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Mario Kart 8 devs talk game’s graphics and using Wii U’s power, balance, original Rainbow Road is “really spectacular”, more

Posted on April 3, 2014 by (@NE_Brian) in News, Wii U

GameSpot has published a series of articles featuring commentary from Mario Kart 8 producer Hideki Konno and director Kosuke Yabuki. During a roundtable session held at GDC last month, the two touched on the game’s graphics, balance, brand new Rainbow Road course, and more. You can find the Q&A roundup below.

Konno on the game’s visuals…

“We’re working with HD for the first time, and we really wanted to take advantage of that. The last console version was Mario Kart Wii, which was released in 2008, so it was about six years ago. And during those six years, we were able to incorporate a lot of technology in our development process, but especially on the graphics side. So we put a lot of effort into making this a good looking game–it’s a very pretty game.”

“This time with the power of the Wii U we really made an effort to keep that graphic quality high regardless of how many ways we were splitting the TV into.”

Yabuki also talking about the game’s graphics…

“We’ve also been able to show movement on the [karts and bikes] that we haven’t seen before. We’re seeing bounding, we’re seeing different parts of the kart move, we’re seeing dirt on the tires, we’re seeing skidmarks left on the course–again I think we’ve done a good job of utilizing that graphical power.”

“Using the power of the Wii U, we were able to create a Mario Kart title that feels right, and the controls feel like they’re perfect for this game.”

“We were able to harness the power of the Wii U to get a huge polygon count, and we were able to make courses that involved a lot of undulating, moving surfaces. We’ve also done a lot of work with the character animations. If you look at Mario and the Koopalings and all the characters, you’re seeing a level and range of animation that you’ve never seen before.”

Konno on how the team went to great lengths to ensure that Mario Kart 8 is a well-balanced game…

“Game balance is also another really important element of Mario Kart that we look very closely at and place a lot of value on. From the time we start working on development, thousands of times, maybe even tens of thousands of times, we adjust that balance when we’re playing. At the end we come up with what we hope and feel is a really good balance. It’s our strong hope that folks would want to play with the items as we have balanced them.”

“We do hear, and a lot of people out there say it, that Mario Kart is all about luck. That if you’re at the front then you’ll get hit with a blue shell, so it’s all about luck. That feature is not random–it doesn’t just happen. There is a lot of adjustment and there is a lot of thought and effort put into that system, and developing it in a way that actually promotes game balance. I would hope people understand that as well.”

Yabuki on how there are two Rainbow Road courses (one is a remake of the N64 course)…

“Rainbow Road of course is a classic course. This time we actually grabbed Rainbow Road N64 version in addition to the current iteration of Rainbow Road. So we hope you look forward to racing on both of those courses.”

“One thing I do want to mention is Rainbow Road, that final course. We really want you to look forward to what we’ve done to it this time because it’s something else. It’s really spectacular.”

Konno on how Nintendo’s ambition for Mario Kart 8 was to create a game that captures the essence of every entry in the beloved series that has come before it…

“We really wanted this game to be a representation of all the games that came before it. We wanted to summarize and bring together all the elements of the series into this title.”

Konno on the game’s different features…

“The race courses themselves is one of the most important–if not the most important elements–in the series, so with Mario Kart 8 we really wanted to divide up the things we could do and make sure we’re really using them effectively. So we have underwater sessions, we have flying sessions, we have anti-grav sessions, and we use all of these in a way to create really interesting and fun to drive on courses.”

Konno on the idea of a track editor for Mario Kart…

“With regards to course editing, and letting users create and edit their own courses, it’s something that I’m interested in, and I’ve been interested in for a long time. It’s a fun feature. However, with Mario Kart, courses are key to the series, and it’s really tough. This is the eighth game in the series, and when we work on a Mario Kart title, we work on courses, and we create them, and then we work on them again, and again, and we revise until we come up with something that we think will be fun for everyone to play.”

Konno talking about how you gain a speed boost when bumping into another player during anti-grav sections…

“When you look traditionally at Mario Kart, colliding with other characters was not something you wanted to do. The risks outweighed any benefits you might get from doing that. However, the boost that you get when colliding with a character in an anti-grav section of a course alters that whole paradigm. So you may see some new strategies come out of this that even we aren’t aware of. For example, you may see some folks that may be a little down in the pack actually run into each other on purpose to give them a little extra speed so they can close the gap with whoever is in first.”

“We have a lot of confidence in our ability to do so, but we understand what a tough challenge it is to create those courses. I just don’t know that at this point we are able to do that to a level that would satisfy anyone, myself included. Some day if we can come up with a solution and implement in a way that would make everyone happy, we’ll come back to that issue and readdress it. But I do think it would an interesting idea. We’re always optimistic and thinking about what we would do in the future.”

Yabuki on how the anti-gravity sections will sometimes be an optional path…

“Some of the things you’ll see in courses is anti-gravity being given to players as an option. You’re driving on a course and now the course branches off, and you can either continue driving on the ground or go on anti-grav route and go up on the wall. With the addition of the anti-grav feature, we’ve been able to create course designs that fundamentally alters the strategy and gives players more options when racing.”

Source 1, Source 2, Source 3

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