At Nintendo’s developer roundtable today, legendary Nintendo producer and director Shigeru Miyamoto discussed Super Mario Galaxy and Wii Fit, as well as future applications of the the company's newly announced Balance Board. After wondering where the table was in this ‘roundtable discussion,’ Miyamoto cut to the chase.
“Lately I’ve been spending most of my time on Super Mario Galaxy and Wii Fit,” he said. “Super Mario Galaxy is a very game-like game, but Wii Fit is unlike what we’ve done in the past. They do have one thing in common though, we’re trying to make them both accessible to anybody.”
There are two advantages to Super Mario Galaxy in his mind: everyone can understand gravity and the way it works, and it doesn’t have a high barrier of entry. One big issue in the past was where to put the camera. Now, since the worlds are spherical, the camera isn’t an issue. It’s easy, even for people who don’t understand 3D game worlds, to know what’s going on.
All told there are about 40 galaxies, Miyamoto revealed, across six specific areas, and therefore about 120 stars to collect in individual areas, as in past games.
“It’s easy to be a side-seat driver in two player mode,” he said, referencing the fact that with a second Wii remote, you can point at areas the player should go – and can also bother people by holding Mario in mid-air.
After a play demonstration, the Q&A began. Gamasutra inquired as to what other programs Miyamoto envisions for the Wii Fit Balance Board controller.
“Snowboard type games would be natural,” he began, adding that Wii Fit includes a skiing game, but a normal snowboarding game seems likely, and doing something like that with the Balance Board would be pretty easy. “We’ll help developers make that sort of thing happen,” he said, “and I imagine you’ll see something like that really soon.”
“We only announced the Balance Board yesterday," he continued, prompted by a related question, “but we’ve had lots of interest from developers already. We’ve also had interest from the physical fitness and physical training industries, and while we were finalizing the form factor of the device itself, we were consulting with medical professionals – so many in the medical industry are interested in using it for medical applications.”
A member of the small crowd of journalists inquired as to whether the success of Wii Sports has made him less interested in traditional games.
“Don’t worry about that at all,” he assured the crowd. “I just like making fun games. I’m having a lot of fun working on Super Mario Galaxy, and also with Wii Fit. I like bringing new ideas to games, and I like making those smaller games, but also those games that take longer. I think it’s important for developers to have several different outlets.”
He then spoke to the possibility of more peripherals in the future.
“When we first designed the Wii remote, one of the primary goals was to allow it to have these expansion capabilities,” he began. “We put the expensive technology in there,” making peripherals that just hold the device in a different way is very cheap.
“It’s much easier to add onto the Wii remote than it is to make new peripherals,” he said.
“For now, we’ve created the peripherals we had in mind originally. I think gradually as we come up with other game ideas, there’s the possibility of other devices, but I don’t think we need to continue to put out peripherals if there’s no fun or interesting idea to support it.”
He also mentioned that the Balance Board may need to be redesigned for America, if focus-testing dictates. “We’re certainly thinking about making it American-size for America,” he offered. “We may need to super-size it. We’ve been focus-testing Reggie!”
As a final question, Miyamoto was asked how much of the game represents his personal vision.
“With Mario 64 I was the director,” he began. “In this case, I’m more involved with game design, and somebody else is directing it,” adding that you could say he is even more involved than he was with Mario 64.