Let’s Interview: Journey Lane Developer ShaneMGD!

Let's Interview:


Game Developer

Interview conducted by


Let’s Interview: Journey Lane Developer ShaneMGD!

As far as ROM hacks are concerned, the Super Mario 64 DS scene has grown by leaps and bounds in the few years. Whether it’s Super Mario Sunshine DS or Super Mario 256, Super Mario Galaxy 64 DS or The Koopa Who Stole Christmas, the community has created all manner of amazing projects recently, complete with game changing new mechanics, playable characters and items.

And today’s interview is with the creator of another one of those awesome looking projects. Named Super Mario Journey Lane and set in a world where Bowser has successfully captured Mario, the game has all manner of creative worlds to explore, mechanics to utilise and puzzles to solve, including whole worlds based on things like Luigi’s Mansion. It’s an awesome looking title, and its one whose trailer only makes it all the more exciting:

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So today, we’re gonna learn even more about it, and how this amazing looking Super Mario 64 DS hack initially came to be. You ready? Let’s do this!

The Interview

Starting with a bit personal background info first? Who are you? Who is ShaneMGD?

Hey, I am Shane! I am 21 years old and I’m currently working at a casino as a cameraman for a harness racing show. I have always had a huge love for filmmaking and video editing. During highschool I went to a vocational school to study film. Later after graduating I landed myself a video editing job at my local news station, but parted ways 6 months later to focus on my college studies. Currently I’m taking a break from college as I want to focus on this new media job at the casino. Aside from filmmaking, I have always been a huge lifelong fan of Nintendo and WWE, which I can touch up on later.

Where did your username come from?

I originally created my YouTube channel back in 2016 with the name ‘My Gaming Dreams’, where I would pretty much sketch out concepts of games I’d love to see and make videos about it. However I thought the idea would fall flat, and thought It’d just be nice to have my channel be whatever I wanted it to be. Gaming, modding videos, discussion videos… you name it! I wanted to have the freedom to upload whatever I wanted, instead of just uploading videos about game concepts. So because ‘My Gaming Dreams’ was the origin name of my channel, I thought I’d turn the name into an acronym. So that’s how the name ‘ShaneMGD’ was born.

And how did you get into gaming? What was your first game?

Haha oh man let’s see. I was born on January 22nd, 2001. Right before the GameCube was released. As far as I know, my parents planned ahead and bought me one so I had something to play when I got older. That was a really sweet thing for them to do, and that’s one of the countless things I’ll always love and appreciate them for. The very first game I played was Kirby Air Ride. I used to always play that game with my older brother!

Kirby Air Ride Box Art

Kirby Air Ride was Shane’s first game

How about your first Mario game?

My very first Mario game was Mario Kart Double Dash! I have very fond memories of that game. I remember always picking Luigi because I thought he always looked super cool! He then became my favorite character and my parents realized that, so they went ahead and bought me Luigi’s Mansion (which is my favorite game of all time).

What games are you playing at the moment?

I’m currently replaying my file on Paper Mario: The Origami King because I really want to 100% the game. I honestly love Origami King and it has to be one of my favorite Paper Mario’s.

When did you first play Super Mario 64 DS?

I believe I first played Super Mario 64 DS back in 2007. I remember I used to always go on YouTube and watch videos of the original Super Mario 64, and being in awe. I remember the most groundbreaking thing to me back in the day was seeing the ability to fully explore Peach’s Castle which completely blew my mind. Because of that I couldn’t get the game off my mind and thought I would never be able to play such a game like that. That wasn’t until one day later that year when I visited a bed and breakfast hotel with my parents. We were eating breakfast in the morning and I walked by a kid playing Super Mario 64 DS. Wouldn’t you know it, he was running around Peach’s Castle, the thing that excited me the most. I glanced at it and looked away. Once it clicked in my head what I saw, I legit did a big double take haha. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, and I begged my parents to get me Super Mario 64 DS. Some months have passed and they finally picked it up for me, and I’ll tell you man… I was HOOKED. I had so much fun playing the game in bed all day and night. That was my introduction to Super Mario 64 DS.

Do you consider it better than the original Super Mario 64?

