First, please introduce yourselves.
I'm Shinya Takahashi from the Software Development & Design Department. My role this time was to broadly coordinate Nintendo DSiWare as a whole, while also working on Brain Training1. I previously appeared in the Nintendo DSi Browser session of Iwata Asks, and I'm looking forward to today's conversation as well.
1 Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old is Your Brain?: Released for the Nintendo DS in June 2006 in Europe.
I'm Koichi Kawamoto, also from Software Development & Design Department. Previously I was involved in development of Brain Training and More Brain Training2. This time I was in charge of the development of A Little Bit of Brain Training. (the Japanese title is Chotto Brain Training. The meaning of the word "Chotto” is rather ambiguous, and can mean "quick”, "a moment” or "a little” among other meanings).
2More Brain Training from Dr. Kawashima: How Old is Your Brain?: Released for the Nintendo DS in June 2007 in Europe.
The idea for A Little Bit of Brain Training came from a software subcommittee meeting back when we were developing the Nintendo DSi as a new games console, didn't it? Wasn't it called the subcommittee of something or other?
If I remember correctly, it was the Download Software Subcommittee.
For that subcommittee, members from a variety of teams came together to think about a number of small software titles that could be downloaded from the Internet as part of the "My DS” concept.
Yes. That subcommittee included you, Goro Abe from the WarioWare: Snapped! team, Akifusa-san from Nintendo DSi Sound, and me.
When we first started holding meetings, progress was very slow.
At the time, it was still quite vague as to what kind of games console the Nintendo DSi would be. All sorts of rough ideas were being tossed around, but nothing seemed to stand out.
With nothing standing out from the rest, possible projects just kept multiplying. It's the worst kind of situation.
There was nothing wrong with any particular idea. That was part of the problem.
Some were fun to talk about, but weren't very realistic.
I didn't participate in the meetings myself, but watching Kawamoto-san come and go, I thought they had been going on for quite a long time.
They really did. They went on for about six months - no, longer. Bringing out a Chotto series had been suggested, but it was buried under all the other proposals on the table.
Using "Chotto” in the name was Iwata-san's idea.
We were talking about what should follow the Touch! Generations brand, and Iwata-san suggested - half-jokingly, I think - Chotto! Generations as a possibility. (laughs)
Yes, I was joking about Chotto! Generations, but I was serious about a Chotto series. I think more and more people hesitate to start playing them because, even though they think video games are fun, they look like they will take up so much time.
In consideration of that, we were trying to release the Nintendo DSi under the concept of "My DS”—one console per person. We were wondering what kind of games we could make that could be played in short bits of our customer's time and still be satisfying.
We've always viewed player immersion as a good thing, but is it really everything? If you made a game based on the idea that it wasn't necessarily a good thing, what would be the result?
When I thought about that, I thought it would be good if there were a Chotto game series that you could play with little by little and interact with little by little in your life. I remember the big reaction I got from Kawamoto-san when I told him about that.
That's right. When I look at my own life, TV shows and movies finish at a particular time, so I know when I will be able to go to bed, but with video games, time tends to drag on. It can be a little scary.
It brings about a strange situation. Video games are fun, but you don't necessarily want to play them. I thought it might be nice if there was a game that wasn't like that. I even thought it might be nice if the game itself asked, "Don't you think it's about time to quit?”
I was involved in the development of EarthBound3. After two hours had passed, Ness's father would phone and say something like, "Sorry to bother you, but maybe you should take a break?” For a game to suggest taking a break to its players is striking. Because of that past experience, I know exactly what you mean.
We also talked about how showing in a simple way how much time and energy was appropriate to spend playing the game would change the relationship between players and the games they play.
3 EarthBound: Released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in Japan.
That's right. Logically, there isn't any reason you shouldn't be able to do that for other games, whether an RPG or something huge like Zelda, but if I were told to, so much would have to be changed that I wouldn't be able to do it in one swift stroke. But a game like Brain Training is originally geared for short play times, so we could start with that goal in mind.
But for a while we couldn't get the go-ahead.
As producer, I thought it would be great if we could make a Brain Training game as the model for the entire Chotto series, but back then - I think it was May of 2008 - there was quite a debate about what Chotto meant. Some said this, others said that.
I remember. Everyone at Nintendo was trying to define what it meant. They thought what I meant by Chotto was a little different than what Miyamoto-san meant.
Not just "a little” different. To me, you each meant something very different.
Miyamoto-san appeared to think that the Chotto series would involve buying Wii software that could then be transferred and played in various forms on DS.
But for both of us, the game would be played in short periods of time. What I meant by Chotto leaned more toward something you could start playing for a low price.
But Miyamoto-san thought the Chotto series would involve players buying Wii software, then breaking it down for play in smaller portions, so I was confused.
Most of the time, what Miyamoto-san says and what I say match, so no one has any trouble, but when, like this time, we don't match, it appears everyone has a lot of trouble. Was it that way for you, Takahashi-san?
I have to say yes! (laughs) Indeed, what you each said was slightly similar, but it was also a little different. And since both what you and he were each saying made perfect sense, I really didn't know what to do!
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