Monday, November 29, 2004

Miyamoto Interview

I've left the previous link in place to make the interview easy to download, but here it is in full. (It took a while to reformat it so that all the bold and italics would look right on the web. That's HTML.) ---------------

Famitsu
From the announcement of the DS until now, there have been more than 2 million units pre-ordered. This is more than can possibly be shipped before the end of the year. What are your thoughts on that?

Miyamoto
First, we announced the DS in January. Then at E3 in May, when users were able to experience it themselves for the first time, I felt there was a huge response.

Famitsu
It was incredible, wasn't it? There were waiting times of an hour and a half to play on a DS.

Miyamoto
There were, weren't there? (laughs) But when I came home to Japan and asked my kids, they said "What's the DS?". So at that time the name had not yet become well known because the DS was originally designed to broaden the user base for games and it was entering into a new market that wasn't there before. In that way, people were not ready for the information [about the DS]. So I think that we are really fortunate to have this many pre-orders and such a sense of anticipation.

Famitsu
[Nintendo President] Mr Iwata said that until now, games have been using the "D-Pad and A & B buttons" system, and with the DS has introduced a dramatically new and completely different control method with the touchscreen and the microphone.

Miyamoto
Well, the DS has a D-Pad too, but we thought about removing it many times during its development. But we realised that our customers already own many old games, and it's surprisingly not well known that the DS can also play GameBoy Advance software.

Famitsu
The DS seems to reflect the strong feeling gamers have that the the game industry is in a crisis in its current state.

Miyamoto
If you look at the world, it's divided into those who play games and those who don't. There is a feeling of a crisis because back in the Famicom [NES] days, everyone was playing games.

Famitsu
Because it was still new to everyone.

Miyamoto
Yes, yes! (laughs) At that time simply saying "I've made a Super Mario game got a huge reaction and people were very interested. It was like they said "Aaah!". But now, when I say I've made a Mario game, it's more like "Ah." (smiles wryly)

Because I still have a desire to express myself [through creating games], I wanted to use the DS to make games something that's for everybody again, if just for a time.

Famitsu
Didn't that require a lot of courage? The "D-Pad and A & B buttons" system is a culture that Nintendo originally created. To turn away from that and create something new...

Miyamoto
Perhaps I, personally, was tired of that play style. I thought that games using that system have a limit to what you can do with them. To think that and then just increase the number of buttons makes things more complicated. Having felt this way since back in the N64 era, I've been creating games like Donkey Konga: Jungle Beat, Mario Party 6 [GC game that comes with a microphone accessory and uses players' voices and other sounds to control the minigames], and Yoshi's Universal Gravitation [GBA game using rotation sensor similar to Mawaru Made In Wario].

The DS has two screens, one of which is a touchscreen. We can try things we've never tried before. From a game design perspective, there are many games where we've started making it, and then realised that just using the stylus to control the game is enough.

Famitsu
Really?

Miyamoto
We've come round to a great situation. There are games like Super Mario 64 DS, which take an old style and make it easier to play on a powerful, portable machine, but these are not the kind of games we are using to sell the machine.

The crucial point of the DS is that it is completely different to what has come before it. This means that we are not stopping GameBoy Advance development. I see the prospect that both systems can exist side by side.

Famitsu
So you're saying that the DS is not a successor to the GameBoy Advance?

Miyamoto
No, not in our minds.

Famitsu
Oh, really?

Miyamoto
Yes. Since it is the next step for portable game machines, it's not wrong to call it a high-powered GameBoy Advance, but it's not a successor. We want to do things with the DS that we can't do with either the GameCube or the Game Boy Advance.

Famitsu
Everyone who tries
Pictochat, which is built into the DS, has said they really like it.
Miyamoto
Yes, they certainly have. I want to promote it more.

Famitsu
The act of drawing a picture and sending it is very fresh and fun.

Miyamoto
Yes. When someone says "Draw such-and-such" it suddenly gets very interesting (laughs). For example, "Draw Mario!" or something, and so-and-so's picture is good, or you add things on to someone's drawying... the ways of playing it can expand a lot.

Famitsu
Nintendogs [working title] is being talked about a lot amongst the editorial staff here. The concept is different than the kind of games we've seen until now, isn't it?
Miyamoto
I was worried that it wasn't really a game, but then I realised that it doesn't have to be. People just want something fun. It's just that if a game is fun, they want to play more games. So at [the event where the public could try out the DS and games], Nintendogs was very popular with women and also with players in a very broad age range.

Famitsu
Yeah, yeah...

Miyamoto
Playing music in Band Brothers is also a lot of fun, because it really uses the microphone capabilities by allowing you to create music by humming, and you can send the music you make to friends. [note: it doesn't record you humming, but uses the hum to set the pitch and puts that on screen in musical notation form. The music is played by your choice of instrument, so the humming is a way of skipping the mobile-phone-like tedium of composing melodies on the buttons.] [one or two lines skipped because they were vague and meaningless and impossible to translate]

Famitsu
So will there be many games like this?

Miyamoto
On ordinary game consoles, there is a lot of work to be done making games that respond to customers' expectations, but now we have many games in store that no-one will even able to predict. We're really laughing a lot when we try to decide which one to make first! (laughs)

Famitsu
Those are powerful words.

Miyamoto
This is why we've been saying since last year to people who are struggling with game design, come to the DS! Don't you think that "communication without talking" sounds interesting? Put your DS in your bag, and it will communicate on its own with others in a 30 metre radius, and different things will happen in the software.

Famitsu
That's revolutionary! The DS is a machine that will offer previously unseen new control methods and ideas, isn't it?

Miyamoto
Yes! (laughs)

1 Comments:

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