by the NWR Staff - June 28, 2000, 4:57 am PDT

This edition brings questions for the staff ranging from Internet gaming to PS2 limitations to development costs and more...

Cobregon asks, Hi

Planet N2000's guys:


I have just discover your site and have spend the last 20 minutes

reading a lot of your editorials and this is what I have to say.


It have always seems to me that the key to the win the 128-bit wars

is Internet Gamming!


Long time ago, I read an article about how the consoles have damaged

the PC market. It is not too difficult to figure that out, the fact

that a good PC for playing games cost at least $1000 and a console

only $200-$400 makes it obvious as the fact that your PC will be

obsolete in 6 months and will be useless in about 18, while the

consoles have a life circle of 5 years.


There was, in the past, only one thing that kept the PC market

going: power. NES, SNES and alikes where never close to the power of

the PC of their times, and you remember how pathetic where the PC to

Console ports? I remember Doom for SNES, come on!


But all of a sudden, the consoles are just right now as powerful as

PC for half the price. Just look at the port of Quake 2. Of course

the PC will decrease, but what kept it up? Internet Gamming.


What game nowdays, in the PC side, doesn't offer somekind of

multiplayer mode? As soon as Quake give 32 multiplayer modes

everyone copied them because that was the only thing that consoles

didn't have.


Things have changed.


Although Nintendo tried to hit first (remember the 64DD), Sega

launched the first console with a modem incorporated: Dreamcast,

even if they didn't knew how they would use it, they added to the

console and finally, 8 months later Sega announce the launch of

Sega.com and Sega.net, you know the story. It was a little late, but

it will help Sega to survive the rush of the most powerful consoles.


Next is Sony who thinks that the name of the privious console will

be enough. It really was strange to me to know that Sont didn't

include a modem in the PS2, and I know the excuses about them

opening the door to better modems to be used later with the USB port

but it all translate, to me, that they didn't care. This will hurt

Sony in the end. Looking at what Sega did and waiting to see what

Nintendo announce, I think Sony will see the mistake they have taken

but maybe it will be too late.


Now the Big N. Nintendo itsn't talking until in full until August,

if they plan to launch the Dolphin in Japan by the end of the year.

Nintendo hasn't talked about their Internet plans, but remeber that

Nintendo had plans for the 64DD already, and in Japan there is now

an Intenet system alike that will be easily ported to the Dolphin.

In the US is more difficult, but they have so much secrets that I'm

really thinking about a great surprise, maybe an alliance. Nintendo

really knows how to keep you in suspense...


And there is Microsoft's X-Box. I think that Microsoft rush so much

to get in the console market because they saw great potencial in

dragging the Pc market to the console market. They will be the last

company to strike and they will strike hard. Oh yeah! Microsfot

really have the bucks to do it. And Microsoft know why they are here

announcing the X-Box so it's obvious that they have Internet Gamming

as a priority. Companies will only survive Microsft's power if they

can establish themselves hard in the Internet business.


With four companies in the battle, history telling you that in a 4

consoles war, 1 always get trashed and just a year to find out, AREN´T

YOU EXCITED!!!

Billy Says:

Internet Gaming will be key in the next generation console war.

Nintendo has been pretty tight lipped about their plans for online

gaming...but one thing is for sure...it's going to happen. How, is

the big question.  I am a HUGE freakin' fan of Online

gaming.  I had always hoped that we'd be playing games online

with our N64.  That isn't going to happen.  Spaceworld

anyone?


There are way to many reasons for Nintendo to embrace this

technology. More will be known at Spaceworld I am sure. I am hoping

that someday we can have an online game tourney on this very site.

And it could happen :)

Kosta Says:The

whole PC vs Console battle has always boiled down to which has

online gaming, the PC. PC's ARE not designed to run games, their

primary functions are not to run the latest Quake but there a lot of

people out there who buy their PC's for this function primarily. The

console market is growing at a faster rate than the personel

computer market and their popularity is at an all time high.


Online gaming will definitely play a major role in upcoming console

war and all the major players are well aware of this. Nintendo are

actively researching the online gaming market and are making

preparations for this for their 2 next big guns, the Gameboy Advance

and Dolphin. They have already begun testing this on the current

market with Radnet (64DD) and the upcoming Gameboy Color network.

