Mushroom Kingdom Fusion is a game with a… storied history. Started in 2007 by JudgeSpear, the game’s development went through all manner of craziness thereafter. It got overly ambitious, with dozens of people throwing in levels, characters, bosses and other content into the game. It crashed and burned, with the remaining developers deciding to call it a day back in March 2015 due to the endless number of bugs and issues they faced when working on it.
Then after that, a whole legion of new leads took over the project during its revival. These included D-TurboKiller who took the reigns after the project’s seeming demise, and Dooki51 who’s currently running the project as we speak.
So here on Gaming Reinvented, we only decided it was right to interview these last two project leads and get thoughts on the project
Starting with D-TurboKiller, the ex level designer turned project lead during the revival of 2018. Time to see what he thinks of Mushroom Kingdom Fusion and its turbulent development history!
Though for now, let’s get a bit of personal background. Who are you? Who is D-TurboKiller?
Hello there! My real name is Luís Garcia, a 28 year old dude from Portugal. I’m a hobbyist programmer, and recently I’ve also been dabbling on art, specifically pixel art… and quite enjoying it!
And where the heck did that name come from? It’s an unusual choice to say the least…
I think we all have our little embarrassing stories (laughs); my nickname turns out to be one of them. I’ve grown quite fond of it over the years, and everyone knows me that way at this point, so it stuck.
So back when GameSpy was still in full force for multiplayer gaming (RIP, some of my fondest memories), it was the early to mid-2000s, I was barely even a teenager and finally had an internet connection at home. I’ve had some multiplayer experience before, mostly being good ol’ Counter-Strike 1.6 or 2-player console gaming.
Some friends at school convinced me to try out some hot new game at the time. Ironically I can’t even remember the exact game anymore, but if I had to guess… Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, since it was free and I had a full copy from a local gaming magazine. Man, that one was fun as heck.
Anyways, the time came to register my account on GameSpy… “What the heck is a username?” Asked naive young me. I didn’t really have any notions of the dangers of the Internet, how privacy is pretty important and having an easily identifiable nickname is extraordinarily useful, especially for team communication. I actually spent an entire day thinking what would work based on past experience.
So my thought process went something like this: “I like first-person shooters, Doom is plenty of fun so maybe I could add ‘shooter’ or ‘killer’ to the name. But it’s too short… oh yeah, I like going fast, Sonic and racing is my jam too!” SonicShooter was an odd name, so I tried TurboKiller, and… it’s already taken. Darn. But I wasn’t about to give up, I needed to have *THE* nickname, something that defined me. “Wait a sec.. The? D? What if…” I eventually settled with adding “D-” because it sorta looked like a rifle stock.
And so “D-TurboKiller” was born. Everyone calls me either “D-Turbo” or just “Turbo”, and so it’s been for over a decade since. A lot of nostalgia carries the name at this point 🙂
How did you get into programming/game development before Mushroom Kingdom Fusion?
I grew up with single-player gaming since I was 4 years old, dabbling on my old PC with a beastly Pentium 133 MHz. As a relatively poor kid, I had to make do with what I got. Sure, I could play soccer with the local kids, but I don’t even like soccer. I had a bike, but where I lived it was an exquisite variety of either hard pavement or a rocky soccer field, and I wasn’t fond of scratching myself all over or slam dunking my face onto a rock-hard floor, almost breaking my nose (yep, that actually happened). So instead, I dove deep into everything computer-related. My dad probably had the most influence, since he brought a couple CDs once in a while with a whole bunch of goodies, including an impressive collection of around 300 DOS games with a super convenient installer. In just a year, I could read and write English, all so I could get into that sweet gaming experience. After all, basically no games in portuguese existed, although there were a couple demos that popped up in CD mags; it was early amateurish stuff, but some of them were still pretty neat. Sadly I don’t think we ever had a proper gaming scene going on here, just hobbyists like myself, but it’s possible there were a couple talented people sharing their works in the early days through the internet.
(If by any chance you’re reading this and have some of those old portuguese projects, I’d be really excited to see these pop up over at Archive.org; send me a link if you do 😀 )
Fast forward, and one day a particular piece of software piques my interest: “Game Maker v5.3A”. I’ve always wondered how I could make my own games; there were a whole bunch of tweaks that I wanted to try making to some of my favorite games, but a brand new game that I made from scratch? Now *that* would be amazing! It turned out to be pretty handy for making small projects. I initially started with pure drag-and-drop programming to learn the ropes and figure out what the heck this “game design” is all about, and gradually moved to actual coding.
