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Staff Spotlight - November 2017 - The 3AM Show with Impetus EP8. (Ft. FPzero)
Forum Index - Sunken Ghost Ship - Display Case - Interview Archive - Staff Spotlight - November 2017 - The 3AM Show with Impetus EP8. (Ft. FPzero)
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Impetus: Welcome back, audience, for another episode of the 3AM show! As usual, our main segment of the night is our interview with a guest - so what guest do we have today? That would be FPzero, one of the long running users on the site, originator of VLDC who's served the site as staff before in the past, and has returned to help with the PR and Forum teams and as one of the hosts of the SMWC Podcast!
FPzero: lowercase "z"
FPzero: Also hello!
Impetus: B-but, wouldn't that make your name Fire Pzero
FPzero: look, I chose this capitalization and i've been living with the consequences for the last 6 years
Impetus: Rip in Pzero tbh.
FPzero: Actually, it all originates from me being "FirePhoenix0" back in ancient history
FPzero: I killed off the "0" around the time I got into romhacking
FPzero: but then it came back in later years when I needed an Xbox gamertag. I went with FP0
FPzero: from there it was easy to transfer to FPzero
FPzero: this is all very interesting and i'm sure the audience is just captivated reading it
Impetus: A 3AM first history reveal!

Impetus: I guess we better get onto the first question, unless we wanna have a discussion on etymology?.
FPzero: I think we've satisfied our dictionary overlords
Impetus: Alright, so, a while ago, you had left the site for an extended duration - pretty much 3 years, unless you count a couple of errant posts. So I pose to you a double question: Why did you leave, and what made you come back to the site?
FPzero: I'm trying to remember the exact reasons why I chose to leave staff. Five years is sometimes a long period of time to remember something. I think it was a combination of my personal life going through a rough spot and a general feeling like I wasn't really doing anything as a staff member anymore. We'll skip the personal stuff not because I'm ashamed to talk about it but because this isn't really the place to talk about it.
FPzero: Anyway, I was feeling like I wasn't much more than a hanger-on with the site. Aside from when I was first hired as a Local Moderator in 2008 for the Non-SMW Hacking subforum I've never really had much involvement in the hacking side of the site. That's a funny thing to say considering I started the VLDC, then just called the "Level Design Contest" back in 2008, as well as rebooting SMWCP1 but it was true nonetheless
FPzero: The last hack I'd worked on publicly had been submitted to the site around 2009. And even then it wasn't finished. I think it's still on the site today; just go search "The Forever Mystery" in the hacks section and see if it's still there.
FPzero: So by 2012 I was mostly on staff for non-hacking reasons. But even then I was feeling more like I was still a staff member just because I was friends with people and no one was actively looking to drop me from staff. I probably just ended up convincing myself that I'd be better off if I quit my position and distanced myself a little bit while I was going back to college for the second time. And so I quit late that year and went mostly inactive.
FPzero: Aside from a VLDC6 submission and judging CLDC 2013, I didn't really have much involvement with the site until earlier this year.
FPzero: My decision to become active again can probably be linked to the VLDC9 Let's Play I just wrapped up on my Youtube channel. It started in January of this year and by summer I was kind of awash with a bit of nostalgia for the place. I still knew some of the people on staff and essentially wondered if there was a place for me to help out the site again. Even though I hadn't been posting much for years, the site still had remained one of my most-visited sites.
FPzero: So I basically decided to come out of hibernation and see if I could talk with people once again, look into the discord, see who remembered me, etc. I talked with the staff about some site feature proposals I had specifically regarding PR stuff and, well, I eventually got hired on in July.
FPzero: And that's a decent overview of how and why I left, and why I returned.

