Here at Gaming Reinvented, one thing we’re often asked is how we arrange the interviews we post here on the site. After all, it’s not always easy to get in contact with popular creators, or to find interesting fan projects not already covered by other publications.
So how does it all work? How do we get these articles arranged at all?
Well as it turns out, it’s usually through recommendations and personal connections. Interviewing the creator of Super Mario Starshine (SPG64) helped us in get in contact with the creator of Super Mario Solarshine (Uncle Meat), letting us learn about both projects at the same time.
And the same goes for today’s interview too. Why? Because today’s interviewee is a close friend of two people we’ve talked to in the past (Portable Productions and ShaneMGD), and their efforts helped us learn more about said interviewee and the amazing project he’s currently working on.
With said project being an incredible looking Luigi’s Mansion mod called Luigi’s Mansion: Beyond Origins. Shown in the trailer below and featured in the 2021 Nintendo Fan Games Direct, the game looks to be a masterpiece of Luigi’s Mansion modding, with new ghost types, mechanics and locations all included in a work that remixes the original game’s beta version into something entirely new.
So join us today as we interview its creator, and learn all about the mod, the backstory and its creators experiences in the gaming world as a whole!
So, who are you? Who is LMFinish?
My name’s Kevin, and I live in Brazil. Gaming and computers have been a hobby of mine since time immemorial to me. My dad played a big role on getting me hooked on them, since he actually runs a video game shop. Back on the beginnings of his business, he used to collect all sorts of video game products from elsewhere in the world; a Japanese N64/GC + Game Boy Player, full mint condition SNES and PlayStation sets…are some of the nostalgic pictures which crossed my eyes. When I was 5-6, I was offered Sony, Nintendo, maybe a bit of Microsoft as well, when I ultimately found myself being closest to N64 and titles like SM64, Banjo and Zelda. Since then I’ve been big on Nintendo and its colorful library of classics. Games are also how I learned and refined my English, as over time during play I’d pick up on the various conventions and rules of the language. I loved to stare at the instruction booklets included with the games too. It seems like Nintendo stopped making them with the Switch’s arrival, which was pretty depressing when I picked the console up. I still have a whole collection of localized booklets and posters from back then.
Soon I’ll be getting into college, but gaming and modding will, however, most certainly stay primary reality-escaping hobbies for me, when I have time for them.
Where did that username come from? Presumably the Luigi’s Mansion series?
You got it! I came up with the name when I first joined the LM modding community back in 2015. It’s a shorter version of the full name which was originally “LMFinishgamer”, but I shortened that as I found it somewhat redundant to keep the last word. I had picked up LM sometime before that and a while later I came across some speedrun videos on YT. It inspired me to try my hand at speedrunning it (albeit I wasn’t the best at it), so the idea came from “finishing” the game as fast as possible. I’m not great at coming up with names so it will probably remain as an internet name for me for a good while, when not required to use my real name.
Either way, what was your first game?
Mine is a funny answer to that actually, it was some mobile Crash Bandicoot game for the iOS which at this point I don’t remember the name of (I was like 4-5). Only after that would I pick up a video game console. Such era is foggy for me as I remember hopping from platform to platform while my dad was building up his collection, but I’d like to say the first I properly picked up and played were either SM64 or the Banjo games. While I’m not certain of which title, it was certainly a N64 one.
How about your first Mario game?
Yep, it definitely was SM64, as my first Nintendo console was the N64. Either the console I was playing on had a previously stored save on it or I was really good at these back then. I remember having 100+ stars on it, and reaching the final boss + getting the special unlockable Kazooie on Banjo Tooie. These memories still follow me due to being really elusive…was it just previous saves? I’ll never know.
What titles are you playing at the moment?
Currently I play a mix of TETR.IO, Pokémon Scarlet, Zelda: Breath of the Wild and I recently began replaying Skyward Sword, as the delay for Tears of the Kingdom left me starved for Zelda. I’ll be picking that up right away without question as soon as I can. I’ve been also replaying some GBA, SNES and PS1 classics, like WarioWare on the former and a childhood racing game on the latter called 1Xtreme, which I really love and remember for the intense biking/skating competitions.
Let’s talk about Luigi’s Mansion for a bit now. What was your introduction to that series?
It was actually after I got a new laptop. Me being big on classic games, I was looking for some to play on an emulator, after which Google eventually brought me to LM. Despite the emulator lagging, and me not even having completed it, it was still a very unique looking game to me, so I tried learning more about it and I eventually came across the first mods and research efforts for the game, at the forum then known as LMTalk.
