The Similarities Between Dragon Quest And Mario

By Ishaan . July 11, 2010 . 4:27pm


During his Iwata Asks segment with Dragon Quest creator, Yuji Horii, the Nintendo president revealed that his company’s renowned managing director, Shigeru Miyamoto, always has positive things to say about Horii’s games; in particular, that he likes their “tempo”.


To this, Horii responded that he feels making it so that are players control the game without having to think about the controls is important. But while a lot of games have fantastic controls, it isn’t an easily-accomplished goal.


“Horii knows what it takes to fix the tempo,” Dragon Quest IX producer, Ryutaro Ichimura stated, admitting that he follows strict directions from Horii. “If something a little off catches his attention while playing the game, he quickly tells me to change it. And a lot of the time, when he points these things out, we can’t see them at first, but eventually we get it. Like pushing a button and the page [referring to text] doesn’t advance quite right…the timing is off. That can be annoying and it does hurt the tempo.”


“He brings up a lot of meticulous issues,” he continued. “Like how a door doesn’t quite react as it should when pushing a button to open it, and how little things like this can really get on the player’s nerves.”


“Which leads me to my point that Miyamoto’s team here at Nintendo deals with exactly these sort of issues when making action games,” Iwata responded. Iwata points out here that, even though Nintendo games and Dragon Quest games are from entirely different genres, the fine-tuning process behind them is the same.


“There’s one thing your team has in common with Miyamoto’s team, Horii-san,” he continued. “When the player goes through a lot of trouble to get somewhere, they’re guaranteed something in return. I mean, there’s never a time when the player is led to a far-off place and ends up with nothing.”


Horii’s next point is immensely interesting. He believes that players tend to be naturally uneasy when starting a new game, so it’s important to give them periodic reassurance to let them know when they’re doing something right. Knowing that they’re playing right makes them want to keep playing. And as they continue to play correctly, the game rewards them with positive feedback, encouraging them to play more.


It’s a question of striking a delicate balance between accessible and deep. “Usually, if a game in the industry is made for light gamers, the advanced gamers want nothing to do with it,” Iwata noted. But Horii’s games don’t have the same effect he feels.


The answer to this is lowering the first hurdle to let people get started, but not making it too low anywhere during the course of the game. The key is making it so only those that want more will be able to dig deeper into the game. Dragon Quest IX, in particular, was designed so that you wouldn’t have to dig too deep into the skill point system and other core elements to advance the story.

  • abasm

    This man gets it. Treasure gets it. Miyamoto gets it. There are others as well.

    Even so, tragically few game designers understand that a truly great game is a constant dialogue between the player and the creators, not simply a media product to be consumed. The greatest games are entertaining on a macroscopic scale–in terms of pacing, difficulty, and tension–and a microscopic scale–every button press is a reward, every meaningful interaction a tactile treat.

    I’m avidly waiting for the day that this man’s wisdom (and the wisdom of his peers) enters the common gaming lexicon, and supplants the superficial culture of popular gaming.

    • lostinblue

      yup. More game designers should be keeping tabs on iwata asks stuff and taking notes.

      They’re pretty liberal in what they reveal and they’re real examples of what developers should be focusing on sometimes.

    • M’iau M’iaut

      Head to Gamasutra or other blogs where Western devs share their opinions and all you’ll find is people falling all over themselves on how us stupid consumers aren’t getting the ‘artistic importance’ of their work or that the industry is failing because these same stupid consumers are choosing to trade/sell/buy used.Perhaps this is a good thing resulting from the fact that Japanese development teams are still ‘archaically’ headed by one or two individuals with enough power to say ‘this is the way it will be’. Many still seem to think (through their purchases) that they more often than not have a point.

      • lostinblue

        Gamasutra is pretty partial too, they push for stuff in their interviews, something they really shouldn’t since they’re supposed to be a industry asset, not some sensationalist site (kotaku).

        They’re in different leagues of course but I’d even say Gamasutra is part of the problem or suffers from the same thing other sites do.

        Which is kinda like the american dream transposed to media and videogame developers, but in the end it’s an eldorado. And of course, there has gotta be a culprit, because it can’t be their own fault… right?

        • M’iau M’iaut

          Gamasutra is definitely part of the problem, and in fact I’d say the uninformed and trollbaiting ‘reports’ one can too easily find there are even worse than some internet tard flaming a Kotaku or Gamespot post response. The editors, reporters and bloggers there not only sell themselves as the ‘voice’ of the US game industry, several work in the industry, in rather prominent roles.

          You would never see such crap on industry blogs which focus on movies and books, the two mediums the US industry is so desperate to emulate itself on. And perhaps that is a reason why still our hobby cant get its respect.

          • lostinblue

            I gotta say you conveyed what I wanted to say better than I could, that’s exactly what I felt several times.

