GDC: Satoru Iwata Keynote Finished
Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata delivered his GDC keynote address today at 9am PST (4pm GMT), and we reported the entire speech in live text form on this page.
Iwata unveiled a brand new Zelda game for DS, detailed the Wii Shop storage update released today, and whipped the wrappers off a host of upcoming WiiWare and DSi first-party titles.
The full transcript of his GDC keynote address follows, with the earliest entries presented first.
Our live coverage has now ended. Here's what you missed: Updating...
Hello everyone! Here we are, live from the Satoru Iwata keynote at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
He's due to start speaking in just a few minutes, but there's no sign of the man himself yet.
We've managed to get a nice spot in the front row, just a dozen seats across from Reggie Fils-Aime. He's not doing anything exciting. Perhaps he's just quietly taking names in his head.
Cammie Dunaway's here too. She's wearing a lovely dark suit-skirt combo. Michelle Obama eat your heart out.
The theme for this year's lighting seems to be Blue. A sort of PlayStation blue, in fact. Could we be in for an amazing announcement regarding the union at last of Sony and Nintendo? No.
The rumours about what Iwata will discuss today have been flying. A couple of people have said we're set to see some brand new WiiWare games for the first time. Or how about a storage solution for the Wii?
While we're waiting, who wants to play Nintendo Keynote Drinking Bingo? Get yourself a bottle of vodka and a shot glass (we've got a hip flask). Take a shot every time Iwata says the words "accessibility", "female" or "broadening the demographic".
Tom reports the Wii Shop went offline a little while ago, and now a system update is available. He's downloading right now.
Also during the keynote, we'll be playing GRAPHWATCH. Iwata will score one point every time he shows us a graph pointing up. Two points for a pie chart. What do you reckon his final score will be, readers?
Iwata is on stage, having been introduced by Meggan Schiavo, conference director. He's wearing a leather blazer! He's so rock and roll!
No translator for Iwata, he's doing the English himself. He's talking about "mainstream acceptance". Surely that counts as "accessibility".
Global shipments of Wii are now 50 million, making it the fastest-selling hardware in videogame history.
Over the last three years the size of the videogame market in Europe and America rapidly "expanded", says Iwata. Shot.
GRAPHWATCH! THE FIRST GRAPH IS UP!
GRAPH TWO! It's all pointing up.
GRAPHWATCH UPDATE! Graph number three. Basically they can all be summarised as "Nintendo W1N".
"The market has expanded as videogames have been accepted by more consumers than ever before," says Iwata. Shot.
LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY WATCH! Some photos of old buffers and tiny children are on the screen.
Iwata wants to "Thank you, from the bottom of my heart." Presumably for making him the richest man in Christendom.
He understands some people are "unsettled" by audience expansion, and concerned that only Nintendo software does well for Nintendo systems. But this isn't the case, says Iwata, He'll explain why in a bit.
Time for a trip down memory lane. Iwata's talking about the company he worked for before Nintendo. A photo of the SNES is on the screen.
He went to visit Nintendo and showed Miyamoto a new game. Miyamoto said, "With a few months, this game will be perfect." Iwata just opened his mouth. "We had two more days."
There's an amazing slide on the screen titled "DEATH SPIRAL", showing a big orange spiral. At the top there's a label titled "FINANCIAL PRESSURE".
"Once you enter the DEATH SPIRAL, it is difficult to escape," says Iwata. He's talking about how financial pressure leads to less development time, poorer quality games and therefore less sales.
"I believe the reason Nintendo was able to make better games was simply because they had more money, which created more time."
But that's what he thought before. Now he thinks it's really about the fact Nintendo develops games in a different way.
Now there's a picture of Miyamoto's smiling happy face on the screen. Iwata is going to give us an insight into his work.
"His concepts almost always begin in the same place - by simply observing other human beings. He loves doing this. He's curious, and when he sees something people enjoy he'll consider over and over what part of that activity people think is fun."
"By now, you know how his personal hobbies have turned into games. When he started gardening, pretty soon there was a game called Pikmin. When he got a new puppy, his development team was not surprised to find they would be working on a new project called Nintendogs."
Now Iwata's talking about NDAs. "With Miyamoto, I have also asked him to stop talking about any hobby he does when he's not at work."
A new slide - Miyamoto's Way: "Upward Spiral". He sees that ideas are everywhere. "Even as one project starts, he's observing other people having fun in other ways."
Most developers prepare a thick design document, but Miyamoto "almost never" writes one, says Iwata. He just talks about his ideas.
He starts out by making a prototype, and makes sure the team avoids any irrelevant experiments along the way.
Iwata is showing us the prototype for Wii Sports boxing. It was all about how the nunchuk and controller and how they work, not the visuals - "that could be polished later on". So the prototype just shows characters as blocks, there are no human features.
Miyamoto also likes to work with small teams, apparently. And he likes to work on multiple projects at once. "You may have heard Miyamoto is some kind of perfectionist. This is true in many areas. But in each phase of development, he can clearly distinguish which details must be perfectly finished, and separate them from parts which can be tentatively considered."
