No. 71

Today, I will write in a somewhat serious tone.
I’ll explain the reason why we chose the finger
as the input device for the touchscreen.

When I first saw a prototype of the Nintendo DS
at Nintendo, Mr. Miyamoto was already using
a stylus to operate it.
He used the stylus to manipulate the objects
that would make quick movements,
similar to the way you’d use a PDA.

There are machines like ATM machines or ticket
machines at train stations that use touch
sensitive panels. These machines have a large
display and are intended for ordinary people,
so you can touch the panel directly to operate it.
You can use it intuitively.
They don’t have a stylus.

From that, I realized a simple fact.
A stylus is necessary only
:when the screen is small and operation is
difficult, and
:when manipulating small objects

Let’s put it another way. There is no need
for a stylus except for the above cases.
You can touch the screen directly, intuitively.
And if not, it wouldn’t make sense
to call it ‘touch.’

With such philosophy, we tried to develop a game
that is mainly operable by the finger,
a game where a player will feel the need for
a stylus as seldom as possible.

The disadvantage of this approach is that
the finger can’t select small objects.
We paid a special attention to that problem.

While the development was under way, I felt
most strongly about making Pokemon battle operable
by the finger.

There are several reasons.
Even when battles themselves are complex,
the operation should be easy enough for everybody.
And, a quick, intuitive operation.
A new way of operation.

Players need to have a sense of being a Pokemon
trainer who is giving orders.
In a battle, as I said earlier, the commands
should be not too many and operable by the finger,
without the need for a stylus.
Someone else can easily meddle with your playing.
Like, when a kid is playing, grandpa comes in
and makes a move on the screen with his finger.
Well, the kid might feel unhappy, but then
communication will be established between them.

Thus, the game was being developed with
the assumption that battles should be playable
by the finger.

However, in later developments, there are
many objections to this approach because the
lower screen becomes dirty with fingers.
Both inside and outside the company,
many people preferred the stylus.
In the end, there were even people who thought
it better to use the traditional
Direction Button.
We had many different thoughts about it.

But I myself had a conviction that it’s better
to use the finger.

Because, an absolute beginner can make a selection.
People around a beginner can teach him/her how
to play. So, I explained the situation and place
where the game would be actually played.
I said I wanted to create a new way to play
this game.

Also, this is a bit too extreme but…
I said things like,
Kids wouldn’t care much about dirt, and
only Japanese people are concerned about how
clean the screen is, or
we are too accustomed to the operations of
past Pokemon games.
When I went overseas and spotted foreigners
playing a game without stylus,
I took their pictures.
That way, little by little, I persuaded those
with different opinions.
It was very very difficult.
But in the end, people came to understand my idea.
Maybe they became used to it too.

Pokemon Diamond & Pearl is a finger-operation game.
I’d like people to play it as if they are
telling Pokemon to do such and such things,
intuitively.
This is how I thought it best to play this game.
Please give it a try!

See ya.