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Game Design

The Creation of a Mansion

The Creation of a Mansion
Some notes about the creation of Mario's Mansion 2

As you see, this wasn't really a true community game but rather a sort of accident spawned by the All Hallows Event page.

So it kind of started as a joke. When we made the All Hallows Event page, I added Mario's Mansion II as the first entry just to get something on the list. At the time there were no serious plans to make another ghost house game. I added Kentona and Solitayre for the lulz. But I like sequels (and so does Liberty), so plans started to swirl. Solitayre and I began talking, and I even mentioned it to Kentona and Link2112, and before you knew it, we decided to make a small series of ghost house levels within the context of a larger mansion. Jackalotrun and some others PM'd me about doing levels after they saw the signups on the event page, and before you knew it we had a project in development!

The goal was to keep it small and simple: 8-12 levels with a boss at the end. Link2112 mad some really cool graphics (though we only ended up using a few of them for time/real-world constraints), and I asked Nessiah to make a chef boo hat (which I swear I'll include soon!). I asked nin8halos for that cool skeleton lotus he used in SMB3's Blood Ocean level. Some other graphics were taken from the traditional SMBX Graphics Pack and were recolored or edited slightly. Jackalotrun made the first 2 levels relatively quickly, which lit a fire under the rest of us. Solitayre began cranking out levels faster than the speed of light, and I pumped out about a level a week for the month. Kentona did his in about 2 hours one evening.

Soli and I wanted to make sure the game had enough variety, and we wanted a few levels that didn't fit the traditional Ghost House mold (like Greyhouse, Graveyard, Clock Tower, and so on). We wanted a balance of puzzle, platforming, hot, cold, wet, horizontal, and vertical. The idea was that each level would fit within the context of the mansion (ballroom, corrupt greenhouse, elevator) but still have its own identity and feel. I think we succeeded on this front, in part due to design but also due to luck: Kentona and Jackalotrun injected a lot of variety between their levels. Kentona's levels looked the same, but they played very different: one was a platformer and one was a puzzle-solver. Jackalotrun had a fun trap-like gimmick in his first level, and then switched gears to some slippery ice platforming in his second. Thanks for the contributions!

Initially Solitayre had the idea of re-skinning the world map graphics to a ghost house interior (sort of like how TT2 did Bowser's castle), but the idea fell through and we went with a small hub instead. If we do this again in the future, we'll probably have "slots" for each room and ask people to fill them - that way the mansion is more planned out and each room has a true identity instead of an implied one.

In short, I guess you could describe the development of this game as a hybrid: it was sort of on the seat of our pants, but we had an idea of where we were going. I like this approach because it's not completely random and scattershot, but it also isn't rigid to the point of sacrificing interesting ideas for the sake of the plan.

I'm pretty happy with the results, but there are certainly things I could've done better on my end if I were more competent or had more time. Hopefully you guys enjoy it!

Thanks to everyone for your help, support, and contributions!
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