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Miyamoto Talks Dolphin at Space World ‘99

TOKYO - We sat down with master game designer Shigeru Miyamoto at Nintendo's Space World '99 to talk about Nintendo's new system and more.


One name is most often associated with Nintendo's most popular games—Shigeru Miyamoto. He has created a majority of Nintendo's hit titles, from Donkey Kong to Zelda 64. As he turns his attention to the Dolphin (the current codename for Nintendo's next system), we had the chance to ask the master a few questions. Here's what he had to say:

GameSpot News: What projects are you currently working on?Shigeru Miyamoto: That's not a very easy question, actually. I want more and more younger people to work on the games now. I'm getting old now and even though I say that I have been working as a producer, my involvement in each game goes deeper than just being a producer. I hope that I can be more of a producer taking care of and supervising many different projects at the same time-- with the viewpoint of Nintendo five years from now, as a foundation, in a sense. That's where I am right now, but in the same sense, I want to make some games myself--at least one. I am focusing on the Dolphin project when it comes to my own game.

GSN: To what degree are you involved in Zelda Gaiden?Miyamoto: I can't be involved as completely as I usually am. From time to time I'll be involved at certain points in the development, but I have restrained myself from making specifications for the game.

GSN: What types of games do you want to see re-made or sequelized for the Dolphin?Miyamoto: I think the biggest difference between being the producer and being the director is, if you are director you can check each phase of the game yourself in order to confirm that it's your game so that you can feel how it is like to touch the game itself. That is the biggest difference with being the producer of the game. For example, F-Zero and Yoshi, when you look at these games, you realize that they have more of the touch of other directors. I'm kind of trying to oversee the overall process, and then ask each of the directors to take care of the game so they can reflect on their own individual touch. While, as with a game like Legend of Zelda, I want my own touch to be reflected sharply. So I think from now and even on Dolphin, there will be Nintendo games and although I won't be deeply involved in their development, you are going to feel the Nintendo touch in many games.

So in other words, while I won't be deeply involved in the process of developing a sequel, you can feel the same way when playing those games--that I once worked on them.

GSN: Personally, would you like to see a Wave Race game on the Dolphin?Miyamoto: Yes, definitely (laughs). Even when we were working on Wave Race, we realized that the N64 was not powerful enough for that kind of game. Specifically, we wanted to make very detailed movements for the waves, at least as detailed as what Wave Race was for N64. In the case of Dolphin that should be easily done.

GSN: What about the Dolphin technology is most exciting to you?Miyamoto: Even though N64 was much advanced, much more than the previous technologies (Super Famicom), I still have to admit that we have to pay our total attention to game development in order for the game to run on the system. When N64 was introduced I think I said a similar thing, but now it is easier for us to make a game on Dolphin when compared with when we were first beginning on N64.

In other words, when we are going to try some new experiment based on the hardware… with the N64 we had to pay total attention to every point so that the system can still run. But in the case of Dolphin, we don't have to, so we can put our maximum attention into those kinds of details. The system can easily run so you can try something quite new. I think that's the most exciting thing to me with Dolphin. Also, with the N64, at the beginning we made games for the first time in 3D. Through the course of that we realized so many things, especially we encountered the inefficiency of making these types of games on the N64. I believe those inefficiencies and problems have already been solved on the Dolphin hardware, so it's going to become a very cost-effective product.

For example, in the case of 3D fighting games. You see a lot of 3D fighting games on other platforms because it is one of the easiest ways to make use of the hardware's function. More specifically, if it's a fighting game you have only two characters to put into RAM, and that's relatively easy. So that's why there are too many fighting games out there on those platforms. In the case of Smash Brothers you see up to four players on the screen simultaneously, but at the same time, the character models are much simpler than the ones in those involved with only two players. That's the kind of limitation I am talking about.

But if you are a creator and you are told, ‘if you like, we can make it five or ten players without any problem.' That's what the situation is with Dolphin. Dolphin can do that, N64 cannot do that. Your energy can then be concentrated not on how to increase the number of game characters, but how you are going to make use of these five or ten more characters on the screen. Having said that, it may put you as a creator into another problem, because now you can use as many players as you want and you've got to sort them out in your own mind so that you can manage to control that in the end.

GSN: Nintendo and Rare are creating games based on the Disney license. Are you involved in that, or would you like to be involved?Miyamoto: I am not involved and if possible I try not to be involved in the product. Please don't misunderstand me, I love Disney characters. But Disney is a kind of company I'm going to compete with.

