A cross-team collaboration
OK, just to recap, you started by focusing on making something fun and intuitive, and after a lot of ideas and prototyping you arrived at the idea for a product made of cardboard where consumers could build their own controllers. Is that right?
Mr. Kawamoto: Coincidently, there were a lot of people on the software prototyping team that happened to really enjoy arts and crafts, and that ended up influencing the final product, too. We didn’t choose these people intentionally, either.
All these people got together and started making things, and that was how you realized that the building process itself was a lot of fun?
Mr. Sakaguchi: That was probably part of it. Our initial prototype brainstorming sessions lasted about three weeks.
It was only three weeks?
Mr. Sakaguchi: Yeah. We made a lot of prototypes then, ten or twenty of them. Truthfully, a lot of them weren’t any good. It was pretty intense. I guess it was because of that that Ogasawara-san, who made the Joy-Con controller’s IR Motion Camera, ended up becoming “Old Man Cardboard.”
Mr. Ogasawara: That’s what did it.
Mr. Kawamoto: His work has always specialized in electronic technologies, but from now on he’ll be known for cardboard. (Laughs.)
Mr. Sakaguchi: The background of the hardware team members is also pretty interesting. The Toy-Con Motorbike designer was previously responsible for overseeing the Nintendo Switch and Joy-Con hardware, and the Nintendo Switch stand designer ended up designing the Toy-Con Piano.
Mr. Kawamoto: And the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller designer worked on another Toy-Con.
That is really interesting! I suppose it makes sense that someone accustomed to fine-tuning game controllers so they are optimized for gameplay would bring those same sensibilities to Toy-Con design.
Mr. Kawamoto: We couldn’t have pulled this off without them. The software team alone couldn’t have made all these designs.
And this wasn’t arranged in advance? The group came together by chance?
Mr. Ogasawara: Yes. We were just lucky, I think, that the team members involved were invested in the project and shared similar ideals. I’m grateful for how it all worked out.
Mr. Sakaguchi: We’ve really only talked about the cardboard designs at this point, but the games themselves are also really well done. The programming, artwork, and sound design all feel great. Play and Discover are just as important as the Make aspect of Nintendo Labo, so I hope that customers will try them out. We even gave the menu button interactions a lot of thought.
Mr. Kawamoto: Every single interactive element of Nintendo Labo feels great. We put a lot of effort and thought into the software that powers it all. The two software art directors came from series like The Legend of Zelda™ and Animal Crossing™. We really were incredibly fortunate to have the team members we had.
Mr. Sakaguchi: A group of programmers came over one day and showed us the Toy-Con RC Car auto-driving mode—they’d come up with the idea and implemented it all on their own. We truly had an amazing group of people working on this project.