News Article

Mario Kart 8 Producer Explains The Absence of a Custom Track Creator

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"We'll come back to that issue and maybe re-address it"

With Mario Kart 8's arrival creeping agonisingly close, Nintendo has lifted the lid on more details and removed embargoes on a fair bit of information. One set of details is actually from last month's GDC (Game Developers Conference) in San Francisco, with quotes from a round table interview finally emerging.

One interesting answer that's come out of that interview is from Mario Kart 8 producer Hideki Konno, who tackles the reasoning behind the absence of a track editor in the upcoming Wii U racer. It's been on fan wishlists for a long time, and isn't without precedent — the rarely seen F-Zero X Expansion Kit editor on the Nintendo 64DD is a retro example, while kart racers on rival systems have included the feature in more recent times. Despite this, it seems that Nintendo's desire to ensure the strongest experience is behind its absence.

...With Mario Kart, course creation is key to the series, and it's really tough.

This is the eighth game in the series and when we work on a Mario Kart title, we work on courses and we create them and then we work on them again, and again, and again, and we revise until we come up with something that we think is going to be fun for everyone to play over and over again. So we have a lot of confidence in our ability to do so, but we understand what a tough challenge it is to create those courses.

I just don't know that at this point we're able to do that at a level that would satisfy anyone, myself included, or the customer. Someday, if we can come up with a solution and implement in a way that makes everyone happy, or we think will make everyone happy, we'll come back to that issue and maybe re-address it.

We're always optimistic and thinking about what we're going to do in the future.

Perhaps the wait for this title highlights the attention and care that is required for these tracks, which are shaping up rather well. There may be a little bit of spin here, naturally, as we suspect fans would be happy to create mediocre courses if the option was included — it would be understandably tricky to support a feature, however, that includes the flying, underwater and anti-gravity aspects of the course design in MK8.

In any case, it's not happening this time around. Despite this we should certainly be excited about this one — you can read what we thought of the latest build in our Mario Kart 8 preview.


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User Comments (71)



Azooooz said:

Let's hope that they take time to make a proper custom tracks editor and implement it later with an update.



PinkSpider said:

I hate to say but I think that real hardcore people with creative minds could actually make a better track than nintendo.
Just look at Minecraft to see how amazing peoples skills are.
I think that it's a weak excuse to be honest...



Emblem said:

After watching the first trailer it was obvious there would be no track editor. Mod Nation and LBPs tracks were very basic and modular so it allowed the Devs to make good player friendly creation tools. These games were clearly built from the ground up with this intention and IMO the gameplay and polish was the trade off.



shaneoh said:

"we work on courses and we create them and then we work on them again, and again, and again, and we revise until we come up with something that we think is going to be fun for everyone to play over and over again."


That statement contradicts this piece of evidence:




Haywired said:

I've never really found "create your own track/level/stage, etc." stuff as exciting as I think it's going to be. I feel like Nintendo giving the opportunity to design your own levels in a Mario platformer, or design your own tracks in Mario Kart would kind of devalue their own content.



Kaze_Memaryu said:

It's probably better to not include an editor for Mario Kart tracks. The genius minds of some might be an argument, but the vast majority would most likely fool around or make deliberately frustrating tracks instead.
Also, how are others supposed to play them? Online distribution would quickly turn into spam, P2P would be an easy way to distribute offensive designs and/or spam, and QR codes would be just too impractical.

@shaneoh Best Rainbow Road EVER!



LavaTwilight said:

Why would I want to play tracks other people create? Nintendo's courses are so much fun. And in other games I've found the custom-courses tend to be hideous anyway. Very rare is there a course in there worthy of being there. So hyped for this game



DreamOn said:

No course creator = No buy. Done with this game and I'm selling my Wii U. Juuust kidding. Cannot wait to play Konno's new masterpiece!!



PrincessEevee9 said:

@PinkSpider It's not really that amazing. Compared to what Nintendo can make. Sounds good in theory but I see it can be a burden to do.

@shaneoh Wii h had a great Rainbow Road that what you're saying?
I say custom editor's should be skipped over in favor of more important things.



Ichiban said:

It never even crossed my mind tbh. I'll be happy with what we get im sure.



Rin-go said:

I agree with @Emblem , Kaze_Memaryu and @LavaTwilight .

I feel that the game is graphically too good to have a track editor. Just look at those backgrounds.
Compromising content for the sake of a track editor likely wouldn't be worth it.



shaneoh said:


Nope, saying it is very frustrating to play, particularly for quite young players. Single player it's bearable, but when it's split screen things start going to hell



yuwarite said:

They could create an MK8 DLC, which lets you create custom tracks. But no, this is Nintendo, and they're stuck in the past.



rjejr said:

Considering how incredibly lame and limited the SSBB level efitor was, what would be the point? I never expected it at all. No matter how great Nintendo may be at game design when it comes to actually creating and making the game they are sorely lacking. Look at online. They are always behind schedule. Even w/o dates Im sure internally games are always releading later than they would like. Implementing a level editor for graphics of this quality woild take them , or nearly anybody, forever.

