Posts Tagged ‘Miyamoto’

Game Design the Miyamoto Way: Flow and Difficulty

November 26, 2009

These days, it takes two days to read an interview. Maybe this is because there is a lot on the table, and maybe it’s because interviews are 20 pages long (and there are so many of them). The latest Iwata Asks is one of these, a 9 web page-long interview with Shigeru Miyamoto about everything from the history of Mario to the New Super Mario Bros. Wii. The fun thing is, even if you’ve read Davis Sheff, there is still a lot new to learn about the origins of Mario (and it’s a great story anyway). It’s a classic example in how hardware limitations determined content design. (Actually, the only piece that seems immediately missing from the story is the fact that Donkey Kong was designed as a game to replace the Radarscope cabinets that had failed miserably. This is why the board had only one button and couldn’t scroll.)

Miyamoto also has an excellent way of speaking about his craft. And Satoru Iwata is a great speaker who asks some really good questions (that is, after all, his job as Nintendo President). The two go hand in glove. It’s through these conversations that Miyamoto is really able to describe how he makes his games and his philosophy behind his designs: he doesn’t simply state, “This is how I make it because that’s the way it should be done,” he describes the reasoning behind the decision. Even if it’s something abstract like how a propeller should sound or how a game “smells”.

But the core of this statement is actually something he brings up at the end of the interview: difficulty ramps in Mario. Here, Miyamoto argues that a game is better if you have to start the level again because it increases the level of intensity and makes the game more enjoyable. If you have a risk of dying before the final boss, it makes it all the more urgent that you don’t fail. At the same time, Miyamoto states that this means the player gets to play through an easier part of the game to get to that hard part and this means the player gradually gets more skilled at the game as well as a sense of mastery over it. (more…)