The Legacy of Marisa Kirisame - Big interview!

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The Legacy of Marisa Kirisame - Big interview!

Post by kevansevans »

For today's spotlight interview, we're not going to focus on a singular mod, but instead focus on a creator who's been with us for many years and has established a bit of a meme status within the Doom community. Marisa Kirisame is today's focus, and oh boy is this a doozy of an interview! We went over a lot of her material and I played through her whole catalog to get here. Please enjoy, and feel free to suggest anyone for our next interview! All (minus one) of her wads can be downloaded here:


In a short paragraph, can you explain to our readers who you are and what you make?

Marisa: My name is Marisa, and I've been around on the internet since 2007. Videogames are my passion, and I love creating new things, so naturally, I had to gravitate
towards modding eventually. I mostly do gameplay mods, with new guns, items, and whatever else, but I've also dabbled in mapping a couple times.

UBX Master was your former name, is there story behind that, and what led you to change your name?

Marisa: It's a long story, really. That name gives me some grief, bad memories of my olden days. I've changed names around the time of major "turning points" in my life,
so to speak, as I grew as a person and left certain aspects of myself behind. I'm sure we've all had our phases. I'm pretty sure that was a name I picked because it sounded cool. I had a weird fixation
with the word "Master", because it was a sort of recurring thing when naming original characters.

You started your modding career working on Unreal and Unreal Tournament ‘99 mods, what got you to look at ZDoom and was the transition difficult?

Marisa: So... UT99 was pretty much all I had in terms of moddable games back before I had internet access, and I just kept at it for years and years, making whatever I felt like.
Then came the time when I discovered there was a whole world out there, and other games to make stuff for. I gravitated towards Doom since I had played the shareware version and loved it when I was a kid,
and I was curious about what more could be squeezed out of it. I entered the ZDoom forums in 2008, and started introducing myself in my own sort of bombastic way, and learned the ropes with DECORATE and
stuff by imitating what I'd see in other mods. I wouldn't say the transition to Doom modding was difficult. On the contrary, it felt much easier to work with.

Kev: Was the shareware your only experience with Doom prior to modding?

Marisa: Yes, actually. I didn't own many full games, UT was a gift from one of my cousins. The rest of my experience came from shareware collection CDs from magazines.
I played Doom, Heretic, Hexen, Strife... the whole family, and also Quake, among other classic DOS titles.

Is there something that Unreal modding does better than ZDoom modding, and vice versa? Inversely, worse?

Marisa: I'd say... the way models are animated is one of the things I miss when I work with ZDoom. It's far more complicated and restrictive here. In the case of something ZDoom does better...
the fact that it's open source and has more "close to metal" scripting. ZScript really is a godsend for me. It's just like working with UnrealScript again, but with most of the ugliness removed.

Kev: How are the model animations done differently?

Marisa: In Unreal, you declare a range of frames and give it a name. That's pretty much it, that's how you set up animations. Then you have functions in scripting to play and loop them,
with various speed modifiers, interpolation factors and whatnot, along with "latent" functions that wait for the whole sequence to end so you can sync up events to that. Meanwhile, In ZDoom, you take the whole model,
and then assign each individual animation frame to each sprite frame the actor might use. Playback is up to how the actor itself runs its states, and obviously, the speed is very limited to fractions of 35FPS (17.5, 11.66, 8.75... and so on).
Though at least, there's the advantage that you can mix and match frames arbitrarily, so you can have ping-pong loops, playing stuff in reverse, cutting and stitching sequences together, etc. etc.

When making a map for ZDoom, what’s your typical workflow? Going from an empty map to a full detailed room with enemies, items, secrets, etc.

Marisa: My typical workflow starts with the general theme, the idea for what the map will be. Setting, progression, etc. After that's roughly plotted out, I make out some basic shapes on paper,
then try to get the overall flow of rooms and corridors going. Finally, the real work begins, one room at a time. Of course, this part never really ends up exactly how I thought it all out, and I tend to deviate from what I plotted
if I suddenly have some new fresh idea to change things up. I also tend to think way too big for my own good and eventually cut out large parts due to time constraints (for example, my map for 20 heretics was going to have one
additional floor to the main mansion). The rest of the content comes organically. Monsters are usually placed first, so I can later pick what sort of equipment I'd have to place to deal with them. Secrets...
those usually are left to the very end of detailing a room, as then I can think of some clever way to disguise them in the architecture.

