How Far Can The Miiverse Go?
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The Miiverse has become quite the phenomenon, to the surprise of the gaming community and even the bigwigs at Nintendo. Little was known about the application prior to the launch of the Wii U other than that it was an exclusive social network. Right out of the gate, users started posting Twitter-sized comments, giving posts Facebook-like "Yeah!" acknowledgments, and helping players out à la forum. The Miiverse basically compiled features from these familiar social networks, but stripped them down to the bare essentials. Each game and app has its own tab, your profile shows very basic information along with a user-created message, and you can follow posts from friends and other users. And that's about it. Yet, for its intended purpose, it satisfies the need just fine.
 
However, there's still plenty of room for enhancements, though Nintendo will never let it become a publicly exposed display like Facebook—they are hawks when it comes to ensuring there are no code of conduct breaches. They even deleted my post promoting my Fire Emblem: Awakening review because they felt it was too personally identifiable. I won't complain though, as this dedication to cleanliness separates Miiverse from every other forum out there.
 
Last month's Nintendo Direct revealed some upcoming improvements to the social network. Two major patches are slated for the Spring and Summer to improve performance and add new features. A filtering system and communities not exclusive to already released titles are just a couple of additions we can expect. The latter has already started to roll out, with a just-added Legend of Zelda community, dedicated to the entire series rather than a single game, where fans can give praise to their green-garbed Hylian hero. The specifics on the filtering system are pretty vague, though I would guess it will work in conjunction with a tag system when posting comments.

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Let's now move on to speculations on how far we can push the Miiverse boundaries. I have a few suggestions of my own, though I'd love to hear any ideas you may have, so by all means fill up the comments section below.
 
An alternative to the filtering system would be to branch the communities into subcategories. I know this would be extremely beneficial for the upcoming Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. The categories could be broken into weapons/classes, bestiary, crafting, and, most important, a recruiting section for online team hunting.
 
I'm still posting general Nintendo-related comments in the NintendoLand community, as it still has the highest viewership, but it would be nice to see some open topics, though they should remain video game-related. (I certainly don't want to see chatter about Fifty Shades of Grey.) The "general" community could simply be called "Nintendo", allowing users to post anything even vaguely relating to the brand. Perhaps categories based on every system or peripheral created, or video game genres would open up more conversations and allow some opinions to shine through. The Miiverse could honestly contain an innumerable amount of communities (even user-created ones), it would simply have to maintain an easy way for us to sort and find exactly what we're looking for when we load up the network.
 
One thing I believe needs to change immediately (or with the Spring update at the latest) is the ability to have private conversations with friends. I thank Nintendo immensely for doing away with Friend Codes, but now that it's easy to make new friends, it should be easy to chat with them via an instant messaging system. At present, you either have to do face time through the Wii U Chat application, or reply back and forth through a public post either you or your friend have published. The ability to click on your friend’s name to open a private chat box is not a difficult feature to implement, so hopefully this is a something enough people have complained about to get noticed by Mr. Iwata as a necessary change.
 
Another thing I would love to see (though this may be debatable by some) is a system-run Achievement/Trophy feature for both the Wii U and 3DS. Make them ribbons or medals, customize them as Mushroom, Flower, Star, and 1-Up icons instead of Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Do whatever personal touches you want, Nintendo, but this is now an industry standard that you should adopt. However, since there is a strong population who hate being forced into grinding for a 100% rating, simply give us the option in the system settings to opt out of the program. That way, everyone is happy. We all like to brag about our successes on the Miiverse, and post screenshots with them, so it would be nice if an achievement was uploaded to the network automatically when received in the game. That way we can keep playing while the "Yeah!" approvals and congratulations roll in.
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Finally, I believe the drawing system needs a few more tools for the many incredible artists we've all seen posting to the Miiverse. We’ve been floored by the quality of some of the artwork that’s been created using nothing more than a black pencil and an eraser. These posts are admired by everyone, earning scads of "Yeah!" approvals and praising comments, and the dedicated obtain throngs of followers who want to see their next masterpiece. So let's reward these virtual van Goghs with a few more accessories. I still think the format should retain a great deal of simplicity, but how about adding a point-to-point line and shape function, with the ability to fill enclosed shapes? Also, though the sketch style of black-and-white is endearing, I think we'd all love to see some color. A simple color spectrum grid that allows every color possible would be amazing, and I can already imagine the eye-popping results from some of the Miiverse artists.
 
Even aside from all my suggestions, the Miiverse still has plenty of room to expand. Although making a network too complex is off-putting (especially to Nintendo's core audience), with proper thought by the designers any number of new features can be added as long they are easy accessible and user-friendly. Nintendo has always prided themselves on meeting these two criteria, so let's see what the next few months have in store for the Miiverse.

 

By
Sean Engemann
Contributing Writer
Date: February 26, 2013
 

 

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