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139: Bedazzling Bastion - tatanga
Forum Index - Events - Super Mario World Central Production 2 - World 10 - 139: Bedazzling Bastion - tatanga
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I tested your level and I think the first third of the level is better than the second third.

It's interesting that you chose sprites to represent the disappearing and appearing blocks. I would have thought it would be more effecient to make ExAnim using ON-OFF switching and then you'd only need to make 2 blocks. These blocks can kill Mario if he's on the side of them next to a wall.

Anyways as far as the level goes I think it was a little bit more on the easy side but with a couple of really tight areas that were very hard to make it through without getting hurt. I know it's supposed to be World 9 and tough but some were just borderline too tough.

As far as 138 goes:

On Screen 7, I found these firebars were pretty tough to avoid (especially if I was Big Mario). Sometimes they just didn't go the right way.

On Screen 9, sometimes if Mario doesn't come at the right time the block is not there and you have to contend with the firebar in an almost unavoidable way having 4 of them in one area.

On Screen E, this SMWC coin was really tough to do in the matter of seconds without taking a hit or getting smashed by the block because it pushed me to the left or right. I like the setup but I think it could be more spacious to give some breathing room.

As far as 1B0 goes:

In general this follows RN's level of FEAR THE SPHERE (backwards) except going in an vertical section. What kind of graphics would you like to use for these bouncing sprites?

On Screen 19, intuitively I don't know if using the tops of Spiked blocks as platforms is really a good idea. I'd just change that to something else, it looks like it's hanging.

On Screen 15, this Koopa jump seems pretty hard if you're Small Mario as Screen 17 had the same idea except the jump was shorter.

On Screen 14, I didn't like using a shell to release a bouncing enemy. Mainly because half of the time I'd just kill it after hitting the block. Maybe try to make this a P-Switch Brown Block or have a reset pipe. It would be nice to have a Power-up on this screen.
Oh yeah, I forgot to state that I'm hopefully going to be eventually replacing the sprites with blocks, so that should remove some slowdown and give a little more freedom.

Also for the "electricity" sprites, I was thinking about using whatever replacement the team had in mind for Li'l Sparky. Or if that isn't acceptable I could just draw them myself (and possible have someone redraw them in with the "high-definition" style that the hack seems to be using). Do you have any suggestions?

I agree with most of your assessment; I'll probably put up a new version with some changes after a couple more posts with suggestions (or if none appear in a couple days I'll just go ahead with just yours).

Anyway, thanks for the comments!

tatanga
Ah. No problem.

I was thinking since this is more of a hallucination kind of level. Maybe something like happy faces, flowers, or really strange things that normally wouldn't hurt people but are disguised as enemies.
On the whole, I tend to agree with cstutor89's analysis; the level does seem to alternate fairly easy bits with extremely tight squeezes, which creates something of a heart monitor effect with respect to difficulty. There also seems to be a certain tendency for jumps and the like to lie just on the edge of Mario what Mario is capable of in a particular situation.

In the first section:

- I'd say the spikes make the interactions with the appearing/disappearing blocks slightly more forgiving (which is a good thing), though graphically, they seem a touch out of place in this environment. It might be worth switching them to palette 2, as the rainbow animations makes for a pretty neat effect (this is true for a lot of other objects as well, which might be worth experimenting with), or even creating a new palette animation for them. Alternatively, you could change the graphics to something else entirely.

- I tend to agree with cstutor89's comment on screen 9; if you're lucky with regard to the current state of the block, this is no problem at all, but should you be less fortunate, this requires some very fancy footwork in order to survive.

- The coin, I'd say, still suffers from the same problem as last time in terms of leeway offered. If Mario is running as fast as he can before the block disappears (which most players might not think of even trying in the first place), he might just be able to make it back in time; however, he's just as likely to get a concussion immediately followed by a severe foot ache, or worse yet, be smashed against the wall by a block which appears in the same physical space as him at the same time.

The second section:

- I have to concur this feels a bit less inspired than the first section. I can likewise see some heavy shades of EREHPS EHT RAEF here, especially the tower segment; It might be a good idea to employ something other than the electricity sprites here. Though I'd say World 9 is generally not a bad place to revisit (with a twist) sprites and gimmicks used earlier in the game, it's probably not the best idea to use sprites which play a key role in levels elsewhere in World 9. If you look at the sprite list, though, you'll notice quite a lot of things that only get one or two uses much earlier in the game which might be worth bringing back here, and even some of the more common custom sprites can simply be used in unusual ways (Hot tip: In earlier drafts of my World 9 level, I had considered using a graphic swap of the circling Mini-Puffer outside of the water (as they work perfectly even in air), though I ultimately had to abandon this due to graphical conflicts with the Eerie--but perhaps something like that might work here...?)



