dartmonkey

Modest Tech: The NX Generation (Nintendo Switch)

604 posts in this topic

With dev kits being sent out it is time to crank out a thread for what will be the first of the 9th generation of home video game consoles - Codename NX. The generations have become blurry and somewhat pointless since the Wii went sideways in the tech race but, unless Microsoft has anything to do with it, generation 9 is the next in line. So far we know next to nothing, although the usual rumours of insanely advanced tech are doing the rounds. They say it's more powerful than the current crop (a given, I think, insomuch as the Wii U is more powerful than 360 and PS3). They say it's a home console you can carry as a handheld (my 'homeheld' moniker is yet to catch on). They say it's got a vitality-sensing hole you stick your finger in (they don't say that).

 

Pooling their multiple consoles and dev teams into one thing that can function on all fronts makes sense theoretically, though doing so in a cost effective way that doesn't feel Jack-of-all-trades is a big ask. Even assuming the tech is modest (even simply Wii U-level), getting that into a form that will be comfortable on the bus, and also not feel restrictive in front of the telly is, again, a big ask. Nintendo have form (with handhelds) in getting something functional to market and then refining it a year or two down the line. That won't wash with a home console. They can't afford to fail in communicating the concept this time either. There's a LOT to get right.

 

I'm reasonably comfortable saying it:

1. will be a handheld/home console hybrid.

2. won't be Wii branded.

3. will not be some behemoth tech-wise.

 

Nintendo couldn't care less about spec parity or courting 3rd-party ports, and although it would give my inner 11-year old a kick to see them come out with some spec monster, it makes no sense for them. It'll be just juicy enough to achieve their goals.* The Wii U gets crapped on all the time but I've found the wireless gamepad tech practically flawless and I'm continually shocked by how pretty MK8 is. Namewise, it would be damaging to call it Wii DS or Wii Something, especially if it looks anything like an existing concept. I don't see any harm in keeping it Wiimote-compatible but it needs a clean break in nomenclature. And it needs to launch in Waluigi Purple. 

 

I actually really like the NX codename because it's so hella 90s. But we should start sweepstakes for the real name. The Nintendo Handi. The Fami. The Nexus. Or something animal-y to show how the portable bit 'piggybacks' to become one system. The Terrapin. The 'Roo. The Pilotfish. Ooo, how about the Manta!

 

So, what do you think it'll be? Will Zelda get Twilight Princessed into a launch title? Will the Balance Board be compatible over three generations?

 

 

 

*However, it's critical that we agree re. defining the new Nintendo console in terms of previous Nintendo consoles, plus some form of adhesive - my money's on 2x Wii Us + 1x GB Micro + blutack

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm putting my money on it being a dockable tablet, similar to Microsoft's "new" dock-thing where you can plug in your phone to what is effectively a port replicator. The dock has all the Modern Standard Outputs: HDMI, Optical, USB 3.0 A, 3.0 C, 1GB/s Ethernet, and the Wii Sensor Bar. Also, the dock has a blu-ray drive, and a replaceable 500GB 5400RPM HDD. The dock has a PowerPC chip in it. The dock is not small; it is roughly as large as the tablet, which slides in to dock, as opposed to standing up. It is roughly the size of a PS4 lying on its side, with a little shaved off the top, which the tabgl

 

All the tech is contained in the tablet itself, which will have exactly 1 hour of battery life before purchase of a Bigger Battery which boosts it to 3. The tablet has 64GB of internal flash storage, which is non-expandable. NX games (and "Compatible With Tablet" ports) will be loadable onto the tablet itself, allowing those games to be taken on the go. There is a touchscreen for the requisite Cut The Rope games, but also a Bluetooth controller for Serious MLG Pros (and games like Zelda, VC games, Mario 64 Remastered, whatever). The same controller is used when the tablet is docked.

 

The NX is backwards compatible with both Wii U and Wii games when the tablet is not docked (Wii U touchpad components are mapped to the tablet alongside a touchscreen control scheme a la Mega Man/whatevet, owing to the PowerPC/AMD chipset in the dock itself. Nintendo touts this as a big feature during the announce, pointing out that it is the first console with three generations of backwards compatibility. Sony makes a snide tweet, which results in Nintendo firing back that Sony removed PS2 capability almost immediately. In two years, Nintendo announces the NX Lite, which removes backwards compatibility. Sony makes another tweet. Nintendo does not respond.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly I think it's a higher-tech tier of the Wii U. Nintendo probably figured out the value of playing off-tv and wants to retain that feature. A lot of people don't seem to use their handheld game consoles while out and about - phones have taken over that purpose. So handhelds get used around the house more often. If that data point is true beyond the observations I've seen, then Nintendo has no reason to continue making handhelds. There will be a console unit in the home that can process the data remotely. They have the tech existing already so R&D cost on it should be way down. All they have to work on is better compatibility for the feature, because it is sadly not universal.

