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Konno and Yabuki on how F-Zero led to Mario Kart, struggling with anti-gravity in MK8, Sunshine Airport came from previous entry’s development

Posted on May 29, 2014 by (@NE_Brian) in General Nintendo, News, Wii U

IGN has put up some new comments from Nintendo producer Hideki Konno and Mario Kart 8 director Kosuke Yabuki. The two ended up sharing interesting bits about Mario Kart’s origins, the difficulty in implementing anti-gravity for Mario Kart 8, and how the racer’s Sunshine Airport course came about from a previous entry’s development.

Continue on below for a roundup of what’s included in IGN’s report, which you can find in full here.

On how Konno and the design team for the original Mario Kart knew they wanted to create a fun and multiplayer alternative to F-Zero…

“Mario Kart was conceived as a game to be enjoyed in a multiplayer setting with family and friends. The series got its start on the [SNES], but there were a lot of limitations to the 16-bit format from that time.”

– F-Zero had large scale tracks with long straightaways
– Courses of that scale were not possible with the particular multiplayer design the team had in mind
– Mario Kart had to factor split-screen into the level design

“It was necessary to make the maps and courses more compact for a game like that.”

– Someone on the team suggested karts as the vehicles for Mario Kart since it meshed better with the idea of a more compact race

Yabuki on where the development for Mario Kart 8 began…

“We always want to introduce an element of surprise. We thought that just improving the graphics to make the game prettier wouldn’t be enough.”

– Yabuki and the team came up with lots of ideas for what the new hook for Mario Kart 8 would be, but they settled on changing the direction of gravity
– The team felt that incorporating that into a high-definition Mario Kart full of little graphical details would work well
– Team eventually set a goal of offering two-player multiplayer as an alternative mode with a stable framerate of 60 frames-per-second

Konno on how implementing anti-gravity wasn’t so easy…

“With the technology being what it was, we decided to go for including anti-gravity in Mario Kart 8. I have to tell you, it was something that we really struggled with at the beginning of development.”

– Yabuki says Mario Kart had a number of considerations under the hood, in terms of physics and processes
– Working in anti-gravity along with the speed of the karts, the camera location, and items that were in play was difficult
– Mario Circuit was based on the concept of a Möbius strip
– This was the first course Nintendo designed for the game

Yabuki on the team’s first problem…

“If you want to throw a shell or banana peel, how are we going to do that while also accounting for gravity and the controls that gravity would put on those items?”

– Yabuki says the team tried to come up with a system that would automatically determine gravity as a player raced along as a potential solution, but the results weren’t satisfactory

“We ended up coming up with a manual method of controlling gravity, which is what you see in the game now.”

– A programmer set specific areas that would activate different gravity in each course
– This decision eventually led to being able to play these courses in a natural and comfortable way

Yabuki on how Sunshine Airport came from the development of a previous Mario Kart…

“The technology of the Wii U finally allowed us to explore some of these ideas, like making a huge jet liner fly through the airport, or even creating a really long course that doesn’t have laps like Mount Wario. It’s really thanks to the technology that we’re able to make these things.”

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