The Funsmith Fireside Chats #7
Guest: Milton Guasti
You might know him as Doctor M64 or as the creator of “Another Metroid 2 Remake.” – Milton Guasti (Currently at Moon Studios) gives us a play by play of the process of redesigning one of Nintendo’s classics, from changing the map and character art to fit a bigger screen, to keeping the heart of combat pure while at the same time making it more sophisticated and fun.
Milton Guasti is a .NET C# developer, with knowledge of web development, and extensive experience in designing and developing multimedia applications.
He also has a background as a Sound Technician specialized in Recording and Music Production, with experience in editing, mixing and mastering.
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Listen to The Full Episode
#7: Milton Guasti: How to Improve A Nintendo Classic?
Referenced Links & Resources
Connect with Milton Guasti:
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Connect with Ari:
Free Game Design Learning Resources:
What is Video Game Mechanics (Beginner’s Guide)
Episode Chapters (with Timestamp)
0:00 – Guest Introduction
0:50 – Greetings and welcome
2:06 – Milton working with Alex at Moon Studios
3:34 – How Milton started working on “Another Metroid 2 Remake”
5:09 – Lessons learned from the decision to remake Metroid
6:48 – The scale of Milton’s work and dedication on AM2R
8:41 – Staying in touch with the community: a source of guidance and motivation
9:06 – The use of Game Maker and how it made Milton a better programmer
9:59 – Switching engines mid-project and how it affects the workflow
11:28 – Milton’s list of thanks to everyone involved in his project
12:33 – Milton’s best and worst day of the whole experience
15:06 – Nintendo’s reaction after the release of AM2R
17:11 – The complex process Milton went through during the remake
18:29 – A decade in Milton’s life: juggling work and family
21:17 – Milton’s journey from audio engineer into game designer
21:57 – Taking risks with time, family and mental health: a lesson for young developers
22:48 – Career timelines: the sense of pressure vs. the enjoyment of the learning process
25:04 – Designing with fun and heart: petting a dog within a game
26:48 – Early design decisions that unexpectedly shaped the content later in the game
31:30 – How today’s bigger screens affect design complexity and efficiency
33:12 – Using different textures to convey different functions
35:09 – WASD or mouse-point-and-click?: Simulating console controls
37:17 – Great first step for new designers: recreate something you love
37:59 – Challenges of recreating the Spider Ball
39:44 – Getting the perfect engineering or finding the perfect, cheapest trick that works?
40:42 – What is ray tracing and when is it useful?
42:21 – How Milton approached and handled all of Metroid’s recognizable landmarks.
44:54 – Next layer of game design: ways to interrelate mechanics and how they fit together
47:53 – Narrative design is much more than simply writing the script
49:04 – Boss fights – a walkthrough
51:38 – Level of community involvement in decisions and iterations
53:40 – Visualizing the flow of the game – a decision tree
57:51 – Which tools matter in a game – overcoming gameplay challenges
01:01:18 – Testing the player’s navigational skills within the game environment
01:02:43 – Milton’s showmanship in Ori escape sequences and big moments in AM2R
01:05:56 – Thanks and closing words
More Guest Quotes From This Episode
2:33 – Having teammates that you know are really there when you need them and you know being there for them is more important than people realize.
4:11 – Try and learn how to do some game development using game maker and learning by example, finding tutorials and making small examples and small problems that then would actually morph into small games, which would be more practice than anything.
5:14 – Understand how well-designed the complexity of metric games actually are and it’s interesting journey to actually go through the entire emitter saga and learn how the nuisance of the real design, how they guide the player having the notice, showing and not telling that kind of subtlety is something that you experience as a player and knowing that you’re actually experiencing it and trying to apply it into your own project is something that you have to be prepared to learn.
8:25 – An amazing amount of dedication there, to take on a project and keep consistently leveling both yourself and your project, and keeping in touch with the people who care about it, is just an amazing achievement. Getting in touch is a very important part which keeps you motivated. Knowing that all of these many hours that you’re investing in something, that’s not going to be for profit, just as a learning experience, learning that it’s going in the right direction, it’s really awesome and if there is one passionate fan base, that will be the metro fan base.
9:30 – It was a constant evolving process that every time major changes in game maker version, forced me to be a better programmer because the code interpretation was less lenient on a maturish syntax, you eventually had to learn coding, copying and pasting examples from forums.
12:48 The best day was the release day, but also could be the worst when you planned everything and a sudden problem arose.
14:02 – It was the best relief to see streamers enjoying the game for the first time, being surprised, being jump-scared a couple times. It was amazing to say we made this person feel this way with our work, and being able to actually tell this story with the respect that he deserved, and people recognize the respect, love and care that was put into the project.
18:26 – Learning the best and taking time to do so.
20:24 – Being a father made me realize that I need stability overall, and that’s what made me push myself into learning proper programming .
24:07 – I didn’t pressure myself that much because programming was something that I was doing in my free time and I was super enjoying it.
24:39 – A lot of people especially anyone who’s never been described as an achiever or whatever has their weird sense of pressure and time on themselves as opposed to thinking about what do you enjoy and delving into it, and taking that pressure off, and realizing that the learning process can be fun and it’s okay to engage with it as long as you keep making and pushing yourself along that journey.
30:52 – Visibility and choosing what the player is going to be looking at is going to be something that you have to consider all the time, and not everyone does it.
31:06 – The original design already carries the weight of having a very distinctive set piece, being the center of attention, and so having all displayed in just one screen is what the player is going to see and it’s not going to be wasting time, but rather getting the item, then moving out and continuing with their adventure. Besides that having a bigger screen also meant that there was going to be more complexity in enemy behavior, e.g. metal fights.
37:20 – When you’re starting out, it’s a really great idea to get into the details and recreate something you love.
45:25 – Something that’s really important as anyone who works on recreations, whether it’s a big franchise like Metroid or Final Fantasy VII, or even just redoing your own work, that you have the freedom to change things. It’s okay and wise to do as long as you understand what you’re changing and when the right time to make those changes is , and the changes and themes that you chose are also cohesive with the original intent of the level.
53:11 – It wasn’t that necessary to actually keep showing contents to the people. Every year, when people get a nice fresh reaction to things they haven’t seen yet, there’s jump scares, there’s some bosses that suddenly transform to something else, and it was a nice, refreshing surprise because they expected something, and something else happened.
55:52 – I wanted the player to feel empowered whenever they actually explore and reward their exploration, their curiosity, but if I’m going to be giving the player something, I want to test them. I want them to use that ability and show me they’re ready for whatever.
57:51 – An important value to have as a game designer is to remember that no tool matters unless there is a challenge for you to overcome while utilizing it.
What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.