Here are a few interviews of Shigeru Miyamoto at his visits around Europe. Thanks to GameCube Europe for the interviews.
In Milan Miyamoto-san took questions from the Italian site nextgame.it at the opening of Nintendos Italian arm. It`s a great read, but when Miyamoto speaks it always is, isn`t it? Read on!
Nextgame.it: For the first time in Nintendo's history a new console is launched without a "Mario game". Don't you think Nintendo fans will miss the presence of Nintendo's strongest character?
Shigeru Miyamoto: I hope gamers still love Mario as I do, but with the launch of GameCube was our intention to introduce a something new in videogame's world. Beside of shape, design, price of the machine, we wanted to have something new in the software line-up as well. Mario Sunshine, the first "Mario Game" dedicated to the GameCube, will hit the streets a little later, by now you can play with his brother Luigi, who continues the "family" tradition with the usual game quality.
Nextgame.it: Talking about design, which are the ideas on which you created the GameCube?
Shigeru Miyamoto: GameCube's design is pretty peculiar, different from what we are in the habit to see in a gaming console. First thing we had in mind was the evolution of videogaming itself: the reduced size of the GameCube allows you to carry it form room to room quite easily. Every family has at least two TV-sets at home, and it is very easy to bring the GameCube from the living-room to the sleeping-room, if you want, not to consider a friend's place. We looked for simplicity and practicalness: GameCube wants to be a console that fits all the family, from the youngsters to the elders. Another main issue we considered was the gamepad: I don't want to appear self-important, but I was the first to put four buttons on the right hand of the pad, when I designed the Super Nes controller and Sega, Sony and now even Microsoft have followed that idea. I don't want to state they copied from us, but it is obvious that the four buttons became a standard.
Now I have decided to renounce this shape (I invented it and I can afford to renounce it - smiles); I wanted to focus on the immediate recognition of the main button on the joypad. In SNES it was the "A" button, in the GameCube it is the green one. It is pleasant to the touch and the player is immediately aware what button is the most important one, the main control between him and what permits him to interact, for example, with Mario. A concept linked, again, to sempicity and directness.
Nextgame.it: Let's talk about the next Zelda: why did you decide for the Cel-Shaded engine? It seems the videogamers split in two parties, and half of them didn't appreciate the idea. Are you planning to change the visual of the game because of this?
Shigeru Miyamoto: I think it's not wise to talk about something before having the chance to test it. Only playing you can judge a game and, after E3 2002, when you all will be able to play with the new Zelda, we will talk again about it.
Nextgame.it: Nintendo Difference: even Peter Main called this difference as the key of the future of videogaming. What do you think about it?
Shigeru Miyamoto: We learned that we can't make the run on technology. Well, it is obvious that new consoles are more and more advanced, but it is the fun, the simplicity the real way that a game (and, consequentially, a console) has to follow to be successful. Too often gaming people forget that the player, beside the graphics, wants to be a part of the game and feel the depth of it. To improve the visual quality we have today we need to invest loads of money to achieve very little gains, that only very expert players or over-particular journalists will notice, and these efforts would not give any advantage to the game itself. By now we think the main goal in the world of videogames is to make the technology cheap and the price of the GameCube is a proof of that. The hardware if the console is important, but to make it affordable to anyone it is better to focus on creativity and originality rather on a super CPU that will make the price too high.
Nextgame.it: Creativity: we often say that videogames lack of it, that nowadays games are not innovative as in the past. Is the creative market in crisis?
Shigeru Miyamoto: (Smiles...) I must say I have no such problems, I keep having hundreds of ideas... I think one of the reasons of the lack of creativity by the new developers is the fact that, unlike in the past, lots of them grew up playing and the first thing they do, designing a game, is to be inspired by what they found funny when they were young. Inclination to the schemes of the past is a natural consequence. We at Nintendo want to give the young developers the chance to create new games, freeing them from their memories, and to achieve that we must provide them a good hardware. Just with a console that doesn't limit him, a designer can fly with his fantasy. When a designer stops thinking about technology and starts to put his resources in gameplay and pure creativity he has achieved his goal. That's why we teach boys who join Nintendo to forget the hardware and think in a more abstract direction. The development of the hardware needed to make them possible to create their visions is a task due to Nintendo's engineers.
