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hamradio

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PostSubject: Level Making Guide   Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:32 am

Getting Started

Installing Reggie

Reggie! is an easy-to-use and full-featured level editor for New Super Mario Bros. Wii, created by Treeki and Tempus.
http://rvlution.net/reggie/

See this guide for installation instructions and overview of the basic features http://www.wiihacks.com/other-faq-guides-tutorials/54010-how-use-reggie-new-super-mario-bros-wii-level-editor.html

Once installed please go to Reggie -> Help -> Reggie Help. This will give you an overview of the functions and settings of Reggie.


Installing Custom Tilesets

It is very important that you install all the custom tilesets that have been developed before beginning work on new levels.

You can download the custom tilesets here http://originalsmbw.forumotion.com/custom-tilesets-f19/official-custom-tileset-package-t123.htm

Inside your Stage folder you should have another folder Textures. Open this folder and you will see a list of all the tilesets from NSMBW.



Levels named with the prefix Pa0 represent the standard suite in Reggie (see Reggie Settings->Area Settings). Prefix Pa1 represents the stage suite, Pa2 background suite, Pa3 interactive suite.

Replace the files here with any of the new tileset files that you have downloaded. Then in Reggie go to Settings->Reload Tilesets. You can change what tileset is in use by going to Settings->Area Settings. Newly loaded tilesets will appear in the Palette window to the right. Each of the tabs in the palette window represent a different tileset suite (Tab 1 – Standard Suite, Tab 2 – Stage Suite, Tab 3 – Background Suite, Tab 4 – Interactive Suite)



Testing and Debugging

It is extremely important to thoroughly test the levels you create before releasing them to the public. However it can be tricky to set up a reliable and most of all efficient testing method. Outlined below are two recommended options for testing new levels.

Dolphin

Dolphin is an open-source Nintendo GameCube, Wii, and Triforce emulator for Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X (Intel-based), it is the first emulator to successfully run commercial GameCube and Wii games, and is still the only emulator capable of running commercial Wii games.
http://www.dolphin-emu.com

Dolphin runs NSMBW really well so it is a good option for testing levels. However there are a few points to be aware of.

  • Dolphin may run slow by default. To improve its performance with NSMBW go to Options->Graphics Settings – Advanced Tab make sure Enable EFB Copy is checked and it is set to To Texture. The downside to doing this is that certain objects such as the coins will stop animating and lose quality. But it will allow you to test the game play of the level more easily.
  • Often a level will work fine in Dolphin but still freeze the Wii. A few examples of things that freeze the Wii but not Dolphin
  • If you use custom tilesets Dolphin will work without them installed, the Wii won’t
  • There are certain sprite settings which work with Dolphin but not the Wii make sure you read the sprite description for any warnings (e.g. sprite 479)

RiiFS

You can use RiiFS and Riivolution to make changes to game files on the Wii without restarting or having to swap files on an sd.

Real-time Level Editing using RiiFS Tutorial http://rvlution.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=129

Moving along…
Ok so now you have installed Reggie along with our custom tilesets and you have a way to test your level. It is now time to get started making levels.




Making Levels

Research
The first step before starting on a new level is researching whether a similar level already exists. Spending a few minutes researching the levels that have already been created can save a lot of time. A good example of this is SMB 7-2, 7-2 is actually identical to 2-2. So rather than creating a completely new level all that needed to be done to create 7-2 was change the enemy placement.

If you find a level that has similarities you can open a second instance of Reggie (just open Reggie again) and then copy and paste between the levels. Also when something is copied from Reggie it is stored as a text string.

From the Reggie help documentation
Quote :
Objects and sprites are copied as text, so you can copy part of a level and paste it into anywhere that accepts it (a text file, forum post, chat window, etc).
As an example, try copying this and then using the Paste function in Reggie! for a Very Happy face:
ReggieClip|0:0:53:1:297:40:5:1|0:0:53:1:297:41:1:1|0:0:53:1:298:42:3:1| 0:0:53:1:301:41:1:1|0:0:53:1:298:38:1:1|0:0:53:1:300:38:1:1|%

Make sure there is no whitespace (spaces, tabs, line breaks) before or after the copied text. Otherwise it may not paste into Reggie.

