How to Remake A Nintendo Classic Better? | Milton Guasti | #7

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


Podcast Platforms:

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Referenced Links & Resources

Connect with Milton Guasti:

Twitter  | Youtube

Connect with Alex:


Connect with Ari:

Instagram | TikTok

Mentioned Resources:

Riot Games


Moon Studio

Metroid 2

Free Game Design Learning Resources:

What is Video Game Mechanics (Beginner’s Guide)

How to Become a Video Game Designer

How to Write Game Design Document with Examples

Game Design Portfolio, with Examples (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.

By the way, whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways to help you start or level-up your game design career:

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[STUDIO] Blizzard Entertainment: Content, mechanics, and systems designer

(Creator of Apex Legends & former Creative Director at Respawn)

[GAME] World of Warcraft: MMORPG with 8.5 million average monthly players, won Gamer’s Choice Award – Fan Favorite MMORPG, VGX Award for Best PC Game, Best RPG, and Most Addictive Video Game.

  • Classic:
    • Designed Cosmos UI
    • Designed part of Raid Team for Naxxramas
  • Burning Crusade:
    • Designed the raid bosses Karazhan, Black Temple, Zul’Aman
    • Designed the Outlands content
    • Designed The Underbog including bosses:
      • Hungarfen, Ghaz’an, Swamplord Musel’ik, and The Black Stalker
    • Designed the Hellfire Ramparts final bosses Nazan & Vazruden
    • Designed the Return to Karazhan bosses: Attumen the Huntsman, Big Bad Wolf, Shades of Aran, Netherspite, Nightbane
  • Wrath of the Lich King:
    • Designed quest content, events and PvP areas of Wintergrasp
    • Designed Vehicle system
    • Designed the Death Knight talent trees
    • Designed the Lord Marrowgar raid
  • Cataclysm:
    • Designed quest content
    • Designed Deathwing Overworld encounters
    • Designed Morchok and Rhyolith raid fights
  • Mists of Pandaria: 
    • Overhauled the entire Warlock class – Best player rated version through all expansion packs
    • Designed pet battle combat engine and scripted client scene

[GAME] StarCraft 2: Playtested and provided design feedback during prototyping and development

[GAME] Diablo 3: Playtested and provided design feedback during prototyping and development

[GAME] Overwatch: Playtested and provided design feedback during prototyping and development

[GAME] Hearthstone: Playtested and provided design feedback during prototyping and development

[STUDIO] Riot Games: Systems designer, in-studio game design instructor

(Former Global Communications Lead for League of Legends)
(Former Technical Game Designer at Riot Games)

[GAME] League of Legends: Team-based strategy MOBA with 152 million average active monthly players, won The Game Award for Best Esports Game and BAFTA Best Persistent Game Award.

  • Redesigned Xerath Champion by interfacing with community
  • Reworked the support income system for season 4
  • Redesigned the Ward system
  • Assisted in development of new trinket system
  • Heavily expanded internal tools and features for design team
  • Improved UI indicators to improve clarity of allied behaviour

[OTHER GAMES] Under NDA: Developed multiple unreleased projects in R&D

Game Design Instructor: Coached and mentored associate designers on gameplay and mechanics

[STUDIO] Moon Studios: Senior game designer

(Former Lead Game Designer at Moon Studios)

[GAME] Ori & The Will of The Wisps: 2m total players (423k people finished it) with average 92.8/100 ratings by 23 top game rating sites (including Steam and Nintendo Switch).

  • Designed the weapon and Shard systems
  • Worked on combat balance
  • Designed most of the User Interface

[GAME] Unreleased RPG project

  • Designed core combat
  • High-level design content planning
  • Game systems design
  • Game design documentation
  • Gameplay systems engineering
  • Tools design
  • Photon Quantum implementation of gameplay

[VC FUNDED STARTUP] SnackPass: Social food ordering platform with 500k active users $400m+ valuation

[PROJECT] Tochi: Creative director (hybrid of game design, production and leading the product team)

  • Lead artists, engineers, and animators on the release the gamification system to incentivize long-term customers with social bonds and a shared experience through the app

[CONSULTING] Atomech: Founder / Game Design Consultant

[STUDIOS] Studio Pixanoh + 13 other indie game studios (under NDA):

  • Helped build, train and establish the design teams
  • Established unique combat niche and overall design philosophy
  • Tracked quality, consistency and feedback methods
  • Established company meeting structure and culture

Game Design Keynotes:

(Former Global Head of HR for Wargaming and Riot Games)
  • Tencent Studio
  • Wargaming
  • USC (University of Southern California)
  • RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology)
  • US AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association)
  • UFIEA (University of Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy)
  • West Gaming Foundation
  • Kyoto Computer Gakuin – Kyoto, Japan