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Level Design Discussion and Questions




Level design, in SMW hacking based, should have a balance of good platforming and a good enemy challenge. It's something I can struggle with when making a level for my romhack.


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Can you guys just imagine how different level design contests are going to be now with LM 3.01?

I hope the extra fat horizontal levels and additional secret exits still count in vanilla contests.



Originally posted by Conal
I hope the extra fat horizontal levels and additional secret exits still count in vanilla contests.

I guess the rules regarding vanilla are anything that Lunar Magic can do counts as vanilla... Which isn't what I figured at all. I thought it was whatever the original SMW did.

But, I guess if it's whatever lm can do... it would count...
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so when we making a 2d collectathon in smw
Originally posted by MercuryPenny
so when we making a 2d collectathon in smw

^ This. Yeah. We have a Mario 64 styled SMW hack, let's do DK64 next. Can you imagine the ported music??

I want collectables in my hack.



In my current WIP romhack, I want to make a "Path Split". After the first castle, there is an "intermission level" (short, with 2 exits), where depending of what exit you took, you go to a diferent world (one of the exits is hidden and requires Yellow Blocks, which have to be unlocked in the first world). Should I make each world equally hard, or make one harder than the other?
Originally posted by Porygon-ZZ
In my current WIP romhack, I want to make a "Path Split". After the first castle, there is an "intermission level" (short, with 2 exits), where depending of what exit you took, you go to a diferent world (one of the exits is hidden and requires Yellow Blocks, which have to be unlocked in the first world). Should I make each world equally hard, or make one harder than the other?


It really depends. If you build your romhack overworld to be similar to that of New Super Mario Bros. U, and skip several worlds and go straight to world 4, it'd make sense that the difficulty progression would result in a steeper climb. If both paths eventually lead to the same world, then I doubt there's really any point to making the path harder than the other. Unless, you design hidden paths to be some kind of "Hard Mode" or some kind of imposing challenge idea.

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STELLA!
Any feedback? it is still in development.


You want see my hack i am currently working on? i just recently began.
--First Room--
-You should probably lower the layer 2 spikes so you can see the very tip of the spikes. That way they don't just crush you when you're running blind.
-Also I think 1 arrow at the beginning is enough to tell you where you need to go; 10+ of them may not be necessary.
-From 0:20 to 0:28 you may want to introduce some obstacle other than just layer 2 spikes to keep your level fresh. Perhaps have a line guide with a buzzsaw or something to keep the player on their toes.
Overall, okay first room, but you could benefit from some small changes. Otherwise it'd kinda look like a Wendy Koopa castle edit.

--Second Room--
-Some cutoff shown between the pipe and the end of the ledge on the left side when you start the room. You may want to move the pipe one tile to the left.
-There's also an incorrect ledge tile below the first Ball And Chain. You will want to use the correct ledge tile for this, shown here.
-The 2nd Thwomp kinda glitches a bit because there are too many sprites on screen (the Ball And Chain tends to take up a lot of sprites for some reason) so you may want to consider either lowering the amount of Podoboos on screen or employing a patch that helps you with onscreen sprites.
-At 1:11 you may want to consider lowering the 3rd Ball And Chain sprite or just remove it entirely because it poses no real threat to you.
-5th Ball And Chain also glitches out for the same reason as the aformentioned Thwomp from before glitched out.
-Lower the 7th Ball And Chain as where it is currently positioned, it also poses no threat to you.
-There's also a couple of incorrect ledge tile near the 8th Ball and Chain. Again, you will want to consult the link I provided for the aformentioned previous ledge tile error.
-After that 8th Ball and Chain, the bowser statues can glitch out because of too many sprites on screen at once. The Ball And Chain is also a problem here because while you can't see it right here, it's still technically onscreen because it's loaded in the game's memory. -As well, there is cutoff here as well, as there's no end to the ledge you have introduced near the last couple of bowser statues. You can literally just jump right through the ground and skip the escalator bit entirely. You may want to have a "Solid Left And Top Ledge" here for this part.
-As well, you may want to have an escalator end tile for the top too as it's missing.
-The final Ball And Chain glitches out for the same reasons why the bowser statues were glitching out.
-I find it odd that the color palette for this room was vastly different from the color palette in the first room. Unless there's some sort of theme for these rooms. Maybe it might just be my artistic senses speaking to me but maybe there should be more consistency here with these rooms in terms of palette. This one's up to you though.
Overall, the 2nd room is decent. You may want to fix some redundancies and some small ledge erors and cutoffs. These are all just small problems that are easy to fix. The big and complicated problem however, is the fact sprites can glitch out if there's too many on screen. Like I said with the Ball And Chain segments, it may be worth investing into a patch that helps you with the onscreen sprite problem (dont know what it's called but i think someone else could help you with this). Failing that, you could cut down on a few Ball And Chains in this level.