Nextgame.it: Is all this competition in the console market a good thing for software houses?
Shigeru Miyamoto: It is certainly a good thing that the market has now more manufacturers involved in, mainly for the gamers that will witness price reduction. Even software house can benefit of that, having to measure-up with different consoles they can improve their development knowledge: the Know-How is very important for a software house. I think, anyway, that in the future videogaming will move towards the pure and simple fun... I can't say we have seen everything already, but I'm sure we won't see the huge accelerations we witnessed in the past years: things are going to change, but in a slowest way.
Nextgame.it: What do you think of the online gaming, considering the launch of Phantasy Star Online for the GameCube?
Shigeru Miyamoto: Online gaming is a "must" topic these days, as it is linked to the boom of the Net. We need to start with some consideration: how many users can have it, how many are going to pay a monthly fee to play, how many can use broadband. Previsions say that in 2005, three years from today, just 20% of european families will have access to broadband: a game like Zelda for Nintendo 64 sold six million copies all over the world, developing a similar game just for online gaming will cut the overall income. The investments to create a game are now enormous, we need to consider benefits and flaws before starting to develop such a project. This doesn't mean GameCube is not ready for the online gaming, broad or narrow band: we wanted to create a console able to satisfy the need of every player, but simply I believe it's too soon to talk about online gaming, even if it is very fashionable nowadays. Phantasy Star Online by Sega has been chosen because they have experience in the field, the know better than us how to do these kind of things, so we will take a good advantage from this cooperation and we will be able to understand this new trend better.
Nextgame.it: Sega abandoned hardware to became a development team, and it is said that Sonic Team is strongly linked to Nintendo. Is in your intentions to "adopt" a character like Sonic as a Nintendo exclusive?
Shigeru Miyamoto: Our relationship with Sega is not different from the ones we have with other third parties. They develop software and in the moment we find it interesting for our console we try a way to obtain it. Nothing more.
Nextgame.it: Nintendo has the image of the developer who created games for the youngsters. Now with Eternal Darkness and Resident Evil the attitude has changed. Why?
Shigeru Miyamoto: Videogames' market has changed: games were exclusively made for the youngsters in the past, now even the adults like to play. It is logical to develop games for that kind of audience. As I said, the GameCube wants to be a console for the family, a entertainment media capable to satisfy everyone, from the child to the grandfather.
Nextgame.it: As in the past, you decided to choose a different media, the mini-DVD, while your competitors choose a more common platform. Is there a particular reason, maybe to be found in the royalties due to Nintendo?
Shigeru Miyamoto: We choose to develop a different media because we though it fits our console better. First of all to keep little size, then because our media is much more efficient than a normal CD, seek times are very short. Piracy was something of our concern, too: it is one of the main problems of entertainment and we hope our Mini CD will make pirates' life very difficult.
Nextgame.it: A lot of people think that a videogame, like a movie, can be considered a piece of art. What do you think about it?
Shigeru Miyamoto: Creating a form of entertainment can't be considered art, real artists are others. I don't consider myself an artist, for example, it would be insulting towards real ones.
After yesterdays Nextgame.it interview with the great man himself comes this interview from Swedish game site FragZone. Enjoy!
FragZone: Metroid Prime became an FPS, is it because you want to target the American demographic and compete with Halo?
Shigeru Miyamoto: Metroid Prime is created for me to like it, but it has a little more amerikan action than before.
FragZone: Why no Mario game with the release of GameCube?
Shigeru Miyamoto: Many people criticise Nintendo and claims that we only are Mario and Zelda. We have to show diversity and we do that through our unique titles.
FragZone: It had nothing to do with the timelimit?
Shigeru Miyamoto: No, however now we have all the time in the world to make Mario Sunshine a great game. It will be sort of a sequal to Mario 64, not a direct one though - we will have alot of new things that seperates them and makes each and one unique.
