Post Reply 
What Have We Learned From MaGMML1 and 2?
Author Message
Bloo Offline
Professional Mediocre Spriter
****
Registered

Posts: 156
Joined: May 2013
Reputation: 1

Post: #21
RE: What Have We Learned From MaGMML1 and 2?
that bloo should never be relied on for anything
13-10-2017 03:19 AM
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
The Mega Fan 19XX Offline
AKA: Speed Wind
***
Registered

Posts: 95
Joined: Apr 2016
Reputation: 2

Post: #22
RE: What Have We Learned From MaGMML1 and 2?
a̶b̶s̶o̶l̶u̶t̶e̶l̶y̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶h̶i̶n̶g̶
13-10-2017 01:22 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Soulephant Offline
He can arrowslide
*****
Registered

Posts: 661
Joined: Jun 2012
Reputation: 12
Spike AwardRevo Remix ContributorSIBRE Contributor
Post: #23
RE: What Have We Learned From MaGMML1 and 2?
I have a few lessons at the ready.

Keep an eye on the level length: While for the most part Flashman touched upon this already, I want to stress in addition that MaGMML is definitely big now. 81 submissions+extras is a metric ton of levels. With that in mind, submitting a level that is a game upon itself is simply not a good idea. It's fine if a level is just longer, although it needs checkpoints and substance to justify it. However, if your level is practically a game, any and I mean any significant mistakes in it (such as overly demanding challenges) are greatly exacerbated. The same also goes for judge stages, and not just because they can't afford to feel flawed. I'm gonna put it out there: Referencing all submissions, especially with how big MaGMML is, is a trick. It didn't work out in MaGMML2, and I have no idea yet how it would in the future.

Introduce gimmicks, build difficulty curve: That you have to introduce your gimmicks seems obvious. People may not know devkit gimmicks because they haven't played the source games. Now in MaGMML's case, many people are familiar with those gimmicks so this may seem moot. But there is another reason to introduce your gimmicks properly: Since a gimmick introduction shouldn't pose a huge challenge, you also work towards a solid difficulty curve by doing this.

Whatever takes center stage can be "the" gimmick: I used to think of a substantial gimmick as something with all sorts of pizzaz. If it didn't have the pizzaz, it would not stand on its own as (primary) gimmick or outright wasn't one. Several stages in MaGMML2 have proven me wrong. It's really about what takes center stage. If Forced Weapon Usage takes center stage, you could have many other gimmicks and still have the player feel like there's only a few. If you milk a platform gimmick for all it's worth, your stage feels deep despite having only one gimmick. Perhaps most notably, I've learned enemy-only stages can feel like they have gimmicks, something I didn't know was possible. This happens when an enemy type has complexity and a peculiar behavior to it and is ever present. If an asset draws attention, it's a gimmick. Period.

Costumes are fun: Doctor Light roleplaying talking to himself. 'Nuff said.

Noble Nickels are a godsend: These are one heck of a good addition, for the simple reason that MaGMML2 (and probably onward) don't have lives to reward you with, and placing letters does not work in the context of a contest. Nickels absolutely must be kept, as they give participants an extra tool to work with, a reward that justifies optional challenges. Especially with how prevalent or effortless E/W-Tanks can be.

Noble Nickels can get stupid: Simply put, there have been Nickels that are unduly hard and/or convoluted. If getting the Nickel would require a gimmick that you only introduce afterwards, severe backtracking or simply a maneuver that crosses the line, so to speak... reconsider that Nickel. They're meant for challenges, but there are still limits.

It's broken if the level designer can't fix it: There has been contempt for force beams, but mostly because how they've been used, and MaGMML2 for one saw good use of them. One level was all about proving these sorts of things can be fixed (The Stage Nobody Asked For). However, we've also seen some elements that just drag stages down. If your stage had Pakatto 24s, you were hard-pressed to make it to the highest tiers. The rock dispensers were also a pain. And personally, I feel the picketmen went overboard, being tremendously bulky and often shielded for how crazy they went. No matter what context you end up using those things in, they feel like a nuisance, and in that case it's pretty much a devkit trap. Again, most assets aren't inherently frustrating, but any that are must be toned down before the devkit's release. If I may offer a suggestion for the picketmen, Smed had a good take on them in his "Big Annoying Mess of a Level", or at least good for a start.