            We, as single users can be opinative and overly partial, sure, it’s also part of the “internet masks” we create for ourselves and the causes we see fit defending, and that’s fine because for every voice defending there will be another one defending the complete opposite or if there isn’t truth is that if someone wanted to, they could fill in for that, because communities work like that and one’s word accounts for as many value and credibility as somebody else, anonymous as it is the web; same for other sites and magazines, no one expects Playstation magazine to not pressure for their camp after all, and it’s fine.

            But gamasutra like you pointed out, being shielded by the notion they throw around as “voice of US game industry” which is no more than a fallacy of false authority when they’re twist and turning and behaving like everybody else makes them just like everything else, are certainly not reputable and possibly the worst kind of not reputable too, the kind that tries to hard to be regarded as such, and drags a lot of people into thinking it is. I mean at least no one informed thinks kotaku is reputable.

            I used to really like their site too, it’s a shame they let go of their impartiality and might I say, whole identity.

          • M’iau M’iaut

            Oh I’ve bookmarked and unbookmarked that site more times than I can count. There was a time it was fun and informative to post back and forth to some very heavy industry names and enjoy that they were taking the time to actually listen and respond.

            Now all I seem to get when I visit is more reasons why I left originally.

          • Ereek

            I’m replying to your comment down below up here because I can’t reply down below.
            Oh I’ve bookmarked and unbookmarked that site more times than I can count. There was a time it was fun and informative to post back and forth to some very heavy industry names and enjoy that they were taking the time to actually listen and respond.

            I have a similar view on sites like Destructoid and agree on pretty much all accounts. There was a time when the site (in this case, Destructoid) was great and not nearly the trollbait it is today.

      • RupanIII

        The comment about Japanese development teams and abasm’s mention of dialogue between player and creator both made me think of Kojima. One of those few gaming auteurs, imo. That gets me when you see those sprawling dev teams try to hype up whatever generic looking gory-sci-fi-FPS or whatnot as ‘artistic.’ But oftentimes the teams are so huge you don’t feel any sort of singular artistic vision from the end product.

        Rather than all the solipsistic media-babble interviews, hype, complaining about people buying used, why not focus on design? You look at this Iwata Asks interview and they’re talking about design- what the player finds rewarding, tempo, stuff like that- not trying to sell you on their innovative new FPS-quasi-action hybrid.

        As far as gaming sites are concerned, siliconera is about the only one I visit anymore, not just for the great coverage on niche titles, but also the discussions, which seem to have more lively/critical debate than on actual forums/blogs. People in the comments and such seem to believe in gaming as more than consumption/product. I found a site recently that the ex-gaming-mag editors claimed to be a blog network that was hardcore and more serious than most ‘gaming journalism,’ only to find a lot of navel-gazing like trying to link LeBron James to gaming or something (incidentally, why do I keep hearing about this? he picked team b over team a because of $/climate/whatever, and he’s a meanie? is that the extent of it? if so, why is everyone getting all personally invested and expecting anything other than a millionaire jumping for the better deal? do they think it’d be diff with anyone else?) Okay I’m getting way off topic, it just seems like I keep hearing about this on the news, the web, even gaming sites now, and I’m a little confused as to why it’s such a huge story. Point is, yea, most of this ‘game journalism integrity’ whatever other buzzwords amounts to marketing for mainstream stuffs/collusion, often complaining about games not being taken seriously but then turning around and supporting superficial. Also, kudos to siliconera ;P

        • M’iau M’iaut

          I’d say a large reason that you find those who “seem to believe in gaming as more than consumption/product” here is many are what I like to refer to as “hobbyist gamers”. We appreciate the medium as a medium, and are not simply there for the flavor of the month. We’ve grown up with it and within it, understanding the history and recognizing the influences, regardless of what those may be.

          Our hobby at the consumer level now has 35+ years of history and damn near double that if you consider such things as tabletop games, proto RPGs and strategic wargaming from which almost all of the early programers and companies grew from. That may not be the 100 years of movie making or thousands of years of print, but should be long enough for a varied, recognized and respected critique/news source to have developed.

          • RupanIII

            Well put

      • Joanna

        I mostly agree, but I think making your game artsy is important too. The “style” of the game adds a lot to it. Think of games like Odin Sphere, TWEWY, even Dragon Quest. But yes, first and foremost, things like controls, design, and tempo should be addressed.

        • M’iau M’iaut

          Understood there but I was not so much responding to “artistic importance” as the style selected in design as in the ‘meaning’ the dev team can all but demand get experienced when someone plays their product.

          Check out what has been stated by team leaders and members regarding such things as the ‘no russian’ level on MW2. Or some of rockstars spin on GTA and even Red Dead. It is almost funny for them to expect the average player to play in the style they deem as their ‘goal’ when producing their frag and murder fests.

          There certainly ain’t a lot of ‘two way’ communication going on in these instances.

          • Joanna

            Ok, I think I misunderstood you. Then we think the same. :)

  • Iwata Asks are so insightful, we never hear what is going on behind the veil at Nintendo or some of these other firms so these are always great reads for gamers. Bring over the game & watch ones to us STAT though!

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