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Author Topic: The Implications of Super Mario Maker  (Read 4805 times)

chillyfeez

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The Implications of Super Mario Maker
« on: September 02, 2015, 09:04:10 am »
I first became aware of this "game" last night. I'm probably late to the party, but I don't really buy new games anymore, so that's to be expected.
So anyway, the similarities between playing this and ROM hacking are obvious, which got me wondering:

Was the creation of SMM inspired by ROM hacking? It seems that this would be the case. Obviously it's not the first time a game has invited players to design their own levels (come on, best part about Excitebike, right), and Nintendo has seen its competitor(s) in recent years enjoy a fair amount of success with titles that do (Little Big World comes to mind). But unlike those examples, this is a game whose main focus is level creation, and in a way that resembles a very streamlined, user-friendly Mario level editor one might find on this site. So...

Was SMM created as a way to quell the creative impulses that generally give rise to a new ROM hacker and instead channel them into a licensed creation? I mean, we all know Nintendo's stance on the very existence of emulation, and while it is far more unwavering than that of any of its rivals, their desire to protect intellectual property is clearly justified and understandable. I've always considered ROM hacking, strictly speaking, to be more of a moral gray area, in that the Hacker is not necessarily encouraging illegal copies of a game, despite the fact that playing a ROM hack basically requires at least one of a handful of game copying actions that Nintendo opposes. The actual hack itself, though, generally is more akin to fan fiction - while copyrighted material is surely being used, it serves as a backdrop for what is produced, and what is produced is a showcase of the ROM hacker's creative interpretations of the source material, usually to others who are already fans and in many cases (okay, that may be a stretch...) owners of a legitimate copy of the source material. And of course, the fact that the hacker neither profits from the hack nor expressly distributes the illegal copy provides the indemnity that allows ROM hacking to continue. Still, the use of this supposedly ethical fan fiction does require prohibited, and in most cases illegal, practices by the user. While I have never seen a direct comment by Nintendo about its stance on hacking, the legal page of its site is very clear about its stance on copying and emulation, and it can therefore be assumed they do not look very highly upon the practice. So then, we arrive back at the question, are they attempting to provide a legal avenue for those who might otherwise become ROM hackers or ROM hack (for lack of a better term) consumers? And perhaps the more important question,

Could this be effective? I submit that it cannot. While ROM hacking has grown in recognition over time, it is still far from a mainstream form of entertainment. One has to search to find its existence. Without a game like SMM, many casual video game fans might never even think about acting on the impulse to create a new Mario level. Doesn't it stand to reason, though, that conversely people might play SMM and think to themselves, "wouldn't it be great if they had this for Mega Man, too?" a thought that might eventually lead to the discovery of rhdn by a gamer who would otherwise be blissfully unaware of the very existence of emulation?

Well, anyway, lots of you guys know a lot more about the stuff I'm talking about here, so what do you think?
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magictrufflez

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Re: The Implications of Super Mario Maker
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2015, 01:51:40 pm »
IMO, I think they saw an idea that would be relatively cheap to produce (I believe all the materials used in SMM are from previous games, so no new stuff persay), and could actually make quite a bit of money, since pretty much everyone likes Mario (if you don't, shame on you).  It's really just that simple economics calculations to me.  Hell, if they logged on here, they'd find ~100 or so SMW hacks alone, so clearly it's something that can make a bit of cash.

Whether this will start a trend, I agree that it probably won't.  RPG Makers have been coming out on consoles and PC's for years, and as far as I know, none of those can even sniff the level of success something with "Super Mario" stamped on it can.  It will make Nintendo a pretty penny, but it probably won't go anywhere else, which is OK with me, since these types of programs tend to be pretty limited anyways.

The only possible avenue I see it going down is maybe to other established franchises that the log essentially prints its own money for.  Something like a Zelda/Metroid/DK/Kirby maker COULD be feasible from a financial standpoint.  I'm not so sure they could work under the same technical concept as the SMM does though (ie having different generations of game resources available under 1 roof so-to-speak)

Jorpho

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Re: The Implications of Super Mario Maker
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2015, 09:47:19 am »
The relative proportion of people who purchase Super Mario Maker and actually use it to make worthwhile content is probably going to be pretty tiny.  But even that's probably going to be huge compared to the number of people who would have the knowledge and capability of getting SMW running in an emulator, much less find and use Lunar Magic.  (Is that still what everyone's into these days?  I don't even know.)

