tcdw: I'm fine.
Erik: I see, that's god to hear!
Erik: As I said, you've been porting for a long time now, around 3 years or so. What's what got you into music, not only in Super Mario World, but in general?
tcdw: When I heard some interesting music, I think I could make it fit with my taste better. However, I have nearly no knowledge about music things before I do porting things.
tcdw: However, I actually started NOT from music itself. In 2011, I saw a article introduced Lunar Magic in Baidu Tieba (it was a popular Chinese forum). It told me that I can modify SMW levels by drag and drop, and some basic usage. I am delighted, since one of my childhood dreams is making mario levels by myself.
tcdw: Then, I started to make my first hack, like most people did. Suddenly I have no idea about what should I do next, so I found SMW Central by Google, and tried to learn more about SMW hacking. After that, I figured out I can add lots of custom stuff, including custom music!
tcdw: I am also a Yoshi's Islnd fan, so I decided to add some Yoshi's Island music from the music section. However, the music is far from what I excepted, it sounds terrible for me (I understand just because it's unsampled and not really well-made now). But better than nothing, I added more music to my hack, through it didn't help making my hacking process keep going on, because I actually ran out of idea.
tcdw: Through I have a SMW Central account in 2011, I don't have enough English skills, and don't want to use Google Translate, since I know how it bad when I tried to translate tutorials from SMW Central to Chinese.
tcdw: I tried to post my WIP work in Baidu Tieba, and want to grab some feedback. Sadly, nobody really cares, it seems they just like the original Mario games.
tcdw: Then, I gave up in early 2012.
tcdw: But in mid-2013, something changed. A guy called SMW_Forever (who also exists in SMW Central), he made his first hacks, and wrote lots of basic tutorials. He also packed a massive number of Japanese ports, and distributed them through Yong Shuo web storage service. His action make me start SMW Hacking things again, since he have more common with me. At that time, I inserted these Japanese music, and shocked: SMW Music could be better!
tcdw: However, it do not contain Yoshi's Island ports (I figured out I just want them sampled after start porting). To add better Yoshi's Island music to my hack, I grab a Yoshi's Island MIDI that I googled, and put into TinyMM, then add some MML syntax like @, #, etc. (SMW_Forever actually wrote a basic porting tutorial). However, it sounds way worse than the version on SMW Central in that time. I did not give up, because these Japanses ports gave me spirit! I downloaded AM4Player, tried to tweak these commands, and play again and again, to see what happens. With Google Translated tutorial from SMW Central, I actually figured out how does w, v, $ED $DA $ER, etc. works. At that time, I noticed a guy called LadiesMan217 has a Yoshi's Island soundtrack project. However, I actually figured out how Music Porting is a fun thing, so I still decided keep going on.
tcdw: At same time, I start creating a hack called Super Jingcai World (超级精彩世界, https://smwc.me/1105417). But like the first hack I ever made, I ran out idea again. I realized I am not really suitable on making fancy Mario levels, then I gave up. My SMW Hacking life is mostly terminated after then, but it didn't stop me from porting.
tcdw: In early 2014, I found a interesting thing called NintSPC, which can disassemble sequence data from games using N-SPC based SPC engine, and output MML for SMW use. I downloaded it, and try to make my early relastic SNES music port with it. After lots of trials and errors (it just time-wasting things I figured out now, plus I didn't take the advantage of AddMusicK's porter mode), I made my first sampled Kirby's Dreamland 3 ports, through it sounds extremely distorted with my own 2017 standard. I shared it with SMW_Forever and some other Chinese guys, they thought I am a god, and encourage me keep going on.
tcdw: Few months later, I tried to make my first ever SMW Central submission (http://smwc.me/s/13376). I still remember I am so nervous when I input the details of the submission in the old SMW Music section system. After few days, it's accepted! I cried: "Yeah!" when I saw my submission is in the official custom music list.
tcdw: Then, I keep practise Music Porting, and look around tricks used by well-known porters like Masterlink and Izuna. After that, I got lots of great results, feedbacks, and other scenes I am never excepted before. That's all.
Erik: Ha, that's a pretty big musical background. Good to see you didn't stop porting even if you don't hack anymore.
Erik: You mentioned you wanted to make music that fits your taste better. What is the music you prefer listening to (say, your favorite musical genres)?
tcdw: Yes, it's true.
tcdw: I actually have little knowledge about VGM before that. To make better ports, I tried to find random game music MIDIs from Google, and tried to search the original songs. I found vgm sounds good or bad depending my instant taste. music styles light music, piano-only music, electronic music, 80's synth (mostly music played with synths like Yamaha DX-7 and Roland D-50). I am not really interested with rock music from Wastern Countries, but I am actually tring to do now, for better skill.
tcdw: I also like certain music from Touhou series, Final Fantasy series, and some fan-made mixes.
