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101: Crumbling Catacombs - MajorasMask9


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Claimed by: MajorasMask9

World: 5
Exits: 1
Theme: Desert Ruins
Music Options: 1, 2, 3 or compose your own.
Additional ExGFX Recommendation(s): ExGFX 10B/10C (Ruins set) [BG2]/[FG3]

Briefing: This is the last level in world 4B before the castle. As such, try to make a slight transition into an external castle atmosphere towards the end. For the level itself, focus on a desert ruins theme, either above ground or underground.
Ok, so, I've seen the thread view counter go up on this a bit, and I feel kind of bad for not posting anything here yet considering I've had the level for about two weeks, but I'm kind of slow when it comes to making levels. But, I figured I'd post a little video update, say "I'm working on it", and go back to work in the coming weeks.

Just a warning before watching the video: I'm trying something a bit new to me, which is making the level before picking out graphics or even caring about the graphics. It's a personal preference, because, in the last level I made, I didn't care much about the graphics, and I felt like it gave me more freedom when designing the actual level. It was easier to work the graphics around the level rather than the other way around, and I'm hoping this speeds up the level design process. This isn't to say I have no aesthetic plans in mind, but it's the least of my priorities at the moment, which is kind of why I was hesitant to post screenshots of early screens. That being said these graphics are not final I swear! They're more like colored tiles representing the behaviors of them.


Ta daaa. It's short, only 8 screens total I think, but like I said I'm slow at this kind of stuff!

I'm considering removing the first fire bro in the video, because not only does it seem to cause slowdown, it's got some other problems, like being a pain in the butt to avoid after getting the powerup. Only saying this because it took me about 15 recording attempts to not get hit by it. Also the dark tiles in the sand are supposed to be spikes that are partially obscured by sand.

As for my plans of the level as a whole, I'm imagining it more like ruins, where it's crumbling apart as you go through it. I think the best example of what I mean would be where the pillars partially crumble and the ceiling breaks in the video, but on a larger scale as the level progresses. That's the best I can do at verbally describing things!

It's great to see an update, as simplistic as it may be.

I must say, I really like the concept, and I hope you can follow through with it and make some unique setups. The idea of stuff "falling apart" as you walk by is nice (and as you displayed in the video, stuff like the Chuck's rock could be utilized here to add to the crumbling effect).

Don't really have much else to comment on given that it's a pretty short video. I remember playing MS Pain (i.e. something that was loads of fun), which is why I'm especially eager to see what you can cook up for this. Looking forward to seeing more updates!
Building before applying graphics is actually the way a lot of professional dev studios do things to my knowledge (depending on the context, at least), and for the exact reasons you mentioned: you can get your ideas into a tangible form without having to wait for resources or get distracted by the visual side of things. It can also be great for testing (so long as the graphics aren't garbled nonsense, which is not the case here), since we can focus on the functional aspects of design alone for the time being.

There are two things I particularly like about your level so far:
(1) The crumbling mechanic at around 0:40
(2) The idea of traveling horizontally through quicksand while avoiding enemies

Explore those further while keeping the "standard accoutrements" of desert stages, and you could end up with a nice, atmospheric level here. Looking forward to seeing more.
Youtube (Main) | Youtube (Alt) | Bandcamp | DeviantART
Bam! Mini-Update #2

I was going to wait until I had the whole level finished design-wise (or most of it) before I updated here again, but I'd really like some feedback on one part of my level before I go for the other half of the level. Ideally I would like it if anyone that'd like to help could download the IPS I'm about to post and try the level for yourself, but I'm also uploading a video of me rushing through the level, knowing most everything that's going to happen in advance.

The IPS will have a warp pipe in the beginning of the level. Going through the warp pipe will bring you straight to the part of the level that I want feedback on. Ignoring the warp pipe will have you going through the part of the level I showed in my last update, then to the room I want feedback on.

Bring it on! I want the IPS!
I-I'll watch a video instead...

The main reason I want feedback is because I'm not sure of how "cheap" some of the hazards are in a blind run. I tried to give each hazard a set of visual or audio cues to let you know something's about to happen, but I still can't say whether it's enough, because in testing I naturally react to them even without the cues.

And, uh, sorry for the graphics again. I imagine they could throw some people off. It should be somewhat self-explanatory what the tiles act like for the most part. Remember: dark dark sand is bad!

I watched the video (I'm afraid of ips's). And I must say I really like where this is going.

