In talking about an upcoming game (more on that in a bit), Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka discuss the process they used in designing the levels for the original Super Mario Bros. Much of the design work happened on graph paper.1
Back in the day, we had to create everything by hand. To design courses, we would actually draw them one at a time on to these sheets of graph paper. We'd then hand our drawings to the programmers, who would code them into a build.
Here's the full video discussion:
Now, about that game... Super Mario Maker is an upcoming title for Wii U that lets you create your own Super Mario Bros levels with elements from a bunch of different Mario games. So cool...I might actually have to get a Wii U for this.
This is pretty much the same process I used when designing levels for Lode Runner back in the day.↩
SethBling wrote a program made of neural networks and genetic algorithms called MarI/O that taught itself how to play Super Mario World. This six-minute video is a pretty easy-to-understand explanation of the concepts involved.
But here's the thing: as impressive as it is, MarI/O actually has very little idea how to play Super Mario World at all. Each time the program is presented with a new level, it has to learn how to play all over again. Which is what it's doing right now on Twitch. (via waxy)
The sheng is a free-reed wind instrument dating back to 1100 BCE in China. Using a modern sheng, Li-Jin Lee makes the ancient instrument sound remarkably like Super Mario Bros., including coin and power-up sounds.
And I know the Olympics are over and good riddance and all that, but this Mario Kart speedskating bit is great. Baby Park was one of my favorite tracks on Double Dash.
If you play carefully by not stomping enemies, not collecting coins, not eating mushrooms or flowers, and hopping on the flagpole at the very last second, you can rescue the princess in Super Mario Bros with only 500 points.
One bit is surprisingly tricky:
How tough is that jump in 8-1? Well, the timing of the liftoff, the duration of holding the jump button, and the timing of the wall jump are all frame perfect. NES games run at 60 frames per second, which means all the necessary inputs need to be timed within 1/60 of a second. In addition, the starting position before running I used not only has to be on the right pixel, but also the x sub-pixel has to fall within a certain range (technical stuff blah blah blah). In short, it's a pretty annoying jump.
When I was a kid, I left my NES on for three straight days to flip the score in SMB, using the 1UP trick and another spot in the game to get many lives and points. Scoring lower would have been a lot quicker.
Without going into too much detail, Mario generally lives and works in the Mushroom Kingdom, one of the largest geo-political structures on Mushroom World, in the Grand Finale Galaxy in, yes, the Mushroom Universe.
For the purposes of this answer I will deliberately restrict the terms to discussing Mushroom World, as a comprehensive answer on the entire Mushroom Universe would require covering 20-22 (depending on how you count) Galaxies and frankly, I doubt it would be any more fun to read than it would be to write.
Wow. Someone is making a video game featuring the original Super Mario Bros worlds but Mario is outfitted with a Portal gun. Watch the demo:
More information on the game's development is here.
Yes, this is an actual game being developed - it is not a mod of any existing one. It's coded with L"ove (info at the bottom of the left menu) and will be released for free (so we don't get stabbed by lawyers)
All the source code of the game will be available after release
The game will have mappacks, which will be downloadable from ingame. Users most likely won't be able to publish maps directly, but will be able to send them in and we'll add them for everyone to use.
The primary maps will have a story and some portaly puzzles. What kind, well, we'll figure that out as we go
Level editor will be embedded in the game so you can edit the level while you play
Original SMB levels and Lost levels will be included
In the Seahawks/Saints game over the weekend, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch made an improbable game-winning touchdown run. So, I can't decide which one of these videos is better. Marshawn Lynch's Tecmo Bowl Run:
In a recent interview for the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., Mario's baby daddy Shigeru Miyamoto revealed that the infinite 1-up trick was included in the game on purpose but that the minus world was a bug.
"We did code the game so that a trick like that would be possible," Miyamoto revealed. "We tested it out extensively to figure out how possible pulling the trick off should be and came up with how it is now, but people turned out to be a lot better at pulling the trick off for ages on end than we thought." What about the famed Minus World? "That's a bug, yes, but it's not like it crashes the game, so it's really kind of a feature, too!"
Features include four-player collaborative play (!!) and something called "demo play".
The game will also be the first game on the Wii to feature "demo play", where players will be able to pause the game, let the game complete the level for them, and resume play at any time by unpausing.
In my house, this was called the "give the controller to my 11-year-old cousin and let him show you how it's done" feature. I both hated and loved that feature. (via object of my obsession)
We determined that, generally speaking, the gravity in each Mario game, as game hardware has increased, is getting closer to the true value of gravity on earth of 9.8 m/s^2. However, gravity, even on the newest consoles, is still extreme.
In Super Mario 2, Mario experiences a g-force of 11 each time he falls from a ledge, a force that would cause mere humans to black out. In Madden 2006, the game's fastest cornerbacks can run the 40 in 2.6 seconds. (via waxy)
But, we can kind of think of the multi-playthrough Kaizo Mario World video as a silly, sci-fi style demonstration of the Quantum Suicide experiment. At each moment of the playthrough there's a lot of different things Mario could have done, and almost all of them lead to horrible death. The anthropic principle, in the form of the emulator's save/restore feature, postselects for the possibilities where Mario actually survives and ensures that although a lot of possible paths have to get discarded, the camera remains fixed on the one path where after one minute and fifty-six seconds some observer still exists.
