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Discussion and Questions

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TBH the fan judging threads are giving me a terrible sense of dread that bland looking default graphics levels are gonna score 16-18/20 by default and people who have put a lot of time and effort into crafting a unique level theme and atmosphere to add to the experience of their level are going to get entirely devalued.

I hope this isn't the case at all.
If this is worth something, as I'm not looking at the judge or level threads, this isn't my plan.
I mean at the end of the day, the score's really gonna come down to design. A level with a good atmosphere will probably be remembered a lot more fondly than the straight up grassland levels, but at the end of the day if one of those grassland levels is just more enjoyable to play than an atmospheric narrative-driven level or w/e then it deserves to be rated higher
unless im misunderstanding

e: if your concern is that said grassland level has the same chance at a 15/30 that a complete graphical overhaul does, then I still dont see a problem with that. if a level looks good it looks good. The focus should still be the level design, and idk I feel like the userbase will be able to recall a level with better aesthetics better and almost allow it to hold a reputation that the well designed grassland level wont. if that makes sense.
umm... can i help you!?
I think you're misunderstanding, like; a lot of levels with, I'll be harsh but, very low effort in creating level aesthetics and atmosphere, are still being scored close to max points in aesthetics/polish. I guess it kinda makes me feel like I'm wasting my time making this GFX set to fit the theme and mechanics of my level when other people who've been doing that have been scored about the same as those who haven't in the fan judging threads, even though I believe that it's actually a necessary part of level design.

And I've been kinda worried about this since before vldcx started anyway. So it's likely mostly my own fear - the fan judge threads aren't professional or representative of the final judging.
Thing is, a good aesthetic doesn't need millions of innovative assets. If you got that you're banking on your aesthetic creativity. But since that score is variable between the level's focus you only have to worry if a judge thinks you deserve a higher cap in design creativity.

Also, if an amazingly crafted aesthetic that took weeks to make somehow gets in the way of actual gameplay it can't even be called good aesthetic to begin with. Say for example... the entire level turning pitch black, forcing gameplay to come to a halt.
Originally posted by Impetus
TBH the fan judging threads are giving me a terrible sense of dread that bland looking default graphics levels are gonna score 16-18/20 by default and people who have put a lot of time and effort into crafting a unique level theme and atmosphere to add to the experience of their level are going to get entirely devalued.

I hope this isn't the case at all.


Personally, I'll be tweaking most of my scores as I go through more levels. If I find that there are a lot of gorgeous-looking entries I'll lower the score for the more "average" ones if necessary (I'm going with 14-15/20 right now so it'll likely end up lower by the time I'm done).

Quote
So it's likely mostly my own fear - the fan judge threads aren't professional or representative of the final judging.


This is also true, there's no reason to expect the fan judge scoring to be similar to the actual scores later on. I don't think there's much to worry about.

Also, many of the fan judges have either started recently or reviewed few levels so there isn't a lot to compare the super SMW-looking levels to right now.
Originally posted by Enjl
Also, if an amazingly crafted aesthetic that took weeks to make somehow gets in the way of actual gameplay it can't even be called good aesthetic to begin with. Say for example... the entire level turning pitch black, forcing gameplay to come to a halt.

This was very necessary to mention.

Originally posted by Wind Fish
Originally posted by Koopster
If this is worth something, as I'm not looking at the judge or level threads, this isn't my plan.

Not true. You checked my trashed level scoring thread, so I have reason to believe you checked the fan judging threads too. I'm not saying you'll be influenced by them though.

Your thread wasn't tagged as a fan judging thread and it also explicited not even having any reviews, it just had like 3 names with scores attached to them (hell if I remember what they were).
But oh well, you can believe in what you please. shrug

EDIT: whoops I replied before noticing this post was gone. lol
Originally posted by Impetus
TBH the fan judging threads are giving me a terrible sense of dread that bland looking default graphics levels are gonna score 16-18/20 by default and people who have put a lot of time and effort into crafting a unique level theme and atmosphere to add to the experience of their level are going to get entirely devalued.

I hope this isn't the case at all.

While it's true that in my thread, plain vanilla level can get up to 17 points, it doesn't mean that aesthetic is devalued. I just put points for unique atmosphere in Design Creativity and Aesthetic Creativity instead. The definition of Aesthetic category is just whether it looks and works well, not whether it is creative aesthetic or anything like that. Super Mario World aesthetic is good by default. Consider Super Mario World reviews - the game got really high ratings, and its graphics were praised too.
Legacy ports zip (now that those went down because Dropbox)
It doesn't take a lot of effort to make a good looking level with vanilla assets. I don't know why we should rate aesthetics based on the "effort" put in to them, rather than how appealing they are. You could spend hours painstakingly making graphics for your level, but at the end of the day if it doesn't look any better than a normal SMW level then why should your score be rated any higher?
Originally posted by Koopster
Your thread wasn't tagged as a fan judging thread and it also explicited not even having any reviews, it just had like 3 names with scores attached to them (hell if I remember what they were).
But oh well, you can believe in what you please. shrug

But had it had any, you would have peeked. #tb{:p}
Layout by Erik557
Hi.
Originally posted by Enjl
Thing is, a good aesthetic doesn't need millions of innovative assets. If you got that you're banking on your aesthetic creativity. But since that score is variable between the level's focus you only have to worry if a judge thinks you deserve a higher cap in design creativity.

Also, if an amazingly crafted aesthetic that took weeks to make somehow gets in the way of actual gameplay it can't even be called good aesthetic to begin with. Say for example... the entire level turning pitch black, forcing gameplay to come to a halt.

