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Designing a Level


Designing Your Level

LD Environment

Design Mode

Level design begins with placing Tiles and then Items in Design Mode. Placing Tiles or Items is as simple as left clicking once on the desired Tile or Item, and then left clicking once in the desired location.

To make designing easier, there is a grid, which consists of 32x32 pixel squares. All Tiles will automatically snap to the grid, and thy are designed to fit within the grid in specific ways, so that the SM63 engine can determine the geometry of how Mario and the enemies interact with the environment, so that glitchy reactions can be kept to a minimum, and so that the tiles will connect graphically in a smooth way. This will result in some tiles visually overlapping the grid lines like they are not properly aligned within the grid space, but it is entirely all right. Items will not automatically align to the grid, but if you hold the CTRL button while placing an item, it will snap to preset spots within the grid. It is highly encouraged for all designers to do this, especially with items that add to the geometry of the surfaces you can run on, such as falling logs.

Test Mode

Test Mode is where the level can be played. You should also actually test the level before submitting it as well, to make sure that it plays the way you intended, and that the level is actually winnable. See more on this in the General Tips and Good Practices.

To get to test mode, choose from the menu "File" and then "Test Level".

Loading and Saving Levels

Design Mode is a purely graphical method of making levels, mostly using the mouse, but since the levels are stored as plain text, and key details of the code generation have been released, it is possible to make a level in a text editor. This is where loading and saving your levels comes in.

There are 3 places that you can store your levels

  1. In the browser cookies
  2. In a text file
  3. In the Level Portal

Browser Cookies The easiest (and least reliable) way to save your level is to save it to the browser's cookies. This will save your level in one of 3 spots, right in the browser.
Pro: Easy, requires no access to resources other than the browser (good on public computers (at least in the short term), or other situations where you cannot create or download files.
Con: If you clear the cookies in the browser, or have it clear them when you close the program, your levels are lost. Worst of all, it is unique to each version of the game you are playing (Levels saved while playing the version are not available if you play it on Sheezyart, and vice versa. Also, between the full game and the LD Only version), and sometimes just glitches out for no reason.

Text File The safest way to save your level is to save it as a text file on your hard drive.


Level Settings

Level info can be entered by going to the "File" menu and selecting "Course Info". This brings up the "Course Info" dialog box.

Here you can enter the name of your level, select the background graphic and music, and adjust the dimensions of your level.

Level Name

Enter it in the "Name" text box. Level names are limited to 32 characters, and can consist of any ASCII character.


You may choose only 1 music to be played throughout the level. Choose the music by pressing the up and down arrows to the right of the setting. Be aware that if the level is played in an LDOnly version of SM63, you will not be able to hear any music.

The available music selections are:

  • Mushroom Kingdom
  • Bob-Omb Battlefield
  • Secret Course #1
  • Secret Course #2
  • Rainbow Ride
  • Boo’s Mansion
  • Hazy Maze Cave
  • Snowman’s Land
  • Lethal Lava Land
  • Shifting Sand Land
  • Bowser’s Castle
  • Boss Fight 1
  • Boss Fight 2
  • Floater Land
  • Terror Theme
  • The Final Battle
  • The Meteor
  • Inside the Castle
  • No Music (Not available in the menu, requires editing the level file in a text editor.)


You may choose only 1 background to be played throughout the level. Choose the background by pressing the up and down arrows to the right of the setting.

The available background selections are:
I_B_HillsAndClouds.gif Hills and Clouds
I_B_Snow.gif Snow
I_B_FireCastle.gif Fire Castle
I_B_HillsAndOcean.gif Hills and Ocean
I_B_FireField.gif Fire Field
I_B_FireCastleOutside.gif Fire Castle (Outside)
I_B_SecretCourse.gif Secret Course
I_B_Volcano.gif Volcano
I_B_Space.gif Space
I_B_Sky.gif Sky
I_B_DesertAndHills.gif Desert and Hills
I_B_BowsersCastle.gif Bowser's Castle
I_B_Underground.gif Underground
I_B_Desert.gif Desert
I_B_Black.gif Black

Adjust Dimensions

In the lower-left corner of the dialog box, there is a square with numbers on it, surrounded by plus and minus signs. This is where you can adjust the dimensions of your level. This can be a little confusing at first, but just remember that you are adding and subtracting tiles, located on each side of your level, depending on which set of plus/minus signs you use (in other words, use the top set to add or subtract from the top of your level, and use the right hand set to add or subtract from the right side of your level).