What’s your workflow for making a gameplay mod?

Marisa: Oh, that's a difficult one. The first thing to come is the overarching theme. What is it going to be about, what kind of character you play as, what sort of playstyle is expected...
then going from that I think up the weapon roster and supporting items. Just the basic details on what they're called, what they do and how they work. It's after that that I begin on giving them shape. I do most of my designs on paper,
as I've always done, just little sketches. Then from that, I extrapolate into 3d models. I do all the assets before I actually start writing code (though I will make adjustments later if something has to be changed to accomodate).
Generally, I start coding all the weapons first, one by one from the lowest to the highest slot. Later I do the items, in whatever order I feel like (usually the easier ones to script first). As I do this, I also flesh out the various systems: Player classes,
general effects, event handlers for replacing objects and doing some other fancy things, should I feel like adding some extra gameplay mechanics (for example, SWWM GZ has a scoring system, among other things).
The only thing I'd say I cheap out on is on sounds, mainly taking those from games I own and then doing some audio mixing to give them some more unique flavor.

Who or what serves as an inspiration for your serious mods?

Marisa: Honestly, there's so many things that inspire me that I'd be here for hours listing them all. My own personal universe with over two decades of world building and character writing...
It's a mishmash inspired by many things I've liked over my life, usually videogames, sometimes movies and books (or hell, I might take some hints from world history and mythology too).

Marisa: In the case of Soundless Mound, obviously the main inspiration there would be Silent Hill. Specifically, the second game. That one part around the beginning where you wander through a
dark apartment complex really stuck out to me when I first played. There was so much going on in there, going back and forth between rooms, all of it in such a dreary state, as if people had simply been erased from there...
That part of the game never really had an "otherworld" to it, so that's where the idea came to me of having my own take on that.

Marisa: Now, Hexmas... I did a map for that one, where you wander out into the northern snowlands and venture into a mysterious dungeon that's home to an eldritch cult.
The funny story about this one is that yes, I obviously took some hints from the Lovecraft Mythos there, but specifically, the inspiration came from another mod, one for Starbound, called Frackin' Universe.
In that mod, there's a specific mission where you're sent off to an icy planet where something went terribly wrong while investigating some alien ruins... and as it turns out, the one evil behind it all happens to
be one of those vile old ones! This one really stayed with me long after I played that, and got bored of it and uninstalled. See, you may be seeing a theme here. I often create things because I want to do my own
little version of something else. It's obviously not copying, really, since so much is changed.

Marisa: Lastly, for 20 Heretics I did a very large map, a mansion where you have to infiltrate and steal a plot-important mcguffin. See, around that time I had been binging some Thief let's plays...
and you can guess where this is going already. The map plays much like a mission in that game, where you get in, steal the valuable stuff, and leave. A lot of focus is also put on the horror element of it all,
as the whole place is in complete darkness save for some dim torch lighting here and there (which unfortunately resulted in some complaints about the map being too dark), and sparsely placed monsters running their patrols.
The ambience was entirely lifted from Thief, almost a 1:1 match even to how the systems worked, replicated entirely in ZScript. Quite a feat, that one, and amusing that I did just that solely for one map (then again, so did I also for Soundless Mound).

Marisa: [In regards to Spooktober] I fancied the idea of a haunted mansion full of paintings where you travel to other worlds. Obviously, like in Mario 64, and after it, Golden Souls. As I wanted it to also fit into the world of Doom,
I thought up the idea of these monks getting trapped into it by the evil residing (heh) within its walls, and calling upon Doomguy to save the day. The idea for the main antagonist was something I came up with almost at the last moment.
Completely pulled it out of thin air, this "Nightmare Lord". His backstory actually didn't come to happen until much later, the whole link with the rest of the projects I worked in.

