Let’s Interview: Paper Soul Theatre Developers Otyugra Games!

When it comes to indie games in development, some are more well known than others.

On the one hand, you have stuff like Shovel Knight, Shantae and the various Kickstarter disasters that have been released in the last year or two. These games are heavily promoted, have lots of articles written about them and usually end up with a decent amount of information about them online. They have hype behind them.

Paper Soul Theatre is not like this. Instead, some may almost consider it the exact opposite. Why? Because despite it being announced a while back and advertised on Paper Mario fan forums, almost no one knows much about the game itself. The game is like some sort of strange enigma. A phantom game we know exists, but know nothing about.

Until now. Because thanks to a bit of careful persuation, we’ve now managed to get a full interivew about the title courtesy of the folks at Otyugra Games. This includes real concept art, details on the story and mechanics and a ton more besides!

So if you’re interested in the game and wish to know exactly what it is, keep reading. Because this is one hell of an interesting game…

Let’s start with the personal stuff first, just to get it out the way. Who are you? Who is on the team at Otyugra Games?

My name is Matthew Kordon –thank you for interviewing me. Game development has been a hobby of mine for about seven years, and is now transitioning into an occupation. I became interested in game design as a kid when I discovered Super Mario Flash, a browser level editor that had a big community around it in its heyday.

Super Mario Flash
Matthew Kordon previously designed levels for Super Mario Flash in the past

Since then, I’ve worked to become a writer and music composer. I’ve also been drawing my whole life, and as a college student, I’m majoring in computer science.

Okay, sounds good. Anyone else working on the game? Because your site mentions a team…

Otyugra Games as a group of people has changed in size aggressively and repeatedly since the start, but momentarily, the people who help on the team are all what I would call Directors of Game Design who are mostly game writers secondarily.

Including me, there are 4 members.

Right then. Moving on a bit now, how did you first get interested in video games?

My first experience with video games was a 2003 leapfrog edutainment handheld system when I was about 7-years-old. I immediately fell in love with gaming and soon after, I began to play early 2000s kid-friendly computer games and got a Game Boy Advance. My first interaction with the Paper Mario series was in 2007 when Super Paper Mario came out, which was also my second experience with RPGs, the Pokémon series being the first.

Ed: Huh, that’s pretty interesting. Didn’t expect your first Paper Mario game to be Super Paper Mario…

Oddly enough, Super Paper Mario was the game that made me appreciate what videogames are capable of, but it wasn’t until I played TTYD a few years later that I wanted to make a game inspired by the original trilogy. Yeah, for a Nintendo game, Super Paper Mario had an arguably-surreal and very complex story with mature moments, which was a cut above the kind of stories I was used to at the time.

Yeah, it certainly had a unique story for a Nintendo game. Quick question on game development now though. Did you make any games before Paper Soul Theatre?

You betcha. I’m head Game Director, so naturally I’ve had practice. One of my early games is an unfinished point-and-click sci-fi game that was going to deal with the ethics of business on a galactic scale. What’s cool about that game, Everlasting Night, is that it was the inspiration for the 3 RPG classes that you choose between at the start of Paper Soul Theater. As stated before, the class you choose helps determine Aponi’s personality and dialogue options.

Additionally, I made a game called Meat Quest, which is like a tiny, comedic, postmodern version of Myst. Of all my games, I think that one had the most striking art. I made it for a competition and it did really well. I’ve also made a little puzzle platformer, and a strategy game that is basically a Chess-Fire Emblem hybrid.

A past game
A past game from Paper Soul Theatre lead developer Matthew Kordon

However, what exactly is the main gameplay setup in Paper Soul Theatre? Because the description on your site doesn’t say much about the game is actually played…

Paper Soul Theater is a subversive 3D turn-based RPG/platformer/survival horror video game, modelled after “Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door,” about a girl in a surreal fantasy world, and the allies she gains, who use peaceful communication, violence, spiritual help, and the power of ancient totems to stop crusaders from beginning a devastating war with her weak confederacy.

And the newer description isn’t really a whole lot clearer in that sense:

Paper Soul Theater: …is a 3D role-playing/ economics/ action-adventure videogame, modelled after “Paper Mario: Thousand-Year Door,” about a troubled girl and her nomadic allies, who use peaceful communication; violence; powerful ancient artifacts; and spiritual help to return home, all while discovering the true history of her world

Okay then. That’s something. Can you explain it in a slightly clearer way? Like, a way the average Joe on Reddit or NeoGAF can understand?

