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GDC 2009 - Day 4.2 - All About NOBY NOBY BOY

One man attempts to separate fact from fiction while listening to Keita Takahashi talk about NOBY NOBY BOY. That man determines that it's not possible. Starring: King of All Cosmos

Jim McGinley, Blogger

March 29, 2009

4 Min Read

Headsets translated Keita real time.
Needed to pay attention since parts of presentation (maybe more) were nonsense.
Even if you understood Japanese, would be hard to tell fact from fiction.
Inspiring, memorable, cute presentation laced with strange, strange humour.

Keita not happy with Katamari's time limits or growth goals.
Got angry anytime someone mentioned they beat a level.
Wanted game with no visible goal and no set formula.
Game where even the developers didn't know what was going to happen.
Largest problem? Couldn't tell testers what a bug was, since he didn't know.

Drew picture of several people on a bus playing games on portable devices.
"are we making games to see the world like this?
 children are not playing... they're consuming.
 we call game players users.
 what is created has to be something consumable.
 it makes me so mad I want to BONK them...
 maybe they should just die.
 maybe it's not good if game sells.
 so we release on PS3 download only."
Given fact Keita porting Noby Noby to IPhone,
believe this was simply elaborate way of saying Noby Noby wasn't selling well.
Didn't realize Japanese had word for Bonk.

In 2005, created black & white sketch of Noby twisting around a house and tree.
Showed it to programmer who said "I was thinking the same thing!"
Showed it to programmer's wife who said "you should do this as if your life depended on it."
So he had no choice but to build it.

Drew picture of the PS3 controller and the XBOX360 controller.
Circled thumbsticks. Since the thumbsticks line up Keita chose the PS3
(despite developing initial prototype on the XBOX 360).

3 years to complete Noby Noby, and they changed physics engines halfway through
(from homegrown to the Physics Effects library included in the PS3 SDK
 - avoided Havoc since that would require Havoc logo).

He lied. Noby Noby does have goal - grow girl to connect entire solar system.
Since goal was so huge, felt it wasn't a definite goal.
When girl reached moon, Keita was moved.
Girl currently grows 40 million meters a day.
At that rate, will take 820 years to complete mission.
Problem? Keita will be dead.


a) Wanted to send players Noby scarf his mom made,
    and Noby pillow his sister made.
    Helps Keita enjoy game with customers. Silly but fun.
    Might be more fun to send them to incorrect address.

b) Wanted a different kind of ranking system.
    Otherwise players would focus on stretching as much as possible.

c) Wanted Google search integration.
    You could gobble URLs (carried by game characters) to visit a site

d) Wanted face customization


"Noby Noby is a ticket to go to a festival to change the entire solar system."

"I felt constraint. I felt cramped. More than just recession.
  Feels like systems controlling me.
  Something invisible tying him up (might be Bandai).
  Noby Noby is a way for me to fight against the constraining world.
  If the game is fun, these words are nonsense."

"People say it's not a game... but what's a game?
  If we love games, we have to feel more, observe more,
  and enjoy more in order to make games."

"Perhaps we're relying on old games too much.
  Ignore the company and ignore the audience, create a game that we like.
  Don't be afraid of being embarassed.
  Don't be constrained.
  Don't fear failure.
  Creating something new is the mission of all game developers."

Q & A

Q: Are you shrinking the size of the solar system so it doesn't take 820 years.
A:  No.

Q: What does the parrot mean?
A:  The parrot has nothing to do with the game.

Q: The stretchy sound hurts my ears. Why is it "waaaaah" and not "ahhhhh"?
A:  I didn't realize you were so upset about it.
     Maybe you have some issues privately.
     You need to relax.

Q: How do you pitch strange ideas to upper management?
A:  Maybe you can cry, and then appeal to them and then just cry.

Throws "Panic.com" T-Shirts to audience.
I wish every session ended like this.

Believe overall message is true. Don't trust actual details.

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