 

As far as the name goes, good lord I hope them ditching "Wii" is great. My biggest criticism of the Wii U when it was announced was the name. It sounded like a peripheral, and people mistook it as one for the Wii. Even Idle Thumbs pointed out how the marketing for the Wii U had to shift dramatically to point out that it was a "new" thing and "different."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm banking on two pieces of hardware that share a unified architecture, including APIs. From a dev perspective, it'd be like building a game for a phone or tablet. This would also mean that Nintendo could use the NX platform to roll out third-party products with full compatibility, like a smartphone.

 

This won't happen to any great extent, but it'll be touted as a possibility.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nintendo going full-on into the mobiles space would be crazy. If they bridged the gap where people could check in on their games via mobile but then play the same game in a more advanced form with traditional controllers, I expect everyone to give them the goddamn credit deserved.

 

... Of course that's all supposition. Which is the fun of all this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Somewhere i read a rumor that the system OS will be built on Android. Which if done right could mean that the NX could run popular mobile games like Clash of Clans and Puzzle&Dragons, which given their new partnership with DeNA would make sense. I doubt they'd just let the Play Store on it. More likely they'd allow approved mobile games onto the new eShop.

I also imagine this means hackers would have an easier time rooting the system, which means we've potentially got ourselves a fancy new emulation box at our hands.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, we're thinking capacitive touchscreen for all this mobile, pinch-friendly malarky? A high end tablet, plus actual buttons and those rumoured scroll-wheel shoulders, analogue sticks and such - the costs begin piling up fast. Would they try splitting the pieces up as separate purchases, like the Nvidia Shield with its tablet/controller/TV components? I personally think they've gone too far down that confusing fragmented route already and they need one unified 'thing' in a box. But doing it for an attractive price sounds like a nightmare. After initially selling Wii U below cost and getting stung, do you think the new guard would gamble and do it again for a new system? Unless it's something truly revolutionary, even $400 will seem expensive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Somewhere i read a rumor that the system OS will be built on Android.

 

While Nintendo and Google collaborating closely wouldn't shock me, it would surprise me, as it seems like Google has closer links to The Pokemon Company than to NCL. I don't know if it makes strategic sense for either company; Android exists so that Apple doesn't control mobile internet, and Google doesn't really have a pressing need to move into the games space. Nintendo wouldn't be able to run anywhere near stock Android for what they need, and they can define the specifications of the hardware to their advantage, so they might as well build the firmware to that specification.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hardware speculation is all well and good - i just hope they dont lose focus of the Wii-U and the 2014-15 gains they've been making.  Feels like from MK8 till now has been a hard push to boost hardware sales and pulled in a lot of late adopters with several really good titles in a row.  Great, now they have roped in a lot of new people, some good games on the horizon - and then just jump to the NX system?  

 

If this thing came out anytime in the next calendar year i'd be pretty soured, and even more so if they take that Zelda they've been showing the grass demo of and just shelve it to the next generation.

 

 

On the wild speculation - they should zord with the Wii-U like the 32x did with Sega.  Perhaps have to stack an old wii, wii-u, and this new NX device to unlock the full potential

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm betting every cent I own that it'll have a handle, an attachable light source, and fold in half.

 

It will be called: The Nimbus Gadget Pocket.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, I forgot that they got involved with non-rectangular LCD tech, too. It's going to have an oval VMU screen. Or a doughnut dial.

 

Also, I've been thinking about the Zelda Wii U. Nintendo cannot afford to be seen to be abandoning Wii U customers so soon, many of whom may have just jumped in with Mario Maker. Mario Maker itself seems to be one of those evergreen titles that will have legs for several years, so whatever NX's guise it'll be backwards compatible with Wii U. Then they can slap a big 'Playable on the new/upcoming NX' sticker on Zelda, and all the Wii U games. Maybe they'll add some Tingle Tuner-esque feature if you've got the new console, but I don't foresee a Twilight Princess two-version scenario.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm loving that we can all predict something utterly wild and left field and still have it be totally within the realms of possibility because Nintendo.

I_Smell, good to see you around man. About the cents situation, are we talking US or Eurocentimes?

Keep plugging away with "homeheld", Dartmonkey, get that well into communal, subconscious circulation. It'll catch on, lad. It'll catch on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If they're really unifying all hardware function around this device I think it's time they pull the trigger and just call this thing the "Nintendo Entertainment System"! 

