Language…
18 users online:  Alex,  AmperSam, Dark Genius, Gangster IV, gui, Heraga, k0nk4r4, Klug, Knucklesfan, Lost_Kiddo, Mapping_bl, MassPunishment, Nextalis, NGB, Shaggy1995, twicepipes, White Pain, Zavok - Guests: 80 - Bots: 229
Users: 55,584 (2,474 active)
Latest user: puppytwins8900

Level Design Discussion and Questions

Welcome! Unlike the Screenshots & Videos Thread, this thread not only holds the purpose of asking solely for your level's level design, but it's also a general thread about it! Feel free to share level design ideas and/or ideologies, as well discuss about them! Do make sure to follow the rules below when posting:
  1. Listen to criticism
    Make sure you listen to people's criticism, whether you agree with them or not. It's always best to see where they're coming from when they give their feedback.

  2. Avoid being unnecessarily harsh
    Nothing wrong with giving negative criticism but do watch out on how you'll give/say it. Being unnecessarily harsh might discourage people from sharing their ideas.

  3. This is not a showoff thread!
    As said before, this thread is solely for level design discussions. We already have the Screenshots & Videos Thread and the whole Works in Progress forum if you need feedback on your levels in general.

We also have an IRC channel on CaffieNET for the same purpose of this thread, called #lm. Feel free to stop there and bring discussions there too! If you're new to the IRC, check out this page for more information.
I like to refer to my design as the kind of design that is fairly linear, but still attempts to be fun. When making a level I usually test it multiple times to make sure it's fun. For me, making sure the level is fun is my top priority. Putting enemies in the right places, putting some coins here and there, and put in a fair amount of powerups.
Well, mine is linear yet varied and challenging. I recently found out that I'm best with making difficult level design that isn't unfair or TOO ridiculous. I'll work with gimmicks, play with the GFX a bit and make a simple yet enjoyable level. The things that really hold me back are post-creation laziness where my attitude becomes "I'm finished with it, why am i still working on it?" and the awfulcode that plagues SMW's engine.
I honestly don't see linearity as a bad thing personally; it's just a level design style based on actual platforming, without much exploration (see: most Mario games). Not all linear levels are flat or repetitive.

I actually dislike most 'nonlinear' levels because they usually just throw alternate paths around, but not much attention is paid on them individually and they aren't that different from each other; it's also pretty annoying when one of them has some sort of reward (e.g. a Dragon Coin), as it's impossible to know most times (and even if the player knows there would be no reason to go through any other path). They can be great if done right, though.
Still kind of bothers me when people try to push in "exploration" into hacks like if it was a 3D platformer. :P
I like to design levels that attempt to pack a decent amount of action per screen and I don't like to waste too much space.
Each level, even if I can't think of a cool gimmick, still is usually about a particular central theme or idea, rather than placing a bunch of unrelated elements, and I try to make each element serve a particular purpose. I never install custom blocks/sprites just to have them in my ROM, nor do I want to settle for what I perceive as overused set-ups.
I generally have difficulty making levels non-linear unless the gimmick calls for it. I like to make efforts to make none of the levels seem like mere filler.
Like Daizo said on his site, I like to take advantage of an interesting glitch/object, and make a creative, yet difficult level out of it, but only in a non-Kaizo scenario do I try not to go overboard on difficulty and length, tho that doesn't mean that I will require knowledge of glitches or glitch abuse. Rather, I will try to find a way to logically include it in the level so that it looks like a legit gimmick without giving off the vibe that it's a glitch or some other weird happening.
So yeah, I think I take much of my level design influence from the Donkey Kong Country series and the VIP series.
Legacy custom music
A site where you can be able to hit that dislike where your dislike will be visible to other people and not have to rely on a browser extension as well as actually watch my SMW hacking content

My level design varies from hack to hack. I like to design levels that attempt to add some action, and tend to not overuse cool gimmicks when necessary, although I do try to make them be more linear. There are a bunch of gimmicks I could use that can't be done repeatedly, and the levels I make can be focused around a particular idea or gimmick.

I do add custom blocks and/or sprites, but they are used sparingly. I use the resources to my advantage, and I test them to see if the idea works as planned; then, I make a level out of that gimmick or object in a creative, yet difficult way, but not too overboard or it would have turned out to be repetitive. Sometimes, I have difficulty having a level be non-linear unless the gimmick I implement calls for it.
Like Sokobansolver, my levels tend to be more action-packed and really hard sometimes. Most of the time, I don't focus on adding specific gimmicks to the levels (although I do sometimes), but rather play with the environment, use enemies and obstacles (like munchers, lava, water, etc.) that could fit in a certain scenario, mix them and create obstacles out of them. Sometimes I design my levels around a certain use of a sprite (ej. floating water) and build my obstacles around that with some casual platforming segments to add variety.

When I design levels, I have four axioms that I keep in mind:

-Avoid Emptiness
-Avoid flatness
-Avoid repetitiveness
-Avoid unfairness

To me any level that follows these four points, even if it's not built around a fancy gimmick, is good. Of course, if you follow these four and then add more things then your level will eventually be better, but this is more of a plus than a must.
I generally prefer designing puzzles and therefore the design philosophy is somewhat different however when I work on "regular" levels, I tend to vary the landscape and style a bit while keeping the fundamentals the same. If I want to transition onto some other theme within a level I would modify another level and link to it there using any of the available methods. I do sometimes use gimmicks however I try not to overdo them as that degrades my level design (especially if the level is designed around it).

