E3 2015: Game Design 101 with Super Mario Maker
The release of Super Mario Makercould very well mark a new, even brighter future for the video game industry. That game's launch will mark the first non-Minecraft game design tool, a creative wonderland for players to create their own Mario levels and share them with the world. After dabbling in some rudimentary stage creation of my own and taking on some stages made by other E3-goers, there's a lot of fun to be had in Super Mario Maker.
It's amazing to me how simple it is to create and run through a custom Mario level within Super Mario Maker. The nice person walking me through the demo brought me right to the custom stage screen, showed me how to change graphics styles and settings, and off I went. I could make an underwater level in the original Super Mario Bros. style or take to the clouds with the classic SNES Super Mario World look (which is the best by the way). I could add any type of platform I want with as many or as little question blocks as I want. I can fill those question blocks with power-ups, coins, or even enemies. In one underground level I placed a fish in a question block even though I had no water in the level. I thought the fish would just pop out and fall off the screen, but that fish instead jumped around the bottom of the screen and killed me. Experimentation at its finest, folks.
After dabbling in the stage creator it was time to play through a sample stage and see what a few developers had cooked up, and man are they a devious bunch. The stage I chose was a labyrinth of danger set in an underground dungeon, twisting and turning with trampolines and vines to climb and enemies coming out of every direction... and that was just the first half. The second part became test of jumping skill with a tiny moving platform being my only saving grace from a long fall down a pit of death. You may have also seen that stage with all the ghosts and cannons called "Not Scary If You Keep Running." Well that's a damn lie; that stage is just as scary at full speed as it is if Mario happen to stop for a breather. Fin, you anonymous Treehouse employee, you're a monster.
That's the beauty of what Super Mario Maker is trying to accomplish here. It doesn't matter if it's a child dabbling in stage creation for the first time ever or an employee at Nintendo trying his or her best to make the world scream in anguish, there's a place for everyone to try their hand at rudimentary game design here. Based on the brief demo I had at the show I can already see how this could be a tool to groom the next generation of great game designers. Don't be surprised in twenty years if the biggest names in games attribute their start to a humble little game for the Wii U in 2015.
I don't consider myself the most creative player in the world, as games like LittleBigPlanet and Minecraft somehow tend to bore me after a while, but I didn't want to stop building and trying out new levels in Super Mario Maker. After seeing what other players could make after a few short minutes with the stage creator and getting a feel for it myself, I can already tell there's going to be a lot of hours burned trying to make the one Mario stage that no one can overcome. It's going to feel super becoming a Mario Maker, and I'm already looking forward to the fall.
Super Mario Maker launches Sept. 11 exclusively on Wii U.