When it comes down to it, Luigi’s adventures in the Waffle Kingdom have always been one of the more mysterious parts of Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door. They’re described to you by Luigi and his current partner after each chapter of the game, have a book written about them called Super Luigi and are implied to be some sort of epic adventure on par with Mario’s own…
Yet you never really get to experience them for yourself. Instead, you’re always left with second hand information, and stuck guessing what’s true and what isn’t. Is the Chesnut King actually Goomboss, or even related to him?
Is Luigi a hero or a bumbler?
What other cool things happened outside of the stories told in the books themselves?
These questions and more raise many interesting possibilities, and provide the basis for what could have easily been a new Paper Mario game in itself, or a Bowser’s Minions esque side mode for a Thousand Year Door remake.
Yet we never got either. And with Nintendo’s interest in traditional Paper Mario hitting an all time low in the last decade, the chances of us seeing such a game or mode are only getting lower as time goes on.
But that’s where the fan project that’s the focus of today’s interview comes in. Titled Paper Luigi: The Marvelous Compass, the game aims to recreate the side story as a full blown Paper Mario RPG, complete with traditional gameplay and battle mechanics. It’s a really exciting concept to say the least, and one which has the potential to be one of the best fan games in years.
So in this interview, we’re gonna learn all about it. You ready folks? If so, it’s time to take a trip to the Waffle Kingdom, and learn more about Luigi’s amazing adventures!
Starting with a bit of background info here! Who’s on the team for Paper Luigi and the Marvelous Compass?
Nebula: Hello yello, we’re Nebula/Nebba, the Team Leader for Paper Luigi! We’ve got a lot on our mind all the time and a good chunk of all that is about this project. Most of what we do is organizational or managerial, though we also contribute to the gameplay and story direction of the project. There isn’t much for us to say about our personal life, as there ain’t much going on right now.
Dani: Hello, I am Dani. I am the Programming Director and an original Team Leader. I’m a high school student. I like coding :3
Wy: Howdy ho I’m Wy, Co-Director of Art for TMC. I’m a high school student currently in sophomore year. The team of TMC is mainly made up of high school and college students from what I know. It’s great to be a part of the project. Recreating the Paper Mario art style is probably what I’m the best at and it’s always been a thought in the back of my mind of wanting to see Luigi’s tale unfold.
Artur: Heya, I’m Artur U. – head of Gameplay Development for Paper Luigi TMC, and a Literature/Journalism student. I learned too much about the intricacies of Paper Mario 64 and TTYD over the years and wanted to put that knowledge to use, so here I am.
Sam: Hey! I’m Sam. I’ve recently been appointed as the music director for PL:TMC, and I’m super excited about it! I’m currently in my second year of grad school pursuing a master’s degree in music composition at the Longy School of Music in Boston, MA. As an avid writer of game music and a huge Nintendo fan, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to facilitate the music-making process for this game!
Tempo: Hello, hello! Tempo here, Co-Director of Writing for The Marvelous Compass project! I am a student in college currently in my junior year with Graphic Design as my major! A handful of team members are students as well! But some of us also have busy work lives! TMC is essentially a big passion project! We all work to see it to completion, but in the end we all understand that life comes first!
Perp: Hi there! I am PerpluxusJam, or Perp for short. I am the other writing co-director for the project, and I also help with community engagement; if you have connected with the project’s public face in any way (Discord, Twitter, Youtube) then you have most likely interacted with me or seen the things I post for the project.
P.S. – Hey! Listen!
There are over 30 people on the Paper Luigi: The Marvelous Compass team. For sake of brevity, not everybody could be included here, and even seven people with seven different perspectives can be a lot. Please take some time to view a more complete list of this project’s team members HERE.
How did you get into gaming? What was your first game?
Tempo: Going way way WAY back as far as I can remember, my very first game was a Nicktoons Game on the DSi that I got when I was still in the single-digit age count! You played as Spongebob, Timmy Turner, or Danny Phantom while platforming, solving puzzles, and fighting enemies. That DSi was my first exposure to Nintendo gaming! That paired with distasteful cousins playing XBox and Playstation games pushing me away from that area of gaming definitely contributed to my preference of Nintendo Games over others.
Wy: Well my first memory was playing Mario and Sonic for the Wii, or maybe it was Pokemon Soul Silver. I think my first proper memory was watching my dad play Mario Bros. 3, although I think I was like three at the time so my memory is a bit fuzzy. But regardless, gaming has been part of my life for a long time.
Perp: I can’t recall the first time I ever played a game, mainly because I grew up with a collection of GameCube and Wii games that I seemed to always know how to play. However, the first games that I truly remember discovering for myself were Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Mario Party 5.
Dani: Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo Wii NES Virtual Console, I played it when I first moved to the USA when I was four. Stuck with me since, I think that’s what started my Mario love to be honest.
