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Dr. Wei Yen is the chairman and founder of AiLive, a company that deals with artificial intelligence for entertainment. He was integral in the creation of the Nintendo 64 and the GameCube, so it stands to reason that his new project, LiveMove, first revealed in October, surrounds the Wii. It removes the necessity of coding for the Wii’s motion controller, and aims to not only make the development process cheaper and easier, but also to open up the creation of games to those outside the traditional industry.
In this exclusive interview, Dr. Yen talks with us about the ideas and science behind LiveMove, why Nintendo was the first user, and how the tool could bring new blood into the industry. To see the tool in action, check the video on Gamasutra.
Gamasutra: Can you give us some insight into your professional background?
Wei Yen: Related to the game industry, I spearheaded OpenGL in 1989. I was the senior vice president of pro market technology at Silicon Graphics. So yes, I spearheaded OpenGL, and delivered the N64 for Nintendo in 1994. Then again, just as far as the game industry is concerned, I was a founder and chairman of ArtX, which later merged with ATI. And so (at ArtX) I delivered the GameCube for Nintendo. So now it’s Wii.
I was running the product division at Silicon Graphics, so most of my big customers were game developers anyway. So I’ve never been directly in the game industry, but I’d been around the game industry for over 17 years.
GS: So you’ve been working with Nintendo for a long time then.
WY: Oh yeah, for a long, long time. And a lot of senior Nintendo people were my partners for many years.
GS: So did Nintendo come to you to do this LiveMove idea, or did you come to them?
WY: The Wii remote is completely Nintendo’s idea. But both of us are very interested in natural control – to give the player more natural control of their games, and participate in it more naturally. So when I saw the Wii remote a year ago, I really liked it.
And the more natural the control is, the easier it is for the game designer to go straight into working out gameplay, without have to virtualize indirectly through a game controller. But by the same token, you’re making the coding harder. The situation can be so limited that you may not be able to implement some of the ideas you have.
Another thing associated with the expense of coding is that you can’t experiment. In other words, you can’t quick prototype your game design. Game development is very costly, and quick prototyping is very important to the game designer. So if you can do this, and if you can go directly into the gameplay, this will unleash an incredible amount of creativity on the part of the game designer. So to really unleash the power of the Wii remote, you really need to solve this problem. So we talked about it, and Nintendo said, “well?” – and we took the challenge, and we delivered.