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Posted on 01-20-22, 11:07 pm
Micro-Goomba


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Since: 02-06-19
I understand some of the basics when it comes to making good-looking, "natural" levels: Add decorations, don't make long stretches of nothing, combine gentle and steep slopes to make hills look less like the land was cut out, stuff like that. And yet, there are times when I'm making a level where something just feels off about it, but I'm unsure of what's missing or wrong; it's probably something small that I overlooked.

What are some small things I could be missing that makes my level feel more artificial?

Posted on 01-20-22, 11:24 pm
Red Cheep-cheep
I do things sometimes

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Coins and enemies play their part as well. Think you could post a screenshot? Might be able to try and give more specific advice
Posted on 01-21-22, 03:57 am
Micro-Goomba


Karma: 12
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Since: 02-06-19
Posted by Keeper
Think you could post a screenshot?


Had to zoom out quite a bit to fit the full levels onto a screenshot, since I'm not seeing an option in the editor itself (unless I'm blind), so apologies if it isn't too clear, but here's both levels in question.

The top one is the one that feels more "natural" while the second feels more "artificial".



I'm thinking the bottom one is too empty, but I've had times where I think that, and then it just devolves into enemy/object spam, so I'm just trying to be cautious.
Posted on 01-22-22, 04:14 pm
Red Goomba
The Koopa who mods games.

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Posted by AutisticGameGuy
Posted by Keeper
Think you could post a screenshot?


Had to zoom out quite a bit to fit the full levels onto a screenshot, since I'm not seeing an option in the editor itself (unless I'm blind), so apologies if it isn't too clear, but here's both levels in question.

The top one is the one that feels more "natural" while the second feels more "artificial".



I'm thinking the bottom one is too empty, but I've had times where I think that, and then it just devolves into enemy/object spam, so I'm just trying to be cautious.



Honestly, I think it looks fine overall. I think if you just some pipes or things like that here and there it might help.
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-The Koopa who lives somewhere in World 7.

Posted on 01-24-22, 06:07 pm (rev. 1 by  gridatttack on 01-24-22, 06:08 pm)
Birdo


Karma: 3308
Posts: 2018/2020
Since: 06-28-11
Now, this is a topic that I really like; level design is an acquired skill.
As a player you can get a feel on what is a "good" level. If you enjoy it, chances are others will.

Looking into the original levels from Nintendo is a great starting point.

Usually, a level is centered on a specific theme/gimmick; an idea you can start upon and build from that.

From the image, it looks to me like the classic grassland with a small emphasis on pipes. The lower one is indeed empty; however this doesn't necessarily means stretches or empty are wrong, as the other factor tou need to take into acocunt is the theme the level is. For example, huge linear floors kinda make more sense on castles and Ghost houses, but not on grasslands.

The first image feels more like a grassland level in the NSMB series since it includes slopes. The only thing I personally don't like to do on grasslands is use the square ceilings, as they look weird.

For me, the huge corner on the slope to the secret area looks weird; I'll would rather add a small 2x2 bump to make it look less rectangular, and the other thing I kinda dont like is the huge section of the ceiling for the second starcoin, as it feels unnaturla for a grassland environment to have such geography.

What you could to is, to reduce the rectangular look of this, by either adding a slope to the top left corner, make the ceiling less long and only just the length of the coin and the breakable area; the coin in the 2x2 space, a 1 tile gap between the brick on the right, the 4 coins, then another brick, and to look less rectangula, leave a 1 tile gap with the ceiling corner on top.

This also applies to the middle ground between the pipes; you could make one end to reach all the wya to the bottom, or reduce the rectangular look by adding a 1 tile bump.

This is just touching the surface, but I hope this helps
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Posted on 01-24-22, 08:35 pm
Fire Brother


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Nice tips! But gridatttack, don't you feel like making another 2D Mario hack?
Posted on 01-25-22, 04:00 am
Birdo


Karma: 3308
Posts: 2019/2020
Since: 06-28-11
Posted by KingYoshi
Nice tips! But gridatttack, don't you feel like making another 2D Mario hack?


Thanks. And I kinda want to, but at this point in time, there is not enough time lol. Been some time since I made a 2D mario level, as I've been focusing on SMK now.

