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Expert Insight From Miyamoto, Todd Hollenshead 52

Posted by Zonk
from the wisdom-of-the-ages dept.
njkid1 writes "Nintendo's legendary Shigeru Miyamoto, id Software's Todd Hollenshead and BioWare's Ray Muzyka offer up their expert advice on how to rise to the top of the industry at GameDaily. Miyamoto says his secret to success is that he makes sure sequels are entirely new games rather than just minor updates to the same engine. From Muzkya's comments in the article: 'BioWare's success is based entirely on the fact that we have a lot of very humble, hard-working and smart people at our company who are allowed to take creative risks. We put quality as our number one studio priority, because we believe it leads to long-term success, and as a result we don't release a game until we've achieved and exceeded our high quality targets.'"
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Expert Insight From Miyamoto, Todd Hollenshead

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  • "Creative Risks" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Friday September 21, 2007 @11:41AM (#20697115)
    I think this is the key, more than the 'no lame sequels' bit. If you don't allow your people to take creative risks, they can't produce anything truly new, which means any sequels will indeed be the same game with new graphics.

    Nintendo takes a lot of them, too... Turning SMB into a 3D game... Then turning it into a 2D/3D hybrid RPG... Link went from a side scroller to a 3/4 overhead RPG to a fully 3d realistic-looking RPG... They've split just about every game off into side-games like Dr Mario and Yoshi's Cookie... They're masters of this.

    It's also possible to fail utterly while taking the risks, of course. The other half of the secret of their success is strict quality control. You let your people take risks, but you let them know with no uncertainty if they fail one of them. And you don't ship the product until it's good.
    • Minor nit. "Link" (by which I assume you mean "The Legend of Zelda") started as overhead. It wasn't until the much maligned Zelda II that it went Side-scroller.
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        Hah, yes, you're correct. I didn't actually jump on the Zelda bandwagon until the third game. Game news wasn't as easy to get back then.
    • by ArchAngelQ (35053)
      I'm sorry, but I have to take your geek license away. Link went from a 3/4 overhead Action/RPG to a side scroller, and then back. It did not start as a side scroller. Even the one with side scrolling action sequences had a 3/4 overhead overland map.
  • by Sciros (986030) on Friday September 21, 2007 @11:48AM (#20697241) Journal
    Miyamoto is a genius and possibly a demigod, but sometimes what he says just doesn't make sense to me... I think that his success is largely attributable not to the fact that he innovates within his franchises (especially considering the Pokemon franchise, Twilight Princess going back to the "Ocarina" design, Mario Kart for DS being essentially MK64, and so forth), but with two other things:
    1) it has to do with the fact that these franchises started off SO AMAZINGLY HIGH-QUALITY (for their time, at the very least) and retained that quality regardless of whether they were "re-imagined" or not. More of the same (design-wise) is great if it was awesome to begin with.
    2) it has to do with the fact that some of Nintendo's innovation is also VERY HIGH-QUALITY. When I say this I mostly think of Super Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time, but the Wii as a piece of technology is another example. (The Virtual Boy isn't, hence the "some innovation" ^_^)

    A more rubbish developer/publisher can innovate within its franchises all it wants, but it won't reach any level of success unless the franchises start strong and the innovation keeps them strong by being well designed/executed. Likewise, a strong developer does not need to innovate within a franchise (to the degree that Miyamoto suggested) to remain successful. Halo, Ninja Gaiden, DMC, Pokemon, Smash Bros, Mario Kart, and even Zelda are examples of very strong franchises that remain[ed] strong even without massive innovation in successive titles.
    • Pokemon is not his, nor is Mario Kart. And Zelda was because fans pushed like hell to get him to do it, the mechanics of the game though play very little like Ocarina.
      • by Sciros (986030)
        I have Twilight Princess... I think it plays a lot like Ocarina as well as other Zeldas. It doesn't feel like a "different design" to me in the sense that even Mario Sunshine compared to Mario 64 did... but anyway, I still don't see how this gives his comment more validity. As much as Nintendo always privileges innovation, it's *design done right* (innovative or not) that sells and that people enjoy. Nintendo, luckily for us gamers, designs stuff well and does it right a lot of the time ^_^
        • you dont think the whole Twilight World wolf thing was different from Ocarina? I mean there is not a huge difference between Mario 1 and 3 but there thats vast... but there IS a difference here.
          • by Sciros (986030)
            The wolf thing was a "new" addition to Zelda... but then again I didn't like it much, heh. Anyway the core gameplay is very much "good ol' Zelda" and to be honest I like it that way ^_^
      • by KDR_11k (778916)
        Twilight Princess wasn't Miyamoto's either, it was handled by Eiji Aonuma who made Majora's Mask and Wind Waker as well. AFAIK Miyamoto doesn't give his full attention to many games anymore, Super Mario Galaxy is one of his projects though (not sure he did anything between Pikmin and SMG).
      • by Nevyn (5505) *

