New Super Mario Bros U

A Designer and a Coder Walk Into A Bar…

July 29, 2014 1:28 am Published by

A designer and a coder walk into a bar. After sitting down to order drinks and making some small talk the coder says, “I’ve been working on prototypes of new platformer game, but I want to build an engine that can handle hilly 2d terrain.”

The designer replies pointedly, “Why do you need hills at all?”

Confused, the coder pauses and says “Because platformers need hills obviously.”

The designer, annoyed that the coder seems to misunderstand the nuanced wisdom of his cryptic question says again “Are hills really important to platformers?”

This time the coder does not pause a bit and states “yes.” The coder understands that a pause at this point would show lack of resolve in what would become the ensuing debate. Now both parties already understand that the battle lines are drawn and the designer opens with the gambit “Well the game design community is atwitter about the game ‘1001 Spikes.’ It clearly and fairly communicates how to beat each level and offers new difficult challenges that can be overcome, surely you think this game is a quality platformer right?”

1001 Spikes

The coder retorts “I wish it had hills though.” A clever response that carefully stabs at the fallacy of accepting a game is great based on the acceptance of the design community. And “why wouldn’t it be better with hills?” implicit in the statement was too much of a minefield for the designer to try to traverse.

Super Mario Bros

So after a pause for more beer, the designer finally pulls out the holy grail of games and argues “Well what of ‘Super Mario Brothers’ it didn’t have any hills.” Now the designer knew this was a weak argument because the game does in fact have hills as background elements, but it would require the coder to acknowledge that aesthetic background elements count for anything and thus it was unlikely he would take that tact. The coder, who did not even remember that Super Mario Brothers contains hills finally argues, “I think Super Mario 3 or maybe Super Mario World was better.”

Super Mario World

This was what the designer was hoping for so he says, masking completely the signs of impending victory, “Do you remember New Super Mario Bros U? Remember those wavy mushrooms that just rotate? Those are moving hills aren’t they even better?”

New Super Mario Bros U

The coder knew that it would be impossible to defend the wavy mushrooms and so he says “No no, those were useless, lets focus on the older Mario Bros.”

And now the designer closed the net “Well if you start focusing on hills on grids next it will be multiple angled tiles of hills and then hills on spline curves and finally moving hills like the…”

The coder chimed in, accepting his fate “So you are saying this is all… a slippery slope?”

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