued unabated.

The Dawn of a New Millenium

"We are developing a more advanced videogame system, but we are not providing any specifics at this time," said Nintendo March 3 of this year in response to Sony's PlayStation 2 announcements.

Meanwhile, Nintendo's Peter Main recently confirmed that the company has plans to implement a new, more advanced hardware into the market by the end of 2000 or, more likely, 2001.

A reliable source close to Nintendo who wishes to remain anonymous recently narrowed the gap even further. "N2000 [tentative] is planned to ship October 2000 in Japan, but I don't think it's going to happen. In fact, from what I hear Nintendo isn't even convinced of this internally."

Evidently Nintendo is betting on its 64-bit hardware to hold its own against the conspiring forces of Dreamcast and later PlayStation 2. "It all depends on how well Nintendo 64's '99 software line-up sells," an anonymous Nintendo 64 developer commented. "If titles like Perfect Dark and Donkey Kong 64 do well, we're not going to see Nintendo's new hardware until 2001. If, on the other hand, Nintendo 64 sales begin to falter or Nintendo feels overly threatened by the competition, then I'm confident that N2000 will release October of next year as planned."

ArtX Inside

The original design specs for the N2000 -- a 128-bit system -- called for a 400Mhz port and dual chip design, much like the Nintendo 64. Unlike its predecessor, the new console will of course not feature a MIPS processor in favor of "proprietary technology" developed by ArtX. While the new technology will no doubt be impressive, this also pretty much rules out built-in backwards compatibility as seen in Sony's upcoming PlayStation 2.

No information is available on the unit's clock speed or graphics engine, but design papers written up in early 1998 still estimated the raw polygon output numbers of 20 million polygons per second. According to industry sources, these numbers may even quadruple before the system's release, bringing the Nintendo platform into the realm of Sony's next generation.

So how powerful will this thing be? "PlayStation 2 and N2000 will definitely be within 30%, power-wise," comments an anonymous Nintendo 64 developer who is hoping to lay his hands on a dev kit before the end of the year. While Sony has the edge in terms of manufacturing chips more cheaply, Nintendo has the advantage of time. The N2000 isn't slated to come out until more than a year after the PS2, so it's possible that it will emerge as the more powerful console in a number of respects.

Need More Memory

Nintendo's next console will again use the same speedy Rambus RAM as the N64. Sources told IGN64 that a memory expansion slot was not part of the original design document. The total amount of memory for the N2000 has not yet been finalized, but considering the late date of the console's release, Nintendo will no doubt match and beat the competition's total system memory.

Much Ado About NURBS

NURBS is an acronym for Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines and is basically an accurate way to define a free-form curve. Designers construct their models using beziers and NURBS and the curves are then broken down to polygons for display. While Sony's PS2 supports bezier surfacing in hardware, sources close to Nintendo told us that ArtX experimented with hardware NURBS conversion for the new console. At this point, we do not know whether the final console will support NURBS in hardware or whether the feature has fallen by the wayside.

Do you hear what I hear?

Like the N64, the next console will not include a sound chip. This means that most of the audio in N2000 games will be handled by the console's co-processor.

As you may know, this design led to a few problems with the N64, especially with developers who had gotten used to the use of Redbook audio in games. Since the N64's storage space is rather confined, streaming audio directly off the cartridge (which is the most "processor-friendly" solution) often wasn't an option for developers. Most of the time, audio was implemented last minute and used as few voices as possible or even played back in mono. Coupled with Software Creation's outdated sound drivers, the inability to easily stream audio like with the competition's CD systems caused loss of valuable processor time that could have been used for graphics, AI, and so on.

Thankfully, this doesn't appear to be an issue with the new console. Because of the storage media's copious amounts of space and Redbook audio playback abilities, audiophiles can expect surround quality audio. Let's hope for a coaxial or optical output.

No More Cartridges

Nintendo recently confirmed that the next console would not utilize cartridges. While carts are certainly sturdy in design and enable quick data access, their drawbacks are manifold. Let's face it, the N64 was developed around Super Mario 64. The EAD team wanted a machine able to create a seamless cartoon world without load times and didn't care much about space and cost issues. But what about third-party developers? Many were naturally outraged at the cost and confines of cartridges and ignored the N64, especially in Japan.

Nintendo is fully aware that the decision to go with cartridges cost the N64 the full support of companies like Square, Capcom, and eventually Enix, Namco, Taito, and more. Likewise, PC developers spoiled with CD games didn't exactly flock to the console, either. Although Nintendo has certainly shown that a system can survive on first- and third-party support, NCL is not content watching millions of Japanese ignoring its leading game console while less powerful machines draw larger crowds simply based on major game franchises and quantity of titles.

