After creating "Mario," "Zelda," "Donkey Kong," "Yoshi," and "Star Fox," it's hard to imagine what else Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo's star game designer, could possibly do for the Kyoto-based video game manufacturer. As it turns out, there's more.
Miyamoto recently joined Nintendo's board of directors, a fitting honor considering the massive role he has played in the company's success. Also, one of his less publicized accomplishments is gamepad design. Realizing that few people would better understand the relationship between gamepads and gameplay, Genyo Takeda, who led the research and development team that created both Nintendo 64 and GameCube, worked with Miyamoto to design the systems' controllers.
Miyamoto's newest role seems to be as company spokesman. Once quietly confused why journalists would even want to speak with him, Miyamoto has become one of Nintendo's featured speakers.
The famous game designer was kind enough to talk with MSNBC.com. The following are some notes from that meeting:
MSNBC: You mentioned during your presentation (at Nintendo's Spaceworld tradeshow in Tokyo last month) that it is extremely easy to make games for GameCube. What makes it so easy... a superior tool set, better architecture?
Miyamoto:There are a variety of ways [GameCube makes programming easier]. There are many aspects. In each aspect of N64, we found difficulty. We made improvements, so it is not just one specific point upon which we made an improvement that makes it very easy to create games for GameCube.
When we introduced "Super Mario" on the N64, we wanted it to be appealing to the public. We, as professional game creators, did everything possible to make it shine. As a result, other creators saw Mario 64, and somehow misunderstood that anybody could make [a game] like "Super Mario 64." They took it for granted that they could do it without any problem; but, of course, they could not. That was the problem we faced at the beginning for N64.
What I said about GameCube was that what you expected with N64, with GameCube we have removed the difficulties.
MSNBC: How far along is Mario 128?
Miyamoto:(Laughing, even before his interpreter begins translating) That is actually just one of several experiments that I am working on right now. I just do not know if I am going to make a so-called Mario 128.
I actually kind of expected some reaction from the audience, but now that I have seen the strong reaction... It would take one year to complete Mario 128 or any project of that sort.
MSNBC: What is the working title for the Luigi game that you showed?
Miyamoto:Unfortunately, our public relations people have specifically said that I cannot say anything until the E3 show next year. The code name that we are working with is "Luigi's Mansion;" but probably we will not use this as the official name.
MSNBC: Were the scenes you showed of "Zelda," "Luigi's Mansion," and "Metroid" (at Spaceworld) actual playable game footage?
Miyamoto:That is a very good question. As a matter of fact, no. Actually, this is the kind of images that we specifically created so that people will know what the final games will be like. We could have shown actual game footage; but if we had done that, then people [competitors] might have figured out the secrets behind the games, so we specifically went the other way so that what people saw was specific camera angles that we will not be using in the actual gameplay.
MSNBC: Will the look of the games and the polygon counts be as remarkable as they were in the footage?
Miyamoto:Yes, 100 percent assurance.
MSNBC: Can you say what kind of polygon levels we will see during games?
Miyamoto:What we're running was not at peak level. This was what we can run at a constant rate from beginning to end, not at only one instance like the technical shows you saw with the other game machines.
MSNBC: As a game developer, how would you compare GameCube to what you know about Sony's PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Corp.'s (msft) Xbox?
Miyamoto:Of course, GameCube is far superior for game creation, and I cannot talk about Xbox because it is not out right now. We always expected a lot out of GameCube; but now that it is out, I have to tell you, it is even better than we creators had originally expected. Of course, when Xbox is released, it may have superior technology that will be more expensive. As far as technology is concerned, even though I cannot be objective as I am the one who is working on GameCube from the start, I believe GameCube is far superior to any existing hardware from the game creation point of view.
MSNBC: From games you have seen on PlayStation 2, has anything left you impressed?
Miyamoto:I think "Tekken Tag Tournament" is very well done and a lot of people are enjoying it. As far as today's dedicated PlayStation 2 games are concerned, I have not seen anything new when compared to the past [generation of] software. So what kind of new software should we be looking forward to? That should be the mission of game creators.
I started this career with the arcade business. One thing that is important for arcade games is that they have to be appealing to the person who is passing by so that they will be attracted to at least play the game once. As far as this point is concerned, I think the next generation games are doing a fine job. But there is something missing. After playing the game once, will people be addicted to the gameplay? I think that people are putting so much energy into giving games beautiful appearance and boosting the high-performance of the hardware; but unfortunately they are too busy to work on something else that is more important - the creative side of the matter.