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Wait, the original Super Mario Bros. took six months to develop?

Oblivion

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So...I was reading the Iwata Asks: Super Mario 25th Anniversary interview, which I could have sworn I read, but apparently I didn't because if I did, I would have remembered this very important little tidbit:

Nakago: These are Miyamoto-san's first specifications for Super Mario Bros.

Iwata: Oh, this is in the booklet included in the Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition package.

Nakago: Yeah. We still wrote them by hand back then, and the seal is from the Creative Department.

Iwata:That's the seal for the section that existed before the Entertainment Analysis and Development Division, and the date is...February 20, 1985. That means it was written the same year as the release of the original Super Mario Bros.

Miyamoto: We wrote the specifications on February 20, and six months later we put it on the ROM...


Iwata: That's fast work! (laughs)

http://iwataasks.nintendo.com/interviews/#/wii/mario25th/4/0

Mind blown. Now some might not think that sounds very impressive since SMB is relatively speaking, a fairly simple NES game. But keep this in mind, both SMB3 and SMW each took 3 YEARS to make. So in a way, the development time for SMB is kinda badass.
 

Flandy

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Wasn't that like the average dev time of games back then? I seem to remember reading that people were complaining how long Super Metroid took to develop or something when they had been developing it for like a year
 

ComputerBlue

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I remember reading a long time ago the there were loads of games (not good ones) made in under a month back then, by a couple people. I think 6 is a long dev cycle for that era.
 

Hatchtag

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Not really surprising. Super Mario Bros isn't exactly a content-heavy game. 32 levels, re-used art assets, etc. It's still a great game, especially for its time, but I would be surprised if it had taken like 2 years to develop.
 

Manmademan

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Most games back then took very little time to make thanks to their simplicity. 6 months for SMB is entirely believable. 3D and, later, HD, have made development time increase.

yep. 6 months might even be on the long side. The games for the previous generation (Atari, colecovision, etc) were typically coded by 1 or 2 guys in a matter of weeks.
 

BakedYams

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We just need to go back to the basics... However, we need that delicious gravy in our games!
 

Noogy

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That is incredibly fast and very impressive. You can't really compare that figure with modern development. It's not like they could license Gamemaker and quickly iterate on someone else's design as an homage.
 

Dishwalla

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yep. 6 months might even be on the long side. The games for the previous generation (Atari, colecovision, etc) were typically coded by 1 or 2 guys in a matter of weeks.

Actually Atari games were known to be in development for months at a time, Pacman 2600 was in development for four months as an example. Also keep in mind that E.T. was developed and programmed in only five and a half weeks, which is considered the main factor to the game's mediocrity(Howard Warsaw has said he did the best he could with the short amount of time he was allotted).
 

jackal27

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Dragon Age 2 exists to curtly refute these claims.

But it really is amazing what some teams can accomplish in such short amounts of time.

Never played DA2 so I can't speak to that, but wasn't it lacking a lot because it was rushed out or something?

I think I mean more along lines of how something so great and influential can come out of a clear, focused vision even with small resources. Money and people thrown at something does not guarantee quality, but indie games have been teaching us this lesson for a long time now.
 

JordanN

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What was the team size?

I can't speak Japanese but this site showed what development looked like:
http://www.disgruntleddesigner.com/chrisc/secret/weekly/FamiStars18.jpg

Programmers?

Music Man?

Mr.Miyamoto and another artist?

Another artist/level design?

Oh, it's Super Mario Bros.3. But I imagine it wasn't all that different.
 

Oblivion

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That is incredibly fast and very impressive. You can't really compare that figure with modern development. It's not like they could license Gamemaker and quickly iterate on someone else's design as an homage.

Exactly. Back then they still drew everything by hand, and it took them a whole day just to create one level. And that's assuming they got it right the first time.
 

Lijik

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Didnt in one Iwata Asks they reveal they used Balloon Fight's controls as the blueprint for the water levels?

I dont know if it was just inspiration or if theres some shared code
 

Shikamaru Ninja

任天堂 の 忍者
That "other artist" in the pictures is Takashi Tezuka. Miyamoto and Tezuka supposedly split drawing the levels 50/50 on Super Mario Bros.

