Mario AI

By Shamus Posted Saturday Aug 15, 2009

Filed under: Movies 21 comments

In keeping with the series on AI, here is an interesting project: Mario AI Competition, a competition for people to build the best Mario-playing AI possible. Here is one of the entries:

Link (YouTube)

Here is the project page for the particular AI featured in the video.

The Mario game itself is a procedurally generated infinite level. John Funk likened this to putting a slinky on an escalator.

Interesting stuff.


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21 thoughts on “Mario AI

  1. JFargo says:

    The part labeled “close call,” where Mario falls into a pit but is able to jump off the walls and out bugs me. Is that possible in the actual games?

  2. Jonathan says:

    OT: The Twenty Sided TF2 servers seem to be down.

  3. scragar says:

    #1, JFargo:
    It’s possible in a few of the games to fine select walls you can actually jump on like that, but a vast majority of the walls don’t work that way, and I very much suspect that those walls where it does work this way are simply bad design(making different textured walls different widths, this making small ledges in the wall), rather than an intentional feature.

  4. Crystalgate says:

    About the walljump. The infinite Mario project, or whatever it’s called, supports walljumping. In Super Mario World however, it’s practically impossible to walljump unless you’re using emulator tools.

  5. Gary says:

    Hey Shamus, I know you don’t have anything to do with them directly, but do you know anything about darths and droids being down?

  6. ngthagg says:

    “Slinky on an escalator” is one way to describe this. There are, of course, much cruder ways to do so.

  7. vede says:

    This would be Infinite Mario Bros. developed by Markus Persson, or “Notch”, an indie game developer.

    I’m actually following another game that Notch is currently developing, called Minecraft. It’s alpha right now, but entirely playable. I recommend you check it out at You can read the devlog for more indepth details.

    Unfortunately the forums and wiki are down (third part hosting), but you can still play the game (free-to-play currently).

    Sorry if I seem like some sort of ad-bot, but I thought it was really cool that my favorite blog wound up posting stuff related to my favorite game developer, and I thought I would show you all some of the other stuff you can find from the same guy.

  8. Sydney says:

    I wonder what would happen if you plugged this AI into the actual original game…

  9. Ian says:

    @scragar: It doesn’t really have anything to do with the type of wall. Walljumping in SMB1, 2j, and 3 are all caused because the game allows the player to jump even when wall ejection is occuring. You can find some more specific information here:

    In short, you have to be moving forward to trigger wall ejection, and you have to be slightly inside of the wall when Mario/Luigi hit the block boundary (each block is a 16 pixel square). If you hit jump in that frame, the game will think that you’re jumping from solid ground.

    Edit: Also note that it is possible to walljump in Super Mario World, though it is a lot more finicky compared to the original NES titles. Again, the TASVideos page has a nice page of exploits related to that game:

  10. Blake says:

    Ok, so I went to check out minecraft. What is the point of that game?

    You can run around and place blocks… ok? There seems to be no objective or point whatsoever to the game. I know its still alpha, but if you say its playable I expect some sort of… gameplay.

  11. Fenix says:

    Turn it into a screensaver!

  12. Taellosse says:

    I’ve got to second Blake on Minecraft. You can dig holes and create blocks of various colors (along with blocks made to look like shrubs and flowers). And you can spawn randomly moving little guys. And you can move around the map. As far as I can tell, its a sandbox in which you can build structures and landscape, then watch as odd 3d sprites bound about on your creation. While an interesting programming exercise, certainly, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a game, as such. A game requires, it seems to me, an objective and conditions for success and failure. I see nothing on either that page or the “About” page that suggests what these are for this program. There’s an implication of it having one on the about page, but it is not made explicit. Perhaps I’m missing something?

  13. vede says:

    As yet, no, it doesn’t have any objectives, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play it, or that it isn’t a game at all.

    For quite a few people (over 45000 right now, which for a game with no paid advertising at all, and after only four months or so, is very impressive), simply being able to construct whatever might come to mind is very fun, especially when you’re able to build things with others. The blocky style and the need to build scaffolding and properly protect structures from water or (eek) lava flooding are pretty appealing to a lot of people.

    Of course, not saying that being appealing to “a lot of people” means that it should be appealing to YOU, but it at least means that a game doesn’t require objectives or conditions for success to be fun.

    I guess if you NEED a way to win or lose, you can wait for the planned game modes to be released, like Survival, which will probably be released some time this month or next month. (You have to eat to survive, and defend yourself from roaming monsters, and gather resources to build things.) Eventually, Zombie Siege and standard deathmatch type games are also planned, such as CTF. (A random dungeon generator has also been hinted at.)

    If you want to know more indepth stuff, I recommend reading the devlog or visiting the Minecraft IRC.

  14. Blake says:

    Well, the thing is, you start the ‘game’. The controls are described, and no purpose or objective is given.

    You jump around a bit, make a few blocks, and ask yourself “what am I doing, anyways?”. The blocks have only cosmetic differences, the world seems static and is uninteresting to explore. The making of blocks, aside from allowing you to jump on them, seems to serve no purpose aside from having blocks now.

    I have played plenty of building and simulation games, from Sim City (and its spin-offs) to the Caesar line to the Dungeon Keepers, including enjoying sandbox modes. However, there were interactivity and depth to these games. I understand this is still in alpha, and it might have more purpose or directives in the final product, but as it stands it seems completely pointless.

    I suppose I’m saying for a game to have any real value or interest to me, there has to be some form of challenge and some manner of depth; or as Shamus would put it, some manner of engaging “activities” to pursue.

  15. SatansBestBuddy says:

    Haha, one of the related videos is Asshole Mario, which makes me wonder how an AI Mario would act in one of those custom levels from hell.

    I think it’d just die a lot.

  16. Donut-tello says:

    I tried Minecraft. I found underground lakes of lava and veins of gold (well, blocks with yellow dots in them) in the ground when randomly exploring the world, which was kind of nifty. I tried digging a tunnel to cool the lava with water, but apparently that did nothing. Oh well. After that (and building a tower to look at the view) there wasn’t much to see; the Minecraft world is just a sandbox. A reasonably interesting sandbox, but not more. Now, if that sandbox was a hundred thousand times larger and filled with lots of other players, monsters and dwarven fortresses, you’d have my attention… :)

  17. Jabor says:

    dwarven fortresses

    Too obvious. Need to be more subtle.

  18. Df458 says:

    How about vicious carp?

  19. Zaxares says:

    @4: That explains how Mario was able to kill some of those Pirahna Plants by bumping them from underneath. I’m quite certain that doing that in the original game would result in a hit.

  20. EL Quia says:

    @14 (Blake):

    Not all block are for cosmetic reason: a few have some special properties, like the spounge: it prevents water flooding in the vicinity of it. Also, sand (and gravel?) falls down if you try to place it in the air.

    It’s no great game, but it is a nice toy to play with some friends, building thing and having fun. Also, we have roleplayed a bit there and had a great time. But I guess some people are a bit less nerdy than we are? :p

  21. googleit says:

    ha, weird, found this page surfing the site. check out the weird minecraft argument. Freaky

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