Yes, the things I'm worried about are on/off blocks, parallel paths, and sprite set overusage (though I'm fuzzy on that last one). We should keep an eye on anything that gets too common.
Jorshamo, I'll try to elaborate later, but I think your level might have dominant strategy issues (i.e. one path being clearly easier than others), and I think the layout is complex without rewarding players for exploration per se.
On/Off Blocks... if I see any more of them in World 9, then I might get concerned, although that level did put them to good use (even though the segment near the end got crazy with all the switches you needed to hit in rapid succession).
Parallel paths tend to work nicely for secret exits in my opinion, as they don't force you to find anything other than the path you just took. They can also serve as a way to differentiate from the rest of your level.
I haven't seen any notable sprite set overusage yet, though common ones like Chucks are used mostly because of the other sprites in the SP3 (note block animation, wooden platforms, etc.), so I guess they don't count.
Just to clarify, what I mean by parallel paths is having two paths, one on top of the other, in the same room, running in the same direction. It potentially gives you less sprite space and dilutes the level's focus if you're not careful. You also have to pay close attention to difficulty so people don't predominantly take one path over the other. It's not inherently a bad structure, but in SMW it kind of limits your design choices, and it's usually better to separate them into different rooms altogether unless there's some special reason they're together or if the above concerns don't apply for whatever reason.
I guess one could technically avoid the sprite issues associated with parallel pathing by instead using terrain hazards like chompers, spikes, or lava in one of the paths. Then again, stuff like that tends to be frowned upon in overusage because it is very easy to be cheap with these hazards...
I wonder whether you should move the first powerup block to screen 0 to replace the outline block, and then replace the blocks on screen 1 with outline blocks. That way, you'll have a strong, explicit, early introduction to both the ledgevine and outline block mechanics you use later.
At the end of the first section, I wonder if you should replace the lower outline block with a normal one, and put a koopa on the row of blocks, so players have to think about whether to try rushing to the pipe or taking the time to hit the koopa first.
Overall, though, the only major concern I have is whether it's a little bit on the easy side. I'm not sure if it is, though, and even if it is, I'm not sure if I want to do anything about it until I see what the surrounding levels are like in terms of difficulty, what sprites they use, etc. Let's see what others think, too.
rtyuio54321: I gave it a try. Here are my thoughts (screenshots first, then overall thoughts at the end).
-Empty message box. What is the text supposed to say?
-The deal with this level is that you have some palettes that are white, and some that are normal. Together, they look horrible and clash. If you're going to make palettes monochrome and/or funky colors, do it with everything. Otherwise, don't do it at all, or you end up with messy palettes such as this shell here.
-Those brown rips with coins should probably be made more subtle so they sink into the background a little.
-I can jump and get stuck there. Lower that little ledge by a tile.
-These aren't supposed to be slippery, right? We already have ON/OFF block graphics in the ROM, and I know MrDeePay used these for icy ON/OFF blocks. You may want to consider switching graphics.
-There are very little threats on this lower path. Spice it up a bit.
-See screenshot 2.
-What is the point of going up here besides for a couple of extra coins? Non-linearity is good, but each path should have an equal amount of threats, whereas taking the top route is much harder than taking the lower route.
(note: I did not take the P-Switch route along the top directly before here. If that route actually leads to here, then please disregard this screenshot.)
-See screenshot 2. Also there's a bit of slowdown in this area.
-The mushroom goes behind the wall when you hit the block. Fix that.
-See screenshot 2.
-Ugly blue tiles in the background.
-I really, really expected a midpoint here. It seems like the right place to use one, as the first area is really quite long (plus, if you leave the midpoint where it is right now, all three SMWC coins will be before it).
-See screenshot 2.
-I take it this is as far as you've designed for now. If not, then this part is extremely boring.
