Lately I've noticed a few users asking what happened to SMWC Island. After all, this subforum has been completely inactive for the past 3-4 years! Was the hack abandoned? Not quite.
In fact, SMWC Island has been hovering around near-completion for quite a while! A few years back we moved from working on the project in this subforum to working entirely through Discord. Most of the progress in level fixing, redesigns and custom graphics has taken place under this work model, at first on a separate server, and then later on the main SMW Central server. However, progress ended up stalling. We initially planned to release a public beta of SMWC Island back at the start of 2019, but this never came to fruition.
Why the lack of progress?
This can mostly be attributed to a lack of knowledge about and interest in YI hacking in the broader community. It's no real secret that the Yoshi's Island section and moderation are generally pretty inactive. We have a pretty limited set of users to work on SMWC Island to begin with, and everyone who does is doing so in their free time, which means that this particular site project is almost always on the back burner.
Additionally, the scope of what needs to be done keeps changing. We're pretty much constantly finding new issues with the levels that need fixing, or things we otherwise aren't happy with.
So what's motivated me to make this post now?
To be honest, progress with SMWC Island has almost completely stalled in the past year. As some of you may be aware, one of the previous project leads had a rather messy departure from the site last July, and this pretty much killed whatever motivation was left to complete the hack. So after months of nothing getting done, I'm making this post to discuss the future of this collaboration.
What happens now?
To begin, the threads which are currently in the SMWC Island subforum are going to be archived since they aren't being used anymore. We'll be repurposing it to act as a hub for any continued work on the project. I have two proposals for how to continue which I would like community input on.
Proposal 1: SMWC Island enters a "Completion Project" phase. We recruit new volunteers from the site who will contribute to the hack, with a focus on completing the bare essential parts needed for release. The project leads will continue to supervise the project, but in a more public manner.
Proposal 2: We zombie release SMWCI. The hack and the associated repository are made available in their current state, and anyone is free to work on the project or do with it as they please. The project leads will no longer actively maintain the hack.
What's left to do to complete the hack?
The most pressing matter has to do with the levels. Currently, 2 stages are undergoing or proposed to undergo major redesigns, and 2 more are candidates for total replacement. In particular, we need a new stage 1-1. We've replaced this one twice already but the current stage still isn't up to par.
The other major component is custom graphics. The most pressing of these is the lack of a custom title screen, and 3 missing level icons.
This hack has been a work in progress for 7 years now, which is frankly far longer than it ever should have taken. It's time to bring it to a close.
Which icons are missing? Just the ones for the levels getting replaced? Last I remember it was just Raphael's left unless I forgot to send off the completed ones or something.
If we're this close to being finished it doesn't make much sense to zombie it to me, but I know levels are a much bigger ordeal in YI than smw. I'd love to help with that but I have absolutely 0 experience with making a YI level... That said I'm absolutely available to make more icons if everyone else is down to finish this and ship it.
Thanks for the update and information on this collab. I had no idea where anything was regarding progress.
I feel somewhat conflicted as to what the next step should be; while getting the hack done would be really nice (especially since it is almost done), you said you are "pretty much constantly finding new problems". That doesn't seem like a good sign, and on top of that YI hacking is a pretty niche subject for the userbase. Too few people who have the skillset and interest to finish the hack, and from my point of view any more work done just might be a waste of effort.
It may be a tough decision to just release the hack in a zombie state, but to me it is for the best.
I already posted my thoughts earlier, but my vote is still going towards somewhat of a middle ground where we do whatever we need to do to get the hack into a "finished" state that's at minimum beatable and will get accepted into the hack sections here, and releasing it then. For how long this project has been going on (and for how little interest the community has been showing in it), I don't think it's super worth it anymore to spend a lot of time trying to polish it. Really, my thoughts on this could pretty much be copy/pasted from my comments on SMWCP2's recent updates.
In fact, if everything you've listed is really all that's left to get done, then I'm actually kind of optimistic that this could get finished quickly and smoothly. Whatever level icons remain probably wouldn't take too long to be completed once the levels in question are fixed up. I still don't really think that SMWCI's 1-1 is that terrible, but if it's only two levels that might need to be redone then that maybe wouldn't take too long to fix?
