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Posts by Enjl
Enjl's Profile - Posts by Enjl
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I don't really feel like being creative with my entry because for all I know 29 of these 30 points could flow into "aesthetic creativity".

May I just rant about that a bit?

I think splitting the rubric of a contest into clearly defined segments is important to prevent bleeding from one category into another. It sets defined borders for each aspect of a level's design and gives the judges clear and unambiguous guidelines to follow.

The "Design" category of this ruleset is well-defined and stands by itself. Whether or not a level is creative, whether or not it's pretty and polished, the level will still get points for its design and execution here.

The other two categories is where it kinda goes downhill in my opinion. The creative use of assets provided to the designer is already pretty much 90% of the score that flows into "Aesthetics", so why is there a need to let it bleed into the "Creativity" rubric?
Not only does this give "Aesthetic Creativity" 2 segments of the rubric to influence, but it also means that, if your level is "aesthetically creative" and supremely polished, it can get up to 50% of the score without being any fun to play, eventually sticking out like a sore thumb in the resulting game and probably turning into a joke amongst designers who actually focus on design and making their levels enjoyable.

I also agree with Pyro that large numbers make singular steps between scores pretty worthless. I've judged several contests with large numbers where I was tempted to "just kinda bump that level up by 6/30 in this category" because every point isn't as important as if it were if there were only 10 points to hand out total.

As it stands, I read the rubric as:
30/60 Design
18/60 Creativity + Aesthetic Creativity
12/60 Creative use of vanilla assets to create a certain aesthetic

If the "Aesthetic Creativity" part wouldn't bleed into "Conceptual Creativity", then this would be pretty balanced, in my opinion. The small numbers similar to VLDC9 are pretty good, too, I think. (though reducing them to 15/9/6 or 15/10/5 might be worth it)

tl;dr can't wait for an unfun level to get a high score cause it was "aesthetically creative" and "polished as fuck"
Originally posted by Aeon
It's (design) creativity and aesthetic creativity, not aesthetic creativity alone. Assuming it's 15/30 for each, that would be a 35/100 max for a level with perfect aesthetics but nonexistant design. Sounds fine to me.

I'm iffy on seeing levels that nail their visuals but didn't care about being fun at all next to levels that tried real hard to be fun and ignored the other aspects. I think making a fun level should be encouraged more than anything.
There isn't really anything guaranteeing the 50/50 split either. The categories are put together as one, so it's up to each judge to decide how they handle it. It could be easily made clear though by splitting the two creativity categories, as they're seperate things.
Hi I'm pretty new to this engine. After giving MaGL3 a shot last year I decided to make a level for this event as well. This level focuses on the concept of JUMPing.

Screenshots of Version 1.0:

Feedback appreciated!

Wheee~ :3
Originally posted by Dakras Hayashi
those blocks look sort of off.

Which blocks in particular are you referring to? Just the level's tiles in general?
Either way, I took your advice and FrozenQuills was super nice and helped me with the level's palette and it looks much better now. I'm now done with the first part of the level:
12th is better than I expected after that layer 2 accident. Whee!
I didn't think of recording a movie so have a regular review kinda deal:

This level is... average. It fluctuates between sections that are a pleasant stroll to get through and sections that are frustrating and challenging for the wrong reasons.
A good example for this are the music path sections. You placed the coin guides with good intent in showing the player where they can avoid oncoming obstacles, but I found that the timeframe for dodging the saws is kinda narrow, even when following the coins and especially on first playthrough. In cases where there were multiple coins at a time I often got completely confused and lost track of the entire situation. I think you can safely reduce the amount of coins in these sections, keeping only the ones that are necessary.

The second most stressful part about the level is any screen with a puntin' chuck on it. Many of the spots where you placed them have the player also maneuver around other obstacles (especially on the secret exit path), and these enemies serve as an instant stress factor. Here's one placement that stood out to me in particular:

There is a high chance that when you exit the dragon coin area you will be ambushed by a football thing from this guy.

Aside from the moments of intense stress and spaghettiing through the level I enjoyed strolling through the heavily stylised level. A little thing I'm concerned about is this level getting very boring if you make the level any easier, as only the frustrating music path sections add any kind of variety to the design imo. However I do suggest that you make the difficulty in those aspects more fair and forseeable.