IMO, I think they saw an idea that would be relatively cheap to produce (I believe all the materials used in SMM are from previous games, so no new stuff persay)
I wouldn't think it was particularly cheap to produce.  Making a UI that people actually want to use can be tremendously difficult.  Anyway, things like spiny helmets and cannons (and lakitus) that can fire arbitrary objects are kind of new.  It does occur to me that Super Mario Bros. X had a little something similar .  (I'd still like to take a swing at Super Mario Bros. X eventually.)

...On that note, it does seem reasonable to suggest that Nintendo might be trying to head-off someone making a PC-based game creation utility that might capture the popular imagination and drag people away from the Wii U.  I understand they did shut down Super Mario Bros. X, and they're probably aware of Mushroom Kingdom Fusion (which seems to be doing a good job of shutting itself down).
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chillyfeez

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Re: The Implications of Super Mario Maker
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2015, 10:58:54 am »
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The relative proportion of people who purchase Super Mario Maker and actually use it to make worthwhile content is probably going to be pretty tiny.  But even that's probably going to be huge compared to the number of people who would have the knowledge and capability of getting SMW running in an emulator
I wouldn't bee too sure about that. If you Google "play Nintendo games on PC," the first several returns are how-to emulation stuff, including a video. Most people with a rudimentary understanding of how to use a computer could figure it out from there, I would guess.
Obviously learning to hack a game, even with a very user-friendly utility, is a big jump up in difficulty, but the fact remains that this might be opening the door for some people to discover emulation, however small that number might be.
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MegaManJuno

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Re: The Implications of Super Mario Maker
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2015, 12:07:48 pm »
The fairly recent Mario vs. Donkey Kong game for WiiU and 3DS (Tipping Stars) was largely focused on user-generated levels as well. It did have some pre-built levels, but the main focus was definitely the level editor.

It's reception and quantity/quality of user-content might be a decent indicator for SMM's success..?


MarkGrass

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Re: The Implications of Super Mario Maker
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2015, 12:10:58 pm »
I can guess that Nintendo figures that it's time to cash in. After all, they most certainly hold that right... and in all honesty, they've created one of the most desirable level creators I've ever seen in my life. Still, it's bound by a set of standardized rules and cannot allow for any true modification - textures, programming, music and so on.

It's extremely unlikely that Nintendo will change it's stance with any of that.

Super Mario Maker will likely be seen by the casual gamer as being nothing more than a fun and creative spin on a few bundled classics. Even those who are otherwise aware are often deterred by unwillingness to learn, the amount of time it takes to completion, etc.

I'm not expecting much to change around here or anywhere else, but it's nice to think that a new wave of knowledgeable people will come. Sadly, that's almost never the case when something goes mainstream. The amount of "What's hexdecimal?" posts alone make me cringe at the thought.

Jeville

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Re: The Implications of Super Mario Maker
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2015, 04:58:03 pm »
You're thinking too much into it.

(I believe all the materials used in SMM are from previous games, so no new stuff persay),
You couldn't be more wrong.

magictrufflez

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Re: The Implications of Super Mario Maker
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2015, 05:40:31 pm »
You're thinking too much into it.
You couldn't be more wrong.

Could you elaborate?  I've looked over a list of SMM's resources, and there really isn't much new material there except a couple of sprites and some possible level setups that weren't in previous games, but even those setups use the same resources from the original games.

For the record, I don't think no new resources is necessarily a bad thing at all.  In fact, I may pick up SMM if I ever see it on sale, but like it was mentioned above, the editing software is much less comprehensive than what I believe is used by hackers on this site, so it's a necessarily limited program. 

