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Shigeru Miyamoto

The greatest video games designer the world has ever seen. He is responsible in various ways for several strands of gaming traditions within Nintendo.

Platform game tradition

  • Donkey Kong (1981).
  • Donkey Kong Jnr (1982).
  • Mario Bros (1983).
  • Super Mario Bros (1985).
  • Super Mario Bros - The Lost Levels (1986).
  • Super Mario Bros 3 (1988).
  • Super Mario Land (1989).
  • Super Mario World (1990).
  • Yoshi's Island (1995).
  • Mario 64 (1996).

Platform game design guidelines

Mr. Miyamoto seems to have evolved his own guidelines for games design. Some of these may well be codified at Nintendo headquarters, while others have been followed by the guys at Rare and other good development houses. This is my interpretation of some of them:

  • Observe Convention - hey, he created the conventions!
  • Introduce Skills Gently - in a non-fatal manner at first.
  • Make characters easy to control - especially when jumping.
  • Reward Skilfulness - with short-cuts, free lives or power-ups.
  • Provide Linearity - there should be a clear mainstream.
  • Provide Short-cuts for advanced or adventurous players.
  • Anthropomorphisation - put eyes and mouths on everything!
  • Let characters interact with each other - to make them more real.
  • Support the Brand Franchise - keep old characters in new games.
  • Use limited literary allusion - e.g. fairy tales, Alice in Wonderland.
  • Exaggerate real-life experiences he had as a kid.
  • Use occasional set-pieces - e.g. knocking down a line of turtles.
  • Provide Variety - of enemies, terrain, locomotion.
  • Reward Exploration - with secret areas and items.
  • Provide save points - to limit how much a player must redo.
  • Don't trap the player - kill them or let them win.
  • Limit leaps of faith - allow rational play.
  • Use the Rule of three - the number three is a good one for repeated tasks.
  • Logical Puzzles - allow rational play instead of exhaustive testing.
  • Use Compulsory Scrolling / Race levels to break up the pattern of freeform levels every now and then.
  • Give Hints to the player - they should not be lost as to what to do.

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Copyright © 1999, 2005 Carl Muller (carlmuller@hotmail.com). All Rights Reserved.