So before starting a level look at what has already been done here http://originalsmbw.forumotion.com/original-super-mario-brothers-f21/ and here http://originalsmbw.forumotion.com/smb-lost-level-discusion-f5/

The second part of research is getting the necessary resources. Unless you have etched the layout of the level into your mind you will need maps for layout and enemy placement. Which by chance you can get here http://originalsmbw.forumotion.com/resources-and-guides-f14/maps-with-grids-for-smb-and-lost-levels-t121.htm

Area Settings
Area settings can be accessed from Settings->Area Settings

From Reggie help documentation
Quote :
Each level in NSMB Wii can be split into both zones and areas. The advantage to having different areas is mostly that of tilesets - each area allows you to load in unique tilesets, while all the zones in an area must have the same tilesets.
What this means is that it is only necessary to create new areas when you wish to have parts of a level with a different tileset. An example of this is SMB 1-1 the main area of the level uses the grassland tileset. However when you enter one of the pipes you enter the underground bonus area. Since the underground section uses a different tileset it therefore requires an area change.

Choosing the Standard Suite

In order to choose the right standard tileset please refer to the image and the list below.

Full Size Download


Standard – The default tileset it is used in 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13 and 14
Underground – Used in 3, 8 and 16
Snow – Used in 10 and 12
Lava – Used for all castle levels 5, 15 and 17
Credits – Not used

Choosing the Stage Suite

Standard and Mushroom – Use the grassland suite (Pa1_nohara)
Underground – Use the underground suite (Pa1_chika)
Snow – Use the snow suite (Pa1_setsugen)
Castles – Use the castle lava (Pa1_shiro_yogan) or castle sky suite (Pa1_shiro_sora)
Underwater – Use the beach suite (Pa1_kaigan)

The Timer
Make sure before completing the level to change the timer so that it matches the original Super Mario Bros level.

Other Settings
  • Do not change the entrance ID to anything other than 0 because this can make the level difficult to debug. If for some reason you must then make sure you make note of it in the editor’s notes.
  • Do not check the wrap across edges setting, this can cause a number of glitches.



Zone Settings

Zone settings can be accessed through Settings->Zones

From Reggie help documentation
Quote :
Zones are integral to playing your level. When Mario finds himself outside a zone, he dies. Thus, it is important that all entry and exit points are within a zone. Mario can not leave a zone from the sides or top. The bottom is far game - we call it a pit. The zones also determine the boundaries of the camera, the camera modes, the background music, the background graphics, the speed of background scrolling, etc…



Zoom Level
The zoom level must always be set to 0.

Y Size
Always use a Y size of 224 (14 blocks) for all the levels. This is because the height of the camera at zoom level 0 is 14 blocks. Setting the y size to 14 blocks therefore locks the camera into the x axis only. This could also be achieved by turning off Y tracking the problem with this is that the camera would still zoom out in multiplayer.

Audio
Make sure you set up the background music to something relevant for the level you are creating i.e. underwater levels should have this set to underwater, pretty obvious.

Bounds
These don’t really affect our levels but they should be set to 0.


Tile Placement

Objects and Tiles
A tileset is an image that is made up of a number of 16x16px tiles. One or more tiles can be used to create an object.



As you can see the fence object (Object 52) is made from 4 tiles.

Layers and Collisions

From the Reggie help documentation
Quote :
Layer 0 is the foreground, and Mario's behaviour behind layer 0 will follow the behaviour specified in the zone camera mode. Specifically you may know it as the part which disappears when you walk behind it with a flashlight-like effect. Layer 1 is the collision layer. Objects on layer 1 can be walked upon, hit against, face planted into. Layer 2 is the background layer

The important part to remember is that Mario can only interact and collide with objects on Layer 1. For this reason please ensure that all the objects which require collisions are placed on layer 1. Very rarely will you need to use the other layers.

However not all objects have collisions set. This means that even when placed on layer 1 Mario may not be able to interact with or collide with certain objects. To see how the collisions are set up for a particular tileset you must open the tileset with Wart (http://gbatemp.net/index.php?showtopic=195501).



The tiles highlighted in blue have collisions set. This means that when they are placed on layer 1 Mario will collide with them. However Mario will never be able to collide with the tiles that are not highlighted. So how can you make Mario collide with an object that does not have collisions set? The simple answer is you can’t without modifying the tileset, but there is a workaround.

Place the object on layer 2, and then place an invisible block that covers the area of the object on layer 1.



In this example the flower on the left is placed on layer 1. Mario cannot collide with it. However in the second example the flower is placed on layer 2 and an invisible block is placed above it on layer 1. Now Mario can jump onto the flower.

