Game designer Dylan Cuthbert has described Shigeru Miyamoto’s contribution on the project that later became Star Fox as “removing what was cool” about his original concept.
As reported by Edge, the founder of PixelJunk studio Q-Games discussed the experience of working at Nintendo with Miyamoto on Star Fox at the GDC Indie Games Summit.
“We were very cocky British programmers, thrown into this Japanese environment,” said Cuthbert. “We were in awe and in shock at the same time about their process, as we went in intending to make a full 3D shooting game inspired by Starglider 2. But in the process I learned from Miyamoto that ‘No idea must go into a game, even if they are good ideas.’”
Cuthbert found this very confusing, since, at the time, British games were consistency pushing the limits of computer entertainment, right from the time of isometric games in the 1980s.
“So Starglider 2 was initially what we were trying to make: a 3D roaming game. For our first months of working with Nintendo, Miyamoto would add ideas, and then remove them. And it felt like we weren’t really getting anywhere.”
It was after a Christmas break, however, that Miyamoto returned to the team with a solution, Cuthbert explained.
“He said, ‘we’re going to limit it. It’s going to be on rails, and it’s going to be fun and playable and a Nintendo game.’”
Cuthbert said the team were able to “grin and bear it” because of the language barrier, but admitted “if we had been in Britain we would have been like ‘no, screw that.’”
Reflecting on the experience, Cuthbert said it showed that “you can build ideas and then, by destroying them, find other ideas hiding in the shadows.”
He and his team then concentrated on refining what was fun about the concept under an intense timescale, with on-rails flight giving them more time to fine-tune the controls and include the memorable ‘barrel-roll’ manoeuvre.
“In our Starglider concept, you couldn’t really see lasers coming from behind you and it could be very hard to find where the enemies were in 3D space. It was a very difficult process for the player. [The change] allowed us to make much better boss battles; you were always flying forward and you could always see the boss,” he added.
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