Erik: We seem to have the same taste in VGM, looks like.
Erik: If you could give any advice to novice porters, what would it be?
tcdw: 1. Get some basic knowledge about music. If you not going to ear-porting, just learn things about tempo, beats and musical measure.
tcdw: 2. Don't just stick with your favourite music; you can try to find random MIDIs from Google, and port it.
tcdw: 3. MIDI editing takes an important role on porting. I recommend using MIDI editing programs like MIDIEditor (http://midieditor.sourceforge.net/) and Anvil Studio (https://www.anvilstudio.com/) (Yes, all of them are freeware) beofre you convert it to MML. I did not actually edit MIDIs before 2015, which make music porting extremely awkward, and slowed down my progress terribly.
tcdw: 4. If you want to make effects like ADSR and vibrato, I recommend you don't just copy and paste valuse from other people, which will make your port sounds dull. Try to twick these values by yourself, until you feels these value is good for your port.
tcdw: 5. Most importantly: except to take lots of time and effort to do trial and error stuff!
Erik: I'm pretty sure beginner folks will appreciate those.
Erik: You've participated in three of our SMWCentral Idol contests. What has been your experience with those, and will you participate in the next one?
tcdw: SMWC Idol is a mixed bag. In 2014, I already excepted I may got eliminated soon, but I just want to get a higher rank.So, I choose some famous songs to port. The song I used in the round 0 is a top hit of Vocaloid song. I copied some rock instruments to the music (which I never actually used before), and added some random effects, then I submit it. Since it's famous, my submission got a middile rank in Round 0.
tcdw: However, the Round 1's requirement comfused me: "Port a song from a game released before January 1st, 1995. You must use at least two original SMW instruments." I thought: "What?"
tcdw: You know these old-school game music sounds not that fancy, and didn't have many channels. At that time, I have no idea on how to remix them. However, I did that. I grab a MIDI of Action 52 from vgmusic.com, and added some random Kirby instruments. I thought Action 52 is a well-known bad game collection, plus some funny instrument, it will got high rank! But things is not going as I expected: I got nearly bottom rank and lots of negative reviews. I am so dispointed, so in round 2 I didn't really put efforts, plus it's hard to find a VGM that's over 3 minutes long, for fulfilling the requirement. Of course, I am eliminated.
tcdw: SMWC Idol 7 is an interesting story for me. In 2015, my porting skills improved, and I started to edit my MIDI before converting to MIDI. When the SMWC Idol 7 announced, I decided to gave a try (抱着试试看的心态). I thought I will be eliminated soon, but with more positive opinion: Try to find out how can I improve.
tcdw: In round 0, I grab a MIDI of VGM from Key's well-known game AIR, and ported normally. I didn't even actually worry about how people interseted in.
tcdw: Then, people's feedback is surprisingly great. It's not something I excepted, since I am self-abasement at that time. I decided to put my 101% efforts on the contest!
tcdw: But in the round 2, the challenge cames. We were asked to port something with a number of NES instruments and normal custom samples. I ran out of idea. However, I decided to try a way other people may not even consided: make a sampled port in normal modern music styles, with the minimum numbers of NES instruments. So, the song does even not featured any NES voices, since these used NES instruments is for background voices.
tcdw: Of course, most entry in round 2 featuring NES voices, but mine is not. I saw some people give bad feedbacks and low rankings instantly, but more people give me positive feedback. And surpsingly, I got rank 2 out of 7! These negative ranking didn't affect me too much.
tcdw: I ported normally in the rest round, and I got the 2nd.
tcdw: I may participate in the next one, if I have enough time. It's fun for me to challenge with more experienced and new music porters.
Erik: I will look forward if you participate. I really liked the ports you made on Idol 7, especially the Final Fantasy one.
Erik: In the subject of music: do you also make or produce music outside of Super Mario World/MML? Do you have any examples to show us?
tcdw: Not yet. I am interested in PC-98 platform, and I may make things for OPNA sound module with PMD Sound Driver.
tcdw: The problem is: Since I bought a MacBook Pro and switched to macOS in mid 2017, It's more awkward to build the porting environment. For AddMusicK, you just install wine and mono, then everything works smoothly. But PMD is a DOS program, it requires DOSBox, and there is few number of VGM player can handle PMD Music format (.M), and can't be debugged easily like SPC.
tcdw: I am currently in college, and the MacBook is the only computer I have full control. I am bit busy with college stuff now, so I am not started to try yet, since it's way too awkward.
tcdw: I considered using a Virtual Machine to install 32-bit of Windows, but it bring more unnecessary problems, like exchanging files in high frequency (I know virtual machine hosts like Parallels Desktop can do that smoothly, but it's not worth to buy such software just for PMD Music Porting).
tcdw: I don't produce my own music, since I literally have no enough musical knowledge for that.