There's lots of trial and error, says Iwata. "Sometimes, no matter how hard they work, those small teams struggle to meet their objective. The prototype phase lasts for more than two years, and sometimes we have to stop work and set the project aside."
Miyamoto likes trial and error during the stage when only a small number of developers are working on a project.
And so on to the mass production stage. Come on sir, give us some games eh?
"It is a strange twist of fate that Mr Miyamoto, who was once my mentor, now reports to me. Now this is a pleasant situation, but it was not always."
There are lots of photos of Miyamoto and Iwata sitting together in an office. They are laughing, One of them has probably just reminded the other one how much money they've got.
Miyamoto has a tendency to "upend the teatable" when it comes to schedules, says Iwata. Sometimes there are complete surprises when the core concept is distorted.
"I must point out that no matter what fears the team may have at these moments, Miyamoto never acts angry or nasty. In fact he helps resetting the dishes he has scattered, explaining how they should be rearranged."
There have been no graphs for a full 18 minutes now.
Some dishes might be removed from the table. But never thrown away.
Some extended metaphors ought to be thrown away, frankly.
"Certainly upending the teatable eats up more time." The majority of people were hoping Nintendogs and Super Mario Galaxy would be launch titles, including Iwata.
At least Miyamoto managed to get Wii Sports done on time - "We thank him for that."
From Tom: The Wii system software has been updated so that you can download stuff to, and run stuff from, SD cards. This appears to include all channels, WiiWare and VC games.
Now there's a pic of Miyamoto wearing a cowboy hat and a bandanna, next to a message saying "Random Employee Kidnapping".
Nintendo employees are randomly kidnapped by Miyamoto, perhaps in the corridor. He is "handed a controller and told to start enjoying himself". It's like a focus group, but with no set questionnaire, no topics for discussion, and no instructions on how to play.
"Mr Miyamoto believes the kidnap victim must figure things out for himself. I call this Miyamoto's Over the Shoulder view." There's a frightening slide of Miyamoto standing behind a pretty lady playing the DS. She does not appear to be aware of his presence. He is grinning.
"When the kidnap victim is happy, the team has succeeded. When they are frustrated, the team has failed."
"One goal set by Mr Miyamoto and all of us at Nintendo is surprise. For consumers to be surprised, we have to first surprise ourselves. I'd like to offer one game as an example." IS IT A NEW ONE IS IT A NEW ONE
A music producer called Tsunku contacted Iwata at the start of 2004 about making a game. There is a picture of Tsunku on the screen. He appears to be wearing eyeliner.
So Iwata got Sakamoto and Osawa involved, two developers who worked on WarioWare for the DS and GBA.
"One issue was quickly raised: how can a good rhythm game be produced if the developers themselves don't have much rhythm?"
There's now a video of a load of developers dancing. It's really quite hilarious.
"This was the first time in my career as a game producer I had to approve a budget for dance lessons."
Rizumu Tengoku, you see, came from developers taking dance lessons, says Iwata.
Rhythm Heaven is on the screen, the DS game announced last week. Looks like you can use the stylus to take photos, pop pumpkins open, play table tennis with blockheads and make pelicans dance.
(Rhythm Heaven is of course better known to many as Rhythm Tengoku Gold, its name in Japan, where it came out last year. You can read our review elsewhere on the site.)
GRAPHWATCH: Rhythm Heaven Cumulative Sales Since Launch In Japan. The graph goes... UP.
Everyone here is getting a free copy of Rhythm Heaven when they leave the keynote today! Hooray! Free games is almost as good as new games! If you're here.
"Consider how our industry has changed with the arrival of ideas like Guitar Hero and Spore and World of Goo..."
IT'S A PIE CHART!
GRAPHWATCH UPDATE! There are now TWO pie charts on the screen, and TWO incidences of the word "Female"! We are drinking everything that's left in the hip flask.
Now he's going to talk about how Nintendo products DO benefit third-party publishers. First-party software builds a hardware base, so there are more opportunities for third-parties.
He's talking about Virtual Console now. "It reminds gamers what they are missing."
"We are expanding the ability of everyone to sell software," says Iwata. GRAPHWATCH: It's a horizontal graph! Third-party games in the US in 2008. It's all pointing up, but sideways!
Third-parties have sold more than 1 million games for Wii now, representing a wide range of genres.
GRAPHWATCH: another horizontal. The installed base of the Balance Board is almost matching that of the PS3 - looks about 14 million to 16 million for PS3.
It's a new WiiWare game! Rock and Roll Climber!
A chap called Jonathan has come on stage with a balance board to demonstrate it. He's from Nintendo of America. Didn't catch his surname, sorry.
There's a sound of rain. He is pointing his arms upwards. His character, a human, is climbing a wall, grabbing handholds.
It looks not unlike Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. If it was on the Wii.
He's tilting and pointing the controllers and stepping on the balance board to pull himself up a waterfall.
At the top of the waterfall is a guitar!
"At the end of each stage, you're given the rock and roll payoff." Amazing. But Jonathan's gone, and that's all we're going to see.
