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017: Shenmi Frica-Sea - Rameau's Nephew
Forum Index - Events - Super Mario World Central Production 2 Completion Project - World 3 - 017: Shenmi Frica-Sea - Rameau's Nephew
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Owner: Rameau's Nephew

World: 3
Exits: 1
Theme: Oriental
Music Options: 1, 2, 3, or compose your own.

Briefing: This is a water level ultimately, but it allows quite a bit of freedom. You could make an oriental-themed island, or simply make a purely underwater level (perhaps with some oriental ruins).
Owner? Oh yes, I now have voting rights in all sorts of pre-ninteeth century democracies.

Right, so this Mario feller is making his unnecessary sea-based detour (or "seatour", if you will) like the weirdo he is when suddenly he comes across a collection of rocky islets and limestone sea stacks towering forth from the waves (think of a cross between this and these. Logically concluding that there is no safer place to travel in rough sea waters than a collection of jagged rocks, he does not attempt to steer around them, but instead just plows right on through, because nobody moves the early worm's cheese and all that.

In the first part of the level, our hero will thus have to navigate through a series of rocky cliffs, sometimes going over, precariously leaping from spire to spire, sometimes going under, where the turbulent waters themselves hide dangers of their own, sometimes having a treacherous choice between the two. Along the way, he may have to grapple with an uncommon foe or two, like the virtually never used Pom-Pom Flower, which I've apparently decided is endemic to this region.

In the second half of the level, however, Mario tires of skimming along the surface in the manner of one of those water strider bugs, and decides to instead plumb the depths of a deep ocean trench like the majestic octopus. However, as he descends, it soon becomes clear that this archipelago wasn't always as forsaken as it now appears (OOOOooooOOOOoooOOO!)

There may also possibly be a brief third section, but we'll worry about that once we see how the other two are developing.

Of course, there's one small problem with my lovely dreams: none of currently existing tilesets really suits the first section, especially on a functional level. I briefly considered actually adapting the underwater set, but as that's lacking both in walk-through ledges (a particularly important element) and does not lend itself well to one-tile wide section (I do loves me spindly spires), it wasn't really a feasible course of action. I'd hate to annoy the drawing people with something like this which probably won't be of massive use to anybody else, but as the old proverb goes, eh.
No replies at all? Wow where did the team spirit go? I guess I'll have to say some words about this level or nobody else will.

So...I like the concept you chosed for your level, it sounds original, and I always like those levels with overwater and underwater parts. Maybe you can make a small maze in the first room and hide one or two SMWC coins around there. I'd advise you to use the pirangler in the first part too, but I think it's getting a bit overused by now, so I don't know...

For the second part, apparently it's going to be more dangerous and mysterious than the first one, so I think it would be nice if you have a dark atmosphere around here, I suggest making a dark background level with a spotlight (like the final room in the original SMW), and maybe some fishbones can help too.
I like your idea, but what do you mean by "wasn't always as forsaken as it now appears"? Are we talking a sunken city like Atlantis or something? Oh, the possibilities.

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Mario's Vanilla Journey

Progress: 22/72 levels complete
Originally posted by aj6666
No replies at all? Wow where did the team spirit go? I guess I'll have to say some words about this level or nobody else will.


To be fair, I've only had this level for maybe a week now, and haven't really posted anything concrete yet (that should change very soon, though). Also, people generally prefer to avoid provoking the raving hobo.

Originally posted by aj6666
So...I like the concept you chosed for your level, it sounds original, and I always like those levels with overwater and underwater parts. Maybe you can make a small maze in the first room and hide one or two SMWC coins around there. I'd advise you to use the pirangler in the first part too, but I think it's getting a bit overused by now, so I don't know...


I'm not sure how much of a maze the first part is, per se, as the intended path is usually pretty obvious and marked with coins (we probably don't want to make things too complicated yet in World 3, lest we have a repeat of the infamous World 3 of the first Production), though the player is free to take an alternate path in a few spots, which may offer various rewards or booby prizes. But I do indeed plan to hide away an SMWC coin or two in some of the less obvious corners there.

