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Tip: When making your overworld, mix the terrain up! Add decorations to the overworld. Don't leave large empty grass or sea regions. As an example, angled land and multiple colors look much more interesting than square land and flat, plain colors.
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A Day on Lobster Island (FINISHED)
Forum Index - Sunken Ghost Ship - Old Contests & Events - The 12th Vanilla Level Design Contest - A Day on Lobster Island (FINISHED)
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except it won't be called that because the name is too long to fit. yay

The last couple of times I entered VLDC I didn't stray too far from the beaten path as far as graphics manipulation goes - this time, inspired by a real-life place, I decided to go all out on that front.

Here's the tileset in its almost-current state, which I think has come out pretty neat!


Design-wise I'm going for more or less simple platforming, with the main gimmick being the water bubbles seen above (and below). While it is going to be setup-based or whatever you may call it, I'm not aiming for the super-elaborate idoly jumpy exploity style, and I'm also deliberately not using 1F0 (which given this year's judges might be costing me points, but hey).

I've sketched out quite a few setups that I think will work well, but I'm having a bit of a hard time still building them into a structure that feels like it "flows" well. We'll see.

For now, this is what the first quarter-or-so of the level is currently like:



 

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You can actually fit a longer name into the ow border by using a blank level name and adding your name into the border using layer 3.

Very nice aesthetics! I really like the dirt and sand. Interested in seeing how it turns out.
I have never seen a set this bold pieced together with vanilla graphics: this is like taking an archaeological approach to AllGFX.bin and very delicately analyzing and piecing things together. The colors pop like genuine Mario, too! Very vibrant.

I am curious to see how this comes together. Urchins in bubbles in the air is something I have never seen and it looks cool, but I am glad to see your level is going to have more traditional platforming because that cow seems like it doesn't have a lot of milk. Your natural style of designing is fun and well-paced and I have positive hopes for how this will end up placing.

Just look above you...
If it's something that can be stopped, then just try to stop it!
Very pleasant scenery so far. I've never seen dirt structured like that in vanilla. Please make more, VLDC is not the same without you.
As I told you via DM already the aesthetics are absolutely outstanding and I'm sure you can come up with some decent design for it as well.
Definitely a top 10 entry so far imo! #smw{:TUP:}

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Glad you like it! #tb{:)}

After some distilling and rearranging, the first section should hopefully be final now:



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I'm pretty sure you're doing great at using the powers of tile manipulation—it's a beautiful sight! I bet you could get your chances on getting the highest position soon.

Keep up the good work, WYE!
Not sure where to put here... or is it? (Also: Yay! Old layout!)
Help us raise funds for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. #ДопомагаємоРазом / #HelpTogether
“Even if you personally are so dissatisfied with life that you want the world to end, surely the cruel reality is that it will continue on, unchanging. All the better for someone perfectly content, like me.”
Aya Shameimaru, Touhou Suzunaan ~ Forbidden Scrollery
Originally posted by GbreezeSunset
You can actually fit a longer name into the ow border by using a blank level name and adding your name into the border using layer 3.

Unless you're making a hub level.

WhiteYoshiEgg, this sounds like a top 10 level already! The sand, ground pattern, water, grass, prickles - it all appeals to an eye. There's a level in this contest that's a strong opponent in aesthetics already, though. It may or may not top yours in this category.
I have a Discord server as well!
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Basically, I believe in peace and bashing two bricks together.
For some definition of "done", the first half is now done!

I turns out this gimmick is not a no-brainer when it comes to squeezing fun out of it - I've struggled quite a bit to find good setups and condense everything into a coherent whole (well, half). Some parts I had to rebuilt three times over, and it doesn't help that those stripy patterns are pretty annoying to work with so I'll probably have a couple more nightmares about assembling map16 tiles now.

first half, first draft

If anyone wants to play it and leave some feedback about what worked and what didn't, design-wise, I'd really appreciate it. Are the setups fun enough, or do they drift off into boring, unfocused or frustating territory?

