CHALLENGER APPROACHINIG: Ominous Shambling Spiny Pillar (it's actually a pokey)
Pokeys are fairly underutilized, I think, since they're so goddamn slow and really hard to make dangerous. They're actually pretty deadly in tandem with the moving platforms and the 1f0 blocks.
Pokeys are also one of the few sprites that can actually move on their own if you place one on top of a 1f0 block; normally sprites will just freeze in place, which is how the hovering spiny eggs in this level work.
Edit: I retested the level several times, and I ended up tweaking a few sprite positions as well as some objects. I also completely overhauled the coin positions in the level; now every coin basically serves as an indicator as to which platforms you should jump on and where you should jump when you're riding one. This should help make the level easier to "sightread". I've uploaded this new patch, the same links should work.
Edit edit: Actually I'm going to do some more revisions to the level, add a few more challenges, stuff like that.
I'm not really sure what to say. I'm pretty terrible at playing SMW, but I really didn't think the level was all that difficult. I was actually worried that it was a bit too easy.
I'm just... baffled, because like, I don't know what people are actually doing when they're playing the level. Can you record yourself playing one of the screens you had the most difficulty with or something so I can see what the problem is? I just don't even know what's going on. :/
Oooookay I think I see what the main issue is. You're supposed to spin jump on the spiny egg while the platform is in motion, and then get back onto the platform after it's raised into the correct position. That's partially my fault for not communicating it well; I just assumed it was obvious that was what was intended. It's also why the coin guides are the way they are - they were placed with the way I had played the level in mind. (As disheartening as it is to see someone struggle with it so much, it was kind of amusing seeing you try to maneuver the platform around like that.)
The first spiny egg you encounter in the level is basically just there to show that you can spin jump on them, but I think it's too far away from the screens where it starts being relevant for the player to reasonably connect the dots.
Also, it's probably worth noting that there are three coins in the last screen, at the left side of the platform under the disco shell, which lets you reliably sneak past it. I probably should have changed the coin palette more, to make it stand out, because that's not something someone should be able to miss. I did try to make things visible without clashing with the aesthetics of the level too much, but I guess it wasn't enough.
Thank you for taking the time to record a video response. I'm really, really sorry that you had to go through all that; it was never my intention for someone to have such a bad experience because of something I created, and I wouldn't have submitted the level if I'd known how difficult it was for other people to play.
I'm not sure if I'm going to resubmit the level. I feel like a lot of the ideas I had for it involved things that I can't expect the player to reasonably intuit on their first try. I think if I end up entering the contest I'll probably do something different and more straightforward. I still have time to brainstorm ideas, at least. Making this level just took a lot out of me.
(and thanks for apologizing for the harshness of the review, by the way. I wasn't going to mention it because I didn't want anyone to think I was opposed to receiving criticism or anything, but it did sting reading that)
Aesthetically, the level is pleasant to look at. I can't think of any complaints I have about that. However, I think the level's a bit empty in terms of sprite placement; a lot of the obstacles just involve waiting around for stuff. You could spice that up by adding things for Mario to dodge while he waits. I'd recommend maybe using saws or ball 'n' chains - just be careful not to overdo it and make them too annoying to dodge!
I'm probably not going to resubmit that level, FP, as it didn't do a very good job of communicating the mechanics of the level to the player. Good news is that I have come up with an idea for a new level which could potentially be cool if I can find the time to make it.
Played through this level. The first half is pretty fun, and I thought that the use of the diagonal podoboos and the 1f0 tiles was pretty clever. I would remove the podoboo from the first screen, though, it's really easy to immediately jump into it after starting the level, especially since the coin placements seem to lead you right into it.
The second half falls apart a bit. The spike jumps are really simple to pull off, because the podoboos are positioned directly underneath the spikes, which means you'll just harmlessly spinjump off of them when they pop up. I'd recommend moving the podoboos in-between the spikes instead, so they pose more of a threat when you move from one spike to the next.
This screen is really unfun to get past, as it requires you to spin jump on vertical podobos. It's hard to predict when they're going to jump up, which makes it feel really luck-based more than anything.
I feel like maybe there was supposed to be a diagonal podobo here, since there's also 1f0 blocks. That would make this screen a lot better.
This screen is also really weird. The podoboo doesn't really seem to have any purpose here.
I also recommend making the palettes a little brighter. The combination of lilac and dull red-orange is a bit weird and not extremely pleasant to look at.
This level was a lot of fun! Hard enough to not be just a romp, but not so hard that it's unfun to play. I really enjoyed the fast-paced platforming in the level, and it's neat to see Blaargs used like this.
This was a pretty fun level. I really enjoyed seeing the way the timed lifts interacted with the 1f0 blocks, and there were some pretty cool puzzles throughout the level.
I will say that the second dragon coin is a bit weird to get, as it uses the steep slopes before the level properly introduces what they do. I wasn't aware that the timed lift would bounce off of the slope, and I ended up dying because of that on my first attempt. This feels especially weird compared to the third dragon coin, which doesn't punish you as severely if you mess up, and utilizes a concept that was already demonstrated earlier in the level.
I also agree that the boo laser palette looks pretty weird, but it should be really easy to fix since nothing else in the level uses that palette.
I wonder if anyone would be interested in this? It's a song I wrote a while back just for the hell of it, using SMW instruments.
It wouldn't be too hard to convert it to a midi and port it. Could be good for a more upbeat ghost house or other spooky levels.
Sounds pretty good, but I sort of feel like the part from 0:30-0:52 could use some sort of melody, like maybe something with trumpets?
Some screenshots from my new level. There's layer 2 water that covers the entire bottom half of the level, and the gameplay mostly involves block snakes and sprite buoyancy. (The light switch blocks are basically just there to drain out the spinies that the lakitus throw, to prevent slowdown and other garbage.)
A lot of these screens look better in motion, since it's hard to sort of figure out what's going on just by looking at stills. The second screenshot, for example, starts off with a platform above the water that you can land on so you don't fall blindly into the hopping flame, which disappears immediately after you activate the snake blocks so you can't get back out. Also, every green pipe in the level is a moving pipe.
Also worth noting that the aesthetics are super super WIP. I haven't really done any decorating yet, and even then I'll probably still try to keep things tidy. First priority is finishing the level and the secret exit (which I have a really cool idea for).
Having a lot of fun making this, though. There's something super satisfying about dodging floating things in the water.
I've also really been enjoying Night in the Woods. The writing is just top-notch and the characters are all extremely interesting and likeable. The music is awesome too. The only bad thing is that even though it's not really short, I still wish it was like, double the length it is. If there's ever a prequel or sequel or spinoff or whatever you can bet that I'll be all over that.
I do need to replay it to do Gregg's events though, since I hung out with Bea all the time on my first playthrough.