Sam: I’m not sure which came first, but there are a few games which take up a large portion of my earliest memories. Those games are Super Mario Galaxy, the Fate series on Wildtangent Games, Guitar Hero III, Pokémon Platinum, and A Bug’s Life on PC. All amazing and so nostalgic!
Artur: My first experience was watching my dad play Mario Party 2 on an emulator when I was about three. Two years later I started playing some computer games, most memorably Pajama Sam. When I was nine, we were able to afford a Wii, and I got into Nintendo games.
What games are you playing now?
Sam: I just finished Hades and started Furi, both awesome games! Absolutely adore the music in both of them. Darren Korb and Danger are two of my favorite game composers right now!
Wy: There are currently three big games I’ve been enjoying as of late. Splatoon 3, which is always a blast, I’ve been loving the new Pokemon games, and I’ve also recently become a fan of the little indie RPG called OMORI… it has been an experience that I do not regret.
Nebula: We’ve been enjoying a few games lately, namely the ever-present Terraria and The Binding of Isaac, as well as recently Splatoon 3 and other such modern titles. We also replayed some Paper Mario games recently, good times.
Perp: Minecraft, but that is a game that I keep on coming back to throughout the years; I have also been working on my first play-through of the OG Paper Mario after years of watching other people play it. In general though, I find interacting with others to be especially meaningful, so if that means party games or simply watching others play games that I wouldn’t normally play myself, then I am all for that.
Tempo: Recently I’ve been playing a small handful of indie games! The Binding of Isaac: Repentance has been fun in between free periods at college. Phoenotopia: Awakening is a great hidden gem that I’d recommend to absolutely anyone who’s a fan of retro puzzle platformers! Chicory is a wholesome color book game where you get to color the world around you! My catalog is a bit of a mixed bag, and college rarely leaves me time to play, but I appreciate the small intermissions that I get!
Dani: Not a lot of games that I come back to, I like to bounce through story games, I recently beat Bendy and the Dark Revival on Hard with the Christmas update, I bounce back to Dying Light 2 every once in a while, or play OW2 with friends.
Artur: I mainly play Elden Ring and Persona 5 Royal these days, with some Project M on the side.
What got you into the Paper Mario series? What was your first game here?
Nebula: Super Paper, then we played Paper Mario 64 and TTYD, and honestly we don’t quite know what got us into it! Just kinda went from one to the next on our Wii and had a blast. Then the modern trilogy happened and we liked those too. Still do, truthfully.
Perp: TTYD was the Paper Mario game that I grew up playing, SPM came along as well, but my heart always belonged to the GameCube title.
Dani: Paper Mario 64. I just love the locations and the aesthetic. Hands down my favorite Paper Mario game. Sad to see the spin was never used again though, because I used to do it to avoid so many encounters, actual freebie spam move.
Sam: Years ago, I watched the vast majority of the Game Grumps playthrough of TTYD. Although their gameplay abilities were a bit… frustrating at times, it was still a hilarious series and a fun way for me to experience the Paper Mario series for the first time. Now, I’ve finally begun playing through TTYD myself, and it is excellent so far!
Artur: Youtube was pretty much my only social media until Discord, if you can even call Youtube that. I was into Nintendo games by then and had random recommendations of Nintendo LPs. I saw a duo play Paper Mario 64, but the playthrough was discontinued after Shooting Star Summit. I’m still impressed by the gentleness of the game, and the way it incites childlike wonder – no doubt I was drawn to it. For some reason I couldn’t find any other playthrough, but I figured I could play it on the Wii’s Virtual Console. Still my favorite game of all time.
Tempo: It was that inevitable age when every kid discovers what Youtube is. Somehow I happened upon a one episode walkthrough of Super Paper Mario that only went through World One. You’d think the next logical step would be to watch the rest of the game, but I think my young brain thought that one specific video was the only video in existence about it. So I watched it over and over and begged my parents to get the game for me. Eventually it worked and I played and loved SPM! Which led to the discovery of OTHER Mario games! I was hooked. Paper Mario TTYD and the Mario and Luigi title on the DS, Bowser’s Inside Story, were other instant favorites of mine. Their writing and humor has not only impacted my writing and art style, but they’ve affected me as a person as well.
Wy: TTYD and Super were just two of the five games we had for our Wii up at my grandparent’s house when we were young so we first played them out of desperation. As for which was first, it is hard to say but I think it was TTYD where we played my mom’s old save file where she started in the Palace of Shadow. Needless to say I didn’t get much done in TTYD so I played Super Paper Mario a lot more. I don’t think I was old enough to properly read at the time so I missed a lot of the plot my first time through when I was like age, I dunno, four?