The N2000 is designed from the get-go to attract third-party developers by offering more power at a cheaper price. Nintendo's design doc for the console specifies that cost is of utmost importance, followed by space.

According to Japanese sources, Nintendo has narrowed down its choice of media to two options:

* Proprietary 1.5 GB (Gigabyte) disk system that may or may not offer writability. This is roughly three times the size of a CD and 50% more space than the proprietary Dreamcast format offers.
* Digital Versatile Disk (DVD). Nintendo is impressed by the size of the media (5.7 GB) and many Japanese developers have approached NCL with the suggestion to choose this format.

According to sources close to NCL, the decision of which format to back has not yet been made. While writability would work hand-in-hand with planned network abilities and Internet surfing as well as please the EAD development teams, DVD is the cheaper and larger format. It is very likely that Nintendo will choose to implement the latter and opt for a harddrive-style writable component (or add-on) for the final design.

The Game Boy Connection

Game Boy connectivity was planned from the very beginning. Two months ago, NCL hinted that its next console would offer data exchange with Game Boy Color units via the handheld's built-in infrared port. If the feature doesn't get axed for cost reasons, gamers will be able to hold their Game Boy up to the N2000 and swap data, such as Pokemon monster information.

Networking

A Nintendo of America source commented that "Networkability is at the top of the list for the new console." Nintendo has entered into an agreement with Israel-based Nexus to develop networking and modem capabilities for both its current console and future technology. Along with mumblings about Nintendo's involvement with Netscape, Alps, and a number of modem makers, N2000's ability to allow for network gaming and possibly Internet surfing and e-mail is guaranteed.

Control

Despite a few info sheets circulating the web with supposed information on the N2000's controller, it simply hasn't been designed yet. NCL's hardware wizards are reportedly experimenting with a number of designs (including a two-pronged one more similar to the PSX controller), but so far, only two things are known from the design sheet: Internal rumble function and at least two analog buttons. Expect the N2000 kits to ship not with actual N2000 controllers, but rather with modified N64 ones -- just like the Nuon dev kit.

Developers and Games

Though the release of Nintendo's next-generation console is still a long way off, a number of talented developers have already pledged allegiance to the hardware. IGN64 has complied a brief list of who and what to keep an eye out for.

Nintendo and EAD

* Fact: November, 1998. Shigeru Miyamoto, in an interview with the Japanese magazine 64Dream, commented, "1080 2 was cancelled in its early planning stages and the team responsible for 1080 has started researching new hardware."

Programmer Giles Goddard (responsible for the 3D Mario face in Super Mario 64) and team are likely already underway with software for Nintendo's next console. In fact, if any developer has a quasi-working N2000 development kit, it's EAD.

* Fact: December, 1998. Shigeru Miyamoto commented on the sequel to Super Mario 64. "We made the outline for Mario 2 more than one year ago, but I haven't touched it since then. The original idea was to make it available on the 64DD, but since I haven't worked on it for the last year I can't tell what it will be like."

Miyamoto went on to hint of the game's possible incarnation for a new hardware. "Maybe we will get some other people to work on it, or we will make it for a completely different system."

The chances that a Mario-based game will introduce the new Nintendo hardware is almost certain.

* Fact: Startup second-party game-maker Retro Studios comes out as first official N2000 developer.

Formed by ex-Iguana Entertainment founder and president Jeff Spangenberg, Retro Studios is currently making sports games for the next Nintendo console. Expect the company's first title to fall under the football genre.

"They haven't got N2000 development kits yet," reports an anonymous source close to the company. "But they're expecting them very soon."

Other often mentioned, but as of yet unconfirmed N2000 developers/publishers include:

* Rare
* Ubi Soft
* Acclaim (Iguana)
* Midway/Atari Games
* Capcom
* Konami
* Factor 5/LucasArts
* Looking Glass Studios

It's Coming

"It's really hard to keep anything secret if you are within 12 months of launch because too many people know," reminds a source close to Nintendo. "As soon as development kits start leaking out we're going to have concrete information and I'd say it'll happen well before the end of this year."

With word that Retro Studios is expecting development kits within a few months time, the N2000 is quickly becoming more than just a rumor. The next-generation console will be announced officially before the end of the year and it will absolutely compete with the competition in terms of both power and price.

In the meantime, be patient, enjoy the very best the Nintendo 64 has to offer and remember, all good things come to those who wait.
 

