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Level Clearing

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Cup
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby Cup » 8 years ago

How's a ninja scroll?
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For the message and fire blocks, I actually would prefer to leave it as is due to a matter of sheer utility. The fire blocks don't really look any more out of place than the item blocks or turn blocks, but I think these things need to be kept so there's less ambiguity. If the player is familiar with Mario, they should know exactly what to do when they see the fire blocks, which is important since they mostly likely haven't gone to get the fireballs yet. If you really feel they should be changed, just let me know and I'll try to think up something to replace 'em, but since they relate directly to a gameplay gimmick not necessarily exclusive to ninjas, they should stand out.

The message block kinda uses the same reasoning, but mostly because I can't think of anything ninja-like that says, "I'm a speaker, bonk me from below." Maybe an opened scroll? Mmm, but at the same time I'd need to use a new exgfx slot since that's on sp2 instead of sp1 with the flower and fireballs, so I don't think it's worth it.

I do like the chest as a reward for this particular level. The challenge isn't in locating the chest, but finishing the sublevel. It's not a tremendously hard sublevel, but you do need to keep your powerups so there's not much room for error. I know I personally find it quite refreshing to be gifted a chest with a clapping ninja there to congratulate you after a hard day of powerup collecting.

If you still think I should make the changes just let me know. They shouldn't take very long, but I'm a little hesitant and prefer it as it is now for the reasons stated above.

Edit* Now that I made one, I think I'm going to change all the powerups to scrolls of different colors. Yellow for cape, red for the flower, and I guess blue for the mushroom since big Demo is blue... I'll play around with it. But that's a really nice touch. Thanks!

I don't think I need to post it again, but let me know if you're happy with the changes.

Edit 2* Greatest edit ever! Disregard pretty much all of that. I tried changing the fireblocks anyway. I do see your point that since they're shurikens now, the fireblocks make very little sense. It took me changing all the powerups to realize that even though it might be a little confusing, it's still a really good idea.

It's not great, but I made some quick bamboo that looks like it might be something to throw shurikens at.
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ProfessorDemetri
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby ProfessorDemetri » 8 years ago

Lulz. Yeah I actually forgot to change those when I was revamping that little middle area...
I'm such a goof. I'll fix this when I get home from work... Man oh man, it's been a long time comin' lol :lol:
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ProfessorDemetri
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby ProfessorDemetri » 8 years ago

Third time's a charm! :lol:
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flameofdoubt
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby flameofdoubt » 8 years ago

Cup: Brilliant. If you've made a messagebox swap or it just doesn't work or you don't want to change it, then you're cleared.

ProfessorDemetri: Can't find a 5th dragon coin in your level, but if you can confirm that it is there then it's cleared, hurrah.

Whee 3 clears in two days.
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Yoshi987
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby Yoshi987 » 8 years ago

Welp, finally completed my level, oh so long after signing up.
Hope you like it.
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limepie20
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby limepie20 » 8 years ago

You're supposed to post your level in the testing and development thread first and if people say it's good, post here.

Yoshi987
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby Yoshi987 » 8 years ago

Oh, was I?
I thought it was here then submissions.
*sigh* Ok then, I'll post it there instead...
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ProfessorDemetri
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby ProfessorDemetri » 8 years ago

Flame:
I can. lol
I'm off to submissions. Nice workin' with you guys. Untill next time! ;)
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Crimson
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby Crimson » 8 years ago

About time I tried this again.
a2mt2.ips
(Music still isn't done)

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flameofdoubt
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby flameofdoubt » 8 years ago

Crimson: Not really touhou-y enough to be called touhou reference. It's got touhou graphics and will probably have touhou music but that's about it. No characters or special extra things appear. The level itself is a bit obtuse; the first time i played this level i went through the bamboo room five times before it occurred to me something was amiss, and now i can only do it because i know there's an invisible coin block there to hunt for. Does that fit touhou lore or something? Because if it's just there as a platforming puzzle it's kinda mean and not at all fair. Having the time limit go past 999 looks bad. The level isn't long if you just go through it, but it's enormous, and all of the rooms look basically alike and have similar platforming, so it's impossible to find your way around. For a first time player it's too easy to get lost, and the platforming can grind as it's very repetitive. There are only two enemy types.

You need to reinforce the touhou theme more. Best way to do this would be to make a boss. You need more enemy types, maybe they could be touhou-y? Just as long as they don't fly straight at you and have a more interesting pattern.

