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SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

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SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 2 months ago

Note to Talkhausers: This LP is part of a general romhack megathread I've started on Something Awful. That's why there's a big OP that explains what SMWCentral even is and why it doesn't reference the talkhaus at all. I was encouraged to post the videos here as raocow does his own VLDC9 playthrough as a sort of counterpoint/different perspective on level design. I hope you enjoy!

SA Thread link for those interested: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showth ... id=3803723

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The Super Mario World Central Vanilla Level Design Contest (VLDC) is an annual contest on SMWCentral.net in which users participate to see who can make the best "vanilla" level. The term vanilla in the context of Super Mario World romhacks means that no resources from outside the original game are used to create these levels. The focus and half of the total score is primarily on good Level Design with the other half being made up of Creativity and Aesthetics. The numerical breakdown is as follows:

Level Design: 30 points - "Was your level fun, well built, interesting? Does the level have a good difficulty curve? Not too easy or too hard."
Creativity: 20 points - "Did you put the provided resources to good use? Did you implement a fun and/or unique gimmick? Anything that will make your level stick out amongst the crowd?"
Aesthetics: 10 points - "How did the level look? Appearance and things such as usage of decoration, map16 and custom palettes for visual improvement."

VLDC9 is the 9th annual contest and began in January 2016. The romhack is a compilation of all the contest entries with a record 117 levels with 152 exits. Compare that to the original game's 75 levels and 96 exits and you'll see there's a LOT more content here than before. The hackers over at SMWCentral even had to figure out how to add more levels to the game since it only supports up to 96 levels by default. In short, this contest was absurdly popular this year and from what we've played so far, the quality, even in the lower levels has been really good. I can't wait to get to the Top 5.

This contest usually brings out some of the best in content from SMWCentral's userbase and is compiled into one large offering to play each year. It's usually a lot of fun to see what they have created; even the bad ones can be entertaining in their own way. That's just to be expected when you have a huge userbase participating.

So why am I playing this? Well first off, I'll be joined by my good friend Tyty for the entirety of the LP. Frankly, the two of us wanted to play the hack anyway and decided why not record it at the same time and have an excuse to talk about level design? Both of us have experience with making SMW romhack levels over the last ~10 years and we both have slightly different ideas behind what we think makes for a good Mario level. The goal of this LP is mostly to just have fun exploring a contest hack from a community both of haven't been an active part of in years. If we spark a few discussions on the nature of good game design along the way, that's a bonus as far as I'm concerned. Otherwise, we hope you enjoy the ride as we go through the game.

Table of Contents:

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Here we go. The contest is organized into a Worst world, a Best world and all the rest are strewn around the rest of the overworld and submaps. We're going to get the Worst world out of the way first, then play all the stuff on the overworlds and end with the Best world.

Sorry about the kinda funky audio going on in this and the next few videos. I accidentally baked Tyty's audio into the game audio due to a recording mistake and the only way to fix it was to create a half-assed autoduck with his voice against the game audio. It was salvaged thankfully, but I don't intend to have poor audio quality for him in the future.
Last edited by FPzero on 23 Mar 2017, 19:58, edited 20 times in total.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby GlitchMr » 2 months ago

Simple Path is yellow because none of judges knew about this terrible, terrible secret exit, and if they did knew, it probably would be last place.

Amazing Hammer Brothers also check the overworld map. However, I don't remember Bullet Bills doing so, but perhaps they do?

Looking forward to rest of LP.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 2 months ago

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We got stuck on -UNNAMED- for a lot longer than raocow did thanks to poor playing, generator idiocy and bad luck and timing with platforms in the second half.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 2 months ago

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We go through a lot of levels in this episode and get out of the Worst world. We'll be returning to WHOA RADICOLA once we feel more confident (maybe once we get the switch palaces). At the time, we didn't want our recording to get bogged down there since we knew the level was going to be a major challenge.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 2 months ago

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Sometimes, secret exits do more to hurt a level than help it. I didn't cut out any footage here, but think about how long it took us to find and solve the secret exit in the first level. It's a little unfortunate because the main level, and much stronger showing, is a good, basic Mario level.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 2 months ago

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Cohesion is a difficult but necessary skill to learn when making levels. Meaning, your level should feel like one whole level, not multiple levels stuffed into one. Present a simple, consistent idea and build on it through all parts of your level.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 2 months ago

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And we're back with a session that didn't corrupt on us. (We lost the first two-hour take for this set of videos when OBS decided to corrupt the footage as it finalized.) In a way this probably went better because we knew what was coming so we were able to avoid getting stuck on some levels for really long times like we did in the lost footage.

There's a number of lessons on design talked about in here, such as appropriate uses for munchers, real versus fake difficulty and why Puntin' Chuck is a very dangerous enemy to use a lot of.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby GlitchMr » 2 months ago

To explain what's the deal with blue coins, it's a reference to a level in JUMP called "Coin Guides Are Always Accurate!", where coin guides were malicious and blue coins marked bullets appearing here (overall, in the entire JUMP, blue coins meant danger due to that level, as some designers did copy that indication from that level). Ruin of Cupidity was meant as an improved version of that level.

