The Way Games Work: Wii Remote & MotionPlus

It may be old news by now, but the Wii remote still has some interesting technology up its sleeve.  Find out how it works, learn a few tricks, and discover if it can coexist with curious kittens.


  • Mr. K Mr. K
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 3:54 AM | Permalink

    Summed up: “The Move is still better.”

    Awesome explanation, Roo. I have both the Move and the Wii, and even with the Motion Control Plus, the Move still feels like it’s more responsive.

  • Roo Roo
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 3:59 AM | Permalink

    Having not experienced the Move yet, but spent a fair amount of time looking into the tech for both the Move and Wii, I’d have to agree with your statement.  The real advantage is the glowy orb on top of the Move controller – it allows for yet another set of data to correspond with a person’s movement and make the interaction that much smoother.

    All that said, however, I got my first taste of the Kinect at MAGFest this year and I was thoroughly impressed.  Mostly in the potential it holds, but impressed nonetheless.

  • Mr. K Mr. K
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 4:17 AM | Permalink

    Well, you know how I feel about the Kinect (and the Move) especially when it comes to marketing.

    I think what I like the most about Sony is they get it right, even at the expense of profit. For Nintendo to have to go back and do what they should have done in the first place was really grasping at straws. And when people to say, “Oh, Sony is just copying the Nintendo,” it really annoys me because all Nintendo did was beat it to market.

  • Knightcrawler
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 7:27 AM | Permalink

    No, Nintendo *invented* that market, it didn’t just “beat it to market.” You can be sure if Nintendo didn’t invent the Market, there would be no Move. Besides, Sony doesn’t get things right the first time, either. Take the original PlayStation controller. Or Killzone 1 (or 2, arguably). The original (or any) PSP. The original PS2s have pretty much all broken down by now. Nintendo innovates, Sony steals. It’s really that simple. :-p I can come up with even more examples of Sony insulting Nintendo for an innovation one year, then stealing it several years later.


    Anyway, the Move has one major advantage over the Wii remote: the integration of a camera, allowing for augmented reality games like EyePet. Although really, this is where the Kinect shines. However, the Wii remote updates 200 times per second, and I’ve read in reviews that the Move controller lags more than a Wii remote and has choppier movements, so I’d guess it doesn’t update as frequently. Also, the Move *requires* line of sight with the ball to work; in my book, that’s not an advantage. The Wii remote with MotionPlus really only needs to see the sensor bar occasionally to work.  If you put your hand behind your back with the Move controller – to draw an arrow, pull back for a big attack, etc. – it will stop tracking whereas the Wii remote with MotionPlus would not.


    That said, *none* of the current console manufacturers solve the key problems with motion gaming. Even with the MotionPlus, I found Red Steel 2 had a serious problem: the point of view is tied to the same movements as the aiming/swinging (it won’t be as obvious a problem in straight, simply FPS games). Either Sony or Nintendo could solve this easily. Headsets are already popular in gaming, just integrate a light source that the Playstation Eye could pick up. Or with Nintendo’s crazy-damned peripherals, they could easily expect gamers to mount a Wii Remote with the sensor bar, and set an IR light source on a headset. Either of these methods could allow seperate head-tracking, which would *dramatically* improve the experience. Heck, Sony could even use their basic camera for crude head tracking, although it’d eat up resources like mad. And with the shriveling-up of the PC market (to even say “decline” would be a great favor), there are no great PC solutions (head-tracking is available for PC games and has been for years, but not in many popular games, and the current set-ups would be impractical for any motion-tracking games if there were any).


    Now with my obvious Nintendo-and-PC fanboyism (or really, Sony-hating) showing, I really enjoyed the video, Roo. 🙂 I liked your Hill Vall… I mean accelerometer model. It worked quite well! It may not be obvious with the 3 paragraphs I spent kicking and screaming at other comments and the couple of sentenses I’m spending complimenting the video, but this is one of my favorite video series. Maybe one day you’ll be doing a “The Way Games Work” on a little baby of mine. Hahaha!

  • DPPalbert
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 8:20 AM | Permalink

    … because Wii actually has original games to back it up and Move, well … doesn’t. On top of that Move isn’t very comfortable to hold, at least not for me.

  • The Male White Mage The Male White Mage
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 8:48 AM | Permalink

    The Wii Remote, how I dislike it, but now know how it works.

    As for the comments above about Sony copying Nintendo, isn’t that how all companies work? One does all the work in development and the other just copies it or buys the other company out.

  • Knightcrawler
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 9:13 AM | Permalink

    Doesn’t mean I have to respect or like it. :-p

  • Mr. K Mr. K
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 12:03 PM | Permalink

    Knightcrawler, Sony announced the move two months before Nintendo went into production on the Wii at CES. In one of the earliest tech demos for the PS3, a portion of the video was devoted to the motion control. Now, the stick didn’t look as sleek as the final product, but the ball was on top. Could a similar product have been in production at Nintendo? Maybe.

    As for the original PlayStation controller, that was not a mistake. It just didn’t have analog. Not having it isn’t a mistake. In fact, I still own two of those controllers for the games that don’t use analog.

