1. StreetPass in Coin Lockers

Iwata:

StreetPass relay points started on August 6, but in Japan, it began without any advance notice so I think a lot of people felt like it began suddenly out of the blue. In Japan alone, more than two million people are already using the service. I thought I might be able to ask some interesting questions about how this service came to be, so I hurried to gather everyone involved with this project. First, please introduce yourselves. Let’s start with Konno-san.

Konno:

I’m Konno from the Entertainment Analysis & Development Division. I’m a producer of games like nintendogs1 for the Nintendo DS and nintendogs + cats2 for Nintendo 3DS, and I’m a sort of overall coordinator for Nintendo 3DS hardware. This time, I was deeply involved with StreetPass relay points.1. nintendogs: A game released for enjoying communication with puppies. Released for the Nintendo DS system in October 2005.2. nintendogs + cats: A communication game released simultaneously with the Nintendo 3DS system in March 2011. This game also included interaction with kittens.

Iwata Asks Iwata:

What was your role in this project?

Konno:

In short, I was one of the people who first brought it up. It’s true for Japan as well, but especially in America and Europe, I wanted more people to enjoy StreetPass, so I asked to have this project go forward.

Yamazaki:

I’m Yamazaki from the Network Development & Operations Department. For the last few years, I’ve worked on systems surrounding the communicative features of Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. As part of that, I co-ordinated the server development team for StreetPass relay points.

Iwata Asks Iwata:

You served as a sort of leader for this project.

Yamazaki:

Yes.

Iwata:

You also co-ordinated shaping the functionality of SpotPass3.3. SpotPass: A feature in the Nintendo 3DS system that when activated, the system will receive various information and content from Nintendo when near a wireless internet access point.

Yamazaki:

That’s right.

Kawahara:

I’m Kawahara from the Network Development & Operations Department. I’ve been involved with video delivery services like the Nintendo Channel4 and Wii no Ma5 for the Wii console. I also worked on setting up the servers for SpotPass. For StreetPass relay points, I made the infrastructure for the relay points themselves.4. Nintendo Channel: This Wii Channel allowed users to enjoy videos and trial versions of software related to the Wii and Nintendo DS systems. This channel is no longer available.5. Wii no Ma (Wii Room): A service that was only available in Japan, Wii Channel operated by Wii no Ma Co., Ltd. Wii no Ma was a "living room communication channel" featuring three services: Shopping, Home Theater and Ironna Ma (Various Room). The service used to offer pay services to shop for original products only available through Wii no Ma, gourmet items, daily necessities, fashion items, and home decoration. Users could also rent movies, anime and classic television programs for viewing. This channel is no longer available.

Iwata Asks Iwata:

How did you come to be involved in this project?

Kawahara:

That could take a while to explain…

Iwata:

That’s all right.

Kawahara:

Inoue-san, sitting next to me, and I have been on the same team for about three years. We originally formed that team for this project.

Iwata:

Three years ago is when we were still developing Nintendo 3DS before its release.

Kawahara:

Yes. The concept of relay points existed before we released Nintendo 3DS, but the next thing I knew, I was developing the servers for SpotPass. (laughs)

Iwata:

Just like the service itself, you received a SpotPass before you knew it! (laughs)

Everyone:

(laughs)

Kawahara:

Then this spring, it was decided to get serious about the relay points – the objective we had for three years came true.

Iwata:

And now Inoue-san, who was on the same team for three years.

Inoue:

I’m Inoue from the Network Development & Operations Department. For StreetPass relay points, I was the main programmer on the server side and worked on its relay processing with the client side led by Matsuoka-san. Since joining the company, I have worked on the Nintendo Channel, as well as server side development and operations for SpotPass on Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. And like Kawahara-san, I’m really happy to see StreetPass relay points released three years later.

Iwata Asks Matsuoka:

I’m Matsuoka from the Environment Development Department. I originally worked on the software development kit (SDK6) for the communication features between hardware like Local Play and Download Play for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, but for some reason, partway through April this year, they suddenly pulled me into this.6. SDK, or software development kit: A set of software tools used to develop games and software applications.

Iwata Asks Iwata:

So people involved for three years and someone who suddenly joined had all worked together on this project.

Matsuoka:

Yes. As a programmer on the Nintendo 3DS system side, I provided technological co-ordination.

Iwata:

Well, before we get into the relay points, StreetPass (Tag Mode) actually began with Nintendo DS, not Nintendo 3DS.

Konno:

That’s right. It started with nintendogs.

Iwata:

To go back even further, we’ve wanted to do something like that since the days of the Game Boy Advance and were performing experiments. Why did you want to do Tag Mode for nintendogs?

Konno:

I remember it well. At that time, (Shigeru) Miyamoto-san had just got a dog.

Iwata:

Yes, that’s right.

Konno:

He talked about how when he took his dog for a walk, it was enjoyable to gather in places like parks with people who like dogs and casually talk with them. It began when we thought it would be fun if we could create on Nintendo DS that kind of loose connection that arises in those kinds of communities with a shared interest.

Iwata:

So on Nintendo DS, when people who owned nintendogs passed each other, their pet dogs would visit each other, which a lot of people said was incredibly fun. But the Tag Mode on Nintendo DS had a lot of restrictions compared to StreetPass on Nintendo 3DS.

Konno:

Right. Unless you put in the nintendogs Game Card and had it on, Tag Mode wouldn’t work.

Iwata:

So even if someone was playing nintendogs all the time, if they had a different game in when they went out, the chances of a Tag Mode encounter were zero.

Konno:

That’s right.

Iwata:

And even back then, we tested StreetPass relay points.

Konno:

Yes. Exactly eight years ago.

Iwata:

Was anyone else here involved with the relay points for Nintendo DS?

Yamazaki:

I was.

Iwata:

Oh, really?

Yamazaki:

Yes. Back then, I prepared a Nintendo DS specifically for Tag Mode.

Iwata:

The hardware we used for the relay back then was the Nintendo DS itself.

Yamazaki:

At first, we weren’t really sure on whether or not a tag would happen. Even though we set up these stations, we didn’t know if it was going to work. So to test it out, we put them in a coin locker at the train station.

Iwata:

But if you put your Nintendo DS in a coin locker, you’d have to worry about the battery running out.

Iwata Asks Yamazaki:

That’s why we made it compatible with a commercially available battery-powered charger. We put in three AA batteries and connected it to the Nintendo DS system, hoping it would last a whole day! (laughs)

Everyone:

(laughs)

Iwata:

At the time you were really working primitively, as if you were testing the water.