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I am not sure what feedback you have already gotten, but my experience so far with it has been:

- I think you may have forgotten to save your last Map16 edits before creating the patch since I got a lot of solid ice pipe chunks in the little bubbles, one part which made it mandatory for me to take damage to continue going, and at some point would have cut me off from progress.
- The palette work makes these graphics beautiful. It is bright with hue shifting that gives it this very natural and relaxing look. The touches of red or blue instead of solid black for outlines make it appear like it's catching some glow of the sun.
- There are times where the massive lift given when jumping out of water makes it hard not to crash into the spikes.
- Falling eats a ton of progress, and I sometimes find myself losing the powerup I just got on that same set of spikes. I think this is where fun is most at risk. While vertical orientation will help extend the usefulness of the gimmick given swimming dynamics, trading off a little of that for more horizontal space will help you establish more barriers where falling out of or missing a bubble isn't going to take you half a minute back or more.
- Given how you only have 16x16 interaction with water, I say the 'water box' for the water bubble is fair. It's better to overshoot the graphical edge and give Mario more swim space than to go too small and make him fall when he's touching a little of the bubble.
- Urchins are big in relation to these bubbles, not giving a lot of dodge room. In practice, I can still dodge them. It is tight, but doable in every case so far.
- The Chuck keeps making clapping noises as he falls, but his arms aren't moving.
- I guess on the far right side of the horizontal space where Chuck is, there's a big dirt platform that's guarded by two Urchins. One of them doesn't always spawn.
- There's not really enough here yet for me to determine whether it's coherent or unfocused, but there is no moment that jumps out as "that challenge" that was satisfying to clear other than making it to a wide piece of solid land.

You're right in that this is a nightmare-mode challenge. At the possible expense of visuals, or possibly having to do it in another room altogether, I think putting land on one layer and bubbles on another and using layer 2 rise/sink with Mario interacting with it might open up a lot more ideas that flow easier. Look also to how you've merged some bubbles to create bigger sky-swimming area and consider how you can wrap an intended direction around, under, or between landforms, not just to arrive at a landform, and think of what you could hide, including other rooms of the level. I can't really think of much else. There's a level in Dynablade in Kirby Super Star right before Big Bird himself that I thought has a good land-water relationship even though it's not parted like this or Aqualiss and is waterfall-like, but it might serve as a source of inspiration.

Just look above you...
If it's something that can be stopped, then just try to stop it!
Thanks so much for the feedback!

I think I see what's going on with the map16 issues now: level 104 and 106 (and 107 for that matter) are backups from before I redid some of my map16, and the one I was working on is actually 105. #ab{^^;;;} That one's totally on me! Should have blocked the broken levels off.

The current one actually gets rid of the Chucks altogether in favor of more horizontal setups (and lotuses). It also has an even more vibrant palette (the monitor I'm on makes it hard to gauge how much is too much color-wise), so if you're willing to play through 105 I'd love to hear if that changes your opinion in any way! In either case, thanks for the input.

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I was looking at level 104 this whole time not realizing I was supposed to do the natural thing and go to 105 where everyone builds their level. #ab{>_<}

Anyways, I am finding this level a lot more balanced than the testing ground I assumed was the level. I am finding that the movement is more continuous with great pacing, a complete 180 of what was in the testing level. At times, I can outrun the camera jumping out of the bubbles but that's on me if I get hurt. I find that this level does have direction, and it is fun, and you can exploit a Koopa shell to stay at the high ends of the bubbles and skim quickly when you're dealing with the Lotuses later on in the level, comfortably outpacing the fire. There's nowhere I'm losing a lot of progress when I fall, since if I do fall it's going to be very briefly into spikes and I can reach safe ground or bubbles from there. I really have no complaints, as it looks by the design that you were thinking about a lot of the stuff beforehand and fixed it.

I am on a laptop, and my eyes are really well-adjusted to bright stuff, so what I see in this level is fine. I do like the 104 palette too and think that one might jive better with the general crowd.

