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Bungie Vs. Miyamoto - Fight! 379

Last week Gamehead's Geoff Keighley interviewed Shigeru Miyamoto, and the well-known designer tossed off a mildly controversial comment. Keighley asked him if he felt as though he was losing touch with the American audience as a result of the popularity of games like Halo. GameDaily reports on Miyamoto's response: "I could make Halo. It's not that I couldn't design that game. It's just that I choose not to. One thing about my game design is that I never try to look for what people want and then try to make that game design. I always try to create new experiences that are fun to play." Bungie took exception to that, and Frank Connor retorted in his interview with Joystiq: "Yeah, well. I just want to go on the record and say that Bungie is hard at work on a side-scrolling platform game featuring some plumbers -- I'm not going to say what their ethnicity is, it's none of anyone's business -- but we took that as a gauntlet, a sort of glove slap, and we're going to respond in 2D scrolling style. That's all I'm saying." We discussed that article, along with several other pieces of Halo 3 coverage, this past Saturday.
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Bungie Vs. Miyamoto - Fight!

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  • by Anarchysoft ( 1100393 ) <anarchy AT anarchysoft DOT com> on Monday May 14, 2007 @12:52PM (#19116181) Homepage
    I played Halo and Halo 2 to completion and I don't understand why they are held up as excellent FPS games. They were good, but I don't recall a single innovation and even where they were good, they were not great. The original Half-life, FarCry, Deus Ex and several others were much better. That's totally just an opinion and it doesn't mean much, but I'd like to know why Halo is considered by a fairly large population to be a great game. Perhaps more useful: would they have been considered great games if they were released on the PC but not the XBox?
  • by orclevegam ( 940336 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:04PM (#19116437) Journal

    All the game companies are good at certain things, it's just that the markets are reflective of what each company is basing their priorities on.

    Microsoft was intialy trying to make the X-Box into a platform to try to force the convergence of console and PC gaming. Later when it became clear that they were really on to something with X-Box Live, they switched tactics and focused on providing top shelf online content (although the latest half hearted attempt to bring Live to Vista bodes poorly for Microsofts learning abilities).

    Sony on the other hand has always been focused primarily on graphics performance. Yes they had some good games, but nothing ever revolutionary, but pretty and often fun. The primary hallmark of the Playstation platform is a shotgun approach to game development. They make as many games as they can, throw them out there and see what sticks. This approach can lead to some very good games, but also leads to some very very bad games. The primary failing of Sony is in not providing any new innovation in the latest generation of consoles. The Playstation 3 was positioned to be a multimedia convergence device, but so far the market for said devices has proved to be rather poor, and what little there is is primarily dominated by inexpensive PCs. The good news for Sony is that historically the Playstation consoles really only hit their stride after a year or two on the market, so it has the potential to outperform the competition in terms of raw power. There is also some rumbling of Sony taking online content more seriously, although whether or not they can provide a credible challenge to Live remains to be seen.

    The last player on the market, and the most relevant to this article is Nintendo. Nintendo realized a long time ago that fun games, and innovative systems will out sell fancy graphics. A clear cut example of this is the origional Gameboy versus the graphically superior Gamegear. The Gamegear had a color screen and more processing power, but was more expensive, slightly bulkier, and was much more demanding on power (which resulted in it eating batteries left and right, I should know, I had one). Nintendo has always been middle of the road in terms of graphics and processing power, but what has set them aside has traditionally been their willingness to try new and innovative controls and games. Sometimes this has hurt them, and they have made more than a few products that failed spectactularly (Virtualboy anyone?), but on the other hand they have released a number of products that show some genuine innovation. I think the relative failure of the Gamecube served as a wakeup call to Nintendo, they realized that they weren't able to compete on graphics and if they were going to survive they needed to embrace the creative aspects of their game and console design more fully (prior to the DS and Wii most Nintendo products were less daring in departure from the norm of console gaming). It will be interesting to see if Nintendo can pull off the online portion of the gaming puzzle (which will be critical for all three consoles) sufficiently to keep Wii ahead of X-Box 360 and Playstation 3, of if they will fumble it and have to settle for second place.