============

Also, to add a bit to the topic at hand, I also recommend you don't make the first levels as your first custom levels haha. Doing so might end up with unbalanced difficulty (this happened to the extra areas of world 1 of NSMBDX)

For other ideas, you could also try to combine gimmicks in a way that you don't see them regularly, like kinda making a castle with mushrooms, use the poison water with a mountain tileset, etc.

You can then also create an unique atmosphere for your level, and might help differentiate from levels in the same world that should generally use the same tileset.

For example, on NSMBDS, IMO, the most boring tileset is the volcano one, but on that world you had a forest level and an ice level along with a water one; this helped to break the monotonous feeling of the theme.
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Posted on 01-25-22, 05:56 am
Micro-Goomba


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Since: 02-06-19
Posted by gridatttack
Also, to add a bit to the topic at hand, I also recommend you don't make the first levels as your first custom levels haha. Doing so might end up with unbalanced difficulty (this happened to the extra areas of world 1 of NSMBDX)


Good thing you brought this to my attention when you did, as those two levels are the only "complete" levels of the first world.

If World 1 is, ironically, a terrible place to start making levels, where do you think I should start? Should I be starting closer to the middle to determine what would classify as the "medium" levels, in context, or should I start at the end and make harder stages and work backwards?
Posted on 01-26-22, 03:55 am
Birdo


Karma: 3308
Posts: 2020/2020
Since: 06-28-11
Posted by AutisticGameGuy
Posted by gridatttack
Also, to add a bit to the topic at hand, I also recommend you don't make the first levels as your first custom levels haha. Doing so might end up with unbalanced difficulty (this happened to the extra areas of world 1 of NSMBDX)


Good thing you brought this to my attention when you did, as those two levels are the only "complete" levels of the first world.

If World 1 is, ironically, a terrible place to start making levels, where do you think I should start? Should I be starting closer to the middle to determine what would classify as the "medium" levels, in context, or should I start at the end and make harder stages and work backwards?


From the look of the first image you shared, honestly, that isn't a bad level. I could see it as world 1-5. I suppose I'm mainly referring to making all the levels in world 1 as the first step. I'd say you experiment with all the themes your hack will have and make a level first out of each theme to get the feeling and start conceptualizing how you execute the ideas you want to share. For castles and towers, you can try with whatever honestly. If you feel it's too difficult you can put it on a later world.

I suppose I recommend that you first decide on how difficult the hack you want it to be, because for example you can make all levels having the same difficulty (but that only applies to games were there is non linear progression, such as Super Mario Land 2)

And also, the inverse is not true; if you start making the harder levels at the end, you might not have fully executed the idea on what makes a challenging level, so yeah, I recommend you start in the middle, like making the last level of world 1, and the first level of world 8.

What I recommend is to first look at what is possible and what the game has in store. Taking my hack again, there were times I was just making levels without taking advantage of using a certain sprite to add more variations, or for example what the tileset allows you to do (or if you want to add custom tiles)

I suppose you could just think and sit the ideas you want to execute, and assign a level what ideas you want to have, you can then later see where these might fit better, etc.

It's kinda hard to explain, but honestly I recommend you make levels on how you feel and you can later take a look back and either modify them or replace them. (also external feedback is always a plus, as hindsight bias can make levels feel frustrating to others that don't know how to complete it)
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Posted on 01-26-22, 04:40 am
Micro-Goomba


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Posted by gridatttack
From the look of the first image you shared, honestly, that isn't a bad level. I could see it as world 1-5. I suppose I'm mainly referring to making all the levels in world 1 as the first step. I'd say you experiment with all the themes your hack will have and make a level first out of each theme to get the feeling and start conceptualizing how you execute the ideas you want to share.


The first level is what I put over 1-1, and the second is 1-4. Maybe I should try making them a bit easier (I have done some tweaking to 1-4 already since this thread first started).

The idea of the hack is a sort of "New Super Luigi U" type thing, where you have a short time limit to reach the end of the stage. Some levels will be shorter than others, and the time limit will not be 100 seconds in every level. For example, 1-4 has a time limit of 75. I do plan try to be more original than Luigi U was, for sure.

I'm currently also trying to make a tower where the boss door is actually below where you start, blocked off by stone blocks. You have to ascend the tower to hit a switch at the top which not only breaks the stone blocks above the door, but also some of the blocks you used to climb the tower, allowing you to fall straight down to the start without platforms getting in the way. I've hit a few snags with it, though, mainly involving a workaround I'm trying to use to make the progress paths work correctly.
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