1. How did you learn about SMW Central?
Oh, this feels like forever ago, so the exact details are fuzzy. What I do remember is that I spent a whole lot of my childhood preoccupied with "what if" situations involving the games I played. Designing things on graph paper was a major hobby of mine, and included Zelda dungeons, Mario levels, new Pokemon, you get the idea. I was already into Game Maker and RPG Maker at this point (2005?).
I wasn't skilled enough to make a Mario engine, so I was looking for level editors or anything similar. Soon after, I typed "mario custom levels" into Google
and found out about SMW hacking. In particular, Return to Dinosaur Land
piqued my interest in level design, as it stayed very close to the style of the original SMW. I downloaded Lunar Magic, and made horrible horrible levels for a while. I eventually had some questions that weren't answered in the help file, so I guess my reason for registering was to ask said questions. That was way back when my username was Onthenet, my avatar was a Mr. Saturn, and I wasn't an asshole. Go figure.
2. Which users from the site do you consider as friends and why?
I read this as: "Hey Lucas you don't seem to have many friends, so why not list all of them and explain how the world they can tolerate you" ಠ_ಠ
In no particular order and also excluding a whole bunch of people (THAT MEANS YOU)
Feenicks - He made a whole bunch of stuff for SMWCmon, reads Homestuck, is the chillest dude ever.
Raibys - We play Hisoutensoku together, and link each other animated gifs in an elaborate competition of cuteness superiority.
Azure - Raibys's girlfern, she is fuzzy. Go play her awesome games, seriously, go now
. The fuzziest.
Bluemoon, Lishy and TLMB - I partnered up with the first two of these guys for a Danmakufu game and TLMB for a SMW hack. Although neither of those projects got very far, I had a fun time working on them, and learned a whole lot that will be useful in the future!
SNN and Kieran - My personal staff microharem. Smalls used to be here too, but Pac is way hotter.
Sonikku - Remember that animated gif thing with Raibys? Basically the same thing except with train porn. He will forever be my Robert Hombre.
Nimono - Fellow Touhou and Pokemon fan, and former Danmakufuer. SHOULD READ HOMESTUCK SOMETIME SOON
3. I know you don't hack anymore, but could you describe your experience with Lunar Magic when you used to?
I had tons and tons of unfinished hacks that I lost in a hard drive crash. After learning some new skill I would scrap my hack and start anew, leaving a world's worth of level design behind. I would later recombine these elements into future hacks, but I was never quite satisfied with how it all came together. Many of the concepts I wanted to implement required high level ASM knowledge that I was simply impatient to learn. Perhaps if I return to hacking I will take more time to explore these possibilities.
As for the levels themselves, my philosophy was pretty simple. I took a holistic approach to level design, and looked at levels not as the separate elements of graphics, music, and obstacles, but as a level that combined these into an experience for the player. This is also a weakness of mine, as I find it difficult to work without resources already on hand. At the very least I always need a placeholder. Even now I still keep this philosophy in mind for my non-SMW projects.
4. Even if you don't hack anymore, it seems you still compose custom music. Why did you decided to keep working in this area?
Actually, the ports I've done for SMWCP2 are more the result of finding a use for songs I didn't intend for SMW in the first place. It's been a long time since I've tried making a song in SMW. I did however retain an interest in FL Studio which led me to try making more custom compositions and remixes. I still consider myself a very poor composer, but it's still the first step at being a not very poor composer, right? And at least now I can hide my shoddy music behind synthesizers and soundfonts.
Sorry, don't have more to say about that :V
5. Why did you decided to quit hacking in favor of game making?
As I said, from the beginning I had a wide range of games and genres I wanted to design for. The ease of using Lunar Magic made it an attractive program to work with, but at the same time I felt it disappointed me in many aspects. I started hacking not to be a SMW hacker, but to be a game designer, and the limitations of hacking became increasingly apparent as I came up with designs that simply would not feel natural in SMW. I wanted more out of the graphics, more out of the music, and more out of the gameplay possibilities, and practicing Danmakufu and programming on the side had finally opened up those opportunities for me. In particular, I think Danmakufu is what sealed the deal, as it bridged the gap between the comfort of having a full game as a base, and the flexibility of easily coding whatever you wanted. Also, making Touhous is pretty fun.
6. Can you describe your experience with some of the game engines you've used?
I don't remember if I started with RPG Maker or Game Maker but whatever...
RPG Maker was fun, and very easy for me to get into as a middle schooler. My friends loved seeing themselves in the game, and as cheesy as the plots seem now, they felt epic at the time. I think RPG Maker is a good start for the storytellers, because the RPG is a very safe genre to play around in when you're experimenting with plots and dialogue.
Game Maker was my first taste of actual coding, and taught me how to deal with loops, conditionals, and variables. I think if you're not afraid of seeing your game in an incomplete state for a longer period of time, Game Maker offers a lot of freedom, and is a good starting point for those intimidated by "real" programming.
Danmakufu is what I use for many of my projects nowadays, and is a script-based Touhou engine that uses a syntax similar to c++. It might seem like a step backwards in terms of flexibility, but it's actually quite powerful. I really appreciate the intricacies of designing a danmaku pattern, how you can express many things through the art of bullets~
7. Is there anything else you would like to tell to the community?
Santas are almost done! For reals! Also I am a homo, apparently not everyone knows that yet!
...Was I supposed to have something interesting here? W/E