FiveSixSeven Eight (!) years in the making! Much more still to come. Chapter one is complete and ready for your enjoyment. Download it now! Play it immediately thereafter! This is the demo I showed off at Winter C3 2021, and is the fourteenth (!!) public release of Ganymede since Oct. 16, 2014.
This is the story of a boy who seeks adventure and fun.
Why do kids seek adventure and fun? Part of it is that kids are just naturally wired to do that. But, another part of it is contrast; the grass is always greener somewhere else. If life appears to suck, it is a natural instinct to dream of a place where it doesn't, and to want to go and find it. Even if it isn't real.
For this boy, life could be better. This is not the first time noises from his parents' bedroom have roused him awake.
It used to be that, at times, weird noises came from their room, but this noise is a lot more familiar and relatable, and his first thought is that he's glad they are shouting at each other, because that meant that, if he stayed out of the way, neither of them would shout at him. That's just how it was these days, and it just kept getting worse and worse. Now, he couldn't even take a nap and get away from it.
So, maybe, the boy thinks, he really ought to get away from it.
Before he has time to stop himself, he's already out and into the pouring rain. He doesn't have anywhere in mind, and it really doesn't matter, does it? He could go wherever he wanted, and no one would miss him. What's more, he wouldn't miss them, either. And so, he wandered, in search of nothing, until finally, the rain ceases and so do his wanderings.
He has made his way to the edge of the sea, and it makes him think of the painting above his bed, with its bad ass sailor holding his own in a hurricane against the worst Mother Nature had to throw at him. The boat docked nearby makes it almost seem like fate and Mother Nature appeared to not be in a fighting mood at the moment. And so, it was in no general direction that the boy sailed.
For a brief time, the clouds clear and reveal a dazzling night sky, full of stars and constellations. Miles from anywhere and going who knows where, such a sight could only be witnessed by an adventurous seafarer such as himself. He enjoys it as long as he can.
And that is not very long. Because, without warning, the storm reignites all around the boy and his boat. Thunder stomps the seas into churning chaos as the squall blows in every direction at once. The boat is tossed, turned, and tumbled before a bolt of lightning strikes, smashing it to a great many smithereens.
When he awakens, many hours have passed, and it is the blinding stare of the sun into which he opens his eyes. He doesn't know where he is, or how, exactly, he survived to ponder the question. Maybe it doesn't matter. What matters is that he's here, apparently to stay.
A silhouette looms in the distance, which he recognizes as a lighthouse. It is tall and old, and looks like it has not been used in a long time. It is there he decides to go first. How cool it would be to live in a lighthouse! It's the adventure he was seeking, in any case.
But the funny thing about adventure is that adventure is dangerous. No going to the fridge for a drink, no stopping in the convenience store for a hot dog. No warm bed to snuggle in at night, no fan to keep you cool. Living like a kid is one way to learn some adult lessons. It seems certain that, by the time he makes it to the lighthouse, he will be relieved to finally find safety and maybe he will be wondering if this wasn't a big mistake after all.
The real-life story of GANYMEDE:
The year was 2013. My wife was then my fiancé, and we had just moved in together. A concurrent change in careers left me with a lot more free time (or, more to the point, I made my money tied to my desk now). This was a job that frequently left me with downtime. So, I decided to start hackin'. I had no plan or ambition, it was just cool that Lunar Magic let me make levels in a Mario game, because this was something I dreamt of doing since there was a Super Mario World. So, I made a bunch, pretty quickly, and had fun doing it. I thought I lost this first hack (eventually, I rediscovered it), so I just started a new one, armed with a greater skillset and more experience. As before, this was nothing but something to do, when I had nothing else to do. Within a few months, it sported about three dozen levels, some of which I was pretty proud of. And so, it finally occurred to me that this could be an actual hack people might enjoy.
This is when I began to lurk here, getting a feel for what the expectations were, and going through the first of many, many editing binges. I finally joined in August of 2014 and showed off some screens. Two months later, I released Thoughtful Mario World (Part I). It was Part I because I already knew I wanted there to be more. Even at this early point, it was already as big as some of the biggest hacks on this site. My ambition, at this point, was to make a hack that rated well, but it was still, pretty much, a vanilla hack. It still used the vanilla world map, music, and most of the graphics. I submitted this as a full hack, though this was a premature move. It turned out to be rougher and less polished than I assumed, and the hack was rejected. I took it as a lesson and got back to work, with the goal of adding the remaining levels and making it look and play better. Over the next year, I began experimenting with ExGFX for the first time, constructing my own worldmap for the first time, and installing patches, and little by little, Thoughtful Mario World drifted further into what the kids call 'choconilla' territory. Still a Mario game, but starting to be something a little bit different.
It was around this time that I was introduced to a band I've since come to call my favorite. They are The Shills, and one of their albums was an album with a story, my favorite kind. And this one really touched me. It was about a man who runs away, and leaves his entire world behind, sick of humanity and all the bullshit. He gets caught in a storm and wrecks on an island. As the album progresses, his feelings about his situation progress from satisfaction and happiness to the realization that the real problem was himself, and nowhere you could run would be far enough to get away from it. It turned out that I related to this story in a deep and profound way, and rather entirely by coincidence, I thought, wouldn't it be fun to adapt this story to my hack? I have always wanted to make a videogame, but even more, I have always wanted to tell a great story. I redesigned Mario into the Man on the Boat, and it's been a process in the years since to transform Thoughtful Mario World into Ganymede.