    And you’ve READ in reviews. I HAVE a Move and a Wii. The Move is a superior piece of technology (Roo even agreed), and that isn’t fanboyism. For you to have read the Move is choppier is Nintendo fanboyism.

    That attitude is like saying the only difference between DVD and Blu-Ray is that the laser is a different color. Everything Sony’s ever done was innovative. Take the Betamax and Walkman, for example. The only reason that the Betamax didn’t make it was because the VCR had a better marketing campaign.

  • Knightcrawler
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 12:48 PM | Permalink

     Uh, I’m pretty sure that you have the dates on the Move mixed up. That was about 2 years ago that they started working on the Move, not four.  And about1.5 years when they showed it off. Certainly not 5.5 years ago, when the Wii was revealed. As far as the early Sony experiments with motion technology, tell me honestly that the Move controller is closer to this:

    than this:

    Sony wasn’t interested in exploring this any further until the Wii became successful. If they weren’t interested in that technology or business model, then what was with all the mud-slinging? You don’t try to stifle what you see as your own future. And Sony certainly wasn’t the only company experimenting with camera recognition software, it was quite popular. You can go back and see videos of people playing Ping Pong with colored hats. That’s basically the same as what Sony showed above. The only major difference is that by using a sphere, distance calculations can be made quickly and cheaply. By itself, though, that information isn’t very useful since the object’s orientation can’t be judged.

    The Playstation controller was a decent controller for 2D games, but it is not their final design. When Nintendo and Sega developed their analogue sticks independently and Sony saw that Nintendo’s became popular, and when Nintendo integrated its Rumble Pak into a pad controller, Sony made *that* its final design. If you say those are unimportant, look at how popular the SixAxis controller was. IMO they didn’t “do it right the first time” because they had no conception that a 3D game would be hard to control without an analogue input device of any kind, and they must have known 3D games were coming.

    How is reading a review – something other people wrote – fanboyism?

    I don’t think you’re clear about what an innovation is. It’s a completely novel way of doing something, not an improvement. The BluRay is not an innovation, it’s an improvement of the DVD, which is an improvement of the V-CD, which is an improvement of the CD (and this is from someone who LIKES BluRay). Betamax was not an innovation, as there were several other video cassette formats at the time. Sony did develop those, though, so I’ll give that Sony innovated then. But that was almost half a century ago! If I were to go and say “Nintendo invented the D-Pad,” you’d say that was ancient, old news when in fact it’s much newer than cassette tapes.

  • Mr. K Mr. K
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 1:28 PM | Permalink

    What? You’re comparing the Move to a candied apple?

    Sorry Knightcrawler, but even if the technology was on the backburner, it was still there, even five years ago. The Move spent longer in development, but did it right the first time. As for the analog controllers, Sony’s developers weren’t making games that needed an analog stick. Everything being made at that time on the console worked on an X-Y axis. When developers decided to change it up, Sony made a new controller. Now it’s the standard.

    Look, I love my SNES. It’s the greatest console of all time. But Nintendo doesnn’t innovate. Power Glove? Super Scope Six? Virtual Boy? Now they’re gimmicking it up with the 3DS.

    Betamax was an innovation. It was the granddaddy of all the video cassette players. Maybe not the cassette in general, but the home video cassette.

  • Dosei-san..
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 11:21 PM | Permalink

    I remember sony saying that the inspiration for the move was the wii and the power glove was made by Mattel. Oh and roo props for that sega saturn reference.

  • Arkus
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 3:15 AM | Permalink

    Actually rumors of the Move started shortly after the Wii came out. Also if you think Nintendo invented the market for motion controllers, you’re uneducated. Motion controllers go back to the Atari, and posiabbly further back

  • TommyJames
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 7:59 AM | Permalink

    Going back to Betamax for a moment, I seem to remember there being an issue with beta players being prone to eating tapes.  Add to that the fact that you apparently couldn’t do playback in a beta camcorder and had to have extra equipment for video editing, the beta format just wasn’t practical for the population at large.

    Besides, everybody knows that because of ease of use, the porn industry single-handedly made VHS the standard.

    BTW, Roo.  Awesome video, as always.

    Really looking forward to the next one!

  • Knightcrawler
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 2:30 PM | Permalink


    No, that’s no a candied apple. It’s Sony’s early “motion controller.” You’ll notice it is literally a stick and a ball. That was their prototype motion controller before the Wii. I guess it surprises you to see it, since you really didn’t know much about the prototype you were hyping up. 😛

    You honestly think they were working on that “candy apple” the entire time the Wii was in development? You can’t say something is in development for a long time because they started research a long time ago, then abandoned it. When someone “works on something for a long time,” they mean how many hours are put into the work, not how far apart their work is spaced. That “candy apple” is as much a Move controller as the Power Glove is a motion controller, so if you’re gonna dig that far back and expand the definition of a motion controller so much, Nintendo still got there first. And no, actually, there were 3D games made for the PSX before the dual shock. In fact, Ridge Racer was a launch title. Either way, they still failed to predict the market would go in that direction.

