Mango Mischief: Developer Interview
Welcome to our Special #2, another interview with an indie game dev. This time, we’re speaking to Chris Mango, the creator of the soon to be released Mango Mischief, an original JRPG that takes an alternative look at the old school games from the genre. Chris was one of the first users on Twitter to reach out to us as we started up, so we couldn’t resist the opportunity to interview him about the game. So read on to find out what it’s all about, and we highly recommend that you check Mango Mischief out and get it on your Steam wishlist.
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First, tell us a bit about yourself and your game.
Hi! My name is Chris Mango, and I’m a high school math teacher. For the past two years, I’ve been developing a PC game called Mango Mischief, which is the first video game I’ve ever created. Mango Mischief is a satirical, retro-style JRPG, so it emulates many of the old-school RPGs from the Super Nintendo and PlayStation eras – Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Chrono Trigger, etc. – while also poking fun at many of the common tropes found throughout the role-playing genre. It’s been an interesting and rewarding challenge, to include humor, references to other video games, and fourth-wall breaks while also focusing on the core mechanics of combat, customizability, character development, and the overall narrative of the story.
What was your main inspiration for Mango Mischief?
The main inspiration for Mango Mischief was the nostalgia I have for the video games I grew up playing, many of which were role-playing games. They shaped me as both a gamer and a person, taking me on emotional roller coasters and challenging me to problem-solve and actively analyze situations. The pixelated graphics of Mango Mischief are a nod to the 8-bit and 16-bit games that I played as a child, in the 1990s. My decision to include parody was inspired by the fact that I’ve always been impressed with writers and artists who can make meaningful, substantive commentary through comedy. I appreciate the cleverness of satirists, and the works of Jonathan Swift, Mel Brooks, George Carlin, Jon Stewart, and Weird Al Yankovic have inspired me to use humor as a vehicle for delivering my game’s plot and morals. The use of comedy also helped me to be honest with my affinity for the RPG genre, as there are plenty of overused cliches and superficial silliness that we often permit without critically assessing them, which deserve to be light-heartedly called out.
What is it like using RPG maker to develop games?
I’ve always enjoyed playing video games, and as I started to identify aspects of games that I loved (and didn’t love), I also began to wonder if I’d ever be able to create my own game. I don’t have any experience in computer programming – my background is in mathematics and education – so I just assumed that I would always be resigned to merely thinking about designing a video game that had my favorite elements from my favorite games, instead of being able to actually make, play, and share one. Game engines like RPG Maker have allowed me, and countless others, to develop games without needing to know how to code. I’ve personally found RPG Maker to be incredibly user-friendly and intuitive, and any issues I had were quickly cleared up by video tutorials on YouTube or the overwhelmingly supportive and inclusive community of game developers found on the RPG Maker forum. The specific RPG Maker version I used is “MV”, and while I can’t speak to the other versions, I would definitely recommend tinkering with RPG Maker MV.
What has been the most enjoyable aspect of developing the game so far?
As someone who loves learning and solving puzzles, I particularly enjoyed figuring out how to actualize each of my design ideas. The process from “I think it would be interesting if my game had X” to “Now my game has X” often consisted of many small steps that I had no prior experience with. Rather than being frustrated by how difficult some of these steps were, I leaned into the discomfort of dealing with these issues by doing whatever research was needed, because I actively wanted to learn and problem-solve. Additionally, I truly enjoyed having the freedom to customize the story, characters, dialogue, quests, skills, enemies, dungeons, towns, items, and all the other elements exactly the way I wanted; this is definitely a benefit of creating a game by myself, although that also means that I’m solely responsible for making sure everything is done correctly (including social media, marketing, and legal due diligence).
What are your goals for this game? Are you hoping to achieve anything specific?
Mango Mischief is a passion project of mine, and I’m delighted with how it’s turned out. For the past two years, I’ve been intrinsically motivated to work on my game, and it’s been an incredibly fulfilling journey. I would love for other people to play my game – that’s why I’m selling the full-length JRPG for just $10 on Steam – but I’m also in a privileged position where I don’t need to set any particular financial goals. My primary job (teaching math) and my secondary job (tutoring math and standardized test prep) have made it possible for me to create Mango Mischief at my own pace, exactly the way I want, without needing to worry about the game making me enough money to put food on the table or pay my mortgage. That kind of external anxiety hasn’t really been applicable to my experience, which has allowed me the freedom to already achieve my main goals of starting to learn a new skillset and making a game that I’m proud of.
Finally, do you have any plans for further games or expansions after this one?
The opportunity to dive into basic game development came at a particularly convenient time for me, but balancing this new hobby on top of my other passions, careers, and relationships has been very challenging. There are always other ideas that would be really fun to explore, especially spin-offs or sequels, but for now, I’m singularly focused on making sure Mango Mischief has a smooth release. Speaking of which, here’s the obligatory plug for my game: Mango Mischief will be available on Steam, starting June 20, 2022 ( https://store.steampowered.com/app/1680670/Mango_Mischief/), and you can always follow @MangoMischef on Twitter, mangomischiefvideogame on Instagram, or my Mango Mischief channel on YouTube for daily pictures, videos, and updates. And finally, www.mangomischief.com has additional information and links to all my social media and Steam page.