[Image: jWFQYSO.png]
04-11-2017 12:10 AM
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Lamda Offline
Ace of Spades
*****
Registered

Posts: 954
Joined: May 2012
Reputation: 65
Roll Caskett AwardTempo AwardChiptune AwardPixel Master AwardAce AwardRevo Remix ContributorSIBRE ContributorC^2 Super Moderator AwardIris AwardAuto AwardDoc Robot AwardRubber Mega Man Award
Post: #24
RE: What Have We Learned From MaGMML1 and 2?
i think "feel free not to use stuff the way it was used before" is a good one too

it kinda falls in line with being able to fix broken things, but the stuff doesn't have to be broken already

like i used crazy cannons as environmental hazards rather than enemies and a ton of other people did neat shit like this

it was awesome, seeing old stuff being repurposed into something fresh

Quote:Game making in 6 steps:
1: Get assets and program
2: Smash the two together until stuff happens
3: Beat your face into your keyboard when stuff breaks/doesn't want to work
4: Continue beating your face into your keyboard until you've smashed the right code
5: Rejoice that it works and move on to the next thing
6: Go back to Step 2 and repeat
04-11-2017 04:30 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Blackhook Offline
Gonna get promoted...eventually
**
SIBRE Alpha Testers

Posts: 371
Joined: May 2012
Reputation: 9
Smash AwardRevo Remix ContributorSIBRE ContributorIris Award
Post: #25
RE: What Have We Learned From MaGMML1 and 2?
Memes were a mistake.

[Image: d82bcef28Chwb.png]
04-11-2017 08:50 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Joseph Collins Away
Postman
**
SIBRE Alpha Testers

Posts: 139
Joined: Sep 2012
Reputation: 1

Post: #26
RE: What Have We Learned From MaGMML1 and 2?
I forget if this applied to the first contest, so much, but as of the second contest, I've personally learned that levels which are not intended to be judged are, apparently, exempt from the judging guidelines and, sometimes, the ideals of basic level design. In my opinion, the endgame (and, post-endgame) content is definitely not what I'd call "high-tier." In fact, I have no qualms in saying that I don't think that having to play through all of the Wily Star or post-game are worth their "prizes." Some of those levels are incredibly difficulty, severely tedious, drag on for far too long, or otherwise become just plain frustrating more than fun. Plus, there are actually more than a few levels where I genuinely got bored enough to start yawning, thanks to their poorly-utilized gimmicks. This is especially the case in the mandatory (to beat the "game") Wily Star levels.

I've also learned that if you give level creators any sort of leeway with death traps, such as infinite lives or making insta-kill things do damage… they will take full advantage of it. Just, not in any good way. There are far too many "for the lulz" kinds of levels – particularly, in post-game – for my tastes. Like I said, it's almost like levels which aren't meant to be judged can get away with basically anything. That's not at all a good thing, considering that some of these levels are, as also mentioned, actually mandatory, in order to finish the "game." A good level should not make the player completely disinterested… much less want to crush their controller, in anger. And, don't get me started on the custom bosses – in-house or otherwise.

And, finally… I've learned that the judges' tastes are… borderline-random. There are several levels which I do not think should have placed where they did, whether they ranked low or ranked high. There are also several instances of "this level is bad because" while other levels are good for the very same reasons that the other ones were bad. Yes, sometimes a gimmick is better-utilized by someone else… but, still.
Oh, on that note, there were actually a lot of levels with the same gimmicks, this year. (Like, did we really need three levels based around the Gravityman gimmick, much less VVVVVV?) It's a little surprising.

So, that's what I've personally learned. And, I hope I'm not the only one who feels this way.
But, I wouldn't be surprised, if I were.
(This post was last modified: 18-11-2017 09:14 PM by Joseph Collins.)
18-11-2017 07:27 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
JupiHornet Offline
Regular
****
MaGMML Judge

Posts: 30
Joined: Sep 2016
Reputation: 1

Post: #27
RE: What Have We Learned From MaGMML1 and 2?
(18-11-2017 07:27 PM)Joseph Collins Wrote:  And, finally… I've learned that the judges' tastes are… borderline-random. There are several levels which I do not think should have placed where they did, whether they ranked low or ranked high.
I'm pretty sure everyone disagreed with some of the placements. That can't be helped, different tastse for different people.

