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Author Topic: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post  (Read 34726 times)

June 11, 2014, 01:45:52 PM
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Southbird

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Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« on: June 11, 2014, 01:45:52 PM »
I did post here once about 3Mix when I had a demo out a couple years ago. Well, as most of you know, it's done. Click the links in my signature for downloads and stuff. It's done, but the beta video is better for generally showing off. Not much changed beta to 1.0 anyway.

[youtube]4qv7cv0dCTw[/youtube]

So yeah, it's the product of my disassembly of SMB3, a real in-depth hack that upgrades or rewrites a lot of stuff in the original NES game. But as the topic title suggests, I'm here to gloat about the Internet's embrace.

Retro Collect article

TSSZ article (Thanks, Blaze!)

Someone's Twitch video speed running

Even being sold here  (Note I have nothing to do with this except the label art and obviously the software, and get no kick-backs etc. for it. But it's cool to see it exist!)


Every few days I seem to find something new. So I am temporarily loved by Internet. Sadly, I know this is just a brief moment, and I guess I'll need to figure out what my next attention-getting project will have to be. But for now, I'm just wading in short-lived 15 minutes of fame.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2014, 04:48:09 PM by Southbird »

June 11, 2014, 02:12:01 PM
Reply #1

yaj

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2014, 02:12:01 PM »
Well, I can't really comment on the hack, since I never played the original SMB3 on the NES- besides to say that you probably put a lot of work into it, and that this project was much more than a couple of pixels being changed here and there. What I can say is, congratulations on the Internet's warm embrace!

June 11, 2014, 11:05:13 PM
Reply #2

Keith Stack

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2014, 11:05:13 PM »
When I get the time, I am going to play this, and I have a feeling I'm going to like it a lot.

June 13, 2014, 06:09:03 PM
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BlazeHedgehog

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2014, 06:09:03 PM »
I played the beta up to about... World 4? Been busy with other stuff, haven't gotten a chance to play too far in to 1.0.

I really like this hack, though the Yoshi stuff in World 4 does feel like it's stressing the NES. It works, but it feels funky.

June 18, 2014, 07:06:21 PM
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Southbird

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2014, 07:06:21 PM »
I really like this hack, though the Yoshi stuff in World 4 does feel like it's stressing the NES. It works, but it feels funky.

Might also just be that my implementation is screwy. It was done by eyeballing anyway. After all, not exactly an SMB3 feature, is it?

June 18, 2014, 09:15:30 PM
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Archaemic

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2014, 09:15:30 PM »
I remember reading a while ago that they wanted to do Yoshi in an NES game but the NES couldn't really take it, so they waited until the SNES. I never really understood why that was the case, but maybe I just don't know how weak the NES is.

(This list is incomplete)

June 19, 2014, 09:24:58 AM
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Southbird

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2014, 09:24:58 AM »
I remember reading a while ago that they wanted to do Yoshi in an NES game but the NES couldn't really take it, so they waited until the SNES. I never really understood why that was the case, but maybe I just don't know how weak the NES is.

Yeah, this gets around, and I think it's essentially nonsense. Yoshi fundamentally isn't all that complex an idea. HOWEVER, what may be the issue is the limited graphics space available to the NES.

Trying to be as succinct as possible, the "memory mapper" that SMB3 used, the MMC3, allowed for the sprite graphics area to be broken up into 4 dynamic windows. In SMB3, they use the first quarter for player sprite graphics, the second quarter for common on-screen graphics (score pop-ups, power-ups, etc.) The third and fourth are largely left up to context. Some enemies are coded to use the third bank for their graphics, and others the fourth. Usually a related set of enemies (e.g. overworld enemies, fortress enemies, etc.) are coded to use the same quarter. When I did my Yoshi, I consumed the third quarter bank. Obviously this puts a fairly specific limit on what other sprite graphics (i.e. enemies) will be available on-screen. It's not really a strict design constraint, but it does mean a level needs to be built to support Yoshi, and he can't be arbitrarily inserted.

So, we can put it this way -- the SMW way of having Yoshi for as long as possible going level-to-level wouldn't work in SMB3 without putting a severe restriction on available sprite graphics. However, doing it the NSMB Wii way where Yoshi is only available in the level and is kicked off afterward works pretty well. And that's the way I did it.

There are other NES "memory mappers" that might do a better job at this. But in any case, as long as the design is considered from the start, "Yoshi" is perfectly feasible in a Mario game. There's no hardware reason you couldn't have a Yoshi at least as good as SMW. Mine certainly has room for improvement to get to SMW level, but I only took it as far as I felt was necessary to get the point across.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2014, 09:26:31 AM by Southbird »

June 19, 2014, 02:19:04 PM
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BlazeHedgehog

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2014, 02:19:04 PM »
I remember reading a while ago that they wanted to do Yoshi in an NES game but the NES couldn't really take it, so they waited until the SNES. I never really understood why that was the case, but maybe I just don't know how weak the NES is.

Yeah, that's more that I was thinking.

June 20, 2014, 08:19:57 PM
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Eric

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2014, 08:19:57 PM »
I am having a lot of fun with this so far.  The difficulty is not to the point of "omg nerd rage this sux", but rather just to the point that keeps it interesting - it keeps one determined to beat the level, and find all three coins, and come back for more.

That said, I am dying, a lot.  HOORAY SMB3 PHYSICS + 20 YEARS OUT OF PRACTICE + KEYBOARD CONTROLS

July 24, 2014, 03:25:06 PM
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Keith Stack

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2014, 03:25:06 PM »
http://www.twitch.tv/mitchflowerpower

This guy is speedrunning 3Mix, he's pretty good.

July 25, 2014, 02:20:27 AM
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Seph

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2014, 02:20:27 AM »
I remember reading a while ago that they wanted to do Yoshi in an NES game but the NES couldn't really take it, so they waited until the SNES. I never really understood why that was the case, but maybe I just don't know how weak the NES is.

Yeah, this gets around, and I think it's essentially nonsense. Yoshi fundamentally isn't all that complex an idea. HOWEVER, what may be the issue is the limited graphics space available to the NES.

Trying to be as succinct as possible, the "memory mapper" that SMB3 used, the MMC3, allowed for the sprite graphics area to be broken up into 4 dynamic windows. In SMB3, they use the first quarter for player sprite graphics, the second quarter for common on-screen graphics (score pop-ups, power-ups, etc.) The third and fourth are largely left up to context. Some enemies are coded to use the third bank for their graphics, and others the fourth. Usually a related set of enemies (e.g. overworld enemies, fortress enemies, etc.) are coded to use the same quarter. When I did my Yoshi, I consumed the third quarter bank. Obviously this puts a fairly specific limit on what other sprite graphics (i.e. enemies) will be available on-screen. It's not really a strict design constraint, but it does mean a level needs to be built to support Yoshi, and he can't be arbitrarily inserted.

So, we can put it this way -- the SMW way of having Yoshi for as long as possible going level-to-level wouldn't work in SMB3 without putting a severe restriction on available sprite graphics. However, doing it the NSMB Wii way where Yoshi is only available in the level and is kicked off afterward works pretty well. And that's the way I did it.

