It is that time again! Time for a staff spotlight with Meirdent! I will be your host for today. In this interview we cover art, projects, and more!
Scrydan: Welcome to the May 2019 Staff Spotlight! For this month it will be interesting because we're interviewing a new staff member, Meirdent, who is yet another one of our resident ASM Moderators. But wait, there's more! I myself am also new and will be the host for today's great interview. So in a way, nobody knows what to expect. I am mostly improvising as well. Scrydan: So this is going to be great. Two new staff, one interviewing the other. Are you ready for some heated questions? Meirdent: A bit nervous, but I'm ready to get into things! Scrydan: Excellent. Because while a fire dragon can control his fire, I must warn you that this interview will be quite lit and on fire! But don't worry, we can be both nervous. I am sure we will do fine! So how are you doing today? Meirdent: Pretty swell so far, haven't had much going on. Scrydan: That's great to hear. Today seems to be on a good start for us both.
Scrydan: So tell us a bit about your history with the site. What started it all for you? Meirdent: I actually found my way to SMW Central by chance. I was messing around with SM64 hacking and came across a custom music tutorial that called for a program called TinyMM, which was hosted here at the time heh. I stuck around after seeing all the cool hacks on the site and how much more accessible SMW hacking was compared to SM64 (back then) Scrydan: Yeah, I dabbled a little in SM64 hacking as well. SMW is indeed way more accessible for the average hacker. The nature of SMW hacking has evolved quite a lot in the last few years. It is quite exciting to see what new thing there is to expect. I am glad to see you as a member of the site who stuck around. Meirdent: It really is just amazing how much the scene has evolved over the 10 years I've been here. Scrydan: We're both new staff members and yet quite the old members of the site. So much has indeed changed even for the site. Many new and some old names. What do you think about the future of SMWC and SMW hacking in general? Meirdent: With how much more open and knowledgeable the community is now, I feel things will only continue to keep on growing. There's a lot of neat stuff being done now that I'm certain will be one-upped in the not so distant future! Scrydan: Yeah, I am hopeful for the future as well. I haven't ever felt as inspired to learn ASM as I have been lately. So seeing the achievements of fellow SMW hackers like yourself gets me wanting to make something great. And I think you know one of such projects, since you are part of that team.
Scrydan: What got you into ASM and interested in editing SMW to the next level? Meirdent: Computer programming is a big interest of mine that I've been pursuing for the past 5-6 years, and after coming back into the community, working with ASM just felt natural. It's fun changing around code to achieve new things! Scrydan: I know that feeling. As a fellow programmer, once you've coded things long enough, you look back at something like SMW and just think to yourself what awesome things you could do in your favorite childhood game!
I am probably following in your footsteps at this point. Scrydan: Is there anything you could say to any would-be ASM programmers out there? Meirdent: Aw shucks.. Hmm.. ASM may seem pretty scary at first, but it's not so bad once you get a grasp on things. The opcodes are simple and easy to understand, and all it takes is some logical thinking once you've familiarized yourself with them. Also the RAM Map is your greatest friend haha. Scrydan: We have so many useful tools and even shortcuts at our disposal. I think even a non-programmer could have an easy time learning basic ASM. All you have to do is probably be stubborn and keep at it. That is a lesson for much of what you do in life I suppose.
Scrydan: How long have you been an artist or someone fiddling with art? Do you have some examples of your art I can share or you could talk about? Meirdent: Jeez well I've been drawing for as long as I can remember, but I really picked up steam with it in 2016. It's just always been a hobby of mine and I love seeing my creations come to life through it. Here's a recent piece that I'm really fond of, it's of a character from a project of mine: https://twitter.com/meirdent/status/1120187558544191488 Scrydan: That looks really cute! How long did it take you to do? Meirdent: About like 3 hours or so? I did a quick sketch earlier that day and then returned later to line and color it. Scrydan: Have you thought about pursuing that further and perhaps take commissions? I see you have a lot of good art at your twitter. I can see many who'd like to see you draw more or draw for them. Meirdent: Thank you! I do actually take commissions, but those have been kinda few and far between. Scrydan: Oh? So if someone wanted to commission you, where would they contact you for such information? Meirdent: My twitter would be the best way to get in contact with me for that I'd say, it's easier to go back and forth with details through DMs. Scrydan: That's good to know! I am sure a few reading this will definitely be happy to know!
