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Iwata Asks Connects With The Team Behind StreetPass Relay

Posted by Andy Green

Discusses the origins, the implementation and International StreetPass

The StreetPass relay points are starting to spread across the globe giving 3DS owners more chance to connect with fellow gamers using the unique feature.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata recently sat down with the team behind the project in the latest Iwata Asks interview where they spoke about how the concept came to be and how it was implemented. Masayoshi Matsuoka, Yusuke Inoue, Taisuke Kawahara, Masatoshi Yamazaki and Hideki Konno were all present and correct to answer his searching questions.

StreetPass actually started out as a feature for the Nintendo DS rather than the 3DS as the idea came from the popular title Nintendogs, which was created by Shigeru Miyamoto.

Miyamoto had just become the master of a lovely young pup and like most dog owners took it for walks in the park. When there he would casually talk with other people who liked dogs and upon sharing this story with the team they thought it would be fun to create a similar experience on Nintendo DS where people could have a loose connection within communities with a shared interest - in this case, dogs.

The next game to become part of it was Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies and Luida’s Bar, an area specifically set aside by electronic shop Yodobashi Camera’s Akiba store in Akihabara, Tokyo, where players could exchange tags via Tag Mode, became a lively spot. If it wasn't for this early success, StreetPass may never have happened as Iwata said:

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.

While connecting with fellow Nintendogs and Dragon Quest players was fun, it has limitations and restrictions, so a new system was brought in for 3DS.

StreetPass was a great new feature that was doing well in Japan, but the team found 3DS owners in North America were not having much joy. Konno went to New York and didn't get many hits at all and even when he went to Times Square he didn't have as many green flashing lights as he thought he would and so he thought a relay was needed to help people make use of the feature. Iwata agreed:

In America, the amount of StreetPass encounters that would occur was only about one-tenth to that of Japan. I thought that was way too little, as if it was missing a zero. Then I found out that it was even less in Europe. Even though the number of systems sold and the number of customers who had experienced StreetPass didn’t differ that much between each region, the number of encounters was drastically smaller. When you walk around a city in Japan, StreetPass is happening fairly frequently, so it’s a habit for a lot of people to walk around with their Nintendo 3DS. And I think not a few people go out with their Nintendo 3DS in America or Europe as well in hopes of having a StreetPass encounter. But I suspect that a lot of them must have gone home disappointed after not having passed anyone.

Yamazaki confirmed at the start of April this year, Konno got back from America and said he wanted to do StreetPass relay points so they all got to work quickly to get it set up as soon as possible to capitalise on releases such as Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

Kawahara revealed the data needed to be uploaded from access points such as Nintendo Zones and stored on a server for a while, so they decided to prepare a server at the company headquarters, however, they had to wait about a month for delivery. Time was of the essence, so a cloud service was brought in, Amazon Web Services to be exact. Kawahara said this allowed them to use a very convenient service and Iwata concurred:

Using the cloud as servers is very suited to making a service when, as with StreetPass relay points, you cannot predict ahead of time how many hits will come in from the 100 thousand access points around the world. This way, you can easily increase the number of servers in line with circumstances, or decrease the number if they aren’t necessary.

The team also spoke about a potential International StreetPass, a system that would see people connect with others around the globe. This would be done by housing all data in one location so someone in New York could StreetPass with someone in Tokyo as if they had just walked past each other.

However, there were reservations as connecting with international players all the time would "impair the value of StreetPass", according to Nintendo's President and Inoue agreed:

That’s right. When I took my Nintendo 3DS overseas, I found great value in coincidentally passing someone from London. But if one after the other came in through International StreetPass, the value would be halved, or disappear completely.

Iwata said he thinks something like an International StreetPass is too much of an extreme measure to actually implement, but some people go to a relay point and still receive nothing. Making sure everyone can be involved is Nintendo's mission with the StreetPass relays and this is something Iwata said it would need to improve on.

Looking at it that way, rather than doing something extreme like International StreetPass, a better starting point would be to collect those areas that don't get a lot of activity and make them in a single group. That way more people would be able to experience StreetPass for themselves.

