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Staff Spotlight ~ April 2019 ~ The Assembly Line, feat. MarioFanGamer
Forum Index - Sunken Ghost Ship - Display Case - Interview Archive - Staff Spotlight ~ April 2019 ~ The Assembly Line, feat. MarioFanGamer
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It's time for another Staff Spotlight! Noivern sat down with MarioFanGamer to talk about ASM, Yoshi's Island hacking, and more!

Noivern: Welcome to another Staff Spotlight! This month I have the pleasure of interviewing MarioFanGamer, resident ASM Moderator and recent collaborator on SMWC Island. MarioFanGamer was interviewed previously for Member of the Month in May of 2016; you can read that interview here.
Noivern: How are you doing today?
MarioFanGamer: Pretty fine.
Noivern: A quick follow-up to your previous interview linked above: you went into a discussion about different moves in Super Mario World, and expressed an interest in making mode 2 possible. What has become of that effort?
MarioFanGamer: I lost interest in it and scrapped that. I was kind of inexperienced in that area (knows how it works) and couldn't implement it back then. Maybe nowadays it works but I have shifted my focus to other stuff.

Noivern: In regards to SMW projects, what are you currently working on right now? (or planning to)
MarioFanGamer: Well...
MarioFanGamer: I tried to work on a couple hacks but I couldn't complete them. Primarily the lack of interest. This also includes a team hack I'm hosting right now where everyone on the team has got no interest in it.
Noivern: What hack is that? Is it open to the public?
MarioFanGamer: Pretty much. Or rather, kind of. You have to PM me but there are enough people on it "working" on. (I really have to go back and work on a second level...)
Noivern: A secret hack, huh? Feel like spoiling anything about it, or will you incur the wrath of your collaborators?
MarioFanGamer: It isn't secret. In fact, it was teased month ago in the now locked C3 channel. In other words: The hack is a quasi-spiritual successor to mice:

Noivern: Rats
MarioFanGamer: AFAIK, I only released singular levels like some VLDC submissions and a level in COLLAB:

MarioFanGamer: Speaking of VLDC and C3: The former is a contest and I released something at the latter:

Noivern: mmm that's still impressive
MarioFanGamer: Yeah, Yoshi's Island has got some is pretty graphics (and that one is even more so on a technical level). In fact, I even looked into the disassembly to recreate the background gradient and parallax.
And now the reason why I brought up VLDC: Well, I couldn't finish my VLDC level but I created a YILDC level. Autumn Forest, that's how I called my level, is my first completed level in Yoshi's Island. I also participated in SMWCI back then (during the level design phase) but lack of motivation has killed my level.
Watch YILDC trihex's pick - 100% speedrun in 2:32.77 from trihex on
Noivern: What was your experience transitioning to Yoshi's Island level design from Super Mario World? How much easier or harder was it to design for YI?
MarioFanGamer: It's definitively more difficult for two reasons:
- Golden Egg is still in beta (and likely stays so)
- Yoshi's Island's levels are more complicated than SMW like how there are 25 collectibles instead of 5 and two of them and Yoshi's Island's levels are on average longer than SMW's levels.
MarioFanGamer: However, I still had fun in it. I even created the gimmick for YILDC myself, at least for the second part. Or rather, I looked into the disassembly to rip the code.
MarioFanGamer: In fact, both dips into the disassembly, the sunset code and my YILDC gimmick, sparked my interest into the technical side of Yoshi's Island. And boy, even the code is different from SMW as more advanced techniques like stack manipulation and the like is used in the code. And don't forget the Super FX stuff. I also submitted a couple RAM addresses (both, WRAM and SRAM) to the YI memory sections.

MarioFanGamer: But one thing where my YI ASM skills really comes to shine is for one notable hack: Super Mario World Central Island. If I can't create a level for it, I can fix the coding related bugs in it.
Noivern: SMWCI is nearing completion, is it not? What have you been contributing to the project?
MarioFanGamer: Aside from coding, I also have done some level testing. I currently am fixing 1-4 which has got a pretty awesome gimmick (not going to spoil it for anyone ) but also is one of the more complicated gimmicks. In fact, as for now, when the interview is recorded, it's still has got a couple bugs which have yet to be fixed. I also fixed a graphical glitch in Naval's arena because it uses a different arena than the original game.
Noivern: How close to being finished is the project? The poor forum has been sitting there abandoned for so long, the public demands an update!
MarioFanGamer: The hack is in beta-phase (all major bugs except the aforementioned one in 1-4 are fixed) and Trihex, who is one of the YILDC judges, is going to test a demo. I'd say, 99% of it is done.
MarioFanGamer: So after such a long time, we, SMWC, manages to finish one of our official collabs.

