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Is Miyamoto interfering too much with other teams' games? [roundtable]
 
Those who've been following Nintendo development lately know that Shigeru Miyamoto tends to "upend the tea table" at times. But for all the guy's solid contributions to Nintendo, a few of his recent interferences have left me scratching my head.

It seems to have started with Super Mario Galaxy 2. Rosalina's storybook in the original Galaxy was an element that a lot of players enjoyed (even if it would've been nice to be able to skip it), and while SMG2 gets to the action in a quicker way, many feel that some of the charm is lost when that extra bit of atmosphere/backstory is missing.

As it turns out, Miyamoto vetoed the idea of more story in Galaxy 2. A snippet:

But does he really agree with his boss, or has Koizumi just been overruled? In an interview with Wired.com in 2007, Koizumi said that he’s been trying to sneak bits of story into Mario and Zelda games for his entire career at Nintendo, even as Miyamoto has been trying to keep them out.

I told Miyamoto about what Koizumi had said, and he looked slightly taken aback.

“He said that?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I put a stop to that at the beginning, this time,” he said, and for emphasis punched the air with his fist.


Super Mario Galaxy's backstory added some development to Rosalina, but was it necessary? Shiggy says no.


Now, I realize that story in Mario is a bit of a split subject, as many players feel SMG2's focus on platforming led to an ultimately stronger game that had better pacing. But it wasn't until a few months later where another platformer released that had some Miyamoto interference...

After simply running back and forth for ten minutes and watching the animations of Donkey Kong turning around, Shigeru Miyamoto told Retro that it seemed like Donkey Kong was "blowing" when he created dust clouds. The "blow" mechanic used in Donkey Kong Country Returns was born from this off-handed remark.

As it turns out, Miyamoto told Retro to put the blowing mechanic into Donkey Kong Country Returns. As much as I loved the game, I think the blowing was far too stop-and-go and unnecessary when you already had a much more visceral (and DK-ish) move with the ground slap.

Eh.

The main reason for this thread, though, is the recent talk of Miyamoto's involvement with Paper Mario: Sticker Star. From the latest Iwata Asks...

Iwata: Miyamoto-san really persevered with Paper Mario this time. Exactly what was he particular about?

Tanabe: Aside from wanting us to change the atmosphere a lot, there were two main things that Miyamoto-san said from the start of the project—"It's fine without a story, so do we really need one?" and "As much as possible, complete it with only characters from the Super Mario world.

Iwata: That's a difficult task. In some ways that would be the exact opposite direction from recent games in the series.


And now the consistently hilarious Bowser has no lines at all.

Now, I know the guy created Mario, but the fact that he's poking his way into second party titles--RPGs, no less--and imposing some major rules like "No original characters" (PMSS has only a single one) and "Do we really need a story?" seems awfully invasive and myopic.

On a side note, Yokota (Galaxy's outstanding composer) wanted to fully orchestrate the OoT 3D soundtrack, and Kondo told him to simply make it sound identical to the N64 version.

So what do you guys think? Has Miyamoto gone mad with power? Is the rigid conservatism of Nintendo damaging the quality of its games?

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Posted: 11/29/12, 18:56:34  - Edited by 
 on: 11/29/12, 18:59:30
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Has Miyamoto become the George Lucas of gaming? I'm seriously asking, not trying to be rhetorical. It sounds like his input can be both a helpful and hindering guide.
Posted: 11/29/12, 22:05:55
@vids

I wouldn't go that far, as it seems that George Lucas has straight up lost his passion and talent for writing and directing films. I'm thrilled that he is retiring and we are getting a new batch of Star Wars films from others.

I won't be happy when Miyamoto leaves Nintendo, on the other hand, and I think that he has definitely retained his passion and talent... and the Mario platformers and Zelda games still benefit from his input.

So the question here is whether or not he should have a say in as many projects as he does or if he should be more limited in his reach.
Posted: 11/29/12, 22:25:54
@Hinph

You make a good point with Lucas and agree about Miyamoto's passion for games.