Who or what serves as an inspiration for your joke mods?

Marisa: You know, that's actually harder than explaining the serious mods. I don't even know what my thought process is for those. I scare even myself with the stuff I come up with.
It's all memes, all the way down. The internet is a crazy place, and I've made it my home, where every single brick has Tim Allen's face on it.

What is your fascination with Tim Allen from Home Improvement?

Marisa: Funny enough, I have absolutely no fascination with that. It was entirely by coincidence that I picked Tim Allen out of all other options I could have used on that viral video.
It was just the fad at the time, what with the "replace all sounds with <thing>" meme. The rest, me inserting references into other mods, just happened because it was amusing. I stopped doing it after a while.

The Instant Action series didn’t seem very instant, or full of action, was that a common criticism when they were first released? Would you chalk those problems up to inexperience?

Marisa: Oh, that was because I named it after the invasion map from DO-TIMS. It was also called Instant Action. I don't actually recall any criticism I got back then, it was REALLY long ago.
But I bet I got some, because those maps DID get some changes over time. Inexperience is definitely a factor here. Those were literally some of my very first maps.

As early as IA2, your sense of humor has shown in your projects, what would you describe that sense of humor as?

Marisa: Immature, random, cringeworthy. Just as expected from an easily impressed pubescent teenager who just discovered the internet.

Kev: Would you say you've built off of that to any degree? A lot of your more newer joke stuff is arguably 'random'.

Marisa: I guess so, but I've matured and at least have an understanding of what's tasteless or "too much". (I say... when one of those mods features a cursed plush doll that latches on to enemies and "succs" them)

What would an Instant Action 4 look like?

Marisa: Well, to be honest, I have no idea. I didn't even THINK of anything for it other than the name, and that I could maybe possibly make it someday. I mean, despite having no clue whatsoever,
at least I'd expect it to be more polished. Perhaps have it be more than just one single arena map, maybe add some more variety, like progression between zones, little objectives and whatnot. You know, what people would expect of a more involved invasion style map.

In the extra note file found in the Total Madness download, you describe having regret for making the mod due to it’s juvenile sense of humor. What advice can you give to youthful mod makers that can help them avoid that regret?

Marisa: "Don't do it". Stop and think: "Is this really something I want to be remembered for?" Because if you're putting that on the internet, it'll stay there, and everyone will see it, and boy do you not want people to remind you down the line about that one embarrassing thing you once did.

Your 20 Heretics map is your first “traditional” map in your catalog, and traditional is underselling the quality of it. What was the focus of this map? (aside from the 20 enemy limit)

Marisa: The focus? Key hunting, house cleaning (of monsters). Tried to spread out things as much as possible so you get the chance to see almost all of the house taking a somewhat "non-linear" route around.

Atmosphere is a very major focus on that map, lighting and sound design, what made you decide that was the direction you wanted to go for your Heretic map?

Marisa: I'm a big fan of that stuff. I like me some good spooks. And as I said, I had just come out of a binge of something with that sort of atmosphere, so it's what set the mood for me.

Soundless Mound is definitely a stark example of a mod that’s gone against the norm of what typically gets made in ZDoom, what drew you towards making a Silent Hill inspired map?

Marisa: I LOVE Silent Hill. Simple as that. I sometimes don't know what drives me, really. An idea pops up and I just do it. Also, Total Chaos probably drove me to do it, I bet. That mod's pretty cool.

Soundless Mound had won Joel’s mapping contest, what was the experience like when someone who’s known for their shitpost sense of humor picked your very serious mod?

Marisa: I had seen highlights from the previous contest, so I knew exactly what to put at the very end, heheh. In regards to how he played... I wasn't too disappointed. I knew he'd suck at it.
Joel is bad at Doom, we all know that, we don't need General Roasterock to shout it at us in all that bass-boosted glory. In regards to the fact I won... I was genuinely surprised. I did NOT expect to get first place when more
experienced mappers had taken part in it. People like Dragonfly, for example. I sure as hell had expected he'd win there. That map was really impressive. But I guess I went out there with something REALLY unexpected,
and with a lot of hard work put into it (despite the fact I had a nasty hand injury at the time).