Same aspects yes, meanwhile others no. Overall I do believe it’s better. I think it’s better merely because of the facelift it had and the added content to the game. Who says extra content is a bad thing, y’know? We literally have 1 extra star in each world, brand new bonus worlds, not to mention all the new playable characters!! Only downside to the game is the limited, janky controls. Though once you get used to the feeling it should be fine. However for people who can’t get used to it, thankfully there’s an awesome tool called ToxInput that gives the game full analog control that feels just like the original Super Mario 64. It even gives the game rumble and removes the run button. It’s a really great tool made by my good friend pants64!

Still, onto game development now. How did you first get into game dev?

My first introduction was back in 7th grade. I had to make a few games using Scratch. It was a building block type of coding language, with a funny cat as the main logo haha. That was my first introduction. Other than that I don’t actually develop games. I just do modding. I should mention I always used to love level editors in videos! I always loved the idea of creating my own content in video games. Throughout the years I would always LOVE to create stuff in games like Mario VS Donkey Kong Mini-Land Mayhem, Tony Hawk’s Underground 2, The Sims, WWE, Mario Maker, and so on and so forth. I’m just truly fascinated at creating cool stuff that I can enjoy and play, so maybe there’s a future for game development as a side hobby.

What about Super Mario 64 DS ROM hacking? What was your intro to this scene?

Back in 2016 I started asking around on Kuribo64 for help getting my foot in the door with modding Super Mario 64 DS, but response time was super slow. Thankfully I saw a link going around for a Discord server called ‘Super Mario 64 DS Hacking’ and joined it. I was welcomed by the staff with open arms, regardless of being the new kid on the block. The server owner, Gota7, was a HUGE help with getting my feet wet with modding this game. He taught me everything he knew and made sure I knew what I was doing. He would always be there to help me out if I needed, even if he was very busy. Gota7 is a tremendous person and has since become one of my best friends. He is such a great guy. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be here today. I owe him everything and I’m thankful to have him as a friend. Another person who I’m very thankful of is Hailbot, who is another SM64DS. He was also instrumental in helping me out, and in return I gladly try to help him out with anything he may need too.

Did you make many other hacks before Journey Lane?

As I previously mentioned; I first started modding Super Mario 64 DS back in 2016, but my first mod wasn’t Journey Lane. I made a little test mod where you control two Mario’s simultaneously similar to the Double Cherry from 3D World. It was a simple mod that required no effort really haha, I just used a character duplicator object in all levels. Many people loved the idea though and started playing it. It even got the attention of Nintendo let’s player SullyPwnz and he played it on his channel. I soon wanted to make a legitimate full fledged mod with a grand adventure.

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And what inspired you to create Super Mario Journey Lane?

I always loved playing 3D Mario games. My first 3D Mario was Super Mario Sunshine, which is a tremendous game. My second 3D Mario was Super Mario 64 DS, and I remember loving the fact that I can just play a 3D Mario game on the go! As previously mentioned I used to always love making levels in video games with a creation tool, but I always dreamed of making my own 3D Mario game on the go. Many many years later a talented modder named Skawo dropped a SM64DS mod called ‘Another Super Mario 3D’ and I remember how cool I thought that was. I remembered how I used to always want to make my own 3D Mario game to be played on the go, and seeing that it was possible to create mods for Super Mario 64 DS… I went ahead and kicked myself into gear to make a 3D Mario game like I always wanted!

As a side note, while I’m the only one working on this project, I want to give a huge shoutout to pants64 for providing some custom code for the project! He really helped me out with some kinks in a few areas of the game.

One aspect we really like is the story, which sees Mario imprisoned in Bowser’s jail. What made you decide to go that route with the plot here?

I wanted to change the main Mario plot formula a bit here. Mario games usually start off relatively the same. Peach gets captured and Mario is too late to save her. Then you start off in world 1 and you wait until later to confront Bowser. It’s been pretty standard. I thought that this time around if Bowser managed to actually beat Mario in the beginning of the game, it’d be a nice refreshing take on the formula. Seeing Mario get blindsided and thrown in jail is the last thing people would expect for Mario, and I believe that alone just makes the story more interesting. It shows that Mario isn’t perfect and that he can almost be perceived as an underdog this time around.

Were you a big fan of Super Princess Peach before this? Cause that game does something a bit similar too…

I haven’t actually seen or played anything of the game! My idea actually comes from a later segment in Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam where Bowser’s minions capture the bros/Paper Mario and throw them in an underground cell. The main mission is to escape the underground dungeon without being caught by the guards. For as bland as that game can be, I thought that idea was so cool and different and I always wanted to do something bigger with it.

