U.S. Patent No. 9,814,983: Methods and/or systems for designing virtual environments

Issued November 14, 2017, to Nintendo Co. Ltd.
Filed: July 30, 2014 (claiming priority to June 14, 2011)

This Super Mario Maker-related patent allows you to design and edit virtual structures (like game levels), presumably to invent new and fun ways to frustrate your friends.


U.S. Patent No. 9,814,983 (the ‘983 patent) relates to designing and editing virtual structures meant to be traversed by virtual characters. The ‘983 patent describes a method of designing virtual structures in a virtual environment by first selecting a starting point based on a first input, which is connected to an already existing virtual structure, then, based on the starting point, determining and displaying at least one end point. This is to ensure  a continuous structure for a virtual character to traverse, having a starting and ending point.

The ‘983 patent might be familiar as the popular game Super Mario Maker, which allows players to create and share their own level designs. Interestingly, the game actually started as a prototype for a game development tool and is something Takashi Tezuka (assistant director to the original Super Mario Bros. and producer of Super Mario Maker 2) wished he had for game development in the 1980’s.


In an editor a plurality of valid start points are determined. Based on this plurality of start points a user may select one of the points. When a user selects one of the points, the editor determines at least one valid end point. The user may then draw a line between the selected point and a valid end point. As a result of the connection between the two points a new environment is created in the editor.

Illustrative Claim:

  1. A computer implemented method for designing virtual structures that are to be traversed by animated game characters in a virtual environment, the virtual environment including existing virtual structure, the method comprising: receiving, via an input device coupled to a computing system, a first input; selecting, based on the first input, a start point from among a plurality of connection points that are associated with an existing virtual structure to begin a new virtual structure; responsive to selection of the start point, determining and displaying at least one valid end point from among the plurality of connection points based on the start point wherein each of the valid end points form a connection of the new virtual structure from the valid end point to the selected start point such that the new virtual structure that would be created based on the connection does not intersect with the existing virtual structure; after selecting the start point, receiving a second input and selecting an end point from among the determined and displayed at least one valid end point based on the second input, the selected start point and the selected end point forming a valid connection of the new virtual structure between two portions of the existing virtual structure of the virtual environment; incorporating the new virtual structure into the virtual environment between the two portions of the existing virtual structure in accordance with the selection of the start point and selection of the end point; and outputting the virtual environment that includes the incorporated new virtual structure to a display.