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VLDC9 - vanilla level design contest 9

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Re: VLDC9 - valleys lugging desert caverns 9

Postby Le Neveu de Rameau » 2 years ago

Nimono wrote:Fun level reminiscent of the original Super Mario World. A little on the “eh” side, though, not much special about it
Yeah, I hates those “eh” levels.

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Re: VLDC9 - valleys lugging desert caverns 9

Postby BobisOnlyBob » 2 years ago

Grounder wrote:rip jayscribble's avatar
I got so confused by this and was like "when was a yellow yoshi in the level"

somehow that rotation has landed like 98% of the time on the yellow yoshi avatar instead of the rex
Le Neveu de Rameau wrote:Yeah, I hates those “eh” levels.
I'm guessing that's meant to be '~eh' or '-eh' or something like that. †is ’ (not ' but ’, there is a difference!) when mangled through non-UTF8 character encoding. Not sure what the œ is misencoded from.
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Re: VLDC9 - valleys lugging desert caverns 9

Postby ft029 » 2 years ago

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Re: VLDC9 - valleys lugging desert caverns 9

Postby Lockirby2 » 2 years ago

Oh boy, we have Purple Plains except it's Yellow. >.>

I don't understand why Vanilla Secret 1.5 ranked as high as it did. I found it really boring. The first half was basically all lava raft rides where you basically had to do nothing but duck and jump once every ten minutes. And then it transitioned into a standard romp, which doesn't help it much. Once Koopster pointed out that it was a transition from the inner part of Vanilla Dome to the outer part I liked it a bit more, but it doesn't help too much.

I also don't understand why Aero Plains ranked so high. I'm not sure what it did differently from the romps in the 60s and 70s to warrant being 44th. Especially considering that it had weird design decisions like having to wait out the P-switch for no reason, and at least one part that looked like it was dragged wholesale out of Yoshi's Island 1.

Also, now it's really bothering me that I don't know what the red level is. I suppose I'll know it when I see it.

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Re: VLDC9 - valleys lugging desert caverns 9

Postby Ivy » 2 years ago

raocow wrote:you guys where right about tomorrow's video being a one level deal, but the way y'all where speaking I was expecting some kind of hell monster, not something I had a blast with..!
I heard a lot of people say that it's long but not difficult
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Re: VLDC9 - valleys lugging desert caverns 9

Postby Stink Terios » 2 years ago

Way to reference the wrong Touhou song!

Anyway, I didn't like this level at all. Gave me war flashbacks of Miscellaneous Monument.

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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby FrozenQuills » 2 years ago

The thing about Starry Summit I think is that you either understand the quirks and hints that the level gives, you don't understand at all, or you misunderstand the hints entirely, which does happen. For example, Pyro didn't understand what the hint in the bullet-yoshi room meant at all at first. These issues, added onto the big risk of dying in the secret exit, contributed to some design problems with the judges.

There is also a lot to take in and observe, which doesn't go hand in hand with players that just want some athletic action.

Still, I have to say this is one of the most creative levels in the contest in terms of puzzles.
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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby AUS » 2 years ago

Yeah I guess if you're bad then the level is hard.
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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby Koopster » 2 years ago

And here they are.

50th: STARRY SUMMIT by Leiras
Nimono
DESIGN: 20/30
CREATIVITY: 11/20
AESTHETICS: 6/10
TOTAL: 37/60
Mmm. The puzzle for the secret exit is very frustrating. If you die on the secret exit path, you have to do the entire Star chase all over again, which takes a while, and keeping the baby Yoshi from eating anything is incredibly difficult, even with scrolling the screen with L... It asks a bit much without being clear enough.

ninja boy
DESIGN: 10/30
CREATIVITY: 17/20
AESTHETICS: 6/10
TOTAL: 33/60
Very creative level with an interesting concept but suffered heavily from not being super clear on what needed to be done causing a lot more resets than what you'd expect.

Eternity
DESIGN: 10/30
CREATIVITY: 14/20
AESTHETICS: 6/10
TOTAL: 30/60
Those puzzles are fairly interesting, and some are quite creative, but I wouldn't say they are fun to solve, unfortunately. Some of them are quite easy to break too, such as the last one before the regular exit. Other than that, the level doesn't do anything new, and there's a lot of going up without any real action as well.

Koopster
DESIGN: 28/30
CREATIVITY: 19/20
AESTHETICS: 9/10
TOTAL: 56/60
What an enchanting level! You really scared me with the intro message of your entry ROM (which mentions "complex puzzles that are completable with no savestates if you pay attention"). The puzzles in this level are actually super well balanced and very well leaded by the coins. I'm really impressed by a lot of things you've done here! My main complaint, though, is that I think an extra midpoint would do good for the secret exit! Like a 1-up checkpoint. It's really easier to screw up there than you'd think, especially around the bullet machines in the beginning.
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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby Ryrir » 2 years ago

interesting concept but suffered heavily from not being super clear on what needed to be done
I don't know man, if a puzzle level is "super clear" on "what needs to be done" it's not a very good puzzle level now is it
Not being clear about what you need to do is literally the point yo
other than that, the level doesn't do anything new
ahh yes, the good ol' follow a star up a vertical level trope! It's a classic at this point tbh, very overdone. Can level designers please just stop using it already? Having to play this old gimmick in level after level is very tiresome

