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[???] Crystal Reef Garden - Finished
Forum Index - Sunken Ghost Ship - Old Contests & Events - The 8th Annual Vanilla Level Design Contest - [???] Crystal Reef Garden - Finished
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Since we're not doing signups, I guess I might as well show off what I've got in store for this year's VLDC.

Yes, this will be an underwater level! (I'm challenging myself here to see if I can actually make a good one) Aside from the crystalline theme of this stage, there will also be a multi-route gimmick where most of the rooms branches two ways. Each pipe leads to a different reward, so take your pick!

There may or may not be a secret exit in this level.

It takes a lot of bravery to work on a water level for a competitive contest like this...

Anyways, judging by the screen it all looks amazing already. I find levels that split in multiple paths interesting, so you probably got yourself a good start. Good luck on pulling this off well.
Yeah, it definitely looks like it'd have some non-linearity, but don't go overboard with it. Non-linearity is definitely better for non-water levels.

I like the aesthetics though. Looks really crystal/icy.
Ooooh. Looks great! Quick suggestion though, I suggest you should use "Aquatic Ambiance" for the music. Especially the sampled version.
The nonlinear I was thinking of was supposed to be like something along the lines of like Chocolate Island 2 when I first came up with this level. That is, you really don't know what's ahead of you until you enter the pipe, and there's no going back once you do.

Unfortunately, to my knowledge, I don't think they allow us to use Level 024's unique nature for this contest, so I'm trying to see if I can work out something fun with split paths. I don't intend to make any of the paths easier/harder than the alternative choices, but I hope to make each one equally interesting somehow nonetheless.

No matter which paths you take, you will be guaranteed powerups (though one path may give you a feather instead of a flower) and a total of five Yoshi Coins throughout your chosen path.

Originally posted by SuperAgentYoshi
Quick suggestion though, I suggest you should use "Aquatic Ambiance" for the music. Especially the sampled version.

Not crystal-y enough. #tb{^V^}

If you wanted water levels to be faster paced, you could use blue blocks to reward the player some boost. Despite the shitty vertical movement. Just a suggestion.
Okay, I actually decided to try something different for my level. I'm still keeping the crystalline underwater theme for this level, but I decided to do away with the branching routes idea and go with just making the level feel more expansive. I'm also going to rename this level the Crystal Reef Garden. Why? See for yourself!

Yep, various plant-based enemies are being used in this level now, as I decided I wanted to do something more abstract than just simply an underwater crystal cave. So why not an underwater crystal cave filled with plant life?

I will probably add actual plant objects later on but for now I'm just focusing on the sprites.

This is very colorful, I like it! #smw{:TUP:}
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How about this port instead?
I've already decided upon using Sonic and Knuckles: Lava Reef Zone Act 2 as the music for this level. Fits really well here in my opinion.

I probably would've use the one you linked Mindevous, except it's too short and probably would've gotten repetive, which isn't a good thing in a stage where I intend to have the timer set to about 500 seconds or so.

Okay, my level is finally ready to be tested!

Click here for the IPS! See my latest post for the newest version.

Currently, the only known issue I have encountered is an odd layer priority issue pertaining to the Piranha Plants where they sometimes go behind the background. Likely a quirk with the translucency effect, and I'm not even sure if there's anything I can do about that without disabling it entirely--which would be a real shame because I wanted to use that level mode.

There is also a secret exit in this level. Don't worry, it's not too hard to find if you're any decent at exploring.

Other than that, I'd appreciate any feedback regarding the general design of the level, if anything should be adjusted or outright redone entirely while there is still time to make changes.

I played the ips. While I tend to dislike water levels in general, yours was pretty good. I especially loved the aesthetics and how palettes changed in each sublevel. A small complaint I have is about the path for the secret exit, which was a bit too long. You gave a total of 500 SMW seconds to clear the level, and taking the secret exit path made me finish with 140~ seconds. So yeah, maybe making the whole thing a tad smaller would be better from my point.
Ah, you also should do something about the silly piranha plants thing: I dunno, maybe making the level a layer2 level, and placing the BG manually in every spot, depending on where the piranha plants are placed. If I recall correctly, though, layer2 levels are smaller, and I don't know how this will affect your level...

