Tip: When using custom palettes, remember that certain colors in palettes 0 and 1
will also affect the status bar.
Tip: If you're using the original SMW ending, remember that level 104 (Yoshi's House) will appear during it.
Tip: When determining a time limit, remember that players won't be as familiar with the level as you are. If you normally complete the level with the timer around 100, others might run out of time on their first try.
Tip: Do not put an excessive number of lives in a level; they should have a value to them.
Tip: You can draw more event tiles under the default Layer 2 Event tiles on the overworld for custom use!
Tip: Make sure that ALL exit-enabled pipes, doors, etc. lead somewhere, or else they'll take you to level 0 (the "endless" bonus game).
Tip: When making your overworld, mix the terrain up! Angled land and multiple colors looks much more interesting than square land and plain colors.
Tip: Do not set the music bypass to 00 in a level with a P-switch/star; the music will endlessly loop.
Tip: Remember to remove the original SMW events, both layer 2 and layer 1, when making a new overworld.
Tip: Only use a few different kinds of enemies per level. Overdoing it can make your level feel disjointed and clunky.
Tip: Don't place Yoshi coins near a goal post because they keep glowing when a level fades out.
Tip: Bad things to do in the title demo: Enter a door or a pipe, activate a P-switch or a star, complete the level, hit a message block, or die. These will either glitch the music, or force the player into an endlessly looping title level until they reset the game.
Tip: Don't use savestates when testing your own levels.
Tip: If you place too many sprites on the same screen, it will slow the game down and cause frustration to the player.
Tip: Don't use glitched graphics.
Tip: Add decorations to the overworld. Don't leave large empty grass or sea regions.
Tip: Linear levels aren't necessarily a bad thing. After all, most official Mario levels are fairly linear.
Tip: Layer 3 backgrounds and tides disappear when you hit a message box, so plan your level around that. For example, you can add a sublevel without layer 3 at the start/midpoint, and include your message there.
Tip: Press Ctrl+Del to delete original levels before making a new level.
Tip: Don't just modify the original SMW overworld; start from scratch.
Tip: Make a backup of your hack before using any external tools on it.
Tip: Read Lunar Magic's help file and SMW Central's FAQ, as they cover most of the basics of SMW hacking.
Tip: Ask the author for permission before ripping graphics from their hack.
Tip: Try not to use the exact same background more than once or twice in a row.
Tip: Don't put levels in overworlds that don't match (like a snowy level in a desert).
Tip: Create a fair "difficulty curve" - that is, start off easy and then get gradually more difficult as the hack progresses.
Tip: Unique level names aren't necessary, but they're a plus.
Tip: Even though good graphics may make people interested in your hack, what really counts is how fun it is to play.
Tip: Try to make a hack that is both hard enough to be challenging and easy enough to be fun.
Tip: There's a fine line between difficult and unfair. Avoid the latter.
Tip: Press F2 on the level editor to see sub-screen boundaries. This will help you avoid glitching Dragon Coins by putting them on the sub-screen boundaries.
Tip: If it's possible to carry a tileset-specific sprite (such as a Buzzy Beetle or Bob-omb) through a pipe, make sure it has the correct graphics and sprite palette on the other side!
Tip: Test your levels as all forms of Mario (small, super, fire, cape). If it's possible to enter a level with Yoshi, make sure to test that as well.
Tip: Palettes 0-3 do not work correctly on the overworld unless you use LM's option to disable the event reveal animation.
Tip: Try running your hack on various SNES emulators to see if anything is incompatible.
Tip: Verify that your hack's BPS patch is functioning correctly before submitting it.
Tip: Don't remake levels from other Mario games, especially popular ones (SMB1/3 1-1, for example).
Tip: Read all of the tips by looking here
Tip: Proofread your message boxes for spelling and grammar mistakes.
Tip: Keep your graphics within a specific style. Don't mix cartoony sprites with detailed and realistic back/foregrounds!
Tip: The first column of the palettes list is the transparency. Don't change it.
Tip: Take advantage of easy to implement ASM hacks that can be found in the ROM map
Tip: Fix any errors you see before releasing any demos; "I'll fix it later" isn't a good excuse.
Tip: A power-up is most useful to a player shortly after the midway point.
Tip: Coins and Dragon Coins guide your player through the level and mark progress. Don't forget to place them!
Tip: Don't put a coin over a question block. It will create an invisible solid block above the ? block if the block is hit first.
Tip: Use palettes that don't burn the eyes. A blazing bright yellow and a night-black are not pleasant.
Tip: Don't make Mario die after cutting the goal tape. Fake exits are not cool.
Tip: Don't replace the first two Map 16 FG Pages with ExGFX.
Tip: Avoid blind jumps. If the player has to jump down a random hole to proceed with no indication at all that they can go down there, you've done something wrong!
Tip: If you give the player a cape, be sure they can't cheat and fly over the level with it!
Tip: The lowest row of 16x16 tiles in a level do not appear. Avoid having a low platform that looks like a bottomless pit.
Tip: Take advantage of easy to install Patches
in your hack. The No More Sprite Tile Limits
patch should be considered if you're encountering glitches where Mario and/or sprites are turning invisible.
Tip: Take advantage of easy to install Patches
in your hack. Both of the Classic Piranha Plant Fix patches should be considered if you are going to use Classic Piranha Plants in your hack.
Tip: Try sketching out ideas for overworlds and levels. Even if they don't manage to fit into Lunar Magic completely, at least you have a base to work from, instead of doing it all from scratch.