Clinton514

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Networking

A Nintendo of America source commented that "Networkability is at the top of the list for the new console." Nintendo has entered into an agreement with Israel-based Nexus to develop networking and modem capabilities for both its current console and future technology. Along with mumblings about Nintendo's involvement with Netscape, Alps, and a number of modem makers, N2000's ability to allow for network gaming and possibly Internet surfing and e-mail is guaranteed.


I always enjoy looking back and I reading stuff like this for a good laugh. :lol Didn't Sony plan something similar with the PS2 and Netscape?
 

TheGreatDave

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The Game Boy Connection

Game Boy connectivity was planned from the very beginning. Two months ago, NCL hinted that its next console would offer data exchange with Game Boy Color units via the handheld's built-in infrared port. If the feature doesn't get axed for cost reasons, gamers will be able to hold their Game Boy up to the N2000 and swap data, such as Pokemon monster information.

Well, at least I wouldn't have had to buy a new cable.
 

Yoshichan

And they made him a Lord of Cinder. Not for virtue, but for might. Such is a lord, I suppose. But here I ask. Do we have a sodding chance?
Sep 1, 2006
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Clinton514 said:
I always enjoy looking back and I reading stuff like this for a good laugh. :lol Didn't Sony plan something similar with the PS2 and Netscape?
:lol :lol :lol
 

TheKingsCrown

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Aug 25, 2005
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I still think connectivity could have been great but was used in all the stupidest ways possible. And nowadays, it wouldn't be great because much of it has been done. But it could have been great then.
 

camineet

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TheKingsCrown said:
Wait, why were you looking for this article again?

Still, interesting nonetheless.


Well if you really wanna know, I remember an IGN article (but couldn't find it again until now) that mentioned N2000's raw polygon performance was said to be roughly 20 million/sec on paper in 1998, and that this might quadruple by the time it launched. Thus, N2000 would be roughly on par with PS2's raw polygon specs (66M transformed by EE, 75M drawn/displayed by GS). This actually lines up well with what Matt IGN later said in 2000, that Dolphin/GameCube's raw performance was around 90M polys/sec. Obviously these figures are not counting real-world, in-game performance with texture-mapping, lighting, shading, effects, etc which is much lower.

It's pretty amazing that Nintendo went from 160,000 textured, fully featured polygons/sec with N64 to roughly 100 times that with GameCube (more or less).

Why would I bother, who cares right? I just like finding things that I know I remember reading, that's all.
 

camineet

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Mar 30, 2007
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Clinton514 said:
I always enjoy looking back and I reading stuff like this for a good laugh. :lol Didn't Sony plan something similar with the PS2 and Netscape?


Sony made a whole series of announcements in May & June 2001 with AOL/Netscape, Macromedia Flash, Real Networks, Sun Java, which never got released as consumer products.
 
Aug 6, 2006
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IGN? As likely as not I read that article back then, but I don't remember. Either way, interesting.

The Game Boy Connection

Game Boy connectivity was planned from the very beginning. Two months ago, NCL hinted that its next console would offer data exchange with Game Boy Color units via the handheld's built-in infrared port. If the feature doesn't get axed for cost reasons, gamers will be able to hold their Game Boy up to the N2000 and swap data, such as Pokemon monster information.

That would have been interesting... the infrared port wasn't all that useful, though. You could only use it for data transfer, not play... the cable is more useful because that way you can actually play things on the connection too, not just transfer. But of course, if it'd been built-in and not a separate cable, it'd have been easier for developers to support...

It's interesting how more than 2 1/2 years before the system came out so many of the details had been determined.

It would have been nice if the networking and harddrive things had been true too...
 

camineet

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Mar 30, 2007
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James Power said:
Old GameCube info is still relevevant today in the light of Nintendo's current console, right?



Yeah, it sure is, actually.



It's funny that both official and unofficial Dolphin specs from 1999-2000 were downgraded when GameCube was revealed in August 2000, and downgraded again by E3 2001.

In some (not all) ways, the Wii has been upped back to (more or less) what Dolphin was before the downgrades.

i.e. Dolphin was to have:
202 MHz GPU, upto 64MB RAM (32MB minimum), 20-30M fully featured polygons/s, built in modem with internet access and some online network (i.e. 'Star Road')

GameCube had:
162 MHz GPU, only 24 MB main fast RAM, around 12-15M fully featured polygons/s, no standard modem, no online network.

Wii has:
243 MHz GPU, 88 MB RAM, roughly somewhere around 20M+ fully featured polygons/s (50% more than GameCube) built in WiFi, internet access + some online capabilities
(Wii Connect 24)

So Wii is what Dolphin should have been, and then some. That's how I see things.
 

camineet

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Mar 30, 2007
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A Black Falcon said:
IGN? As likely as not I read that article back then, but I don't remember. Either way, interesting.



