Lunar Magic is a level editor I created for Super Mario World (SNES). During its 12 year span of being the only level editor available for this classic game, it's inspired the creation of countless modifications of SMW by fans and casual players alike. It wasn't originally intended to be a long term project, but things turned out otherwise...
I began looking into making an editor for SMW shortly after releasing the SoM VWF patch, mostly on a whim to see how hard it would be. I started out in February 2000 by figuring out the compression format for the graphics and building the necessary decompression and recompression tools. I went on to decode the level layout data, which required disassembling a fair portion of the ROM's ASM code. Then I reused the old GUI for the unfinished prototype of the Sailor Moon Map Editor to begin constructing the level editor. I implemented the drag/drop support I had originally planned for SMRPG's editor, and rewrote the GFX routines to handle Mario World's format. This was done sometime in mid-summer.
Then came implementing an "Add Object" GUI, without which editing Mario Levels would become an exercise in extreme tediousness. I also created the MWL format, put in layer 2 support, and added a bunch of other dialogs and what-nots that were essential to changing the properties of a level. Which was finished sometime in mid-August.
By then of course I was horrified by the sheer amount of time it had taken to build the silly program, but I was more horrified still to realize that the whole thing would be a waste if I didn't put in the sprite support to finish it off. So I put in sprite support, as well as an "Add Sprites" GUI and a couple small ASM ROM modifications. I quickly wrapped up most of the loose ends by early September.
In late September it was finally released to the public for the first time. At that point I thought my job was pretty much complete, other than perhaps for a few minor revisions that could be added as needed.
Well, there were indeed a few revisions and fixes. And then a few more. And then some extra ASM enhancements to the game. And then a few more of those too. Before I knew it, it was already September 2001, a full year since Lunar Magic had first been released. In that time I had added extra graphics, 4bpp support, custom palettes, clipboard support, extended animated tiles, bypass dialogs, Japanese ROM support, layer 2 editing for the overworld, and all sorts of other minor enhancements.
By the end of 2001, the overworld editor had full layer 1 support, making it possible to redesign the level layout and overworld paths of SMW. In early 2002, text editing for the overworld level names, the castle event sequences, and the message boxes had also been implemented. But by mid-2002, Lunar Magic's development finally began winding down.
After releasing version 1.51 in September 2002, there was a long period where I was busy with other things. Development on the program slowed to a crawl. This was also around the same time that I and Zero-G started working on Demo World TLC, but it also stalled early in 2003. It wasn't until mid-2003 that we started trying to get it done in time for LM's next release. LM was updated to allow for far more ExGFX files, and a new feature was added for level-specific tile and palette animation. The overworld was also finally finished off with animation and a sprite editing mode.
A few days after DW:TLC was released, LM version 1.60 was also released in September of 2003. There were a few minor bug fix releases over the next 2 years, but this was followed by a long 4 year period of inactivity since I figured (once again) that the program was complete and that I could move on to other things.
This lasted up until September of 2009, when version 1.64 was released to address various issues that had been noticed over the years. By this point the SMW community had grown considerably, and I was approached by smkdan about the possibility of including an ASM enhancement in LM for SMW that he was considering making to increase the number of tiles that levels could use. I agreed, and used the time to add several other things like 4x more Map16 and an ExAnimation rewrite, which was released as version 1.70 in April of 2010.
But since there were still some things I had in mind to polish up and update, work on the program has continued and now it's up to version 2.20 in 2013, over 13 years since Lunar Magic was first released.
Looking back, I'd say it's pretty cool that modifying SMW is still going strong after all this time. This has become one of the most popular Mario games to edit out there. So I'd like to express my thanks to Nintendo, for creating a game that so many people have spent untold hours playing, editing and just generally having lots of 16-bit fun with. ^^