Impetus: Nice~ It's not uncommon for staff members to not really hack all that much, but I guess it gives us more time for staff work. I haven't really made anything outside of my SMWCP1 level and VLDC9/X entries lol.
FPzero: Yeah, like, I have a lot of experience with 2D level design from all the stuff I've done, but I've never really finished a project
Impetus: Alright, next question, following up on the last one~ What things have you found that are really different since the last time you were really active here?
FPzero: Hmm... Well for one, I don't recognize as many people. But that's to be expected with a long hiatus from the site.
FPzero: Oh I know. The staff structure and responsibilities are way more defined and involved than when I left.
FPzero: Feel free to edit any of this out if you don't want to/can't include it since I'm talking about staff stuff by the way. I'm talking about our monthly statistics and things like that.
Impetus: I don't see why not to leave vague references in, I guess if I get demoted by Kieran I'll know I shouldn't have left it in lol.
FPzero: Also how the site has gotten a lot more advanced even though it outwardly doesn't look too different. Stuff like the Meet the Staff and FAQ pages.
FPzero: Everything just feels...smarter. Better made. A little prettier as far as UI goes
Impetus: Nice x2 combo~

Impetus: I have a good next question actually: How do I segway better =v
FPzero: Avoid cliffs
FPzero: don't follow their CEO's example
Impetus: So, we've been doing the podcast, but if people want to know about it they can check the podcast thread, or listen. So, for bonus points, what other things have you done as staff outside of the podcast after returning?
FPzero: Actually even before the podcast started up I helped out idol with OLDC judging
FPzero: I helped partially because I thought it was a really cool idea for a contest and I'd missed entering anything, and partially because I was feeling a little useless since the podcast was still in development. It wasn't unlike how I felt when I left in 2012 actually. Podcast was my only "assigned" duty (aside from a little bit of twitter posting I did) so being unable to get that going yet left me feeling like I'd been brought aboard prematurely
Impetus: At least we have the podcast running now, and have ironed it out a bit too!
Impetus: Asides from my mic =v
FPzero: Yeah but that's hopefully being addressed sometime soon
FPzero: And honestly, I think the allegations against your voice quality are a little overblown
FPzero: It's not a good mic, but it's not like the mic quality I used to hear back in 2008-2009
Impetus: I get it, I mean I sometimes can't understand myself when listening to the recording.
FPzero: I do my best to make everyone audible and fix everyone talking over each other. Though occasionally I have to completely remove a sentence someone said just because it can't be heard well or makes it impossible to hear whatever else is happening.
Impetus: I mean, editing is the most important part of any podcast tbh, I'm glad you take the time to do it.
FPzero: When there aren't any problems with audio like background noise or excessive clicking or other things like that, it's usually not too hard to handle. Just a little time-consuming. The last podcast was an hour and twenty minutes long but it took about three hours to edit. You have to sit there and listen back to the whole thing, cutting audio and moving clips where necessary
FPzero: Of course, I'm also relatively new to it. As I get more used to editing, I'm sure it'll get a little quicker.
Impetus: Yeah =3
Impetus: Hopefully the whole podcast will continue to improve and evolve over time.
Impetus: Only episode 4, though I thought it was episode 5 before I just checked right now.
Impetus: You thought it was episode 3 while we were recording.
Impetus: What's happening to time o-o
FPzero: look
FPzero: time is not a line
FPzero: time is a circle
FPzero: that is why clocks are round
Impetus: Makes perfect sense.
Impetus: So, who did you travel back in time to terminate?
FPzero: This man.

Impetus: RIP Gloomier.