While I would never, ever use Game Maker today (not even the latest Studio 2), the original was an immensely rewarding experience, and really got me into gamedev as a hobby.
What made you decide to take over there? Why continue this game?
It was around the year 2008. I heard about the term “fan games”, projects made by fans as a celebration of what they enjoyed about their favorite games. I was more familiar with the modding scene, but a whole new game? Once again, my interest was piqued.
By pure chance, I stumbled upon Mushroom Kingdom Fusion. While today we have some astounding fan projects and a big push towards gaming preservation, what MKF was offering was absurdly ambitious (might I say naive?) considering the toolset and volunteers available at the time. But this is it, despite the many challenges ahead, they were making it through, one step at a time. I felt like I just *had* to get involved, somehow.
So I have a little confession to make: I don’t actually enjoy Super Mario all that much. The poor little plumber never really resounded with me, especially since I’ve already played through the Sonic trilogy beforehand and finally what I would consider the pinnacle of 2D Platformers on PC, Jazz Jackrabbit 2. Mario couldn’t possibly stand a chance. Not only that, but most of the characters and levels represented I didn’t even know about, since they were basically exclusive to consoles. Like, what the heck is a “Mega Man”, anyway? Pretty hilarious in retrospect, but this is how I got into most of these games, not to mention emulation: through a massive crossover fangame project.
I believe it was a little before v0.3 came around. It was a huge game even at the time, especially due to the bloated soundtrack. But my goodness, once I booted up the game… I was floored. The characters were all unique, with varied playstyles. The gameplay was surprisingly fluid, even if a little awkward at times due to the somewhat broken physics. But most importantly… that sense of adventure! Once you got past that first world, there was such a broad stroke of gaming representation, from the well-known to the obscure, and they carried a general theme in each world. I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited to find out what came up next, and I was certainly not disappointed!
I did try making my own content once the development source came out, but I was still quite inexperienced and shy, so that went over quite badly; I’ve had some rather awkward moments back then. But hey, I learnt a lot, and some of those people have grown on me, even becoming friends. Thanks to Discord, 12 years later we’re still keeping in touch, and even working together!
As the project was going through a pretty rough time, eventually fizzling out and the team disbanding, it ended up stuck in development limbo. The project was officially canceled in 2015, but it was already in a troubling spot since 2012, with no real updates after that. Essentially 6 years after, the entire source code and assets were released. At the time I knew nothing about this, as I haven’t been keeping touch since 2013 and real life obligations got in the way.
Perhaps sensing some fond nostalgia from the project, I once again stumbled upon it; this time under the Fusion Gameworks blog. It was around summer. I met a lot of old folks through the official Discord server and talked about the “good times”. Working on the game had never really crossed my mind at this point… I was just “revisiting an old friend”, but what I ended up discovering was actually rather depressing.
The game’s last official version, v0.53, wasn’t exactly in a playable state. Physics were still a buggy mess. The sounds and music were low quality and *extremely* loud, causing additional loss in quality. Levels varied wildly in terms of difficulty and proper layouts, something which is still in need of fixing up, but not nearly as badly. Some levels were borderline unplayable with certain characters, and even with Mario it was near impossible to beat. Worst of all, the game refused to run for many people (the dreaded “Unexpected Error”), and the source got so messed up after a few simple edits that it actually became corrupted!
In an attempt to at least preserve the game in a proper state, I decided to dedicate an entire month to just fixing up the game. You might call this my little redemption story, as a way to make up from past mistakes. Starting with a complete high-quality music replacement and general audio balancing; cleaning up the source with a supremely useful tool called GMKSplitter, which allowed the source to be unpacked and repacked while also fixing some behind-the-scenes issues with Game Maker itself, such as the Resource ID increment (the main culprit behind the source breaking up); Going through *every single level* with the main character Mario, balancing out the difficulty and adding some much-needed checkpoints, while also making sure every character could theoretically complete any level; adding convenience options such as quitting a level at any (viable) time, or the Warp Zone for easy world access, and so on.
