Nintendo place emphasis on new hardware - but innovation is still key

"We always consider ideas people don't expect..."

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Kawata's talk showed how technical innovation led to the design creativity Inafune demanded. Fascinatingly, his team revisited a millennia-old farming technique called nimousaku in Japanese - "cultivating two different crops on the same land at different times in one year".


For 3DS Resident Evil, this meant that the team created the basic MT Framework engine and mechanics ofthe game first, then split into two teams to work on the designs for Revelations and Mercenaries separately. "We decided to make Revelations horror-focused, built around closed-in spaces and slow-paced," said Kawata. "Mercenaries, meanwhile, was an action-focused experience, with wide open spaces and a fast pace. This way, not only were we hedging our development costs, but also our design focus."

A second Japanese concept inspired the huge variety of gameplay styles in the game: Makunouchi Bento, or the Japanese train station boxed lunch. "They're popular with people who travel long distances because there's a lot of variety and it's all packed into a tight space. We packed this variety into this pretty packaging," said Kawata. So, essentially, Revelations is very much the packed lunch of game design: a chunky story (the sandwich), Raid Mode to dip into (crisps) and loads of Dairylea-grade dialogue (er, Dairylea), all contained in a perfectly designed bento container (the 3DS itself!).

Both developers demonstrated that technical and design innovation are clearly still present in Japan. Japanese developers benefit from the constraints and features of the hardware they're working on: Kawata's Revelations was all the better for being developed in contrast to Mercenaries, while Hayashida thrived on the new mental horizons presented by 3D technology.

The talk from Kawata was more dry and technical, but no less fascinating.

It's going to be fascinating to see what developers of this calibre do with the Wii U. Whatever Inafune says, Nintendo's pursuit of fun and the quest for innovation are one and the same

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