The pipe thing in Midway room is actually a second Midway Point. As it happens, 1UP checkpoints don't spawn when it was already triggered, so you can hide blocks under invisible 1UP checkpoints blocks (this isn't a new thing, some levels in JUMP used this already, although I suppose it's relatively unknown outside of Talkhaus SMW community). This level hides coins and a pipe behind 1UP checkpoints, which mean they will appear only when 1UP checkpoint was triggered. I do admit however that hiding coins under 1UP checkpoint blocks was pretty clever.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 2 months ago

I had no idea you could use 1-UP checkpoints like that! That's ingenious.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 2 months ago

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We go through two levels we liked and one that we didn't. Always make sure a level has a long enough timer that a new player who has never seen the level before has a chance of beating it all in one go. When in doubt, add an extra 100 seconds.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby GlitchMr » 1 month ago

I think Coolmario spent more time remixing the track in his level than on actual level design. May be wrong however.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 1 month ago

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No real tips to add here today because both levels are very good!

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby GlitchMr » 1 month ago

Angel Cliffs is a neat level, but I do admit I hated this level, due to me collecting all Dragon Coins in a playthrough. One of Dragon Coins is placed in really stupid spot (one of those dark door shapes player exits from is actually enterable, it is slightly lighter, but nothing really noticeable if you aren't looking carefully).

The thing about the pipe in Midnight Arbor is that it's hidden by 1UP checkpoints, once again (the invisible 1UP mushroom is obtained about where Midway Point is). I think there is one level left that uses this trick (and it's green doored, so you may not necessarily see it).

The optional sidepath in Midnight Arbor leads to 1UPs.

M.A.N.P. stands for Midnight Arbor National Park.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 1 month ago

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Here we see a level with a cool concept that just isn't particularly fun to play and requires either weird knowledge of the game's engine or accidental discovery.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 1 month ago

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This one's pretty long because there were two levels that just wouldn't end.

More importantly, when developing a level and its theme, sometimes you have to realize that you really should stick to one idea instead of cramming in multiple ideas. The first level is a perfect example of trying to do too much and not focusing on the part that actually works best.

And make sure your fog settings work.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby GlitchMr » 1 month ago

The second level actually has "transparent" fog.

But here is a thing, transparency does mean color addition for each color with saturation (to be exact, if result of addition is higher than maximum, it is maximum). Adding any color to white (max value in every color) is still white.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 1 month ago

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This is the sort of level we love seeing. So much creativity went into the first level here, we kinda spend the whole time gushing over it.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 1 month ago

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That Switch Palace requires a lot of knowledge of game mechanics to beat. I'm a little mixed on this but I guess it's okay. Second level is just crazy in the weirdest way.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 1 month ago

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Some really solid levels today. Only real thing to note is that Layer 2 can be really difficult to time with line guided objects especially without an autoscroller to dictate exactly when Mario will reach a specific part. Lots of careful testing has to be done here.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 4 weeks ago

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Lots of good examples of how to use a moving Layer 2 today. The frequency of it comes from recent hacking developments that allow for easy creation of Layer 3 backgrounds, something that had been previously very technical and challenging to get working. Space World has been really kind to us so far!

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby GlitchMr » 4 weeks ago

Those weird pipes are used in Lemmy/Wendy battle. The reason why they aren't solid is that nothing is solid on Page 0 (except for switch palace switches), and generally Page 0 was less busy with tiles. They had free tileset specific space in 10A and 10B, but I suppose they didn't want to use that one for a minor thing.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 3 weeks ago

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Hoo boy. This was not a good level. There are way too many problems with it. It's unforgiving, visually difficult, has a cheap shot right at the end and essentially relies on memorization to get through it. We played it for 35 minutes and if I hadn't gotten extremely lucky we could have been there for even longer. I tried to edit my way through it the best I could, only keeping progress, near misses and our own gameplay explanations intact. The rest is death.

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby GlitchMr » 3 weeks ago

This level is actually an improvement to on original version which was pretty much angrycow when raocow played it (mostly due to Dragon Coins placement). However, on a change, raocow very much liked RREHT ZEF, but said it's hard. The Yoshi isn't really necessary other than for getting last Dragon Coin in a level.

Wait, what original version, you may ask. Well.

RREHT ZEF was an attempt to say FEZ THREE backwards (but for some reason it was mistyped). FEZ 2 for all intents and purposes was a pretty bad level. By the same author (he changed SMWC username).

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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby Pyro » 3 weeks ago

oh noooo my bad level is soon dont judge me ;-;
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Re: SUPER MARIO 152 - FPzero & Tyty play VLDC9

Postby FPzero » 3 weeks ago

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We're back to color to finish out this recording session! The secret exit in the first level works by placing a door hidden behind the yoshi coin. What's supposed to happen is the player has to find all 5 coins first then the door appears since that's how it would work on a vanilla SMW rom. But since this compilation rom saves Yoshi Coins upon collection instead of making the player collect all 5 in one run through the level, just getting the one coin that hides the door then beating the level will unveil the secret path. This is an application of that Z-Ordering concept I mentioned in passing once before.
Second level is marred by a sudden transition to an entirely different and more difficult focus in the second half. It was going so well too.


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