It's interesting how more than 2 1/2 years before the system came out so many of the details had been determined.

It would have been nice if the networking and harddrive things had been true too...

Indeed.


Also, although not official, it was rumored in 2000 that Dolphin would have sensory based controllers of some kind. It was apparently a big worry of SEGA's at the time.

here it is

Sega VP talks Dolphin

April 21, 2000 at 22:46 PDT – Source: MCV

"I don't care how many polygons X-Box can put out," Thomas said. "It's all about who can deliver the next great gameplay experience. I'm not nervous about X-Box or PlayStation2, because we think we can make better games. No one will have head-to-head Internet play but us. What does worry me is Dolphin's sensory controllers [which are rumored to include microphones and headphone jacks] because there's an example of someone thinking about something different."

Of course it didn't happen for GameCube, but, well we all know what happened next :)
 
Aug 6, 2006
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camineet said:
Indeed.


Also, although not official, it was rumored in 2000 that Dolphin would have sensory based controllers of some kind. It was apparently a big worry of SEGA's at the time.

here it is

Of course it didn't happen for GameCube, but, well we all know what happened next :)

Well, Sega actually did have a motion-sensing controller on the DC with the DC Fishing Controller... but I don't know if a motion-sensing controller would have helped the GC. It would depend on how much it could do, and if Nintendo could do as good a job in design and have as great marketing campaign as they did with the Wii and did not do with the GC... and of course, the incredible strength of the PS2 would have been a massive, nearly insurmountable hurdle either way.

Nintendo had started experimenting with motion sensing earlier (before the GC release), of course, as Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble shows... and they were planning a second one on GC, that would use a GBA with tilt sensor addon or something like that as the controller... it just didn't all come together until the Wii.

I somehow doubt that Sega was truly not worried about the PS2, though. :)
 

Pimpbaa

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128-bit console :lol I guess they were still stuck in the classifying the console by bits mindset.
 

Easy_D

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NURBS huh? There was speculation that the Revolution was going to use NURBS to achieve AWESOME NEXTGENGRAFUX. But it was mostly fanboy denial after its weak specs were leaked
 

camineet

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hEist said:
http://de.youtube.com/watch?v=xxaC-KqWaqI

the revolution power demo, if someone still remember ;)


What I like about that, is the slick, pre-rendered scenes of Samus/Metroid. Similar, though different than the pre-rendered Metroid demo shown at Space World 2000. Wii2 needs to reach at least the level of that stuff, if not somewhat higher, and yes, both pre-rendered Metroid sequences are beyond the visual quality possible on 360/PS3.
 

Teknoman

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camineet said:
What I like about that, is the slick, pre-rendered scenes of Samus/Metroid. Similar, though different than the pre-rendered Metroid demo shown at Space World 2000. Wii2 needs to reach at least the level of that stuff, if not somewhat higher, and yes, both pre-rendered Metroid sequences are beyond the visual quality possible on 360/PS3.

I didnt see anything on there but the billions of Mario 64 main hubs.
 

[Nintex]

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It would have been interesting if Nintendo shipped it in 2000. I'm wondering what games they would have for launch since the NGC seemed like a compromise both on the hardware and software side. The Wind Waker baton and F.L.U.D.D actually make sense if you connect them to a Wii remote interface.

It's no doubt that Arakawa and NoA heavily supported the N2000/Dolphin since he was going to replace Yamauchi. He wanted Nintendo to modernize and compete with Sony and SEGA head on, while Iwata seemed to continue with Yamauchi's strategy. I remember that some important people at Nintendo left after the N2000/Dolphin plans were scrapped behind the scenes and they went with the GameCube.
 

BigDug13

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camineet said:
Yeah, it sure is, actually.



It's funny that both official and unofficial Dolphin specs from 1999-2000 were downgraded when GameCube was revealed in August 2000, and downgraded again by E3 2001.

In some (not all) ways, the Wii has been upped back to (more or less) what Dolphin was before the downgrades.

i.e. Dolphin was to have:
202 MHz GPU, upto 64MB RAM (32MB minimum), 20-30M fully featured polygons/s, built in modem with internet access and some online network (i.e. 'Star Road')

GameCube had:
162 MHz GPU, only 24 MB main fast RAM, around 12-15M fully featured polygons/s, no standard modem, no online network.

Wii has:
243 MHz GPU, 88 MB RAM, roughly somewhere around 20M+ fully featured polygons/s (50% more than GameCube) built in WiFi, internet access + some online capabilities
(Wii Connect 24)

So Wii is what Dolphin should have been, and then some. That's how I see things.

