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01E: Seaside Spikes - Skewer/Aja


It's generally easier for me to come up with level names when the stage is complete, has a distinct theme, and/or is fresh in my mind. I don't have anything for now, but keep working on the stage and posting updates and I'm sure we'll find something appropriate in the end.
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Whew, that was a long stretch of nothing. I should have the next take on the level uploaded by the end of the week, so hang in there.

Meanwhile, I'd like to show off this tileset I drew. It will cover the last quarter of the level - a more aquatic portion.

Right, here's my weekly update. I actually decided to do a second take on the level - while the first that I've showed was a good start, I know I can do better. My second attempt is through the door at the start. I know it's not -better- than the original, but I feel that after some sculpturing, this has a nicer architectural base overall.

Well, yeah, that's really about it. Thanks for any feedback in advance, guys.

Oh yeah, and this is just the first half.
Actually, I'd say it is better than the original. Like you said though, it needs some work. Most notably, make more usage out of those sand blocks. A couple of "dodge the bullet" setups are fine, but they get really trivial right away. Try making more complex sand block areas, such as using the ball'n'chain sprites, or even just having enemies walk along them. Why don't you try making a section where you have to (easily) jump up a vertical tower of the diggable sand, and then descend (harder) with a springboard or something to get over a wall in the vicinity. I love the tileset, and I love the architecture overall, but the actual spritework and sand stuff is lacking.

Anyway, here are some specifics:

Right here is an example of where you could have a more complex sand system. The Boos aren't a real threat, and the bullets are easily to dodge simply by digging straight down. At the very least, you could weave some of the bricks into the sand so players actually have to be mobile there.

This would be a great place to include some more crafty spritework.

I'm assuming that pit will lead to the second half?

Mmm .. I take it you got the directional coin puzzle idea from my video. The problem with yours is that you don't even need the coin trail to get the SMWC coin since you can just go up the wall. know, I had an actual reason for making my bonus area one screen, but you don't really. Why don't you actually build a relatively complex/bigger puzzle involving the directional coins here? Think it through a bit more, and it could turn out being pretty awesome.

You should probably claim a secondary exit since this door leads right back to the start of the level.

That's all for now. Try and fix up the first half before delving into the second half, and do take note of those weekly progress updates.
Not too big an update, but I decided it'd be worthwhile to show off this shot, showing the new background I made for the level. I'm personally pretty pleased with how this turned out.

Oh, and the level name will be "Argillite Avulsion", at least for the time being.

Had a rather busy week today, and typically found myself staying up late-ish to work on this, but we've got some content here - I'm using the castle spriteset now, and, most notably, I fixed up some sections with the dirt gimmick. Again, thanks for any feedback in advance.

For the most part, especially in regards to the graphics I drew, I'm really becoming quite happy with how this is turning out~
You need to actually test your level more than you have been. I found some extremely obvious errors which anyone playing through would have caught (and some not-so-obvious ones, of course).

Right off the back, these guys go around the stage and look dumb down there. It might be worth removing them completely.

(also, your message box says "these waters be sacred", yet there is very, very little water in the stage thus far. Granted, I know you said the second part of the level will be watery, so we'll see how that turns out.)

Sprite-solid blocks + Goombas = no, simply because you can throw them into the blocks and it looks awful. Try using a Bony Beetle here (and any other place you use those blocks) instead.

Might just be worth removing this sand tile. It's kind of pointless and ultimately leaves a floating pillar.

That Grinder flies off into oblivion. Again, you should have been able to catch this one in your testing.

What's the point of this upper route?

I don't get this. You've put a really easy path (going right), or a hard path (going down through the sand). Given the option, which path do you think players will always take? Either block off that upper path, or put a reward at the bottom of the harder one (i.e. a mushroom, a 1-UP, whatever).

Blind jump. Indicate it with coins (and speaking of coins, this level could use more of them).

Glitchy Dry Bones bone. Don't bother using that sprite anyway - it's pointless here.

You've went from making this room too easy to making it too hard .. AND it's still beatable without even getting the directional coin block. Shorten the room by a screen and get rid of the brown blocks there - you don't even need them.

-No screenshot, but I'd indicate where you can use the springboard with 3-4 vertical coins.

Other than that, the level is shaping up nicely now. Most of these are easy fixes, so stick with the design you have and touch the bugs up. I'd stick the midway right where the three bullet shooters are at the end, and then start on your water section.

(also, I would really like it if other people would start feedbacking this level and others as well. I'm but one person, and I'd like to hear others' thoughts.)
I suppose I owe an apology as to the quality of that last demo - I was rather hasty to put it on air, and thus ended up forgetting to fix several bugs (i.e., the grinder, the two nasty alternate routes, hotheads, etc.) I've certainly learned from this, and I won't do it again.



All that aside, this is but a minor update, but I still felt like airing it. This shows off the little two-screen "midway" puzzle I have concocted, as well as a "graphical showoff", so-to-speak, of what is to come. The level design in this last sector is, of course, unfinished.

I think I've scraped out all the bugs in the first half, but I'm not quite certain, so of course I am entirely open to feedback in regards to that part if you can find any.

Put the 1-UP in the middle instead of on the right side.

I'd just get rid of the spikes on the ceiling, as they make this area more cramped than it needs to be.

Three things here:
1. Get rid of the "coins" there, as they turn solid (but don't change their graphic) and make it impossible to pass. If you had tested this puzzle, you would have caught that yourself.
2. See that single blue 16x16 tile to the right of Mario? Remove it.
3. Cutoff red tile next to the topmost rupee.

