自从2004年以来，任天堂的产品公告似乎都遵循着一个模式：组合一个相对前沿的技术花招与一些来自熟悉授权的游戏去创造一个全新的游戏体验。其目标是将风险硬件转变成依靠可行软件的可靠销售。不管是触屏，移动控制还是立体视觉效果。全新的技术都可以被当成是游戏开发的开创性改变。通过基于发行游戏的形式将知名的角色或游戏宇宙附加到设备中，任天堂将保障忠实的粉丝或者好奇的前用户能够接收这些内容。就像DS和Wii的发行便是典型的例子。DS的发行是伴随着《超级马里奥64 DS》，即对于渲染了3D世界的任天堂64游戏的再创造，并添加了笔触控制去展示它的使用。Wii通过《塞尔达传说：黄昏公主》证实了自己的能力，这款游戏最初是作为GameCube游戏开发并发行的，并基于任天堂64上的《时之笛》同样的风格，但却多了行动控制机制。此外，Wii还伴随着Virtual Console兜售着其在线连通性，让你能够从它们的储备中下载并玩游戏，并延伸至NES甚至是街机时代中。
其它显著的模式还有设计迭代，即关于硬件和软件。任天堂通过发行修订版本而改进了有关主机和游戏的方法。在这里一个可感知的目标是尽可能获得“最佳”设计。通过仔细检查产品，修改缺陷，删除不必要的位体，并完善性能。任天堂努力创造着最让人满意的游戏体验，并为同样的内容创造了许许多不一样的版本。如果3DS是于今年发行，它将成为6年来任天堂的第5种DS模式设计。通过比较，Game Boy在任天堂的支持下于16年间经过了9次的迭代。《Mushroom Kingdom》或“Hyrule”的游戏宇宙的续集数量就超越了《The Land Before Time》故事片的集数。如果他们并未完善核心体验，你将会发现许多基于不同能力的其它游戏也具有相同的角色；就像在诞生后的30年间，马里奥便出现于200多款游戏中。
从我的角度来看，存在许多不同的方法去看待这一问题，即电子游戏介于艺术与科学之间的视角。在游戏设计的“艺术”方面，我们带有像叙述故事，意外故事，游戏的听觉和视觉呈现，伴随着游戏机制的选择以及由前序元素所设置的气氛和语调等内容。例如，生存恐怖游戏使用了包含可怕情境，吓人的视觉效果，声音和音乐的故事。像有限的生命和缺少弹药等机制设计选择能够增强整体的幸福感。这些方面将通过寻找新的方法去传达游戏的意义或氛围而不断完善：我们之前未曾玩过的故事和设置，更高的视觉效果和声音，带有更强沉浸感的机制。关于任天堂的设计原理，像这样的元素在著名的授权游戏中都被当成是缺少创新。马里奥总是致力于打败抓了公主Toadstool的库巴，即通过跳跃穿过Goombas和Koopa troopas。Link总是努力穿越Ganondorf所创造的Hyrule去凝聚那些分散的力量，并使用自己所找到的特殊道具攻克一个又一个的地牢，所以他才有可能拯救那片领土以及公主塞尔达。除了笔触，动作控制或立体视觉效果也能够完善这里的一两个元素，但却不能够改变基本的模式。似乎Washboard Abs的评论便是源自这一视角。
Washboard Abs的评论中所包含的失望根源是供应与需求视角的区别。任天堂努力提供给用户精心设计且基于之前迭代的强大体验，并通过使用之后的技术和更简单的界面选择将这种体验传递给更多玩家。像Washboard Abs这样的用户之所以会提出这样的评论是因为他们想要看到能够推动游戏能力界限的全新体验。所以对于那些认为任天堂因为未能引进新内容而只是在同样的游戏和技术中披上新外套而再次遭遇失败的人，我想说的是：“你们并没有错。”在某种意义上，你们是完全正确的。关于你的体验，不管是任天堂的目标还是你的目标都发生了改变。如果你不能明确任天堂正在提供什么内容，那么即使你想要体验任天堂所提供的内容，你也不可能为此得到满足。
Nintendo’s Philosophy: The Art and Science of Game Design
July 7, 2010
In a comment on my article summing up my opinion of E3, reader Washboard Abs put forth the question, “What say you to those who believe Nintendo has failed once again by clinging to the past of gaming by introducing nothing new and simply putting a fresh coat of paint on the same games and technologies?” With Nintendo revealing their 3DS, from all appearances just a DS with stereoscopic visuals, and a majority of the games announced being titles based on existing properties, W.A.’s opinion certainly has merit by all appearances. Join me after the jump to look in-depth at what appears to be Nintendo’s design philosophy.