Erik: Yeah, virtualization is pretty hard and most of the times not really worth it. Though you could look into Bootcamp and that kind of stuff if you're in Mac.
Erik: Alright, let's change the topic a bit; SMW Hacking in general. Have you ever tried to make other resources, like graphics or ASM hacks? Maybe even tools?
tcdw: Yes! I actually tried to rip some SNES graphics with edit1754's online tool, and submitted (you can check the submission list of me).
tcdw: In mid 2012, I actually learned ASM, for building in-Mario games things I dreamed in my childhood. However, the ASM is too hard for me; C programming language is farly easier than ASM. Now, I almost forgot all of stuff regarding 65c816 ASM.
tcdw: I am going to release it as online tools in my website, and add a graphical interface for everyone's use.
Erik: ASM actually came off easy for me. Though it varies a lot from person to person.
Erik: You mentioned at the beginning that you tried to make a hack. What was that one about, and have you tried to make another hack(s)?
tcdw: In early 2016, I actually planned to reboot my Super Jingcai World projects. But when I opened Lunar Magic, I suddenly have no idea again, with these massive ASM patches I added.
tcdw: I also made some levels for various contests, like 24hosmw and VLDC. However, it can't be qualified as actually hack projects, I think.
Erik: I see. Same thing has happened to me lately.
Erik: Let's move on to the site in general. How did you find out about SMW Central and what made you register?
tcdw: I found SMW Central's link from a Chinese post introducing famous ROM Hacking websites, including SMW Central.
tcdw: I registered soon because I just thought I can hacking in a VERY long time, through my SMW Hacking plan just carried away by a whim in twice (心血来潮).
Erik: Nice to see the site gets some recognition in the Outside World.
Erik: You've been here for pretty long. What do you think of the community and how it has evolved?
tcdw: I think the community is colorful, even it have some issues like shitposting overload; They make me learned mosts of people in Internet communtiy is kind and sharing great stuff.
Erik: That's great. It's good to hear an optimistic view on the website.
Erik: Alright. Anything you want to add before getting into the random questions?
tcdw: I remember when I tried to post with my terrible English (it still terrible now, but better), everybody tolerate me and try the best to understand me.
tcdw: Hinalyte is a great staff; I sent him/her a lot of stupid PMs and IRC messages in #hyperpower about something like how to use IRC, how to use Dropbox's public folder feature (since the interface had no Chinese in 2013), he/she replied me in patience. It made me think it's a warm website, and want to feedback with my great things.
Erik: Yeah, Hinalyte is a pretty nice guy. You would have to be purposefully rude to get in his bad side.
Erik: Time to get into the random questions then, shall we?
tcdw: Yeah, I prepared
Erik: nice nice
Erik: What's your favorite beverage?
tcdw: Coca-Cola, Mai Dong (脉动), Jia Duobao (加多宝) (a weird beverage with tea-like taste). I don't drink alcahol, since the taste sucks for me.
Erik: I too don't like alcohol too much.
Erik: Favorite song?
tcdw: This (https://soundcloud.com/eox-studios/falling-in-love-with-you). In fact I am interested with almost all of electronic music made by Anders Enger Jensen (https://soundcloud.com/eox-studios). I know him from The 8-Bit Guy's Youtube Channel (Yeah, it's one of the way to improve English for me).
Erik: I will give it a listen!
Erik: If you could travel to any country, what would it be?
tcdw: I prefer Australia, since it has interesting History in English-speaking countries.
tcdw: I actually went to Russia in mid-2017. The Baikal Lake delighted me. However, I can't speak Russian, so I have to go with travel agent
Erik: Nothing is impossible if you have infinite time. But having infinite time is impossible, so does that make the first thing impossible?
Erik: What's the best emoji?
tcdw: My brain also limited me.
tcdw: The UTF-8 emoji I used frequently is . The version exited in Android, Apple Devices and Samsung Devices really cute.
Erik: I personally think is better.
Erik: Last question. What is your favorite school subject?
tcdw: History, in my high school life. It's interesting to see various things happened around the world at same time, and documented
Erik: I want to agree with that, but every teacher I've had has ruined the experience of the subject for me.
Erik: Any finishing words you want to add?
tcdw: SMW Central is one of essential things in my life experience. It's improved my English, developed one of my hobbies, and ... have a chance to meet you guys!
Erik: I feel the same way. Altough I have attempted to leave in the past, I just wouldn't have anything else to do without this site.
Erik: Alright, that concludes the interview. It was fun talking with you, and I hope you thought the same!
If you had the patience to read through all of it, congrats!