How to make Mario levels, by negative example
September 1, 2015 12:52 AM   Subscribe

Here's a list of things not to do in your Mario levels, consider it advice for when Super Mario Maker comes out in a week and a half. Also, here's things not to do in your Mario overworld. They both come from the rom hacking community at SMWCentral.
posted by JHarris (232 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
I'm trying it again -- to help me deplete my list of post subjects, I am aiming to make one post a day throughout September. This is #1.
posted by JHarris at 12:53 AM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]

Oh, if you allow super-hard "Kaizo" levels, someone else did a video of things to avoid in them, too.
posted by JHarris at 1:01 AM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

The first video made me laugh, except when I actually couldn't notice the fault in the level.
posted by cell divide at 1:29 AM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

That might have been the one that was just completely unchanged from the original game.
posted by JHarris at 1:38 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

In every single game with creation levels (such as Little Big Planet), there is an overabundance of people that just try to re-create World 1-1 of Super Mario Bros. I'm curious as to what the standard fallback level will be in Mario Maker. I suspect it'll still be 1-1 but with the Wii palette or with hidden blocks all over the place.

I'm also really not looking forward to all the levels that pretty much play themselves* and are essentially the creator saying, "Look, aren't I clever?" (No, you're not.) Clever would be putting a working level together that challenges without being frustrating.

*One exception non-withstanding.
posted by dances with hamsters at 6:20 AM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]

aww, c'mon, I LIKE the mean tricks examples .. but I grew up on 80s video games that all had those kind of things..
posted by k5.user at 6:56 AM on September 1, 2015

I don't know if this guide is tongue-in-cheek, but I think the bizarre and cruel stuff is fun and legit. This would be a good guide if you were making levels for someone that had never played Super Mario World before, but otherwise, messing with your expectations is generally good fun!
posted by ignignokt at 7:18 AM on September 1, 2015

I was really on the fence about Super Mario Maker, but think I'll probably go for it after all. It's been fun watching some of what others have created.
posted by curious nu at 7:43 AM on September 1, 2015

I don't know if this guide is tongue-in-cheek, but I think the bizarre and cruel stuff is fun and legit.

That's essentially what the last several levels of Super Mario Bros. 2 ('The Lost Levels') consisted of.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:08 AM on September 1, 2015

Super Mario Maker levels will apparently have to fairly playable to be accepted online. Not sure if someone from Nintendo is going to play the level or if it's automated.

I did laugh at Victory Death though.
posted by daninnj at 8:09 AM on September 1, 2015

Bah, floating munchers. I have that problem at work.
posted by XMLicious at 8:11 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

SO EXCITED FOR MARIO MAKER OMG. I want to follow all of you and play your levels.

I've been really into Jeremy Parish's Daily Mario series where he tries to learn what it means to make a really well-designed Mario level. He'll make something, assess its strengths and weaknesses, and further refine the level to make it better. There's so much more that can go into the process than you might expect. I'm curious to see whether I can make some Nintendo-quality levels, and how rare they end up being in the Mario Maker scene.
posted by naju at 8:12 AM on September 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

Super Mario Maker levels will apparently have to fairly playable to be accepted online. Not sure if someone from Nintendo is going to play the level or if it's automated.

You have to play your own level and beat it. That's the only criteria as far as I can tell.
posted by naju at 8:15 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's hoping somebody adapts Ennuigi.
posted by ardgedee at 8:55 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

As much as I loved Mario re-edits there's so much chaff. Is there any voting/rating system or a hands-down best of the best that one should try?
posted by wcfields at 10:11 AM on September 1, 2015

Is there any voting/rating system or a hands-down best of the best that one should try?

Per this article, you star courses you like, and a "star ranking" tab lets you view courses ranked by popularity. There seems to be a fairly robust online system, which is a rarity for Nintendo.
posted by naju at 10:17 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

From what I've heard, your ability to upload more courses depends on how many stars your courses garner. So if no one likes them, you won't be able to upload more than 10, but if lots of people like them, you might be able to upload up to 120.
posted by JHarris at 3:49 PM on September 1, 2015

I am bursting with ideas for Mario levels BTW, which is why Mario Maker is so much on my mind lately.
posted by JHarris at 3:51 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm curious to see whether I can make some Nintendo-quality levels

I'm curious as to whether Nintendo can make Nintendo-quality levels.

Full disclosure: the last 2D Mario game I played was New Super Mario Bros. for the DS, but sweet sassy molassy were those levels boring. I played through without looking for the secret areas and never looked back.
posted by lumensimus at 5:54 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

See, I really enjoyed the New Super Mario Bros games for the original Wii. The existence of Mario Maker is seriously making me consider purchasing a Wii U just for new Mario levels. I suppose I would also love the New Super Mario Bros. for Wii U.
posted by mmascolino at 6:20 PM on September 1, 2015

Now if only Capcom would come up with a Mega Man Maker. . .

(I also just learned about this which is kind of incredible)
posted by curious nu at 8:06 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mega Man Maker, you say
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:58 PM on September 1, 2015

Hah, I knew I remembered reading something about it years ago, but couldn't find it. Because: cancelled, apparently.
posted by curious nu at 7:38 AM on September 2, 2015

Perhaps worthy of its own FPP: Does Mario have a penis?
posted by naju at 2:23 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Naju, that is a brilliant/terrible/amazing essay and I'm pretty sure I loved it, for some reason
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:52 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's hoping somebody adapts Ennuigi.

Some guy on twitter says he made an Ennuigi level, though I don't own Maker yet so I don't know what to do with that.
posted by cortex at 7:11 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Glowing reviews
posted by naju at 3:29 PM on September 3, 2015

I think I have a pretty good idea of what Mario Maker can do, and making arbitrary text appear is not among its feature set to my knowledge.
posted by JHarris at 7:11 PM on September 3, 2015

Nintendo's bizarrely (but not unusual for them) segmented NDA has run out so in addition to print reviews, video is allowed up now. The Giant Bomb quicklook is pretty great. The amiibo stuff in this game is somehow both entirely superfluous and yet so incredibly charming that it feels beyond essential. They also do a good job of showing the limitations of the online stuff but ... dang if this game isn't cool as fuck.
posted by sparkletone at 10:39 PM on September 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

PS. Watching Jeff and Dan grapple with the ways Mario Maker doesn't follow the accepted rules of the games it's built off of is great.
posted by sparkletone at 10:45 PM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

the ways Mario Maker doesn't follow the accepted rules of the games it's built off

oh my GOODNESS these sorts of tiny things have been driving me NUTS so far

• You can't make boxes that only give non-mushroom power-ups if you're already big Mario

• Mario couldn't pick up P-switches in SMB3

• Yoshi spits out red shells instead of fireballs in SMW mode

• No wall clipping by doing stuff like standing up as big Mario when you're in a one-block-tall space (which is 100% understandable)


• in SMB1 mode, hit detection for stomping actually requires landing on top of an enemy instead of just coming in contact with it while Mario has a negative Y axis velocity (which is also understandable enough)
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:11 AM on September 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yeah, and you can't make infinite scroll castle mazes like 4-4, 7-4 and 8-4. You can't recreate their original games, but there's plenty of other things you can do. Focus on the new, there's a ton of that.

(My copy should be arriving in the mail via Amazon today....)
posted by JHarris at 3:39 AM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

you are not going to like spin jumping in Super Mario World mode with the shoulder buttons. I guarantee it.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:39 AM on September 11, 2015

Apparently Nintendo patched out the timed unlock cycle in the retail version, and good on them for doing so.

oh my GOODNESS these sorts of tiny things have been driving me NUTS so far

Some of these things seem like they could be fixed/added in in DLC, others... Enh. I'm with JHarris. There's so much cool stuff here that you can do that getting hung up on the picky details seems like not the way to go.
posted by sparkletone at 7:39 AM on September 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Admittedly, I'm also insanely familiar with stuff like little bugs in the code from reading writeups
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:39 AM on September 11, 2015

So what I don't get is that it seems like you can only star someone's levels if you play them through the Course World interface. If you play it through 10-Challenge Mario, it doesn't seem to count! So I guess if I find a level I like there I have to go dig it up and play through it again to star it? Hmm.

Also I wonder how this is going to work. Seems like whether or not someone sees your level to play/star it will be pretty random, especially as the number of levels available skyrockets.
posted by curious nu at 8:16 AM on September 11, 2015

I'm planning on approaching it a bit like curating my own social media feed - when I see a well-designed level, chances are that creator is going to be making more high-quality levels. Since you can follow creators and get notified when they publish new levels, you can then have a "feed" of new levels from great people, provided you're proactive about following people whose levels you like.

As far as whether your levels get starred, yeah, that's up in the air. Hopefully if you craft really good levels, you'll get recognized for it. That's the idea, anyway. Having a network of friends to play and star your levels doesn't hurt. One of the reasons I'd love to see a Metafilter cabal (also I trust all of you to make interesting levels!) Maybe a Metatalk post is in order to share our usernames?
posted by naju at 9:42 AM on September 11, 2015

The word is that 10 Mario Challenge is actually composed entirely of pre-made levels included with the game. 100 Mario Challenge is the one made of user-made courses, and I believe there you can star levels.
posted by JHarris at 11:02 AM on September 11, 2015

This game is amazing! From my initial playtime, I can't see any way to add friends to my "following" list. You can't even search for makers by name. Am I missing something?
posted by naju at 1:53 PM on September 11, 2015

My copy hasn't arrived yet. I hope something hasn't gone wrong. With my luck, it probably has.
posted by JHarris at 2:10 PM on September 11, 2015

That is what I had heard naju, the search option only lets you find based on share codes. Well, that's Nintendo for you.
posted by JHarris at 2:13 PM on September 11, 2015

A response to my question on reddit: "There's a workaround, though it's a bit tedious. When you upload a level, it also makes a post on Miiverse with the name and ID of the level. Once your friends make levels, you can enter those IDs on their Miiverse level posts to get to their levels, and follow them that way."
posted by naju at 3:21 PM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ah, it finally arrived! My first level is 76E5-0000-0019-CCF3. It's a little busy and cramped, but I think it's a good first try!
posted by JHarris at 5:04 PM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Can one play the user-made levels on the web in any way, or do I need a console and the studio ?
posted by k5.user at 5:37 PM on September 11, 2015

k5.user, I'll let you take a guess on that one ("Nintendo is fine with giving away their newest product for free")
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:41 PM on September 11, 2015

I have played about 30 levels of user-made Mario now, and... well, let's just say I haven't found even one that I've favorited yet.
posted by JHarris at 5:54 PM on September 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

My friend Alec seems to be making some fun stuff. Give this one a try: C411-0000-0019-E21D
posted by naju at 6:02 PM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, a lot of makers haven't found the restraint to know when "challenging" becomes "frustrating."
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:19 PM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

My first level is not for the faint of heart. I got drunk and now I can't even make it through half my own level. I don't think anyone will finish it. I'm a bad person but this is delightful.