There are other NES "memory mappers" that might do a better job at this. But in any case, as long as the design is considered from the start, "Yoshi" is perfectly feasible in a Mario game. There's no hardware reason you couldn't have a Yoshi at least as good as SMW. Mine certainly has room for improvement to get to SMW level, but I only took it as far as I felt was necessary to get the point across.

This post was very interesting and was a joy to read. I love reading the in-depth discussions about stuff like this.

Also, congratulations on your fame and for the project itself! You deserve all the kudos you get.
-Seph
Want to see what I'm working on?

July 25, 2014, 03:59:52 AM
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Southbird

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2014, 03:59:52 AM »
http://www.twitch.tv/mitchflowerpower

This guy is speedrunning 3Mix, he's pretty good.

I've been pointed to Mitch a couple times by my ex of all people ... problem is he's usually playing at odd hours. (Obviously I'm posting at an odd hour if something indicates it's 4AM, but I passed out early today from a really bad sleep schedule all week, lol.) Speed runners also tend to drive me nuts in real time lol. "Fucked up, gotta restart. Fucked up, gotta restart. ..." Like 8 hours later they're still playing the first level. I get it's an art, but I can't say I really feel like that's how I want to experience a video game usually.


This post was very interesting and was a joy to read. I love reading the in-depth discussions about stuff like this.

Also, congratulations on your fame and for the project itself! You deserve all the kudos you get.

Thanks! Other than a couple people on YouTube playing through it, I think the fire has mostly died down. But I still catch glimpses here and there, and I'm certainly not downplaying the critical success it has been. I had another moment today where I realized just how much I hate my professional dev job due to outright boredom, and realized how much more fun 3Mix was, despite the tedium of the medium. (Rhyme!) Wish I could find a "day job" that paid okay and didn't cause me to remember all the things I'd rather be doing.

I also love having technical feasibility discussions like this whole Yoshi thing, but it can be hard to express it without people glazing over. I mean, save a personality like mine, who really cares about "memory mappers"? :P Learned recently that a mapper documented by Sega could have allowed Genesis and 32X games up to 32MB, and that just got me all kinds of excited. It's even supported by the "Mega Everdrive" made by Krikzz (up to about 15MB on first run models anyway.)

July 26, 2014, 11:24:09 PM
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AJ

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2014, 11:24:09 PM »
Figured I'd download this and stream it on one of our stream days. Damn though, IPS patches are kind of annoying.

July 27, 2014, 11:36:01 AM
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Southbird

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2014, 11:36:01 AM »
Figured I'd download this and stream it on one of our stream days. Damn though, IPS patches are kind of annoying.

I find this odd a lot of people either don't know how to use IPS patches at all or find it difficult. I mean, this can be done in 5 easy steps:

1) Get an appropriate SMB3 US ROM
2) Get the appropriate IPS patch
3) Using LunarIPS, select ROM
4) Select IPS
5) Patch, done


IPS files are still wonderful for hitting a legally gray area.

July 28, 2014, 02:39:09 PM
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AJ

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2014, 02:39:09 PM »
I do plan on still streaming this, tomorrow actually. But like, it's not that they are "difficult", it's just tedious because regardless of how you look at it, editing the game is technically "illegal" anyway, so... might as well just throw the ROM up like all the other millions of video game hacks out there.

July 28, 2014, 08:59:54 PM
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Archaemic

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2014, 08:59:54 PM »
I'm really curious which ways you're looking at it. It's not like you're circumventing DRM, so it's not like the DMCA is in effect at all.

(This list is incomplete)

July 28, 2014, 09:59:33 PM
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Southbird

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2014, 09:59:33 PM »
I do plan on still streaming this, tomorrow actually. But like, it's not that they are "difficult", it's just tedious because regardless of how you look at it, editing the game is technically "illegal" anyway, so... might as well just throw the ROM up like all the other millions of video game hacks out there.

I'm not sure where you're getting "editing a game is illegal" from. (Maybe a confusion around DRM stuff like Archaemic just said?) An IPS patch is the differences between the starting binary and your edits. The IPS thus only has your contributions and theoretically none of the original intellectual property. (Not exactly true in all cases, but that's the idea anyway.) It puts the onus of actually obtaining the original protected content (SMB3 ROM in this case) on the consumer.

Distributing IPS patches is pretty typical. Note that romhacking.net itself only distributes IPS files for hacks. ROM sites host ROMs and take their own risks of doing so. I don't see any reason for me to put myself directly in any crosshairs. I'm about as far into the brand-confusion, unauthorized-use-of-IP that I want to be at this point.

July 29, 2014, 05:41:49 PM
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AJ

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2014, 05:41:49 PM »
Eh, like you said, it's a large grey area regardless.  Which, in a way, is kind of amusing in the sense that to advertise for something you created, you literally have to turn a blind eye to the fact that everybody who is playing it, probably acquired it illegally to do so. (The ROM that is)

Anyway, gonna stream it toooooniiiiight with some pals. Should be a good time. I played a bit last night to test it out, runs pretty smooth, but gets some slow down if there is too much on the screen, in areas where you wouldn't expect it (the spot where you get the superstar underground in the first stage, for instance), but other than that, I look forward to seeing the rest of it

Stream SHOULD be live around 8:30 or 9:00 PM EST.

http://www.twitch,tv/battlebuddiesgaming

Hopefully we can do your hard work some justice and complete a fair chunk of it.

July 30, 2014, 10:37:44 AM
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Southbird

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2014, 10:37:44 AM »
Eh, like you said, it's a large grey area regardless.  Which, in a way, is kind of amusing in the sense that to advertise for something you created, you literally have to turn a blind eye to the fact that everybody who is playing it, probably acquired it illegally to do so. (The ROM that is)

No matter what, if you're not creating something with 100% your own content (EDIT: Or if all content not created by you isn't public domain), you're infringing on something somewhere. Even an innocently made Mario fangame not using any of Nintendo's stock content is still using Nintendo IP and they could at their will take it down. Fortunately most companies aren't too crazy about this, though situations arise.


Anyway, gonna stream it toooooniiiiight with some pals. Should be a good time. I played a bit last night to test it out, runs pretty smooth, but gets some slow down if there is too much on the screen, in areas where you wouldn't expect it (the spot where you get the superstar underground in the first stage, for instance), but other than that, I look forward to seeing the rest of it

The SMB3 engine was never particularly well optimized I think. (Although there's only so much you can do at a sub-2MHz CPU, y'know?) 3Mix adds even more stuff so it aggravates places that stock slowed down anyway (such as the 5-enemy mark.)


Stream SHOULD be live around 8:30 or 9:00 PM EST.

http://www.twitch,tv/battlebuddiesgaming

Hopefully we can do your hard work some justice and complete a fair chunk of it.

K, I set a calendar reminder for this
« Last Edit: July 30, 2014, 12:47:33 PM by Southbird »

July 30, 2014, 04:59:03 PM
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AJ

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2014, 04:59:03 PM »
Hm. WELL...