FragZone: You "flirt with the older gamers", is it because of the criticism that you only make kiddie games?
Shigeru Miyamoto: We have more titles for a older demographic than before. However, Mario has not been targeted towards kids, we make games for everyone. We do not exclude any thinkable gamer.
FragZone: The games will probably be more violent with the older demographic, what is your opinion on violence in games?
Shigeru Miyamoto: A tough question. Games exists only to entertain and violence is one of the ingridients. Violence is one way to go, to capture the gamers interest through drama is alot harder. Since we represent interactive media, we have to be more careful, since the player controls the action. It's not like watching a movie where you can't control the outcome, it's the gamer that makes things happen.
Iwata cuts in and says it's important that the consumer knows that a product contains violence before buying it.
Miyamoto continues: So it's important that the boxes has the age ratings on them. In the end it is up to the parents to inform and set the limits. My parents forbid me to whats some tv-shows when I was a child.
Then you can only hope that kids don't just play one type of games, but many different types. But they need to get in touch with things in reality to understands what hurts and so on.
FragZone: Resident Evil is GameCube exclusive - How did that happen?
Shigeru Miyamoto: I took a stranglehold on Shinji Mikami (Capcom) and said that if it doesn't become exclusive... haha, no, just kidding. It was actually Shinji Mikami who called me and talked about the game, he considered that GameCube was the best console for it, but was worried that it would be too violent for Nintendo. I told him that violence was not a factor and you can do whatever you want.
When you make a game for one console it becomes optimised for it, when you make a game for several consoles you have to use the worse one as a "base" and that makes the game not live up to its fullest potential. That was the strongest reason for Resident Evil to become exclusive to GameCube, it's just fitted the best on GameCube.
FragZone: What are your thoughts on online-gaming and the GameCube?
Shigeru Miyamoto: Every new function makes a game harder to reach the casual gamers, it's something you have to think about. You can't just go home and start playing, like you usually can with a videogame. You have to connect to the internet and there will be more costs to connect and so on. If you demand broadband it becomes even harder, it's estimated that 20% of the households will have broadband the year 2005. Many people feel that it's more important that a game is online than that you're able to play four players on the same screen. Online shouldn't be the only thing in a product, instead it should only be one of the ingridients. Online-gaming has the potential to become what 3D became when 2D was the standard, but just like a game isn't good just because it's 3D, it isn't good just because it's online. It takes more.
We're waiting for the right time for online and right now we're going for other types of entertainment such as the ability to link Gameboy Advance with the GameCube.
FragZone: Does this mean that you'll exclude it because it's commercial?
No, we don't exclude anything because it's not commercial, but it gets some limits considering it's gets a small developementdivision.
FragZone: Speaking of time, do you have time to be innovative nowadays?
Shigeru Miyamoto: I am mostly a gameproducer since it's so many games I supervise, but I have always a couple of games where I am a bit more involved in as a director. Also there it often happens that I take the role as the proudcer.Everyone here is already under alot of pressure so sometimes I just work as a sort of support.
FragZone: How important is creativity?
Shigeru Miyamoto: It's a combination of many talents that make you succeed, not that you're only one. Everyone can be creative.
FragZone: Graphics are everyones property, every console can show beautiful graphics, what is your philosophy about that?
Shigeru Miyamoto: For a period of time, graphics were the most important thing bu now it has - considering a certain level has been reached - become more important with content. A combination of both is the best. Nintendo encourages our developers to spend more time on the content than the graphics.
FragZone: How important is character, graphics and story and everything else in a game?
Shigeru Miyamoto: I can't answer that, but the gameplay is always the most important. I always put the least priority into story.
FragZone: You are pioneering and is often the one who developes completely new concepts, how does it feel when you have developed something for a long time and then someone blatantly copies it straight off?