...

these judge comments are confusing

the level would be a lot better if it had a one-up checkpoint for the secret exit. The guy even had the perfect setup for it with the one tile wide drop! I can't wait until that engine quirk is common knowledge and people start using it more often
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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby raocow » 2 years ago

dude wrote on youtube that he didn't know about the 1up extra midpoint trick until after the deadline, so, yup.

and yeah, a lot of the judge comments for this level in particular leave me more puzzled than the actual level itself.
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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby BobisOnlyBob » 2 years ago

The judge comments don't baffle me at all, it just shows that Koopster is the only judge who understands and appreciates puzzle levels that are actually well-constructed novel puzzles. Clarity was definitely not an issue with the huge HINT sections spelling out mechanics. The midpoint issue is definitely true though, the moment raocow entered the secret exit path my gut reaction was just "please savestate here", because there really needed to be a midpoint there.
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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby Mad Zookeeper » 2 years ago

yea, i don't think i really agree with the judges comments outside of koopster on this one. as a puzzle level i think this was probably the best one that i've seen raocow play given that he didn't actually get frustrated with figuring any of the puzzles themselves out. that, to me, is a mark of a very well done puzzle level.
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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby TaviTurnip » 2 years ago

You should be used to raocow enjoying perfectly good levels that other people get paranoid about for no reason by now.

I mean, beep boop [insert snarky text #37]
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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby FrozenQuills » 2 years ago

oh man opinions, they exist.

You can't really discount those who didn't like the level, really. I can imagine a world where raocow did not accidentally solve that second puzzle leaving people to criticize more of the level design (using knowledge of sprite spawns is some unintuitive design tbh), or raocow dying multiple times to the bullet part, or raocow not immediately getting the last puzzle of the secret exit.

For comparison, here's Pyro's experience of the level. It took her like 45 minutes, and it's drastically different from raocow's.
DarkMatt even thought this level should be in worst world.
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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby Ryrir » 2 years ago

FrozenQuills wrote:oh man opinions, they exist.

You can't really discount those who didn't like the level, really. I can imagine a world where raocow did not accidentally solve that second puzzle leaving people to criticize more of the level design (using knowledge of sprite spawns is some unintuitive design tbh), or raocow dying multiple times to the bullet part, or raocow not immediately getting the last puzzle of the secret exit.

For comparison, here's Pyro's experience of the level. It took her like 45 minutes, and it's drastically different from raocow's.
I'm not criticizing people who didn't like the level. I actually think it had a few problems, and to a certain extent I can even understand people who say "it wasn't clear enough". But come on, if you're going to be writing a judge comment, at least try to explain yourself and your rating.

Coming up with comments like "the level didn't do anything new" tells me that the judge didn't like the level but couldn't articulate why they didn't like it, so they just came up with something completely random and generic instead.

And I think I can legitimately criticize the judges for that. It's not a criticism of their opinion but rather of their justification of their opinion.
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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby FrozenQuills » 2 years ago

Ryrir wrote: I'm not criticizing people who didn't like the level. I actually think it had a few problems, and to a certain extent I can even understand people who say "it wasn't clear enough". But come on, if you're going to be writing a judge comment, at least try to explain yourself and your rating.

Coming up with comments like "the level didn't do anything new" tells me that the judge didn't like the level but couldn't articulate why they didn't like it, so they just came up with something completely random and generic instead.

And I think I can legitimately criticize the judges for that. It's not a criticism of their opinion but rather of their justification of their opinion.
My comment was directed at those who overly praised the level's design (and even thought it was flawless (cough cough youtube commentators)) when they only know the experience from raocow's perspective, but your point about judging levels is also very valid.
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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby nathanisbored » 2 years ago

just chiming in to say (again) that the problem here isnt the judging, its the format of the contest and scoring criteria, and the fact that it doesnt account for the genre of level or intent by author, style, replayability, learning curve, etc. maybe one day people will decide that level design contests without either specifications for these things or adaptive criteria are a bad idea, and also the workload of 150+ levels for each judge to score is a horrendous idea. i could also mention that its not even vanilla because the baserom had several patches that change mechanics (most notably SA-1 which is a complete engine rewrite), but thats a whole other discussion. bottom line is dont take scoring/ranking seriously. it literally means nothing, and the community was obviously more concerned with making a functioning and impressive compilation hack than a well-balanced contest with interesting conditions. so take it for what it became.


i liked the puzzle level. i agree about the 1-up checkpoint thing :3

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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby Ryrir » 2 years ago

That's a very fair point. I guess if you'd have to write an individual comment for over 100 levels while under relative time pressure, you can't expect to have individualized, meaningful comments for every entry.
I guess at that point it would be better to do without judge comments at all, instead of writing a comment for the sake of writing a comment.
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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby Nimono » 2 years ago

