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Nintendo Businesses Entertainment Games

GDC - Miyamoto Delivers Developer-Focused Keynote 84

The legendary Shigeru Miyamoto brought attendees of last night's Game Developer's Choice Awards to their feet when he received the Lifetime Achievement award. Today, Miyamoto had the chance to share the vision Nintendo used when designing the DS and the Wii. In a keynote focused solely on development, he outlined the three keys to their corporate vision, and the elements that make up his own outlook on game design. No explosive new titles or plans were announced, but in its own way Miyamoto's quiet call to arms was powerful and exciting. Read on for a few notes of my own, and links to coverage from other sites.
With an enthusiastic introduction from GDC director Jamil Moledina, the keynote beings. A GDC 07 Keynote Wii Channel is shown on screen, and the crowd goes nuts as a Jamil and Miyamoto Miis are displayed. Bill Toyden is there as well to translate. Miyamoto-san is here today to illustrate three points about the Nintendo vision, and their corporate outlook.

The first is the concept of expanded audience. He illustrates using a very humorous story about the notching up of the 'wife-o-meter'. Miyamoto's wife, historically not a big gamer, has been converted by games like Nintendogs, Wii Sports, and the concept behind the Wii.

The second concept is balance. At Nintendo, engineers and software developers work closely together. He talks about the development of the Wiimote, which was a long process involving numerous iterations and members from a number of different teams. They took the balance to the extreme, taking software and hardware discussions down blind alleys and in numerous directions. They wondered if they even needed a new console, with the advent of popular handheld systems.

He sees console-making as a responsibility, though. They have to make games, make fun games, and make tools available to allow game developers to make new and interesting experiences.

The third concept is risk.The company took on the challenge of questioning what exactly is a videogame. The DS and its games are the perfect example. The ultimate goal was fun, again. The Wii was the ultimate risk. GameCube was just a half step, with the large A button. With the Wii they had to choose to keep evolving the hardware or go down a new path.

There were concerns for everyone in the company. Miyamoto acted as an evangelist inside the company. "Don't think about what will be lost, concentrate on what will be gained." The more he talked about it with Mr. Iwata, the better both of them felt about it. It wasn't until last E3 when they knew the risk was worth taking.

Corporate vision is essential, but corps don't make videogames: people do. (Lots of cheers at that statement.) He wants to share his own personal vision, then. His primary focus in development is not individual elements; the vision that he keeps is the core element of fun in the game. He imagines the face of the gamer while they're playing the game. As an entertainer, he wants to be entertained.

Emotion, then, is what he focuses on. He wants things to be positive, but whatever emotion you're aiming for is fine. As long as you want to draw out something in specific from a player, you've succeeded.

I know these notes are very brief, but Mr. Miyamoto spoke at length in very high-level terms. Overall, I will say that the crowd seemed less attentive than it did at the end of Sony's event yesterday. Applause were still very loud when he brought his comments to an end, and my feeling was that many developers were affected by his words. On the way out through the crowds, many people were talking about how the statements he made applied to the work they did every single day. So despite Nintendo's decision not to make news today, Mr. Miyamoto still managed to affect the lives of the people in attendance today.
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GDC - Miyamoto Delivers Developer-Focused Keynote

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  • I think that shows that they are refocussing on who their core customers are.

    Which is great for more games like The Sims (Wii Sims), Nintendogs, Cooking Mama, and casual RPGs, but not so great if you're a hard-core FPS/Sports gamer, unless you're into things like Wii Sports or maybe Extreme Aussie Rules Football, or Real Rugby.
    • No. Its good for everybody: EXPANDING markets.
    • by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:01PM (#18281702)
      Which is great for more games like The Sims (Wii Sims), Nintendogs, Cooking Mama, and casual RPGs, but not so great if you're a hard-core FPS/Sports gamer

      Nintendo have never really made very many FPS games anyway - Metroid's about all. It's not as if they're going to try to stop people making FPS games for Wii. There are some decent-but-flawed ones out at the moment, and I'm convinced it's only a matter of time before someone comes out with a game that's Goldeneye good. My problem with the entire console FPS genre has always been that a gamepad is never anywhere near as good as mouse and keyboard. Goldeneye and Halo try, but in terms of control the best I've had on a console was DS Metroid Prime. Why? Because it has a proper pointer! And Wiimote + Nunchuck ought to be at least as good as Mouse + Keyboard for this kind of thing.

