While Yamazaki-san was putting his Nintendo DS in a coin locker, I asked the people in the department handling advertising if they could go around looking for a medium for getting power anywhere. Without access to an electrical outlet, actually deploying the service would have been impossible because you would have had to replace the batteries every day.
Then, in train stations around Tokyo, we learned you could get power from inside some of the electric signs. So for a while we had asked one train station to keep the relay point in one of those signs.
Right. Aside from that, major stations around the country and a lot of shops co-operated.
Even though, the installations had to be done by hand, so we couldn’t establish many locations and were very limited in what we could do at the time. But you worked so hard on it because you wanted to have people experience the Tag Mode for nintendogs, at least once.
After that, Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies7 came out and Luida’s Bar8 became a lively spot.7. Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies: A role-playing game released by Square Enix for the Nintendo DS system in July 2010 The Tag Mode allows players to share treasure maps of areas they have cleared.8. Luida’s Bar: A space specifically set aside by electronic store Yodobashi Camera’s Akiba store in Akihabara, Tokyo, where Dragon Quest IX fans could exchange tags via Tag Mode. Later, an official bar opened in Roppongi, Tokyo.
Absolutely! (laughs) I had intended for Tag Mode to make its big break with nintendogs, so to be honest, I was really frustrated by the boom it experienced with Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies. But thanks to that, lots of people experienced Tag Mode and thought it was fun. That’s why the plan of putting a Tag Mode into the system from the very start came up early in development of the Nintendo 3DS system.
That’s right. If it hadn’t been for the explosion of activity around Luida’s Bar in addition to the Tag Mode for nintendogs, we might not have focused on StreetPass and developed Nintendo 3DS the way we did – and you wouldn’t have gathered here today.
Yes, I suppose not.
Well, it’s been about two and a half years since Nintendo 3DS went on sale and now StreetPass relay points have begun. Could you explain how it works? Some people reading this may not understand exactly what is going on.
Okay. The simple explanation is that StreetPass relay points exist around the world as a network of Wi-Fi access points that Nintendo 3DS systems can automatically connect to when users simply walk around with their systems. For example, America has AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots9, and there are many access points in Europe. In Japan there are 7-Elevens and McDonalds shops that serve as Nintendo Zones10 and Nintendo 3DS Stations at electronics stores and so forth. If you connect there, you can automatically receive internet services provided by Nintendo without having to change any connections settings manually.9. AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots: A wireless service operated by AT&T, the largest phone company in the U.S.10. Nintendo Zone: A service that allows users to enjoy a variety of content at shops and stations all over Europe by using the wireless communication functions of their Nintendo DS or Nintendo 3DS system. For more about Nintendo Zone, click here.
There are about 100 thousand around the world.
That’s right. StreetPass relay points make use of that already existing infrastructure so that when the Nintendo 3DS you’re walking around with connects to those access points, your StreetPass data uploads, and if someone else had already uploaded to the same access point, that person’s StreetPass data downloads to your Nintendo 3DS.
So while it’s still called StreetPass, it’s a virtual passing mediated by that access point.
Yes, that’s right. Instead of users actually passing each other at one moment, it’s set up so that data is exchanged when someone drops by the relay point and then later on someone else does.
After this service was announced, I saw some people who were talking about it on the internet calling it “CrossedPass”, which I thought was well put! (laughs)
Yeah. (laughs) Matsuoka-san called it that, too, on the day it was released.
To explain the mechanics of relay points a different way, with regular StreetPass you have Person A and Person B and they exchange data only with each other, but with StreetPass relay points, there’s Person A, Person B and Person C, and Person A’s data goes to Person B, and then Person B’s data goes to Person C, sort of like passing a baton11. In the same relay point, you would receive StreetPass data of the person who was there before you, and the person who would be there next will receive yours.11. Passing a baton: A video of how the StreetPass relay points work was part of the European Nintendo Direct Mini from July 18th 2013.
Suppose Person A plays Tomodachi Collection: New Life12 and updates their “traveller” data, but Person B who comes along next doesn’t play that game. What happens to the first person’s data?12. Tomodachi Collection: New Life: Released only in Japan, this is a communication game using Mii characters released for the Nintendo 3DS system in April 2013. The StreetPass function allows players to send children who are born to other players’ islands as “travellers.”
All data received at a relay point is updated to the Nintendo server. That data is stored until the next time someone who plays Tomodachi Collection: New Life comes along.
In other words, Person A’s StreetPass data will appear in Person B’s StreetPass Mii Plaza13, but Person A’s Tomodachi Collection: New Life data may be delivered to Person C or, who knows, quite a bit later to Person Z.13. StreetPass Mii Plaza: An application built into the Nintendo 3DS system. It is a plaza where Mii characters belonging to people who pass each other on the street gather. Users may view each other's profiles and play StreetPass Quest.
So when it comes to games that have shown little StreetPass activity, the chances of an encounter are much higher via relay points.
About 100 games with a StreetPass function are already out there, so there was a fear early on in development that problems might arise for some of those games unless you pass someone directly.
So we asked Mario Club14 to check all the Nintendo 3DS software. They used relay points and tested every single one, so it must have been pretty hard.14. Mario Club Co., Ltd.: It conducts debugging and testing on Nintendo software during development.
Did that testing turn up any incompatible games15?15. Incompatible games: Some software is not suited to exchanging data through StreetPass relay points.
Yes. We had to set a few – like Pocket Soccer League Calciobit16, which requires a particular exchange between Person A and Person B, and Nintendo Letter Box17, which carries out exchanges with Friends – so that even if you go to a relay point, data doesn’t upload.16. Pocket Soccer League Calciobit: Sold only in Japan, A soccer club simulation game released for the Nintendo 3DS system in July 2012. StreetPass allows players to receive other players’ team data and have practice games and friendly matches with them.17. Nintendo Letter Box: A communication tool for the Nintendo 3DS system that became available as a free download in December 2011. Nintendo Letter Box allows users to exchange handwritten illustrations and messages with registered friends.
So games and software that aren’t compatible with relay points won’t have StreetPass encounters through them.
Just as some have called this “CrossedPass”, the means of communication differs from regular StreetPass. As one who worked on local communication for Nintendo 3DS, is this something you implemented, Matsuoka-san?
Could you explain how it’s designed?
With regular StreetPass, you use the built-in wireless features on Nintendo 3DS to exchange data, but trading data through the relay points uses the SpotPass feature to communicate wirelessly with servers.
So it’s StreetPass, but the means of communication is that of SpotPass. It’s a little complicated. (laughs)
It is! (laughs) We simply changed the means of communication, but we made it to look as much as possible like normal StreetPass to the players.
So you may go into a local shop and think you passed someone there, but actually that Mii character data came through a relay point, so the person you “passed” is long gone!
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