It's definitely worth having a read of the full interview to find out more about how the system works. It certainly makes for an interesting read.

Those looking for a hotpot in the UK can use this handy locator, while US gamers can click here to find their nearest relay point.

What are your thoughts on the StreetPass relays? Are they working for you? Let us know in the comment section below.

[via nintendo.co.uk]

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User Comments (41)

Sakura

#1

Sakura said:

In the UK relays seem to be working fine, though the XL gets way more hits than the original 3DS. I'm sure the XL has much better wifi and needs less time to connect. BTW, what is the max no of StreetPasses in the accomplishments? Have seen 90 000 listed online, but that's way too many!

iphys

#2

iphys said:

Sadly, most of the relays in my city seem to get used less than once a day, because my data will still be there a day later.

Spoony_Tech

#3

Spoony_Tech said:

Still not working for me. When ever I try to connect with Nintendo Zone I still get the error. I've lost no less then 40 street pass hits so far. This coming from about 5 different relay points. Only one seems to work and I still have a problem connecting to it and until I do it doesn't work. Really annoying if you ask me! Its not like I can't hit 5 relay point in less then 10 mins where I live!

AlexSora89

#4

AlexSora89 said:

Good! Now do the same with SpotPass, Ninty, and I'll finally get rid of my empty puzzles.

King_Boo

#6

King_Boo said:

I think I've tagged people less than 20 times in the two plus years I've had my system, and I live in a pretty big city, with a busy road behind my house. I work retail and normally have my system with me, and it's a pretty busy shopping area. That all means nothing when to tag someone, they need to be standing right next to me to be in range. If it was more like a thousand feet, the odds would go up.

unrandomsam

#7

unrandomsam said:

To use this feature do you need to manually connect to the Nintendo Zone ?

(Connecting to a Nintendo Zone is something I have always had to do manually).

mullen

#8

mullen said:

"I suspect that a lot of them must have gone home disappointed after not having passed anyone." I suspect they will be even more disappointed if they can't pass anyone from a relay point. So, please at least make sure all relay points works well. Also, I understand that the reason they don't want to make International pass, but now Homepass is actually international pass, and works much better than those relay points.

Knuckles

#9

Knuckles said:

@unrandomsam No, you don't. I've left my 3DS closed, in sleep mode, gone through the drive through at McDonald's and Starbucks, and gotten streetpasses almost every time.

idork99

#10

idork99 said:

The streetpass at McD's stopped working for a bit but I did receive one last time I went. Don't know if the recent tiny update helped with that issue.

Oddly, now I'm having a bit of a problem with the wifi at home in spots that I usually get reception. I can't count how many races I've been kicked out of on MK7 recently for bad reception which is frustrating because I'm losing VR points. Is anyone else experiencing this?

MagicEmperor

#11

MagicEmperor said:

This has helped me, but it's still very occasional for me, not common. Including myself, I can count the number of people who live in my town that I for sure know have a 3DS. (5).

WinterWarm

#12

WinterWarm said:

I have like, 7 non-invitation tags. Since December 25th. 2011.

Anyway, again, what the heck?! Iwata + StreetPass (should) = a flood of comments!

I agree, International StreetPass'd be too much. I still haven't tagged anyone with the Relays, though. /:

tripunktoj

#13

tripunktoj said:

Id like Nintendo Zones and relay points in every country where 3DS is sold, I am living in Mexico, and this StreetPass deserted area could use a lot this. I know there are ways to configure home routers for this, but as Iwata would say "StreetPass' value would be halved, or disappear completely" with this workaround.

shimage

#14

shimage said:

Still haven't streetpassed at any relay points, and I've been to various ones dozens of times. My wife takes the 3DS with her on the bus and gets 2-3 tags a week, so either there's something wrong with our 3DS, or the relay points here don't work.

AhabSpampurse

#15

AhabSpampurse said:

If I stroll through Cardiff I get about 4-6 a day. There's a definite increase since this has been implemented, my current population is at 517.