Another thing you showcase in your level is this setup:

When I initially encountered it, my mind was prepared to jump off before I hit terminal velocity. The result: I panicked and fell off the platform that is meant to catch the player on the bottom. On the 2nd run I got used to this and it wasn't a problem when I encountered the same thing further on in the level.
In the secret area.
You completely fucked me over.
After conditioning me that a platform setup like that leads to a net platform that catches me and gives me a chance to plan my next step, you take that away, essentially breaking the rule you set up earlier in the level. As you can probably tell, I got somewhat angry at this, especially after a large number of deaths in the bonus section due to football and fire ambushes.
On that note, getting to the secret area feels incredibly finnicky and unsafe. I tried shortcutting it because I thought I was doing it wrong but that just ended in me dying.
Misc. break:
Hm, I bet there's something down there!
Bamboozled again!
Also I probably spent a good 2 minutes panicking around this block setup. Didn't feel good or satisfying.

Lastly, I found the pipecannons to be inconsistent depending on if i pressed A or not. I died a few times going through those.

Overall... I have mixed opinions on this. The level does a decent job at executing its easier sections, though not elaborating on them much at all, but then throws in segments which are challenging, somewhat fun, but could be more fun if they required less foresight. The focus here definitely lies on the aesthetic, and it shows. My one problem with them is that they occasionally got in the way of gameplay, like in the area I showcased above where I just jumped off the level. I didn't really get the point with all the SMW Credits sequence assets in the first place.

As far as fun is concerned... I had the most fun in the more unique sections that didn't involve riding on a rope. Stuff like the big music note near the start. Sky-high platforming stuff that compliments the level but still retains a flow to it. That flow, for me, is broken whenever I see footballs or have to cling on to dear life on a lineguide that is juuust cramped enough to make me panic.

Don't have a review thread but I'll give you some points anyway:
Design and Execution: 15/50
Design Creativity: 6/15
Aesthetic Creativity: 13/15
Aesthetics and Polish: 16/20

Overall score: 50/100
The main issue I had with the coins is that I didn't know when exactly each pair would become relevant. I found myself looking ahead a lot, focusing more on the coins that are coming up than the ones I am currently passing by. Coupled with the coins' density this caused me to assume the position of saws ahead of time and misplan my moves on several occasions.
Replaying the level just now I am convinced that you can cut down on the quantity of coins in the level.

As you keep saying, the coins indicate areas where it is safe for the player to go. In this screenshot, the player will be guided towards the first sets of coins and then gradually make their way to the one above and to the right (in most scenarios where I played at least. Maybe people also go down from the upper path). However, the first set doesn't indicate a path at all (included is another area of coins that put the player in danger):

There are no saws around which these coins help in avoiding. If anything, they put the player into more danger than necessary.

This might just be me, but I find this pair to be a bit counterintuitive. The first time I played through this segment I followed that path and then failed to react to the wall of saws in time. The coins guiding me to the upper rail were far at the top of the screen, outside of my focus.

A minor thing, but the offset can lead people to believe the upper cluster should be collected afterwards.

These examples shall cover all other instances: The paths aren't clear. In the first image I aimed for the next pack of coins to guide myself to safety, only to get ambushed by a saw. In the other screenshot I took the coins to the upper route which were meant to lead the people on the upper route downwards. Gbreeze suggests colouring the coins in a different colour, and I think that instead of colouring all of them you could colour each path in a different colour, to make it clear to the player which path they are currently pursuiting.

As for chucks, I may have overexaggerated a bit on some of them, but I think this guy and the one two screens after are problem children that set the player up for taking a hit:

As for my low post count, which gbreeze mentioned... yeah. I'm pretty new here. I've been following the vldc's since the 8th iteration and only started getting into SMW hacking with MaGL3. However, I have years of experiencee in judging, have been designing Mario levels since 2010 and been studying Game Design at university for a year.
Please don't get the idea my feedback is a newbie's experience at a level in an engine I'm unfamiliar with. I'm highlighting concerns which I feel hold the level back from being an overall more enjoyable experience.
Originally posted by Leiras
The palette is much better than in your first screenshots. Also the gameplay seems to be quite interesting. Designing a level around Tile 1F0 may be dangerous and getting boring after a while but it looks like that your level interferes with eneough variation of obstacles to keep it fun to play. One thing i´d like to add: Keep the difficulty reasonable. Judging from seeing all the spikes and instant death abysses the level may be quite difficult, so i just advice you to be careful and don´t exaggerate it.

