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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:00 pm 
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So, I read this interview with Shigeru Miyamoto and once again, I have to ask myself: What the fuck is he talking about?

http://www.nintendo.com/nes-classic/sup ... -interview

Quote:
Miyamoto: I remember this clearly. Tezuka-san and Nakago-san and I were having a meeting, and we had the length of all the courses drawn up on a whiteboard. We were discussing whether there was any way to see farther ahead.

Mario was big, so you couldn't see very far?

Miyamoto: Right. We could pull back for a broader view, but then Mario would be smaller. Then Nakago-san said, "Wait a minute. Wouldn't it be fun to have a small Mario, too?"

Ah, I see. You introduced a smaller Mario to make it easier to see what's ahead in the course.

Miyamoto: Yes. And then we decided that you'll lose a turn when the smaller Mario runs into an enemy, when big Mario runs into an enemy, he would just get smaller. That would be a brand-new game mechanic, and we decided to go with it right away in that meeting.

Mario's current size change has no relation to how far you can see. So, if his size was an issue regarding the perspective of the level, that means they originally also intended the background tiles to be larger.

So, are we really supposed to believe that they originally intended the game to look like this?
Attachment:
SMB.png
SMB.png [ 3.67 KiB | Viewed 597 times ]


Because that's the only situation that I can imagine where the game was designed in a way so you couldn't see very far.
Are we seriously supposed to believe that the game was originally intended to have huge 32 x 32 tiles and they only resized them to the classic 16 x 16 tiles when (What a surprise!) they realized that you cannot show many 32 x 32 blocks on a 256 x 240 screen?

I mean, it's not like there's anything in between. 24 x 24 doesn't work because of the color grid. So, if they really designed the levels in a way so you initially couldn't see very far, then this is what it must have looked like.

But if this is what it would have looked like, are we seriously supposed to assume that this was ever a thing? After designing a ton of NES games, shall we believe that they totally overlooked the fact that doubling the meta tile size will leave you with a mere eight meta tiles per row?
And are we supposed to believe that they intended a Mario that is built of 32 (or maybe 16) hardware sprites?

And then they were
Quote:
discussing whether there was any way to see farther ahead.
And what did they come up with: Simply lower the size to (Tadaaa!) the block size of the other NES games in existence. What a discovery! Who would have imagined that the solution is to simply do it as it was done in the other games, like "Clu Clu Land", "Gyromite" or totally unrelated games like "Mario Bros."?

Also:
Quote:
We could pull back for a broader view, but then Mario would be smaller.

What? :shock: Pulling back? Is he trying to imply that you can zoom the whole image of the NES in and out, mode 7-style?

Is there any meaning behind his words that make sense here? Or is he just talking out of his ass?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:20 pm 
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I think you're taking it too literally.

I can remember a flippant comment in Nintendo Power about creating a game that would require you to rotate your TV 90 degrees. Practicality then of course rears its ugly head. Miyamoto is a dreamer. And even that comment wasn't intended to be taken literally.

In other interviews, from memory, Miyamoto talked about 4-panel comic books, or how in general the print medium differs from the rigid 4:3 aspect ratio and fixed pixel pitch bitmaps rendering on televisions. The comic artist can set the scene in how large or small objects in each panel are drawn, and each panel can differ in zoom level to direct the viewer's attention.

It took until New Super Mario Bros Wii to get multiplayer zooming camera, two key concepts that were wanted even for Super Mario World two player mode. The limitations in Mode 7 was ultimately a disappointment, leading to all the stuff with DSP chips and Super FX.

From what we know, Miyamoto would just park an idea for later. Playing the long game until technology caught up.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:34 pm 
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My guess, as the wordings there aren't very clear, the large Mario can't see far ahead thing is not referring to the final game.
The large Mario in the real game is already the result of him being shrunken.

It's possible that the level drawn on the whiteboard also contained a Mario, but when they checked out how a screen might look like (such as drawing a rectangle on the level) they found that Mario was too large and blocked a lot of view. This might apply to the other background stuff too, so it possibly was really like the HUGE block image as you created.

So they decided to "pull back" on that level drawn on the whiteboard (i.e. make the rectangle representing a screen larger) which in turn made Mario (and possibly the other background elements too) smaller so that more stuff could be seen. And this smaller Mario is just the large one seen in the final game.