- These two setups are among those areas I spoke of which really seem to push the limits of Mario's maximum jump height. The first one is quite deceptive as it appears as though it shouldn't perhaps be that difficult to make (and probably wouldn't be if there were room for more of a running start), but it's actually surprisingly tricky, and pretty much impossible if the player tries to spin jump (which many will try due to the foes waiting to strike as Mario defenselessly falls down the other side). The second setup takes the same idea and makes more difficult still.

- On the whole, the hallucinogenic aspect seems sort of incidental in this part of the level; in the first section, the disappearing blocks tie into the theme somewhat, but here it's pretty much exclusively cosmetic. It might be worth trying to make this aspect more of the driving force of the level; that is to say, patterning the level as a sort of shamanistic journey for Mario, and fashioning the gameplay elements of the level to reflect this.
Incidentally, I hadn't even played Rameau's Nephew's level yet. I agree that it's probably not the best idea to use the same sprites as another level in the same world too much, so I'll probably tone that down a bit in my next patch.
Originally posted by Rameau's Nephew
- I'd say the spikes make the interactions with the appearing/disappearing blocks slightly more forgiving (which is a good thing), though graphically, they seem a touch out of place in this environment. It might be worth switching them to palette 2, as the rainbow animations makes for a pretty neat effect (this is true for a lot of other objects as well, which might be worth experimenting with), or even creating a new palette animation for them. Alternatively, you could change the graphics to something else entirely.

The spike graphics will definitely be changed for the final draft, because they were directly ripped from Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3. I'm using them as placeholders for now but if you or anyone else have any ideas for replacements feel free to post them. If not I'll draw some replacements myself and try to get some advice on them.

tatanga
This level reminds me of Rainbow Road. Frustratingly difficult, (a good thing since it's world 9) with RAINBOWS everywhere.
I used to use this site a lot back in like, 2011. Hopefully you don't remember me.
Well, hopefully my most recent changes will decrease the amount of frustration that occurs. A well-designed level can still be enjoyable even if it takes many tries to complete. In any case, I'm just posting a quick update. I have a rather large Microbiology exam on Wednesday so I will probably not post an new patch before Thursday or Friday. I'll make sure to have one up by the end of the week though.

tatanga
Version 5

I've completely remade the second area but haven't really changed the first much at all.

I haven't created a re-skin for the mini-puffers yet. Would it be okay to use the regular puffer graphics even though the level isn't an underwater one? I re-shaded the background for the second area to hopefully give it some watery undertones. I was thinking that since this is World 9, some odd sorts of atmospheres such as this may be acceptable. If not, does anyone have any suggestions?

tatanga
tatanga, I tried to test your level today and it's not a valid IPS that can be patched. Can you send another copy of the IPS? Thanks.
Hmm, I just re-downloaded the patch and tested it twice and it works fine. Is your ROM file clean? I just tested mine. Is anyone else having this problem?

tatanga
I can confirm that the patch doesn't work properly.

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aran - Graces of Heaven
Alright, I just re-uploaded. (IPS link is now obsolete; removed)
It's possible I might have accidentally clicked on the wrong file since I was in a hurry this morning. Hopefully this one works. Let me know if anyone has any issues.

tatanga
I just finished testing your level. I feel pretty much the same about Part 1 as last time.

As far as Part 2. I'm torn on it. Primarily it comes from the name itself. I don't think this part of the level describes "hallucination" or "haunt" very well. I guess what a level named this would entail to me is strangeness and things disguised as other things. I feel that the spikes, sparkies, and firebars itself don't portray that because you know that they're there and you know what they are. I think choice of enemy/spike graphics is going to be key to turn this level into something that represents the name - so I don't think you need to change enemies, I do think graphics need to though. I was just wondering, I guess like last time, what you would like to use as graphics here?

As far as playing it, there were parts that were borderline too hard and unfair. Most of the time I was just trying to figure out when it was a good time to start moving. Also there's no powerups at all in this part of the level. Nothing looked aesthetically wrong here as far as I could tell.

Screen 1B,18: Could really need a powerup here.

Screen 1A: Ugh, this is just okay, I feel something else could be done here that might be better.

Screen 18: I don't know dodging 3 sets of spikes doesn't seem that fun to me. And if I come from the far right and didn't see where I was going, I would get hurt or die here. Direction of sparkies leaves very little room to move.

Screen 17: Ugh, I didn't like this jump because it's almost mandatory that L/R is used because it's just too hard to see that 3rd one.

Screen 15-16: An even harder version of 1A ... IDK.

Screen 15's Coin: This one is okay, but I felt like it could have been sped up a lot more. It just takes a long time for sparky to make it there with such a wide area.

Screen 14: Not feeling this one either. The sparky to the pipe is just painful especially since there's no powerups since the very beginning of the level (not counting the midpoint) and the fact that Mario sometimes goes in the pipe when I want him to and sometimes he doesn't is just blah. The sweet spot of the pipe is just cumbersome with a setup like this.