That isn't the point of the discussion really.
What she's saying is that levels that just use all default SMW stuff seem to be scoring almost perfectly even though let's be honest SMW's vanilla tilesets are functional but by far not on par with any of the "custom" tilesets people are creating. If the tileset gets confusing (eg. pillars with the same color as the ground randomly being walk-throughable or just completely overwhelming visuals) then yeah, of course that will not score as high, but that wasn't what's being talked about.
The graphics being functional doesn't mean they look great, just that they don't hinder the design.



Being the game that came with the SNES and as such a lot of people's first encounter with 16bit graphics, this says very little. Even compared to SMB3 on the NES, SMW looks kinda bland.


Originally posted by LHB
It doesn't take a lot of effort to make a good looking level with vanilla assets. I don't know why we should rate aesthetics based on the "effort" put in to them, rather than how appealing they are. You could spend hours painstakingly making graphics for your level, but at the end of the day if it doesn't look any better than a normal SMW level then why should your score be rated any higher?

That's a big assumption to make, them never looking better than SMW.
Usually they do, just from what I've seen.
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FWIW most of the judges have not viewed the fan judge threads (Wind Fish's thread doesn't count) so the judges will not necessarily share the same views as the fan judges. I can say from my own perspective that a 10/10 aesthetics requires more than just pure vanilla graphics. SMW looks nice, but it looks nice for an SNES launch title, and I know the userbase is capable of doing much better than that.
Originally posted by leod
That's a big assumption to make, them never looking better than SMW.
Usually they do, just from what I've seen.


You made the assumption for me. I don't disagree that levels with custom tilesets can look better than vanilla SMW, but if it doesn't then it should be rated as such.

e: a word
Originally posted by LHB
I don't know why we should rate aesthetics based on the "effort" put in to them, rather than how appealing they are.


We haven't been, and we're not going to.
Originally posted by Enjl
Thing is, a good aesthetic doesn't need millions of innovative assets. If you got that you're banking on your aesthetic creativity. But since that score is variable between the level's focus you only have to worry if a judge thinks you deserve a higher cap in design creativity.

Also, if an amazingly crafted aesthetic that took weeks to make somehow gets in the way of actual gameplay it can't even be called good aesthetic to begin with. Say for example... the entire level turning pitch black, forcing gameplay to come to a halt.


I dunno, I liked that in this level.

I read the comments on raocow's video. Some people appreciate the mechanic and think it adds to the design of the level too, other people can't stand it. While it's a little surreal watching people argue over the merits of the level, I think it's a little over the top to say Noivern's ex animation work etc. isn't good just 'cause you didn't like the mechanic.



Also I'm specifically talking about levels that look bland/unappealing still being scored next to top points in the category. IDK why everyone has to move the conversation to "but what is the custom graphics are BAD" because I'm literally not referring to that case.
Originally posted by leod

Being the game that came with the SNES and as such a lot of people's first encounter with 16bit graphics, this says very little. Even compared to SMB3 on the NES, SMW looks kinda bland.

Sonic the Hedgehog was released 2 months before Super Mario World in North America, just saying. Just because SNES was new, it doesn't mean Sega Genesis was.

Yes, Sonic the Hedgehog also looks good, but just because Super Mario World was more plain (with 3bpp objects), it doesn't mean Super Mario World graphics were anywhere bad.
Legacy ports zip (now that those went down because Dropbox)
I think Aeon nails it. Judging scores are comparative and bound to constant changes.
Levels that go wild in aesthetics - and do it well, goes without saying - are easily more likely to reach a perfect score than levels that stick to the original looks, but remember that a lot of the aesthetic points can also go in Creativity, so we don't need to dock pure vanilla looking levels to like a 10/20.
I guess I'll also throw this out there: I think levels with pure vanilla assets can look very good if the tilesets are used well. Which is to say, it's not just about the graphics you use, but about how you use them as well.

We're clearly not scoring for effort.
its not the size of the boat, its the motion in the ocean



also palettes > graphics if we're talking making things look good
umm... can i help you!?
Originally posted by Koopster
so we don't need to dock pure vanilla looking levels to like a 10/20.

Nobody was talking about "docking" levels for being vanilla, but about scoring vanilla graphics for how they look, which is like not even close to as nice as some of the more amazing ones people create (people threw around the word average earlier?).

Perfect scores should be for amazing things, giving vanilla graphics used in an average way (eg exactly how SMW did) an average score (which 10/20 is) shouldn't be a huge issue. Of course it's up the judges, but just judging from the fan judge threads I feel like bland vanilla is getting a bit too far in that regard?


(And just in case anyone was thinking about bringing up the old "BUT DESIGN IS MORE IMPORTANT" argument again, no shit but also irrelevant because this is entirely about how aesthetics are judged.)
Your layout has been removed.
So basically we can all come to the agreement that original smw graphics and palettes shouldn't score ridiculously low (see lolyoshi's vldc9 level) or ridiculously high either. I don't think we have much to worry about, as long as the mistakes last year don't get repeated where levels like lolyoshi's were given awful scores in aesthetics just because they looked "plain". But knowing the judges, I doubt anyone will be giving out perfect scores to levels that use completely vanilla graphics. We don't need to really worry about levels like worldpeace's losing to a better level because of lack of aesthetics, because the design category is worth way more points anyway. And while worldpeace's level may not receive a perfect 20/20, I think most of us are expecting it to score fairly high in aesthetics, as it seems to be a top contender compared to the other entries so far.
To be fair, NGB's perfect aesthetics score in vldc9 was worthless almost because so many levels with less impressive aesthetics also scored a perfect score. At the same time, I think most of us don't really want to see a level that is subjectively better according to all the judges score lower than another level, just because it used regular smw graphics/palettes.

Edit: Also, worldpeace's level is an example of a level that looks really good while using mostly vanilla graphics, but it creates a really good atmosphere and environment out of those (better than ice cutting site or subterranean canal).
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