The Big Compilation of Level Design

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The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby Aristo » Tue Jul 11, 2017 10:46 pm

The Big Compilation of Level Design, an essay on level design in the Super Mario franchise by Aristocrat

I decided to make this thread to compile all the things I’ve gathered from sources on level design from all over the internet to give people an idea on how to make their levels more accessible to a wider audience. Note that the things discussed in the following aren’t strict formulas. This is simply a compilation of methods Nintendo use to make their levels. Feel free to deviate from them and experiment with concepts and see if you can come up with your own ideas to make your levels fun!

For further demonstration I will provide examples in the spoilers, in case you have trouble imagining what I’m talking about.

Now, firstly, a popular method to use mechanics in Mario levels is the 4 Step Principle, which I will use as an outline for this thread.


Introduction

Mario levels made by Nintendo tend to focus on one or two basic concepts per level. Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze in return relies on up to 7 mechanics per level combined under the level’s theme. But no matter how many mechanics, or “gimmicks” if you will, they all need introduction to the player so they know what they’re dealing with.

Unless you are actively trying to make your player suffer from the very beginning, I recommend that you introduce the basic mechanic of the level in a safe environment, where there is no threat and the player can dedicate their full attention to the mechanic.
Examples of introduction in a safe environment: show
Albeit not a 2D level, I decided to go with Mark Brown’s example of the 4 Step Design, where he uses the first challenge of Cakewalk Flip as a prime example. The setup can already be seen at the start of the level and it becomes obvious that the panels flip as soon as Mario jumps up the ledge. If he falls down, he has a safety net, allowing him to retry the challenge.
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Source
Now, when introducing the mechanic, a phrase you might want to keep in mind is “show, don’t tell”. If you’ve ever taken a creative writing class or played in a school production, this one should be familiar. In case it’s not: “show, don’t tell” means that something is conveyed to the consumer through action, rather than speech. Let the player experiment with your new mechanic instead of writing an wall of text about it.
In fact, my suggestion is to try and not use any words at all. If you have to communicate something to the player, try to do it through signs or arrows. Try to keep the message as simple as possible, so the player understands right away what they have to do.
An easy way to guide a player to a specific location is by using coins. Though, when doing so, keep in mind that coin guides should align with the player’s movements, otherwise they may end up miscalculating a jump and die from sloppily placed coin guides.
Examples of “show, don’t tell”: show
A slightly controversial example of this exists in No Disguise From That Double Vision, in which Sturg only provided two down-arrows to let the player know that they have to press down twice. This confused some people (especially raocow). Make sure to be as clear as possible with your instructions.
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A situation you might come across is when you have to get the player to do something that they’re uncertain will be beneficial or disadvantageous to them. In a case like that, just push them to do it. Sometimes a forceful introduction is necessary to guide the player into the right direction. Sometimes you just have to be cruel to be kind.
Examples of “forceful introduction”: show
In fact, Miyamoto did this in the very first level of Super Mario Brothers, where he makes the player drop into the mushroom, even when the player attempts to avoid it.
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Also, in case you’re extra cheeky, you could have a reward for the player if they manage to work with the mechanic right away. This way you up the stakes without putting the player in any danger and give them a sense of accomplishment when they figure out your gimmick.
Examples of a reward: show
An example of this can be found in Spinning-Star Sky, a level from the third world in NSMBU. Here, the player is introduced to the level’s mechanic, the spinning stars, in a safe environment and is rewarded for mastery of the gimmick with a powerup. The worst that can happen is that the mushroom slips past Mario into the pit below the star.
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Development

So we’ve introduced our new mechanic to the player. Now what? Build upon it! Patrick Holleman, the author of the Reverse Design series refers to this as cadence, which is one of the central concepts of level design Nintendo and many other game designers employ in their games. Introducing a concept and then never doing anything with it is a waste, and at worst will leave the player dissatisfied. It’s like a plotline on your favorite tv show. You want to see it go somewhere, not being forgotten about.

Expansion
The easiest way to go about building upon a basic mechanic is the expansion challenge. An expansion consists of increasing a parameter of the standard challenge.

