Rare: Avatar Development Started before Mii?


As a lot of people know Mii’s are pretty cool, and we have all spent tons of hours customizing and making unique ones of our friends and of various characters that we like. So it’s not surprising another company would jump on the bandwagon and try to get a little of the avatar action.

As well all know Rare is making similar avatars for Microsoft’s Xbox360. Which is all fine and good no harm was really done until Rare Artist Lee Musgrave said this one comment during one of Eurogamer’s interview.

“It was an idea that we had before Miis were a part of the gaming scene…”

Which can be taken numerous ways, especially in the way of “we weren’t copying anyone we had the idea originally”.  Hit the jump for the history of the Mii.

However, the thing that strikes me particularly odd about that comment is how could you not have known about Nintendo and Mii development. They’ve been talking about Mii’s for a while now. Especially during GDC 07 where Shigeru Miyamoto explained the development of Mii’s during a keynote speech and actually showed that the development actually started way back during the Famicom Disk System days.

Not to mention that there has been a few E3’s where characters that looked like Miyamoto, and Iwata during presentations Before the release of the Wii. Especially during the N64 Era when the idea appeared again with the Nintendo 64DD, where the player could edit a 3D character with a wide variety of clothes.

So for a Rare employee to actually say that they were actually developing the “idea” long before the Mii, may be true, but I consider it highly unlikely.

[Rare Interview here ]

An artist from New York. Will has been writing, designing, and loving video games since he was young. He has traveled across the United States, and parts of Canada in order to learn more about the world of gaming. After visiting E3 for the first time in 2009, he has vowed to return there and show off a game of his own. In his spare time he tinkers with electronics, programming, and of course collecting video games.


  1. Microsoft is telling us that they starting working on a Mii rip-off before they even had a system on the market? Bullsh*t Microsoft.

  2. that’s a bunch of bullshit

  3. Yeah, I think everyone will agree that this is a load of bullshit on Microsoft/Rare’s part.

  4. Who says it’s bullshit? Someone, somewhere had the idea at some time beforehand. They’re not lying, they’re just playing politics.

  5. They may not be lying, but I still wouldn’t have said it because regardless of their intent, it’s going to come across as sour grapes. It doesn’t really matter if they had the “idea” before Nintendo, Nintendo got it out first and therefore they’ve set the standard.

  6. I don’t doubt they had their own idea. The truth is, despite Nintendo’s testing of trying Miis way back then, they never showed any of it and many other companies have done avatars way before (albeit sometimes very nasty-looking like the Yahoo animated avatars).

    Regardless of copying is that the Wii’s popularity and the Mii’s popularity most likely helped push them over from “thinking about it” to actually getting it out there.

  7. Who cares

    Seriously, if you really give a crap about who had the idea first….get a life/

    Mii’s made it out first, and they are great.

    Maybe the avatars will be just as cool, maybe not.

    I hope to enjoy both little critters come this fall. And I dont care who came up with the idea first.

  8. I thought about a project called The Ridiculously Powerful Particle Smasher, long before the completion of the Large Hadron Collider. Yea, I am the true genius. Cookies anyone?

  9. Microsoft with their lies. Who believes that garbage? They gave us the RED RING OF DOOM! Yes, RoyalRook, I’d like to have a cookie *takes a cookie*

  10. I’m not sure why this comment was made. It makes Microsoft look bad even if this was true. For all we know Rare may have came up with the idea while still close to Nintendo and gave Miyamoto the extra push to make Miis for the Wii. Either way, does it really matter? Miis weren’t terribly new when they came out; I’d consider what Yahoo has as pretty similar. Wii was the first to market in the gaming world with the idea and deserves the credit.

    If Sony came out and said they dreamed of a unified online gaming service before Microsoft released Xbox Live would anyone really care? Nope, but it’d make Sony look bad!

  11. The idea of a virtual self representing the player in the game is an old one. The idea of taking this concept and making it a central part of a console it is a new one.

    But I agree with Craig, the statement makes Microsoft looks bad even if true.

  12. I wonder if they were aware of this kind of reaction when they said that?

    I dunno, like stated before, the idea of using a virtual representation of the user in the form of a little character is an old idea. I figure they just said it without thinking of all the not-so-mature fanboys who seem to think that kind of thing is really, hugely, immensely important.

    I’d say I was sorry if I offended you, but I’m not. Had they said they had the idea for… say… the motion sensory stuff before Nintendo, or even Sony with it’s Eye-toy thing, THEN, I give you leeway to call bullshit. That’s a better issue to call on. Not who first came out with the idea of online avatars.

  13. The Mii system was going to be implemented on the DS. There were some dev pics either here and/or elsewhere.

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