The Binding of Isaac Rebirth

Tezuka discusses the challenging levels that Super Mario Maker users are creating

Coming from Takashi Tezuka...

“When you design levels for a product, you need to take into consideration a wide range of users. This limits the amount of extremely difficult courses to only a fairly small part of the whole game. I expected that the users who wanted to play more of the hard courses would be attracted to Super Mario Maker, so it’s not surprising to see that a lot of difficult courses are being made.

There is a tendency for the courses people make to be a little harder than they think they are. The creator already knows the design, where they have placed their traps, and the best route to take. So it would generally be easier for them to play through than someone trying it for the first time. As a result, the course ends up being more difficult than the creator meant it to be.

I’ve been watching lots of different courses on YouTube. It was quite a surprise how much fun it was to watch the videos, without even playing myself. There are so many intriguing and inventive courses, like one which you couldn’t beat if you picked up a mushroom. It’s been a huge motivation for us developers to do better.”

REPORT - Study uses Don't Starve to test for 'placebo effect' in games

“People have a preconception that a little round white pill that doesn’t taste nice will have a certain effect on their physiology,” says Cairns. “It’s changing your perceptions of the world around you in some profound way.”

To test their idea, he and colleague Alena Denisova asked 21 people to play two rounds of Don’t Starve, an adventure game in which the player must collect objects using a map in order to survive.

In the first round, the researchers told the players that the map would be randomly generated. In the second, they said it would be controlled by an “adaptive AI” that could change the map based on the player’s skill level. After each round, the players filled out a survey.

In fact, neither game used AI – both versions of the game were identically random. But when players thought that they were playing with AI, they rated the game as more immersive and more entertaining. Some thought the game was harder with AI, others found it easier – but no one found it equally challenging.

Full report here

Tezuka talks Mario's key's to success & staying power, hopes for the future

Coming from a Gamesmaster interview with Takashi Tezuka...

On Mario's longtime success:

“Personally, I think that even before people come to like Mario as a character, it’s the gameplay of Super Mario that really resonates with them. We created Super Mario Bros paying close attention to intuitive feelings – things that anyone in the world can relate to – which users feel through the gameplay; running is fun, jumping high is something you want to do, falling is scary and spikes hurt you if you touch them, etc.

I think it all started with how the gameplay resonated with players. From there it’s been how we’ve continued to make Mario games for so long, and all the work we have put into making sure that Mario is never used in an inappropriate way, that has allowed him to slowly become such a well-loved character.”

On the important elements of all Mario games:

“Ultimately it comes down to the quality of the gameplay. No matter how many Mario games we release, if players don’t enjoy them, it can only be a bad thing for Mario. The quality of the visual design is also very important too; it’s vital that we work hard to make sure that we present everyone with the same image of Mario across all these different games.”

On his relationship with Shigeru Miyamoto and Toshihiko Nakago:

“You could say that the three of us have spent more time with each other than with our loved ones! We usually eat lunch and dinner together, and speak to each other more than anyone else. We talk about a broad range of things – everything from serious work-related conversations to our families – with the aim of trying to understand each other’s way of thinking. Sometimes one of us comes up with something unexpected though, and it’s always fun when that happens.

One thing we often do when we have to decide on something is ask the opinion of the others, even if we know they are going to say yes. We’d then use this as part of our reasoning in making the decision. Or conversely, we check to see if they have an opposing view, and then decide against a certain course of action.”

On his hopes for Mario’s future:

“That Mario has been loved so much up to this point is nothing short of miraculous, although obviously this is in part the result of the untold work of multitudes of people, not limited to just the developers at Nintendo. It’s impossible for me to imagine what Mario will go on to become in the future, so I am very excited to find out. However, I do hope that even after 30 more years, Mario continues to be Nintendo’s lead videogame character.”