I think the clearest way to describe how Paper Soul Theater will play is by building off of Thousand Year Door’s gameplay description. Just like in TTYD, you move around “in the fields” to go from town to town, or from town to important location. Along the way, your party battles the corrupted “half-souls” who are cursed to walk the planet. Combat relies on weapon type advantages and Action Commands (interactions required of the player to land an attack or defend, often more complex than simply pressing buttons at the right timing).

Because the setting is a cross between medieval-fantasy, and indigenous-tribalism, melee weapons and magic are used to settle turn-based battles. However, there is a major twist. There are two win conditions in most (if not all) battles; all characters in a fight have both a health total and a Willpower total. If a foe’s Willpower reaches zero, they end their aggression often by running away (if they are unintelligent) or by surrendering (if they can talk).

Paper Soul Theatre mechanics
A general illustration of the battle system in Paper Soul Theatre.

Aponi Oru is the playable character, who you start the game with one of three RPG classes (defense expert, illusionist, and divine dancer). As Aponi, you can choose to fight physically, or use your RPG class abilities to make your opponent back down. The RPG class you choose at the start unlocks new content and changes Aponi’s personality, and it also doubles as a difficulty setting.

Three classes
The three classes you can choose in Paper Soul Theatre

Like in TTYD, and Paper Mario 64, you acquire partners on your journey who help you “in the field” and in battle. The player gets to choose Aponi’s dialogue and actions during slow moments and is capable of buying and selling with not just shop owners, but nearly half the people you meet. Trading goods (whether items useful in battle, food ingredients, or valuables) is a larger focus in our game than it was in TTYD. Just like TTYD, the world is broken up into a bunch of tiny sections as a way to curb our ambition. Lastly, our game features a textlog, which allows the player to see how Aponi’s thoughts and feelings. In battle it records information, like how much damage an attack did. Our game is expected to have systems nearly identical to TTYD leveling up, badges, and Flower Points.

Buying and Selling
Buying and selling items is a bigger focus here than in Paper Mario

Ah, that makes a bit more sense now. The willpower mechanic sounds like a really unique mechanic.

However, does it let you play the game as a pacifist, like Undertale?

That’s an excellent question. The team and I have pretty diverse and intense feelings towards both Undertale and pacifism. Believe it or not, the original concept for Paper Soul Theater back in mid-late 2015 was very similar to what Undertale turned out to be.

At the time, that was only a demo and a recently successful Kickstarter, so I and everyone I told about my concept had never even heard of Undertale at the time. Both games coincidentally star young girls in fantasy interactive-turn-based RPGS in which you can, as that character, choose to be nonviolent or violent to get your way. When Undertale was first released, I was extremely bitter but eventually I looked closer and started deeply appreciating what was new and excellent about it.

Regarding pacifism, I would say Paper Soul Theatre is a response to Undertale, rather than an echo. I’m going to leave it at that as to not spoil anything.

Onto another question now. Can you tell us a bit more about the game’s cast? Who does the game focus on?

Paper Soul Theater centers around Aponi, a troubled 14-year-old girl, and three friends that she makes on her journey back home. At the start of the game, she already found a friend in a nonhuman named Tuari. He follows Aponi at first because he’s deeply concerned about her safety, and the two of them are about the same age. Aponi’s land is governed by a pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, as well as the souls of the not-currently living, known to humans as paper souls. Two of these paper souls play a significant role in the story, but how is a spoiler. There are many species (races) living on Aponi’s planet who live desegregated. Any of these people can choose obedience to one of the many gods, and in that way, the gods play a significant indirect role.

Aponi, the main protagonist of Paper Soul Theatre

One thing we haven’t seen much of with Paper Soul Theatre is the art style. What kind of style are you going for here? Is it cel shaded? Paper Mario style sprites in a 3D environment? Something else?

It’s true that much of the art we’ve shown is of different styles, since we’ve been more loose about how we make concept art. Our game has two art styles. Environmental graphics (like the ground and sky), and stationary things (like trees and houses) all have a watercolor, soft, detailed art style, while everything else (like people and animals) have an art style similar to The Thousand Year Door, but with flat colors.

So it’s basically a bit like Skyward Sword’s backgrounds meet Paper Mario’s characters?

That’s a good comparison. We’re aiming for a mixure of Paper Mario’s cute simplicity, and a bit of realism/ detail.

And what interesting looking locations are you going to have in this game? Because one of the biggest things people like about Paper Mario is how each chapter has a unique style to it. Like Twilight Town or the Boggly Woods in the Thousand Year Door…

The imaginative places of TTYD are undoubtedly memorable, so I doubt Paper Soul Theatre will be able to match such an incredible accomplishment, but our plan is to maintain that each place is atmospherically distinct, and filled with interesting sights.

