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Richard Vorodi, alternatively known as Rich Vorodi or NST Rich online, is an American game designer and occasional voice and motion capture actor, formerly at Nintendo Software Technology. He designed the story, environments and single player mode in Metroid Prime Hunters and its demo, Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt. He noted that "the hardware kinda dictated" their focus onto the game's multiplayer mode.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Vorodi and Masamichi Abe holding the cover of First Hunt.

Vorodi had wanted to work for Nintendo since the age of seven, and recalls playing Metroid II: Return of Samus on road-trips while dealing with car sickness and low Game Boy battery. He has since played every Metroid game. He studied at the DigiPen Institute of Technology before joining Nintendo.[1]

Vorodi worked at NST from 2001-2011 on Hunters and multiple other games, and worked for Nintendo before that as a consumer support technician, helping callers with their technical support questions. He applied for a role as junior game designer at NST as soon as it became available, and was hired. He considered Hunters to be one of the greatest honors of his game development career.

Vorodi later worked at Vigil Games and Crytek as a senior game designer, and is currently senior designer at Gunfire Games.

Vorodi was interviewed by Shinesparkers in May 2020, with the interview being released on August 6, the 34th anniversary of the Metroid series. He discussed his time working with NST on Hunters, revealed new information about the Bounty Hunter characters in the game, and shared some of his memorabilia from development, including a personalized sketch from Tomoyoshi Yamane - who designed Samus Aran in Super Metroid.

Other credits[edit | edit source]

Vorodi being interviewed about Hunters by GameSpot.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • Vorodi revealed in the Shinesparkers interview that he knows the true identity of Sylux, but did not provide details.[1]
  • Vorodi's biggest "design wish" with Hunters was that they would have adopted "a more smooth and responsible controls scheme" for the game. The controls were one of the elements singled out for criticism.[1]
  • Regarding the delay of Hunters so that the developers could implement requested online multiplayer, Vorodi said "To the right team a delay is a miracle."[1]
  • When asked what NST wished they could have included in Hunters, Vorodi responded (perhaps sarcastically) "Virtual Reality and full body force feedback."[1]
  • When asked for his advice to any developers who implement multiplayer into a future Metroid game, he said that they will know they are on the right track "if they are eager to compete with each other several times throughout the day."

Interview transcriptions[edit | edit source]

Click the link on the right to open this section.

IGN[edit | edit source]

My name is Richard Vorodi, and I'm a game designer for Nintendo Software Technology, and I worked on Metroid Prime Hunters.

We've been working on Metroid Prime Hunters for a little over two years now, and we're all exhausted and we're all very excited that it's over. But the extra time that we spent in development really helped us get our wishlist of ideas inside.

I'm super proud of everything in the game, like I'm stoked about all the stuff we were able to cram into this DS game. But I think some of the coolest things about it are the fact that, one, it's using Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection, so you can connect online for free and play anybody. The other thing is that we have a whole new set of Bounty Hunters. We've introduced these guys into Samus's world, so that’s really going to change the way people look at Metroid, and lastly, single player play time is a little smaller than Prime, but the game as a whole is four times the size of Metroid Prime in terms of content and features. It's crazy, it's loaded.

Okay so, for all the fans that, you know, have grown up with Samus and they followed her adventures, you know, they might, maybe feel a little betrayed by the fact that now we're turning their beloved franchise into this multiplayer frag fest, but really I don't think there's any calls for alarm. You know, with Hunters we are staying true to what Metroid is, in first-person perspective. We've definitely got a ton of puzzles, there's a ton of shooting, the Morph Ball is definitely heavily used.

Samus is definitely out to explore the environment, but what we're doing, and what's different, what will make Hunters unique is the hunter-hunted mechanics that we have. Basically, Samus is not alone on this mission. For the first time there's other bounty hunters in there that are wreaking havoc, and they're chasing her around, and basically what everybody's looking for are these crystals called Octoliths, and the Octoliths promise the ultimate weapon to whoever can collect all of them. So basically, the Federation kind of sends Samus out to the rim of their control, so it's this uncharted area. Samus is basically like a rogue agent; she's out doing some undercover super-spy stuff for the Federation. We've got hunters chasing her down, we've got a lot of action and puzzles, and huge bosses. I mean, the game's fantastic, and like I said, it's just a little shorter than Prime, so anybody expecting just like a quick dust-off mission in fifteen minutes, they got another thing coming.

