GDC 07: Miyamoto keynote reveals design inspiration

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Andrew Yoon
March 8th, 2007
GDC 07: Miyamoto keynote reveals design inspiration
GDC 07: Miyamoto keynote reveals design inspiration

Shigeru "The Man" Miyamoto has just finished speaking at the GDC in San Francisco. A massive crowd waited for the famed Nintendo designer to discuss the inspirations behind his game designs. See how Mii evolved from early NES concept, and read about a brand new Wii channel that Miyamoto is working on. The full Nintendo Wii/DS Fanboy liveblogging transcript is available after the break.

The crowd continues to trickle in. This place will be PACKED.

More than thirty minutes late, Miyamoto is introduced: "Will Wright calls our next keynote speaker the Steven Spielberg of gaming ... the Steven Spielberg of games is about to arrive."

Miyamoto Mii appears, only to be replaced by the REAL ONE! Hurrah!

MIyamoto uses the Wii Photo Channel to show off pictures of his garden. Pikmin, hopefully?

Video games have gotten a bad reputation over the past few years thanks to today's best sellers. The media focuses on how video games are used for bad, and developers feel threatened. (Look at media's reaction to Wii Internet porn?)

Miyamoto likes making games for the family: his wife didn't like Ocarina of Time, for example, until their daughter started playing and enjoying the game.

The inspiration for Nintendogs came from the family's mutual appreciation of dogs. For you Miyamoto stalkers, their dog was named Pick, named after a guitar pick.

Games like Brain Age and Everybody Votes Channel (wait, that's not a game) come from these everyday inspirations: things that his family finds interest in.

Tools like the Nintendo Mii allow non-gamers like Miyamoto's wife to create their own gaming experiences. Once Miaymoto's wife comes up with a truly unique idea, Miyamoto can finally retire. (Let's hope she never comes up with a game idea!)

(The Wife-O-Meter at work; no, we're not kidding.)

"People need to discuss games and ideas at all times, even in the bathroom." Nintendo uses collaboration at all times to design their games and controllers. (Could a Wii Bathroom channel be far away?)

Obviously, third party companies were worried that the Wiimote would be too revolutionary: how could they bring their franchises to the platform? However, working with a remote-shaped controller truly highlighted the concept of balance: working on the Wii is like a dream come true.

Miyamoto is showing a museum where cards are built into touch screen panels on the floor. This "game" was designed in part by Nintendo, and it was great for Nintendo to be able to experiment with an interactive experience that didn't need to be restricted by the conventions of gaming.

Nintendo's ultimate goal is to make more people play games: and the Gamecube was only a half-step towards the vision. A giant green A button was to make games more accessible, but the traditional controller design was still too complicated for many.

The long lines at E3 for Wii made Miyamoto incredibly happy: they knew they had a hit on their hands!

The ultimate goal: "As an entertainer, I want [people] to be entertained." Corporate goals are important to focus on, but games are ultimately created by people, he notes.

Miyamoto looks back to the Nintendo DS launch, and happily remembers how joyed the early adopters were. Video plays of a girl squealing in ecstatic delight. The image of happy players is what's in Miyamoto's mind at all times. (Even when he showers!)

"Game developers often make the same mistakes." Miyamoto says that one should always be willing to take risks and delay a game when it's not ready: a technique that Miyamoto (and Nintendo as a whole) is all too familiar with.

Wii Sports is an important game for gamers because not only is it fun, but it allows gamers to finally play with non-gamers. (Didn't you have fun boxing your mom?)

Miyamoto suggests that a new category be implemented into game reviews: how much non-gamers will enjoy them. That way, titles like Wii Play will be able to get better reviews!

The original Zelda prototype didn't go well in Japan: people were confused about what they had to do. Taking away the sword in the beginning was a surprising move that helped people understand the game.

Early Mii prototypes actually looked even less realistic than they do now: they looked like wooden Japanese dolls. The goal of the Mii was to create a unique form of "realism," one that doesn't necessarily reflect the real world persay.

Wii Sports originally had Mario characters, but people actually preferred the Mii. Miyamoto hopes to have a more "realistic" baseball title in the future. One that actually includes base running, perhaps?

The Famicom (NES) disk drive exemplifies "tenacity." It allowed you to draw your own face. "How could this be a game," Miyamoto was asked. "It would be a very fun idea," he responded.

The 64DD (!) is being shown, with 3D character models that are being manipulated (includes polygonal Yamuachi!). Looks a lot like Mii, but slightly more "realistic" (and a lot more blurry).

"You guys are useless," Miyamoto once told his team. "They don't appreciate me that much," he reveals. However, he's frustrated at himself for taking so long to create something of value with the face creation system (how many console generations did this span?!). Miyamoto didn't want the program to be too complex, hoping people would have fun spending time crafting their Mii: it didn't have to be a game, but just a fun experience.

Megaton! Miyamoto is working on new Wii channel, allowing people to hold popularity contests.

More megaton! "Most of you have already played Mario 128. It's in Pikmin ... But it's also in Super Mario Galaxy." The spherical stages of Super Mario Galaxy are a sign of that, he says. Now, a video of Super Mario Galaxy is playing!

"You've give me a lot of faith about the future of our industry."

Truly successful games will break out of the current industry trend and reach whole new people: gaming will become part of the greater culture as a whole. "We must always remember the human touch. After all, if we can convert my wife, we can convert anyone, right?"
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