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Motorola, Nintendo, & Sony Towards Wireless Gaming 145

WeekendKruzr writes "CommsDesign is running an article about how Motorola has partnered with Sony and Nintendo to work on bringing 2.4Ghz wireless LAN tech to the console gaming community. They're calling it an "isochronous network" and it is "intended for streaming, near-real-time traffic..." with production scheduled for later this year."
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Motorola, Nintendo, & Sony Towards Wireless Gaming

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  • Wow, this must be the first time Sony and Nintendo have more or less worked together since the SNES CD! Or would someone like to step in and correct me :)
    • Re:Sony and Nintendo (Score:2, Informative)

      by Smedrick ( 466973 )
      Correct, but they're not really "working together" in the same sense. The article states that Motorola is developing the technology based on input from Sony, Nintendo and other developers. So it's more like the game developers are working together with Motorola.

      ...which is better than the title suggests, because just the thought of Nintendo and Sony working together makes me queesy.
    • by Storm Damage ( 133732 ) <st0rmd AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:30PM (#3945675)
      Well, they are both contributing input to Motorola on this development, but the article states nothing of any alliance between the two companies, or even any intent to introduce cross-platform networking compatibility to their systems. From the vagueness of the technical descriptions in the article this might end up being a feature in the next-gen consoles, but whether that means you'll be able to play Quake 4 on your PS3 versus your buddy across the street on his Nintendo is not at all clear yet.
    • They aren't really working together, Sony is just offering input, it appears that Nintendo is really pushing it though. Read this qoute:
      "Motorola and Nintendo have demonstrated the isochronous gaming LAN privately at gaming conferences over the last quarter."
      Looks like Nintendo is really pushing it...not Sony!
  • More evidence (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stevenbee ( 227371 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:16PM (#3945555)
    IMHO this is just further proof that gaming is the Prime Evolutionary Factor in all technology. ; -)
      • Okay, maybe porn drives CD-ROM, VCRs, VGA--but where are they on the faster CPUs/ fancy 3d cards side of things? In other words, WHERE IS MY SUPER-INTELLIGENT REAL-TIME GENERATED CYBER FRIEND?
    • I just hope that they don't continue on in this line to the point where all multiplayer games a done over a wireless connection. It sound fun at first, but if it means that to play a big game of super smash brothers, we need 4 gamecubes and 4 copies of the game(1 for each player), then I'll probably not be buying them. Would you put it past Sony to try to make it like that in future versions?
      • One of the fun things about consoles is the economical multiplayer gaming. With sports and fighting games you plug in up to 4 controllers in one console with one copy of the game, and have at it with your friends. A LAN party with one PC per player takes a much bigger commitment in both money and effort. As much as Sony and Nintendo would like to sell more consoles and more games, I don't think they're stupid enough to think that gamers would put up with the inconvenience of bringing their consoles everywhere just to play multiplayer.
        • But wouldn't it be sweet if your friend brought over his PS2/Gamecube, you set two TVs next to each other, and you at seven friends all play the same game together?

          I'll take Team Fortress for $200, Alex.

      • I think that this technology will havbe the largest benefit in large cities and apartment buildings (dorms too).

        You start your PS2 and via the piconet you can see all the other people in the building and maybe nearby buildings who are playing.

        Just like on the net you can singin to a game and begin play.

        From the sound of the tech it will be possible to extend the network without the use of repeaters simpily by using each unit as a repeater it self (or routing, whatever word you like).

        of course this wont work in areas where there arent enough users to extend the network out but in Tokyo, NYC, SF and other such places this could be an awesome app.
    • I'd say it's porn more than gaming.
  • by JojoCoco ( 413962 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:18PM (#3945565) Homepage Journal
    This could lead to LAN party type events in which you get the speed of LAN, but can still sit at home challenging all of your neighbors, I want this.
    • The whole point of a lan party is to be with the people you are playing. Where is the fun of firing a nerf rocket at the guy who just fragged you if he is a block away. How do you let everybody know that you just destroyed an opponents town if nobody is in the house to hear you victory cry. Or best of all, how do you throw a bag of doritos at the guy using Pikachu after he wins the match? It's simple, you can't.