I will be visiting #lm sometime in the future as well as this type of discussion really interests me.
My recent hacks generally focus around some type of gimmick(s). I find it difficult to create simpler hacks that are more straightforward level edits, because it has to be very well-designed to grab the player's attention. Thus, I try to build unique gameplay elements.
I really like narrow and cramped levels. They also NEVER should be linear. I think levels must never ever be empty, there MUST be some decoration and enemies. Example of something I really like: Clickity click!Click clickity!

What are your opinions on them?
The advantages of linear level design is that you can plan around your enemy placement. You pretty much will know from what direction the player will approach your obstacle so you can for example have multiple ways of approaching your enemies.
I do think theming is very important for levels too. Making levels with a certain gimmick within the theme of a world can make your game really interesting, you can even come back to obstacles you introduced and think of various different ways to approach them.

Speaking of level design though, I really suggest watching these videos. (if you haven't read APPALLED yet, do that too)
Sequelitis - Mega Man Classic vs. Mega Man X
Sequelitis - Castlevania 1 vs. Castlevania 2
Super Meat Boy - LevelHead
Aban Hawkins and the 1000 Spikes - LevelHead

I also don't really get what people's grudge is against flat levels, can somebody explain that?
Originally posted by S.R.H.
I really like narrow and cramped levels. They also NEVER should be linear. I think levels must never ever be empty, there MUST be some decoration and enemies. Example of something I really like: Clickity click!Click clickity!

The SWM level could probably use more enemies at some points and give the player more space to move.

Originally posted by Torchkas
I also don't really get what people's grudge is against flat levels, can somebody explain that?

The problem with flatness is that it turns your levels into a "run and Jump", or "jump over everything" road. In other words it makes it easier to complete just by jumping over enemies and continue running, no actual obstacles there just hold X+right and seldom press B when you need to. Adding terrain variations, objects in the way makes (like pipes, etc.) and pits is more challenging and forces the player to think more about their moves and how they should overcome obstacles than large segments of flat ground. This is pretty much covered in point 23 of APPALLED which you linked.
Originally posted by aj6666
The problem with flatness is that it turns your levels into a "run and Jump", or "jump over everything" road. In other words it makes it easier to complete just by jumping over enemies and continue running, no actual obstacles there just hold X+right and seldom press B when you need to. Adding terrain variations, objects in the way makes (like pipes, etc.) and pits is more challenging and forces the player to think more about their moves and how they should overcome obstacles than large segments of flat ground.

I get that obstacles are a good thing, and with flat I didn't mean one big ground tile spanning the entire level. But returning to the ground altitude is something SMW did a lot too (most notably the first couple of levels) and I don't get why some hackers prefer to see a mutli-layered clusterfuck over a simple linear path with obstacles in the way.
They prefer it because they do, taste isn't a thing you can debate over.
Your layout has been removed.
Originally posted by Torchkas
I get that obstacles are a good thing, and with flat I didn't mean one big ground tile spanning the entire level. But returning to the ground altitude is something SMW did a lot too (most notably the first couple of levels) and I don't get why some hackers prefer to see a mutli-layered clusterfuck over a simple linear path with obstacles in the way.

If by "linear" you mean having only one path to clear the level rather than multiple paths, then I agree with you.

When I talk about "flatness", I generally mean having large tiles of ground with no or few slopes, edges, pits or objects in the way, and I generally use the term for specific segments rather than entire levels. I'm not saying you need to have a steep clusterfuck with no tiles of flat ground at all, that's not the idea at all and I also think it should be avoided, but having too many long tiles of flat ground does remove some charm from the level. The idea is to have a good balance between flat ground and slopes.
Here's a question. How does everybody go about planning their level designs? Do you just jump into Lunar Magic and begin placing blocks? Or do you sketch them out on notebook first? Where do you get your inspiration?

The reason I'm asking is because I seem to get "writer's block" as soon as I open up Lunar Magic. I have all these ideas but as soon as I open up Lunar Magic, nothing seems to flow.
Gamer. Filmmaker. Dragon Slayer.

----------

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel: Here
Subscribe to my Versus Channel with Qwoll: Here
Like me on Facebook: Here
Follow me on Twitter: Here

Currently Playing: Pokemon Sun






Originally posted by Captain Savage
How does everybody go about planning their level designs? Do you just jump into Lunar Magic and begin placing blocks? Or do you sketch them out on notebook first?


I sketch my level out in general terms first, then nail down the specific placements in LM. And a word of advice- I used to have your 'designer's block' problem too. I solved it by buying a cheap mini notebook. It fits in a pocket, so any time I have an idea (be it level design, overworld shape, anything) I can jot it down for later.
Look around and see levels for inspiration. Sometimes I come up with ideas on my own but that's pretty rare.

The problem is when nothing in the level works and you have to start over.
Originally posted by Captain Savage
"writer's block"

I would call it "hacker's block" in this situation.
Note: I made that up.


I typically look at a variety of successful hacks and see what is best for me in terms of ideas and motivation. There are many types of hacks and design so do not assume that there is only normal or kaizo levels to design. I myself like to design puzzle levels although I can design regular levels. Play around and see what is best for you.