Interview with Nano – Member of the Smash Brothers Modding Community

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The modding community offers a lot of high quality content on PC’s but the modding on consoles is quite interesting. It is not as common but when they are done well, they are high quality expansions on already great titles. Super Smash Brothers is famous for this with Project M and many other mods that have released on both Brawl & Smash Wii U.
With me today I have one such modder by the name of Nano. He answers a few of my questions and I hope you enjoy this interview!

RK: Can you introduce yourself?
Nano: Hi, I’m Nano. I’ve been in the Smash modding scene for about 6 years now, starting with Brawl and now moving onto Smash Wii U. I specialize in character skins, in which I rip models from another game or create them myself, and then import the model into Super Smash Brothers over an existing character.
RK: Thank you for having this interview with me! My first question would be what was your very first video game?
Nano: The very first video game I remember playing was Super Mario Bros 3 on the NES. I couldn’t have been older than 4 or 5. My grandparents have an NES, and I would always play the co-op mode with my Uncle when we would visit them.
For my 6th birthday, I got my own Gameboy Advanced, in which I played a lot of Mario Kart Super Circuit. Today, I enjoy playing competitive games for fun such as Dota 2, Overwatch, and Smash for WiiU.
RK: I grew up with Nintendo myself, so I completely understand being invested with Nintendo’s many games and systems. Personally loved the Gameboy Advance and Nintendo GameCube. Going into my next question, what was the very first game that you modded in?

Nano: The first game I modded was Smash Bros Brawl. I found a video of Mastaklo’s Shadow mod on YouTube, and decided to try it out myself. I then found Brawl Vault, and started downloading and creating my own custom build full of new skins, stages, and character move-sets. I soon started making my own Character Selection Portraits, basic texture mods, and eventually complete character skins. I have also downloaded and currently use mods for Grand Theft Auto V and Skyrim, but I never made my own mods for those games.
RK: Thank you for sharing that answer with me. Mods can add a lot to a game and it is great you are part of a community that continues to offer great content to Nintendo gamers. My next question would be did you ever experience any of the mods for Super Smash Brothers Brawl? If so, did you ever play something called Project M?
Nano: I currently enjoy Smash WiiU the most. I have never really been a competitive gamer, and always played for fun. Smash WiiU is the perfect pace for me, and I love the roster for the game. I also think the art style beautiful and the character models look amazing. Sakurai and his team did a wonderful job with merging the unique designs of each character into one similar style.
I started off with modding Smash Bros Brawl. I am one of the top artists on Brawl Vault and have uploaded many skins there, which you can find here.
And yes, I played a lot of Project M. I even helped develop it. I was a part of the PMDT art team from 2012, up until we shut down development last year. I rigged and imported most of the custom skins found in Project M, as well as helped render out their official artwork for those fun Art Tuesday posts.
RK:  When getting into the Modding Scene, what were some challenges you faced when trying to produce mods? I would image they would be quite difficult to create.

Nano: One of the challenges I faced was learning how Autodesk 3ds Max worked. Max is quite the complicated program, and I spent many hours watching YouTube tutorials about how to use it. To properly import a skin into Smash, we need to “rig” the model to a character’s skeleton. The rigging process involves “weighing” certain parts of the model to certain joints of the character skeleton. This allows the model’s mesh to move with the skeleton, allowing the character to be animated. However, once you master the art of rigging, it becomes rather simple.
Another challenge is getting the model to work properly in game. With the tools we have now, it is rather simple to get a model in the game. However, the difficult part is making the model look good by adding proper materials and facial expressions. Since Smash WiiU modding is so new, we are still learning about how the game’s engine works, and it takes a LOT of trial and error to get a character model up to my personal quality standards and ready for release. Even now, I have had to release some skins with minor bugs and glitches that we have yet to discover the solutions to. It’s quite frustrating at times; however, I will update those mods as soon as I am able to figure out a solution to their issues.
RK: Did you enjoy making the mods for Super Smash Brothers for Wii U? Many of the mods for that game are quite impressive.
Nano: I love making mods for Smash Wii U. Compared to Brawl, we have so much more freedom to create quality skins. Since Brawl was on the Wii, we were limited to compressed, low res textures and low poly models. With Smash WiiU, we are able to use 1k-4k textures and higher poly models. We can also add more realism to models with the use of normal maps, which Brawl did not support. I love porting the Project M alts to Smash WiiU and being able to see their models reach their fullest potential without having to worry about strict file-size constraints.
RK: What is your stance on modding games on consoles? Do you think it is easier to mod a console game or a PC game? I would think modding on a more open platform like PC would be an easier challenge to undertake.
Nano: I feel like the Wii U is a unique situation when compared to other consoles. The kernel exploit and SD Cafiine allows for easy file replacement with Smash. Right now, all we need to do is drag-n-drop files into Sm4sh Explorer, compile the patch, then insert the patch onto our SD card. However, Smash is the only console game I’ve modded, so I have no idea how difficult it is to mod other Wii U games.
The only PC game that I have heavily modded is Skyrim, which has been a relative simple experience for me. Bethesda released Skyrim with an add-on system, so adding mods is rather simple. You can either drag-n-drop files into the correct location, or use a mod organizer to install/uninstall mods.
RK: Any future mods you have in production you would like to talk about?
Nano: Right now I’m just trying to port all my favorite Project M skins that I helped create to Smash WiiU. If you follow my Twitter, you will see that I have been teasing a Fire Emblem Awakening Roy skin. I hope to release him before Christmas. I have no laid out plans at the moment after Roy, but I may attempt to import Punch Out DK or the Dark Suit Samus skin depending on how I feel, or what people are asking for.
RK: I want to thank you for having this interview with me. Learning about modding in the Smash Brothers series is very interesting and it was nice of you to talk with me about this topic; personally always something I wanted to learn more about. Before we close this interview, can you share some final thoughts?
Nano: If you want to become a good modder, be sure to take your time, put in a little effort, and ask questions.
No one wants an unfinished character skin or stage mod. It is quite possible to make a rig look clean and to make the materials fit in with the game style. You just need to practice and maintain patience throughout the trial and error period of testing your mod. See an obvious bug? It is most likely fixable, so fix it.
YouTube is your friend. The best way to learn is to try to teach yourself by watching tutorials and by asking questions. It’s how I and every single one of the top Smash modders started out. Feel free to stop by the Smash WiiU modding Discord server and ask me or others for help. Remember, modding is just a hobby. It should be fun and not feel like a stressful job. If you feel like it is getting in the way of your everyday life, just step back and breathe. With enough practice, you will be creating your own quality mods in no time.

You can find Nano on his official Twitter page and his page as well.

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