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Foot Race, "Mario" style

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On the GBC, Nintendo released "Super Mario Bros. DX," a truely amazing port and expansion of the original classic platformer. Not only did it include extra maps, but it also included a neat mini-game in which you raced a ghosty through the levels of the game. A few thoughts: Technical Issues: 1.) The engine This could only be done with SMB or a completely faithful clone. SMB's control and solid feel are perfect for the minigame. The only other game to come close would be Sonic the Hedgehog, and I always felt that was much too loose, swimmy, and uncontrollable. Graphically, anything can be done, but control-wise I think it should remain faithful to the SMB series, if only because it's time-tested, familiar, and extremely accesible. In the original SMB, you held the B button down to make Mario run; by default he walked. Should the players constantly run? I don't see much point to walking in this case. In fact, I don't recall a single time in the original games in which I did NOT run, even later in SMB3 with the on-rails levels. However, if playing with a game pad, I can't say that not pressing the B button would feel natural. 2.) Expansion The first thing that springs to mind is multiplay. In fact, it seems natural that this would be the exclusive mode of such a small and simple game, racing against an AI character would get old after a while. Gameplay: 1.) Secondary Goals SMBDX mixed things up by adding challenges such as collecting 5 gold coins during the race. Perhaps there could be an alternate "catch the flag" goal for this version. 2.) Courses The game also included all 32 courses plus some brand new courses for racing. I don't think so many courses is feasible, however, a user friendly course editor included with the game would be a nice feature. Any thoughts on powerups or upgrades? 3.) Multiplay modes The original gameplay was one-on-one. Obviously it works very well and should remain. What about some other modes, like a relay race with a partner, perhaps (2-on-2)? Or a mass dash, with 8 or even 16 people? 4.) Powerups and Upgrades Powerups would come during the race and be temporary enhancements to the player (run through walls, super speed, etc). Upgrades would be tuneups that are applied before the race that permanently affect the player, in the form of different types of shoes. Would such features break the KISS ideology of SMB? Miscellaneous features: 1.) Market If upgrades do get included, should players be able to trade them, creating a free market? Again, I'm afraid this might break the simple nature of the original concept. 2.) Avatars Players love to be unique in the game. I don't think the appearance of the character should be used in any way to define performance enhancements, but it would be fun to have different sized characters, different costumes, etc. 3.) "Useless" upgrades Again, if upgrades get included, would players appreciate things like "flaming shoes," shoes that don't do anything other than leave a trail of fire behind the running character? Maybe a cape that flaps in the wind. Just little, unique, eye-candy elements. and now, I open the floor to discussion on these and original ideas.

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I don't think useless upgrades should be included. Rather, let players define their avatar with these custom upgrades however they like. Have the secondary goals actually be primary goals. "Collect 5 stars and cross the finish line first."

However, my concern is how do you deal with these secondary goal items. Do you give each player their own 5 stars? So if I collect star 1, your star 1 still exists? Do you have 15 randomly scattered, and say only collect 5? Or do you say "collect 3 of 5" and only have 5 available? In the final case, you could allow players to literally "battle" by jumping on each other, etcetera to steal each others coins (I am thinking of another Mario Mini game here...)

Also, I think it is important to add walking. The default mode should definitely be walk.

And what about enemies? I hope that enemies will be scattered across the map. Running into an enemy should make you lose 1, if not all of your secondary items (think Sonic...how the rings fly away -- except they will not disappear.)

At first when I thought about this, I felt like upgrades would break KISS -- but then I feel like the upgrades available in Mario should be fair game, as long as they are equally accessible by both players.

Aha, a thought! I was thinking about random upgrades, etcetera -- especially visual ones. Well, what if visual upgrades were randomly scattered around the level ... at a frequency proportional to their rarity. So if something is extremely rare...say, flaming boots, they should only appear every 50 games or so. But red overalls could be once every couple of games. So if you "run into them", you pick them up. However, to keep them, you have to win the race. If you don't win, you lose them (but the other play doesn't get them either).

So if you win, you keep them, and can put them on your character. This would allow trading, and perhaps even cooler...betting. You could bet on your online races. "I bet my flaming boots against your bunny ears that I beat you at World 5."

Other possibilities for online modes would be agreed upon race MAX time. So two contestants could say that they both lose unless one crosses the finish line in 1:50 or less.

Now, the real issue becomes, how do you prevent two people from competing with one another only to find items, and when one finds a unique, letting them win? Probably by saying that there is a level enforced MAX time, making the players actually have to try to win. Maybe this could be done as a "ghost" that plays against the players?