Shigeru Miyamoto: Doesn't bother me too much. But it's a delicate question. Sometimes when I suggest new ideas to me colleagues I get the answer "That's already in that game". Mario Kart was the title I had in mind when I thought of the many copies. Mario Kart is unique. The next Mario Kart has to change alot since it's a used concept by now.
FragZone: Why did you choose to create a little bit odd media for GameCube?
Shigeru Miyamoto: Nintendo makes above all software and we have to be a step ahead. We've chosen to optimise the media, both because of to minimse the cost of the material, but also to minimise the disc burning. So it's good in many ways. Plus it loads really fast. We also send out the message to developers that they don't have to fill every tracks on the disc.
FragZone: Which games are you looking forward to for GameCube?
Shigeru Miyamoto: Personally I'm looking forward to Mario Sunshine and Legend of Zelda.
FragZone: Mario - do you have any similarity with him?
Shigeru Miyamoto: He is a hard working man, who isn't that smart nor attractive. So there might be some similarity.
FragZone: Punch Out - Will there be more games in the series?
Iwata answers the question completly without an interpreter and laughs a little when he tells that there is a hardwaredeveloper who were behind Punch Out and it's the same man who's behind GameCube. I answer quickly with " so he's been busy with other things" and Iwata laughs again. Iwata continues with that there will be more games in the series but he doesn't know when or to what system.
FragZone: What are you doing on the mobilefront?
Shigeru Miyamoto: I don't think that you can make a good game yet. They can't compare with Gameboy Advance. That's why we don't have any plans currently or in the close future. But, you never know what happens beyond that.
FragZone: The car says alot about its owner - what kind of car do you drive?
Shigeru Miyamoto: (Miyamoto, Iwata and the interpreter laughs - alot and for a long time. Not a usual question to the creator of Mario). I have a Nissan Serena, it's a familycar with seats for seven people.
FragZone: Are you nervous about the Europe-release of GameCube?
Shigeru Miyamoto: No, we have alot of confidence about that release. From day one we will have a very strong flow of games. However, we are sorry that we couldn't release the console any earlier.
FragZone: The natural question; Why should you buy a GameCube in May?
Shigeru Miyamoto: The GameCube is created for the gamer. Many developers claims that GameCube is the easiest console to develope for and because of that, you can make the games as good as possbile. Plus it's the cheapest one on the market.
Thanks to Planet Gamecube for the interview!
Miyamoto continues his European tour with a trip to Paris and yet another interview!
Question: Have you viewed the petition about your new Zelda?
Miyamoto: I am well aware of the internet petition. Of course I listen to the opinions of others but a realistic Zelda would cause problems, in particular if one wants to make a connection between GameCube and Game Boy Advance. What role does realism play in videogames I ask myself. Is this image more interesting? Sometimes.. however, what if a "detailed" hand with 5 fingers is catching a bottle but the fingers pass right through it? Is this still realistic? Rather than to show each meticulous and tiny detail of a finger, it is more important to make the end action look more credible by working on the movement and functionality of the arms and the hand in relation to the object.
Question: How was your childhood?
Miyamoto: As a child I drew cartoons and manufactured puppets. I played at the arcades a lot and I was known at the time to be very good at Space Invaders (Laughter). I worked 4 or 5 years at Nintendo before starting to make videogames. One day I thought of Donkey Kong...
Question: How do you feel about Sega going third party?
Miyamoto: Now that we work with Sega I can finally speak freely about game design with them, in particular with Yuji Naka of Sonic Team.
Question: Has anyone ever asked you to leave Nintendo and join their company?
Miyamoto: Yes, I sometimes get proposals to work in other companies, but I do not say anything to my company (laughter). Nintendo is the company which makes the most innovative products. I am not sure that I would be able to make games like that elsewhere. At Nintendo I can make the games which I want (laughter).
Question: Are you rich?
Miyamoto: Rich? I don't know.. I don't wear very luxurious clothing (laughter). The money which I earn is mainly dedicated to video games and I am very content.
Question: What do you think of Xbox?
Miyamoto: Xbox is a nice machine, but the control pad is really very large and uncomfortable. You know, Japanese don't even carry shoes in their house, they do not like bulky things in their homes. (laughter). Look at the GameCube, it is practical!