IKAY

#16

IKAY said:

I never got a StreetPass of a official Nintendo-Zone. I only got some Zone-Passes from my smartphone set up as Nintendo-Zone. Maybe some Zones don't send very strong signals.

placidcasual

#17

placidcasual said:

@AhabSpampurse i'm in cardiff too and walking around town is great for streetpasses. There's a coffee shop down the road from my house that has a hotspot too. Animal crossing seems to have made a lot more people take their systems out with them. Weirdly I seem to get more passes in cardiff than I do in central london whenever I go there...

Spooky

#18

Spooky said:

They should make every Wii U act as a relay point too, although I'm not sure if this would work where the wifi is tied up connecting to the internet.

onlyaman

#19

onlyaman said:

Hey Andy, any word on when streetpass relays will make it to Germany? I live in a major city and I don't think the Nintendo Zones are relaying hits yet.

Koldur

#20

Koldur said:

@onlyaman
Every Nintendo Zone automatically is a relay point, nothing has changed at the NZones theirselves, just serverside of Nintendo and your 3DS needs to be updated.

McHaggis

#21

McHaggis said:

One of the problems I've experienced with the relays is when you visit in groups. Say a family visit the relay location and two of the children have 3DS consoles. There's a race between the consoles to retrieve the relay data first, and the first to do so becomes the next relay data. The other child's console would have already exchanged StreetPass data with his/her sibling, so they would receive nothing.

In my household, there are 5 3DS consoles, so we don't really benefit much from the relays. It's pretty much luck of the draw.

onlyaman

#22

onlyaman said:

@Koldur
Are you sure that the Nintendo Zones in Germany are already functioning as relay points? There are a good number of people in my city with 3DS's (I get streetpass hits almost every day on the U-Bahn), but I still haven't got a hit from a Nintendo Zone. This would suggest that the relay points aren't operational yet.

Koldur

#23

Koldur said:

@onlyaman
Yes, the only thing that can be the problem is that the internet itself isn't open. If you need to accept some kind of agreement, it won't work, unless you and other people actually accept the agreement and leave your data on that MAC address.

onlyaman

#24

onlyaman said:

@Koldur

Internet isn't open? Accept the agreement to leave data on the relay's MAC address?

Shouldn't relay points just work automatically when you pass a Nintendo Zone, like any other streetpass? I didn't think you had to actually log onto the Nintendo Zone and accept an agreement. That doesn't sound very useful.

onlyaman

#26

onlyaman said:

@Koldur

Uh, these are directions for spoofing a router so that it has the MAC address of a Nintendo Zone, thus creating a fake relay point at home (enabling you to steal relay hits from across the world). In my view, this is completely cheating and devalues the entire concept of streetpass. If you can get unlimited hits at home from all over the world, then what is the point of streetpass? Where is the joy in visiting a new country and getting hits from people in new regions? The neat part about streetpass is knowing that you were actually in close proximity with the other person. Otherwise, it would be no different than any of a thousand other online social games. Streetpass adds a human element. Also, if you cheat with your router, you'll plow through all those streetpass games in no time flat, completely missing the joy of accomplishment and wasting your money.

I recently streetpassed someone who had cheated like this and he already had maxed out his Warrior's Way/Streetpass Battle army. There was no point in challenging him to battle... nor did I respect his accomplishment. Where's the fun in that?

But this rant is not really related to my question. My question is, if I pass by a REAL nintendo zone (say, in an airport or at a store), shouldn't the streetpass relay just work automatically? If so, I don't think they are working in Germany yet. I don't have to log into the Nintendo Zone on my 3DS do I?

Koldur

#27

Koldur said:

@onlyaman

It seems you do not understand or want to understand why I posted that link, it explains how the relay points work. If you actually tried to understand that part, then you would have come to the conclusion that for a relay point to work optimally it will have to have a completely open internet and it does not actually store data itself. If after this you still do not understand it, then it is no use explaining it any further so it seems.

onlyaman

#28

onlyaman said:

@Koldur

Sure, I understood your point, but it really only applies to making a fake Nintendo Zone on your router. As for the internet being "open" on real Nintendo Zones, that seems to always be the case by design. So I doubt that is the problem. The question is whether Nintendo has implemented the relay system with Germany's Nintendo Zones yet. I guess neither of us know the answer to that... maybe someone else has an idea?

