Monday, February 13, 2012

Hints in Skyward Sword

PopWatch has an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, the director of the Legend of Zelda franchise (among others), about his choices in designing various games. Since I just finished the most recent Zelda game, Skyward Sword, I was interested in what he had to say about the hint system:
In Skyward Sword, there’s a magic stone that will give the player hints if he gets lost. It reminds me of the Super Guide/Cosmic Guide function in New Super Mario Bros. Wii andMario Galaxy 2. Now, when I was a kid, I spent days trying to beat some of the difficult levels in Super Mario Bros. 3. If you could go back in time, would you create similar guide functions in those games? 
Back in those days, the ways in which we could entertain people in the videogame world were rather limited. And because of that, [having the gamers] find out any and all the solutions themselves was one of the most important elements. Today, there are many, many ways to entertain people in one single videogame. And the Internet has made it so easy for people to ask for clues. We are mindful of that changing circumstance. Whenever we are making the game, we are making it for those who really need and want to know about a solution or a hint. But there are those who do not want to ask for those kind of hints. They really want to solve any riddles or challenges for himself, for herself. We are mindful of both of these types of people whenever we are making these games today.
Fascinating! Anyone who's played a Zelda game can tell you how tempting it is to peek at the many walkthroughs and FAQs when they're really stuck on a puzzle. Miyamoto can't wipe out those external guides, but he can create a sort of safety valve that gamers can use - or ignore - and that may be easier to use than taking the time to google a FAQ. Great example of how to set up a system that gives people choices within a coherent framework.

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