Question: Who are your games aimed at?
Miyamoto: Everyone! People can say "Mario is only played by the children" but actually I did it for an audience much larger. Pikmin is conceived to be simple and "innocent" but it was made to be appropriate for all the public. I am happy that Pikmin touched the hearts of so many."
Question: Are you developing a Pikmin sequel?
Miyamoto: It would be simple to develop a sequel to Pikmin. (Jokingly) All we would have to do is change the story and make new maps, right?(laughter). I am currently working on something completely different, but you will never see black Pikmin! (laugh).
Question: Will Europe get a good supply of quality games this year?
Miyamoto: Our philosophy concerning quality has not changed since the Nintendo 64, but by increasing our internal teams of developers and by having more producers to supervise the external developers, we will indeed be able to release lots of titles in the coming months.
Question: Do you let your children test future games?
Miyamoto: No, my children do not test my early games. We never reveal any confidential information to children. Never! (laughter) It was only after Pikmin was announced that my children realised the name came from an instrument I play the guitar with at home - a pick.
Question: Do you ever play games with your children?
Miyamoto: Yes, I often play with my children, but I don't always win, especially not in Smash Brothers Melee! I didn't want my children to buy GameCube (laughter), I preferred to get it myself so that I am able to supervise how long they play.
Miyamoto: Before I leave I would like to say I intended to say that in Japan Nintendo, Sega and Namco has announced their collaboration to make the the GameCube arcade board, Triforce. You know, I am really very pleased to say that all the developers are very happy to work with the hardware. It is so easy!
Thanks to Cloudchaser for the translation.
Shigeru made his final European visit today and the destination was London. Mario Sunshine, Metroid Prime, Star Fox Adventures and Eternal Darkness were all shown in video form before his speech to a crowd of eager journalists.
The Mario Sunshine footage looked lush. Yoshi was shown in the movie, but why he was present is not known. Mario was shown swinging on bars, and the familiar mesh fences from Super Mario World made a welcome appearance. A Star Fox trailer was shown depicting a bareback dragon-riding scene, and underground racing through a mine shaft. A mini game perhaps? Never-seen-before footage from Metroid Prime was then shown, with great action and amazing graphics. Silicon Knights' Eternal Darkness was then previewed, and as expected it looked sensational.
Here's the full transcript:
Miyamoto - When we came to Europe we wanted to be able to show something we haven't yet shown and we believe we'll be able to introduce all these four titles by the end of this year all around the world. Some of them may be late, but that is our hope.
Are you at all interested in working with the new Triforce arcade hardware and what possibilities do you feel it offers?
Miyamoto - I actually don't know to what extent I can talk about this, but just to start with a little about Triforce: Triforce is a name of the printed circuit-board for an arcade machine, a joint project between Nintendo, Namco, and our old arch enemy, Sega. We recently made the joint announcement.
Triforce is, of course, the name of an item in The Legend of Zelda. The meaning of it is three forces coming together to become a big power. But the fact that three companies have made the announcement does not mean that other companies are not going to use the system: we believe that Capcom and other companies are going to make use of Triforce.
As a matter of fact, although we have only just announced it, negotiations and development have been going on for a very long time, so that it could be completed in order for our software titles will run at the arcade centre, making use of Triforce. Sometime in March or April, a series of announcements will be made, revealing several software titles that will make use of the hardware - you will be surprised by some of the names there. And needless to say, arcade developer Sega is going to make a number of titles. As for the CPU and graphics chip in the GameCube, these are the ones actually used in the Triforce circuit board.
I think this signifies three important points: Firstly, from long experience of creating arcade games, Namco and Sega understood that the GameCube technology is good enough to make this type of game, and that it's easy and efficient enough to make their software. Of course, its low cost has been taken into consideration. Another important point is that whatever software is made for Triforce will be readily available for GameCube. Thirdly, wait for the announcement in March or April: I'm sure it will surprise you quite a lot.