  • Re:abuse? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @01:23PM (#19116861)
    The game's been opensourced for awhile, so a Mario mod shouldn't be that hard to do...
  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:10PM (#19117775) Homepage
    An still, to this day, I don't understand why people like playing Goldeneye or any other console FPS. The control you get with the gamepad is about 1000 times worse then what you get with a keyboard and mouse to the point where I find it completely frustrating and, and am unable to play almost all console FPS games. The only exception is Metroid. This is because although it is a FPS, it isn't about twitch reflexes, and being able to aim perfectly. My only real complaint about Metroid is that there's too much jumping. Which is really hard in a game where you can't see your feet.
  • by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:13PM (#19117825)
    I completely understand both Nintendo and Bungie's position. They're in the business of selling games and they need to come off as confident about what they do. Some of these guys have too big an ego and deserve to be taken down a few notches, but the fact remains that they do need to convey a certain level of confidence.

    I'll start by pointing out that I'd choose almost any game Nintendo has produced over Halo or anything else Bungie has developed. That said, I don't think Nintendo is the pinnacle of innovation like some incessantly claim. I like Nintendo's games not because they're innovative but because they're fun as hell. Nintendo knows what's fun almost better than anyone else. They know how to make a game that's balanced and engaging.

    But to call their games innovative is a stretch. The DS and Wii both have unique control devices, and I agree that some level of innovation was involved. However, I see both more as evolutions of the mouse and I think many of the games available for those platforms reflect that. Many of these feel like glorified Flash games.

    In fact, one of the reasons I like Nintendo is because of a sense of familiarity. Super Mario Bros, Mario Kart, Pokemon, etc don't really provide any innovation over past games, but I like that. I know what to expect and I know it's going to be good. If we're going to start looking at innovative games I think the best console to look at is the PS2. That system has countless innovative games some of which have even spurred the development of new genres.

    I think this is an important point because ultimately the implication behind Miyamoto's comment is that Halo is not innovative; it's a game anyone could make if they felt like it. Well, anyone could make that argument about anything Nintendo has made. Developing a good FPS isn't something that can just be cobbled together on a whim. Hell, Nintendo didn't even develop their own FPS, Metroid Prime. They had Retro Studios develop that game. So apparently, for one reason or another, they couldn't do it themselves even if they wanted to.

    I myself don't think Halo is anything special, in terms of gameplay anyway. But I will give them credit where it's due. One thing they did well is presentation. The game is well-paced and presents a story that's involving. And it provides a pleasant contrast to most other FPSs which are mono-chromatic and bland, at least visually. Bungie offered an FPS that didn't involve blasting demons, gang members or nazis.

    Perhaps anyone could make Halo, but the fact is that nobody else did. Just like anyone could make a Wiimote but nobody else did.
  • by BeansBaxter ( 918704 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:22PM (#19117969)

    Speaking ill of a legend like Miyamoto is not something I would do, and I think the guy at Bungie comes off a little arrogant for doing so.
    Here is his job title.

    I lead a small writing department that does game script, combat dialog, some of the Marvel graphic novel, the comic book series, the books, the marketing, whatever. Anything that involves writing.
    So who cares if a writer from Bungie pokes fun at making a side scrolling game involving unknown ethnicity plumbers? I think it is freek'n hilarious and I only buy Nintendo systems so I'm a fan boy.
  • by 7Prime ( 871679 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @02:51PM (#19118593) Homepage Journal
    Bingo. Sometimes things are popular because they appeal to the lowest common denominator, and sometimes things are popular because they're good. But many times, the popular things that are good are NOT popular because they're good... they're popular because of something else, but they just happen to be good, too. Beattles or Radiohead for instance (take your pick, they both follow similar paths), both started out as pretty generic brit pop bands, that got popular simply because they gave the audience exactly what they wanted. But then they grew with their audience in a way that few other bands did. Had Sgnt. Pepper been the Beattles' first, or had Kid A been Radiohead's first, no one would have ever listened.
  • by aichpvee ( 631243 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @03:44PM (#19119651) Journal
    I never said all, I said most. I think it's more than reasonable to say that most people who love Halo have had limited or no experience playing FPS games previous to playing Halo. Of course there are exceptions, but they are in a severe minority. It's pretty obvious from talking to people who like Halo that their love of the game almost without exception increases with their ignorance of the genre. I believe an objective study would back this up and I'm prepared to undertake it if someone wants to fund the project.

