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Why is everyone so passionate about Super Mario? Learning Game Level Design from Super Mario.

  • Evelyn
    Full-time IndieDev.
    I'm Japanese, so please forgive me if my English is strange.

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I'm sure we've all had the experience of playing a game that we became obsessed with. I, Evelyn, also remember being absorbed in the Pokémon games when I was a child.

I'd like to improve sales by incorporating the "mechanism to make people enthusiastic" into my game development.

I'm sure there are many people who think so, myself included. Today, I'd like to share with you some useful information from the book "How to Create Experiences That Make You Do Things.

Table of Contents

Designing your intuition to attract people to you

What kind of games will sell well? I'm sure I'll hear a lot of "it looks like a fun game" answers.

Super Mario, which holds the Guinness World Record for the best-selling game in the world, is said to be "not interesting enough" according to a survey of elementary school students.

Of course, making a game look interesting is an important element in marketing, but it is not the essential element that makes a game interesting.

Surprising Facts about Famous Games

Super Mario is the best-selling game in the world even though it doesn't look interesting.

The question is: What does Super Mario have to do to win?

Think about this question for a moment. I came up with the idea that if you beat Bowser, you win, or if you save Princess Peach, you win.

Super Mario is a game where you win if you keep moving to the right without dying.

What does Super Mario do that makes it a winning game?

If you keep moving to the right to avoid dying, you win.

This is where the mechanism that keeps people hooked is built in. There is no tutorial in Super Mario. So why do players easily understand the controls and get hooked on Super Mario? Let's take a look at the first screen of Super Mario.

In Super Mario, Mario consistently looks to the right. Also, in the beginning scene, Mario is present on the left side of the screen, so the player guesses, "Should I go to the right?" The player guesses. And when he goes to the right, the screen scrolls, and the player's brain is happy that his guess was right.

This process of guessing, trying, and answering correctly stimulates the secretion of hormones in the human brain, and leads to more and more enthusiasm.

Intuitive Design

People get enthusiastic when they get to try out a hypothesis they've formulated and get rewarded for it!

Intentional design of people's intuition is a very effective method. I believe it can be applied to other areas besides game development, such as educational curriculum, community management, and SNS management.

Also, try to pay attention to the following points when incorporating this intuitive design.

  1. incorporate intuitively designed points continuously in the early part of the experience (a few dozen minutes in the case of a game).
  2. Avoid too long intervals between intuitive designs.
  3. gradually increase the difficulty of the trials, since it is less interesting if the intuition keeps coming true or off.

It's important to stimulate people's desire for approval through these processes.

The basis of content is a combination of intuition and surprise.

Then, it is not enough to adopt only the intuitive design introduced earlier. The human brain has a capacity for trial and error, and if it goes on and on, it gets tired.

In such cases, incorporating surprise design can be effective.

So how do we design surprise? Surprise arises when the assumptions we believe in are overturned.

Surprising design structure
  1. Misunderstanding: Spontaneously making a false hypothesis that "I wonder if I will"
  2. Trial: Spontaneously take action to "try something"
  3. Surprise: Spontaneous surprise that "~ was a mistake".

In the case of games, it is not possible to set up a number of things that subvert the worldview, so it is effective to incorporate the following mechanisms that subvert the taboo of everyday life.

Images of taboos in daily life that tend to create surprise
  1. Sexual motifs [flirtatiousness, sexiness]
  2. Food motifs [deliciousness, hunger]
  3. Loss motif [feeling of wanting money, not wanting to lose it]
  4. Approval motifs [feeling of recognition, belonging]
  5. Motif of defilement [guilt, sense of dirtiness]
  6. Motif of violence [painful feeling, one-sidedness]
  7. Motifs of confusion [sense of wrongness, clumsiness]
  8. Motif of death [sense of occult, sense of approaching death]
  9. Motifs of gambling and chance [sense of betting and praying]
  10. Private motifs [sense of embarrassment, sense of secrecy]

The "undressing mahjong game" and the "marriage event in the game" were good reminders that using taboo motifs to attract users with surprise. This is a good thing.

I think it would be interesting to incorporate such taboo surprises into your projects.

Why do we "feel compelled to tell someone"?

Even if one person plays your game enthusiastically, that will not lead to sales. The important thing is to get people talking about it.

I think this is true not only for games but for any other type of business. If the power of word-of-mouth leads to sales without spending money on advertising, there is no more powerful business ally than that.

In games, the more elements that allow players to experience growth, the more word-of-mouth will be generated. In the book, it was mentioned that the story should be well designed to encourage players to feel their growth.

Structure of narrative design
  1. Tossing: Tosses the player trying to understand the story and lets the brain do the talking
  2. Growth: Develops the player as well as the protagonist of the story
  3. Will: Let the player shape his own destiny by his own will

Nowadays, in addition to the power of the story, there are many games that give players a sense of growth through factors such as ranking functions and social interaction among players.

To lead to word-of-mouth

Let the players feel the growth so that they want to tell others about it!

"Summary of "How to create experiences that make you do things.

To accelerate your game development
  1. Reward your customer's brain with the design of intuition.
  2. Use amazing designs to attract customers!
  3. Let your customers experience growth and change, and increase word-of-mouth about your services!

The above is a selection of information that I think will be useful to any game developer.

I love you for reading to the end.

Hope to see you again in another article.

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