If you’ve ever played a video game like The Legend of Zelda or Super Mario Bros., you’ve been touched by a piece of digital media that some will argue is actually a work of art.
Game designers like Shigeru Miyamoto, who is probably the most influential video game creator of all time (he created Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros.), spend their careers creating interactive experiences that bring joy to gamers of all ages. (Image: Nintendo)
Video games have come a long way from Donkey Kong, but the basic elements of good games haven’t changed. Making games is not only fun, but there’s also an art to it. And not unlike a painter, you’ll need a basic understanding of the medium, tools and an outlet to create your masterpiece.
There are many tools available for people who want to learn game design. For example, there are online courses that teach game development. Other software applications that teach kids the basic concepts of game design, like Scratch, are also available.
If you’re just starting out, learning the basics of video game design can be overwhelming. Nothing takes the place of professional instruction but a game like Nintendo’s Super Mario Maker can help you create and understand how good games get made without even writing a single line of code.
“Itsa Me! Mario!”
Nintendo’s Super Mario Maker – which was introduced at the 2015 E3 – allows gamers to create their own Super Mario levels using the same enemies and objects that make Mario games super! Available for the Wii U, Super Mario Maker lets gamers play their own levels, or ones other players have created.
Players build levels using the Wii U controller/touch pad and stylus. You can select an object, like a Piranha Plant or power-up-tossing Lakitus, and add it to your level by dragging the item into the playfield.
There’s practically no limit to the creativity in Super Mario Maker, or the number of objects you want on the screen. Do you think climbing a series of stairs to get to a pipe that drops into a room filled with coins would be fun for gamers? Build it!
The game features four unique themes: Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U. Each uses the art style and features from those games. And the game also works with amiibo figures for even more fun.
What may have seemed impossible in traditional “Mario” games is now impossibly fun, so let your imagination run wild!
Game Design Basics
Digital Media Academy’s game design and development camps will teach you everything you need to know about making video games. Here are a few quick game design tips:
- Start Simple Think about the original Super Mario Bros. game. In it, players are introduced to enemies and challenges slowly so they can get the hang of how enemies react and how to navigate the levels. This is called a learning curve. You want to make sure your learning curve isn’t too steep. If it is, gamers may get frustrated with your game and not want to play it.
- Map It Out Want to become a professional video game designer? Then start by using the same work flow they use. Start your game design process on paper, map out your levels and think through them first. Is a platform too high? Will placing five Goombas in a room make it impossible to get to the next level? Think through your design.
- Have Fun Use your imagination and have fun! Get creative. If you’re not having fun, there’s a good chance no one else is either. Make your game accessible for both beginners as well as hardcore players.
Super Mario Bros. is the best-selling game of all time, so Nintendo knows a thing or two about game design and development and Nintendo’s now sharing the recipe to its secret sauce. Super Mario Maker is available for Wii U on September 11, 2015.