It was never meant to be a resurrection at this stage, just a restoration project. However, I ended up acquiring many old sources and assets, even managed to get my old levels into the game, and people once again gained interest in the project. Dooki51 eventually took over a couple months later once I retired due to IRL issues, and the rest is modern history.
Do you think your predecessors did a good job with the project?
This is a tough one. Let me be clear here: I love the concept that is Mushroom Kingdom Fusion. I still can’t believe such a promising fangame has fallen into obscurity over the years, but such is the nature of things; people quickly move on to the next interesting thing nowadays, since that’s what modern media and content saturation has trained them to do. We certainly take a lot of things for granted, that’s for certain. But what I am about to say is probably what most would describe as “harsh love”, a more unbiased opinion on the project as much as I possibly can.
Did they do a good job in hindsight? Well… not exactly, but I certainly can’t blame them for past mistakes. Some things could be fixed eventually, while others would require a complete rework of the game.
JudgeSpear (now EddyEmby) originally started out MKF in Multimedia Fusion under the name Super Mario MF, around 20 years ago. It was pretty primitive, but it would be the starting point for the project once it moved onto Hello Engine in Game Maker 7, under the name Super Mario Fusion: Mushroom Kingdom Hearts… and herein lies the main issue I have with it.
Since its inception, Game Maker was developed entirely by Mark Overmars in order to teach students the basics of programming, initially through Drag & Drop programming, with the hopes of easing them into actual coding. It was a handy software designed for small, student-sized projects, and its ease-of-use quickly got hobbyist programmers into it. So a bit like RPG Maker in terms of usability, but you could make *anything*! Sounds pretty handy, right?
As the project attained never-before-seen levels of popularity and quickly grew in size, the team would eventually realize that GM wasn’t quite as rosy as they expected: the game became gradually slower with every content update and loading times could eventually take up to several minutes, so they had to externalize a lot of things, which in turn broke levels and objects and made the already unhelpful room editor even more complicated to use. Memory leaks progressively destroyed the framerate over extended periods of gameplay, going all the way to single digits, so CleanMem had to be used to compress the memory (fun fact, compression taxes the cpu further); I suspect this was caused by certain external DLLs such as FMOD being buggy, but it was a necessary evil, as GM’s sound system was far too primitive to handle music types like .ogg properly. The source for the game was (and still is) a single file rather than a directory containing all the assets in separate files, which means committing changes to the project was a merging nightmare, leading to multiple duplicated assets, unused content and destroyed rooms. And I could go on, but I think you get the idea 😛
Had there been an early effort to create a custom engine once they realized a lot of workarounds had to be used, perhaps things would’ve turned out quite differently. Sadly I believe that would’ve been impossible regardless: there were certainly a lot of talented and handy people, but no one with enough skill who would go out of their way to dabble in the likes of already existing frameworks such as (at the time) SDL, Allegro or PyGame.
Of course, there were also problems regarding team management and the overall design, which really degraded the game’s quality. Bear in mind this is from an outsider’s perspective, I was just a forum lurker at this point in time, but a lot of issues were quite obvious. Case in point: The excessive focus on the story, or how certain worlds are bloated with lower-quality levels which add little to nothing to the experience. The haphazard playable character additions that completely broke the main gameplay, such as Kirby and Ryu. At one point Kirby would one-shot bosses by eating them whole, which is absolutely hilarious and unintentional, but obviously broken; actually fixing these issues would likely require a rethinking of the gameplay, which again wasn’t viable. There’d been a push to implement sonic-style physics, despite the fact that over a hundred mario-styled levels were done and the main physics weren’t even working properly. Speaking of Sonic, World 7 and others were proportionally lacking in terms of levels, something that’s still being solved at this point. And why are there so many desert levels in World 1 that are spent underwater? Finally, I don’t think there was ever a proper consensus regarding the game’s final portion; Yes, there were concepts and plans written down, but (at least from the acquired assets) very little seems to have been worked upon that has tangible form. Once again, the list goes on, and so it was written… until now. Expect the current team, with much improved management and realistic goals, to breathe new life into the game.