Quote:Oh, on that note, there were actually a lot of levels with the same gimmicks, this year. (Like, did we really need three levels based around the Gravityman gimmick, much less VVVVVV?)
I mean, we can't do anything about that. It just so happened that a few people wanted to make VVVVVV levels.
(This post was last modified: 18-11-2017 09:03 PM by JupiHornet.)
18-11-2017 09:02 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Flashman85 Offline
Minor Internet Celebrity
****
Registered

Posts: 246
Joined: Jan 2016
Reputation: 17
Beat AwardSpike Award
Post: #28
RE: What Have We Learned From MaGMML1 and 2?
(18-11-2017 07:27 PM)Joseph Collins Wrote:  ...I've personally learned that levels which are not intended to be judged are, apparently, exempt from the judging guidelines and, sometimes, the ideals of basic level design. In my opinion, the endgame (and, post-endgame) content is definitely not what I'd call "high-tier." In fact, I have no qualms in saying that I don't think that having to play through all of the Wily Star or post-game are worth their "prizes."

There's still a lot of postgame content I haven't seen, but I have been through the Pit of Pits and Wily Star, and I can agree with this to an extent. I'm one of apparently very few people who enjoyed Wily 4, for instance, but I recognize that it's the kind of level that would have gotten a skip teleporter if it were a regular submission...and that alone makes the level inappropriate for a mandatory part of the game.

I appreciate that the judges just want to have fun making a level like the rest of us, and that even the official Mega Man games have Wily levels that aren't popular with everyone. At the same time, I think it's reasonable to expect the judge levels to blow us away with aesthetics and awe us with creative and thoughtful design. Putting the Wily levels in order of ascending difficulty and/or quality would also help manage player expectations.

(18-11-2017 07:27 PM)Joseph Collins Wrote:  I've also learned that if you give level creators any sort of leeway with death traps, such as infinite lives or making insta-kill things do damage… they will take full advantage of it. Just, not in any good way. There are far too many "for the lulz" kinds of levels – particularly, in post-game – for my tastes. Like I said, it's almost like levels which aren't meant to be judged can get away with basically anything.

If you compare the Pit of Pits with Mega Man Endless, I think it's safe to say that leeway has little or no bearing on how people design their levels. If anything, infinite lives and softer penalties in the Pit are a response to designers doing whatever the heck they feel like, rather than a cause.

I'm more forgiving of "for the lulz" levels in the Pit because (a) they're super short and (b) there's no other place in the game (or any fangame, at current) where people can get away with experimental and joke levels. I'm guilty of submitting challenges that I KNOW violate some basic principles of good game design (eg, the Lyric level), so I apologize if my deliberate deviations from good practice didn't pay off the way I'd hoped. I think a little more quality control is warranted for the future, though, by either weeding out more levels or making modifications as needed.

(18-11-2017 09:02 PM)JupiHornet Wrote:  
(18-11-2017 07:27 PM)Joseph Collins Wrote:  And, finally… I've learned that the judges' tastes are… borderline-random. There are several levels which I do not think should have placed where they did, whether they ranked low or ranked high.
I'm pretty sure everyone disagreed with some of the placements. That can't be helped, different tastse for different people.

I'll second Jupi's response, but I'll also add that judges need to clearly articulate their opinions for their tastes and judging criteria to feel coherent and consistent. MaGMML2 is definitely an improvement over MaGMML1 in terms of judge feedback, but there were still instances (from multiple judges) where the rationale provided didn't seem entirely rational or consistent with the score given. That being said, maintaining consistent objectivity while critiquing 81 levels of wildly varying quality and style is no easy feat.