Well Nintendo doesn't like to take a loss when selling the console itself. They want consoles that are profitable at their target price point...in this case, $200 (system price without wii sports as it is sold in Japan). It took until the Wii's timeframe before those specs could be achieved at a $200 price point and still make a profit on the hardware sale.
 

dasein

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i remember planetN2000.com and teh dolphincove

too bad everyone from dolphin cove got AIDS and died
 

Proven

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It's kinda cool to see how they didn't change much. They had an idea and just waited until the right time. GCN and DS sales probably helped a bit too.
 

camineet

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dasein said:
i remember planetN2000.com and teh dolphincove

I remember those, and also don't forget OperatioN2000. One of those websites had a really, really good forum. It was either OperatioN2000 or planetN2000.
 

camineet

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[Nintex] said:
It would have been interesting if Nintendo shipped it in 2000. I'm wondering what games they would have for launch since the NGC seemed like a compromise both on the hardware and software side. The Wind Waker baton and F.L.U.D.D actually make sense if you connect them to a Wii remote interface.

It's no doubt that Arakawa and NoA heavily supported the N2000/Dolphin since he was going to replace Yamauchi. He wanted Nintendo to modernize and compete with Sony and SEGA head on, while Iwata seemed to continue with Yamauchi's strategy. I remember that some important people at Nintendo left after the N2000/Dolphin plans were scrapped behind the scenes and they went with the GameCube.


True. That sounds about right to me.

Also, IIRC, the N2000 name was used to describe both Dolphin and the canceled system that Nintendo was working on in 1997 upto early 1998, which was to be out in Japan as early as the end of 1999. That system was being built around CagEnt's (3DO Systems) MX chipset, modified to use a MIPS CPU. Even if that had all worked out, I would imagine the problem with such a system was that originally, MX started off as being only about twice as powerful as the canceled M2, and the M2 was only 2-3 times stronger than N64, thus, placing both M2 and MX well under Dreamcast-level performance. Perhaps the modified MX-based console would've upped the performance somewhat, but probably not by a huge amount.


overall graphic performance in polys
N64: 160,000 /s
3DO M2: upto 3x N64
3DO MX: 2x M2, or 6x N64
CagEnt MX updated for Nintendo?: lets say maybe 10x N64
Dreamcast: 20x to 30x N64
Dolphin: (@ 30M) upto about 180x N64
Released GameCube (@15M) about 90x N64



It's good that Nintendo started fresh with Dolphin. Even in the form of the downgraded GameCube, it must have been much, much more powerful than any variant of MX.

Since I know less about the business side and overall strategy Nintendo took, it's always interesting reading posts like yours here.
 

stewacide

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1.5gig media was definitely a bad decision on Nintendo's part.

I also remember a lot of speculation that GameCube media additionally spun in the opposite direction as 'normal' optical media (forget which direction that would be exactly). While this didn't turn out to be true, I have to wonder why none of the console makers have pursued this seemingly simple and pretty-well fool-proof method of copy protection? Is it really too much to ask of their drive suppliers and media-pressers to do this?
 

silenttwn

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Formed by ex-Iguana Entertainment founder and president Jeff Spangenberg, Retro Studios is currently making sports games for the next Nintendo console. Expect the company's first title to fall under the football genre.

More like the MORPHBALL GENRE, LULZ.

Also, Spangenberg... sounds suspiciously like Splorgenborg. I think we may have found clues for the future in the past here.
 

Scalemail Ted

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This post is a slight Hi-jack. However, it is an interesting news report that has a bit more meaning with the aid of some of today's hindsight vision applied. I was doing some research for another thread and I came across this:

In 2004 you'll see reference from Nintendo that they were dropping from the arms race.

Feb 10th 2004 05:51


OSAKA (Nikkei)--Nintendo Co. (7974.OK) has decided not to release a new video game console to follow its current GameCube for the time being, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported in its Tuesday edition.

The home-use game machine and software developer will instead diversify games and sell newly developed peripherals mainly for the GameCube. It will make games for the current model more appealing, while rivals Sony Corp. (6758.TO) and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) plan to debut high-performance next-generation consoles that can be also used for non-game content such as movies and music.

Nintendo plans to release peripherals as early as 2005. Although details aren't yet known, these devices are expected to diversify playing styles by improving the gaming experience and connections with hand-held units rather than improve graphics and sound quality.

The decision to withhold the release of a new console was made because while the game market is contracting and becoming more diverse, "customers are fully satisfied with the performance of the current model," President Satoru Iwata said.