How difficult is it to modify the title screen, exactly? I could name a ton of artists on the site - including ones who aren't even really super invested in SMWCI - that would be delighted with the opportunity to conjure up a pretty logo to use.
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the lack of transparency regarding the collab hacks on the forums has been really annoying for a while now. at the very least, a greater quantity of public displays of progress would be a massive step in the right direction
i'd lean towards finishing it if there's that little to be done (two redone levels and a little graphical work is almost nothing). releasing it with a few kinks and problems would be better than not releasing it at all
there's been little transparency on where the collabs have been because both smwci and smwcp2 have had little change in the past long while. there's nothing to report really.
and, with that in mind, i fully believe smwci should be zombie released. i know it feels so close to finishing, but it was close to finishing a long time ago with the same few issues. i think a push to finish it might result in a few more discussions, maybe 1 or 2 more things getting done, and then the project entering purgatory again. i think if it could be finished reasonably, it would be. i just don't think there's enough interested people to tangibly put in the work to revamp it (same thing with smwcp2), and i think just zombie-ing it is the only real way it's gonna end up being played.
or at the very least just patch it up into a playable experience, and cut any flashy stuff that hasnt been worked on yet / finished.
Since it's been a week since this thread has opened, and there hasn't been any further input from other users in a while, I think it's probably safe to make a decision on this now. I'll leave this thread open for another day in case anyone wants to get last minute comments in.
I'd say make a deadline (like 1-2 months) of "we make two levels and a title screen, or we end the project for good" (and maybe make a news post on the front page that that's what's happening). Surely that can either be done in that amount of time, or it won't be done at all, and the answer will make itself clear.
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Unlike SMWCP2, I didn't really keep up with the details of this project other than making a level. I think I purposefully steered clear so that I could go into it blind when completed. Little fuzzy on that, but fairly certain...
Anywho, unless there's legitimate reason - broken/unwinnable levels - to overhaul/replace levels, do levels really have to be overhauled/replaced? I always saw this project as a fun community dive into YI hacking. Yea, polish is nice, but I don't think we need to win a blue ribbon with this thing.
I say if the levels are playable, just go ahead and release as is. If extreme/unfair difficulty is the issue in said levels, ok I get it. But, if no one's willing to step up to plate and fix the issues, again, just release it as is.
Custom title screen, eh, can take it or leave it. YI hacking is still extremely niche, and I dare say still in its infancy. 18 hacks with 2 in waiting in the YI hacks section. In my opinion, just having a working full world YI hack is, and should be, impressive enough.
Hey, sorry about the delay in responding! I got vaccinated on Friday and wasn't able to lift my left arm high enough to comfortably type for the past two days.
We've decided to zombie release SMWC Island after a short period. We'll be abandoning any level replacements and major redesigns (barring 1-1, since it's relatively quick to design) and instead focus on fixing any issues with asm or level design that would prevent the hack from getting through moderation. We'll also attempt to complete any remaining graphics changes (like the title screen) if possible. Feel free to volunteer if you have experience and think you can help with that.
The tentative deadline I'm setting is the end of June. If the hack is fully functional by that point, we'll release it warts and all.
The only thing that was keeping this project in an unfinished state for the past several years was the promise of things like custom music, updated bosses, etc. from Raiden, who ultimately ended up going AWOL on the game when he left and deleted everything, so...
On my end, I'm just really happy to see this finally being released. Last I heard, the level icons were the only real unfinished part, but even if that's the case, I'd just suggest reusing the defaults at this point. Compared to SMWCP2, there was very, very little that needed to be done to get this up to a state where it could be distributed (and this is me speaking from like, the 2015ish days, where it was basically ready to go at that point). I think there's still a document with a relatively long list of bug fixes, but they weren't really game-breaking. The game does have imperfections, but I feel like YI has a lot more "leniency" in how folks design levels compared to SMW simply because you can take many more hits, and the game is exploration-focused.
Also, if you end up needing a new 1-1, I have like 3 or 4 I've designed over the years that I've just sat on, and can probably throw at this. Regardless, I'm just happy to see that it's finally getting released.
Same. I was motivated to revamp 5-8, but I've kind of lost motivation to hack YI anymore, and I feel like the level is fine as-is. It's much harder to hack YI than it is to hack SMW, so we can't do the same level of polish with SMWCI as we can with SMWCP2.
I'm just happy we're getting these projects out the door.