We played all the way up to like World 7, then it got really late. The game actually wasn't really well received, between those playing and watching. I wish I had recorded it all directly onto my computer, because there were a LOT of glitches or just signs of poor game design that we kept encountering. I'll try to list out what I can remember though:

Checkpoint locations. While the checkpoints are nice, the locations are awful in a lot of levels. Take level 1-2 for instance, where mere seconds after starting you can be killed by a flying fish. I mean, almost HALF A SECOND later you can be killed. This checkpoint would have been better used if it had been moved farther left before that bridge. There was another stage, one of the pitch black ones, that upon starting the level from the checkpoint, have enemies just a few pixels away from you on both the right and left side that just sort of pincer attack you.

You can't jump through the bottoms of bridges, as one would normally expect to be able to do, but you can jump through the bottoms of the "tree" tops, which you weren't able to do before.

Bad enemy placement. A lot of spots where the enemies just clutter the screen, and slow things down. If you're working with an engine that can't handle it, maybe work around that, and cut the enemies back. It's not entirely necessary to have 3 koopa troopas walking hand in hand in various spots. On top of this, sometimes, the placement was just weird and caused unnecessary deaths. For instance, in I believe the first underwater stage, there are cheep cheeps swimming left and right in a pattern, however, one of them slightly swims over a tower, and gets stuck, glitching out on it trying to turn left and right before eventually popping back out. Not only does it look bad, but it makes things really unpredictable.

The MUSIC. asdfasdf. Man, I people actually yelling at us to turn off the music, and honestly, I agreed. The biggest gripe was in World 3, with the weird like "spooky takes" on the music. It came across so bad, and so grating, that it was actually getting people angry listening to it. It sounded like trying to teach a child to play piano or worse, a recorder (those shitty plastic flutes) and they kept hitting the wrong notes. I understand the idea behind it, but the execution was very poor. You could tell that it wasn't put together by somebody who has a strong musical sense, mainly because of most of the notes were like oil and water.

On top of that, the poor selection of music in some stages over all. I know it's nitpicky, but man, in the Mario 2 stages, a nice Mario 2 remix song would be great, not the Mario 3 athletic theme again, or WORSE, practically ANYTHING from Super Mario Land 2. When we all wanted to hear a song from Mario Land 1, we got one of the worst, being the underground theme. Again, nitpicky, but bad music can ruin a game.

Level design is up next, some of the designs were good, some were just bad. Really bad. Making us ride a shy guy across a screen with literally NO DANGER for almost a solid minute isn't fun. It isn't enticing, it isn't good. It's bad. Also, this being a remix, it's a chance to pull the GOOD from the games and get RID of the bullshit, but in this 3Mix's case, it was like it was all or nothing, so if a level in one of the original games had kind of a shit design (Mario 2's in particular) that was just repeated. Mario 2 was built to be a vertical game, screen scrolled at proper times when going up, in this, when climbing a long vertical screen, you could blindly jump straight into an enemy.

On top of this, backtracking and pointless searching. Jesus, the backtracking. Play through a level, hit a switch, walk backwards through the level and wait for that awkward pause when a pipe raises from the ground. This was ESPECIALLY unnecessary in a ghost house where THREE pipes raise up, and you have to go through all of them to get to the end. By this point, you're just so tired of the stage, you want to hurry up and finish it.

Mario games, are hardly about searching all over the damn stage for a way to ... continue the stage. There was an airship where you go down a pipe A. You come up pipe B and to your left is a check point and some ? blocks. To your right is what seems to be an impossible jump (it is) and a wall and a pit. So what do you do? Can't go left, can't go right. OH, go back DOWN Pipe B and magically appear in Pipe C, the room before the boss battle! How are we supposed to know to do this? Why make us sacrifice lives to find this out? It isn't "hard," it's annoying. Another similar situation is in one of the third world's levels, you hit a P block right infront of a pit with some of those pincer enemies. They turn into coins, leading anyone to believe that there is a secret down there, so you jump to grab them annnnnd die. Great. Thanks. That wasn't a "hard" nor a "fun" thing. It's a lame ass death that makes you replay the beginning part of the stage again and artificially continue onward.

If something looks bad, by the way, take it out. I mean that visually. For instance, in a moving (ugh) stage, there is a spot where the  ground kind of goes up like steps, and what happens below it? The lava has the same pattern! But boy oh boy does that look stupid. Solid, square, lava steps. Have you seen that in Mario? I haven't. You gotta look at things and decide if it looks professional or not, or else it comes across a just a kid editing a game thinking to himself how "cool" and "original" he is being.

The GLITCHES were some of the worst. I watched a friend of mine midway through a level hit a row of ? boxes, then suddenly bam, level over. He beat it somehow. Course Clear. Meanwhile, I grabbed a flag pole and beat a level in the Galaxy themed ones, only to have the gravity switch and send my character flying off the top of the screen to DIE making me replay it AGAIN. The gravity thing, while a neat idea, was poorly executed and you hardly had any idea if it was going to work or not. Same with Yoshi. Neat, but felt forced. Doesn't even have an animation for going down pipes, and over all just seemed clunky sometimes. Also, he barely runs away.  The dinosaurs that get crushed on the first jump had a tendency to walk backwards after being hit, which always looked goofy. It needs a lot more play testing to iron this stuff out. Bowser Jr fight where he chucks shells at you? Half the time, he can just hit himself with them.

Speaking of the bosses, jeez. One, why can you jump on Bowser? Ruins the fight. Two, the fight shouldn't be like paused until you are in his damn face. Three, again, GLITCHES. I had a time where I hit the switch to drop the bridge, Bowser, not giving two fucks, jumps over to me tossing hammers and fire, and what can I do? Nothing. Die. Because he was able to do that. Because the scripting there is terrible. It doesn't even pause the screen or anything, you can still walk off the ledge after you kill him (that is if he doesn't kamikaze you first.) The Wart battle is suddenly this weird step up in difficulty, until you realize you can just hug the left corner and jump straight up and wait for the shy guy to walk to you. The weird ... big ... boo fight. WHY? WHY have that if you CAN'T DIE? You make me do a fight where I HAVE to freeze a dry bones and awkwardly kick it into the enemy (when keep in mind that there is almost NO ROOM to do this effectively) but at the same time you supply UNLIMITED suits! Where is there challenge? This took longer than it should have only because of getting stuck in the suit on/suit off animation when it kept coming up the pipe and I was on the damn ghost. You're invincible in that fight. It's just dumb waiting. Waiting for a really dumb opening, but if you get hit? Who cares? FREE SUIT. And why does the little boo it's with not get scared when you look at it? At least that would keep the two SEMI separated as opposed to being hand in hand. The next boo/bowser jr fight was also really easy, and the sprite was ... bad. It also looked poorly drawn. Going back to that one where Bowser Jr throws shells at you and drops fire pillars, in between each hit, he seemingly drops random bob-ombs down. There is no pattern to this, meaning there is NO safe spot to be, because sometimes you will be on the left side and they will ALL fall there, trapping you, can't do anything, just ... die.

Speaking of bob-ombs, there is part of a stage built entirely of material where they can destroy it by blowing up. The whole stage is destructable and they are EVERYWHERE. So they can just blow the entire stage apart. Does anyone need to say why that's bad? Or a poor choice of idea? Sure, if you want them to blow up PARTS of the stage, sure, okay, I guess, but don't build entire sections out of desctructable blocks.

