About time I show up to bring you news outside the Discord server.
You might know that from way back January, Winter C3 2020, that at that time I was working on a new wooden coaster tileset for this level. Then my old PC died, I died, and recently got a borrowed PC to resume progress, until today, when I finally bought a new computer (not ready to use yet but it's here).
Well, in other words - ever since I got the borrowed PC, progress has been made, not only to this level, but the base ROM as a whole. But since this thread is about Coaster Commotion... pics here we go:
Worth mentioning that the BG was also reworked by Rilla Roo, but I didn't get it inserted yet. As for other curiosities about this revamp: the coaster cart sprite was rentirely recoded from scratch because the old one caused the ROM to crash due to some bad codes and PIXI incompatibilities. And the last section of the level was shortened quite a bit.
Just coming in to post a pic of the level with the reworked background - a collab between Falconpunch and Magi. Falconpunch reworked the tents, the pier and coaster tracks, while Magi drew a new ferris wheel.
Good old Fantastic Elastic has been revamped and inserted as well. Design-wise, it was nearly unchanged. It's got mostly a graphical overhaul. We have the new BG by Falconpunch and Magi here again, and an updated bouncy castle tileset by Magi, and I've added an HDMA gradient to Hartfowl's ferris wheel arena to make things less empty.
I've also attempted to fix the crash/softlock in Hartfowl boss battle, which randomly happened whenever you landed in a ferris wheel platform for the first time before the fight, but the screen would never scroll up and some time later the game would simply freeze or crash.
Thanks to Falconpunch and his amazing drawing skills, we've got a way superior background for (the second part of) this level. He also drew a brand new cloud tileset to be the new default for most sky world levels.
I've also changed the FG tileset used for the first section - now it uses the same tileset as Briar Mire and Radiatus Ruins, which is better-looking compared to the old one.
Design-wise, few changes were done. As seen in the second gif, the second SMWC coin is now present in the second autoscroll section, as opposed to being located in a single-screen separate sublevel which was easy to miss due to being located in a pipe present at the Lakitu cloud autoscroller. Makes it so the coin is easier to spot but challenging to get.
This one had minor design changes, mostly to remove the useless bonus room full of coins only accessible if the green switch was pressed, and even a looping useless pipe that sent you practically to the same location.
Aside from that, it's got big changes in GFX department, featuring the new cloud FG by Falconpunch, and a new BG drawn by me. What's more, Jeptaks were nerfed at last. They're a bit slower now, and you've also got more time to dodge the sprite after the alert ding before they come into you.
This level was greatly optimized and was seriously toned down. Previously, rotating lifts were just thrown away everywhere with little thought, and were very unfair in many cases. Not only this, but this is another of those levels that got a graphical overhaul. Here we have a brand new cloud background drawn by Magi, as well as the traditional fluffy clouds by Falconpunch, which also reworked on the blue metallic blocks and spikes as well.
Minish Yoshi did a great job revamping this level, by making it rely less on bullet jumping which was pretty annoying due to difficulty and for relying too much on waiting, timing and precision. I've also changed the location of one of SMWC coins - it was, previously, located in the secret exit sublevel, but was more hidden than the key and keyhole. It's now located near the midway point, as you can see in one of the screenshots below.
Also lasers and splitting Bills. Originally, the latter never gave any indication of their behavior (except for the recolored shooter which just isn't enough imo), so I made them flash.
This level got many changes, but mostly on level design department. The Net Koopa section was removed because it felt filler and made the stage unnecessarily long while not being interesting at all. Other tweaks to make stuff less unforgiving were done, too. Moreover, Hindenbird is no longer here. The boss is going to be moved to Stormy Stronghold.
Other substantial and important change to mention is the drastic reduction of priority enabled FG objects which made the level feel too claustrophobic.
"hey blind when will you stop flooding smwcp2 forums?"
Maybe when we release the hack? lol
Alright. So, this level was fine for the most part, but for some reason, in the old base ROM, the secret exit sublevel was inaccessible. After discussing whether or not we should keep the secret exit, we agreed we should keep, so I made it accessible again. Apart from that, it's got a new BG, which is the same one I drew for Aerotastic Assault and the outside portion of Dangling Danger.
Well, have some pics, and a gif showing how to get to the secret exit area.
Huge props to Minish Yoshi for his level design revamp of Dangling Danger. The level is now significantly shorter and easier to go through. The P-switch focused sublevel to get a SMWC coin was removed, too. Wasn't interesting, was hard to reach, and was filler. All in all, what was once a boring level became a really fun experience. Thanks a lot, Minish!
Below, another apparition of my background, and a gif of the final section of the level which Minish Yoshi designed himself and, in my opinion, the best and most creative section of the whole level.
This was overall a nice level... except that getting the key to enter an unforgiving sublevel wasn't. By default, you required both Yoshi and a feather to get the key. But now that a Blue Koopa is provided, you can use it to fly, and no longer need a feather for that. And since the secret sublevel was extremely unfair and uninteresting, it was removed. The door was replaced with a keyhole. Good enough for a secret exit.
And new aesthetics! Magi's new cloud BG, Falconpunch's cloud FG, Dr. Tapeworm's industrial/metallic tileset, and pipes drawn by me, based off of the old ones.
