Virgin Megastore Roundtable
Miyamoto and Aonuma
Febuary 21, 2003
Transcript from Miyamoto Shrine.
Can you tell us a little about the concept behind the use of wind in the game?
Miyamoto: We initially came up with the idea of oceans and how Link can move - so we thought, why don't we use a ship to ferry him? And in order to do this we needed to have wind, and so we gave the player some control over the wind. That's how we came up with the idea.
We were thinking in terms of the advancement of technology, and while many people focus upon more beautiful graphics, we really wanted to make use of the technology to advance the other areas no-one else was thinking about. And that happened to be the control of the wind, by taking advantage of the high performance GameCube. It's unlike anything else out there.
Were there any ideas or elements you perhaps didn't have time to put in this time?
Miyamoto: First of all, due to time restraints, we had to leave out two stages, which included dungeons. Other than that, most of the ideas were incorporated into the final game.
The new style of Zelda is a radical change and when first shown it sent shockwaves through the industry. With the news of Mario 128 can we expect the same kind of shock?
Miyamoto: We never intended to cause any shockwaves, but we are always trying to make something new. We are, of course, trying to be consistent, but create something new. And with Wind Waker, we were making a new Link. We were confronted with problems by going ahead with making a realistic looking Link initially, and were a little uncomfortable with this. Realistic Link would be expected to move in accordance with how he would in the real world, but in terms of the game that was unnatural, even though in the real world it would be natural. If Link looks and moves realistically, that doesn't necessarily make a good game.
That's the basic argument we had while forming the Link character into its current shape. Talking now about Mario 128, we haven't come to the specific point yet where we've determined how the Mario character will look. I don't plan to create any shockwaves - I'm just always thinking about making perfect gameplay
Has everybody here played the game?
Miyamoto: Didn't you feel that it felt very natural to control?
Miyamoto: Phew! [laughs]
Now that you've created the graphic and gameplay engine for Wind Waker, are you going to re-use it?
Miyamoto: It is now taking a long time to come up with the basic engine for whatever we're working on, so if we can make use of existing technology, that's obviously better for me as a producer. As a producer and a games designer, I'm hopeful we can make use of the Wind Waker engine for future games. And since the functionality of the GC is so high I'm sure this will be the case.
Aonuma: We didn't have anything major left over when we finished Wind Waker, but some of the ideas we had that didn't make it into Wind Waker are already integrated into some of our next projects which may or may not be making use of the Wind Waker engine. Is this going to be the new Zelda game? I cannot commit to that.
Given the child-like look of the game versus mass-market thirst for realism, do you see any problems reaching a large-scale audience? How will Zelda appeal?
Miyamoto: We have very popular cartoon movie maker in Japan who is appealing to adults and children alike, and many fans of these animated movies are parents. I don't believe making use of the cartoon style of graphics in Wind Waker is any kind of handicap.
More importantly for Nintendo, we are always trying to produce a variety of different things for a variety of audiences.
The games industry in Japan is suffering hard times and there is a lot of hardship. But on the other hand, looking at the movie industry, we have had different films that have stimulated the market. I don't think it's a good idea just to focus on the games industry. If everybody is getting on the same bandwagon and doing the same thing, that is just minimising and shrinking the market.
What is more important for game design is coming up with unique ideas rather than coming up with something similar - that's boring.
What influences did you have while making the game. What were you watching, reading, doing it in your spare time that inspired creativity?
Miyamoto: We needed to do a lot of different things to stimulate us. When I'm asked that question, I have to say I'm always thinking about games and always communicating those ideas. First and foremost it's important to do things other than games. Nintendo is trying to sell it's own games to existing users, and it's really important for us to appeal to non-gamers in order to expand the market.
What's important for us is building relationships with people in other industries. I have a garden nowadays, so I have a relationship with a professional gardener, and maybe you may not believe it, but I also have relationships with dog trainers, and have some serious conversations about: "What does 'Dog' mean?"
Aonuma: Most days I have to stay in the office until late at night and I don't think that's a very good idea in my experience. So I'm now trying to do new things and take on new challenges. Recently I had a child, a baby boy, and now I'm trying to find new challenges.
It's true to say that I had a month's paternal leave, so if I hadn't taken that maybe Europe could have had Wind Waker earlier! [laughs]
Last year you said Mario Kart was giving you the most trouble of all the games you were working on. Have you resolved this trouble and can you tell us anything about it.
Miyamoto: First of all, Mario Kart was not in today's film, but that's not because it isn't completed, but rather we want to show it at E3. We don't have anything further to say about it. I hate to admit this, but we were so focussed on Wind Waker, we couldn't share resources with Mario Kart.