I had not considered the pirangler angle[r] before, though I must say it would actually work quite well in this level. That said, you're probably right that it's bit overused, and I sort of wanted to devote this level to some of the less used sprites. I also worry that the pirangler might be a little too dangerous in this particular environment for a level this early in the game. Something I've come to realize while working on this level is that a lot of the ideas I had for interesting uses of sprites ended up being far too tricky for World 3, especially a World 3 which can be played as the second area, and thus these ideas had to be severely watered down or eliminated entirely. Admittedly, this may in part be due to the fact that my controller stopped working properly about a short time ago, compelling me to test the level with a keyboard, something I have not used to play SMW hacks with in over two years, and I have apparently become quite terrible at playing therewith in the mean time (despite, oddly, having had no trouble playing other keyboard-based games). But this is not necessarily a wholly bad thing, as it helps to counterbalance my own pre-existing knowledge of the level, and gives me the perspective of what this level might feel like for less experienced players. In any case, though, I suspect most of the changes I make to the first section will likely involve toning down the difficulty, and I already have two tricky custom sprites, one of which I'm already probably going to have to tweak a bit to make it less of a menace, so adding another might not be the best idea at this point.

Originally posted by akacesfan
I like your idea, but what do you mean by "wasn't always as forsaken as it now appears"? Are we talking a sunken city like Atlantis or something? Oh, the possibilities.


Something along the lines of that general concept, to be certain; the (intended) suggestion, at any rate, is that that this sea-ravaged collection of rocks was at one point more of a continuous island, and an inhabited one, at that (possibly with a few secrets). I've been having a little more trouble thinking of how to convert this into a practical level than with the first part, however, which came to me pretty quickly. I know I want it to be a deep-sea dive (a less-common level type, but a concept I've always liked), which starts out all familiarly fish-filled and fancy-free, but as we go deeper, gradually starts to show more and more signs of the hidden past. Oh, but how to block the actual obstacles and the like therefor? Perhaps inspiration will strike when I start playing around with things a bit; I've mainly been focusing on the first half of the level thus far, but now that I have a rough but workable version of the entirety of that section (maybe images to follow?), I can now focus my attention on Mario's mysterious descent. Nevertheless, any explorers of real-life sunken cities are of course free to contribute their own suggestions.
Originally posted by Rameau's Nephew
Nevertheless, any explorers of real-life sunken cities are of course free to contribute their own suggestions.

I'm tempted to recount at length my adventures in the underwater city of Rapture, but that is a tale for another time.

To be honest, I haven't commented on this because I'm not very worried about it right now. Rameau's Nephew knows how to weave a story behind his design ideas, and it sounds like he knows pretty much exactly what he wants to do. I'm confident he'll have something to show soon, and at that point I can probably be of more assistance.

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Youtube (Main) | Youtube (Alt) | Bandcamp | DeviantART
At first I thought I'd wait until I got at least a part of the custom graphics for this level before I posted any screenshots, but really, that's the sort of thing a ninnyhammer would do, so we might as well display some images right here and now, to give a clearer idea of the concept I'm going for. Bear in mind, however, that the foreground, background and custom sprite graphics seen here are all placeholders until I get better ones, so please excuse any non-prettiness.



Here we see one of this level's custom sprites, the SML Gao. "An Egyptian-themed enemy in an East Asian-themed level?" you indignantly cry, "Horsefeathers!" But worry not; I have a more thematically appropriate enemy I'm planning to replace the graphics for this with. I'll also be reducing their firing rate a bit, because Christ-on-a-bikey, those things are a lot more aggressive than I remember, especially considering they're level 1 enemies in the original.

And yes, I did coincidentally notice that massive line of cutoff running through the middle of every landmass. In the resource request thread, I asked if someone would be willing to make a sort of sea foam tile to take care of that problem in an efficient, tileset-spanning fashion which could benefit anyone who wishes to make a similar effect, regardless of what style of land they use. If no one succeeds in making this, however, I suppose I'll just go through the tedious and space-wasting process of drawing seperate animated land + water tiles for each of the various land tile types, but there's no point in doing that until I have the proper graphics, of course. In either case, it's a problem for later.



Here is the rarely seen Pom-Pom flower alluded to above. And do you know why they're so rarely seen, groovy as they are? Because they're slowdown magnets if you have more than two of them onscreen at a time, and they're relentless Mario hunters at the same time, meaning that if they sense him so much as on the other side of the neighborhood, they drop whatever they're doing and shamble dutifully in his direction, crashing any crazy sprite parties they may pass by along the way, and bringing the festivities to a screeching halt as they fire off those crazy doom-spheres of theirs. Oh, but we'll find a way to use them effectively despite this restriction.



The rocks in the extreme foreground, incidentally, have layer priority, and the bottom few tiles are set to act like water, allowing Mario to swim along behind them. I thought it was a pretty nice touch, but looking at the level as it currently exists, it seems I actually deleted the majority of those that didn't lie under completely impassible land as I was afraid of obstructing the player's view at certain points. Also, I suppose I thought it looked weird with the aforementioned cutoff, but just about anything does. The cutoff itself in weird, you see, and a very aggressive proselytizer.