Here is a real world example of when layers are necessary. It is not possible to make a bullet bill launcher with a height of 1 block. This is because the height of a bullet bill launcher starts at 2. So if you place it into the ground the launcher will sit above the ground object which looks bad (the left image). To fix this you cover the bullet bill launcher with a ground object on layer 0 (the centre image, I used a width of 3 blocks because when it is animated the barrel expands), this works because enemy sprites are always situated behind objects on layer 0. This will create the result we want (right side image).

Please note however in Reggie sprites are always placed above objects. It will be layered correctly in-game.



Finishing Touches
The difference between a level that has well placed objects and one that doesn’t is always in the details. It is important therefore to use the side, top and edge tiles correctly. This gives the objects that make up the level depth and dimension.

First the bad example, the left hand image. As you can clearly see this level lacks depth. The pillar in the centre doesn’t match or line up correctly with the stone blocks above. Likewise the floor doesn’t have a top edge so it seems to be floating either above or behind the layer which Mario will be on. Someone playing this may not realise they can collide with the floor at all.

In the example on the right you can see that time has been spent making sure all the objects are capped off correctly. The pattern of the stone blocks is retained and wreckage is placed on layer 2 to add some extra background detail. The floor clearly looks like an object Mario can stand on.



Another example of detailing is when using the grassland platform tileset. In the examples on the right the platforms seem flat and unfinished. However once the extra details are added the platforms have depth and look like solid objects.




Entrances
Entrances can be created by selecting the entrance tab (small door icon) and right clicking on the canvas.



From Reggie help documentation
Quote :
Entrances allow you to set entry/exit points for your level, allowing Mario to move in and out of different areas and zones. At least one entry point is required per level, for Mario to appear when the level starts. This should be entrance ID 0, unless specified otherwise in the Areas dialog.

Selecting an entry/exit point will pop up the properties dialogue box. This will allow you to set the destination for that entrance



Some examples of various entrance types. Please note the vine entrance on the right is a special situation have a look at SMB 2-1 for an example.
Things to watch out for
  • Area 1 Entrance 0 should be enterable. Be careful as not having it enterable may cause the Wii to freeze on level load. If you don’t wish to make it enterable (because it is a door, or a pipe) make sure you test it properly.
  • Area 1 Entrance 0 may need to be 8 blocks from left boundary. Moving the left boundary closer may cause Mario to jump forward or cause other glitches on level load. If you move it closer make sure to test it.


Locations

Locations are basically zones which a number of sprites require or interact with.

From the Reggie help documentation
Quote :
In some levels, you will see purple rectangles with a number at the corner which can be dragged and resized - these are locations for specific sprites. Some sprites (like Porcu-Puffer) allow you to create a location and use it to specify where the sprite will operate in. Others (like lava, water, quicksand and clouds) will appear inside the area occupied by the location.

So to create a new location you must select the option titled Paint New Sprite Area/Location and then right click and drag on the canvas to paint the location.



You cannot have two locations with the same ID so be careful if you change the location id’s to ensure they are all unique.

There is no reason to go into a lot of depth here but there are a few location based sprites that people seem confused about.

Environment Sprites - Water

Water (138) is a strange example because like lava it can be controlled in two ways. The default way is by placing the water sprite in the level where you want the top edge of the water to be. Water will then fill all of the stage up to where the sprite is placed. This is perfect for underwater levels. The second way is by painting a location and then setting the location id option of the water sprite to the id of the location. If you do this the water will only fill that location. All the above also applies to the other environment sprites.



Bullet Bill Spawn Area

Quite a few people seem to be confused about how to use the bullet bill spawn area sprite. It is in fact very easy to use. The bullet bill spawn area requires a location, once Mario enters this location bullet bills will begin spawning from the right hand side of the screen at a random position along the y axis. As soon as Mario leaves the location the bullet bills will stop spawning. You only need one bullet bill spawn area per location.



Flying Cheep-Cheep Spawn Area

These are identical to the bullet bill spawn areas except that they spawn flying cheep-cheep which appear from the bottom of the screen to the left or the right direction and travel in an arc. You only need one cheep-cheep spawn area per location.



Lakitu Spawn Area

The Lakitu spawn area also requires a location. Once Mario enters this location a Lakitu spawn and attacks with spiny’s. Once Mario leaves the location the Lakitu will cease its attack.



