Dylan Cuthbert is a name well-known to fans of the original Star Fox, as a member of the Argonaut development team that relocated to Nintendo HQ in Kyoto to work on the Super NES title. Cuthbert's had a long and successful career since, and his studio Q-Games was most recently seen on a Nintendo system as co-developers of Star Fox 64 3D.
Cuthbert recently completed a Q&A on the GAME Facebook page, and as we've already mentioned it twice let's first go to his comments on the Star Fox series, as he avoids being drawn on Wii U GamePad uses but hints at a return to the franchise in the future.
Those questions are best geared towards Miyamoto. I know what I’d try and do with that tech but at the end of the day the ball’s in Nintendo’s court.
... Star Fox is a great world and series of characters and one day I’d definitely like to go back to it and expand it further.
As a developer that's worked on a number of platforms and game styles, Cuthbert shared some advice on prioritising what really counts with a development project.
I remember many years ago when I presented an idea for a game with elaborate concept art and a strong storyline to Miyamoto-san at Nintendo and he quickly rushed through the document and then said “ok, and where’s the game?”. He then went onto a bit of a rant about how games should be made from a core concept and only vaguest of story concepts, and then once you find the core of the game you start layering on the story and the world, and he used Zelda as an example of this. Thinking back to StarFox too and it was similar; we developed the game without any sign of intrepid furry space explorers for the first 70% or so, and then suddenly POW!, “let’s put a fox in the concept and make it a saga about his missing dad and the fight against Andross” and it sewed the game up nicely.
So my advice is to always be creative; make your concepts, be imaginative, but remember that the game doesn’t make itself and you need to focus on the core gameplay as early as possible and even perhaps swap out the story later if you need to, or something doesn’t quite match up. For example, if you designed a character that was made to jump a lot but you discover your core gameplay is a ton more fun without the jump mechanic, then well… go with the fun every time.
If that sounds like the kind of game design philosophy that would be shared by Shigeru Miyamoto himself, then it's no surprise who Cuthbert names as his biggest inspiration in the industry.
Most definitely Miyamoto; his private face is different to his public face, and his style of chasing ideas and cutting through bull**** is brilliant – internally he’s kind of like a slightly more friendly Steve Jobs but just as cutting.
It's always interesting to read an insider's perspective of game development and, of course, Shigeru Miyamoto. For all of us Star Fox fans, meanwhile, we can but hope that the franchise will return; if we're lucky it'll be with Q-Games and Dylan Cuthbert at the helm.