You need to make your level more concise but then build on it- make it shorter but showcase your best ideas, and then add newer things on to it. Currently your level is big bamboo area and then big paper walls area, so it looks very samey and only has two areas really. At the very least you need to have different looking rooms, currently every room in the house area looks the same and every room has maybe ten doors so the whole area is a nightmare to navigate. Even worse, it's all just standard platforming with spikes and goombas, with the odd corridor danmaku-fairy section thrown in, usually three in quick succession which looks copy-pasted and a bit lazy. You need to vary the platforming, as well as make it more obvious what to do in the bamboo area.

In the bamboo area you need to change the ground graphics. Having recoloured SMW floor tiles looks bad when on a nice looking custom bamboo background.

This level looks nice but it all looks the same, and it goes on for so long, and it's so big without interesting details, that the quality is strongly diluted, and so the whole thing isn't terribly fun to play.

Playing the level without the music doesn't work. Music is integral to the level, so only come back to clearing when the level is done and has music.

Your chest puzzle was nice, but I kind of took the correct route by accident. If someone took a different door it might be a horrible mess trying to work out what items they need where, when there's no indication whatsoever except for those carrots which are confusing and often misleading, albeit in some places well used.

The building blocks you have so far are good, you just need to make a good level out of them, and expand to use more resources. With only two enemy types, no music, and a touhou level with no boss, the whole thing feels empty (to be fair they are on vacation but i'm not sure that was intentional) and unfinished; a half done level.

My suggestion is keep all the resources you have and start again. If you change the ground tiles you could probably copy-paste the bamboo section but plot out a new layout for the house that might play well, with less rooms and more individuality in each room, each having a purpose and slightly different graphics. Don't be afraid to lower the ceiling and make the house more personal, it's built for normal people to use after all. That way any custom graphics for doing a bedroom or a dining room wouldn't have to be enormous and fill the whole screen. And above all try to put a boss in. A touhou level where you don't meet any touhous is always going to be missing something. Try out the results in the testing section and I think you could make a really nice level.
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TheSlyPig
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby TheSlyPig » 8 years ago

Alrighty! Well, One Hundred Million Thousand and 10 years later, TheSlyPig posts his level in level clearing! This did go through Testing and Development back in the day with good reviews, so this I believe is the next step. I haven't changed it since then. Let me know what you think!

Go in the first door on Yoshi's Island 2.
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TheSlyPig - Deja Vu.ips
Deja... woo?
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flameofdoubt
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby flameofdoubt » 8 years ago

TheSlyPig: This level...is hard to define. For a start it's pretty schizophrenic; it jumps around in different areas with different challenges but has no common thread and no obvious connection between these areas. The palettes need to change, using the same jolly piece of music for different areas sounds really bad. There's lots of stuff, everywhere, so it's very busy. That makes it hard to focus on what's going on. A big plus is that it feels like a real place, not like a series of platforms floating in the area, but there are too many platforms and they're everywhere and they're all slanted, and slanted platforms are pretty much artificial difficulty because instead of being allowed to stand on a platform you're forced to skid around on it trying not to fall off, which is especially annoying when you have one tile slanted platforms and have to make complicated jumps. You need to update to the latest baserom. It's not fair to have it so that the player can accidentally start the level from the beginning again when there was no indication that that isn't the right path, it just forces them to repeat stuff they've shown they can already do.

The biggest problem is I don't know what your level is supposed to be. It looks like a collection of brief, busy experiments in level design. There's no theme or meaning or intent that seems to tie all the elements of the level together. Ideally it should have a setting or a mood or a style, and then the level, gameplay, and challenges all fit naturally to that. raocow's levels usually feature high technical difficulty and abstract visuals. Someone's making a level based on 8-bit landscapes. Cup made a level where you fight ninjas. I can't think of a snappy sentence to describe what happens in your level. It just seems to be standard mario platforming alternating between a standard and palette swapped area, with some basic Tails_155's platform aesthetic's thrown in; which isn't snappy or particularly promising as a sentence.

Let's take for instance Cup's level. It's got the theme of going up against a group of ninjas, so instantly you know it's going to need that one type of music that fits ninjas. It's going to need enemy and background graphical swaps. It's going to be set in feudal japan so there'll be mostly country with small villages and lots of bamboo. It needs enemies to be sneaky, based on stealth and planning rather than force of numbers. It could have a leader, some kind of great sensei type character, which would make a boss battle.
All these details come easily from the premise and tie every element of the level to the premise, and then help inform the level design. For instance with the setting you have a village so you're going to need a flat plain but maybe you can stand on the roof, so you have two levels to distribute the ninja enemies on.

