Notebook Dump: Rare Visit, MotionPlus Question, Nutcracker

There comes a time in the week to reflect on what got into my reporter's notebook but didn't turn into Kotaku blog posts. Shall we?

This was a tricky week, as two of our finest, McWhertor and Fahey, were off to Comic-Con and working odd hours because of it. So I wrote more posts and therefore did a little less reporting and left less on the cutting room floor. But still, here are some scraps...

A Rare Studio Visit
: You might think that an experienced video game reporter like myself would have visited a lot of game development studios. Unfortunately, I haven't. Blame my being based in the studio-light New York or not barging into enough development company offices or whatever. When I stepped into the Gameloft studio in New York on Tuesday, where I witnessed games actually being developed, well, that was unusual. (I was there to play Gangstar: West Coast Hustle, a GTA-like iPhone game.) I've covered games full-time for a little over four years and my visit to an active game development part of Gameloft adds to a short list that includes a visit at Retro in Austin, Midway's recently-shuttered Austin studio, the recently-shuttered Gamelab in New York, Yukes in Yokohama, EA in Redwood Shores and Double Fine in San Francisco. That's it, though I think having Kenta Cho show me stuff on his laptop counts too. I've been in meeting-room areas at Rockstar (NYC), Nintendo of America (Redwood Shores), Tecmo (Tokyo), Sony (Tokyo), Sega (San Francisco), Konami (San Francisco), EA (Los Angeles) and probably a few others. But if we're talking strictly visits to places where people are at computers developing stuff, it's just that short list.

MotionPlus Calibration Needs Still A Question: Chatting with Nintendo reps in Times Square on Thursday did not help answer one lingering question from my fun time playing Wii Sports Resort on Saturday: Why does the game ask for the controller to be re-calibrated - sometimes by having it placed upside down on a table — before any new mini-game is played? (EDIT: As readers noted below, what I wrote was a little bit of overstatement. Based on my experience and others' the re-calibration is needed several times an hour, of you're playing lots of different sports in the game — but it doesn't need to be re-set for each and very switch. Apologies for not being more clear about that. I phrased the question properly to the Nintendo folks but over-simplified it in this article.) Nintendo's corporate affairs v.p Denise Kaigler referred me to the company's product expert Bill Trinen. He said that he believed the designers required that in order to ensure that each of the diverse sports in Wii Sports Resort can be controlled with fine and accurate motions. But I wondered if this signaled a limitation for the MotionPlus. Could it be used without any interruption for re-calibration, in longer, continuous games that might mix up motion styles? It's a hypothetical question and one Trinen couldn't address at the moment. He sounded confident in the technology, but, as I suggested to him, it's something I guess we'll have to wait and see about, when games that try to do what I'm talking about, come along. Maybe Red Steel 2 will be a test case.

Nutcracker Notes: Finally, I guess it pays to mention in Twitter the games you are playing for review. While I know some reviewers don't like to read other reviews for fear of being prematurely influenced, I appreciated the e-mail from a reader this week who saw that I was playing Little King's Story and sent me some information about it. His note expanded my understanding of how the game's developers were influenced by things like the Nutcracker Suite. I can't say I caught all that on my own, and I'm a fan of learning this extra stuff to make what I do more informed. That added info may not make it into a post or even my review, but it's good stuff to know. Makes me feel smarter. That review was supposed to run today, but I haven't finished the game yet, so it bounces to next week.

That's all for today. Comic-Con madness subsides next week, I book some trips, some more embargoes lift and I get to check out the full holiday line-ups from Ubisoft and Sony, with some Majesco mixed in. Should be fun. Happy weekend, everyone.