Nintendo definitely have big plans for creating an online community

and gamers everywhere will benefit from this.


The question is could this drive PC gamers to turn to consoles for

their online fix? Well we'll have to wait and see.

Mike Says:

Multiplayer/internet gaming will no doubt be a big part of the next

round of system wars, and probably every round from now on. Nintendo

isn't talking much because they love to sit out and watch what the

competitors do first, and then capitalize on their mistakes and/or

fill innovative gaps left open. I think Nintendo has something very

imposing in the works -- more creative than standard multiplaying. I

don't expect them to fully disclose all of their plans until after

Sony, Sega, and Microsoft do, however.


Also of issue, I believe, is who can get their consoles to connect

the easiest. More often than not these days average consumers will

buy a computer for the benefit of the internet. Which company will

be able to impose that same idea into the masses the fastest and

clearest? Since consoles are already connected to the television, is

cable broadband availability the key to critical mass? One answer

spawns 10 more questions. Send us your thoughts.

Steven Says: It

is obvious the online multi-player gaming is where it is at these

days. This is evidenced not only by the increased popularity in the

PC world, but also the commitments that Sony, Sega, and Microsoft

have made with their consoles to support it this next time around.


Nintendo has stated time and time again that they intend on moving

into the online arena. Don't be fooled by some of the double-speak

that is going on. With Nintendo's forays into the cell-phone GBA /

GBC thing (although I doubt we will see that in the US), plus recent

rumors about Retro being a part of the online thing ... it is clear

that Nintendo intends on pursuing this arena.


I just hope they remember that since the average console life is 5

years ... an eternity in the PC / Internet world ... that they

either include both options for narrowband and broadband out of the

box, or make damn sure that it is a migration path in the future.


I whole-heartedly agree with the state-of-affiars of the PC market.

People spend way too much money on a PC to mostly screw around with

things that that don't need to screw around with. Any console,

properly equipped, can cover 90% of 90% of most consumers needs when

it comes to computing. Most people don't care (all that much) about

running business applications at home. Most of it is web surfing,

chatting, and games. If you gave people a version of Word to update

their resumés every once in a while, most people would be happy.


Here is where Microsoft's plan is clear with the X-box. They can lie

all they want about how it is intended on being a gaming machine,

but knowing the PC industry as well as I do, I realize the true

intentions. Microsoft intends on turning this thing into a low-cost

thin-client for the home. Believe me ... the market will demand this

to happen if the Xbox is allowed to reach significant mass-market

penetration. That is where their excuse will come from ... They will

say that significant consumer demand caused them to implement a

version of IE into the thing, or to create a version of Office for

it. With a hard drive in place already, and a Windows 2000 kernel

... this should be very easy to implement.


I look back at all of the gaming consoles that I have seen in

history. From the 2600 that I had, to the Intellivision (that I

never had), even including things like the Atari 400 and 800. One of

the appeals of all these machines is that they doubled-up on some PC

functions and people thought it was cool. Yes, even the 2600 had a

Basic programming cartridge, which I had. Of course, the console(s)

that survived had nothing to do with their PC capabilities, but

rather their games that they had. Times have changed a little, in

that regard.


Microsoft's plan is not without it's flaws, however. The name of the

game has always been to give away the razor, to make money on the

blades. Nintendo's first priority is selling its first party games.

That's where they make the most money. Its second priority is to

sell the second-party games, then the third party ones.


I'm looking the NPD Interactive Entertainment Report that we

received from the AIAS at E3 this year. What is fascinating is that

the top selling Nintendo 64 game, Donkey Kong 64, during the period

of March 1999 - February 2000, outsold the top-ranking PC title by a

factor of 2:1. DK64 was released in November 1999.


There aren't even PC titles that broke 1 million during that period,

although The Sims, would break it for next years statistics.

Nintendo has 3 titles that broke 1 million just on the N64 platform

alone during that period. Game Boy had 4 that broke the

million-seller mark, damn close to 5. Sony had 2, almost 3 ... and

Sega didn't come close. But since the launch of Dreamcast didn't

happen until September of last year in the US, that is hardly a fair

comparison.