From what I've read about your previous update (didn't play it), people had a problem with the level being boring. I did not get that vibe here - that is a good thing. However, I truly feel like you under-utilize the blueprint/paper concept. In the first area, why don't you make those clock blocks animated solid/non-solid blocks (which, if I recall, are available in the Blocks section here). When the clocks are there, you can walk on them, but when they vanish, you fall through. It might add to the difficulty of the level (which feels a bit low for one of the final levels).
A few notes before you test and comment (please read):
>removed some Red Elites, added some enemies
>made the level less cramped/claustrophobic in many places
>most of the stuff mentioned before that needed fixing
>a few other fixes I can't remember
issues I know about and will be fixed as soon as possible:
>door on screen 00 is a test door, forgot to remove it
>cutoff on screen 06 of part 2
>the pipes on screens 04 and 07 in part 2 will lead directly to another room first before leading back into the main area
>The difficulty is a work in progress and some parts may be too hard at the moment (or too easy), I'm not the best at judging difficulty
>ignore the red koopa going behind the FG in the lower half of screen 06 (in area 2)(might be fixed but I haven't checked to make sure)
---------------- Red Tales: [Insert Subtitle here]: Hack is being worked on, will be finished who knows when
Levels Complete: 5/50+
Alright, now that the whirlpools are up and running, I can post a test level, and it's right here.
Any feedback and constructive criticism is appreciated. Oh, and regarding the very last segment of the level, I plan on decorating it with some fortress FG tidbits once I can figure out what NameUser is doing with Coral Keep, GFX-wise.
I should have something witty to put here (even if it's just to update dated info), shouldn't I?
- Still have quite a ways to go, but I would like to get an online backup of my progress in the event something happens again like last time. Mainly just the rest of sublevel D4 and various housekeeping and whatever changes I need to do depending on the feedback that I get on this.
- Ignore some Map16 shenanigans with the Frozen block.
- All pipes now (should) lead to their intended destination points.
- Fire pillar cutoff has been corrected, but in order to expand the versatility of ExGFX 1B2 (sp4), I moved their graphics to 1B1 (sp3), so ignore the screwy graphics they now have.
- Ignore glitched Venus Fire Traps
- Yoshi shouldn't glitch anymore when near Podoboos.
- Again, for testing purposes, Mario has infinite lives.
- Test the level with every scenario that you can. The Hub has all of the Switch Palace switches for convenience in trying the level out, so use it.
- When you see the level "suddenly" end in sublevel D4, the bottom row can be safely walked on so you can reach the exit pipe, which will (currently) lead to the starting area of Volcanic Panic. If level shuffling causes this level to be before a different level, I'll just redesign sublevel D0 to reflect that.
Everything's fixed, except 1 thing: I can't get the midway entrance to work. Level 7A has a pipe far above the midway point, but the exit in the pipe-place doesn't lead to the pipe in 7A.
Edit: Also ignore that I didn't replaced the music in level 7A
The "Reset" Pipe in level 114 doesn't lead to level 7A, but 7C. That's a incomplete bonus level, with a hidden secret exit. Can you find it?
-------------------- Your layout has been removed.
I made some changes since the last patch. I have yet to think up a good palette, i still have to get up a new BG, and I plan on having a Bomb-omb generator into the level, though i'm too lazy at the moment to go through sprite tool to insert it, I have placed temporarily bomb-ombs by the new crumbling blocks. I have yet to create the ending for the secret exit, and i'm still thinking up a name for the level.
I'll start with losoall's and work my way back through these.
-Another case of "what's the point" here. All you're doing is waiting for these enemies to fall. They pose no threat and it just wastes time. I'd redesign this screen to make it less cramped + make those enemies actual obstacles.
-The placement of that Bob-Omb really bugs me, partially for the reason I stated in the first screenshot. It just seems to fall, posing no threat besides "waiting it out".
-See screenshots 1 and 2.
-This part is unusually tricky, especially given the cramped space above and one-tile for the springboard. Remember, you're designing the level right after FirePhoenix's - as it stands, this part is quite a bit harder than what you'd expect. Just make that SMWC coin a tad easier to get overall.