--Third Room--

-If you intend on using that invisible coin block near the start as a platform, then I suggest changing it to a cement block or an actual block, since there's no reason for it to be invisible.
-You may want to replace the bridges with solid castle blocks since they are kinda cutoff. Or if you want to use the bridge tiles, then I highly suggest connecting each bridge end to something, like stone blocks or something so that it looks nice.
-You may want to mess with the color palette in this room since the jumping bowser statue's coloring looks real wonky.
-You may also want to change that pipe at the end to a door since it looks really odd that you enter through a pipe and appear out of nowhere in the next room.
Otherwise, I don't really have anything else to say about this room other than introduce some obstacles that'll give this room some fresh new feel since a lot of the jumps kinda feel samey in this room meant for parkour. Also my comment for the previous room's color palette also applies here.

--Fourth Room--

I've got nothing to say about this room in particular. It feels like a "pick a door" room, really. Although I did just say I have nothing to say about this room, my comment on the previous two room's color palette still applies here.

--Fifth Room--

-The color palettes used in this room are really questionable. I highly suggest picking more fitting colors for this room. The green/orange castle walls, and the gray lava really don't go together very well.
-Although it's far easier to get to safety before being crushed than the first room, I'd still have the crushing spikes visible from the start.
-You may want to place the 3up moon somewhere where it's far more well-hidden. These are special, so they should be rewarded far more cleverly than just being thrown out in the open.
Not much else to say about the room honestly. But please I highly suggest fixing the color palettes for this room. It's a pretty serious issue.

--Sixth Room--
Skipping the Pick-A-Door room, we've got this room. This room... is literally Room 2 of Iggy's Castle, barely edited. You may want to straight up gut this room and start this room from scratch entirely, and introduce your own ideas here. I can't help improve this.

--Seventh Room--
-You may want to lower the ground because it looks kinda odd from a camera perspective to have half of the level be just dirt.
-This is the final room, and I'd have to say 950 seconds is a bit much considering you finished with 508 seconds on the clock. I'd personally drop the timer to 600 seconds because that's way too much time. Maybe 700 if you decided to include a boss. 800 if said boss was Bowser himself.
Nothing else for me to say here, so I'll just skip straight to my final thoughts.

--Final Thoughts--
Not a terrible level outside of the 6th room, but could use some improvement. The 2nd, 5th, and especially the 6th room needs changes. You may want to consider renaming the level as well, or introduce more layer 2 spikes throughout the level, as outside of the first room, the level name doesn't really fit the rest of the level. I outlined my thoughts as best and respectful as possible. Feel free to take them into account.

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STELLA!


How do you think this fares among other level designs? I'm fairly experienced in Cave Story modding but obviously that has a different playstyle than SMW. Suggestions?



tahix edit: 4 months late but fixed table stretch.

Ewan C. Green
Mmm... I'd help you but there isn't much to point out. It just looks like a barely-edited Level 105 of Super Mario World. I would highly suggest introducing unique elements such as different enemies and different landscapes.

I'd suggest clearing the entire level by holding down CTRL and pressing the DEL button, so that you don't repeat this mistake in the future.

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STELLA!
the bottoms of those diagonal pipes have really funky collision, hence why in the original game they always have a slim green pipe in front of them

the rex is clipping into the ground; it's either going to flip around in place every frame and go nowhere or fall through the ground

the whole section looks flat and uneventful in general. the random p-switch door with nothing indicating that it's there might be worth reconsidering, and in general you can just run right without anything threatening you. generally you want to make the player reconsider running right and jumping over everything; position another enemy on a higher ledge to block them, vary the terrain more, make use of solid walls, etc.
@EwanGreen4: here's what I don't like!
and the pipe on the left we can glitched easily in my opinion we have to fix it!





tahix edit: 4 months late but fixed the table stretch
Hi everyone, do you think we should stay on a vanilla hack or change the whole design because it's 2019 and I wonder if the vanilla hack was a little obsolete #tb{:?}
Originally posted by yygdrasil
Hi everyone, do you think we should stay on a vanilla hack or change the whole design because it's 2019 and I wonder if the vanilla hack was a little obsolete #tb{:?}

Vanilla will never be obsolete. If you want to make a vanilla hack go for it.
On the flipside, if you feel like vanilla IS becoming obsolete, then make a chocolate hack. It's your prerogative.
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Originally posted by yygdrasil
Hi everyone, do you think we should stay on a vanilla hack or change the whole design because it's 2019 and I wonder if the vanilla hack was a little obsolete #tb{:?}

I'd say pure vanilla is becoming obsolete and uninteresting, but on the flipside not many chocolate hacks are being very engaging either, at least from my perspective.