This becomes much more important to be aware of once you have edited your level, since subtracting on any given side will not only erase your tiles, but also make it so that any items that you've placed will now be outside of the playable area, and thus unusable.

Also be aware that you may end up with undefined tiles when you add to the size of your level. This results in the level showing a glitching tile that flashes through all of the tiles in the LD when the level is played. It will also cause the Design Mode to glitch, showing a repeat of whatever tile hits the edge of the viewable area. I am not sure what causes this, or how to account for it, but it is fairly easy to identify. Just put some ground up to the new edge, and play the level. it is fairly easy to fix as well, though a bit of a pain. All you have to do is erase all of the tiles in the rows or columns that you added. I have seen it happen to just the first or second columns, or to all of them. It may be related to what you were doing before you added the tiles, and possibly how fast you click the plus sign.

Level Elements

Once the general level settings have been defined, the main task of actually designing the level begins. As I mentioned before, the environment is defined by a 32 by 32 pixel grid upon which the level is placed. The level itself is made up of two types of objects: Tiles and Items. Everything in the level falls into one of the two categories, and the LD has two different panels/modes for placing each.


To get to the Tiles, click on the "Tiles" menu and then click on "Place Tiles".
This brings up the Tiles panel on the right side of the screen.

The Tiles panel has 12 sets of Tiles, grouped by environment type. They are:

Jungle - 45 tiles
The default set. Good selection of edges and surfaces. Only shallow inclines, but half and full tile variants of many connections.
Interactive - 32 tiles
An important group. Contains many kinds of breakaways, both with and without coins, as well as the cannon and switch controlled block.
Bricks #1 - 50 tiles
Contains many common "dungeon" and "castle" type tiles. Includes the first background tile (19 Wall Tile), as well as a set of stair tiles with included background section.
Bricks #2 - 48 tiles
More tiles like the Bricks #1 set. No additional background tiles. Includes the important 43 Metal Cage tile that can be walked through with the invisibility powerup.
Grass - 45 tiles
Laid out with the exact same pattern as the Jungle set, it functions exactly the same. Only shallow inclines, but good tile/half tile options.
Cave - 47 tiles
The most complete set in the game. Full selection of steep and shallow slopes, half and full tiles, and a very good selection of ceiling tiles with steep and shallow variants.
Snow #1 - 44 tiles
Set up similarly to the Jungle set. Includes both steep and shallow inclines. No ceiling tiles.
Snow #2 - 41 tiles
Companion to Snow #1, it includes all the ceiling tiles necessary for no cutoff. Also includes foreground (Cabin) versions of the "Cabin"/"Mansion" tiles (along with those found in the Other set).
Volcano - 49 tiles
A strange tile set, Volcano has a selection of materials to use, but they are fairly graphically simple, consisting of just a texture in a shape. As a result, there are no ceiling tiles because esentially all tiles have no unfinished edges. Also includes the interactive Lava tiles.
Desert - 48 tiles
Set up similarly to the Volcano set, all tiles have no unfinished edges, and there are no ceiling tiles at all. No interactive or background tiles.
Castle - 50 tiles
Though less "inside a building" than the Bricks sets, this set does have the most background tiles of any set, with 4 complete patterns of tiles meant for background use (castle bricks, wood panels with stairs, "Landscape Mosaic" landscape with clouds, and "Room Wall" and "Golden Tile" generic colored tiles).
Other - 94 tiles
As the largest set, it covers a lot of ground. A good amount of background tiles, including the largest pure background group (Castle Night Mosaic)at 8 tiles for a full pattern, also includes the Mansion tiles to go with the Cabin tiles in Snow #2. This set also includes the only far-foreground (cannot stand on it) tile in the game, 88 Twisted Wire.


To get to the Items, click on the "Items" menu and then click on "Place Items".


Sharing Your Level

Once you have finished designing and playtesting your level, you should save it as a text file for your records. Now it is ready for the world to play.

Go to the SM63 Level Portal and click on Post Topic.

Since you had to copy your level to be able to save it in a text file before, it is still in memory, and you can just go directly to the "Code:" box and hit Paste. Now, go to the "Description:" box and enter whatever description you want for your level. Finally, click on the "Process" button, and viola! Your level is ready for submission. Here is your last chance to make whatever changes to your description. Click on the "Submit" button, and you're done.

The resulting thread does double duty as your entry in the SM63 LD Level List interface, available in the full game, and as a discussion area about your level. People can vote on the quality of your level, and post comments and reviews from within the forum, and people playing the game will see your level as one of the thousands available. For those interested, your Level ID is the thread number generated by phpBB.

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