ID: D29F-0000-001C-140D
posted by naju at 12:27 AM on September 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

naju, tell Alec that it's a fun idea and strong theme, well-designed generally, although a little long without checkpoints. You might also want to remind him that there's nothing that says a player has to abandon the Clown Car before the final gauntlet....
posted by JHarris at 7:59 AM on September 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well apparently they abandoned the nine-day thing and you just have to place a lot of blocks to unlock things? That's kinda stupid. =/
posted by curious nu at 8:15 AM on September 12, 2015

That's weird, because my game says I still have to wait.

naju, um, yeah. I can fairly reliably get as far as the area with the standing-alone piranha plant and the flurry of parakoopas (Japanese: "patapata", onomatopoeia for the sound of flapping wings), but that's just too annoying to try to get through with having to repeat all the previous areas before each attempt. Good theme though! Many of the best levels take a single idea and develop it.
posted by JHarris at 8:24 AM on September 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mine says I have to wait too. I played on Friday, it told me more things would unlock on Saturday.. and then.. nothing did today. It told me today to wait until tomorrow. They released some kind of patch for it yesterday, though, and I'm seeing comments from some people that they are unlocking things by just placing a ton of blocks.

I dunno. It's frustrating! I was really looking forward to more pieces today and I got nothin'. 1-1 parts/abilities are only interesting for so long, and clearly a lot of people have a lot more things unlocked.
posted by curious nu at 9:15 AM on September 12, 2015

I actually really like using the basic parts! While I don't entirely buy the dictum that limitations are the soul of creativity, it is true there's a lot you can do with blocks and Koopas. I'm working on an idea right now I'm calling Goomba Rain....
posted by JHarris at 9:41 AM on September 12, 2015

No Shelter From The Goomba Rain: AEA9-0000-0023-E7AF
posted by JHarris at 10:56 AM on September 12, 2015

I can fairly reliably get as far as the area with the standing-alone piranha plant and the flurry of parakoopas (Japanese: "patapata", onomatopoeia for the sound of flapping wings), but that's just too annoying to try to get through with having to repeat all the previous areas before each attempt.

That's good to know! In the spirit of playtesting and reiteration, I'm going to edit the course to take out that final challenge. (You were close to the end though!)
posted by naju at 12:23 PM on September 12, 2015

I've gotten pretty far in making a couple more levels, but have hit this problem where my Wii U loses connection with the hard drive over time and results in the system crashing. It might be the cable, hmm.
posted by JHarris at 12:55 PM on September 12, 2015

Ninja Koopas: D6B3-0000-0026-3785
posted by JHarris at 2:37 PM on September 12, 2015

Aah. Going over my ideas before playing Mario Maker, I was hopeful. I mean, I have a ton of ideas, and many of them just use the basic Mario components. Everything I've done so far has been with tools from the first two days.

Then I look at the top-ranked courses. "Don't press anything," is the top-rated course with, somehow, 42,800 stars, despite the game being released yesterday. Four of the top ten courses are these kinds of automatic courses. Others are things like "A Metroid level," and "SONIC1 MEMORY". Man I tell ya, it's no world for craftsmen.
posted by JHarris at 2:45 PM on September 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yeah, certainly some ugly truths being revealed.

1) Most gamers generally don't have good taste, and don't really know what they want

2) Most gamers have no idea how difficult it is to craft a truly high-quality level

We're all getting a crash course in game development. I'll be interested to see if the gimmicky stuff fades out once everyone gets it out of their system. Maybe, maybe not.
posted by naju at 2:52 PM on September 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'd been really looking forward to Super Mario Maker and it is meeting my expectations.

Right now I am basically making SMB1 levels. They all have new enemies or mechanics but I'm trying to go for the same basic feel: no expectation of backtracking, not too much variety in one level, no vertical scrolling (I was so happy to see the camera locks if you don't place blocks on the upper part of the level). I feel like the restrictions make it easier to not get wound up about the empty canvas. And it's kind of amazing how much empty space a good level needs!

This is probably my best one, Plain Pipe Path: 042D-0000-001A-2641. I think you can tap my Mii to load my others from there.

Looking forward to typing in some of the codes here. I've played through 100 Mario Challenge a few times and I agree the bulk of the levels online right now are a hot mess. I like the suggestion earlier to follow people just like a social network, people who make interesting levels.
posted by brett at 2:57 PM on September 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

One detail I adore is the way you can edit the title screen backgrounds. Great basic starters for people.
posted by brett at 3:02 PM on September 12, 2015

It's amazing how quickly you can tell an Expert course is going to be terrible. They helpfully telegraph it when they put in, say, flying springboards, or that first Kaizo block. Swipe!
posted by JHarris at 4:01 PM on September 12, 2015

Not bad, brett! Maybe a little easy, but after playing a couple dozen levels by people who think Kaizo techniques are a good thing, I'll gladly give it a star.
posted by JHarris at 4:05 PM on September 12, 2015

Yeah, right now I think I could take easy as a compliment, given a lot of the other levels. I liked Jeremy Parrish's effort to make a real and original 1-1 (I don't think it's nearly that easy, though). But here, Bullet Bill Boulevard might be more to taste: 503B-0000-0027-23DD
posted by brett at 4:22 PM on September 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Aww heh, sorry. Remember though: more difficulty is easy to make. Being fair but interesting is the challenge for a level designer. If it helps at all, I enjoyed Bullet Bill Boulevard too, and it's also a bit tougher.
posted by JHarris at 5:51 PM on September 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Turtle Valley: 0F72-0000-0029-44B5
posted by JHarris at 8:01 PM on September 12, 2015

Let's run with that theme, eh? Turtle Cannons is an underground level, and it's fairly old-school in design (except the part where the cannons fire Koopas): 145C-0000-002E-9C5B
posted by JHarris at 7:39 AM on September 13, 2015

Oh, one discovery, if you've been making levels like crazy and haven't gotten any early deliveries, apparently one trigger is you have to use every item that has a red exclamation point on it, that is, all the items that haven't been used yet.
posted by JHarris at 8:00 AM on September 13, 2015

Hey, how do you place blocks in the background? The underwater sample course does this. I can't find it in the manual or online.
posted by curious nu at 9:06 AM on September 13, 2015

Also things like red koopa/cheep-cheep. Do those unlock separately, or am I missing some subswitch setting?
posted by curious nu at 10:00 AM on September 13, 2015

Background blocks in that underwater area are a clever use of background platforms. You can edit any sample course in the editor yourself to see how it's done, just select it in Coursebot and choose Edit. Have a look, hopefully it'll clear it up.

You might not have recognized them because you didn't try shaking the platform in the editor, which changes their graphic style. This is also how red koopas and cheeps are made: when you have the stylus on one in the editor, quickly thrash it around for a second and it'll change color/style! A lot of things have alternate versions that can be accessed this way! (You can also drag mushrooms to many enemies in the editor to make big versions, and wings to make jumping/floating/flying versions. You can even put wings on some terrain elements....)
posted by JHarris at 10:29 AM on September 13, 2015

My 2nd course, challenging but fair: "Star Me Kitten". 0F0A-0000-0031-76D1. It requires using a rolling jump mechanic I've never seen before. (I never played New SMB though.)
posted by naju at 12:58 PM on September 13, 2015

posted by naju at 1:50 PM on September 13, 2015

naju: Cleared it! Took me about six or seven tries.

A construction tip : only pipes that are actually on screen generate items or enemies. If it's even one tile offscreen it produces nothing (at least vertically).

I also noticed, if you miss on collecting that second star, you're pretty much stuck.
posted by JHarris at 5:09 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Playing some 100-Mario Challenges.

So many of these levels are so weird-bad. =/

The shake-block trick is what I needed, JHarris. I can't believe that's not in the manual. Am I missing it? It seems kind of fundamental.
posted by curious nu at 6:01 AM on September 14, 2015

Also: is there a way to set what a Mystery Mushroom is without an amiibo?
posted by curious nu at 6:01 AM on September 14, 2015

Generally it was good though. Sorry, I slip into critic mode a little too easily sometimes, heh.
posted by JHarris at 6:02 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mario level as ransom note.
posted by ignignokt at 9:52 AM on September 14, 2015

I'll start playing some of your levels and add you fine folk to my Following list.

Things I've made so far, in chronographical order:

First Steps: C559-0000-0015-2170
Small Cavern: 5B45-0000-0022-55CD
4 Square: DD69-0000-0036-722D (all the jumps are 4-square wide, except for a couple that are 8-wide)
Treasure Fleet: ED87-0000-0038-12B2

Haven't managed to make a underwater level I'm happy with yet, though I'm close. I think I'm with Parish on the "bloopers are bullshit" stance, though, and will be avoiding them I think.
posted by curious nu at 11:10 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also I'm making a thread over on mefightclub so's we can continue our Mario Maker shenanigans.
posted by curious nu at 11:11 AM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also also, making and playing my own levels makes me want to play more Mario games.

Playing the 100 Mario Challenge levels makes me want there to never be any more Mario, anywhere, ever, because these are such a pain in the butt. (Note: you can skip a level by holding minus. This draws a new level. You can still get your Mystery Mushroom unlock even if you skip some levels, it seems).

The worst ones -- well, the saddest ones are those that clearly have a really cool concept that are just bogged down by all this crap. Played a Mad Max: Fury Road-inspired level, and parts of it were really great and parts of it just made me want to skip the thing. There have been a bunch like that. It's been interesting because it's informing me on my level design. I don't want someone to skip my level, I want them to enjoy it and have a good time. I also don't want to upload any dang thing; I think I want what I upload to be worthwhile. Might cull some of my earlier attempts here soon.
posted by curious nu at 3:50 PM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Note: you can skip a level by holding minus. This draws a new level. You can still get your Mystery Mushroom unlock even if you skip some levels, it seems

They should make this way more obvious. The second randomly picked level I got was a troll level where you had to run back and forth the whole length of the level for about two minutes before doing anything. Ideally they can do something behind the scenes to make often-skipped levels not show up in the random selections.
posted by Gary at 4:29 PM on September 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

At the same time, though, I suspected from the very moment Mario Maker was announced that this was going to happen. Of course it would be inundated with troll levels and Kaizo Mario frustration. I personally approach it all with a sort of bemused amazement that Nintendo even allowed this to happen. This is going to be a Mario game that makes little children cry. Knowingly or unknowingly, Nintendo made the equivalent of a Dark Souls platformer.

By way of comparison, I've died about 500 times in the past 3 days. I'm positive that's more than I've died in any of the Souls games combined.

