Level Design Tips

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HeroLinik
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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby HeroLinik » Sun Jul 31, 2016 1:41 pm

I tend to follow a strict routine when I make more serious levels, as opposed to the Mario-centric levels that I prefer to make. In particular, this is for levels that feature a main gimmick:

-- LEVEL START --
- Ease the player into the level
- Introduce the main gimmick and showcase it
- Showcase unusual ways of using the gimmick, relying on the player to figure them out
- Break from the gimmick and bring in other design features that don't affect the rest of the level
- Bring back the main gimmick and solely use it to finish up the level
-- LEVEL END --

It works incredibly well because it allows the gimmick to be the main focus of the level, but it doesn't take too much of the spotlight to the point where the player gets bored of it, and that was the formula I used when making my CC11 level.
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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby Snessy the duck » Sun Jul 31, 2016 2:06 pm

Speaking of strict routines in levels:



This is a great video that really shows how you can make a simple formula for gimmick-based levels. It showcases a formula that Nintendo used all the way from Super Mario Galaxy to Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. I highly recommend you give the video a watch, as it applies to SMBX as much as it does to SM3DW! I also really recommend you give the other videoes on this guys channel a watch, as they really showcase clever game design mechanics!
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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby Enjl » Sun Jul 31, 2016 3:39 pm

Great find! Will definitely try to toy around with this concept and apply it to future levels.
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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby underFlo » Sun Jul 31, 2016 5:38 pm

Game Maker's Toolkit in general is a channel you should definitely check out. There's some great videos on there.
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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby PixelPest » Sun Jul 31, 2016 6:38 pm

That's a fantastic video. Will definitely learn from that and modify some of my levels accordingly. It's a great strategy and I have to say that most of my levels kind of just jump right in

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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby FrozenQuills » Sun Jul 31, 2016 9:39 pm

Yeah that video is super useful; it's almost like how I designed my high ranking contest levels around here.

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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby Iko » Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:56 pm

I have a couple of tips about blocks.

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- If you are going to make a structure with question mark blocks and power-ups (like the iconic one at the beginning of the world 1-1 of SMB1), at the start of the level, near a checkpoint, in a secret room or anywhere, just don't make it too much complex, make it minimal; it shouldn't take too much time to the player to search in the blocks, find the wanted power ups and go to the next part of the level; hitting hundreds of blocks in search of a mushroom and only finding 1 coin blocks is not fun.
You can make it complex if it's part of a puzzle or if it's an obstacle required to procede with the level (so, if it's part of the main level design, like for example an hammer bros battlefield), but if the block structure is just meant to give coins and mushrooms to the player and you can skip it by just running over or under it, making it big and complex only annoys the players who need a power-up.

- Brick blocks are breakable and don't give you bonuses, question mark blocks contain coins and power ups. Exceptions are present but they are exception... a secret power up hidden in a brick block, that's possible.
But it shouold be an exception... putting power ups and coins in brick blocks too often makes the whole differentiation of the two types of blocks almost completely useless.
This is done a lot in the New Super Mario Bros series and I always disliked it.
Secrets are secrets, inconsistence is a level design flaw.

------

PS I like the 4 step level design philosophy but I think it shouldn't be applied too much strictly or else the levels will result repetitive and predictable; especially the 4th step, the conclusion, if overused or used in a bad way, it makes every level ending feel bland (because you already explored the gimmick in several ways and the final part doesn't add anything to what is already experimented in the previous parts of the level).
If you want to add a "conclusion" to the level, it should still add something new, even if just a small variation.

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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby Aero » Thu Sep 01, 2016 2:11 am

Good to see people coming around to Nintendo and Miyamoto's level design philosophy. Are we embarking on an SMBX Renaissance? Levels are going to be great. Again, it's probably the most important tip but the golden rule is to make your level fun, and Nintendo knows what's fun.