[NB: This is going to be a pretty long one, folks. I won't lie. There is a summary at the end of the post, so feel free to skip down to it if you're inclined to leave a comment consisting solely of "tl;dr" (see the section titled "The Problem"). In addition, let's be clear - in no way is this an attack on Washboard Abs. I fully support and enjoy comments like these on my posts, and I trust that it was given the same good-natured spirit of debate as it was received.]
Since 2004, product announcements from Nintendo seem to have followed a formula: pair a relatively cutting-edge technological gimmick with a collection of games from familiar franchises to create a new gameplay experience. The goal is to turn the risky hardware into a sure sell by means of reliable software. Whether it’s a touch screen, motion control, or stereoscopic visuals, the new tech could just as easily be a fad as a groundbreaking change to game development. By attaching well-known characters or game universes to the device in the form of launch titles, Nintendo likely secures early adoption from loyal fans or curious previous customers. Look to the releases of the DS and Wii for the prime examples. The DS launched with Super Mario 64 DS, a remake of the Nintendo 64 launch title that pioneered fully rendered 3D worlds (if not first, then most successfully) but with added stylus control to demonstrate its use. The Wii showed off its capability with The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, originally developed and simultaneously released as a GameCube title much in the style of the Nintendo 64′s Ocarina of Time, but with motion control attached. Don’t look over the Wii touting its online connectivity, either, with the Virtual Console, allowing you to download and play games from their backlog, extending to the NES and even arcade days.
The other observable pattern is iteration of design, both for hardware and software. Nintendo refines their approach to consoles and games by releasing tweaked versions over time. The perceivable goal here is to acquire the “best” design possible. By going over the product, repairing flaws, removing unnecessary bits, and improving performance, Nintendo strives for the most satisfactory gaming experience possible and winds up with innumerable versions of essentially the same thing. If the 3DS is released this year it will be the fifth DS model design in six years. By comparison, the Game Boy went through nine iterations in the 16 years it was supported by Nintendo. The number of sequels taking place in the flagship game universes of the Mushroom Kingdom or Hyrule rival the number of The Land Before Time feature films. If they aren’t refining the core experience, then you’ll be sure to find the characters used in many other games in differing capacities; Mario has been in over 200 games over his near 30-year history.
From where I’m standing, there are a couple of different ways to look at this issue, perspectives that tie into the fact that video games straddle a line between art and science. On the “art” side of game design, we have things like the narrative story, the emergent story, the aural and visual presentation of the game, and the mood and tone set by the preceding elements with the choices in game mechanics. For example, survival horror games employ stories involving scary or dire situations, creepy visuals, and sound and music to cause fear or to supplement the tone of having to struggle to continue. Mechanic design choices like limited health and scarce ammunition work to amplify the overall feeling of helplessness. These aspects improve through finding new ways to convey the meaning or mood of the game: stories and settings we haven’t played through before, higher quality visuals and sound, more immersive mechanics. With regard to Nintendo’s design philosophy, elements like these have seen little innovation or change over the years in the prominent franchises. Mario always works to defeat Bowser, who has captured Princess Toadstool, by working his way through the Goombas and Koopa Troopas by means of jumping on their heads. Link always seeks to reunite the power for good scattered throughout the land of Hyrule by Ganondorf, conquering dungeon after dungeon by using the special item he found within, so that he may save the land and Princess Zelda. The addition of a stylus, motion controls, or stereoscopic visuals may improve one or two elements here, but it does nothing to change this basic formula. This seems to be the viewpoint that Washboard Abs’ comment comes from.
The other side of the line is the “science” perspective, specifically that video games are pieces of software written by programmers. Seeing the medium as such puts it on the same level as a word processor or operating system, though decidedly for different purposes. The goal is not necessarily a new experience, but rather a better experience through iteration, producing many versions with slight improvements each time. For example, if your word processor of choice has bugs and errors in it, you won’t complain when a new version is released that fixes these problems (though you might if you have to pay full price again, but that’s a different story). This is the perspective that seems to line up more with Nintendo’s philosophy. A better experience comes from improved design, not new design.
The root of the disappointment contained in Washboard Abs’ comment is a difference of perspective, of supply and demand. Nintendo seeks to give their customers a well-designed experience, founded strongly in previous iterations, and to deliver this experience to as many people as possible by employing the latest technologies and simpler interface choices. Those folk W.A. refers to in the comment want new experiences that push the boundaries of what gaming is capable of. So to those who believe Nintendo has failed once again by clinging to the past of gaming by introducing nothing new and simply putting a fresh coat of paint on the same games and technologies, I’d say, “You’re right.” In a sense, you’re absolutely right. Both Nintendo’s and your goals have changed with regard to your experience. If you aren’t looking for what Nintendo is providing, even if you want to want what Nintendo is offering, you won’t be satisfied.
If, however, you’re looking for games from a company with a strong pedigree who’s willing to take risks mitigated by years of design improvements, you certainly can’t go wrong with picking up a Nintendo product.(source:gfbrobot)