Noivern: Back to SMW, how has ASM moderation been treating you?
MarioFanGamer: Pretty okay, I guess.
Noivern: You've been putting in some consistent work in recent months. About how long would you say it takes you to moderate any one submission?
MarioFanGamer: It depends. Sometimes, I'm lazy and certain resources are claimed longer than they need to (although there are resources which are most interesting to me which is why I claim them pretty early). But when I start to moderate, it generally takes a couple days max. And that's really an exception. Usually it's only a couple hours to a day.
Noivern: How do you test a resource? Surely it's not as simple as inserting it and seeing what it says it does. You also have to factor in potential conflicts with other resources.
MarioFanGamer: I generally test a patch with and without SA-1. That's the most important thing. (Assuming the patch supports SA-1 in the first place.)
MarioFanGamer: But now it gets more complicated: Simple blocks, sprites, patches and UberASM codes is simply inserting the resource but more complicated blocks (usually when UberASM becomes necessary as seen with most of GHB's blocks), sprites (think of bosses), UberASM and patches requires more testing.
MarioFanGamer: Some patches and UberASM codes even get one extra step where I test them in Higan instead of SNES9x because they fiddle around with NMI and other advanced stuff.
Noivern: Out of blocks, sprites, blocks, and UberASM, which of those is your preference in regards to moderation? If there was one of each waiting with roughly the same complexity, which would you moderate first?
MarioFanGamer: Even though I moderate patches pretty often, I like sprites more than patches, in fact. There are various reasons but one of them is that sprites generally don't rely on external resources when they go more complicated unlike blocks, which sometimes need other sprites, UberASM or patches, and patches sometimes may have got multiple hijacks.
MarioFanGamer: tl;dr Focus more on patches but prefer sprites.
MarioFanGamer: There also is a remoderation on-going, though I don't contribute much right now due to my shifted focus on SMWCI so I only do regular moderation.
Noivern: What's the purpose of the current patch remoderation?
MarioFanGamer: The patch remoderation is primarily a quality check about older patches, converting all patches to Asar and adding SA-1 support if possible. Many of them are pretty simple like just hex edits, variations of certain patches and do stuff which are simply not acceptable today like a common hijack. One perfect example is the L/R hook which is a combination of Disable LR Scroll hex edit and Status Code from UberASM (runs a code every frame).
MarioFanGamer: Speaking of UberASM: Simple patches which don't really need any hijack are converted to UberASM so these are removed too.
Noivern: RIP L/R hook, something about removing an old, ubiquitous resource is kinda sad even though there are better options nowadays.

Noivern: So how did you get the job as an ASM mod? What got you noticed?
MarioFanGamer: I always thought that I had some potential as an ASM mod but wasn't really sure to pull it off. But then, before Vitor resigned, to be precise, he and the rest of the team decided to hire me. Even though I hadn't released any hack, I do have answered multiple hacking questions, be it regular stuff or specific to ASM. I also wrote a couple tutorials, a patch coding, a PIXI usage and a sprite coding, to be precise, though the latter was written after my promotion. AFAIK.
Noivern: You're also a quite accomplished submitter, with 27 submissions total, encompassing the ASM sections and even a few pieces of graphics and music.
MarioFanGamer: Yeah, music. I tried to port music but that didn't really work out for me. Neither can I do pixel art so my graphics submissions are only rips (including the aforementioned layer 3 sunset BG, though that also includes an UberASM code I coded myself so, success?). However, that little knowledge from music is enough to help others with some music questions and understand how a MML works.
Noivern: You've mentioned mice 2 (tentative title) and SMWCI but are you working on any SMW ASM projects?
MarioFanGamer: I haven't got major ASM projects (see issue above), though I have to resume back to my custom question mark blocks. I also have got a sprite coding tutorial to finish (currently at boss coding), although the reason I'm stuck there is because I have got no boss graphics.

Noivern: Does that submission include invisible blocks?
MarioFanGamer: I have to update it to include coin blocks and update the bounce block code.
MarioFanGamer: And can you read my mind?
Noivern: My secrets are my own.
MarioFanGamer: But yeah, the update also features official support of invisible blocks and you can activate them from the top too.
MarioFanGamer: Looking at my folder dedicated to ASM projects: Man, I have got many projects I haven't worked on for a longer time.
Noivern: That's about enough of hacking, what do you like to do outside of the hacking scene?
MarioFanGamer: I officially have finished school for two weeks. Yeah, school in Rhineland-Palatinate, at least the Germany equivalent of high school/grammar school, end in the middle of the year.
Noivern: Finished for the year or finished as in graduated?
MarioFanGamer: Graduated. I also am a couch potato and generally lazy.
Noivern: Ah, a fellow couch connoisseur.
MarioFanGamer: I also bought Yoshi's Crafted World today but haven't played it yet. Prioritized Splatoon 2. XD
Noivern: What are your prospects for secondary education? Are you applying to universities?
MarioFanGamer: Nah, just apprenticeship.
Noivern: "Just"? Apprenticeship is equally as valid a choice as university. What trade?
MarioFanGamer: Unsurprisingly, computer science.
Noivern: There are computer science apprenticeships?
MarioFanGamer: SMW hacking, the ASM portion to be precise, sparked interest in programming in general. And yes, certain computer science trades can be accessed with an apprenticeship here in Germany. (Though at the same time, other computer science trades require an integrated degree program i.e. studies and apprenticeship.)
Noivern: Do you have any other hobbies outside of SMW/YI hacking?
MarioFanGamer: Aside from video games, not really.
Noivern: Hmm, well that's all the questions I have to ask. Anything you'd like to add before we wrap this up?
MarioFanGamer: Not something I know. Other than that I should start to properly work on my own hack. (And not just the spiritual mice successor.)
Noivern: Well, all right then. Thanks for taking the time for this interview!

As a fellow LaTeX user, I must say: congratulations for your well deserved interview, MFG. May your work prosper so we can actually savor more of the fine things you do with SMW and YI hacking.


Dream team (feed them, please):

Nice interview MFG, it's always nice to see more people interested in YI hacking, as you do, it's very appreciated :) (hope you enjoy our memes too though)
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Forum Index - Sunken Ghost Ship - Display Case - Interview Archive - Staff Spotlight ~ April 2019 ~ The Assembly Line, feat. MarioFanGamer

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