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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A while back, I had noted to a friend that a certain game's environments looked incredibly bland, unappealing, and that it hampered the game's experience a lot by providing the player with a dull world to explore. The game/s in question is/are Pokémon FireRed/LeafGreen (the 2004 remakes of games that were released in 1995).

So, naturally, I decided to demo what I imagine this world should be like. Basing on what the games presented as a world, I decided to incorporate new ideas and freshen up the landscape in general for a few of the early-game areas.

That said, here's the first town from the original game, and a small path leading up to the first major town in the game:



And this is the level I made to replace that... mess:



So... what do PerC's gamer/artists think of this? Would you play a game featuring the levels I made?

P.S: I'll upload more if anyone is interested.

P.P.S: If anyone else is into stuff like this, why not make this into a level-sharing thread?
 

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I'd argue that level design isn't art. It's sort of like flower arranging, due to the fact that you're provided with the pieces beforehand, and you choose what goes where. I certainly don't question that it takes skill (I've never done much of it personally btw, due to mainly using my 3D modelling/animation skills to start creating short films rather than games), but I see it as being more design based, than art based.

Edit: As an afterthought I'd say that your level is 3x better than the original, it just looks so much more varied, and less structured.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'd argue that level design isn't art. It's sort of like flower arranging, due to the fact that you're provided with the pieces beforehand, and you choose what goes where. I certainly don't question that it takes skill (I've never done much of it personally btw, due to mainly using my 3D modelling/animation skills to start creating short films rather than games), but I see it as being more design based, than art based.

Edit: As an afterthought I'd say that your level is 3x better than the original, it just looks so much more varied, and less structured.
Haha, yeah. In my eyes, level design is the constant struggle between balancing aesthetics and gameplay. A level can look brilliant but play horribly, and vice-versa. If you don't put enough attention on one aspect of it, the level ends up being boring as a whole. I myself tend to specifically look at which path the player's gonna take through the level, and throw around any branching paths... as seen below.

This first one is a forest that I'm not sure could exist in real life. Looks like someone just took some tress and grass and vomited them in an organized fashion:



Wow, how riveting. Full of ideas too keep the player absorbed in the game's world. Absolutely nothing like this one:



Keep the feedback going and I'll see about posting even more.

Hoping to release this as at the very least a semi-complete patch to the game. Just to give it a breath of fresh air.

EDIT: Speaking of path, the player is entering from below in both instances of the level.
 

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I love your redesigns of the levels. The originals are far too organized to look natural. Your addition of elevation in the maps helps to break up the monotony of the original, along with the broken distribution of the foliage. Good work, I say. The sprites are very Pokemon, though.

Edit: Oops, you already said they were Pokemon sprites.
 
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I enjoy these very much. I feel like with combining these maps, you could add more map areas int he game play. Are you thinking about adding new pokemon? Make your own? What about the story line for it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I enjoy these very much. I feel like with combining these maps, you could add more map areas int he game play. Are you thinking about adding new pokemon? Make your own? What about the story line for it?
I plan to make it a simple "remix". Same old games, with different environments and possibly an expanded storyline. I'm not really far in terms of what I've changed (and I've barely tested it, too), so there's not much concrete. As for new additions, I'm not sure. I'm thinking of changing/adding which Pokémon are available to the player ingame.

I want this to mainly just be a mapping-oriented project with the goal of improving the original game rather than totally change it.

It's weird, I know.
 

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I plan to make it a simple "remix". Same old games, with different environments and possibly an expanded storyline. I'm not really far in terms of what I've changed (and I've barely tested it, too), so there's not much concrete. As for new additions, I'm not sure. I'm thinking of changing/adding which Pokémon are available to the player ingame.

I want this to mainly just be a mapping-oriented project with the goal of improving the original game rather than totally change it.

It's weird, I know.
Do not worry, I do not see it weird at all. It take a lot of patience and work on what you are doing. It is very respectable. I used to want to make a pokemon game of my own but when I got down to the maps and trying to change them, it seemed to be unbearable. It was extremely time consuming and my patience wore thin.

I used to do a lot of pokemon splicing/recoloring when I was younger. Even that could take a chunk of time.

I don't blame you for making the game better, I believe improvement can be made to every game. I feel like you will do good with this game. I sort of felt like Pokemon FireRed/Leaf Green was a bit incomplete in terms of story. I would have liked to see a bit more with Team Rocket on the seven islands.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
WOW

WOW

WOW

This is a much bigger response than I expected. Glad to see that there are not only a good chunk of Pokémon fans around here, but that people seem to genuinely like my level designs!

Here's an update, a little overdue:





Also, for those who've noticed: yes. I edited the tileset a lot to make it... more versatile I guess? I really dislike the graphics the game originally had for rocks, so I did a bit of magic on some graphics intended for a cave and switched them out.

As for the map, I doubt that it's the exact final version. I'll most likely add something to that small grove on the east side of the map, or just fill it out. Haven't decided yet so it's placeholder.
 
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I'd argue that level design isn't art. It's sort of like flower arranging, due to the fact that you're provided with the pieces beforehand, and you choose what goes where. I certainly don't question that it takes skill (I've never done much of it personally btw, due to mainly using my 3D modelling/animation skills to start creating short films rather than games), but I see it as being more design based, than art based.

