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Nintendo Kyoto Development Center - R&D Restructure Update

BD1

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Nov 27, 2011
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Sakurai is probably in the most enviable position of anyone associated with Nintendo. They clearly hold him in the highest regard, and give the man just about all the resources he needs/wants for game creation. Meanwhile, he operates with a level of autonomy none of the internal Nintendo producers have.

Iwata <3 Sakurai
 

Terrell

Member
Apr 1, 2006
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I think Nintendo should do away with the SPD/EAD delineation. Perhaps they could do what Sega did and give each team a distinct name/identity but without the whole separate subsidiary nonsense that sunk those teams at Sega?
I mean, with Monolith and IS and EAD Tokyo, they have their own distinctions of sorts already, might as well go all the way with it.
It's less confusing for everyone, I think.
 

Shikamaru Ninja

任天堂 の 忍者
Did Kyoto even do much work on either of the bolded?

Right. NES Remix was EAD Tokyo. Steel Diver: Sub Wars was literally like 6 EAD Kyoto guys with Vitei Inc. Mario Kart 8 was a huge team though.

By the way Streets. Sending you a PM.

Sakamoto is still manager over all of SPD correct? I wonder if he is spinning off a dev team into a SPD Tokyo or something like that, at least that's kind of the way it sounds from Shikimaru's post. Perhaps reforming some of the people from the old R&D1?

Sakamoto had about a dedicated 40-50 developers exclusive to his SPD Production Group No. 1. It is a very small R&D team considering Sakamoto spreads them out around 3 projects at a time. Despite a few bombs, Rhythm Heaven and Tomodachi Life give Sakamoto and his team a lot of weight for creating new properties with small resources. Don't forget, that technically Sakamoto's group also did much of the groundwork for the Miis.


Wait, Indies Zero? I don't remember them being a Nintendo team...but I could be wrong in that.

The founding fathers of Indies Zero came from Nintendo Game Seminar. Thus, they always had a close relationship with Nintendo as a contract company. Indies Zero has currently been helping EAD Tokyo finish certain projects (3DS Guide: Louvre Museum, NES Remix).
 

LOCK

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Jun 26, 2006
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In a Dream
I think Nintendo should do away with the SPD/EAD delineation. Perhaps they could do what Sega did and give each team a distinct name/identity but without the whole separate subsidiary nonsense that sunk those teams at Sega?
I mean, with Monolith and IS and EAD Tokyo, they have their own distinctions of sorts already, might as well go all the way with it.
It's less confusing for everyone, I think.

Well you could easily do that like The Mario Team, The Zelda Team, The Odd Ball Team, etc, but it would be well a little boring.
 

KoopaTheCasual

Junior Member
Jun 5, 2013
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Really excited and hopeful about these big restructuring moves. Out of this whole mess they've been in, this seems like the best thing moving forward to keep Nintendo strong, with or without outside assistance.
 

Aostia

El Capitan Todd
Sep 2, 2011
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interesting...I wonder what will be the main change for us consumers, and when we'll start to see something different.
 

big_z

Member
Oct 15, 2005
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Really excited and hopeful about these big restructuring moves. Out of this whole mess they've been in, this seems like the best thing moving forward to keep Nintendo strong, with or without outside assistance.

these moves aren't in response to nintendos struggles in the console market its because they've long outgrown their old building. this is something nintendos been working on for a few years now even before the wiiU. they had to purchase and clear the old buildings from the land and build fresh. theres an older thread with pictures of the building process.

that said the new building does let them restructure and expand as needed which will only help them going forward, something they couldn't do before.

it would be nice if iwata strapped that 3d camera tour thing onto his back and gave us a look inside the new building but im guessing well never get a chance to see.

interesting...I wonder what will be the main change for us consumers, and when we'll start to see something different

more space, more people, easier communication among teams. it should greatly reduce the need to pull staff from other teams leading to frequent product delays. basically Nintendo still going to Nintendo but they put a bunch of skill points into efficiency.
 

Clefargle

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Dec 3, 2012
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Nice thread Shikamaru! This is interesting as hell b/c I want to know everything about this historic move. I hope this makes for a much tighter operational structure internally for nintendo. Maybe speed up the development slightly.
 

wsippel

Banned
May 25, 2006
14,529
0
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Erfurt, Germany
I think Nintendo should do away with the SPD/EAD delineation. Perhaps they could do what Sega did and give each team a distinct name/identity but without the whole separate subsidiary nonsense that sunk those teams at Sega?
I mean, with Monolith and IS and EAD Tokyo, they have their own distinctions of sorts already, might as well go all the way with it.
It's less confusing for everyone, I think.
I'm not quite sure what you suggest? Renaming EAD and SPD? Renaming the departments within EAD and SPD? What would that improve, exactly? Also, especially on EAD's side, the departments are mainly an organizational thing - there are no real fixed teams to begin with, staff is constantly switching departments on a per-project basis.
 

Mpl90

Two copies sold? That's not a bomb guys, stop trolling!!!
Mar 10, 2011
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I'm not quite sure what you suggest? Renaming EAD and SPD? Renaming the departments within EAD and SPD? What would that improve, exactly? Also, especially on EAD's side, the departments are mainly an organizational thing - there are no real fixed teams to begin with, staff is constantly switching departments on a per-project basis.