Nintendo will continue in-house development of a new home-use game machine for release in the future, but for the next two or three years will add functions to the GameCube.

http://n-europe.com/news.php?nid=6106
 

Septimus

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camineet said:
i.e. Dolphin was to have:
202 MHz GPU, upto 64MB RAM (32MB minimum), 20-30M fully featured polygons/s, built in modem with internet access and some online network (i.e. 'Star Road')
Man, Star Road is such an awesome name for their online network. Sounds wayyy better than lame ass Wii Connect 24.
 

Kapsama

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Septimus said:
Man, Star Road is such an awesome name for their online network. Sounds wayyy better than lame ass Wii Connect 24.
Star Road is way too nerdy for the casuals.
 

camineet

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Septimus said:
Man, Star Road is such an awesome name for their online network. Sounds wayyy better than lame ass Wii Connect 24.

I agree.

Star Road was meant to be some kind of "Nintendo Online", a Nintendo version of AOL. It sounded great. Although none of that was official. The only official parts were, Dolphin was to have internet access and an online network.


Scalemail Ted said:
This post is a slight Hi-jack. However, it is an interesting news report that has a bit more meaning with the aid of some of today's hindsight vision applied. I was doing some research for another thread and I came across this:

In 2004 you'll see reference from Nintendo that they were dropping from the arms race.



http://n-europe.com/news.php?nid=6106


interesting news report, thanks for posting it.
 
Jan 28, 2007
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Easy_D said:
NURBS huh? There was speculation that the Revolution was going to use NURBS to achieve AWESOME NEXTGENGRAFUX. But it was mostly fanboy denial after its weak specs were leaked

NURBS were really shortlived as far as I can remember, I still have Edge #75 (Turok 2 cover) around here somewhere, which had an article on NURBS.

I still don't know whether Evolva eventually had them or not.

(similarly: voxels were used in Delta Force 1, 2 and Outcast and not in later games)

More interesting however, is that Prey had been intended to feature them but was put on hold shortly after or already had been by that time.
And when it did come out, it didn't feature them at all.


It's funny to see such high tech expectations suddenly surface when a new console round is announced.
 

camineet

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For those that don't know of (but may be interested in) Nintendo's search to find a chipset provider, post-N64 for N64's successor, this was one of the best articles written:

Next Generation Online - April 1998

Although experts acknowledge that the video games business is surprisingly
incestuous by even Jerry Springer’s standards, recent developments taking place
within two of Seattle’s biggest corporations have made that fact clear for the
whole world to see. Next Generation Online exclusively reports on how Nintendo
and Microsoft wound up eyeing the same company’s chipset for the year 2000’s
biggest game console.

Few in the video game industry are aware of a rift that formed between Nintendo
and partner Silicon Graphics, Inc. just as their jointly-developed 64-bit game
console rolled off production lines. Already beginning to feel financial
strains due to changing market conditions for their high-end graphics
workstations, Silicon Graphics found itself arguing over component profits with
notoriously tight-fisted Nintendo as the system’s American launch MSRP
was lowered at the last minute before release. Although the companies
maintained their working relationship, the decidedly traditional and hard-
lined management at Nintendo had taken offense, and no longer considered SGI a
lock for development of Nintendo’s post-N64 game console.

Then several important events took place during 1997 inside of Nintendo, SGI
and one of their former competitors. Weak Japanese sales of the N64 and its
software lowered the company’s confidence in the N64 platform, and American
sales were projected to fall off as key internal software titles were
continuing to miss release targets by entire seasons. Demonstrably strong sales
of PlayStation games in the inexpensive CD format had weakened the appeal
of Nintendo’s third-party development contracts, and Nintendo started to
believe that it was in the company’s immediate interest to prepare a new
console for release as soon as Fall of 1999. At the same time, a number of
Silicon Graphics key Nintendo 64 engineers left the company to form the new
firm ArtX, with the express intention to win a development contract for
Nintendo’s next hardware by offering Nintendo the same talent pool sans SGI’s
manufacturing and management teams.

As it turns out, most of the industry’s top 3D chip experts have been lured
away from smaller firms by accelerator developers NVidia, 3Dfx and NEC, so
Nintendo’s pool of potential partners was already shrinking when it began to
shop around for a new console design team. Enter CagEnt, a division of consumer
electronics manufacturer Samsung, and here’s where the confusion begins: CagEnt
was formerly owned by 3DO, where it operated under the name 3DO
Systems and developed the M2 technology that was sold to Panasonic for $100
Million some time ago. When 3DO decided to exit the hardware business, it sold
off the 3DO Systems division to Samsung, which named it CagEnt and gave it
roughly two years to turn a profit. CagEnt owned three key technologies: a DVD
playback system, a realtime MPEG encoding system called MPEG Xpress, and a
completed game console with a brand new set of console-ready chip
designs called the MX. Adrian Sfarti, who had formerly developed the graphics
architecture design for SGI’s Indy workstation, was the head of the MX project.

