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Æther - The Infinite Library - now with a C3 Demo!
Forum Index - SMW Hacking - Works in Progress - Æther - The Infinite Library - now with a C3 Demo!
Pages: « 1 »
C3 EDIT
Go download the mini-demo here
Or see the C3 thread over here

Many years ago, I've made a modest little hack. It wasn't anything special, but it was a demo for something that was put by the wayside. What's a better time than now to finally make it?

While Omnibus was an off-kilter story featuring Mario in an un-Mariolike environment, Library will be a fully realized story in its own right, with a new cast of characters including the protagonist Eszett. Rather than dump everything, backstory and lore will be drip-fed as I update the thread. However, it won't just be the story that sees an overhaul, but the entire structure of the game will be radically different.

The world map of Libris, which is broken apart into a series of megalevels:


Level 1 - Backboard Bay
Rather than a series of smaller levels, the player must scour these giant levels for collectibles, and find exits that place you in new parts of the world that would be otherwise inaccessible. This map also doubles as a great way for me to later show off which sublevels are complete.




Backboard Bay is one of two preliminary megalevels that starts off the adventure. It begins gently enough with its rocky coast, but looking at the world map can forecast some of the various environments to come. The shadowy-looking spots in the last two screens are the transitions from one sublevel to another, so that it's always clear at a glance what is traversable.


This kind of early level should be simple to move through, but by using Eszett's wide variety of movement skills it should allow her to places that should look completely out of reach, as seen in this crudely assembled little playground-type deal. Throughout her adventure, she can super-jump by ducking for a second, wall jump, and even change into a spin jump in midair to launch off this special block. A mastery of all of these will be essential.

Much of what is complete so far are sublevels with minimalist testing graphics that isn't quite in a state to be shown off, so there's much more to behold later down the line. I hope you enjoy what I have in store!

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Currently working on Æther: The Infinite Library!

Other Submissions of mine:
SNES Controller Graphics
I'm liking what you've shown so far! Especially the background scenery, how well it integrates with the world map, and oh wow that tide effect. <3

I've always found it a little iffy when hacks want to stand on their own with entirely different cast and narrative style but end up having obvious remains of SMW like wall springboards, block/coin graphics, status bar layout and presumably sound effects. You're probably going to change them eventually anyway, I'm just saying I hope you will.

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Loving everything I see over here, the water animation looks phenominal and the player graphics superb. Count me as interested as I'll be following the development.

I'd recommend you use one of the minimalistic status bar patches from Ladida, the current design looks bad.

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I wonder what a HFD opcode would do in ASM...
Ahhh yes, this is still looking so very looks-so-good. I'm curious how long it takes one to attain pixel-wizardry of this caliber. I'm afraid my complete artistic ineptitude precludes any critique of the visuals besides "they're really good," so that'll have to serve for now. (I will reiterate that those clouds on the northwest of your map could do with a teeny bit of texture, though I understand it's a recycled image.)

Gameplay-wise, I'm liking what I'm seeing. Might that be MarioE's walljump patch, or is it a custom creation? Is Eszett able to jump off of the same wall multiple times? The super jump seems to charge quickly enough to avoid chopping up the action, which is a good thing. Looking at the camera-scrolling image, though, I have to ask if any thought has been given to the fact that ducking is seemingly used both to charge the jump and to scroll the camera - will these functions be decoupled later? Leaving them shared gets doubly tricky, as the super jump wants to move you very upwards while the camera is now very downwards.

I'm not totally clear on the "change into a spinjump in midair" mechanic - is that something the player does at will to bounce on the special block, or does the block itself bounce the player while spinning them?

At any rate, I'm glad you're gaining ground on this project of yours. I quite look forward to what's to come.
Aw, this is cute! I love how much work you've put into the graphics.

The assets that are still SMW look super weird, mind you, but I'm assuming you'll change that. Any idea about what you'll be doing with the Munchers?
Amazing! It looks like it could be a standalone game!


Metroidvania? I dig the hell out of the idea, both because I love that style of gameplay and because it's super uncommon in Mario hacks. Will all the levels in the game be gigantic and non-linear like Backboard Bay?

SMWC members who have helped make Ganymede the hack I want it to be
Super long post ACTIVATE

Originally posted by WhiteYoshiEgg
I've always found it a little iffy when hacks want to stand on their own ... but end up having obvious remains of SMW like wall springboards, block/coin graphics, status bar layout and presumably sound effects.


You will have to rip wall springs out of my cold, dead hands. Your other points are very relevant though, and everything will change if I can help it. Sound effects will be the trickier ones to modify since I'm not particularly skilled with audio, and it's something that I may need outside help with.


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Originally posted by TLMB

I'd recommend you use one of the minimalistic status bar patches from Ladida, the current design looks bad.