...Which becomes far more doable (times being lowered, better comunication) when all the devs are under the same roof, doesn't it?
 

efyu_lemonardo

May I have a cookie?
Jun 19, 2011
14,594
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0
Yes!! the thread I've been waiting for :D
Thank you Shikamaru Ninja!!

Sakamoto and his development unit vacated SPD Production Group No. 1. So the next Rhythm Heaven, Tomodachi Collection 3, WarioWare, Metroid Dread will be under some new mysterious group.

His group was also the lead team behind the Vitality Sensor. It just never materialized.
Interesting.. So Sakamoto is confirmed to be no longer involved with Metroid?
I hope he doesn't take it personally.. I love the man's work and am excited to see anything he does next.

If Nintendo had done this during the Wii years their current situation might have been very different. Right now it's an interesting thing to restructure and grow at a time when the traditional gaming market may be irrevocably contracting and Nintendo remains resistant to the new market.
I don't think it would have been any better. The Wii suffered from bigger droughts than Wii U, despite enjoying tremendous sales. Bottom line is it's taking a lot of time for a company like Nintendo to restructure and evolve into whatever new form they will eventually take. Seems like a rather painful transition too, from the outside. I just hope they come out of it stronger and more competitive.

What's happening with their old building?
They're turning it into a giant robot for Miyamoto's new game :D

Any word on Sakurai joining EAD after Smash? I recall you mentioning it was a possibility in one of the older threads. Awesome information as always.
Sakurai should be given one of Nintendo's EADs to do with as he pleases.

Thanks. I'm interested in Sakamoto's new project/s.
Glad I'm not the only one! Also, I hope he doesn't buckle down on Japanese exclusive stuff.


I hope Sakamoto comes back kicking major butt! Weird Nintendo is the best Nintendo...

Damn straight! On both statements!

Also, especially on EAD's side, the departments are mainly an organizational thing - there are no real fixed teams to begin with, staff is constantly switching departments on a per-project basis.
I'm all for the type of structure that allows employees more freedom to move between projects, but it also comes with a price. In Nintendo's case, I feel like games that weren't planned to have DLC, such as NintendoLand, potentially suffer when the development teams behind them disband shortly after release.
But I'm sure this is something Nintendo are looking into, as many of their games have enjoyed good long term support.
 

sörine

Banned
Sep 1, 2013
7,582
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The founding fathers of Indies Zero came from Nintendo Game Seminar. Thus, they always had a close relationship with Nintendo as a contract company. Indies Zero has currently been helping EAD Tokyo finish certain projects (3DS Guide: Louvre Museum, NES Remix).
How is that possible when indieszero was founded in 1997 and the first Nintendo Game Seminar was in 2004?
 

Peltz

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Apr 26, 2014
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I wish I could be inside that building just once. Sounds like a lot of cool things happening in one location.
 

StreetsAhead

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Jun 13, 2011
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Iirc, there was an interview that said some of the MK8 team was split up to brainstorm ideas in a simillar fashion to the experiments that led to Splatoon.
 

radcliff

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Jun 10, 2004
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Iirc, there was an interview that said some of the MK8 team was split up to brainstorm ideas in a simillar fashion to the experiments that led to Splatoon.

Are you referring to this quote from Miyamoto:

“And of course we just finished Mario Kart, and what’s now going on is that a lot of the people working on Mario Kart, their hands are free and they’re coming up with ideas and doing a lot of experimentation with what they can do with two-screen gameplay and they’re having a lot of fun doing that.”
 

zhorkat

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Jun 25, 2013
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California
I think Nintendo should do away with the SPD/EAD delineation. Perhaps they could do what Sega did and give each team a distinct name/identity but without the whole separate subsidiary nonsense that sunk those teams at Sega?
I mean, with Monolith and IS and EAD Tokyo, they have their own distinctions of sorts already, might as well go all the way with it.
It's less confusing for everyone, I think.

What about the part of SPD that doesn't just develop games and works with other studios to help produce games?
 

beril

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Aug 25, 2010
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There's no indication EAD has anything to do with Yoshi outside of Tezuka... They worked with SPD on Epic Yarn. I'm most interested in what is happening with Sakamoto and the rest of SPD... They were already a pretty small group to begin with.

He said at E3 that some of the level designers from NSMBU were working on it so there's at least some involvement
 

Shikamaru Ninja

任天堂 の 忍者
What about the part of SPD that doesn't just develop games and works with other studios to help produce games?

Based on the old structure. SPD was a big aspect of software development although very incognito to people outside of the company.

SPD - Production Department - (Yamagami/Tanabe/Sato/Nonaka) External production
SPD - Development Department (Sakamoto) - Kiki Trick, Rhythm Heaven, Tomodachi Life
SPD - Development Department II (Kawamoto) - Brain Age, AR Games, Rusty's Real Deal
SPD - Development Department III (Kato) - Virtual Console
SPD - Localization Department

He said at E3 that some of the level designers from NSMBU were working on it so there's at least some involvement

The former rule of thumb was:

EAD only co-develops games when they hire an outside developer to finish their prototype or early work (Wii Sports Club, Steel Diver) or when they hire a developer to help them remake a port (Zelda: Toot, Star Fox 64 3D).