Other things: Why have ghost houses in Mario 1 and 2 themed worlds? One, the ghost houses with the limited colorset of the NES just look ... bad. The boos are lame too. Why not use the actual Mario 3 boos and edit them accordingly? Why do boos relentlessly chase you, even while you stare directly at them? It just leads to getting trapped in certain areas sometimes. Why have a circle of boos hugging a ledge so hard, with a platform below it that you absolutely cannot see? Blind jumps are all over this game, and some of them, if you take them TOO far, you either die, OR pass up a check point because little did you know you were supposed to blind drop from the cliff.

The level design a lot of the times was just riddled with us (and viewers) questioning "why?" This is all I can actually say purely from memory, but if I had taken the time to write it all down as it was happening, or went back and watched the stream again, man ...

I will say this, the idea is really cool. It was a great idea, but poor execution. Maybe everyone was being too harsh, but I mean, over all it was just not well-received. It's probably better than a decent amount of hacks, but it still feels like a hack. It is still presented like a hack.

I feel pretty bad having such a large list of stuff here, but at the same time, I'm a pretty firm believer in constructive criticism. I hyped this up a lot before showing everybody, so maybe the expectation on mine, and their part was too much, but over all I won't say I HATED it. In fact, I'll probably still finish it, but it just felt so incomplete, and very amateur at certain parts.

So uuhh... Take of that what you will.

July 30, 2014, 07:21:38 PM
Reply #20

Southbird

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2014, 07:21:38 PM »
You can't jump through the bottoms of bridges, as one would normally expect to be able to do, but you can jump through the bottoms of the "tree" tops, which you weren't able to do before.

Bridge tiles are stock Mario 3. So you couldn't jump through them there either.


Bad enemy placement. A lot of spots where the enemies just clutter the screen, and slow things down. If you're working with an engine that can't handle it, maybe work around that, and cut the enemies back. It's not entirely necessary to have 3 koopa troopas walking hand in hand in various spots. On top of this, sometimes, the placement was just weird and caused unnecessary deaths. For instance, in I believe the first underwater stage, there are cheep cheeps swimming left and right in a pattern, however, one of them slightly swims over a tower, and gets stuck, glitching out on it trying to turn left and right before eventually popping back out. Not only does it look bad, but it makes things really unpredictable.

I'll give you the stuck Cheep-Cheep, but placement in general can be unpredictable, depending how fast you're moving or how quickly you're killing things. World 1 being SMB1 levels was mostly open space, so there was the greatest chance of a lot of clutter if you're not just slaughtering things. Slow down, eh. There's only so much I can do in certain situations. I pushed SMB3 harder than it was meant to go. It would have required some pretty intensive rewrites of core engine code to eke out a few more CPU cycles.


The MUSIC. asdfasdf. Man, I people actually yelling at us to turn off the music, and honestly, I agreed. The biggest gripe was in World 3, with the weird like "spooky takes" on the music. It came across so bad, and so grating, that it was actually getting people angry listening to it. It sounded like trying to teach a child to play piano or worse, a recorder (those shitty plastic flutes) and they kept hitting the wrong notes. I understand the idea behind it, but the execution was very poor. You could tell that it wasn't put together by somebody who has a strong musical sense, mainly because of most of the notes were like oil and water.

World 3 is hit or miss with people. Some find it spooky / weird, others find it grating. But that was software manipulation of the frequency table, so it's understood. The rest of the music in general is well-received by 99% of everyone else, so I can't agree with you otherwise.


On top of that, the poor selection of music in some stages over all. I know it's nitpicky, but man, in the Mario 2 stages, a nice Mario 2 remix song would be great, not the Mario 3 athletic theme again, or WORSE, practically ANYTHING from Super Mario Land 2. When we all wanted to hear a song from Mario Land 1, we got one of the worst, being the underground theme. Again, nitpicky, but bad music can ruin a game.

Eh, again. You're the first of anyone I've heard complain this much about it. Music in SMB3 is a chore, so it takes a lot to convert anything into it. It also tends to take a lot of space in NES terms. So with those two things in mind, I wasn't going to do 10 CDs worth of Mario music. I had to be selective, and chose to only make new music occasionally to enhance a particular theme. Otherwise I considered the music generic and reusable, not unlike what Mario 3 did. Also I think you're missing a partial point -- this is meant to be Mario 3 acting like other games, not being other games. I still wanted it to look/sound/act like Mario 3 at first glance.

Level design is up next, some of the designs were good, some were just bad. Really bad. Making us ride a shy guy across a screen with literally NO DANGER for almost a solid minute isn't fun. It isn't enticing, it isn't good. It's bad. Also, this being a remix, it's a chance to pull the GOOD from the games and get RID of the bullshit, but in this 3Mix's case, it was like it was all or nothing, so if a level in one of the original games had kind of a shit design (Mario 2's in particular) that was just repeated. Mario 2 was built to be a vertical game, screen scrolled at proper times when going up, in this, when climbing a long vertical screen, you could blindly jump straight into an enemy.

Obviously not all of this is perfect, but I'm just sourcing the material. Mario 2 had at least a couple times where this was a mechanic, most likely via Autobomb. Most people found this to be a surprising mechanic that required a bit of thought on the player's part to "think outside the Mario 3 box."

Levels being inconsistent, well, what can I say? Most games are built with a team, I'm one man. There are levels I liked how they turned out, and there were ones I would have rather redone. But after I was rounding year 2 on this project, I didn't really have time to rewrite a lot of material if I wanted it to ever get released. In any case, I've noted a few particular problem areas, but you're still definitely the largest scale complaint I've had for this, ever.


On top of this, backtracking and pointless searching. Jesus, the backtracking. Play through a level, hit a switch, walk backwards through the level and wait for that awkward pause when a pipe raises from the ground. This was ESPECIALLY unnecessary in a ghost house where THREE pipes raise up, and you have to go through all of them to get to the end. By this point, you're just so tired of the stage, you want to hurry up and finish it.

Each pipe raise takes maybe 2 seconds? I'm also again just taking from source material -- this is based on how it works in Paper Mario. There's also a technical reason -- the way NES scroll planes work and the way SMB3 is using them, if the pipe is not wholly on the screen, there's lots of complication to make sure it doesn't write an 8x8 character pattern in the wrong place (wrap-around.) Given I was trying to reuse as much stock code as I could this mean the pipe had to be entirely on the screen to complete the animation. I couldn't really trust a player running around or else it might have puked bad graphics. That happens enough due to the scrolling-sliver glitch that pops up once in a while.


Mario games, are hardly about searching all over the damn stage for a way to ... continue the stage. There was an airship where you go down a pipe A. You come up pipe B and to your left is a check point and some ? blocks. To your right is what seems to be an impossible jump (it is) and a wall and a pit. So what do you do? Can't go left, can't go right. OH, go back DOWN Pipe B and magically appear in Pipe C, the room before the boss battle! How are we supposed to know to do this? Why make us sacrifice lives to find this out? It isn't "hard," it's annoying.

World 6, very specific example, bad job on my part. That one consistently confuses everyone. I wasn't going for hard, it was simply a poor choice.


