I love this planning tip from Super Mario Bros creator, Shigeru Miyamoto:
When we’re doing an action game, we make the second level first. We begin making Level 1 once everything else is completed. via Glitter Beri
The first level of a Super Mario game is planned after the rest of the game is complete!
But of course this makes sense. The first step must set up the game’s unique challenges. And a designer can’t fully understand those challenges until they’ve been created.
The first level of a Mario Game is always iconic. It eases the player into a new world. There are chances to play with new power-ups, safely face dangers, and explore new skills.
Within seconds of playing the original Super Mario Bros, you have a chance to:
- hit a question mark
- power up with a mushroom
- stomp on an enemy
- discover that the screen scrolls right, but not left
- touch an enemy and lose your power up
Many of the core elements of the game are explicitly introduced right away.
And of course, this variation on “backwards planning” also applies to creating the first lesson of a unit, or planning the first day of school, or picking the first task of the morning. Only after really understanding where a journey will take us, can we properly set up that first step.
The first step has to entice students and empower them, but not scare them away.
“Begin with the end in mind,” as Stephen Covey calls it in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Your students will experience a more thoughtful journey, and your planning will be less frantic since you know where you’re headed.