Just keep your finger on that minus button. We have to wade through a LOT of bizarre, unfair stuff, or just plain broken levels that seem to have been created by people who've never played a 2D game in their lives, let alone a Mario 2D game. But hey - it's all part of this strange package we've been given. Absurd and amazing.
posted by naju at 4:39 PM on September 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Watching people fuck around with this thing has been a lot of fun, but yeah. Pretty much everyone is hitting a lot of garbage. It's not surprising, and I'm very curious as to how long it will take that to settle out and what the final size of the community around the game on both sides of the maker/player divide will be. Some of that probably depends on how well Nintendo can keep people engaged/checking back in from time toting with DLC.
posted by sparkletone at 5:15 PM on September 14, 2015

You can't make boxes that only give non-mushroom power-ups if you're already big Mario

This one bugs me too. It's such a basic fact of the Mario games. You don't get that special item unless you are big Mario, and it doesn't waste your time with mushrooms when you are already big Mario. It messes up the risk/reward structure of the game.

Otherwise the game is lots of fun. It's also one of the few Wii U games I have that doesn't require a TV.

Still haven't seen a Kuribo Shoe yet. When I get them they're going to be everywhere.
posted by Gary at 12:24 AM on September 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

Still haven't seen a Kuribo Shoe yet. When I get them they're going to be everywhere.

I am so angry that I'm going to be getting SFX before I get Yoshi, apparently.
posted by brett at 7:40 PM on September 15, 2015

I've worked quite a bit on this one: The Three Minute Mile: 9DBE-0000-0042-9B9C

Good luck with this one! Although I personally think it's easier than the raining Goombas one, it might just be because I'm so familiar with it.
posted by JHarris at 10:28 AM on September 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Crappy levels are not ruining Mario Maker
posted by naju at 1:29 PM on September 16, 2015

I'd be more worried about the crappy levels if this were Nintendo even a few years ago. But for the Wii U they at least can patch games and add proper DLC content. There are plenty of good moderation / curation options for them to improve Mario Maker if they decide to.

Slight derail: I'm still waiting for them to fix the store's bizarre rules attaching purchased content to the console instead of your account. I'd also rather they sell me DLC for Splatoon for a couple bucks instead of expecting me to buy $15 toys (that are sold out everywhere, so it's lose-lose!). But they are making progress at least.
posted by Gary at 4:47 PM on September 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Broken Most Bridge: 49E0-0000-0044-B62A.

I think this counts as hard but fair. It also has a schtick I don't remember seeing in an official Mario game. Definitely not explored this thoroughly.
posted by brett at 8:14 PM on September 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Is there a good way to comment on your own level? I didn't see anything in the Course Maker, do I just have to play my own level in Course World to do that?
posted by curious nu at 6:59 AM on September 17, 2015

I think so, curious nu. You can actually annotate your level that way; if you play it in Course World then pause, you can comment at that point, and I hear it'll appear as a floating message at the place you were when you paused it. (If these get to be distracting during play, you can set their visibility in the pause menu too.)
posted by JHarris at 8:00 AM on September 17, 2015

I'd also rather they sell me DLC for Splatoon for a couple bucks instead of expecting me to buy $15 toys (that are sold out everywhere, so it's lose-lose!). But they are making progress at least.

Well, the Amiibo challenges are pretty minor honestly, considering how multiplayer's the focus of the game. The best thing you get out of them I think is alternate retro games to play during matchmaking. The real DLC of Splatoon has all been free so far.
posted by JHarris at 8:02 AM on September 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

(However, I am annoyed that the 30th Anniversary Mario amiibo, which is actually more expensive than the average Amiibo, unlocks a very interesting part in Mario Maker. ARGH.)
posted by JHarris at 8:03 AM on September 17, 2015

On Broken Most Bridge:

Cleared it. It's very nice for the most post. Here's some hopefully useful criticism for use in polishing later levels. First, know I'm looking hard at this. My standards are higher than most Mario players. (As far as handling difficulty, I've completed the infamous Lost Levels twice.)

For the most part the course is fair, I'd say. But I would say it's about "5% too hard," a small but significant amount. I'd particularly like to critique two specific aspects of it.

I tend to think of course difficulty on a scale from 1-1 to 8-4 and after. ("About 5-2 in difficulty," or "about as hard as world 12-3 would have been." You could use Lost Levels/Japanese Mario 2 as a useful extension of the scale.) But 8-4 was a challenging level: it had a Hammer Bro on his own on solid ground on a course with no powerups, and right before Bowser in fact. Hammer Bros are the most challenging enemy in the game -- their flurry of hammers is among the toughest challenges in the original game, and they're just random enough that there is no way to get past them infallibly other than fireballs. Even the classic long floating jump over their head can, once in a while, be countered if it decides to jump and throw a hammer at just the wrong time. Most of the Hammer Bros. in Super Mario Bros. are set on terrain that makes them easier in some way, especially the classic two shelf arrangement that gives players opportunities to hit them from beneath.

So, your course that's got several Hammer Bros. on moving platforms is harder than most of their uses in original SMB! Consider the implications of that. It is true, if you can keep that Fire Flower near the beginning for a while, you can take care of most of them (especially with their new ability of bouncing off of moving platforms, which makes them a lot more useful here). I restarted the level many times when I lost that flower -- if a powerup is that essential to progress, I'd suggest something's maybe a little too hard.

There is one hazard in the stage that makes it very hard to keep that -- there is a Podoboo (or "Lava Bubble") placed where your first experience with it is blind, that is, you just make a long running jump and so rapidly scrolled the screen, the destination platform is low on the screen, and the bubble is set to pop up right in the middle of that platform. Once you know it's there you can take measures to avoid it, but the ideal is that a stage should be possible, however unlikely, for a theoretical infinitely-skilled player to finish on his first attempt. That one part feels unfair, but because the implications of that unfairness are great, it affects the overall feeling of the level. It feels a bit malicious considering how desperately the player wants to keep his fireballs with all the Hammer Bros around.

Anyway, this is just my two cents. It is an interesting level overall, and much better than most levels I've seen. I did manage to hold out until the end. How would I fix it? Simply, I would: take out that one Podoboo, and take out maybe one of the Hammer Bros, which one doesn't matter I think. Alternatively, you could remove that midway Mushroom (I think there's one there, right?) and instead put in another Flower a bit later. But that might be too blunt an instrument -- an additional major powerup is a big dampener on difficulty in such a carefully planned course as this.

Well, that's what I think. I hope this has been helpful.
posted by JHarris at 9:15 AM on September 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Some more levels:

Deep Dive -- underwater levels are hard. =/ This was the first one I worked on right when I unlocked the water set, but its taken me a week to get something I'm kind-of okay with. You go down and then back up, and the time limit is set to 100 seconds. There's generally an upper (difficult) or lower (easier) path to take, there's a little grotto on the upper path you can thread through and get a 1-up, and then a fireball cavern with coins and another 1-up. At one point there were going to be Thwomps but they're pretty slow underwater, which is interesting and worth exploring but I wasn't sure how to make them work here.

Get to the Chopper! -- I don't remember how I started this one. I think I had a big gap before the castle and was pondering how to cover it, and thought of the clown car. Started re-doing the level with that as the central concept. Still like the idea, but it could use some refinement in order to support the theme.

A Simple Progression -- Just started poking around with the castle set on this one. Threw a couple of goombas in and then a red koopa. Made the goombas big which makes them actually a lot harder, because it's easy to get hit by the smaller sub-goombas that get split off. The fire flower that's under the overhang is probably the trickiest thing I've put in a level so far. The timing to drop down onto the platform is pretty tight, and to get back up you can either barely make it back up to the overhang, or do a wall kick to the other floating platform. If you take the upper path over the face, you can get a fire flower after Bowser Jr. Bowser's fireballs come way too early but I didn't want to extend the level any more, so it's an unfortunate side-effect.

Mouse in the House -- I really like the idea for this! Worked for days on this level. Pikachu explores a ghost house. It's not 100% what I want, and I expect I'll be spending time with graph paper and many tests on a second iteration of the concept. There a lot more enemies than I'd like - I'm finding I prefer environmental challenges like pits and spikes - but it's okay. I originally had a large Magikoopa guarding the exit door, but his magic attacks you as soon as you start the level; similar issue with putting a Bowser (or Jr) there. Settled on a jump and a chain-chomp. I really like the SMB ghost house music.
posted by curious nu at 10:15 AM on September 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Guys, if you haven't yet, go to the Manual in the game, go down to the bottom, and enter the code 1309.
posted by JHarris at 10:44 AM on September 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

JHarris, thanks for all the feedback. I'm thrilled someone's looked at it so deeply.

Definitely I hear everything you're saying. I was noodling with the idea of a level that was mostly moving platforms, and when I asked myself "What happens if you put Hammer Bros on here?" it was very easy to work on it from there. (I was afraid they'd jump into the lava, and I was very happy to find they didn't.) Maybe I pushed the idea too hard, but that's the core concept I wanted to explore with the level.

One reason I felt all right pushing it this far is because the Hammer Bros seem a little easier in this game than they were in SMB1. The rate they throw hammers seems slightly slower and definitely more predictable. If you watch them for a while, there are clear gaps where you can jump in. I did a few runs without fire flowers to convince myself. It's hard, and I think I agree with your overall assessment that it's about 5% too hard, but it's at least doable. I didn't want to upload something ridiculous. But I think it might be fixable by adjusting the platform placement rather than the number of Hammer Bros. I'll have to iterate some more.

I'm pretty sure I know the blind Podobo you're talking about, and you're totally right that needs to go. On the flip side, there is a second flower in the course to help you out…
posted by brett at 10:56 AM on September 17, 2015

I noticed that, if you shake a Hammer Bro. in the editor, it changes his throw pattern.... or at least I think that's what it does.

Hmm... it is possible for HBs to be easier than in the original game, where they could be brutal. A lot of 8-4 runs ended at that lone one right before Bowser, and even more games in 8-3, the infamous Hammer Bros. gauntlet. I could have another look later I suppose.
posted by JHarris at 11:19 AM on September 17, 2015

One thing I noticed in testing was that, if you're standing right in front of a Hammer Bros, you can bop on their head between throws. I don't ever remember doing that SMB1--it only ever seemed possible to go over or under them.
posted by brett at 11:27 AM on September 17, 2015

I'm curious as to how Nintendo decides whether a level is easy, normal, or hard for 100-Mario Challenge.. because they seem to be pretty accurate. Easy is generally easy, Normals are often okay and only sometimes a little cruddy.

