Shigeru Miyamoto's role at Nintendo has changed a great deal in recent years, with the legendary game designer now one of the most senior managers in the company and responsible for far more than developing a game or two a year. Rumours of retirement a couple of years ago transpired to be a mis-interpretation, as in actual fact he's taken a role of development oversight, albeit with some more direct influence on key projects.
In an E3 interview with Mashable, Miyamoto-san has given a little more insight into his current role and work routine, explaining how he assesses and manages multiple projects.
Thirty years ago or so, when I was a director on a game, I would spend all my time focusing on a single game and just developing that. But since that time, generally I’ve been in a position where I’m looking at multiple different titles at the same time, and giving feedback to the teams there. But overall, my day-to-day hasn’t really changed that much. Probably over the past year, the biggest difference has been that I’m actually interacting directly and working directly with individual development teams. So in fact it’s been, for a while now, I’ve been coming into the office a little bit later, but I really haven’t been leaving until 10 p.m. because I’m there every day working directly with the programmers and the designers and working directly on game designs and game development.
One of those teams is that behind potential 2015 hit Splatoon, which has won plaudits for its demo at the LA show. Anyone that saw the Nintendo Digital Event or subsequent Nintendo Treehouse appearance of the development team will certainly have been aware that they are fresh young faces, and Miyamoto-san explained how they came from a variety of different teams.
The team that’s designing Splatoon is actually taken from the core Animal Crossing team, so some of the younger staff within the Animal Crossing team, we pulled about 10 of them together and we decided to begin working on Splatoon with that small team.
We’ve also then added the director who did the StarFox 64 3D remake for Nintendo 3DS, and then one of the directors who worked on Nintendo Land. They’re all very young team members for us, so they’re very energetic. They’ve been working on music and the design and everything for Splatoon.
It’s allowing me to not be heavily involved in the project — they’re able to work on their own. But the overall design is taking a very Nintendo approach, where it’s very gameplay-focused. We designed the gameplay and the features of the game first, and the characters themselves were born out of those features.
One area in which Nintendo is yet to get involved in this current generation is Virtual Reality, though interest is undeniably growing following the Facebook acquisition of Oculus Rift and Sony's unveiling of its Morpheus project. Miyamoto-san, echoing shorter but similar sentiments from Reggie Fils-Aime made elsewhere, has expressed doubt over its value, at this point, to Nintendo; he does, however, see potential in the concept.
Very early on, I certainly had viewed virtual reality as having a lot of potential, but at the same time, I look at the appearance of people who are playing virtual reality and it’s something that gives me quite a bit of pause. We work on constantly creating things for a broad audience of consumers, but I look at virtual reality and I see something that can be particularly interesting for a short-term, attraction style of uses. But I wonder if it’s really the type of thing that consumers can use long-term and get long-term use out of. But I do think there’s appeal in the technology.
This E3 has shown a variety of fresh projects and IPs from Nintendo, moving away from a perception that the company is over-reliant on a small batch of franchises. Let us know your thoughts on what Shigeru Miyamoto has said, while we also recommend the full interview.