Nintendo Sends Out Nintendo NX Development Kits

Well, if this isn’t evidence that the next console is around the corner, then pretty much nothing is!  According to the Wall Street Journal, the company is sending the kits to various third party game developers so they can have games ‘ready’ before the launch of a new system.

Adding to this, analyst David Gibson (from Macquarie Capital Securities) is noted as saying that the NX launching in 2016 is a no brainer.  You know, based on the ‘softness’ of the 3DS and Wii U, and perhaps unambitious nature of their future games.

Above: Given that this is the type of game the Wii U is getting this Christmas, he may be on to something.

It’s also believed the NX could be two different systems that can be ‘used together or seperately’.  No real evidence is given for this (other the comments being from a supposedly ‘trusted source’), but it definitely adds a bit more fuel to the rumours fire.

So that’s the Nintendo NX situation for you.  Seems like it’s being released in 2016 in an early attempt to get Nintendo back in the game and make up for the disappointing sales of the Wii U.  What do you think about this news, and the possibility of the console coming so soon?

Source:

Nintendo Begins Distributing Software for New NX Platform – Wall Street Journal

The Video Game Voice Actor Strike; Our Thoughts

Over the last few weeks, there has been… a bit of tension between voice actors and the video game companies that hire them.  Basically, the actors (under the union SAG-AFTRA) want more transparency (knowing what game they’ll be working on), residual pay for when a game is successful (so a bonus for every 2 million copies sold), stunt coordinators at sessions for motion and performance capture and ‘stunt pay’ for vocally stressful roles.  Meanwhile, the companies themselves are less keen, with the likes of EA, Activision, Disney and Warner Bros (among others) not being able to come to an agreement on that stuff.

So there has been talk of these actors going on strike.  Apparently they’re opening the votes until October 4th, and have gotten quite a bit of support for it on Twitter:

But while in principle I do agree with the SAG-AFTRA and their demands for both transparency and better pay, I have to wonder how much power these guys actually have here.

For one thing, how relevant is voice acting to many games? I mean, it’s certainly important for your big triple A Hollywood blockbuster style games and script heavy ones like Metal Gear Solid, but for various others? To be honest, probably not that important. What does a platformer need for voices? A couple of grunts when the character jumps off the ground or dies? The most voice acting a Mario game has ever got has been the intro letter in Super Mario 64:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLA30ii-DTQ

Freemium mobile games? Yeah, as if Angry Birds or Candy Crush Saga needs much of a voice acting team.

And puzzle games? The only thing Tetris needs is an iconic soundtrack:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmCCQxVBfyM&gl=GB&hl=en-GB

Even story driven stuff like RPGs doesn’t usually need a lot of voice acting, depending on the direction. On the one hand you have stuff like Final Fantasy and Xenoblade, on the other hand… how much voice acting exists in Pokemon?

Either way, video games are not like film or television. Acting is important in some cases, but is honestly completely irrelevant in many others.

So perhaps on that note, any strike might actually get us more platformers and less first person shooters and ‘movie’ style games. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all…

But even for those games that do need voice acting, there’s one other issue that people seem to forget…

Most companies do not use ‘professional’ voice actors.

Okay, some larger ones have huge budgets and hire Hollywood type talent to voice their characters. Like say, the Arkham series. But a lot of other games have a couple of other options, ones that don’t really involve the SAG-AFTRA in any way whatsoever. Namely…

1. Using their localisation/development staff as voice actors

It’s certainly the standard practice in Nintendo and Rare after all. Ever wonder why the WarioWare voice actors don’t seem to show up outside of Nintendo games, like most voice actors? Because they’re not professional actors, they’re members of Nintendo’s in house staff. Same deal is true of the Star Fox series, with recently fired localisation member Chris Pranger having lent his voice to the first boss in the upcoming Star Fox Zero game.

Above: It can work quite well.

And sometimes, even the game’s producers and directors are involved in this. Like how Masahiro Sakurai voices King Dedede in the Kirby and Super Smash Bros series. Or how for a Rare example, the voice of Conker the Squirrel is provided by Chris Seavour, the project lead and game designer for the entire Conker series (he also voiced many of the other characters in the games).

Now admittedly, this doesn’t always work. Sometimes, we have companies who cut costs so badly that they literally hire anyone they can to voice the cast, ending up with something like Chaos Wars.

Yes, the publishing company’s CEO got his kids to voice the main characters (presumably because of the shoestring budget the game was localised on), ending up with some of the most hilarious voice acting this site of Mega Man 8.

But it still provides at least one route a company could go if they don’t care to provide what the SAG-AFTRA demands. And given that it could sometimes lead to worse quality voice acting… do we really want to give the companies an incentive to do this?

