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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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I'd like to make some SMW levels to help distract me during depression for when im too brain dead to play RPGs (since I'm going to start playing JRPGs in their native language) and also make some hacks (more like level collections really) but I'd also like to study other people's methods of level design to help develop my own style.

I'm thinking about studying a few levels, then making a few levels trying to replicate that style to learn the positives and negatives of it. Or in the case of VIP/ASPE levels, I could take a few levels and try to make stages similar to a few of em, taking elements from each, and then try to add what I liked best to my own style. Kind of like drawing.

Does that seem like a good idea?

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HackPortsASM"Uploader"

Originally posted by lion
I'd like to make some SMW levels to help distract me during depression for when im too brain dead to play RPGs (since I'm going to start playing JRPGs in their native language) and also make some hacks (more like level collections really) but I'd also like to study other people's methods of level design to help develop my own style.

I'm thinking about studying a few levels, then making a few levels trying to replicate that style to learn the positives and negatives of it. Or in the case of VIP/ASPE levels, I could take a few levels and try to make stages similar to a few of em, taking elements from each, and then try to add what I liked best to my own style. Kind of like drawing.

Does that seem like a good idea?

Whatever you find fun can help, you can mark what exactly you like about certain levels and reuse it but with the twist depending on the level's theme.
And if u don't feel like it just mess around until you do something cool

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I just want to say thank you to everyone in this community, and to all the creators. I am fairly new to the kaizo scene and have quickly honed my skills thanks to all the hacks out there. These hacks have already brought countless hours of enjoyment and will bring many many more. the challenge, the frustration, the feeling that im facing an impossible level, but then have that one run where everything falls into place and you finally beat it. Ahh! nothing like it! So thank you for putting hours of work into something without the motivation of making a profit. It shows. #tb{^V^}#smw{:TUP:}
How important is it that a level is beatable with Yoshi? I'm into one level, and realized that its probably not beatable with Yoshi, due to being based on climbing. I placed a blue koopa at the beginning, but wonder if its actually important. I havent played the orignal mario world in a while, did it ever have levels where you couldn't take Yoshi to the end? I guess I wonder that, since its techincally like powerup filtering.
I don't specifically remember whether or not SMW had levels that forced the player to lose Yoshi (not counting the castle/ghost levels where you lost him temporarily), but I personally don't see anything super objectionable about a level that ends up working out that way. I suppose there are probably certain players out there who prefer to keep Yoshi as much as possible and may be annoyed, but since Yoshi isn't exactly essential to the gameplay, it's not a big deal IMO.

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My gut feeling is that it's a little cheap to force the player to ditch Yoshi when they couldn't have known beforehand, and it'd be cleaner to add a No Yoshi intro to the level, but I realize it depends on how long your hack is and how often Yoshi appears - if he's only in a couple of levels it's probably not worth checking every level for Yoshi-friendliness.

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Regarding the question whether SMW did this: It did in Vanilla Dome 2 and Valley of Bowser 4 where you have to climb a shaft to the top, though the latter gives you replacement Yoshi because you need to carry one to the end of the level (presumably to filter out special coloured Yoshis). Gnarly is also impossible with Yoshi unless you happen to have a blue one and carry the red Koopa to him and Tubular as well as the cape rooms in Donut Plains 1 and Chocolate Island 2 are impossible with Yoshi altogether. Other times (such as in Cheese Bridge Area), you can find a pair of wings for sections which aren't easily beatable if not unbeatable with Yoshi.
Personally, it really depends how easily accessable Yoshi is as well as how common Yoshi filters appear: SMW gives you plenty of levels where you can easily find a Yoshi (not counting Top Secret Area) and even the non-green Yoshis are easily farmable.
Hello to all the community,

Please excuse me in advance if my question isn't in the right place.

My question is about VLDC hacks : does anyone know if a new hack merging all the levels of one of the latter contests (VLDC X, 11 or 12) is either out or in WIP ?

Indeed, when I search for "Vanilla Level Design Contest" in the SMW hacks section it gives me 4 results corresponding to the work of merging the levels coming from VLDC 1, 7, 8 and 9, the latter being by far the biggest and the most accomplished.

I know doing such stuff is an incredible work and very time-consuming, so I just wanted to know if some people were to work on it =]
Last I heard, there were plans to make a top 60 for VLDCX due to its enormous size, but that never really went anywhere [correct my drowsy memory if I'm wrong], so no compilation hack was released.

As for 11, there's an unofficial collaborative effort in progress here, and I'm not sure about 12, but I hope someone with enough time on their hands claims it soon.

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I know what I'm talking about isn't one of the post-collab VLDCs, but I still think it is relevant to your question.

I'm actually in the process of inserting the levels for VLDC6. The compilation could be finished this year. As for the most recent VLDC, I think VLDC12 is something that will be held off until a certain tool is released that somehow makes the level insertion process easier.
Wow, this is very interesting =]

The effort put in these collab hacks is gigantic, so thank you all who take part into this VLDC 11 one ! (I didn't read the page so as not to spoil myself about it).

It would be very pleasant to play a collab hack of VLDC 6 too, this will surely be great, thank you for the effort =]

Yeah, I guess that level insertion is quite tricky without a proper tool, plus designing a coherent overworld linking all the individual entries and adding all sort of ASM stuff (for instance Dragon Coin, Moon and Exits tracking icon for each level) is really difficult. But the result in VLDC 9 was so impressive !