And uh, what do you think about the direction the series has gone since Sticker Star? It’s caused a bit of controversy to say the least…
Wy: I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the direction, my biggest gripe honestly is the artstyle shift. Just compare TTYD and TOK’s Hammer Bros and you can see how the latter is a lot less exaggerated and more cartoony. Beyond the art the gameplay isn’t near the peaks of Paper Mario 64 and TTYD, although I gotta admit it can be fun at times.
Nebula: Eh. We like the games, but they aren’t for everyone. They’re flawed and not like the old games, but hey, maybe that’s not the end of the world. 😛
Dani: Flawed. They should try sticking to one formula and improve on it, that would be really good for them!
Sam: Haven’t played it, but yeah, I heard it was pretty bad. Thankfully, from what I’ve seen, it seems like Origami King has been able to bring things back on track for the series!
Artur: Those aren’t bad games, I’ve had fun with Color Splash, and Origami King looked quite good too. I think that we, as fans of older games, are just very disappointed with the unwarranted change of format. It’s like watching an old friend change into someone you don’t recognise.
Tempo: Stinky Star bad, everyone can agree on that! Haha. I haven’t played Color Splash personally, but I think I’d enjoy it more than Sticker Star! It appears to have polished up many of SS’s rougher areas, while still retaining the unfortunate battle elements which players seem to detest so much. I did get to play The Origami King though, and I had a great time! It had a fun, charming adventure with unfortunately unnecessary battle mechanics. I recall the only reason I even wanted to battle was because I wanted to hear the amazing music! The overall direction appears to be improving, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Onto game dev now. How did you get into that field?
Nebula: We got brought on as an artist, made some sprites that are no longer part of the project, and here we are. Dunno how it happened really.
Dani:I started Game Development through fan game development (Five Nights at Freddy’s fan games, we don’t talk about it). Then I started focusing on becoming better at making games in general and spanning out my animation, modeling, and programming range.
Sam: Ever since I started writing music at around age 12, I’ve been making music inspired by the game scores I’ve heard and grown to love. Many of my existing songs are geared towards hypothetical/generalized game scenarios that don’t exist in any real games yet. However, thanks to a great friend from home who happens to be a member of the PL:TMC writing team, I was invited to join this team! This is the second game to which I’ve contributed music. The first game found me in a very similar way, via a different friend of mine—this time from undergrad. Having productive gamer friends seems to go a long way!
Artur: I beat Paper Mario with 10HP, 5FP, 0BP, no partner upgrades and no shopping (except dried shroom / dusty hammer). It was the greatest high I’ve felt on my gaming journey, but after some time I realized there’s no legacy to this achievement. So I decided to put the battle system and balancing knowledge I have gained from years of challenge-running to help Paper Mario fan games with tuning the gameplay side of things.
Wy: Well how I ended up as a Sprite Artist is actually a fun story. I made a sprite edit of the Bob-ombs in TTYD to look like the Cocoknight enemy from Mario and Luigi: Dream Team. One of the project’s former Team Leaders had seen it and thought it was my own drawing and not a sprite edit, and so I was asked to join. From there I had to learn how to properly draw the Paper Mario style on the fly (with a bit of help from the Art Director at the time), so in other words I just faked it till I made it.
Tempo: My passion for writing stems from an excellent and supportive English Composition teacher. With influence from the Paper Mario Universe and my peers behind me, I explored the fields of story writing a bit more. Personal project, script writing electives, anything to try and polish up my skills! The game development aspect didn’t happen until I was asked to join the project over Reddit! Funnily enough, it was over an art piece and not a piece of writing.
Perp: The project had an advertisement on Reddit that was shared to the Paper Mario challenge running Discord server by a cohort; I joined the project’s Discord server from there, quickly put my hat in the ring for writing, and three months later I was doing much more than I initially anticipated… but I’m not complaining. Storytelling has always been a passion of mine. I am a theater nerd and someone who always has a thought about something, so coming up with and developing ideas is hardly a challenge for me.
What about fan game development? Did you play many fan games before this one?
Nebula: Second verse, same as the first, snrk. This really is our first experience with game dev of any kind though, and… we do hope we’re doing well leading. Hope the team really knows how much we appreciate them, cause they all rock.
Dani: I used to help out on Perfect Paper Mario, but that ship sinked before it could even set sail. I’ve played a lot of fan games of multiple gaming franchises, because sometimes, fangames are better than the actual game.
Sam: The other game I’ve made music for is still in development as well, so I don’t know how much I’m at liberty to say regarding it. As for fan games I’ve played, however, I was pretty deep into the rabbit hole of fan-made Pokémon games for a while. I really enjoyed Flora Sky, PokéMMO, and most recently, Uranium, which is likely my favorite of the ones I’ve played.
Tempo: I don’t recall having too much involvement with any other fan games or projects. Only recently is when I got an appreciation for fan projects like this! The Paperverse account on Twitter is a great place to find fangames and Paper-inspired games alike! There is Petal Pursuit and TOK Refolded, as well as a few completely original games like Detective Fantasia DX! (That one is one that I am personally looking forward to!)