This "pull back" process just inspired them that they can put an even smaller Mario in the game as part of the gameplay.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:51 pm 
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From that text what I get is that the original idea that didn't go very far due to being too crazy for the time, was that when in big mario mode the game would be 2x zoomed out so you could see more of the level at once. But it was so crazy and impractical that they decided to just stick with the small/big being a health system.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:02 pm 
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I strongly suspect this small portion of the interview was translated a bit strangely (read: more actual context needed for the explanations/story to make more immediate sense). Japanese is often like that. I also suspect whicker and Gilbert's explanations to be the most likely.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 8:52 pm 
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Actually I had read a bit of the original version and that I felt the translation was a bit odd too, thus coming up with my guess.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 9:11 pm 
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AFAIK, Miyamoto was never a programmer at Nintendo, so he probably wasn't 100% aware of the exact technical limitations of each system, and had to run his ideas by the software guys, which would tell him what was possible and what wasn't. Considering that, it's obvious that Miyamoto would always describe things in interviews from the point of view of the designer that he was, not from the point of view of a programmer, which we are, so we are inevitably going to catch inconsistencies in the things he says. He's the "idea guy", he sees things in a more magical way than us, the coder dudes, so maybe in his head he had this whole notion of scale and visibility while programmers were just telling him that certain things couldn't be this way or that way because of limitations in the color grid or the number of sprites.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 12:22 am 
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One thing could be that it's not how far Mario (or the player) can see in the level they were talking about, but how far from the screen the player can see details in Mario. When Mario is big, you could stand pretty far from the screen and still see details - but not when he's small.

They might have intended to make Mario the same size (on screen), and the entiere level zoom in and out, but they'd have to include 2 sizes of every graphic pieces except Mario including all ennemy sprites. There's no way this could prossibly have fit a single pattern table. I doubt they ever planned that. This interview is probably a poor translation, like it's usually the case when it comes at translations from Japanese.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:09 am 
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They way i interpret it:

-large actors take up more screen real estate
-our understanding of how much space a screen is supposed to represent is informed and contextualized by the size of the main actor that the player relates to. Just like how premetric measures are in relation to the human body or its capabilities. Feet, a stones' throw away, and so on.
-while not much changes technically, the player will percieve the world as bigger if mario is small.
-so they rolled back the size of mario from 2x4 to 2x2 to create the illusion of larger stages, simple as that.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 8:33 am 
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Yes and considering scrolling platform games wasn't that common before Super Mario Bros, I don't think it's strange at all that they miscalculated character sizes and perspectives. That's something you'd do a lot even with a lot of experience. No matter if you are a programmer or artist, or whether you know how many BG characters and sprites fits on the screen or not, you can only simulate the game in your head to a certain point. Drawing up on the whiteboard (or programming a prototype) and then discussing the sizes and possible problems sounds like a very plausible scenario to me. Then the idea of a small and big Mario might have been born out of that discussion if we are to believe the interviews.

I read both Japanese and English versions on this matter, and while neither is very clear on details, I get the same impression from both. Another thing, which is besides the point, is that these are PR interviews so anything they say here should probably be taken with a pinch of salt.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 1:59 pm 
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I think SMB as it turned out is designed around "small Mario"s initial size. When Mario picks up a mushroom he's supposed to be turning extra large (but it's since been re-designed to represent his normal size), and I think if the rest of the game had been designed to reflect the larger size, complete with a faster running speed and such, the game screen might come across as a little too small.
Remember this is one of the earliest scrolling games, and I'm sure Miyamoto was pretty wary about what they could get away with.

whicker wrote:
I can remember a flippant comment in Nintendo Power about creating a game that would require you to rotate your TV 90 degrees. Practicality then of course rears its ugly head. Miyamoto is a dreamer. And even that comment wasn't intended to be taken literally.

Tons of games out there are designed to have you rotate your TV 90 degrees. Not back then in the 80s of course, but especially the mid- to late 90s.
It's not that crazy an idea.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:47 pm 
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Yeah screens for (vertically scrolling) shooting games are usually taller and narrower than TVs, so flipping the TV makes it like an arcade monitor for shooting games.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 6:53 pm 
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DRW wrote:
Also:
Quote:
We could pull back for a broader view, but then Mario would be smaller.

What? :shock: Pulling back? Is he trying to imply that you can zoom the whole image of the NES in and out, mode 7-style?

Is there any meaning behind his words that make sense here? Or is he just talking out of his ass?


In 1984 Nintendo had the arcade version of Punchout, which did have graphics scaling. I don't think that's necessarily what he meant though. Obviously that wouldn't even be for Famicom in that case, but when it comes to someone who doesn't know the system on a technical level, the possibilities are limitless.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 5:59 pm 
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Well it could be that he meant using 2 versions of the level, 1 zoomed in, 1 zoomed out, and the zoomed in version was 2x the size. Heck, if they made it use 32x32 attribute size, they would be able to have a medium 24x24 block view.

Of course this would complicate everything, and require a lot of extra ROM.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2019 6:11 pm 
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I think that wasn't on the table simply because of the graphics needed to cover for different scales of detail, and the game being mapper-less.

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