And even if they want something a bit more professional than the WarioWare method of voice acting, there’s still an alternative there, because…

2. They can use non-union actors and actresses

Which unfortunately for anyone in the voice acting world, is much easier in video games than it is in Hollywood. Many video game voice actors don’t belong to any unions, and it’s not particularly hard to find an equivalent if the actor in question is part of one.

Or to quote a Simpsons joke:

Mr. Burns: Get me Steven Spielberg!

Smithers: He’s unavailable.

Mr. Burns: Then get me his non-union Mexican equivalent!

*cut to Señor Spielbergo*

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWxcnl8PL_o

Above: Joke from A Star is Burns

But there’s also another source of labour out there…

  1. They can use the fanbase

Seriously. It sounds a bit silly given that you’re asking people on the internet to do stuff for free (or out of their own pocket). But look at recent history. Games are being funded on sites like Kickstarter, by the fans and buyers. News is being written and distributed for free by bloggers and people on social networking sites.

People are queuing up round the block to go for talent shows and to submit their works to sleazy self-publishing houses.

Now imagine if voice acting also gets out sourced to the fanbase. There are certainly enough great voice actors out there willing to provide their talents for free (just see the efforts provided for various game based cartoons, machinimas, fan games, etc).

It would be all too easy to skip the ‘professionals’ and the pesky ‘wage’ thing and just get people from sites like Youtube to voice the cast.

But even without that, there’s the question of whether voice acting will even be relevant in the future. Why? Well, in one word:

Computers

Computer generated speech is only getting better with time, and given that video games are already a near 100% computer generated medium, replacing the human voices with artificial ones doesn’t seem like a hugely futuristic thing.

And even before that’s possible, something like Vocaloid could work well too. Take a few voice actors, record a bunch of samples, then robotically string them together when you want the character to say something. It’s not perfect yet, but give a few years or so, and it seems possible that many characters (especially ones of few words like Mario) could be entirely voiced by archived samples and speech generation.

So while we do sympathise with these people and see their attempts to get pay and working conditions as admirable, we also wonder how much of a future the whole profession even has, or whether any union conditions will just be avoided by out sourcing and finding people with less of a need to make money.

And all bets are off when automation and AI comes in.

But what do you think? Do you agree with our thoughts on voice actors, strikes and unions, and the future of the profession as a whole? Or do you think they could completely succeed with their goals?

Source:

Voice Actors Voting on Strike Action – Gamesindustry.biz

Link Should be Played by a Woman in a Zelda Movie?

That’s according to Nintendo’s Takashi Tezuka anyway. In a recent interview, he says that “It would be very fun and awesome if Link was played by a female actress, a boyish female actress“, likely surprising a significant amount of the Zelda fanbase in the process.

In addition to this, Shigeru Miyamoto says that “This is something I never imagined because Link is very different to how a Japanese person looks. At the Japanese Expo I attended there were so many people in cosplay who looked very good. They would be good actors! in regards to who should play Link, as well as that said individual should be an unknown actor rather than a big name (“With Japanese TV drama and film they always use the same actors, so I actually think we should have someone completely new.”).

They also discuss the cast for a potential Mario movie. Which becomes kind of funny given that he seeming says how ‘handsome’ Luigi was in the original live action movie based on the series:

One thing we can say about the original film was that Luigi was very young and handsome in the original movie

And aside from his seeming admiration for John Leguizamo? Miyamoto comments about how ‘Mario and Luigi should be played by twins because the original characters were meant as such. In his own words again:

But Mario and Luigi are supposed to be twins. So a new cast would definitely have to be twins.

So yes, some interesting thoughts on potential adaptation casting all around. Nothing confirmed in regards to an actual movie based on either franchise being in development or greenlit, but hey, that wasn’t ruled out either. Here’s the original interview courtesy of MTV:

What do you think on Miyamoto and Tezuka’s ideas on casting for theoretical Mario and Zelda movies? Do you agree with their reasoning?

Tatsumi Kimishima Named as New Nintendo President

In the weeks since Satoru Iwata’s untimely death, the company hasn’t really had a CEO so to speak, with Shigeru Miyamoto and Genyo Takeda acting as company representatives in his stead.  But while everyone was expecting one of those two to end up running the company, it seems a very different person has been chosen for the job instead.

That person is Tatsumi Kimishima.  As of today, he is Nintendo’s president and CEO.

But hang on, who is Mr Kimishima you may ask?

Tatsumi Kimishima

Well to cut a long story short, he was head of the Pokemon Company from 2000 and Pokemon USA Inc from 2001.  He was also the president of Nintendo of America from 2001-2006, before becoming the Nintendo Managing Director afterwards.  So he’s got quite the history from the company, having a wide variety of roles in the company’s management and all that stuff.