I spent 12 lives trying to get past the first stage of Expert. Probably tried 5-6 different levels. Gave up, and can't imagine ever wanting to put up with the extraordinary bullshit in an "expert" level. I'd love to see the creators get past them more than once.
posted by curious nu at 11:31 AM on September 17, 2015

Oh, I played Broken Moat as well. I really wished that 1-up mushroom was a regular mushroom. ;) And some of the fireballs in the section after the fire spinners are pretty rough. I haven't managed to clear the level yet (probably have logged 7-8 attempts), will try again later.
posted by curious nu at 11:33 AM on September 17, 2015

I'm curious as to how Nintendo decides whether a level is easy, normal, or hard for 100-Mario Challenge.. because they seem to be pretty accurate.

Does the win percentage line up pretty well? I would assume they base it off of that.

The little x's where previous players died is pretty fun to see and useful for level designers. It's probably too much data to store, but a Super Meat Boy death montage replay would be a great addition.
posted by Gary at 1:33 PM on September 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yep, I read that the difficulty correlates entirely to the completion percentage. Makes sense. Still, many courses have never been played before, so I'm finding it to be a crapshoot on occasion.
posted by naju at 1:48 PM on September 17, 2015

Some interesting things I've seen:

P-Switches stop conveyor belts.

If you attach a Chain Chomp to a Blooper, the game gives you a special icon and names you King/Queen Jerk. (okay, it doesn't, but it should! this is a clever/cruel combination)

You can attach a Boo to a block and it'll ghost-crawl along in, popping up and down.

You can attach small Boos to a big Boo.

Putting a cannon or Bullet Bill on a large Bowser seems to work pretty well.
posted by curious nu at 3:38 PM on September 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

5603-0000-0053-D2A2 : I told you there would be shoes!

I should spend more time on this concept and refine it to something less gimmicky. The Lakitus end up providing a more interesting experience than the giant flying bowsers at the end.
posted by Gary at 6:51 PM on September 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

One thing I noticed in testing was that, if you're standing right in front of a Hammer Bros, you can bop on their head between throws. I don't ever remember doing that SMB1--it only ever seemed possible to go over or under them.

You can do that in original SMB too, but practically only if you're small, and the Hammer Bro's randomness makes it hard to know when to jump.

I'm curious as to how Nintendo decides whether a level is easy, normal, or hard for 100-Mario Challenge.. because they seem to be pretty accurate. Easy is generally easy, Normals are often okay and only sometimes a little cruddy.

It's almost certainly the death percentage listed on the course's info screen. This fact has interesting implications; courses that are obviously hard but have a secret way to finish them, for example, will almost certainly get shuffled into Expert.

By the way, a trick some trolls jerks are using is to make an impossible hell course, but put a hidden star near the start, or a path of invisible blocks leading to a much easier alternate route or end-of-course shortcut for them to satisfy the one-completion requirement for uploading. Last night I found such a course in which someone had posted an in-course comment saying basically "HERE is a string of invisible blocks, use these to get to the end!" That person is my current Short Duration Personal Savior (ShorDuPerSav).

I did manage to make it through Expert last night, but I skipped a ton of levels, far more than I played through. When you finally find that fair level among the dross though, it's pretty nice. For me, instant skips are obvious nonsense (wall of advancing enemies), Kaizo blocks, most question blocks containing enemies (go to hell), lots of spikes (there are actually very very few official Super Mario levels that use spikes), wall jump bastard courses full of spikes, and of course tons of TRAMPOLINES. There are so many ways to wreck a Mario level.

I got my 50th star last night and unlocked another 10 upload slots. My courses at the moment (including a couple not yet mentioned above) are:

No Shelter From The Goomba Rain: AEA9-0000-0023-E7AF
(Quite hard, chaotic, challenging but possible, if you dally too much you'll get inundated. I think this is one of my best levels.)
The Three Minute Mile: 9DBE-0000-0042-9B9C
(I'm also fond of this one. Step lively or you'll run out of time! And it's a long long course! However it is far from impossible -- I've finished it with 19 seconds left with far from perfect play, but then I've played a lot of Mario.)
Riddle of the Mushooms: 011A-0000-004C-ECE0
(My attempt at a Metroid-like level. The abilities of the powerups give you powers you'll need to advance. Quite tricky! Please note the misspelling in the title -- how I wish I could go back and fix that.)
Turtle Cannons: 145C-0000-002E-9C5B
(Moderate difficulty, not overwhelming.)
Turtle Valley: 0F72-0000-0029-44B5
(Moderate-hard, uses a trick I discovered to let the bouncing Parakoopas [my favorite enemy] jump up ledges. Has two major routes, but sometimes Parakoopas overinfest the bottom one, I'm not sure why.)
Ninja Koopas: D6B3-0000-0026-3785
(Moderate, but it does have a places where koopas pounce unexpectedly from off-screen. That's a bit unfair yes, but it's part of the theme, whether it works is very random [if you dally a bit you'll mess up the timing], and it just ends up not being so bad here.)
First Attempt: 76E5-0000-0019-CCF3
(My first course, the title could be taken as a warning label. But it's not that hard really and it's really short at least. It was my experiment to try to recreate some of the design structures from original SMB.)

You read to the end of this comment? As a reward, here's some things I learned:
  1. For some reason, if you put a Bill Cannon at least six blocks tall on top of a Red Parakoopa, then jump on the cannon, the Parakoopa will slowly continue to drift upward! This could be used as a way to give players (or yourself) a sneaky shortcut.
  2. You can actually give enemies more than one level of Mushroom, but they immediately sneeze the extra one out. I wonder if there's an unlock there....
  3. If you finish the 10 Mario Challenge seven times you'll deplete all the built-in courses allocated for it. You'll then unlock the four courses used for the 2015 Nintendo World Championships! They're all hard but fair and well worth playing; you can load them in Coursebot at the bottom of the list. And the game remembers if you pass one of them. If you pass all four, you gain the ability to put the "Weird Mushroom" into your courses intentionally. Oh, and that mushroom isn't just a graphic oddity, it turns out you can jump one or two blocks higher with it....
posted by JHarris at 7:26 AM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Gary, that's a fun little level, I approve. After suffering through an Expert run full of madness, it actually seems somewhat restrained to me.
posted by JHarris at 7:33 AM on September 20, 2015

Also, if you put a door in front of the entry to a castle (the ones at the end of the levels), the Mario will actually enter the door when he gets there after hitting the flagpole. Doesn't matter to the game, just fun to see.
posted by JHarris at 7:54 AM on September 20, 2015

I'm gonna have to play catch-up on these levels.

Is anyone following "famous" designers? All I know of so far is Koji "IGA" Igarashi of modern Castlevania fame. His levels are generally pretty clever. And still surprisingly understarred, so maybe people don't really know about him yet. Here's a fun one of his: D53D-0000-0010-77DF
posted by naju at 2:06 PM on September 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

A few of my recent courses. Nothing amazing, mostly just doodling around while I wait for more shipments of editor blocks to arrive. Once I get a more substantial palette, I'll probably be ready to spend time on more substantial levels. I don't think I've mastered the right amount of difficulty yet, unfortunately. I can't tell whether I'm better at playing than average, but most people simply aren't finishing my courses. They try a few times then give up. I wonder whether "dumbing down" my courses is the right thing to do, though - I'm most engaged when I'm making levels that I would be challenged by. (This is surprisingly similar to considerations around making challenging music or challenging novels, and how easily you can end up making niche things that appeal to a small cult following rather than get widespread love. And whether that's good or bad. Or maybe I'm overthinking.)

It's OK fish don't have feelings: 29CE-0000-0038-721D. An underwater course involving spiky helmets and a bullet hell amount of enemies.

In The Air Tonight: B2C8-0000-0048-20AE. An auto-scrolling airship course with a few different paths to follow.

Ghost Ride The Whip: 1F32-0000-0049-5B43. Don't play this one, it's just me being an asshole. You have 10 seconds on the timer. If you win, it'll be by a fraction of a second. Yeah, there's no excuse for this. Like I said, I was just doodling around to trigger the next shipment.
posted by naju at 2:35 PM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mine probably trend too hard too (especially Goomba Rain, I mean sheesh), but it's a fun kind of hard I think.

Lots of the really hard levels are the kinds that present some trick, like getting through a gauntlet of wall jumps, or leap across these wide gaps. I hate those, obstacles that can only be tackled one way. "Here is a hoop, player! I have set it on fire and surrounded it with spikes. Jump through it!" No, I don't wish to.

All of my levels have multiple ways they can be tackled. They might be hard, but they're open to different approaches, and some of those ways might be easier, either objectively or just to you. You can try different things in them, play around, see what works best for your style. That is a lot of what I like about Mario games. In fact, that is a lot of what I like about games, period.
posted by JHarris at 3:24 PM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I love Brianna Wu's level for her husband. 8D Have any of you considered making some videos of your levels? I'd love to see them, but there's no way I can buy what I need to play them!
posted by Deoridhe at 3:48 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

When Mario hits too close to home indeed.... :(
posted by sparkletone at 3:50 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'd love to stream, not just Mario but all kinds of things, but I don't have the hardware nor can afford to get at moment, alas.
posted by JHarris at 4:13 PM on September 20, 2015

Hoo-boy. I'm particularly proud of this one....

"P" Is For Peril: EF00-0000-005B-7079

Did you ever stop to think about how weird and tricky switch blocks actually are?
posted by JHarris at 11:09 PM on September 20, 2015

I finally (!!!) got the game on Friday and have been working my way through as fast as I can (which hasn't been very fast yet) but I will post things when I've got them. I'm currently working on a fun series (for if and when chaining levels together ever becomes an option) of the Lakitu Mining Facility.

For me, the whole Kaizo aesthetic is played out and not nearly as clever or interesting as people want it to be. Mario can be hard - almost impossibly so - but those levels are ingenious and make you want to just keep trying them over and over until you succeed.

Take my favorite recent Mario level, from New Super Mario Bros. Wii U: Run For It. I can't tell you how many times I died attempting that level, which is just a minute long, elegantly simple, beautifully varied in its single game mechanic, and insanely replayable.

That's my metric for "good" in these. We'll see whether anything matches it.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:54 PM on September 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I've reworked "P" Is For Peril to shorten it a bit, make it a bit more dangerous, and add a fairly hard to reach secret area. The new code is A063-0000-005E-5504.

All my courses are listed here.

Navelgazer, you might like my course The Three-Minute Mile. (Well, might.)
posted by JHarris at 4:11 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Another new one, it's a bit loose but it's fun! Chaos Theory: Digging: 3459-0000-005F-4154

There's several ways to tackle the challenge of getting through a large field of bricks. Good luck, whichever you try!
posted by JHarris at 7:42 PM on September 21, 2015

A Twitter friend made this course: C87A-0000-005B-A1FC. It's pretty amazing, you'd almost think Mario Maker could be scripted!
posted by JHarris at 8:38 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Lakitu Mineshaft 1: 9920-0000-005F-7770

It's not perfect,but it is, I believe, fair.