So, originally, Ganymede was going to be, simply an adaptation, telling (roughly) the same story as the album, with a lot of extra detail in between the major plot points that existed as songs. But, then, a newer and bigger idea began to take hold. Instead of my Ganymede being a story about a man who runs away, it would be about a boy who runs away, not from the big bad world and its stupid people, but from the people who ought to love him and care for him most, because, instead, they are really screwed up, toxic people, so caught up in their own problems that they are unaware of how much it hurts their kid. This is Chapter One, as it now exists, and it ends on a cliffhanger as the kid finds himself trapped on an island with his regrets and no apparent way back home. The next several chapters will tell of what happens as the boy grows into a man, and comes to grips with the events of the night he ran away, all to culminate in a pair of climaxes: how the boy survived and made it back home, and how (or, if?!) the man comes to grips with his traumas and challenges afterwards. I say "if", because whether or not he actually does make it back and gains the wisdom he needs to finally be at peace, is entirely up to you.
Several truly righteous dudes here have been instrumental in the success of this hack and directly helping me realize my vision. They are as follows:
Full credits list for ASM and music can be found in the hack itself.
I'm thinking I might touch up some of the earlier levels and put up a patch, because I'd really love for people to play it and get some feedback. I'm dedicated to finishing one way or another.
Funny thing is, I'm not really very experienced with hacking, and what I did took me a couple of years to figure out. I haven't even attempted to alter the world map (other than change the level names) both because I care a lot more about level design, and because it seems a lot harder to do. The bulk of my experience comes from designing Mario levels on pen and paper starting when I was in elementary school.
Looking great so far! I notice that there's a missing tile on Constantly Under Fire (at the beginning), and on The Sentinels, I'm not a huge fan of the goal being against the wall like that. It looks awkward when Mario finishes the level, if you know what I mean.
Other than that, looks great. Looking forward to more!
Dude, these look wonderful! Very cool designs so far. I love your philosophies too, I think they'll help you create a very fun and replayable hack (replayability, to me, is very valuable). Also, Goodybasket Grove is pretty genius.
My thanks for the sentiments are late but no less appreciated for it. I promise! I'm really glad you guys like it so far.
So, I'm a bit behind my stated schedule. I have been hard at work on this, in between everything else (I'm getting married tomorrow). Being that I want to release this for public consumption, I wanted to go over my earlier levels and tune them up, fix little broken things and so on.
Here's a handful more. It won't be long now until it's playable. I promise! Again!
I want to thank K3fka for his/her help in writing a script for me that adds a second onto the timer for each coin collected.
The level once known as Vanilla Secret 1. I think I mistakenly identified another level as that. Anyway, it's a haunted mine level. I virtually entirely redesigned it recently because I hated how it originally looked.
Okay, seriously and for real: I am about to make it go live. All of the levels are done (at least, all of the levels that will appear in the first part). I just have a little bit of tweaking and testing to do. It should be just another day or two.
Since it is just one part of two (the second will have every level replaced), it will end after Roy's castle. Worlds 6 and 7, and the Special Star World levels will not yet be playable. However, there will be rewards awaiting those who make it all the way to these points in the game.
I'm really excited at the prospect of other people playing, and hopefully enjoying, this hack.
Thanks. The palettes are all I've changed on the overworld, actually. I find the overworld editor a great deal less intuitive than the level editor, and I've never gotten comfortable with it. Every time I've tried to toy with the overworld, I've ended up wrecking it. I want to do another hack one day, and devote the time to learning how to edit the overworld and toy with ASM (another aspect of hacking that has confounded me), but for this one, I've just worried about making levels.
Hi, I'm back, and I'm still working on this. Thanks to everyone who's given it a try. If you haven't, please do. Link's up top.
I have a few new levels completed, which will be playable in the final and full version of the game. Take a look, let me know what you think. Your feedback is my food and drink. Even if you tell me you hate it, you've given me a bit of your time and attention, and that's valuable in its own way.
Now, on to the levels. As I am not moving around the overworld in this hack, these levels replace the first four of World 6.
I am shouting into the darkness (of the latest level).
It's called Fairyfire Grotto, so as to justify a reason to have lava that was a strange, different color. Fairyfire Grotto is filled with treasure and a lot of tricky jumps and traps that will make you use all the jumping skills the previous few levels have taught you to learn. It's one of the longest levels I've made for the game, so far. I had to adjust quite a few things that initially made the difficulty unfair.
There are 20 more levels to go before the hack is complete. I'm excited!
I'd say getting rid of the layer 3 background stuff would be the best idea, since you already have a full layer 2 background. The palette of the layer 2 background I'm not too sure about though; it looks kind of...discolored? It feels like it wasn't made with a proper gradient or anything like that.
As for the design itself, it looks rather empty. There doesn't seem to be much enemy population, just a bunch of annoying jumps on very steep slopes. Even the places that aren't are still empty. You also miss a lot of opportunities to hide 1-up mushrooms, like that alcove at the beginning where you just shoved a bunch of coins. That would be a perfect place to hide a 1-up.
Umm, I don't get the point of these pipe-like blocks, I think cement blocks or proper ground corners will do the work better. The design, hmm... I think it's lacking enemies, but watch out with the steep slopes, because you have to jump to climb these. The palettes are okay, however I'm not a fan of the BG palette, the outlines should be darker, but that's just me.
A small, stupid question... what are those black, electro-like blocks? Do they hurt the player?
They do. They are basically my way of getting floating munchers without the silliness of literal floating munchers.
I've been working on this just about every day. I'm hell bent on having a finished product. Now that I'm down to the last several levels, I've been going back and seeing what more could be done with levels I've already finished.
One example is with Icewater Lake, which looks like this in the demo and will resemble this in the final release.
The vanilla palette looks a bit like abstract, but that's just me. That's because of the white outlines on the icy ground, maybe it was the point.
Nevermind. Looks interesting. The chocolate version looks fine as well except for the Koopa palettes I find a bit weird. They are too saturated and the green/yellow ones have a lack of shading. Other things look fine. The choco version looks more icy, I think.