    • Funny, that's what Valve claimed with PowerPlay...
    • The whole point of a lan party is to get together with friends to game. Most of our lan parties turn into violent brawls, with the throwing of brownies and what-not. Plus, if we play a game that some people aren't into, they go watch movies or play smash brothers on the gamecube. The best part of a lan party is the socializing. If I wanted to stay home and play SoF2 over the internet, I would.
  • by capt.Hij ( 318203 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:18PM (#3945568) Homepage Journal
    Motorola and Nintendo have demonstrated the isochronous gaming LAN privately at gaming conferences over the last quarter. The RF subsystems will be ready for volume production in the second half of this year, Burgess said.

    In other news, Microsoft has announced extensions tothe protocal for use in their XBox. The new extensions are not compatible but according to MS sources offer better value to the consumer.

  • awesome (Score:1, Interesting)

    by tps12 ( 105590 )
    Wonder if this will be supported in PS2 Linux. Can you imagine TuxRacer on one of these babies?
    • Yea, I can imagine it. It would be a boring 'racing' game with poor controls, good (for 1996) graphics, and about as much replay appeal as boiled cabbage.
  • by jsimon12 ( 207119 ) <> on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:19PM (#3945582) Homepage
    This would be great till someone tries to use the 2.4 ghz cordless phone, or fires up a WiFi laptop, or for that matter cooks some popcorn in the microwave. Not to mention the fact that you probably can't play it around grandpa because of his pacemaker ;)
  • All they need now is a wireless video adapter and a wireless power supply and we can say goodbye to copper.
  • 2.4Ghz has been in cordless phones for a while now. There's one right next to me. It's great that video game companies will finally take advantage of this.
  • The way this is worded seems like they're inventing their own tech. My question here is, why are they reinventing the wheel? Why not use an existing wireless networking standard so that not only can the consoles interoperate with each other, but with your PC and anything else that uses an existing standard?

    Doing otherwise just seems silly to me.
    • Probably because they want the standard to be proprietary. It would give them far more control for one, and they could make money off licensing the technology to third party vendors. Sony though has a pretty long history of going their own way on things like this: Beta, midi-disc, etc...
    • > My question here is, why are they reinventing the wheel?
      Because they want to lock you into their own proprietary technology, of course.
  • by mactari ( 220786 ) <rufwork AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:25PM (#3945633) Homepage
    From the article:
    [But the multiuser gaming market required a very low latency network where traditional packet-collision problems precluded use of 802.11, [[the corporate vice president of Motorola]] said.]

    Is TCP-like packet checking inherent in 802.11 (versus "UDP-like")? If not (and even if so -- I wonder what kinds of savings we're talking about), this sounds like a pretty sorry excuse for coming up with a new standard, and one that sounds like it might be closed.

    I've played Quake online with a cable modem via 802.11b and the pings weren't too shabby at all! I wish Motorola would spend more time making something new than tweaking something old for profit -- they make great products and traditionally provide great support, but I'm not so impressed at first glance here.
    • 802.11b does need extensions for QoS, which the IEEE is working on - this is because it uses CSMA/CA (Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Avoidance) in which the transmitters sometimes need to 'back off'. A QoS scheme would let certain bandwidth be 'booked' so that there is never the need to back off as long as you stick to what you booked. The isochronous refers to a slot coming up at a fixed interval, allowing you to send at a guaranteed rate.

      This is mainly important for multimedia, though perhaps also for games - one application may be wireless-linked controllers, though I'd expect ad-hoc wireless-LAN parties using consoles are more of a target. The article is a bit thin on why exactly they did this.
    • Wired ethernet includes collision detection with random back-off. I presume that wireless ethernet has a similar protocol. The effect is noticeable only on saturated networks.

    • Packet collisions occur at the physical layer, TCP-like anything is irrelevant. Consider it like collisions in ethernet, except that since wireless networks are a less predictable medium, it's more likely to happen when you get base stations scattered in wierd ways.
      That and that there are hundreds of broadcasts a second just to keep time in sync.

