Making Layouts?

Discussion in 'Discussion and Q&A Archive' started by MarkeyJester, Jan 3, 2012.

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  1. MarkeyJester

    MarkeyJester ♡ ! Member

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    It has come to my attention that over the years; we have had a distinctively large amount of hacks with poor layout and object positioning. It has reached a point where even the most common sense of layout positionings are ignored without a sense of shame.


    Rather than point the finger and complain, I'm going to be more productive with this by providing a few tips and tricks to help reduce obvious layout mistakes. And when in time that we see a hack with poor layout/object positioning, we can direct them to this thread to help them improve on level construction.


    I don't claim to be a brilliant layout artist here, but that's the deal entirely, you don't have to be brilliant at it to avoid the common mistakes. I'm going to use Green Hill Zone here as an example, as it is the most obvious level people make mistakes on, and with that in mind, I'd like to bring your attention to this:


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTQw4oFj1j0


    This here (By DAGarden) is an example of one of the most brilliant and well thought out layouts you will ever see to date, what makes this even more brilliant is that it is technically a "binary hack" (by that I mean, it was not made via a disassembly). Only layouts, object positioning, palettes and title card names have been changed, and yet the layouts look almost unique without looking out of place.


    So, what are the commond mistakes you're likely to make which the hack above seems to fix quite easily? Let's start up a list:


    >>> The Green Hill Zone walls >>>


    [​IMG]


    Here I have placed two chunks together, I would like these chunks together for a specific cause, but let's open our eyes and look. What do we have here?


    [​IMG]


    That does not look right, remember, walls don't just end, they bevel out, the left side bevels out light, the right side bevels out dark. So how do we fix this? We fix this with the wonderful object 44:


    [​IMG]


    This object can place a temporary wall design (with or without solidity) on chunks to hide the areas that do not look right, under each one is a subtype ID, we can use this object to fix our messy looking layout:


    [​IMG]


    I have used the dark one here because it is on the right side, and my doesn't it look so much better.


    >>> Rocks And Spikes >>>


    Another common mistake is placing the Green Hill Zone Rock object and spikes out of place, we'll have a demonstration:


    [​IMG]


    This rock object has a grass design at the bottom, what this means is that you need to ensure it is placed correctly on the ground, and ONLY on grass.


    [​IMG]


    This isn't right, the grass pixels simply do not match, this is how it should look:


    [​IMG]


    You can see the grass aligns up correctly with the rock, and it now looks like it is part of the level, the player will never notice!


    [​IMG]


    Another example here, you can see this set of 3 spikes placed here, two of the spikes don't touch the floor, it doesn't look right, a very simple idea would be to lower the spikes down a little enough so that all three spikes are touching the floor at least:


    [​IMG]


    >>> Waterfalls >>>


    Here is another thing I've noticed some people do:


    [​IMG]


    Look very carefully at the top of the waterfall:


    [​IMG]


    You can clearly see that waterfall comes out of nowhere, realistically speaking here that's not how waterfalls work in Sonic The Hedgehog, now to be fair, there are no objects which can help fix this mistake, you could make one which would be a fair notion, but of course, if you lack the ability to do that, then why not choose a different chunk?


    I'm most situations, if you were to choose a chunk with a top water ripple piece, then you'll most likely choose this combination:


    [​IMG]


    Although this does fix the water issue, we now have another problem:


    [​IMG]


    The walls cut off, and the water seems to end randomly, so these chunks are no good, let's find another combination:


    [​IMG]


    Well, there seems to be nothing wrong with this, nothing is out of place, everything fits, perfect!


    Now we just need one more thing, we need to place object 49 in the middle of that waterfall for the special waterfall sound effect, to make it feel more realistic.


    >>> Objects that float, Objects that don't >>>


    Here are a list of objects that do NOT float in the air in GHZ:


    The Rock


    Spikes


    Crabmeat


    Motorbug


    Monitors and Springs (if not placed behind in a tree)


    These objects MUST be on the floor, I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure a set of spikes don't just randomly stand in the air, remember, KEEP THINGS ON THE GROUND PEOPLE:


    [​IMG]


    It's where they belong, Enemy objects only load when they reach the floor anyway so placing them in the air is no trouble, the only advice there is the closer they are to the ground, the quicker they will load.


    >>> Anything Else? >>>


    As time goes by, I'm sure I will notice more common mistakes, when the time comes I'll edit the thread and add corrections for them to it.


    And remember, these are here to help, if you want a super cool layout that people can praise, start following the above rules and don't make the same stupid mistakes everyone else makes.
     
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  2. Irixion

    Irixion Well-Known Member Member

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    <3 Will this put a stop to floating things and horrible layouts? Let's hope it does.
     