There is one point in which your party ventures through a forest beneath the surface of the planet filled with glowing life, strange stalagmites and albino creatures. I got that idea both from Iroquois Mythology and also the indie RPG Space Funeral.

The locales of TTYD have left a huge impression on all of us, but unlike for that game, the locations in ours will need to look as though they could exist near each other; Thousand Year Door was more of a story anthology than a single narrative.

At one point, PST was going have the entire art style change depending on where you are, but that was immediately scrapped.

Continue Reading…

Let’s Interview… Breath of the NES Developer WinterDrake!

Yesterday on Gaming Reinvented, we posted about an interesting new Zelda fan game that tries to recreate Breath of the Wild’s mechanics in 2D. Named Breath of the NES, the game is a sort of recreation of an early prototype Nintendo showed off at GDC 2017, complete with the same visual aesthetics and stylings as the original NES title.

And guess what? Now we’ve managed to get an exclusive interview with the game’s developer WinterDrake! So here it is, complete with his thoughts about the game and its future development…

So let’s start off with a simple personal one first. Who are you? What is Winter Drake’s background here?

I’m a 20 year old college student studying marketing. Before this project, I’ve released two games, one of which made it to Steam (Faron’s Fate)

Above: A video of Faron’s Fate. No, it has nothing to do with the goddess Farore. Nor the Zelda province…

And how about your history with gaming? How did you first start playing video games?

Honestly my first experiences were with kids’ computer games, but later on I found a love of retro games, especially NES and SNES since they were so easy to emulate.

Why the Legend of Zelda series? Is it one of your favourite franchises of all time? Or was Breath of the Wild the one game that inspired you?

The BotW 2d prototype that Nintendo showed off was the main inspiration. I definitely love the Zelda series, but when I saw that video, I knew it was something I wanted to play.

What about Breath of the Wild itself? What do you think of the game in general?

Super awesome, I love how open ended it is and how creative you can get. It’s something I hope to emulate in Breath of the NES.

Fan game stuff now. Is this your first attempt at making one?

Yep, this is my first fan game.

Have you played any other Zelda fan games or ROM hacks?

I have not, actually.

Either way, why have a 2D Breath of the Wild style game? Was it because of the interesting prototype Nintendo showed at GDC 2017?

Yes it was haha.

So as a game, it’s actually got quite a fair bit of content at the moment. Multiple items, various enemies, etc. How much will the final game have, if you get that far?

What’s in the playable demo is a fraction of what I want to have in the final game. The ideas are all there, but I plan to flesh out each area much more, as well as adding much more in-depth character progression.

It’s also got perhaps a bit of a… mean streak. Have you considered maybe slowing some of the enemies down a notch, or making their patterns a tad less random?

I’m working on improving the AI of enemies, for sure. I’ll balance the game’s difficulty as I see fit, but I’m also going to make sure to include difficulty settings for casual gamers and Zelda veterans alike.

Interestingly, it also has many of the enemies from Zelda 1 rather than those from the later games. Do you plan to implement some of the Breath of the Wild specific ones at some point?

It’s more likely that I’ll be shifting to original enemies, since I do plan to eventually move on from the Zelda theme if Nintendo asks me to stop.

How about some runes? I’m sure 2D Magnesis, Stasis or Cryonis would be interesting to see!

Those would all be super interesting, although I’m not sure how I’d implement them. If they’re added, it would be much later down the line.

At the moment, the game doesn’t seem to have a save feature of any kind. Is that something that’s in development? And if so, how will it work? Will there be auto saves, or manual saves more similar to the 2D games?

I didn’t bother coding a save in the demo because it’s so short and I wanted people to really take their time getting through the challenge. In the full game there will definitely be saves, though I’m not sure if I’m going to do autosaves or manual.

Musically it’s kept minimalistic like Breath of the Wild itself. However, in a 2D game that kind of feels a tad empty to be honest. Is there the possibility of an optional background music feature here? Or at least, the few notes you hear in cold climates/on top of mountains in Breath of the Wild?

I’ve already had a ton of people offer to help out with the music, so hopefully the full game will have memorable tunes for each area 🙂

Still, it seems like the game is fairly early in development at the moment. So what other interesting ideas do you have for the game in the future?

I want to flesh out the areas and enemies a lot more, make more interactive environment pieces. There will also, of course, be many more items and upgrades.

Moving on to some questions about the game’s future/marketing now. Did you expect this to become as popular as it was? Or for all these sites to start writing articles about it?