I'm a bit concerned about the difficulty, too. I am doing my best to avoid instances of "what do i do" and lack of telegraphing and making the level completable without too many deaths.
It is definitely at the more difficult end of the spectrum, and I have some friends helping me out by giving feedback on sections that need work. Many ares in the level have been reworked or adjusted to be easier, fairer and overall more fun than they were initially.
The biggest challenge I am currently facing is players who take levels slowly in general. Some of the setups require the player to act quickly and follow a coin trail which will lead them to a safe spot, but I need to find a way to manipulate the player into actually acting that way, or provide them with a sense of security in addition to the coin trails.
Thing is, a good aesthetic doesn't need millions of innovative assets. If you got that you're banking on your aesthetic creativity. But since that score is variable between the level's focus you only have to worry if a judge thinks you deserve a higher cap in design creativity.

Also, if an amazingly crafted aesthetic that took weeks to make somehow gets in the way of actual gameplay it can't even be called good aesthetic to begin with. Say for example... the entire level turning pitch black, forcing gameplay to come to a halt.
Originally posted by Impetus

I'm spoilering this because it's a detour from the topic but I think it still needs to be adressed as a general note on "inspiration":
Note how I said "forcing the gameplay to come to a halt". The gimmick of Flash Black Galaxy isn't just "add flashing to an otherwise normal level", since everything else in the level is designed around this central mechanic. And if you look at the footage you linked you can see the player moving through the darkness. How is this possible?

Notice how the player has a larger field of view, how there are always enemies or coins that help you find your way around in the dark, how the first half has no bottomless pits, how the camera occasionally pans to show points of interest. The level is designed to let the player move forward even in the dark. I, too, like the way it is used in this level. I do not, however, like how it is used in levels like Flash Black or Subterranean Glow, as in those levels the gimmick feels slapped on and is clearly not at all designed around.

Of course, camerawork is something levels like Flash Black or Subterranean Glow cannot incorporate in their gimmicks, but providing a sufficient amount of always visible sprites, keeping the player safe from pitfalls until the end of the level (hardest part, mutation on previously established rules) and keeping the time between illuminations short are the least designers can do in order to incorporate a gimmick better into their own piece of work.

Point is... I'm giving you examples of bad aesthetic and you fire back with an example of related VISUALS done right. Aesthetic isn't visuals on its own. It compliments gameplay to strengthen the experience. We're still designing videogames here after all and want players to have fun. Waiting in the dark, I stand by my point, is not fun.
The pointless saw thing... that's something Nintendo themselves use to introduce concepts to the player. It's a clever way to display a threat in a safe environment and prepare the player of what's to come. In that sense, it very much does serve a purpose.
I've finished the level, you can download it down here:

I've also updated the screenshots in the first post because the old ones are literall gone from 1.0 of the level (since I spontaneously decided to rebuild it from scratch).

Feedback appreciated! Have fun playing!
Won't go into scoring but here are my thoughts on the level:

I've had a hard time having fun in this level because a lot of the layer 2 positioning shenanigans are really finnicky and it's incredibly easy to mess them up. I've especially had trouble in the first half, as both the long jump to the first dolphin and the jump into the water face near the springboard turned impossible due to how I had positioned the Layer 2 in occasional playthroughs.
Aside from that finnicky first room I found the level has some issues with the way it teaches its elements to the player. The first time I passed by a Torpedo Ted block I jumped right into the spawned torpedo ted, as nothing indicates that the block is one which Torpedo Teds come out of. Another thing which I think you should properly introduce are the ropes in the 2nd half. I didn't realise you could climb them when I got to the thwomp, so I promptly lost two powerups in an attempt to spinjump my way up, clueless about how to get the platform up, too.
While I like the rising dolphin segment a lot, the counter-section with the falling dolphins felt pretty lazy. I have a personal gripe with screaming instructions into the player's face as they remove any need for the player to think about the situation at hand. They just have to follow instructions. I suggest removing the L/R letters entirely and coming up with layer 2 coin guides that are out of reach unless the player performs the correct inputs. Of course, those should be placed in a position where the player has enough reaction time.
The 2nd half as a whole was cool and rather creative, but I have my gripes with the first half as a whole due to the aforementioned jank and how fiddly everything tends to be. This finnickiness also carries over into the secret exit, whose location I had to be directly told about. The idea of making the door visible from the start is pretty good, in my opinion, as it's subtle yet players will easily be able to put 2 and 2 together.
Overall... well-designed and creative level around a not-very-fun premise. Sadly the design wasn't able to completely lift my frustration with the gimmick throughout.
Originally posted by S.N.N.
Originally posted by Enjl
Another thing which I think you should properly introduce are the ropes in the 2nd half. I didn't realise you could climb them when I got to the thwomp, so I promptly lost two powerups in an attempt to spinjump my way up, clueless about how to get the platform up, too.