Excluding your own projects, which GameCube titles are you most impressed by?
Miyamoto - That's a very difficult question to answer as I always try to refrain from making comments on other people's work. I believe Star Wars on Gamecube is much better than its predecessor. Nintendo really wants a good variety of software for Gamecube at this time.
We've also been having conversations with Mr Shinji Mikami, for the line-up of Gamecube software I appreciate the production of titles such as Resident Evil.
You repeatedly stressed that you're trying to move away from the kiddy image, to move away towards an image of GameCubes for everybody, and you've attracted games like Resident Evil and Eternal Darkness; more mature content. This message still doesn't seem to be getting through to developers. Developers that are bringing games across all platforms are still saying that when they bring it out on GameCube they're going to dumb the content down, take out more mature elements. This is obviously going to put potential buyers off. What are you opinions on this?
I often talk with developers, and when they are attempting to decide if they are going to make software for the Nintendo platform, they intentionally try to make it childish sometimes as they think they can sell a lot more software to children. Also, whenever we are having talks with licensees, we make a point in asking them, "Please, you must make something suited for Nintendo". When we are saying we want to have something unique for Nintendo, they obviously mistake it and think Nintendo want some childish-looking games. We are still having meetings with licensees, with companies such as Sega. They often say, "Yes, we wanted to make more adult oriented games, other than making characters look childish," I say, "Yeah, actually that's what we really wanted all the time." From the point of view of first-party of Nintendo licensees, Nintendo really has a responsibility to expand its hardware to much wider audiences. Even in Nintendo first-party titles we are trying to expand.
So when I'm talking about what's unique about Nintendo, it's not childish software but rather with things like the connectivity with the Game Boy Advance.
Rumour's been escalating in the last few months that your GameCube development will be focusing on shorter games like Luigi's Mansion or Pikmin. Is this true?
Miyamoto - I think that judging play time depends on the concept of each game. Like with Luigi's Mansion, once you are through to the end, it's the end of the game; Luigi's Mansion is that kind of story-telling genre. In Pikmin, however, I think players are divided into two groups. As soon members of the first group are finished they quit, but the others are people that try and try and try the 10 courses. I made Pikmin in the hope that each player will play it at least three times. Rather than increasing the skill or expanding the play time, we should concentrate more on making unique games by working with a small group of developers.
As for the next Legend of Zelda, it's going to be a relatively big team. For Mario Sunshine I think it's likely to be made by a relatively small team, but it's going to be made to make you play again and again.
What's your impression of the release of the GameCube in Europe?
Miyamoto - First of all, we were going to launch the GameCube in March in Europe, but this would have put us in a disadvantageous position. The only reason we delayed the launch was that we wanted to prepare the right amount of hardware, and by delaying the launch to May we are now trying to store enough inventory. On day one we are trying to ship 500,000 units of GameCube across Europe. Within two months we expect to ship 1 million units in Europe.
I think we're better prepared for the launch of the next console in Europe than anywhere else. For one thing there are the software titles. We shall be able to prepare 20 titles for day one in Europe.
I was involved in the hardware design of this product too, and I myself designed this hardware with a wish that this is going to be played by all family members, from small children to older people, small children and their grandparents. And we really want GameCube to become the platform where unique games are going to be introduced. We made the hardware design and architecture so that it will become the most accepted machine for developers to make software for.
So when developers are making the software for GameCube they are going to appreciate the best possible performance of a videogame while they can have the other function of connectivity. As you can tell it is compact and light. We were selling software on ROM cartridges, but now we are adapting to providing games on small-sized discs. We have able to realise a very sweet reaction between the hardware and the software this time, so I think we've made a convenient development platform.
Needless to say, it's at the lowest price-point in the market.
To start with in Europe we are going to introduce lilac and black GameCubes, but because we really want as many people as possible to play with Nintendo GameCube, we are soon going to add an orange colour. We are planning to increase the colours later on. I think the compact body with a variety of colours will be suited to the tastes of Europe, rather than a back gigantic body.
