Super Mario Maker has been out for a couple months now and it definitely stands out as a very unique game within the Super Mario canon, if it could even be considered part of it in the first place. The open ended nature of the game allows for players to try out whatever ideas come to mind, no matter how unconventional, and there's also the inclusion of bizarre elements like cat paws for cursors. Polygon recently interviewed Takashi Tezuka and Yoshikazu Yamashita – the Producer and Director, respectively – about the early development process of this creatively fueled game and many interesting insights were given.
At the beginning of the game's development, a few of the higher-ups on the team brought in a huge pile of children's toys that they put in a place where the staff could play with them. Over a period of several days, Tezuka and Yamashita observed which toys the staff played with the most and how they aroused curiosity. The point of the experiment was to get the staff thinking of new types of interaction – regardless of whether or not it was applicable to game development – and then to whittle this down to concepts that could be included in Super Mario Maker. By the end of it, there was a list about 160 items long of ways to play with things.
The team was told early on that they didn't have to worry about typical Mario conventions, as this wasn't a typical Mario game. The focus was not on making everything fit together thematically, but on diversity of ideas. All the same, the line had to be drawn somewhere. The main criteria were basically if something was too complex or if it was out of place, such as when a team member suggested that shelled creatures' insides leak out when Mario puts on the shell.
Lastly, they wanted to make the game appeal to players from all corners of the world. This also extended to costumes, and the staff are currently looking into possibilities for costumes that Western audiences would appreciate more than, say, Arino or Nekki. They intend to include these costumes for quite some time, as the game is being viewed more as a service than just a game.
What do you think? Did Super Mario maker give you a sufficient outlet for your creative ideas? Does it amuse you to think of Nintendo staff confusedly playing with toys as Tezuka and Yamashita watch from afar? Share your thoughts in the comments below.