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3DS Development Trivia With Hideki Konno

The 3DS project manager reveals that 3D wasn't always on the cards for the DS successor.

 
Visitors at a large Akihabara retailer sample 3DS ahead of Saturday's launch.

As part of its huge sixty page feature this week celebrating the 3DS launch, Famitsu has an interview with Nintendo's Hideki Konno, producer of Nintendogs + cats, and head of the Nintendo 3DS project as a whole. The magazine managed to get a few interesting bits of 3DS development history from Konno.

Konno was first spoken to about the 3DS project by Shigeru Miyamoto and Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata around the end of development of Mario Kart Wii as he started to work on Nintendo DSi Sound, the DSi's built in sound program (this was in early 2008). The two said to Konno, "We're making this kind of thing," as they showed him a new hardware which would be one of the devices that lead to the 3DS.

At Nintendo, the hardware and software development teams work in the same building and have always valued having a close relationship. However, they never had someone in charge of software enter the development area of the hardware. With the 3DS, however, Miyamoto and Iwata wanted an even closer relationship between the two sides. Konno is from the software side. 3DS represented his first time working on hardware development.

Planning for the successor to the DS began when the original DS was completed, so by the time Konno joined the project, they already had prototypes which would serve as the basis for the 3DS. Konno gave his opinion as a software developer.

Famitsu asked Konno what he kept in mind when creating the followup to the system that serves as Nintendo's representative platform, the DS. The initial target that was in place for creating the DS successor was to make a new system that was backwards compatible. This meant that certain design choices had to be kept in place -- things like having two screens and the bottom screen being a touch panel. Because of this, Konno placed his focus on features that were added later, including 3D.

That's right, the 3DS didn't have 3D planned as one of its initial features. This was true when Konno joined the development team back in 2008. It wasn't until after 2008 that they considered using 3D in games once again (Nintendo had previously experimented with 3D through Virtual Boy and 1988 Famicom Disk racer 3D Hot Rally).

To initially test out 3D, Konno asked the hardware development team to connect a 3D LCD panel to a Wii system so that he could see if Wii software could be made into 3D. He found playing Mario Kart Wii on a naked-eye 3D panel to be very nice. Various related parties gathered to see this demo and were impressed. These early demonstrations also consisted of 3D figures of Mario and Luigi, which also impressed viewers.

Elsewhere in the interview, Konno revealed that the system's gyro sensor, which is used heavily as an optional camera control and aiming method in many games, was added particularly late into development. They didn't decide upon including it until before last year's E3. This was actually after the specs had been finalized, meaning adding the gyro sensor would be difficult. However, Miyamoto said such things as "it feels like it's missing something," and "if there were a gyro sensor, the play could change greatly."

Konno also commented on the system's unique 3D Volume control. The volume control went through numerous ideas before the slider control was decided upon. Among the ideas was plus and minus buttons and options settings at the software level. That 3D Mario Kart Wii demo is what lead to the final slider form. They tested out the Mario Kart demo with an analogue volume switch and found the feel of the game world changing in real time to be unique.

There's a lot more in the interview, so those with access to Famitsu will want to take a look.

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