The point is, that for all of the bitching and moaning that

developers make about licensing costs, and cartridge costs, there is

a bunch of money to be made in the console market. Someone said $7

Billion, and Bill Gates said, "What?" Bill Gates said they

are going to make a box, and now all of the sudden we have premier

PC developers such as GoD, who state that they want to focus on the

console market more in the future. Not more than what they do now,

mind you ... more than what they do on the PC platform. Perhaps even

exclusive platform.


The problem with Xbox is that they don't have any killer-apps. Yet.

There is no Mario, no Zelda, and no Final Fantasy (yet). No PC owner

who already owns a state of the art PC is going to be compelled to

buy an Xbox, when chances are the very same games that are currently

available on Xbox are the ones that are already available on PC.


People that don't already own a gaming-quality PC may be compelled

to buy one. Especially if if means that they can play along with

their PC buddies on the Internet with the latest version of Quake or

whatever. The problem is that Microsoft is not the only one in town

(literally) who are capable of offering this sort of thing.


Here is where Nintendo has a chance to excel. They need to have a

better showing at Spaceworld this year than they ever had before,

and they need to have a launch better than they ever had before.

Nintendo has stated clearly that they intend on doing this very

thing.


They also need to launch Dolphin at a lesser gap from Playstation

than they did with the N64. With a October / November release

scheduled for PS2 this year, and a potential March - June launch of

Dolphin next year, it appears that they are making improvements this

time around over last.


They need to launch Dolphin at a mass-market price. Playstation and

Saturn used to be $300 in the US. Sega started playing games, and

the gas war began. Nintendo came in at $200 for the N64, and

everyone else immediately followed suit. Sony may have sold 2

million PS2s in Japan already, but the tie-ratios (to use Peter Main

speak) are not there. Simply put, they are not selling the games to

go with it. Which means that they are taking it in the shorts as far

as profit is concerned.


If PS2 launches again in the US and has a similar effect, which, I

think it will ... although better titles will be available. I.e., it

sells a lot because it is a Playstation, and a DVD player, but sells

a little more software. Nintendo can come in again 6 months later

after launch with a price of around $100 less per console, and

really cause Sony to take it in the shorts.


Nintendo has stated clearly that they intend on launching Dolphin at

a mass-market price. Considering their idea of mass-market is around

$200, based on the launch of the N64, this is really going to hurt

Sony. Too damn bad they can't get the thing out by the end of 2000,

that would really hurt. But, Nintendo must have made some calculated

decisions, and figured it would be better to launch with a stellar

library than to make a quick hit and run. It makes sense to me. As

an early-adopter, I am not going to be satisfied with one game in my

library to feed my Dolphin with. I am not going to have a library of

N64 games to feed it with, either. That is what the N64 is for. See?

Backwards compatibility sucks. I am going to want about 3 titles in

my library at launch, with an average of 1 more per month, every

month thereafter in order to be happy. A good launch and a steady

flow will give me that, and Nintendo isn't going to have to worry

about taking it in the shorts for as long as Sony will.


I am going to stop for now, because I just realized that I went way

overboard with this one again, but it's been a while since I have

been inspired to write such a long rant, so I thank you for that.

Believe me, I could go on for another page on this, but I won't

because there are other pages to other mailbag questions that I

could write.


Before I stop, however, I would like to slightly disagree

with you on one point. Yes, PC's have always been more powerful than

consoles. A state of the art PC will always be more powerful than a

console, simply because of the economics involved. If you want to

pay $1000 for a console, you can have one as powerful as a state of

the art PC. However, all consoles that I remember have been

relatively equal in power to what a majority of people has had

sitting on their desk. Not everyone has a new 1Ghz Dell. I only have

a PII-400, and I will probably upgrade that to a PIII-733 by years

end (same as Xbox). When I bought my N64, I had a P90 sitting on my

desk with 16MB RAM. Not that far off.

Ed Says: Well,

coming after Steve's epic rant :) I'll be brief about my take on

internet gamng on next-gen consoles. Will it be big? Probably. Will

it happen right away? I'm not so sure, especially with Sony and

Microsoft looking primarily at broadband. Sega should provide a good

gauge for the future of online gaming (I expect them to do well,

assuming the games are good). As for Nintendo, I'm sure they're

coming up with something good, and quite frankly, I have high

expectations. If anyone was to come up with something innovative for

online gameplay, it'd be Nintendo. I'm hoping for more than just a

large pool of human competition with their online gaming. Don't ask

me what in particular, but I know there is new ground to be broken

with online gameplay.

