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Nintendo EAD

Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development, or Nintendo EAD, formerly Nintendo Research & Development 4, or Nintendo R&D4, was the largest division inside Nintendo... read more

Nintendo EAD

Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development, or Nintendo EAD, formerly Nintendo Research & Development 4, or Nintendo R&D4, was the largest division inside Nintendo until it merged with Nintendo Software Planning & Development in September 2015, becoming Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development.

Description

It was preceded by the Creative Department (クリエイティブ課 Kurieitibu Ka), a team of designers with backgrounds in art responsible for many different tasks, to which Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka originally belonged. Both served as managers of the EAD studios and were credited in every game developed by the division, with varying degrees of involvement. Nintendo EAD was best known for its work on games in the Donkey Kong, Mario, The Legend of Zelda, F-Zero, Star Fox, Pikmin, and Animal Crossing series.

History

Background

During the 1970s, when Nintendo was still predominantly a toy company, it decided to expand into interactive entertainment and the video game industry. Several designers were hired to work under the Creative Department, which, at the time, was the only game development department within Nintendo. Among these new designers were Makoto Kano, who went on to design various Game & Watch games, and Shigeru Miyamoto, who would create various Nintendo franchises. In 1972, the department was renamed to Research & Development Department; it had about 20 employees. The department was later consolidated into a division and separated into three groups, Nintendo R&D1, R&D2 and R&D3.

1980–1989: Creation as Research & Development 4

The success of Shigeru Miyamoto's Donkey Kong arcade game was a deciding factor in the creation of Nintendo R&D4.

After the success of Donkey Kong, a game designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, the then Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi decided that in addition to the already existing research and development departments he would create a new development department focused around Miyamoto, who would later become one of the most recognized video game designers in the world. In 1983, Nintendo Research & Development 4 (abbreviated to Nintendo R&D4), was officially created, appointing Hiroshi Ikeda, former president of Toei Animation, as General Manager with Miyamoto acting as chief producer. Nintendo also drafted a couple of key graphic designers to the department including Takashi Tezuka and Kenji Miki. With the arcade market dwindling, Nintendo R&D1's former focus, the department concentrated most of their software development resources on the emerging handheld video game console market, primarily thanks to the worldwide success of Nintendo's Game Boy. This catapulted the R&D4 department to become the lead software developer for Nintendo home video game consoles, developing a myriad of games for the Family Computer home console (abbreviated to Famicom, known as Nintendo Entertainment System in the North America, Europe and Australia).

Hiroshi Ikeda's creative team had many video game design ideas, but was lacking the necessary programming power to make it all happen. Toshihiko Nakago, and his small company Systems Research & Development (abbreviated to SRD), had its expertise in computer-aided design (CAD) tools and was very familiar with the Famicom chipset, and was originally hired to work with Masayuki Uemura's Nintendo R&D2 to internally develop software development kits. When Nintendo R&D2 and SRD jointly began porting over R&D1 arcade games to the Famicom, Shigeru Miyamoto took the opportunity to lure Nakago away from R&D2, to help Miyamoto create his first Nintendo R&D4 video game, Excitebike. And so the original R&D4 department became composed of Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka, Kenji Miki, and Minoru Maeda handling design; Koji Kondo, Akito Nakatsuka, and Hirokazu Tanaka handling sound design; and Toshihiko Nakago and SRD became the technology and programming core.

One of the first games developed by the R&D4 department was Mario Bros. in 1983, designed and directed by Miyamoto. The department was, however, unable to program the game with such an inexperienced team, and so counted with programming assistance from Gunpei Yokoi and the R&D1 department. One of the first completely self-developed games was Super Mario Bros., the sequel to Mario Bros. The game set standards for the platform genre, and went on to be both a critical and commercial success. In 1986, R&D4 developed The Legend of Zelda, for which Miyamoto again served as a director. The phenomenal sales of Super Mario Bros.and The Legend of Zelda fueled the expansion of the department with young game designers such as Hideki Konno, Katsuya Eguchi, Kensuke Tanabe, Takao Shimizu, who would later become producers themselves.

1989–2002: Renamed to Entertainment Analysis & Development

In 1989, one year before the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) was released in Japan, Nintendo R&D4 expanded and was renamed Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development (Nintendo EAD). The department spun off its development duties into two departments: the Software Development Department, which focused on video game development and was led by Miyamoto, and the Technology Development Department, which focused on programming and developing tools and was led by Takao Sawano. The technology department was born out of several R&D2 engineers that were assisting SRD with software libraries. After that, the same department later collaborated with Argonaut Games to develop the Super FX chip technology for the SNES, first used in Star Fox in 1993. This venture allowed the Technology Development Department to become more prominent in the 3D era, where they programmed several of Nintendo EAD's 3D games with SRD.

In 1997, Miyamoto explained that about twenty to thirty employees were devoted to each Nintendo EAD title during the course of its development. It was then that he also disclosed the existence of the SRD programming company within the division, formally Nintendo R&D2's software unit, which was composed of about 200 employees with proficiency in software programming.

In 2002, Nintendo opened a Nintendo EAD studio in Tokyo, appointing Takao Shimizu as manager of the branch. The studio was created with the goal of bringing in fresh new talent from the capital of Japan who wouldn't be willing or able to travel to Kyoto. Their first project was Donkey Kong Jungle Beat for the GameCube which made use of the DK Bongos, initially created for Donkey Konga.

2003–2015: Restructure, new managers, and merger with SPD

The exterior of theNintendo Central Officein Kyoto,Japan. Until 2014, it housed the Nintendo EAD Kyoto branch.

On September 30, 2003, as a result of a corporate restructure Nintendo was undergoing, in which several members of the Nintendo R&D1 and R&D2 were reassigned under Nintendo EAD, the department was consolidated into a division and began welcoming a new class of managers and producers. Hideki Konno, Katsuya Eguchi, Eiji Aonuma, Hiroyuki Kimura, and Tadashi Sugiyama were appointed project managers of their own groups within the Software Development Department; Shimizu was appointed project manager of the Tokyo Software Development Department; and Keizo Ota and Yasunari Nishida were appointed project managers of their own groups in the Technology Development Department.

In 2013, Katsuya Eguchi was promoted Department Manager of both Software Development Departments in Kyoto and Tokyo. As such, he left his role as Group Manager of Software Development Group No. 2, and was replaced by Hisashi Nogami. On June 18, 2014, the EAD Kyoto branch was moved from the Nintendo Central Office to the Nintendo Development Center in Kyoto. The building housed more than 1100 developers from all of Nintendo's internal research and development divisions, which included the Nintendo EAD, SPD, IRD and SDD divisions.

On September 16, 2015, EAD merged with Nintendo Software Planning & Development into a single game development division, called Nintendo Entertainment Planning & Development (EPD). The move followed an internal restructuring of Nintendo executives and departments, after the death of former president Satoru Iwata in July 2015.

Structural hierarchy

The General Manager was Shigeru Miyamoto, assisted by both Keizo Kato, the Assistant Manager and Takashi Tezuka, the Executive Officer. The division was split into three different departments: the Kyoto Software Development Department, which was split into five separate groups, and the Tokyo Software Development Department, which was split into two separate groups, both supervised by Deputy Manager Katsuya Eguchi; and the Technology Development Department which was split into two separate groups in Kyoto, supervised by Deputy Manager Takao Sawano. All of these groups worked concurrently on different projects.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0. 

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