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Leveldesign focused on innovative, small segments
Forum Index - SMW Hacking - SMW Hacking Discussion - Leveldesign focused on innovative, small segments
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Damn, I bet threads of this kind already existed multiple times but I don't really care about it.

Anyways, what I know is, that many people design their levels by placing objects first and inserting sprites later. And I think that's horrible. In my opinion, leveldesign doesn't live from multiple paths (which are sometimes really annoying, confusing and/or unnecessary), also it doesn't just live from it's construction. But it lives from it's little sets of enemys, special objects and so on. What I mean is that I pay much more attention to small segments of the level themselves than to the whole level. And I don't enjoy hacks which don't pay attention to this at all.

For example, watch this video:
One level by Worldpeace125

You can cut this video into segments of 5 - 20 seconds length. And every of these segments will be a set at it's own with great enemy placement and interesting leveldesign. And that's why worldpeace is one of my favourite hackers actually.

When I start a level, I choose graphics and setting first. Then, I choose a set of sprites I'm going to use for this level. After that, I build the beginning of the level, with some coins and power ups. And then, I try to think of small, special situation around those sprites I have chosen. Not an island with a pit at the left side and a pit at the right side with one or more sprites on top. But a scene where the sprites and objects fit well together and are a nice challenge (like in the video I linked above). And when I built some of these segments and I run out of ideas for those, I build some more not-so-special segments (just some landmasses with sprites). And then I connect those in a way that it's not completely linear, but you still have to go through all of the segments (so you have to go back sometimes and such but you don't have multiple paths).

And when I play through hacks where all levels are designed like this (maybe some puzzle levels too, those are a nice touch), which aren't many at all, they are incredibly fun and give me a whole bunch of inspiration.

What do you think about this? And how do you design your levels?

Sorry for my bad english.
Oh WOW! That's a great idea! I'd have never thought of that before. Also, who's the genius who composed that BGM?

I don't think I have a definite style yet, I'm just trying to see what works for me.


Voice actor. Composer. Musician.


My level design is very inconsistent, and considering that I can spend a lot of time between designing two levels, I often find the way I design different from the previous time, and so I have a hard time setting down on one particular type of design.

I quite like doing what you described, though. Sometime I'll pay extra attention to the placement of sprites, sometime I'll completly forget about it and sprinkle ennemies on the landscapes like sugar on a dessert and like an idiot.

Guess it'll come with pratice (who I am kidding, I've been hacking SMW and taking long breaks for about 4 years now #w{xD}).
Excellent point. (I've been calling those things "scenarios" in my own personal jargon for a while.)

That's exactly what I think the DKC series did, too, except it focused even more on continutity.


Originally posted by mrdeppelman

Anyways, what I know is, that many people design their levels by placing objects first and inserting sprites later. And I think that's horrible.

Yeah, my first few months of SMW hacking, I use to do this same thing. Later on, I found out that it doesn't work really well, even if you built the level around a certain sprites in such. (Without placing them yet.)

Now in days, I make sure I have everything I need in order to make the level, graphics, palettes, sprites, custom blocks or any generators, though sometimes I have the tendency to add in the custom blocks last (Though that's mainly because I know what custom block I'm going to use already.) I pretty much build the level screen by screen and make sure nothing is lazily put together.

My Youtube Channel for Hacking and Gaming.


You make a great point with your post. All too often I play hacks here which don't really impress me or show any signs of creative, intelligent or thoughtful levels (there are some exceptions). It seems as if many hackers just build a level and sprinkle the sprites on as if literally someone took a salt shaker and poured the salt on their food.

Some of use have actually learned and are aware that you can't just create a landscape and just randomly put sprites everywhere thinking that the final result will be good.

There really is an art to making good video games as well as level designing and sprite placement. You could probably write a book on it because there really is so much to it.

What I'm going to try and do for my first hack here is to play some really good games that I love and then simply study the level design and sprite placement of those games and then try and recreate the same experience with SMW or try and mimic those great level designs in other games.

And yeah, I watched the link in the video and I totally agree, they do have great level design abilities and I wish I saw more hacks out there like this. Hacks that make you think while you play and not just aimed at difficulty.
I agree, and this is good material for a tutorial, I think- how to base your design about moment-to-moment uniqueness instead of that "landscape first, then sprites as sprinkles" approach I've been openly against for years.

By the way, I don't know if this makes sense, but when I see the level in that video I think "general audience kaizo level," because it has a lot of creative small-scale setups that don't require an unfairly high level of precision. I suppose that's something along the lines of what I was trying to accomplish with RttC, but that level seems to do it much better. I think I'll have to keep an eye on that designer's work :b

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Wait, people actually design by putting land first?

I...personally don't see how that's healthy.
Originally posted by Punk Sarcophagus
Wait, people actually design by putting land first?

I...personally don't see how that's healthy.

Unti 2 or 3 months ago I used to design like this and people has said I'm pretty good at level design.

I guess I just had in mind how I would use the sprites in the level and immediatly designed the terrain based off of it and put the enemies accordingly later :V
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to hear birds and see none.
Since the beginning, I have designed levels by putting everything in at the same time. Terrain, sprite placements, decorations, palettes and all that, all at once as I work from left to right. Sometimes I have to go back and move things around a little as I decide to change other things, and it takes me a lot longer than if I had planned everything from the beginning, but just ploughing through and making things up as I go along just feels a lot more natural to me, and probably ends up making the level feel a lot more fluid and consistent.

Generally if I get too caught up in implementing a certain set-up, I can lose track of other ideas I might have had and end up lacking inspiration and motivation. And a lot of the time, when I plan things nothing actually goes according to plan. I prefer the method of just throwing everything into to the level and seeing what sticks, and I'm free to do that because I can go back and change anything that I don't like. Sure, because of this I end up working on the same project for about five years, but I really don't like the feeling of having made something I'm not proud of.

Some people do terrain before everything, some people do raw level design and then add aesthetics afterwards, and I just do everything as a whole. I don't make levels based on individual challenges being put together, I try to work everything into each other to create a seamless experience.

... that's probably what I would have said two years ago.

May we meet again outside the battlefield.
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