However, rather interestingly, he’s not been directly involved in game development. So that’s quite the difference from Iwata and other company presidents, since his experience comes from the business and management side rather than the design and development one.

So that’s the new Nintendo president.  But he’s also been said quite a few interesting things in his first day or two in the role:

On Not Running a Gaming Company Based on Numbers Alone

He mentioned this an interview roughly translated by this guy on Twitter:

On predicting the Wii U’s Failure

Again, from the same guy’s translations:

And finally, he’s also only currently appointed for a single year. So if things don’t work out… he won’t be president in 2017:

Apparently this is common in the company. But hey, seems like a good move in today’s times of instability and sometimes questionable business decisions.

But what do you think? Are you happy with Mr Kimishima as Nintendo’s president? Do you think his ideas from the company are good ones? What do you think?

Source:

Nintendo Has Offically Named their new President – Gamnesia

Shigeru Miyamoto Answers Mario Myths… And Names Bowser Jr’s Mother

Well, it’s finally here! Shigeru Miyamoto has answered everyone’s Mario related questions as part of a video promo for Super Mario Maker, including such things as whether SMB 3 was a play or who Bowser Jr’s mother is in the series! Here’s the video, from Nintendo’s Youtube channel:

It’s pretty self explanatory (and hilarious) in its own right, but we’ll post a summary of each point regardless, along with some of our personal thoughts on each answer given by Miyamoto:

Is Mario named after former Nintendo of America warehouse landlord Mario Segale?

*Shigeru Miyamoto nods*

Well, that confirms that then. Not like anyone was really doubting the story, but it’s now triple confirmed.

Is the Mario shown on the original Super Mario Bros packaging about to lose a life?

No apparently. Of course, you should keep in mind two things here:

1. He’s in front of the blocks, not underneath them. The lava is probably in the background.

SMBBox

Above: The US box art.  Mario is in front of the wall, nor falling to his doom.

2. Super Mario Bros 1 had different box art in Japan.

Japanese SMB Box

Above: Super Mario Bros 1’s Japanese box art.

Either way, Mario is not about to lose a life on either box.

Would you let Dr Mario operate on you?

*Shigeru Miyamoto makes ‘Oh hell no’ motion*

Miyamoto traumatised

Above: You can see the fear in his face… Or maybe the arm motions.

Does anyone not agree with him here? Dr Mario does not look like he has a genuine medical license.

drmarioart

Above: Not a real doctor.  Don’t trust him with your personal health.

Was Super Mario Bros 3 all just a performance?

In case you’re wondering, this stems from an observation made years ago that the game opens with a curtain rising and various parts of the levels seem to be hung from the walls or ceiling rather than being ‘real’ places. You can find it here:

But regardless of its origin, it’s true. Miyamoto nods and confirms Super Mario Bros 3 was all just a play.

When Bob-ombs Perish, do they turn into Boos?

No apparently. Whether this means bob-ombs don’t die, they simply become a different type of ghost or that boos are just another species… is never really elaborated on.

Do you know who Bowser Jr’s mother is?

*Shigeru Miyamoto nods and points to himself*

Miyamoto Pointing

Above: The moment that left many Mario fans utterly horrified.

Okay, we DID NOT need that horrible mental image. Worse yet, we bet anything that somewhere, some desperate fan fic writer is working on some sort of Miyamoto X Bowser relationship fic. That’s something that none of us here at Gaming Reinvented look forward to reading.

Bowser Miyamoto traumatised

bowserjrart

Above: Bowser + Miyamoto = Bowser Jr?

 

Then again… at least it’s not fan art. Pictures of Miyamoto and Bowser being intimate is not exactly something anyone has ever wanted to see.

Does Mario break blocks with his first?

Yes again, according to Mr Miyamoto. He even makes the same pose as Mario!

MiyamotoBlockBreaking

Above: Miyamoto goes to break an imaginary brick block

Are any of your courses featured in Super Mario Maker?

And finally, Shigeru Miyamoto says that no, he has no courses featured in Super Mario Maker.

Weird? Yes to some degree. You’d think the guy behind Mario and much of the series in general would have made some of the courses featured on the disc by default. But no, apparently there are no courses by Miyamoto featured there.

Ah well, he’ll supposedly be making some courses with the tool later on, so that’s something to look forward to.

So that’s the Mario myths answered apparently. Not sure where exactly the myths came from (did Nintendo put out a call for questions on Twitter or something), but Mr Miyamoto has answered them none the less.

What did you think of Miyamoto’s question answering? Did you really want to know that Mr Miyamoto was apparently Bowser Jr’s mother?