Did Joel ever send you that wad?

Marisa: Yes, he actually did, after a VERY long time, and I played it on stream, and he even popped up to watch after a while. It was somewhat embarrassing, especially considering the map had some... defects.

As it says in the forum thread, Soundless Mound is a demo currently. What’s the current progress of the full version?

Marisa: None.

There's no real progress on the full version yet. I've been focused entirely on other projects. The plan is, however, for it to be all fully 3d modeled, like Total Chaos. I think I'd genuinely have more creative freedom
if I'm not restricted by my VERY limited spriting skills. Models are so much easier to work with. The overall plan is to have the whole city explorable, with several key areas you can get into and defeat bosses.
It'd definitely be more open than usual Silent Hill games, where progression is more linear.

Ouch_m was your first project involving ZScript, why a joke wad?

Marisa: While I was learning how to use ZScript, I noticed that I could change the textures of the map to pretty much anything. So... in a moment of enlightenment,
I put Doomguy's ouch face on everything. Hilarity ensued as the madness began. (also in part the mod's final behavior was inspired by lilith.pk3)

Abort is definitely a bit more reserved in terms of being over the top but still adding to the foundation of Ouch, was there anything you felt was too ridiculous or too risky to include in Abort? Anything you couldn’t pull off?

Marisa: As it was all a collection of experiments to keep pushing my ZScript knowledge forward, I'd eventually hit walls with engine limitations. I wanted to have a weapon where you'd just casually yank
off the entire status bar and use it to smack enemies. I also had several other wacky ideas like that that I'd put in the "maybe in the future" list, hoping they'd become possible some day. Of course, that day never came, as the mod had to be cancelled.

Spooktober has you tackling the hub, the boss map, and two secret maps. Did you feel pressured to perform on these maps, or did they flow out of you with a clear and coherent idea of what you wanted them to be?

Marisa: I initially only wanted to make just the hub and the boss map. Due to the fact some people would step out, and some slots weren't being taken, we had to fill in.
Rachael ended up making two maps, for example. And yeah, I had to do some extra work myself for secrets. I did feel pressured, especially on the secrets, as they happened almost at the very end, near release.

Point Motion is a very conservative map for you in near every aspect, what drew the inspiration for this?

Marisa: I wanted it to be more about the concept itself. There's this Yume Nikki fangame I really like, called .flow. I had to put it in somewhere. I thought... it was the right time, there and that's actually when the background lore started to pour in the backstory of the Nightmare Lord, and all the other Lords of Terror, the man in the mirror where that secret map is found… it was in a way indirectly connected to that game that game inspired what one day will hopefully be my first standalone game project. That is, .blank that strange thing I teased once. I know it just sounds like I'm saying words and citing names and stuff.

I wouldn't say it avoids novelty or showiness, haha, it's definitely showy. the AI is very advanced
and the idea of having an entirely different player class from map to map was also something that took a lot of technical work, it's not just a "morph" like when in Hexen you get turned into a pig.
but really, I put a lot of my technical prowess into that, I even studied the original maps from the game in detail to almost accurately recreate its layout in doom. well, only the school itself, that is,
the rest is improvised, but still thematically matching.

Kev: So under the hood it's on par with what you like to make?

Marisa: Yes, I love challenging my programming skills.

Golden Slaughter is a clear spiritual successor to your Instant Action series, and a lot of your work often revisits older ideas. Do you feel that you’re never happy with the quality of your work, or are you just very keen on the ideas you have?

Marisa: I like my ideas, and I'm constantly evolving. In reality, Golden Slaughterer isn't really as much of that as it is me dabbing on Doom Slayer Chronicles and showing a far more robust
and functional wave system for an invasion map. Also I like Umineko, I like them seacats, so I had to sneak in another reference there. The fans on twitter loved it.