Besides this, I really loved this level. An appealing water level, well varied in the design, even if a bit too long for my taste. Good job~
I'm usually not a fan of water levels in general, but this one was different. It was well designed, and pretty fun overall. Great job!

Click here to enter the world of mediocre!
Good to see a positive reception so far.

A Layer 2 level mode would be possible, as none of my sublevels go beyond screen 0F. I just need to set up the Layer 3 background. I might even try a bit more of an aesthetic foreground touch with the added layer if I have the time... we'll see.

I'm also thinking of trying some kind of Layer 2 gimmick in the green part of the level, to make it feel more distinct from the rest of the stage and not like I'm just padding the level with more screens.

I'll trim out one of the screens in the secret route. Maybe another one will get trimmed in the green area once I'm done revising it.

The next update will be posted when it's ready.

Updated the level!

Short version: SA-1 solves all problems in the end.

Long Version: I fixed the pirahna plant issues. That was the only easy part though.

For those of you who weren't aware, it turns out Nintendo never coded underwater interactions for Layer 2... at all. So as much as I wanted to use some scrolling Layer 2 gimmick, it just wasn't going to work out due to the sudden loss of water physics upon standing on a Layer 2 object. And while someone could probably utilize those quirks, they're not part of my design philosophy here.

At the same time, I still wanted to keep the translucent effect--which only applied to the Layer 2 in this level mode. And then I realized that by placing Layer 1 objects over the Layer 2, the Layer 1 interaction takes priority, remove any weird quirks like "sticking" to the ground when carrying sprites, or dropping super fast off a ledge. So I came up with the clever idea of sticking an invisible layer of ground under everything!

Then I came across another problem; sprite interaction. Initially, I had set the level to "enable buoyancy but disable all sprite interaction with Layer 2". Ugh, you fix one thing and you find another problem.

So I had two options. Either A: I apply the same invisible Layer 1 to every wall and ceiling in my level or B: Insert the SA-1 patch into a new ROM and migrate everything over. Obviously, the latter was a more painless procedure to addressing the slowdown without having to

Still, it sucks that the Layer 2 interaction underwater is so darned quirky: I was hoping to revise the second half with a scrolling Layer 2 gimmick, but I refuse to implement something that could throw off the player's physics for no good reason. Guess it's back to the drawing board for now: hopefully I'll have come up with something within the ten days remaining for the contest.

I played the new version, and I'm glad you managed to fix the silly issues with the piranha plants. Also, I think you also did some changes in the level about the lenght? Either that or I was faster clearing it.

Plays out pretty smooth. Nice job. being a bit nitpicky here, but it would be nice to recolor the jumping piranha plants to make it looks like they are underwater too
Layout by LDA during C3.
I found an annoying thing when holding items. You get stuck on the slopes unless you let go of whatever you have. It's pretty annoying and got me killed a few times.

Anyways, very enjoyable swimming level.
Updated again. This should fix the slopes so that the player doesn't get stuck to them.

@Wakana: I did make slight changes to the level in 1.1, namely I moved a few throw blocks around for convenience, trimmed out a screen from the secret room, and added chompers to the ceiling near the end of the level so the player can't hug it for safety.

Little has really changed with this update, mainly addressing some quirks.

@Lightvayne: If by that you mean make the pirahna plants look more blue-ish, I did change adjust the palettes some, but I don't want to shift the "red" colors too much, otherwise people might mistake that red yoshi for a blue one #tb{^^}

I just finished playing this level (using the most recent IPS) and I have to say that I'm quite impressed. It was a very fun level to play in spite of being a fully underwater level. Putting items like throw blocks and koopa shells around the level that Mario could pick up in order to swim faster was a good idea and helped make it a much more enjoyable experience.

It was a fairly lengthy level, but the nature of the level made it so that rather than wanting the level to end, I was heavily anticipating seeing what the next part of the level would be. I'm completely awful at playing underwater levels, but I still had a lot of fun. The palettes were very nice as well.
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