For the record, there was a third unnamed Nintendo artist who "polished" Miyamoto and Tezuka's work.

On Zelda, Tezuka drew nearly all the levels and even designed Link's pixel.
 

mightynine

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First time I'm reading this Iwata Asks, and I feel like this could go in the shocking videogame secrets thread:

Nakago The castle at the start is small, and the one at the goal is big, but they're actually the same castle.

Tezuka We took the top of the castle at the goal and used it at the start.



Nakago If you look closely at the castle at the goal, there's a door in an upper floor, but we insist it's a window! (laughs)

Iwata (laughs)

Nakago We were always thinking of tricks like that when we made Super Mario Bros.
 

Oblivion

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beril

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looking at the amount of content, it's not really that surprising. obviously the tools back then weren't comparable to modern pipelines and coding the entire thing in assembler is a lot more time consuming than modern languages, but even so it seems perfectly doable in that timeframe.

But yeah, doing something that revolutionary and that polished and well designed in such short time is certainly impressive.
 

LurkerPrime

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First time I'm reading this Iwata Asks, and I feel like this could go in the shocking videogame secrets thread:

Aha! I always suspected that it was a door.

Never played DA2 so I can't speak to that, but wasn't it lacking a lot because it was rushed out or something?

I think I mean more along lines of how something so great and influential can come out of a clear, focused vision even with small resources. Money and people thrown at something does not guarantee quality, but indie games have been teaching us this lesson for a long time now.

DA2 was rushed something fierce. If you ever want to see what a modern game designed in a year looks like, then Dragon Age 2 is for you.

But, I suppose I can agree with that. Games without "vision" always feel like they lack something very difficult to define.

The thing I disagree with is this notion that vision is limited to smaller projects. I feel that both small and large games are capable of having this ill-defined vision.
 

deltatheta

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But it IS a door. How else are you going to get out to the battlements?

It's the "doors" in the middle that are out of place.
 

jackal27

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DA2 was rushed something fierce. If you ever want to see what a modern game designed in a year looks like, then Dragon Age 2 is for you.

But, I suppose I can agree with that. Games without "vision" always feel like they lack something very difficult to define.

The thing I disagree with is this notion that vision is limited to smaller projects. I feel that both small and large games are capable of having this ill-defined vision.

I never said larger projects couldn't, but I feel like a lot modern AAA games lack a certain personality and uniquness that comes from smaller projects. Now, that's a big generalization and lots of smaller games struggle with this issue as well, but I've always seen it as a too many cooks in the kitchen type issue. AAA games need better focused direction and opportunities to let creator's personalities and vision bleed through into their works.
 

Black Door

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I remember reading a long time ago the there were loads of games (not good ones) made in under a month back then, by a couple people. I think 6 is a long dev cycle for that era.

Yes, the legendary age of the "bedroom coder." A lot of games from the UK were like that
 

DiipuSurotu

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Square's A-Team (mainly Hironobu Sakaguchi, Kazuko Shibuya, Nasir Gebelli, and Nobuo Uematsu) churned out three wildly different games in less than a year in 1987: 3-D WorldRunner, Rad Racer, and Final Fantasy.
 

Oblivion

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Star Wars Rogue Leader was developed in eight months

Wasn't that Rogue Squadron 2 in 9 months? That one was pretty impressive too. One of the first GC games was among the most technically impressive.
 

eyeball_kid

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Most games back then took very little time to make thanks to their simplicity. 6 months for SMB is entirely believable. 3D and, later, HD, have made development time increase.

Calling Super Mario Brothers "simplistic" is not really taking into account that SMB was revolutionary in its game design and really formed all the things we now take for granted as platforming mechanics. Think about all the other platforming games since then, and how many are inferior in character actions and physics, enemies, and level design. And yet, with all of those things they got right, SMB was put together from concept to final ROM in six months. I mean, I know that there were elements which they took from other games, but they really synthesized something new and that can't be overstated. I think considering that, six months is an astonishing timeframe.
 
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Wouldn't surprise me. The game wasn't a massive leap from GTA 3 like going to GTA SA was.

Yeah, for as great as Vice City is, it's not too shocking how quickly it came out after III. The map always felt small to me, and the main story is pretty short, all things considered.