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Ęther: The Infinite Library - A thread of custom graphics and level design prattling.
Forum Index - Sunken Ghost Ship - C3 Museum - Summer 2013 - Ęther: The Infinite Library - A thread of custom graphics and level design prattling.
Pages: « 1 »
It's been a while since I've updated anything concerning my hack, but I'm glad to end this internet silence with my first ever C3 presentation!

Aether isn't as ready as I would like it to be, but I still made some great strides since the initial demo. However, I'm only willing to share a few levels that I've made, mostly to show off level design and these entirely original graphics.

Here are 5 levels that will be a part of the full game:









Download the microdemo here!
Please let me know right away if something is wrong. Also a note: there's nothing more than the 5 levels, so if I left anything hinting at a secret otherwise, then it's wrong.


Design Philosophy
There's also something else I would like to elaborate on, and that is the design philosophy in each level. Inspired by my studies in architectural design, every single level has a single theme in its level design. Just like how we were taught how to convey certain terms by manipulating negative space, so too does every level (in and outside of this demo) follow a term.

Ruinous River: This level was built around the idea of vacating. It follows this by having very little overhanging masses (basically, not much is over-head) and by having Boos placed inside of other blocks. The background is sparse, and consists solely of a river fading in the bleak, gray distance, which both emphasizes the emptiness of these ruins, but also allows the player to better focus on enemies that fade in and out of masses. Secret blocks and exits are found by defying this design, by entering large areas of negative space, rather than leaving it.
The river encompasses the entirety of the level, and aims to enforce this idea of vacating by slowing the player down, and creating a desire to constantly move and escape the drag of the water.

Razor Road: This level was built around the idea of piercing, appropriately enough. There are briers enveloping the entire level, zigzagging in order to occupy as much space as possible, as most vines do. The idea is that the most clear and obvious path is pierced by these briers, and force the player into taking a riskier path instead. These briers also tend to wrap around other objects and landmasses, forcing the player into repeatedly jumping around. This path that the player takes is also laden with hazards, with aerial enemies and briers piercing the space that should be taken by the player.

Tranquil Trail: This level was built around the idea of elevation. Every obstacle present in this level is either waiting on a tree branch to drop down onto the player, or is near the apex of a slope. The general idea is that in this serene forest, the ground is a hazardous area to be on (at least, as much of a hazard as can be in an early level). The design encourages elevating to higher planar element, that being the tree branches, in order to avoid danger. However, secrets can be found by defying this philosophy; if the player descends in certain areas, Star Coins and shortcuts can be found. As the level progresses, the tree branches get progressively farther away from each other. This makes it harder to spend the entire level exclusively near the top, so the player has to risk falling into a pit whenever they leap down.

Scrappy Scaffolds: This level was built around the ideas of lines, as well as contrast. The initial portion of the level, and the titular "Scrappy Scaffolds" are meant to contrast with one another. While the first area takes place in a natural forested area with rugged terrain, the second area above the treetops is ridged and full of platforms with no slope of any kind. However, the inverse is also true pertaining to lines. Whereas linear elements in the forest floor are built to accommodate platforms moving back and forth (making them ridged and straight), the lines in the canopy (made to hold platforms, ropes, Fuzzies [or "Wire Imps," as they are in the game], and buzzsaws) are wildly curved and frenzied in comparison.

Oh, and have fun with the hack, and in C3!

EDIT: Fixed up any confusing phrasing in the description.

EDIT II: Huzzah! The thread finally reached featured status! Thanks a ton, Ultramaximus!

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Currently working on Ęther: The Infinite Library!

Other Submissions of mine:
SNES Controller Graphics
Holy crap, this looks amazing! A lot of hard work has gone into this, I'm sure. But, did you say you were ripping levels from a game, or did you mean you ripped screenshots from your hack? I don't know, but it still looks mighty impressive.

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Your layout has been removed.
Wow, that must have been a lot of hard work. I can see a lot of effort has been put into this.
Originally posted by metalgearhunter
Holy crap, this looks amazing! A lot of hard work has gone into this, I'm sure. But, did you say you were ripping levels from a game, or did you mean you ripped screenshots from your hack? I don't know, but it still looks mighty impressive.


By "ripped," I mean that I basically cut out the levels directly out of my original hack, and into this demo. Basically, it's so that you can't sneak a peak at any other portion of the game. I apologize for any confusion.

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Currently working on Ęther: The Infinite Library!

Other Submissions of mine:
SNES Controller Graphics
Are all those graphics hand-drawn by you? They're really nice- they have a strong "lost world," jungle-y vibe to them, with lush vegetation, ancient structures, and dangerous denizens. The levels have a very atmospheric quality to them, and I particularly like things like the rippling water effect around landmasses, the slanted tree trunks, the chains communicating layer 2 smash status, and so on.

As for obstacle design, I'm undecided. Your levels seem a little sparse in that regard, but after ruminating on your comments, I can respect the effect you're trying to accomplish for each stage, even if it's not really the primary thing I look for in SMW Hacks, per se.

I will say I found Razor Road kind of frustrating the first time around, because all the colors blended together and it was kind of tough to identify what was a platform, what was dangerous, and so on. Maybe I just wasn't paying attention, though. I'm also not really keen on knockback systems in Mario games, but I might just be a traditionalist on that count.

It was certainly a nice experience either way. I'm curious what the final product will be like (:

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Youtube (Main) | Youtube (Alt) | Bandcamp | DeviantART
I will echo what everyone else here has said so far, but I wanted to point out how much I love your item box halo and the "Goomba" in the pith helmet.