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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby Mushroom King » Sat Sep 03, 2016 3:57 am

I would recommend this link for some advice about level design.

http://marioleveldesign.com/

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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby Reverse back 2 me » Sun Sep 11, 2016 12:13 am

168?: Stick to only 3 or 4 types of enemies per level.
169?: You don't need to put lots of stuff in your level. Mario levels don't have a lot of elements in them.

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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby Tango » Sun Sep 11, 2016 2:20 pm

Reverse back 2 me wrote:168?: Stick to only 3 or 4 types of enemies per level.
I think enemies quantity depends of the level complexity. Like, if it's the first level of the first world, you can't just present all the enemies that will appear in your first level. Some basic enemies like Goomba, Koopa and Piranha Plant is enough. But variety of enemies is good, and you can present a level with even 9 enemies in later levels/worlds.

---

Also, if you're making an episode, try to fit the enemies to their respective worlds/levels, like Pokey in desert, or Podoboo in lava worlds. If you still want use like, Podoboos on grass level, you can still adapt the level to make they fit in the grass level, making a volcano on it or whatever, or even placing lava lakes inside caves.

That is a bit obvious but I wanted to post it anyways.

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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby Electriking » Mon Oct 03, 2016 2:59 am

170: If you are designing a level and starts getting stressful, save it and come back later instead of trying to rush the last bits, which will be obvious that you did because the end will be significantly worse than the other parts.
171: Often it is best to design the skeleton (general layout) of a level then add the scenery, enemies and other details after.
172: Mainly for episodes but if you plan to use secret exits but have no world map designed then it is best to not add any secret exits until it is done. That way, you will know then where secret exits need to be. This applies especially to those who are part of the level designing team of a project, but have no involvement in the world map designing and know nothing about the map.

Sorry if these were mentioned already.
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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby loop13 » Mon Oct 03, 2016 9:10 am

I take my strategies from SMM and apply them here. I like Linik's level design tips, but I will stick to mine. I usually build the skeleton of the level. (I believe I stated this in another thread)
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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby Finbar360 » Sat Oct 22, 2016 7:14 am

I hate those levels where they use NSMB graphics. Unless you could somehow add a hell of a lot more frames for the sprites with the help of a text file, it's bad.

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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby Snessy the duck » Sat Oct 22, 2016 7:22 am

Finbar360 wrote:I hate those levels where they use NSMB graphics. Unless you could somehow add a hell of a lot more frames for the sprites with the help of a text file, it's bad.
Yeah, they look absoloutely terrible! Therefore, I recommend everyone to only use 8/16-bit graphics in their levels!
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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby BlazingZtar755 » Sun Nov 20, 2016 1:00 pm

If your going to have a boss in your level, do NOT just make the fight have 5 phases and have Bullet Bills and projectiles everywhere, be sure to make the arena that you fight the boss in interesting, and try to make the fight itself good and FUN most of all, you don't want to make a boss that will have your player's pulling their hair out in frustration.
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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby Electriking » Sun Nov 20, 2016 2:22 pm

175: When designing levels with custom GFXs from GFX packs by others especially, use PGE and custom tilesets as often the GFXs are scattered across the legacy editor interface.
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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby loop13 » Sun Nov 20, 2016 7:05 pm

176: DON'T use too much CGFX. It causes the loading time to get slower, which can be irritating for most people.
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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby Cedur » Mon Dec 05, 2016 8:57 am

177: Never ever use very small areas of grid because you know that sometimes the grid glitches and moves you automatically towards a certain direction, so if you have a very small area of grid and that glitch happens, the player falls from it very easily, this is especially unfair if your level is hard in general
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Re: Level Design Tips

Postby Enjl » Mon Dec 05, 2016 2:37 pm

Supershroom wrote:177: Never ever use very small areas of grid because you know that sometimes the grid glitches and moves you automatically towards a certain direction, so if you have a very small area of grid and that glitch happens, the player falls from it very easily, this is especially unfair if your level is hard in general
Fence glitches only happen after the player collided with a moving layer. They don't happen with vines. Use vines instead.
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