Racing games seem so simple in premise, but Gran Turismo games always take forever and PS4 launch title Driveclub is no where to be see.

If Nintendo continues the MK Wii tradition of challenges every 2 weeks who needs a level efitor anywsy? Seeing my little Wii wheel halod character near the front of thst pack all the time is one of the best things Nintenfo hsd ever done online. Let them make new races, let me race. LBP had a level ef but they stil make level packs occasdionally, maybe we can get DLC tracks like Pikmin 3?



Daz-brum said:

Hello Nintendo look at Disney Infinity that is the game model you should try and improve reward good driving or coming first with a set peice or karts or whatever lets get the player playing longer to get all the extra trake side building add more downloads of sets of charactures or am I the only one seeing this opportunity falling on deaf ears?



PinkSpider said:

@PrincessEevee9 not that amazing! Tell that to the guy who created to scale the ship from Star Trek in Minecraft
Do not underestimate peoples abilities just because they are not famous or known,
how narrow minded



McHaggis said:

I always enjoy a good chuckle, and that's what I get from reading the comments on this site. In particularly, whenever a negative aspect of a Nintendo product or business decision comes up in the news on a site, it's guaranteed that so many people will immediately leap to Nintendo's defence. There's so much ignorance and bias when it's not really necessary. Case in point, "we don't need a track editor because Nintendo's tracks are awesome", is ignorant because of the use of "we" to mean "I", and also the fact that eventually even the most loyal of fans are going to get bored of racing the same tracks over and over.

That being said, I never really go in for level/track editors much. I guess I'm not really that creative or just don't want to put the time in. I can still see why it would be a desirable feature for a lot of gamers, though, and that is reason enough for me to want it to be included too.

Plus, imagine an online mode that was custom tracks only. A 5-race GP randomly picking from the top 100 tracks based on Miiverse "Yeah" count, or something.



Goginho said:

Hey, leave some new features for future Mario Kart games. We got enough this time 'round, and it wouldn't be wise to go all out and have nothing left to add for successors
And why all the hype for creating your own tracks? I don't really understand that, I've seen a lot on YouTube, and to be honest, like 95% of them don't look very fun (have, at the very most, no replaybility value). I'm happy to get a new Mario Kart, and what Nintendo does is absolutely amazing and top-notch. They put so much time, effort and care into these tracks, that there's no doubt that they'll end up being fun for years to come. So, I personally don't care one bit for a custom track creator, despite being a visual, artsy, creative type of person that likes to make and create things.
I would, however, be happy with some DLC tracks from Nintendo afterwards. They don't have to be over the top, standard massive productions, but rather nice little, well thought-through additions that possibly incorporate some ideas they may have missed, like how Galaxy 2 was a game full of ideas they didn't / couldn't include in Galaxy 1. Perhaps even some extra battle stages, or challenges, similar to how NSMB2 got some extra Coin Rush packs. Now that would be amazing, and quite fitting in my opinion, but track creator is definitely not needed in my books.



unrandomsam said:

@McHaggis That is the thing Nintendo wants to make the polar opposite of levels I want to play. With a level editor somebody will more than likely make some I do want to play (It won't be me). It is getting worse and worse though across all games Nintendo is making.



unrandomsam said:

@Goginho Still 5% that would be better if that statistic is right. The worst parts of Mario Kart Wii are the AI and the track design.



NImH said:

@unrandomsam making a statement like "Nintendo wants to make the polar opposite of tracks I want to play" just disintegrates any legitimacy your opinion had (in my eyes.) So juvenile.



BassLostie said:

I don't think that a track editor would be a good idea. I think that the tracks created by the developers (specially since Mario Kart Wii) are very special tracks and have lots of details and arrangements so we players can enjoy playing them over and over again.

The amount of detail in MK8 tracks is just mind blowing. Just look at the video analysis from GameXplain and you'll understand. If they decided to put a level editor, it would be limited because as we are not developers, we don't know the limitations of the hardware capabilities, and that may result in laggy gameplay or something that may affect the gameplay experience.

I think Hideki Konno and his team have done a great job on the track desing, and they need to keep that work. Maybe DLC tracks can enhance the experience...... if you want more tracks for Mario Kart 8.



sketchturner said:

Meh... if I want a track editor I play TrackMania:Build to Race. Mario Kart is a different sort of experience.



StephenYap3 said:

@BassLostie I know right?

Remember how "amazing" it was making your own stages in Smash Bros Brawl? (And don't get me started how pathetic Diddy Kong Racing DS' one was...)



unrandomsam said:

@NImH Why ? Nintendo wants tracks everybody can play immediately. I want tracks you have to put significant effort in to learning in order to play at all without going off the side every 5 seconds. They are polar opposites.