      • Main problem is that the ubisoft shooters did not get the controls right they mapped a plain wsad control to the wii, that does not work, the wiimote is good for shooting and aiming but not good for directional control mouse replacement, the nunchuck should enable directional control and the wiimot should be pointer only, that schema probably works best, strafing could be done via the z button on the nunchuck, I am pretty sure the next bunch of fps games will do exactly that.
      • Get Rayman's Raving Rabbids. Based solely on the videos shown for it, I got a copy for my PC (no Wiis here...). Many of the minigames are silly, some are stupid, (and most are fun) but the on-rails shooter segments are frickin awesome. Yes, it's on rails. However, the experience is a hoot.
    • You should try "Monkey Wars" from Super Monky Ball on the Wii. It's pretty fun, and awesome. By no means is it a complete FPS, but it definitely shows the potential for those games on the platform.
      • Not enough time, too many good games ... although, actually, I saw my first 1 out of 5 star review on G4TV for a Wii game a couple of nights ago ...

        Sigh. I guess that means it's time to see lots of sub-standard games ported to the Wii ...
        • Sigh. I guess that means it's time to see lots of sub-standard games ported to the Wii ...

          It does seem like there are a lot of ports coming to the Wii, especially from the DS and PS2 platforms. The 1UP Yours [] podcast a few weeks ago talked about this phenomenon in detail.

          On one hand, there is the negative connotation that ports are generally "sub-standard". On the other hand, the DS and PS2 are extremely popular platforms with some amazing games on them. And having a large game library (more choices) isn't s

          • On one hand, there is the negative connotation that ports are generally "sub-standard". On the other hand, the DS and PS2 are extremely popular platforms with some amazing games on them. And having a large game library (more choices) isn't such a bad thing. After all, many of the successful consoles in history have had humongous libaries, often filled with "sub-standard" games and ports (SNES, PS, PS2). If anything, it's a good thing that the Wii is building a hefty library, since the GameCube scene was rel
            • by jchenx ( 267053 )

              And the lineup for this year seems crammed full of good Wii games - my only concern is the paucity of decent RPG titles. Now if we could port a certain Molyneux game from the xBox ...

              Lionhead Studios [], makers of Fable [], were taken over by Microsoft Game Studios, so unfortunately for you, there's no chance of it being ported over to the Wii. That's too bad, since there were some pretty cool things revealed about Fable 2 at GDC.

              As for RPGs for the Wii, I am looking forward to Super Paper Mario []. It sounds like

      • The shooter levels in Rayman Raving Rabbids represent another good example.

        I can't wait for a real FPS to go on the Wii, and that's coming from someone who detests the genre.
  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:19PM (#18281082) Homepage
    The first is the concept of expanded audience. He illustrates using a very humorous story about the notching up of the 'wife-o-meter'.

    I have a wife-o-meter, but I was under the impression that it's only useful when I'm out with my girlfriend.
  • by Pluvius ( 734915 ) <.pluvius3. .at.> on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:44PM (#18281406) Journal
    No explosive new titles or plans were announced

    Surely all of the people who pointed out how Phil Harrison didn't mention new games yesterday [] are going to come here and point out that Miyamoto didn't either, right? Right?

    • by Dorceon ( 928997 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @07:08PM (#18282776)
      Miyamoto was prevented from making forward looking statements because Nintendo recently asked the Japanese government to sell their Nintendo holdings on the open market, requiring a quiet period similar to those around other stock offerings.
    • by _xeno_ ( 155264 )

      And I'll point out that Miyamoto didn't spend his talk taking credit for other people's inventions, like the Sony keynote did.

      Plus there's little doubt that the Wii has some great titles coming up, but the only title I can think of for the PS3 that isn't a sequel to a PS2 title is LittleBigPlanet, and that's only because it was mentioned in yesterday's story. Other than that (and the mass of PS2 sequels that are all still vapor) I can't think of any PS3 games coming out soon.

  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wframe9109 ( 899486 ) * <> on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:45PM (#18281426)
    I'm glad Miyamoto discussed topics more pertinent to the developers than gamers. I would much rather have a conference with substance, than let the GDC turn into a media blitz for industry shaking announcements.

    As for expanding the audience: Unless you are still living in your parents basement, abhor social interaction, or prefer to game alone, you should be very excited about Nintendo concentrating on everyone, instead of just the gamer. Why? Because it will let you share your passion with more people. Your parents. Your non-gaming friends. Your loved ones. As a hard core gamer myself, but a human being first, I am *delighted* that my fiance is joining me in my love for gaming.

    I guess I'll miss out on realistically rendered acne. Sigh.
    • by Serapth ( 643581 )
      [i]I'm glad Miyamoto discussed topics more pertinent to the developers than gamers.[/i]

      Like what? Name one thing new Miyamoto actually told developers? That entire keynote was a rehash of exactly what Nintendo has been saying for the last year. If there was a developer in the house that didnt know Nintendo was targeting a more casual audience with the Wii, that dev has been living under a rock and is probrably in the wrong profession.

