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Level Design Discussion and Questions
Forum Index - SMW Hacking - SMW Hacking Discussion - Level Design Discussion and Questions
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So I recently found this very interesting design analogy of Super Mario World. I thought I'd share. I might update this post with thoughts on it after I've completely finished reading it.
Totally forgot this thread existed. Anyway, here's an interesting video I found a few days ago:
Game Maker's Toolkit - Super Mario 3D World's 4 Step Level Design
All of the GMT videos are worth checking out, but I believe this one is the most important to us SMW hackers.
To be fair, I did notice that kind of design when I played Super Mario 3D land, and it's not the first time I hear of it. Introducing new gimmicks in a safe environment is usually something hackers try to do and it's something that's been don in videogames pretty much since the NES was there.
For the people who are worried that some cheap player will swim under their level. No worries, I got an easy solution (arguably) with no ASM required. Though, this is probably obvious to people who have high knowledge of the engine.



You simply build your level at the top of the editor and make sure that there is at least 3 tiles under what is not shown on screen.
Obviously, you will need vertical scrolling to be disabled for this to work.
What's the point of the F3 thing, actually?


My hacks tend to be focusing on MAP16 a lot. I really hate cement blocks, so I usually change them to be landscape blocks, made in MAP16 too. Also, I like to add scenery (see: floating non-cutoff dirt tiles) using MAP16, mainly to add variation.
Please, SomeGuy712x...
PLEASE!!!!!!!!!
List of my SMWC ranks
My hack:
I'm doing an Windows Whistler Level and how do I make it fun?
BTW:It's Pretty Flat

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Eh?
Originally posted by thesmb3fan144
BTW:It's Pretty Flat

Short answer: don't make it flat.

Long answer: If you can't use sloppes, you can at least add pits and different heights of ground to make it feel less flat. You can also use some windows icons as floating 32x32 solid blocks.

Also, don't make it just another random level with widows graphics, there's a lot of those already, try adding a gimmick so it doesn't feel like you just added windows graphics because it was cool. One idea I have for this (although might require some ASM), is adding windows icons with different functions, for example: the trash can would kill Mario, Internet Explorer icons would slow his movements if touched, ZSNES icons would crash the game, McCaffee icons (or any other anti-virus) would spawn sprites that would chase and try to kill Mario and so on.
Originally posted by thesmb3fan144
I'm doing an Windows Whistler Level and how do I make it fun?
BTW:It's Pretty Flat

"Whistler"? What?

And for the flat-ish issue, aj6666, you could use the Map16 editor instead. For example: trash = lava tiles/munchers, IE = water tiles, Kaspersky = hmm... I think a reskinned P-switch using ExGFX and then make enemies on top of them with a cage. Notepad = door/pipe to a text document, and Paint = berry (with Yoshi), that the berry will be edited to be transparent, and Yoshi will always leave a green square there.

EDIT: 100 POSTS! Size of 2 to not count as spam.
Please, SomeGuy712x...
PLEASE!!!!!!!!!
List of my SMWC ranks
My hack:
Do I just add a window?

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Eh?
Originally posted by TheLostKooper
Originally posted by thesmb3fan144
I'm doing an Windows Whistler Level and how do I make it fun?
BTW:It's Pretty Flat

"Whistler"? What?

beta Windows XP

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HackPortsASM"Uploader"

Originally posted by thesmb3fan144
Do I just add a window?

Is this pun-intended?
I don't know what you mean about a window.. since the BG will be the default windows XP logo... so you don't need any windows. Just my opinion though.
Please, SomeGuy712x...
PLEASE!!!!!!!!!
List of my SMWC ranks
My hack:
Since every time there's a place to get an infinite 1-up chain someone complains, I've had this question on my mind for a few days.

Why is it bad?
Are you talking about places where it's not supposed to happen? If yes, then it's probably because players see it as kind of careless designing. When you specifically allow it to happen, i.e. when you design a part of your level dedicated to farm lives and make it obvious that's what that part is meant for, then the player will get the right impression about it thinking it's a bonus area of sorts. See level 1C as an example. There's nothing wrong with the latter imo. Actually, it's always nice when the player is given the choice to bypass difficulties in a game.
Because lives are meant to be a control for the designer to ensure that you remain tense. When you lose a life, you get set back set back to the start of the level (or the midway point). When you lose all your lives, you get set back to the last save point.
Once you lose control over any of these elements, you're doing bad design. The element loses its purpose. What's the point of lives when a game over just puts you back right were you were? Similarly, what's the point of them when you have a thousand of them?
There are already a lot of games that got rid of the entire concept of lives because it fit their game better. In FEZ, the removal of setbacks keeps your attention. In Super Meatboy, the removal of a death screen means you don't have to wait to get back into action.
Lives still met with at least some purpose in the first couple of Super Mario Bros. entries. They were hard enough that you could encounter a game over. In the last couple of entries though, I'd say that their purpose is completely gone. The game just throws too many lives at you (it even saves them when you quit the game).
It feels sloppy because it has zero meaning.
But lives never had much meaning in the first place. The penalty of being set back to a checkpoint is often big enough to keep me on my toes, especially in those longer levels.

