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APPALLED: AxemJinx's Profoundly Pragmatic Advice for Lovely LEvel Design [32 Tips]

Lunar MagicLevel Design (Standard)

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#w{:>}Thank you so much. My levels were never so good!
This is a really good tutorial for anyone making smw hacks.

[quote=]25. Don't depend on enemies that make players wait and nothing more.

The perfect example would probably be those boo circles you see in ghost houses. Don't overuse them, and be careful when you do use them. All players can do in a boo circle is wait until the opening cycles around so they can continue. They usually need to be used in combination with something- regular boos or a powerup block, for example- so that players aren't just sitting around for several seconds.

One way I found making boo circles less annoying was to increase the speed in which they rotate. I played a hack where the speed was just a little bit faster and it never felt like I was just hopelessly waiting for something. Thought I would mention it.
Your layout has been removed.
Well, this is way overdue, but I've made some minor changes I had placed on a back burner for a while:

-Added Reznor's Factory to #27, as per Zeldara's suggestion
-Added ClearYoshi's suggestion to increase boo circles' rotation speed in #25
-Added #31 at Zero-X's suggestion

There's probably something else I'm forgetting, but yeah.

Threads like this one might give me some ideas, too, so I'll see if there's anything else I want to add down the road.

Thanks again for the feedback, everyone.

Edit: Added #32 as well.
Youtube (Main) | Youtube (Alt) | Bandcamp | DeviantART
I just noticed that this finally seemed to have an update (because I was looking at your profile for some reason and your last post was in this thread). Or at least a minor one.

Anyway, although I understand what you mean in #31 (since my levels are almost always designed to try to minimize space and keep it relatively easy to expand/remove a section if I feel like it later), I'm not sure your explanation would be that clear to people who don't already do this. Perhaps you could provide an example?

Here's one: If you have water or lava at the bottom of an entire level on layer 1 (or on layer 2 for that matter), it's useful to just add two Map16 objects (the surface tile and the solid tile) and extend them horizontally as far as you can. (The same can be done if you have a mostly-flat level such as the original Donut Plains 1, though personally I'd try to vary the ground height a little more in the first place.)

Originally posted by AxemJinx
Following such practices will not only make things cleaner if you ever have to move stuff around, but will also end up taking up less space in the ROM file, because a single object uses the same amount of space no matter how small or large it is.

Also, this part about ROM space is technically not always true-- extending Map16 objects beyond 16 tiles in either direction will increase the size by 2-3 bytes. It's not directly relevant since it's still best to use as few objects as possible (except in certain unusual cases where you'd save a negligible amount of space by avoiding 7-byte Map16 objects in favor of multiple standard objects), but just thought I'd point it out anyway.

For reference (using Lunar Magic 2.00+ to calculate sizes), standard/extended objects are 3 bytes each, and Map16 objects are:
- 4 bytes if tile 0-1FF and 16x16 or smaller
- 5 bytes if tile 200+ and 16x16 or smaller
- 7 bytes if extended 17-128 (0x11-0x80) tiles in either or both directions

(Also, I don't see how #32 is relevant here-- it's interesting advice, but it seems it'd be better off in something about graphics/decoration.)

Alyssa's Unlikely Trap (demo 3)
Originally posted by AxemJinx
This especially applies to levels that are really long. If you place the secret exit behind the normal one or even just near the end of the stage, you're asking players to repeat the entire level a second time even though they already beat it. Why would you do that? Imagine having to rewrite a 20-page essay even though you got an A on it- doesn't it seem pointless?

Now, if players take a different path through the level to arrive at the end and get the secret exit, that's a different story. In fact, I would encourage having a separate path for secrets in general, and I would prefer to have the entrance to that path somewhere in the beginning or middle of a level. The point is, players should be doing something different to get the secret exit. If they just go through the whole level a second time and go under the regular exit, they're basically doing the same thing.

THANK YOU. I've seen so many people make this mistake - Honestly, it's hard to do secret exits well, and if you can't do them well, it's better to not have them at all.
coming from a guy who makes kaizo hacks...

just kidding. great guide.
Want to see my Super Mario Timeline?
Originally posted by natnew
coming from a guy who makes kaizo hacks...

just kidding. great guide.

This wouldn't be a guide for designing levels of any kind if it was from a Kaizo hacker.
Hey Axemjinx, great guide and thanks for posting it. I just wanted to let you know that this guide has inspired me to start trying to make smw hacks again.
Hey, I am a new face around here and I want to make a good first impression.

If you want a hack play tested or reviewed please send me a PM
Currently Reviewing: nothing
I think these neat little tips are really going to come in handy, thanks for making this. #fim{<3}
Originally posted by AxemJinx

9. Don't place the secret exit right behind the regular exit.

SMW does this sometimes. Does that mean it has bad level design?
Originally posted by AxemJinx

32. Adapt global graphics to local environments.

This sounds more complicated than it is. Basically, when your game introduces a new environment, consider modifying some of your graphics, especially sprite graphics, so that they actually fit within that environment. Perhaps you could have pitchin' chucks throw snowballs in wintry areas, for instance, or give koopas backpacks instead of shells in mountainous stages. This will make players really feel the change in environment, and make the game more memorable on the whole because such attention is paid to even the smallest details.

Mario never does this - the only games I can think of that do it are Touhou, where fairies wear bunny ears in Eientei, or cosplay as Eiki Shiki in Higan, and Terraria, where some enemies wear costumes on Halloween. Mario does do this on a game-to-game basis, though - while most games have the brown Goombas, Sunshine has the neon-colored Strollin' Stus, which match the tropical environment.
Originally posted by AxemJinx
Super Mario World can only display one set of graphics at a time; there is no global tileset. However, the "add ___" dialogs list everything regardless of what set you choose or what has garbled graphics.

Actually, the Add Objects dialogue's tileset-specific objects change depending on the tileset you're using, but some sets are shared between tilesets.
Kinda in hibernation for a while. I hope to be back in full swing soon.
Man, this tutorial is really awesome! Thank you for the effort you put in it! ^_^ Also, most hacks don't do these even though there are 18090 thread views. I wonder why?

Originally posted by xniJmexA
Colors don't just serve to make things look nice in your level- they also help players identify and differentiate things. If the foreground and background have very similar palettes, like in this stage, it can be hard to tell not only what's solid and what's not, but also what's dangerous and what's not, which can be awfully frustrating for players who want to be challenged by the obstacles and not visual trickery.

God this is just, just so true. I were doing that cause other people were also doing that, but now I am understanding that it is awful actually.

I'll never do these mistakes again ;-;
Well that was a useful thread...!

The same person? Oh nevermind.

I am personally (if only semi-seriously) of the opinion that anyone who submits a hack to the site should be quizzed on the contents of this tutorial. I've been hacking daily for years and I still refer to this regularly.

Chapter two: Land of No Shame
Coming January 2022
First of all, thanks for making this tutorial.

I have an idea for a hack all planned out but i have a lot to learn about lunar magic so it will be a while before i make any significant progress. I'm sure that reading this will benefit me greatly when i begin making the actual levels.

The concrete blocks is something i didn't consider so that will potentially save me a lot of time in editing!
PM me if you would like me to test one of your hacks. Happy to test troll hacks but I won't be much help on Kaizo hacks. I am free whenever I am free but obviously life comes first.
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Lunar MagicLevel Design (Standard)