Overall, I feel that after the great boom in popularity, the state of the project was what I would probably call as “winging it”; a chaotic progression that led to the original team’s downfall. And yet, regardless of its many flaws, there is no denying the project certainly attained a cult following, with a great deal of nostalgia that has lasted all the way until now. Despite all of its issues, the lure is quite strong. Rarely does any game do that to me, much less a fangame. I absolutely recommend you try it out, if nothing else as a learning lesson in game design.
What are your favourite levels and bosses from the game so far?
Hah, the dreaded question. There are literally hundreds of levels to pick and choose, so I’ll pick one for each world. Bear in mind there’s a LOT of interesting places to discover, so you should definitely check out all of them! To avoid any bias, I didn’t pick any of my levels either. So here we go!
- World 1-S10 (The Crossroads): A real juicy taste of what is to come once you get to the other worlds. This one absolutely nails the fusion concept; enemies and environments mix and match in ways they were never supposed to, and it works wonderfully.
- World 2-18 (Transiberian Trek): What can I say? I like train levels, despite being highly linear by design. While not a perfect level (not a big fan of the rooms with the claw traps, should be replaced with something more enticing), once again the fusion concept shines through, while keeping with the Alternate Earth theme. It’s just great chaotic fun, constantly moving forward while blasting away with the arrangement of weapons at your disposal. You even get to face off with a stationary tank at the end, using nothing but your powerups and a powerful rifle!
- World 3-5 (Fort Bubbleman): One of MKF’s older levels. To be honest, I’m not much into Mega Man in general so this world is rather complicated for me to pick something, however I’ve always enjoyed this one from the start. Not only is it a visual treat (with great music to boot), but the underwater section plays out quite well!
- World 4-5 (Corpse of the Behemoth): Well… where do I even start with this level? You start off face-to-face with a horrendous primeval creature in the background, which you’re supposed to enter in order to defeat a necromancer. A rather gruesome affair: you’ll be facing off all sorts of biological defenses, from bacteria and cilia to other nasty organisms, even stomach acid! Great use of the starman powerup too, which is required to progress through the stage. The Necromancer himself is also a fun boss to beat, with maddening dialogue and interesting patterns.
- World 5-S1 (T’Leth): Do you guys like X-Com? And by that I mean the original trilogy, the one that looks straight out of some X-Men comic. Now imagine if someone recreated the experience from “Terror From the Deep” into a 2D platformer. A rather unsettling level; the ambience is fantastic, complete with lost radio calls from a former exploration team, not to mention some unique weapons and creepy sections. Expect to always be on edge, as you’ll be ambushed by enemies not only from the original X-Com, but also a few from Half-Life as well! One of those “must-play” levels.
- World 6-8 (Oedo Castle): This is one of those levels where I’m not at all familiar with the referenced material, but the resulting level, despite its simple nature, ends up being pretty fun. If I recall, the referenced material comes from the “Mystical Ninja starring Goemon” series. The wackyness from the series is apparent; expect ninjas to be the most normal thing you’ll encounter. It’s so classically japanese I’d almost expect someone shouting “YOOOOO!” in the background 😀
- World 7-3 (Ecco’s Ocean): Ecco the Dolphin was an unique and visually appealing game from the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive era. It always stood out to me as one of those “must-try” games for the console, due to its unique art style. Unfortunately, the game itself is kind of a nightmare to play through; not an enjoyable experience in any way. Thankfully, Ecco’s Ocean keeps the visual appeal while also succeeding in the unthinkable: an underwater level that doesn’t suck! You’ll be diving deep into treacherous ocean depths, eventually discovering some long-forgotten ruins. The threats are constant, but it’s a fair experience.
- World 8-1 (Superflat World): Easily one of the most unique levels in MKF, and perhaps the oldest representation from Nintendo. The entire level is a Game & Watch recreation and showcase, and what stunning attention to detail it is, despite its 1-bit art style! Everything has a specific timing, from platforms to enemies, making it one of the most fair levels as long as you’re paying attention.
- World 9-10 (Energy Zone): Pure, concentrated Contra goodness. Non-stop action from start to finish, just as you’d expect. And man oh man, is the boss a real treat. It’s an elevator section where you have to fight a gigantic metal skeleton, and he just won’t give up. Expect to get… terminated, with extreme prejudice.
- World -1-3 (Red Rock City): Oh boy, I love me some Commander Keen. While there’s already another CK level (W-1-6 Well of Wishes), this one works much better, like a pocket-sized martian Keen adventure. The creatures are here and just as wacky as you remember them. What’s extra cool is how they react to your Zapper, just like in the original! Real nostalgic, this one.