This can mean increasing the jump distance the player has to overcome vertically or horizontally. Holleman collectively refers to any increase of height or width of a jump as an increase in D-distance.
Examples of increasing the D-distance: show
These are the examples from Super Mario World that Patrick Holleman provides in his analysis of the game.
As you can see, not only does the player have to perform a longer jump, but they also have to calculate their movements as they have a longer way to fall and spikes line upon the wall, so the player is in danger while jumping too.
ImageImage
Source
Another parameter to manipulate are the intercepts the player has to overcome, meaning things like enemies increasing in number, speed, space they take up, etc.
Examples of increasing intercepts: show
Again using an example provided by Patrick Holleman, the second screen has more blurps as the first, as well as featuring an additional torpedo launcher. This decreases the amount of safe space Mario has when navigating through this part.
ImageImage
Source
The most prominent way to raise the stakes in a challenge however is upping the penalty the player receives for failing a challenge.
In Mario games, you generally have four ways to punish the player for not succeeding.

1. Not rewarding the player
This is the penalty correspondent to the aforementioned reward in the introduction section. This penalty simply voids the player of getting the reward and usually they will be able to clear the challenge either way.
Examples of a reward: show
An example of this can be found in Spinning-Star Sky, a level from the third world in NSMBU. Here, the player is introduced to the level’s mechanic, the spinning stars, in a safe environment and is rewarded for mastery of the gimmick with a powerup. The worst that can happen is that the mushroom slips past Mario into the pit below the star.
Image
Source
I used the same example as earlier. Aren’t I cheeky?
2. The player has to retry the challenge
This is as much of a punishment you can employ without directly hurting the player. They will have to retry overcoming the obstacle, for example climbing up a flight of platforms, in case they fail to accomplish it the first time. Either the first penalty or this will usually be the challenge a player has to face when a mechanic is being introduced in a safe environment.
Examples of cases where the player has to retry a challenge: show
Again using Mark Brown’s example from Cakewalk Flip, on this wall, Mario has to climb using the flip panels. If he fails, he will fall down onto a lower platform, or at worst all the way back onto the ground, forced to retry the challenge.
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Source
3. The player has to retry the challenge and is hurt
The penalty from before, but this time the player is in actual danger. Possibly the most common penalty you will find in a level after the fourth, as it can take many forms. Platforms with enemies on them or spikes below them are common variations of this penalty.
Examples of cases where the player is hurt when failing a challenge: show
Using what is arguably one of the trickier challenges in Spinning-Star Sky as an example, if the player falls here, they land in a large field of munchers, with barely enough time to climb back up to a safe spot before the invincibility frames run out.
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Source
4. The player loses a life
Or in one word: death. This penalty is mostly executed by having pits below the player as they make their way through the challenge, exposing them to the constant threat of having to retry the level from the start or the last checkpoint. This penalty plays a vital role in reassuring that the player has acquired a skill they need in order to progress through later parts of the level. Kind of a trial, if you will.
Examples of cases where the player dies upon failing a challenge: show
Uh oh. Image
If the player fails to make this jump, they lose a life.
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Source
Evolution
The alternative to the expansion challenge is the evolution challenge. This challenge requires the same skill set as the base challenge, but is more complex in structure.
Examples of an evolution challenge: show
In this example, Patrick Holleman takes the previously established platform mechanic and evolves it by changing the size of the line guide. This forces the player to put more thought into timing, as the path of the platform now differs.
Image
Source

An interesting example is provided in AxemJinx’ level design tutorial, where they advise designers to consider the “easy way out”, meaning that you try to put the player in front of a choice on how to approach the challenge at hand. In the screenshots below, compare the way the Rex are positioned. You will notice that in the first example, there is a relatively clear path the player will take when going into the challenge. In the second screen however, the Rex are arranged in a way that no matter how the player approaches the challenge, there will always be danger, forcing them to think quickly. AxemJinx calls this moment-to-moment non-linearity. And yes, incidentally, this is also an expansion challenge.
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On this note, it’s worth mentioning that you don’t have to make your player go through every possible iteration of the mechanic you can think of. In fact, I discourage you from doing this, as it would make the level drag out. Instead you could consider combining multiple expansions and evolutions in a challenge. Just find out what works best for the flow of your level. Also keep in mind that if you incorporate puzzles into your level, the player will probably be forced to solve them multiple times. Try to keep puzzles refreshing so it doesn’t feel like a chore to complete them over and over again.

