Learning New Moves: AiLive's Wei Yen Teaches Wii New Tricks
November 20, 2006 Page 4 of 4
GS: How long did the development of LiveMove itself take?
WY: Oh, about three months.
GS: That seems really fast!
WY: Well we have tons of technology in-house already. That’s why I said this is a detour for us. We didn’t do this for a living! We do this because we believe in Wii. We believe in Wii’s approach, and we’re passionate about people creating new genres. The game world is getting boring. There are just not enough new genres. We basically did this for fun.
GS: Your main business is AI, so you modified your AI approach to teach the Wii remote?
WY: Yes. More like adapt, but yes.
GS: Do you think something like this would be feasible for the PS3 Sixaxis controller as well?
WY: (laughs) This is tough for me! Ken (Kutaragi) is also a friend of mine. I mean…it was a cakewalk even for Wii – the PS3 would be even easier. I feel that the idea of using this analog control came from Nintendo. So that’s that. I’ll stop right there. I respect Ken, and he’s been a friend of mine for a long time. And AiLive is a commercial company, so we would do this with anybody, but I think the first attempt of bringing this natural control to the game player is from Nintendo. We should give credit where credit is due.
GS: So do independent developers apply for LiveMove through Nintendo, or through you?
WY: Right now they get it from Nintendo, but they can get it from us too. The reason they can get it from both places is that Nintendo acquired a bunch of licenses, just for control. But once Nintendo runs out of those assets, you can get it from us. Even before. We’ll let Nintendo control that first though, until they exhaust those licenses.
So I guess the answer to your question is “yes.” Nintendo grabbing a bunch of licenses is more out of convenience of allocation for them.
GS: How many people have shown interest so far in LiveMove?
WY: We sent out I think 400 in the first two days.
GS: I guess that’s pretty good! Were they mostly small companies, or big ones as well?
WY: I think there are companies you’ve never heard of, but also a who’s who of the industry.
GS: Do you have any estimates for how much time and money this would save developers in terms of prototyping and control?
WY: I think tons of effort, first of all. Second of all, I think some things aren’t even possible using traditional coding. Don’t underestimate the work here. The Wii remote is really capable of operating in five dimensions. If you’re really using them all, it’s capable of five dimensions, not only X, Y, and Z, but also the speed, and the force. Combined with some other digital buttons, it’s actually more than five dimensions.
So if you really have an interesting idea, you may not be able to code it at all. But also the prototyping saves a lot of time and money, because you don’t have to force people to code before you can test things.
GS: Do you think this would ever translate to people being able to develop games themselves, like home development?
WY: Well, we did it! We did that (Balloon Pop) ourselves in less than an hour. That’s the reason why I hope LiveMove will create new genres, casual games, combined with electronic download.
GS: Can you say what kind of code it outputs?
WY: It basically outputs a brain with the data. Literally an AI brain.
GS: That’s hard for me to get my mind around.
WY: Just think about sticking a human brain into the remote. After it learns, it remembers, and understands what he wants. Once he understands what he wants, the player is playing with the AI brain, giving it the data it wants, or not. So the AI brain interacts with the game code.
GS: That’s interesting.
WY: It’s fun! And we can actually put thousands of those AI brains in game characters. But it’s not traditional so-called game AI. Part of my discipline is artificial intelligence. Traditional game AI, for artificial intelligence people, it’s really not AI, it’s really more mechanics. So if you take the idea of game AI and think of sticking that into what AiLive does, you will get it wrong. But if you think of artificial intelligence literally, you’ll get it right.
GS: How did you keep the cost so low for this?
WY: Ah, well the truth is this tool is almost sold as a give away. It’s one or two day's of an engineer’s salary basically, so it’s almost a give away. But we did that because we believe in the power of these peoples’ creativity. We really want to rally those people who have creative ideas but who might be outside the industry. And one way to rally those people is to give them the ability to try out their ideas. For the price, basically two people looked at each other, shrugged, and said “all right.”
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