I think what you need to do now is find some kind of theme, premise, or plan for your level. It doesn't need to be anything fancy, just something different and a bit interesting, and then you can draw all you need from that to make a really interesting level that feels consistent and with a persisting point.
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TheSlyPig
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby TheSlyPig » 8 years ago

@FlameOfDoubt

Thanks for your time and honesty. :P

Honestly and realistically though, there is no way I can make this level any better than it is without pouring massive amounts of time that I don't have into it. I did almost all of the work on this about 3/4ths of a year ago, having no romhacking experience and I learned as much as I could to try and make a passable level, but I don't have the time anymore to try to learn the skills so I can take it up to where it needs to be. "It looks like a collection of brief, busy experiments in level design." Honestly, that's pretty much exactly what it was. So, I'm officially giving up my level slot. If someone wants to take over from where I left off on this level I would be happy to send you all the files I have for it. I tried. Sorry to bail on this so late guys, I really am. RL is a bitch.

Gwaur
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby Gwaur » 8 years ago

Hi. I finally beat my level without tools, and comments on the test&dev thread are quite minute, so I guess it's time to try clearing again. The ips is here. My level is right below Yoshi's house on the overworld (it's not a water level despite the icon). And here are some notes about the last time I posted to this thread:

* It was said that my level was pretty short, so I made it almost twice as long.
* It was said that vanilla is fine as long as it's done well, and my level was pretty nice for vanilla back then. My level is still vanilla, and I hope it's at least as nice now, but I'm still kinda worried my level might be "just a level".
* Someone asked where the chest was supposed to be. So I'll tell now that it goes to the chamber above the tofu man jumping section. (I haven't seen any talk about the chest plan lately, so I'm not really sure if there are going to be chests after all?)
* I asked about music, but I now have inserted my own bgm, so it's not relevant anymore.
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flameofdoubt
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby flameofdoubt » 8 years ago

Gwaur: Ending text has grammar issues; maybe change it to something like "This stuff gets everywhere, but there isn't much of it on the station-" with an optional (depending on space) "-other than here." and then the "Strange, isn't it?". Put in a few reset doors in case the player permakills all the shells/goombas or traps the p-switch in the ceiling. Make the extending platforms look like the blue ground, so it's more with the theme of growing, tangling landmasses. The background is very tangled but the foreground platforms are very straight and linear, horizontal or vertical; do you think you could ruff up the edges a bit and add some embellishment so the foreground platforms and ground in general looks gnarled and tangled? Make the vines look like climbable blue ground; that way the growing vines look like growing ground, and the hanging vines look like...growing ground. I like the scary face when you fall down the hole. Maybe change the lighters to ground too, so it looks like it's growing out of a pipe. Could you make it so the pipes look like pipes...made out of ground? (I'm pushing the ground theme a bit here). Maybe try changing the background to be more tangled blue ground, so it looks like you're in a forest of tangles? But this might make it hard to see what's going on with so much blue ground on 3 Z-planes, so perhaps make it darker or just see if it works at all.

Overall I like the level. It's vanilla platforming but it has some different challenges to the usual, like throwing the goomba upwards to reveal the p-switch just after the face, and the chest puzzle is simple to work out but not easy to execute. There's always enough clues as to what to do next, and some of the parts are genuinely hard (at least for me) like the fish sections (also there's quite a few high ledges with blind jumps that lead to pits or enemy collision, but I think that's more on the player to be aware and look around before they throw themselves off a safe platform). My only criticism about that isn't that they're hard but that they're sudden and kinda out of nowhere. The established theme is tangled ground and then fish fly into the air. Maybe change those into ground though and they might fit? It's not a huge deal either way, really.
The music is completely unrelated of course, which is a shame, but it's a silly track and the premise is silly, so it provides a jovial, happy-go-lucky air that works just fine.
The premise is neat, I like how it lampshades that quite a few people have decided that level aesthetics = Tails_155 style background tiles, but it itself has good platforming which those don't necessarily have. It feels a little short, but that will be lengthened with deaths and such, and since it's vanilla platforming it's better it ends too quick and you want more than it dragging on.