Mad Zookeeper wrote:yea, i don't think i really agree with the judges comments outside of koopster on this one. as a puzzle level i think this was probably the best one that i've seen raocow play given that he didn't actually get frustrated with figuring any of the puzzles themselves out. that, to me, is a mark of a very well done puzzle level.
Honestly, I really loved the level, too! I thought it had GREAT puzzles. The only thing I didn't like was how easy it was to screw up at the start of the secret exit path even if you manage to get the yoshi (I remember the level needing the baby to eat absolutely 0 bullet bills or you couldn't do it), and how if you happened to die, you had to redo the whole star babysitting. If the latter had been possible for the creator to deal with using the knowledge he had, it really would've been an absolutely amazing level. Maybe not top 5, but definitely amazing!

tbh i'm shocked I only gave it a 37, that's a score of "average" imo, but I definitely thought it was better than "average"... Not sure why I only gave it 11/20 in creativity, definitely more creative than that.

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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby nathanisbored » 2 years ago

Ryrir wrote:That's a very fair point. I guess if you'd have to write an individual comment for over 100 levels while under relative time pressure, you can't expect to have individualized, meaningful comments for every entry.
I guess at that point it would be better to do without judge comments at all, instead of writing a comment for the sake of writing a comment.
If the community actually trusted their judges to do their job in a meaningful way, then you wouldnt need 4 judges to score the same level. You could spread the workload between them. Ideally no judge would have more than 15 levels, because any more than that and you cant give meaningful attention to any one level specifically. With 150 levels you only have time to play the levels once, you dont even get to analyze them (and forget about accounting for replay value in your score). what if you have an off day and play really bad, or just dont notice certain things? what if youre in a bad mood? what if it's the first level youre scoring and you havent established a baseline yet? And what about hard/endurance levels? do you just write them off as bad because theyre a different genre than the average level? how do you even score them under the same criteria as other levels? same for puzzle levels, etc. The problem is the criteria is so vague and bad that the scores arent really quantifiable, but for some reason rather than fixing the rubric, they just hope the average scores even out to some meaningful number. this is a problem in every single smw level design contest, and it feels like im the only one seeing the problem (ive pointed it out before as well).

speaking of an off-day, sorry if i sound bitter, it's just tiresome to me.

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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby 10204307 » 2 years ago

Submitting a puzzle level to a contest strikes me as taking a huge risk to make, considering how many people just can't stand puzzle levels.

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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby S.N.N. » 2 years ago

nathanisbored wrote:If the community actually trusted their judges to do their job in a meaningful way, then you wouldnt need 4 judges to score the same level

..

spread out the workload
This is an absolutely atrocious idea which has been brought up several times before, and it would not work for a multitude of reasons:

a) You would need to be sure that the judges all understand the criteria which they are judging to perfection, regardless of what that criteria actually is.
b) You need to find a set of judges with the exact same philosophies on level design, otherwise you're going to end up with results that are no different than what we've seen in every other contest. Take today's level, for instance - if the levels are randomly distributed and this level ended up being judged by Koopster, it would have scored in the top 5-10. If it was scored by Eternity, it might have ranked near the bottom. The story would be quite a bit different based on which judge played what.
c) re: "what if you have an off day" - this is why ninja boy was an example of a bad judge. As previously mentioned, he graded very harshly at first, and then with more lenience later on without actually going back and correcting his previous entries. When you change your standards wildly mid-ranking, then yes, the problem is the judge and not the criteria. Someone actually took out ninja boy's scores entirely and showed what the order would be without them, and the results were pretty different, yet the top 10 was quite a bit more acceptable overall.
d) This also assumes that you know who will be a good judge prior to bringing them on. In the VLDC's case, this has been going on for a decade - obviously, the same people who judged the first are very likely gone by the ninth, so new judges need to be continuously be brought in. Someone can be a good level designer, have a good grasp of what makes a level fun (in general), but still be a pretty terrible judge - that's a bit of a risk you have to take. This isn't just an SMW level contest issue either - it has happened with every SMBX contest, and likely other contests all around the Internet.

You can't quantify subjectivity - you're correct about that - but there still has to be at least somewhat general guidelines to work with. That being said, the spreading-out-the-workload method would lead to far, far more skewed results, and there is a reason this has been shot down multiple times.

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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby Le Neveu de Rameau » 2 years ago

Pish-posh, all you need to do is run your dowsing rod over each entry; thus will you detect the cut of their inner jib.

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Re: VLDC9 - ventures livening dusky canyons 9

Postby BobisOnlyBob » 2 years ago

Nimono wrote:tbh i'm shocked I only gave it a 37, that's a score of "average" imo, but I definitely thought it was better than "average"... Not sure why I only gave it 11/20 in creativity, definitely more creative than that.
I know raocow and others have you pegged as the high-scoring judge, but to me this kinda sums you up - the amnesiac judge! Your scores actually come out sensibly for me, but the fact that they often seem to not line up with your comments or your current opinions is a bit mysterious! Not that I'm implying shenanigans or disapproving, just that your judgement is a little baffling - but at least it's not the outright wackiness of ninja boy's.
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