Another similar situation is in one of the third world's levels, you hit a P block right infront of a pit with some of those pincer enemies. They turn into coins, leading anyone to believe that there is a secret down there, so you jump to grab them annnnnd die. Great. Thanks. That wasn't a "hard" nor a "fun" thing. It's a lame ass death that makes you replay the beginning part of the stage again and artificially continue onward.

Again, you're griping about stock Mario 3 behavior. You could do this same death in stock Mario 3's Ice World IIRC.


If something looks bad, by the way, take it out. I mean that visually. For instance, in a moving (ugh) stage, there is a spot where the  ground kind of goes up like steps, and what happens below it? The lava has the same pattern! But boy oh boy does that look stupid. Solid, square, lava steps. Have you seen that in Mario? I haven't. You gotta look at things and decide if it looks professional or not, or else it comes across a just a kid editing a game thinking to himself how "cool" and "original" he is being.

Yeah, lame representation of what happens in Super Mario World. But Mario 3 didn't have sloped lava tiles, and honestly in the tile set you're talking about (Underground), there really isn't room to add a lot of new tiles, nor is there graphics space for a lot of new animated patterns. So the overall effort would exceed sensible design in this case.


The GLITCHES were some of the worst. I watched a friend of mine midway through a level hit a row of ? boxes, then suddenly bam, level over. He beat it somehow. Course Clear.

Noted bug. It never came up in my testing (which included my non-technical and out-of-band sister playing it innocently), nor did it come out during the month-long "beta" period when I sicced the Internet upon it. I didn't see it until other people played it post-release. Again, major companies have the benefit of a dedicated QA crew who just manage to find such things.


Meanwhile, I grabbed a flag pole and beat a level in the Galaxy themed ones, only to have the gravity switch and send my character flying off the top of the screen to DIE making me replay it AGAIN. The gravity thing, while a neat idea, was poorly executed and you hardly had any idea if it was going to work or not.

It's a wedged in mechanic, and not without its issues. I've never seen the flag pole one, however. Again I blame trying to make SMB3 do lots of things it simply isn't designed to do. The gravity was implemented as a wide invisible object, and that its effect range. If you manage to slip outside of it, well, bye. But SMB3 didn't have way to define a "field", so I did the best I could. I only know of one level where something overtly unfair can happen. Otherwise casual players don't seem to have an issue.


Same with Yoshi. Neat, but felt forced. Doesn't even have an animation for going down pipes, and over all just seemed clunky sometimes.

The way pipes were done in SMB3 was using a hardware trick, where a 16x16 sprite was placed in "front" of the player "behind" the background tiles. It's actually an NES PPU rendering quirk. The problem is that Mario+Yoshi is a wide, somewhat complex sprite, and utilizing this trick was no longer straightforward. This again becomes a major rewrite of core, or we just bypass the animation completely. Again, noting I'm a one man team who spent years working on this including the original disassembly, I don't think this is worthwhile to nitpick so harshly.


Also, he barely runs away.

I'm pretty sure he runs away similarly to SMW. It's not like he's meant to be hard to catch.

The dinosaurs that get crushed on the first jump had a tendency to walk backwards after being hit, which always looked goofy.

I've seen that. Minor issue.


It needs a lot more play testing to iron this stuff out.

Again, see note about dedicated QA teams vs. one man...


Bowser Jr fight where he chucks shells at you? Half the time, he can just hit himself with them.

I've only ever see this happen once, and I've watched about 5 different full playthrough videos done by unrelated people. I guess you were just lucky. Honestly that battle can be a pain, so I don't know why you're complaining about an advantage.


Speaking of the bosses, jeez. One, why can you jump on Bowser? Ruins the fight.

Stock Mario 3 behavior. But see note about this is Mario 3 acting like another game, not being another game.


Two, the fight shouldn't be like paused until you are in his damn face.

Bad object placement, last castle. Probably because I redid that arena to actually take away an annoying and unfair arena that was present in the 2-World demo.


Three, again, GLITCHES. I had a time where I hit the switch to drop the bridge, Bowser, not giving two fucks, jumps over to me tossing hammers and fire, and what can I do? Nothing. Die. Because he was able to do that. Because the scripting there is terrible. It doesn't even pause the screen or anything, you can still walk off the ledge after you kill him (that is if he doesn't kamikaze you first.)

Bowser's code is mostly stock SMB3, so he does do some unfair things. It actually used to be worse. But that's what I get for retrofitting instead of re-engineering the boss.


The Wart battle is suddenly this weird step up in difficulty, until you realize you can just hug the left corner and jump straight up and wait for the shy guy to walk to you.

Given I wasn't trying to be like most hacks and just be stupidly difficult, why are you complaining about an advantage??


The weird ... big ... boo fight. WHY? WHY have that if you CAN'T DIE? You make me do a fight where I HAVE to freeze a dry bones and awkwardly kick it into the enemy (when keep in mind that there is almost NO ROOM to do this effectively) but at [the same time you supply UNLIMITED suits! Where is there challenge? This took longer than it should have only because of getting stuck in the suit on/suit off animation when it kept coming up the pipe and I was on the damn ghost. You're invincible in that fight. It's just dumb waiting. Waiting for a really dumb opening, but if you get hit? Who cares? FREE SUIT.

The boss is a bit quirky and anti-pattern for Mario. I've got nothing else much to say, it probably should have been done differently. The problem really amounted to I was trying to do SMW style Big Boo but removed the Ice Blocks in favor of the Penguin Suit functionality. So that's what I came up with. Sorry it doesn't jive with you at all.


And why does the little boo it's with not get scared when you look at it?

That's definitely a bug, and one that somehow I forgot to note. (Anti-scare behavior is introduced by the darkness in that world, and it's stuck on for some reason.) Most people just seemed to assume that little Boos weren't scared in the presence of Big Boo and took it in stride, so it just sort of fell off the radar.


The next boo/bowser jr fight was also really easy, and the sprite was ... bad. It also looked poorly drawn.

I didn't think it was THAT bad, but certainly a bit dodgy. But hey, I'm one man, no dedicated art team. My brain's in the code, not the pixels. The community is free to patch and enhance this as they see fit, but I'll bet no one ever does.


Going back to that one where Bowser Jr throws shells at you and drops fire pillars, in between each hit, he seemingly drops random bob-ombs down. There is no pattern to this, meaning there is NO safe spot to be, because sometimes you will be on the left side and they will ALL fall there, trapping you, can't do anything, just ... die.

Not exactly. While it's true they are random, there's also a timing to it. In general you need to move to where bombs were instead of remaining where they are. It is a bit of luck and a dashing of unfairness, so, again, could have been done better. But there's also only two cycles of it, and you are sort of meant to take hits occasionally in a Mario game.


Speaking of bob-ombs, there is part of a stage built entirely of material where they can destroy it by blowing up. The whole stage is destructable and they are EVERYWHERE. So they can just blow the entire stage apart. Does anyone need to say why that's bad? Or a poor choice of idea? Sure, if you want them to blow up PARTS of the stage, sure, okay, I guess, but don't build entire sections out of desctructable blocks.

This is in one part, the World 2 Airship, and it's done right before the pipe to the final room. All you have to do is move quickly and you're fine. It's meant to instill a touch of panic, but I don't think it's as bad as you're saying. There's another stage where they can take out a bridge, but again, it's not an "entire stage." You're exaggerating.


