Milton Guasti, alias DoctorM64 Released in 2016 for the 30th anniversary of the Metroid series, AM2R (Another Metroid 2 Remake) is an amateur project to remake Metroid II, led by Argentine developer Milton Guasti (alias DoctorM64) after 8 years of development, with the assistance of a community of amateur developers.

24 hours after the game's release, Nintendo banned its distribution. The punishment was harsh. However, it turns out that Nintendo was preparing its own remake of Metroid II around the same time, a project entrusted to Spanish developer Mercury Steam, under the supervision of the series' longtime producer, Yoshio Sakamoto... which helps to better understand Nintendo's haste in shutting down the project.

The rest of the story was not unfortunate for DoctorM64 either. The "fan remake" made a strong impression, and Milton Guasti's talent for level design did not go unnoticed: Moon Studios recruited him to assist in creating the level design for Ori and the Will of the Wisps!

Milton Guasti kindly agreed to answer a few questions regarding AM2R and, of course, Ori 2.

> The "AM2R" project

A 100% amateur project, AM2R is much more than just a fan game [GF] : Hello, first of all, thank you for accepting this interview ! Could you start by presenting yourself in a general way and what you did before being a developer?

[DoctorM64] Hi! My name is Milton, I’m from Argentina. I’ve been working as a professional game designer for the last five years, but before that, I worked as a sound technician at my own recording studio. That’s quite the career change.

[GF] : Can you tell us a bit more about your relationship with the Metroid series? How did you discover it? Which episode did you start with? And your favourite episode and why?

Here in Argentina, the most popular imported Nintendo console was the Famicom. Anything that was available as a cartridge in Japan was available here. There was no cartridge release for the original Metroid, so I never stumbled upon that game back then (editor's note: the game was originally released on Famicom Disk System).
When I saw Super Metroid on the SNES, I thought it looked like a slower version of Turrican. It was after I played Metroid – Zero Mission on the Game Boy Advance that I started really diving deep into the 2D series, and appreciated how intricate and complex their design is.

My favorite to this day is Metroid Prime. The jump to 3D and the exploration in first person was perfect for the franchise.

[GF] : How did the desire to make a remake of Metroid II come about? Maybe a frustration of seeing a lot of Romhack and Fangame that never reached the end of development?

From the original released in 1991 on Game Boy to AM2R

Not at all! It was playing Zero Mission. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to play the next game in the series with that style of gameplay. Metroid II feels pretty dated, and could certainly benefit from being remade. Also, I hadn’t played the rest of the series by that time, so remaking it in color seemed to be pretty simple and straightforward. I was so wrong.

[GF] : You started developing without any experience in the video game world.

My first steps were scripting and character creation with the Mugen engine (a fighting game engine), then I moved to Game Maker, and eventually learned how to code.

[GF] : How do you proceed so that you don't get scattered between the code, the gameplay, the level design, the graphics and so on?

I set myself specific goals for each stage of development, always following Zero Mission as a reference. Having the guidance of something that you know works great saves a lot of guesswork.
For the level design, I had to play the rest of the games and examine how worlds were built, how the levels teach the player mechanics and escalate challenges.

The arrival on SR-388, faithfully reproduced using scenery elements from Metroid Fusion, and Samus' ship directly taken from Super Metroid Zero Mission served as inspiration for the graphical remodeling of the Chozo Temple in Metroid II True to the original, hunting down Metroids remains a crucial element of AM2R's progression

[GF] : How did you find the balance between preservation and novelty like adding new areas for example?

I tried to put myself in the shoes of Nintendo, as in how much would I change if I were to officially remake Metroid II. That meant that I had to be mindful of not introducing any contents that contradicted the rest of the games in the saga, a good excuse to play those games too.
Adding extra areas took a lot of design time. Whatever I added needed to challenge the player in a distinct way, without feeling out of place. It took a couple of revisions, but I’m overall happy with how the new places feel.

[GF] : If you had to remember one thing about the remake that you are most proud of, what would it be? Personally I loved that you used the pipes that sometimes run across the screen in the original game, to make the teleportation system in the remake, that's genius).

The Queen was the culmination of my journey making complex multi-sprite creatures. I made complicated system for drawing the legs that would follow the terrain and position rotated limbs correctly. Turns out that's called inverse kinematics, and I had no idea that already existed. Destroying the environment around the Queen and adding the special finishing animation was also a lot of fun.