    It's also a possibility that they just have no experience playing FPS on a PC, where basically all good FPS games are released. Either way, it's a lack of perspective on the history of the genre that allows them to make the ridiculous claim that Halo is good, let alone great or groundbreaking or any of the other absurdities they use.

    This phenomenon is almost identical to that surrounding the FF7 fanaticism. At least in the US, and probably Europe as well. I'm not sure what can account for the Japanese obsession with it, since they clearly should know better (and do given their preference for Dragon Quest), but I'm not sure anyone is really supposed to understand Japanese tastes even some of the time, to say nothing of all the time.
  • by level99 ( 968745 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:06PM (#19120109)
    I'm a fairly accomplished FPS-gamer. I have participated on a high level in professional tournaments and placed in the top10 at major international tournaments a few times. Played with a Counter-Strike team that was considered top dog in my small European country for a long time, and before that competeted (for honor) in the Quake-series.

    And I consider GoldenEye to be the best FPS game I have ever played.. When I have discussed the game with the competitive gamers I know, no one has ever even mentioned the N64 joypad in the conversations - but almost everyone agreed the GoldenEye was either up there or hands down superior.

    I would say your observation about PC FPS-gamers as a whole is wrong.
  • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:08PM (#19120155)
    Not only was Miyamoto instrumental in moving the series to first-person, he was the one who insisted on all the wonderful details like when you see Samus' reflection in her visor when something explodes in front of you.

    Metroid Prime 3 is poised to be Nintendo's own Halo. The Wii is already on track to outsell the 360, and it's already crushed it in Japan. If Nintendo does the multiplayer right, they'll have a huge hit (remember that Nintendo's online play is free, unlike Xbox Live).

    I heard Halo 2 wasn't that great. I never played it, so I don't know, but I'm not sure Halo 3 is going to be as successful as it's being hyped. The 360 seems to get nothing but first-person shooters now, and the genre risks burnout on that console. Especially if Metroid Prime 3's remote-pointing control scheme turns out to be a huge hit.
  • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @04:41PM (#19120769)
    Halo, on the other hand, was just the latest iteration of a long line of FPS inspired by Doom and Wolfenstein 3D.

    But that's not to say it's not very, very influential. Look at how many post-Halo games restrict you to a realistic amount of weapons? Look at how many post-Halo games have a 'recharging' HP mechanism of some sort. Not to mention, Halo was the first game to really, really, truly nail down vehicle physics.

    Halo isn't a revolutionary game in the ecosystem of "all videogames." In the ecosystem of "first-person shooter games" I think it counts as revolutionary.
  • If he made an FPS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Captain Spam ( 66120 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @05:24PM (#19121467) Homepage
    Well, of course Miyamoto could make Halo. It's an FPS. Follow them back to History. getMisterIKnowMoreOldGamesThanYou(). getOldestFPSInMemory() and trace them forward through Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake, Unreal, and Halo, and you can pick out a fairly predictable evolutionary pattern. More graphics, "cooler" weapons, advance the engine a bit, make it more badass, good, print it, you've got a new FPS. That's not how Miyamoto does things.

    Of course, if he were to make an FPS, it'd probably wind up with an engine that supported jumping puzzles in a non-intrusive way (somehow he would; I'm not the design god here). And have a quirky sense of design, not the normal "I R SPACE MERC I KILL U" layout. And the weapons would be strange and unconventional, requiring more strategy than "get the biggest gun and kill things fasterer". And...

    Hang on a sec. That might rock. Miyamoto, please do design an FPS! That might be interesting!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 14, 2007 @06:14PM (#19122233)
    There are a couple of levels in Psychonauts like that - the Den Mother and the Lungfish.
  • by orclevegam ( 940336 ) on Monday May 14, 2007 @08:06PM (#19123619) Journal

    Except things like Ico or Shadow of the Colossus, eToy, Singstar and a heap load of other games.
    Those are all last generation games. The games themselves are not particularly innovative by any stretch of the imagination with the possible exception of the eToy, although that was very under-utilized. Also, anything third party can not count towards the merits of the actual Console, seeing as that was a decision made outside the control of the manufacturing company. I believe Sony did make the eToy, so they get credit for that one, but something like Guitar Hero was third party all the way, so no credit there.

