Turning Nintendo: The Donkey Kong Country Returns Interview
May 30, 2011 Page 3 of 3
How do you allow the child to feel respected and like this game is engaging them on a level that makes them feel empowered? How do would you go about creating an environment where they're part of the process of this universe unfolding?
KT: Well so let's give an example here. In Nintendo games, if there's a need for a hint to sort of guide the player along, I think it's very unlikely that the hint will simply be, "You need to turn right." Perhaps instead it would be something more along the lines of, putting a tree with bright red leaves on the right hand side of the screen to indicate that. And instead of saying you need to turn right, there might be something like, "Look for the tree with red leaves, and that will point the way."
So those who are looking around in the environment you know will say, "Oh, I remember this thing that I saw, and I need to go this way," or, "This makes sense; maybe this is the way I need to go."
And those who haven't found it will know to search in some way, to really let the person who is playing feel empowered in the sense that they're the one who made the discovery about what they need to do. I feel like that's a really different experience from telling someone to turn right.
There's a big tendency even in games for adults, to have everything be mission objectives that are spoken down. "You've got to go there, you've got to kill that guy, and then get over there to the depot."
I feel like that feeling of discovery is really, it's an important part of the interactive medium that could definitely do with being explored more. That's not exactly a real question...
MK: Well then I won't give you a real answer. I will comment on your comment. I really appreciate the old LucasArts games. Loom is a great example, Monkey Island, because they didn't walk you right through the game. They gave you a pointer and a screen, right? It was up to you to figure it all out.
You'd never get tips or hints or anything and there'd be times where you're just going, "I cannot figure this out. I moved every single thing, I looked at everything!" And that's gone now.
There's a lot of hand-holding, and not that it's relevant to DKC and what-have-you, but I really see your point that that's missing now. There's a lot of, "We need to nursemaid the player through it," and I like those old games. I want to be challenged in the sense of "I need to look everywhere."
How do you make Retro become a Nintendo studio? Like what does that entail?
MK: It's patience, mentorship -- a lot of mentorship, a lot of help from our friends at Nintendo. It's investing in the right people. It takes time. There's not a book that I could say, "Read this and you'll know how to make Nintendo games." You learn how to do it by experience, and that's really, experience and mentorship. That's really the only way you do it.
It takes a lot of time and a lot of investment and, again, it's getting the right people. You have to hire people that are motivated by making quality product, not by how many units they sell. So it's really as simple as that, but it's not simple at all. It takes a lot of work. Ten, years, well 12 years, and we've made a lot of progress, but we don't have it down yet. We still have a lot to learn, you know. It changes. As the industry evolves, so do the demands of the developer, so it's not easy, and there are not a lot of developers that really get it.
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