Most GameCube owners are looking forward to Mario Kart. How is work going and what difficulties have you had improving the formula?
Miyamoto - We've been having a series of meetings about what to do with Mario Kart on GameCube. We have almost come to a decision as to what drastic change to make to the basics of the past Mario Kart games. All I can tell you is that we are hopeful that we can show something early next year.
How are you making sure that third party developers will make full use of the GC's unique controller and the networked GBA aspects?
Miyamoto - First of all, the Nintendo GameCube has very appealing features - the inter-connectivity, good controllers - but we are always happy for others to come up with very good ideas or situations to make use of them. Everybody nowadays is interested in network gaming. People are taking great interest in the connectivity between GameCube and GBA right now and we are intending to include many applications of our own.
The internal mission at Nintendo is to educate the audience and the game player as to what combinations of connectivity are available. Licencees will then find it easier to sell applications with connectivity. For Nintendo it's a big responsibility to expand the possibilities and the environment for new games in Japan. This is something we can do by ourselves.
How important is it for Nintendo to have its own hardware? Would it be better for Nintendo to become like Sega and become software licencees and developers only?
Miyamoto - It's a difficult question to answer but Nintendo is making hardware in order to make software. The videogame industry has become mainstream, and people often regard it is primarily a software-selling industry. In other words, all you have to do is make the programs and sell them. Period. But Nintendo has a different opinion. We, of course, are selling the games of Konami [and others], but that's just one aspect of our business. Nintendo's main business is to provide the world with unique entertainment.
I had a mentor [Don't ask us who, because we don't know – Ed] in my office in the past, and when I told her I had the word artist on my business card he scolded me. Now what we are doing is a business of glamour. If you put a business title on your card you will contain constrain the possibilities.
Nintendo was traditionally a playing card company, now Nintendo makes playing cards on which certain barcodes are printed and by letting the card be read by a special barcode reader, certain information will appear on GBA games.
How do you think that Hiroshi Yamauchi's [Nintendo Japan's president]retirement will affect Nintendo's future?
Miyamoto - I really don't know. For example, after his retirement, it'll matter how much influence he attempts to put on Nintendo. By now we have learnt quite a lot from him regarding the way Nintendo should be operated. So even after he retires his influence will be felt dearly by the company. Perhaps though we will be a lot freer in terms of design after he's gone. Please don't write that! [laughs]
Sony has announced its plans for online gaming. When will you announce yours?
Miyamoto - This is being explored along the same lines as other connectivity issues such as between GBA and GameCube and making four-player games for GameCube. Putting a game online doesn't necessarily mean it will become any more interesting than it already is. I think there is a definite danger that combined network gaming can become a permanent escape from reality for the game developer. They become stuck with making new ideas, always thinking about making online games next time, so that the present offline games suffer. Once you have made one single online networked game you can't easily go on to the next project. You have to keep watching the game's progress; in other words you end up doing maintenance. For example, in Japan it seems as though role-playing games are selling very well but in reality it's just Final Fantasy that is selling well in the market. So even if you are talking about online networking games, if you have a monthly subscription fee you just can't tell how much software you have to create to begin with, and how many companies can get a profit.
Also, as I said before, Nintendo cannot guarantee 100 percent about the networking environment and we guess that by 2005 only around 20 percent of European households will have access to broadband. Nintendo cannot afford to program for only 20 percent of households when we have the possibility to sell to 100 percent of them with non-networked games. Also we wish to provide a wide range of people with a variety of new entertainment, from small children to very old people. With online networked games, that's just one type of person.
For the software, I have already made so many games by connecting four GBAs together or by using four controllers on the GameCube.
We could make a Pikmin online game.
We are ready to go onto the online networks, but having said that we do not believe that all future gaming shall be played online.
How do you take the reaction to the cartoon Zelda and do you believe that what you have to offer is relevant to what the majority of gamers want regarding realistic games?
Miyamoto - I think that we are exploring certain types of reality, but I believe that games should be judged by playing them not by mere appearances. That's why I have not brought the latest videotape of Zelda footage with me. We are going to exhibit the Legend of Zelda gameplay at the E3 show this year.