Punctuation
A slightly obscure, yet consistently prominent technique is what Holleman calls the punctuation challenge. It acts as a palette cleanser of sorts to refocus the player after a larger challenge while also providing an easy win and a small moment of catharsis between challenges. It generally consists of a few enemies on an otherwise safe platform.
Examples of a punctuation challenge: show
Punctuation challenges can be found in practically every typical Mario level, where Goombas and Koopas are used as regular enemies for the player to stomp. Koopas are especially useful in these scenarios, as the player can pick up their shells and potentially make the upcoming challenge easier by getting rid of enemies beforehand.
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Source
Midway Point Break

Alright, if sticking to the 4 Step Design formula, after a few iterations of expanding and evolving your mechanic, you’re probably going to place a midpoint.
I’d like to take this chance to talk about difficulty in Mario levels.
Graph #1: show
This graph roughly ranks the challenges in a level from the first third of NSMBU by difficulty.
Clearly noticeable is that the hardest challenges in the level take place before the midpoint and close to the end of the level. A more relaxing challenge and a powerup are situated directly after the midpoint to enable the player getting back into the level and being prepared for the harder challenges. Relaxing challenges also occur before the hard challenges to provide moments of fun and catharsis, however it is noteworthy that the relaxing challenges in the second half of the level are about as difficult as the medium ranked challenges in the first half.
Powerups are generally provided during relaxing challenges and after difficult ones. Also keep in mind that placing powerups one block below the ceiling may glitch the player.

Even with this difficulty curve in mind, by incorporating things such as harder challenges for players to obtain bonuses (like Star Coins in this scenario) and by rewarding players with additional powerups or even stars through exploration, Nintendo manages to provide multiple paths to an otherwise pretty linear level.
Graph #2: show
In this level, by providing a hidden star close to the hardest challenge, even an unexperienced player still has a chance to beat it by simply exploring a bit and coming across the star. Other areas offer things like Star Coins, one-ups or stacks of coins, if the player is experienced enough to reach them. That way, no matter how experienced the player is, they will always find something about the level to enjoy, by basically choosing their own adventure.

Two things that I personally recommend avoiding in levels are end-of-jump enemy encounters (EEEs), meaning that you only see an enemy at the end of a jump and have to react to them instantly and moments of artificial difficulty, in which the player is either trapped or shoved into a pit by things like invisible blocks. These are things the player can’t possibly know before playing a level and can significantly lower the fun a player is having while playing your level.
Example of an EEE: show
Example of artificial difficulty: show
Kaizo hacks are notorious for doing this, so unless you're actively trying to frustrate the player, I advise you avoid situations like these.
Image
Source
Also while already having mentioned bonuses, I’d like to go over how Donkey Kong Country: Returns and Tropical Freeze handle collectables. The games have two kinds of collectables, the KONG letters that have been native to the series since the very beginning, and a new addition since DKCR: the puzzle pieces. These two are used in distinctive ways: KONG letters can be collected by performing challenging platforming parts, while puzzle pieces can be found by solving small puzzles all over the level. That way, no matter whether they’re a brains or brawns type, experienced players always have a challenge to look out for.

Twist

So you may have placed your midpoint and you may have developed your level’s mechanic for a while now, but you feel like it’s starting to become a little stale. What can you do? Bring a twist to your mechanic. Patrick Holleman calls this a mutation challenge. It’s a technique that differentiates the 4 Step Design from simply developing upon a mechanic. The twist changes the way you look at the previously established mechanic, while keeping the established skill set. It may even be a combination of two previously established mechanics, something that we see happen in Tropical Freeze. There, multiple mechanics are combined under the environmental theme of the level. Just remember to introduce the mechanics to the player before doing this. In a full game, you might also bring back previously established mechanics from earlier levels. Go wild.
Example of a twist: show
In this scenario, the previously established flip panel mechanic is mutated by adding a Ring Burner, an enemy that was introduced earlier in the level. This makes the player having to time their jumps while keeping in mind that if they jump, the panels flip.
Image
Source
Conclusion

What’s left is the conclusion of the level, in which the concept that has been with us throughout the entire level is rounded off. This can be done in one big climax challenge that requires mastery of all the previously established mechanics, followed by a smaller final challenge, which in most Mario levels is used to get to the top of the flagpole, simply to show off the skills you’ve acquired throughout the level one final time.
Additionally, the conclusion could be swapped out for a boss, even one that makes use of the mechanic introduced in the level, which then becomes vital to defeating the boss.
Example of a climax challenge & final challenge: show
In this level from SMW, the most difficult challenge of the level consists of six swinging platforms in a row, placed far apart with plenty of enemies between them. The final challenge of the level is one last swinging platform, reminiscent of the challenges faced throughout the level.
ImageImage
Source
Additional Thoughts