When I get a chance, I'll dl the ips and see if I spot ant cheap shots
Layout by LDA during C3.
I gave the IPS a try, and I didn't notice anything that felt cheap in terms of giving too little reaction time, which seems to suggest the audiovisual cues are working (:
Youtube (Main) | Youtube (Alt) | Bandcamp | DeviantART
You're not even done your first level and I already want to offer you a second. The creativity that you have is EXACTLY what I've been waiting for in this project, and while some people have a difficult time grasping ways to make their levels stand out, you are doing a wonderful job at this.

Keep up the great work.
Oh whaaat.
I played the thing itself before reading through your post (or your posts before) fully and didn't get that those graphics are going to change and quite honestly, I hoped you would go with it, as I find it absolutely amazing.
But oh well, I'm sure (at least I hope) that actual graphics will do just as good.
Your layout has been removed.
I'm really loving where this level is headed. You've somehow managed to take some tried and true obstacles/gimmicks and implement them in new and exciting ways.

As far as testing, I didn't find anything to be cheap. I did fall victim to a couple of crumbling sections by accident, but that was only because I still didn't have the functions vs. colors thing down completely. Visualizing this with normal graphics; anything I had an issue with here would simply disappear.

And really love the temple collapse at the end of the demo.
Well. Uh. I'm not sure I like the overall style with this. It just looks strange with 1-colour tiles. It probably is just me, though, judging by the other comments.

Other than that, the design is great. Keep up the good work.
Originally posted by JDC
Well. Uh. I'm not sure I like the overall style with this. It just looks strange with 1-colour tiles.

Those are placeholder graphics, it'll get proper graphics later on.
Your layout has been removed.
Yeah, I've been doing a bit of graphics work on the parts I showed off (taking a break from the level design for a short bit). It's still a bit messy right now, but it's coming along alright, and is looking more like an actual level.

I don't think it would be very fitting to have a level that looked like that randomly placed in the desert!

Also, thanks for taking the time to try out that level guys. Glad nothing turned out too cheap.
I'm done with the third part of my level, after a ton of idea scrapping. I also started to do some graphical work on earlier areas, but they're still not finished in terms of both the palettes and the actual graphics. Some of the more "specific" tiles, such as floors with cracks in them indicating they'll break, aren't in yet, making the second room in particular harder, but I'll fix this later on. There's also a lot of cutoff. I just wanted to give a rough idea of what the level might look like when it's finished.

Video (new area starts at 1:10, everything else is the new graphics)
IPS (pipe leads to newest area)

After this, I plan on having a vertical segment, and a short "exiting the ruins" part, leading up to a setting similar to the start of Lynnes' level with a goal point. And that'll be it. Not the longest level, but I think it's a good enough length.

The midway point doesn't work right now. I was going to look into that later since I don't want it to start the player off in the main level, but in the sublevel if that's possible. I think it might be possible with the multiple midway point patch, but I dunno how that works exactly, so I'll look into it later. It won't be the biggest deal in the world if I have to redesign the first part of the level.

Additionally, the timing on the breaking platforms at the end seems pretty strict, so I'm considering extending the time before it breaks by a little to give a bit more reaction time. I dunno though, I've done some perfect runs through there as well as some terrible ones. I'll look into it after I get the last part done since it doesn't seem too important right now.

That's all for now, next update should be when I have the full level finished design-wise, and other updates will be for graphics and any bugs I can fix on my own, then I'll put it on through the testing thread.
As always, you've hit the right atmosphere on the head here with your design. Playing through your level is not only really fun, but the idea of ruins crumbling around you and potentially killing you is an extremely nice effect that forces you to be on the lookout all the time. One area in particular I liked in the last part, strangely enough, was this:

I like it when people utilize their surrounding to make sprite set-ups more dangerous, and you did this a lot in the last part (especially that part soon afterwards with two kicking Koopas).

Complaints-wise .. I don't really have any big ones at the moment. I'm assuming the next update will be, as you said, the rest of the design, so I'll offer any sort of improvement tips I can think of at that point.
Ok, updating. The level is finished design-wise and is playable to the goal. The midpoint does not work at the moment, so, keep a savestate there for now or something if you play through it.

The last area feels a bit sloppy to me; it's not really bad or anything (is it???), I don't know why I don't like it honestly. I went back and forth between a LOT of ideas before I got this result (I kept switching between wanting to start a vertical level and horizontal level three times before settling with this).


The IPS is the entire level, no shortcuts this time.

At this point I plan on doing level adjustments based on any feedback I get, getting the graphics in there, and some aesthetic ASM related stuff/bugfixes. I'm not sure how long that'll take, but it shouldn't be too long...