      It was boring and content free, simple as that. Had Sony held the
      • Firstly, Nintendo can rehash that message as many times as it wants. It's absolutely imperative that this message penetrate, because it's the message that prevented the industry from crashing and burning again. Without games and systems following the principles Nintendo has outlined, the Japanese portion of the industry would have continued it's drastic hemorrhaging and largely disappeared. There's a reason the DS is so popular there.

        Secondly, there's a lot more to the keynote than "target casuals". There w
        • by Rycross ( 836649 )
          I'm not seeing anything that indicates that the absense of Nintendo's message would cause another industry crash. I know people like to mourn the death of innovation here, but from my point of view the industry has just matured to the point where innovation comes in smaller steps or one-off games. There's plenty of innovation to be had, and Nintendo is just a part of that. Theres a lot of crap, but there's always been a lot of crap. Even back in the NES/SNES days.
          • Re:Good (Score:5, Informative)

            by MeanderingMind ( 884641 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @07:02PM (#18282670) Homepage Journal
            The Japanese market for video games had been shrinking for some time up until the release of the DS. Before that hand held came onto the scene, it was a much discussed issue. There didn't seem to be anything that was slowing or stopping the crumbling of the market and a lot of people were at a loss for what to do. The effect was also beginning in the US.

            The DS revitalized the Japanese Market which, starting at a peak in 1997, had shrunk steadily to 60% of its former size by 2003. Here's a brief report on a study [] released in 2004 concerning this. It wasn't a straight decline, as evidenced by a few notes in this [] report, but a severe decline none the less.

            The DS was explicitly Nintendo's answer to this problem, and it's undeniably worked.
          • Potential barriers to the advance of gaming:

            1.) Rising costs to the gamer.
            2.) Rising costs to the developer.
            3.) Increasingly difficult, and intricate games.
            4.) Reduced ROI.
            5.) (opinion) Increased difficulty in entering the field of game development.
            6.) (opinion) Decreased quality of work (what term would I use here?) for developers.

            If I thought about it for a few more minutes, I could probably give a bigger/better list.

            Anyhow, consider the state of things. If the Wii and the expanded market concept never en
    • by Rycross ( 836649 )
      There wasn't much developer-focused stuff there either. It was a big fluff piece, which didn't say anything that anyone following the industry didn't already know. Its pretty disappointing, since a man like Miyamoto should have better things to say.
    • by fuo ( 941897 )
      Agreed. My GF is far more impressed by the number of hearts i have in Zelda:TP than she ever was by my Realm Rank in DAoC (and the RR took a few more YEARS to achieve). And that's good. 4+ hours of TV a night was starting to get old.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by SoapDish ( 971052 )

      Unless you are still living in your parents basement, abhor social interaction, or prefer to game alone...

      Have you been spying on me?
    • by cgenman ( 325138 )
      I'm glad Miyamoto discussed topics more pertinent to the developers than gamers. I would much rather have a conference with substance, than let the GDC turn into a media blitz for industry shaking announcements.

      Thank you for saying this. GDC is not E3. It's not for the press, it's not for the public, it's not for big announcements. It's for us developers to get together and discuss shader implementations, development methodologies, and gossip about the interworkings of company politics. In the language
  • by oGMo ( 379 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:45PM (#18281430)

    I've heard about constraints on Nintendo giving info due to stock goings-on [], but labelling this as "developer-oriented" instead of "boring fluff" is a cop-out. It wasn't interesting: especially to developers. Interesting would be demos of new motion-sensing and touchscreen concepts. Interesting would be the forward direction of Nintendo platforms and the tools Nintendo will be providing. Miyamoto parroting earlier propaganda is not interesting.

    • Yeah, it does sound like pretty much what we've been hearing since the final vision for the Wii was made plain many months ago.

      Unfortunately, saying fluffy feel-good but largely meaningless and regurgitated things is what being in Miyamoto's position is all about. If he was still just a designer, he would have probably been free to talk about more interesting things. It's too bad, since it means Nintendo's most widely recognized "personality" and of course phenomenal designer is not the best person to hav
      • by oGMo ( 379 )

        Eh, Phil Harrison is hardly a designer, but he had the sense to get actual designers on the stage and have them show cool stuff. And his fluff, the Game 3.0 BS, was still developer-oriented. Even the demos were good for giving ideas and showing strong direction. "Here's what you can do"; this is the sort of stuff that gets developers going "hey, that's cool, if I took that and used it here..." or "how can we be a part of this."