Lives mechanics were carried over from the arcades, which often designed barely beatable games to milk poor saps for every quarter their parents could spare. Not entirely a bad thing, mind. I enjoy myself some arcade-style gaming now and then, with F-Zero and in the long past some Touhou. But the mechanic serves to disrupt the player for its own sake further than it serves to create tension.

Sometimes, there are tense moments with lives. But in a world with savestates and rewinds, it's up to the players' own discretion how they feel about losing lives anyway.

That's why I have no problem introducing an autosave feature, and treating lives like imaginary cookies. Oh cool, you found this negative possibility space that I didn't think of during development but thought of during testing. Have an extra life. Or, oh hey, looks like somebody's good at using the cape feather and flew under the checkpoint. Here's a 1-up.

In fact, it makes it even easier to induce player rewards for skill when you have a setup wherein lives don't really matter, because you can place more or less than should be expected of a section with that difficulty otherwise without having to worry about how it affects your difficulty curve, making lives become more akin to achievements than quarter devouring monstrosities.

Like Torchkas said though, it depends on the individual game, or in this case, ROM hack. I tend to have a strong preference toward not including lives systems, but in some games, Like F-Zero X, it creates an interesting player-game dynamic where the player is constantly measuring the risk/reward of any move, with boosts and an incredibly high possibility space for what the player can do, which Mario just sort of lacks. Lives aren't a measure of risk vs reward in Mario, they're a measure of punishment for the player, telling them to do things they already mastered over again because they're struggling with a particular jump or point of enemy placement which is often completely unrelated from whatever is between there and the last save point.

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I've become very grumpy these last few years, and have been biting my tongue here in SMWC's forums quite a bit. I just want to let you all know that if ever I come off as harsh, I still care about you all. You guys are great.

(Avatar by http://reyleias.tumblr.com/, butchered by me)
What you're saying doesn't make sense. Lives are still rewarding when they're meaningless?
Super Mario World isn't exactly a collect-a-thon. I'd say that in most hacks lives are handled absolutely horribly, just like coins.
Originally posted by Torchkas
What you're saying doesn't make sense. Lives are still rewarding when they're meaningless?

The fact that lives can be seen as meaningless only goes to further my point.

Players feel good when they get a meaningless achievement. Players feel good when a developer thinks about areas that many others wouldn't. Because tangible rewards are the last things that somebody cares about when playing a video game.

What they really want is acknowledgement of the self - they want the game to tell them that their ability to explore, their curiousity, their mastery of mathematical systems and rules... When they play a game, they want it to tell them that they are good. That the qualities that they as a player value are important.

Even a tiny, nigh on meaningless nod, which I use extra lives for in this example, can be really motivational and meaningful to the player.

One of my favourite easter eggs of all time is in Grand Theft Auto III. A simple wall, with a little text poster on it. And it says, "You weren't supposed to be able to get here you know." It gives the player no tangible reward for getting there, but it tells the player that they've done something and used skills that the developers didn't even imagine were in the game at first, and it tells the player that that idea is important.

A player is less interested in tangible rewards than they may think. The argument could be made that getting a single coin has nearly as much meaning as beating the game on its own, and it is how the player feels about their actions which elevates the latter.

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I've become very grumpy these last few years, and have been biting my tongue here in SMWC's forums quite a bit. I just want to let you all know that if ever I come off as harsh, I still care about you all. You guys are great.

(Avatar by http://reyleias.tumblr.com/, butchered by me)
Somebody should make a hack where you collect cookies and after 100 cookies you get a biscuit roll. It saves the amount of biscuit rolls you collect but it doesn't have any purpose at all, not even intrinsic rewards.

You know what that is? A collect-a-thon without a goal. It's literally cookie clicker.
Now you might say that people loved that game for whatever reason. I don't believe that this kind of design is fulfilling in the long run.
But is any game design "fulfilling in the long run"? Games have no direct effect on the world outside of to the individuals who play them or the developer who makes them. Can a game even be "fulfilling in the long run" in those constraints?

I think the answer is yes, but I don't think SMW, or any 2D Mario game has the design necessary to impart fulfillment or philosophy on any grand scale, or at least not in the confines of what makes a platformer traditionally "good".

But, anything further I put forth will be based on my own philosophy. The ideas about what can be done to give imputes to the system, how much it has in the first place, the way to best reach out to the player from behind a mechanical lens... from here on, this is all opinions, more so than it has been before.

If nothing else, I at least hope that this discussion helps to further focus design decisions in the future for us and any readers, to make choices which you feel lend credence to your work, your art and think about what you want your player to come away from your game with. The player is an important agent in a game, but art is foremost about the artist who created it.

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I've become very grumpy these last few years, and have been biting my tongue here in SMWC's forums quite a bit. I just want to let you all know that if ever I come off as harsh, I still care about you all. You guys are great.

(Avatar by http://reyleias.tumblr.com/, butchered by me)
yes
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