I think we need more hacks that try new things (not necessarily weird or super gimmicky things like JUMP) or use resources that not many people dare to use to their fullest potential, but that doesn't necessarily mean to stick to chocolate. I'd even argue that hacks that look vanilla on the surface but offer a lot of variety and new elements in addition to the default stuff are a lot more interesting than pure chocolate hacks that are basically just a bunch of grasslands with custom graphics and smb3 hammer bros.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that as long as you don't do stuff that's been done a billion times before, it shouldn't matter whether it's vanilla or not. Vanilla may put some people off at first but if the game is good at its core then everyone will give it a shot.
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to hear birds and see none.
Originally posted by Roto-disco
Originally posted by yygdrasil
Hi everyone, do you think we should stay on a vanilla hack or change the whole design because it's 2019 and I wonder if the vanilla hack was a little obsolete #tb{:?}

Vanilla will never be obsolete. If you want to make a vanilla hack go for it.
On the flipside, if you feel like vanilla IS becoming obsolete, then make a chocolate hack. It's your prerogative.

I agree with Roto-disco, vanilla will never be obsolete!

I've already seen a lot of this kind of talk about vanilla "not being interesting", or that "you literally can't make something new with vanilla", and how "chocolate is always superior", but i really don't think that's the case.
SMW has so many great resources, and those have so much potential that you can always come up with good vanilla levels, just check the VLDC levels for a ton of examples! Even in the 11th edition of VLDC we've still seen ideas never explored before!

In the end, what really counts the most is the way you use the resources provided, the design of your levels and the the creativitiy you put in ideas and setups, because adding chocolate resources does not make a hack instantly good, and the problem with a lot of chocolate hacks is they try to impress too much with lots of ASM and beautiful graphics without actually having a good design or good use of all the resources they add to the game.
Also, your hack doesn't need to be ultra innovative to be good, it just needs to be fun and engaging, and that is still primarily achieved by the way you design it, not if it's vanilla or not.

...With that said, i'm not saying you should not make a chocolate hack as well, as that's ultimately your decision, i'm just saying to not base your decision on "i'll make chocolate because vanilla is obsolete"
My Youtube Channel
I feel like those who have the opinion that vanilla is obsolete are those that have lost the love of the game that SMW hacks are based on.
The original Super Mario World.

Need I remind that the game had no custom resources that y'all cling to and love so much?

I mean, the bottom of the damn website even says we're meant to honor one of our favorite games, but if you're bored with vanilla graphics, you definitely can't love SMW THAT much. Sounds to me that you like other games integrated into SMW's engine a lot more.
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I don't believe that loving Super Mario World means shackling yourself to its limitations, nor does wanting to change things and carve out a unique identity mean you lost your love for it. Sometimes things just need to be kicked up a bit - I would have gotten bored of the visuals long ago if nobody ever used resources outside of the game. Everything would start blending together unless they stood out with some divine map16 and palette use, but that wouldn't be fitting into the visual style of World either and we're back to square one.

That said, the vanilla system is quite robust and one shouldn't stray from it just because they feel they 'have' to. Maybe it could do a person good to have those limitations. I think that having a grasp of the fundamentals and being able to make a great vanilla level can help you make an even better chocolate level, but the reverse isn't necessarily true.

Oh, and Roto:
Originally posted by Roto-disco
Need I remind that the game had no custom resources that y'all cling to and love so much?

That's kind of a silly point to suggest. If the game had any custom resources, it would no longer be a custom resource because that would be vanilla, too.
Or maybe it's the opposite, and every resource is custom because it was made for the game? Though now we're straying from 'level design' a bit.

Currently working on Æther: The Infinite Library!

Other Submissions of mine!
Would a level based mainly around chain chomps be a good idea for the fifth level of the game?
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Ive restarted it
Name:Super Mario Endless World
World 1: 100%
World 2: 100%
World 3: 30%
World 4: 2%
World 5: 2%
World 6: 2%
World 7: 2%
World 8: 2%
World 9: 2%
Special world: 15%
Star world: 10