More to follow. There will be a boss level when element permit.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:40 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Spelunkio: 051B-0000-005F-B5A7.

This is one I could tinker with for a long time and still not be totally happy. But I think the theme comes across well and lends itself to future remixes. It turns out I had plenty of room horizontally for a better entrance, but "move everything 30 blocks right" is not something Mario Maker makes easy.

Once I had my level put together I looked for other similar levels. Reddit has Spelunky, Spelunko, and Smells like Wet Fur. I haven't had a chance to play them yet, but I liked how the last one has a shopkeeper's vault and a Thwomp standing is as a Moai head.
posted by Gary at 10:04 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Navelgazer, it's pretty good I'd say. I finished it on my fifth or sixth attempt.

One thing I'd suggest keeping in mind in future is being careful about jumps where Mario is off the top of the screen, jumping is tricky enough as it is when you can accurate track his position.
posted by JHarris at 10:42 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Castle and Garden: 8527-0000-005F-6D7A

The garden path is the more interesting one, I think, and I should probably jettison most of the castle level and instead just have it bookend the garden sublevel with pipes. I originally had the first super mushroom directly at the edge of the platform where it's at now but it was very easy to miss; this was intended to be hard to get to, but if I want people to see that part, why make it that annoying? So I moved it back one. We'll see how it goes.
posted by curious nu at 5:52 AM on September 22, 2015

This kaizo, but still really neat: Bomb Voyage
posted by ignignokt at 7:18 AM on September 22, 2015

This kaizo, but still really neat: Bomb Voyage

P isn't for Peril in Mario Maker like someone's title suggested earlier. It's for Panga, the real peril.
posted by sparkletone at 4:34 PM on September 22, 2015

It's for Panga, the real peril.

Are you talking about this? I'm only sort-of mad at it. The guy managed to beat it! Sure, it took him 9 hours, but I've got video proof that one of these insane crazypeople can, in fact, beat their own level.

It's still going to go into the Expert rotation and make my life a living hell, though. =(
posted by curious nu at 5:24 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

P Is For Peril is the actual title of my level (A063-0000-005E-5504), which is like 95% coins and blocks over a wide pit, and a few P-Switches thrown in.
posted by JHarris at 9:46 PM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've got video proof that one of these insane crazypeople can, in fact, beat their own level.

Panga did a a blind-folded speedrun of SMW back in June and has made Kaizo-y ROM hacks. He's much more legit than Ross from Game Grumps who has put basically impossible to find hidden exits into his levels so he can beat them easily and upload them for other people (including other Game Grumps) suffer through.
posted by sparkletone at 10:20 PM on September 22, 2015

Okay, finally found the Super Mario Maker Thread:

My five year old made at least one of those. Mrs. Penguin and I have played this every night since it came out.

I need more stars! I've got 8/10 levels uploaded!
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:55 AM on September 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

You can delete courses and you don't lose your stars. I've already had to do this once, know it's going to happen more.
posted by curious nu at 11:26 AM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Here are all my courses so far (some haven't been mentioned here yet):

Be Careful On The Cliffs 2E84-0000-0066-54DD
Chaos Theory: Tracks 5B71-0000-0061-9186
Chaos Theory: Digging 3459-0000-005F-4154
"P" Is For Peril A063-0000-005E-5504
Riddle Of The Mushrooms 011A-0000-004C-ECE0
No Shelter From The Goomba Rain AEA9-0000-0023-E7AF
The Three-Minute Mile 9DBE-0000-0042-9B9C
Turtle Cannons 145C-0000-002E-9C5B
Turtle Valley 0F72-0000-0029-44B5
Ninja Koopas D6B3-0000-0026-3785
First Attempt 76E5-0000-0019-CCF3

But note! In a course's listing, you can touch the little portrait of the maker's Mii and bring up a list of all his levels! Great for finding more things you like, plus from that list you can click the heart at the top of the window to add that person to your Following list, which you can get to from the Makers section from the Course World main screen.

Also note, the last two characters in the third section of a course's ID is a general measure (in hexadecimal) of how early that level was made. My first course was First Attempt (natch), which was made on release day, so it has a 19 for those characters. Be Careful On The Cliffs, which I uploaded just now, has a 66 there. I suspect, actually, that the entire last twelve digits of the ID are just the order of the course as it was uploaded, with the first four digits being merely a checksum or something like that.
posted by JHarris at 11:55 AM on September 23, 2015

Someone on the subreddit (I go there so you don't have to) said that Expert courses are those with a 10% or less completion rate.
posted by JHarris at 11:57 AM on September 23, 2015

(And I keep this spreadsheet updated as I add new levels:
posted by JHarris at 12:04 PM on September 23, 2015

Hot Foot's Castle Run: BBB0-0000-0067-50B8

I forgot that there was a little-remembered SMB3 enemy called Hot Foot. This stage does not include that. Also it's NSMB-style, because I enjoy that. Anyway, I'm quite proud if how this one came out.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:59 PM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Nintendo Minute level plays show some great levels but they obscure the course IDs so a) what's the point, really? and b) I can't figure out the reasoning behind this. Prevent comment-trolling? It's crazy dumb, I want to play those levels. =(
posted by curious nu at 6:05 PM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's a word of warning for you guys. If you find levels in Expert with a higher-level (flower/leaf/cape) powerup and a door nearby that opens up directly onto spikes, the creator took advantage of an invulnerability bug to clear the level and there's probably no way for you to do it yourself without using the same bug. It is this:

If you have a higher-level powerup and take damage, if you come out of a door and immediately take damage again just as your invulnerability period is running out, you will be completely invulnerable to further damage from enemies or spikes. You can still die from time-up, falling out of the course or into lava or getting crushed, and you still can't walk through boss-level enemies (Bowser and Jr.) outside of SMB-mode, but you can just harmlessly walk through legions of enemies. You can even still jump off them and use Thwomps as ordinary platforms.

In the playthrough of Expert just did, two levels used the bug, and there were a couple others that might have. I hope Nintendo fixes this soon.
posted by JHarris at 7:23 PM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nintendo literally just fixed it this evening. Version 1.10 just installed on my machine.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:34 PM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ah, excellent!
posted by JHarris at 7:56 PM on September 23, 2015

Someone on the subreddit said they hadn't fixed the invuln bug. About to try it now.
posted by JHarris at 10:05 PM on September 23, 2015

I can confirm, the invulnerability bug is still there.
posted by JHarris at 10:08 PM on September 23, 2015

Polygon had Derek Yu (the creator of Spelunky) make a level. He says it's four towers of hell, and he's not wrong.

Some Giant Bomb people streamed making a level today with the input of subscribers as to what the level should be like. The level they end up with is a lot less impossible than I expected (while still being pretty troll-y). They showed a couple things I didn't know you could do in the editor as well.
posted by sparkletone at 10:26 PM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oops. Meant to use the youtube link for the Giant Bomb video in that last post. The video on their site's not paywalled or anything and that's their official youtube channel. It's just that the youtube player is a bit nicer than the one on their actual site. Same 1h15m of goofiness either way.
posted by sparkletone at 11:24 PM on September 23, 2015

Oh well, maybe in the next update. Nintendo didn't actually say what the update was for so people must have been guessing.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:55 AM on September 24, 2015

Man the Battlements! (A Mario 3 Attempt): 73AC-0000-006A-A53B
posted by Navelgazer at 8:26 PM on September 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cleared Man the Battlements, it's interesting! Here's my advice:

There aren't many classic Mario levels that require flight, for the reason that it's too easy, playing that way, for a player to deprive himself of the only way forward, that is, the means of flight. Even if you give him a flight powerup at every opportunity, he can, and often will, run out, unless you use a spawner, and their presence is usually a give-away that the powerup is necessary. And one should expect this: Mario games lend themselves to a variety of approaches, some experimentation is often necessary to figure out the way forward (can I make that jump? will the pipe not spawn a Bob-omb as I run past it?), and experiments often mean taking damage.

Classic Mario games are designed so that it's practically impossible to get stuck somewhere requiring suicide or (worst of all) running out the clock. No matter what level it is, there is always a way to proceed forward with small Mario. Unfortunately, the many designers of Super Mario Maker are nowhere near as meticulous, and that inspires a certain callousness on the part of players. Used to getting stranded from time to time, they aren't usually so inspired to search for hidden blocks to get out of pits or climb tall pipes. For that reason, I suggest not being cagey with essential powerups. If the player needs it to move on, secret ways to advance will often not be resorted to before a Skip -- and for several reasons Skipped levels are almost never starred.

That said, even good advice should be ignored from time to time. For example, the course I just made, Unexpected Ores In The Gold Mine: 3798-0000-006B-315D. It's not that the powerups are mandatory, but they make it rather easier. This is a digging level: the way is blocked by a mostly solid field of bricks, and the player must break them to proceed. The problem is, the field is mostly down, and being a SMB level, there's no power stomp or side attack to break them beneath or beside you. The level has to be solved (it's not a bad word for it) by using the various methods of digging available. There's a chaotic element to most of those, so the level tends to be slightly different on each try. Supporting this, the level is open to general approaches and creative experimentation more than precise sequences of actions. I'm rather proud of it: it may look random, but most of those enemies and coins are there for definite reasons. I spent several hours building, testing and editing it. Good luck everyone in finishing it!
posted by JHarris at 2:22 AM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ooh, Unexpected Ores is a lot of fun (that said I'm trying to get out the door this morning and haven't had nearly as much time to try to explore it and solve it as I'd like - I'll check back here tonight.)

For Battlements, I tried to hide a few leaves around the place to encourage exploration in the case of getting stuck. It seems to me that the toughest spot by a wide margin is that bridge with the koopa on it and all the cannons underneath it, because you have to take off with the cannons firing, which is doable but definitely not an easy affair. If you get hurt (or come there hurt) you can use the koopa to hit the block for a new leaf, so that's good, but if you miss that leaf or get hurt again, well...

I'm not sure how obvious it is, but I tried to have a little hidden area to the left of the bridge juuuuuuussssst peeking out for someone in that circumstance. There you can easily (no tricks) get another leaf, as well as having a safe area from which to run and take off.

"Fairness" in Mario is an interesting philosophical question, though. I'm going to die to those Bobombs in "Unexpected Ores" dozens of times tonight, but they feel perfectly "fair" to me. Anyway, thanks for all your tips and playthroughs - I truly appreciate them!
posted by Navelgazer at 5:32 AM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Did you get the digital copy of the game? Do you wish you had a physical copy of the Idea Book? Call Nintendo at 1-855-236-4298, pick option 2, and have your NNID handy. Send you a copy for free, no problem. (takes a few minutes for them to go through the whole process, but it's painless from your end)
posted by curious nu at 7:36 AM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

(Addidiontally, JHarris, a level like Unexpected Ores is just another huge argument for the game needing to include Star Coins in the DLC. Off all the big things they're missing now (slopes, one-way pipes, koopalings, the SMB3 white-box trick) nothing would improve on the level design and play quality more than including Star Coins and a way to track finding them all. In my humble opinion.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:36 AM on September 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Star/Dragon/Yoshi/Red/whatever coins would be nice, yes. I'd like some further bonuses for players myself, like the reverse of maker stars, a star-for-the-player, a single something he can hide in his level that will reward the player beyond just clearing it, that gets remembered and counted and counts towards something. Of course many makers would use that just as a way to pander for stars themselves, but many would also use it for its intended purpose too.

it's not always easy to come up with an effective way to reward players for exploration. Extra lives can kind of do it, but the player can't ever get more than three per level in 100 Mario Challenge, and further if you're using Stars, stomping or shells as a gimmick, or have a lot of enemies near the goal or a ton of coins (like if you're using P-Switches as your gimmick), then if you're not careful the player will get those three extras entirely from normal play.

One thing I do often is hide a Mystery Mushroom somewhere near the goal (which is one reason I use SMB style so much). Lots of the costumes have entertaining musical references to their source series when you clear levels wearing them (or if you fall off the screen wearing them!). While I haven't made any castle levels yet, I'm going to make it a point to do that with them, because only Castle (or once in a while Airship) levels get used for the last level in 100 Mario Challenge, and Toad and Peach say different things upon clearing when you're wearing them at the end!
posted by JHarris at 11:58 AM on September 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Three Trampoline Tower: B21A-0000-0071-4FC1 - SMB3 style puzzle level. Hard, but not punishing like my last level.
posted by brett at 9:44 AM on September 26, 2015

Geisthaus! DCCF-0000-0071-7F8C

I'm proud a' this'un.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:26 AM on September 26, 2015

Maybe what we should do is start a Mario-level virtual collective? Like, start a blog to feature Metafilter member levels. Maybe we could get MeFightClub in on it?
posted by JHarris at 6:29 PM on September 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yes, Please!

Oh, and I keep forgetting to ask you JHarris, but in "Be Careful on the Cliffs," how did you change the background back and forth?I know about grabbing elements like for putting the grandfather clock where you want it in the Ghost House, but how you did the cliff background differentiation is beyond me.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:41 PM on September 26, 2015

Ah! The "Semi-Solid Platform" item, if you shake it, has three different styles. Those background areas are just Semi-Solid Platform style 2 stretched out and set into the background. I don't use the "platform" part of it at all, just the background part. It's my favorite way to decorate stages. Each combination of level type and game has different platforms, too! It's useful throughout the different styles to find interesting ways to distinguish your courses visually.
posted by JHarris at 6:54 PM on September 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Okay, I created a blog at Send me a MeMail or email with username and I'll add you as an author or admin, or however Blogger does it. Or should we use something that doesn't require a Google account?
posted by JHarris at 7:42 PM on September 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

I made a thread on MFC, hasn't had much use yet though.
posted by curious nu at 8:08 PM on September 26, 2015

I know about grabbing elements like for putting the grandfather clock where you want it in the Ghost House

How done?!
posted by curious nu at 8:11 PM on September 26, 2015

I use the left shoulder button to grab the terrain from which the background detail sprouted (not the detail itself) and move it around to copy it elsewhere. You can then go back and delete the original if you so desire.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:16 PM on September 26, 2015

JHarris, I just want you to know that when I left a comment at the start of your raining-goombas level that was just a giant clumsy drawing of a goomba and the word BORT I did not know that it was your level. My wife had been playing and was like "okay do this one" and I tried a few times and then she was like "you should leave a comment" and that's what happened.

I am not apologizing, exactly.
posted by cortex at 9:58 PM on September 26, 2015 [4 favorites]

Ah, so you were the source of the Bort! I considered deleting it honestly because it obscures visibility at the start, but then I said, eh. People can always turn comments off.

There were two other comments that I deleted on that one -- one basically said "anyone can fill a board with enemies," which is not what I did with that one, and another said "FACK YOU" in giant hand-written letters so of course that went.

The thing is, there are so many kaizo levels on there that it's made people hyper sensitive to what they consider to be unfair difficulty. I maintain that Goomba Rain is not unfair, or rather, it is an interesting kind of unfair. It's surmountable: all those Goomba pipes emit enemies on a regular schedule, and the level is full of little things to make it easier on the player. There's like seven powerups in that thing. and it's not really a long course. It's the level I've made that I've played, by far, the most, because I think it's fun! But of course, you guys probably know why I like that kind of thing....

Yes, I'm saying that Goomba Rain is a roguelike Mario level. There are plenty of things I've seen called roguelike that deserve the title less.
posted by JHarris at 11:22 PM on September 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh, and it goes for anyone here: If you make Mario Maker levels and are a MeFi member, you're in, whether they're great, terrible, automatic or excuses to make giant pixart. Let me know and I'll send you an invite.
posted by JHarris at 11:27 PM on September 26, 2015

Here's a course I'd love to get some feedback on:

Bounce To This - 16E3-0000-005A-6CC6

PS, since this thread is set to close in a few days, we should probably continue over at MeFightClub. And follow each other! Click the "heart" button in-game to follow a maker, and you can check in on their newest creations whenever you want.
posted by naju at 12:49 AM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

For ease of following, here's a list with Wii U name, MeFi name, and most recent level ID. I think this is all of us, let me know if I missed someone.

Michael = curious nu - 6DE5-0000-0070-82CB
Gar = Gary — 5F28-0000-0073-3272
Dawson = Navelgazer — DCCF-0000-0071-7F8C
Brett = brett — B21A-0000-0071-4FC1
Holly = Elementary Penguin — EA6E-0000-006D-BB14
RdneyLives = JHarris — 3798-0000-006B-315D
naxuu = naju — 16E3-0000-005A-6CC6
posted by naju at 1:14 AM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is as good a time as any to present some of my personal standards of level creation.

First, here are some principles:
  1. A theoretically infinitely-skilled person should be able to finish the level on the first try. Of course no one has infinite skill, but the principle is still there. The point is, cheap deaths that are unavoidable if the player doesn't do a specific unknown thing are bad; they're basically a toll the player has to pay to pass, deaths that must be died before the real attempts, the ones that have a ghost of a chance of succeeding, can begin.
  2. Where possible, state should be carried forward into a level. To elaborate a little, the actions a player has performed earlier in the level should, when possible, persist and affect later play. To elaborate a bit more: when a player gets a powerup, that changes his state. When he loses a powerup, that also changes his state. Breaking bricks, collecting coins, defeating enemies, all these also change the level's state in minor ways, potentially in important ways. All these things can make each play through a level into a different experience, and that opens up avenues for strategy and increases replayability.
  3. Chaos is good. I mean chaos here in the mathematical sense: not randomness, but ways for the effects of subtle changes in state to multiply and profoundly affect things at a large scale. Actual randomness is actually pretty rare in Mario Maker, but there are several ways for things like the precise position of an enemy, or the timing at which platforms spawn, can mix a level up and turn each attempt into a unique experience.
  4. Don't rely on a single trick. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Some people are good at jumping between moving platforms, others at frying enemies with fireballs, others at wall jumps, note block or trampoline jumps, or quick running and navigation. If your level is just a series, for example, of long jumps between block-wide platforms, then if the player is no good at that he's going to have a bad time. So instead, maybe offer alternate paths that test different skills, or provide ways that using other abilities can make the primary obstacle easier, so everyone has a chance.
And second, here are some rules:
  1. The level should not ever become impossible to complete. If a switch block is needed to progress, if it ends up expiring before the player has done what it requires, it should either always be possible to get another one (like using a spawning pipe or blaster to provide it), or death should be immediate and unavoidable. But see the Footnote, below....
  2. Hidden blocks should not obstruct jumps. That is, no kaizo blocks. This derives from principle 1. Kaizo courses were fun to watch other people do when they were the province of ROM hacks, but I don't consider them fun myself. I have broken this rule in one of my levels, but it was an accident; it was cramped at the start of a level, and I accidentally put one in a place where it could obstruct when jumping over a Goomba.
  3. No blind jumps. The destination for a jump should always be visible on-screen before the player leaves the ground. This requires being somewhat cognizant of the way scrolling works, but it's nothing that shouldn't become evident when playtesting. You do extensively playtest your levels, right?
  4. Question Blocks should never contain enemies unless they help the player in some way. Come on, enemies in a question block will only trick a player once and then the joke is gone -- presuming the player didn't skip. I use them in only a couple of levels, and in those they're useful for making progress.
  5. Sound effects should be used sparingly, if at all. It's a sure sign of a newbie if every enemy has a sound effect tied to it. By the way, sound effect recordings (the parrot) won't make it into levels you upload for others, they're only for local play.
Footnote: This rule is widely followed in professional game development, and it's actually part of the source of a pet peeve of mine, the predictability of level design. To continue from my previous example, if the player sees a switch block coming from a pipe, it's a strong hint that it'll be required to pass whatever obstacle is to come. It helps if you can make a resource replenish itself in a way the player doesn't expect; like, provide a single switch out in the open, but also provide a hidden room nearby with a switch-making pipe. No one says that a second chance has to be as easy as the first.
posted by JHarris at 1:44 AM on September 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

I beat Expert Mode 100 Mario Challenge! Sadly Peach's speech is just slightly different and there is no extra reward, besides a sense of accomplishment I guess.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:47 AM on September 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

There is another reward. Apparently you can only get new costumes from each difficulty a limited number of times. So, if you beat Easy and Normal enough (I think each about one-third of 100 times), you'll get a message that you've unlocked all you can at that difficulty.

I've beaten Expert three times to date. The Skip button is your friend in that, but I will say once in a while it's best not to skip. As you play more, you'll get more of a sense when a course's difficulty is bastardy or legitimate.
posted by JHarris at 9:37 AM on September 27, 2015

The Lakitu Mineshaft Finale is finally up, and it is, I believe, a hell of a lot of epic fun. I'm curious to see whether my Boss-Battle-Type-Thing actually works.

posted by Navelgazer at 10:29 AM on September 27, 2015

(meanwhile Geisthaus sits with an exact 1.00% completion rating, with the one person to beat it being, I believe, naju.)
posted by Navelgazer at 11:28 AM on September 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yup, it was me! Geisthaus was clever. My favorite of your levels, as of yesterday.
posted by naju at 12:16 PM on September 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Thanks! But I just like that it has the actual completion rate that all those haunted houses of my youth advertised.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:20 PM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, a lot of you seem to make/enjoy levels that are.. a little above my difficulty ceiling. ;D So if I haven't starred/commented on your level, I probably tried it and failed enough times I moved on. It's probably still a good level, though!
posted by curious nu at 1:32 PM on September 27, 2015

I played Geisthaus a bit last night, but didn't stick with it long enough to finish. May go back later today.

It might also be okay do you think to highlight cool levels we've found on the blog? Because someone remade Super Mario Frustration in Mario Maker: Someone remade the infamous "Super Mario Frustration" level in Mario Maker: DF24-0000-005A-7740
posted by JHarris at 1:33 PM on September 27, 2015

Definitely highlight some cool levels. I'm planning on doing just that when I get a moment. I've been thinking of doing a semi-regular "favorite levels of the moment" post on Medium, to keep track of things for myself as much as anyone else, and I figure I can crosspost to the Mefi blog.
posted by naju at 2:18 PM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also, about moving around background objects: as Navelgazer says, the random things that spawn sometimes can be copied and moved around by getting the ground blocks at their base. If it's a wide object though (like the skeleton in SMB underground or the bushes in SMB overworld), you have to multi-select all the blocks at their base to reposition/copy them.
posted by JHarris at 2:45 PM on September 27, 2015

naju, Bounce To This: Cleared it. Interesting concept, but probably a bit too hard. It's one of the few uses I've seen, however, of note blocks & trampolines that didn't seem too frustrating.

To add to my above personal rules (I have a lot of them, it's hard remembering them all to set down):
 6. It should be possible to complete the course without taking a hit. All the classic Mario levels are like this, throughout all the games. Powerups are for extra abilities and a buffer zone against failure not so a maker can make the only way through a level through post-hit invulnerability. It is allowable for hit invulnerability to let players bypass a tricky part of the level, but only if it was possible to complete that tricky part legitimately without taking damage.
posted by JHarris at 3:01 PM on September 27, 2015

I ran into one course today that was a shower of nigh-unavoidable mushrooms and nothing to hurt you and then, right before the flagpole, a one-block gate that Big Mario can't get through.

posted by Navelgazer at 3:04 PM on September 27, 2015

 7. Avoid using spike blocks if possible. Of course these are my personal rules. But think: how many places in classic Mario games can you remember spikes? There are actually very few of them! It doesn't help that even brushing against a spike, in SMM, will inflict damage. Fortunately this is an easy rule to keep: there are plenty of other things that serve the function of spikes, to different degrees: Standing Pirhana Plants, Grinders, Firebars, Spiketops, Thwomps and Munchers. One should be careful not to overuse them though, lest they end up being just as bad as spikes can be.
posted by JHarris at 3:13 PM on September 27, 2015

It should be possible to complete the course without taking a hit.

I kinda disagree on this one. I know it's verboten for Nintendo's level design, but I think it's one of those "break the Mario rules" things that can lead to some interesting levels and puzzles. It's for the Expert side of things, without a doubt, but I'm not opposed to it. I've played a few levels that had me saying "I have to do.... what.... I have to do that? Holy shit." And... then I did it, after some struggle, and felt a sense of accomplishment. I fear that some of your rules would remove many of those experiences.

(That said - there's certainly a way to clear "Bounce To This" without taking a hit. If you find the star on the first part of the course, you're golden. It's not particularly hidden.)
posted by naju at 3:47 PM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

And... then I did it, after some struggle, and felt a sense of accomplishment. I fear that some of your rules would remove many of those experiences.

It's possible to bend the rules for a good, solid idea, but I haven't seen many of those myself that couldn't be improved by following them. It's a case, I think, where it's okay to break the rules, but only if you're breaking them on purpose, if you know why they're there and why it's okay to ignore them in this case.

As an example... it is technically possible, in my two "digging" courses, for the player to get in an inescapable state. I've gone through some effort to reduce the chance of this happening, but it is definitely possible. But the nature of the concept means it's nearly impossible to prevent these situations from arising. It's either throw out the concept entirely (and I think it's awesome so I'm not going to do that), or accept that sometimes the player will get himself into a situation where he has to jump into the pit, or, in SMM's case, select Start Over from the menu.
posted by JHarris at 3:59 PM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think never having an inescapable situation is an admirable goal (and one I sadly failed at in two or points in Geisthaus) but that the easy SMM start overy option makes it less bad than it once was.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:33 PM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Note, however, that when playing 100 Mario Challenge the Start Over option deducts one life.
posted by JHarris at 5:38 PM on September 27, 2015

Which would happen if I made my inescapable situations instadeath anway.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:41 PM on September 27, 2015

Mind you, I agree with your rule, and were it anything other than a Ghost House, where this sort of thing is more expected, i'd be mortified. I do try to test enough to keep those out of my levels, as those moments are disheartening as hell.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:45 PM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm really really late to the thread, but I wanted to stop in and say these levels everyone has been making are a lot of fun! Goomba Rain for example is something I had to play a lot to finally clear, but it made me want to continue because it captured that feeling of knowing you can make it further if you work at it? Like, it was difficult but actually seemed very fair, rather than just impossible for its own sake.

I have a few levels up so far:

Fish in the Trees - 18AB-0000-0072-D755
(I wanted to make one of those flying cheep-cheep levels like the original game's level 2-3, but I liked what the cheep-cheeps do out of water in Mario Maker)

Koopa Canyon - 8A34-0000-0072-A16C
(pretty gimmicky and simple, but I tried to add a bonus)

My girlfriend and I share an account under the name Michelle. I wish I had the level code on hand to her level, Go Fish, but obviously you can find it by searching for Fish in the Trees or Koopa Canyon and looking for the other levels. Go Fish is a water stage that I like a lot more than the ones I've made so far. I'd really like to use Mario Maker to learn how to design levels that are actually fair and fun to play, rather than just trying to trick players.

I'm signing up for MeFightClub now so I can follow everyone after this thread closes. (I'll have to remember to add everyone to my Following List in-game too when I have a chance). I'm desperately afraid of being unable to find actually well-considered levels to play.
posted by branduno at 8:54 PM on September 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

I really liked Lakitu Mineshaft Finale! Took me a good number of tries, but figuring it out was satisfying.
posted by JHarris at 10:23 PM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Welcome to the thread branduno! I liked Fish in the Trees, and I starred a few of your other levels too to get you guys started towards your second medal. Actually, I kind of liked Go Fish too, water levels get talked down but it's fun to just fry a bunch of fish sometimes.
posted by JHarris at 10:31 PM on September 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

And, of course, you can also check, and the sources in the excellent Medium article that naju wrote.
posted by JHarris at 10:33 PM on September 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Two Stories: 1BEC-0000-0045-3ECC

This was the first one I uploaded, but I still like the gimmick. You run along the bottom, getting menaced by Hammer Brothers and others out of reach above. Then you have to run along the top and take them on directly without falling back to the first level. I overdid it with the power ups because it's a really long level and "Hammer Brothers from above" can result in some cheap hits.

Clown Car Castle: 5F28-0000-0073-3272

I had fun making and clearing this one, but I'm not sure how fun it is if you don't know what's coming. I don't do the Kaizo Mario thing, but I do have a couple dodgy things up front that I think scares people off. The ending is a bit tough if you don't keep your fire flower.
posted by Gary at 10:43 PM on September 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Note, however, that when playing 100 Mario Challenge the Start Over option deducts one life.

Skip level, however, does not. I have flounced out of more than one bullshit difficult level this way.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:01 AM on September 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

You do have to commit to skip BEFORE that iffy-looking jump, though. It seems skip won't start if you're in the air.

(I have skipped so many levels.)
posted by curious nu at 7:35 AM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I really can't do it, but this thread is the greatest advertisement for a Wii U ever made.
posted by ignignokt at 9:15 AM on September 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Gary: I played Clown Car Castle yesterday, and it's some manic fun. I couldn't beat it (or didn't, at least. I only had so much time and I'm trying to sample some of everybody's things) but fun. The necessity of getting both the mushroom and the clown car right at the beginning, as the car is sinking immediately into the lava, seemed a bit much, but once you get past that hurdle it starts to feel more "fair," I think.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:21 AM on September 28, 2015

I got the game for my birthday today and I'm slipping in just under the wire here to thank everybody for this awesome thread, I can't wait to try these out.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:14 AM on September 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Follow the blog!
posted by Navelgazer at 11:21 AM on September 28, 2015

More than follow it, send me a MeMail and join in!
posted by JHarris at 2:15 PM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

The necessity of getting both the mushroom and the clown car right at the beginning, as the car is sinking immediately into the lava

Yeah, that's one of those dodgy things up front I mentioned. I thought it was neat when I first put it in and not too punishing because it's at the very beginning. But it probably turns people away expecting the entire level to be like that.

I'd like to put more time into exploring alternate paths and tradeoffs, but I find that hard without any real rewards to offer the player. I suppose there is some ideal where one path tests jumping skill and another path tests dodging skill or whatever. But I'm worried in the end it always ends up as the easy path you should take and the difficult path that you avoid.

As far as possible rewards for taking the hard road: stars are good but overpowering for whatever comes next, free lives cap out at 3 so are not that great, and power-ups could be useful though I'm not sure how you signal that to the player. This is why I like the idea of bringing in the Yoshi Coins or whatever because they could be used for good effect, even if most players will just hide them and make you bump around looking for hidden walls or vines.

But I'd be very interested in seeing examples that offer alternate routes and good tradeoffs between them.
posted by Gary at 3:21 PM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here's an example (can't say the name, as I didn't make it and it's in Japanese) of a level that goes against many of the core principles here, but still manages to be a fun challenge by going kind of meta with the whole thing:


Warning, you might hate it, but I thought it was cute.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:26 PM on September 28, 2015

Thanks, JHarris! Better late than never, I suppose.

Naju, that Medium article is great! I actually didn't realize I can find what I'd starred again, so that's a great resource for finding more stuff to like, and I appreciate the links to MarioMakerHub and Nintendo Life.

I won't have another chance to play for a few days, but Gary, I'm looking forward to Two Stories and Clown Car Castle--dual-story levels and the flying clown cars being things I've really like about Mario Maker so far.
posted by branduno at 6:33 PM on September 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Despite my visceral loathing of escort missions in most games, Escape The Dungeon With Your Dad is pretty neat.
posted by sparkletone at 8:51 PM on September 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Okay, I've spent the last couple days working on this one, discovering the limit on the number of warp pipes you're allowed in the process, and thus having to really revamp how everything fit together, but I hope this works. I had a lot of fun building it.

Airship to Heaven: 69D0-0000-007B-977D
posted by Navelgazer at 9:06 PM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hey guys, check out the user whose first level is 4256-0000-0065-79B0.

