As we highlighted recently, Nintendo has launched the first of a new series of articles called 'Ask the Developer', which brings to mind the wonderful old Iwata Asks format. The first interview focuses on Game Builder Garage, with game director Naoki Masuda and subdirector Kosuke Teshima taking part. It's an informative and charming read, and even includes some '(Laughs)' as well.
A section that we rather enjoyed relates to the origins of the Nodon characters, those funny little personalities that guide you through the app and serve varied functions. Talking about the origins of Nodon, it emerges that an effort to make the creative process fun led to the idea of a range of characters similar to those you'd see in an Idol Group - a term used for pop groups in Japan and Korea, for example. The idea of a group of Nodon performing songs sadly didn't make the cut!
Teshima: At the beginning of the project, our key phrase was "creating is fun," so I was constantly consulting with the designers to create a fun atmosphere, no matter what–even on the programming screen. And I thought, “Hmm... we may not be able to achieve this goal with these methods...” In Toy-Con Garage from Nintendo Labo and the Game Builder Garage of this title, you create games by arranging different functions, called "nodes.” As we were discussing this project, someone suggested that we should treat the "nodes" like an idol group (a pop-music idol group).
Teshima: Right. The idea came up as, “Why don't we anthropomorphize the various functioning nodes and create a unit like an idol group, releasing an original song?” If you integrate each role into a song, one by one, you might understand how each mechanism works...
I see. I definitely see it, when you think of it as a group of people with different roles and personalities.
Teshima: At first, it was a joke that came up from a side chat, when we were struggling to find ways to make the game programming screen feel fun. (Laughs) I thought that an idol group was too extreme of an idea, but it was obvious that it’s hard to understand the workings of nodes at a quick glance, so we thought that by giving them a personality, character, or face that comes from each of their functions, they may be more recognizable. We then also thought, “If players grow to like them, it might be easier to remember what they do.” So, then it became, "I like the anthropomorphized characters...” And then, “Let’s give them a name that is easy to remember: Nodon!"
The two developers have their own favourite Nodons, and it's certainly the case that these little characters give the app's various tools a much lighter tone, also making them more memorable.
Have you been enjoying Game Builder Garage, or perhaps you're still planning to try out the demo first? Let us know in the comments!