Well, it’s been a while hasn’t it? The last developer interview on Gaming Reinvented was the one with Jay Pavlina, and that was all the way back in May! Oh how the months fly by!
But let’s back get to interviews shall we? So first up, an interview with a Mario Fan Games Galaxy creator known as Chaoxys.
Chaoxys, in case you don’t know, is the artist and co-creator of a game called Super Mario Bros & the Midas Machine. Sound familiar? Of course it does, since we interviewed the other developer a while back (look up our interview with Guinea for that one).
Either way, here’s our interview with him about the game, Mario Fan Games Galaxy and life in general…
1. So, one to start. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
Aw, now I’m not one to talk about myself. Actually, I’m not sure there’s much to say on that. I like to play video games, cook, sprite, and sketch. I also enjoy listening to various video game remixes (generally while I’m spriting).
2. And how did you start playing Mario games? What generation do you start with?
I’ve actually been playing video games since I was only two years old. My sister used to babysit me when I was young, and we’d play SMB3, SMB, Duck Hunt, Doctor Mario, and Pinball on the original NES. She and I would often try to beat SMB3 on the two player mode, and we’d always lose at the door maze in the last world.
Dark Land was brutal in Super Mario Bros 3
3. Fan game stuff now. How do you learn about Mario fan games in general?
It was actually through a friend of mine when I was in Middle School (back in the summer of 2006 actually, not sure how I remember that). He proposed the idea to me to make our own Mario game. At the time, I was like “WHAAAAAT? You can MAKE you own Mario games? What is this witchcraft?”.
4. How did you learn about Mario Fan Games Galaxy? What’s your history on the site?
This answer sort of piggybacks off of my last one. My friend knew that I couldn’t program worth a spit in the dirt, so he suggested I try my hand at making the graphics, both making, and finding ripped ones (this is also how I got into spriting in general). Well, one short Google search later for some Shy Guy sprites, and I ended up on a little site called MFGG.
5. How did you get involved with Midas Machine? Did you just decide to join when it was a collab? Were you invited by anyone specifically?
I think I jumped on board early on, and at the time, I think I was mainly tossing ideas into the mix as I wasn’t confident in my spriting abilities. Well, it was around that time that I won one of the MFGG sprite comps, and that little boost in my moral prompted me to take a shot at making a sprite sheet for Midas Machine. My first sprite for it was actually a Buzzy Beetle. Heh, I remember getting really frustrated with it, to the point that I almost gave up, because I couldn’t get the shell spin animation right.
6. And what inspired your graphics style in this game? It certainly looks very colourful, a bit like a GBA era game…
The style is mainly inspired from the original style, just enhanced. My goal with the graphics was to capture the character’s design clearly, while making sure they keep their bright and cartoony style that the Mario series is known for. I will say, part of my inspiration was the original SMB3, but in an odd way. When I was little, I would sometime just look at the game without actually playing, and I’d focus on all the enemies, and Mario, and everything else, because I just loved their designs. There was so much thought and care put into them. In the end, I wanted players to simply be able to enjoy looking at the graphics in the same manner.
An impressive looking bonus room in Chaoxys’ style
The ship is impressive too. Same with the captain.
7. Did anything get added to the game specifically because you drew graphics for it? Or were the mechanics/technical side implemented first?
Pffff, hahaha… Ooooooh yeah, a LOT, much to Guinea’s dismay. I seriously have a lot of respect for Guinea for putting up with me for this. Basically, for the longest time, I’d just sprite new enemies and objects, then send them to Guinea and be like “Hey Guinea, lets add this enemy into the game”, or “What do you think of having a level themed to this gimmick?”, but I have stopped doing that since then (for the most part). But yeah, a lot of elements in the game started from me just spriting something, however a lot of other ones were planned out first, usually the bosses.
8. Midas Machine uses quite a few visuals reminiscent of the Wario Land series, like the casino level. Were you specifically inspired by those games?
I took inspiration from all over, but Wario Land was a really big one. Anyone who played one of the earlier demo’s that included most of world 3 probably noticed a level with a strong SML2 vibe. But yeah, there are clear nods to all sorts of series throughout the game, as well as some original things.
A level here takes a lot of inspiration from Mario Land 2
9. Level design stuff now. What inspired the level design in Midas Machine?
Sigh… This is the part I’m not super proud of. Truth be told, Midas Machine is the first time I’ve designed levels. Granted, I think I’ve improved since the start (some of the levels I originally made and have since replaced were terrible). Oh, I guess that didn’t really answer the question, did it? Lets see, as far as inspiration goes… I don’t really have any to be honest, I try to pick a gimmick for a level, then I’ll think of how I can use it in different ways. I will admit, I’ve gotten lots of ideas for how to use enemies and objects in unique ways by watching raocow’s videos on Youtube (mainly his MaGL (Make a Good Level) videos).
10. What was the logic behind the game’s bosses? I recall a skeleton fish and a weird forest imp creature, so what’s their deal?