Other things: Why have ghost houses in Mario 1 and 2 themed worlds?

Because the Not-Ghost House in World 3 wouldn't have been funny otherwise. :) But seriously, this isn't meant to be "I'm playing Mario 1/2", this is "This is SMB3, sort of themed like Mario 1/2, and other stuff in general is going on."


One, the ghost houses with the limited colorset of the NES just look ... bad.

Given you have a 16 color palette to work with for BG tiles, any tile is only limited to 4 colors in a quarter, 4 are used by the status bar, 4 are used by common blocks (e.g. [?] blocks), and 4 are used by other common blocks (e.g. pipes) ... I honestly don't think it's all that bad.


The boos are lame too. Why not use the actual Mario 3 boos and edit them accordingly?

Not sure what you mean? They are modernized to how they look in almost every game after SMB3. SMB3 was the only one to have them with a "spooky ghost face", they got goofy and tongue-y after that. They were slowed down because SMB3 Boos were aggravatingly fast and nasty.


Why do boos relentlessly chase you, even while you stare directly at them?

Should only be in a level that features darkness (exception of the Big Boo boss bug), and you're warned about this in the Princess letter from World 2. If it's happening anywhere else, that's a new bug. They otherwise behave using mostly identical code, so I'm not sure if you're just sort of complaining about something Mario 3 did "wrong."


Why have a circle of boos hugging a ledge so hard, with a platform below it that you absolutely cannot see?

Not sure what you mean, you might have to point me to the area. Otherwise, the circles were definitely a large hack, and their biggest problem was that they tend to appear partially on-screen. But then, they're larger than any typical Mario 3 object, and the engine doesn't really support them completely right.


Blind jumps are all over this game, and some of them, if you take them TOO far, you either die, OR pass up a check point because little did you know you were supposed to blind drop from the cliff.

I tried to be careful about this, and indicated otherwise blind jumps by coin paths. I do apologize if there are any that are completely unmarked with no fair way to see ahead, that would be a design flaw.


I will say this, the idea is really cool. It was a great idea, but poor execution. Maybe everyone was being too harsh, but I mean, over all it was just not well-received. It's probably better than a decent amount of hacks, but it still feels like a hack. It is still presented like a hack.

And it IS a hack. Admittedly a large scale and penetrating one, but at the end of the day, it's still the Mario 3 engine trying to keep up.


I feel pretty bad having such a large list of stuff here, but at the same time, I'm a pretty firm believer in constructive criticism. I hyped this up a lot before showing everybody, so maybe the expectation on mine, and their part was too much, but over all I won't say I HATED it. In fact, I'll probably still finish it, but it just felt so incomplete, and very amateur at certain parts.

So uuhh... Take of that what you will.

The truth of all of this is, you're the first and only outright scathing review I've seen. You didn't seem to find one positive note and just tried to throw in the "it's a neat idea, but poorly executed" line. Not saying all of your criticisms are unfair or unwarranted, but I'm suspect of how well you remember what NES games even are.

I did strive to try to make 3Mix a ramped difficulty project. All too often little baby hackers come along and build ridiculously hard and unfair levels, often that require you to take advantage of glitches rather than be straightforward. I like to think I'm not at that extreme. I know it's not perfect and I'll admit I can judge any of my levels as "Just what I wanted", "Okay but didn't really work", or "That really kind of sucked but I don't know how else to do it." And there are levels I outright deleted because they really, really didn't work. So I tried my best, but I know it's all going to come from a fairly limited perspective. But then again, that's what the "beta" period was for, and I mostly got gameplay bug complaints, not general design complaints.

Complaining about 3Mix not acting exactly like one of its target games isn't fair, if only because this wasn't an attempt to make "Mario 1 with Mario 3" or something like that. It was more like "If Mario 3 wanted to present a Mario 1 theme in a casual manner..." The whole thing was like this. It was still supposed to be if you walked passed it with a peripheral glance, you'd think it was Mario 3, not the target game. It's more of an extension rather than a full out possession.

Bugs are fair game for complaints, and I have nothing against that. I've kept a decent list since release of behaviors noted in other people's play-throughs. I'm sorry it's not perfect, but I've not once seen a play-through where they couldn't succeed reasonably. Again, we're up against several obstacles that I'd like to think you at least realize:

1) SMB3 was not meant to do a lot of what it's doing. This is someone who learned the code base and is forcing it to behave weirdly. It suffers because of this. Surely I could have just taken an off-the-shelf platformer creator and made a Mario fangame, but this is the SMB3 engine being made to do things like other Mario titles. It's not perfect and I doubt it's ever going to be. But from a technical perspective, most people find it impressive.

2) I'm one man. I played through the game something like 3 times fully, and once with my sister acting as player. A lot of bugs and unfair situations were found. Beta period came and went, more bugs and unfair situations were found. There was an honest effort to get it to a reasonable level. But I'm still one man. And I'm not getting a dime from any of this, so it's what I do in addition to being a functional member of society working 40+ hours a week. That doesn't excuse everything I failed on but I hope it awards a little sympathy.

3) I'm not an artist. Graphics are what they are. I didn't make most of anything in this game. What I couldn't steal from MFGG I got my younger brother to do on his own time, again while he worked his own job in his own life. Everything has to fit in the limited color space and capability of the NES. Sure some of it is going to be kind of ugly, but what can you expect by taking graphics from superior platforms and retrofitting them?

4) Music. World 3 doing the inverse music scales I agree was quirky and it doesn't work for everyone. I thought it was a neat effect, but hey, that's an opinion. Music that I actually retrofitted from other titles however has been to date universally received. It's not ever going to be perfect, but again, we're usually taking from superior platforms and trying to make do with the very, very few notes stock NES hardware can actually output. I also elected to use SMB3's stock sound engine and music format, which was probably a mistake, and limits the sound to what SMB3 was ever able to do. But even if I didn't, you have two square wave channels, one triangle wave, a noise channel, and the 4-bit DMC. The first four can be used by sound effects at any time and override the music. Nothing can be done about that because that's all the hardware can do. The DMC is limited since it can only source from a particular range of memory, and SMB3 was not designed to use it for more than basic percussion noises.



I don't really want to say "I've seen about 5 news articles written praising this thing besides tons of YouTube comments and other emails that had more praise than complaints", but, yeah. I think I would have been more invested in your review here if you could have at least found something positive about your experience. But I'm thinking you don't really know what an NES game is like, or what NES SMB3 is like, or you've forgotten somehow. I also don't think you saw what my vision was, which was just to make Mario 3 act like other games, not be other games. And finally there's a lot of quirks that just come standard with Mario 3, which was to some extent, a bloated and buggy game all by itself. Slow down / lag happened in Mario 3 just the same as 3Mix, it's just somewhat aggravated, and sometimes I think situational given that I'm making Mario 3 do things outside of its design.

Anyway, your legit bugs are noted, some of your gameplay complaints seem like they just don't fit my artistic vision, and I'm sorry it was overall a bad experience for you. I guess I can't win 'em all. I'm still personally happy with how it came out.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2014, 07:28:26 PM by Southbird »

July 31, 2014, 01:19:17 AM
Reply #21

AJ

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #21 on: July 31, 2014, 01:19:17 AM »
Aha, I just did a Mario Marathon like 5 weeks ago. I regularly play NES games, as well as Mario games, so, it's not like I've suddenly "forgotten" what they are. Again, this wasn't just ME with these complaints. Five people played this game, and various others watched. So, these complaints weren't just me throwing random insults around or whatever.

