Q:Are you finding it harder going from N64 to Gamecube than from SNES to N64?
A:That's a good question. As we move from one format to the next it's my job to take advantage of that new system's capabilities. But to explain the life of Nintendo, going from NES to SNES we were working with the same elements - going from 8bit to 16bit, staying in 2D. We were just able to do more in the same framework than we could before. Whereas going from the SNES to the N64 we were going from a 2D word to a 3D world and we had to completely start everything over. It took a lot of energy, everything had to change. It took a lot of time. I think that change was really drastic for us.
This time around - going from the N64 to the Gamecube - were going from a 3D platform to another 3D platform so it's more like the move from the NES to the SNES. They're both within the same basic framework - only we can do a lot more.
So in terms of gameplay when we went from 2D to 3D it was really exciting, it had a of appeal for me personally to grow the game in that manner, and I think it had a lot of appeal for the customers too, to be able to experience these brand new lush worlds. But really I think we've got to a point where the capabilities of the new system the 3D world is just one option in the world of creating meaningful and creative gameplay. The period where '3D world = value' for the customer is over. It doesn't have the freshness that it had before and now it's really just one option in many for creating these kinds of fun in games.
If you look at human history games themselves and playing itself haven't really changed a whole lot over time. But as for computer games we have seen a lot of new developments a lot of new gameplay, we've added to it. But I think that one of the problems is because of the demand and markets game developers don't have the time to spend thinking of new ideas and thinking of ways to integrate them into games. They feel that they're being pressed to get them done and pressed to get things out. It would be nice to give them a bit more freedom and that's what we want to do.
A lot of people consider hardware to be the internal components of the machine itself to me the hardware really is the system as a whole - including the controller and how that interacts with the game. Like the Game Boy Advance and how you can link that up. We've been planning for this since back in the days of he N64. These are the kind of things that I plan for and work with.
I think we've seen - repeatedly, over and over - the capabilities of the hardware systems dramatically increasing. And now we've seen it again here and we'll see it again in the future - you're going to get machines much more powerful that what we have here. Really I think that - and we're lucky that we've caught this when we have - we're at a stage where developers competing to maximise the capabilities of a system are finding that the development costs and the rewards that can be reached from those costs in terms of sales no longer match. It's become so expensive to fully maximise the power of the system that you can no longer take the types of risks and challenges that you need for innovation.
We're lucky that we've noticed this when we have and so really the challenge for us is to find that new key and what it is that's going to be able to create these games simply and have them packed full of fun and entertainment in a way that they are going to sell to the masses. And that's a role that all game designers are going to have to take in this next generation and it's hard to say what that 'key' is going to be right now.
I wouldn't want others to imitate the size or volume of the game. I hope that they'll concentrate on improving the quality of the games. We haven't done anything special in Ocarina of Time, we've just made use of the N64 technology. As long as you have proper knowledge of the N64's technology, you shouldn't have to concern yourself with making a game of this caliber in terms of sheer size and volume.
I myself wanted to be a cartoonist at first, so I was reading a lot of cartoons. I was imitating some others' works and made up my own stories at first. If you want to become a game artist, it's good if you play games and make up your own ideas. Regardless of the subject, you have to come up with something on your own, whether you're drawing pictures or cartoons or making toys. [b]Just try to surprise people[/b]. What's important is that you make something up on your own and show it to somebody else so they can critique your work. Even if you get harsh criticism, don't give up. Just keep at it.
Though I have talked mostly about the technical aspects of game design, I would now like to talk about something on the opposite end of the spectrum. We must not forget the importance of human ingenuity and creativity in game design. Naturally, it is new and unique expression of ideas that gives birth to new games. Recently, I am very sorry to see that the uniqueness of many titles has been dependent upon new technology and specialty development tools, while the personalities of the creators have been diluted. For me, game creation is like expression through music. When I am working as a director on a game, while I always try to hit upon new plots, I place great importance on the tempo of the game and the sound effects. I feel that those directors who have been able to incorporate rhythm and emotional stimuli in their games have been successful. When I am holding the controller and setting the tempo, I feel that my own, personal game is in the midst of creation. I have never created a game that has been of a level that I could be satisfied with. Understanding the technologies is the requisite if we want to fully realize our expression. Game designers are apt to boast of the technical aspects of their games, and I, too, have fallen into this trap. Speaking of my own case, I tend to highlight new technologies when I am less confident about the new ideas I am putting forward in the game, and later, I always regret doing this. It is important for us to remember that technology can inspire new ideas and help us realize those ideas, but it should do so from the background.
Shall I begin making Zelda for our next generation hardware. At this point, the answer to that question is no. The reason for my saying this is that all of the elements for which Zelda has received so much praise for had already been incorporated into the game more than a year before completion, when I felt the game was not fun to play. I think that a lot of the reasons that Zelda has been so praised are not related the N64's level of expression, the unique camera systems and auto-jump system, nor the gorgeous cinema scenes and spectacular boss fights. It is true that some other team may realize the level of expression that we achieved with Zelda, but of course it will not be the exact same as Zelda. With improved hardware, I can imagine Zelda having more detailed graphics and a quicker response time, but when it comes to increasing the degree of fun, I cannot be certain of that at this time. This is something that I feel we as designers must reconsider.