Ty Says: Our

buddy Dave at Saffire said a few things related to this in the

interview (http://www.planetn2000.com/e3/mp3/saffire/saffireinterview.rm)

check that out if you haven't.


BTW, I'll stress it time and time again, SNES Doom had the best

soundtrack ever ;).

Supafly asks, The

Playstation2 has low ram making it a bother to develop for right? So

exactly how much ram would Dolphin need to be very effective yet

inexspensive?

Kosta Says:

Dolphin will be inexpensive as Nintendo are planning to mass

market the console. We all know of the Playstation 2's problem in

regards to its video RAM, or lack there of. What we do know is

that Nintendo will most likely not have any problems in this

regard. The processor for the system already has 16MB of RAM built

into the chip, and this excludes the systems main external memory,

which is still unknown at this time (rumored to be about 32-64MB).

With the various partnerships Nintendo has taken on for the

Dolphin hardware, IBM, Factor 5, Art X, you can rest assured in

the knowledge that some of the best in the business are working

closely to make sure the Dolphin is the most powerful console on

the market. Nintendo have looked closely at the Playstation 2 and

I'm sure they will not repeat any mistakes or shortcuts that Sony

made with their super console.

Mike Says:

Nobody outside the circle of Dolphin hardware developers knows

exactly how much RAM the system will have. There is no question

Nintendo will want to meet or exceed their competitors, because

they can. They've been almost completely non-committal on system

specs to date. My Magic 8-Ball tells me that signs point to 48-64

MB total. With 16 MB on the die, I think we'll see at least

another 32 MB on the board. If they're feel saucy, they will match

XBox's 64.

Adam Service

Asks, Hey, I like the site, and will most likely go there every

two days, thanx to IGN64.com. But what do you guys do there? Do

you just research the "Dolphin" or do you do other

things instead of putting up your site? I would like to know.


Thanks.


A New Visiter,Adam Service

Mike Says:

Though Bill may be too modest to admit his nack for doodling and

drawing vulgar pictures on office stationary, I am more than proud

to say that I am the resident chief of tax evasion and blackmail

schemes. You think we get our information for free? Hell no. How

many times have I had to hide in the trees to get pictures

industry folks in compromising positions? It's not just a full

time job, it's a way of life.

Steven Says:

Actually, we are a well funded corporation that is a subsidiary of

Berkshire-Hathaway. William Bennett, (William Berghammer is NOT

our webmaster's real name ... note the similarities) personally

cuts our checks every week. He currently sees us as a tax

write-off, but we have excellent potential to be profitable in the

future. Our 401K portfolio is simply amazing.

Ed Says:

Check!?! You get a check!?! Billy, or should I say William, said

the only way I'd see my pet llama again is if I wrote for this

crazy outfit. I figured he black-mailed the rest of you, too. Or

is Mike the mastermind behind the llama-napping? Bastards. So

while the other guys may get a nice check, I don't even get a

shiny penny; just the promise of seeing my poor Bobo again.

Mr. William

Berghammer Says:

<from Cancun, Mexico, while sippin' on Boat Drinks with JoAnna

Dark> Woo Hoo guys!  Thanks for all of your help! 

I'll be sending you postcards!

Ninconvert asks,

Don't you think that now games have made it to the mainstreme and

are similar in profit margins as the film and music industries the

games should come out at the same price as videos? think about

it... it usually costs more money to make a big film than a big

game yet we still have to pay $50-60 a throw for a new fix fo

computer entertainment. I think if they're going to ruin the

industry with sequel after sequel all because of the casual gamer

buying it like a little lap dog they should at also bring the

prices to the mainstreme usual.


Ninconvert...

www.geocities.com/ninconvert

Mike Says:

The big bucks for the movie industry come from the money made in

the theaters. Videos come later where revenue pales in comparison.