-Sorry, but this part is quite stupid (and in its current state, unbeatable). Both Bob-Ombs fall into that gap, blow up, and you're left with no way to break the block above the second ladder (not shown in the pic).
My overall thoughts? The core design seems to be decent enough, but your sprite placement is still very questionable. I'm glad you've utilized that cracked block gimmick to a greater extent, however, as the level now seems to flow better. You're going to want to really work on your sprite placement though. Make sure there are no pointless parades of sprites walking into holes and whatnot.
Level 114 - Main level
Level 7A - Industrial level
Level 7B - Test level (Going to be a construction of a Ferris Wheel)
Level 7C - Bonus/SMWCoin room.
-There are just a few munchers now.
-Bonus Room: a bit easier.
-P-Balloon section: a bit harder.
-Only breakable by shell blocks are inserted. Graphics are going to be changed... I don't know to what.
-It feels (maybe) more like a carnival level.
-------------------- Your layout has been removed.
...sorry Bloop, but I think I'm just going to have to take MrDeePay's point of view earlier and say it'd probably be better if you started over with a clearer focus. You have a few nice ideas here, but they seem too disjointed and underdeveloped to make for a cohesive level with a sense of flow.
It's nice that you're thinking of a sublevel centered on a ferris wheel, but I think you need a core idea that permeates the entire stage, or at least most of it, you know?
The indoor section particularly stands out- the setting is completely different, the puzzle elements are short-lived, and you're quickly whisked off to another area. In a general sense, I think that's a major problem with the stage- you don't really explore the ideas enough, so it doesn't ever develop into something fun and/or complex, for me at least.
You have the right idea by adding enemies to the p-balloon section, but the problem is you added them exactly where players are least likely to go. To make something like this reasonably challenging you first have to control where Mario goes, and then place reasonable obstacles along that path.
Difficulty is another general issue. Before, much of the level's difficulty came from munchers, but the level on the whole wasn't very hard. Now, without them, the level seems exceedingly straightforward. I'm not saying you should put them back, but you should replace them with something that makes the level engaging.
So yeah, my advice would be to come up with a central theme/idea/etc. that you can base the level on first, then build on top of that with a new design. I don't mean to be harsh, but I don't think we're getting very far with the level's current incarnation (though people are free to disagree with me, of course).
Gave yours a try aj, and I'm actually very satisfied with it. The first half is very fair as an intro to the fire side of world 7. Each sprite is introduced in a timely manner, and then built on as it progresses. Aside from some slowdown in spots which may likely be remedied in the future anyway, I have no major complaints.
...however, it may just be me, but the second half of the level is extremely difficult, bordering ridiculous for its world placement. The main problem I have with it is the sprite saturation along the bottom. In any spot where you have 2-3 firebars along the bottom, it's a total nightmare trying to pass them. I can think of two ways to fix this.
1) Enable translucency on the lava. You'd be able to see everything clearly, but it would still retain most of its difficulty (and it might look rather cool too).
2) Remove a couple of sprites - most notably, the firebars. If I had tested this on my laptop, I would have ripped + uploaded screenshots of the exact locations I was iffy on.
Overall though, it's very nice introduction to world 7, and very close to being cleared into the base ROM (we'll have to get you a background for it at some point). I'll let others test it too though, in case they spot anything I missed.
I'd like to add a third alternative, which would be to widen the gap between the lava ceiling/floor by a tile or two. Maybe it's just that you're more familiar with the layout than we are, aj6666, but I think you're underestimating how difficult the second half will be to players seeing it for the first time. The firebars along the bottom are indeed a nuisance because you're not quite sure exactly when they will become a threat again (i.e. they're off-screen half the time and there's little jumping room).
As for the first half, though slowdown made it difficult to test properly, I don't see any major issues for now. You should put that springboard into a ditch so players can't grab it, though.