Post Script

Project leader, Nin­tendo

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SMario Kart 8’ s ve­hi­cles han­dle beau­ti­fully once ac­cli­ma­tised to, but did you ever worry about the risk of mak­ing the game less im­me­di­ate? This time around, we re­ally did add in a lot of new el­e­ments, but we also aimed to do away with ex­pla­na­tions or tu­to­ri­als as much as pos­si­ble. The Mario Kart se­ries cher­ishes both depth and breadth of game­play; it’s broadly ac­ces­si­ble and any­one can pick up a con­troller and start play­ing, but at the same time the games are also deep enough that play­ers can achieve greater re­sults through prac­tice. Each time we make a Mario Kart, we make ev­ery­thing from scratch: pro­gram­ming, graph­ics and even the au­dio. Even if we’re mak­ing some­thing sim­i­lar to what was used in a pre­vi­ous ti­tle, it will be dif­fer­ent be­cause of the per­son do­ing it. We think this sub­tle change is cru­cial. ince he joined Nin­tendo in 2005, Ko­suke Yabuki has worked on The Leg­end Of Zelda: Twi­light Princess, Mario Kart Wii, Mario Kart 7 and Nin­ten­dogs + Cats. Here, he dis­cusses squeez­ing HD vi­su­als out of Wii U, de­sign­ing Mario Kart TV, and the de­ci­sion to re­move are­nas from Bat­tle mode. How did be­ing freed of grav­ity’s re­stric­tions change your ap­proach to course de­sign? We had tracks that rose and fell a lit­tle in pre­vi­ous Mario Kart ti­tles, but es­sen­tially they were de­signed on a level plane. With the in­tro­duc­tion of the anti­grav­ity me­chanic, we started de­sign­ing tracks to make use of all three di­men­sions. We built Mario Cir­cuit and N64 Rain­bow Road so play­ers will catch some great views of cas­tles or sky­scrapers in the up­per por­tion of the screen, height­en­ing the sense of rac­ing upside down. Was it a chal­lenge up­dat­ing these clas­sic cour­ses? A lot has changed since these cour­ses first ap­peared, from kart be­hav­iour to the cam­era and even the num­ber of op­po­nents, so we had to re­design the cour­ses both in terms of their spa­tial lay­out and even the width of the tracks. We’ve also added in the anti­grav­ity, glid­ing and un­der­wa­ter me­chan­ics, too, and the graph­ics and sound are all re­made from scratch. But I hope these cour­ses will still bring back some fond mem­o­ries. Why did you re­in­state the D-pad con­trol op­tion? The Wii Wheel sup­ports both [D-pad] and mo­tion con­trols. We’ve honed them so that they both give a great rac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and users can se­lect whichever they pre­fer. We did the same for the right stick on the GamePad as well. Let­ting users move the right stick to ac­cel­er­ate gives them a dif­fer­ent feel to press­ing the A But­ton. Hav­ing said that, it’s not sim­ply about the

Ko­suke Yabuki, quan­tity of con­trol op­tions; we ex­per­i­mented with a lot of dif­fer­ent con­trol meth­ods, and only the ones that we found wor­thy made it through. How far do you think you’re push­ing the hard­ware? Our aim was to cre­ate a game that used HD graph­ics and played at a smooth 60fps. We pushed Wii U’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties to their lim­its to achieve this. [But] I think it still has a lot of po­ten­tial left, and I sus­pect there are more ways to make use of its ca­pa­bil­i­ties that we haven’t even imag­ined. Mario Kart TV’s AI edi­tor has a keen eye for drama and fram­ing. How dif­fi­cult was it to de­sign? Mario Kart 8 au­to­mat­i­cally cre­ates high­light reels based on a num­ber of el­e­ments, in­clud­ing the way the race de­vel­ops, the way items are used, as well as changes in po­si­tion. It may look fairly sim­ple, but we spent a lot of time to make it what it is. In twoplayer mul­ti­player, the AI fo­cuses on mo­ments that show the re­la­tion be­tween these two play­ers… I think it cre­ates a re­ally nice, en­joy­able video, even if it does look sim­ple. The YouTube upload fea­ture sug­gests a change of think­ing at Nin­tendo. What made you de­cide to sup­port shar­ing videos this way? When we were pre­par­ing the au­to­matic high­light reel fea­ture, we wanted users to share these videos with oth­ers, not just watch them by them­selves. For ex­am­ple, af­ter up­load­ing a reel to YouTube, you can re-watch the high­lights of your on­line bat­tle the next day in your of­fice, or at school or even on your smart­phone. It will def­i­nitely en­cour­age people to keep play­ing, and may be a great way to in­vite oth­ers to join you for a game. Why did you re­place are­nas with tracks in Bat­tle mode? It’s nat­u­rally suited to an en­closed space. We’ve changed the style of Bat­tle mode for Mario Kart 8 to use cir­cuits that lots of people can play on. Play­ers won’t know when a ri­val will ap­pear from around a cor­ner, which will bring a new sense of ex­cite­ment and strat­egy to this mode. In terms of rules, we de­signed it for play­ing with 12 play­ers, in­clud­ing the CPU. In the be­gin­ning, you have to de­feat the CPU play­ers and earn your score, and to­wards the end it be­comes a bat­tle be­tween just hu­man play­ers. That’s the real thrill of it! It should also be a fresh ex­pe­ri­ence for users to be able to race back­wards around the cir­cuits they are fa­mil­iar with. I’m sure there will be a few people who aren’t so sure about us mov­ing away from how we’ve done things pre­vi­ously, but I hope they try it out for them­selves first. I’m sure it will be a new ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery­one, [and] like no other bat­tles in Mario Kart be­fore.

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