Something occured to me while I was eating my yoghurt… Nintendo’s own team are, for the majority called “EAD”, for “Entertainment Analysis and Development”; But before that, they were called “R&D”, which is more common.
What I found striking was that I think what makes Nintendo very different from other companies is their approach to game making process. They make a lot of prototypes, as been said throughout many interviews, propose them, and then abandon or developp then according to fun factor and market opportunities.
Instead of a top-down approach (from market data to game design), they have a bottom-up approach (from game design to market data). I don’t think this approach is very innovative as I think that’s how most companies worked back in the days of ye olde Famicom. However, I think only a few developpers work this way now.
I think that’s fascinating, and it explains why I’ve never been deeply interested in being a game designer. I mean, it was a kid’s dream like many, but I think I wanted to be like Shigeru Miyamoto, playing with my own ideas and building games like from a toy box, rather than the now more common approach. Maybe I am wrong, but I think only Nintendo really has that “research” way of doing game design.
Anyway, nothing big, just a something I thought was worth noting :)
EDIT : of course, this “exploration” of game design is now very common with indie developpers. I just wanted to talk about big big game companies. But thanks god, they’re not the only ones making games !