HappyMaskedGuy said:

I don't think a custom track editor is relevant here. Each course in mario kart games is built around themes and the complexities of background art.
In this case, I would see it as a wasted exercise. I'd prefer Nintendo worked on new tracks to be downloaded as time goes on.



Nintenjoe64 said:

@unrandomsam chance would be a fine thing re. DLC tracks. I never buy DLC but extra retro tracks for MK would be right up my street. Nintendo will probably just do DLC of the same tracks with different item positioning instead!

I think a track editor would work and would elevate the franchise. The success of Minecraft should be enough for Nintendo to be doing this (for as many of their franchises as possible). I thought the idea of Miiverse was Nintendo's way of making people share experiences so user content should be a high priority. Nobody cares if it doesn't allow tracks of the same quality as the main game. Some of the best tracks in MKW were the flat SNES and GBA tracks. It's not like Guitar Hero and Rock Band lost DLC sales of popular songs because there were community generated versions. Maybe they're scared of all the rude shaped tracks they'd have to moderate. Whatever happens, I'm confident the on-disc content will be good enough to make up for only being 32 tracks.



Yorumi said:

It's kind of insulting to say players couldn't create good tracks. Games that allow modding have already answered all the supposed pitfalls. Mesh morphing isn't all that difficult so you could make some highly complex tracks. Library objects can easily be instanced as props. Track themes could be included for backgrounds and such. To find the good tracks you just allow a rating system and sort by rating.

Yeah a lot of tracks would be bad but considering that really only 2 cups in any mario kart game have any good tracks is that really such a bad thing?

The real answer is "we just don't want to do it."



SparkOfSpirit said:

I would have preferred a Double Dash mode over this. It's a shame that we'll likely never get that again.



Yorumi said:

@V8_Ninja all you really need is a modified 3d modeling tool. Basically just allow the designers to extrude lines in any direction. Because a track is just essentially a flat plane at any time it's actually fairly easy to make a custom track editor.

Even a practical limit on vertices could remain pretty high because an individual vertex is only 12 bytes. Textures could be fixed so you'd only need one more byte across the whole file to select the track texture, and probably another byte or 2 for the track theme.



DerpSandwich said:

Nintendo. Creates the gamepad, the strongest creation tool in the history of gaming consoles.

Doesn't use it for creation.



Minotaurgamer said:

Oh My GOD! Who cares?! this game looks great and extremely good. who gives a damn about a dumb track edtor! you nerds just keep finding more stuff to complain and whine! jeez!



QBertFarnsworth said:

Seems like a wasted opportunity on the Wii U given that the GamePad would have allowed people to put fine touches on their creations using touch controls, and having two screens would have allowed one of them to be used for modding and the other to give you an overall view of your creation.



Yorumi said:

I never will understand people who rush out to the internet to insult anyone asking for a product to be even better.



Vee_Flames said:

Err... I don't get. Will a level editor with A GAMEPAD allow for an 'enhanced gaming experience?' Why don't we 'ask' for things like gamepad item launcher?! SIGH....



HaNks said:

fine with me. be nice to get some DLC tracks too, even if its only a few.



AshFoxX said:

I'm cool with this... If I wanted to build/play a half-baked boring track with generic features, I'll play ModNation or LBP Kart. Official tracks from this series always are always exciting and never get old. The custom tracks built for MKWii, while different, are not nearly as well-crafted IMO.



JaxonH said:

I hate user-created content. Straight garbage if you ask me. I never wanted a custom track editor, and I really couldn't care less that one is not included.



Cloud-San-VII said:



I'm cool with no editing/making your own courses, but for the stuff that Nintendo doesn't include in their games, they sure do come out with terrible reasons..




maceng said:

Couldn't agree more!! Nintendo is selling its loyal customers way too short with statements like this.
All I could say is: "Nametonka, o me!!".



Action51 said:

Okay, here's what you all have to keep in mind:

This is 2014, and big $50-$60 AAA games made now in the HD era aren't likely to have robust game editors for a number of reasons.

  • FPS/framerate/crash/physics...the overall limitations of hardware pushing game engines makes it difficult to add anything more then very limited, modular, stripped down editors. Unless a game is built from the ground up with level editing as a primary feature, it's an invitation to create unsatisfying editors and glitchy, poor performance on custom tracks.
  • DLC baby! Yeah...not even Nintendo is immune from the grasping hand of releasing more content later and (to Nintendo's credit) maybe not charging for it. Whether it's done in the best possible way like Sonic Lost World getting unique free levels, or the worst way with day one costume packs and on disc pay-walls, there is no going back to the days of old.
  • Online compatibility. For once, Nintendo releases a fully online, modern multiplayer experience(they claim!) and you want to throw in a feature that would be restrained to single player.
  • Racing games say what? Most racing games simply do not have track editors. Some are built around the track editing concept, but most of your big name racing franchises do not have now, or never had one. Remember that great Need For Speed: Underground2 track editor? neither.