Twinsy Tropics Dungeon

The plot of Journey Lane came from the Twinsy Tropics Dungeon section in Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam

Either way, it’s nice to see so many spinoff references too, with Luigi’s Mansion getting a whole stage based on it. What inspired you to create a level like that?

Luigi’s Mansion is my favorite game of all time! So of course I had to include a special level dedicated to it. That level is actually the one I spent the most time on out of every other level. I gave it so much love haha.

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And how was it coming up with a level that felt like Luigi’s Mansion, while being more suitable for a collectathon platformer?

Originally I had modeled a Mansion that was pretty standard to the GameCube games. Just normal hallways/rooms/staircases. After running around I realized for a game like Super Mario 64 DS, it needs actual platforming elements. A 3D platformer without platforming elements seemed silly to me, so I thought I’d create a cool ghostly platformer level, with the theming heavily based off of Luigi’s Mansion. The only rooms I have based off of the original game are the Foyer, and the Parlor. Aside from that, every other room takes advantage of the game being a 3D platformer. For example there’s a puzzle I made that contains these floating platforms and each platform has an invisible path connected to one another. You have to carefully know which path to walk on, and which path to jump over. I experimented with that idea for months. Also as a nod to Sunshine, I included the Boo poster from Hotel Delfino that you can jump through!

Are the other character unlock levels going to be based on Mario spin offs? Like Paper Mario or what not?

Currently my plan is to have Luigi be the only unlockable character, as I want to solely focus on the main bros for this adventure. However it’s funny you mention Paper Mario, because I already have a world planned out themed around those games!

Still, there are lots of interesting levels in general, ranging from open fields to vaporware inspired cyber space areas. What are some of your favourite levels in the game?

Well of course my favorite level in the game has to be the Luigi’s Mansion inspired level, ‘King Boo’s Manor’. Aside from that there’s two others I really love. One of them is ‘Frostbite Summit’, a level that makes you scale a towering mountain during severe winter conditions. A snow level that emulates the daunting feeling one may feel in real life scaling a mountain. I thought it was an interesting new take for a snow level for a Mario game. My other favorite so far is Vaporwave Fields! I always thought the Vapor/Synth wave artstyle was aesthetically pleasing and I thought it would be awesome to incorporate it in Journey Lane. While the level design may be rudimentary, I think players would have pleasure running around the world just to experience the artstyle alone. I believe having a good artstyle for levels can go a long way with having a good experience! Additionally, there’s a mission in Vaporwave Fields that has you roaming around a confidential bunker that controls the Vaporwave Fields, revealing the world is all electronic and man made! I have yet to reveal this area but I’m really happy with the idea, and how the area came out.

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Overall though I am very pleased with every single area in the game and I put my heart and soul into creating all of them! I hope everyone enjoys all the numerous levels that Super Mario Journey Lane has to offer!

Any that you feel need a bit of a revamp?

Hahaha It’s funny that you ask that, cause I actually had to revamp a faw of the levels so far such as ‘Lakeside Plains’, ‘Frostbite Summit’ & ‘Vaporwave Fields’! Since the time I started working on Journey Lane about 6 years ago I;ve been able to further improve my modeling skills in SketchUp. Because of that I wanted to revamp some of my older world models to have them all look much nicer with my improved skills!

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How do you choose the music for each level? There seem to be some neat tunes in Journey Lane, and they all fit their respective areas well…

I actually compose all of the music in Journey Lane, so all of the tracks you hear are an original composition from myself! As I’m creating worlds I always have an idea in my head of how the song for the world will sound. Once I get the idea I go hard at work with creating a nice tune for it! I’m glad you like the songs so far!

One thing that doesn’t seem to be in Journey Lane however is much in the way of custom enemies and objects. Are any of these going to be added to the game?

I am planning on having custom objects/enemies, however my number one main focus at the moment is designing the worlds as I believe the level design is the most important thing.

What about the bosses? Is Journey Lane mostly going to use the ones from the original title?

I’m actually unsure about custom bosses at the moment, but never say never.

Either way, the game looks great and has done really well online. Are you surprised how many people are excited for the final version?