Currently working on 2 games:
🎲DETECTIVE FANTASIA DX, the main game in 3D taking place on a beach
🎲EXCALIMURDER, a small pixel art game and the prequel to the main one, coming soon! pic.twitter.com/J49L58knNX
— Detective Fantasia DX (@DetFantasia) January 23, 2023
Artur: I was somewhat involved with a Paper Mario 64 mod, but I figured that particular project was not my thing and left without contributing anything relevant. As for playing, I mainly play(ed) Newer Super Mario Bros Wii (which is still my favorite platformer), Project M and a couple Paper Mario 64 mods. However, I’ve also watched Super Mario 64 mods, Mario Kart Wii custom tracks as well as the two Gigasoft Mario & Luigi fangames.
Perp: Not at all. I’ve kept a casual eye on the modding scenes for Paper Mario, Galaxy, Sunshine, and the like, but I’ve never gone deep into any fan-made experiences.
Why did you create this game? What made you decide to make Paper Luigi: The Marvelous Compass?
Dani: Paper Mario holds a special place in my heart, and I’ve spent over three years on this project, when it was originally a Paper Mario new formula middle-finger game [Amidst seeing the interviews from Sticker Star] and not a Paper Luigi game, when Balmz and I were the only developers, it was a nice start to a friendship. We decided to make Paper Luigi for a variety of reasons, some that I don’t even know are still in the talk at the moment.
And why did you decide to create it as a fan game rather than say, a Paper Mario ROM hack or mod?
Nebula: Simply put, scope. Luigi’s adventure requires too many unique things to just make a ROM hack for it! We’re sure it’s possible, but in the end it proves a better experience to not work within the limitations of a ROM hack, whether of Paper Mario 64 or TTYD.
Dani: Luigi is not possible to be a ROM hack or mod; there are multiple segments and features that just wouldn’t be possible with a ROM hack because of how limited it is. Besides, coding itself provides a whole range of flexibility in the future to add something in, which would be borderline impossible with the ROM hacking tool for TTYD. Star Rod is a different story, but it still wouldn’t reach the scope of the project today.
Did you ever wish that Nintendo did more with the original mode in TTYD? Like Luigi intermissions or a Bowser’s Minions style side mode for it?
Tempo: Not at all! I felt TTYD was a fulfilling adventure on its own! Some expansions on the story would always be nice, but accepting the unlikelihood of that happening is all part of the journey!
Nebula: TTYD’s intermissions are cluttered enough. 😛
Dani: TTYD was already a grand adventure on its own, involving a whole Luigi subplot would involve way too much.
Wy: No I don’t because then I wouldn’t have anything to be working on at this moment. In all seriousness part of me really enjoys how Luigi’s tall tales have very little that verifies them and we even see how some of them aren’t quite true such as with Torque and Blooey. If we did get full Luigi intermissions it would take away from the mystery of what Luigi was really doing I feel.
Artur: No, the only thing I found lacking from the first playthrough up to the present, is that I wish the Glitz Pit could be used for Boss Rematches.
Perp: TTYD had many layers of worldbuilding, from the overarching plot to the stories within each key area to recurring characters and things like the trouble center, Luigi’s goofy story is just another one of these layers that make the world feel alive. That is, there are events that you are missing out on that show you, the player, that the world is bigger than just Rogueport. Taking that layer away would make the world feel a little bit smaller… and as the others said, there was already enough going on.
How is the story going to be fleshed out here? Luigi’s books aren’t exactly super detailed about the goings on in each chapter…
Tempo: Of course we’re trying to keep as accurate as possible to the original story! Buuuut, not only are the books lacking in key details, but they’re also lacking consistency. It’s mostly things to make Luigi look better than he did, but there are some key story elements that have resulted in many lengthy discussions for how to handle it! In short, we’re keeping as true to the source material as possible but there will obviously be some “creative liberties” taken!
Perp: As Tempo said, creative liberties are being taken when needed (which, frankly, can be rather often depending on the part of the story we are discussing LOL). Additionally, not only are some details lacking, but some details are not entirely conducive to the style of story we are aiming to tell. Luigi’s story was only ever meant to be a side-gag in TTYD, so translating it to a game definitely has challenges as far as the narrative goes, and we have to make tough decisions on how to balance it all out. But what we do have thus far, I think, is something good.
Has it been fun creating dialogue for lots of characters and situations not covered in the Super Luigi books? We’re gonna guess each chapter has a tons of interesting NPCs the player will want to talk to…
Perp: Dialogue is secondary to establishing the storyline and characters, but I ensure that each character we make (we have a whole process for making characters) has some sample dialogue, just so we have a better idea of what they are like; so in that, I know we have crafted lines and jokes that will definitely be utilized further.