      802.11 latencies are slim compared to a cablemodem latency, and the traffic generated would be small enough for it to not matter much anyways. Especially if you are the only device in range.
    • TCP and 802.11 are totally different types of protocols. Think 'TCP' and 'Ethernet'. 802.11b is CSMA/CD as someone mentioned. By isochronous, it'd be going from Ethernet to TokenRing without the wired ring.
  • Thankfully I grew up with two brothers, but what if you're playing your wireless gamecube and all the sudden your sister starts talking on the 2.4Ghz phone? Man that would suck. Talk about video games causing violence...
  • "Because the network is intended for streaming, near-real-time traffic and does not have to use LAN contention methods, developers of such systems will not have to worry about packet collisions with home networks based on 802.11."

    Am I misreading this? Could this be the begining of something bigger and better the current LAN and 802.11 standards?
    • No, don't think so. I'm rather skeptical of the claims for an "isochronous network" having better latency than a CSMA protocol. This is actually very well researched and I haven't yet seen anything that shows this kind of lower latency.

      Of course, I'm guessing as to what protocol they're using, because there are no details here, but I'd guess that by "isochronous" they mean a TDMA scheme. If this is true, then I would have to disagree with the assertion of isochronicity - and I can't see how else this could have been done. Others may disagree, but the only definition I know of "isochronous" has little to do with the protocol by itself, but is about the system. A phone (that uses a TDMA channel access protocol) is not isochronous because it uses TDMA, but because the source voice codec is clock-locked to the underlying protocol. That is, the voice codec produces bursts of data at precisely the time that the allocated slot comes around. This is what gives the system the low latency.

      Translate this into something where the data source is asynchronous (such as buttons being pressed on a controller) and the relation goes away. Now, when the data turns up at an uncontrolled time, it has to wait for its TDMA slot to come around before it can send. Worse, if the first try is corrupted (and this happens a lot in WLANs, btw) it has to wait for the next slot to come around to have a go. Compare this with CSMA, where you can send the data as soon as it arrives, and if it fails, have another go right away, and you actually get lower latency than a typical TDMA scheme, all things being equal.

      There's a good deal of data to support this. See, for instance: cumentHolder/ []

      The thing about collisions is pretty much a red herring. For sure, contention based schemes lose packets to collisions, but for most wireless LAN physical layers, this rate of packet loss is dwarfed by what you lose to vagaries of the medium. Either way, you end up with the need to retransmit failed packets, and it is an important measure of the performance of the protcol as to how well it can deal with this.

  • by Gooberball ( 588899 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:32PM (#3945687)
    because once they move past gaming, security will be a real issue for wireless LANs as spoofing would be a fairly trivial matter.

    That and a someone particularly mallicious could create a DoS attack by broadcasting junk packets at high power.

    -Irony Irony ha ha ha

  • I wonder if the every day will get busted for putting his own 802.11b card in his "ps/2"
  • GBA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:37PM (#3945731) Homepage Journal
    The GBA is what needs wireless gaming. Imagine sitting in your car on a road trip playing GBA games against other players in their cars on the other side of the country. Now Imagine a FF6 style MMORPG, that you carry around with you. Yeah, the MMORPG would eat your soul, BUT at least people wouldn't be sitting cooped up in their house playing everquest, they would walk around, go places, and just play in the meantime.

    Boss: Joe do something blah blah blah
    Joe: I gotta beat this dragon first hold on.
    • What you have just described is the doom of civilized society.

      Sounds like fun. =)
    • Playing on the other side of the country? From what I understand, this is going to be an adhoc type of scheme. Just console to console. They did say a mesh type network. So if they use a data hopping scheme (data hops from console to console until it finds correct one) which I doubt they will use, the farthest you could go would depend on the density of consoles around you.
    • by Komi ( 89040 )
      They're also working on a GBA wireless device, much like what they have for the consoles. Actually, I'm surprised they didn't mention that in the article. But it would only be head-to-head play, so no MMORPG yet. I actually work in the group that's making this, but I'm working on the sound amplifier that powers the headphones and speakers, not the wireless stuff. So unfortunately I don't get to be a tester (being stuck in a meeting room playing mario cart, that'd be a tough job ;).


    • Doesn't anyone realize that FF6 doesn't really scale up to a MMORPG? Unless by "FF6-like" you mean 3/4 overhead perspective with 2D graphics.

