Defining Awesome — Conversations with Satoru Iwata part 3
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  • Conversations with Satoru Iwata part 3

    Written by . Posted at 1:11 pm on June 13th, 2008


    Oh man I’m in love with this guy. I started reading these conversations again and decided to continue my commentaries.
    These are conversations with Nintendo’s boss Satoru Iwata, about his management philosophies and about Mr. Miyamato’s (Mario, Donkey Kong) game design philosophies which he studies frequently. 

    Part 1 about great ideas –

    Part 2 about looking over someone elses shoulder –

    Part 3 about a special perspective

    Itoi: Mr.Miyamoto has been unique to think that “if the players don’t understand it, their’s fault in the design I made”. Were there many designers who thought that way?

    Iwata: No, I think he was very unique. Often, people only look from the designer’s point of view.

    Itoi: Must be so.

    Iwata: Many designers put their personal perspective into their design as if it represents everyone’s opinion. In reality, based on the fact on how the player reacts, you should draw a hypothesis, and then you should figure out how to solve the problem from the root. But, people often mix the facts and presumptions, and push that mixed opinion through without solving the problem based on the fact.

    Itoi: That just leads to throwing subjective opinions at each other in the development meetings, doesn’t it?

    Iwata: Yes, although that’s not totally useless.
    Creation always has an aspect of expressing one’s ego. Mr.Miyamoto’s no different. He does have that side in him. As long as you’re creating something, you can’t avoid being an egoist. What’s special about Mr.Miyamoto is that he is unthinkably egocentric in one way, but he never loses an objective point of view. He’s always alert about people’s initial response to his creation. If he finds they don’t get it, he simply drops it and looks for an alternative.

    MM: I do things the way I like it and it usually works. Especially in the areas where I have a good feel for it. It is important to know where to be egocentric. Weapon balance is not a good area, because you will tend to promote the weapon you like most. Game feel and map design is an area where your intuition may come in handy because that has an impact on what the game is actually about. It is an extension of yourself (of what you like).

    I don’t even know how to do games from other peoples perspective. I mean, how good must you be to know what other people think and need. It never works, like trying to please somebody, you don’t know what they like, you only know what you like. So I work on an assumption: If I like something, there are going to be other people that like it too. I’m not that unique.

    Iwata: I think the “idea which solves multiple issues at once” can’t be found when you’re looking at something real close. You need to be able to switch your point of view. That’s not an easy thing to do. Mr.Miyamoto can do it easily. He’s the type of person that can come up with a solution that can truly save someone when he/she’s in danger, and not rescuing him/her at the cost of another.

    Itoi: I can see why you call yourself “the researcher of Miyamoto studies”. (laugh)

    Iwata: (laughing)
    Oh, yes, I’m the world’s number one researcher of Miyamoto studies.

    MM: Oh yes you are (laughing)

    Itoi: You’ve been calling yourself that for quite a long time. (laugh)

    Iwata: He must be sneezing now.

    MM: Um… sneezing?

    Itoi: Didn’t Mr.Miyamoto major in industrial design in college? That’s something significant that makes him who he is now, isn’t it?

    Iwata: I think so. I think it’s a huge factor that he used to study ID(Industrial Design). It’s not about how artistic it is, it’s all about how the product meets its objective.

    Itoi: He is really making use of what he studied.

    Iwata: Knowing Mr.Miyamoto as he is today, it seems to me that it sort of was inevitable that he studied ID, and not by coincidence.

    Itoi: The logics he acquired through studying ID must make up a significant part of him, how he picks out the correct answers through people’s responses.

    MM: If you’ve ever watched Steve Jobs Stanford commencement speech you’ll hear that he had a similar point – you never know what you’ll need later in life. Everything that you study and learn is accumulated inside of you and you can trust me on this, it will be used at some point in your life. Even if you’ve learned it for years and it will be needed once, it’s worth it, if that moment is crucial for your success. Jobs makes an example of studying caligraphy, a pointless subject in modern times, but the knowledge about it was what inspired him to create True Type fonts on Apple computers in the 1980’s. It was a revolutionary idea, we don’t remember that fonts were all ugly computer-like back then.

    The point is, whatever you learn will be used. And actually the more pointless and abstract things you are learning the better. Because that is what makes YOU unique. If you learn something, like a skill, or piece of knowlege that nobody else wants to learn or sees no point in learning it (like playing the balalaika), that’s a good indicator that you’re doing something special. And that maybe something new in the world and might start a revolution.

    Iwata: Definitely.
    The majority of people think he’s the person of art, full of inspiration, with a natural talent coming up with ideas one after another, as if he was guided by God.

    Itoi: But that’s not how it is, right?

    MM: Mr. Miyamoto is God.

    Iwata: Not at all.
    He’s extremely logical, but that’s not all. He creates a mixture of left-prefrontal-oriented elaborate logic, and dramatic ideas that people are blown away by.
    To be honest, I have to say I envy this.

    Itoi: You always talk like you don’t have that kind of mixture, but I think every programmer has that within himself.

    Left -Logical
    Right – Radical
    I think a mixture of these approaches is the best. Especially if you want to get things done, you need to be a more radical programmer. Have tons of ideas up your sleeve. On the other hand if you want to have good looking and scalable code, you need to logically think it through.

    Iwata: Well, I don’t say I lack it, but surely I wouldn’t want to compete with right-prefontal-oriented people like you or Mr.Miyamoto on your grounds.

