Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bike Game for Wii Online

Quick idea from brain-storming at AC. (it's raining, and we haven't opened yet) Several years ago there was a cool stationary bike game at an event called Big Toys for Big Boys at the Augusta Civic Center. In the bike game players pedaled a stationary bike around an island. As players approached a hill, the resistance on the bike wheel increased, and as the players went down a hill, the resistance deceased. So as the player explored the island, the bike's resistance changed depending on the geometry. Apparently Fort Discovery also has a version of this kind of bike game.

So, here's the pitch: Nintendo's made a bundle off of Wii-Fit and it's balance board. Why not continue the fitness integration of the Wii platform? Get together with a couple of stationary bike manufacturers and partner to link the stationary bike against the Wii. Release a Wii-Game that allows players to pilot a bike through Wii Sports Resort Island that modifies resistance depending on the geometry of the island. Go up a hill, more resistance. Go down a hill, less resistance. There might even be a market for fitness companies to back-port this to existing stationary bikes.

For a more competitive setting, add in the ability to play online or via ad-hock wireless connections. This could be a big promotional boost for fitness places like Omni or Golds gym where multiple people could be on their bikes at once. I imagine it would also be useful for the home market, where a neighbor-hood fitness team could still schedule a bike-ride (and make sure everyone's actually there), even during rainy weather.

... Only... Nintendo doesn't take game suggestions... and I don't know any developers that would go after such a project (other than Konami).

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Okay, I can see some FAQ arising from this:

Why the Wii and not the Xbox 360 or PS3?

For starters, the Wii is widely recognized as being tied to fitness with Wii-Fit. Neither the PS3 nor the Xbox 360 have reputations when it comes to physical fitness.

Second, the Wii's motion control is here, now. It's not some tech demo with a launch date sometime in the future. Nintendo's equipment is also cheap-enough that it could probably be integrated into existing stationary bikes without dramatically raising the cost.

Third, the Wii is cheap. Okay, there is a version of the Xbox 360 that is cheaper, but again, this comes back to what the Wii has now. The Wii has motion control and accelerometer feedback. The cheapest 360 doesn't, and you can probably bet that when Project Natal hits, it's cost will be significantly higher than the total cost of the Wii and Wii-Motion Plus.

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Why single out Wii Sports Resort as a location?

As this idea was being cooked up, somebody commented that it should be presented to Nintendo. Only Nintendo doesn't take game idea suggestions (they haven't for years). Which means that somebody outside of Nintendo needs to take an interest in the idea and find a publisher or development team that might be interested. Also, for the idea to work, the publisher or developer needs a buyer off the bat. A chain of Health Centers picking up and sponsoring the development would do wonders in this skittish investor market. A major manufacturer of excerise equipment backing the idea as well would ease the minds of investors (and developers).

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Wait, why not patent the idea and wait for somebody to actually do it?

First, I'm not sure the idea is actually patentable. The implementation of a bike that ties into a video game and sets resists on in-game geometry isn't exactly new. It's well over a decade old. The only new bits here are porting the concept to the Wii platform and managing game-connections in an online enviroment.

Second, as far as I can research, nobody has presented this kind of idea before.

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Who would you like to see pick this up?

I think the best publisher shot actually is going to be Konami. Considering that Dance Dance Revolution got it's start in a gym and that Komani is still running Konami Sports Club, they'd be the logical choice to bring the idea to market.

Also, with a 3rd party developer behind the project, there's a chance that later on, the concept could be ported to other platforms, such as the Xbox 360 and PS3.
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