Oh, no, this was a total surprise. Honestly the demo I made is pretty pitiful, and I released it just because I was excited. I think the ideas i have for a finished game will be really impressive once they’re finished, but it’s a great surprise to see so much support early on.

Unfortunately, based on Nintendo’s recent track record with fan works, that might have accidentally made it more likely this game will get shut down. Do you worry about that?

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I am fully ready to remove the borrowed Zelda assets and replace them with my own original characters 🙂 I have a lot of ideas and I’m not going to give up simply because I can’t continue as a fangame

On another note, why itch.io? I’ve seen this platform used for quite a few fan games recently (like No Mario’s Sky), and it makes me wonder why developers are using it so much now. Does it offer advantages over whatever that Zelda fan game specific site is?

Zelda Breath of the NES

It’s the best hosting platform I know of. Lets people follow you, make donations, and gives you analytics about where they’re coming from. It’s what I’ve always used.

As for social media, this game seems to mostly be advertised on Twitter and Reddit. So why choose those two platforms in particular?

Those are the social media platforms I know and understand most. Maybe later in development I could get some help running a facebook and instagram, but right now two sites is enough work to balance while I program the game and study for finals.

Finally, what are your plans after making this game? Do you have any interesting indie titles in development? Ideas for fan games based on other franchises? Something else?

Breath of the NES is my main project right now, but I always have tons of ideas. If this game does well, hopefully I could have the motivation and funds to move on to bigger and better things!

So that concludes our interview. It’s not the longest one in the world, but I’m hoping it’ll give you a bit of an insight into Breath of the NES and its future development. After all, if the demo is indicative of the final game, it should be absolutely amazing when it’s finally done and finished. Check out his channel and Twitter too, if you want more updates.

But hey, what do you think? Did you like Breath of the NES? Do you think the idea of a 2D physics based sandbox game like this is an interesting one?

Post your thoughts on the matter here or at Gaming Latest’s forums today!

Let’s Interview: Miles from Mario Fan Games Galaxy!

Here on Gaming Reinvented, we’ve interviewed a fair few people from Mario Fan Games Galaxy. There was the one we did with Thunder Dragon back in 2015. Another with DJ Coco a bit earlier than that. And well, with almost every staffer from Guinea to VinnyVideo having done interviews here before, some may say we’re almost out of Mario fan game devs to interview!

But that’s today. Because as the title points out, we’ve managed to secure another interesting fan game developer interview! This time, with MFGG staffer and game developer Miles, who has previously created a contest winning game called The Purple Coin.

So sit down, make a cup of tea and get ready to hear what Miles has to say about his history with Mario fan games!

1. Starting with the usual personal background question. So you know the drill now. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What’s your story outside of fan game development?

I don’t find that there’s much to be said about myself; I’m a pretty uninteresting fellow outside of fangaming. I’m a stay-at-home person that helps my dad with his business for work. That’s pretty much it.

2. How about your video game history? What game got you interested in gaming anyway?

One could say that I started life with a Sega Genesis controller in my hand. At as young as age 3 I was playing games on that thing and loving them. The fun I had in my early years with the Sonic series and other classics such as Dynamite Headdy and The Lost Vikings (go play those immediately if you haven’t and can legally do so) got me more or less cemented into gaming. I’ve had stuff from most generations since.

3. And how did you get started in Mario fan games anyway?

My Mario fangaming journey actually sort of began with Sonic fangaming, since that’s where I first learned that I could make things of my own. Sonic Fan Games HQ introduced me to The Games Factory around 2003-2004, which introduced me to game logic. During a conversation on AIM with a fun fellow I’d met elsewhere, I was introduced to Game Maker with a game he was working on at the time.

Not too long later, I wound up at Mario Fan Games Galaxy, though how exactly I came across it is a mystery. By then I’d been doing a lot with both The Games Factory and Game Maker and was able to do a fair bit of what I wanted to with them. I didn’t really become very active at MFGG until many years later, though. In time, probably around 2009 or so, I found that Mario was significantly easier to do solo fangame work with than Sonic, so Mario more or less become my focus at that point.

4. Onto Super Battle Bros now. What gave you the idea to make a Mario fighting game?

In response to my previous fan game not quite working well, I started a new project with the aim to have a better engine. I had formed a huge AI obsession at around that point, so in order for me to scratch that figurative itch I put together a one-screen game where an AI Luigi fought a player Mario on a stage with a ground area and a solid floating platform in the center. The AI Luigi was able to run around the level and eventually reach Mario when there was no line-of-sight beforehand. It just grew into a fighting game from there. It was supposed to also have a story mode with it to be in line with the game I was trying to make before it, but that part of it never quite got anywhere.