And what did you think of the original game?
LM1 was a short lived experience, but one which I enjoyed going through as I looked at the details on the rooms – the old looking, realistic aspect of them was rather captivating eye candy. When I got to properly play it on GC/Wii, opening every single drawer and piece of furniture with your vacuum was also a fun chore I couldn’t avoid doing on most playthroughs, as I am the type to try and get everything within reach. The Portrait Ghosts were funny to be around and observe; they all had their own personalities and backstories, which I definitely think are strong points of the game. The cutscene where Luigi discovers Mario being held captive in his painting in particular, half way through the game, was also a cold and urgency filled moment which I felt urged by to keep going and find out whether it was gonna be a bad or good ending. (Considering the at times serious and slower paced vibe of the game, I had reason to believe it could be the former, honestly).
How about the sequels? How do they stack up to the first game?
Despite Dark Moon being the lowest rated entry in the LM franchise by a good amount of people, I either way played through it without being too critical of the visuals, gameplay mechanics and story. I liked E. Gadd’s chitter chatter during the prologue/epilogue of each mission, actually. The time you spent in each mansion didn’t bother me too much as I still found it enough to enjoy and explore the areas, but I indeed felt a distinct lack of uniqueness of the ghost types within. They didn’t do the greatest job on replacing the first game’s wide cast with the Greenies/Hammers and Possessor bosses, the portraits in particular which were a big chunk of lost identity.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 however, I felt is the content that was initially idealized. To me it’s the best looking and playing LM experience, perhaps on the Switch in general on its own, and I agree Next Level Games used this opportunity to address a majority of the criticized aspects. I was satisfied with the pacing & mechanics, with the Polterkitty backtracking and the float-riding controls in the sewer floor being frustrating at worst. I also never get tired from beating the heck out of ghosts as their face meets the floor – especially in the online ScareScraper mode, which has a lot of replay value; for me, it makes up at least 2 hundred hours of ghost-hunting with friends. I returned to play even more after its DLC became available.
Are you interested in the possibility of a Luigi’s Mansion 4?
Yes, I’ll be returning to the series whenever they make the 4th entry for it; but I have the intuition that the developer team will need to aim their shot accurately and play their cards right in order to create an unique new cast, a story and places, as King Boo has been our opponent for 3 whole games. At this point I’d like to see a new reason for Luigi to return to ghost hunting. They could use the opportunity to steer a little closer back to LM1, but even if they don’t, I still think they got the hang of making a great game in the “new” style.
Outside of Luigi’s Mansion, you seem to be big into Tetr.io too. How did you get into that game?
My TETR.IO journey is indeed something I won’t be letting go of soon, as the game’s somewhat revolutionary in the field of competitive modern Tetris.
I met Tetris in a very similar way along with Dr. Mario while looking for retro games to play, starting with the NES version. Both games I also had years of fun with every now and then and certainly trace back to my childhood. When Tetris 99 launched for the Switch’s Online service, I also had about an year of enjoyment with it, discovering streamers on Twitch to play with and events to participate in.
At a certain point, though, I grew kind of… bored of 99 – until I discovered TETR.IO, just a short while after it had launched into its public beta phase. I instantly became appealed by the frenetic, fast gameplay with loads of strategy packed into the mix, and started improving quickly. Within 6 months I reached “X” rank which is basically the top 1% of the game’s player base, and still continue making my way higher up into the high-level leagues. I’m currently top 30 in the boards, and even with the occasional defeats (from which I take a break if needed), it’s still a satisfying game when you play with the right mindset for it – and of course, the right strategies. The community for the game is very engaged and focused on organizing several tournaments which I do partake on occasionally, and a recently made Latin American community I joined last year in late 2021 has also gained a lot of traction.
At time of writing, my in-game name on it is Run_ (with the underscore) which also has a funny story behind. When we talk LM modding, you probably know Portable Productions/Lilith and her mod Luigi’s Mansion Beta Restoration+, which I’m the co-dev for. Back in 2021, we actually got promotion from Polygon, IGN and other big gaming news sites when Lilith shared the existance of prototype E3 2001 furniture model within (at the time) the recently launched WarioWare: Get It Together game, forcing us to go under cover in order to avoid action from Nintendo. We literally had to “run” from them, a funny username idea I couldn’t avoid using.
You can look my username up in ch.tetr.io (the game’s leaderboard site). In there, I also occasionally change to Yapoo_1, which is an LM ghost-related joke & my regular name.
Any other games you’re a huge fan of that you play competitively or mod?
