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A Solution For Wiimote Weakness? AILive Talks LiveMove 2, Wii MotionPlus

Gamasutra talks in-depth with AILive chairman Wei Yen about how adding depth and accuracy to motion control tracking can expand the possibilities for Wii titles -- and how he hopes his company's new LiveMove 2 software, designed specifically alongside Mot
Developing accurate motion tracking for the Wii Remote was in itself a challenge to many. Now, with Nintendo's recently-unveiled addition of the MotionPlus accessory, California-based tool developer AiLive is hoping its new LiveMove 2 motion control software will aid developers as they work with the expanded possibilities for Wii titles. The relatively low-profile company already sports licensees including Activision, EA, Midway, Namco, Nintendo, and Ubisoft for its previous Wii-centric products, which include the original version of LiveMove and behavior capture application LiveCombat. The Wii Remote better lends itself to detecting larger movements, but MotionPlus is designed to enable recognition of more subtle ones - and LiveMove 2 takes advantage of this. AiLive chairman Wei Yen, talking to Gamasutra, said he's very proud of what the MotionPlus accessory can do -- his company worked in collaboration with Nintendo to help create MotionPlus, and unveiled their LiveMove 2 software with this video: "The combination of the [hardware and software] expands the palette of what can be done with motion control," Yen said, adding that with LiveMove 2, it's now possible to incorporate full 1:1 tracking. The Wii Remote alone posed new difficulties for developers in accurately tracking motion over time. "So many developers have focused on doing whack or wiggle detection," noted Yen. AiLive felt that tailoring the LiveMove tools to make the best use of this added complexity was a sensible goal. Yen said that the new motion recognition capabilities will expand on the performance of LiveMove Pro working with the current Wii Remote alone. Mathematical algorithms for 1:1 tracking and snap-to-fit, he explained, help maintain the accuracy of 3D positions generated from acceleration and angular velocity data. "We feel that free-form motion control and natural engagement is still largely unexplored territory. So we design our tools to help developers get the most of of this new form of control - as quickly and as easily as possible." When asked what about the MotionPlus will be most exciting to developers, Yen said that the absence of lag is what he considers the most promising development in this new version of LiveMove. "We have different favorites on the team," he said. "The biggest is the immediate responsiveness of tracking. Until you pick up a MotionPlus-enabled Wii Remote, it is hard to describe how or even why it is so much fun just whacking that guy in our video or hitting those balls with the sword." But the opportunity that Yen said he finds most exciting is that more complex motion tracking will likely broaden the possibilities for games that can work for both casual and hardcore audiences. An example given is a baseball title that employs the snap-to-fit technology - in order to make the on-screen swing correct for players of lower proficiency. Yen declined to comment on which developers might already be using the tools -- "but we can say that we've received a lot of interest," he said. "There's a big demand for this kind of control."

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