Nintendo support was crucial to uDraw's creation

Kyle Orland
K. Orland|08.22.10

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Nintendo support was crucial to uDraw's creation
THQ may be the company publicly pushing the recently announced uDraw tablet controller for the Wii, but a presentation of the new technology at Gamescom this week emphasized just how important Nintendo's support was to the device's creation.

"When we came to [Nintendo] in the beginning with the idea for uDraw, they said 'that's brilliant, let's figure out how to do this,'" THQ director Luis Gigliotti said during a presentation. "It's been an incredible partnership. ... I've been working in game development for 17-plus years and I can honestly say this is one of the smoothest collaborations with a first party I've ever had, just because everybody got it on day one."

Gigliotti specifically pointed out that Nintendo's hardware design expertise was key to transforming the monstrous uDraw prototype (nicknamed "Frankenstein" by the THQ team), into the light, sleek unit shown off at the show. "[The prototype] was a like bunch of lasers and mirrors and loose parts, it was wood and it had brass on it," he recalled. "I said, 'There's no way we can get this to something like this [the current hardware] without it costing a fortune.' Nintendo said, 'Don't worry about it. You guys are software developers, we are the kings of hardware. We will figure this out.' And they did, for one reason -- the idea was solid. Everybody knew it was a good idea, so we figured out the rest."

But Nintendo's help extended beyond just design and manufacturing -- the company also granted THQ access to Wii hardware features that are rarely available to outside publishers, like the ability to save uDraw Studio drawings directly to an SD card. "I had a couple of developers come in here yesterday and say they had to cancel their products after two years because they were asking and asking and asking 'Can we save to SD card?,'" Gigliotti said. "One guy was doing a music game, one guy was doing books and stuff like that, and Nintendo said, 'Nope nope nope.' He said, 'How did you convince them?' I said, 'We didn't have to.' We showed them the product and they said, 'Yeah, this makes sense, let's do it.'"

So, does this close first-party involvement mean we can expect uDraw-compatible games from Nintendo or other Wii developers in the future? "Currently we haven't explored that," Gigliotti said. "It's all about getting it to market and the collaboration with Nintendo ... but listen, if it takes off, it is a piece of hardware, and what hardware tends to do is draw software to it."

In other words, Mario Paint 2 on the uDraw isn't a total impossibility! That's what you got out of that quote too, right? Right?!
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