Playtesting
One vital aspect of designing any game is playtesting. Make sure your level is beatable in any powerup state and character setting the player might find themselves in. In addition to that, it is advisable to have other people play your level or game. However, when doing so, do not interfere with the person playtesting and simply observe, if possible. Ask questions afterwards. If you ask questions while they play the level, this will cause their attention to be drawn to specific aspects and will make any feedback biased.
Make sure to take notes of the experience the player has while playing your level. Is it the experience you planned the player to have? If not, how can you change that?

Also before you even have a person play your level, take into account which parts of your level may be dictated by randomness. It’s important to know what experiences can be recreated and which are unique to each playthrough.

Know Your Audience

It’s impossible to have everyone enjoy your work, therefore it’s advisable to know what kind of audience you’re trying to cater to. Here on SMBX it’s fair to assume that everyone has played the original Mario games, therefore most people look for levels that expand upon the typical Nintendo design, in search for new aesthetics, new mechanics, new experiences. Though some people also already contempt themselves with playing something that could in a similar fashion appear in a regular Mario game, staying very close to the original. Or maybe you’re making levels for the few kaizo-nuts on this forum that love to play levels that would drive others to insanity from frustration. Or maybe you’re just making levels to put your own skills to the test? Ask yourself why you are making levels and what you can do to achieve the design you want for your levels.

How to go about coming up with ideas

Before even getting to make a level, many people often struggle from creativity block. Some useful things to do in case this should ever happen to you include:

1. Researching your level theme
Traverse over to google.com and look up the theme you are trying to go with. Think of what the environment you are trying to convey in your level and write those things down. One setting may have many different aspects. Think of Super Mario Sunshine, which is set on a tropical island, yet every level explores a unique aspect of the setting. Thinking about this also helps with graphics, as it gives you a closer idea what BGOs and tilesets might be of use when making your level.

2. Copy what others do
Good artists borrow, great artists steal. This doesn’t mean that you should completely copy the entire makeup of someone else’s work (it riddles me how some people still consider that a good idea), but instead look at what other people do and draw your own ideas from it. You could use one certain aspect of the other’s level, like the mechanic or the graphics, and build your own idea around it. Look at how other game designers use certain aspects in their game and why they work the way they do. Try to recreate your favorite experience from a game you like.

3. Come up with a story you want to tell
One of my favorite things in games is when levels convey a story through their environments. Tropical Freeze is notorious in doing this, every level practically has it’s own narrative, to the point where a theme can be seen through an entire world, with the climax taking place at the world’s boss. However you can downscale this and put it into one level. How about a level where the player climbs a mountain, or a level where the player travels through a forest, when suddenly a forest fire erupts. These are some of the most cliché ideas, but I’m sure you can come up with much more creative things than that. What if a city was suddenly attacked by an airship fleet? Image

4. Draw it out
It’s alway a good idea to draw out a level. It gives a good overview of the bigger picture, instead of just looking at it one or two screens at a time. Doodle around and see what you can come up with.

5. Look at art
Art has practically been around since humans have been around. It is used to express how we feel and how we think. Art is, at least in my opinion, one of the most inspiring things there is. Look at a picture with an aesthetic you like and try to create a level around a similar aesthetic, or listen to a song of your liking and try to think of a way it could be used in a level. Let your mind run free, anything goes.

Sorry, I know this was kind of a long read, but I tried to explain things as thoroughly as I could without becoming superfluous. I hope I helped you understand the way levels work at least a bit.
I’d like to finish off with a quote by Bob Ross that you should always keep in mind when creating anything ever:

There are no mistakes, just happy little accidents.