The MX chipset was a dramatically enhanced version of the M2 chipset sold to
Panasonic and Matsushita, now capable of a 100 million pixel per second
fillrate and utilizing two PowerPC 602 chips at its core. (CagEnt’s executives
also boasted of a four million triangle per second peak draw rate, though the
quality of those tiny triangles would of course have been limited). Nintendo
executives Howard Lincoln and Genyo Takeda were among a group of
visiting dignitaries to tour CagEnt’s facilities, culminating in late 1997 or
early 1998 with a formal offer from Nintendo to acquire CagEnt outright. At
this point, Nintendo had terminated its development contract with SGI (see
SGI/MIPS Loses Nintendo Business).

As purchase negotiations continued, Nintendo worked with CagEnt engineers on
preliminary plans to redesign the MX architecture around a MIPS CPU, as
Nintendo’s manufacturing partner NEC has a MIPS development license but none to
produce the PowerPC 602. Nintendo and CagEnt flip-flopped on whether the
finished machine would include a built-in CD-ROM or DVD-ROM as its primary
storage medium, with Nintendo apparently continuing to insist that ROM
cartridges would remain at the core of its new game system. Yet as DVD and MPEG
technologies would have been part of the CagEnt acquisition, Nintendo would
probably have found some reasonable use for those patents eventually. The
MX-based machine was to be ready for sale in Japan in fall 1999 -- in other
words, development of games for the new console would begin within literally
months, starting with the shipment of dev kits to key teams at Rare and
Nintendo’s Japanese headquarters.

Although the asking price for CagEnt was extremely low by industry standards,
talks unexpectedly broke off in early 1998 when Samsung and Nintendo apparently
disagreed on final terms of CagEnt’s ownership, leaving Samsung’s management
desperate for a suitor to buy the company. CagEnt aggressively shopped itself
around to other major industry players. SGI’s MIPS division, reeling from the
loss of its N64 engineers to ArtX, allegedly considered
acquiring CagEnt as a means to offer Nintendo the technology it had already
decided it liked. Sega, 3Dfx and other companies toured CagEnt’s facilities and
finally CagEnt found a suitor.

In early April, Microsoft’s WebTV division ultimately acquired all of the
assets of CagEnt and hired on most of its key personnel. WebTV and Microsoft
apparently intend to use the MX technology at the core of their next WebTV
device, which as might be guessed from the graphics technology, will no longer
be limited to simple web browsing and E-mailing functionality. The next
generation WebTV box will be Microsoft’s low-cost entry into the world of
game consoles, melding the functionality of a low-end computer with a
television set-top box and game-playing abilities. Having worked with Sega
behind the scenes since 1993 or 1994, Microsoft has been quietly gathering the
knowledge it needs to market and develop games for such a device, and now it
has the hardware that even Nintendo would once have wanted for itself.

As for Nintendo, all signs point to a very unpleasant near future for the
Japanese giant. Lacking internal hardware engineers with the necessary
expertise to develop the next high-end chipset, Nintendo is now all but forced
to either partner with ArtX, or one of the 3D accelerator makers who have been
sucking the industry dry of all its most talented people, or perhaps join with
one of its other major rivals. The latest word has it that ArtX and
Nintendo are in talks to work together, perhaps under circumstances similar to
those under which Nintendo would have acquired CagEnt. Unlike CagEnt, however,
ArtX does not have a finished console or even half-completed chip designs to
sell Nintendo, and it would be unlikely that Nintendo would be able to scrape
together a reasonable system by Christmas 2000 with ArtX’s present limitations.
Additionally, SGI’s recent series of strategic lawsuits
against Nvidia and ArtX seem to be intended to serve as garlic and crosses to
stave off any Nintendo alliance with its tastiest potential allies: Nintendo
might well fear developing a new console only to find out that its core
technologies or employees are depending upon infringed patents, regardless of
the merits of those patents or the lawsuits.

Meanwhile, the company continues to harbor tremendous concerns for the future
of the Nintendo64 platform, which appears to be sinking deeper and deeper in
Japan by the day. Nintendo’s negotiations with CagEnt shed light upon the
tremendous dependence the Japanese company now has upon Rare, which has been
responsible for a number of the Nintendo 64’s best-looking games and at least
two of the machine’s most popular—Diddy Kong Racing and Goldeneye 007.
As Nintendo’s Japanese development teams have never been known for their
ability to stick to release schedules, the company’s third-party rosters have
remained bare and its management has remained dogmatically fixated upon silicon
chips as its sole means of profit, Nintendo’s problems have set the stage for a
truly interesting set of negotiations come this E3.

