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Touchy-feely party possibilities: Wii U controller ideas

Some thoughts on the Wii U's controller limits - and the potential if Nintendo are smart about making them flexible.

I know it's late for this, but I was thinking about Nintendo setting the Wii U up with hardcoded limitations on the number of the new touchscreen controllers it can connect to.

I kind of get that - especially if they're planning to allow connection to DSs, and/or other touchscreens - but to actually restrict this at a hardware level would be a huge mistake. The potential here is massive.

I understand the logic – if the controllers are essentially dumb terminals and all the rendering is being done on the console, there are pretty fundamental limits to what can be achieved.

But the rendering load varies wildy by task.

If all the terminals are basically being given the same images and interface options – for instance, a multiple choice selection for voting or trivia quizzes, or (with some basic input processing on the touchscreen) a question and a text interface for open questions – there is virtually no processing required. Just broadcast the same image-and-interface bundle out to all the terminals and co-ordinate responses (eg determine who answered a question first).

And if there are standard-pre-rendered interfaces, which for some applications (quizzes, questionnaires) there’s no reason not to use, the workload is reduced even further.

What’s more, if the touchscreen controller is essentially a dumb terminal, there is no need for it to physically be a Wii U controller. Depending on the radio frequencies used by the devices, it could be an app. (I admit to total ignorance here; this may not actually be feasible. But c’mon: Bluetooth, wifi... surely the connectivity’s not insurmountable.) I know that Nintendo actually do traditionally plan on making some money on hardware... but a low cap on controllers per console says they’re not thinking in these terms for the touchscreen controllers anyway.

As for actual uses, there are lots of activities which could be co-ordinated from a Wii U with a large cap on connections, an ability to connect to non-controller touchscreens and a friendly UI:

  • Voting (on movies, music, activities), announcements and photosharing at parties
  • Co-ordinating
  • Trivia contests – making the Wii U a must-buy for pubs etc hosting such things, and allowing an objective element to timing challenges
  • Household calendars and shopping/to-do lists (also, Chore Wars?)
  • Activities like scavenger hunts etc  (would be dependent on range or ability to roam)

If you could network multiple consoles to pool and co-process their inputs, you could even go huge – you could have realtime voting/feedback at public meetings, or massive trivia contests.

I have library IT experience and my partner’s a primary teacher, so take it from me that schools and libraries could both find uses. Realtime classroom tests (i.e. non-trivia contests), for instance.

Just some random, hurried thoughts – but I do hope Nintendo see the possibilities here and allow for them.

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