5. What about the different art style mechanic? Having the style change to fit the arena is certainly a nifty idea…

I think it came from a small level of necessity. The NES stages I made didn’t work very well without this system, but I wanted them in one way or another. Only one stage used the SMB3 theme, which was rather unfortunate because someone kindly made a SMB3 sprite set for me for that purpose.

6. It also says the game lets you combine power ups and what not. What inspired this idea? Cause it’s quite rare in the Mario series, at least outside of Wario Land on the Virtual Boy…

Huh, I didn’t even know that an official game had done this until now. I don’t quite remember if I came up with the idea in my own head first or straight up took the idea from another game that did it before mine, but I do remember that it made sense to me from a fun perspective. I had made most of a game of the same name before this one that also had that feature, though it was a more adventure-focused game.

Continue Reading…

Let’s Interview; DahrkDaiz

If you’ve been in the retro gaming scene for a while, you may have come across Mario Adventure. A massive hack of Super Mario Bros 3 with a ton of new technical additions and a full set of new levels, the game ended up becoming one of the most well known, highly regarded Mario ROM hacks in existence.

And so when it’s creator DahrkDaiz said he’d make a sequel, we knew we needed to get an interview about it. So here it is! Here is our exclusive interview with Mario Adventure creator DahrkDaiz!

1. Let’s start with a quick question about your personal life, shall we? So what’s your background here? Who are you outside of the ROM hacking community?

In my down time I’m a programmer for a house manufacturing company (the largest one in the US!) My family consists of my 5 year old daughter and my wife of 6.. 7… er 5 years? I don’t remember!

My real name is April and outside of rom hacking I like to go hiking, running and play DanceDanceRevolution.

2. And how did you get into video games anyway? Was Super Mario Bros 3 one of the first titles you played

At around the mature age of 4, I stumbled upon this weirdly coloured thing at my cousin’s house where a brown man was jumping over a jump rope made out of fire. They asked me if I wanted to jump the rope and handed me the controller. Of course, that game was Super Mario Bros. for the NES. I was so enthralled by this idea of a “videogame” that my dad went to a local flea market and came across an Atari 2600 with 50 games. He bought the set and brought that home. I immediately started ignore chores, back talk my parents and re-enact the scenes I had experienced in Galaga, Donkey Kong and Tanks!

3. What about ROM hacking? How did you get into modding Super Mario Bros 3?

So this one took several years. At some point in my life I ran across an article in a magazine called Electronic Gaming Monthly (or just EGM). I read this religiously, buying every issue and memorizing the prayers and sacrifices I needed to make in order to get the best games. I remember a tiny article talking about “Challenge Games”, a little online group that had somehow edited existing NES games and released them in new, more Challenging versions. It would be years before I got a computer, but once I did, I remember seeing that article and started to hunt for “Challenge Super Mario Bros. 3”. I eventually found it around the second semester of college. I immediately started to ignore homework, back talk my professors and re-enact the scenes I… er, never mind.

4. Mario Adventure stuff now. What inspired you to create that game? And why Mario Adventure as the name?

Ever since I first played Super Mario Bros. 3 at the age of 8, I wanted to make my own video game. It’s actually why I became a programmer in the first place! I even had grid paper at one point that I designed my own Super Mario World levels on. Though, playing them on paper was a bit more difficult and less fun.

5. Mario Adventure is also known for a fancy weather system that changes between levels. How did that come about?

Lol, I wouldn’t call it fancy. More like half-arsed. I actually originally thought the idea of a seasonal Mario game would be amazing, where every level was slightly different based on a season. That idea came from Click Clock Wood from Banjo Kazooie. This level had different areas accessible depending on the season. Well, I couldn’t exactly program a season in SMB3, but random weather seemed like the next best thing.

6. How about the whole Boom Boom at the end of each level thing? Why did you remove the traditional end roulette?

I simply liked the idea of having different Boom Boom fights. I wanted to see how many times I could change up the same boss fight.

7. The world themes are a tad more original here as well. How did those come about?

I love the traditional themes (fire, grass, water, etc) in games. Everything from Whomp ‘Em to Mega Man. So, of course I would come up with some themes that were similar, but center it around some sort of enemy habitat.

8. A few quality questions now. What levels are you most proud of in the game and why?

I honestly can’t remember most of the levels in the game. However, I loved the idea of Desert Dares though. I also liked the complexity some of the last levels in world 8.

