For more than 30 years, Nintendo has delighted both dedicated and casual video game players with games that provide a highly specific combination of charm and fun.
But how does Nintendo do it?
In an interview with Kotaku, legendary “Super Mario Bros.” creator Shigeru Miyamoto gave some insight into his game design philosophy. Miyamoto’s first step in gauging whether or not people will enjoy a game is simple. Is he having any fun?
“Ultimately I want a lot of people to enjoy the game, but the initial barometer and gauge is whether I enjoy it or not,” Miyamoto said.
He also places a ton of value on uniqueness. Miyamoto has never been in the business of making the same kinds of games as everyone else. He doesn’t want to just make the same games he’s made before but with newer technology.
“I think what a lot of people see as unique is using different technology or different techniques [to make games], but I feel like, as long as you have a core that’s unlike others, that’s what ‘unique’ is,” Miyamoto said. “So we can be using the same kind of technology, the same kind of techniques, but when we use it, we get something different.
Sound design is also especially important in making the player enjoy their experience, Miyamoto said. The upcoming “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” will have more of an emphasis on nature than its predecessors, with a large open world featuring different climates.
For Miyamoto, in this example, nailing the sounds of nature is key to making the game great.
“The player sees the grass and the rocks, but program-wise it’s obviously not really grass and rocks. But it’s really how we use the sound,” Miyamoto said. “So when you’re in a forest, we try to play sound effects that really remind you of a forest. So if a player goes into that forest, they’re reminded of a forest that they know.”
The “Zelda” series was inspired by the time Miyamoto spent exploring the woods near his childhood home. This interview makes it clear that, even 30 years after the release of the first “Zelda” game, he still wants to make games that evoke his — and his players’ — fond memories.
“Really, a game is about helping the player remember what they know,” Miyamoto said.
There’s much more in the interview, which you can find right here on Kotaku.