In the third-party development disclaimer for GBA it has a detailed section on infra-red communication. Will that be a feature on the new model?
Miyamoto - We don't have anything along those lines planned. Always we are working on many different ideas and projects when it comes to connecting the technology sides of applications.
Do you think gaming has a positive effect on society?
Miyamoto - I don't know. When I was a small child I was the kind of kid who was deeply into reading comics. At that time Manga was becoming big amongst children. Also Japanese TV stations started broadcasting Manga programs. But then after a while I became so addicted to cartoons that I started drawing them myself. I became quite good at it and that led to where I am now, making games. So looking backwards, what was good about that time was that my parents gave me guidance saying that I should not read cartoons all the time. So they restricted the time I could read them, but I also tried to sneak a look. But I wasn't always reading them all the time. I was also into fishing, I played baseball and tried to play outside a lot. I believe it is most important for children is to have many experiences. The use of games are a type of media is something we should consider carefully. If you ask specifically my attitude as a game designer, then I'm always trying to make my games carefully designed so that a game-player can be forced to think about many different ideas throughout the game. That's the beauty of an interactive medium like videogames.
Because of the length of time it took to announce GameCube's European launch date, sometimes European gamers view Europe as less important than either America or Japan: can you reassure us that Nintendo loves us?
Miyamoto - I'm very sorry, and that's why I'm actually here today. I have visited Germany, Spain Italy, France and now England, in order to talk to European people directly along with Mr. Iwata. However, just a few days ago, his father-in-law unfortunately passed away so he had to return home. He was very sorry, and left a message saying he really wanted to be in the UK today.
I really want people around the world to enjoy Nintendo games equally, and in order to do so we are now setting up a system whereby each software developer is having a dialogue with different people in charge of localisation. In order to have an efficient localisation process, we have already set up such a facility in Europe where people working on localisation are getting together to produce quality products.
In the past you've been very reluctant to describe what you do as art. How do you feel about other people describing what you do as art?
Miyamoto - Somewhere in our minds in the games industry we have a kind of inferiority complex compared to people working on art and people working in the movie industry.
Parents are often feel comfortable by watching their children watching Disney movies, but they always tend to become worried about children playing with Nintendo video games, so in the past I've always thought that I should make software that parents feel comfortable with whenever they see their children playing.
How critical is the lack of a DVD player in GameCube, and does the size of the disc restrict the potential for building bigger games in the future?
Miyamoto - If you look at gameplay aspects and gaming experience, we've come up with the best hardware ever with the Nintendo GameCube system.
These kind of hardware devices [DVD-playing consoles] are destined to be broken and will need repairing: even if your gameplay system is OK, if your DVD system playback is out of order you'll have to get it repaired which can cost a lot of money.
And look at the small, compact size of the Nintendo GameCube - once again we wanted to make something for all ages, so even small children can handle it easily, and small hands can carry this disc easily. Also, when it comes to the accessing time for the media this is quite good in comparison: for example, in order to access a bigger disc, you need more power.
Another key point is with copy protection, which I think is one of the biggest issues in Europe. From a game making point of view, game creators are now going to receive money that they are credited for: the customised optical disc offers strong protection against copyright infringement.
Unfortunately, in some cases you may need two optical discs to play a game like Resident Evil, but for the majority of the games, one disc is enough. A problem is that people seem to demand realistic graphics from software: I'm not convinced that by relying on this the game can be any good. I'm not sure if it's the whole world demanding realistic graphics or just a limited number of games players, but some developers are in the mind-set that they feel threatened by the world into making realistic gameplay right now.
Therefore, they just cannot afford the time to make unique software because they feel the pressure to make realistic games and are obsessed with graphics. In the end they cannot recoup their investment in the game. So, in a way the smaller disc is a message from Nintendo that you don't need to fill out the capacity of a normal sized DVD disc. If we want to make larger software, then we just make the game on two or three discs.
Thanks to Computer and Videogames for the transcript.