Voice-over IP was one of those things that we really wanted to get in the game the minute we decided to go online. It's rare that a game can come out that actually hits all the things that you wanted to do. I think we really pushed this game more towards hardcore fans. If everybody can enjoy it, great, but if not, I mean that's pretty much what it is. This game is fast, it's brutal, it's hardcore. One of the things that hardcore players tend to appreciate when they're playing online games is the ability to communicate. Whether that be the voice over IP or just, you know, basic chatting, we were definitely cognisant of the fact that we wanted those in the game.

The differences between just playing your friends that are just hanging out with you in Metroid and playing people you've never met or your friends from another state away online, there's no difference. If you guys recall with Mario Kart, there were some features that had to get dropped when you played it online, versus when you played it offline, and Metroid is one of those great circumstances where we were able to just maximize the power of the DS and we have everything in there. How you play it by yourself or with friends is exactly how you play it online connected through the Wi-Fi.

One of the things that you'll notice about how we've set up our multiplayer portion of the game is we have the inclusion of something called a Hunters License. This is really cool because, again gearing towards hardcore gamers, this thing tracks a crazy amount of stats. Things that most people wouldn't even care about, but some of us do, like how long you've walked in the game and how many shots you fired total and how many times you killed somebody with the Morph Ball or the Triskelion, things like that. We have an incredible stat tracker.

Metroid Prime Hunters drops March 20th. You don't want to miss the boat guys, this is crazy, go get it.

GameSpot (1)[edit | edit source]

The single player game is a little unique amongst other Metroid games. For starters, it's much faster, it's much more brutal. It's definitely not about sitting around looking at the beautiful scenery, even though there's tons of it. We don't really give you time to do that because these bounty hunters are breathing down your neck, so you constantly have this sense of dread, constantly, sense that you need to keep moving.

What happens is that the player lands on a planet and solves puzzles. Now, there's definitely a ton of puzzles in this game, just like there would be in any Metroid game. There's more balls, shooting puzzles, we have huge bosses, and so basically the player goes through and they try and collect keys to unlock artifacts that open up a teleporter. When you enter through this teleporter, you go to a boss room and you have to have a big boss fight, and you hopefully retrieve an Octolith.

So your job now is to take that Octolith and get it back to your ship. It's the only time you're safe is when you're in your ship, so you have to traverse back through the level, but the key here is getting out in time before the place explodes. So every time you grab one of these, you upset the Alimbic security systems and it's a throwback to the old evacuation missions from the other games. They're heart pounding and it's crazy. Not just a simple, like straight line back to your ship. Sometimes you go in different directions, new creatures come out, the bounty hunters always show up, so you're definitely doing a lot of stuff in a small amount of time to get back to your ship.

Then you can take off and scan the galaxy for your next location. You just fly to wherever you want to go or wherever the next Octolith is, or if a Hunter has taken it, you have to track them down in space, find out where they are, land and then go confront them.

Well the cinematics in the game are really exciting. They're two screens, high-res graphics on the DS, and there's a ton of movies, and the movies help explain the story, you know, help move those plot points along.

Metroid Prime Hunters features a ton of unlockable things. First and foremost is the Bounty Hunters. If you start the game you'll notice you only have three right at the beginning. But what happens is as you play through the single player game, and you encounter these guys as you would and you beat them, now you have the chance to play as them in multiplayer. Now, if you haven't really had a chance to get that far in single player, if you place a friend locally that has that hunter and you kill them, you get to take it, so that's how you increase your hunter roster.