I don't know, the second half is still weaker to the first half. Maybe you should combine the blocks of the first half (change the blocks first to Blocks) with that of introducing the circling sprites to get something that would work. You don't necessarily have to introduce one, introduce another, and then combine both at the same time.
I'm not sure if I'm being too harsh here, but it's almost as though the level begins to lose its identity a bit in the second part. It goes from disappearing platforms to forced spinbouncing, and the two sections feel very different to me. There are also some camera issues where I'm not sure exactly when/where to jump because there are additional enemies just barely off-screen. I'm pretty much in agreement with cstutor89 on the specifics.

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Youtube (Main) | Youtube (Alt) | Bandcamp | DeviantART
Just a note, Hallucinogen Haunt is just an idea for the level name and can (and most likely will) be changed to suit the level more.

@AxemJinx
Well, my plan was to have two areas that were somewhat different from each other in regards to enemies, then have a final area that combines the two. What would you suggest?

@cstutor89
There's two power ups so far actually. Are you missing the one at the very start of the second section?

Thanks for the criticism, I'll see what I can do to make it more enjoyable.

tatanga
Alright, unfortunately, this newest update does not feature any new sublevels (I'm currently designing the last one), but it does correct a few issues that cstutor89 and AxemJinx noticed. I'm leaning towards "Bedazzling Bastion" as the level's name, because the level does not have very much to do with ghosts at the moment, so "Haunt" doesn't really fit.

Right now, I'm feeling pretty confident about the design of the first two areas. If anyone has any more complaints or concerns, I'll probably upload a video explaining how to get past the perceived difficulties. Most areas that are difficult can be passed if the player slows down and uses proper strategy.

Enjoy, and as always, any suggestions are welcome.

Bedazzling Bastion (IPS link is now obsolete; removed)

Known issues:
- Slowdown in some areas
- Improper mini-puffer graphics
- Grey blocks sometimes smash player into side wall

tatanga
The first part seems relatively solid now, though I think the highest set of blocks on screen 5 might still be a bit too high a jump when factoring in the timing element. And I've actually been able to fairly reliably succeed in getting the coin now, so that's a plus.

The second part...hmm. Well, it's certainly much better than in previous versions, no question about that (though the powerup at the beginning is rather too difficult to get, and I don't think the falling + spike dodging section is a good idea, at least when one can't see all of the spikes from the start), but I nevertheless have to agree with the earlier statement that the level appears to sort of lose its identity here. The problem is this: by basing the first part around a brand new feature seen nowhere else in the hack, you set up certain expectations for the player as to what this level is going to seek to do. The æsthetics sort of mirror this: we find ourselves in a sort of weird, trippy rainbow world, so we're expecting something new and different--and the first part delivers precisely this, by providing us with this new gimmick. So when the focus of the level switches in the second section to spin jumping and navigating narrow, spike-filled corridors, it seems a bit of a let down. This type of section could work fine in a different sort of level, but what the player is expecting here, however, is another fresh new gimmick, and when the level doesn't deliver, it seems a bit of a disappointment.

Some general recommendations:

- Find a good, fresh gimmick for the second section. It doesn't have to be anything so technically complex as the first, but it should hold the player's interest and shouldaffect the gameplay in some noticeable way.

- Secondly, it's probably not a good idea to make this level all too much longer than it currently is, I think. I get the distinct impression that the midpoint ought to occur right at the start of the second section. This fits better with the change in format, helps give the player a bit of a second wind right when they most need it. Instead of making a lengthy third section which combines elements of the first two, why not reintroduce the blocks, say, 2/3 of the way through the second section, as an additional factor thrown in on top of whatever is the dominating gimmick of this section? This helps assure that neither gimmick wears out its welcome (nor does the level itself), but still adds a nice little punch and sense of continuity. It's also worth noting that the blocks would likely have a much different effect in a primarily vertical environment than a primarily horizontal one.

- Finally, it's worth noting that the reason I had previously considered using out-of-water Mini-Puffers instead of, say, the similar-behaving circling Sparabuzzy is due to the Mini-Puffers' customizability in speed and range. Depending on their X-position and whether or not the extra bit is set, they can move in either slow small circles, slow large circles, fast small circles, or fast large circles, allowing for elegant dances as they weave through each other's orbits in splendid epicycles. I can't say whether or not that's an element that necessarily fits with your particular level here, but the possibility for such is worth noting.
Originally posted by Rameau's Nephew
- Secondly, it's probably not a good idea to make this level all too much longer than it currently is, I think. I get the distinct impression that the midpoint ought to occur right at the start of the second section. This fits better with the change in format, helps give the player a bit of a second wind right when they most need it. Instead of making a lengthy third section which combines elements of the first two, why not reintroduce the blocks, say, 2/3 of the way through the second section, as an additional factor thrown in on top of whatever is the dominating gimmick of this section? This helps assure that neither gimmick wears out its welcome (nor does the level itself), but still adds a nice little punch and sense of continuity. It's also worth noting that the blocks would likely have a much different effect in a primarily vertical environment than a primarily horizontal one.