My biggest concern at the moment is that it pushes the tangled ground idea but the ground itself is quite often just horizontal or vertical, it's mainly the background stuff that sticks to it. Have a look at the things I've mentioned and see if you can make the interact-able ground a bit more gnarled and varied, without damaging the platforming you have (you have a good premise and a good platforming level, and doing this should help marry the two together to make a strong, Vanilla+ level). Other than that, this level seems very clear-able.
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Gwaur
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby Gwaur » 8 years ago

Thanks a lot. For those graphics changes you suggested I would (if I understood correctly) have to learn to make my own Map16 things, so I'll think about it, but making the platforms bumpy and wavy is a great idea. Back to workbench. :)
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Tails_155
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby Tails_155 » 8 years ago

Trying again.
I'm member number 499 XD

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flameofdoubt
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby flameofdoubt » 8 years ago

Tails_155: Some issues which will be fixed in final version and which are pending on other contributors. Cleared.
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RivalNightmare
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby RivalNightmare » 8 years ago

I asked Tails_155 and it was okay to post the level here for clearing! Whoo finally!
Edit: Sigh :(

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flameofdoubt
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby flameofdoubt » 8 years ago

Sorry about the slow response RivalNightmare, I've been busy so I've had to put this off for a while.

RivalNightmare: An interesting little level. Some of the tricky platforming was interesting. I liked the last dragon coin hiding spot. The custom graphics are neat, but coin placement could use some work: the arrows you make with coins look a bit odd. I'd love it if the grassy areas had a fitting custom background rather than the normal SMW one, but this is a big ask so I'll understand if you don't want to do that. I really like the neat trick that the blue koopas have two shells. This level would work a lot better just with the addition of some custom music to set a mood, so you could do with two custom tracks, one for the grass and one for the cave (or share one that's already being used). For the cave, I would recommend using custom graphics. It looks odd to see Cave Story graphics, and gives the player odd expectations (such as in cave story those lion heads are doors), like they might expect it to be a reference to cave story, which I don't think it is. A couple of the vanilla SMW objects, like the arrow sign, have a different graphical style to your custom tiles (much thicker outline, more cartoony, less detailed shading), maybe do your own custom versions of these (they don't have to be different signs, just be drawn different, if you see what I mean) so that they fit better. Maybe remove the pit in the cave at the place where you need to use the carry-able springboard, just because it looks odd to have a bottomless pit inside an enclosed cave.

Overall it's a simple, nice looking level, quite short, but fun to play, and there are no glaring errors in design. Biggest concerns right now are make some custom graphics for the cave section, get/share two music tracks, and work on your normal coin placement. Once that and a few tweaks are done this should be clearable, and will work well as an early-world grassy level, maybe to give a breather between two more heavy-going levels.
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raocow
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby raocow » 8 years ago

re: custom music

Actually, if nothing in particular comes in mind, what we could do is use two pieces of music used somewhere else - if anything it'd help by giving a little bit of some consistance, and save up on some slots.
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limepie20
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby limepie20 » 8 years ago

I think if the person doesn't have music just insert tge level as is and add music that fits well after most of it is inserted.

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Tails_155
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby Tails_155 » 8 years ago

limepie20 wrote:I think if the person doesn't have music just insert [the] level as is and add music that fits well after most of it is inserted.


Agreed, we'll have enough songs that we can find something, and even the original tracks, used sparingly, can be nice...

I don' know if we should make /every/ song open for use, though, some people may be a bit "I want my song only in my level" so we may ask, but that will probably be in our hands, not the level makers
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yoshiguy978
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby yoshiguy978 » 8 years ago

Finally done with my level.
Coin Castle.zip

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flameofdoubt
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Re: Level Clearing~

Postby flameofdoubt » 8 years ago

yoshiguy978: Not a lot to say about this one; the background tiles look nice and the platforming is challenging. I really like the pendulum spike-balls. The coins look at a bit haphazardly-placed in the starting screen of the second area. Dragon coins aren't too hard to get, but they're all a little out of the way so that's good. The music is nice. The placement of the thwomp near the end, where one stops you then the other drops on you, is nicely timed. Near the start, where you have a saw on a platform, I died to it but it didn't feel legitimate; I landed on the platform and the way the screen scrolled the saw instantly fired at me from a distance of just a few tiles. If you're comfortable with the way that obstacle is set up then I'll drop it, but it might be a bit too close to kaizo-ish if the player doesn't have enough time to respond the first time they see it.

Overall this is a solid castle level. It doesn't have any special gimmick or fancy theme but it's made well and is quite challenging, so it doesn't need them. Maybe change the coin layout at the start of the second area, maybe change the spinning saw near the start, but once you've made up your mind about those it's cleared.
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