Edit: As an afterthought I'd say that your level is 3x better than the original, it just looks so much more varied, and less structured.
You could argue in painting you are given all the colors beforehand. But level design has to balance aesthetics, gameplay, and processing power. There is a limit to what you can put on the map and what kind of graphics you can do depending on what kinds of specs you are supposed to meet without exceeding. Games are fun when they are playable above 30FPS.
 

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This is partially answering it I suppose.
I consider anything capable of being an art, I see something as art as mastery. People who are so good at what they do, they exceed most and it's beautiful. People just appreciate mastery of anything.
In sports the best athletes who are absolute freaks that they make it an art form, the chess masters who have created moves that are now attributed to them specifically, art just being people expressing themselves through any medium.
But of course nothing is appreciated unless theres some level of technique applied as well.
I see it as a balance between how open to expressing yourself you are without fear with how good your technique is.

So building a level in a way that is really appealing to players is an art, I remember in school we had a short stint with an RPG maker.
Some kids built some really cool levels and did some awesome things to make their world that much better than the kids who were still learning the basics.
I got so excited I actually tried to buy it at the time, but wasn't sold in stores and I didnt know you could download such things off the net though this was 10 or more years ago.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
This is partially answering it I suppose.
I consider anything capable of being an art, I see something as art as mastery. People who are so good at what they do, they exceed most and it's beautiful. People just appreciate mastery of anything.
In sports the best athletes who are absolute freaks that they make it an art form, the chess masters who have created moves that are now attributed to them specifically, art just being people expressing themselves through any medium.
But of course nothing is appreciated unless theres some level of technique applied as well.
I see it as a balance between how open to expressing yourself you are without fear with how good your technique is.

So building a level in a way that is really appealing to players is an art, I remember in school we had a short stint with an RPG maker.
Some kids built some really cool levels and did some awesome things to make their world that much better than the kids who were still learning the basics.
I got so excited I actually tried to buy it at the time, but wasn't sold in stores and I didnt know you could download such things off the net though this was 10 or more years ago.
Then am I right to think that, with these reactions towards my levels, that I'm at least pretty capable of becoming a "master of the craft"?

(Also, that's some pretty good input... I remember RPG Maker '95 being one of the first game-making programs I ever tampered with due to having a really bad computer at the time!)
 

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Then am I right to think that, with these reactions towards my levels, that I'm at least pretty capable of becoming a "master of the craft"?

(Also, that's some pretty good input... I remember RPG Maker '95 being one of the first game-making programs I ever tampered with due to having a really bad computer at the time!)
Though i wouldn't put much merit to my evaluation as i'm not quite the person who's ever dedicated too much thought to how levels work for gameplay to realize the ins and outs of different games level designs.
I think it's pretty good still, it's elaborate enough to be interesting but not too complex for gameplay that it'd be annoying traversing it as I can tell just from viewing it, not actually playing the level.
Really to test levels and get feedback I suppose you should play through them and see how much you enjoy them and perhaps have a friend or two do it also.

Because it can't just look pretty, it's got to work practically as well. You wouldn't want players getting lost too often unless its intentional, wouldn't want them getting frustrated with finding their way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Though i wouldn't put much merit to my evaluation as i'm not quite the person who's ever dedicated too much thought to how levels work for gameplay to realize the ins and outs of different games level designs.
I think it's pretty good still, it's elaborate enough to be interesting but not too complex for gameplay that it'd be annoying traversing it as I can tell just from viewing it, not actually playing the level.
Really to test levels and get feedback I suppose you should play through them and see how much you enjoy them and perhaps have a friend or two do it also.

Because it can't just look pretty, it's got to work practically as well. You wouldn't want players getting lost too often unless its intentional, wouldn't want them getting frustrated with finding their way.
Oh absolutely. While this thread showcases more the visual side of things, I have been taking careful precautions in regards to functionality. If there's one thing the original games did right is that the levels were very functional. A trainer on a route would usually block off access to an item, forcing the player to plan their actions. "Do I want to see what's there, or save my time?" It's a question that I'm sure at least 95% of players ask when playing a game like Pokémon, which is strong on rewards due to exploration, as it can get the player plenty of items they couldn't normally get (i.e. TMs that teach powerful moves to one's Pokémon). Other RPGs do this too, such as giving rare loot to powerful enemies.

Also, I tend to use plenty of cliffs in what I've made so far. You know, the kind that the player can jump over in one direction. They're incredibly useful for controlling how a player can move through a level, and they're ideal for creating "loops" in levels, allowing the player to explore a side area without having to backtrack out of it (Bottom-right of my rendition of Viridian Forest is an example).

I think I'll release a patch for those interested in testing out what I've made so far. (After I fix up a few things.)
 
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I can't see why you would be changing any of these...the originals look a lot more organized and visually pleasing to me...

EDIT: Sorry, that made me sound a little unappreciative. It's an interesting and debatable as an art form, but I would scream if I saw these designs in an actual game, purely because it upsets the idealist nature of the game itself.
 

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Yes, it certainly is art! I consider any form of expression to be art. Even someone standing in the corner sobbing is artistic because it conveys an expression to the viewer. Anywho, your designs are beautiful! ;-)
 
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