How about ones created since Dooki51 took the reins? There have certainly been some ambitious additions recently…
Now that some never-before-seen world transition level segments have been brought back, levels such as World 1’s Isle of Mystery have been further enhanced in atmosphere, bringing another layer of creepiness to an already unsettling stage.
Bridge to Morden is a fantastic way to end your journey in Alternate Earth, with high octane action and a memorable villain from Metal Slug that you’ll definitely enjoy beating to a pulp!
Pixel Factory from the uniquely retro Minus World is a fresh take on Arcade Factory, this time with a greater and more diverse homage to games from the Atari era. A lot of fun gimmicks in this one, including a really cool run section where you chase after a thief!
If I had to pick a favorite, I’d probably go with City Escape. Perhaps one of Lars Luron’s most involved stages, it’s based on the very same stage in Sonic Adventure 2, but this time the truck boss fight is far more complex, as you’re essentially tag-teamed not only by a heavily-armed truck that won’t hesitate in ramming you, but also Metal Sonic himself! Definitely one of the craziest boss fights in the game so far.
This is all from between versions 0.6 and 0.7, there’s now a newer release with a plethora of new levels. I haven’t tried these yet, but I can safely say they’re worth the wait, so try them out!
Any least favourite levels/bosses?
I don’t think there’s actually a terrible level in MKF, but there are certainly some that run the risk of being rather boring and passable. There’s a good couple levels in World 1 that are very much filler, the kind of thing you’ve probably seen before in a Mario game at this point. Thankfully, most of the game ends up being quite the adventure!
As for bosses… there are a couple frustrating ones for certain, but I’ll point to one in particular that you’ll meet early on. While I like the concept of the Siren boss in W1 Isle of Mystery, in practice it’s kind of a nightmare; there are all sorts of nasty attacks involved with little to no warning, and you bet it’s RNG-based. Then there are bosses with throwable elements involved, such as the ever-present Mouser, who are usually more annoying than interesting. Once again, I feel like World 1 has the lowest bar when it comes to quality bosses.
With that said, you’ll find out when playing the game that it’s hard to criticize the whole package when there’s just so much to enjoy within. There are certainly some rough edges, but the community has been vocal enough to help pinpoint the issues.
Has working on MKF taught you any useful game design/development lessons? If so, what are they?
I’ve gotten a lot of experience over the years when it comes to game design, and what really makes a game tick and feel unique. MKF was certainly one of the biggest ways for me to express myself, at least when it came to level design: Diamondus, Lost In Retro and the 1st room of Aztec Citadel were all started about a decade ago and for the most part remain the same, as I feel they were pretty fun and unique, but I would certainly design them differently today. Fun fact, there were actually a lot of game-inspired levels to come later on: MDK, Captain Claw, Jill of the Jungle and Zool, to name a few. Sadly, I was going through a rough time in my life, so I never actually got to make them, though I did recall sketching a couple.
In my short time as the sole developer, I paid special attention when it came to making the game as playable and convenient as possible. No one wants to walk entire maps just to reach their favorite level, so I added a brand new zone just for warping around as easily as possible. Certain levels were oddly lacking in checkpoints, especially in particular sections such as right before a boss. Some levels even lacked critical powerups for non-Mario characters, such as the Life Jackets, which are essential for swimming.
Perhaps most importantly, it helped me to fine-tune a game as much as possible, optimizing wherever I could; I’m talking stuff that’s left ignored or in a dreadful state of decay, such as coding optimization, art tweaks and fixes, sound balancing, that sort of thing. You’d be surprised just how much gets ignored in big-budget studios nowadays. People want to play your game, so you should do your very best to make it not only presentable, but functional and accessible to as much of your audience as you can.
Unfortunately, such a short span of time did compromise on the quality of the changes, but they were mostly beneficial to the project.
As a hypothetical, what would you have done differently had you managed the game from the start of its development? How would your version of MKF have turned out differently to JudgeSpear’s?
In a nutshell, I’d have a much more focused scope on the project. Again, hindsight makes this a lot easier to figure out, but mainly it was a “quantity over quality” content problem. The staggering amount of levels and characters, not to mention the unstable foundations (Game Maker + non-established game design systems) meant this was a ticking time-bomb.
