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The Making of the Game - Luigi's Mansion

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Making of The Game
Luigi's Mansion

This series of articles will take a look at the development of Nintendo-published software. These Q&A sessions conducted by Nintendo Online Magazine, and transcribed to English exclusively by N-Sider staff member Anthony JC, come directly from the developers so as to give you a first-hand look at the amount of sweat and blood that goes into Nintendo's most celebrated releases.

September 2001

Hideki Konno
Director
Nintendo Co., Ltd. Entertainment Analysis & Development

Katsuhiko Kanno
Design
Nintendo Co., Ltd. Entertainment Analysis & Development


Q: Please tell us how Luigi's Mansion came to be?

Hideki Konno: There was an original plan which encompassed the stages revolving around a big house or apartment complex. Then some how we started thinking along the lines of something like a dollhouse. Then we started doing experiments with Mario and other characters being on a television set using a dollhouse. We kept trying to do something different. When we decided to put it on the GameCube, we wanted to do something fresh and we decided to use Luigi as the main character. The game ideas started following soon after.

Q: Was the haunted mansion decided from the beginning?

Katsuhiko Kanno: Actually, there was an idea of using a ninja mansion or Japan-style house. Finally we decided to use a European style building which can also resemble some of the older mansions in the United States.

Q: How did the level design begin?

Kanno: Mr. Konno was making the maps already from some of his original plans. There was a prarie and desert level when it was tentatively using the Mario theme. We had to leave those out of course when the mansion idea took precedence.

Konno: The composition that there would be three storie and a basement was decided early in development. The following designs became a matter of how do we keep the mansion varied. Since we were going with the western style; there is a huge stair case in the lobby, a bathroom in each floor, a training room, a music room, etc.

Kanno: We were very conscious of each space.

Konno: We also came up with the idea of an underground cave to sort of extend the geographical environment. The early designs also had a sort of RPG system which upgraded the stage after certain actions, we sort of decided to work more with the cleaning machine (vacuum). I wanted this to be a game you could play repeatedly.

Q: When did you start working on the characters?

Konno: Well, we had character designers working parallel to the team working on the map and industrial design. Some of these ideas were already on paper with thoughts of the Nintendo 64.

Q: Did the change from cartridge to optical media prove helpful?

Konno: I don't think it proved much difference with this project. We did all the cinematography using the real-time engine. Perhaps if we used more CG calibur sequences, it would have been more useful.

Q: Well the graphics are uncanny!

Kanno: Yes. However, we did face some problems because we were trying to do a lot of texture variety. The pattern of wallpaper reached a compromised due to some early technical issues, so when a camera approaches after this, you have to draw so that it may look finely.

Q: Explain some of Luigi's motions.

Konno: Well we allowed for even one finger of Luigi to move. Even the inside of his mouth is animated and modeled well. We also worked on Luigi's emotions like joy, anger, humor, and fear, all represented by his facial expressions.

Q: The mirror in the rooms function like real mirrors. Are such things automatic or calculated?

Konno: All the special effects like dust being kicked up, or the sucking physics of vacuum, were all done by thorough calculations. Our programmers worked meticulously on that.

Q: How did the plan and game design change?

Konno: Well the game changed a lot. At one point we wanted to use only flexible ideas so that if one thing changed, everything before did not have to change as well.

Q: Prof. Egadd is a very unique character. He also speaks a very unique language.

Konno: Yeah, Kazumi Totaka came up with the voice. It's similar to the Animal Crossing speech.

Q: You communicate with Prof. Egadd through the Game Boy. Why not the Game Boy Advance?

Konno: It does not communicate with Prof. Egadd directly, but its instead used as a radar. When we first started using the idea, the Game Boy Advance was not concrete enough for us to implement it.

Q: Well it's a clever reconstruction. It is also a TV phone.

Kanno: Yep. Luigi never parts with it.

Q: The music style is very interesting.

Konno: We decided not to use music in the same traditional sense that we did on the Super Famicom or previous consoles. There are various way to use music, especially thanks to the power of the GameCube. The quality is definitely CD. We chose to use it more in an interactive and ambient presentation. For example, although Luigi has hummed the tune of the game, the tempo changes with the quantity of a life. When a life decreases, the song slows up.

Q: Any final words from the development staff?

Konno: For the first time, Luigi is in a game where he is the main hero. Although the purpose is to save Mario, there is plenty of treasure to collect which will reward you at the end.

Kanno: Please investigate all corners of the mansion. Do your best and collect a 100 million !! Luigi will definitely shine as a hero.