No matter where you go, there you are.
20-11-2017 05:39 AM
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
ACESpark Offline
Stoke me a clipper, I'll be back for Christmas.
*******
Administrators

Posts: 935
Joined: May 2012
Reputation: 38
Tetris AwardSpike AwardRockman AwardRevo Remix ContributorSIBRE ContributorBooblight AwardRoll Caskett AwardSmash AwardAce Award
Post: #29
RE: What Have We Learned From MaGMML1 and 2?
(20-11-2017 05:39 AM)Flashman85 Wrote:  I appreciate that the judges just want to have fun making a level like the rest of us, and that even the official Mega Man games have Wily levels that aren't popular with everyone. At the same time, I think it's reasonable to expect the judge levels to blow us away with aesthetics and awe us with creative and thoughtful design. Putting the Wily levels in order of ascending difficulty and/or quality would also help manage player expectations.

In this case, the judge levels were reordered because of Seven Force. I was originally Judge 3. It was felt more appropriate to have the "boss rush", where the stage currently was, and because of spectacle creep. Hitting my level early in the fortress might've been poison to the expectations of everyone else.

But at the same time, I went into this with the mantra of "If I'm going to make a Wily stage, I'm going to make a level with the intention of "winning the contest". It may be impossible, but that is my main design goal."

Realistically, if anyone is making a judge level for MaGMML3, that is the core ideal they should also go with. The expectations are higher for your stages than anyone else's, because you are supposed to know what you are doing.

(As having one of the few levels in the Feedback form with a 45:0 advantage in favourites to least favourites, I might've have actually succeeded in part, the fact I am coming back essentially via community vote also means I might've succeeded.)


One of the things I've learned: People don't like you being vague in your reasoning. As annoying as long judge comments are for Let's Players... the players seem to prefer them, as at least that way you know exactly why a judge is scoring a level what they are scoring them.


So the thing is...
Joseph Collins and Flashman85 Wrote:Collins: And, finally… I've learned that the judges' tastes are… borderline-random.

Flashman85: there were still instances (from multiple judges) where the rationale provided didn't seem entirely rational or consistent with the score given.
The fact the rubric was not transparent in-game means... several levels look like they rated higher than they probably should've. The high creativity score (it's 15 out of a 50 mark), carried several levels this time round, and the fact that information is not accessible in-game makes many scores look completely random and weird.

(This post was last modified: 20-11-2017 12:35 PM by ACESpark.)
20-11-2017 12:11 PM
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
barberbarberjoe Offline
Postman
****
Registered

Posts: 110
Joined: Aug 2016
Reputation: 1

Post: #30
RE: What Have We Learned From MaGMML1 and 2?
It's probably a good idea to wait a few weeks after a large-scale fangame is released before playing it, just in case there are severe bugs and/or the game has been rushed for the deadline (if any).

Also, higher tiers are not necessarily going to be always good (in my case, I didn't truly fully enjoy the Tiers until I got to 9 and 10). I mean, this is Make A Good Mega Man Level and not "Make A Good Attempt To Annoy The Judges/Players". When this type of contest is increasingly getting so many entries, quantity over quality is expected, but the game shouldn't be turned into a slog for that reason. The participants should strive to be as good as they can be, especially in a time where current fangame makers are attempting to raise the bar more and make up for past mistakes.
20-11-2017 12:25 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Professor_Q Offline
Newbie
*
Registered

Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2017
Reputation: 0

Post: #31
RE: What Have We Learned From MaGMML1 and 2?
(04-11-2017 04:30 PM)Lamda Wrote:  i think "feel free not to use stuff the way it was used before" is a good one too

I was kind of thinking something along these lines with the very old artist's lesson "Understand the rules, so you know how and when to break them."


Shovel Knight has a few great examples of this. For instance, to obtain that nostalgic feel they stuck very closely to the NES palette, except in a few instances where they cheated.

Likewise, we can come up with all kinds of guidance for what makes a good level and what makes a bad level, and it's important to listen to all that guidance and understand it thoroughly. But it's just as important to know when and how to ignore everything you learned.

After all, if you take no risks even the most creative idea might not realise its actual potential. The rule to remember is that there is an exception to every rule.


Of course this does mean there is one piece of guidance you should NEVER EVER ignore (this is the exception to the exception rule) - ALWAYS have your level playtested and ALWAYS make edits.

No great artist gets it right consistently without years of practice, and even the greatest artists still have "happy accidents." Thankfully as game designers we enjoy the benefit of editing.
13-12-2017 11:35 AM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply 


Forum Jump:


User(s) browsing this thread:
1 Guest(s)

Return to TopReturn to Content