When it comes to game design for a series there are certain rules and mechanics the game follows and certain rules and mechanics the designer breaks in the name of innovation. I can see how telling a dev team to do a game without story and limit the characters can both brew creativity and kill the creative process with limitation of possibilities in early development. People usually work better with boundaries. There needs to be a balance to those boundaries, broad enough to be creative and narrow enough to fuel direction and momentum. Perhaps Miyamoto's tasks are square holes for round pegs and the development team don't have it in them to self-reflect and deviate. From what I have read the same notion gone awry happened at Square for its later Final Fantasy installments.
Posted: 11/29/12, 22:41:06  - Edited by 
 on: 11/29/12, 22:42:19
As far as I'm concerned, no Nintendo game in recent memory has turned out awful, right? We talk about Miyamoto "interfering" with game development but who's to say the games would have turned out as well as they did without his supervision?

As for the phrasing "other team's games", the way I understand it Miyamoto doesn't have a team, he supervises all/most teams. He's a producer.
Posted: 11/29/12, 22:54:27
I sometimes feel that Miyamoto gets more credit than he's due for the past decade or so.

He has certainly fixed issues we have no idea about, he's super-experienced, but there is talent at Nintendo that needs to BE SET FREEEEEEEEE!

To flourish, not leave Nintendo.
Posted: 11/29/12, 23:02:35
@ploot

I think that's intentional on Nintendo's part, Miyamoto is the brand. Ask the average person what they think of films Kaminski has worked on. After they tell you they never heard of him ask what they think of films Spielberg worked on. Kaminski has DP'd on Spielberg films for the past 20 years and is responsible for much of the look and many of the shots of those films
Posted: 11/29/12, 23:19:18  - Edited by 
 on: 11/29/12, 23:20:07
Hinph said:
Yeah, screw that open world noise. If anything, the overworlds in 3D Zelda games need to get smaller.

There's nothing I hate more than big empty spaces that exist only for the sake of being big empty spaces.

But yeah, Zelda needs something new alright. They could start with a new developer. Aonuma and his team can work on some new action adventure game. And that is how new franchises are born, Nintendo!

Fuck that. The dungeons are the worst part of Zelda! I play to explore the world and help people out, not do some lame dungeon full of puzzles a lobotomized monkey could solve and combat easier than Paris Hilton!
Posted: 11/29/12, 23:54:01
Until he starts incredibly mucking things up ala George Lucas with the Star Wars universe, I'd say he has earned a wide swath.
Posted: 11/30/12, 00:45:34
TriforceBun said:
On a side note, Yokota (Galaxy's outstanding composer) wanted to fully orchestrate the OoT 3D soundtrack, and Kondo told him to simply make it sound identical to the N64 version.

I think that was a good move. OoT's music holds up just fine; the graphics were the only thing that needed to be updated.
Posted: 11/30/12, 00:46:56
Pretty much impossible to know for sure. For every bad decision we're privy to, there could easily be 10 great decisions we will never hear about.

Personally, I have enough faith in the man to be happy that he's still involved.

@Secret_Tunnel

Agreed, no reason to mess with the best video game soundtrack of all time.
Posted: 11/30/12, 00:49:56  - Edited by 
 on: 11/30/12, 00:50:26
deathly_hallows said:
I want more freedom to explore from the very beginning, no 5 hr. intro please, give me a sword and let me loose on the world!

This I can agree with. Both Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword took way too long to really get moving.

@V_s Because Oblivion (and I assume Skyrim) are like the anti-Zelda. I don't want anything "like" those games. If you want more open world say "like the original Zelda" or something and I might be more on board.
Posted: 11/30/12, 01:03:09  - Edited by 
 on: 11/30/12, 01:10:28
Secret_Tunnel said:

I think that was a good move. OoT's music holds up just fine; the graphics were the only thing that needed to be updated.

Ehhh, I dunno. I can understand the purist viewpoint since I feel that way about a lot of things, but OoT 3D was meant to be a remake, so if they were going to add/enhance stuff, they might as well go all out. I'm not saying to put in completely new melodies, but it's clear to me that the N64 OoT was going for an "orchestral" feel (rather than something inherently electronic like, say, Metroid Prime). I see no issue with replacing synth french horns with real ones, honestly, and seeing as how Yokoto is a musical genius, it would've made OoT feel even more grand.

Guillaume said:
As far as I'm concerned, no Nintendo game in recent memory has turned out awful, right? We talk about Miyamoto "interfering" with game development but who's to say the games would have turned out as well as they did without his supervision?