I would rather point out the flaws in something creative than the positives, because that's how progress is made. I realize the limitations of the NES, which is why I say that in regards to making things like this, if you too realize the limitations, rather than try to push it and have it visually appear at like 40%, why not just not do it? It's one of those things, where, yeah, the idea is cool, but if you can't get it to look proper, don't do it. It looks bad. Or ... use a source game than can handle everything you're trying to put in it (World, I guess).  Saying that I don't understand the limitations as an excuse when I point out that things look bad is just that, an excuse. Hence where that "cool idea, poor execution" comes into play.

My intention isn't/wasn't to hurt your feelings or whatever, but brushing aside criticisms just because they aren't peppered in with praise is dumb.  If I notice more things wrong with a game, then yeah, I will point it out. What can positive notes can I say? I mean, the engine is pretty tight because he's Mario 3's engine, so, it's not like I'm going to bother pointing that out.  I genuinely like some of the stages,  but more bad ones stuck out in my head than the good ones. The penguin suit was a nice touch, but I wish the ice mechanic worked a bit better (if you get hit, the enemy instantly reverts back to normal if frozen, and it would be nice if you could pick them up like a shy guy or something, as opposed to having to run into them to kick it) but it was still neat. But again, being invested in a review only if there if there are more things to stroke your ego or whatever is dumb. I couldn't care less what 5 news articles or YouTube comments full of praise say, if there are bad things design choices or poor execution, it's going to be pointed out eventually. Wouldn't you want that? And, yeah, I can't sympathize with working a 40 hour job and all that, because we ... all do.  Yeah, I get that you're doing this in your free time, but, it's like you said, you weren't getting paid, meaning, there wasn't exactly a deadline, regardless. Maybe I am too hard for expecting a higher grade thing, but I guess when I view hacks like this, it feels like it's 2004 again. I guess I just figured that by now, with so many bad hacks out there, and knowing the limitations, there would be no need in trying to push beyond them to the point where it looks like it's a low grade product.

I recognize the reasons as to why there could be errors (not an artist, one man, NES limitations, etc) but I don't like hearing those used as an excuse. It's not meant do do what it's doing? Sure, do what you can, but don't push it to where the game runs slow, or is buggy. Do what you can do within the limitations of the confines where the product will still look like a professional done game. You are one man, sure, but that was your choice. Ask for help for what you can't do as opposed to saying "well it was only me, so that's why there were bugs!" If it's preventable, prevent it. Sure, things can't be perfect, sure full retail games have their glitches and errors, but still, don't use that as a crutch for mediocrity.

I already stated my opinion on the level design. Nobody seemed happy with backtracking. It's hardly a Mario standard, and it's tedious. It's one of those ways of artificially extending a game, and isn't fun. Some of the levels were bland and poorly designed. And yes, these are opinions, but they were shared with others. Take of that what you will.

As long as you're happy with it, that's all that matters, but questioning if I/we even remember NES games etc simply because of pointing out things that weren't liked is petty. It also doesn't invalidate the things that were found.




July 31, 2014, 12:16:01 PM
Reply #22

Southbird

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #22 on: July 31, 2014, 12:16:01 PM »
I would rather point out the flaws in something creative than the positives, because that's how progress is made.

I just feel like your mind is made up (possibly due to group dynamics) that you overall did not enjoy it and probably never will. Many of your complaints are an ideal much, much higher than what I was seeking. "Ideals" being a theme, read on...


I realize the limitations of the NES, which is why I say that in regards to making things like this, if you too realize the limitations, rather than try to push it and have it visually appear at like 40%, why not just not do it? It's one of those things, where, yeah, the idea is cool, but if you can't get it to look proper, don't do it.

A lot of fan projects would never happen if they tried to hold such an ideal. Things like this are made out of love, not by a professional company. You have to accept a certain amount of imperfection for things people do with small teams and for free. Terrible "MS Paint" art is room for improvement, but mediocre pixel art that represents what it needs to well enough ought to be acceptable. Again, in this big, wide Internet, I wouldn't be opposed to someone who really wants to put some hours in to do better graphics. But that person is not me, and I don't think that person exists. Should 3Mix have never happened at all because I'm not an artist?


Or ... use a source game than can handle everything you're trying to put in it (World, I guess).  

But then it wouldn't be the SMB3 engine going beyond its limits. There's meant to be an appreciation of the technical nature of what's happening here. Someone who grew up with SMB3 and knows it in and out but sees things like star coins and a functional Yoshi, the latter of which was explicitly called out by the creators as not having been feasible at the time. This wasn't just about making some grade-A professional blockbuster title. It was also about the art of assembly hacking.


brushing aside criticisms just because they aren't peppered in with praise is dumb.  If I notice more things wrong with a game, then yeah, I will point it out.

It was a bit of ego on my part to phrase it that way. I think it was more your general tone; you're playing with your friends, and they all seemed to not enjoy it. Now, I have to balance how valid your criticisms are over how much of it is just you and your group of friends are just not the target audience.


The penguin suit was a nice touch, but I wish the ice mechanic worked a bit better (if you get hit, the enemy instantly reverts back to normal if frozen,

Again, limitation. The palette for being frozen came from the player palette, which was lost when you lose the power-up. That would have been very visually confusing.


And, yeah, I can't sympathize with working a 40 hour job and all that, because we ... all do.  Yeah, I get that you're doing this in your free time, but, it's like you said, you weren't getting paid, meaning, there wasn't exactly a deadline, regardless.

Yeah, but you have to look at it another way. My mistake was putting out a demo too early (pressure from now ex-girlfriend at the time), which means I already engaged an audience. How frustrating is it to really be into something and the guy takes like 5 years to complete it, if ever? And I know I'm running against a type of deadline of obsolescence; I'd like to believe that SMB3 NES will be a classic for eternity, but those who really played it like I did are only getting older, and I imagine the window of anyone who will really appreciate what this is is rapidly shrinking. There will always be nostalgic callbacks so long as Nintendo and Mario exists in the public mind, but the longer I wait, the less I can imagine anyone will be interested.

If you're not getting paid, then you need to find some other form of reimbursement, which will vary from person to person. In my case, 3Mix was "putting on a show." Which means I'm feeding on the attention and feedback I get from others. And that audience is going to get bored if I take years and years with little progress because I'm trying to refine it to some artificial standard that I can't possibly meet because I'm one person and not a dedicated company, which means limited man hours and limited skill set. The 3Mix you got was me spending literally months of coming home from work, drinking coffee well passed midnight, treating it like a second job with constant overtime. This is what you got and I don't think I could do it better. I'm sorry my limit is not up to your ideals.


Maybe I am too hard for expecting a higher grade thing, but I guess when I view hacks like this, it feels like it's 2004 again. I guess I just figured that by now, with so many bad hacks out there, and knowing the limitations, there would be no need in trying to push beyond them to the point where it looks like it's a low grade product.

