One of Miyamoto’s secrets for engaging level design
Koichi Hayashida (director of Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario Galaxy 2) reveals one of Miyamoto’s secrets for engaging level design:
“Yes, I do think it’s really important to decide on a core concept in level design,” says Hayashida, when asked if the levels in Super Mario 3D Land were each designed around a specific gameplay idea.
“First, you have to learn how to use that gameplay mechanic, and then the stage will offer you a slightly more complicated scenario in which you have to use it. And then the next step is something crazy happens that makes you think about it in a way you weren’t expecting. And then you get to demonstrate, finally, what sort of mastery you’ve gained over it,” he says.
“It’s very similar to a narrative structure that you find in four-panel comics. Something that’s talked a lot about in Japanese manga, for example, is a phrase, kishoutenketsu, where you introduce a concept, and then in the next panel you develop the idea a little bit more; in the third panel there’s something of a change-up, and then in the fourth panel you have your conclusion.”
This is pretty much how I approached the layout of Break. I knew I needed to introduce the player to the different kinds of things they’d encounter before we threw them into the flames. Overall I think we did a decent job on the learning curve.