Also, I want to constantly make efforts to create new ideas. I want to propose new game ideas without worrying about the headaches of management, such as inflated development costs. Video games have become far more popular than in the past, but I feel that we have just been repeating the same events again and again in this unique market. Even with Zelda I did not feel that sense of freshness that I had with the original Super Mario Bros. I want to make efforts to convey the charm of video games to the general public that is currently outside the reach of the industry in which we do business. This is because I really want to feel the unique zest of the entertainment industry, where one simple idea can create an unexpected social phenomenon.
We have expanded this industry and welcomed new users with innovative products that continue to surprise us. At a time when we were all developing Mario style scrolling games, Tetris was born thanks to a team that tried to make a new product with game and watch style software. When we were stuck on talk of the spectacular 3D graphics of Mario 64 and racing games, we a saw huge hit in the form of Tamagochi - a tiny key chain boasting pictures made up of no more than 10 or 20 dots. At that time, I thought that Mario 64 had lost to Tamagochi.
I want game designers to be the designers who make technology their tools, and use it to express their own individuality, their own unique-ness and their own rhythm, as well as the entertainers who make this world a more enjoyable one. It is with this extravagant hope that I wish to end my speech.
My friends, let us design unique, fun software with new appeal. Let us take on new challenges so that the world of gaming is not left behind as a separate, closed off world. And in the process, let's see if we can't make a little money.
Well, we certainly don't have the intention to fight against anybody else, and don't think that we are cowards, but we are working on the subjects which become necessary for what game users want. In other words, what we have to do in order to make a 'weapon', in your wording, is to make fresh and exciting games. It's not like "who's winning and who's losing", and as far as 'war' or 'fighting' is concerned, please count us out. We like to go our own way.
One of the biggest concepts concerning Gamecube is that I want it to be a machine the whole family can use. So that's why it must be reasonably priced, and even small children can use it, and these kind of concepts are enshrined in the controller design, console design and the cheap chipsets. Of course, if we are simply going to make the best games format in the videogame market, and we have the hardware to realise that, then I can tell the hardware people that we must have a cheap chipset. We want the whole family to use it, and it must be easy, and we don't want them to think about how much it's cost. Those of you that have experienced Super Mario Bros. In your childhood may now be of the generation where you have children that are starting to play games. That's what videogames should be - things the whole family can play.
It's very simple. It's the Nintendo company motto that we have to do what only Nintendo can do, and the multi-purpose games machines - meaning that you can do a variety of things - so often end up being the machines that can't do anything. In the case of Nintendo, it's rather different. What Nintendo can be proud of is constantly providing the customer with guaranteed quality software. That's what we can say when we're providing the customer with a new generation of gaming platforms. On the other hand, people are talking about multi-purpose machines, and from the manufacturer's standpoint, they're saying "look, we've made this machine, it's up to you how to use it". Through the many years I've been in this business, I've seen many hardware manufacturers simply ignore what content will be running on their platforms. I have to admit that I don't like these kind of ideas. Now is the time that we, the content creators, have to get together to lead the market. Nintendo is good at entertaining, and we are going to guarantee with this new platform that it is going to be fun. And, of course, it has the capability for 'multi-purpose', but we are not guaranteeing it's going to be multi-purpose, that's all.
Yes, I have to admit that of course we are working on Gamecube games featuring these popular characters. But, frankly speaking, I don't want a situation where our creative staff is solely occupied with the creation of established game series. For example, at Spaceworld last week, we exhibited a game called Animal Forest; it's a very unique game, we call it a 'family communication' game, and we hope that we can bring these kinds of new genres to the Gamecube.
That's right, family communication, NOT MMO or RPG or openworld or whatever everyone keeps demanding it to be.
I think this is interesting, simply because nobody can tell what will come in the future. Some may say the 'movie-type' game can become interesting, but I don't think so. The integration between the movie and the game should not be the main focus of this industry; yes, we can learn a lot from the movie industry, but we should absorb these ideas, so we can improve game contents, so we can evolve the shape of the game. That's the kind of thing that makes sense in this industry. If we are simply trying to make a movie-like game, then I don't think that's so good. After all, we are making interactive entertainment, so we can all be the pioneers of any new entertainment, and create different things from movies and what we have now.
I don't want to say that videogames are transforming into any other existing entertainment medium. President Yamauchi has some different ideas, though... [laughs]. I believe that the entertainment business is kind of an industry which puts different value to 'ordinary stories', so they can sell 'ordinary stories' at much higher prices. This is the kind of business where you can make money out of a simple idea, and when people say 'we are going to make a 'movie-type game', they are saying 'let's spend so much money on the gorgeous graphics and sound'. I don't think that that's the shape of the games industry. We should be spending time and money making magic.