Just some thoughts -- I really like the idea.

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Oh, I really like the betting idea, sort of like the pink-slip racing from Need For Speed.

edit: clarification on the gameplay. In the DX race mode, the course is completely devoid of monsters and most collectables. Loose coins were left behind, I believe, and boxes were left empty. There were no monsters, but I think the dungeons still had the fire arms.

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i think you hit the nail when you suggested you keep it super simple. remember the focus of the game is the race, not the frillies, and in my opinion (and apparently visages), playing dressup is going to just take people's sight away from what you're trying to accomplish.

now, for the basic game - if everyone is competing on the same map, then they have to share the coins and special items. of course that means whoever was the best would be picking everything up, leaving nothing for anyone else - i know i grab as many coins in my runs as i can. but remember the race is first. the coins should be used as a way of breaking ties and helping the runners up.

first and foremost, the time should be represented by coins! whoever hits the flag first will get the most coins (one coin per time unit left), of course, and the runners up will get less and less as the time counts down. i'd say picking up coins through the level should be #2 on the list of things to focus on - if you were to give people their time left in coins, then any coins they picked up through the course could make the difference in the end. obviously you're not going to want to stop for the 10x coin boxes unless you know you're going to need it to catch up.

i don't see why you wouldn't put monsters down on the course - thats how you raced each other originally, isn't it? at least add it in as a course option at pre-game player grouping. in the case of monsters on the map, starting everyone small as per normal would be best, and have the [?] with powerups and starmen never empty. an efficient way to cut the stealing out is to let the players get the powerup instantly from just bopping the [?]. monsters cleared off the map would stay off for anyone who was behind. getting killed obviously puts you out of the race, and you'd get to watch the leader (or optionally move through the players to watch them).

having speedups or whatnot give an unfair advantage to anyone willing to put the work in for them - i like fair fights. if you suck and you take on a smb pro, you have to expect to lose. but i wanna go into a match and have a chance to win without things like that altering the challenge of the game. you may as well have bots in there if you're going to do it that way.

the last thing i'll mention is hindrance through aggression - hop on someone to slow them down or knock coins out of them. lets keep it clean. imagine 3 people ganging up on the leader that made a mistake and let them catch up. damn. it'd be pretty funny, but not to the leader.

i'd consider playing a game like this. definitely look at what you could do with this one.

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Alright, I think we can organize this into Milestones:

1.) The Basic Game
A flat dash to the finish line, no power ups, no monsters, no avatars (just different colored pants).

Ties will give a win point to both players, similar to a typical fighting game (this prevents players from getting into a stalemate).

Only one game mode, with a slider for the number of people that can participate on the race. Max number of racers? I'm thinking 16, a huge throng of players at the start might be pretty cool.

2.) Breaking Ties
A little more battle is introduced. Coins to collect during the race, monsters, and hopping on opponents heads. Maybe other gameplay modes, like slalom, relay, etc.

3.) Make it your own
Map editor and avatar editor (don't want an invisible character, have to limit the user's choices). I'm thinking something along the lines of the old Excitebike course editor, in which you place common course elements; it's quick and easy to use. Maybe include a course element editor.

4.) Sharing is Caring
Introduce rare avatar items and the betting system. In fact, rare avatar items could be controlled by the TOTAL number of such items that exist in the entire network. There could be *1* Grand Champion Crown, 5 Flaming Shoes, etc.

I just remembered a feature from the original game that I don't recall from the races - the springboard. Oh, there are so many ways to use this one. I'm actually getting kind of excited by this game idea :)

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I love the idea! Yeah, there would be some niggly little things to work out, but it could be very fun.

Some thoughts on gameplay:

Keep the enemies in. Otherwise it would be too easy. I'd say that getting "killed" should either send you to the beginning of the level or the half way mark, depending on how far you've gotten, and you would stay knocked out for maybe 3 seconds. (That would be an eternity in a game like this)

Keep all the power ups and coins in place. With the power ups, have them "recharge" after 30 seconds or so (probably vary it depending on the power up, stars and such would take longer) Don't recharge the coins though. In dealing with the coins, I'd maybe inmplement a point system: at The end of each race award one point for...

a) first to complete
b) most coins collected
c) most enemies dispatched

If a single player qualifies for all three, he get's all three points, but the idea is to give different types of players a shot at "winning" any given level.

Finally, I'd allow players to go crazy with their avatars: costumes, hats, etc. People LOVE customization.

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