The Questionable Level Design Contest ends in…
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Fortress of Decay - First submission ever.
Forum Index - Sunken Ghost Ship - Old Contests & Events - The 10th Annual Vanilla Level Design Contest - Fortress of Decay - First submission ever.
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Edit: My level's been updated. (3/26/17) (Update 3)

I caved to peer pressure from MetConst and made this. It's a level that I spent a few days on. Aesthetics I think are better than the actual design of the level. I'm not that great of a level designer, but I think it's a quick, fun level that's loaded with eye candy. I hope there aren't too many unfair sprite placements in it...

Here are some screenshots. I've decided not to include anything from the secret area.

My main struggle was not being able to specify what parts of the ExGFX file the sprites use. You have to place the graphics you want them to use in a specific part of the ExGFX file; which leads to not being able to use other sprites that use that particular set of graphics too.

This was my best with the time constraints and real life issues I have. Whatever placement I get I'll be happy with.

Here's the link to my submission.
Ok I had to check it out after seeing those screenshots. The theme you used is one of my favorites to play with.

I have mixed feelings about this because as I said I love this kind of concept and it looks SO GOOD but the level design is very flat and there aren't many obstacles other than the Ghost Ceiling generator in the second section. I have also tried it in my entry (actually it was the reappearing ghosts generator, but they kind of work the same way) and people told me it's super annoying to play with. In some cases, taking a hit was inevitable and it proved difficult to play even when using save states. It's that kind of difficulty that just slows down your pace when there's really not much you can do, but keep on going forward praying to not get caught in a situation where you'll have to do a high jump so you don't hit the ghosts.

Now that you have this gorgeous looking level, I think you should give some love to the overall design. There's more than enough time if you want to do so, but as of now I'm not impressed with it's current state.

I only criticized until now, so if I didn't make it clear yet, I think your aesthetics are awesome. I loved both level palletes and your sprite gfx too. Also the BG is fucking awesome, and the work you put on the layer 3 is looking fab too! I do question about the no-priority lava though. It's not a issue, but rather unusual.
That's the thing--I can make a level *look* good, but I can't make a level *play* good. However, if you could, look for the secret exit and let me know if it was too hard to find or is unfair, and what you thought of the design there.

I just really struggle with the gameplay aspect of it. I design it around my ability to play SMW, which kind of sucks.
I played it again and I barely found it after looking on LM. Unless I got something wrong,
you have to ride a gas bubble all the way back to where you spawn and go above the ceiling
right? If I'm correct, then you should probably rework it. Not many people will think of doing this on their normal walk-through, unless they're pretty damn bored. Also,
I think you can only do it with the second spawn gas bubble because the first one is placed too low, and it makes the ride twice as long.

Other than that, the fact that you have to carry the key from the very beginning until the very end is not a good thing. I dont really mind it that much, but I'm probably the only one. Most people will go nuts over this, so idk. The pathings with the On/Off switch seems very unclear, and you'll probably end up on the game over pipe or dead unless you certainly know where to go. Also, the very last screen ALONE had me killed twice, because of the blind fall to the lava and the randomly placed fireballs.

I really think you should limit your use of fireballs, specially in the secret room, because not only are they kind of random spawns but your vision is also limited and you barely have any time to react. In the flying platform section in the main level it's also very annoying to deal with those. I'm not saying to get rid of them, but to tone them down a little. I think the fireballs really fit this kind of ambient and you should keep it!

I must say though, the game over pipe was unexpected and I really thought I had lost until I was taken back to the overworld. Well played there.
Thanks for your feedback. I went back and mostly redid the second half of the level and re-submitted the file. Other parts of my level have been edited to reflect some of your criticisms. I just hope it's better than last time. :P
Oh hey, it's the guy who improved my avatar way back when! Still thankful for that. #tb{:)}

I went ahead and gave your level a try, and here's a couple of loose thoughts I had along the way:

* The secret exit isn't too hard to find at all! (Though I don't know if the coins were there in the first version.) I like how the two exits are essentially separate paths.
* I'm not sure about the darkness on the secret exit route - I tend to dislike invisible line guides whose paths you can't predict.
* Nice implementation of a game over pipe, though I'm kind of wondering what its purpose is.
* I like the visuals you got going! The pastel palettes in particular.
* Your sprite replacements are pretty neat, though some sprites are harder to interact with intuitively because of it. (For instance, I avoided jumping on Bullet Bills because they looked like flames, and didn't expect Thwimps to jump because they looked like spinies.) It's really fine though.
* I don't know how much you've improved on the level design since the previous version, but it's totally alright now! It flowed nicely, and I didn't notice any glaring issues.

Pretty neat level overall! I can see this getting an above-average score for sure.


Thanks WYE! The old level is here if you want to give it a shot. Thanks for the criticism and feedback!
Originally posted by WhiteYoshiEgg
* The secret exit isn't too hard to find at all! (Though I don't know if the coins were there in the first version.) I like how the two exits are essentially separate paths.

They weren't. It's definitely okay now.

Also I noticed that you pulled the first gas bubble some tiles up, along with adding the coins, which makes it easy to find.

Now I'm kind of wondering if you should've changed only one of the two. I feel like with the coins, we certainly know that there is something hidden, but we don't know how to get to it.
The first assumption is that we trigger a bullet (aka flame bill) and jump off it. The direct next assumption is the gas bubble riding.
Previously we would discard it since it were placed lower, but now it's obvious since it's present in the 3rd screen of the the level, in the ideal height to jump off.

You probably don't need to change it but if you somehow need to fix something you should also give it a thought.

Maybe remove the coins and keep the bubble as it is, or keep the coins and lower/remove the first bubble and make us ride the bubble in the 8th screen. My theory is that if the player sees the coins in a unapproachable place, they'll follow with the thinking of using anything the level gives him to approach it. The gas bubble is one of those, but if it's so early in the level it's not as challenging. The later bubble adds a challenge of avoiding the obstacles while not losing sight of it.
If removing the coins and not changing the bubbles, the player will only find it if his purpose is to look out for secrets. In that scenario, is not so hard, but if the player is not giving much thought he will probably not find it.

Anyway I'm happy my feedback was helpful to you, I hope people will like your level. (:

i think the text is too big to put under spoiler tags but if you want me to do so ill edit it
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