Here we go. Probably the worst offender of all levels of SMWCP2: long, claustrophobic, unfair and spammy.
Salvaged by Minish Yoshi design-wise.
Salvaged by me graphic-wise.
It always bothered me how the graphics didn't represent a castle at all, but more a cave than anything else. Well, it was some sort of underground base. But the execution definitely wasn't the best.
After a good bunch of discussion on Discord, we agreed to take another path regarding its theming. We've decided to make it more of a castle. And so, I tried my hand at drawing again, and attempted to make a castle with touches of underground and factory elements. In other words, some sort of improvised base inside a castle found partially underground. And with the BG done, we needed some updated FG to go on with it. I did it again, and created small castle assets while also revamping Pikerchu13's original cave/industrial tilesets. Water and lava graphics were redone, and the falls replaced with the ones found in Plateau Pumps.
That's not all, though!
It always bothered me, too, the way palette ExAnimations were handled in this level. Pretty sudden, unsynced, badly initialized... and that had to be changed. And the changes were done, with multi-palette ExAnimation and a touch of color math ASM - check out the final results below:
That was surely the level which has got the most changes of them all. Hope they're satisfying enough!
The sprite works fine and the boss battle develops well! But... oh man, the code is extremely, EXTREMELY bad and unoptimized.
That's the worst way to handle pointers. Not only a waste of space, but slow and also impractical. You could have used $0086DF, or absolute indirect indexed addressing (e.g. 'LDA $C2,x : ASL : TAX : JMP (Pointers,x)' - keeping the sprite index in mind).
Similar to the previous removal reason, you did the same branch/jump trickery to handle graphics drawing for the sprite. Even worse, you made OVER TEN copies of OAM routines, which I dare say it's a world record so congrats for that. It's not nice. A single well-written routine with only relevant and proper checks would benefit more space and performance saving while looking less janky code-wise.
Third offender: you have tons of unused and repeated code. This is a big no, and you should know about that.
Lastly, not a removal reason, but the explosion attack is very random and unfair. I suggest getting rid of it entirely.
So yeah. If you ever plan on submitting this sprite again, be sure to rework it from scratch with proper assembling logic, or you'll be shot. This is a mess. ASM is not only about making a working code, but making the most optimal working code.
And given the above statements, yeah. I had to rewrite the boss ASM from scratch. ASM done right, guys. If you don't do it right, your ROM will eventually explode like Frank used to do during old boss battles.
Realized I have skipped a few levels, so let me just fix that.
This was an alright-ish level. Only notable changes were made to the first SMWC coin which required a fire flower in order to melt ice blocks which weren't introduced anywhere. They've been replaced with turn blocks which you should capespin instead. For convenience, a green switch block is placed near the coin so if the switch was pressed, the coin is practically yours. And in the second sublevel which had Bob-ombs, Venuses and hopping flames, Bob-ombs were replaced by shelless Koopas, so you don't have any tileset-specific sprite you can carry elsewhere that would look garbled.
Aside from that, the FG has got some palette adjustments, and I made a new background. It's not the best thing ever but should be good enough to replace the old version.
Good to see you're finally able to pull off a revamp of your level, MrDeePay. I wasn't really satisfied with my own revision since it was one of the first levels which I ended up changing more stuff than usual, and there wasn't much consensus (if any) prior to it. And as time went by, I absorbed the negative comments about it and agreed with them, especially SF-TDW's regarding the identity of the original.
Words apart, your ideas are good yet challenging to develop, but I'm looking forward to it. The screenshots look okay. Keep it up.
And well... unfortunately, it happens that this level is way too messy to be preserved. Layer 2 crushers don't go well in conjunction with the music sync gimmick at all, due to how SMW VRAM works (visual cutoffs can easily happen), and also due to how the player can manipulate stuff via pausing the game/getting hurt/getting a powerup, causing desyncs and even worse VRAM glitches.
Later, there are the synced conveyors/flamethrowers/thwimps/podoboos, in conjunction with a very uninteresting and frustrating 'no-jump while carrying a box' gimmick. Many problems with that one - due to the way podoboos worked, and thanks to pause desyncs being a thing we can't really avoid, it caused random sprites to despawn, sometimes important ones such as P-buttons that were used to spawn/despawn boxes, causing the level to be unplayable. Flamethrowers animate quite oddly and don't look synced at all. Lasers would look better. Thwimps are used only twice and don't really add much to gameplay. Conveyors are okay... but, that's all. The rest is messed up.
And we have the secret "jetpack" section, with more crushers. Apart from the crushers already being problematic, they move way too damn suddenly, and don't look good, even if the sync gimmick had no issues. As a matter of fact, in Lui's base ROM, this area is inaccessible, so there's actually no way to get the secret exit. And that sums up my thoughts about this level.
So yeah. We have no choice but to completely redo this level. I will do it, making it more focused on synced conveyors, lasers, and also implementing launch valves. No more layer 2 crushers, and no more (synced) podoboos and thwimps. It's the biggest sacrifice we have to make in SMWCP2 development, but it's purely for technical reasons.