Kev: Is there a friendly spar between you and the creator of Doom Slayer Chronicles, or you did that because you could?

Marisa: I did it because I could. The mod left me in pain. I had to fight back.

In HeXmas, your contribution to the collab features the returning theme of infiltrating a castle/dungeon, and robbing a deity of a prized treasure overnight. Was this planned from the beginning or were there other ideas?

Marisa: It was planned from the beginning as soon as I entered the project. I can't remember what exactly drove me to make it like that, but I just did.
We already had the whole idea of making the hub all about collecting some items to solve a big puzzle. I don't remember actually if it was my idea for it to be the "elemental gems", though.

Why such a green map?

Marisa: Green is the color of eldritch horrors. [No further elaboration could be provided]

Coming from an Unreal modding background, Doomreal is an obvious given of yours. Was Doom’s limitation a factor in porting over the weapon behaviors?

Marisa: I would say that they were, yes. But in the long run, I found that there were some things that were actually advantageous.
ZScript's flexibility really allowed me to recreate some things almost exactly. And on top of that, of course, I did take some creative freedoms (sorry, purists).

Kev: What were some of those freedoms?

Marisa: For starters, being able to have screenshake that actually looks good, Unreal's own screenshake just rolls the camera around and it's atrocious. Also on top of that, better handling of sprites,
whereas in Unreal you really can't have them rotate, or have offsets, or be lit (sprites are always fullbright in Unreal). I could also make the HUD scale properly on higher resolutions.
Would you believe that Unreal 1's HUD is actually IMPOSSIBLE to ever upscale in its own engine? [kevans did, in fact, not believe this!]

If GZDoom didn’t support 3D models, would Doomreal still have happened using sprites?

Marisa: definitely not. the amount of work needed for that would be pretty much next to impossible for me. I'm not a sprite artist.
Besides, the reason Doom Tournament and Doomreal happened, was BECAUSE GZDoom supported models... specifically, because I myself extended it to support the same format as Unreal.

Kev: Not even recording the animations and hand cutting the sprites out?

Marisa: Still way too much work, and in a case like that I wouldn't be satisfied with the results.

Was there an attempt to port over popular deathmatch maps? Deck 16 at least?

Marisa: That's something I did try, though there's a major problem with scale. Deck 16 was recreated, but I noticed that players were too small.
In Unreal, a player is 78 map units tall, while in doom, they're 56 (not to mention the fact there's no 1.2x vertical stretch). Accounting for that discrepancy would make it far harder to make the maps.
It's not exactly easy to "re-scale" stuff.

Kev: Didn't want to make a playerclass to account for this?

Marisa: you'd also have to rescale all the items in the map, and all the projectiles and effects and everything else, then.

SWWM was previously an Unreal mod, from what I can tell is it’s a random hodgepodge of overpowered guns. What drew you to bring it to GZDoom and expand upon it?

Marisa: The fact that I was VERY tired of modding for UT. SWWM GZ is actually a reboot of the failed SWWM Z, which was pretty similar in design. I barely did anything for it beyond some basic HUD design and the weapon listings.

How long did it take you to find a voice for The Demolitionist?

Marisa: I went right away with choosing the Fallout 4 player voice in Japanese because I liked how it sounded. I had been playing the game around that time.
Honestly, so late in development now, I regret that decision. if I could, I'd change all of it with original voice acting in English, but I'd have to find someone to provide that voice.

Kev: What's the source of this regret?

Marisa: The fact that I can't write all-original lines for the character and instead depend on what's available in the source. I wouldn't want to just write whatever without
caring what the source says, because that'd just be absolutely shameless. I mean, there are many Japanese speakers in the Doom community.

Do you think The Demolitionist could star in her own game? If so, what could that look like?

Marisa: Yes, and it'd be pretty much just like the mod already is, but with all-original content, rather than being based on Doom and other IWADs.
To be honest, the idea of making a sort of... "official campaign" to turn the mod into its own standalone thing sounds great, but I'd figure it would be even more work to do such a thing.
It'd perhaps focus on adventures in other places entirely unrelated to Doom itself, locations from the mod's own lore. I've definitely considered this idea, many times.

