How the inventor of Mario designs a game

How the inventor of Mario designs a game


This is Shigeru Miyamoto. If you’ve played video games any time in
the past 30 years, you’re probably familiar with his work. Donkey Kong. Zelda. Star Fox. And then, of course, this guy:
It’s a me, Mario! When Miyamoto makes games, he always tries
to do things differently than other designers. Here he is — back in 1998 — explaining
why he wasn’t focused on online gaming. And why he wasn’t adding small in-game purchases
to Mario for iPhone in 2016. Miyamoto has helped define a lot of what makes
a game great. So how does he do it? In 1981, one of Miyamoto’s first assignments
at Nintendo was to design a replacement for a game called Radar Scope. It had performed poorly in the US,, leaving the company with 2,000 unsold arcade units. This is what he came up with: Miyamoto based the story on the love triangle
in Popeye between a bad guy, a hero, and a damsel in distress. But since Nintendo couldn’t secure the rights
to use those characters, Miyamoto replaced them with a gorilla, a carpenter, and his
girlfriend. In later games, that carpenter became a plumber. And his named changed, from Mr. Video, to
Jumpman, and then to Mario, after this guy, the landlord of a Nintendo warehouse near
Seattle. This was one of the first times that a video game’s
plot and characters were designed before the programming. That change in approach came at a key time
for video games. When Donkey Kong was first released in 1981,
the video game market in North America was on the verge of collapse. It was saturated with a lot of different consoles,
and the boom in home computers made a lot of people question why they’d want a separate device
just to play games. But the storytelling in games like Super Mario
Bros. and The Legend of Zelda — which you could only play on Nintendo’s own hardware — helped set them apart as best-sellers. A lot of Miyamoto’s genius can be seen in
the first level of Super Mario Bros. — probably the most iconic level in video game history. It’s designed to naturally teach you the
game mechanics while you play. If you look at a breakdown, there’s a lot
of really subtle design work going on here. Though Mario is usually at the center of the
screen, in this first scene he starts at the far left. All the empty space to the right of him gives
you a sense of where to go. This character’s look and movement suggest
it’s harmful. But don’t worry. If you run into it, you’ll just start the
game over without much of a penalty. Next, you see gold blocks with question marks. These are made to look intriguing — and
once you hit one, you’re rewarded. That then encourages you to hit the second
block, which releases a mushroom. Even if you’re now scared of mushrooms,
the positioning of the first obstacle makes it just about guaranteed that you’re gonna run
into this thing. When you do, Mario gets bigger and stronger. And just like that, you’ve learned all the
basic rules in the game without having to read a single word. Immersiveness in a video game has a lot to
do with the controls — the more precisely you can move your character, the more you
feel like you’re part of the story. And Nintendo has always been a pioneer with
controllers. It was the first to have the classic setup of the directional pad on the left and buttons on the right, the first to have left and right shoulder buttons,
the first to have a 360-degree thumbstick, and the first to bring motion control to the
mass market. But with 2016’s Super Mario Run, Nintendo,
for the first time, made a game for a controller it didn’t design: the iPhone. The Wii U flopped when it came out in 2012,
and Nintendo 3DS sales are far below those of its predecessor. But the number of American gamers playing
on mobile phones has doubled to more than 164 million between 2011 and 2015. You can think of Super Mario Run as a shift
from immersiveness to accessibility. And that’s kind of been Miyamoto’s design
philosophy from the very start: make fun games that everybody can play. The rest is in our hands. “These controls direct the characters, the better your eye-hand coordination, the better you do.”

100 thoughts to “How the inventor of Mario designs a game”

  1. Nintendo is still doing everything to save video game industry, they are trying to bring local offline multiplayer in videogames , with online multiplayer shooters gaming industry won't last long

  2. When I was 6, my friend had a NES with Super Mario Bros 1. I envied him so much. When I lie on the bed at night, I imagined playing Super Mario Bros 1. My father loved me so much and he bought me a Genesis with Tatsujin and Space Harrier 2. (for the record, the Genesis was the ahead version of video game than the NES.) I could play Super Mario by purchasing Gameboy with Super Mario Land later at 12.

  3. Too much is made of the console gaming crash in North America during the early 80's, like games were pulled from the brink of death. Internationally, home computers, indie game programming and the coin op markets were still in ascendency.
    Not to downplay Miyamoto's contribution to video games though. His legend will deservedly live on for generations well beyond our years.

  4. "So that you get that sense of satisfaction of completing something."

    He mentioned a boss fight though. Subs seem to not fully convey his message.

  5. I don't know what to feel about it. It seems that as the world progress, the 'sense of accomplishment' today transformed from hardwork to comfort.

  6. It would be a dream come true to meet this man. Like many others including myself. He made many childhoods wonderful

  7. As an aspiring video game programmer, the way the first level of SMB is designed to teach you the rules of the game in the first 5 seconds is ingenious! Shows the genius of the man himself.

  8. Legend now fast forward in 2019 where games are all about political agendas and designed not to hurt someone's sensitivity

  9. I’m 32 years old and was never a gamer (except of course playing video games as a kid like we all did). Now as an adult, I find fun and great nostalgia in going back and playing these old games from my childhood. Very grateful this gentleman created such a lovable and enduring character like Mario (and all the others). He’s given me endless hours of fun. It brings back great childhood memories every time I play those old games. Thank you, sir!

  10. Miyamoto deserves a place at the top of greatest game designers of all time, along with people like Yuji Naka, Hideo Kojima, and John Carmack.

  11. This guy makes Steve Jobs looks like an amateur with no design skills. Wait … Steve Jobs looks like that anyway … but Miyamoto is still awesome.

  12. I think that first is that a game needs a sense of accomplishment – Freckin Toad at the end of the Mario levels being like Peach is in another castle 😤

  13. I love how it's so easy to learn games in the past. Now you have to read huge walls of text just to understand one ability let alone an entire game.

  14. The arrangement of the four face buttons on the right side of the SNES controller has been copied and reused by both Sony and Microsoft from the debut of their Playstation and Xbox consoles to this day.

  15. 0:30 the translation is incorrect. He said “ i don’t like hearing people say ‘ this is the way’ ‘ this is how things work ‘ The important thing is ‘what we want to do’. “

  16. The man who single handedly saved the entire video game industry after Atari nearly destroyed it all. Every producer, developer and manufacturer owes this one man a huge debt of gratitude. He's literally the Walter Elias Disney of Nintendo, and should be regarded as such. Truly a living legend.

  17. uh-oh shiggie!! i think i found you mario , check out ace ventura when nature calls the scene where jim carrey has the monopoly man on his shoulders , just watch and see!

  18. We would love to play Mario but I am not buying a brand new system just for that game release it to other consoles and watch sales go back up

  19. Cómo le gusta la fafafa al ponja ese eh. Sabes lo papeado que habrá estado para imaginarse hongos que te hacen más grande, princesas frigidas y tortugas voladoras. Se daba del bueno man!

  20. Fascinating video, it's amazing to think of how many people around the world may be playing some version of a Mario game at any moment.

  21. 0:25 Microtransactions. This didn't age very well considering the Mario Kart Tour they bought out to phones and has expensive microtransactions and a pointless and expensive subscription as well.

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