    The Gamecube was quite a bit better then the PS2 and very close to the XBox, while being cheaper then both of them. What the Gamecube lacked where games, not graphic power.
    That may be from a technical perspective, I don't know, I haven't looked at the raw hardware specs. What I do know is, that games on PS2 had a lot more eye candy than on Gamecube. I could be that that was a choice by the developers to put that horsepower to use in other ways than graphics, but that's pure speculation.

    I think the realized two things: a) there is a market for casual gamer games b) you can make a hell of a lot more money with old hardware then with bleeding edge stuff
    Yes, I'm sure they did realize that, but they also realized the best way to bring in casual gamers was to embrace new and creative controls and game designs. Traditionally the primary target of console makers has been the hardcore gamer crowd that prefers a certain amount of depth or skill requirement in a game. Nintendo on the other hand has embraced a lighter less demanding skill set that often turns off more traditional gamers. In many ways the Gamecube was an experiment that Nintendo was using to try and fine tune the game experience to satisfy the largest quantity of both hardcore and casual gamers.

    Giving how they still don't have any online games on the Wii, very few on the DS and how they try to make life extra hard with friend codes, I don't think so. When they continue their current strategy online play will never be much interesting on Nintendo consoles.
    The latest consoles are still very young and Nintendo is a new player to the online gaming market. The fact that they have the store and web browser shows they are at least cognizant of the demand for online content, and they have made statements concerning online play in upcoming games. I'm not going to judge one way or the other on those games based on the previous offerings for the DS. The DS was a very different platform from the Wii, and the DS was also serving as a test bed for online play. It is true that if Nintendo goes with a roll your own architecture ala PS2 it will fail, and also if they insist on friend codes for any online play it will also fail. What would work most likely while preserving some of the features Nintendo seems to like would be lobby style random battles, while relying on the already existing Wii codes to allow people to find and play with specific friends.

    XBox360 is still #1
    In terms of raw sales atm yes. However two things to bear in mind are that they had a significant lead on both the Wii and PS3, and that supply for the Wii is still lagging behind demand. After everyone who wants a Wii has purchased one, and everyone that wants a 360 has purchased one, say in a years time, then we can see who has come out on top, until then, it's really anybodies game.
  • Re:Halo's popularity (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kooshman ( 248753 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @02:49AM (#19126775)
    I love how the whole context of the comment has been lost. This chain of comments gives the perfect example.

    First off, it's cute, using the statistics only for America. How about we re-run those numbers on a global market? Custom-designing your game to appeal much more to a narrower demographic is always going to give you more spectacular results. Try this one instead*: []

    Note how the Halos now have their asses kicked. Sure, they're still big sellers... but note how *most* of the games coming before Halo 2 are Miyamoto games. (this is where I'm getting back to the point)

    What Miyamoto's saying is that by concentrating on making really awesome, original games he keeps pumping out great games. Sure, he has the skill to make Yet Another Game, but so does every other game developer out there with two and a half brain cells to rub together. The top of the line pop studios (id, Bungie, etc.) do have better success rates, but they still have to compete with other plain-jane studios. He's saying that he's not aiming for the cheeseburger market. Sure, it provides a big hit or two... but note how most of the big hits are those revolutionary games. Even on a strictly numerical game, he's winning hands-down. Why don't more studios do that? They can't or they won't. He never actually insulted Halo-- only that Bungie was pursuing a saturated market.

    (*Also, how did Metroid Prime only ship 120K units in Japan? That doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. How accurate are these numbers?)
  • by bryan1945 ( 301828 ) on Tuesday May 15, 2007 @03:29AM (#19126953) Journal
    I think the word you want is "evolutionary". Refining things like how many weapons you can carry (say Resident Evil with it's 6 item inventory bag) is not revolutionary. Don't know about the HP charging, so this may be revolutionary. Changing aspects of a genre is not revolutionary, normally. If the new aspect completely reworks how you approach and play the game, then yes, but for the most part the improvement just evolve how the genre works.

    Disclaimer- I have not played Halo a lot.

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