        Nintendo just needs to back up the hype about motion sensing being the "next

  • Indie Dev Program? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JoelMartinez ( 916445 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @05:56PM (#18281630) Homepage
    What ever happened to their indy developer program? seems like this would have been the perfect audience to mention something to
    • by Rycross ( 836649 )
      Did they ever have one? Back in the pre-Wii days, I heard a lot of speculation on Wii being indy-friendly due to the low dev-kit cost, but I don't recall anything concerning an actual program. A quick Google search doesn't seem to turn up much.
      • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
        They were supposedly releasing a dev kit for making downloadable games not too long ago and soon after there were reports of the dev kits selling out faster than they can make them.
    • by OAB_X ( 818333 )
      Was it not MS who released the "dev kit" for potential X-Box developers?

      I had not heard of Nintendo doing something like that.
  • by CaseM ( 746707 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:02PM (#18281728)
    Can't find a Wii for my son anywhere anywhere, but he was really happy when I told him we could make one out of duct-tape and two gamecubes.
    • by Eccles ( 932 )
      Got a local EBGames? Call it every morning and see if they just got some in. I got mine because I just happened to be in one at a mall at the right time.
      • by Deaney ( 1014409 )
        This is why I love living in Perth (Western Australia).
        I completely forgot what day was launch day but just happened to be in a Big W (or some horrible Coles-Myer franchise) on launch day that evening and saw a kid carrying one, I asked the guy at the checkout there were any left (this is at about 8:30 pm on launch day) and the kid said "Yeah - there's one left" and he went and got me one.

        With that said there is a HUGE shortage on any controllers.
      • Got a local EBGames? Call it every morning and see if they just got some in. I got mine because I just happened to be in one at a mall at the right time.

        They also have an online store product locator - for example, I've seen Wii consoles at the GameStop just to the east of Northgate Mall (not the one inside the mall).

        You can check online and, if it says they have it, phone them when they open and drop in.
    • by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) <tomstdenis AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 08, 2007 @08:10PM (#18283496) Homepage
      Hehehe, wait 3-4 months. Not only will there be a few more games out but there will likely be plenty of Wiis to go around.

      In the advent that there aren't, the market for games will shrivel up and you'll count yourself lucky not investing in it. ... Not that I think the Wii will fail in the short term. Just saying there is a bonus to waiting.
    • by Rycross ( 836649 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @08:43PM (#18283812)
      I got mine at a Toys R' Us, because I heard they were getting some in. I got there 30 minutes early, and they still had roughly 15 left by the time I had left. There were only a handful of people behind me, so I guess after the first wave left there must have been 10 or so left. Still quite a ways away from being widely available, but the demand is starting to approach supply levels. Given another two or so months, I'd expect to be able to find them on shelves.

      In the meantime, if you really want one, find a bunch of stores in the area and make a habit of calling and figuring out when they get them in. Stores less frequented by gamers or the masses are better. Toys R' Us, Sams Club, etc.
  • comic [] I wub ROOO!

  • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @06:25PM (#18282088) Journal
    I was skimming the comments on kotaku, and found the following description from somebody at GDC: nintendo-242670.php []

    [Sony exec] Phil Harrison is sitting in the front row

    [President of Nintendo of America] Reggie is standing off consulting with people, posing for pictures, etc.

    A kid in the front row shouted at Reggie "REGGIE! You gotta kick some ass and take some names!"

    "Like who?!" Reggie shouted back

    "Phil Harrison, FRONT ROW!" The kid says

    "I think we already did that" Says Reggie

    The nearby crowd laughs, as is appropriate.
  • Not sure if I'm very impressed. Some would call me a Nintendo fanboy; I got a Wii at launch, still think its a great system, but I'm not sure if this seems very reliavent. As someone who is interested quite a bit by game design philosophy, I would hope that a developer conference would put forth some inspiring new visions into the heads of developers who are studying implementations for upcoming projects. There's a lot more that can be done with the motion sensing hardware than is currently being done, and
    • Indeed, not very reliavent at all. But *very* cromulent.
    • by eboot ( 697478 )
      I'm pretty sure, though not 100% but you might want to look it up, that Nintendo is involved in some sort of stock market move which means they aren't allowed to talk specifics about games etc... I remember reading recently that this GDC would be a boring one for Nintendo fans because of it.
  • by Churla ( 936633 ) on Friday March 09, 2007 @12:02PM (#18289500)
    Sony came out with the intent of winning the affections of gamers with a flash and dazzle. Like a girl who wears her whale tail action with a semi transparent top when she's trying to hook you in on the second or third date.

    Nintendo came out like the girl who doesn't have the porn start measurements, but baked you cookies and came over to sit with you when you had a really rough day at work and cuddled on the couch.

    One looks great on the arm, but we all know which one loves us.
    • Let me get this straight - you're making console comparisons to women?

      Something tells me you know nothing about either of those subjects.

This is an unauthorized cybernetic announcement.