Thursday, February 15, 2007

Miyamoto on Game Design

Talk Asia recently had an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong, and more Nintendo series, and several of the things he said are worth quoting here and expanding upon.

First, a startling revelation of how Mario was designed:
We had to draw Mario as a small character and at the same time, we had to make him look human. To do that, we needed to draw a distinctive feature for him, such as giving him a big nose. We gave him a moustache so that we didn't need to draw a mouth. It is difficult to show facial expressions with small characters. We gave him big hands. Since we were trying to create something distinctive in the character, it was natural to draw something like that. First, we created Mario with dots, putting together these distinctive features. Then I finalized with a drawing to show a final image of the character. So I didn't have any special theory behind the making of Mario. He evolved over the development process, followed by a final drawing of what I wanted him to look like.
Strangely, this is how design is supposed to work. Find the limits of the application and fill the creative space.

Next, Miyamoto talks about the Wiimote and what it means for gaming:
Interviewer: You know computer games have always been about sitting at home on the sofa, eating chips, drinking coke and basically being very unhealthy. All those coach potatoes are going to recoil in horror at the idea of getting up, standing up, moving around. Are people going to go for it you think. Is that what people want?

Miyamoto: The games will change. The whole family will watch the game and they start saying "I want to give it a try."

Interviewer: Do you think people could get hurt doing this. I mean you're running around all over the place?

Miyamoto: Be careful.
This was exactly the experience I have had. Instead of playing games and having people say "let me know when you're done" and walk away, they want to watch, cheer, and scream with you. It's fun.

And about being active: duh. Let's get those fatties off the couch, and get their blood running! Forget sweaty hands, you'll have sweaty brows when you get done playing.

Continuing on, talking about the Wiimote again:
Interviewer: So it involves a motion sensitive wireless console. Some have said that this is nothing but a gimmick and something else in the next couple of years is going to come out and supercede it and it will have been a waste of time and money. What do you say to those people?

Miyamoto: First thing I would say is "Give it a try". If you use it you would know that you had the wrong impression about it. I became more and more confident in the Wii since I started to make the software for it.
That's exactly what I have told skeptics: try it and you'll see, it really is that good. It isn't just a passing fad; it completely redefines gaming.

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