hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

GDC 08: Takao Sawano explores Wii Fit's origins

12:58 AM on 02.21.2008 // Aaron Linde

While I'll admit first and foremost that a landmonster like your favorite Linde wouldn't seem the most apt candidate for a peripheral like the Wii Balance Board, it may make a bit of sense that my geeky dark side lusts for exploration of creative vision, which is just what went down at this year's GDC.

Nintendo hardware guru and Wii Fit producer Takao Sawano walked a packed room of onlookers through the murky genesis of the Wii Balance Board today, revealing several details as to the creation of the peripheral and answering the question on everyone's mind: what the hell does Sumo wrestling have to do with Wii Fit?

Hit the jump to find out.

"Looking at the Wii Balance Board," Sawano said to the audience, "I can't help but think it looks like something necessary for the Wii from the beginning."

When you really think about it, Wii Fit is a curious creation, boiling down essentially to the act of weighing oneself translated to a gaming experience. But according to Sawano, Wii Fit was as an essential a part of the Wii brand as Wii Sports and Wii Play before the system had ever launched. 

Sawano showed the audience a freakishly complicated diagram created by Miyamoto during the planning and development phase of the Wii, which he explained included prototype concepts for Wii Sports, Wii Play, and Wii Fit. The games were listed with boiled-down play mechanics -- "Tennis" and "Bowling" for Sports, and "Body Management, Health, Scale, Et Cetera" for what would eventually become Fit.

Sawano and his peers had their doubts -- even when Miyamoto himself explained to them how much he valued his daily ritual of weighing himself, and his ambitions to bring that to the sphere of gaming. "Would you turn on a TV just to weigh yourself?" the team wondered. "Would you want to do it with everyone around you? Doesn't everyone already have a scale?"

Despite doubts of the product's market viability, development moved forward. Creating a cost-effective production model was the next step -- as well as figuring out fun, meaningful applications for the peripheral.

But despite Miyamoto's insistence that weighing oneself could be fun, hopping on and off a scale didn't seem terribly interesting from a gameplay perspective. Sawano and his team hit the ground running when he was struck with thoughts of Sumo.

The average weight of a Sumo wrestler, he said, is in excess of 330 pounds -- much too heavy to be weighed on a conventional scale. So Sumo wrestlers are weighed with two scales, distributing weight between them, creating a balance between the two -- by finding a way to represent that notion visually, Sawano posited that a new emerging input might be possible with something as simple as weight.

Adapting conventional scales to the Wii hardware wasn't going to work, and Sawano and his team then developed a slew of prototypes to take advantage of the specs, which varied wildly in size and shape. The several evolutions of the Wii Balance Board almost brought unto the peripheral a built-in rumble feature, but when it was realized that the sensation would be extremely faint through the feet of would-be players, the idea was scrapped.

But motivated by the possibility of bringing never-before-seen hardware and software to market, Sawano and his team wondered: why not expand the range of detection of the board, and incorporate forward and backward sensors in addition to left and right? The software design team initially rejected the notion, saying that there was plenty of fun to be had with simple left-and-right controls, but eventually came around. A slew of prototypes and builds later, and Sawano's team had created the Wii Balance Board as we know it today.

It's the kind of story that really makes you reconsider all the work that goes into the building of a peripheral, especially one that a developer hopes will get as much use as Nintendo does with the Wii Balance Board. From complicated conceptual diagram to slim, sexy hunk of plastic, the story of Wii Fit is hardly new in terms of the trials and tribulations faced by design engineers, but is nonetheless compelling in giving an inside look into Nintendo's development process.



Aaron Linde,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
I think, for my first try, I drew a pretty damn good Ryu, if I do say so myself [img]https://www.filepicker.io/api/file/edB8UKLdSZep8ZSOYF8u[/img]
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Really sad that Wes Craven has passed away. He made really fun films.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
R.I.P. Wes Craven. I'll always remember you for A Nightmare On Elm Street, Scream and Red Eye. I'll try not to remember you for Music of the Heart.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
So apparently Nintendo is taking down Mario Maker Let's Plays as fast as they can. Good job!
Snaveage avatarSnaveage
Phantom Pain is fucking glorious.
IDrawOnTape avatarIDrawOnTape
Anyone remember the cartoon "Freakazoid"? I'm doing artwork for a box for work to hold my supplies, but I cant remember some of the better characters. Freakazoid, Steph, Cosgrove, Candlejack, the Lobe, Caveguy... but who else?
TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
Gotta love all those Dtoid community members that magically appear whenever there's a giveaway.
DSBrad avatarDSBrad
Newest Madden may be one of my favorites. Been taking all my time up.
TheDefenestrator avatarTheDefenestrator
TWITCHTOID! I'll be playing some more PS4 Zombi and then some Until Dawn if'n I want to change things up. Link: [url=http://www.twitch.tv/thedefenestrator]Twitch.tv: TheDefenestrator[/url]
Fenriff avatarFenriff
Bless Wasteland 2's custom portraits [img]http://i.imgur.com/JuWaB1W.png?1[/img]
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
Sorting out a bunch of university stuff and going through a bit of writers block. I'm also holding some of my best stuff back for freelancing purposes (uni ain't cheap!), so sorry if my blogs have been a bit lackluster lately. And will be for 4-ish weeks.
gajknight avatargajknight
Been looking for a car to buy today. I swear, I am so sick of my mums voice. "It's too expensive!" "Don't you think it's a little big..." "INSURANCE!" Goddamn woman, chill your beans.
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
Hey look! I bought some toys and stuff and junk and what-not. [IMG]http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b321/Felth/Mobile%20Uploads/2015-08/IMAG0656.jpg~original[/IMG]
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Yes, it's essentially a trace job, but this is my first piece of pixel art: [img]http://i.imgur.com/N0zmHiL.png[/img]
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Oh for fuck's sake, why is there no Netflix app for my PSTV?
Ben Davis avatarBen Davis
Apologies for the lack of Experience Points lately! I'm taking a short break from writing them, but don't worry. They'll be back soon enough!
RexterNathan avatarRexterNathan
Am I the only one excited to play the Forza Motorsport 6 demo?
The Travisionist avatarThe Travisionist
Adventure games are a big part of the indie scene, but there's a reason their popularity plummeted as graphics evolved. This clicking on everything, just in case, nonsense is for the birds. 90s birds, but birds.
Flegma avatarFlegma
Spotted some "The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3" (1989) DVDs in a store. Hearing music and sound effects from the game is more amusing than it should be - although the running shrill gets old quickly.
extatix avatarextatix
Diablo 3 patch 2.3.0 equals more grinding. Good.
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -