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Gimmick: Level Sampler
Forum Index - Sunken Ghost Ship - C3 Museum - Spring 2012 - Gimmick: Level Sampler
Pages: « 1 »
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I decided to throw up a (very) small demo of Gimmick for this C3 - namely, three levels (and as a small bonus, half of a fourth). A fair amount of the content here has been shown through videos in the past, but there are also some new things which haven't been seen yet. The reason I'm putting this up is because I'd like some fair critique on my level design - you know, things to improve on, stuff you especially enjoyed, all that jazz. People have wildly differing standards in regards to what constitutes as "good design" these days, so I'm curious to hear some opinions.

As for the project itself .. in total, I actually have 15 or 16 out of 25 planned levels finished - however, I'd like to keep certain aspects of the hack as hidden as possible. As such, if you were to look through the ROM I put up, you would find bits and pieces of levels, all in a pretty much unplayable state. I have a separate ROM which has completed versions of these levels - of course, being that I don't want to spoil stuff, this is the best you're going to get in terms of a "preview".

Finally, here's a few new songs that I composed for the hack. These were made between last C3 and this C3.

"Autopoxia Ruins"
-This is being used in a toxic jungle level.

"Steampunk Sewage"
-This is being used in a sewer level.

"Shizen Warplain"
-This is being used in an oriental valley level.

"Krysta Kronos"
-This is being used in a time temple level (part of which can be seen if one were to sift through the ROM I put up).


Enjoy!


EDIT: Oh, I almost forgot. The letters you collect in the levels do not do anything in this version, so just collect them for fun I guess. I should also mention that if you spot any bugs, feel free to point them out, although I probably already know about them (namely the one regarding the friendly Bullet Bill shooter turning walls into turn blocks).
I seem to be getting a black screen after selecting a file in the title screen. I'm using bsnes version 087, by the way.
It's working fine in ZSNES though (not counting the rather abrupt "ending" after the midpoint in Shiro Woods, which I'm going to assume is intentional).

A pleasant surprise to see you're still working on this (and have made quite a bit of progress, too). I'm liking the graphics seeing how they're all self-drawn and you don't consider yourself that much of an artist, and your music being awesome is pretty much a given by now. The overall "feel" seems to be pretty great as well, though since things like the title screen and the overworld are far from final it's kind of hard to tell.

As for the level design, I don't exactly have a lot to say (which always equals "not a lot of complaints" either, so hey).
I suppose Shiro Woods is the most recent level you made? I remember you saying once that you were trying to go for a DKC style of level designing, and said level is the only one where I can really make that out. That isn't to say the other levels aren't good, though - they're all very interesting, creative when it comes to gimmicks and obstacles, challenging (sometimes a little too much, but it's safe to blame that on me) and quite a lot of fun overall.
The only real "complaint" I have, now that I think of it, is the fact that the sand worms (?) in the desert are kind of hard to anticipate sometimes. At least to me, it sometimes felt like they appeared out of nowhere.

Overall, though, I'm liking this a lot, and I'm glad to see you're still hacking!

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Huh. I'll see what I can do then, maybe something went wrong while I was patching.

EDIT: As WYE said, it's working fine in ZSNES. Maybe my problem occurred when snespurify converted the ROM into a .sfc file. I'm still kinda new to using bsnes.

Anyway, I'll be sure to post some feedback when I'm done playing!
why is there a lack of press around this thread? people should be going nuts by now!

well, i gotta say i was expecting to have many level design gripes considering your past work, mainly keytastrophe, has been more of a style over substance deal. but this was great. the only gripe i really have is that some of these enemies are the most annoying in existance. the pokey like scorpion things in lithic ruins that jump when you jump and the bouncing stars in the starspire in particular. but maybe that's just my rusty playing skills talking.

i loved how you handle level design like actual platformer designers do. by introducing an element, or gimmick, the level will be based around right away, then exploiting it to the player in various different uses so they can learn all the different ways the gimmick can be utilized. it's no surprise that my favorite part of this sampler was the music. you are incredibly talented not only at porting music but composing it as well. and nowhere could there be better proof than in these levels. i think my favorite theme is the one from lithic ruins. i just like the playful fun mood it sets. but the atmosphere in shiro woods trumps everything else here. i loved the eastern instrumentation of the music, coupled with the forest graphics, and clever use of the cluster sprite. it all works very well to create a perfect mood for the level.

i'm definitely looking forward to the release more so than i was before because of how awesome this little preview was. you truly are one of the greats, man.

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Originally posted by Thundahack
I seem to be getting a black screen after selecting a file in the title screen. I'm using bsnes version 087, by the way.


I tested it out on BSNES 0.70 and it worked fine. Haven't tested it on any version past that though so it could be crashing for whatever reason (or it may have just been a bad patch on your end, though I doubt it).

Originally posted by WhiteYoshiEgg
The overall "feel" seems to be pretty great as well, though since things like the title screen and the overworld are far from final it's kind of hard to tell.


Thanks. The two maps are in fact in the base ROM, and I think I posted screeshots of them at the last C3. Given that I was pulling levels off of those, I didn't really want to show them again - rather, I just dumped them on a generic water map for now.

Originally posted by WhiteYoshiEgg
The only real "complaint" I have, now that I think of it, is the fact that the sand worms (?) in the desert are kind of hard to anticipate sometimes. At least to me, it sometimes felt like they appeared out of nowhere.


Looks like both you and Zildjian had this issue. In fact, you two aren't the only ones to mention it either. I've had a few others mentioned the same thing in the past, and to alleviate this, I tried to make it clear where they were in the level. I might see if I can broaden the "radius" of them so that they pop out a little further away than the tile next to them.

Originally posted by Zildjian
well, i gotta say i was expecting to have many level design gripes considering your past work, mainly keytastrophe, has been more of a style over substance deal.


I don't disagree with you at all. When I first made KT, it was really just because I was so enthused by the release of addmusic (this was mid 2007, after all), and as such I wanted to make more simple levels. Going back and playing them nowadays is sort of facepalm-worthy on my end. It's not that they're inherently terrible, but there are definitely spots where I find myself asking "what the hell was I thinking?"

Originally posted by Zildjian
i loved the eastern instrumentation of the music, coupled with the forest graphics, and clever use of the cluster sprite. it all works very well to create a perfect mood for the level.


I'm glad you liked that one in particular. The five oriental levels planned (two completed + half of this) were some of the most fun to design simply because of the atmosphere alone. I feel like there is so much you can do with that theme.

Anyway, thanks for the comments so far guys.
Having played all of these, I've got to say they're a lot of fun and mix several ideas to great effect. It's neat to see levels like Pyra Mechalot including both the trampoline in the first half and the electric ground in the second; it keeps each level fresh and interesting. Both the timer and the GIMMICK letters add a lot of replayability to the levels too. My favorite's probably The Starespire though, especially the way it transitions from Lithic Ruins.

It's amazing to see how far you've progressed since Keytastrophe - these levels feel so much more "alive" and polished. As I'm sure you know by now, you have my full support behind this.
#TODO
Well, I really like the environmental design, but I'm not sure I had as much fun with the levels as I'd hoped. I think part of it might be that they overfocus on one or two enemy types at a time, so the pacing is too deliberate, with too many minor variations on obstacles. Judging from the other comments here, though, it looks like people are enjoying them, so it's probably just me ^_^;

Still, I guess I'll share some observations/suggestions/feelings:


Lithic Ruins
FE
--Detection radius of sandworms is probably more important than how visible they are
--Not obvious that you need to hit the head to kill sandworms, and the veggies are nigh-useless against pokeys since they only remove one segment; it's arguably simpler to just ignore the veggies
--2, 7: I guess it's just me, but I hate waiting for pokeys.
--9, C: These two sandworms are the easiest to jump over because you have the high ground, yet the first one you encounter is level with you (read: odd difficulty progression?)
26
--6: Well, the coins do suggest you can go up, but what if players decide to go right first? Going to the upper left also seems like a dead-end, unless I'm missing something.
--A, top: This mushroom struck me as odd, considering it forces players to jump down for a quick detour despite that there are question blocks above.
--B: Not too fond of this, if only because the camera doesn't give you a ton of time to react.
--A, middle: I accidentally got hit by this sandworm mid-jump, fell down, and the star fell from the item box down the middle of the wall, making it unobtainable >_<


Starspire
--Desolate intro + Lengthy transitional area = What happens if people die before the midpoint?
F5
--8: Pair of stars = Nigh-screwed if stunned
--C-E: This is honestly kind of frustrating to do as Big Mario. The auto-fire makes it hard to hit anything above ground level with precision, plus you need to create bigger gaps. Also, you can't stand right next to the wall or you'll shoot past it.


Pyra Mechalot
--A lot of things have the same dark grey coloring, making it a bit tough at first to remember what's solid and what's not
FA
--2, 3-4, 5-6, bottom: Probably just me, but I hate these "trough gymnastics" types of obstacles in SMW. Plus, it seems like Big Mario Discrimination.
F9
--2: So, if players just happen to choose the left path, they're punished with a harder obstacle...?
--5: Nitpicky, but what if players don't reach the switch in time?
--6-7: Since these shooters have no graphical representation, you have to devote extra attention to their current angle of rotation, which I don't personally like. Also, why send players back to the stage entrance (as opposed to the on/off wall)?
FA
--7: Hold on...you're not seriously asking me to wait out a p-switch here, are you? I must be missing something...
F8
--There's a pretty long time between shocks, so whenever you reach a safe spot, you have two choices: wait things out for a while or risk getting killed. It's especially noticeable at screen 5, since that area gives you pretty much no leeway.
--5-A: Speaking of this section, it's basically the same obstacle five times in a row, even if the platforms get narrower as you go.
--C: Frustrating, for me. The first time around, the camera doesn't go low enough, so you have to be really careful where you jump, yet you need to find a safe spot quickly. My first time, I reached the right end, doubled back, and found a safe spot, but the hopping flame spawned right on top of it (really?), so I couldn't get to it in time. If you rush to the on/off switch the flames can still reach you, leaving you without safe spots; I guess I could try rushing ahead, but after screens 5-A, I'm reluctant to risk it.
--E: If you don't notice this wall in time (and how should I, having to deal with grinders), you're pretty much screwed.
--Overall, this area was frustrating enough that I still haven't finished it, though it seems I've come close.


Shiro Woods
--Some hammers disappear behind the foliage, giving you little time to react when they accelerate downward and appear suddenly. Apart from that, this stage seems like the most innocuous of the bunch so far.

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Youtube (Main) | Youtube (Alt) | Bandcamp | DeviantART
Dang, I gotta say I really enjoyed this quite a lot. I honestly never followed this all too much before but I kinda regret not doing so.

Your level design is fine as is, it definitely contains enough land structures, obstacles, scenery, and all that and the way you worked the gimmicks into your level design is really impressive.

As for the gimmicks I loved all the gimmicks I played in each level. Of course while being the point of the hack I loved the different varieties of gimmicks and especially how they're something different than the commonly used gimmicks you see in SMW hacks such as invisible block bridges, or P-switch stuff. And I like how the gimmicks worked well with the level design like said before.

The atmospheres of the levels were really good though I believe some things could be re-paletted to fit the look of the level. (Preferably the coins, sprites. Pretty much everything that isn't the tilesets) Oh, and o'course the songs were great and they fit rather nicely with the levels.

My only complaint is the sand thing like others have mentioned. Sometimes I didn't even realize I was right in front of it and all. If you were to change something, at if possible make it at least one tile shorter coz I kept finding myself getting hit by it way too many times.

Otherwise great job on this hack so far! Really anticipating it's release!


Have a TAS of it. Some glitches were found in your sprites, see the video for them.

Professional frame-by-frame time wizard. YouTube - Twitter - SMW Glitch List - SMW Randomizer
Awww...I wanted to see Krysta Kronos or Autopoxia Ruins...

But. Beautiful! Shiro Woods is almost too atmospheric to be in a Mario game. Seriously. It's GORGEOUS.

Great level design as always. It's great to finally see progress. If memory serves, the last update was in October.

Funny though--you picked some of the less "gimmicky" levels to show us. Maybe those were just easier to complete in time for C3? Or are you just keeping us thirsty for more?

Keep it up!

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"(Z->)90° - (E-N²W)90°t=1"

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Current project: Mario's Kool-Aid Acid Trip
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Forum Index - Sunken Ghost Ship - C3 Museum - Spring 2012 - Gimmick: Level Sampler

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