Tip: Keep in mind that the maximum size for an ExAnimation ExGFX file is 16 by 13 tiles, rather than 16 by 8 tiles like you would expect.
Tip: The "No More Sprite Tile Limits" patch does NOT increase the limit for the amount of sprites onscreen at once.
Tip: Keep track of ALL patches and hex edits in case you need to transfer your data to a new ROM. It's definitely worth the trouble.
Tip: It's recommended to use these
when ripping graphics.
Tip: When you're about to release your hack, make a patch first, patch it to a clean ROM, and then test that
. This way, you are testing both the hack AND the patch.
Tip: If you edit level 0, make sure you also edit level 100. Both of them are used for the bonus game.
Tip: Yoshi wings take you to level C8 or 1C8. Which one you get depends on the overworld level you're in.
Tip: Before asking for help on the forums, make sure you've tried to figure out the problem on your own first.
Tip: Always check for updated files in the database by sorting them by "Date" in the various sections.
Tip: Use this patch
to fix the bug where editing the upper right 8x8 tile of the sideways walking Koopa Troopa in GFX01 makes the coin sparkles look glitchy.
Tip: Try making new backgrounds using SMW's existing graphics. For example, if you have a hilly BG, rearrange it to make it look more unique.
Tip: Check for glitched graphics in all frames of an object or sprite (i.e., the ON/OFF block changing, etc...).
Tip: Never put a Hammer Brothers Sprite near lava. After being killed, it will still throw hammers until it sinks or goes off-screen.
Tip: Try not to place secret exits at the very end of levels-- the player will basically have to go through the same level twice.
Tip: Avoid making large, flat, boring stretches of land. Vary up the architecture and spritework in your levels.
Tip: If you use custom music, make sure your ROM has been expanded to at least 1MB.
Tip: ExAnimation also works on sprites!
Tip: You can edit the properties of the original sprites using Tweaker
Tip: Make sure you can beat your own levels without savestates, slowdown, or rewinding.
Tip: Unless you've disabled the bonus game, don't use a goal tape in a vertical level. The bonus game won't appear if a player happens to reach 100 bonus stars there.
Tip: Create a thread for your hack in the Works in Progress
once you have enough screenshots/videos to show.
Tip: ALWAYS test anything that you've made before submitting it to SMW Central.
Tip: Read the F.A.Q.
Tip: You can use the File Bin
to upload screenshots, videos, etc. of your hack.
Tip: Check the Documents section
. Tutorials and other useful information can be found there.
Tip: Check this thread
to find extremely useful diagrams and data.
Tip: Check this thread
for a list of SMW sound effects.
Tip: This thread
contains data you might find helpful when coding.
Tip: If you're using the wall-running purple triangles in your hack, remember to add tile 1EB (or a tile that acts like tile 1EB) underneath it. Extended object 44/45 will include this tile for you.
Tip: Avoid "item babysitting". Do not force the player to drag P-Switches or springboards all around the level. This is not fun, nor does it make for interesting "puzzles".
Tip: If you place Dragon Coins in a level, make sure there are at least 5.
Tip: Remember, if you place a moon, midpoint, or Dragon Coin using direct Map16, it will always respawn when you re-enter that sublevel. Use the extended object instead.
Tip: The multiple midpoints patch can also be used to move a level's normal midpoint.
Tip: If you set the upper tile of the door to act like the lower tile, two-tile-high doors can be entered even while riding Yoshi.
Tip: The music in SMW's default castle/ghost house intros and boss battles can be changed by hex-editing. See $0584DB-$0584E2 in the ROM map.
Tip: Switch palace switches normally disappear if you replay the level. However, if you insert them as direct Map16 and use the hex-edit at $00EEB2 in the ROM map, you can replay the level without a problem.
Tip: If you give a Muncher tile custom graphics, it will still act like a coin when a silver P-switch is active, whether it looks like a coin or not. So make sure to use ExAnimation if there's a silver P-switch in the area.
Tip: If you plan on making long levels, be sure to include multiple midway points. A patch for this can be found in the Patches
Tip: Use Gopher Popcorn Stew
to insert custom blocks into your hack.
Tip: Use PIXI
to insert custom sprites into your hack.
Tip: You can use the SMW Customizer
to edit tons of misc. features in SMW, including the speed of Bullet Bills, how many points a 3-UP moon gives you, and more!
Tip: Use the Iggy/Larry Battle Tools
to edit Iggy/Larry's platform.
Tip: Check out the Current Contests & Events
forum to participate in any hacking contests that may be going on.
Tip: You can insert custom sprites on the overworld by using Overworld SpriteTool
Tip: Verify your ROM is unedited by using ROMclean
Tip: You can use Lunar Magic's Overworld Layer 3 Editing system to edit or create your own layer 3 images (castle bricks, fish, rocks) and apply unique effects per level via the Layer 3 Bypass in the main editor.
Tip: Do you want to create custom blocks, but have little to no experience with ASM? Use Kipernal's Blockreator
Tip: Do you want to make fancy HDMA but don't know ASM? Worry no more, because with Effect Tool
, fancy HDMA effects can easily be created.
Tip: Stay up-to-date with new tool and resource releases on the SMW hacking scene by viewing this forum
Tip: After changing, moving, adding or deleting a level from the overworld, use only EMPTY save files. 0s often contain the old version.
Tip: Doors and pipes act strange near screen boundaries. See this
to avoid strange issues.