To sum up, readers need to understand that decisions and relationships made
early in the design process of a new console can dictate a company’s standing
in the industry for the following five years. Ripple effects from these
decisions can be felt in a company’s bottom line can be felt for even longer.
Nintendo has found itself in the unenviable position of being without an
established partner and with the clock ticking down. If Nintendo should
choose to go with ArtX (assuming it’s able to fight off SGI’s lawsuit), it will
need to complete a chip design is an extremely short period of time. If it
doesn’t go with ArtX, Nintendo will have to find a technology that is already
suited to the console market or one that can readily be changed to suit a
similar purpose. Either way, at this point the chances of Nintendo hitting its
desired 2000 release with a new system are extremely slim.
 

Captain Chaos

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[Nintex] said:
It would have been interesting if Nintendo shipped it in 2000. I'm wondering what games they would have for launch since the NGC seemed like a compromise both on the hardware and software side. The Wind Waker baton and F.L.U.D.D actually make sense if you connect them to a Wii remote interface.
It's no doubt that Arakawa and NoA heavily supported the N2000/Dolphin since he was going to replace Yamauchi. He wanted Nintendo to modernize and compete with Sony and SEGA head on, while Iwata seemed to continue with Yamauchi's strategy. I remember that some important people at Nintendo left after the N2000/Dolphin plans were scrapped behind the scenes and they went with the GameCube.

good point
 

[Nintex]

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camineet said:
For those that don't know of (but may be interested in) Nintendo's search to find a chipset provider, post-N64 for N64's successor, this was one of the best articles written:

Next Generation Online - April 1998
I've read that article before, it's incredibly detailed. They would go head on with the Dreamcast and Playstation 2 and it could explain the lack of titles during the GameCube launch. If EAD was waiting for a new system up untill 2000 it's no wonder that they had to rush most GameCube titles with 2 year development cycles. The GameCube hardware turned out great in the end though. It's a shame that they didn't buy ArtX which is now part of AMD in order to protect their investment.
 

Captain Chaos

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Scalemail Ted said:
This post is a slight Hi-jack. However, it is an interesting news report that has a bit more meaning with the aid of some of today's hindsight vision applied. I was doing some research for another thread and I came across this:

In 2004 you'll see reference from Nintendo that they were dropping from the arms race.



http://n-europe.com/news.php?nid=6106

yes i can remember, all this was reported in a limited fashion in cube magazine (UK), in early 2000's. I'm not sure whether it was 2004 but there was all this talk about Iwata announcing a revolutionary new controller that would prolong the life of the cube - and we got the bongos! I knew something was up.

but I just loved DK:JB
 

camineet

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[Nintex] said:
I've read that article before, it's incredibly detailed. They would go head on with the Dreamcast and Playstation 2 and it could explain the lack of titles during the GameCube launch. If EAD was waiting for a new system up untill 2000 it's no wonder that they had to rush most GameCube titles with 2 year development cycles. The GameCube hardware turned out great in the end though. It's a shame that they didn't buy ArtX which is now part of AMD in order to protect their investment.


1.) SGI and Nintendo briefly worked together in 1997 (perhaps starting in late 1996) on an SGI-designed successor to N64

2.) Nintendo worked with Samsung & CagEnt (3DO Systems) in 1997 and early 1998 on an MX-based successor to N64

3.) Nintendo probably looked at every other 3D graphics option in late 1997, early 1998.

4.) Nintendo settled on ArtX in spring 1998 to develop their next-gen console. ArtX steered Nintendo toward a deal with IBM for the CPU. Dolphin/GameCube development went from 1998 until 2000, so yeah, it had a 2 year development cycle.
 

UltimateIke

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stewacide said:
1.5gig media was definitely a bad decision on Nintendo's part.

I also remember a lot of speculation that GameCube media additionally spun in the opposite direction as 'normal' optical media (forget which direction that would be exactly). While this didn't turn out to be true, I have to wonder why none of the console makers have pursued this seemingly simple and pretty-well fool-proof method of copy protection? Is it really too much to ask of their drive suppliers and media-pressers to do this?

While I don't know if it spins the disks in the opposite direction, the Xbox DVD drive reads game disks from the outer portion of the disk towards the center. Normal DVDs read from the center out, don't they?

I don't know about the other systems or the 360 though.