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Nintendo on Switch – bridging portables / consoles, meeting third-parties, balancing fun and graphics, more

Posted on February 6, 2017 by (@NE_Brian) in News, Switch

TIME has posted a lengthy interview with Nintendo director Shinya Takahashi and Switch producer Yoshiaki Koizumi about the company’s brand new console. There were lots of interesting comments here, such as how it can be a means of bridging portables / consoles and striking a balance between fun and graphics. The two also spoke about how they personally met with third-parties and showed off 1-2-Switch, Snipperclips, and more.

Read on below for a rundown of Takahashi and Koizumi’s comments. TIME’s piece can be found here for a few more remarks.

Koizumi on getting inspiration for Switch from Nintendo’s early days…

“Of course, Nintendo as a company is one that we’ve always put a tremendous amount of emphasis on playing together with others. Even going back to when we were making cards [starting with Nintendo’s inception in 1889], playing cards for use with card games, those were geared towards playing with other people.”

“As we were talking about creating a system that you can take with you, the other thing that we felt we had to continue to place tremendous amount of emphasis on is this nature of playing with others. We felt it was important that we include two controllers with the system right out of the box because if you have a system that you can take with you anywhere and you have two controllers, you can hand the controller to somebody you know or even somebody you don’t know and instantly be able to play right there.”

“And so I think the story that we wanted to tell was this idea of bringing the system with you and sharing it with others. Switch has become the platform for telling that story.”

Takahashi on how Switch is partly an experiment to address perceived cultural differences…

“I think maybe there might be just some differences in perception around local play between Japan and the West. I think for us, it’s really a much more natural thing. Partly, that’s because particularly with things like DS and 3DS, kids in Japan, they walk to school together and they walk home from school together. You have a lot of opportunity for kids walking home and then playing together after school. They have more of these opportunities for face-to-face local play.”

“Whereas I hear that in the U.S., there’s maybe not as many of those opportunities on a daily basis for kids based on their schedules. I think for us, it’s just more of a natural flow from even the days of the Famicom when you would sit down with two controllers and then hand one to your friend and play together in front of the TV. And with these other opportunities for kids, that for us the focus on local play just feels very natural.”

Takahashi / Koizumi on whether Switch’s life cycle will be similar to Nintendo’s consoles or portables…

“It is Nintendo Switch, so maybe we’ll switch it up. Certainly, we’ve designed Nintendo Switch in a way that it can be used by consumers in the way that best suits them. I think we may see that people who have bought a Nintendo home console in the past traditionally, they may treat Switch like a home console and buy it and use it for a long period of time.” – Takahashi

“Whereas people who have been traditionally Nintendo handheld gamers, they may buy Nintendo Switch and then for example, if a new version were to come out later, then maybe they would decide to upgrade to that. Or, for example, because you can take the Joy-Con off the system, then I guess that leaves open the possibility of something else that might get attached. There’s obviously a lot of different developments that we could look at from that perspective as well.” – Takahashi

“We’re hoping that Nintendo Switch will be a system that will be the constant in your gaming life. Whereas previously, you would play certain things on your home system and certain things on your handheld. Our hope is that Nintendo Switch can be the system that bridges both of those and becomes the constant system that you’re always using.” – Koizumi

– Koizumi envisions scenarios in which, say, you wake up in the morning and maybe find some time to play a game on your TV while eating breakfast
– Then you bring Switch with you on your morning commute to work or to school
– “And then you’re coming back home on your commute and maybe you’re sitting in the bath enjoying a game.”
– If Switch can achieve this, he thinks it might hasten the demise of the split between a “home console” versus a “handheld”

“Certainly, I’m sure you’re very busy and I’m very busy and maybe we don’t have as much time to play games as we would like. But my hope is that with Nintendo Switch being a system that you can play at home and bring with you, we’re going to be able to find more of those moments where we’re able to play the games that we all enjoy and be able to enjoy them that much more.”

On how Takahashi and Koizumi wooed third-party devs personally…

“The two of us have met with a large number of third-party developers directly and done our Nintendo Switch presentation to them face-to-face directly. There were many overseas developers who we presented the system too who were very happy to see it.” – Koizumi

“We did a number of these presentations last year, and we were actually pretty nervous doing them, because we didn’t know how the overseas developers were going to respond to it. And in each presentation, one of the last things that we showed was 1-2-Switch.” – Takahashi

– Takahashi says 1-2-Switch turned out to be “the peak of their joy in playing the system”

On Snipperclips…

“Snipperclips [a third-party game in which two players work side-by-side with the controllers to solve shape-cutting physics puzzles] is one that’s very fun, and the interpersonal communication is a lot of fun. But it’s also an example of some of the work that we’ve been doing upfront, as Mr. Koizumi mentioned, to get the development environment to a place where small teams like that can create the game for Nintendo Switch. Our hope is that we’ll start to see more and more indie developers coming to Switch and preparing content for the system as well.” – Takahashi

“That’s a game that’s being developed in Unity that’s on pace to be available for launch of the system. I think that with the tools being available earlier in the life cycle of the system, it’s going to make it a lot easier for developers to create a variety of different games of varying scope for Switch.” – Koizumi…

On how Nintendo views Switch as neither under or overpowered, but exactly what it needs to be to deliver the experience it hopes players want…

“You’re asking this question to two individuals at Nintendo who come from an art background and the computer graphics background. We tend to be among the pushiest when it comes to graphics within the company. That being said, as we mentioned before, at Nintendo we feel like we’re an entertainment company rather than necessarily a games or a graphics company. Our priority is always on trying to create new and fun forms of entertainment. That’s the top priority.” – Takahashi

“Certainly, graphic quality falls somewhere within our priority, but our feeling is that Nintendo Switch is a system that really has the best balance of being able to create fun and new ways to play, but doing so with the graphic quality that’s still good enough while also being one that’s easy to develop for.” – Takahashi

“Graphics and frame rate are important in terms of how you’re connecting with or how you’re moving the heart of the player who’s immersed in that world. Nintendo Switch also has something else that can connect with that player in the form of the HD Rumble, where you can be immersed in that world, but you can actually feel in your hands the sensation of something in that world that you haven’t been able to feel before that adds a new layer of immersion to go along with the graphics and the frame rate.” – Koizumi

“I think when you start to look at the total package of tools that Nintendo Switch has to help bring those worlds to life, I think you’ll find that it has some unique ways to connect with you as a player and move you in ways that you haven’t necessarily experienced before.” – Koizumi

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