As for interesting NPCs? Yes, that is the goal. One thing we are aiming to do is have a wealth of recurring NPCs, even if they don’t contribute anything to the story, having characters you see throughout your journey is always fun. Additionally, if you have played TTYD then you may have seen the Yoshi that appears in the Excess Express after you complete the chapter. Our goal is to do more of that. Migratory characters, we call them. These characters appear in a given location after a certain point, that way you’ll always find new characters to meet.
Tempo: Oh, it is lots of fun! And regarding NPCs in specific, they can be quite the puzzle when it comes to what they say and where they go. It’s not as simple as “X character” says “Y Dialogue.” Things like the environment, the current context, subtle gameplay purposes, and whatnot. A lot of thought goes into how many NPCs an area has, what they say, and what purpose they serve.
Are any additional chapters being added? 6 chapters feels a tiny bit short for a traditional Paper Mario game…
Artur: I don’t think length is the defining of the style, for example Bug Fables was just fine with six chapters + prologue. It’s hard to make a full game the length of one Paper Mario chapter from scratch, so we’re trying not to shoot too high and not adding even more work.
Nebula: We have… ideas for bonus content, but as of now we don’t have any other full chapters planned out. But fret not, reader, you’ll have more than enough to suit your desires if we have our way.
Dani: 6 chapters can be seen little to the human eye, you have to consider we are a team of unpaid people working on a passion project with absolutely no money involved. 6 chapters is the current sight that we are planning to do and that’s depending on how long these chapters will last.
Wy: Funny story about this. For a time we had planned an extra chapter in between Luigi’s visits to Circuit Break and Jazzafrazz. This “Chapter 3.5” was going to be known as “Castaways and Cannonfire” and focus on a war between Goombas and Galoombas. However we kind of realized that we couldn’t find any way to have it work in the story without seeming added in to pad the game. It would be really hard to find a way to add one without making it feel out of place. Alas, those are the restrictions we must face when we have a pre-existing story.
And how is the RPG gameplay going to be implemented into some of these chapters? The Circuit Break Island and Jazzafrazz Town sections don’t exactly play like a typical Mario RPG…
Artur: Racing and the Jazzafrazz play will not make up the whole chapter. Glitz Pit and Excess Express also feature untraditional formats, but still integrate combat and overworld exploration.
Are all the unique mechanics from these areas going to be added into the game? Like a Mario Kart style demolition derby, a stage play, etc?
Nebula: Luigi does get up to some wacky hijinks in his adventure… Suffice to say we’ll try our best to replicate them all.
Artur: Although minigames play a smaller role in the format of the first two Paper Mario games than any other Mario RPGs, we are hoping to have more such segments of gameplay, more akin to the Mario & Luigis.
Is Goomboss going to get made tougher in this game? The ‘Chestnut King’ is not exactly typical Mario final boss material…
Tempo: Ah well, Goomboss doesn’t exist in our version of the story! We’ve created an actual character for The Chestnut King! Because, let’s be honest here, Goomboss would be an awfully disappointing conclusion to the story! The Chestnut King, as far as we’re concerned, is an entirely separate entity!
Nebula: Goomboss isn’t threatening enough to fill the role of Chestnut King. And for as much as it is “haha funny” to have the grand final boss be a Goomba… yeah, nah. We’ll stick with the ideas we’ve got going.
Wy: Well our beloved Goomboss ISN’T the final foe Luigi faces. Despite the Japanese text we as the team have decided to honor the localizers words and make our big bad brute a proper chestnut king rather than just a big Goomba… I’m not supposed to tell you this, but I hear if you look at our Twitter banner you might even be able to find this bad brute.
Perp: Wy, you aren’t supposed to tell them this.
What about the other bosses? Do you have ideas for how they’ll be translated into a typical Paper Mario style?
Tempo: Plenty! Some bosses mentioned in Luigi’s tale like Hizza the dual-headed serpent and the Stone Statue have been given life in the form of story, art, and conceptualized gameplay mechanics! As for the other, less-implied bosses, you’ll just have to wait and see!
Artur: TTYD has some wacky enemy/boss designs, I don’t find that whatever is pieced together from Luigi’s stories is any harder to shape into a boss.
Perp: Something we have and continue to be experimenting with is the design of bosses… think the dragons from TTYD, hopefully we will have more than just 2D sprites.
Nebula: We only desire to comment that we cannot wait to come up with stats and movesets for the myriad of bosses that we will have.
How are Luigi’s partners going to work? Are they all going to have unique overworld abilities and battle moves like in the other Paper Mario games?
Nebula: Yeah, standard partner stuff. Why would they act any other way? 😛
Artur: The older partner format is certainly more engaging and responsive, so we’re going with that.