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[?] Miscellaneous Helpful Hints
If I moderated your hack, there was apparently a 90 percent chance it was rejected.
Holy BlarggMuncher, ya got a major knack for graphics!

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Believe it or not, I still exist in some fashion.
Originally posted by AxemJinx
Are all those graphics hand-drawn by you? They're really nice- they have a strong "lost world," jungle-y vibe to them, with lush vegetation, ancient structures, and dangerous denizens.


Indeed, everything is drawn pixel-by-pixel solely by me. It's funny that you mention "lost world," because one of my deepest and most profound inspirations was from Icegoom's Mario's Lost World. In fact, it has probably inspired me not only in making this game, but in pursuing pixel art as a hobby altogether. Donkey Kong Country was also a big influence, particularly in the realm of level design that also feels like it's part of an actual environment.

Originally posted by AxemJinx
The levels have a very atmospheric quality to them, and I particularly like things like the rippling water effect around landmasses, the slanted tree trunks, the chains communicating layer 2 smash status, and so on.


The water took me a while to get down, both the open water and the rippling effect coming from objects disturbing the surface (so I'm really glad you like it!). I basically forced myself to watch this video over and over to get the water as amazing as it was in there. While I didn't get it exactly right, it seemed good enough in its own regard. The felled trees was made to further enhance the nature-inspired level design; note that they almost never lean on nothing unless if it's particularly short. Lastly, the chains acting the way that they do in the Capital Palace was entirely serendipitous, but I really enjoy how the design of the chain makes it looks like it's staying still when everything is smashing quickly (as though it's operating machinery).

Originally posted by AxemJinx
As for obstacle design, I'm undecided. Your levels seem a little sparse in that regard, but after ruminating on your comments, I can respect the effect you're trying to accomplish for each stage, even if it's not really the primary thing I look for in SMW Hacks, per se.


Ruinous River and Tranquil Trail, two levels that I can see having this complaint, are also some of the first levels in the game. It's a way for novice players of having an understanding on how certain elements and enemies operate early on. If any other level in this demo had one, however, then that's my bad. Those were meant to be more challenging.

Originally posted by AxemJinx
It was certainly a nice experience either way. I'm curious what the final product will be like (:


Thanks a ton! Your Rise to the Challenge soundtrack is incredible, by the way!

___

Originally posted by andy_k_250
I will echo what everyone else here has said so far, but I wanted to point out how much I love your item box halo and the "Goomba" in the pith helmet.


That dumb item box halo was the bane of my creativity before I found out about Smallhacker's status bar editor. It feels victorious to hear how much you like the one I've made, as though I've trumped hours of frustration with creating a new, amazing item box over Super Mario World's particular one. The "Goomba" was also meant to be an original enemy, based simply on a mushroom. I am rather amused at the idea of this guy wearing a mushroom-cap safari hat.

Excellent work with The Wicked Star Story, by the way!

___

Originally posted by Assi9
Holy BlarggMuncher, ya got a major knack for graphics!


My sentiments have already been made, but thank you all the same!

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Currently working on Ęther: The Infinite Library!

Other Submissions of mine:
SNES Controller Graphics
I was, too, confused at the wording. I saw "hand-drawn", and "ripped right from the game", and saw immensely detailed graphics, and I wasn't sure what was going on. I recommend rewording it.

In the end though, I was able to recognize that these weren't ripped from a commercial game. They seem rather "flat" and by that, I mean that commercial games, from what I've noticed, tend to have more significant shading at the boundaries of the graphics, more variance in the tiling of the larger surfaces (repeating 4 or even more tiles instead of 1), more extraneous inserts ("decoration", I guess), and more involvement with the third dimension (you've got the vines, but that's about it). Consider these four fine images for example (yes I know that last one isn't SNES, shut up). In each of these, the floor tiles make use of three-dimensional perception via layering, there are little "niblets" that break up the monotony of the large surfaces, there is a greater distance covered by tiles before they repeat, and there is variance in the surface as a whole, respectively for each picture I linked.

You've done well in incorporating detail, atmosphere, and consistency (very important imo) in your graphics, but I'd like to see you do more. I think the techniques I described could be beneficial, I personally try to look at commercial games and analyze them to understand explicitly what makes them do well, but you do have your own style that you may prefer as-is.



EDIT: Pith helmet? I was thinking brodie helmet

World Community Grid: Thread | Team
 
I just wanted to give one more comment to thank everyone who downloaded the hack and/or gave an opinion in this thread! While this topic wasn't a screaming success, I'm still immensely proud that you all took interest in my first C3 submission! As a sort of self criticism, I think I should point out a few flaws, namely that 3 out of 5 levels were forests, so there was a distinct lack of variety in the level archetypes. Concerning the player character, I had to resort to a vanilla Mario because I couldn't make player graphics that I was satisfied with in time. In whatever form they take, future submissions will have that variety of level types, as well as proper graphics for the protagonist.

@Ultimaximus: So, what you're essentially saying is that the graphics are too monochromatic? I can see that, since the exgfx that I draw tend to use only one palette. They can also afford to have a greater contrast and less subtle shading.

Also, the mushroom enemy's head (taking any name suggestions) is supposed to be based off of a Bowler Hat.

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Currently working on Ęther: The Infinite Library!

Other Submissions of mine:
SNES Controller Graphics
Pages: « 1 »
Forum Index - Sunken Ghost Ship - C3 Museum - Summer 2013 - Ęther: The Infinite Library - A thread of custom graphics and level design prattling.

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