Now that the E3 LA extravaganza is finished, we're starting to learn a little more about projects that were shown by Nintendo during the event. Shigeru Miyamoto has been doing the rounds, for example, and in an interview with Entertainment Weekly has given a little more context for his GamePad projects in addition to Mario Maker.
To start with Star Fox for Wii U and Project Guard, Miyamoto-san has made some interesting comments with regards to possible cross-overs between the projects. While teasing the tantalising prospect of various vehicles (Mechs!) for Star Fox, the designer continues the previously-seen analogy of the new entry being like a TV series in structure, but also hinted at the Guard title — in which you place and jump between camera turrets to protect your facility — having some role to play in the highly anticipated project. Based on his comments, these games — when they arrive — could have a relatively unconventional release structure.
Perhaps if you noticed in Project Guard, there was a Star Fox logo on the cameras! I have different ideas for what would be possible, but I haven’t finalized anything yet. One idea that I had for Star Fox is something like the Thunderbirds TV series, where they had all these different vehicles and Mechs that they could use. I’m not certain, but one thing I think about Star Fox is that, instead of just a ship-based adventure that we’ve seen in previous Star Fox games, there’s multiple different mechs and vehicles and things that they use. And maybe, within that, the Project Guard style of gameplay could be one element of sort of a larger-scaled thing.
The other analogy I’ve been using with the team is that the Star Fox games that we used to make were Star Fox for the movie theater, a big dramatic adventure. And this time, with our focus, it’s a little bit more of Star Fox if it were a TV series. So maybe Project Guard is the TV series of Star Fox that runs late at night, and the main missions of Star Fox are the TV series that runs in primetime.
Moving onto Mario Maker, Miyamoto-san explains the origins of the level-creating tool that's due in 2015. Unsurprisingly, it started life as the internal development tool made for creating the main-series games, further highlighting how exciting this project should be for platforming fans.
My approach has always been less “I’m going to create something, and I want them to play it a certain way.” I’m always trying to design games in a way that the player will think about what might be possible, and come up with their own ways to play the games. So I’ve always had sort of an affinity for course editors, for the players to have a customization element, dating as far back as Excitebike on the NES, which was the first game that we built a course editor for.
What’s interesting about Mario Maker is that it started out as a tool set for our development teams to create levels themselves. As recently as Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES, there was still a time when we were designing the levels by drawing them out on paper. It took a lot of work to do that [laughs]. Since then, as part of the game development, what we’ve always done is develop tools that allow us to develop level design within the program.
Finally, we have Miyamoto-san's views on current development trends and his own focus. Acknowledging the continued push for graphical fidelity and realism found elsewhere, the focus for Nintendo remains embedded in innovation and utilising technology in creative ways.
This goes back to what I was saying about the tools, the technology, the programming. Game development itself is relying more and more on the programmers and the artists to bring those games to life. My focus, really, is on the work of the game designer, and the game designer’s ability to think up new structures for play, or bring new ideas to the table, in a way that then can create new ideas for video games, and new ways to play.
For me, I think the challenge is that we see a lot of people who are putting all their energy around using the technology to create hyper-realistic graphics, and those sorts of things. I like to look for more novel ways to use the technology to do things that couldn’t be done before. A simple example is something like Project Guard. Now, with the power of the system, we’re able to display those twelve different cameras onscreen at one time. How can you use those twelve different screens to create an interesting interaction for the player to enjoy? That becomes the core of the new piece of gameplay.
What do you make of Miyamoto-san's comments on Star Fox and potential links to Project Guards, and are you excited by the potential of Mario Maker?