Tempo: Of course! Most of the partners have planned overworld abilities already, such as being able to toss Blooey! Of course we don’t want to completely copy certain partner abilities, but all of the essentials will be at the player’s disposal for a good overworld puzzle platformer!
Dani: You see, for my partner concept, let’s call him “Gandorf,” we will make it so he kills everyone in sight- No, I just got word that that’s not allowed. I also got word we’re following regular Partner rules that Paper Mario 64 & TTYD both follow.
Will Mario’s story get the Super Luigi treatment in this game? Maybe Doopliss and Flurry could put on the play in Jazzafrazz Town or something…
Tempo: That’s been in the air by the team! On one hand, some people think Mario’s Partners telling the story of TTYD would be a cute novelty to have in the game, others find the concept a bit redundant and a potential waste of the fans’ time. But Mario and Co. will definitely be appearing in some manner!
Perp: As Tempo said, it is up in the air. Mario’s adventures essentially take priority over Luigi’s, so it would seem rather off to see Mario visiting the Waffle Kingdom. However, seeing Doopliss and Flurrie in Jazzafrazz after game completion? That is a fascinating thought, let me just… Where’s my notepad?
So far, we’ve seen a ton of awesome sprites from this project on Twitter, including those for all kinds of previously unseen characters. How did you guys design these?
Wy: Well for Chestnut King we started with Luigi’s descriptions of being a monster with large fangs, so we knew we couldn’t just make him a big chestnut. We moved on to the idea of a nutcracker which are notable for their strange mouths, and from there we went on to see what features of a nutcracker we could exaggerate. We added the beard in order to give the Chestnut King a bit of mystique (along with making the mouth animation a lot easier) and moved on from there until we had a nice concept design. Finally we go ahead and start making sprites starting with the idle pose and making other designs as needed.
To put simply, this is our typical process.
- Look at Luigi’s story, partner dialogue, and the books.
- Factor in what part they play in the story.
- Find any references to help make the character.
- Flesh out the concept design, focusing on key points.
- Turn the concept art into a complete sprite.
And how do you design characters that didn’t even get a description in TTYD?
Tempo: For characters either not given visual description in TTYD, or characters not mentioned at all it begins with vocal discussion! Hypothetical species, personality traits, purposes in the story, etc. Then they go through the process as described in the last question! Most of the conceptualized characters are ones we try to make sure make sense within the game’s story! And if they aren’t mentioned in TTYD then we likely have a justified reason for them not being mentioned!
Perp: People more artistic than I do a lot of concept art, they work until we find something that fits the need, aesthetic, or until it just looks right; never doubt the value of a good gut feeling that just shows something to be of goodness and beauty.
What designs are you most proud of here?
Tempo: I adore the design we’ve come up with for The Chestnut King, Connie the Con Artist, and Hizza the Serpent, but those are just to name a few! Some of my other favorites would be from characters we have yet to introduce!
This shrewd "artist" is full of tricks up her sleeve, and is bound to be quite the headache for Luigi and company as they journey across the Waffle Kingdom! #Luigi #PaperMario pic.twitter.com/ScrqT9C4Ez
— Paper Luigi: The Marvelous Compass (@PaperLuigiTMC) September 26, 2022
Wy: I am a big fan of the current design we have for Cranberry as well as a fan of our current idea for the king of Circuit Break Island.
Nebula: Well, it’s not quite our design so to speak, however we more than adore the design granted to us in the partner poll by Discord user ShinRamyun for the game’s optional partner, Mernimba. A huge shout out again to everyone who participated in that, it was an awesome community event and we’d love to do something like it again in the future.
Last but not least, we present to you The Marvelous Compass' most excellent optional partner, Mernimba! Part of the mysterious Shaman clan that so often assists the Mario Bros., Mernimba is an aspiring sage who has her eye in the sky! #Luigi #PaperMario pic.twitter.com/OOr5CIbf7J
— Paper Luigi: The Marvelous Compass (@PaperLuigiTMC) July 9, 2022
Perp: Scoots McGee.
What’s it been like to design locations for the game? Has it been interesting creating assets for places like Rapturous Ruins or Hatesong Tower?
Tempo: Indeed it has! A common misconception is that Luigi’s entire quest is food themed. It is an easy misunderstanding if you stop paying attention to Luigi past Chapter Two in TTYD, which most players tend to do. The latter half of his adventure has very little to do with food! So while the initial areas of the game could pique the player’s culinary expectations for the adventure, the later areas might just surprise you!
Dani: Not a lot has been created that I can comment on without spoiling future stuff 😛 However, the current modelers we do have (I am not included in this following comment) are really talented at what they do and have struck that Paper Mario feeling tenfold.
Music is a huge part of the Paper Mario series, and this is no exception. How are you coming up with the songs for this game?