Sources I got all these memes from:

Super Mario World's design, as broken down by the Patrick Holleman:
http://thegamedesignforum.com/features/RD_SMW_4.html
and the follow-up article on Tutplus, also by Patrick Holleman:
https://gamedevelopment.tutsplus.com/ar ... -cms-25177

Level Design Tips, compiled by AxemJinx
https://www.smwcentral.net/?p=viewthrea ... 35230#LSMi
Video Sources: show
The Basics of Mario Level Design presented by snomaN Gaming and What's With Games:


Additional Rules of Mario Levels examined by Mark Brown:


SMB 1-1 analyzed by Extra Credits:


The 4 Step Design Principle in Mario Games and its expansion in DKCTF explained by Mark Brown:



Difficulty in NSMBU, deconstructed by Ceave Gaming:
Last edited by Aristo on Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:29 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby Aristo » Tue Jul 11, 2017 10:56 pm

if this doesnt get stickied im personally going to strangle myself
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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby Enjl » Tue Jul 11, 2017 10:57 pm

Aristocrat wrote:if this doesnt get stickied im personally going to strangle myself
as opposed to hiring a serial strangler
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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby Ryaa » Tue Jul 11, 2017 10:59 pm

Personally I think there is so much for so many people (myself included) to learn here and you're literally the best for making this thread.
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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby Zha Hong Lang » Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:14 pm

This is a great thread, I was going to just skim through it but then I read the entire thing because it was so interesting. :P

Hope this helps a lot of people!
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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby AeroMatter » Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:23 pm

This should be stickied.
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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby HenryRichard » Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:27 pm

better guide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIUW2g0ur8A

This is a legitimately good guide that will definitely help me - it's clarified a lot about evolving challenges and such and I'm certain my levels will be much better now.

Also,
Aero wrote:This should be stickied.
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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby ivanmegafanboy » Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:24 am

I have been seeing too much essay-like threads that should be sticked. What the hell? Why is everybody so inspired lately?
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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby Rhosty » Wed Jul 12, 2017 1:41 am

Aero wrote:This should be stickied.

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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby Snessy the duck » Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:33 am

Didn't PixelPest already do a thread like this?
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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby Aristo » Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:36 am

Snessy the duck wrote:Didn't PixelPest already do a thread like this?
geez, guess i'll delete this then ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby PixelPest » Wed Jul 12, 2017 6:52 am

Aristocrat wrote:
Snessy the duck wrote:Didn't PixelPest already do a thread like this?
geez, guess i'll delete this then ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Mine's more like an encyclopedia with a summary of guidelines at the beginning

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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby Thehelmetguy1 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:01 am

Pretty helpful thread, everyone should read it
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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby Mosaic » Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:19 pm

Aero wrote:This should be stickied.
thehelmetguy1 wrote:Pretty helpful thread, everyone should read it

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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby Danny » Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:41 pm

While this certainly is a helpful and informative guide, based on my past judgments and observations of things like this coming to fruition, I have a personal feeling that newcomers looking to get into level design will likely not be reading this as it is a large amount of information to take in, and those that would think that this would be useful already subconsciously follow by these "guidelines" and generally have good/acceptable level design by this community's standards in the first place. I applaud the effort and time put into this, it's really appreciative, but I predict that in half a year to a year's time, this will be forgotten about and someone will just repeat the process.
I've seen threads like this with similar structure already posted to places like SMBXR and NSMBX back in the day, so I still hold the same personal beliefs that this wont do nearly as much as you think it will.
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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby Zha Hong Lang » Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:36 pm

Danny wrote:While this certainly is a helpful and informative guide, based on my past judgments and observations of things like this coming to fruition, I have a personal feeling that newcomers looking to get into level design will likely not be reading this as it is a large amount of information to take in, and those that would think that this would be useful already subconsciously follow by these "guidelines" and generally have good/acceptable level design by this community's standards in the first place. I applaud the effort and time put into this, it's really appreciative, but I predict that in half a year to a year's time, this will be forgotten about and someone will just repeat the process.
I've seen threads like this with similar structure already posted to places like SMBXR and NSMBX back in the day, so I still hold the same personal beliefs that this wont do nearly as much as you think it will.
I mean, there were never any threads on SMB:R/NSMBX which were as fluid and detailed as this one. And they didn't have information which was as helpful as this thread is... I'm not even sure if there was a single person in the SMBX community who knew what 4 step design was.

However, even if people don't reach this thread themselves, people will be redirected to it, and there's also people on discord who are giving a lot of the same advice this thread does. We can't claim to reach everyone, but we'll help out as many people as we can.

I think you could lighten up a little bit about newcomers to the forum. This isn't the first time you've made a post talking about the pitfalls new users fall into, so I understand it's a personal issue for you... however, not everyone will fall in the cracks. It may have been a long time ago, but every seasoned member here used to be new, too. But somehow every one of them braved through. If we can do it, then we'll help others to do the same. Don't lose hope! You could help them out as well.
Last edited by Zha Hong Lang on Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby AlphaFenix » Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:41 pm

This can be super useful for me...
But i'm too lazy to read all this lul. Maybe i'll read this other time.