9. How about your least favourites? Are there any levels you think could have been designed better?

Most definitely the ice level with the “Warkitu” (Lakitu that through Bob-ombs that exploded quickly). That level was just pure evil.

10. Either way, Mario Adventure has a reputation as being one of the best Mario 3 hacks ever made. How does that make you feel? Did you expect that so many people would love the game?

Shocked, to be honest. I’m surprised by how many people love the crazy challenge and haphazard ideas I came up with. Once I released it, I basically closed the door and moved on to other things. It was pointed out to me about a year later by a fellow rom hacker that my hack was getting noticed, a LOT.

11. So let’s move onto your later works now. What happened to Mario Adventure 2?

Hard drive wipe. Long story short, my brother wiped my hard drive with fresh OS install. I used file recovery programs to try to find it again, but all I could get was a 2 week old version. This version was missing a lot of key features, such as green coins, a new map system and a few new enemies. It was such a devastating loss that I could manage myself to continue working on it.

12. Regardless, it seems the Mario Adventure ‘brand’ has been retired recently, with Mario Adventure 3 renamed to Super Mario: Mushroom Mayhem. Why?

Mostly because I don’t want people to connect Mario Adventure with this. Sure, it has a lot of power behind the name, Mushroom Mayhem is a distant cousin of Mario Adventure. People will no doubt compare the two upon release, but I hope people see Mushroom Mayhem as a fantastic game, not just a rom hack.

13. Onto some game content questions now. Super Mario: Mushroom Mayhem has a ton of custom or customised enemies in it, with new Hammer Bros varieties, Lakitus and Chomps among them. How do you decide what new enemies to make for the game?

A lot of the ideas come from ideas I had for Mario Adventure that I lacked the skill to implement. Some came from the idea that SMB3 hadn’t really implemented the enemies to their fullest potential (such as the Chain Chomp). I also wanted to tap into the often forgotten enemies from Mario’s past (such as Freezies).

14. What about the day and night system? That’s… new for a Mario platformer. Where did that idea come from?

This was a direct rip off from Castlevania II, the first Castlevania I played. I loved that idea so much and I knew there were slight behaviour differences I could include myself depending on time of day.

Most people just assume that enemies are tougher at night, but not always. For example, during the day, a Goomba will move towards you once it falls from a platform. The idea is that their eyes aren’t so good, so in the dark they continue to march in the direction they were going, but in the day they can make out Mario enough to turn in the right direction.

15. An EXP system seems to be included here, and it changes Mario’s abilities. What made you decide to include this in game?

This comes from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The badge system comes from Paper Mario. I originally was going to make the game a gigantic level that you just traversed in one go, but the requirements in design for this type of game is immense and beyond my time.

16. Either way, it seems like there’s more of an ‘RPG’ feel to this title. Was that intentional?

A little bit. One of the things I wanted to avoid was making the game too hard, so I figured some of the RPG elements could make the game get progressively easier. All levels are designed without the need for any of the extra abilities. This way players can find the game get a little easier even if the design gets progressively more difficult.

17. So recently, it seems custom boss fights made their way into Super Mario Bros 3 hacks, with Super Mario Bros 3Mix having all custom battles rather than the default Koopaling ones. Are similar custom boss battles going to be a thing in Super Mario: Mushroom Mayhem?

Absolutely! Every world will have a custom boss battle. The first boss, Colossal Cheep, is already coded!

18. And what do you expect the world themes might be like here? I know the videos show grass, desert, snow and water levels. Are those all themes that’ll get worlds dedicated them?

The themes actually are a mix of several.

  • Grass/Water (Cheep Cheep Everglades)
  • Ice/Mountain/Forest (Piranha Forest)
  • Rock/Fire/Explosions (Bob-omb Quarry)
  • Water/Artillery/Tropical (Blooper Bay)
  • Sky/Castle (Chomp Castle)
  • Desert/Scary (Boo Desert)

This has created some very interesting level designs by mixing these elements together. Every world also contains a “one-off” level that doesn’t fit the theme (such as the rhythm level)

19. One thing which has been heavily customised since the original Mario Adventure is the graphics, with almost all of the levels in your hacks having fantastic looking original tilesets. Do you draw those all yourself?

Yep! I painstakingly do it all myself. The sprites don’t always get redone, but all new sprites I do have to do (including the new Mario sprites for the new power-ups)

20. On a related note, is custom music intended for this title? It wasn’t in the original Mario Adventure for the most part, but it seems to have gradually started making its way into Super Mario Bros 3 hacks recently…

The issue with custom music is that it almost always requires a new engine and the ability to, you know, write music. My ears are open to anyone out there they may be able to lend a few tunes…

21. Moving away from questions about the game content for now though, how did you decide where to promote the game? Because I’ve noticed most of the updates here seem to be on social media sites like Facebook and YouTube rather than forums or ROM hacking sites. Is this to get more people interested in ROM hacks?

