I am not really giving this post my full attention.

This is because I spent my afternoon watching the Braves on ESPN, and writing a blog post was about the furthest thing from my mind. I regret nothing, and would do it again if pressed.

This is probably the stupidest thing imaginable given that I’ve just recently embarked on the Grand Majora’s Mask Let’s Play, but I’ve been giving some thought to starting a few other long-form projects in recent days. Both are things I’ve kind of wanted to do for a while, but have never been at the top of the to-do list for whatever reason. I guess the thought process here is that, if I can’t get anyone to pay me to work, I might as well try and finish something to my own satisfaction.

First, I’ve been thinking about doing a Mario World romhack. This is a desire that comes and goes as my interest in the scene waxes and wanes, and it’s definitely possible that two weeks from now it will have completely vanished, but I’ve been daydreaming about it for about a week now.

In this particular case it’s a desire that’s been stirred up by seeing for myself just what a trainwreck SMW Central Production ended up being. SMWCP is exactly the kind of game you’d expect SMW Central as a unit to make, in that it’s built entirely on novelty and impressive technical trickery, but isn’t actually any fun to play. It’s a game that’s filled with gimmicks, and if you know anything about the Mario World engine those gimmicks are incredible — but they don’t really do anything to shake up the basic Mario gameplay, and if you’re not going to do that, why bother? It’s designed to make the people who frequent SMW Central ooh and ahh, but is completely inaccessible to anyone who isn’t awed by hacking wizardry in and of itself. Seeing this kind of crap always makes me feel I could do better — so why not give it a try?

Anyway, my idea was fairly straightforward. It would be short — maybe 15-20 levels in all, if that, with no puzzles, no plot, and no alternate exits. It would be designed to be difficult but fair, beatable in a reasonable amount of tries without resorting to savestates. The hook would be that all the levels would be castle/fortress style. I’m interesting in seeing just how far a single stage theme could be stretched. One of the myriad of problems that infects normal romhacks is that their reach tends to exceed their grasp — they decide they want eight themed worlds and two secret ones, lots of hidden exits, and a gripping plot that is totally not glorified fanfiction, while overlooking that they don’t really have the ideas to flesh out such a behemoth of a game. I’m more interested in creating a game that deliberately limits itself and seeing what shakes out.

More personally, I’d like to see for myself if I can make consistently interesting, non-frustrating levels, and how good a grasp I have on things like pacing and difficult curve. This would be my first game, so I’m not looking to make a magnum opus, just something balanced and fun.

Oh, and I’d probably name the game “Castles Masterpiece Collection”, after the last secret level of Yoshi’s Island.

The other thing I’ve been thinking of doing is a straight-up walkthrough of a game. I’ve kind of been touching on that with my LPs, but an LP has more of a different focus — it’s about being entertaining and showing off the game, while a walkthrough is… not dryer, but more about giving clear instructions and encyclopedic detail. I’ve always felt that the “walkthrough” parts of my LPs were always stronger that the “performance” parts, though, so I’d like to play one straight and see how it ends up. Plus, I totally wanted to be a strategy guide writer as a kid, so I’d be living the dream.

The question here would be what game to write about. I’d like to pick something fairly obscure — I know, say, Ocarina of Time as well as anybody, but there are already countless guides to that game, and the world doesn’t need another, no matter how well-written. Maybe something like Glory of Heracles, which I’ve been meaning to replay anyway? We’ll see.


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