His levels are exquisitely bad. He's like the Ed Wood of Mario Maker. He's got seven levels and not a single star so far. I know I haven't ruined his perfect record.
posted by JHarris at 10:31 PM on September 28, 2015

Ah, cleared it Navelgazer! Very nice except for two things:
  1. My first run was cut short when I went through a door and came out directly in the middle of a Giant Winged Bob-omb, and
  2. A jump on a Koopa got cut short by an inadvertent Kaizo block containing a Mushroom, heh.
But other than those things I really liked the theme and how it all fit together! I liked the doors that were accessible by vine blocks that had to be hit in different ways. I liked the use of the Propeller Mushrooms. And I especially liked jumping off of cannonballs to reach ledges. This course is a win.
posted by JHarris at 10:41 PM on September 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

My first run was cut short when I went through a door and came out directly in the middle of a Giant Winged Bob-omb

Eek! I think I know where you're talking about and it's a door that was only really supposed to be "in" but then I moved stuff around and it also became "out" for the purposes of grabbing a propeller beanie. Gah! I might pull the level to edit that part tomorrow.

A jump on a Koopa got cut short by an inadvertent Kaizo block containing a Mushroom, heh.

I'm guessing that was in the indoor segment with the two doors up top and the donut blocks on the floor? Because that's definitely not supposed to be a kaizo block, though I suppose there are other places I could put it.

Thanks for checking out the level, JHarris!
posted by Navelgazer at 10:51 PM on September 28, 2015

On offering substantive rewards:

Mushrooms are often good, even the best players take hits from time to time. But you don't want to eliminate the consequences of hits entirely unless they're going to be coming frequently (like in Goomba Rain).

Fire Flowers are interesting because you're usually glad to see one. If you have no powerup or a Mushroom then it's always better. But it's really very powerful in some kinds of levels, if most of your challenge comes from enemies then it might not be great.

Stars always have to be placed carefully. One thing you can do to negate the value of a Star a bit is put tricky jumping right after it, forcing the player to slow down a bit. It doesn't even have to be potentially lethal, just platforms he'll have to navigate around. It'll take a second or two off the Star, while rewarding players who are good at such platforming with a little extra invincibility time.

Extra lives are nice, but only if you've not been handing them out a lot. Why would the player care about finding a single extra life if he's already found a dozen earlier in the level? This is the primary reason why you shouldn't hand out extra life mushrooms frequently: you're negating one of your best rewards for skill! Also, if 1ups are rare then coins can still be worth something.

Then there are the game-specific powerups. Shoes are always fun (although be careful with the Stiletto heels, the word is sometimes they can break hard blocks, and big ones can destroy Thwomps and Bill Blasters!). Yoshis are great against certain enemies, but note that in confined areas they may be a bit overpowered since the player may be able to remount quickly, and gets seconds of invulnerability time each time he's unseated. Also, NSMB Yoshis get flutter jumps, which may wreck your jumping challenges.

I find random Mystery Mushrooms to be a fun reward. In play effect they're mostly a Fire Flower without the fire, but letting the player get a random toy out of his unlocked box has a nice psychological effect. Its replacements in the other game types, however, are less simple, as they all allow for flight to some degree, and may provide other benefits too.

Don't forget about potential benefits from tools like POW Blocks and P-Switches. You usually have to design the course a bit differently to make them useful, but then, that's what we are here: level designers. I'm sure we can think of something.
posted by JHarris at 10:56 PM on September 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

This is why I'm trying to play around with the intrinsic value of exploration. Sating curiosity can be its own reward if you give the player just some reason to think, "Yeah! Found it!" (Good lord we need star coins.)

BTW, the semi-solid objects, and the variety of them, I think help this grandly. If you've been working through areas that all kind of look the same, a clear aesthetic twist on the theme can tell the player they're dong things right, if done properly.

Okay, I barely can explain what I mean here, but it's what I'm trying to play around with now.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:18 AM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

More than follow it, send me a MeMail and join in!

Once I've made more than one proper level! I only just unlocked sub-levels this morning and I'm still playing around with the basics. I'll see if I have enough of a handle on things to do the vertical pipe-maze-ish level that's been bouncing around in my head, and post a code if I can get it to shape up.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:52 AM on September 29, 2015

Beware! You're only allowed 10 warp pipes! Bastards!
posted by Navelgazer at 9:12 AM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Luckily I can also use doors at the end of an ascent. Unless they're on the same cap?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:20 AM on September 29, 2015

4 sets of doors per level. And pipes exclusively go world-subworld, while doors go intra-world.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:31 AM on September 29, 2015

That's fine. Gives me 9 scene transitions to work with, the equivalent of a 20-screen vertical stage broken into 10 distinct chunks (since I can have a climb up to the goal as well). Without a checkpoint that's probably overkill anyway.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:44 AM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Another thing about Mushrooms that makes them suck for a reward is, because we don't have progressive powerups (except through a weird hack involving Yoshi eggs), getting a Mushroom when you already have one is always a waste. I've played several levels where I felt like I shouldn't have hit a block because it had a Mushroom in it when I already have one.

My personal list of things I want to see in updates:
Course builder:
  • Slopes!
  • Progressive powerup blocks.
  • Star coins, of course. Or some other award a maker can offer a player other than just clearing.
  • More Semi-Solid Platform types. These items are the hidden star of decorating stages, they're great.
  • A way to support bridges. I've taken to using overlapping pipes so bridges don't look like they're just hanging in space in the SMB style. I'm surprised they can't be made to directly abut blocks.
  • Dialing back the limits. I've run into them several times, especially the transition, enemy and tile limits (2,000 tile-like objects), which, if you're making cavern stages, is easy to hit.
  • Alternate exits.
  • Fixing bugs. That spike invulnerability glitch has got to go.
Course World:
  • More play modes. Maybe a branching overworld with (still generous) skip limits?
  • A way for the maker to flag levels for use in different modes (I've played levels that seems like they shoudn't be in 100 Mario Challenge), or search by different types. Or maybe tagging in general.
  • Built-in YouTube support.
  • More on-line play features. Maybe play with friends, or organized level completion competitions?
posted by JHarris at 11:28 AM on September 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

Add Overworlds to your list and you've basically got mine. Oh! And more themes! Like snow, and nighttime! (which themselves would have their own semi-solid options...)
posted by Navelgazer at 11:37 AM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Beyond slopes and mid-stage checkpoints (which seem to be everybody's big asks) mine are ice/night/cave settings; some kind of collectible whether it's star coins or dragon coins or red coins or Yoshi's Island flowers or whatever; more robust warp pipe tricks; grouping stages into worlds; and a tiny little complete overhaul of how you discover levels online. Just letting us filter for stage type, completion percentage, and a few predetermined keywords ("challenging," "maze," "music," "short," etc.) would be so huge.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:49 AM on September 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

All the asks so far are good, I would add:

- Increasing the vertical limit, even if those levels had to be thinner for an equivalent play area. This would help facilitate climbing levels (like the pipe worlds in Mario 3) and digging levels.

- Some sort of fastest time / high score / most coins per level would also help with adding goals beyond completion.

- Adding water to levels without making them a complete water level. Maybe this is already possible? I haven't seen very many water levels but none of them have any dry land / islands at the top of the screen.

- Hammer Brothers Suit!
posted by Gary at 12:09 PM on September 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

You're right, water levels are impossible unless the whole level is water.
posted by JHarris at 12:54 PM on September 29, 2015

I would also welcome a "time completed" chart for levels, which you can ignore or treat as a challenge depending on your preference. If only because I've gotten hooked on things like Games Done Quick and the speedrunning community, and it would potentially add some depth to the game for people who are into such things.
posted by naju at 1:35 PM on September 29, 2015

I was thinking, it'd be nice if the maker had a choice of score charts for the level, either time remaining, points at end or coins collected during, that players could compete on.
posted by JHarris at 2:54 PM on September 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Okay, here's an interesting one.

I obviously like designing those long, kind-of-puzzle-y, kind-of-platform-y levels. So I decided to see how I would do one of those as a 1-1.

So this is that. My attempt at a fun subtly-tutorial level with some good length and a bit of actual challenge, but nothing undoable, with small puzzles that walk the player through the core concepts of the game.

Oh, and I wanted it to look pretty.

Lemme know what y'all think!

Kooperhorn 1: 473C-0000-007E-14C0
posted by Navelgazer at 8:54 PM on September 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Twitch user panthex8 is streaming Mario Maker levels right now. I've added naju's I Came To Stomp Bombs to the queue there. Mwa ha ha ha.
posted by JHarris at 3:38 PM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ha! Well that should be interesting.
posted by naju at 3:44 PM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Although anything's better than this horrible level he's currently stuck on...
posted by naju at 3:50 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Agreed. I'd rather go through your level three times than that one.
posted by JHarris at 3:56 PM on September 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

Making real vertical stages is near the top of my wish list too. I wouldn't even mind something like in early NES games like Mario 2 and Metroid, where a screen can either scroll horizontally or vertically but not both--making the vertical level thinner, like Gary said. This seems like a good trade off.

Other than that, the Hammer Bros suit and hybrid land/water levels like we had in Mario 3 are what I want the most, though I agree star/red/Yoshi coins that reward exploration would probably be the best thing Nintendo could add (aside from bug fixes like that invulnerability glitch). That would really deepen the gameplay, rather than just add an aesthetic twist.

But really I think the amount of tools we have to work with is pretty impressive. If it hadn't been included, the ability to steal and ride Lakitu's cloud would have been at the very top of my list. I love doing that, though I worry about overusing it and negating the other challenges in the level.
posted by branduno at 7:40 PM on September 30, 2015

If you're making "real" levels, it seems like a completion rate between 20% to 40% is what you want to aim for. That means, on average, everyone gets it on their third try, which seems like a good middle ground between putting up a challenge and being obviously finishable.

My most popular level by stars is Traipsing with the Treefish, which is funny because (a) I didn't list it here, so most of those are random players, and (b) it's basically just a mashup of two SMB1 level motifs. I do think the combination works well, but it's not my most creative work either. Hmm…

Before this thread closes, a couple of kudos.

JHarris' "P" is for Peril is the kind of level I imagine Nintendo hoped people would make. It takes a concept that has been in the series since SMB3, and touched on very occasionally, but explores it in far more depth. In a full Mario game, it would be out of place. Here, where the point is to try new things and push boundaries a little, it's perfect.

Elementary Penguin's The Old Bailey is exactly the kind of level I hoped to find here. It hits the feel of an SMB3 dungeon perfectly, but doesn't feel derivative of any level I can remember. The only thing that would make it better is a checkpoint, but I'm not deducting any points there since that's Nintendo's fault.

Thanks everyone!
posted by brett at 8:40 PM on September 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

In case this thread dies before I can post it tomorrow, look out on the Mefi Mario Maker Blog for Kooperhorn 2, where I attempt to make things be a choice between firepower and flight to get through them.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:10 PM on September 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

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