Well adding bounty hunters to a multiplayer game in Hunters really changes up the dynamics of things. You know, the fact they can turn into their alternate forms, it just really changes the gameplay. It just totally mixes things up, you're not just chasing bipeds down hallways, this guy in front of you can turn into a ball, roll up a wall, and that keeps you on your toes.

Another thing aside from the Alt-Forms that's really cool is that they have a weapon affinity system, so for example, if you are playing Kanden, Kanden can actually take his gun called the Shock Coil and if he charges that up and he hits you, he can blind you. Blind the player, blind the visor. But, if Samus were to say pick that up, and she shot that, it would just kind of home and hit somebody, but it wouldn't blind them. Learning the hunters, learning their affinities, learning what makes them unique and cool, I think is part of the fun and will definitely add to the replayability of the game.

Metroid Prime Hunters comes out March 20th, you definitely want to get it. The competition begins on day 1.

Vorodi's comments here erroneously imply that the Alimbic security systems count down to an explosion. No locations explode if time runs out. Instead, Samus will be killed automatically if she does not reach her Gunship and leave the planet in time. He also refers to Kanden's Affinity Weapon, which can "blind" victims, as the Shock Coil. Kanden's Affinity Weapon is actually the Volt Driver, and it causes electrical interference in the victim's HUD. The Shock Coil is Sylux's Affinity Weapon.

GameSpot (2)[edit | edit source]

The title card of this interview misspells his name as Richard Vorody.

My name is Richard Verodi and I'm a game designer at Nintendo Software Technology, but people just call it NST. Today we're talking about Metroid Prime Hunters for the Nintendo DS. The game has gone through several changes, you know, a lot of people have confused it with First Hunt, but really what we did then was just get a demo out for people that just picked up DSes for the first time and let them show them what the machine was capable of.

With Hunters, what we're doing is we're really trying to start from scratch and make an actual Metroid game, so this is a very deep experience, it's a rich experience, so people that are familiar with the Metroid Prime games will feel right at home with this game.

The focus of this game has always been multiplayer, and I think the hardware kind of dictated that, so when you have something that's wireless and that can make a first-person shooter a fun experience, you might as well just put all your energy into that, but the difference between E3 and today is that we've showed everybody this is what multiplayer's like and this is how cool it is, so why don't we just start addressing the concerns that people have that like aside from multiplayer, will this be true to Metroid? And that's kind of what we're trying to do today.

I would say the single-player experience can be summed up just as this is Metroid. But NST's taken a unique license with the fact that we really wanted to try and expand the universe for Samus and introduce these bounty hunters that will actually work against her and that are as intelligent as her, and as fierce and deadly so that basically, when the player is searching out their objectives and the objects that they're looking for in the game, they're never safe because you can always be ambushed by another hunter. And if the hunter steals that from you, well you're going to have to track them down in space, find them, hunt them down, kill them and take it. There's a sense that you're never truly safe, you're always on your toes.

The structure for Hunters is I would say true to Metroid in a sense that she is exploring different regions and she is looking to upgrade her arsenal and she is looking to upgrade her ammo and her health and things like that. But the difference here is that the upgrades are not so much on Morph Ball upgrades and suit upgrades as they are getting weapons to get you through the worlds, and I think the major difference between this and the other games is that she will pilot her ship to move around to different planets in the galaxy where the skirmishes are taking place, and I think that's the biggest departure from Metroid. But aside from that we still have the Morph Ball puzzles and we still have locked doors and we still have mazes and we still have puzzles and the scan switches and things like that, so it's very true in that sense, but then remarkably different yet in another.

Yeah, check your stores. March 20th, 2006. Metroid Prime Hunters.

Vorodi says that Samus kills hunters who steal Octoliths she collects. Taken literally; this is not true, as hunters will disappear and drop the Octolith when defeated.