This is me exiting the bonus room. It still leads back to the start of the level. Please claim a secondary exit if you haven't already and make it lead back to where it is supposed to.

Get rid of this pillar. It looks extremely weird when the Hothead goes past it.

This slope is broken. The "Acts Like" settings on the tiles are all wrong and I can walk right through it.

Honestly, I expected the second half of this level to be underwater (or at the very least, include water elements). Instead, there's a rather dull springboard puzzle here. I'd just scrap this room and start fresh.
It's been awhile. Here's the update.

~ ~ ~

This is the level in its "completed" state, though it likely will, of course, need some polishing. I fixed all of our problems (I think), and made the second half, as well as re-doing some screens in the first half.

Thanks in advance for any feedback.

This level still has bugs:

The sand has some weird effects when your big Mario. You can get stuck fairly easy when there is a solid ceiling above you ofter pushing you into other solid object and ultimately killing you.

Not to mention get rid of small space like this. People should have enough smarts to know not to squeeze them selves in here because it can kill them, but they will. Please avoid areas like this, the least you can do is put invisible block in those spaces

Bit of slowdown in this area you may want to look into

1-up farming spot. Get rid of it.

This green lava looks ugly, probably best to replace it with a pit or something.

Also, I see the message at the beginning of the level as pointless, replace it with a message block that states that you can dig up some of the ground.
Layout by LDA during C3.
Few things to add:

Layer priority issue: the ball'n'chain goes in front of everything except these blocks. Edit the Map16 properties and select "Layer Priority Disable".

I'd put a door down here. It makes very little sense to enter the bonus room by falling and then coming out a door.

On the topic of the bonus room, why don't you move the door in the room itself to the right side of the room? Since you come out a couple screens to the right of where you entered, it might make a bit more sense.

You still get stuck in this slope. Either fix the properties or remove the slope entirely.

That Ball'n'Chain is sort of unfair. I'd just remove it entirely.

That Bony Beetle .. walks on air.


I don't really like this part as a whole, or the laval.

Overall, I think the second half needs a little more in terms of spritework. Try bringing back more of those sideways Thwomps that you used in the first half (well, once), and put them in the water or something.

Busy week. I wasn't able to get -that- much done, but we have almost all the bugs sorted out, and I'm hoping this will be a more final demo.

Not sure why you insist on fixing things that aren't broken, because fixing something that isn't broken usually ends up breaking it. In any case, you've made the first half worse and the second half better. The new background is nice though, so that's an exception to the above statement (although I'd advise using it in the final room of the level as well instead of just the first).

The foreground spikes blend terribly with that background. You can't even see them.

-Remove the red pillar hiding the switch.
-Once again, I am able to get up there without even requiring the directional coin bridge. See that empty tile above and to the left of Mario, between the two red blocks (at the corner)? Put a blue block there so that Mario can't jump up without the bridge.
-Please don't use the dream map track here. It sort of ruins the initial appeal of it (not to mention it's .. meant for a map).

Get rid of the return door.

Incredibly unfair. The Buzzy Beetle will fall down from above on to you.

Also unfair. Just remove that Dry Bones, as it's very possible to blindly hit it from above.

So you have coins in this area, but rupees in the first area? The more that I think about it, why don't you just make them all coins? Rupees is rather .. inconsistent with literally every other level in the hack, you know?

That guy is really hard to dodge. Not in a good way either. Might I suggest opening up the area above to be two tiles wide rather than one?

Make it a little more obvious that you're supposed to go up the middle and not the right.

-No screenshot, but I wouldn't bother using the reef castle's track here. Not only is it unfitting since your area isn't graphically transitional, but the track you used for the other two areas would fit much better.

Realize that I am not asking you to redesign anything. These are all very easily fixable and you could probably be done in 20 minutes or so (which I certainly hope you find time to do and don't hold it off for a week). Unless you think you can actually enhance your level, you really don't need to remake anything at this point.

That's all.

You might want to just skim this over and make sure I didn't miss anything. The level's name was changed as well, obviously, so .. yeah.

I'll send you the ExGFX/Map16 files tonight, SNN.

This party's over.

I'm not finishing testing. The people playing are trying to catch bugs, not point out literal broken chunks of your level. Give it a playthrough BEFORE you upload it.
...ugh. Are you sure you patched the IPS correctly? I did test it and it did work.

I had no idea setting up the Map16 and graphics would be so annoying .. whatever. If you actually patched it right, I'll try and see where this went wrong.

I can't thank you enough for testing this all the way through though, SNN. Sorry about this.
Nope, the same graphical glitches happen to my patched ROM as well. The issue seems to be some missing ExGFX files, though I don't see how that has anything to do with patching an IPS wrong... Just make another IPS and then we'll talk.
aran - Graces of Heaven
IPS Link

Again, I'm very sorry about this, and it shouldn't happen again.

So yeah.
The bonus room is still beatable without the directional coin bridge, but everything else seems to be in order. At this point, leave the bonus room alone, since it's pretty clear after several attempts you're unable to set it up in a way that requires the directional coins. I'll do it myself once it's in the base ROM.

I'm going to leave this thread open for a little while in hopes that someone else will feedback the level. If all goes well, you can send me your stuff for the level by Monday (and yes, that includes sending me the ExGFX files and Map16 again. I'd like it all in one bundle).