Impetus: Part of the challenge of this interview is asking you about things that won't be podcast topics
FPzero: Just ask away, no one listens to the podcast anyway
Impetus: You mentioned you released an unfinished hack long, long ago, and were given snrk impetus to come back to the site after playing VLDC9.
Impetus: If you released a finished hack, what would your ideal finished hack to release be?
FPzero: It probably wouldn't be an SMW hack!
FPzero: heh
Impetus: Metroid, by any chance?
FPzero: That or Fire Emblem.
FPzero: See, while I might have been gone from the site for five years I wasn't away from romhacking
Impetus: Dude I always wanted to make a fire emblem style game or rom hack but I could never get the tool to work.
Impetus: Must have been ages ago.
FPzero: Oh god don't talk to me about FE hacking tools
FPzero: I'm having vietnam flashbacks thanks
Impetus: Still as bad as ever then lol.
FPzero: We'll save that discussion for another time, but just know viewers that you all have it SO LUCKY that Lunar Magic is as advanced as it is.
FPzero: Like holy shit every single other romhacking program I've ever encounters pales in comparison to the sheer power LM has
FPzero: And I've messed with a number of programs before
Impetus: Make us all a pokemon-showdown like program for fire emblem tbh!
Impetus: Even web based.
Impetus: uwu
FPzero: editors for Link to the Past, Super Metroid, Fire Emblem, Donkey Kong Country 2...
FPzero: they're all less powerful
FPzero: and way less user-friendly
FPzero: The secret is that Lunar Magic has automatic freespace reassignment
Impetus: Yet they're all far superior games to SMW ;-;
FPzero: where every other editor doesn't. Meaning you have to manage your freespace manually. And that right there is a pain in the ass.
Impetus: I guess its worth explaining why other tools don't have that freespace reassignment?
FPzero: I'm not sure myself. I think it's just a hard thing for programs to do.
FPzero: Not to mention, sometimes you want manual control of your freespace.
FPzero: But for ease of accessibility, I'd say the #1 reason SMW hacking is as popular as it is, is all because automatic freespace management makes it so that even a beginner can make a level and never realize what the editor is handling behind the scenes to make those modifications function.

FPzero: Let me give an example
FPzero: This is the main level editor for SMILE, Super Metroid's editor
FPzero: (Super Metroid Integrated Level Editor, if you're curious)
Impetus: Metroid is such a better looking game ;-;
FPzero: Well I've also fancied this up a little bit, it's a room from my WIP hack
FPzero: anyway
FPzero: You see up along the top there? There's a line that says Room Level Data Compressed Size 5045/5165
FPzero: That 5045/5165 represents the current bytes of space my room is using out of the maximum available in that room
FPzero: If I go over that 5165 bytes limit, I might accidentally overwrite either some other room's header or level data. Or maybe even something else like the enemy population pointers or special effects data
FPzero: But not every room is 5165 bytes big
FPzero: As you can see here, those numbers have changed to 411/432
FPzero: granted it's a tiny room but still, that's a LOT less space to work with
FPzero: Now, it is possible to both make rooms larger and have a bigger amount of room data to work with. But to do this I manually have to go into the pointer tables for the room and modify where the room header is looking for the actual room data

FPzero: That line that says "Level Data" about halfway down is referencing where the actual level data is stored. It's the same idea in Lunar Magic but the editor handles it for you
FPzero: with SMILE (and other editors) you need to specify the new freespace you want the level data to be stored in.
FPzero: The same goes for if you want to modify ANY of those green lines to be larger than what their pointers allow by default
FPzero: Lunar Magic does all of its equivalent tasks in the background, automatically, and the user never has to handle it themselves unless they want to.
FPzero: And that's why I can say without a doubt that that's why SMW hacking is more popular and accessible than any other romhacking community that I know of.
Impetus: Seems janky, but not impossible at least
Impetus: ... Compared to FE editing =p
Impetus: I'd like to play the finished thing~
FPzero: If I ever get it done
FPzero: Then certainly
FPzero: But anyway, I've worked on a Fire Emblem hack with others from Something Awful's LP community since 2013. Technically it's still in progress but progress has been nearly non-existent for the last year.
FPzero: And then on my own I've had a few Super Metroid projects that are mostly slow going
FPzero: So even though I haven't done any SMW hacking, I've still kept on romhacking
FPzero: I generally strive to make my hacks accessible, probably because romhacking has a bad (but earned) reputation of being bullshit hard and not fun to outsiders.
FPzero: So my goal is to make any hack I make theoretically possible to be beaten by someone who has only played the original game a couple times and is by no means an expert at it
FPzero: With Super Metroid, this means avoiding requiring some of the speed tricks, or excessive walljumping (though I might use them for built-in sequence-breaking)
FPzero: with Fire Emblem, it means balancing enemies and allies so that you're not too strong but enemies are also not going to destroy you
FPzero: I've played way too many hacks that only cater to the most devoted of their fanbases. And I can't really blame them because 90% of the people that will ever play their hack are gonna be those very enthusiastic fans that know the series inside and out so it makes sense to try and provide a challenge for them.
FPzero: But like, I've had plenty of people ask me about Super Metroid hacks to play as someone starting out playing them and I can't in good faith recommend the vast majority of the ones I like the best as their first hack because they're almost always too difficult or require knowledge of speed tricks
FPzero: So that's why I want to make anything I finish be accessible to that one person who has just discovered the world of romhacks and wants to dive in for the first time. Let my theoretical hack be their gateway like certain hacks were for me.
FPzero: (Of course, this is all great rhetoric, but I've actually gotta finish a hack first! lol.)
Impetus: I still can't shell jump so I appreciate that, tbh. Not that I'm bad at games, I just have no interest in learning the game that well - and I also find that ridiculously hard difficulty railroads the player too much, which isn't really that fun.
Impetus: Hopefully one day it'll be the greatest and most well known of quality metroid hacks =p
FPzero: Hey who knows. Even to this day, I still get comments on how influential my unfinished Super Metroid hack was for a lot of people
FPzero: to which I usually reply "...i didn't think it was that good lol "
Impetus: =p