The 1UP Show (2x07)[edit | edit source]

The interview can be watched here: [1]

Richard
"The first two months that we started the game in active production, I couldn't sleep, which is like, 'Is this the right decision? Is this the right choice?' Right? I don't want to be the guy that messes up Metroid, but after a while that just kind of dissipates, and you're just like no, this is good. This is a good idea, I like this direction, you know I'm happy about it and everybody else is happy about it."
Mark MacDonald
"One of the things that I'm excited about the game now is the single player aspect, because I like multiplayer games, I like multiplayer online games, but Metroid is the series for me, and I've loved Metroid Prime, stuff like that. So, I was really excited to see that there's this whole really robust single player. The first interviews that I had about the game like with Tanabe at E3 and stuff like, that the single player sounded more like a like a Quake 3 arena sort of aspect."
Richard
"I think that, you know, the whole deathmatch arena climbing kind of thing with that ladder-type gameplay was there probably for literally like two days. We were just like, 'no, this is - we can't do that.' I think it's really easy to get the wrong impression about the game over the last year, because we've said nothing. You know what I mean? I've been biting my tongue forever, you know. I just want to spill the beans, but you know we just can't. It's definitely got, you know, the puzzle solving and it has the Morph Ball activities, it has the sense of exploration, and I think the biggest factor was, is this claustrophobic enough. Everything's tight. I think we hit that. That was one of the first things. The original test was like, could we do this. So we did that, but what what we also wanted to do is we wanted to put our own stamp on it.
Prime has their thing, and we're doing our thing, and what I mean by that is the differences are like this game is much faster. In terms of like gameplay time, it's just under. It's just shy of Metroid Prime, but like in terms of content and just like playability, this game is like five times where Prime is. I mean, just the multiplayer aspect alone. My feeling is that they could have been released separately. They're just both gigantic."
"If you combine the amount of shooting that needed to be done in Prime 1 and in Prime 2: Echoes, that's probably about what you're getting with us in one game. If somebody is playing for 10-15 minutes, what are they gonna want to experience? Well, they're probably gonna want to shoot a lot of stuff. They're gonna want to get that feeling out. So we wanted to make sure that the rooms - we didn't want to load every single room with creatures, but at the same time we needed to find a good balance where it was exploration and then, you know, combat and I think having the bounty hunters searching for her, looking for that really kind of was the answer to not filling up every room with with things. Because they could show up at any time."
MacDonald
"The graphics look great too. You say you almost broke the DS in doing the graphics. So how has that been?"
Vorodi
"We did! We just overhauled the engine after the first time. Basically I think maybe that a lot of people think this is just a continuation of First Hunt. First Hunt is First Hunt. This is like we basically started from scratch. I mean, we wrote every single line of code in the game. It's much faster because we learned a lot coming from First Hunt, that allowed us to apply what we learned to this."
MacDonald
"I remember there's a quote. I think it was like Jim Merrick or somebody out of Nintendo Europe that was like, 'No! We don't need online! Why would we want online?' and everybody was like 'What? Yes, it's first-person shooter.'"
Vorodi
"The day after E3 it's basically, you know, you checking message boards. Everybody's like, 'what are they doing?' It was like, 'Yeah! We don't want to let anybody down so we're like you know what, just let's stop, let's take some time, let's fix up some of the other stuff that we wanted to and then let's just like - let's put this bad boy online, let's give it the voiceover IP. I mean, we just had this huge list of things and that time really allowed us to get all that in.
MacDonald
"The voiceover IP is awesome. Why not let people do that during the game and also why not let people do it to the rivals? Why only let people do it in a lobby to their friends?"
Vorodi
"Question of the hours! So basically..."
MacDonald
"You're tired? Everybody asked you that question?"
Vorodi
"No, it's a good question. So here's the deal. All right, so we were playing online games, right? One of the things that we decided that we didn't like that universally bothered everybody on the team was just unnecessary chatter, and there are some bugs to work out in terms of, you know, what's the trade-off between gameplay lag and if we throw in this thing, and those are things we could have worked out, but I think really we were just like look, with this much time, it's the exact same game online as it is offline and so basically like, well let's do the voiceover, but let's not do it in the game because one, we don't like everybody just talking obnoxiously all the time, then we have to find a way to filter that, and then two, let's just do it in the lobby, so to make like - let's get something for everybody, I think that's where that came in."

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