As for the phrasing "other team's games", the way I understand it Miyamoto doesn't have a team, he supervises all/most teams. He's a producer.

That's a good point--he's likely responsible for a lot of GOOD decisions that we just aren't privy to. But I think he could loosen the reigns a bit; there's a difference between "What if this mechanic worked like this instead" and "Can you guys make your RPG not have any story or original characters?"
Posted: 11/30/12, 01:09:03  - Edited by 
 on: 11/30/12, 01:09:27
Guillaume said:
A Link to the Past 2. Not the story but the style, the top down view, the level design. That's what I want.

Kal-El814 said:
I can get into that, with maybe a dash of LoZ thrown in for good measure.

They already made that, back in 1993. It's called The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening.

Jargon said:
Pretty much impossible to know for sure. For every bad decision we're privy to, there could easily be 10 great decisions we will never hear about.

Agreed. Though I wonder why we never hear of those 10 great decisions?

Either way, I'm curious to what a game might turn out like *without* Miyamoto's involvement. Just to see what the end product would be.
Posted: 11/30/12, 04:22:23  - Edited by 
 on: 11/30/12, 04:26:43
I think this represents a bigger problem at Nintendo, that all of the longtime staff are getting up there age-wise, but they are still being controlling instead of training a younger generation of staff. Nintendo need to focus on finding new staff who can take over once the current folks retire. I realise that's difficult, talent is hard to come by, but it's definitely something Nintendo should focus on to plan for the future.
Posted: 11/30/12, 04:30:18
-I love Miyamoto
-I love story
-I loved the Rosalina story in SMG
-I was sad it was gone in SMG2
-I loved Metroid: Other M for its emphasis on story
-I thought the story in Other M was great
-I wish the Zelda franchise had voice acting
-I am mature enough to understand something like voice acting in Zelda would not sound on screen exactly as it would in my head. Couple that with Nintendo's history of quality, and I think a fully-voiced (including Link) Zelda game would be awesome.

There.... those are my thoughts. If Shiggy wants to listen, that's cool. If he wants to upend my teatable (which has a figurative, but not dirty meaning) then he can do that too - cuz past, present, and likely future - he's earned the right.
Posted: 11/30/12, 09:36:32  - Edited by 
 on: 11/30/12, 10:15:11
@Zero

Exactly. "Open" in a way resembling the original LoZ would be welcome with me... though I still prefer a little bit of restriction and guidance, so we don't have to burn every bush to find the next dungeon or what have you.

A Link to the Past... best overall world design in any game I've ever played. I know that you also share my opinion that it is also just simply the best game ever made.

I know everybody wants something different from the Zelda series... me? I just want the best aspects of LTTP mixed with the best aspects of the modern Zelda games plus a dash of something new and special so that I can finally have a new favorite game of all time. It will probably never happen.
Posted: 11/30/12, 12:45:38
Hinph said:
I just want the best aspects of LTTP mixed with the best aspects of the modern Zelda games plus a dash of something new and special so that I can finally have a new favorite game of all time.

Posted: 11/30/12, 17:13:33
@Hinph Reading what you want kinda reminded me of when Reggie said gamers are insatiable. We really do want everything! And cake! (Or pie!)

I was sad to read that the two things that have bothered me about Paper Mario: Sticker Star are attributed to Miyamoto. If I hadn't already played some long RPGs earlier this year, I probably would have been even more irritated that PMSS is light on story, characters and length.
Posted: 11/30/12, 17:25:30  - Edited by 
 on: 11/30/12, 17:25:59
GameDadGrant said:
Guillaume said:
A Link to the Past 2. Not the story but the style, the top down view, the level design. That's what I want.

Kal-El814 said:
I can get into that, with maybe a dash of LoZ thrown in for good measure.

They already made that, back in 1993. It's called The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening.

Is that supposed to convince them that we don't need another new game along these lines? A new game similar to Link's Awakening would be the best thing ever. (As long as it's not a travesty like the Oracle games.)
Posted: 11/30/12, 17:32:57
That reminds, me I want the Oracle games on the eShop, stat.
Posted: 11/30/12, 17:38:33
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