Nintendo Q&A with Shigeru Miyamoto

In the third and final installment of Nintendo's developer roundtable, the press gets a chance to ask Nintendo's brightest game designer about the company's latest projects.

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Nintendo held a developer's roundtable with the press at E3 last week to demonstrate its upcoming software lineup first-hand. The roundtable kicked off with a lengthy demonstration of Nintendo's strange life simulator, Animal Crossing. You can read the entire transcript of the demonstration by clicking here. Following the demonstrations, Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka of Nintendo took time to field questions from the press. The entire transcript of the Q&A session follows.

Q: Mr. Miyamoto, you've talked about your children a few times. So, I was curious, when you started developing games in the beginning, your children were not part of your life. Now that you have children, has that changed the way you develop games?

Shigeru Miyamoto: I don't think it really has changed my perspective a whole lot. I guess you could say that because, you know, now that we do play a lot together and we do spend a lot of time together, that has maybe given me more of a parental perspective on things, but I don't think that has changed my game design a whole lot.

Q: Mr. Miyamoto, now that you are overseeing so many game products all the time and watching the progression of games, does it take a lot away from what you were originally doing when you had more hands-on with the game, or when you were building them so many years ago? Now that you're overseeing so many projects do you think you get enough time in with them?

SM: I have really talented directors working for me, but there are times when I don't have to get involved in a project at all and it goes on its own and is able to come to fruition without much of my help. But there are also a lot of times when the directors need my help and I get directly involved with the games. I think actually, the fact that I am working on so many different projects at once really--I like it a lot--because I get involved deeply at different points in each of the projects and I get to experience a lot more than if I was focusing on just one game. So, as you can see over the past couple years we've been working on Metroid, which looks very realistic. We've been working on Mario, which looks kind of comical and sort of a classical style. And we've been working on Zelda, which is very cartoony this time around. So, I've been able to work on all these games and been directly involved and it's been very fun for me.

Q: What sort of ideas are you working on for connecting The Legend of Zelda to the Game Boy Advance?

SM: Who has seen the AGB link with Zelda that we have on the show floor right now?

[Many raise their hands]

Ah, there are some very attentive people out there. There's actually one GameCube on the show floor that has a link to Game Boy Advance. If you go to the show floor and ask the people demonstrating Zelda they'll be able to show you what that is.

Q: Hi, Mr. Miyamoto. I was wondering, is the new Metroid going to be level-based or is it going to be a free-roaming game like the previous Metroid games where you can go back through the same levels?

SM: Actually, the Metroid development team members are huge, huge Metroid fans. We think the game is going to end up being very similar in style to Super Metroid. Obviously, we've taken it into a first-person perspective, complete with scan visors and weapons. But really I think it's going to be this idea of exploring a level and going through but still having the freedom to come back and try new things later. So I think you'll find it's going to have a very similar feel to it.

Q: Mr. Miyamoto, I wanted to know what is your direct involvement with Metroid and maybe share some things that you've contributed. Also, how do you think the Japanese Metroid fans will accept this first-person view?

SM: Well, first of all, I think the Japanese Metroid fans will think it's very cool. And, as I mentioned, when I first met the Retro team I knew that they were the ones I wanted to have to create Metroid. So, actually from the very initial stages of this project I've been directly involved as producer, and at EAD in Japan we have a total of three staff members who are always half directing the game in cooperation with Retro Studios. So our level of involvement is very high with the project.

Q: I have a question about Animal Crossing. Which NES games will the US version of Animal Crossing have in it?

Takashi Tezuka: We actually haven't finalized which NES games we're going to be releasing in Animal Crossing in the United States.

Q: Mr. Miyamoto, we've seen two different uses for the apparatus on Mario's back, are there going to be other uses for the apparatus later on in the game?

SM: Yes. There are other types of nozzles for his backpack.

Q: Does the new Zelda take place before the other Zelda games?

SM: I'm actually not all that deeply involved in the Zelda project, but that is actually the case. We have decided that the setting for the game is that it is kind of near the beginning.

Q: The one question we had was, Link apparently has a sister and therefore where did she go for the later games?

SM: Maybe we should wrap things up here!

[Laughter]

We'll actually, at another time, talk more about the storyline. But for this game, I had a talk with the director and told him it was very important for Link's sister to be in this game. We'll probably clarify that for you a little bit later. Link wanted somebody who was going to call him big brother.

Q: Mr. Miyamoto, you're one of the few game designers who is advertising cooperation and communication in your games. Is there any particular reason why?

SM: I haven't noticed that other developers haven't focused on those attributes. Do you think that's really the case? I think there are a number of different things a player can experience in a game to get fun out of. I think there are different ways that you can elicit fun out of a player. And to me I think that those are two methods that really do elicit a great deal of fun out of players.

Q: They're specifically non-violent. Is that on purpose?

SM: I guess violence is one way you can elicit emotion and give entertainment to players. But at the same time I think it's almost an escape route and maybe people go that way when they have a hard time coming up with other ideas for creating fun in their games.

Q: Mr. Miyamoto, you've used things that you do around the house, including gardening tasks, to come up with ideas for previous games. How did Animal Crossing come about?

SM: That's actually a question that's better suited for Mr. Tezuka since he's heading up that project. But the actual discussion began long ago when Mr. Tezuka and several of the other directors who worked on Yoshi's Island sat down and started to talk about what type of game they could create that would be new and unique. These discussions sort of drifted towards the idea that communication would be something that would be very new and fun to do. And that was kind of the beginning of that project.

TT: Actually we had a couple of ideas. And one of them was to have many players playing simultaneously in one large environment. But, another idea we had for a long time was to try and come up with a game that people would be able to play for short periods of time every day over a very, very long period of time. And that was what really gave birth to Animal Crossing.

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