Interview:Nextgame February 16th 2002

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Nextgame February 16th 2002


February 16, 2002




Shigeru Miyamoto talks about a variety of Nintendo topics. He does touch on the Cel-shading aspect of Zelda GameCube (The Wind Waker) and how he feels it is important for gamers to play a game first, before judging it strictly by its looks.


[1] For the first time in Nintendo's history a new console is launched without a "Mario game". Don't you think Nintendo fans will miss the presence of Nintendo's strongest character?
Shigeru Miyamoto: I hope gamers still love Mario as I do, but with the launch of GameCube was our intention to introduce a something new in video game's world. Beside of shape, design, price of the machine, we wanted to have something new in the software line-up as well. Mario Sunshine, the first "Mario Game" dedicated to the GameCube, will hit the streets a little later, by now you can play with his brother Luigi, who continues the "family" tradition with the usual game quality. Talking about design, which are the ideas on which you created the GameCube?
SM: GameCube's design is pretty peculiar, different from what we are in the habit to see in a gaming console. First thing we had in mind was the evolution of video gaming itself: the reduced size of the GameCube allows you to carry it form room to room quite easily. Every family has at least two TV-sets at home, and it is very easy to bring the GameCube from the living-room to the sleeping-room, if you want, not to consider a friend's place. We looked for simplicity and practicalness: GameCube wants to be a console that fits all the family, from the youngsters to the elders. Another main issue we considered was the gamepad: I don't want to appear self-important, but I was the first to put four buttons on the right hand of the pad, when -I designed the Super Nes controller and Sega, Sony and now even Microsoft have followed that idea. I don't want to state they copied from us, but it is obvious that the four buttons became a standard.

Now I have decided to renounce this shape (I invented it and I can afford to renounce it - smiles); I wanted to focus on the immediate recognition of the main button on the joy-pad. In SNES it was the "A" button, in the GameCube it is the green one. It is pleasant to the touch and the player is immediately aware what button is the most important one, the main control between him and what permits him to interact, for example, with Mario. A concept linked, again, to simplicity and directness. Let's talk about the next Zelda: why did you decide for the Cel-Shaded engine? It seems the video gamers split in two parties, and half of them didn't appreciate the idea. Are you planning to change the visual of the game because of this?
SM: I think it's not wise to talk about something before having the chance to test it. Only playing you can judge a game and, after E3 2002, when you all will be able to play with the new Zelda, we will talk again about it. Nintendo Difference: even Peter Main called this difference as the key of the future of video gaming. What do you think about it?
SM: We learned that we can't make the run on technology. Well, it is obvious that new consoles are more and more advanced, but it is the fun, the simplicity the real way that a game (and, consequentially, a console) has to follow to be successful. Too often gaming people forget that the player, beside the graphics, wants to be a part of the game and feel the depth of it. To improve the visual quality we have today we need to invest loads of money to achieve very little gains, that only very expert players or over-particular journalists will notice, and these efforts would not give any advantage to the game itself. By now we think the main goal in the world of video games is to make the technology cheap and the price of the GameCube is a proof of that. The hardware if the console is important, but to make it affordable to anyone it is better to focus on creativity and originality rather on a super CPU that will make the price too high. Creativity: we often say that video games lack of it, that nowadays games are not innovative as in the past. Is the creative market in crisis?
SM: (Smiles...) I must say I have no such problems, I keep having hundreds of ideas... I think one of the reasons of the lack of creativity by the new developers is the fact that, unlike in the past, lots of them grew up playing and the first thing they do, designing a game, is to be inspired by what they found funny when they were young. Inclination to the schemes of the past is a natural consequence. We at Nintendo want to give the young developers the chance to create new games, freeing them from their memories, and to achieve that we must provide them a good hardware. Just with a console that doesn't limit him, a designer can fly with his fantasy. When a designer stops thinking about technology and starts to put his resources in game-play and pure creativity he has achieved his goal. That's why we teach boys who join Nintendo to forget the hardware and think in a more abstract direction. The development of the hardware needed to make them possible to create their visions is a task due to Nintendo's engineers. Is all this competition in the console market a good thing for software houses?
SM: It is certainly a good thing that the market has now more manufacturers involved in, mainly for the gamers that will witness price reduction. Even software house can benefit of that, having to measure-up with different consoles they can improve their development knowledge: the Know-How is very important for a software house. I think, anyway, that in the future video gaming will move towards the pure and simple fun... I can't say we have seen everything already, but I'm sure we won't see the huge accelerations we witnessed in the past years: things are going to change, but in a slowest way. What do you think of the online gaming, considering the launch of Phantasy Star Online for the GameCube?
SM: Online gaming is a "must" topic these days, as it is linked to the boom of the Net. We need to start with some consideration: how many users can have it, how many are going to pay a monthly fee to play, how many can use broadband. Previsions say that in 2005, three years from today, just 20% of European families will have access to broadband: a game like Zelda for Nintendo 64 sold six million copies all over the world, developing a similar game just for online gaming will cut the overall income. The investments to create a game are now enormous, we need to consider benefits and flaws before starting to develop such a project. This doesn't mean GameCube is not ready for the online gaming, broad or narrow band: we wanted to create a console able to satisfy the need of every player, but simply I believe it's too soon to talk about online gaming, even if it is very fashionable nowadays. Phantasy Star Online by Sega has been chosen because they have experience in the field, the know better than us how to do these kind of things, so we will take a good advantage from this cooperation and we will be able to understand this new trend better. Sega abandoned hardware to became a development team, and it is said that Sonic Team is strongly linked to Nintendo. Is in your intentions to "adopt" a character like Sonic as a Nintendo exclusive?
SM: Our relationship with Sega is not different from the ones we have with other third parties. They develop software and in the moment we find it interesting for our console we try a way to obtain it. Nothing more. Nintendo has the image of the developer who created games for the youngsters. Now with Eternal Darkness and Resident Evil the attitude has changed. Why?
SM: Video games' market has changed: games were exclusively made for the youngsters in the past, now even the adults like to play. It is logical to develop games for that kind of audience. As I said, the GameCube wants to be a console for the family, a entertainment media capable to satisfy everyone, from the child to the grandfather. As in the past, you decided to choose a different media, the mini-DVD, while your competitors choose a more common platform. Is there a particular reason, maybe to be found in the royalties due to Nintendo?
SM: We choose to develop a different media because we though it fits our console better. First of all to keep little size, then because our media is much more efficient than a normal CD, seek times are very short. Piracy was something of our concern, too: it is one of the main problems of entertainment and we hope our Mini CD will make pirates' life very difficult. A lot of people think that a video game, like a movie, can be considered a piece of art. What do you think about it?
SM: Creating a form of entertainment can't be considered art, real artists are others. I don't consider myself an artist, for example, it would be insulting towards real ones.