There’s a lot of rom hacking forums. I originally tried to keep up with six different threads at one point. I tried Tumblr and I think another blog site. Facebook had everything I needed and it was easier to keep up to date considering I’m always on Facebook as it is.

22. What about Patreon? Have you considered using that to get support for the hack? Cause it’s been catching on a bit within the Mario 64 and Zelda ROM hacking scenes…

I had to look that up! I honestly don’t want to make any kind of money from this. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, I have a full time job as it is, so I’m not really hurting for cash. I’ve had others contact me about getting exclusive access to making physical copies first, which, I thought was super cool, but I really want every to get the entire game at the same time.

23. There have also been a few unfortunate cases of fan projects getting shut down by Nintendo recently, like AM2R and Pokemon Uranium. Are you worried that something similar could happen to Super Mario: Mushroom Mayhem?

A little, but honestly, if they were to come after me, I may just go quiet and have it “leak” later on.

24. On a more positive note however, have you ever considered hacking any games other than Super Mario Bros 3? You hacked Ms Pac Man before SMB 3, so have you considered modding any other games afterwards? Like Super Mario Bros 1/World/New Super Mario Bros/whatever?

I’ve actually done a few prototype hacks of Super Mario Bros 1 (look up Mario Seasons and Super Mario R), Mega Man 3 (Mega Man 3 Challenge) and Kid Icarus. Most of these never turned out to be full fledged releasable projects, but Super Mario R was finished. As for any other games? To be honest, I have a full time software development job and a kid, so free time comes at a premium.

25. Finally, what advice would you give people wanting to get started in ROM hacking, or game making in general?

First – dive right in! Do what you can with the existing tools out there at first. Once you want to expand, rather than just learn ASM or programming in general, try to think of simple things you want to do but break it down into much simpler problems. Take adding a brand new enemy to a game. That enemy requires drawing, integrated in the existing enemy engine, hit detection with the tiles, the player, and it needs to move. This seems like a lot of work, until you focus solely on getting a new enemy added to the enemy engine (value wise) and getting it on screen. This can be for programming one from scratch to rom hacking – you have to break the challenges down into smaller problems that you can build your way up.

So yeah, I think that wraps up everything up for now. I mean, we’ve gotta leave some secrets for the actual game here folks! People need to have an incentive to actually play Super Mario: Mushroom Mayhem instead of merely reading about it!

But hey, what do you think of the interview? Did you find DahrkDaiz’s answers about his ROM hacks interesting? Did any of them make you want to play his new ROM hack when it’s released?

Post your thoughts on the matter here in the comments or on social media today! And while you’re at it, follow DahrkDaiz on Facebook and YouTube today!

Let’s Interview; Eyes in Everything!

It’s interview time again on Gaming Reinvented! Yeah, it’s happening already. Bet you didn’t expect that so soon after Guru Larry’s interview did you?

Nah, nor did we. But the Eyes in Everything team had their answers ready a tad ahead of schedule, so we decided to hurry up the interview and get it posted as a result.

But hang on, what is Eyes in Everything?

Well, basically it’s the dev team behind a game called Psycutlery.

Which in turn is basically a spiritual successor to a beloved Mario fan game called Psycho Waluigi. Complete with Psycho Waluigi developer Thunder Dragon as the main dev.

Either way, here’s a trailer for Psycutlery, in case you don’t already know of it:

But hey, enough waffling for a minute! Let’s get on with the interview!

1. So let’s start with a simple company question. How did you guys meet for the first time? What made you want to set up Eyes in Everything?

LUKE: The two of us go back since, well, practically forever! Nearly 17 years is practically forever in internet years, uh, right? It was the year 2000 when I made public a little fangame site called “Bowser Technologies,” which soon led to our meeting.

As far as setting up Eyes in Everything goes, it was not formed as a team initially. I came up with the label as a sort of brand identity for myself. The label was to be applied to all my creative endeavors, from art to game development. Likewise, the game Psycutlery was meant to be a solo project. I could have easily done everything myself… except for two crucial elements: the music, and the marketing. I wasn’t nearly experienced enough in either field to pass a professional-grade project, so to speak.

Jon found me at a great time. He is a passionate musician, and is now researching indie game marketing. Perfect!

