Not exactly what the non-gamer would picture as the minds behind Mario1
From andriasang, we have a translation of another Iwata Asks adventure, this time with the primary figures on the Super Mario Galaxy 2 dev team, and this particular comment really jumped out at me:
Because anyone on the team was able to try out their own stage designs, Hayashida ended up getting daily requests from people wanting him to see their stage creations. This continued for two and a half years. Iwata believes that this is a reason the game became so rich and densely packed with gameplay elements.
Basically they had a level design tool that was so robust2 that nearly anyone on-staff could construct levels and, apparently, did.
This, ultimately, led to a surfeit3 of content that was actually incorporated into the game in many cases, which is the special sauce that, apparently, is going to make SMG2 something pretty spectacular by all, early, indications.
However, what makes this interesting to anyone that has ever managed, well, anything (let alone a team of one hundred or more) is that it actually turned out lots of usable content and since managing any group project is just shy of herding homicidal cats with a raging meth problem4 this strikes me as a pretty surprising development. (Of course there is the strong possibility that Koizumi intentionally omits that they had nightmarish problems w/ workflow in this regard, but even if that’s true, the fact that, in the end, they got an immensely-playable product out of such a process is pretty remarkable, period.)
1 Speaking of which, I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen an American/Euro game dev in a suit…ever.
2 Oh god, release it to the public domain! (This will never happen.)
3 French for: sh*t-load.
4 Trust me: you’ll understand this one day, too, if you ever have to get even a dozen or so people moving in one direction.