Hello. I cannot chocolate at all, but I make fun and creative vanilla hacks.
I have finished Super Responsible World, a frustrating kaizo hack. It has innovative puzzles, and it was playtested with savestates... so play at your own risk, lol.
I am working on The Bridge to Kaizo, a very easy kaizo hack focusing on creativity and placing passion in players. No savestates are needed for me at least. However, while creating this hack, there were many contests such as the VLDC 9, Summer Level Design Contest, Make a Good Level 3, and Chocolate Level Design Contests that called for normal levels. Thus, I started working on a normal hack so that I could learn how to create normal levels. I also started contributing normal difficulty levels to JUMP1/2, a collaboration hack on the talkhaus. I have learned that my levels may seem easy to myself, but they are actually much more difficult for others because my levels tend to have lots of trial and error. Thus, I will have to do a lot of revamping in my Bridge to Kaizo hack, as there are a few levels that take me a hundred or so tries to beat.
I will now discuss the level design contests that I have been in, specifically.
VLDC9: Underground Theatre, 42nd place
This was my first try-hard attempt at a normal level, and even though the obstacles are extremely clever, the level was way too difficult. There's lots of obscure trial and error. I guess the level was more self-indulgent than actually trying to make other players happy. It's still a good start for my contest entries, though.
SLDC: "THE GROUND IS YELLOW" 20th place (out of 24)
I already made a few levels for JUMP1/2 and my normal hack before creating this, so I had a pretty good idea of what to do. After doing hours of volunteer work in 95 degree weather, I came home and put together this level. It focuses on yellow ground being actual ground and green ground being the tile 1F0, which allows sprites to glide on it. The gimmick is pushed and stretched in very interesting ways, but again, there was trial and error. Thankfully, some people liked it, but the contest's criteria were mostly based on "presentation" and "aesthetics". Since yellow ground, hopping flames and sumo brother lightning did not come off as summer, and the level was vanilla and did not use beach graphics or anything that was obviously summer, I lost many points. I learned some more about making my levels fairer and pretty. This level also gave me some inspiration to make another level that is based off a song's name. Perhaps "Fortress Too Blue" might work.
MaGL3: "Man-Key Bridge", 3rd place
I'm pretty happy with all of the surprises and clever usages of the keys. There were still some unclear obstacles, however, but I am still happy that my vanilla level did so well.
CLDC: "I made an ASM", 4th place
After reading tutorials on how to create custom blocks, I made a literal baby block that removes powerups. It also removes the reserve item, which ECIsHere and the address map told me how to do. Although I used this extremely basic block, I managed to use it in all of the ways possible. To be completely honest, this contest entry is trying to prove that pretty graphics and overly complicated gimmicks aren't required to make a fun level. I do regret forgetting to put the torches in the background, as a few judges pointed it out and reduced my aesthetic score, which would have bumped up my score to 3rd place.
24hosmw #10: "CHEESE FORTRESS", 38th place
The goal was to create a donut or cookie fortress that might fit inside the original Super Mario World. The first half was very focused with the difficulty and complexity of the challenges that revolved around the green springy things. Thwimps and dry bones made landing areas dangerous. The second half introduces but then dismisses ball and chains and portable green springboards. Basically, the challenge is branching out to more gimmicks, but it didn't feel quite as focused and was more on the gimmicky side. This is also my third entry where the first half is horizontal, and the second half is vertical. Every fortress must end with a Reznor battle. I figured the judges would get tired of playing the same battle over and over, so I changed it up a bit. Most notably, there was no pit for Mario to fall in, so lolyoshi could finally beat Reznor safely.
My original idea was an ice level based on blue koopas (sliding blue koopas and using throw blocks to get blue koopas on to other ledges). I wasn't too satisfied with it. I considered finishing a level that was made for my normal hack, but it turned out to be quite difficult and precise. So then I tried experimenting: What if Swiss Hotel and Streamside were combined? I set layer 2 scrolling to none and used the autoscroll used in Streamside. Lo and behold, a crazy elevator can be made! I used a bunch of other ideas I had and made them separately; I only combined the sublevels near the end. It was hard to find a layout with a good difficulty curve as there were certain conditions that had to be met for each room. For instance, the balloon room had to be first because it made sure that the player is small, and being big with the balloon is a disadvantage. The rooms are, in order: Balloon in a vertical level with autoscroll; vertical level with autoscroll (with some nice "KEEP OUT" tape that I somehow managed to make despite my atrocious art skills); a midpoint room where you must kill a witness chuck before you can break into the building; a standard vertical elevator room with lots of grinders; a directional coin room where pressing left or right is forbidden; a checkpoint room with directional coins that eat through line guides; a room where you have to spinjump on a grinder centipede; a room where spinjumping is forbidden using invisible Yoshi shenanigans; Mario's hotel room, which features a bathtub. I'm fairly happy with the level, although I wish I hadn't procrastinated so that I could work more on the aesthetics. At least it's not cement block spam! One final thing: There is a hidden :thinking: face in the level. It seems to require RNG/luck to reach it, though.