Just look above you...
If it's something that can be stopped, then just try to stop it!
Love the graphics and gameplay, the colors work well with everything else and the swimming in bubbles is really fun!

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<3
I played your level via laptop. Did rewind a bit thanks to the flaw when I jump to the left, the left button on my laptop softlocks Mario, but still, enjoyable level. My mistake. The GFX were spot-on.
Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

I got to work on the second half yesterday, which has a sunset palette (see below) and the additional gimmick of currents inside bubbles. Ideally, save for the end section, this means the level is mostly done! Took me long enough.



both halves

If anyone could give the second half a try and leave some feedback on whether the currents are still fair or overstaying their welcome, I'd appreciate that!

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reminds me a bit of mario land 2.
As far as I'm concerned, this level is now finished! Glad I got this done with some time to spare.

final version



Since yesterday's bps I've added an ending section with a twilight palette (see above), an info level, and an overworld that's shaped like the real thing.

If anyone could try it out and verify the patch works, that'd be awesome! If you find any graphical glitches, game-breaking oversights, or setups you find seriously unfair, do let me know as well.

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Is it a wizard hat, a croissant, or a Massive Attack album? Now I want a flaky croissant stuffed with buttery lobster meat. Mmm... I love my Berliners, Frankfurters, and Black Forest ham. If there is no signature treat attributed to Heligoland, it should definitely be that.

Your level has visuals. I love how it progresses from day to night. I'd say the only thing that doesn't look quite right is I'll see the mushroom powerup spawn behind the gradient in room 2, but that's something so minor. The w of the song is a bit high, though not the loudest I heard, but both songs fit the level really well. As weird as it sounds, it reminds me of Hey You, Pikachu! in terms of audio and video because it's so cheery, abruptly transitional, and ends in the evening. Very comfy.

The level design is both fair and exciting. I did not die once and at most incurred one hit per playthrough that I could avoid in the other. I think Dragon Coin placement is great: you can see where they are but you still have to be mindful to get back to the main part of the level without dying. The pacing is great through the bubbles and I like that the second room adds a new challenge with more complicated threats like Boo circles and ball-and-chains that are cosmetically adapted and make fantastic counterparts to the current effect that constantly forces Mario left while swimming, all while the tide below provides a safety net and gives the player a chance to get back in it if he falls. There was nothing more satisfying in the first half than jumping out of a bubble as a fireball rides the soles of your boots.

Just look above you...
If it's something that can be stopped, then just try to stop it!
I enjoyed this! It was a pleasant little level, maybe a bit on the short side but it certainly didn't overstay its welcome. I felt like the level had a really solid sense of progression. I enjoyed the dc challenges quite a bit, they were really well placed. For some reason, I enjoy mashing the A/B button to swim up quickly, and I'm glad I got to do that during the level lol.

The vertical scroll enabled camera became troublesome regarding visibility. I always like to know whether hurt blocks or instant death via pit are underneath me, and sometimes it wasn't very clear. Perhaps raising the hurt blocks by a few tiles so they are more visible? Often I thought I was above a pit when it turned out it was just a bunch of hurt blocks.

In the first half, the volcano lotus would sometimes spew lava so late that it was not a threat at all. Not sure how that can be mitigated tbh.

If it helps, here's a vid of my playthrough. Thanks for making!
Thanks so much! #tb{:D} Glad you enjoyed it.

@counterfeit: I messed around with the layer 3 settings a bit, and it seems there's no vanilla way around the powerups appearing behind the background when you want to have layer 3 water in the front. I am considering changing that song volume though.

@gbreeze: I did notice the hurt blocks were off-screen a lot of the time but I figured it was a bit inelegant to always have a safety net in view so close below. Ideally people would be doing their best not to fall down anyway, and if they do it's a bit of a pleasant surprise. The inconsistent Lotus firing is probably down to play style (I always go through pretty quickly), but as you said there's no real way around that. Thanks for the tip on getting a longer level name by the way!

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