I didn't say that you were cheating with streetpass... only that I don't understand why people would. Since you posted that link, I decided to voice my opinion on the issue. No need to take offense, though. Thanks for trying to help :)

Koldur

#29

Koldur said:

@onlyaman
Okay, you really seem to miss the point here, the reason people can spoof is because that is the way relay points work. Your 3DS sees the NZone (it has to be the right SSID name, unsecured and has to work without accepting any agreement), then it finds that NZone's MAC address and contacts Nintendo's Relay servers over the internet (this is why it cannot have any accepting agreement policy on it). and sends your data under that specific MAC address to the Nintendo servers somewhere on the internet. Then the next person comes and finds that exact same MAC address and takes your data from the servers and sends his back in. So, every NZone (if setup correctly) automatically became a relay station. It isn't rocket sience ;) if your NZone's do not relay it means that either no one else besides you passes it, or it is not setup correctly (SSID name wrong, secured or you need to accept an agreement).

onlyaman

#30

onlyaman said:

@Koldur

SIGH... as I said, I understand. Thanks again for nicely explaining how the relay system works. The theory is clear. The question is whether real Nintendo Zones in Germany are relaying hits. Has anyone IN GERMANY had any luck with this? Or has Nintendo not yet "flipped the switch" to enable the NZones to serve as relays in Germany? As I said, there are plenty of 3DS systems in my city and several NZones that I pass frequently... so my impression is that they aren't working. But maybe others have had different experiences?

Koldur

#31

Koldur said:

@onlyaman
SIGH SIGH
Nintendo doesn't have to flip a switch, so you clearly still do not understand anything about how it works at all. Nintendo cannot even "flip a switch" to have them work or not work. But I am sure you will never understand why....

onlyaman

#32

onlyaman said:

@Koldur

SIGH SIGH SIGH :) hehe
Well then, you could have just said: "It is my understanding that all Nintendo Zones around the world, regardless of region, should be working as relay points as long as they have been set up correctly"

Thanks. I'll go look for different Nintendo Zones and see if one works.

Koldur

#33

Koldur said:

@onlyaman
Simplistically put that is how it is, and it is not my understanding, it is a proven fact by many knowledgeable people. If one relay point in a certain chain of brand (e.g. McDonalds) doesn't work as a relay, I am afraid that no other relay point of that chain of brand will work. As they all use the same setup.

ericwithcheese2

#34

ericwithcheese2 said:

I personally have had great success with the Relay Passes. I have once gotten four in one outing, stopping by McDonalds, a Simon Mall (that also had a Barnes and Noble in it for an additional one), and driving in the parking lot of a Starbucks. Works well for me and I'm thankful for the option.

Windy

#35

Windy said:

My work which is a Las Vegas Strip Hotel and is an attwifi zone has not been good for the last 2 weeks 0 Streetpasses :( went to dinner at McDonalds by my house this week and 0 streetpasses. When the relay first started I received about 12 to 15 streetpasses that week. 0 since then :(

Sakura

#36

Sakura said:

@onlyaman

I've maxed out my warrior count too, but that's because I have more than one console running the plaza games. I don't consider that cheating, I consider it the best way to get the miis I need to complete the games.

Jazzer94

#38

Jazzer94 said:

My streetpass hits total has gone up from around 777 to 860 in 2 weeks due to streetpass relays.

SurferClock

#39

SurferClock said:

Make sure if you're going into a place you haven't in a while that has a Nintendo Zone, to go into the Browser and see if there's an initial page where you have to accept terms and conditions in order to connect. I did that, and haven't experienced any issues since!

gurtifus

#41

gurtifus said:

@Koldur Thanks to you I've just found out homepass and it could be a good solution to help me as I live far away from the cities.
Many thanks.

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