JON: Way back in 2000, I was known as Yoshiman. I had only made possibly 4 or 5 posts on the not-so-active forum until he switched it up to MFGG. At that time, I was just a lowly member while he was the big guy, top-notch administrator. Down the road, I worked on up to administrator, which I think helped acknowledge a more equal-level friendship than before. Eventually, I offered to make some songs for Psycho Waluigi, and then afterwards left the website for some time. I got wind on Twitter that he had finally broke away from creating fangames and begun an indie game. I wanted to create the whole soundtrack for Toadette Strikes Back (I still have two songs I was working on for it) before I left, so I felt it was my personal duty to offer it now for Psycutlery.

2. And hey, how about the name? Where did that come from?

LUKE: I fretted long and hard coming up with a brand label, and sketching out logos for many potential brand identities. Whatever I did, I just couldn’t come up with a decent name! When I looked back at some of the logos I scribbled out, I noticed one common trend amongst the lot of them: eyeballs. And then I looked back at some of my other random drawings. Eyes everywhere, and in everything! That was when it dawned on me. Eyes in Everything! It also carries something of a double meaning about finding eye-opening inspiration in, well, everything, which is a philosophy we seek to carry across our work.

3. Were you planning on making any other games before Psycutlery? Or is this your first ever idea for a game?

LUKE: I actually didn’t really have an “idea” to make Psycutlery. It was something that just… sort of happened! It began as an open-ended experiment that, by some series of contrived coincidences, ended up becoming something of an actual game. But to answer your question, since I don’t consider Psycutlery an idea so much as happenstance, yes, I did have other ideas for games. Two, to be precise: an underwater action-adventure, and an action-RPG platformer hybrid involving ghosts and necromancy. But considering both of those are considerably more complex ideas, it’s probably better to start off with a simple platformer, huh?

4. As we know, one of your team previously made a Mario fan game called Psycho Waluigi. So, how much did that inspire Psycutlery as a game? Because it definitely seems to have some similarities to the fan project…

JON: It was pretty much all Luke that made Psycho Waluigi, with some testing help, a few other’s sprites here and there, and MIDI to MP3 music for the songs not created by me. We’ve said on Twitter and many other places that Psycutlery is the spiritual successor to Psycho Waluigi, so it has many similarities.

LUKE: Originally, it had nothing to do with Psycho Waluigi. But remember how I said that Psycutlery was a thing that kind of just… happened? In its experimental stages, it was something of a straight-up Yoshi clone, albeit with original characters. However, having decided around the time that I wanted to distance myself from fangames forever, I didn’t want a character with an extendable tongue. So in a haste, I covered up all ties to Yoshi with a spork. A floating spork. That happened to be controlled with what appeared to be psychic powers. So, ironically, in my urge to distance myself from fangames, the project wound up playing awfully similar to one! Thankfully, it was one of the few fangames that had potential to pass as something original with a few audible and graphical swaps – so, hey, may as well act on that.

5. Why Psycutlery? Seems like a very weird name for a game about a character with psychic powers…

LUKE: But did you notice exactly what the character was controlling with said psychic powers? It’s a piece of cutlery, is it not? As for the pronunciation, think of it as something like “psychiatry” or “psychology,” only with tableware.

6. Heck, what’s with the kitchen utensil motifs anyway? Because everything from the logo to the end of level goals seem to involve forks…

LUKE: It’s a SPORK. It’s like a fork. But it’s also like spoon. It’s the jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none in the world of silverware! As such, sporks are inherently comical, so the idea of a game that places emphasis on one is bound to raise a few laughs. It’s all to set the decidedly bizarre tone of the game, and the wonderful absurdity of saving the galaxy with such an impractical eating utensil… there’s something of an underdog story there.

7. What about the graphics style? To me, it reminds me of a fair few GBA games (in a good way). Was that the generation you were inspired by?

JON: The Progressive Era – the first spork to be manufactured was available in 1890. Huge inspiration.

LUKE: Indeed! Actually, the original patent for the implement that would become known as the spork – Dr. Samuel W. Francis’s “runcible spoon” – was issued as far back as 1874. So one could say this is a graphical style over 140 years in the making!

Ehhhh, but seriously, there was no specific console generation that inspired the graphics. I was merely going for what one would call “simple pixel art,” for the sake of convenience and ease of animation. See, I have long been a traditional illustrator, so everything in both the digital realm and the realm of animation is something of a new experience to me (although I have previously dabbled lightly in both). One of the coolest things about game development is learning all sorts of new things, really! Like, you know, the history of the spork. Wild.

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