I really enjoyed the reading by Anna Anthropy about level design. I think that old term games like Mario aren’t often thought of in the context of good game design, over shiny new games that have innovative new ideas – as opposed to older games that created the ideas we now think of as baseline.
Anthropy’s way of walking the reader through each conscious design decision and the minutea of how cleverly disguised the tutorial segment of Mario is was very easily read and digested. I found it really interesting and inspiring how much the game both trusts the player to come to the right conclusions, and cleverly disguises small tutorial aspects to help the player come to the right ideas of how to play the game.
The part that really struck me was when Anthropy was talking about the mushroom’s first appearance in the game, how it’s movement, lack of animations, and all these small details showed it to be a different sort of item than the threatening goomba. And also how Mario at that point would be specifically positioned that his likelihood of catching the mushroom is really high – therefore teaching the player how beneficial encountering the mushroom is over the goomba.
I think this article showed a lot of detail and meditation on game design and provided lots of things to think about and references on how to approach game design.