I'll have to experiment with brand new status bar designs; admittedly I never ventured much into them. I do know that the Metroid HP patch is compatible if Sicari 2 is anything to go by, but it's a no go if things like the 6 digit coin counter won't work. I also have more items available for the item box than the vanilla game, so if I can't make those items clear it could be a headache.
Since layer 3 is going to be used liberally, it's definitely worth a try at the very least.


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Originally posted by Maarfy
I'm curious how long it takes one to attain pixel-wizardry of this caliber.

I've been casting pixel art at the darkness for about 10 years, so it is up to that time or longer.

Originally posted by Maarfy
Might that be MarioE's walljump patch, or is it a custom creation? Is Eszett able to jump off of the same wall multiple times?

You are right on the money with the first thought - that is the very same handy patch that I'm using. You aren't able to jump off the same wall though, but I would like to change that whenever since it can't really be exploited even if you could.

Originally posted by Maarfy
I have to ask if any thought has been given to the fact that ducking is seemingly used both to charge the jump and to scroll the camera ... Leaving them shared gets doubly tricky, as the super jump wants to move you very upwards while the camera is now very downwards.

This is a bit of a tricky choice since both mechanics are very useful in exploring, but they snarl a little at each other. Maybe a weak justification is that you have to be careful where you charge a jump since you'll lose much of the screen in doing so, but what might work better is simply relegating that super jump to another button.

Originally posted by Maarfy
I'm not totally clear on the "change into a spinjump in midair" mechanic - is that something the player does at will to bounce on the special block, or does the block itself bounce the player while spinning them?

That is simply Erik's Super Mario Land 2-styled Spin Jump, as well as a custom block of my own creation that uses spin jumps to launch players.


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Originally posted by Darkbloom

The assets that are still SMW look super weird, mind you, but I'm assuming you'll change that. Any idea about what you'll be doing with the Munchers?

I'll be remiss to not change everything I can, but I am tempted to keep munchers the exact same. More likely, they'll have a new redesign but still work like they did in the vanilla game.


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Originally posted by Jammerjab
Amazing! It looks like it could be a standalone game!

That's one of my personal goals for the hack, so I'm happy that can still shine through even in these early stages!


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Originally posted by Ondore's Lies
Metroidvania? I dig the hell out of the idea, both because I love that style of gameplay and because it's super uncommon in Mario hacks. Will all the levels in the game be gigantic and non-linear like Backboard Bay?


There are a couple of Metroidvania-styled hacks to draw inspiration from, but they tend to feel like they're made with an emulator in mind - I wanted to make something that would actually work on a console that didn't have the privilege of save states and having no need to be turned off.

Anyway, that is the structure I'm planning! There will be six gigantic super-levels like this one, but they all splinter off into much smaller levels with varying levels of plot significance or gameplay conveniences (such as stores, overworld shortcuts, minigames, or even much more important elements like Switch Palaces).


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Currently working on Æther: The Infinite Library!

Other Submissions of mine:
SNES Controller Graphics
Deeke, this game is breathtaking in pictures. I'd love to get a feel of what it's like to play and hear the sound effects.

The water animation is simply amazing. With all this attention to detail in the art, I hope you're also putting level design and mechanics first. You have a nice way of mapping out what the levels will look like with your "series of megalevels".

Quite possibly the best OW I've seen, unless you're finished with the glowing bit at the top. Is that going to be lava? I hope so.

I wish you the best of luck and will be keeping an eye on this project.
Nearly on the second page? Can't have that, now can I?
Most of the work going towards the hack has gone into technical shenanigans or placeholder levels that are unpresentable in their current state, but there's enough new stuff to talk about anyhow!


Eszett lacks true cape flight, a mini form, or animated cutscenes, so the large amount of remaining sprites goes well towards making her more animated and lively.
Delving into her identity a bit more, German users might note her name as similar to that "ß" grapheme that they're so fond of. Æther's entire cast of characters is named after letters and typographical symbols - appropriate for a world revolving around something called "The Infinite Library."


The HUD had looked pretty rough before so it's due for a redesign - I anticipate a lot of designs in the future, but since status bar modifications don't play kindly with the setup I have in place, most future versions won't be too different from this.
Dragon Coins play a slightly different role in Æther. They are now odd, magical coins called Glyphs, and by collecting them they can allow access into barriers that would be otherwise impossible to cross.
The new coins are known as Scarabs, and they allow Eszett to buy things that she can access at any time from her bag. Speaking of which...


Thanks to the scintillating technosorcery of Maarfy, Eszett is actually capable of using her courier bag to store things she finds on her journey. Pressing select with an empty bag will swiftly reserve her held item, where it can be retrieved at any time (as long as she's on stable ground and she has a moment to look for it, anyway). Safely tucking it away can also allow Eszett to take items into areas that would not otherwise have it, as seen in this video that also presents some of the unpresentable graphics that I was talking about earlier.

While we're in the forest, howzabout a look at some of the greenery?



Backgrounds haven't gotten the same love that foregrounds have, but all in due time.

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Currently working on Æther: The Infinite Library!

