Super Mario 64
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Thoughts on Course Design
#1
My priority here is not to be informative. Rather, these are just a few things to keep in mind when you're sitting down and working on a level.


1. Have a Plan - Brainstorming on paper can inspire much more creativity than starting in Sketchup. For me, most of a course’s layout comes naturally when I am writing down what textures, enemies, and interactable objects a course will have.


2. Map Size - When playtesting, can you perform multiple long jumps across an area with no hazards nearby? Consider resizing the area, adding an obstacle, or making the geometry interesting.


3. Retreading Ground - This pairs nicely (or poorly) with the previous bit. Having to take the same path for 4 different stars in the same course can be tedious, especially if it isn’t challenging. Try giving options for the player to traverse the map.


4. Landmarks & Set Pieces - Are there memorable segments in the course you are working on? If not, where can you add one? Maybe feature a tall structure the player can see from afar to know their relative location.


5. Texture Variety - Any bits of visual flare really add personality, even if it’s as small as fences along a cliffside or using multiple grass/rock textures in a course. Keep things fresh and pretty!


6. Difficulty - A course can feel out of place if its placement and theme don’t match its level of challenge. Mad Musical Mess is Star Road’s hardest course, yet it presents colorful instruments and relaxing music. It only requires 30 stars to enter, whereas Starlight Runway requires 65 and only has two missions with a possibility of instant death quicksand.



Let me know what you think! I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts on my ideas and Mario 64 level design in general.
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