Nintendo has begun offering a more detailed explanation of the Wii U's Miiverse, a social networking system for the upcoming console. The information comes via two Iwata Asks in which he discusses the system with Miiverse's producers and developers, a Nintendo Direct video for the Japanese audience that has been kindly explained to English speakers by Nintendo Gamer, and a short video for the American audience that skims over the surface of the Japanese video.
Much of the information is stuff we already know. When the Wii U starts up players will see WaraWara Plaza, with Miis hanging around icons for various games. Miis may have speech balloon bubble comments, which will be a selected subset of all the comments players are posting.
If you like a comment you can "yeah" it, something familiar to anyone who clicks "like" on a facebook comment. The notification you'll receive of those "yeahs" was not Nintendo's idea, but instead that of Hatena Co., a social network-focused company that has partnered with them. While Nintendo has never really understood the online world, Hatena does, explaining that the Miiverse won't take it's final shape until they see how users interact with it. Hatena's CEO Junya Kondo says that "development starts after release," a concept Nintendo admits to finding rather unnerving.
In terms of making friends on the Miiverse, you will be able to befriend people you interact with through the Miiverse. Since Nintendo wasn't clear on whether the Wii's hated friend code system would still be used, Destructoid asked for more details, and was told "Our plan is [to] replace Friend Codes with a much more user-friendly Account ID system, which employs user-created account names."
According to Nintendo Gamer, the video says the Miiverse is available to first and third party developers, squashing once and for all the rumor that it will not be fully enabled at launch. It will not, however, be fully enabled prior to launch, meaning the press, who will get the console early, won't be able to test out its online features until the Wii U's November 18th launch.
While this is interesting, Miiverse looks like something we won't totally understand until we've tried it out for ourselves.