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Miyamoto: Game Development is Still About "Starting From The Idea"

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Talks about his use of Flipnote Studio, and new approaches to distribution

As reported earlier today, Shigeru Miyamoto's comprehensive interview with Rolling Stone has suggested that retirement isn't currently in the designer's plans, helping to put to rest one of the enduring question marks hanging over the Kyoto-based company.

We do recommend reading the full feature, however, as its gallery collection of quotes includes comments on some well-known but popular anecdotes, such as the origins of Luigi as the younger twin of Mario, and so on. There are some interesting snippets that are less familiar, however, such as the revelation that Miyamoto still uses Flipnote Studio on DSi to sketch out basic pre-game intros; the use of the app also leads to an assessment of his overall approach to the development role.

I use that [Flipnote Studio] to draw kind of a rough idea of what I want the movie to be and send that to the director and then he starts working on it.

Over the years, games have changed quite a bit. We've seen new elements added, we've seen the addition of multiple layers of backgrounds of games and even additional characters and then we have all the production elements that go into games now from the stories and everything. For me, what's important is that starting from the idea. Even if you're developing for a really large team, you still need to have maybe just one or two people who really are overseeing the entire project.

On the subject of Luigi's upcoming adventures, Miyamoto explained the foundations for the idea behind New Super Mario Bros. U's upcoming spin-off New Super Luigi U, and how the substantial download offering is the beginnings of some new ideas for distribution and adding life to established games.

At the same we were working on Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, we were working on New Super Mario Bros U. We decided to do the downloadable content for that, which is going to feature Luigi and be new Super Luigi U."

We're looking not just at creating a single product, but also at how we take advantage of those distribution methods, potentially creating additional downloadable content for those games. Going forward, we've sort of moved out of simply focusing on the technology and trying to completely create the worlds that had been imagined by the user. As we go forward, we'll start to see new ways that we can leverage technology to create new structures of play or leverage new means of distribution to the consumer.

Naturally the ideas of expansions and DLC can be divisive, with some not being fans. Ultimately, Nintendo will surely face the challenge of ensuring that core content is still substantial and good value, making extras an attractive option rather than something that consumers feel should have been in the core product.

Our final excerpt from this interview relates to Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, the RPG set to grace the 3DS this summer. Miyamoto made a brief comment about a feature that many will have spotted in the short trailer we've seen so far, in that lots of mini-Luigi's can team up and give the game a Pikmin style.

It's almost a coincidence that this is coming out the same year as a Pikmin game, because one of the main themes of the Mario and Luigi: Dream Team is the idea of these mobs of Luigis – these big mobs of Luigis that are attacking the enemies that has sort of a Pikmin-like feel to it.

We do recommend clicking through the whole article on Rolling Stone to pick up the various tid-bits on offer. Let us know what you think of Miyamoto's comments from these excerpts in the comments below.

[via rollingstone.com]

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User Comments (21)

Giygas_95

#1

Giygas_95 said:

I really like Miyamoto's games, but I wish he would sort of get past the "games don't need storylines" way of thinking. A good storyline gives a sense of reason to what you're doing and, for me, makes it more fun. It draws you along because you want to know what happens next.

Raiko

#2

Raiko said:

I prefer games that have fun and interesting mechanics over a dominating storyline as stories can be both restrictive and expensive. They don't seem to have the same kind of replayability, either.

MasterWario

#3

MasterWario said:

Ah-ha! He said something about the Pikmin release! We know for sure it's coming out this year then!

Giygas_95

#4

Giygas_95 said:

@Raiko Yeah, I agree that the gameplay is more important, and that a storyline can get in the way. That's why I think there needs to be a balance between the two. I was mainly thinking of Sticker Star which, while I love the gamplay, I think it would have been better if Miyamoto had not convinced the team to drop the story line. I thought the second and third Paper Marios had great storylines which really made them more enjoyable for me.

Ernest_The_Crab

#5

Ernest_The_Crab said:

@Five-seveN I'm pretty sure he wanted them to try something different in that case. As a game developer, it's important to remain flexible. If you can't make a game without a storyline, that focuses more on gameplay your games could end up being stale in the future since you'll be stuck in a certain mindset. This especially holds true if he's trying to train his successors.

Dodger

#6

Dodger said:

Personally, I like games with a balance of story and gameplay. Gameplay is more important in that every game needs good gameplay but not every game needs a story however the games that stick with me most tend to have a memorable story in the background. A subtle story, but an interesting one. Games like Braid, Portal and Mario Galaxy 1.