Iwata's back, and still talking about WiiWare. "This is a partnership with you. It is a platform where your big idea can succeed without big investment."
GRAPHWATCH: Pie chart! This one shows how Nintendo only makes a small portion of WiiWare games; the rest are third-party.
Looks like he's about to unveil a storage solution! Bill Trinen from NOA is on the stage.
"I'm very excited to tell you I am here to show you a menu," says Trinen.
"This may not be as exciting as a new game, but we feel we have a complete storage solution for Wii, and for that reason it's very important." Especially for "our most loyal fans".
Wii Menu System 4.0 will introduce a number of improvements, such as an SD card icon that takes you to an SD card screen. It's got the same layout as the Wii Menu. But a single SD card can hold up to 240 titles.
"I know you're thinking, how can I get that SD card, and how can he store all this content on a single SD card?" Yes. Tell us.
"The Wii can now handle high capacity SD cards" so you're no longer limited to 2GB. The Wii Shop channel is also getting updated so you can download content direct to and SD card. That will mean less shuffling between menus.
The last key addition is the ability to launch content directly off the SD card, with just a short load time.
He's going to demo this by loading The Adventure of Link. "As you can see it's very fast, simple, and it's going to get right to the game."
The system update is available today.
My Life as a Darklord Final Fantasy Chrystal Chronicle is coming this year.
Final Fantasy IV The After Years is on the screen. Also out this year.
The early Final Fantasy games are coming to Virtual Console, and the first will be available in May. Square Enix will reveal more this week.,
Now he's asking Trinen back on stage to talk about DSiWare. Another new game?
Trinen is on stage with a DSi. He's pointing out it's got a touch screen and a mic. Ta.
He's going to show us two DSiWare titles. The first one is called Moving Memo in English for now.
"You start by just drawing a picture, or in my case a very simple picture." Amazingly he's not drawing a penis, but a car.
He's rubbish at drawing. COME BACK TONY HART
Now he's showing how he can put his drawing into frames. He's adding some ground underneath his car, and into each frame.
Now we can see his animation. You can slow and speed animations up and add background sounds - he's recording "brrm brrm" into the mic.
He's now playing back the animation and the brrm brrrm is coming out of the speaker.
You can upload your animations to a central server and download others', and edit them yourself.
Now he's going to show a video made by someone more artistic. A boy opens his mouth, a plane emerges. Donkey Kong. A kid with a machine gun, a kid on a skateboard. A super Mario level!
A line-drawn Mario gets his hat blown off. It's all technically quite crude, but very cute all the same.
Time for the second game - WarioWare Snap. This one makes use of the camera.
You start the game by posing for the camera and having your photo taken.
Then line up your hands and face on the top screen and follow the instructions - in this case, he has to grab some coins.
Now he has to touch a load of balls on the screen.
And finally he has to shake his face to shake the water off a cartoon dog. "So you see, quick, simple, WarioWare fun."
Then when the game is over you get to watch a video of yourself waving your hands and waggling your face about. You can see the comedy potential.
Bill's off. Bye Bill! Iwata's back. Hello Iwata!
Total DSi sales have reached 2 million, says Iwata. In America, Amazon reports there are more advanced reservations for it than for any other games system in history. In GameStop, pre-orders are twice the number of DS.
Today, Iwata says, he's talked about reaching new audiences. "But I do not want you to leave with the idea we have forgotten about the interests of the most passionate gamers."
He's announcing an expansion of the VC - Virtual Console Arcade. Space Harrier, Mappy, Star Force, Emeraldia, Return of Lishtar. Six games will be available in Japan, four in Europe and America.
The four for Europe are Mappy, Star Force, The Tower of Druaga and Gaplus (Galaga 3), all of which are confirmed on the European Virtual Console for 500 Nintendo Points (approx GBP 3.50 / EUR 5) apiece.
Space Invaders will be added "in the near future". The games will be available for download from today.
Nintendo takes responsibility for satisfying "long time Nintendo loyalists". Time for one more video. It's for a DS game.
It's a choo choo train going down a track. Zelda?
There's a glimpse of yellow hair... Yes, it's Zelda. Link is zapping enemies from a top-down perspective. Looks like it's similar visual style to Phantom Hourglass.
Zelda is reading something to Link, who is wearing his train outfit. Now he's back on the train and using a cannon. Now he's fighting a giant scorpion thing.
The Legend of Zelda Spirit Tracks - that'd be what it's called then.
There's lots of clapping, and Iwata is back on stage. He says that's a tentative title. The game will be out "later this year".
"During America's great depression in the 1930s, creators invented the jet engine, television and even the chocolate chip cookie," says Iwata. Who cares about the credit crunch, in other words.
"As a developer I believe anything is possible. The future of videogames is in your hands, and I cannot wait for you to show us your surprises." And it's over. Iwata's off stage, "banging" music is playing, Reggie is coming over. Oh, it's not to talk to us.
Best get off then. We're terrifically drunk after all the graphs, wouldn't want Reggie to smell it. Thanks for joining us!