  3. GalliumGrant

    GalliumGrant Void. Member

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    YES! OH HOLY FUCKING SHIT, YES! It's about time we had somebody get the job, of teaching people what a good layout is done!


    Thank you Markey! I use all of these techniques, yet many of the new members insist on making unprofessional layouts (my bad for sounding all high and mighty, not, XP).


    I hope this thread exceeds in it's job, because, frankly, if a hack doesn't have professionally done layouts, I don't care to play it.


    Amazing job.
     
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  4. Irixion

    Irixion Well-Known Member Member

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    Unprofessional? There's such a thing as professional layouts? :V This is a reason why I prefer 128 over 256. Less worrying about fixing chunks. At least for me.
     
  5. SuperEgg

    SuperEgg I'm a guy that knows that you know that I know Member

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    To be honest, Chunk size makes no difference to me. 128 or 256, it's all really the same when you get down to it. If you can't make 2 chunks match, or make objects that SHOULDN'T float in the air float, then the layout is gonna look like shit. The real issue here is that everyother newb and mother on here can't hack for shit, make a barely playable level hack that was rushed that way they could say, "look guyz, I made a sexy hack. Am I haxor now?". I was once like that when I was on here, but I did learn NOT to do that after seeing so many people getting limbo'd for it.Thank god Markley made this tutorial, but at the same, this only touches the surface of layout issues. Hopefully other folks on here will use this and attempt to make better layouts.
     
  6. Selbi

    Selbi The Euphonic Mess Member

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    A different layout engine does not result to less "professional" layouts. In fact, I've seen more bullshit with Sonic 2 hacks than with Sonic 1. Sure, S2 allows more freedom, but it won't stop someone without common sense from abusing it to a point that makes me wanna puke.
     
  7. Animemaster

    Animemaster Lets get to work! Member

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    I suppose this needed to be done, the problem is, will people listen?. Will people actually come to this topic, read and learn(They should but still), and know the 'Do's' and 'Don'ts' of layout editing?. I think thats partly the problem, people just won't appreciate the work you put out for them. Thats why I've been a bit iffy about starting my video tutorials.
     
  8. SSGD

    SSGD "I can't believe what cool boots you have on!" Member

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    I have noticed sometimes the object placement of monitors in hacks tend to be either too below the platform they're on or just a tad above kinda like how you've demonstrated with the placement of spikes; but your right in stating how such things just seem to be not taken all that serious leaving the final product all wobbly or in the worst case scenario, open to easy pitfalls.


    On a side note, the placement of certain badniks (e.g crabmeat) in the game seem to auto-snap to platforms as long as they're placed close to begin with, so hovering is not a problem in this instance.
     
  9. MarkeyJester

    MarkeyJester ♡ ! Member

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    Waterfalls and floor/wall/tree objects, check em out.
     
  10. Pokepunch

    Pokepunch That guy who posts on occasion Member

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    This will help me alot, thank you.
     
  11. Ravenfreak

    Ravenfreak Still hacking the 8-bit titles Member

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    Awesome thread MJ! Maybe now we'll get more newbies actually making layouts that flow well and not some sloppy ones that are all over the place. (Well I hope...) You sir are the god of hacking Sonic 1 IMO. <_<
     
  12. SuperEgg

    SuperEgg I'm a guy that knows that you know that I know Member

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    You know what help out with making layouts the most? Drawing it out on paper. I know it doesn't sound that great at all, but hear me out.


    Currently I am working on a project with SonicBoom. Now, he put me in charge of making level layouts, for someof the levels anyhow. (Some of you may have seen my earlier screens of a CNZ art hack earlier on in 2011.) But I digress. The screens were showcasing more than some shitty ass art hack, it was also showing a few new areas of my layouts. Now, the main issue with making a layout is, how can I do it and not get screwed up do to the current layout in place? Answer: make a blank bin file and replace the old one. Then leave it alone.


    THe next best thing is to get a sheet of paper and draw out a layout. Before so, study the current layout. How was (insert level here) so great?


    1. Play the level. Simple enough, make mental, or even physical notes on why some areas were great. CNZ for example was a giant Pinball machine, that doubled as a casino resort (well in mind anyhow). So capitalize on this idea. Also, I noticed in act 1 that the higher you go, the more carefully timed your jumps have to be. In act 2 I noted how if you go to the hidden passageways, you find narrow hallways, and more bumpers, made timing your right movement important.


    Once you have an idea on what the level has, look at it's negatives. ex: CNZ had only few instances of elevators, and their main use was for transportation throught the level, most weren't optional. Flippers were placed in areas where you could take advantage instead of providing a challange, ect.


