A new interview with two of Nintendo’s most prolific developers has been posted on Gamasutra. Both Risa Tabata and Kensuke Tanabe sat down to discuss some of what goes into the development process at Nintendo, including how things get started with fresh ideas. Kensuke Tanabe has been with the company for more than thirty years, while Risa Tabata has been with the company since 2001.
When asked what it’s like to develop games for Nintendo with external companies, Tabata said that the primary goal is finding the fun factor.
First, the basic idea is to have the fun element of the game. As long as we can see that, we can move forward with that game. There are cases where we will start with using documents to lay out the plan, but this time we thought it would be nice to get the feeling of the game, so they were able to come up with a prototype fairly quickly
Tanabe was quick to point out that while some game design documents are necessary, Nintendo’s method of operation isn’t standard in the industry at all.
We don’t start a project until we know what’s going to be the main core of that project. Once we know what’s going to be the baseline, the core of that game, the fun element of it, then we start to create the prototypes and play around with it, and start adding elements to make it a fun game — what we can do to make it a fun experience. In that process, obviously, we have a lot of ideas that will get passed through, and some of them will get dropped or moved forward.
Tanabe said that this process of game development is the primary reason why Nintendo works so long with developers, to ensure they understand this design principle, rather than throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. He says when his team finds companies that are able to operate on that spectrum, rather than needing a huge design document, the company will work for years with Nintendo.
For those companies that end up understanding our ideas, and agreeing to work that way, those are essentially the companies that will work with us for the years to follow.
The rest of the interview is an interesting peek into what it’s like to work as a second-party for Nintendo, so give the whole thing a read if you have time.
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TAGS: kensuke tanabe, Nintendo, risa tabata, wii u