Scrydan: With that said, you spoke of a project. Let's hear about this project you're working on. What led to its creation and inspired it being made? Meirdent: Oh yes! That would be Project Rabbit, it's a game I've been developing for the past few years. I've always been interested in making an RPG akin to Earthbound or Paper Mario, and Undertale really kicked that inspiration into the next gear. I actually started out with making an Undertale parody heh, and then realized not long after that the work I was putting into it could be better put towards doing my own thing. Project Rabbit came out of that. Scrydan: That sounds really awesome. I am working on an RPG project of my own and RPGs have always been my favorite genre myself. Do you have any assets or screenshots to show off? Perhaps give us a taste of what to expect from the game? Knowing what it is inspired by, I already have high hopes of it myself. Meirdent: I don't have too much interesting content to show at the moment, I've been mostly trying to refine battles for a while now. I did upload a short video of that the other day though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PZLYFhUkZE
Scrydan: That looks really nice and gives us enough of an idea I think. I love the style. You can just feel the rickroll in the air- erm, I mean the love of the project from the short glimpse there. (Sorry, seeing Rolllicking Root's name makes me think of Rollricking or Rickrolling Root.) Meirdent: Haha, I hadn't noticed that. Scrydan: My mind is pretty creative so it usually draws lines where there are none at times, so names sort of jump out at me. I assure you that I am sure there's not too many who will have their mind play tricks on themselves about the name. haha Meirdent: Here's an older video that I still like. I had quite a bit of fun putting together the tileset used here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQfT5mlLuS0
Scrydan: Glad you had another video to show! Always nice to have some extra storage! Maybe it is pretty stereotypical of me, but this dragon needs storage to store all the things!
Scrydan: RPGs are a huge project and often spanning many many more years than say a platformer or any other genre. What are your thoughts and philosophy of game balance and world designing? What is it that you hope to achieve with your game? Meirdent: It's been really tough tackling these things without any exact point of reference to go off of. I initially thought about scaling the difficulty to the player's level, but then that would make them feel like they haven't really gotten any more powerful along the way. Something like that might turn off the player, always being equal to your enemies. Instead I plan on going the usual route with each area having it's own set difficulty, it gives them incentive for wanting to level up. With each world I always have a set theme in mind, nothing overly complicated, just details that I can use to shape the enemies, terrain, and characters with. I always try to have that in place before going into and designing the stuff within them. Scrydan: Ah, glad you reconsidered the scaling of difficulty to the player's level. I personally love the ability to feel stronger within an area. If enemies scale with you, shinier armor or abilities just don't seem all that great when the ratio of damage is relatively the same. Lots of thought has to go into balance and it looks like you've done well to think those things through. I am sure many of us had those moments where we go back to an early area (if possible) just to go murder previous easier low level enemies to pay them back for being annoying to fight previously. Meirdent: Hahaha, definitely. As for what I'm trying to achieve.. there isn't much I can think of. I just want to create a twist on the Paper Mario/Earthbound games that I hope people can enjoy! It does also serve as a way for me to explore my characters and art more, and hone my writing. Scrydan: That is great to hear. I am trying to become more of an artist myself. Programming has always come natural and writing too. Game projects can bring out our creation abilities and hone them further.
Scrydan: Do you have any other projects you'd like to share before we continue on? Meirdent: Oh yea, there's a little platformer project I've been meaning to get back to for a while, despite it not really being my focus for now. It started life out as SMW hack actually, and was meant to take after the infamous Syobon Action/Cat Mario game. Scrydan: Ah, that looks really fun. I predict it is a game of many fun deaths. Scrydan: Is there something that led to its initial creation as a SMW hack? What led you to change it into its own game? Meirdent: I just remember coming across some speedruns for similar games like I Wanna Be The Guy at the time and wanting to do something like that. This was back in 2014, before I got into working with ASM, so programming it as it's own thing seemed way less restrictive. I still think some of the pure evil traps that I have in mind would be easier pull off with it being it's own game anyways haha. Scrydan: Oh, wow.