      Well, maybe if the game world was hundreds upon hundreds of times bigger, and they got rid of the story arc so you could keep playing forever, and made all the quests reset after you complete them (so others could have their turn), and removed personality from the party members in favor of character customization (can't have everyone running around as Terra, now can we?)

      See? Not so hard. But is it still FF6? Would it even fit on a GBA cartridge?
      • yes, I definitely meant 3/4 overhead perspecitve with 2d graphics and classic rpg combat system.
        • > yes, I definitely meant 3/4 overhead perspecitve with 2d graphics and classic rpg combat system.

          I always thought Square's Active Time Battle (ATB) system was nice, but a bit pointless in a single player game. It'd work out pretty well online, though.
    • If my GBA is powering some sort of transmitter which lets me game with someone across the country, I think the MMORPG will have to have a discussion with the Energizer Bunny about whose soul, exactly, it belongs to.
  • Does anyone have any information about how well this 2.4ghz band works? Will you have to yell at your family members not to stand or walk past a certain area between the machines?

    ObBeowulfComment: Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these! Um. Or something. Still, the wireless network part is kinda nifty, although somehow I don't think it would be quite that useful unless you had some kind of cross-platform computing structure in place. Also, the wireless nature might make it harder to scale past a certain number of machines (interference and packet storms and all that good stuff...)
  • War driving (Score:3, Funny)

    by guacamolefoo ( 577448 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:45PM (#3945810) Homepage Journal
    Now instead of getting into sensitive corporate data, I'll be able to erase someone's saved season of Madden 200X! w00t!

  • i sure hope it works with phantasy star and FFIX. if it works with pahntasy star il buy it.
  • Well, if there is one thing that Nintendo has been tight lipped about, it is online gaming. This might be there plan though. They have always promoted multiplayer/party atmosphere's with there games (think Mario Party). This would be an amazing technology for a lot of there stuff. I can see it now, 16 people over on 4 TV with 4 Cube's playing Mario Kart with 16 Wavebirds (cause we might as well have our controllers be wireless too!).
  • by thryllkill ( 52874 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @01:52PM (#3945872) Homepage Journal
    Maybe it is just me, but maybe Sony should be worried about getting a good bit of the PS2 user base to embraced the wired network model first. Historically console video game networks haven't exactly succeeded. I'm sure with the ammount of money they are throwing at it it will do better than Sega's middle 90's attempts, but still with the American market's resistance to console gaming peripherals is this such a smart idea?

    • Historically the infrastructure wasn't in place and the technology wasn't as cheap as it is now.
    • is this such a smart idea?

      It seems smart to me. If wired networks haven't historically suceeded, maybe game companies are actually learning from other's past mistakes.

      If you were going to buy one networking periphreal in the next few years, which would you prefer: something to connect you to a wired network that costs a fee and may or may not go down the crapper (as Sega Channel did), or something that at the very least lets you connect wirelessly to your friend's PS2/GC instead of messing with an i.Link/other link cable, and at best creates a point to point network spanning the nation (or globe?)?

      Seems to me that this is a good console answer to PC LAN parties, and if enough people buy into it, a great solution to network gaming because companies wont have to worry about building their own networks. Not sure what that would mean for MMORPG-ing, though.

