THE BUZZ: In a new Iwata Asks interview posted up on Nintendo’s official site, legendary game creator Shigeru Miyamoto wonders if he’s too harsh of a boss or not.
“I don’t know if it comes from not having a boss, but I can’t tell if I’m a good boss or not,” Miyamoto ponders. “For example, staff members who have worked with me for a long time will often come up to me and say, ‘I thought of something,’ but about 70% of the time, I say, ‘That won’t work.’ I know it isn’t nice, but I know if that idea was mine I’d decline it too, I have to say it anyway. Sometimes, I think if I don’t stop that, I won’t be able to help anyone grow. …when I think about it later, I didn’t need to be so harsh for about 20% of that 70%.”
A little later in the interview, Miyamoto talks about the problem with settling for games being “passable”.
“But I think that in the beginning everyone felt responsible for what they’d made. But then we started calculating sales, and thinking about cost performance. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that, but somehow it all becomes someone else’s responsibility at that point. So sometimes when we’re presenting what we’ve made, we end up saying, ‘I guess it’s okay, right?’ And I think that’s really unacceptable. You’ll ask the director, ‘How it’s look?’ And he’ll answer, ‘It’s passable.’ How could you call something passable?”
Going back to the idea of shooting down a lot of the suggestions brought to him from his staff, Miyamoto talks about Super Mario 64, and how he was originally against one of its gameplay features.
“So if it looks like something has an endpoint, I’ll have out with it, even if it’s a project that I originally put a stop to. You know how in Super Mario 64 you can grab Bowser and spin him around by his tail? I actually stopped that. I didn’t tell them it was impossible, but I said, ‘Don’t explore that direction anymore.’ I just felt like it was pretty risky. Then something happened to get the program working, and I decided that since there was now a light at the end of the tunnel, we should go with it as one of the main features.”
EGM’s TAKE: The interview is an interesting look at one of Nintendo’s most fabled minds, and brings up the question about how strict and focused you must be to help foster creativity.
Apple founder Steve Jobs was known for being notoriously hard to work for, as he always demanded perfection in even the smallest details—but one could argue that that push for perfection is what got Apple to where it is today. The same can no doubt be said for Nintendo—like their games or not, it isn’t often that the company releases a game that doesn’t feel more polished or developed than most of the other efforts out there.