Sam: Currently, we have a fairly large group of talented musicians alongside me on the music team, and we each have assigned themes to work on which correspond with the progress of the other departments on the overall team. As Music Director, I’ve been giving extensive feedback to each composer as they complete their assigned themes, while also composing musical contributions of my own for the game. Once these compositions are completed, we have them set to be handed off to me and a select few other musicians who are to act as arrangers, adding on final touches, increasing production value where necessary, and ultimately bringing our music together into a cohesive game score. There is much left for us to do, but I can’t wait to see it all come to fruition!
Are there any songs you’re especially proud of here?
Sam: I’m personally a huge fan of “Pudding Traipse” by Danirbu and “How Does Luigi Want It?” by Nebz Shady, and I’m so hyped about the many additional themes to come!
Tempo: The battle theme, “Pudding Traipse,” and the theme for a certain boss that we have yet to reveal!
Perp: “Pudding Traipse” by Danirbu is amazing. Additionally, Robster, one of our composers, had the opportunity to have a piece made for the project performed by his college’s wind and symphonic wind ensemble for a concert! Don’t tell me that that isn’t awesome…
Will any familiar Mario songs be getting remixed here?
Tempo: Of course! Motifs are key when it comes to an experience like this! Classic Mario tunes, songs more associated with Luigi, etc. But motifs aren’t everything! We don’t want to entirely rely on material not originally composed by us!
Sam: Absolutely! As Tempo alluded to there, we’re still working out exactly what the balance will be between familiar Mario motifs and original compositions. However, if I were to wager an educated guess, I think one could safely expect to hear familiar motifs whenever a familiar object or character is in focus, and original music whenever the game hones in on content that is uniquely its own.
Still, this is an ambitious game with a lot to get done here. Do you ever worry it might not be completed?
Nebula: We’re too damn stubborn to give up on this project, honestly. It’s getting done, eventually.
Tempo: I don’t worry about it not being completed, truly my worry is how long it might take! As mentioned before, a lot of us are either students or busy with day-to-day jobs and lives to tend to! So while it might take some time to REALLY get the ball rolling, I’m confident we’ll see this project to the end! No matter how long it takes!
Do you have any plans for what you’ll do if the game cannot be finished? Like ways to open source it or have the community continue the game?
Nebula: We don’t frankly know. If we can’t finish it, something has gone horribly wrong and we’ll probably release everything completed to the public.
Dani: I feel if the game cannot be finished, we will open source. I’ll reorganize, remove some assets that wouldn’t be beneficial, and create a tutorial area that showcases everything coded in. That way, you pick it up, read through the explanation for what this code does or what that code, and be on your way to hopefully, make a fan game, just don’t overscope it.
Any fears that Nintendo will shut it down? They don’t seem too bothered about Paper Mario fan projects, but there’s always that worry, right?
Dani: All of this is being made without much money being spent, but we’d just have to take the loss.
Tempo: There is that small amount of persistent worry when it comes to working with Nintendo IP! But we’ve been taking extra careful steps to ensure that we should be safe. The two big factors are making money off of it, and being a remake of preexisting IP. The Marvelous Compass is neither, so long as we hold true to the fangame’s nature I feel we should be good to go!
Wy: Well yeah I guess that fear is always around. But mine and presumably many people’s brains are filled with so many fears that there isn’t really too much reason to pay mind and worry about it. Plus with plenty of popular fan games still around like Psycho Waluigi I don’t see a point in worrying so much about it.
Nebula: Eh. We don’t worry about it too much. It’s either inevitable or improbable, and we like to believe the latter.
What would your plan be in that situation?
Nebula: If we get shut down, we go nuclear and release all the assets. Someone else will pick up the torch.
Tempo: Cry, probably! But like I said, the team doesn’t plan to completely disband over something like the project shutting down! While we’ve had no ideas for a hypothetical original adventure of our own, it isn’t off of the table!
Wy: Cry and feel heartbroken.
Perp: Show our plans to the world, share this interpretation of Luigi’s story that we think does it justice. Maybe we have some big document somewhere filled with all the worldbuilding, story, art, music, and developed gameplay mechanics we made, just for people to geek over for an hour or two. Additionally, with a following of nearly 3,000 on Twitter, perhaps we could still put that to good use and promote other projects, whether that be fangames, indie games, or the like.
Regardless, assuming the game is completed just fine, how do you plan to promote it?
Tempo: Likely through Youtube videos, Discord events, Social Media posts, and more!
Nebula: Every venue we can, truthfully. Who knows, maybe some big-shot content creator will pick us up like a seed in the wind.
Perp: We promote the game by utilizing the communities we’ve been building up. Certain types of memes and major updates get big traffic, and there would be no bigger meme/major update by saying that Paper Luigi is available to play. And as Nebula said, perhaps what we are doing will be put on the radar of those who can broadcast it further; we know of content creators of various reaches that are following this project, so it is certainly a possibility.
