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Sprite Decoration (I'm coining this term)
Forum Index - SMW Hacking - SMW Hacking Discussion - Sprite Decoration (I'm coining this term)
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I've played many hacks here and have seen quite a bit of stuff.

Sometimes I see hacks that have graphics in them which actually come from sprites and other things that aren't normally stand alone graphics.

For some reason I just thought of naming this because I've seen it often in many hacks and the phrase is called Cheap Decoration.


The star and flower power-up graphic that is embedded into the mountain sides is considered cheap decoration.

Cheap Decoration - The act of using graphics from sprites or other such things which are not normally used as stand alone graphics as graphics and or decoration.

I call it "cheap" because they are easy graphics that do not "cost" the creator/author of the hack/game anything.



They are graphics/decoration that are easy to make because they already exist in the rom. Instead of drawing something new these pre-made graphics are just pasted right into the levels.

I think the main concern with this is that by using graphics as decoration in a level that normally belong to sprites, this could potentially confuse the player.


In this level I honestly didn't know if those Thwomps were going to hurt me or not. Normally they are sprites which harm the player, but here its just decoration. Any player playing this for the first time would never know if they are pain inflicting or not thus causing confusion.

The player may think, is this an enemy or is it part of the level? Is it interactive or non-interactive. Is that really a power up star in the mountain or is that just decoration?


Here is a feather in the rocks. Is that a real power-up or just decoration? Since the same graphics are being used for the real feather and this decoration feather it could lead to a confusion on what is real and what are just graphics. In this case its pretty easy to tell its a graphic, but in other cases its not so easy.


See the stars.

The point of this post isn't really to say whether it enhances the game or takes away from it, but rather just to give it a name.


The Magic Koopa in the background is considered cheap decoration.


Another thing that I'd like to name is when authors/hacks modify enemies and such and add small things like sunglasses, Santa hats, eye patches, snow coats, and so on.

I'm going to call this Dress Up, because the sprites are being "dressed up" so to say.

So Dress Up is - the act of modifying or slightly modifying enemies and or sprites with garments and accessories for some type of visual effect.


The Koopas here are "dressed up".

So if a person adds sunglasses to their Koopas, that's Dress Up.

And lastly...


There is another thing that I'd like to call Throw Up.

Throw Up - When the geometry in a level is so bad that you literally feel nauseous and want to puke.



Ex:

The hack was rejected because it had too much Throw Up in it. aka the geometry was so bad that it looked like vomit.
if done correctly, then "cheap decoration" can look both good and not-confusing. by "correctly", i mean enough is done to differentiate it from a typical foreground object or sprite, such as diminishing its outline and fading it (essentially blending it with its surroundings), which is something typically done on background objects. in the pictures you posted, i think 3 and 5 actually look good, and thats because of what i mentioned above. though i agree that the others could be done better, or not at all.

just saying this because "cheap" implies bad, which it not always is.



i completely agree with "throwup"
I don't know how other people consider this, but for me it's usually obvious that powerups inside the ground are just decoration. Normal sprite powerups appear behind passable ground (until someone changes it's priority). I think all these things are fine for me so far if they won't cause any confusion. Actually in SMWCP it didn't confuse me that these stationary Thwomps don't hurt, but maybe someone could be confused, but I think the creator would inform the player about this, like he did in the grinder castle with the stationary grinders.
I usually see no problem on 'cheap decoration' when it's well done and it's easy to differentiate if it's decoration or not. I agree with Throw Up though, I really dislike this kind of Map16 use; it's very distracting and simply not appealing at all, imo.
I think "cheap decoration" is kind of an odd name for it mainly do to not seeing how the word cheap fits in. (Maybe odd or unusual.) With the way you kind of described the term, it makes it seem like anything that's already provided within the game and used as decoration is "cheap decoration."

While I pretty much agree with some of the points mention, like Wormer21 I've always found it obvious to what's being used as decoration not just when it comes to power ups but for sprites as well. If power ups aren't using their default colors, I just assume they are apart of the decoration which is the result most of the time. That and if they're attached to dirt or the foreground it's another easy sign as well. Sprites on the other hand can be a little harder to tell especially if they're using similar palettes but knowing the behavior of the sprites makes it not so hard to establish. (The screen shots with the thowmps is a pretty good example though.)

Throw Up? I'm in full agreement with this term since doing that is unpleasant as well as that kind of design. That design really just doesn't make since to me..and It really doesn't look good at all.

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If Throw Up is hated so much, why the hell is everyone using it though? Especially in Vanilla-like Level.
Originally posted by Shog
If Throw Up is hated so much, why the hell is everyone using it though? Especially in Vanilla-like Level.

its usually done moderately; not that extreme

and probably because theres not much else you can do with decorating vanilla levels, so people get desperate and opt for martian land formations. there are better ways to decorate vanilla levels, im sure.
I don't see a problem with "cheap decoration" or Dress Up. To me they are charming little details. However, over-decorating is a problem, especially if the player can't tell apart from what's solid/what hurts and what not.