In other cases, SPD handles the co-development with external agencies (Bayonetta, Devil's Third, Wonderful 101, New Yoshi's Island, etc).

But that was the old way.

sörine;126988586 said:
How is that possible when indieszero was founded in 1997 and the first Nintendo Game Seminar was in 2004?

Nintendo's Game Seminars started in 92 or 93. That's how JOY MECH FIGHT was produced in 1993. I think back then it was just game seminar hosted by Nintendo as opposed to NINTENDO GAME SEMINAR.
 

Volotaire

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Oct 23, 2012
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We might get some more info on projects in this new interview in EGDE this week.

 

GameGuru59

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Jun 16, 2013
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I love how simplistic and open the building's architecture is. I'm sure the devs get plenty of light inside, and the interior architecture probably allows for a number of different wall configurations if need-be. Nintendo sure dows follow the KISS philosophy in everything they do!
 

TheMoon

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Jul 1, 2014
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Fascinating thread. I live for this type of info. These insights into their development processes are incredibly interesting.

Just needed to say that before the thread is too old!
 

Terrell

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Apr 1, 2006
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I remember I posted in this thread, it's good info and could use a bump while I reply to some things I've been putting off.

Well you could easily do that like The Mario Team, The Zelda Team, The Odd Ball Team, etc, but it would be well a little boring.

I think that they could be a bit more creative than that and not feel a need to name themselves after their primary franchises, but more in regards to their design philosophy.

I'm not quite sure what you suggest? Renaming EAD and SPD? Renaming the departments within EAD and SPD? What would that improve, exactly? Also, especially on EAD's side, the departments are mainly an organizational thing - there are no real fixed teams to begin with, staff is constantly switching departments on a per-project basis.

Each group in SPD and EAD quite obviously has a core group within it that rarely if ever changes. Aonuma isn't suddenly going to be leaving EAD Software Development Group 3 and Hisashi Nogami will stick with Group 2, for example. Katsuya Eguchi is deputy manager of the entire EAD group and he still gravitates to his particular core group. If anyone leaves, I could see it being to create a new software grouping within Nintendo. I imagine that the younger employees on Splatoon might work their way into leading their own team within EAD some day.

The primary reasons I see this as beneficial are comprehensive.

At best, "EAD Software Development Group 3" is almost always referred to as "the Zelda team" by anyone outside of Nintendo's walls, if someone even makes the distinction at all. They could easily just be lumped together as "EAD" as a whole, or just "Nintendo". I feel like a lack of naming these teams gives them a lack of identity, that their unique takes on design philosophy get lost in obscurity.

Look at EAD Tokyo, for example. For a while, they were a single team, but EVERYONE on GAF knew the team, who it was composed of and what they were capable of. They had an identity - a brand, if you will - and GAF (and to a lesser extent the rest of the internet) latched onto it HARD. They WANTED to identify something inside the nebulous mess of clinical group naming that no one ever remembers outside of Shikamaru and a few others.

The result? For a while, every game Nintendo made "should be made by EAD Tokyo". And you see this pattern a lot. When people say they want a franchise entry made, who do they always pick to make it? The teams that have distinct names and identities. Retro Studios, Intelligent Systems, Monolith Software, etc... not EAD Group 4. So not only is the identity of the group lost, but it also strips them of individual talent recognition, as well. Maybe Miyamoto wouldn't need to do so many interviews if people knew who else they might want to talk to.

Also, even in this best case scenario of an EAD group being called "the Zelda team" or "the Mario Kart team" to at least differentiate them, you can't help but feel that it pigeon-holes them slightly, that they are identified by existing franchises. I'm not going to say that it informs their decision to iterate on existing IP, but when that's how they are identified, what do you think fans and the press expect of them?

There are benefits to unique nomenclature for every team. Sega had a good idea giving their teams names, but screwed it up by making them separate 2nd-party development studios, full of overhead costs and an over-competitive environment. For a while before they screwed it up, everyone knew who Sonic Team, AM2 and Amusement Vision were, and to a lesser extent Smilebit and Overworks. They had identities, they had certain design eccentricities that could be identified to them and the talent was acknowledged as a result.

Can't blame me for thinking Nintendo could benefit from these things, and the organizational aspect of how they work wouldn't have to change as a result, either. So I am not seeing a downside.

What about the part of SPD that doesn't just develop games and works with other studios to help produce games?

What's stopping them from having a name? With the exception of SPD 3, all of them make their own content on occasion. And when they work with other developers, let those other developers take the billing for the game. Simple.
 

TheMoon

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Jul 1, 2014
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I like Terrell's post a lot. Very good reasoning. Personally, I'm fascinated by Nintendo's internal development structure. I could spend days reading about all the different EAD groups and which part of SPD was involved in outside projects here and there and what SDD actually is and why there are so many initials!

Even just for a little bit clearer structure it would be helpful to give the groups distinct names instead of generic numbers after a trio of initials.