Oh for sure! I was never aiming to do anything insane or whatever, I just wanted to make something that’d for fun that’d make me happy and I’m really glad to see a lot of people are excited for it! I was never expecting to see the project get the amount of attention it has gotten so I’m very thankful for all the support it has gotten.

How does it feel knowing one of your projects has gathered this much hype?

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It always feels surreal. It’s something that I never expected, especially considering I personally feel like there are way better Super Mario 64 DS mods out there haha. It’s very flattering, I love and appreciate everyone who supports it. It will always mean a lot to me.

And how does it feel knowing how well the Mario 64 DS modding scene is doing in general? There are some incredible projects in the works there for sure!

Oh my goodness I am extremely happy! I am so proud of the whole community. Everyone is just having fun and doing a fantastic job on their projects. People are making numerous tools that are making the game easily accessible for new modders which is freaking amazing!! There are a bunch of projects that look super impressive and I respect everyone for putting in the hard work making them!

Any that you’re personally super excited about?

There are definitely a good few! I am very interested in Hailbot’s ‘Super Mario Sunshine DS’, Gota7’s ‘Shining Stars DS’, & most of all Josh65536’s mod, ‘Super Mario 256’! All of these mods offer a fresh and exciting take on Super Mario 64 DS and I’m very excited to play them!!

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Regardless, once Journey Lane is done, what next? Do you plan to work on any other Mario 64 DS hacks? Or perhaps non fan game projects?

I am mostly certain that Super Mario Journey Lane will be my last main project when it comes to gaming related work. I’ve worked on this project for the last 6 years of my life, and while I really enjoyed my time working on the mod I’m also really excited to move on with other avenues in my life. I’m really excited about focusing on my career with media and filmmaking! I’m mostly excited about video editing as that’s one of my favourite hobbies. Perhaps I can have a future in being a full time YouTuber? I’m already having fun making these little comedic discussion videos such as my recent videos about Luigi’s Mansion, and a whole topic about Yoshi’s haha.

When it comes to modding/game development, never say never. I do occasionally have a lot of fun helping out my buddies with their projects, and I’ll gladly continue to do so! But would I ever make a brand new project, whether it may be a mod or an original game? Only time will tell. I can always get that itch again so we’ll see! I do know one thing though… I’ll continue to always have fun creating stuff with level editors in games haha!

Finally, what advice would you give people looking to get into Super Mario 64 DS hacking, or game development in general?

Just have fun. Don’t mod for competition or fame. Don’t get involved with drama. Don’t let the harsh criticism get to you. Just simply try to have fun and make the games of your dreams! With that mindset you’ll get to be the happiest you can be when creating it! I know that’s how I felt. Use whatever tools you want. Use whatever ideas you think of. Don’t let others nitpick you about what you wanna do. The project is all about your ideas and you should always have fun with them! It’s always great to receive constructive criticism though, as that’s just someone trying their best to help you out! So please try not to get mad at that haha. If you need help doing something, always ask respectfully and don’t be too demanding. But always please try to have fun and do whatever you want with your project! That’s how you have fun the most. For whoever’s interested, I hope you all get to create the projects of your dreams! Good luck!!

Thanks Shane! We hope everyone reading this creates their dream projects too.

And we agree wholeheartedly about not modding for fame or fortune too. Because at the end of the day, being the ‘best’ is not practical. There is no ‘best’ game in existence, nor best developer in any individual community. And if you desperately chase that possibility, keep putting in features and ideas because you want to be better than others…

You’ll never get anything done. The world will just keep on moving, and your project will be an endless timesink that never goes anywhere.

Just ask the makers of Duke Nukem Forever about that. They too wanted to be ‘the best’ in their class. They too thought they could make the ‘ultimate game’, or the ‘game to end all games’.

What they got instead was 14 yearsof development hell, followed by a failed game that felt like it was decades behind the times.

So learn from their folly, and avoid that mistake with your own projects here. Ignore, the competition, ignore the drama, and make the game you wanted to make, not what you think would make you into a global superstar. That way, you’ll get something done in a reasonable timeframe, and be happy with your work too.

But yeah, that’s the interview over and done with now. So thanks to ShaneMGD for agreeing to be interviewed about his work, and thanks to you for reading to the end. If you want to learn more about the mod check out the relevant social links below, and if you want to discuss this interview or anything raised within it, leave your thoughts in the comments or over on our Discord server today!

ShaneMGD on Social Media