Lövely Interviews - Maurice from Stabyourself.net

In Lövely Interviews, I interview developers of LÖVE and LÖVE games. This time I'm interviewing Maurice from Stabyourself.net, who is known for creating the Mario/Portal mashup: Mari0.


Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?

We are a two-man developer team, that is Sašo and me, Maurice. Sašo does anything website and hosting related while I program all the games. He also helps me with bouncing off ideas.

We make games for fun that you can download from our website for free. It's not about making money but instead creating something that people will enjoy and maybe be surprised by.

 

Mari0 was actually how I learned about LÖVE! How did you learn about LÖVE, and what was it that made you start using it?

I think someone in the Facepunch programming forums, which I used to frequent, was making a project with LÖVE, and I was looking for a more capable game engine than AutoIt3 or the Warcraft 3 Map Editor at the time. A good friend of mine was a very skilled Lua programmer working a lot with Garry's Mod so I figured it might be a good idea to learn more about LÖVE and Lua.

 

Mari0 might be the most popular LÖVE game to date. Where did it all begin, and how long did it take you to make it?

It began like a lot of prototypes, where you go "Hey, I wonder if I can program a platformer". I started programming away in January 2011 on it using Super Mario Bros as a base because historically it was one of the first games to really nail the movement mechanics.

After some time when the game was starting to resemble SMB, I started looking into what can be made out of it, thinking of making a multiplayer game like the recent .io games (agar.io and slither.io) or turning it into an HD port like Sonic 2 HD.

Neither really got anywhere because of my inexperience with netcode and unsuccessful attempts at finding an artist.

But then Dorkly made a video about SMB with a portal gun and I thought "Hey I can actually make that!". That was in April 2011.

A couple of months later in March 2012 Mari0 was released, so it took just over a year of on-and-off programming.

 

What is the most important thing you've learned when creating Mari0?

It's difficult to please everyone, especially when you make the development process as open as we did. People have different ideas of what should be in the game and you have to be able to maintain your own vision.

If I had listened to every idea we got, Mari0 would be an mmo with guns and Sonic side characters.

 

Was there a part/feature you really struggled with when creating Mari0?

Probably the most requested feature, partly due to my fault of showing an unfinished version of it, online multiplayer. Combining a lack of experience with netcode and an already far into development game made adding network play a real pain for us. Someone I know actually offered to write the online part into the game but ultimately failed due to the client heavy way the game was written. In the end we had to completely abandon the idea, much to the dismay of youtube commenters.

I think online play in a complex game such as a platformer has to be included from the very beginning, otherwise you set yourself up for rewriting half your game.

 

You have a Modding board on your forums. Was Mari0 programmed to be mod-friendly? And if so what did you do different to achieve this?

There's nothing in Mari0's code that makes it particularly mod friendly. It's just the openness of the code and engine that inspired people to mod the game.

There was going to be an update to Mari0 which included moddable enemies and entities which was actually pretty cool (There's a short blogpost about it here).

I think the best idea is to program things as modular as possible and then allow elements to be loaded from a folder. Anyone interested in modding will figure out how to use it to their advantage.

For more advanced types of modding, I assume you'd have to put hooks into your game like Garry's Mod does it, but I have no experience with that. It's definitely something that's worth looking into though.

 

With LÖVE you also created Ortho Robot, a game where you "bridge the gap between 2D and 3D games". Wouldn't it have been easier to create this game with a 3D framework/engine?

Probably. It would also add more features; my crudely programmed 3D engine allows no roll-rotation on the blocks and I had issues with the draw order when the player moves between blocks. Like many of my games it was a "Can I program something like that?" thing.

I'd love to get into a new "more serious" engine such as Unreal or Unity, but I just can't find the time or motivation to do so.

 

Is there anything you really wish would be added/changed to LÖVE?

I think with the recent Android and iOS ports, the only platform left for LÖVE to support is web. It would be really cool if I could upload quick prototypes (or full games) on the internet and allow people to play them without any installation or download.

Other than that I'm very happy with the way the LÖVE-team is handling development of the engine.

 

In my interview with rude he talked about one of your games, Trosh. Is there a story behind this explosive game?

Trosh is actually one of the users from our forums, and at some point I got into a kind of exchange with him where he'd send me something in the mail, I'd send something back and so forth. At some point I decided to send him a link to a game that I was gonna program while the mail was underway, which put me under some time pressure but I think the game came out alright. And that's how Trosh was made.

 

Are you working on a new game at the moment, and if so what can you tell us about it?

I have one project that I think has potential, but I'm not nearly far enough to show anything. I'm trying to get back into actively making games because making Mari0 and the other games was a lot of fun, but it's hard to find the motivation to do so next to my regular programming job.

The past few months I've also been working on a game we showcased at our yearly Gamescom appearance, Super Battle Arcade. You can watch a video of an older version here.

 

Thanks for answering all the questions, is there anything you would like to tell the readers?

I think games are something really special, as there's no other hobby I can think of that allows you to share your work as easily and accessible as game programming. So don't be afraid to show what you've made and don't be afraid to try out new things.