Do you have any plans for fan games after this? Like other Mario games, or ones based on other franchises?
Tempo: A little far ahead of our current visions at the moment, but I doubt we’d disband entirely. Chances are we’d strive to make something more original!
Dani: No more Mario games probably, unless… SUPER MARIO GALAXY 3!!! No, just kidding. Though I am working on a Galaxy-styled movement controller just for fun as a passion project because of how much I love Galaxy, but other than that I doubt we’ll disband, but I don’t know if other fan games are in the vision.
Perp: You never know, but I really don’t see it. All the members of this team have a desire to bring Luigi’s TTYD Story to life, that is the common goal. May it be that members keep in contact to collaborate together in future aspirations? Sure, but the common goal ends where Luigi does, so anything after that is an uncertainty.
How about indie games? Any possible plans for indie game development in future?
Tempo: I guess if we made something entirely original it would be considered an indie game regardless!
Dani: Yes, I call it “Toilet Run.” You don’t see the vision yet, but I promise you, it’ll be perfect.
Perp: Five years ago I made a “game” on Scratch as part of an introductory coding class, does that count? No?
Finally, what advice would you give for anyone interested in getting into game development?
Dani: Find the right balance. A huge part of my struggles back in the Unity era of the project is that I was focusing too little and then I was focusing way too much. With the current build I have on my computer now, I make sure I have everything else in life sorted out and then I focus on it. It works efficiently, I get a lot of work done quickly.
Tempo: Communication is everything! When developing such a large project, it is important to ensure that everyone is informed and on a relatively similar page! Otherwise you’ll be discussing plot points that others might be really confused about! Oh! And life comes first! I tell this to so many people on the team! Obviously we want to get this game done, but the top priority to everyone should be to take care of themselves and whatever situations they may be facing! Whether it be familial events, getting your education, or matters more personal, your health comes first no matter what!
Perp: Don’t get ahead of yourself. While it is fun to have a free-for-all brainstorming session, you will find that the fruits of your labor are a disconnected web of concepts and vague ideas that you have strong emotional attachments to. This means that, when time comes to get serious, you will likely sacrifice cohesion in order to fit in all these elements. What is better and more beautiful is to build up the foundation and rawest elements of your passion, no matter how much time and effort it takes.
In my opinion, the progress the Paper Luigi project has made in the past twelve months is highlighted by a return to the roots of the project and a strengthening of our foundation and the elements therein. Story was made much more meaningful, characters truly fitting, locations becoming believable. We turned away from the brief highs of free-for-alls and engaged with the lengthier tasks that provide much greater satisfaction.
By the time this interview is published, we will have ironed out the flow of events that take place at Jazzafrazz Town, the fourth location Luigi travels to. Upon designing the first full draft of the story, a process that began a few months ago, I was filled with excitement that is hard for me to describe. But we took the time to answer any and all questions that stemmed from our drafting process, which in turn turned what was already my favorite portion of Luigi’s story into something I adore even more. That is the benefit of working in stride and building from the foundation up.
Artur: The power to believe, some skill and a sprinkling of luck. If you’ve got those, be it game development or anything else, you can do it.
Thanks guys! That’s some great advice if you ask us!
And we definitely with Perp 100% when it comes to not getting ahead of yourself in game development. Since well… you won’t really know which ideas will work out and which won’t until you actually start implementing them.
Plus you also don’t know which awesome ideas will come to you mid development either. Maybe you come up with an awesome character design one day, or a clever idea for a level in your game. Perhaps some programming break through leads you to an interesting mechanic, or the team’s composer creates a song that fits a certain type of level or boss battle you never even imagined.
If you plan your game too far in advance, you won’t be able to deal with either situation. You’ll be stuck desperately chasing your pre planned ideas regardless of if they’re actually any good or not, and left blind to the more interesting ones you could have created as you built your levels or game.
So figure out the basics of what your game entails (like the general plot outline and some of the main gameplay elements), and iterate from there. That way, you’re not locking yourself into plans that lack a grounding in reality, or restricting yourself to the point game development isn’t any fun anymore.
And definitely keep communication in mind too. As Tempo points out, it’s hugely important for an ambitious project like this, especially with a team consisting of more than 3 or so people. So yeah, communicate often, make sure you’re on the same page, and keep everyone up to date with any life circumstance changes that may affect progress overall.
Either way, that’s the interview. Thanks to the team behind Paper Luigi: The Marvelous Compass for accepting the interview, and we’re super excited to see what amazing stuff they make for the game in future too. It’s a very promising looking fan game, and one which will hopefully answer lots of questions about what exactly went on in the Waffle Kingdom while Mario was off stopping the X-Nauts and Shadow Queen.
Regardless, if you enjoyed the game or interview, check out the team’s social media links via the list below, and if you want to discuss it with others in the community, leave your thoughts in the comments below, or in our Discord server today!