One of the more common SAGE attendees is developer Mors and his project Super Mario Flashback. Appearing since 2016, the game reimagines 2D Mario with beautiful visuals and fluent animation, showcasing major improvement year after year. We recently got the chance to talk with Mors about his project, all of which you can read below.
TSSZ: So Mors, tell us a bit about yourself.
Mors: I’m Mors and I’m a 20-year-old indie game developer from Turkey. There isn’t much else to say about me, really.
TSSZ: How did the project begin, and what is the goal?
Mors: The idea came to me when I was replaying Sonic Generations in around 2013. I thought that it would be cool to have a game like this, but with Mario. So, I decided to make a little SMB1 styled fangame based on this idea. It was a completely different game at the time, and I ended up scrapping it a few days later.
A year later, while I was working on a different Mario fangame, I started to work on a side project that played like a 2D version of Super Mario 3D World, but the main “twist” was that it would have Metroidvania elements. After I made some decent progress I realized that I had no experience with designing those kinds of games, and I wasn’t even sure if the idea would work well enough. But since I’ve already made quite a bit of progress I decided to revive that “Mario Generations” idea I’ve had before using this engine. Unlike the first iteration, which played like SMB1, this one would play more like 3D games in a 2D space and all worlds would be remakes of others from other Mario games. And then things happened and we are where we are now.
The goal of the game is still the same as before though, remaking past worlds and keeping the gameplay a blend of 3D and 2D Mario.
TSSZ: How did you get your start in game design? Is this your first project?
Mors: I started using Game Maker around 11 years ago, but it wasn’t until 2010 when I started to take it a bit more seriously and make fangames using it. At first, they were terrible fangames using pre-made engines like Hello Engine but slowly I learned enough about the engine to start making stuff from scratch. So, you can say that Flashback is my first project I consider at least good. I did make several different indie games for some game jams after starting to work on Flashback, though.
TSSZ: I’ve got to say, this project looks beautiful. What’s your process in reanimating/reimagining the world?
Mors: Since each world of the game is based on a different Mario game it’s a progress that differs from world to world. For worlds that are based on 3D Mario games I just think about how I can translate them into the 2D plane, and for worlds that are based on 2D Mario games, I just try to think of ways to spice them up without making them lose their original feel.
This progress was a bit different for the first world, though. SMB1 is a very simple looking game that leaves a lot to the imagination, but I didn’t want to completely reimagine it and make it feel completely different, so I looked at different official renditions of the level and some concept art from the game’s development and took some inspirations from there.
TSSZ: What would you say you’ve found to be most challenging? Most rewarding?
Mors: Most challenging? Making the level editor, without a doubt. We actually decided to make our own level editor for the game and design the levels in it, but Game Maker caused so many random problems that it became a torture for us. Like at some point the “less than” operator stopped working while we were working on the level editor. No matter what we did it didn’t return the correct value, so we had to write a DLL just for that, which is a solution that sounds extremely dumb, but it ended up working. And for those who don’t know that’s one of the core functions of every single programming language out there, so at that point, I’m pretty sure that the entire editor was cursed. And yes, we ended up scrapping it due to these technical issues.
As for the most rewarding thing, I’d say that it’s adding something you’re not sure about and people really liking it during the testing phase. I tend to worry about these kinds of stuff a lot for some reason, like “What if this thing I added ends up being bad???? Oh no!”, so it’s satisfying to hear that “I did a good.”
TSSZ: Where can readers find you?
TSSZ: Thanks for your time, Mors! I look forward to seeing more, and I hope things continue moving smoothly.