Jorpho

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Re: The Implications of Super Mario Maker
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2015, 01:55:12 am »
Could you elaborate?  I've looked over a list of SMM's resources, and there really isn't much new material there except a couple of sprites and some possible level setups that weren't in previous games, but even those setups use the same resources from the original games.
Not sure what you mean by "level setups".  Like I said above, there seem to be numerous elements that allow for gameplay not previously seen in official Mario games.  And it seems to me there are quite a few new sprites, what with having to put things like Bowser Jr in original SMB style or hammer bros in SMW style.
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dougeff

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Re: The Implications of Super Mario Maker
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2015, 10:08:41 pm »
I just saw a youtube video of Mario Maker, and it looks freakin awesome, honestly - I was toying around with the idea of a SMB hack, and now it just seems kind of stupid. A 5 year old can make a version 10 time better with Mario Maker in 1 / 10 th the time it would take me.

I don't know. I think we all have to UP our game a little bit...and add features that the original game doesn't have, and not just redesigned levels. I don't know, what do you guys think?

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chillyfeez

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Re: The Implications of Super Mario Maker
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2015, 11:12:00 pm »
That's an interesting spin. As a ROM hacker, I would hope that if SMM has any impact on the ROM hacking community, it would be to force us to step up our game, and encourage more ROM hackers to get into assembly hacking. If part of Nintendo's plan with this was to quash unlicensed custom level hacks, it would be great poetic justice if it ended up making ROM hacks better overall.
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PKstarship

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Re: The Implications of Super Mario Maker
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2015, 02:43:45 pm »
I really do hope SMM makes hacks have more new content. I love Secret of the Seven Golden Statues because it added several new moves, power-ups, custom bosses, and other stuff. I tend to not like hacks very much unless they add something that wasn't in the original. Even now, I'm hoping to learn ASM for the NES so I can make my Mega Man 2 hack have some different content than the original.

SunGodPortal

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Re: The Implications of Super Mario Maker
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2015, 06:46:44 pm »
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I really do hope SMM makes hacks have more new content. I love Secret of the Seven Golden Statues because it added several new moves, power-ups, custom bosses, and other stuff. I tend to not like hacks very much unless they add something that wasn't in the original. Even now, I'm hoping to learn ASM for the NES so I can make my Mega Man 2 hack have some different content than the original.

I myself am not too worried about added content. If the hacker is creative enough, like KGP4death was with Bruce Campbell vs Ganon, freshness can be added to the game by just finding more (and overlooked) uses for what is already there. That said, it is impressive when there is "bonus" stuff if you will but in general when I play a hack I tend to expect not much more than new levels because of something I will address in the next paragraph.

The problem I have with most editors is that I want them to be able to strip a game down to it's engine so that I can use whatever game it is as a template for my own ideas. Instead, most editors seem to be set up for you to make changes to the level designs that already exist. Until the people creating these programs either see the importance of that or decided to go the extra mile I don't see a lot of hacks be more than "rearrangements".

I don't know if this is a limitation of the editor or if people just don't go the extra mile but when I play a CV1 hack it seems like there's always the very small "castle entrance" area, then there's a few screens before it goes down into the area with the fish men, then it goes back up for 2-3 more screens. Again, I don't know if this is a limitation of the editor but for the sake of my argument I will assume it is because there's a point to this. Limitations such as that keep me from modding games that I otherwise would love to remodel. It makes a certain and specific familiarity unavoidable. Too many editors have similar limitations and until there are more editors that are programmed to give you free reign I think a lot of hacks will never "be all that they can be". I personally don't have the skills to program an editor like that but I know enough to know that such a thing would not be impossible.

And I'm sure some of you are thinking "well, they make lots of programs to help you make games these days so why don't you just use one of those?". 1) People have probably already made 100's of thousands of games with those programs so I wouldn't expect anything I made to get noticed. 2) I don't find that to be as cool as hacking/modding an old NES/SNES game. There's was another reason but I forgot what it was while I was typing those two reasons and want to get some exercise before the sun goes down so you'll just have to use your imagination. LOL

EDIT: Came back to edit the spelling and still can't remember what that 3rd reason was. Got a good work out though. :)
« Last Edit: September 16, 2015, 08:05:41 pm by SunGodPortal »
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