I'm all for cheaper games, but I think the industry understands

the concept of supply:demand and follows those rules to their

benefit. Piracy probably has a small role in pricing also, though

I think the industry overblows it.

Ed Says: Well

I wouldn't mind seeing cheaper games either, but I don't see much

of a change in pricing structure. Sure Dolphin games will see a

bit of a drop with the change from carts to DVD, but with greater

technology comes greater expectations which often leads to greater

production costs. Oh, and while gaming is more popular than ever,

I don't think it's completely mainstream. Only a hand full of

games every year sell over a million copies whereas many (music)

CDs a year can sell over a million copies. If the game industry

reached that sales potential, then we might see more friendly

prices.

Steven Says:

While I don't think we will see the insane $70 - $80 prices that

we did for video games at the start of the N64's launch, I don't

see too much of a break from where they are now. Expect games for

Dolphin to be in the $40 - $50 dollar range for new titles, simply

because that is the price point the market seems to be willing to

bear at this point, and also because all counterparts on other

platforms that use similar media types are about at this range as

well.

Lemaire Cola

asks, Have you ever had the chance to ever play NBA Courtside

1or2? If so, do you think it'll look like NBA2K, will the fans

look the same look the same if look closely. Also I think the

controls should be better,more orignal dunks,play as the mascot.

The arcade mode should be more wild (like tripping people and

getting away with it). And I want to see refs,officals,and the

monkeys. Create our own dunk and more codes(legends of the

past,legendary teams from the past). Do you think Left Field can

do this?

Ed Says: Er,

can Left Field do wild arcade modes? I suppose. Are you likely to

see it? I'm not so sure. I've played both Courtside 1 and 2 (as

well as Excitebike, another Left Field product) and they seem to

like to have a good deal of realism/sim elements to their games.

Create-a-dunk could work. Usually sports animations are

motion-captured which would make a create-a-dunk feature

problematic. However, with Excitebike, Left Field did a superb job

without any "canned" animations. Maybe they could work

that into Courtside. As for NBA legends, well, that'd cost money.

EA got in some trouble back in the SNES when they hid the legends

in the game. Their recent inclusion in the new NBA Live games

comes from the fact that they actually paid for them this time.

Anne asks, There

have been many great games out there based on hit anime series,

like Neon Genesis Evangelion, Gundam, etc. What about Fushigi

Yuugi? Those who have seen Fushigi Yuugi would have to admit that

it has a great storyline and would be perfect for a game. I was

thinking in terms of RPG, Action/Adventure, or Fighting. How come

developers haven't taken it into consideration? Besides Bandai,

what other company create anime-based games?

-Anne

Ed Says: I

haven't seen Fushigi Yuugi yet, but I've only heard good things

about it. I think it was fairly successful in Japan, so a spin-off

game is not out of the question. I have to disagree with you about

the quality of anime games though. I've only played a few of them

but in general I believe anime games are kind of like Acclaim

licensed games, occasionally good but mostly mediocre or worse.

Even Eva 64, the only anime game that I personally own, has

mediocre gameplay. Sure, the graphics and sound are good, but the

main reason why I liked the game (and shelled out $70+ for it) was

because I liked Eva. I think that's how a lot of anime games work,

actually. Fans of the series like them, but it's because of the

license more so than the gameplay. As for anime game developers,

Bandai is definitely the king but I think there are a handful of

others. Check out Anipike's

game page for more info.

Kim Bloem asks,

So microsoft is getting a bit nervious i think!...the nintendo is

bringing out games on the n64 that are better then the dc and ps2

can ever make?¿......i think microsoft is thinking if they can do

this with a 64bit system imagine what they could do with a 128 or

256bit system!!!


i think microsoft and bill gates should piss off and go and make

computers!....bill gates is a greedy prick he has so much money he

doesn't know what to do with it and he still wantz more!.......he

should just try to challenge nintendo at their own game!


nintendo have the knowlege experience and the developers to blow

away microsoft in the gaming industry!.....to prove my point this

is my own theory or console generationz!....okay i'll start from

n64 and up okay psx and n64 r in their own!......then dc and ps2

and the dolphin!! look nintendo have vertualy told sega and sony

DON'T mess wid us look at it they have vurtually skip dc and

sony's generation! and made their own so in other words made up to

enerations in the time of 1! (this explains the delay of the

dolphin!)))\

so microsoft @!#$ off back to ur computerz!! and now they r

getting scared and begging nintendo to come on their side..LOL...pathetic

foolz!!