        Miyamoto pretty much is Nintendo QA, I don't believe that anything gets released without him signing off on it.

    • by LKM (227954)
      Hey, the Virtual Boy is great. It started Mario Tennis (and still has one of the best versions of the game, in my opinion), and it has an awesome Wario sidescroller. It's a pity that it only had about seven games and made your eyes bleed after 2 minutes of using it, but it's still one of my favourite failed consoles :-)
  • Every Zelda game has followed the same formula since the nes.

    Super Mario Sunshine??? Take Mario 64 and give him a water pistol! Mario Galaxy, put Mario 64 in Space. hmm. There's not denying he makes great games, but they are hardly original.
    • Every Zelda game has followed the same formula since the nes.
      The formula of The Legend of Zelda or the vastly different formula of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link?
    • Who said anything about originality? Originality is not on the table here, it's innovating and keeping sequels as high a quality as the original, and in some cases even more so. Even then, the main issue is that the games are FUN! Mario Galaxy is going to be a TON OF FUN! as was Mario 64. Never played much of Sunshine, but I know it was the same Nintendo quality you can expect. I'm currently going through Zelda TP and man, it's a blast. I don't care about "originality", it's a solid, perfectly executed, FUN
    • by Glacial Wanderer (962045) on Friday September 21, 2007 @12:03PM (#20697521) Homepage
      Let me try...

      Ipod, shrink a boom box and add some headphones. Porsche, take a wagon and add an engine. Aircraft carrier, put a small village on a boat and add some guns.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by alvinrod (889928)
      I think the jury is still out on Super Mario: Galaxy. I've read a few different impressions from various journalists who play tested some levels at E3 this summer and they've said that it's amazing. If you compare Super Mario Bros. to Super Mario Bros. 2 (The Japanese version, not the American one.) how much changed between the games? They were both 2D side-scrolling platformers with a lot in common. Super Mario Bros. 3 was also fairly similar, but did feature some upgrades. In a similar fashion, I don't ex
    • by edwdig (47888)
      Every Zelda game has followed the same formula since the nes.

      No, they're not at all.

      Zelda 1 was about exploration.

      Zelda 2 was a side scrolling game that added RPG elements.

      Zelda 3 went back to the Zelda 1 core style, but took away much of the focus on exploration, and replaced it with an emphasis on story and puzzles.

      Ocarina of Time shifted further towards story and had only minimal exploration.

      Majora's Mask was basically the movie Groundhog Day turned into a video game.

      Past that, they aren't as distinct. W
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Floritard (1058660)
        Man you just nailed what I've never been able to put my finger on about Zelda. I love the original Zelda, and I always find myself interested in each new Zelda game, but I haven't really liked any of them since the original. The exploration is all I cared about in that game. Drop me in the middle of nowhere and give me a wooden sword. No talk bubbles to click through, no horribly mindless errands to run for characters about which I couldn't be bothered to give a damn. Just let me go on my way!
        • by Aladrin (926209)
          I feel the same. I tend to lose interest in a game when they lock me into a static environment, or I've been everywhere.

          I want plot, too, but not 'boy meets girl' crap that's been done a billion times. Since 'every possible story has already been told' (a mangled quote from a great philosopher whose name I forget now) and I read a -lot-, I don't expect to find much worthwhile in the plot of any new video game, or most movies and books.
        • Drop me in the middle of nowhere and give me a wooden sword. No talk bubbles to click through, no horribly mindless errands to run for characters about which I couldn't be bothered to give a damn. Just let me go on my way!