    All: (laugh)

    MM: I didn’t get it… And what about that sneezing?

    Itoi: Really? (laugh)

    Iwata: I know I only have a slim chance of winning. (laugh)
    I’d rather compete in my own field, than someone else’s.

    Itoi: That’s another thing you’ve been saying for a long time.

    (to be continued)

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    1. Anonymous

      Japanese believe when you talk about someone behind there back the person there talking about sneezes. One of there many superstitions

    2. archont

      If the gamer doesn’t understand your game, if he fails to grasp it’s concepts, if it’s logic or rules are beyond his immediate comprehention ability.. fuck him.

      There’s enough casual shit floating in the cesspool of mediocrity and clonage.

      Don’t make a game the casual player will play. Don’t make a game every loser or semi-retarded inbred dipshit born on this world will master in minutes.

      No game designer is an alien. Every game designer is a human being. If a game designer finds his creation genuinely fun then there will be other human beings who find it fun as well. Don’t aim for the lowest common denominator.

      I’m a fan of rubenfield’s philosophy on game design. Go read it up on his blog, makes for a very nice read.

    3. archont: link?

    4. archont
    5. archont

      Damnit, it ate my “GOOGLE MOTHERFUCKER, CAN YOU USE IT” image :(

    6. “Don’t make a game every loser or semi-retarded inbred dipshit born on this world will master in minutes.”

      Absolutely. The world needs hard games.

    7. “Absolutely. The world needs hard games.”
      Agreed. Oh my lovely La Mulana 😀

      Is it just me or is this translation not very good?
      “if the players don’t understand it, their’s fault in the design I made”
      doesn’t make sense to me…


      I say:
      stop thinking about thinking.
      start doing.
      too much philosophy leads to philosophy again and
      no palpable results.
      Michal why exactly are you still philosophing ?

    9. Gotta comment here too. Ditto to what Dark Avenger said. You’re not Miyamoto, you’re not Itoi, nor are you John Carmack. You’re Michal Marcinkowski – that all you need to be.

    10. Awesome blog thanks –

    11. I’m with DARK AVENGER.


      less talk , more deeds

    13. Prove his philosophies with a game, MM. 😀


      yes, I think this japanese guy looks to me more like a
      “corporate/boss/guy who sits with the ladies and the drinks on the boat” kind
      of guy.
      SplitCoffee is right.
      Prove his ideeas with a game.
      It’s time for letting making things happen.



      Are you by any chance aiming to be the dude who talks more than he
      actually does ?
      The corporate slacker ?
      The money-possessed dude ?


      when making a game, talk to me about analytic geometry, optimizations,
      geometric algorithms,computational geometry,bit twiddling , that sort of stuff.
      but when you hear this dude saying games are about “mixture of left-prefrontal-oriented elaborate logic” …
      man … what kind of **** is that ?
      straight-forward,games need programming and some maths and talent.
      maybe Michal strongly disagrees but I’d like to see his point of view here.

    17. less talk , more deeds
      when making a game, talk to me about analytic geometry, optimizations,
      geometric algorithms,computational geometry,bit twiddling , that sort of stuff.



    18. When i was young and first saw a computer game i thought that all that was happening on the screen was recorded before like in a film.

      After that i learned programming and made some little games, i realised that they got boring after a short period of time.

      I began to think about what gives motivation to the player to play the game over and over again. I realised that there are MANY factors that comes together, like the GUI, Intro, Games history, Color style, Communtiy features, Controls, View of Player, Game Speed, Mutiplayer capability, Blood and Violence, Sex, Computing of player scores, Pixel art, Sound effects, MODs and many other aspects.

      I think Michal make a good composition of these factory by making Soldat. It could be theoritacally luck or a talent, but i think it was mostly reflection of thoughts and feelings, capabilty of abstraction and hard work. Mabe Michal would disagree this, but i think he also wanted to make a game that other would like to play over and over again.

      Why he should spent much time of his live to start a game and realising later that he has to start again because he wasn’t thinking about one general aspect the game? It happend once some time before. He want to make a game that most of your guys will never forget and expected. And he want to make it more professional. That is that point. Until its finished you can play Soldat, the best fast paced multiplayer action game in the world.


      That’s how things get done.
      First you do them wrong,then you do them wrong,then you do them wrong
      …etc(some more wrongs)
      …and then you do them RIGHT !
      I consider Michal an excelent game maker too.
      It annoys me when I see him stuck in this philosophy ****.
      Michal WAKE UP !
      How are things done Michal ?
      Surely not by meta-thinking about them.
      You need to do them.

    20. its summer, maybe he’s f**cking around with a girl :)


      gfs shouldn’t get in the way of doing something that you really want to do.
      gfs should be understanding or else they should go away and find
      someone else.
      I’ve recently read some pages from a book called
      “My job went to india”
      First of all I’d like to say that it has nothing to do with it’s title and
      it’s much more broader than the title(don’t judge a book by it’s cover).
      Michal,I recommend you the book open heartedly.
      It’s the best thing I’ve read in months browsing the web.
      In particular I’d recommend reading at page 30 the paragraph named
      “Say It, Do It, Show It”

    22. DARK AVENGER, you’re repeating yourself. I think MM already got your point. Stop philosophing about why he can’t finish a project. If you’re so smart make a better game then Soldat. That for sure would motivate Michal.



    25. Grab yourselves some latest video’ware and program THAT. Leave 2D alone. Oh I almost forgot: I AM THE GREATEST.

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