Scrydan: That's a great way to segue into my next question! Jumping back to ASM and SMW once more, tell us about your staff experience here and moderation. How has ASM moderation been for you? Meirdent: I've been enjoying it so far, and it's cool getting to go through all the various patches, sprites, and blocks that people make, helping them fix any errors that might arise with them! Getting to know and work with the other staff members has been quite interesting, and my fellow ASM mods have also done well to guide me through things. Scrydan: What would you say was your biggest challenge or submission to moderate? Meirdent: Wew going through the "Carry Sprites Through Doors and Pipes" patch was a real mission. I had to check across several roms for SpriteTool, PIXI, and GIEPY compatibility, along with making sure all it's customizable defines work, and the added SA-1 compatibility on top of that Scrydan: Sounds a bit rough but certainly rewarding. Has the moderation of other people's work given you any ideas of your own or led to any inspiration for your own ASM projects? Meirdent: I would say partially, yeah. It's given me the inspiration to pick up on making a new hack, and kinda explore some possible gimmicks using ASM.
Scrydan: Do you have any more information about this hack you'd like to share or any potential ideas of the ASM involved? Or shall it be a top secret for now? Meirdent: It's a secret for now! I might try to get something of it together for C3, but I can't be certain. Scrydan: How would you tease people about this hack? Would the name suffice? Meirdent: I don't have a name for it just yet, but I guess something like "Mario's Monarch Monopoly" could work well for a tentative title hehe. Scrydan: That is a very interesting name you have indeed. Speaking of secrets, you're also involved in another secret project that I am leading. Without saying too much about it, all I will mention about its current technical name is "World Luigi Super: Nightmare Reverse".
Scrydan: What would you say is your greatest strength as far as ASM goes? Meirdent: That's a tricky one hm, I'd say I've got a really good hand at optimizing code, just trying to crunch it down to as little as possible. Scrydan: It is a very good skill to have. Code optimizing can be a very satisfying experience when you make things look better internally. It might not change what a user experiences most times but it is way easier to look at and work on if you ever go back to the code. Meirdent: Definitely! Scrydan: How easy would you say a typical submission to moderate is for you and how long? Meirdent: Pretty easy I'd say, comparing the code to the previous if it's an update, looking through it by itself, and then checking it in-game. I try to be as thorough as I can with submissions, so anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours is how long I tend to spend. Of course some stuff might be a lot simpler and faster to go through than others, it's always changing. Scrydan: With your current time, is there any other sections you would consider moderating as well? Meirdent: I've recently been thinking about taking up Yoshi's Island hacking, and if it's something that I ended up liking I wouldn't mind moderating the ASM sections for that! Scrydan: That's great! I am sure they'd be happy to have you.
Scrydan: So what is a typical day in the life of Meirdent? What do you do outside the central? Meirdent: I mostly hang around on discord and twitter, talking to friends. Tossing around ideas for my works, and just chitchating about video game stuff. Also having to deal with college classes, but since the semester is coming to an end I'll be able to have more free time to work on stuff and go out! I've particularly been looking forward to seeing Detective Pikachu, and going through the backlog of games I've been wanting to play. Scrydan: I do believe that's all the questions I have written down or thought up. Is there anything else you'd like the whole central know before we end this? There's a big red shiny button over here and it is flashing. Meirdent: Thanks for giving me this opportunity, I was nervous going in, but I feel much more confident about it now. I look forward to the cool stuff that you guys in the community are working on, and I'm especially looking forward to what might come out of C3! Scrydan: Thank you so much for sitting down with us to be interviewed! It was a pleasure doing this interview with you, Meirdent. I probably will do the next one because it was so much fun! (unless I am picked *gasp*) Maybe you should do my interview when that time comes; It'd be fun! Meirdent: Now that would be pretty interesting- Scrydan: It is like being SMWC's official greeter, except you talk longer to well known members. Jokes aside, I do hope you have a wonderful day! Meirdent: Thank you, and I hope you had just as good a day too. Scrydan: *pushes the big red button, ending the interview*
Major Flare SMW ASM Moderator, Tools Moderator, and SM64 Manager Thwomp