          Actually, I like the talk and the errands. Hyrule in Zelda 1 was kind of desolate. The entire country had a population of maybe twenty people; hardly worth going to all this effort to save the damn place! Adding more people to talk to with lives of their own gets you involved, it lets yo

        • by LKM (227954)
          If you like the exploration part of the Zelda games, you might want to have a look at "Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland" for the DS. It's not officially published in the US, but it is in Europe, and the Europe version has an English language mode.

          You don't play Link, you play Zelda, and the game is basically all exploration. It's one of my favourite games right now, especially due to all the inside jokes about Zelda.
          • You don't play Link, you play Zelda,

            Damn, I meant to write "You don't play as Link, you play as Tingle."

      • Majora's Mask was basically the movie Groundhog Day turned into a video game.
        Actually, "Majora's Mask" was "Donnie Darko" turned into a video game.
        • Actually, "Majora's Mask" was "Donnie Darko" turned into a video game.

          Besides the fact that Donnie Darko came out later (so if anything it would have been DD was MM turned into a movie) the similarity between Groundhog Day and Majora's Mask was the redoing of the same day or three again and again and again. Bill Murray (the dude in GD) saves a kid from falling out a tree, makes new friends and does other good things, and the next morning he wakes up and the kid's still climbing up the tree and all the people he talked to don't remember him. Link rescues a princess and kill

    • He's talking about from a design standpoint, not just features and setting. Miyamoto is infamous for "upending the table." That is if he doesn't like where the game is going he chucks it to the ground and they start over. This is why Twilight Princess took so long. Yeah, on the surface it looks a lot like Ocarina of Time. It however is not just Ocarina of Time code with an updated engine and a new environment. It's its own game built from the ground up.

      As for not innovating, you're talking about the man
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Every Zelda game has followed the same formula since the nes.

      I beg to differ. Majora's Mask was a very different formula than the other Zeldas. There was no Master Sword. There was no Triforce. Zelda didn't need rescuing, and only existed in a dream sequence. There was no Gannon. It had some of the best dungeon design to date (the dungeon that flips upside down was awesome!) NPCs didn't just wander around aimlessly. They all had specific schedules they followed and the NPCs took a more interactive role in this story than in any other Zelda. The game's ending s

    • Super Mario Sunshine??? Take Mario 64 and give him a water pistol! Mario Galaxy, put Mario 64 in Space.

      I see your point there. Miyamoto has taken no risks at all with Nintendo's central franchises. That's why Mario Galaxy is just the same as the previous games, but in space. You'd think they'd at least go 3D, or maybe try to come up with an innovative control system, or something... All this old-fashioned 'run-to-the-left' gaming is getting old.

  • by Alzheimers (467217) on Friday September 21, 2007 @11:54AM (#20697343)
    Step 1) Find a John Carmack
    Step 2) Feed him lots of junk food and soda
    Step 3) Harness his creative energy to publish some tech demos thinly disguised as games
    Step 4) Sell the engine to someone who can make a game better than you can
    Step 5) Profit!
    • Step 1) Find a John Carmack
      Step 2) Feed him lots of junk food and soda
      Step 3) Harness his creative energy to publish some tech demos thinly disguised as games
      Step 4) Sell the engine to someone who can make a game better than you can
      Step 5) Profit!


      The physics of this universe could not possibly cope with 2 John Carmacks. The concentration of genius would overload the known universe and we'd have a 2nd big bang expanding into 144 D Branes.
    • Enough of this rubbish. You don't have to enjoy them, but I'm tired of this "id makes tech demo" garbage. If they made "tech demos", they would BE tech demos... not full blown games. If you want to argue that id makes largely mediocre games with a powerful underlying engine... we could certainly have a discussion. When people continue to try and be clever and say id releases "tech demos" then they, and you, are just wrong... inarguably wrong. repeat after me, id does not make "tech demos".
      • That's funny, cause I could have sworn they said that thing they showed off at the Mac convention was a tech demo. Something about demoing their new engine with about 20 gigs of textures, just to show what it could do. I could be mistaken though. ;)

        Sorry, had to be an ass.
  • Toilet humor and violence, oh and a massive game world worked wonders for GTA and the sequels
  • Was still disappointing. Bravo, Tom.

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