Lynnes sent me the resources for the desert background he's using not too long ago, but it was JUST after I started uploading the video to youtube and had the IPS ready, so I didn't add it in just yet. I plan on adding that to the end and beginning.

EDIT: OH, UH, REALLY SORRY again for not doing anything about the graphics in the second room. There's no indication of what tiles are going to break when you stand on them anymore. If you've seen videos or played through it before you might remember where some of them are though.
I like the last part of the level myself. It matches the areas before it but throws in a few new twists to keep it fresh. I've got some complaints, however:

That guy seems to despawn quite a bit, thus defeating the purpose of this obstacle.

You actually have very, very little time to react here, especially if you're doing it blind.

You should actually make it so you can't enter this door. I'm not too keen on the idea of starting the level over because I wanted to explore.

-No screenshot, but it looks like you didn't import the base palette into your level before you started. You said you're not done with the palettes yet though, so I'm going to assume you're more than aware of this.

Originally posted by MajorasMask9
There's no indication of what tiles are going to break when you stand on them anymore

So I'm assuming the tiles that are dangerous to stand on will appear as cracked or something?

Aside from these points, it's a very creative and fun level.
Originally posted by S.N.N.
[pic of a guy that despawns quite a bit]
That guy seems to despawn quite a bit, thus defeating the purpose of this obstacle.

I had some trouble with the koopa despawning a bit in earlier iterations of that part, and I thought it was fixed this time around. I'll try to look into it a bit more, and if need be replace it with something else.

Originally posted by S.N.N.
[pic of mario in a situation with very little reaction time]
You actually have very, very little time to react here, especially if you're doing it blind.

I was a bit concerned about that, but couldn't really test it properly since I knew about it in advance. I'll make the boulders start higher up, so it takes them a bit longer to fall down.

Originally posted by S.N.N.
[pic of a door you can enter but shouldn't be able to]
You should actually make it so you can't enter this door. I'm not too keen on the idea of starting the level over because I wanted to explore.

Oh shoot! I thought I replaced that black tile with one that looks like a door but isn't (similar to the one at the start). Thanks for catching that.

As for the palettes, yeah, I never really imported the base palette, but I do plan on it. And yes, the breakable floors will definitely have some cracks in them that make them look like they'll break, I just never got around to drawing anything for them. Thanks.
Posting my weekly update today instead of tomorrow since I'll be gone later today and maybe tomorrow.

I've been doing some graphics work but it's still not finished. I should have the level finished by next week, and if not, definitely by the week after. Incoming IPS and video. Nothing extremely notable has changed from last time except graphics and stuff SNN mentioned.


Note: The video isn't uploaded yet. I'll edit it in when it is if I'm still online. Only posting this now because I might not be here when it's finished.

Things I need to take care of below.

Level 101: DONE
-LOTS of graphics work in general. Tiles and palettes.

Level 86: DONE
-Nothing I can think of?

Level 87: DONE
-Graphics and palettes.
-Add an invisible barrier after the goal point to prevent hitting the giant wall where the second room of the level is.

Level 88: DONE
-Fix that darn sprite-pass only ceiling.
-Fix some minor cutoff.

Level 89: DONE
-Fix some tile graphics, but palette should be ok except for the midway point.
-Fix minor layer priority issues.
-Fix minor LevelASM issue where breakable platforms still break while the game is paused or you're taking damage.

Level 8A: DONE
-Fix tile graphics, fix vine's palette at the end. Also minor palette fixes on less important things.
-Move the Fire Bro at the end that's under the sandfall. If you land on its head while dropping down, you'll get hurt. Might be fixable in the sprite code but IDK.
-Fix minor LevelASM issue where breakable platforms still break while the game is paused or you're taking damage.
-Not sure if moving that Yellow Koopa did anything to prevent despawning. I personally haven't figured out how to get it to despawn so I assume it's alright?
-Fix the shaking effect when falling onto the part after the yellow koopa. It seems inconsistent. Should be an easy fix.

Still haven't thought up a name for the level yet. I'm pretty unoriginal with names so I have no idea what I'll go with. I'll try to think of something for next update.

EDIT: I'm going to be using that list I made up as a personal checklist until my level is finished, hence the crossouts and green text. After those bits are taken care of I'll post the final IPS/video and throw it in the Level Testing thread.
Well shoot, if I had known I wasn't going to be out today, I would have just waited until today for the weekly update, because I'm finished with my level now.

Unnamed Ruins Level Version 1.0

Almost exactly the same gameplay-wise as the last updates, but newer graphics and all that. I'll just throw this in the Level Testing thread for testing and that should be that.

Except I still need a name. Sh-shoot!
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