Here's a bit from the underwater part, which, as I suspected, I got a better idea of what I wanted to do with once I started playing around. As noted above, this area is supposed to be an ocean trench, but how to convey this idea while still having platforms and obstacles not directly touching the trench walls? And especially how to do this is such a way that it still makes sense that the (non-yet-present) ruins would have been able to sink to the bottom without landing on one of them first? My solution: Instead of solid pieces of land, make them (sometimes freely floating, but hey, this is Mario) rocks that fell loose and piled up on top of each other when the island above collapsed. I'm not sure how well this idea comes through in the game itself as opposed to in Lunar Magic, and I doubt anyone but me would have cared in the first place even if I had made them solid landmasses, but see the ancient proverb quoted in the final line of my initial post in this thread.



Well, they did keep falling into the sea in the above-water section. Where exactly did you expect them to end up?

Maybe this handful of images probably doesn't really give the clearest idea of what I'm going for here, but it's something, I suppose. I'll post a video of the first section at least as soon as my new controller arrives from video game land. Until then, please make due with slagging off the above screenshots to the best of your ability.
Looks like the first section has a nice mix of swimming and rock climbing, and navigating all the rocks in the underwater part could add a nice sense of exploration and intrigue. So, I like where this is going so far. Just an idea, but it would be interesting if you found the ruins intact at the bottom, and only slightly flooded if at all. I guess we shouldn't make the level too long, though.

I'm willing to try the water animation at some point...just not now, because it's not a functional necessity :b

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Youtube (Main) | Youtube (Alt) | Bandcamp | DeviantART
Video, anyone? I figured I might as well show both parts, even though the second part especially still needs a ton of work (not that the first wouldn't benefit from some refining, too). But that work will be easier to do with a bit of feedback, no? So don't hold back. I can take it, I promise.

(Also, if you're wondering where the third coin is, it'll either be in the brief final section or the lower path of the first, in the high cliff section).
The level looks nice; you have a nice design there, and you made a good use of the custom sprites. There are just a couple of things I'd like to point out.

1. The player can break very easily through the first part by following the water track, so you should add a porcu puffer fish or something to prevent that.

2. The very last segment of the second part is a bit empty, you should add some more enemies in there, maybe some cheep-cheeps or one of those doll things.
I agree that a porcu-puffer might discourage players from hanging in the water all the time, so it might be a good idea. It would also make undercutting some of the enemies to navigate the lower platforms equally risky, so there's no "easy path" per se.

Keep in mind that porcupuffers also make for interesting underwater enemies, especially during descents. The secret exit of Sludge Trudge Isle from RttC is an example of that.

All the thin, spire-like platforms in the first area give a distinct feel- these aren't shallow waters.

0:39- This kind of formation is a bit odd because it's also solid from the inside. Might just be my personal feeling though.

I think either of those locations would be fine for the first smwcoin- either one would nudge players to explore, I think.

I like the way the second area slowly tapers down as the trench walls converge, but you have a lot of wide-open areas and I'm wondering if you need a different kind of enemy to cover all of that space. I mean, the sense of exploration is definitely there, but sometimes it feels like the enemies are there to make things seem lively more so than to thwart players, especially if they have fire flowers.

I wonder whether that underwater motor sprite could be hidden in a corner somewhere here to reward exploration...but I don't want it to feel tacked-on.

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Originally posted by AxemJinx
0:39- This kind of formation is a bit odd because it's also solid from the inside. Might just be my personal feeling though.

This is something that's always bothered me as well. I'd suggest either finding a way to close up that particular formation completely so that Mario can't get in there, or better yet, replace the left edges with right-only blocks - that way they'd still be solid from the left but they won't have that awkward feeling once you're inside the formation itself.

However, my belief is that the current 1-way blocks that are available are just as wonky since they only work with Mario. I created an updated set of left/right 1-way blocks that include interaction for both sprites and Mario's fireballs as well that you can try if you so choose to go that route. But please note, the fireball interaction isn't quite 100% bug-free for the Left Only blocks as of yet (they'll still pass through during their upward angle about 20% of the time). I'm still trying to get that sorted out.
Originally posted by aj6666
1. The player can break very easily through the first part by following the water track, so you should add a porcu puffer fish or something to prevent that.