FPzero: Anything else you want to know from romhacking?
Impetus: I had to help someone worldedit in minecraft so I was a bit tuned out.
FPzero: smh
Impetus: I guess I can ask what you'd like to see the most in romhacking in general =p
Impetus: I've asked that a few times, but it can be pretty interesting
FPzero: I'd like to see more people branch out and try other programs, just so they can get a better understanding of romhacking as a medium
FPzero: Because, I didn't fully appreciate what exactly it was I was doing in SMW until I looked at other games
FPzero: Not to mention it can just be fun to try new things and see if you like them
FPzero: Also also not to mention, almost all of these other communities are much much smaller and only the most dedicated are among them. This means that there's not a lot of development on newer tools or techniques in many cases.
FPzero: Think about how many tools and resources we have for SMW. No other community I know of has anywhere near the amount of support we have here. Which means that a lot of these other communities stagnate and don't develop very well.
FPzero: Take the FE community for example. I mentioned that there's a new editor in development now that's closer to Lunar Magic in scope. But people have hacked FE for over ten years now.
FPzero: And in those ten years, we were using programs that we all knew were partially broken and buggy. We just learned to work around the bugs as best as possible because no one was available to fix the problems. FEditor was probably the worst hacking program I've ever used but it was a required tool if you wanted to insert custom text, character portraits, animations or spells
FPzero: The bigger a community, the better it becomes. And the better it becomes, the better the tools become. And the better the tools become, the bigger the community gets
FPzero: You can see that that forms a loop. We have a pretty self-sufficient cycle on SMWC. But many other communities could use that boost.
FPzero: So that's what I'd like to see. Ideally, people would look at other games, other tools, other programs and just mess around with stuff.
FPzero: It'd be really cool to have big communities for major games.
Impetus: Yeah I totally agree with that TBH. I've always wanted people to get into other forms of hacking, and its sad to see so many other hacking forums die - but at the same time, important to get rid of a dead forum so... We've seen a lot of other mario games hacked here, only YI and SM64 have really stuck with people. YI seems to be somewhat of an outlier here, as SM64 and SMW have popularity from youtube? Maybe YI does too, and I haven't noticed.
FPzero: I think novelty is also a factor. SMW and SM64 are both really influential titles. And their early release also means they have a lot of exploitable features that probably make editing them easier than later titles on their respective consoles.
FPzero: YI's editor seems a lot better these days but it's still not as powerful as LM (though nothing is). I think it's just a harder game to build levels for since its more puzzle-focused nature requires a certain type of mind to build its levels.
Impetus: Its kinda weird, because even though I could probably design decent YI levels, I never liked the gameplay that much. I think DKC is my fave out of the nes platformers.
Impetus: No wait, bubsy obv, bubsy hacking 4 life.
FPzero: Unfortunately, DKC 1, 2, and 3 seem to be some of the hardest to make hacks for. Their pre-rendered graphics make for a nightmare of design
FPzero: Cutoff is real bad
FPzero: Also, DKC games actually use 2D collision maps
Impetus: Modeling tools are actually pretty accessable now though, it wouldn't be a stretch to apply the same design process to make dkc levels.
FPzero: Well, their prerendered graphics are still translated into 2D tiles so you can build with chunks of tiles, but it's still really challenging since the tiling is nowhere near as friendly as SMW or Super Metroid or any other number of SNES games
FPzero: the modeling tools are better suited to the more modern hacking attempts, like Wii/U games
Impetus: nods
Impetus: Another barrier to the development of other game hacking is the lack of people with enough coding ability to not only disassemble a rom, but also produce a tool for editing it.
Impetus: Which makes me wonder if we could do a collab project to produce good hacking tools for a non-smw game.
Impetus: With jobs anyone can do, with or without coding experience.
FPzero: Sounds difficult, but it'd be awesome if some of our highly experienced members were able to help other communities
[FPzero: I'm gonna file it away under "Wishful Thinking" though...
Impetus: Could be more likely than putting pressure on one coder to step up and create a new field of hacking on their own?
FPzero: Maybe
FPzero: Anyway, I think we got really far away from talking about me lol
Impetus: Comment below if you want a Paper Mario: TTYD hacking project =D
FPzero: But that's cool because I like thinking about this stuff
Impetus: Yeah this is virtually a bonus episode of the podcast at this rate =p
FPzero: Whoops!