I’ve done some small tinkering with F-Zero (SNES) in the past, another game I’m also a big fan of, specifically course and sprite changing. In that game, alongside the 4 main cars, there are also some generic-looking crafts which usually stay behind the player as they’re slower. I made a mod of sorts to make a playable version of them over one of the main cars with a tool called “Tile Molester”, but it didn’t go behind the early days of playtesting. I remember also adjusting the speed and physics of them to provide an extra challenge.
Outside from that, I haven’t tried my hand at many other games yet, but I’m planning to expand my horizons eventually, still somewhere within the realm of Nintendo GC-Wii era.
Onto game dev now. How did you get into that field?
I guess it equals my entrance to LM Modding? I haven’t actually tried my hand at making a game from scratch. But I was somewhat introduced to MIDI music, 3D modeling and coding thanks to it. I agree these skills will definitely transfer over if I try my hand at that futurely though.
What about modding the original Luigi’s Mansion? Why did you choose that game?
When I first joined LMTalk during an early era of LM modding, after wanting to seek out more about the game, some other people were also working on documentation & tools and figuring out information at the time, all of which piqued my interest even though I didn’t understand anything about hexadecimals or code. I eventually managed a basic health edit for a Bowling Ghost by hand, which is still a memory I’m fond of to this day, and I am pretty sure is the starting point for me wanting to do and figure out more. I guess it paid off in a way.
Speaking of which, what is the modding scene like for the other games? We don’t see many mods for Luigi’s Mansion 2 or 3…
I haven’t picked up these games as for a long time, it appears any efforts and community for them were scarce. I heard opening their file formats in particular is a toughy to do. Dark Moon seems to be getting looked at though, if you’ve seen the new discoveries from Skawo, etc. As for LM3, I think not only is it a great and already colorful of a game to touch, but also the tough to crack formats seem to have moved over. I think out of the non LM1-GC bunch, the most hackable at the moment I’d probably say is LM3DS, as it has tools for a couple of file formats. You could probably recreate certain quality of life mods in the remake, but there hasn’t been much interest on it.
Did any other creators inspire you there?
At the time, they weren’t a content creator, but a nice person I still remember for helping guide me around LMTalk was a researcher by the name of Luke. He certainly helped give me a push to keep modding the game. Last time we talked (around 2017-2018), he went to college, so I’m not sure if he’s still around on social media in any way.
Onto Luigi’s Mansion: Beyond Origins now. What made you decide to work on this mod?
Beyond Origins was formerly called Luigi’s Mix/Collection, and in its core it was basically a multi-beta recreation project which I started to develop knowledge on hacking the game. The current iteration features mechanics inspired by the Switch titles, LM3 and BotW. I think this is a perfect chance to provide an addendum to the previous question with the name of AbsoluteG, the developer of the project formerly known as Luigi’s Big Adventure, which served big-time as an inspiration for me, both for the pioneer aspect of accomplishing previously undone things & the effort put into them. More than just for the objective of recreating prototype content, I also felt the drive to work hard on my own productions as well, even with the limitations at the time.
And what are some of your favourite ideas here? Which new elements of the game are you most proud of?
I liked developing the ideas which add something more into the game’s existing aspects or introduce new functionality in general.
Aside from making a basically complete version of the E3 Overheat as an experience maker, I added a slow-motion mode inspired by the Bullet Time, which I didn’t get to experience much with but I intended to add it for areas with lots of possibly tricky enemies, or for a possible harder mode. Seeing the slower animations actually work, along with the screen filter, was quite a vibe. The Ultra Mode for the Training Room was also a fun investment to fuel my desire of defeating hordes of ghosts at once, with a reward for it. Another mechanic I haven’t showcased publicly was a replay mode which I didn’t make any UI for but was fully coded and could record all buttons across the GC pad. The only thing which hindered a possible in-game replay was LM’s tendency towards seemingly random physics. I had trouble getting a same set of inputs to consistently produce the same results, so it had to be canned. Maybe there was a simpler use-case for it though.
But moving on closer to ghosts themselves, I added a tattle to most common types, a recycled feature from Portrait Ghosts which I think was a missed chance. I wrote the text for it based on Super Paper Mario, as I enjoyed scanning enemies in that game.