In previous years, the games Nintendo made were the biggest-selling, most popular mainstream titles on the planet. But tastes have changed and that isn't necessarily the case anymore. Certainly, the biggest game in the West is the ultra-violent GTA: Vice City, so what are your thoughts on such a violent game being so popular, and where do you feel Nintendo now fits into the market in terms of games and business?
Miyamoto: That's a tough question and I really don't have any quick answer. It's obviously very good business sense to make something that is popular in the market but it's not that simple for Nintendo. Nintendo does not make violent games like that.
We are talking about the mass audience, and many people have different their own ways of making use of entertainment. We as the maker always have a responsibility over how our products are used by the mass market. There are reasons why no companies are willing to market GTA as their product in Japan. At least people have a sense of the danger of the current situation.
More importantly, we need to find something that is a substitute for Grand Theft Auto, in terms of a game that sells. It's our mission to find an alternative that is unique and non-violent. One of the answers is the connectivity offered by GameCube and GBA.
In comparison to PS2 and Xbox there's a smaller level of third-party support for GameCube. There's a perception in Europe that Nintendo faces an uphill struggle in convincing consumers to buy GameCube because of this. What are your thoughts on this?
Miyamoto: If you are comparing the hardware, in terms of functionality you can of course make similar games, hence many titles becoming multiplatform. It may be good for audiences, but when it comes to the unique attraction of a platform, I really don't think multiplatform games help this cause.
While it is good to have many different titles on Nintendo, I think what is more important is that we make titles only Nintendo customers can play. That is why it's very important for Nintendo to come up with the best first-party titles and create unique entertainment experiences.
For example, Nintendo is heavily pursuing the connectivity between GBA and GC, and this year we are going to introduce the GB Player which lets you play GBA games on a TV via GameCube. And also, we have e-Reader in the US, so you can get data from a piece of paper. This is the unique system Nintendo is constantly trying to create and I'm positive more and more third-parties are becoming interested in these unique opportunities.
Nintendo is offering this more positively than ever. I can't really give specific examples right now, but we are working with EA on this, and developing closer ties with Namco and Sega to create these opportunities.
Do you see the key franchises like Mario and Zelda going on forever, or do you foresee a time when you won't be able to go any further. Specifically with Zelda, is there a feature you've always wanted to include but have never been able to due to technology?
Miyamoto: I really do not think there will be an end to new ideas being incorporated into Mario and Zelda games. As for Wind Waker, we've incorporated many ideas from previous games, but I don't think people will see it as re-hashed.
Aonuma: I think if another person is going to take charge of the whole idea-making of a new Zelda game, I think it can be a totally new product. There will be no ending - we will keep thinking about Zelda in new ways.
Miyamoto: Lack of ideas isn't a concern. What is, is that Nintendo has a huge amount of important franchises. Most of our team is occupied in creating sequels and that situation is kind of troublesome. The good news is that new people are growing fast and I can trust them to working on the latest games. Therefore we still have time to work on new challenges.
But it's always the danger with a company like Nintendo, that's there's always pressure to work on sequels. But Retro has worked on Metroid, and Sega is working on F-Zero, so in that sense more and more third-parties can become involved in creating games with Nintendo's own characters. And, of course, you've seen Link feature in Namco's Soul Calibur II, so there are many, many different ways to work with third-parties.
What about Link appearing in Soul Calibur II? That's a very violent game.
Miyamoto: We are not concerned by this. Namco was very good at identified what type of Link character should appear and what he should do. Besides, Link as a fighting character has already been established in Smash Bros.
Nintendo games have always been hugely anticipated and praised in advance. The Wind Waker is the first NCL title to receive something of a negative backlash thanks to the visual style. What were your reactions to this?
Miyamoto: If people's reactions had been negative after they played the game that would have concerned me, but before selling the game all we can do is do our best at what we believe in. Even though there is negative opinion, at least people are talking about Wind Waker, which is better than no-one talking about it!
We have already released it in Japan, of course, but as for the US and UK releases, although the content remains the same, we have fine-tuned the game balance of the game in response to feedback from Japanese users.
Could you please explain how the different Zelda games tie together and whether Link is the same in each game.
Miyamoto: In the long history of Hyrule, there are a number of Links which have made contributions. We'd need to write long papers indeed to cover all the background of this.
Aonuma: Many people ask me why I chose to have Link's sister for the first time. We really wanted to have a motivation for an ordinary boy to get involved in a big adventure. We thought having to rescue his sister would be a good trigger.
Previously Link has been seen as simply born to fight evil, but now the new Link is an ordinary boy who, suddenly, becomes involved in an adventure.
In past Zelda games, Zelda was still the ordinary boy but he was supposed to fight evil. The most important thing is that players are growing along with Link. To do this, Link must be ordinary to start with then must meet with destiny so it becomes clear how he can evolve.