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008: Countdown Chamber - akacesfan


Claimed by: akacesfan

World: 1
Exits: 1
Theme: Switch Palace
Music: Switch Palace
Additional ExGFX Recommendation(s): ExGFX 113 (Switch Palace w/ Slopes) [BG2]

Briefing: You will be designing the first switch palace in the hack. Keep in mind that the switch palaces in this hack should be levels rather than minor bonuses. Try incorporating a simple, yet unique puzzle. Do NOT rely on P-Switch/Springboard babysitting - think outside the box if you claim this level!

Special Note: Because the Switch Palace is aiming to be a level too, players may wish to replay the level. This means that there must be a way to end the level if the switch has already been pressed.
Yay, I have a level.

Level 8 - *insert name here once I figure it out*

Anyways, this level has three planned parts. I will edit this post with information as I update the level so it can all be in one convenient place.

1 - A short transition area from Vic Rattlehead's level. Because it's a transition area, it's only about 2-3 screens long.

2 - A (fairly short) cave tunnel that leads to the Switch Palace. Somehow untouched by Norveg's machinery, this area will give off a mysterious vibe. Once I have the layout for the tunnel done, I'll hopefully be able to request some decorations to help the cave give off the mysterious vibe. These sections are more platforming based.

3 - After trekking through the cave tunnel, you'll finally reach the switch palace. This area will be based off smaller, easier puzzles. I'm hoping to be able to provide two different paths through this section depending on how you solved the first puzzle.

Sublevels Claimed - B0, B1, and B2
ExGFX Claimed - None Yet
Secondary Exits Claimed - 10, 11, 12, and 13

Finally, I will leave you guys with an LM screen of the first area.
Mario's Vanilla Journey

Progress: 22/72 levels complete
That looks pretty nice, but I'd actually get rid of the coin hint to the SMWC coin, it looks like a pretty obvious place to check without it, and you don't want to hold players hands the whole time.
Originally posted by Bleaghhh
That looks pretty nice, but I'd actually get rid of the coin hint to the SMWC coin, it looks like a pretty obvious place to check without it, and you don't want to hold players hands the whole time.

I disagree, that coin would be unrechable by simply jumping up there, the player wouldn't normally know that the message box or the koopa would be needed to reach up there.

Besides, it's the first world, and it's not like he's leaving a trail of coins through the whole level, there's no need to remove something as small as that.
Actually, I'm pretty sure you can reach it from the message box, and given that the smwcoin is practically in plain sight anyway...I would move the message box up so you can't get on top, and then remove those two coins, personally. It might be a small change, but it's the difference between naturally going that way out of curiosity and having to pay a little bit of attention to notice you can go up there. The former isn't really necessary for a level that's not on the main path, even if it's World 1.

The intro area looks good, though considering this is supposed to be a transitional area, I'm surprised not to see any vents...? In any case, let's see what you can do with the level proper.
Youtube (Main) | Youtube (Alt) | Bandcamp | DeviantART
The reason I didn't put any vents in the transitional area is that the camera didn't work that well with them. Vic Rattlehead's level had a level-specific hex-edit so the camera would follow the player at all times. This level doesn't have that hex-edit.
Mario's Vanilla Journey

Progress: 22/72 levels complete
Naw, I skipped on the hex edit. The camera code is in the strong upward and downward blocks themselves, as those are pretty much the only types that would need it. It only triggers if the blocks are touched where the camera would need to begin scrolling, however, so if for instance you ran into one on the bottom of the level, chances are the screen would not move vertically until you touched the ground (as usual). I find it to be more flexible this way anyhow!
Ah, I see. So if I replaced the ladder with a vent, would the camera scroll up automatically?
Mario's Vanilla Journey

Progress: 22/72 levels complete
In the setup you have shown in the picture, it should. If not, depressing the left area covered in grass a little bit would probably line the camera up just right. The strong blocks will push you about 11 tiles upwards, holding B the entire time, so I think it'd end up just fine!
OK, thanks for the help with the vents. I really appreciate it!
Mario's Vanilla Journey

Progress: 22/72 levels complete
For today's update, I just finished the skeleton of the cave area. (I was working on the level before I got it, tsk tsk.)