There’s two types of bosses in the game. I’d call them “Opportunity” types, and “Pattern” types. Opportunity bosses have a large medley of attacks that they will use at random, and the player can counter whenever they are able. Pattern bosses on the other hand will generally do a planned attack/series of attacks, then leave themselves open for a counter attack, in true Mario fashion.
Midas Machine’s bosses in an early demo
As for the bosses you’ve already seen, I really don’t recall too much on how they came to be. Chummy (the fish mummy/skeleton) was a bit up in the air for a while as we weren’t sure what sort of miniboss we wanted for world two. We actually had three in mind, but dropped them all for Chummy in the end. Bean (the imp) was our shot at a less traditional boss, being more of a memory game than a real fight.
11. What about the overworld? Who came up with the design for that?
I tend to come up with the general layout for each overworld, and once I make the graphics and give them to Guinea, he puts everything together, usually adding in details and what not that vastly improve what I originally had in mind.
12. Difficulty is something a lot of fan games get really wrong, either by making the levels too simple and easy or ridiculously hard. So how was the difficulty balanced in Midas Machine? How did you make sure levels and bosses wouldn’t destroy an unprepared player, or end up being a cakewalk?
The difficulty is something I game, well, difficulty with. See, Midas Machine is a lengthy game, one that most won’t beat in one sitting, and it’s because of this that I set up a different sort of difficulty curve. Basically, I realized that most people will end a play session once they finish a world, so I tend to have the difficulty of the first level or two start off around what you’d expect to see in the mid to late levels of the previous world, after which is ramps up with each level until you get to the last level of the world, which usually have the difficulty that you’d expect in the following world. Basically, I tried to make it feel like each world is it’s own little game of sorts with it’s own internalized difficulty scale. It sounds weird written, bit hopefully it’ll make sense when played.
All that said, there are some levels here and there they I made more to be an experience than a challenge.
13. How does the plot work here? It involves Bowser and Captain Syrup looking the eponymous machine, but are there any other interesting twists coming?
Hmmmm… Not sure how much I can say here, but I’ll tell you what, I’ll clear up a common misconception, that in turn might answer this question. When you beat Syrup or Bowser in the demo(s), you see a pair of eyes and a mouth. Many people think that it is Syrup, however, that is not the case. Who is it? You’ll have to wait and see…
14. Finally, what do you plan to do once Midas Machine is finished? Any other plans for projects?
I’ll probably start up one of the many other projects I have planned.
15. Moving away from Midas Machine now. What was your prior experience in making fan games? Because you haven’t submitted any to the MFGG site…
Honestly, I don’t really have much. There was the Mario fan game my friend and I started that I mentioned earlier, but that didn’t go far. Funny story, after he gave up on the game, I used the engine to try and make my own game, however I couldn’t figure out how to make jumping work, and ended up making it so you could hold jump to fly around, or tap it to jump in the air, so I ended up making a little game about a grey Shy Guy with a jet pack.
16. How about your site experience in general? How did you get a staff role on Mario Fan Games Galaxy?
I was originally offered the mod position for the “General Friendliness” subforum back on old MFGG, and over the years, I was bumped up a few times, eventually becoming an Admin, however that was a hard time in my life, what with college and what not, so I eventually stepped down to site staff.
17. And well, it says you’re involved in ‘quality control’. Do you have any amusing examples of games or sprites that didn’t quite meet the standards there?
This one time, someone submitted a sheet containing various stolen sprites, some of which were from me.
18. So what’s your long term plans on the site? Do you plan to stay a MFGG staff member for the foreseeable future?
Tough call, life is always changing, so plans tend to change too. I don’t plan on leaving the site any time soon though.
19. How about your game development plans? Are you thinking about making sprites for indie (or triple A) titles? Or making your own original title from scratch?
To be fair, I’ve already sprited for an indie game (Operation Dracula), however I had little input on the style/designs, so I’m not too happy with how it looks honestly. That said, Guinea and I actually have a projected based on an old idea I had that we’ve talked about making. I’ve actually got plenty of games in mind that I want to make one day, but I sort of want to learn how to program a bit first.
Operation Dracula gameplay
20. Last but not least, what would you say to someone who wants to make their own sprites and graphics?
Heh, I’m probably not the best person to ask on that. I’d say you’ll want to learn the basics, and listen to criticism, but that’s pretty generic isn’t it? I don’t know, for me personally, I’d say you’ll really want to put your heart into it. Give your graphics some charm and personality. Go the extra mile whenever you can, and always strive to make graphics that will make people smile.
So that just about wraps up the interview. Thanks to Chaoxys for agreeing to take part in it, and we hope to cover more of Super Mario Bros & the Midas Machine when the game’s released sometime in the foreseeable future.
But what did you think of the interview? Was it interesting? Does it make you more excited about the game now you’ve read? And what do you think of the art direction in this game?
Post your thoughts here on Gaming Reinvented or on social media today!