    It is interesting you’ll dig back almost 50 years to find a Sony innovation, but won’t accept innovations from Nintendo in the last 30. If you just want to be assinine and talk about failed experiments in gaming, we can talk about Sony’s little “shock station” (or whatever it was called) that’d shock players playing a game (a version of Pong, I think) whenever they had an opponent score on them. You’re being purposely neglegent.

    No, BetaMax was NOT the first home video cassette, as I already said. You’ve gotta decide whether you’re going with “The first to do a single experiment in the area is the innovator” or “The first to be adopted by a large number of consumers is the innovator.” You can’t just pick one for one argument and another for another argument.



    Unfortunately, your own wording got away from you. No, Nintendo did not invent motion controllers. But you talked about the market for motion gaming. What Atari (and Nintendo) did back in the 80s were failed experiments; there was no market. And as far as rumors, yes there were rumors right after the Wii came out that Sony would make a motion controller. Just like there are rumors of a WiiHD. A rumor isn’t a fact, but I’ll accept the fact that Sony was probably *talking* about how they could rip off Nintendo at that point. 😛

  • Arkus
    Posted February 6, 2011 at 6:08 PM | Permalink

    Yeah, cause failed experiment means the market didn’t exist… gotcha.

  • Sirius
    Posted February 8, 2011 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

    Am I the only one that caught the Back to the Future reference?

    Nice video. 🙂

  • Overheat
    Posted February 9, 2011 at 2:18 AM | Permalink

    Looking forward to what I presume will be a Nintendo Zapper episode next  🙂

  • Aestolia
    Posted February 10, 2011 at 6:09 PM | Permalink

    TommyJames, that’s pretty much a whole HDDVD / BRDVD argument though

    Yes the beta stuff was more expensive and needed extra stuff because it didn’t get the backing it needed off the launch. Had It won out over VHS the rolls would have been reveresed. and getting VHS stuff would have been ‘extra’ and more expensive.

    Beta would have been superior had it won, as it turned out it didn’t… Makes me real glad to see that BR won over HDDVD’s 

  • TommyJames
    Posted February 11, 2011 at 5:33 AM | Permalink

    Betamax was Sony’s baby and they made their camcorders without a playback head.   That is what required the extra equipment for editing.  Thus, VHS was a less expensive otion for the population at large and by the time Beta could make a move, VHS was entrenched.

    Maybe Beta was better quality, but that doesn’t really matter at this point, does it?

  • TeamMountain
    Posted February 21, 2011 at 4:06 PM | Permalink

    missed this part the first time I watched this: 

    at 5 min 14 seconds:

    -kirby hat

    -D20 keychain

    -tape measure


    what else could you ever need?!!

  • Cooldogs_1
    Posted February 21, 2011 at 8:50 PM | Permalink

    Joey, are you a Computer or Electrical Engineer?  I’m a Computer Science & Mathematician, so a lot of stuff you talked about made sense to me, but I’m not Electical Engineer.  I use to do software development for the Wiimote in a research project for an article I wrote a long time ago.  The article was about the use of alternative controller options for Wii games to not seclude handicap or disabled people. 

  • Roo Roo
    Posted February 26, 2011 at 6:20 PM | Permalink

    TeamMountain: That Kirby hat is my new favorite Easter egg to put in videos!  🙂

    Cooldogs: I’m actually trained in physics, with hands-on experience in electronics, computer programming, machining, and some engineering, so that all provides a good background for these videos.  Do you have a link to your article?  I’d be interested in reading it.

  • Cooldogs_1
    Posted February 26, 2011 at 7:14 PM | Permalink

    Its an pretty old article, and I had to write it in a way that was readable to everyone, and not just techy people.   It was fun for me to write, because during the time I was taking Computer Architecture and Organization (which was difficult, but fun).  Anyways here it is:!

  • The Male White Mage The Male White Mage
    Posted February 26, 2011 at 7:54 PM | Permalink

    Read Cooldogs_1 article, nice article.

    When I saw the Wii’s motion controllers in use and how they are suppose to bring in more people I thought “Nintendo is hoping to get more people into gaming but they are leaving out people with physical disability.”

    Reading in old NES books there was a ‘NES Hands Free Controller’ for players unable to use their hands for standard game play. That in general is way I am not liking how motion control is the future for gaming when they are leaving people out that use to be able to play.

    Myself I prefer the GameCube controller for Wii games because I like responsive controls.

  • chaindog_2003
    Posted June 3, 2011 at 3:16 PM | Permalink

    Knightcrawler, if you’re looking just at the current gen consoles, PS3 was the first motion controller. Don’t forget why the original stock controller was called a six-axis. Granted it wasn’t all that great and was best when implamented sparingly at most, but if my memory serves (admitadly it typically doesn’t) the PS3 did come out before the Wii. Then the Wii did it right. Then the PS3 did it better. Unfortunately, I still have yet to hear of anything even remotely close to being a must have title that uses the move, which means there’s no real 3rd party support to speak of, leaving the Move to be forever forgotten in the annuls of failed gimmicks alongside Nintendo’s previous attempts. Life goes on.

Post a Comment