Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

Goombas: Brainstorming Enemy Designs

As part of my contract work at DrinkBox studios I was asked to brainstorm a few paper
designs for enemies in the game. These are basically short design documents that outline what enemies look like and how they act. Generally speaking, the enemy’s appearance, movement, size, behaviour, interaction and role are the main topics of interest, although this could change depending on the style and genre of the game.

I am generally not allowed to post content from the game I’m working on (NDAs, and all that jazz), so here is a good example of an enemy paper design that everybody will recognize:


Brown mushroom with tiny feet, big eyes and two short fangs protruding from its bottom jaw.

Moves slowly left to right. When it touches a wall or another enemy, reverses its direction.

The same size as Mario when he is small.

If the player comes in contact with the Goomba from the side, he is damaged.

The player can jump on the Goomba’s head to kill it. When the player lands on the Goomba’s head he bounces off slightly, as though the player tapped the jump button lightly. Because the Goomba moves slowly, simply jumping over the Goomba is almost always an option.

Because the Goombas move in a slow linear pattern they are easy for the player to predict. The Goomba is a basic enemy that encourages the player to learn use their run and jump abilities. As the game progresses Goombas can be placed in such a way that the player must properly time their jumps to avoid single Goombas or groups of

Well, the possibilities are really endless…


A couple things to note. Within an enemy design document, we assume the reader has some understanding of the game (in this case, Mario Bros) and the character (Mario). Effort is not spent elaborating on Mario’s movement patterns – only on how Mario will interact with the enemy in question.

Additionally, we are not overly concerned with some finer details at this point. Death animations, sound effects and detailed appearances are not emphasized, as they will not be of a concern until the enemy has been prototyped and brought into the game.

I’ll post more interesting game-design tidbits over the next couple months. For those of you who are hungry for more Unearthed updates just sit tight – I should have some more screen-shots later this week.

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By Michael
Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer