Castles Masterpiece Set 2

Skull River
- The Dragon Coin at the lava tide section is kind of hit-and-miss. You have to count on activating the skull raft at the right time in order to have any chance.

I placed a hint to start the raft at the bottom, was it too subtle?

Castles Masterpiece Set 2

A few necessary changes and updates were made to each level. (Version2)

I don't see any levels in your slot. Did you forget to upload the new ones after deleting the old ones?

Castles Masterpiece Set 2

Here are your devamped arrows, Alex!

All you really need to do with these is rename them.
Thank you very much!

E: Aaand... New version uploaded with the new arrow signs. Much better looking, thanks again Ratty!

Castles Masterpiece Set 2

Have a wall of text, followed by another wall of text because I just finished Davenport's levels.

Jackalotrun - Forest Caldera
* Hiding a dragon coin behind the start point was clever, though it bugs me how you have a door that isn't enterable back there.
* I find it odd how you provide springboards, and then use dragon coins to encourage the player to forgo them.
* Once again I'd like to see more variety in the foreground; removing random bricks like you did for the outside segments would work great, and it would make the missing brick after the last skull raft feel less out of place.
* In my neverending quest to find silly exploits, I discovered that you can jump over the wall in the second outdoor section.

Still fairly easy, but I enjoyed it. I reiterate that this would make a great beginning level.

* P.S. Lava in a building with this much vegetation? It's a minor nitpick at best, but perhaps a palette swap of the lava would fit in better.

Davenport - Brownstone Castle
* What is with the first exterior section? The bricks overlaying the castle and the wall on the far right… just look bad.
* The first section has a better progression than in the previous version; however the wooden stakes are still painfully slow to wait on. Perhaps you could increase their speed.
* The spiked ceiling after the checkpoint doesn't appear to be changed. As Ratty said, you really should do something different with the blue switch blocks. Stumbling on a dead end followed by inescapable death is not fun.
* About that pipe hidden above the spiked ceiling. It doesn't lead anywhere, and the space too small to avoid getting crushed, even while ducking. At the very least raise the pipe by one tile so I can survive up there.
* I recommend removing the lava pit with the diagonal platforms. It doesn't really serve any purpose, and the platforms are awkward to stand on.
* I liked the third room after the sinking platform segment, but the switch block "puzzle" up on the roof is best removed. It doesn't serve any purpose except to prolong the level and get a cheap death out of the player. I think you should end the level where the player first enters the roof area.
* The contrast between the foreground and background might be a little too low.
* Why are using the default SMW castle theme in the custom music slot?

The potential is there, but this still needs some work before I'm willing to approve it.

Davenport - Tower of Peril
First of all, what world is this supposed to be in? I honestly have no idea.
* The first half of this level is just boring, between the painfully slow spike walls limiting the pace that I can ascend and the lack of obstacles to provide a challenge.
* I don't know which is more bizarre, the fact that there are random Rinka generators, or that they actually succeed in making their section more interesting.
* The elevator section is just annoying. The last dragon coin is purely trial-and-error, the only "guide" coins point you *directly into a spike*, and the X's made of red coins are placed too late for the player to react and get to safety in time. You *might* be able to salvage the elevator if you remove all the BS traps and provide coin trails to guide the player. *Away* from the spikes.

Davenport - Fiery Castle
* You have managed to take a potentially very fun gimmick and turn it into a very, very unfun level.
* The lava-falls are visually distracting, and I personally think they're similar enough to the foreground lava that it's not entirely clear at first glance that they're harmless background decoration.
* The rising-and-sinking platforms in the first room are scarily close to the lava, leaving me with very little room for error, and almost certainly not enough time to grab dragon coins and other goodies. In addition, one stretch is too long to clear in one cycle, forcing me to wait on the highest platform. The kicker? This platform sinks into the lava, forcing me to jump in place to survive, and I am forced to figure this out through trial-and-error.
* You need to double-check the position of the warp trigger for the door. It seems to be slightly above the door, forcing me to jump.
* The second room is similar to the first, in that I have barely enough time to clear the stretch, and that's assuming I ignore the dragon coin(s).
* The third room focuses on a lava tide gimmick, which is mostly alright, except… THE 1-UP MUSHROOM CRASHES THE GAME!! That alone is enough for an instant reject from me, and that's ignoring how the setup of the room practically encourages the crash.

Please, please playtest your levels thoroughly before submitting them.

Davenport - Sunken Castle
* I actually liked this level (it probably helps that SMBX allows me to swim faster with the dash button, which I find to be at about the perfect speed, but I digress).
* The level emulates that underwater fortress from SMW, except much larger, almost like it was built with the denizens of Giant World in mind. Perhaps you could incorporate that into the next revision?
* The first spike pillar after the checkpoint pushes one of the springboards through the ground.
* I can destroy the Bony Beetles with a spin-jump. Is that intentional?
* The drastic difference between the two music tracks bugged me. I think you should pick one or the other and use that for the entire level.

Overall, I liked this level. I'd even say this is my favorite of your levels so far.

Castles Masterpiece Set 2

Skull River, v2 is now up!
* The music actually works this time! And it's just as un-Mario as ever. (7^_^)7
* Arrow signs added to indicate where you need to duck. Less clashy sign graphics pending.
* Mushrooms are mobile once again! Level design has been slightly adjusted to prevent mushroom-to-lava collisions.
* The "lava tide" segments have been rearranged. The first one now incorporates a skull raft like the second one, and the second has been removed entirely.
* The 3-up moon segment has been adjusted in an attempt to eliminate the red boot.
* The single-skull segment at the end still contains single-skulls, my reasoning being that the jumps are, while unforgiving, not too difficult, and adding a second skull creates (more) potential for glitch-related death. I'd like some outside opinions on this.

Castles Masterpiece Set 2

So, having the judges rate the difficulty of each level? I can live with that.
(I actually already started doing that in my judging notes)

Castles Masterpiece Set 2

You definitely have the right idea using the signs, though it indeed has a style clash. If there isn't an SMB3-styled arrow sign you can find, I can make one for you.

That would be very much appreciated.

Castles Masterpiece Set 2

If you want more obvious hints for the low ceilings, I can certainly add those (but I have no intention of scrapping the arrow carved out of lava...)
I didn't even notice that arrow until I took a REALLY good look, dude. I say stay with the coins. You could maybe put them inside the lava arrow?
I think the problem with the lava arrow is that it doesn't draw the player's attention, so I tried using an arrow sign from YI:

It's got a little more "Hey! Listen!" than before, but also heavy style clash. Thoughts?

Castles Masterpiece Set 2

Allow me to rephrase.

I don't think it fits well with a Mario lava level.

Also, prevent zipping at all costs. Looks like I forgot some basics in the rules ;_;

Zipping is a feature, not a bug I'm doing my best to avoid and/or minimize zipping, but I don't think it's 100% avoidable without hacking the source code, at least not for the skull rafts. I'd recommend not enforcing such a rule too strictly.

And I'm still not going to change the music.

Castles Masterpiece Set 2

Hmmm, I didn't know that skull rafts cause that glitch, how does it happen?
I'm trying to think of another name for the level, Forest Caldera?
Stand on a skull raft next to a wall, face away from the wall, jump.
I actually discovered this bug while building my own level* and now check for it every time I see a skull raft :P

*Trivia: I originally required this bug to get the hammer suit in my level, though not for very long, obviously. The bug is also why I put a "caged" lava lotus at the very end of the level, to provide an escape for the player if they zip.

- That's precisely the reason why it's kept short. Do you think the lava could be slowed down a touch?
- For the last suggestion, thanks! I was making this with the "average" skill-level player in mind, so it's not really meant to be TOO difficult despite the rating.
And I think the level is perfectly fine kept short. If you can slow the lava down slightly without using decimal values, that works too. (I actually don't recall seeing the lava as Mario, except the one time I failed to slide through the one-tile gap at the end...)

+ You win points for a visually good level

+ You win even more points for using Kirby 64 music, but as Jackolotrun pointed out, you have a typo with the path name, causing the music not to play in your level.

Yeahh... That'll be the first thing I fix.

- I understand your reasoning for the non-moving mushrooms, but if you think of the game as a whole, it's going to look inconsistent when paired with other levels. I don't know which version of SMBX you use, but only 1up mushrooms and maybe SMW shrooms cause the game to crash when they fall into lava, not smb3 shrooms, as I've noticed. Also, you can generally work around this by placing blocks to keep the mushroom confined within a certain area, just like you did with the first set of powerups? That way, there won't be a chance for the powerup to fall into the lava to begin with.

I'll look into confining the mushrooms through the level geography, then.

- The way you aquire the hidden 1-up near the checkpoint feels redundant, because I could have sworn you used the same method to find another one previously in the level. I'd change it up.

The idea was to make the second 1-up hard to miss so that the player theoretically never gets a game over in the second half. But if you think I should change it up, I can do that.

- In the segment after the dry bones and the red boot, it's possible to cause a wall-zip effect if the player moves around a bit too much while the skull rafts are falling to the next ledge, causing a cheap death. Not a HUGE deal-breaker with me, but it's something to be aware of.

As in, zipping through one of the skulls? Or through something else?

- The entire section after the checkpoint feels a little bit too long. Consider that the things the player has to do, not just the screens, add length to a level. The skull raft sections inherently force the player to play at a specific pace, which is one example. I kind of feel that you could do without the section with the rising/sinking lava, since it's not really in line with the type of challenges the rest of the level presents.

Hmm... The lava tide segment is kind of out of place, I could probably remove that (and the second one as well, if you have a problem with the skulls riding on solid ground afterward...)

- In your secret, you take away the red shoe with the grey pipe, but have you considered that the player can just backtrack to keep the shoe throughout the entire level? :P

The game also gives you back the shoe after finishing the level. To be honest I was hesitant to give out the boot at all, but the top of the lava ceiling afterward was too tempting to ignore.

- The areas you need to duck to avoid a hazardous ceiling aren't indicated that well, even though you tried to. Your hints are just way too subtle. I'd stick with the coin arrows you used at the first section, since they are bright, animated and flashy.

If you want more obvious hints for the low ceilings, I can certainly add those (but I have no intention of scrapping the arrow carved out of lava...)

+ Aside from that, I enjoyed this level! I really like how you handled the secret, as well.

Current Status: DENIED (but it's well on it's way to an approval from me)

Glad you liked it.

No wonder you spoilered everything.

For Alex, I don't think it fits well with the lava theme.
The more you know