I have a lot of respect for Miyamoto. He makes games right. I don't agree with his decisions on Mario Galaxy 2 (make a smaller hub world, add a completely uninteresting story that doesn't involve death or ancient protectors of the universe) or Paper Mario: The Sticker Star (add a completely uninteresting story that doesn't have any interesting or amusing characters or any really memorably moments, take focus away from the RPG battles), but those are two games.

Giygas_95

#8

Giygas_95 said:

@Dodger Galaxy 2 kind of weirded me out a little because I thought it would have some kind of connection to the first, but it apparently didn't, and I couldn't figure out why all the characters were re-introducing themselves like Mario had never met them before. It was almost as if the first one never even happened. A little strange, but still fun to play in my opinion.

@Ernest_The_Crab Yeah it's good to be flexible, but I feel that Paper Mario is one franchise that would be best left the same (open world structure, RPG stat system, good story line). A place where they really should try experimentation is with the mainstream Mario titles since those have gotten a little repetitive as of late. I'm glad at least that Sticker Star was still fun though (Enigmansion was my favorite part).

TheEmerlLad

#9

TheEmerlLad said:

Not a bad idea using FlipNote as a planning application!

This man has always had a way with his motives and ideals. It's so pure and genuine that it's very welcomed in a money-grabbing industry.

ivanmata

#10

ivanmata said:

You definitely don't want to concentrate on the story of a game, you would basically end up watching a movie, gameplay is the most important part of a game in my opinion, with a story that just makes sense, that's the ideal game for me.

Prof_Elvin_Gadd

#11

Prof_Elvin_Gadd said:

@ivanmata He is not saying that. All Miyamoto says is that one should start with an idea and that one person, maybe another, should oversee the entire project. Read the article and focus on his quotes. ;) This is the greatest game designer in video game history. He knows gameplay is important.

Cygnus

#12

Cygnus said:

@Prof_Elvin_Gadd Too bad he peaked at the end of the Gamecube cycle. It starts with an idea yes, but Shigeru hasn't had a thought that he hasn't already come up with since he originally came up with the idea of "new" super mario bros.

Dpullam

#13

Dpullam said:

I certainly am inclined to agree with Shigeru Miyamoto after all of the amazing games he has helped create recently. Nintendo certainly hasn't lost their touch at making video games. That is for sure.

rjejr

#14

rjejr said:

For anybody else impatiently waiting for Pikmin 3 like I am page 16 does mention the Spring release date and actually uses the past tense "oversaw" when describing Miyamoto's work on the game, so maybe it's done?

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/pictures/shigeru-miyamoto-shares-nintendo-secrets-20130408/pikmin-3-0487578

Here's the text for anybody who doesn't feel like clicking:

Pikmin 3
Nintendo's 3-D strategy game Pikmin debuted on GameCube in 2001: Protagonist Captain Olimar crashes on an unknown planet and needs to put his ship together with the help of a mass of pikmin creatures. Miyamoto also oversaw Wii U's Pikmin 3, which will be released this spring. "With Pikmin 3, you'll have the ability to have three different captains or leaders of Pikmin groups and you can switch between them," he says. "So it sort of allows you to approach the game from a much more strategic position. The volume of work that you can get done within the timeframe has increased dramatically. And so that in and of itself really enhances the depth of strategy that's available to you in that game."

MasterWario

#17

MasterWario said:

@rjejr But I'm curious if they got that from Miyamoto during the interview. It's pretty much common knowledge the Pikmin 3 has a set release date in Q2, so they could have put that in there just so the audience knows the plans for Pikmin 3. If Miyamoto actually said something like "...Pikmin 3, which will be released this spring..." then we know this for sure. Not saying I think it won't be released this spring, but I really want some official word on it's release date, because Nintendo has been silent about Pikmin 3 for quite some time.

Your second point, however, I totally agree with.

Intrepid

#19

Intrepid said:

I thought that you could control four captains in Pikmin 3, when it was shown at last year's E3. Now this article says there will be three. It makes more sense, but still kind of odd.

Zombie_Barioth

#20

Zombie_Barioth said:

I've always prefered games where the story isn't completely spelled out for you, you have to read between the lines and look at the context of the game to get the full story. A lot of Nintendo games are actually pretty good at making you connect the dots yourself.

Too much emphasis on the story and the game becomes boring once you know what happens, the gameplay needs to be fun enough to stand on its own.

Shworange

#21

Shworange said:

It was cool to seem Shiggy in a Rolling Stones article, but it seemed like a crappy interview. It maybe had 13 quotes from him pasted across 18 pictures and googlable facts about the games slapped in for filler. How about a real Q&A interview? Proving once again that Rolling Stone is style over substance.

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