 

I believe most of the "super hardware" speculation is centered around the fact that the consoles speculative release window aligns closely with the release date of Nvidias "Pascal" hardware architecture (http://www.anandtech.com/show/7900/nvidia-updates-gpu-roadmap-unveils-pascal-architecture-for-2016) which is rumored to be a monster jump in rendering performance. 

 

If they plan on building the system based on android (which IMO makes all the sense in the world) going with tegra seems like a no brainier. Mobile hardware tech has already solved the encode and stream problem better then the WiiU. It would be technically intelligent of them to lean on that already superior implementation to kind of just take their current vision to the next level. I just don't really know what that would look like...

 

I guess what I am imagining is a TV box running some kind of x86/Nvidia Maxwell/Kepler hardware to play "console games". And then the controller some kind of 5-7 inch device with some physical inputs powered by some manner of tegra that can remote play from the "console" on local networks and then play some other tier of game when you're away from home (like normal android games or bespoke DX handheld games). I don't imagine there will be a scenario where you'll be able to run "the same" games on both the handheld component and the TV powered component. Unless the hardware in the handset is the "baseline" and the box under your TV is simply a stream point. However that seems generally less exciting to me. 

 

Then there's the question of how you price and package something like that? Is it one thing (a controller and a console)? If there's any kind of significant compute power that's going to be real expensive. Is it 2 things that are part of the same "system" (the console with big rendering power and the handheld as it's controller/companion). That allows stuff to be priced more reasonably but also kind of breaks the idea of the 2 pieces creating some whole experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not 100% but I believe they've gone on record stating they won't be using Android.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a lot of subtle distinctions in that, though: you can easily use Android implementations of things without running an Android operating system. Given Android's open source, Nintendo's firmware team would be smart to cherrypick existing implementations of things where it makes sense for their goals.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay.

I don't know anything about whatever subtleties as far as Nintendo goes, just parroting what I heard.

Also don't really have any investment in whether or not they do, so you know. Whatever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

how could you not care about esoteric structural choices Nintendo makes for their firmware, Twig

 

it's like I don't even know you

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hah.

The games, man! The gaaaaames!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nintendo is way too sparkly-clean a company to play in the Google mudpit. They'll make their own tech I bet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Android is offered totally free without any official association with google through the "open handset alliance" as AOSP (Android open source project). You can easily pull an amazon and basically fork the entire thing into your own ecosystem without any google involvement. The only "google" bits of android are the play store and play services. I have always figured that if Nintendo did base their next console on android it would be some "nintendroid" version of the OS and not something we would easily recognize as android. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The more I think about it, the more that the current UI of the Wii and Wii U already resembles what is seen on smartphones: a grid of icons that is customisable (drag icons around, make folders, etc.) and an additional row of icons for system features. A jump to an Android-based OS wouldn't be jarring at all, from a UI perspective. I don't know how an Android-based OS would affect game development though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't imagine Nintendo even using Linux/unix as a base for any of their operating systems, let alone sharing branding with anything google. Programming is what they do.

 

Shareholders can ruin anything though, so we'll see.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ring the Pachter klaxon.

I need independent verification that I'm not being exceptionally dim. I know Pachter's more vg personality now than analyst, but...well, I can't work out if he's trolling or not. He's cracked out the 'Nintendo is doomed without 3rd party support' chestnut. Tosh, but fair enough. He thinks Nintendo could potentially nibble away at Sony and MS' market share. Well, I guess it's not impossible. But where he really comes into his own is here:

"Ultimately, the only people who are going to buy it are people that don't have a PS4 or Xbox One. Or, people who have a PS4 or Xbox One, and want to play Nintendo games."

Maybe I'm being particularly dim, but doesn't everybody ON EARTH fall into one of those categories?

Pachter Shmachter Trashcompachter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ring the Pachter klaxon.

I need independent verification that I'm not being exceptionally dim. I know Pachter's more vg personality now than analyst, but...well, I can't work out if he's trolling or not. He's cracked out the 'Nintendo is doomed without 3rd party support' chestnut. Tosh, but fair enough. He thinks Nintendo could potentially nibble away at Sony and MS' market share. Well, I guess it's not impossible. But where he really comes into his own is here:

"Ultimately, the only people who are going to buy it are people that don't have a PS4 or Xbox One. Or, people who have a PS4 or Xbox One, and want to play Nintendo games."

Maybe I'm being particularly dim, but doesn't everybody ON EARTH fall into one of those categories?

Pachter Shmachter Trashcompachter

 

 

You're forgetting the people who will never play video games.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now