Impetus: Seems like we've talked about a lot already, so do you want to move onto the quickfire round or go for another round of main questions?
FPzero: You can do whatever you want. Anything else major you want to know from me?
Impetus: Who's in your avatar
FPzero: It's Samus but someone drew her as a Japanese delinquent
FPzero: Linked for big.
FPzero: The metroid there is my spirit animal
Impetus: Nice.
FPzero: I tried to get Tyty to make it his avatar at one point. He might have for a bit but it didn't stick
Impetus: When are you fixing the chinese food while sitting at the computer video for the display case
FPzero: 2009
Impetus: What's the best piece of site L O R E?
FPzero: Or this
Impetus: Classics tbh.
Impetus: Was nightfall real?
FPzero: yes
FPzero: so was kuribo's shoe
Impetus: Ironically SMWC2 is actually SMWC4
Impetus: And also doesn't exist.
Impetus: What's your favourite contribution to the site?
FPzero: A contribution I made or just one that anyone made?
Impetus: How about one of both
FPzero: Well, for me I'd say VLDC is my legacy even if I don't control it these days. I'm proud of creating such a long-lived tradition of a contest.
FPzero: I'm not as sure about the second one, but I think the discovery that we can do custom music was a gigantic thing. Because before it was determined possible, everyone thought it could never be accomplished
FPzero: It was the final holy grail of SMW hacking
FPzero: So it was really cool to be on the site when it became a thing.
Impetus: Heh, that's funny 'cause to most people, that will seem so old and basic to them.
FPzero: I'm nothing if not an ancient fart of a user.
Impetus: I believe that's called "old guard".
FPzero: That's a much better name
Impetus: What mosts trophy do you want to win
FPzero: Best Admin
Impetus: If there is a game that isn't hacked that you would like to see a scene appear for, which game is it?
FPzero: That's actually really hard because most of my favorite games either have at least a rudimentary hacking program (like in Metroid Prime's case) or are not really games that need or would benefit from hacking (like Danganronpa)
FPzero: Yeah I'm not sure. But if we were to say "Which game that has a community would you like to see get better tools and a bigger community?" I'd go with Super Metroid, hands down.
Impetus: What's missing from the site right now?
FPzero: My dear old friend, S.N.N.
FPzero: I miss you buddy.
Impetus: ;-;
Impetus: RIP Dwellers of Dischord
Impetus: Are chester and system bots?
FPzero: Definitely not.
Impetus: What's the best SMW hack?
FPzero: Xka Shack
Impetus: good pick
Impetus: In an all out brawl between every staff member, who is victorious in the end?
FPzero: I think idol and RPG Hacker make it to the very end, but then RPG Hacker unveils that his name has had a double-meaning this entire time and blows her up with an anti-tank rocket.
Impetus: Nice. Rip me tho.
FPzero: Me too
Impetus: Rip you tho.
Impetus: What's your favourite food?
FPzero: Pasta and chocolate. But not at the same time.
Impetus: When will the midnight crew return so I can reveal my secret identity as Snowman
FPzero: Whenever we decide to have random site events like that again.
Impetus: I pray every day for those years ;-;