Some of my favorite art and media deals with the display of multiple time periods at once. Here are some other examples, many of which I've featured on kottke.org in the past.
Averaging Gradius predates the Mario World video by a couple years; it's 15 games of Gradius layered over one another.
I found even the more pointless things incredibly interesting (and telling), like seeing when each person pressed the start button to skip the title screen from scrolling in, or watching as each Vic Viper, in sequence, would take out the red ships flying in a wave pattern, to leave behind power-ups in an almost perfect sine wave sequence. I love how the little mech-like gunpods together emerge from off screen, as a bright, white mass, and slowly break apart into a rainbow of mech clones.
According to the start screen, Cursor*10 invites the you to "cooperate by oneself". The game applies the lessons of Averaging Gradius and multiple-playthrough Kaizo Mario World to create a playable game. The first time through, you're on your own. On subsequent plays, the game overlays your previous attempts on the screen to help you avoid mistakes, get through faster, and collaborate on the tougher puzzles.
With the help of various filters and settings Recreating Movement makes it possible to extract single frames of any given film sequence and arranges them behind each other in a three-dimensional space. This creates a tube-like set of frames that "freezes" a particular time span in a film.
The latest installment of Super Mario has received plenty of notice for its revolutionary style of gameplay. But just as striking is the intricacy of its sound design. One convention of the game is a Pull Star, a floating anchor that Mario can grab with some sort of magical, musical force which, when activated emits a creepy, almost theremin-like wail, wavering just a bit before solemnly sliding down in pitch. This sound is one of those elemental formulas for touching an emotional soft spot. The other day I was playing a level with a series of Pull Stars in succession and my girlfriend implored me to stop, as it was making her sad, and not only because I'm a grown man playing a child's video game. Here is an example of the Wailing Pull Star (and a taste of the very Vangelis-like score scattered throughout the game).
Also: via Boing Boing Gadgets, footage from a live orchestra scoring session for the game. Mario's creator, Shigeru Miyamoto sits aside and supervises.
Also also: I noticed that the menu for selecting levels to play is a musical instrument in its own right, allowing the player to create melody with chord changes and everything. It's a subtle touch.
He explained that no matter how large you make the playing field, if you walk long enough you will run into a wall, and that will make you turn around, which makes the camera turn around and runs the risk of making the player lost. With a sphere, Mario can run all he wants without falling or hitting a wall... a useful concept for getting players totally absorbed in the moment. Koizumi added that the best thing about spherical worlds is the "unity of surface," and the "connectedness." Neither will the player get lost easily, or need to adjust the camera - by using spheres, Koizumi said, they had created a game field that never ended.
They also talk about the Galaxy's two-player (well, 1.5-player really) feature, which is a really nice way of getting a second passive player involved in what is essentially a one-player game. (via snarkmarket)
An appreciation of the Real Super Mario Bros 2. The game was released in Japan in 1986 but was considered too difficult/weird for US gamers and a different Mario 2 (based on a Japanese game called Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic) was released to the US.
In most games, you trust that the designer is guiding you, through the usual signposts and landmarks, in the direction that you ought to go. In the Real Super Mario Bros. 2, you have no such faith. Here, Miyamoto is not God but the devil. Maybe he really was depressed while making it -- I kept wanting to ask him, Why have you forsaken me? The online reviewer who sizes up the game as "a giant puzzle and practical joke" isn't far off.
The whole upshot is that RSMB2 is now available on the Wii Virtual Console as Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels. And for the record, I loved SMB2.
I'm a light Etsy user, but Lost Mitten has a great store: Super Mario Bros drink coasters, Katamari Damacy buttons, Bob-omb needlepoint patch, etc. I'm a proud owner of a set of Bubble Bobble coasters. She takes custom orders, will reissue sold items, and all her stuff is 20% off until Thu. (Know of any good Etsy stores? Share them in the comments.)
So just to explain a little further, yes, it is the actual high voltage sparks that are making the noise. Every cycle of the music is a burst of sparks at 41 KHz, triggered by digital circuitry at the end of a "long" piece of fiber optics. What's not immediately obvious in this video is how loud this is. Many people were covering their ears, dogs were barking. In the sections where the crowd is cheering and the coils is starting and stopping, you can hear the the crowd is drowned out by the coil when it's firing.
In a great illustration of the sometimes odd path that innovation takes, Robert Moog found inspiration in the theremin after it had fallen out of favor in serious musical circles:
After a flurry of interest in America following the end of the Second World War, the theremin soon fell into disuse with serious musicians, mainly because newer electronic instruments were introduced that were easier to play. However, a niche interest in the theremin persisted, mostly among electronics enthusiasts and kit-building hobbyists. One of these electronics enthusiasts, Robert Moog, began building theremins in the 1950s, while he was a high-school student. Moog subsequently published a number of articles about building theremins, and sold theremin kits which were intended to be assembled by the customer. Moog credited what he learned from the experience as leading directly to his groundbreaking synthesizer, the Minimoog.