Throw Up, aka unpleasing overuse of Map16 always looked awful to me. I agree with the previous posts.
The only reason I called it cheap was because its an easy way of getting decoration because you don't have to draw it. :P

But, I guess a more fitting name would be "Sprite Decoration".

I kind of like that better anyway. Or even "Sprite Pinup".
Originally posted by Shog
If Throw Up is hated so much, why the hell is everyone using it though? Especially in Vanilla-like Level.


Because people think that Hacks 101 was a stellar hack that did everything right and that they have to follow it to a tee, when in reality it was made by a mediocre-at-best hacker who thought wacky geometry made a level fun.

That hack needs to be condemned.
So, are you saying that when I use the Power Up graphics, like the feather and star for instance, as Foreground Decoration for my bonus rooms, it is considered cheap decoration??? Would it be even worse if I downright changed the mushroom, feather, flower, and star graphics to a more original look; yet kept the "cheap decoration" as it appears in SMB3? Not trying to fuss, just asking a couple of questions.
Originally posted by S.N.N.
Because people think that Hacks 101 was a stellar hack that did everything right and that they have to follow it to a tee, when in reality it was made by a mediocre-at-best hacker who thought wacky geometry made a level fun.

That hack needs to be condemned.


Well, the hack didn't survive remoderation and the author is inactive. So there you go.
Well cheap decoration may be good or bad. Distinguishing it from normal items and not overusing it is good enough for me.

Originally posted by S.N.N.
Because people think that Hacks 101 was a stellar hack that did everything right and that they have to follow it to a tee, when in reality it was made by a mediocre-at-best hacker who thought wacky geometry made a level fun.

That hack needs to be condemned.

You sound pretty harsh on that hack despite the fact I agree with you.
I feel the OP's being a bit harsh on what constitutes "cheap" level design and what doesn't. Most of the time (in a non Hacks101 inspired hack, that is) decoration adds to the flavour of the level without distracting the player too much.

You have merit on some of your screenshots as you are showing rather extreme examples of this. The first screenshot is a little distracting due to the vibrant palette and setup of the level, but I wouldn't call the decoration "cheap". The third screenshot especially, features multitudes of enemies stashed away in the ground and on the ceiling, and so you are pretty much unaware what is going to hurt you without prior encounter.

Next, we have the fourth and fifth screenshots which don't really strike me as cheap in any way. Most people, as I have mentioned above, usually just add minor amounts of decoration which complement the level design rather than distracting away from it. I don't see the problem with adding stars or feathers in the foreground as it is fairly obvious, due to the re-paletting, to see that they are just merely decoration.

The sixth screenshot just strikes me as nitpicking. How is the magikoopa there cheap decoration and the other sprites in that background not? The background, I assume, gives the idea that Mario is in a creepy-like setting with the enemies situated on the posts in the background as "guards" of sorts.

Afterwords, you talk about "Dress-up" -- the concept of decorating enemies with new outfits to go with their setting. I see this as kind of unnecessary from my point of view, but there's nothing really wrong with it.

Throw-up, however, is where people don't understand to differentiate between minor level aesthetics and so-called 'art', which in fact distracts from the gameplay. Ideally, decoration should be minor in a level. I suppose I do like decorating a bit much, but I don't really think it's too much of a distraction.

This post turned out a bit essay-ish, so I'm sorry for that.
Originally posted by Final Theory
The only reason I called it cheap was because its an easy way of getting decoration because you don't have to draw it. :P.


Couldn't the same thing be said for any other type of decoration that you don't have to draw yourself and is already provided?
That's why I don't exactly understand how it's considered cheap.

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My Youtube Channel for Hacking and Gaming.
Just call it sprite decoration.

Sprite Decoration - The act of using sprites as stand alone graphics.

And I'm not really saying it's a bad thing. Rom hacking is an art and like any art what people like or dislike is just a matter of taste.

I'm just trying to give a name to it.

But I would like to see anyone here name and give an example of any major game published by a major game company which uses this Sprite Decoration.

So please post some examples. :)
Originally posted by Final Theory
So please post some examples. :)

Yes, it's been done by Capcom a few times... Here's one example.

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Originally posted by Slaxles
However, over-decorating is a problem, especially if the player can't tell apart from what's solid/what hurts and what not.


This one I can certainly agree with.

There's a thing as too much decoration, because at some point all that decoration will stop looking nice and start being just awfully distracting.

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Throw up is basically Tails_155 style decorations, and the only reason why it's hated so much is because it's overused. Personally I don't have a problem with that, I agree it doesn't make your levels any better, but it won't make your levels any worse either. I feel the same way about using sprites as decorations, although this one can actually make your levels worse if they get confused with actual sprites.

I don't have a problem with "Dress up" either, it can actually help a little to give some ambiance to your level, even though those "beach koopas" and "santa-clause koopas" are a bit overused, but that doesn't automatically make them bad.
So the OP is saying he dislike stuffs and has an opinion. Cool...

Not much to really say than it doesn't seem like any of them a big deal as they are so common. -shrugs- {:/ Well to me at least.

I do think that hacks that use crazy ground stuff can be a tad cliché but tbh if it's done right or to decent amount then I don't see an issue.
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