Though I tried to place a completely solid cliff every once in a while to force the player to take the upper route, I have to agree this is still sort of true despite my efforts. A Porcu-puffer might sort of be overkill, though, as it follows Mario for the entire level, and I don't want to completely discourage the player from going in the water. Maybe some strategically placed horizontal Cheep-Cheeps might have a similar but more localized effect.

It should also be noted that the watery path in the high cliff Pom-Pommy area originally had two more jumping Cheep-Cheeps, but I removed them to reduce the chance of slowdown in conjunction with the Pom-Pom Flowers. However, I remove one of the Paragoombas (or maybe even the Pom-Pom Flower either immediately before or after the shell-less Koopa patrolled turn blocks...?) I could safely put one of them back in, making the waters again a more dangerous place.

Originally posted by Milk
Originally posted by AxemJinx
0:39- This kind of formation is a bit odd because it's also solid from the inside. Might just be my personal feeling though.

This is something that's always bothered me as well. I'd suggest either finding a way to close up that particular formation completely so that Mario can't get in there, or better yet, replace the left edges with right-only blocks - that way they'd still be solid from the left but they won't have that awkward feeling once you're inside the formation itself.


Sounds reasonable enough; after all, that's pretty how the top of the land works already, so it would make sense for the sides to behave similarly. Consider it done (and I'll certainly be on the lookout for the debugged version).

Originally posted by AxemJinx
Keep in mind that porcupuffers also make for interesting underwater enemies, especially during descents. The secret exit of Sludge Trudge Isle from RttC is an example of that.


I actually considered this (in fact, I specifically remembered that RttC level as an example of an uncommon dive level), though I was ultimately discouraged by the fact that using the Porcu-puffer would require me to edit the Pionpi sprite (which is already inserted into the ROM) to use different tiles, as well as the Gao (whom I already remapped once in order to use the Blurp, as even through they don't appear in the same area, I wanted to keep all my sprites on one ExGFX page, which incidentally meant remapping the Pom-Pom, too). Remapping the Porcu-Puffer itself would be an option, but this would likely cause problems for anyone else who wanted to use it (of which there's probably a few). Though looking at that RttC video, I must admit they do seem ideal for this sort of underwater level, so I'm a bit torn, now...

Originally posted by aj6666
2. The very last segment of the second part is a bit empty, you should add some more enemies in there, maybe some cheep-cheeps or one of those doll things.

Originally posted by AxemJinx
I like the way the second area slowly tapers down as the trench walls converge, but you have a lot of wide-open areas and I'm wondering if you need a different kind of enemy to cover all of that space. I mean, the sense of exploration is definitely there, but sometimes it feels like the enemies are there to make things seem lively more so than to thwart players, especially if they have fire flowers.


Earlier versions of this level tended to have more narrow passages patrolled by trickily placed vertical Cheep-Cheeps and traversed by marauding Blurps, but due to it striking me as too difficult for world 3, I tended to either widen the passages and/or reduce/reposition the fishy foes. The final descent is a good example of this--it was originally much more crowded, but I noticed that the player has a certain tendency to speed up here and get hit (I actually fall for this myself in the video, even though I know full well what's coming), so I toned things down a bit (though oddly, I seem to have left the very beginning of this part somewhat crowded, and thinned it out later on, which just seems strange). What I might ultimately do is throw a rock in there as a momentum breaker, so I can repopulate the area without so blatantly tossing the player headlong into a trap.

Originally posted by AxemJinx
I wonder whether that underwater motor sprite could be hidden in a corner somewhere here to reward exploration...but I don't want it to feel tacked-on.


I'm all for giving the player a reward which isn't a powerup, coins or an SMWC coin, but I think the motor might actually prove a liability here, as it's probably a good idea to take one's time in sections of this level, whereas going too fast is a good way to get hit. Also, I'm not so sure it's necessarily the most thematically appropriate addition (unless put in the rusted remains of a motorboat which crashed against the rocks above next to it or something).

Incidentally, there were a lot more Pionpis in earlier versions of these levels, but I removed a number of them because A) they're super-dangerous underwater when placed on a ledge, as their jumps really send them flying (which was in part my intention, but it's important not to take things too far so early in the game), and B) they have a strong tendency to jump inside of solid walls underwater unless the terrain is specifically designed to prevent this, as I note in one of my annotations.

Speaking of Pionpi, you may have noticed I gave him a palette closer to his concept art, but it was still sort of bothering me. But looking at that image now, I see that the clothing is a bit more blue-tinted and the skin a bit more grey than in the versions I show in the video.