Impetus: Best pokemon type?
FPzero: Poison
Impetus: same
Impetus: Psychic is good tho
FPzero: psychic kills my poison
Impetus: uwu
Impetus: Who do you want to guest on the podcast the most?
FPzero: I'd love to get S.N.N., Ersanio, myself and some other oldbie on the show to talk about ancient site history and just reminisce about the good old days.
FPzero: That or I think it'd be fun to have idol on the show but she seems averse to buying a mic
Impetus: Could get someone like smallhacker, supertails, tatrion or techokami for really old oldbies
FPzero: Yeah, there are a ton of older users I haven't spoken to in ages. Or hell, put Kieran on it too
Impetus: True!
Impetus: Shout out to any non-tyty users?
Impetus: Time for the final quickfires!
Impetus: Best colour?
FPzero: #9FF222
Impetus: Best music genra?
FPzero: I like a lot of stuff but I'll go with lo-fi hiphop and retrowave stuff since I'm listening to a ton of it lately
FPzero: (and right now even)
Impetus: Best movie?
FPzero: I'm always bad at actually remembering a favorite movie so I'll go with "UHF"
Impetus: Best video game?
FPzero: Metroid Prime
Impetus: Worst superhero?
FPzero: Superman
FPzero: he's so criminally boring to me
FPzero: "oh look i'm basically invincible to everything"
FPzero: "My one weakness is this ultra-rare material from my own dead home planet"
FPzero: "Oh wait every single fucking adversary of mine in the universe has access to it"
Impetus: whispers dc sucks
FPzero: nah Batman is my favorite
Impetus: Agree to disagree =p
FPzero: I love that he has no crazy powers other than intelligence and funding
Impetus: Scariest monster?
FPzero: I don't know, I don't really get scared much
FPzero: I couldn't finish watching Babadook though. But the movie's atmosphere was probably creepier than the actual creature.
Impetus: Biggest inspiration?
FPzero: I don't really know. I just kind of keep pushing myself to keep going.
Impetus: Final words?
FPzero: I forgot to tell you at the start that I'm wordy as hell.
FPzero: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
FPzero: WAIT

wow this is REALLY long but a great read nonetheless! The metroid prime stuff makes you really think about how we take lunar magic for granted.

FPzero: Feel free to edit any of this out if you don't want to/can't include it since I'm talking about staff stuff by the way. I'm talking about our monthly statistics and things like that.

Impetus: I don't see why not to leave vague references in, I guess if I get demoted by Kieran I'll know I shouldn't have left it in lol.

I'm sorry I had to drop the Metroid av on Discord because I LITERALLY HAD TO USE THIS WHEN I SAW IT.

only the most important thing i've ever seen.

Really long, but really good interview.

Congrats FPzero, best Former Former Staff Member #tb{;)}


Congrats and good read!
Congrats, well earned!

metroid central when
I love long, meaningful interviews like yours, FPzero. Congratulations for the Staff Spotlight, it's 200% deserved !
Congrats, you old fart!

Your idea of a collabaration hack (SMWCP) taught most of us to hate item babysitting. But I forgive you since you started the idea of level design contests on this forum.
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