Steven Says:

Damn straight!

Ed Says:

Uh...no real question here...um, werd! Yeah that's it.

Ty Says: I

W1LL HAX0R TEH X0BOX AND FROMMAT TEH FRARBALL!!11111 L33T

Billy Says:

I'm with Ed on this one.  Werd.

TJW1974 asks,

Just curious. I know that Nintendo have not mentioned a figure

that many people want to hear about the Dolphin - the poly count.

Do you think that is because they dont yet have a final figure? Or

could it be that ArtX may be focusing on other elements of the

graphics (textures, etc), meaning the poly count may not be a good

indication of the Dolphins strengths? I know that to compare the

poly counts of the PSX and N64 doesnt do either machine much

justice - the poly count for N64 is lower than the PSX, but many

times the end result is a more asthetically pleasing N64 game.

Could this also be the case with the PS2, X-box, Dreamcast and

Dolphin? That is, poly count not being an accurate indication of

the end result.

Mike Says:

Nintendo seems to like being the last player to the party so they

can make their "fashionably late" arrival. They haven't committed

to specs or a price because, frankly, I don't think anything is

final until the details of competing systems are finalized. a)

Anything Nintendo reveals too early will only help their

competition. b) Nintendo likes to match or one-up their

competition wherever possible.


It's a strategic move with pluses and minuses, but has worked

reasonably well for them. Stats, and likely Japanese pricing, will

come later this summer.

Steven Says:

The only player I would worry about as far as eye-candy goes is

Xbox. Nintendo has stated that Dolphin "has a high poly

count", and they have stated that "textures are

important". Developers that we have spoken too, plus other

people, have stated that Dolphin looks "significantly"

better than PS2.


I wouldn't be surprised to see Dolphin's graphics chipset capable

of pulling off what nVidia can do today with current product,

probably more.

TommyD100 asks,

So let me get this straight.Is Mario 64 2 being released for the

N64 or are they holding it off for Dolphin?

Mike Says: My

trusty Magic 8-Ball again tells me that signs point to Dolphin for

the next "real" Mario sequel. I think we'll learn more

-- much more -- before the end of the year.

Steven Says:

There's no such thing as Mario 64 2. Mr Miyamoto could not afford

the time to create a true sequel to Super Mario 64 on the N64 with

Dolphin being so close. By definition, Mario 64 2 cannot be for

Dolphin. It will be called something else.

Vapur OJI Rupy

asks, Since innovated DVD-ROM's (or RAM's .. can't remember) are

being produced with violet lasers and will be able to read DVD's

with 15GB per side ... I was wondering how do people know if

Nintendo isn't using this type of Proprietary DVD? Was it assumed

that they would use the modern blue laser ones? I've been trying

to figure this out, but most N2000 sites don't explain where they

got the information, or if they assumed anything...

Steven Says:

Well, technically no one knows for sure, as the specs have not

been released. But, suffice it to say that the DVD-ROM in Dolphin

will probably be on par with current mainstream DVD technology.

It's plenty of space, and we don't need to be concerned about

whether or not it can read 15GB per side or not.


We don't know whether or not the DVD will be single-sided,

double-sided, double-layered or all of the above. Even if it is

the lowest capacity of all of the above choices, it will be

sufficient.

Mike Says: I

suppose everyone just assumes that the DVD technology being used

is the market standard, but there has been no evidence to suggest

that it isn't, either. At what cost do violet laser drives come?

Isn't 5 GB enough for a game? If it's proprietary, does Matsushita

own that patent? Would Nintendo license drives from Matsushita,

only to have Matsushita license from someone else?


It's an assumption, but a pretty safe one, that Dolphin's drive

will be mainstream.

Ed Says:

Actually, I believe Nintendo is getting the DVD drive from

Matsushita, which doesn't rule out a proprietary laser, but I

think that's why people assume it'll be mainstream. As for the 15

GB per side with the violet laser, maybe down the road games will

require that much space, but for now 5 GB ought to be enough

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