I also added ghost health regen – one which heals during capture, another during despawned mode & adds a random 5-10 HP amount, and one which triggers from an unique Healer Ghost. Speaking of custom ghost types, I certainly couldn’t have enough of them. The blue Puncher is a key-holding ghost called a Ravenous – it’s half a portrait ghost which I made a mini lore for, the food critic one, and an idea provided by my close friend ShaneMGD who you’ve also interviewed previously here at GR. Another Puncher-based ghost which has got to be my favorite is the Magician, the purple ghost with a hat and a wand who summons varying-strength ghosts to chase Luigi, as well as the Gold Goob. Surprisingly I forgot to clip that in the trailer, but it was an LM3 inspiration and is a personally interesting expansion to the old Speedy ghost. Lastly there was also a “Cam Curse” Basher which inverted your point of view upon attacking you, one of the later additions.
There seem to be quite a few new ghost types and stuff here, including those with ice and scare attacks. How difficult is it to add these into the game?
Depends on the ghost. For this process you’re limited to reworking existing actors, and the devs happened to leave behind a few unused ones to bring back to life. The fire Puncher and ice Basher were based off the code for the base purple scaring Basher so it was easy to add a check to change which Luigi damage reaction they trigger, plus their generated particles. The Basher used as a base for them was a toughy however, being a years-old effort to adjust it from existing range based attacks. I believe it’s been described in Lilith’s interview. Others such as the Regen Ghost, Magician, Ravenous etc. were hoops through the ghost HP system, specifically how the value is loaded and processed, the Bomb Attack which is nothing more than an actor generation behavior which is reconfigurable to spawn other objects (including ghosts), and the Ghost Heart attaching function which can similarly use an array of different actors.
What about custom rooms and locations? Quite a few of those seem to be present here as well…
In the story, E. Gadd is in the process of moving his lab to a new area which is formerly a decayed temple. It plays a big role later on in the story which I don’t wanna spoil, but it consisted of two outside areas, his new research station, and the main lobby. The Mansion contains a couple of redesigned rooms intended for the new ghost types.
We’re also interested in the top down area in the trailer too. How does that type of setup even work in the original Luigi’s Mansion?
It seems, actually, like an unused camera view point setting. When you change the vertical direction of the flashlight using the C Stick, or vacuum a ghost, those are examples of such settings being applied to the camera. I made a room check to enforce that mode when in the specific Volcano Room, which was made around this setting. I think it’s a missed opportunity for areas like labyrinths/dungeons revolving around it; maybe something more was in their plans considering the existance of it in the first place, as there’s no clearer use case for it.
Are any new portrait ghosts being added here? That’s something we’ve always liked seeing in Luigi’s Mansion mods…
Not those like we see in the game, because what I was envisioning for making these was a full new character, coupled with a new model and behavior, which wasn’t practical to go for at the time. I consider the Puncher ghosts a close equivalent though. The purple-colored room seen in the trailer was exclusively created for the Magician ghost, complete with fitting decor.
It’s also neat to see the Training Room expanded upon here, what with the new score system and stuff. How easy/difficult was it to change that?
It was a lengthy process rather than a hard one, one which tested my love for constantly increasing values, much like the overheat. At first I took the unused GBH timer and used it as base, but with a negative increment. But I got puzzled when it came to controlling it, as in stopping it when needed, so I eventually ditched it and coded a custom one. Then the score system was very entertaining to make as well by taking various ghost types and assigning them different amounts. In fact, I remember making some types exclusively for this mode. A problem I never found a consistent fix for though was spawning the ghosts at the right desired moments, which resulted in them showing up in masses. It was still quite functional and entertaining though.
How about the way Luigi’s equipment works? Seeing it run out of battery is an… interesting change to the usual formula, and it seems like it must have taken a lot of extra coding…
The battery mechanic was inspired by one of these “logic in video games” moments, as in, how does the flashlight + a portable vacuum this powerful last so long of an adventure without ever dying? And I also thought it would be a cool addition for a hard mode. The coding process itself was simple, it’s essentially a timer which runs for a set period and triggers a flag for an event. What was trickier to set up funnily, were the furniture-based recharge boxes, which at first I wanted to make a fade in effect for but it wasn’t immediately triggerable, only after leaving the room they were in. It forced me to use a simpler flag based method which couldn’t activate within the hallways, only outside them. The advancement of the MDL tool, though, could probably allow for an actor solution and not a furniture one.
Either way, it’s an impressive project, and one that people are very excited for. How does it feel knowing people like your work so much?
To be honest, it’s kind of pressing, because it leaves people with expectations which I feel nervous of not being able to meet. Sometimes, I feel like I ain’t as confident as I should be when developing them (especially compared to others). I appreciate the recognition attributed to my efforts though, as nothing more to give you a push than raw, positive opinions on your work.