In the manner of Zero Mission, AM2R introduces new bosses that one could believe are directly from the series Among the many sequences added to the original, the escape from an about-to-explode reactor The battle against the Queen Metroid: both a graphical success and an epic finale!

[GF] : Let's quickly talk about the release of the game and Nintendo's ban. How did you feel about it?

At first, there were DMCA takedowns to places hosting the files. I had heard of individuals filing fake takedown notices, impersonating Nintendo. So there was a possibility that those takedowns were not legit. After the first update, I received an official email with a DMCA takedown, this time there was no doubt, and I had to stop.
I wasn’t surprised about it, I even expected it to happen eventually. What I did not expect was for it to happen so quickly. Maybe the sudden unexpected popularity of the project accelerated the process?

[GF] : Speaking of Nintendo, what did you think of the 2017 Mercury Steam’s remake? The name AM2R has a whole different meaning now.

The iconic sequence from Metroid II that AM2R incorporates to ensure a seamless transition to Super Metroid It was really interesting to play. The way they interpreted the source material was fascinating, and the way they animated the Metroids and Samus was masterful.
I had plans to change the project name to something that didn’t sound like a placeholder. But the name got pretty popular. Good thing I kept it.

> Ori and the Will of the Wisps : level designer at Moon Studios

Moon Studios' second game, Ori and the Will of the Wisps (released in 2020), is a sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest [GF] : Some time after the release of the remake you were contacted and hired by Moon Studio to work on Ori and the Will of the Wisps as a level designer. Can you tell us a bit more about the level designer job?

Here is the complete map of Ori and the Will of the Wisps, featuring a classic structure: 4 major areas in the north, south, east, and west. However, Ori hides numerous secrets I arrived at Moon when Ori and the Will of the Wisps was already in production. So a good part of the high level structure of the world was already planned, this means that we knew what the overall theme and mechanics were for every area, but with the details of each gameplay moment yet to be designed.

Whenever a new ability was implemented by the Tech department, all of the level designers would make playgrounds to push that mechanic to its limits, and just have fun with it.
At least at Moon, we have a lot of room for experimentation, to find fun gameplay and create interesting challenges with those mechanics. Then we fit them in the part of the world where those mechanics make sense.
Working with artists, programmers, writers and producers, was great. We gave each other feedback all the time, everyone has a voice.

Luma Pools : The motion-based water level, with a very fluid level design based on Ori's Dash in the water Baur's Reach: The most platforming level in this Ori, with a consistently knockout art direction

[GF] : What are the major differences between developing AM2R and working within a medium-sized team?

When I arrived at Moon, I was used to coordinating with other people via Skype. The amount of people was a bit overwhelming, and the speed at which they delivered was insane.
For AM2R I was used to long wait times, collaborators were using their free time to deliver assets, and that process could take weeks or months. I had to pick up the pace at Moon, but I did learn a lot from extremely cool and talented people.

[GF] : Are you still working at Moon Studios? I think I saw on twitter that you're working on other projects at the moment.

Yes, and I wish I could tell you about our new game, but you know… NDA and all that.
I have a couple of small personal projects, and I occasionally participate in game jams, mostly to set small development challenges for myself, and to learn something new.

Mouldwood Depths : A very original biome, Ori will be plunged into total darkness and you'll have to collect fireflies along the way to get to the end, or risk being devoured by the darkness Windswept Wastes: One of the best abilities in the game, the spin will allow our hero to pierce the sand (or snow) piles, and reach areas previously unreachable

[GF] : General questions about video games: What are you currently playing? And how do you see the world of video games in a few years?

I recently started with Cyberpunk 2077, I waited for it to be stable on PC, and it’s been a great time so far.
As for the future? If there’s something this industry has is unpredictability. Anything can happen, and that’s both beautiful and terrifying. I’ll be happy if I get the chance for my work to be enjoyed by people, whatever the situation ends up being in the future.

[GF] : Thank you very much for your kindness. We wish you all the best for the future.

Interview on 4th may 2023

- Project AM2R's website
- Version française de cette interview   1UP   Retro Kidz   Jeux Classiques   Poulpeo
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