    2. Before you can even level make, study the chunks. Do note, you have to know what chunks exist before you make a level, that way later in designing, you can add more to fit the needed layout.


    3. Get some paper. With all the things in mind, go for it. It's much easier designing a level when you have something to look at and figure out how flow works. Go crazy. Personally, I drew in small objects and numbered them so I can understand why they're there.


    Now, why would anybody take the time to draw out a layout, then have to copy it on paper? Well, Sega did it. Look at S2B artwork at Retro. There is a layout map of Metropolis. Note how long and hard the layout is. And look at Metropolis now. You can see lots of it stuck., and though it is a bitch of a level, it is a level with a good, flowing layout. The main reason for drawing out layouts on paper, is so that...


    a. you can see what you are doing.


    b. gives you a better understanding of what is going on.


    c. It can help you make the level flow better


    d. you can make changes on paper far easier than on SonED2 or SonLVL. You can fix it and finalize it before touching that level editor.


    4. And the final step. Once you have a realized level, start making. Hopefully you've made a blank template for all of the layouts (level, rings, objects) so you can add where you need. Create new chunks where needed so you can efficiently make the level chunks fit.


    This is where Markey's tutorial comes in. My rant here is describing the steps you should take before you make a new level layout. I can say, it is sometimes time consuming, but is better than trying to create a layout hack with a shittly layout, badly or misplaced items. There, that is my 2 cents.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2012
  13. Irixion

    Irixion Well-Known Member Member

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    Nicely updated. Sonic 2's chunk construction is better than Sonic 1's I've found. Even the original S1 chunks have minor problems. Also, S2 doesn't require so many objects to patch up chunks that are left cut open.


    You should also add, that when making a layout, one should check for collision using the Plane A and Plane B options in their editors (If applicable)
     
  14. MarkeyJester

    MarkeyJester ♡ ! Member

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    I would like to point out that this thread isn't for the discussion of engine specification and flexibility, nor is it about level layout design philosophy, the point in this thread is to help prevent the most obviously stupid layout decisions from being made, by making it very clear what is physically wrong, why, and how to fix them (regardless of how obvious the terrible design choices are).


    Please refrain from bringing up the whole 128 vs 256 thing, I really do not want to have hefty debates about it all, and I'm sure the staff at SSRG would agree on the grounds of not wanting to constantly filter out argumental posts.

    Very good, I'm glad someone remembers those design sheets =P


    I know a few people who plan on paper too, so it's not uncommon either.
     
  15. SuperEgg

    SuperEgg I'm a guy that knows that you know that I know Member

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    Thanks. I've been wanting to do a thread like this for a while, but you beat me to it. Anyways, I needed to note that most of these new hacks I've seem have little sense of direction and flow in the levels. I thought the paper method would help out to some of our misguided members. It's actually come to my attention that even if these folks COULD fix their issues as far as appearence and make it look right, some of their layouts would still look horrid. By the way, I loved how you did the tutorial. It really addresses EVERYTHING that pisses me off. I decided to add on to it, that way future layouts will not only fit and match, but flow smoothly and sexily.
     
  16. OrdosAlpha

    OrdosAlpha RIGHT! Naebody move! Root Admin

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    Gotta admit, I favour the 128 system used in Sonic 2 & 3. But, I wouldn't go dismissing the 256 system. Sure it makes level designing a tad more difficult, but if you take your time and work hard then it's more than possible to produce fluid and unique layouts using the 256 system.
     
  17. DarkLeach

    DarkLeach Well-Known Member Member

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    A good example of what not to do is the New Year's release (Demo) of my hack. I'm fixing it up know and the layout will be a lot better than it was, and when I say that I mean an almost complete redesign of the levels I hacked so far. I didn't notice my layout was that bad. Thanks to this tutorial, It won't happen again! (Hopefully)
     
  18. Irixion

    Irixion Well-Known Member Member

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    I wasn't dismissing 256, I just feel like it's easier to work with 128s, at least personally :p.


    If you do end up extending this Markey, perhaps talking about collision and the invisible solid object would be a good idea?
     
  19. Guest

    I couldn't help but to notice this thread and I gotta admit this thread will be very useful for beginners. I myself also need to spruce up on my level editing skills as well as I have always had trouble placing mostly the rocks and spikes in their right positions.

    Or what I do is use grid paper and make layouts on that. it's easier for me IMO since I think of the grid tiles as the tiles from soned2 and then just draw them out of how it would look in game.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2012
  20. SSGD

    SSGD "I can't believe what cool boots you have on!" Member

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    Actually that's quite an smart idea there Blazer, I'm gonna have to look into buying some now.
     
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