We were a team of four people this time, though one person had to leave after the first night, and I was busy Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Since we were especially limited on time and resources we really needed a simple idea. Besides, I like simple ideas because it’s easier to focus on making one concept polished and fun. Of course all of our initial ideas were very complicated, until…
Once we had the idea, and we knew it was going to be a parody, then the issue was how to do the art in a way that paid tribute to the source without copying it. I do a lot of traditional/fine-art (My work: http://alwaysfromlife.com/) and I’d been thinking for a while that it would be interesting to do a game in a very painterly style. I did some quick sketches of mario in ArtRage and then used Aseprite animate them and export a tilesheet. It looked pretty good so we decided to go with it:
Even though we wanted a more organic look to the game, I decided to use Tiled to create the level, because that would make it easy to experiment with different layouts, and the excellent Tiled2Unity tool would generate the collision meshes for me. Once I had the level laid out in a way that worked well with the bouncing marios, I used Tiled’s “export to image” feature, and Ian used that as a reference to paint the lovely background that you see in the game.
Probably anyone who’s used Unity for 2D has made the mistake of leaving the “fixed rotation” option off on your sprite’s rigidbody and then watching your character spin and flop around unexpectedly. For this game I wanted mario to have a silly, clumsy quality, so I left it off intentionally. The challenge then was getting a reasonable amount of these clumsy marios to the end of the level. I used several invisible triggers to tell mario when to jump. Each trigger had a percent change of triggering, so we would end up with marios taking random paths through the level.
While Jesse made a mario spawner and worked on the plants, I painted the title screen as quickly as possible. I’m sure I didn’t spend more than 20 minutes on it. My plan was to hand paint the title text as well but that just would have taken too much time.
At the end of Saturday we were at the testing stage, and while it was already making us laugh (a good sign!), we had a lot of ideas for how to make it better. I assumed I wouldn’t have time for any of them. But Monday morning I was determined to add them. I added the “withering” plants feature and the heart counter as ways to add challenge and excitement to the game, and Brian added a score counter and cleverly tied the rate that marios spawned to your score, which leads to a hilarious avalanche of marios if you get far enough. At this point I think it went from being a silly game to one that was actually fun to play.
Of course I always forget how stressful the submission process is, especially when you’re already exhausted from lack of sleep. But in the end I’m very happy with what we made. There’s only a couple of minor things I would have done differently. Much gratitude to my team, and to everyone who has left feedback!