Did you play the updated version? I added in a portion early on in the second half that forces you to climb the ropes due to other people saying the same thing. That should make the later section a bit more clear.

Ahh I must've been on an outdated version. If that's already added, then great!
Originally posted by S.N.N.
Originally posted by Enjl
While I like the rising dolphin segment a lot, the counter-section with the falling dolphins felt pretty lazy. I have a personal gripe with screaming instructions into the player's face as they remove any need for the player to think about the situation at hand. They just have to follow instructions. I suggest removing the L/R letters entirely and coming up with layer 2 coin guides that are out of reach unless the player performs the correct inputs. Of course, those should be placed in a position where the player has enough reaction time.

I might play with it a bit, but in the same sense I don't want it to be too frustrating. I think having columns of layer 2 coins would require a bit too much trial and error on the player's end, whereas I kind of intended this area to be a very short "quick-time" area to end off the level. If you've played FrozenQuills' entry from last year, he does something very similar in his secret exit - to be honest, that's partially where my inspiration for this bit came from.

I personally drew the parallels more to Swiss Hotel from VLDC9 (the section where you navigate past turn block bridges and platforms). I can see your concern about frustration, though. The thing Swiss Hotel has that this section doesn't have is reset doors, and with those sprinkled throughout the falling segment for a quick retry I feel like the coin idea wouldn't be as potentially frustrating as it would be in the section's current state. I still managed to get stuck in that room for a few minutes, since I did an exceptionally bad job at reacting to the messages in time. If I recall correctly, most of my failures came from looking the wrong way when the two left-scrolls came along. I used the bubbles to tell where I was relative to the instructions and completely missed the bubble on the right side of the screen over and over. Maybe toy around with that a bit?

Originally posted by S.N.N.

e: also, are you using L and R at all throughout the level? The very first platform spot is intended to introduce that, and it should render those longer jumps much easier if you scroll the screen left to make them.

Yes, I've been using L and R a lot. The jump to the face was mostly me not using it enough, though on the jump to the first dolphin my usage of L and R tossed me right into the spike on the left edge of layer 2.
Thanks for your feedback! I'll just number my replies based on the respective keynote because I'm too lazy to organise this many quotes haha.

1) I see what you mean... I might get rid of the foreground pillars after the first screens because aside from aesthetic they don't really serve a purpose.
2) Combined with your concerns about jumps later on... I thought about having a "JUMP" coin colour and a "SPINJUMP" coin colour to replace the current "HEY JUMP ON THIS ENEMY" red coins. What do you think?
3) Why?
6) Noted.
8) That area was built with the idea of being able to respawn him in mind. Yeah it's kinda silly, but I kinda like it for its silliness. Maybe I'll do something.
10) No. That bowling ball is from the subsequent riding section. I'll probably move that riding section a few screens right and add the reset door.
12) Nope. I have a moon in this level. I added that section as another secret because I figured players would attempt to ride the fish bones to the start of the room and would otherwise be disappointed by finding nothing but emptiness.
13) Ending portion will see some changes. Noted this one.

I tried laying out the challenges in a somewhat scaling difficulty, but I can see where you're coming from. I'll probably juggle them around a bit, see how I can improve the difficulty, and add a proper ending section that actually feels like a proper conclusion.

Again, thanks for the feedback, and glad you had fun with the level!
Alright, update time! I don't think I'll need to update this again, because I'm pretty satisfied with how it is right now. Thanks FrozenQuills, Hobz and SnoruntPyro on your feedback on the previous version. I've taken all of it into account and tried my best to improve the level based on what you guys said (and judging from pyro's feedback on 1.1 I did a pretty good job on it apparently). <3

Changelog because I love writing changelogs:
-Status Bar is fixed
-Room order shuffled to give the level a better flow
-Last room mostly redesigned and lengthened into a proper finale
-Changed the meaning of coins
-Various changes and tweaks to most setups to make them fairer, more meaningful or more in-line with what's going on in the level
-Second-to-last section scrapped
-Added reset doors where appropriate
-Added a room between the first and 2nd room to introduce Layer 2 and reset doors
-Less "pressuring the player into acting quickly"
-Removed bowser statues from the enemy roster
-Preparing artillery for negative reactions towards glitched note block sprites

Have fun!
Hi there!