- Finally, it's worth noting that the reason I had previously considered using out-of-water Mini-Puffers instead of, say, the similar-behaving circling Sparabuzzy is due to the Mini-Puffers' customizability in speed and range. Depending on their X-position and whether or not the extra bit is set, they can move in either slow small circles, slow large circles, fast small circles, or fast large circles, allowing for elegant dances as they weave through each other's orbits in splendid epicycles. I can't say whether or not that's an element that necessarily fits with your particular level here, but the possibility for such is worth noting.

I agree that the level seems to be dragging on a bit, and I like the idea of two solid sections rather than including a third even more difficult area. Also, I had no idea about the extra functions that the Mini-Puffers possess, so this will help quite a bit indeed! Thanks for the informative post, I have several good ideas I'm going to attempt to implement shortly.

tatanga
Nice, testing it now ....

Hmm, well. On the positive the BG looks nice and the level difficulty is altered a bit. Downside is I still have the same issues that I previously had in terms of design. I'm probably going to be repeating myself here *sorry* but there's still problems that weren't addressed from the last time around.

There's still a big disconnect with what the first part is and what the second part is. They seem like two separate entities that just happen to be a part of the same level. Maybe it might be smarter to have the two parts (A as part 1, B as part 2) exist in the form A, AB, B mainly because they don't typically go together.

Don't worry about the name of the level yet until the level is pretty much done. But as a choice, I don't think it fits with the level. A better name would be 'Rainbow Road'.

I still also don't feel like after 2 updates now, Part 1 was not addressed at all up to this point. I still die on the grey blocks pushing me left/right. The grey blocks are stil sprites instead of blocks, the SMWC Coin is still too precise and claustrophobic, the firebar area jumping to the changing blocks can be untimed at times. I felt like this part was the easy part to fix.

As far as the 2nd part, I still think it's weaker than the 1st and wasn't changed that much. I never got to this situation last time where I became Fire Mario (maybe Cape Mario too), but if you get a fire flower here, it borderlines discriminatory and possible suicidal here. Those circling sphere enemies die with a fireball kill and I'd have to commit suicide for accidentally killing a sprite that I needed help from to jump to the next platform.

As far as specitif screens go:
- Screen 1B: Powerup is way too hard here to get and very little time to get it without getting hurt. And at this time chances of being small are pretty high.
- Screen 17: Constant spin jumping is a little bit too much and could be out of sync with each other making this section cumbersome.
- Screen 15: Sparky still takes too long to get to the coin. Hence I have to press the FF button to get it there.
- Screen 14: Still is challenging to get into that pipe and this time if I miss, I have to most likely take a hit because of the spikes below. But instead of taking a hit and getting into the pipe, I have to take a hit and start over and possibly get hit again.

Enemy choice is kind of eh, firebars and sparkies don't seem to compliment the level. So overall, I think this can be fixed up, but from V5 to V6, I don't see this level ready yet. I still think there's a lot to fix and consider here.
@cstututor89

I agree about the disconnect between the first 2 sections, which is why I'll probably be renovating the second section in accordance with Rameau's Nephew's suggestions presented a couple posts earlier.

As for the rest of the suggestions, the main reason why you haven't seen as many changes in some areas is because we differ somewhat in design philosophy in those aspects. For example, I can successfully hop down and back out of the area where the first SMWC coin is placed around 10 to 15 times in a row before messing up. I've also had some acquaintances who don't play ROM hacks regularly test this area, and they too have found the coin's difficulty level to be suitable for its placement in the hack.

I feel the area with several fire bars is also quite easy for a patient, strategic player to navigate. I will probably upload several tutorial videos for testers such as your selves, but as a tip, sometimes waiting at a safe spot and analyzing a difficult setup can make for a less tedious challenge.

As for the second power up, it's actually very simple to collect if you follow a specific strategy:
- Wait until the fire bar is around anywhere from 2 to 4 o'clock
- Jump up to hit block, then press down and duck as fire bar passes over
- Jump to collect Super Mushroom
On a side note, I do agree about the Fire Flower causing problems with the Mini-Puffers. This will be addressed.

To summarize, I appreciate all suggestions, but do not guarantee that every single one will be implemented. The second area will probably be seeing a complete revamp in any case, so no need to get too frightened.

tatanga
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Forum Index - Events - Super Mario World Central Production 2 - World 10 - 139: Bedazzling Bastion - tatanga

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