Game Builder Garage promises a Nintendo masterclass in creativity •

Game Builder Garage promises a Nintendo masterclass in creativity •

Nodo. I am sorry? Nodo. Not Monad. Nodo. Funny word – a palindrome, which is always money in the bank. I’m imagining some kind of spring, for some reason, something springy, mellow, and bouncy, each side contracting towards that central D, that pivot. Nodon is a brilliant word. It looks like the kind of thing you might have in a useful drawer somewhere in the back of the shed. “Could you get me the portable hot plate?” She is next to the Nodons. It sounds like the ambassador of an alien race that has already promised to help with our whole carbon emissions problem. All in all, I hope whoever proposed Nodon had a replacement day off.

Nodon is one of the stars of Nintendo’s new game. Or rather Nodo are, because they are numerous. Nodons are legion. “There’s a Nodon for that,” you might say, looking for a playful variation of that drawer in the hangar. Enough. There is probably a Nodon for that. The other star is you, because Nintendo’s new game is not a game at all, but rather a game creation tool. There are a lot of these tools, aren’t there, and yes Nintendo did. He created a few game creation tools that were pretty much games on their own. And now he’s made another one. And this one comes with Nodons in it.

Game Builder Garage will be eShop exclusive when it launches on June 11. It is a selection of tools for creating games. All kinds of games! Try it! And it’s built around seven lessons. Each lesson teaches you how to create a specific game in a specific genre. The lessons promise to be fun and playful, and they will build on each other. After the first lesson is over, you’ll unlock a mode that lets you create freely, so you won’t be constrained by lessons or their genres for a long time.

Although I doubt they are binding anyway. This is probably where a lot of people will have fun with great respect. Nintendo Game Creation Course! An overview of the Mario machine. The lessons will encourage you to make your own decisions by following the instructions. So we all do the same lessons but your games are very different from mine at the end of it. (Mine probably doesn’t work, to begin with.)


What kinds of games can you create? Shooters, platform games, side scrollers. 3D games, first person games, strategy games. Puzzle games. Music games. All types of games. The trailer suggests that the possibilities are very wide. Try it.

And there seem to be two principles that drive everything. One is line drawing. You have a controller input, the trigger, for example, and you draw a line between that and the instructions: shoot, or jump, or dodge, or whatever. And once that’s done, the trigger lets you shoot or jump or dodge or whatever. Drawing lines between things connects them, as any detective a week away from retirement would tell you. In Garage, it makes them work together. An idea so simple that it’s no surprise it came from the people who used a graph paper aesthetic to make their Mario editor work.


Connect the lines between game ideas, cause and effect, UI elements and all that jazz. It’s a part of it. The other is the Nodons. As I understand it, Nodons are game concepts and general business elements. So an analog stick is a Nodon – connect it to decide what it does. But there is also a Nodon for spinning things – connect it to a platform and it will spin. There is a Nodon timer, Nodon sound effect, Nodon texture – use the Nodon to draw a texture and whatever you connect to it will have that texture as well.

Sharing your creations sounds very Nintendo, I’m afraid. No browser, but once you download your first game you get a game id and programmer id that you can share with people. On the plus side, the game supports four methods of control: buttons and sticks, touch, motion detection when connected, and you can also plug a USB mouse into the dock. This mouse is just for programming, not for gaming.


I watched it all and thought it was all great, right? Gosh, Nintendo is the master of simplifying complicated things, but without sacrificing potential depth. And I rolled up the word Nodon and decided I liked it. But I also thought: there’s the basis for a powerful accessibility tool here, with the easy remapping of inputs, with the variety of ways to control programming. Hope this is the start of something – for gamers and Nodons, of course, but also for the way Nintendo allows gamers to interact with its games in general. A Nodon layer on the Switch interface? I would give everyone a day off for this.

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