So, taking a “what if” scenario, this is what I’d do:
- Use a more modern engine. I already made this one obvious, but pre-Studio Game Maker is an absolute nightmare. There’s a lot of free alternatives already, and I’ve found that Godot Engine is the one I’d choose: absolutely fantastic IDE with integrated editor, genius node-based architecture for object creation, the programming language (GDScript) is similar to Python (you could also use C# or other supported languages), it’s lightning fast, super stable and really tiny compared to something like Unity, not to mention regularly updated. And perhaps most importantly, it’s very team-friendly, so everyone can simultaneously work on their portion and submit the changes; none of that single-source nonsense from GM. I could go on, but consider this my personal recommendation.
- Make, at the very least, a simple game design document. This wouldn’t have been essential if it was just one or two people working on the project and doing something on a smaller scale. For a larger team like with MKF’s, this becomes absolutely essential. You have to establish *how* your game is going to work first before you can start creating content for it. Many of MKF’s levels are made for Mario-style characters; characters that behave differently need to be adapted (eg. Wario being slow, so he needs to speed up in Run sections) or cut out if they’re too complex, requiring a lot of gameplay restructuring (eg. Samus, Kirby).
- Get rid of the story… or rather, make it as simple as possible. Previously there was far too much focus on the story portion of the game, which really hurt the project. I believe the story should come *after* you have the levels thought out; it should not sacrifice the gameplay in any shape or form. I understand that fans enjoy thinking about their beloved games and creating some rather intriguing theories, but if you need to make the equivalent of a Bible for your 2D Platformer, then you’re definitely not focusing on the right part of your game. This is not a Visual Novel or a Role-Playing Game; it’s absolutely excessive.
- Cut down on the amount of levels, but make them as unique as possible. There’s a lot of levels that feel like filler content, especially in World 1. A lot of these could either disappear or get merged with similar levels, cutting out the bad portions of the game. Considering many fans already played a bunch of Super Mario games, do we really need 30+ Mario levels into the mix?
- Create an introductory section. By that I don’t mean regurgitating text explaining how the game works as if you’ve never played a platformer before, but rather a set of levels (perhaps a tiny world) that introduces the fusion concept to the player, and the several worlds at your disposal, which you can pick and choose to progress at your leisure. At the moment, MKF gives out a very wrong impression to new players, starting you out in the most generic world (sorry Mario), so I assume a lot of players don’t even get to try out all the different worlds before quitting.
- Make Mario-based characters’ health work similarly to Super Mario 64. This one’s also a real problem with MKF atm. There are certain sections where having Mario lose his powerup makes progression extremely difficult (dare I say impossible) compared to other characters. World 3 proves this concept works out pretty well, not to mention the powerups being even more critical.
- Instead of having multiple unique characters, implement a class-based system where similar characters would act the same. For simplification, let’s settle with a Light/Medium/Heavy system, and pick Peach, Mario and Wario for our team. Mario is the all-rounder, able to handle most situations but not excelling at any of them. Wario is the slow, aggressive sort, with a lot of firepower, able to destroy enemies more quickly and smash through obstacles that other classes cannot. Peach is the featherweight of the group, being pretty fast and agile, able to crawl into smaller spaces and get past large gaps (eg. using her umbrella to fly), however she’s more fragile and her attacks are weak. This is just a general concept, but from here we can have a solid foundation to create our levels and make all the characters you could desire. Levels could now be played with either 1, 2 or 3 classes at once, through a quick-switch system (you can only play with one character at a time) that swaps out classes in order to handle the different challenges; imagine Light-focused levels where you’d need to handle tricky platforming, or Heavy-focused levels that involve grabbing or smashing through objects in order to solve puzzles. And you could still have characters that fit these classes, with abilities that would be slightly (and I do mean *slightly*) different from each other, but would fulfill the same purpose. Essentially you’d still have a plethora of characters while also maintaining consistency in the gameplay, so no more game-breaking characters or levels that are absurdly difficult for specific characters, which would require a severe rework.
This is more or less an idea of how I’d do things. Hopefully this can help any gamedev readers out there as well!
Regardless, it is what it is. Do you have any plans for other fan games you want to work on?