So thank you again for working on this kind of stuff !
Are Flowers, capes, and Yoshi required for enjoying a hack?

I'm making a "choose your own adventure"-style hack where powerups, except mushrooms, are restricted to Switch Palace blocks and are used almost solely as devices to give you additional split paths in the story if you've managed to unlock them earlier. I also plan to make you begin every stage as big mario, as to prevent carrying over powerups.

Why am I doing this? Aside from the "choose your own adventure"-theme , it's ecause I find it boring to design stages around the possibility that the player has access to an ability that let them skip the challenge. Why design a tricky enemy formation if the player can just blast through it with fireballs or skip it completely with a cape?
I wouldn't say they are "required" per se, because that depends mostly on two key factors: level design and generosity. Skipping parts of a level with flowers/capes/Yoshi (should there be enough room) is completely normal in a hack, so it's up to you to (try to) design around it, even if you have to single them out in the process.

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Challenges can be made even if the player is given flowers or capes, you have to try to design challenges so that it is trickier than just blasting through enemies by burning them. This is why some enemies are also made immune to certain attacks, so that it is easier to design such challenges.




YY-CHR > Photoshop.
How do I capture the feeling of the original SMW level design? Im trying to make a Return to Dinosaur Land type hack, and I can't seem to get the style down. I'm analyzing the levels, and I'm thinking how much of it is just the fact that it's the official game, and the nostalgia that comes with it. Obviously theyre really good designers, but if Yoshi's Island 1 wasnt in the original game, and was a hack level instead, would it still have the official feeling quality it does? Donut Ghost House, at least the first part is just some platforms, with a boo celing, and it also has that official nintendo quality to it, yet it doesnt seem that much more fancy than something you'd see in a rom hack. Return to Dinosaur Land is a super ancient hack, so it kinda has the same nostalgia effect, since it's like one of the earlier larger full hacks. To go back to SMW, Star Road 1 is an extremely romhack feeling level, Just a bunch of turn blocks you have to break, but it also has this official quality to it. Is it even possible to get this authentic nintendo feel, when it's not made by nintendo? I'm not gonna give up, but I wonder how much of it really is some secret hidden level design philosophy, or the nostalgia of it. Probably a mix of both.
Originally posted by yv64n
How do I capture the feeling of the original SMW level design? Im trying to make a Return to Dinosaur Land type hack, and I can't seem to get the style down. I'm analyzing the levels, and I'm thinking how much of it is just the fact that it's the official game, and the nostalgia that comes with it. Obviously theyre really good designers, but if Yoshi's Island 1 wasnt in the original game, and was a hack level instead, would it still have the official feeling quality it does? Donut Ghost House, at least the first part is just some platforms, with a boo celing, and it also has that official nintendo quality to it, yet it doesnt seem that much more fancy than something you'd see in a rom hack. Return to Dinosaur Land is a super ancient hack, so it kinda has the same nostalgia effect, since it's like one of the earlier larger full hacks. To go back to SMW, Star Road 1 is an extremely romhack feeling level, Just a bunch of turn blocks you have to break, but it also has this official quality to it. Is it even possible to get this authentic nintendo feel, when it's not made by nintendo? I'm not gonna give up, but I wonder how much of it really is some secret hidden level design philosophy, or the nostalgia of it. Probably a mix of both.


Nintendo's design ethos for 2D Marios seems to follow a pattern like this:

Introduce element -> give you safe place to use element -> remove safety to challenge the player

Donut Plains 1 is a great example of this. You are given a chance to get a cape almost immediately, and given a lot of flat ground to get the speed to fly with. Even if you don't figure out you can fly yet, and only notice the cape flick, the very next enemy you come across is Pitchin' Chuck, who's projectiles and also himself are destroyed by cape flicks. If you haven't gotten the hang of flight by the midway point, a bonus area exists that is just a tutorial of flight with no danger except running out of time. After that the level is more densely populated with enemies that are set up to die to cape flicks or just be flown over.

A little earlier in the game, Yoshi's Island 2 is another example. You are given Yoshi on a screen with no other dangers (unless you lured them over). You are immediately presented with a chance to eat berries and try out Koopa Shell mechanics. Right after that is Chargin' Chuck, an enemy Yoshi can't defeat without using a shell. This level is also set up with lots of flat ground, so if you're hit Yoshi won't fall into a pit easily and you can go catch up to him with little effort.

Even as late as Valley of Bowser 4 you are still introduced to things like this. Diggin' Chuck is right at the start of the level, put there in a way you can safely observe his behavior. Soon enough his placement gets more dangerous and harder to maneuver around.

For you Star World 1 example, that level is almost certainly designed to be played multiple times, aside from the fact it has a secret exit in it. If you enter the level without a cape, you are effectively restricted to drilling straight down from where you start spin jumping each time. There's hardly anything dangerous in the level either until you get further down. Trial and error is expected as you learn where things are, like the powerups, Dragon Coins, Red Yoshi and the Key and Keyhole. Given that it follows the design philosophy they have elsewhere, I wouldn't call this one rom hacky.

Now personally speaking I don't know if this kind of level design is going to speak to potential players, as the target audience of SMW rom hacks has already thoroughly played through the game enough to know its mechanics well. If you are introducing new mechanics like a rarely used custom sprite or something like a block that wont let you jump, you may introduce these concepts similarly to ensure the players would get it, but it probably wouldn't need the same level of coddling Nintendo does. Content found in the original game though would not need an introduction like this though.
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