  • Consoles are made to be simple, and I dont know any non-technical people who could set up a 16 Xbox wired LAN. This could be a big step forward for cross-platform multiplayer gaming, where a lot of games are twitch based (Soul Calibur 2 wireless realtime tournaments, anyone?)
  • Not surprising... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by badasscat ( 563442 ) <> on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @02:08PM (#3945995)
    When Nintendo unveiled the GameCube at their Spaceworld event in Japan in 2000, one of the technologies touted was Bluetooth. I was there - they had it projected up on a big screen (along with a list of their technology partners - ATI, Panasonic, IBM, etc.), and when prompted in a Q&A session about it, stated vaguely that they were investigating various forms of wireless gaming. So they've been working on this for quite a while and always intended it to be part of the GameCube system. It's only natural that Sony would offer their input as well (and please, read the article - Nintendo and Sony aren't working together, they're offering their input individually to Motorola). What's surprising to me is that Microsoft doesn't seem to be involving themselves at all in wireless network gaming. Considering the reported $1-$2 billion investment in Xbox Live, you'd think they'd be heartily working on a wireless option. In the end, MS may be the one looking like they're stuck in the stone ages - seems like Sony and Nintendo's plans are a bit more forward-thinking than most people thought (even though Nintendo's plan, at least, was really revealed 2 years ago).
    • I agree that Microsoft could benefit from Wireless, but I doubt that either of Sony or Nintendo will see anywhere near the network gaming penetration that Microsoft will, for one simple reason: the hardware is already there. Of course, I also think their plan for a single network that's centrally administered makes a lot more sense, too, but that's probably not the deal breaker.
  • first let's see someone make use of the broadband capabilities of consoles to begin with
  • by alexhmit01 ( 104757 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @02:14PM (#3946039)
    When I was a kid, we'd lug our Nintendo over to someone's house if they didn't have a Nintendo (granted, this was a theoretical use after a few years) as well as games.

    We would also move from room to room. When I had friends over, we'd get kicked across the house to not disturb my parents. With this tech, your friend could bring their Gamecube over and you could play that way.

    While Slashdot users will have no problems with cross-over cables or Network hubs, that seems like more of a pain. Besides, while 20-something gamers that LAN party may be able to put the TVs nearby, most kids are stuck with the TVs in place.

    I certainly can think of times we'd have used TVs in nearby rooms but couldn't run a network cable.

    Remember, Console gaming isn't about tech, its JUST about fun. The tech can enhacne the fun, but don't expect people to read manuals.

    Hell, games explain the controls inside the game now, as people don't read the manual. You want them to setup a TCP/IP network?

  • Do they mean they have a protocol that is synced with the tv framerate then? If all active machines can send and recieve enough information within a 60th of a second that could mean no-lag gameplay, with the exception of the extra one-frame controller delay (you already get one because of double buffering, adding another to sync all controllers).

    a 1/30th controller delay is perfectly acceptable for non-predictive user control. at about 1/10th of a second it starts feeling really bad.
  • Spectrum (Score:3, Interesting)

    by superdan2k ( 135614 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @02:24PM (#3946136) Homepage Journal
    Isn't 2.4 GHz getting a little crowded? This is just what I need. It's bad enough that Bluetooth interferes with 802.11b, but now my PS2 is going to be messing shit up, too? Great.
  • Been there (Score:3, Funny)

    by loosenut ( 116184 ) on Wednesday July 24, 2002 @03:02PM (#3946382) Homepage Journal
    I've been playing a wireless game for years: it's called Frisbee.

    /me ducks incoming barrage of spinning NICs
  • Microsoft is probably not far from releasing a product of thier own completely incompatible and proprietary invention. We were talking about developing cross console realtime networks and games when I was at Midway. Microsoft would not support anything that could talk to consoles other than XBOX. XBOX will fail in the wired/wireless market, and eventually everywhere else.
  • I would have preferred to see something along the lines of "Motorola partners with Apple to bring you the 2.4Ghz G5".

    Games are cool and all but I want Motorola to get off their collective asses and get with the faster CPU making.
  • It's been established that the next-generation consoles will do more than just gaming, they'll also become hubs of your entertainment center. At the very least, they'll probably have PVR capabilities, and probably will be able to handle music libraries and Video On Demand. With the addition of a high speed wireless LAN capable of reaching the neighbors, that potentially could give you access to your neighbor's resources... and if configured for a neighborhood mesh network it could reach far further. Advanced P2P filesharing and a common archival framework (sharing drives prevents duplication of files and allows more efficient use of the total space).

    I should note that all this ties in nicely with the recent slashdot article about Playstation 3 Grid Computing []. It practically demanded a high speed network... might as well be a local one.

    I doubt Sony would actually do something that the MPAA disapproves of so strongly, but modding your console is not out of the question... of course, a virus or worm might help such capabilities along.
  • "The isochronous network, developed with input from Nintendo Co. Ltd., Sony Corp. and other game platform developers" Gee, I wonder who that could be. Could it be, hmm, I don't know....SATAN!

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI