A Convoluted Conversation With Martin Hollis
April 27, 2009 Page 2 of 5
I'm at Nintendo offices, so I'm making sure to put the Wii remote's strap on.
Andrew Kelly: There you go. Very good.
MH: Very good. And that little clip. He knows the routine. I forgot that yesterday when I did the Nintendo interview. Details are important. Yeah, they were very polite but very insistent -- for the Nintendo Channel.
So, it's hopefully the world's first hairdressing game. It's hopefully the world's first bonsai game. The world's first topiary game. And it's kind of a sculpting game, too.
Should I stand up or sit down?
MH: Whatever you're comfortable with, really. I think it's more of a sitting down game, actually.
[Christian begins to play.]
This is like a game focused around the living room. It's supposed to encourage people to talk to each other. It's supposed to be entertainment for people on the sofa, but someone can play it, too. It's, kind of like you were saying, Andrew, a '50s U.S. barbershop. People actually come into the room and chat and have conversation. It's a kind of friendly scenario.
How do you engender that from a design perspective?
MH: That's a really interesting question. Because it's in the core idea of a barber shop, that it can be like that.
I see. Right. Through the theming of the game, is what you're saying.
MH: So, as long as we're true to that, we're pretty much good, really. And there are lots of details that flow out of that core. So, one of the things that flow out of that is, don't have a time limit, don't have any strictness in the goals.
So, you're not under any pressure. You can kind of lean back in your seat. You can put down the controller at any time. Nothing is going to explode, you're not going to die. It's not a failure game like 99 percent of games, they're failure games. There's no failure here.
[Reading game dialogue] "Space buns". [laughs]
MH: Yeah, it's a bit of British humor in it. That always seemed slightly euphemistic to me, that one, but we got that one through. [laughs]
Space buns, I can hang with space buns. I think it's funny.
MH: Good, good. Well, there's quite a few jokes in there.
That's something that I think is still a bit rare in games -- humor.
MH: I think it's a disaster. There should be a whole genre like it is for movies. And this is trying to be a comedy game. Really -- we've put a huge amount of work into that. I mean, that could be our genre. It's supposed to be like a TV show -- Friends! This is one of our models for this game. This is supposed to be like Friends.
So, that's like another answer to your question, "how do you engender that in a design sense for the living room?" A bunch of people can sit in the living room and enjoy Friends, and maybe half of them are only half paying attention.
And you can have a conversation, dip in and out, get a few jokes here and there. If people are laughing, they're laughing together, and that brings the room together into a group. A comedy like that is perfect for a living room social... It's entertainment.
The question that I have, something I've been wondering a lot about... The Wii has a very general audience...
MH: It's just like everyone, except the guy that wants to play Resident Evil... [laughs]
The one thing that I wonder is, obviously everyone goes online today, but how savvy do you think a lot of the audience is? Are they aware of the services that the Wii has like the Shop Channel and stuff like that?
MH: Oh, you know, I guess, just like a significant fraction only of Wii owners that know about it today. But in a couple of years, it's really going to pull through. It takes a little time to build awareness of that.
And it's interesting you say a couple years because...
MH: From now, you know.
It's interesting because you've made a game for WiiWare, and obviously, you expect it to be on WiiWare and be available in perpetuity, right?
MH: It will be on Monday. Yeah, from Monday to perpetuity.
Whereas, with packaged games, they have such a short window of availability at their original price point, and at their original availability. I mean Nintendo games, not so much. You guys can sell a game -- fucking Mario Kart DS is still in the top ten.
MH: Wow, yes!
But for most people, most publishers, it's more like 6, 8, 12 weeks, and then [thud].
MH: Yeah. Well, you see it on a lot of digital avenues, games will have a spike at the beginning and then go down, but it's not down to zero, right? So, that might look low, but it's like every day, every week, every month, it carries on and on. Often you can sell more in like a second year than you do in your first.
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