Kev: Would it still be a GZDoom thing, or would you expand your horizons?

Marisa: I'd rather stay in GZDoom, other engines scare me.

Your sense of ambition and scale seems to increase with each release, is it a primary focus of yours to outdo yourself in some regards to your previous mod?

Marisa: I am very ambitious, I can't help it, and I definitely feel the need to outdo myself, but sometimes I feel that what I want is to outdo not just myself but everyone else.
I tend to be a very jealous person, and although I admire a lot of other modders, I can't help but get a feeling deep down that I want to "go bigger" than them. Though, being self-conscious about that makes me feel guilty, too.

_m is a recurring signature of yours in your file names, obviously standing for Marisa. Is there any story behind this signature?

Marisa: I noticed that many other modders used their initials as a prefix, so... just to be different I went with a suffix instead.

Kev: Sort of gives it that '.mp4' or '.exe' feel people will use in their published titles, like SmileDog.jpg

Marisa: As a matter of fact, when I went by Zanaveth I used _z instead.

Would you say that your favorite type of map to make is an arena?

Marisa: Considering all of my prior mapping experience came from UT, it's what I know. I do try to make something more than that, but at the end of the day, I always end up adding an arena somewhere.

Is there a ZDoom feature that if removed would make you quit Doom modding indefinitely?

Marisa: Remove ZScript and I will never touch the engine ever again.

Kev: Not even decorate as a fallback?

Marisa: I really do NOT miss DECORATE, honestly. I know some people swear by it because they want to also mod for Zandronum, and sure, I respect that, but for me, that'd be a deal breaker right there.

Is there something you wish would get added to ZDoom that has been shot down or is out of the scope of the engine?

Marisa: One thing I really REALLY want that I honestly miss from Unreal Engine is scripted textures. The ability to draw directly to a texture and then use it somewhere,
so you can for example put scrolling text on a marquee, or an ammo counter on a weapon model or have an interactable computer screen in the world. that's something I really wish GZDoom could have,
and I've suggested it before, but for the longest time no one has seemed to want to do it.

Anything new you can tease the readers with?

Marisa: I have plans to organize a Strife community project soon-ish for the game's 25th anniversary. It would be another project akin to Spooktober and Hexmas (in fact, it'd be linked to them plot-wise).

Is there anyone out there you would like to thank or give a shout out to?

Marisa: I'd really like to thank pretty much all of my friends in this community. It's thanks to them all that I've stayed around and kept creating mods. I really really appreciate the support and encouragement I get from everyone.

Is ZScript a mistake the same way anime is a mistake?

Marisa: In a way, I'd say it is. I mean don't get me wrong, it's a very powerful language, but boy does it have some parts that make you ask "why the hell is this a thing?"


Marisa: I don't think so, Tim.


Thank you so much for reading my second conducted interview, and a huge thanks to Marisa for being willing to taker the time with me to do this, had a lot of fun with her while conducting!

Please, feel free to suggest anyone or any mod for a future interview!
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Re: The Legacy of Marisa Kirisame - Big interview!

Post by Marisa the Magician »

It's been an honor.
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Re: The Legacy of Marisa Kirisame - Big interview!

Post by KynikossDragonn »

Goodness, this is quite a surprise. Congratulations on the interview, Marisa. It was such a delightful read!
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Re: The Legacy of Marisa Kirisame - Big interview!

Post by Rachael »

This is awesome and an interesting read. :)
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Re: The Legacy of Marisa Kirisame - Big interview!

Post by CherubCorps »

Very interesting insight into one of the primer modders in the Doom scene.
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Re: The Legacy of Marisa Kirisame - Big interview!

Post by Redneckerz »

Legit enjoyed reading this and feeling bad that real life takes over to the point that commiting gets at play. Kevans, these are great and i applaud you for thee. Please continue these, and lets strike a chat on them if needed be :)
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Re: The Legacy of Marisa Kirisame - Big interview!

Post by CrazyC787 »

Interesting read

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