Other Submissions of mine:
SNES Controller Graphics

Ayy, click on that portrait of Eszett to see whatever it is I have for C3!

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Currently working on Æther: The Infinite Library!

Other Submissions of mine:
SNES Controller Graphics
Oi, I've got an official Unofficial Demo for C3! Why don't you take a look-see at it?

I feel I wanted to keep as much as possible a surprise for the C3 season, but from hereon I'll be much more diligent about uploading random snippets of progression.

You should know that the 1st level had quite a few sublevels cut from it in order to give the "main" path the polish that it really needed. Look forward to info on those as I paste them back into Backboard Bay, as well as the direction that the game will take moving forward.

--------------------

Currently working on Æther: The Infinite Library!

Other Submissions of mine:
SNES Controller Graphics
Re-posting what I said during C3 (fell asleep and posted too late to allow a reasonable window for response, oops):

Originally posted by me, here
Come a long way from Paramount Omnibus, haven't we?


My but this has gotten some polish in the short time since I've tested the proto-demo. You can guess at most of what I have to say - still looks great, still plays great, still sounds great. My experience with the proper demo was as follows (if anyone reading this hasn't played the demo yet, don't open this and go try it!):



That I was willing to do all that should attest to the quality of the experience, even in "just the first demo" state. All in all my thoughts are still as they were:
  • One of the biggest reasons I'm regularly willing to help this hack along is that we seem to share some similar design philosophies. Eszett in general just moves well and makes it fun to explore - her movement is tweaked all over, but it still retains that glorious SMW responsive crispness without just being different for the sake of being different. There's a lot of room for fairly technical movement, as well - say, a long jump cancelled into a spin jump cancelled into a regular jump allowing one to leap a great distance but still grab a wall.
  • The U-turn jump and ducking long jump fit in better than I expected them to. The long jump was the less useful of the two and often got me into trouble when I used it, but it was still fun to fling myself down a hill or off a ledge at great speed.
  • Speaking of hills, there are a ton of slopes everywhere. It's a double-edged sword; on the one hand it enables tricky slide kills and momentum tricks, but on the other it can cause jump-foiling slips, and makes the ducking long jump unusable. More of a note to keep in mind than anything I'd be concerned about, at least at the moment.
  • It remains to be seen how you develop the lives system and all that, but I'm not sure how I feel about the premise of death pits in a Metroidvania. It's not heresy or anything, but it wears at the player's trust and slows down gameplay as big holes must be carefully checked out for platforms and transition fields instead of just jumping on down.
  • The audio was all fine. Sound effects worked and the music all fit. The song that seemed most out of place was the Final Fantasy track used for the star power, but that's minor.
  • I think you made the right decision to leave in the vanilla backgrounds for now.

Two things though, also kind of spoilers:


This sand above me isn't real - annoying, but surmountable.


This sand below me isn't real as well - and it cost me a promising All Coins run.


Originally posted by Deeke
My goal for next C3 is to have another playable demo that generally solidifies the real meat and bones of the game - it would include NPCs and a general sense of plot instead of being flung onto an island with some vague goalpost to reach.

Oooh, what a convenient segue. So, I've hassled you enough about the gameplay* by this point, so now I have to hassle you about the plot - what's all going on here? Who is Eszett? Why is she here, and why do we care? Small questions, but powerful ones - note that "I don't fully know yet" and/or "I don't care to share just yet" are perfectly acceptable responses. Surely a game centered about a library has quite a story to tell?

Totally unrelated, but are there any particular Metroids or 'Vanias inspiring your creation?

* I have not hassled you enough about the gameplay.


Originally posted by Deeke
Supreme Dupreme Special Thanks to Maarfy, who has basically been the backbone of the entire project!

You're quite welcome! I must have coded and scrapped a dozen full hacks worth of ASM by now - it's a real thrill to see some of this stuff given proper life for a change. Keep on fighting the good fight!
Originally posted by Deeke
I'll be much more diligent about uploading random snippets of progression.

I aught to do that, eh?


I experimented a while back with upping the size of all of the character portraits, as I found that my first method left a lot of blank space that just looked weird and a bit awkward. Now I only leave an unacceptable amount of weird buggy graphics that appear for all kinds of reasons, but the basic mechanics are already in place to show off so whatevs yo. Even though the larger sizes mean more graphical slots being taken up, there's still enough spaces for another character to chat with and a modest setting to chat over, though I'd need some workaround for the characters to not leave giant holes in that background.
The little chimney that Eszett falls down also happens to allow for some things to happen like receiving coins or powerups or something else relevant to the conversation, though for the sake of expedience there are blocks that zoop her downward at any other time. When things get nicer, she'll be completely invisible as well.

Shoutout to TheBiob's Single Screen Routine, which lets the cutscene progression move in this way without revealing the single vertical level it actually is.

--------------------

Currently working on Æther: The Infinite Library!

Other Submissions of mine:
SNES Controller Graphics
Pages: « 1 »
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