Some 5+ years ago, I ran a Nintendo site on Blogger that eventually turned into GoNintendo. Back during those early days, I slept outside the Nintendo World Store in New York City to have a chance at meeting Shigeru Miyamoto. Sleeping outside on the street was a small price to pay for meeting one of my biggest idols. I achieved my goal, and got to shake Miaymoto’s hand, and grab an autograph as well. This was all done while wearing my ‘Know your shrooms’ PJ pants, which Miyamoto seemed quite fond of!
Fast-forward to E3 2010, the first real day of the show. Where do I find myself after all the time that passed? I’m in a room with Bill Trinen and Shigeru Miyamoto, and I’m there for a 10 minute one-on-one interview. To have come so far is something that blows my mind, and humbles me a great deal. I cannot tell you how amazing this experience was. What I can tell you is how much I appreciate all that you guys have done.
Without your support of GoNintendo and all that we do, I could have never made it to this moment. It’s your dedication to the site that allowed me opportunity, and I will forever be in your debt. You made the unobtainable come true, and I will never be able to get over that. This is a day I’ll forever remember, and it will always bring a huge smile. Seriously, all that you have done for the site means the world to me. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart.
So there I sat, 10 minutes with Miyamoto. What do I do? What should I ask? How do I keep from either spontaneously crying or losing my breakfast right there?! With a moment of composure and my first question out of my mouth, things fell into place. What started off as a nerve-racking experience ended as a very comfortable, enjoyable and unforgettable experience.
I took most of my time with Miyamoto to discuss the hows and whys of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Right off the bat, Miyamoto made it very clear that this Zelda outing is about streamlining the experience. The Nintendo gang wanted to see what it was that kept Zelda fans coming back, and it boiled down to the gameplay. It’s that fantastic blend of action/puzzles/adventure that really drives the passion in players. That’s when the team knew that they had to focus in on really expanding those elements that players held dear, and try to focus on making the entire experience one that oozed with this vibe.
One of the key methods for making that happen was the MotionPlus control. Mr. Miyamoto said that MotionPlus is key to streamlining the experience. With MotionPlus, you can take away common gaming input that you and I take for granted, but a newcomer might not know. Streamlining the experience and simplifying controls was extremely important in creating this new experience. I think that we can all admit that it’s much easier to swing the Wiimote as a sword, than remembering buttons to hit for specific attacks. MotionPlus afforded the team the ability to really hone in on what makes Zelda great, and worries of controls didn’t have to get in the way
Mr. Miyamoto also believes that it’s this 1:1 interaction with Link that helps you feel closer to the character. For awhile now, Miyamoto has been saying that he wants the player in a Zelda game to actually feel as if they were going on the adventure themselves, rather than just controlling a character down a path. With MotionPlus controls, you are actually doing real-life movements that match up perfectly with Link. He’s acting like more of an avatar than a character, allowing the player an easier path to feeling closer to the experience. With each sword swing and arrow fired, you can see your real-life movements becoming an in-game reality. Surely, this type of control approach will help create memories of fights you took on, and puzzles you solved. One would expect you to better remember the experience as your own, rather than one of just guiding Link.
This all-important immersion factor bleeds over into all areas of the game, including the visuals. Mr. Miyamoto admitted to being quite the fan of impressionism, and its this art style that is helping to make the new styles of MotionPlus gameplay more easily recognized. According to Miyamoto, this visual style is very important to the game’s overall approach to gameplay, as the visuals make it much easier for the player to understand what they must do. Exaggerated or fantastical designs and visuals allow the developers to better highlight how a player can approach a situation. A more realistic style could make it very hard to figure out how you need to attack an enemy in a certain way, or how items need to be used in situations. Clearly, Mr. Miyamoto believes that the visual approach in this instance is one that can only make Skyward Sword easier to play.
It’s not all MotionPlus action, though. Mr. Miyamoto discussed the importance of using both MotionPlus and sensor bar to provide better weapon and item use. MotionPlus is not going to be used in every instance possible, just because the tech is available. Item/weapon controls will be carefully weighed to see how MotionPlus/sensor bar/both can make for the optimal control scheme. It’s these options that should allow for a much smoother experience, which will hopefully allow the player a more seamless transition into the world. It’s all about creating a game that is very easy to get into, but an experience that’s hard to tear yourself away from.
I also happened to ask Mr. Miyamoto about some 3DS topics, but the information he supplied me with actually ended up getting discussed at the developer roundtable later. I’m hoping that means that my questions were good!
And just like that, my time was up. A moment I had been nervous about for weeks had now come and gone. 10 minutes felt like 10 seconds, if not less. To sit down and pick the brain of one of the industry’s best is an honor that I will never feel worthy of, nor will I ever truly be able to get over how I got to this point. Thank you so much to Mr. Miyamoto for his valuable time, Mr. Trinen for the translations, everyone at Nintendo that made this possible, and all of you guys. It all starts and ends with you, and it’s my pleasure to be there with/for you every step of the way.