Nintendo’s release of the Wii divided gamers into two camps. Hardcore gamers didn’t believe the controllers (the Wiimote and Nunchuk) were adequate replacements for the standard dual analog controller. On the other end, casual gamers found the new control scheme a fascinating development in the world of gaming. This development made many games feel more immersive, as though we were one step closer to virtual reality.
Game developers soon realized that the Wii was far from a virtual reality machine; the nature of the Wii’s motion controllers greatly limited the complexity of control schemes. Although the few hardcore gamers who did have high hopes for the controllers hacked the devices into their computers, they were unable to get much farther than this simple formula: Wiimote = Mouse, Nunchuk = Keyboard. Dozens of YouTube videos claimed to display World of Warcraft functioning with these immersive controllers, yet the contents of the videos proved that the Wiimote was far less immersive than its mouse/keyboard counterparts. Abilities were fired off by pointing and clicking on an unmodified UI. The character moved around via the analog stick, and was able to jump into the air. Anyone who has played Warcraft (or any RPG for that matter) knows that control schemes for these games need to be much more complex than that. Mouse-clicking without a dedicated keypad just won’t work in an MMO – players from the opposing factions see these gamers as easy targets.
Obviously, attacks must be activated through some quick tactile movement rather than a point-and-click action. Unfortunately, using the Wiimote as a surrogate mouse greatly limits movement controls. A quick swipe to the other side of the screen could inadvertantly trigger an attack, and activating motion controls would mean the mouse is unaccounted for during those times. Motion controls in the Nunchuk are severly limited (moreso than the Wiimote). Quick movements in three axis are allowed; these extra three “buttons” won’t buy a gamer much more freedom of action, and the line drawn between the buttons is a fuzzy one at best.
How do I know about the limitations of the Wii’s motion controls? Over the past year, I’ve regularly attempted to crush the immense control system of Warcraft into the simplistic Wii controllers. Let’s take a quick look at the current buttons available to us, and what must be assigned:
- Nunchuck analog stick — Up/Down/Left/Right (AutoRun may be used instead of Up)
- Nunchuck C — available
- Nunchuk Z — available
- Nunchuk motion controls — available
- Wiimote infrared sensor — Mouse
- Wiimote motion controls — N/A
- Wiimote -/+ — Zoom out/in
- Wiimote A/B — Left/right mouse click
- Wiimote 1/2 — M/B (map/bag)
- Wiimote Home — Escape
- Wiimote directional pad — available
The Wiimote’s 1/2 and Home buttons are probably the biggest disappointment – their position on the controller renders them useful only as utility keys. Try hitting the 2 button in the middle of a game, you’ll see what I mean.
Camera controls are completely covered in this control scheme. The Wiimote’s -/+ keys are somewhat out of the way, but still fairly accessible (and the plus and minus names logically map to zooming). Camera movement will be handled by the Wiimote’s infrared sensor and the A/B buttons.
We are left with C, Z, and motion controls on the Nunchuk, and only the Wiimote’s directional pad. How can Warcraft be controlled with only 6 buttons?