So in conclusion: The sudden demand for a track editor because someone, somewhere on the internet insists it has to have one or Nintendo sucks is just one of those weird entitled gamer demands that spreads like a virus on message boards.



Cia said:

Game creation is not about cramming the game full of random features which might or might not work well. Mario Kart creators are clearly perfectionists, and they approach their work properly: thinking about the whole. Of course, they could put the track editor in. They could add more random characters from other games as well. They could include 20 more items. But they've decided not to, and for a reason.



Cia said:

And by the way, i hope that we don't get any DLC to any Nintendo game ever. Whoever invented the idea of DLC should taken behind the sauna.
(ah, crap. Just remembered Pikmin 3.)



Yorumi said:

@Action51 it wouldn't necessarily have to be restricted to single player only. They could easily add an optional multiplay mode to allow for racing on custom tracks. You could give the individual players the option to select one or two tracks they've downloaded as being available for selecting online. Then in a match if one of the custom tracks is selected everyone else automatically downloads it.

It wouldn't be that big of a file because all the main assets are on the system already it only needs the vertex data. A single MB can store 83k vertices. Using good file compression techniques you could likely cram even more into that. Given how simple the vertex layout of a track is I doubt you'd need much more than that ever even for the most complex track designs. If someone can't download a MB in a reasonable amount of time they probably don't have a fast enough connection to be playing online in the first place.

Framerate is a none issue cause you'd be using the existing game assets. You're just plotting out the vertex data for the track, selecting a skybox, a track texture, and possibly a terrain. It wouldn't be hard to figure out how much track vertex data the system can handle and restrict the editor to that(remember we're working with a known static system, not a pc with unknown specs and configuration). Physics is a non-issue because the physics engine for collision is just looking for meshes that are flagged as solid which the system would automatically do.

Furthermore you could easily make a requirement that before a track can be offered up for download the creator must complete a normal race on it with ai characters. How does the ai know how to navigate the track? Easy it just treats the track as a nav mesh. The ai would know which way is forward and would just simply keep trying to go in that direction.

Oh and with all the talk of vertices, you wouldn't need actual 3d modeling knowledge to do this. You would simple need an editor that allows the pulling of the track, or setting of curves, in any of the 3 axises, and probably a few other built in props like item boxes, traffic, speed boosters, ramps etc.

It's not a trivial process to make a track editor, but it's also not as hard as people think.



PrincessEevee9 said:

@PinkSpider That's great and all but that exciting. Nor an an accomplishment on the scale of sharing things such as custom tracks. Mario Kart Wii's custom track hacks are more what I'm talking about.



kyuubikid213 said:

When it comes to games, I prefer to play on stages designed by a team that was payed to ensure the stage is playable, fun, rewarding, challenging, and polished. The average person, artistically skilled or not, cannot best a stage made by a game company.

And, to be fair, if there were a track editor, we all know what it'd be like. There would be about 12 really good, commendable tracks. The rest would be unplayable, unbearably long/short, full of coins/items/hazards, and/or knock-offs of Super Mario Bros. World 1-1.



Alucard83 said:

Never used one on xbox 360 race games. I don't see myself doing it with this game either.



Action51 said:

@Yorumi Wow, I was thinking it would be difficult to make custom tracks using pre-built track pieces on a few generic open area you're talking about editing vertex data.

Take a look at most of these tracks, they incorporate a lot of interesting design and environmental attributes. They are built from the ground up with caverns, anti-grav walls, ferris Wheels, and banana statues among so many little details.

The other thing I worry about, is the mentality of the Smash Bros. competitive community infecting MK 8 online...designing the most reductive and stripped down tracks that offer no items and no variation.



Yorumi said:

@Action51 it's mostly about using an extrusion tool, it's really simple when designed for it. Think something like roller coaster sims that allow you to drag track pieces in various directions. There are all kinds of games that let you build anything from a roller coaster to a city, to a trasport network and beyond by just dragging things around. You're not actually seeing the raw vertext data like a real 3d modeling program because that's far too complex for what's needed, I was just pointing out the storage requirements and what the real back end would look like.

If people can figure out how to recreate helm's deep in minecraft and write complex scripts and dungeons for skyrim I think they can figure out a simple track editor.



wayofanan said:

@BassLostie Affect on the gameplay? That issue has been found a solution years ago; it's already been rectified by the use of a limit of how many objects you can utilize and another limit placed on track length. It's a simple as that! Many creative players can make tracks JUST as mindblowing and JUST as detailed as the designers, it's just that Nintendo is refusing to add the feature itself for reasons unknown.

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