Make a brand new stage in Super Mario Maker 2 and you may find that objects which had an element of random chance in the first Mario Maker are now completely predictable. Clown cars, for example, will always start traveling in the same direction rather than picking one randomly. One player figured out how to manipulate those odds, however, allowing for a clever stage that changes every time you play it.
If you’ve been making or playing Super Mario Maker 2 levels, you might have noticed that some things are a little different from the first game, especially if you’re replaying levels. Coins will always drop in the same places, and Hammer Bros always follow the same behavior, no matter how many times you play. If you thrive on random chance, or at least don’t want your levels to be so predictable, this is disappointing.
YouTuber and Super Mario Maker 2 enthusiast Ceave Gaming found out the secret to making things truly random again. The key is to have a little bit of level before whatever randomized portion you’re building. In a level he uses as an example, he puts a claw right before the entrance to a cave, and suddenly, instead of his clown cars always going in the same direction, they do their own thing every time, allowing for some truly random generation. He was even able to make a rudimentary loot box mechanic.
(If you have eleven minutes, you should absolutely watch the full video and explanation. Not only is it thorough and informative, Ceave is very funny and quite charming.)
“Randomness in video games is a lie. It doesn’t exist.” Ceave says in the video. “Most computer programs use a seed to create seemingly random numbers.”
How video games create these seeds varies from game to game. Sometimes it’s tied to the time, because that changes literally from second to second. Other games tie their seeds to player input, meaning that random number generation will change based on whatever the player does during the game. After some testing, Ceave concluded that Super Mario Maker 2 relies on the player input method to make its seeds. So if you put something in the level before the player reaches the portion you want to be randomized, especially something that can’t be completed in exactly the same way every time, like swinging from a claw, then the random number generation seed will change, and the level will be different from one playthrough to the next.
Ceave has put his knowledge to good use by creating a level called The Very Varying Tower, which does indeed vary from playthrough to playthrough. With a clever use of shells, clown cars and on/off blocks, he’s even able to make what part of the stage you go to next differ from playthrough to playthrough. You can check it out at course ID FTD-LM7-20H, and maybe take some of its secrets to your own levels.