GSN: How is development progressing on Super Mario for the Dolphin?Miyamoto: Perrin told me not to say anything about that.

GSN: So it's confirmed then?Miyamoto: At least I am working on it…

I am the kind of designer who starts with an experiment. In the case of Wave Race, I started from the experiment of making waves. If Mario is surfing on the wave, it's going to be a Mario game, if it's Link, then it will be a Zelda game. That's how I decide what game to make.

GSN: How does the Dolphin's use of DVD affect the way you develop/create a game?Miyamoto: I still believe that cartridge is the best media for the software development, so I have to tell you that I feel some inconvenience making games on DVD as the new media for the new platform. But at the same time, it's very important that the cost for the media is going to be stabilized and it's good for our own teams because we don't have to take into consideration that the memory size will decide the cost of the software to the retailers. Now all we have to be mindful of is how much time and energy we are going to spend in the creation of new software. That is going to be reflected upon the final price at retail.

Dolphin may follow the same concept of N64, which was originally called Project Reality. It will have much more functionality with advanced technologies, like AI. People talk about AI for gameplay nowadays. But now it's actually pseudo AI, pretending that to be incorporated into the main characters. Now it is becoming much easier for us to install actual AI into the game characters because we are going to have a much more powerful CPU, which should be enough to realize this concept. Rather than the calculation ability, it's the ability to simulate something real. That is going to be heightened or advanced. Until now, the freedom in making games has been expanded with the advent of new technologies in the game field. But we have not come far enough as to make something very free. Except, I should say that there are new games like music and dancing games, and those are really appreciated. We should be able to make more power available to free our ideas so that in order to make much more unique and different games on Dolphin.

GSN: The other competing systems all have very ambitious online gaming plans. Do you see the Internet as the future for the Dolphin as well?Miyamoto: There's got to be something Dolphin has with the Internet, because from now on we can't create entertainment without thinking about network communication. At the same time, we are an entertainment company so we have to take into consideration the cost associated with network games, and the ages of the users, who are actually going to make use of it. If we consider these two points right now, I have to tell you that there is not a big market right now for Dolphin to involve a significant Internet business. Nintendo, as an entertainment company has a responsibility to parents and children so that the parents can always feel secure to provide their children with Nintendo machines, hardware and software. So because of that I don't think network capabilities will be the core of the Dolphin project.

GSN: With game development now, especially FFVIII and Rare's Jet Force Gemini, approaching a movie-like feel, are you thinking about creating your games more like movies with the Dolphin?Miyamoto: In the case of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, we made use of technology used in the movies. But we didn't try to make Zelda like a movie. In the case of Dolphin, too, I have no intention of making games like movies. I believe we are going to continuously make use of the visual or sound effects already established in the movies. But by doing this, what we're trying to do is make something unique and unprecedented. So in the case of Dolphin, of course, I'm going to study what they are doing in the movie industry, but I will never make movie-like games. I would like to make something that is very special by making use of some established thing.

In the case of Final Fantasy, what they are doing in order to make a movie-like game is using pre-rendered technology. In games like Jet Force Gemini and others, we are doing similar kinds of effects by using real-time motion. Actually, these are past technologies and concepts. I believe that it's not that we are approaching movies, but rather, movie producers try to adapt this kind of new approach, in other words, real-time motion, for their movie production.

GSN: What is your impression of Pokemon's popularity, especially in the U.S.?Miyamoto: I am also the producer of Pokemon, too. When we started this project in Japan, one of the first things I was told was that this kind of thing would never appeal to American audiences. So from the very beginning, I never thought there would be an English version. Now, it's just as popular in the United States , and I realized that we shouldn't always believe the opinions of conservative marketers. Before, they said, ‘because the characters are like Japanese animation, you cannot sell them to Americans.' But now, because it is very Japanese-looking, they can sell in other parts of the world, too. But when I come to think more on it, the biggest reason it has become that popular is Mr. Tajiri, the main developer and creator of Pokemon, didn't start this project with a business sense. In other words, he was not intending to make something that would become very popular. He just wanted to make something he wanted to play. There was no business sense included; only his love involved in the creation. Somehow, what he wanted to create for himself was appreciated by others in this country and is shared by people in other countries. And there are other works and staffs included to make a very large Pokemon world. And that's the point - Not to make something sell, something very popular, but to love something, and make something that we creators can love. It's the very core feeling we should have in making games.

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