Reading response: level design lesson: to the right, hold on tight

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.

7 Micro Games – Sofia Syjuco

  1. Find a group of people who are moving together with a purpose. Join their group. Follow them as if you are one of their own.
  2. Start from the number 1. State a thing you have done once. Another player must one-up you and state something they have done twice. Each thing must be truthful. Continue.
  3. Pretend to sit down at a chair, squatting mid-air. Have someone copy the position and sit on your lap. Try and accumulate as many lap-sitters as possible.
  4. Link arms with another person. Walk like this. Accumulate more people to link arms with. The more the better. Do not separate, even if people need to get through.
  5. Make an assumption about your partner. If it is true, the game continues, and they take a turn. If untrue, you lose.
  6. Guess the time without looking at a clock, phone, or any time-keeping device.
  7. Choose a strange noise. Make this noise at people. You win if they copy the same noise and make it back at you, no questions asked.