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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby loop13 » Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:45 pm

This looks extremely useful. You should make this a PDF.
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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby Danny » Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:54 pm

Jayoshi wrote:
Danny wrote:While this certainly is a helpful and informative guide, based on my past judgments and observations of things like this coming to fruition, I have a personal feeling that newcomers looking to get into level design will likely not be reading this as it is a large amount of information to take in, and those that would think that this would be useful already subconsciously follow by these "guidelines" and generally have good/acceptable level design by this community's standards in the first place. I applaud the effort and time put into this, it's really appreciative, but I predict that in half a year to a year's time, this will be forgotten about and someone will just repeat the process.
I've seen threads like this with similar structure already posted to places like SMBXR and NSMBX back in the day, so I still hold the same personal beliefs that this wont do nearly as much as you think it will.
I mean, there were never any threads on SMB:R/NSMBX which were as fluid and detailed as this one. And they didn't have information which was as helpful as this thread is... I'm not even sure if there was a single person in the SMBX community who knew what 4 step design was.
They have, though? You were, if at all, barely active during the time of SMBXR, I'm not sure what room you have to say there were no threads like this then, because there were several. Same goes for NSMBX. I have stressed this enough through every iteration of threads like these that they aren't actively doing anything regardless of how helpful or appreciative they are.
Jayoshi wrote:However, even if people don't reach this thread themselves, people will be redirected to it, and there's also people on discord who are giving a lot of the same advice this thread does. We can't claim to reach everyone, but we'll help out as many people as we can.
Help them with what, though? When you put it that way, you degrade people with the idea that they aren't doing any good, and would be much better if they followed guidelines employed by an elitist group. Advice is one thing, and I've seen it seldom handed out around here, but this sudden push to get everyone following the same rules and guidelines for building levels and what is considered the "proper" design flow is concerning. I've completely lost interest in anything involving SMBX solely for this purpose.
Jayoshi wrote:I think you could lighten up a little bit about newcomers to the forum. This isn't the first time you've made a post talking about the pitfalls new users fall into, so I understand it's a personal issue for you... however, not everyone will fall in the cracks. It may have been a long time ago, but every seasoned member here used to be new, too. But somehow every one of them braved through. If we can do it, then we'll help others to do the same. Don't lose hope! You could help them out as well.
What do you mean "lighten up"? I haven't been inherently negative towards newcomers on the forums, in fact I appreciate seeing new people come through. What I am slightly negative towards is this sudden hand-holding and uprising of people creating walkthroughs and guidelines on level creation, especially ones as in-depth as this one. I'm a firm believer that what newcomers need is physical experience in learning how to make levels, and just freedom of creativity. These threads that have been going up recently are pretty restrictive and direct people on what they should be doing. I also think it's a poor decision to assume that all newcomers are going to be terrible at level design, because in my time I have seen newcomers that are brilliant with their level design.

What I have to ask is what are you seeking to accomplish with threads such as this? Has there been a sudden surge of really poor levels that I'm not aware of? And even still, what makes you think creating long-winded threads will accomplish exactly? I can safely say that every guideline presented in this thread is pretty common knowledge for anyone who has played a Mario game (or something similar) and has expressed interest in making levels. At this point you're pandering to the lowest denominator.
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Re: The Big Compilation of Level Design

Postby Aristo » Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:17 am

I'd like to make clear that I didn't make this thread to enforce my "elitist" views on level design on others, but rather to make people aware of the techniques that game designers such as Nintendo use and explain why they the way work they do.

While looking at the Level Design Tips thread I've noticed that many people give very superficial and shallow tips on level design that are either completely subjective or show little to no regard on why these tips are useful for designing levels. My "guide" is that long because I chose to focus not on the "what", but on the "why".

PixelPest's thread has most of the techniques I described in my own thread listed in a short, handy list, but my concern is that that will cause newer users to see that list as an actual strict guideline to follow, because the list is just the "what" aspect, while the "why" aspect is almost exclusively limited to the sources. And people are as likely to read through the sources as they are to read this thread. Even less so, because the sources span over many pages, which is why I tried to create a middle ground with this thread by compiling all the things I deemed necessary to go over into one source.
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