And what do you think of the Luigi’s Mansion modding scene in general? It seems like it’s gotten very impressive in the last few years!
Indeed; over time new, experienced people came aboard and made the limitations a thing of the past (for the most part). We now have a knowledge and tools database over at the LMHack Wiki, and newcomers can reshape any of the game’s documented base settings for their own works; the possibilties can’t be compared to back then, where I remember having to manually hex edit most files. Being able to make custom maps/objects, music, graphics, code, etc. is a joy in retrospect. I wish to thank tool makers, especially – Opey (general use tools), XayrGA (audio), KillzXGaming (MDL tools), & SpaceCats (custom room tools) and anyone else in the department I might not be remembering the name of right now for opening most of the doors to let content creators’ creative minds flow.
Are there any other mods you’re excited for there?
Lilith’s doing a good job at the LMBR+ expansion with the new room and mechanic additions to the base “beta” slate, but aside from that I’m not aware of other currently in-progress mods. Though I played the recently released Luigi’s Cursed Fortune & Halloween Haunt which were all solid work providing new explorable areas. The progression, story and interest to see what came up next on all of them kept me hooked.
How about other projects you’re interested in when Beyond Origins is complete?
I’ve had this idea for a while now of making something akin to the Trial of the Sword in BotW into LM, with a couple of ideas, room concepts (1 of them actually modeled), character dialogue and story laid out, actually. I wish especially to recreate the daunting survival aspect to it, which I think is a good opportunity to introduce mechanics made to provide that difficulty ramp up. Here’s a preview of the starting room I made.
Any other games you want to make mods of?
Certainly Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I have roughly 2000 hours in the game across Wii U, Switch and PC. While the base content, areas and quests (glitches too) kept me invested for that long, I wanted to pick BotW modding up for a while but never could due to only having a low end laptop until recently, where I was gifted a better desktop PC build for my last year’s birthday. It’s a game I feel also benefits a lot from new fan creations and I want be looking into, after I feel satisfied with my LM affairs this year.
What about other projects you want to work on in general?
I’ve been working on a command line C project actually, to inject (make permanent) community-made Action Replay cheat codes any into Nintendo GameCube game, called Lily Injector. As guessable from the name, I originally made it for Lilith during our modding sessions, but I’ll make it available publicly soon. It’s still a work in progress, but I’ve gotten pretty far with it; it has a preview of where codes are injected into + a disassembly of the GC’s Gekko processor’s instructions applied by them. I’m not sure how many other tools there are for it, but regardless I’ve been interested in picking up high-level languages for a while now, and I figured this tool is a nice way to cross it with a topic I like. Here’s a demonstration.
Finally, what advice would you give anyone wanting to get into Luigi’s Mansion modding in general?
Well, I say it’s a must to have the skills needed for the things you want to modify. Blender practice for rooms & furniture making/3D models in general, acquantaince with a music & MIDI creation tool such as Anvil Studio/FL Studio if you wish to compose music for LM, and perhaps 2D graphic design done through something like Paint.Net or GIMP for texture designing. And, depending on which sort of code-related jobs you do, knowledge of C/C++ and/or PowerPC assembly and instruction set. While not being a job as full scale as game development from zero, these skills absolutely do carry over for the aforementioned categories.
I recommend you check out Portable Productions/Lilith’s Bootique tutorial series to deal with a newly acquired dump of the LM, and the file formats you see at the surface level when starting. For LM specific information, I suggest to check the knowledge base at the LMHack Wiki at wiki.lmhack.in which documents closely the game’s internal base formats for object placement & control, properties, events, etc. And if you have any further questions, the Bootique section in the Portable Discord is open for all who need insight on a certain modding process.
Thanks LMFinish! That’s some great advice there, especially for anyone who wants to get in the world of Luigi’s Mansion modding. We’d definitely second the idea of checking out the tutorial series from Portable Productions, and we’d also suggest you probably check out that channel in general too; we’ve already interviewed them here on GR, and their advice on the matter is very relevant there as well.
Regardless, thanks for the interview! It was really interesting to learn more about your history in both the modding community and gaming as a whole, and we’re super excited to check out Luigi’s Mansion: Beyond Origins in future too.
Still, did you enjoy it folks? Are there any other questions we should have asked about Beyodnd Origins or the Luigi’s Mansion modding scene?
Are there any other features you’re excited for in the game, or any others that LMFinish has worked on in the past?
Leave your thoughts on these in the comments below or on our Discord server, and check out more of LMFinish’s work via the list of links below as well!