Letting the customer have a go at creating levels or what have you has proven to be quite an interesting step for many games. Steam lets players weave together all sorts of visual modifications into certain games with comical results, Garry’s Mod lets people create various modes and maps to play in. This is all fun and games right now, however there is very much a movement of player created content in the industry, as there has been for the past few years. This can be wonderful, it can also be a detriment.
With everybody having a go at creating you will obviously get a lot of terrible to mediocre creations. Above that are the pretty darn good ones and great ones, rivalling the peaks of professional creators every once in a blue moon. With the frankly silly freedom Mario Maker will give players, I can see it as potentially damaging to the credibility of Nintendos designers. Yes some games have some truly great level designs, it’s not often though you get them however and even within a game there are some clear winners and losers.
if we get everybody and their grandmother creating fantastic level designs Nintendo have never created before…. will we want to go back to the sometimes bland and monotonous designs of Nintendo themselves? Now Mario game hacks and alterations have been around for a while and I do believe a large amount of the populace including Nintendo saw them as one persons somewhat complicated work that can easily get swept away among hundreds in kind.
Mario Maker will let the community put the better stages in the spotlight, bringing out all sorts of monstrous stages to try out. Will we still enjoy the works of the creator when the consumers can do equal or perhaps better for a low low price of nothing? I’ve always been concerned about such things, even when the create your own game fad came rolling in.
There are some talented people among the players, people who have the skills but never the opportunity or technical prowess to put them out there before. With an easy tool such as this, an opportunity to shine is present for every player imaginable. This is a good thing, it gets talented people recognised and allows their latent abilities to expand beyond “I bet I could do that”.
it might slowly become a bad thing for companies though, somewhat to even the consumers as well. Bad for companies how? Well who will be that interested in the much weaker and restricted creations of the developers when the consumers do it risk free and cost free? At what point will creation tools become so good the developer need but release one game in a franchise and are deemed redundant? No more new games, we have a game with unfathomable possibilities and would need to produce an impeccable product to match the eventual buckets of highest quality content.
it can be a hazard to devs but what about the consumers? Well if you can get retention of years with a creation game where consumers provide for themselves and others, that isn’t a lot of motivation to release anything else. Remember the mobile rush? It was cheap investments for large returns like never before, it exploded over the industry. Like mobile I do think it would eventually stabilise with creators vying for quality content rather than cheap returns, though I wonder how soon that might be.
I’ve voiced before my issues with a game that feels like it belongs to a “tool box” genre. Here are your toys, do whatever you want. Not every game invokes such a feeling but many do give off a vibe of creativity as necessity, you only get as much out as you can imagine and create. Not everyone has that kind of mind, I don’t and I rather dislike being put into a sandbox and being told “make whatever you want”. I don’t know what I want, I need some guidance, some purpose beyond a self imposed one.
Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the level design in Super Mario 3D World, it never promoted a really exciting or interesting moment or mechanic for me. Imagine that a creation tool that was very user friendly was released for that kind of gameplay style. Would Nintendo ever be able to match these thousands of creators with the only limit being their motivation and free time? Are there are designers you could hire that could match the unbridled creativity of an army of consumers? I really don’t know.
That for me is the worst part: not knowing. I’ve seen some really fantastic, fully user created hacks of Super Mario World. I’d rather play those that Super Mario World, they look so much more appealing. In fact that is another plus on the consumer creator: a level for every person. You want a hard as balls level to make you pull your hair out from every location? Done. Can’t have that in a flagship title, that kinda difficulty would be too intimidating. With this creator tool, I can give you any kind of level whenever you want. The difficulty curve is your whimsy. Will this kind of creative and design competition help or harm? I can only imagine.
What games would you love a creator tool? Do you think there is a chance you’d stop buying the new Marios because the creator game gives you all you’d need? How do you feel about the ludicrous potential of player created content against developer made? Does DLC even need to exist when consumers can do more and better than you will? Thanks for the read and I’ll see you later.