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.