I've noticed your heated reply in pyro's review thread and decided to check the level out for myself, since I thought "that can't be right". Here's what I think:

Design: 10/50
Creativity: 13/30
Polish: 14/20
Total: 37/100

I find it kinda sad. This level tells a cute little story about how the Yoshis fucking died and then you have to make it past their resurrected bones. While inconsistent and nonsensical (why would there be statues? are the charging chucks dead?) it was still charming and contributed to the overall flow of the level. I'm not sure how well it's represented though if you take away the intro level, as it sets up the plot pretty much completely. I think moving the "The Yoshis died" text into a message box at the start of the actual level might be worthwhile. Just to have that premise represented in the piece of work that'll actually make it into the collab hack.

Once repeated deaths made me look past the visuals and made me focus more on the design and creative ideas of the level, I found them to be incredibly basic, with creativity almost exclusively in the aspect of visuals. The level looks gorgeous and unique, but it... doesn't play gorgeous and unique (grammatical mistakes intended for flat humour).
To elaborate... This level is one that has no consistent pace to it. Some obstacles require the player to slow down and take their surroundings into account, others set you up for failure if you do exactly that. One area that comes to mind is this one: Here, a fall down from the dragon coin area can easily toss the player into either a baseball or a spiny.
In addition, I would usually consider Dragon Coin paths to be the tougher ones, designed for more confident and skilled players, but in this level I found those paths to be the easier ones in most instances. The dragon coin paths, to me, feel much more accessible than their downstairs counterparts, to the point where I almost exclusively took the dragon coin paths, even if not specifically going for them.
The P-Switch section mixes things up well. I like the way it gives the level a more puzzle-based aspect and I wish there were more section that incorporated a bit of thinking like this. The muncher pit, as pyro pointed out in her review, is troublesome, but I found it to be easier to accidentally kill Yoshi Mc. Baseballface before he could destroy the turnblocks. Maybe add a bit of leeway here, as the entire scenario feels a bit awkward to navigate. Also: I managed to get on an invisible yoshi in this screenshot: I don't know how he spawned, though. I got hit by the volcano lotuses and then there was a 2nd yoshi suddenly.

The 2nd half and moon area, while somehow easier than the first half, felt rather uninspired in terms of design. They're short, spammy and it's often worth just tanking a hit to make it past a large number of obstacles. I'm not a big fan of the bullet generator and the p-balloon section felt luck-based, as I killed a bullet bill only thanks to SMW's incredibly generous hitbox detection. The only kind of substance added to the level in the 2nd half is visual: The dry yoshis. Here's where the sadness really comes into play, because I'm sure you could've done much more with these guys than placing them nonthreateningly besides a few dozen thwomps and thwimps that tend to hug the wall and do nothing but confuse the player.
I find it kinda sad how the pokeys in this level were severely underused and many setups just resorted to the rng-based puntin' or stally pitchin' chucks. I wish there was a bit more of a balance between enemy types and an attempt to capitalise on the strengths of all of them, instead of solely focusing on yoshi because theme.
Also the midpoint is clearly lopsided.

Minor stuff: This dude is standing on completely solid tiles, while I'd expect them to be jump-through because of the walls. These two statues are solid. All others are nonsolid. I also never really saw the significance of the tip for sideways statues, because there is no noticable difference in difficulty for most of the sections where they're placed vs the alternate routes.

Overall: cute story but i think the design suffers from it
Idk how much is "spoilers" but here are some thoughts from me:
Please add a 1-up midpoint before the last obstacles (if there already is one, my bad. It's very late and after dying to the 2nd to last obstacle over and over I put a savestate there so I wouldn't have to redo the 2nd section again, so I never went back to the midpoint).
I died a lot to the final section because I wrongly anticipated the floor or thought the throw blocks were actually harmful.
Other than that, this is a really cool level and was a lot of fun to play!
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Enjl's Profile - Posts by Enjl

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