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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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BUMP

After playing the 4 levels I've made so far a LOT of times, I've noticed something that's been bothering me. The level progression goes like this: Mario goes up then down, goes up again then down, yet again goes up then down,... til the level ends.

The person who betatests my hack didn't mention this so I guess he didn't notice, but it still bothers me tbh.

Since I found this I've been trying to have my fifth level not repeat this pattern by having split paths or flat design like legit Mario games do, but looking back at it I did it again, even if this time it's slighter.

Is this bad? Do people notice this kind of stuff when playing?
It's good you notice your own patterns and try to changge that. Recently I've noticed my levels very lineal, and divided in two rooms (one before and one after the midpoint), so I'm trying to change that too.
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Recently I've noticed my levels very lineal, and divided in two rooms (one before and one after the midpoint), so I'm trying to change that too.


This. I tend to do the same, it's something I'd like to vary up a bit on. Another thing I noticed is that my levels tend to be really straightforward, without many different paths or hidden bonuses. It's not particularly bad I guess, but I'm trying to add a bit more to look for, things like small sublevels for Yoshi Coins or just a P-Switch run with a bunch of coins (as well as the occasional super obscure secret I doubt anyone will ever find lol).
Honestly I don't see how having a level be split in two sections is bad, actually if you change the scenery it should give a better sense of progression(megaman games for example). Speaking of which...

How is the "many levels in one" concept seen in traditional hacks nowadays?

Let me explain: Many hacks vary their scenery per level to give a sense of progression, and sometimes while doing so they tweak the level design, be it by changing the sprite gfx or the sprites used before altogether, or by using custom blocks or a whole new gimmick (or removing the one used before). The best example would be levels split into land and water sections, something that even official Mario games do. This is prefectly fine, right? But what if this "sense of progression" concept is taken to the limit?

Here's an example. Imagine a level that progresses like this:

Land with layer 3 tides> typical underwater section> underwater section using a reappearing ghosts generator> fiery cave with podoboos and fire chains> fiery cave with castle sprites> marine pop section> somehow back to surface to hit goal tape.

Assuming said level is well-designed, makes sense in the hack's context, doesn't drag too long (5-15 minutes perhaps?) and has enough midway points: would it be fun to play or would it just be a convoluted mess?

also

Originally posted by Aeon
occasional super obscure secret I doubt anyone will ever find lol


What would be the limit between an obscure secret and a cheap near-impossible to find one?

I'm trying to get back into smwhacking so I've got a lot of level design questions. I hope you guys don't mind me asking stuff every now and then over here.
Having many ideas in one is okay as long as there is a very clear theme. Avoid making "Variety Path" from vldc8.

I have only made one level that is a concoction of many different environments. The idea is that by going through a time machine, Mario gets to play through the same 8 screens forwards and backwards twice. However, the environment and gameplay change significantly even though I only changed around a few sprites and turned water into tides, which then turned to lava. The time machine is revisited a few times (it is a layer 2 short survival room), and the final challenge is the big boo boss that guards the time machine. I guess everything is centered around one theme and sticks to it, which is why this story-based level is actually one of my favorites. Normally I design gimmicky levels but this was a nice change of pace. It is also quite long by my standards-- about 2 minutes per checkpoint, with 1 checkpoint.

I guess you just need a clear underlying theme, and of course, the idea must be executed well.
That's a (probaly)neat level you've got there O__O.

Searching through the forums I found out that mods had already answered my question.

That aside, I'd like to talk about the length of these "long levels". Let's think of a 15 minute level that

Originally posted by mes
is well-designed, makes sense in the hack's context, doesn't drag too long (5-15 minutes perhaps?) and has enough midway points


I've noticed that recent hacks give a save prompt after every level, so placing said 15 minute level in one of these would be ok, specially since players won't have to redo past levels in case they get a game over. BUT what if said level is placed in a "traditional" hack? (save prompt only after clearing a castle, fortress, ghost house, etc), or even more, what if said level doesn't give a save prompt after clearing thus forcing the player to go through another 2 or 3 levels til he reaches and clears a castle? Would you guys rage quit a hack like this? The second question was kinda exagerated, but my first one stands.

Actually I'm kinda curious wether giving the player a save prompt after every level is a good idea. I mean, it does kill the fear of getting a game over, but in certain way I understand it. This might be thought for people who prefer spending most of their time playing actual games rather than romhacks.
That question isn't about level design. It's about the rule that a hack must have enough content in it to be accepted in the hacks section of SMWC.

A 15 minute level still sounds pretty awful. Levels that drag on for that long are usually not very good. I think a deathless run of a level should not take more than 6 minutes to beat.
6 minutes is way too much in my opinion still.
Like, have some restraint please.

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5-7 minutes max would be ok I guess. It sucks cause I had this wet dream of making a long ass level in which I could go crazy lmao, but I guess it's safe to assume it wouldn't be quite well received.

Anyway, thanks for the advice.
1-3 minutes is the sweet spot. Reserve 4-5 minutes for very special occasions.
I don't know, 1-2 minutes sounds wayyyy too short to be honest. Everything else lolyoshi said hit the nail on the head though.
Most levels in SMW are 1 to 2 minutes long.
How about having an optional 4-5 minute level per world? Still bad?

Also if you guys don't mind I'd like to bring this back

Originally posted by mes
After playing the 4 levels I've made so far a LOT of times, I've noticed something that's been bothering me. The level progression goes like this: Mario goes up then down, goes up again then down, yet again goes up then down,... til the level ends.

The person who betatests my hack didn't mention this so I guess he didn't notice, but it still bothers me tbh.

Since I found this I've been trying to have my fifth level not repeat this pattern by having split paths or flat design like legit Mario games do, but looking back at it I did it again, even if this time it's slighter.

Is this bad? Do people notice this kind of stuff when playing?


Thanks to this I've been blocked for the past few days. I'd like to know if you guys as players notice these patterns
I assume that you're mostly making the terrain first and then filling in places with sprites. I suggest coming up with setups and piecing them together instead. I've never noticed any up/down patterns with my levels. (Also, I rarely ever use "vertical scroll at will", unless it's a vertical level. That being said, maybe try making some vertical levels.)

I meant 6 minutes as in, with 2 checkpoints or something. Even then, these endurance levels should only be used for special occasions as lolyoshi said. I like having 60-100 SMW seconds per checkpoint.
Aaaayyyoooooo...
What's with people saying my levels aren't creative at all? How are they uncreative? This isn't good.

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My Mode 0 guide.

My Discord server. It has a lot of archived ASM stuff, so check that out!

I played like one or two levels by you, so I can just assume. Maybe the problem is not thinking outside the box and being too faithful to the regular classic Mario levels. I think finding cool gimmicks and exploring them as much as you can is the key to creative design.

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How do you feel about this, in a situation where the player can wall slide/wall jump, and they are fully aware that the cave walls are a "wall-jumpable" surface?


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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)
You have those leading coins on the left above safe ground. I'd say that's good even if you couldn't walljump.
Do you think it's a bad idea to remake any levels from other video games in a video game where there's an easy way to make levels, even if the two games are completely different? (Like remaking a Mario Kart racetrack in SMW?)

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*everything stops*
Yeah, that's me. You're probably wondering how I got into this situation...
*cut to next post*
It generally will not lead to a well designed level, if that's what you're asking.
It might be a fun "wow this is silly" kinda gimmick for 5 minutes, but once that's settled down it'll probably not stay entertaining for too long.

Unless you just mean thematically basing it on that level, not actually copying it.

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