Anyways, like I said, the cave is supposed to give off a mysterious vibe. The cave is also fairly short (10-0A screens) as well. Anyways, here are the screens,

Admittedly, I didn't take this screen at the best time (I threw that Goomba in the water), but it still looks fairly nice. Does the palette help it give off a mysterious vibe?

This screen is taken a few steps later into the cave. (No, that buzzy beetle isn't walking on the ceiling. I threw it right as I took the screen.)

This was taken near the end of the cave section. The little hole near the bottom left leads to a small pool of water. Hmm... I wonder what would happen if you swam to the end of the pool. Maybe you could find a pipe to a bonus room...
Mario's Vanilla Journey

Progress: 22/72 levels complete
Doesn't look bad based on the screenshots, but I am a bit worried about it ending up too similar to Hiker's Hollow, especially in terms of enemies used. Just a suggestion for now, but it might be a good idea to introduce one or two different enemies (or a different mechanic) to make your sublevel seem like its own, even if it's something small like upside-down buzzy beetles.
Youtube (Main) | Youtube (Alt) | Bandcamp | DeviantART
For the record, I don't really consider 0A-10 screens short, especially for a world 1 level. I like your design style so far (albeit being a bit similar to Hiker's Hollow, as AxemJinx stated), but I worry it could get too long. Just make sure the majority of the level's focus is on the palace itself.

Looking forward to more.
Yeah, I was about to say, 0A-10 Screens is not what I'd consider short, as I often put a midway point into levels of my own hacks around that many screens.

The real concern I have right now is that the primary focus of this level being a Switch Palace is being greatly diluted by these rather lengthy transitionary segments. Up to this point, it just feels like I'm playing another World 1 level, and not a wonderous bonus-styled (or puzzling) area like we normally associate with Switch Palaces. At the rate this level is going, there probably won't be much to do in the actual Switch Palace portion of this level.
Come to think of it...I don't mean to cramp the designer's style, but wouldn't it be kind of a waste NOT to use that clock magician sprite at this point? I guess it just seemed to fit the theme for me *shrug*
Youtube (Main) | Youtube (Alt) | Bandcamp | DeviantART
..and this is why typoing is bad.

I meant 9-0A screens. Oops.

I never really checked the custom sprites list when I made the.cave area. I'm sure there are some good cave sprites in the list.

Edit - Hey, level up!
Mario's Vanilla Journey

Progress: 22/72 levels complete
So, after taking into consideration what everyone said, I decided that you guys were right, the main focus of the level should be on the Switch Palace. I'm going to shorten the cave section to around 7-8 screens. I also claimed sprite number 75 for the Ceiling Buzzy. (thanks to AxemJinx for the suggestion.)

Is 7-8 screens still too long, or is it just right?
Mario's Vanilla Journey

Progress: 22/72 levels complete
It really depends on how it plays out. It's very easy to draw out seven screens and make them tedious, but if it's just a quick run through, it'll probably be fine. Once you have those sections done, you can post an IPS or something and we'll see how long they turn out to be.
OK, so this cave section is basically the first half of the level. I'm placing the IPS here so I can get some feedback on it before I continue working on the level. However, please keep the following in mind.

1 - Some of the swoopers will be replaced with ceiling buzzies, so once those are added in, they will be replaced.

2 - 2 of the 3 SMWCP coins can be found in this level. The other one has not been placed yet.

The only two things I really want feedback on are,

1. Is the section too long?

2. Is the section boring in any parts? If so, where?
Mario's Vanilla Journey

Progress: 22/72 levels complete
Nothing wrong with the first level, apart the Info Box being difficult to read (plus using an ExAnimated color for the back of an info box doesn't seem like a good idea).
I'd probably move the first SMWC Coin to the right a few tiles, because it's still visible from below upon entering the pipe, unless it was your intention for the player to glimpse it upon leaving Level 8.

I really liked how you had Switch Palace walls near the end of the cavern, and how stuff gradually looks more "yellow" as I progress (starting with the pipes, for example). Maybe you could expand on this idea and have Yellow Koopas starting around Screen 6, to improve upon this feeling? Other than that, I can't say there was any glaring fault in the cave; it had terrain variety, it felt alive with enemies, and with the exception of the first Goomba (which walked away from me for some reason), nothing seemed completely harmless.