Much better, no?
Originally posted by Rameau's Nephew
Sounds reasonable enough; after all, that's pretty how the top of the land works already, so it would make sense for the sides to behave similarly. Consider it done (and I'll certainly be on the lookout for the debugged version).

I recently realized the top corner tiles would need custom blocks created for them as well to allow free passage from the inside since they also act similarly to cement blocks by default. I'm still trying to correct the remaining fireball issue, but I'll try and create some custom corner blocks as well.
Originally posted by Milk

I recently realized the top corner tiles would need custom blocks created for them as well to allow free passage from the inside since they also act similarly to cement blocks by default. I'm still trying to correct the remaining fireball issue, but I'll try and create some custom corner blocks as well.


Sounds groovilicious.

But speaking of buggy blocks...using conveyor and wind blocks, I tried to jury-rig a water current effect for a silly little surprise I had planned, and while the result was technically functional, like a plant to the sunlight, it nevertheless leaned decidedly toward the crappy side of the street. The horizontal currents (conveyors) were passable enough, but the vertical ones (wind) had a good deal more problems. The upward current had the biggest issues, as regardless of the block settings, it seemed to max out at a fairly low speed (pretty much the same as Mario's normal maximum upward swimming) which still allowed the player to resist it to a strong degree. The downward current was better as far as speed goes, but created a weird shaky effect for some reason (not a huge issue, but inelegant). I'm sure I've seen better current blocks elsewhere, but apparently they've never been publicly released, as I can't seem to find them anywhere. Anyone have a hot tip on where to find one on the black market?
Here's an update of the passable side ledges with the addition of passable top corners. The top corner blocks seem to function perfectly fine. I still can't quite work out the rare occasion of fireballs wanting to pass through the solid side of the rightwards only blocks. I guess I need to throw it around a bit more in the asm/hex thread over in advanced and see if i can procure a solution. Otherwise, these should completely cover any sort of solid landmasses you might like to conjure up.

Oh, and if you come across any other issues, let me know and I'll see what I can do.
Much obliged, much obliged. The fireball issue does mean that the player can occasionally prematurely kill the Pom-Pom Flower inside of that land formation, effectively thwarting my death-from-below setup, but I guess that's not really too much of an issue, especially considering they probably won't try if they don't know the bug exists in the first place. A slightly larger problem is that the Pom-Pom itself tends to immediately wander out from under the land formation, preventing the setup from even existing in the first place, but placing a passable-only-by-Mario block immediately after the one-way block fixes that in an effective and scarcely noticeable manner. All in all it seems an acceptable tradeoff, even with the ocassional berserker fireball.

In other news, an associate of mine is currently drawing the graphics for this level, and I must say, they're looking pretty spectacular thus far. This stage should start looking considerably less ugly in the near future. Stay tuned.


EDIT: What's that? You want a preview? Well, O.K., but don't tell anyone:

So, I managed to solve my water current issue in my standard plugging-the-gaps-with-chewing-gum manner, thus overcoming my last major gameplay hurdle. That just leaves Axem Jinx's Mini-Porcu-Puffer sprite as the only non-æsthetic missing piece, and it's a fairly minor one in comparison, and one on which its surrounding elements are hardly dependent. Thus, I think we should have a functional (if non-polished) version of the entire level available pretty soon.

As far as names go, I was thinking of calling it "Haeyang Hexplorhation", "haeyang" being a Chinese-derived Korean word referring to the sea, and "hexplorhation" because Hai'm a jackhass. Hunfortunately, that won't quite fit hunless we huse the hextended level names patch. "Haeyang Hadventures" would fit, but...I don't know, it just somehow strikes me as presumptuous to call one's own level an "[h]adventure". Truth be told, I'm generally apprehensive about that word as part of a name for anything, as it's far too frequently seized upon by things that are boring and/or daft in an attempt to makes themselves seem less boring and/or daft. Naturally I'm hoping our esteemed players will not receive my level as either of those two things, but it strikes me as tacky nonetheless (whereas appending unnecessarily aitches to the beginnings of words is of course strictly high-class).
Your ramblings are divine genius, and they have inspired me to craft a completely-not-witty level name for you:

Fushigi Fricassea

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Hmm, not bad, not bad, though I must confess that my default impulse was to mentally pronounce the last part as /'frɪkə'seia/ (frik-uh-say-uh). Confusion could potentially be avoided if we spelled it "Fricass-Sea", but I wonder if that's not belaboring the Pointe.
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Forum Index - Events - Super Mario World Central Production 2 Completion Project - World 3 - 017: Shenmi Frica-Sea - Rameau's Nephew

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