Define what a "bad hack" is. To me, it's generically modifying the palette, making uninspired levels with unchanged mechanics, editing game text to say immature stupid things involving human anatomy. For all of its problems, I considered "Mario Adventure" to be the best SMB3 hack ever. It had lots of arbitrary difficulty which never seemed to scale and other assorted gameplay failures (savestates required), but there was an honest effort and a vision behind it. You can respect it for what it is.


I recognize the reasons as to why there could be errors (not an artist, one man, NES limitations, etc) but I don't like hearing those used as an excuse.

- I don't know what you want from me here. I'm not an artist doesn't mean I didn't try, it means I don't have the ability to express it any better than I did

- Limitations means I got the effect as close I could imagine it on a technical scale, but to make it perfect is either impossible or requires too much core rewrite

- One man means limited hours, and either people wait for something that may just never happen or they get bored and forget about it, or worse it gets released so far out there's not enough people left to care anymore

I don't see these as excuses so much as constraints. Especially as one person you just have to give up and compromise on some things or else, yeah, you'll spend an eternity working on it and no one's left to appreciate it. I don't see the point of that ending.


It's not meant do do what it's doing? Sure, do what you can, but don't push it to where the game runs slow, or is buggy. Do what you can do within the limitations of the confines where the product will still look like a professional done game. You are one man, sure, but that was your choice. Ask for help for what you can't do as opposed to saying "well it was only me, so that's why there were bugs!" If it's preventable, prevent it. Sure, things can't be perfect, sure full retail games have their glitches and errors, but still, don't use that as a crutch for mediocrity.

Bugs are their own thing, I don't excuse bugs. I only said that "whoops, that came after release because no one ever did before when it wasn't released." I'm not going to play the game in every variable way that every other human on the planet is going to play it, so it's impossible for me alone to find every possible bug. And realistically, that is impossible -- there will be bugs. Sure, some of the more in-your-face ones like the [?] block vs flag pole activation are terrible and should definitely be fixed, but I don't think anyone is going to lose sleep over Rex's stomped sprite flipped the wrong direction.

But as for the rest, again we're talking about the infinite timeline. If I wanted to spend the next ten years rewriting the SMB3 engine and leave the thing in development hell, yeah, we might be able to eke out a little bit of performance. But SMB3 already had slowdown issues (just stand next to the Goomba pipe in 1-2, 5 enemy mark is killer), so I was started with a handicap. I know it was aggravated by my additional subsystems. And you know what, a lot of people pointed it out. I thought it wasn't as bad as they did, but maybe I've generalized NES performance a bit. Still, it's not like I "implemented" slowdown, I just put more load on an already loaded piece of software and broke a limit.

What I'm trying to make clear is just plain old excuses versus practicality. The original SMB3 code natively tries to do a lot of unnecessary things -- just the simple act of detecting the world tile is a mess of checks and subroutines that most enemies just don't care about. This has been cited by others in the hacking community as a major cycle drain. This probably needs to be rewritten from the top down, but that becomes a significant re-engineering effort that could take a significant amount of time to complete (especially since it's a central global function that might just break the game all over) and/or cause significant gameplay changes by not acting as it originally did.


I already stated my opinion on the level design. Nobody seemed happy with backtracking. It's hardly a Mario standard, and it's tedious. It's one of those ways of artificially extending a game, and isn't fun.

I agree with you there, about backtracking deliberately being used to artificially extend a game. Does it help to say I wasn't mindfully looking to "extend the game?" It was more about trying to introduce an occasional puzzle element, and sometimes in these sort of situations you need to go way over there to get the red key and way back over here to open the red door. Is the right mechanic to just warp the player from red key to red door? Why even have the red door at all? This is more of a philosophical question.

Maybe it's right to just call it "not a Mario mechanic", and maybe it should not have been done at all. But it really was meant to be an innocent nod to Paper Mario.


As long as you're happy with it, that's all that matters, but questioning if I/we even remember NES games etc simply because of pointing out things that weren't liked is petty. It also doesn't invalidate the things that were found.

I'll apologize my original post was a bit more ego-fueled than I wanted it to be. I was just also on the defensive because I just am not convinced you're viewing this project right. It seems to me you're looking for this professional, polished work that you'd expect from a professional company, and further that you think that by not doing it I'm just not trying as hard as I should.

Tell me if I'm wrong, but here's how I see a lot of your post:
- Legit bugs (this is fine, and I do write them down)
- Issues that would require significant time investment to reach an ideal in your mind
- You're not quite seeing that this was more a work of art and actually indicates personal achievements over professional production

The time investment one I've beaten to death. Yes, we could hold this in development hell for "X" years, but I still see my audience as time-limited. Maybe you think that classics live forever, and maybe they do, but I didn't want to chance it. Since I decided my form of repayment for work was engaging the audience, I had to make a certain amount of compromises. I know some of my sprite work is dodgy. I know there's a few areas of the code that need to be redone for performance reasons. But typical fare of fan projects is that they have an initial hype followed by lull followed by dropping off the radar. I also feared my own life would change over too much time where I'd lose interest or otherwise be unable to continue working on it. It's hard to remain excited about something causing continuous stress over a multi-year period. (This forum certainly has a few of the old Sonic Fangame creators and disappointed players who can attest to this. This forum even has a subforum of a decaying corpse of a project.) And I certainly didn't want another Sonic Epoch. At some point I just had to call it and say "This is as good as it's going to get or else we're never going to get anywhere."

3Mix by and large was actually founded on "I disassembled SMB3 and I need to show people what kind of things they could do if they tried to employ it." It wasn't just a game but also a tech demo, validating the work that I had spent about 2 1/2 years on prior. That's just the disassembly and commenting of the game, mind you, not making a thing with it. It was hopefully a means to inspire a few budding hackers to make something out of it. And
they
did.


So... I shouldn't have dumped so much on some of your complaints, but we also shouldn't go down the road of setting ideals, because you and I disagree about it.

My ideal was not your ideal, so I'm not excusing the effort level so much as explaining it. I just hope you can frame it a little bit. 3Mix was more about me trying to apply things I've learned (and if you play Sonic Epoch, and see what a mess that is, I think you'll see I learned a lot.) It was meant to show off a bit, so of course ego is involved. It was also meant to bring a little bit of nostalgia and wonder to NES kids who never grew up. And I think I accomplished all of these things. And that's why I'm happy with the product. I was never aiming to "be" Nintendo, and so I didn't need it to be like a game you'd actually end up paying $50 for.

It is, at the end of the day, just another fan game, just one that used a particular platform for attention.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2014, 12:21:50 PM by Southbird »

August 06, 2014, 03:06:43 PM
Reply #23

Keith Stack

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #23 on: August 06, 2014, 03:06:43 PM »
This romhack is fun and technically impressive and all, but I think you could learn a thing or two from Super Bald Bros..

August 06, 2014, 03:59:05 PM
Reply #24

Keith Stack

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Re: Super Mario Bros. 3Mix -- my narcissistic post
« Reply #24 on: August 06, 2014, 03:59:05 PM »


These Bullet Bills started looking weird when I entered this boss as Fire Mario.

(I got hit attempting to take this screenshot, which is why I am not Fire Mario anymore)