Actually, I’m already involved in another fan game… with former JudgeSpear, to top it off! Ever heard of Xeno Fighters R? Saying it’s a crossover Shmup fangame doesn’t really give it justice. It’s more like a celebration of the best that vertical Shmups can offer, from the quality-made levels and references, the wonderful scoring system and the surprisingly balanced ships, to the fun game modes that really test your skills, while also being newbie-friendly thanks to its highly flexible difficulty system. It’s getting further to completion at this point; most of the levels are already finished or very playable, and you can try the latest beta right now, so give it a shot!
How about indie titles? I know JudgeSpear’s team went in that direction after Super Mario Fusion Revival got canned…
I was already working on what I’d hoped would become a commercial project, which I’ve dubbed “Marbleous Pop!”. I’m sure many of you have tried Bust-A-Move / Puzzle Bobble before, so imagine that, but with cute little witches that can cast spells at each other! You’d chain marbles of the same color, which would net you mana points for that element. It’s actually rather competitive, and spells would be unique depending if the mode is PvE or PvP. There’s even some dungeon crawling involved with an RPG-esque system!
Sadly, I had to put all my projects into hiatus atm, and not just due to our current pandemic. Once I’m more or less finished helping out with Xeno Fighters R, I’ve got a much smaller project in mind, which I’ll release for free on Windows, Linux and Android (possibly Mac and iOS if people can test those out). I’m really looking forward to making this one, it’s been on my mind for ages; I consider this my proving grounds before embarking on my commercial project.
As for the future after that? Well, there’s a certain series I’ve been planning for over a decade… my ultimate dream project, so to speak. A showcase of everything I’ve ever learned and will keep on learning thanks to everyone I’ve gotten involved with, both in gamedev and in real life.
Finally, what advice would you give someone wanting to get into game design or development, and why?
I’ve already partially tackled this question in my new MKF concept, but I’ll provide a bit more advice while I’m at it.
Learn from the classics, and if possible, try to recreate them on a smaller scale. Super Mario, Doom, Tetris, Final Fantasy; pretty much every gamer has heard of these games, and for good reason. Pick a genre you want to make a game and study the corresponding classic as much as you can. Get the source code if possible, as this’ll help figure out how certain systems work, the workarounds involved or why specific values to variables were assigned. I’d also suggest watching speedrunners play these games; you’d be surprised how they get around certain game mechanics to work in their favor.
Be social. Try joining a small game jam, perhaps first by yourself then with a small team; make something during a weekend or a week, whatever feels more comfortable to you. Meet new people, they offer vastly different perspectives over the same concepts and issues, and more often than not you’ll be able to learn and create something you’d never have thought of by yourself otherwise.
And the most important advice of all: don’t be afraid of failure. Do not expect to make a worthwhile gaming experience on your first try, much less the next big gaming hit. While it’s possible you might succeed at first with the basics, oftentimes you’ll be failing, banging your head as to why something isn’t working out the way you intended or imagined. However, *this* is the moment where you’ll truly learn and grow, because now you have a puzzle that needs to be solved, and if you do the best to research the issue and implement a potential solution, you’ll be well prepared to tackle just about anything. In the end, it just comes to lots of practice, and you’ll be well rewarded for it!
Wise words there D-TurboKiller! Yeah, you’re definitely right that you shouldn’t be afraid of failure as a game developer, since it’s a field where failure is just a normal part of everyday life, and were learning from your mistakes is one of the best ways to improve. Every game dev has made levels, bosses, mechanics or even entire games that just haven’t panned out. That’s just the kind of learning experience you’ll have to get used to in this industry.
And you’re definitely going to have to start small too. Don’t start your dream project right away here, because as a newer game developer you’re almost never going to be able to build it to a standard you’ll be happy with. Instead, start with some smaller projects (like recreating arcade games and other retro titles), then build up from there instead. You’ll learn programming, get to experience what it’s like to actually finish a game, and eventually be able to move onto bigger, much more ambitious stuff.
Do that, and as TurboKiller says, you’ll be well rewarded for it in the end.
Still, what did you think of the interview? Was it interesting to see what goes into a game like Mushroom Kingdom Fusion? What do you think about the game and its ambitions as a whole?
Let us know in the comments below, on the Gaming Latest forums, or on our Discord server today!
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