Freezing

Quote :
In this universe, there's only one absolute... everything freezes!
- Mr Freeze

So you have placed all the pieces in your level including the locations. But now you want to move an object, however you can’t select it because a location or a sprite is above it. That is where Edit->Freeze… comes into play you can freeze everything making it easy to access the objects below.

Shifting
Another simple but very useful option is Edit->Shift Objects. Say you want to move a whole section of your level to the right 1 block. Simply zoom out select the section of the level you want to move and shift it 16 on the x axis. To move it back would be -16 on X, up is -16 on Y and down is 16 on Y


Flagpole
A number of the levels end with a flagpole and in the NES version of the game it was placed 8 blocks from the nearest platform. However in NSMBW this is too small of a distance so it has been increased to 12 blocks. The distance you should use is 10 blocks since that is the furthest it can be without requiring the player to spin jump.



File information
You can add to and alter the level information for the file by going to File->Level Information. The SMBT uses the format which you can see below. The title should be either SMB world-level, or SMBLL world-level. The world and level information represents what level this is in terms of the original SMB or SMBLL game. Not what level it is replacing in NSMBW.



Posting Guide
One last little piece of information. Before posting your level please make sure to attach a properly formatted set of editor’s notes which contain a list of any required tilesets, and any problems that may still exist, or inaccuracies you couldn’t find a way around. When updating the level remember to keep a change log so that anyone testing the level can see what bugs have been fixed Also please make sure you credit anyone who has helped you produce the level. Lastly the naming format for the levels is world-level version (e.g. 01-01v2.arc).


Example of how to format a level post.


Well that is all if you have any questions please feel free to ask.


Last edited by hamradio on Wed May 12, 2010 3:30 am; edited 3 times in total
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VampireLordAlucard
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PostSubject: Re: Level Making Guide   Wed Apr 21, 2010 3:47 pm

Very good guide. I read the entire thing, and learned quite a few little things.

Only advice would be to maybe put a border around that last picture, so that it stands out from the forum background. Maybe something like this, but not as bright.

http://i44.tinypic.com/1zbfcbm.jpg

EDIT: Removed img tags because the picture was so big and attention-grabbing


Last edited by VampireLordAlucard on Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:42 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Level Making Guide   Wed Apr 21, 2010 5:29 pm

@Vampire: Fixed Picture:D

@Hamradio: Funking Sick Tutorial...This will helpout alot of people! Wink Wink Wink
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hamradio

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PostSubject: Re: Level Making Guide   Wed Apr 21, 2010 8:33 pm

Thanks guys. I intended this to be something other people can contribute to.
It is basically a list of lessons learned from working on SMB.

Now all we have to do is get the people working on the Lost Levels to read it.
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PostSubject: Re: Level Making Guide   Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:17 pm

hamradio wrote:
Thanks guys. I intended this to be something other people can contribute to.
It is basically a list of lessons learned from working on SMB.

Now all we have to do is get the people working on the Lost Levels to read it.

Getting my Bro to read it write now!
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PostSubject: Re: Level Making Guide   Thu Apr 22, 2010 2:27 pm

nice! i learned a couple of things Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Level Making Guide   Thu Oct 14, 2010 2:59 pm

Very informative!
I wish I had found this project earlier so I could contribute some levels Neutral
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PostSubject: Re: Level Making Guide   Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:33 pm

We should probably replace the toad houses so that they don't give certain powerups, and the encounters as well. If you have any ideas for them, let us know Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Level Making Guide   Thu Oct 14, 2010 5:35 pm

Well, the toad houses are already used for the bonus levels of SMB2 LL, see Download Center. Replacing by houses not giving items would only be useful for a SMB1-only version of the mod.
There's only one house in World 7 left which is not used by SMB2 LL bonus worlds.
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PostSubject: Re: Level Making Guide   Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:39 pm

vbusfan wrote:
Well, the toad houses are already used for the bonus levels of SMB2 LL, see Download Center. Replacing by houses not giving items would only be useful for a SMB1-only version of the mod.
There's only one house in World 7 left which is not used by SMB2 LL bonus worlds.

Exactly :p

And I'm still working on eliminating the enemy encounters on the map, I made an interesting discovery the other night Idea
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PostSubject: Re: Level Making Guide   Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:43 am

What did you find out? Removing them? How should it work? You can change the associated level files but this does not remove the enemies from the map.
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