Even though the Super Mario Maker team stated they had no plans for downloadable content and other updates for the games just weeks before its launch, a fairly significant patch went live for the do-it-yourself Mario sandbox just a few hours ago.
While not a comprehensive overhaul of the game, the update adds both some surprising new features as well as urgently demanded essentials to offer greater versatility and new design opportunities for creators and players alike. Super Mario Maker producer (as well as the designer and director of all the classic Mario games covered by the toolset) Takashi Tezuka took some time, along with the game's codirectors, to speak with us shortly before the update went live about the workings of the new material, what they think of the community's response to the game, and what we can expect to see for Super Mario Maker in the future.
Takashi Tezuka: By way of introduction, I'm the producer on Super Mario Maker. Just to give you an idea of my role, I served in more of a supervisory and overseeing role. Most of the day to day work was done by Mr. Oshino and Mr. Yamashita. Although I did have a lot to do with the idea of the booklet that came packed in with the game and spent a fair amount of energy on that.
Yosuke Oshino: I'm the director on the game. I was involved in coming up with the feature list for the game and doing work on implement those features. That's something I'm continuing to do with updates like the one that debuted today—continuing providing service for the game going forward.
Yoshikazu Yamashita: I'm also a director on the game. I was involved in working with Mr. Oshino to decide on the game's feature set, and to help come up with promotional activities around the game. And I'm continuing with those tasks today.
USgamer: The update is kind of a surprise, since we'd heard there wouldn't be DLC for the game. What inspired this new addition?
Tezuka: Today's update is actually something we had already been considering during the game's development. We had an overall idea of wanting to increase people's interaction with and enjoyment of the game after its release, and the update being released today was one of the ideas that came out of those discussions.
Regarding the specifics of today's update, we have a feature called Costume Mario in the game and thought it would be a good idea to increase the number of Costume Mario characters available. Also, you'll have hopefully noticed that we've introduced something called Event Courses with this update that allow us to promote courses with different partners that we hope people will be excited about. And a third element to the update is the addition of the checkpoint flag item. This checkpoint flag is something that will allow players to create save points in courses.
And finally, we have the conditional power-up item that allows small Mario become Super Mario if he hits the Question Block, but if he's already Super Mario that same Question Block will give him a Fire Flower. This was something that was in the original Super Mario Bros. and was something designed by Mr. [Toshihiko] Nakago. He was somewhat persistent about making sure this was implemented in Super Mario Maker as well—going so far as to say, "It just wouldn't be Super Mario without it."
USgamer: Mr. Nakago was the original programmer on Super Mario Bros., is that correct?
Tezuka: Yes, Mr. Nakago has worked with me throughout the years on the Super Mario series. Currently he's the president of a company known as SRD [Systems Research and Development].
USgamer: How many new additions are based on fan feedback and the way people have been playing the game, and how many were elements you couldn't work into the first release of Super Mario Maker, or that people within Nintendo such as Mr. Nakago have insisted on including?
Tezuka: The checkpoint flag's inclusion was specifically to address voices in the community that we've seen calling for it—demanding it, really.
Oshino: Well, the event course and accompanying Costume Mario additions to the update were something that, as Mr. Tezuka also commented, we had been planning during the game's development. But with the checkpoint flag, we weren't sure if it was even possible. We did look into it, though, and right around the day the game was released we immediately began seeing user demand for it. So we looked more seriously into idea of including it and eventually were able to come up with a way to put it into the game.
Yamashita: As Mr. Oshino says, costumes and event courses were something we'd planned during development. But originally, with the checkpoint flag, this was something we thought wouldn't be possible, too difficult to include. Once we saw the strong response on the Internet, we realized we needed to look into the issue again and press forward to make its inclusion possible.
As for the context-sensitive power-ups, as Mr. Tezuka mentioned, we had heard from Mr. Nakago about including it—especially for the 10 Mario Challenge mode in which you play through a series of 10 courses, as we felt it would be particularly important for that mode. But we felt it would be entirely too difficult to implement and therefore decided not to include it in the initial retail release. But we were surprised to hear from Japanese users in particular that this was something that they would enjoy having in the game. So it became an example of an inclusion in the update that we had an internal request for, from Mr. Nakago, but also because we saw so much user interest in it once the game was released.
USgamer: Were there any user-requested features you wanted to add but were unable to? I've seen strong demand in particular for things like sloped surfaces or the ability to link multiple levels together to create a sense of progression in the stages people create....
Tezuka: We see user requests come from a variety of different sources. Unfortunately, a lot of those ideas would take a lot of resources or time to implement. With this update, we were able to select things that we were able to add quickly. But in the end, we're not able to implement all of those things.
Usgamer: Is this update a one-time affair, or can we expect to see additional additions to Super Mario Maker—provided they fit your time and resources, of course?
Tezuka: We do expect to hear continued requests from the community and the player base, and one of our biggest goals is to get as many people as possible to enjoy Mario Maker. We definitely want to fulfill these requests, but we can't promise anything at this time.