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Old 01-02-2012   #34
Fawfulfan
The Tortured Planet guy
 
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All right, 742mph, I feel compelled post a response to your comments about PPZ.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 742mph View Post
Wow, I knew the community's standards were high, but this is just rediculous.
Seriously? Forgive me, but this sounds incredibly childish. As a college student pursuing a degree in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences, do you know what one of the first things my professors drilled into my head was? The biggest mistake a game designer can make is to whine that players don't "get" the level.

You cannot somehow convince unsatisfied players that your level is actually good, and you certainly won't make any friends by sulking about your failures. If even a couple of people out of a dozen tell you your level sucks, you ought to at least consider what they're saying. If everyone is telling you your level sucks, you're only shooting yourself in the foot by trying to make it sound like it's their fault.

A more appropriate reaction to what the community is telling you is to stop taking criticism personally and learn from your mistakes. Your level has plenty of good parts, and plenty of bad parts. Just use our feedback to recognize which parts worked and which parts didn't, and keep that in mind for your next project.

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Originally Posted by 742mph View Post
Do people even know that you can just hold spin to skip cutscenes?
Holding spin doesn't "skip" cutscenes; it just speeds through them. And your cutscene is so long that even speeding through it still forces you to wait about ten seconds before you actually get to play the level.

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Originally Posted by 742mph View Post
And if a level having so many pits is such a horrible thing, then why is RVZ1 tolerated? (I know, the lava isn't instant kill like the sludge is, but it's very difficult to escape it a lot of the time.)
You've missed the point here. It wasn't so much your use of pits that annoyed people as the fact that you used them in a thoroughly nonintuitive way. SRB2 players expect purple slime to deal water-damage (that is, damage which occurs when the player is submerged rather than simply touching). They certainly don't expect to die. Also, people don't generally place deadly floors at the same height as the surrounding non-deadly floors, so the outdoor sections with the slime spills seemed unfairly punishing.

Originality is generally a very good thing in SRB2 levels, but to a point. First of all, don't completely fly in the face of player expectations. Players expect water to be harmless, purple slime to be damaging at sufficient depth, lava to be damaging and solid, and acid to be instant death. There's really no good reason to mess with this formula willy-nilly...the creativity is in using those well-established dangers in a completely new way, like intermittently spewing slime faucets or rolling waves of acid.

Second: an original gimmick or design choice shouldn't be a matter of life and death from the outset...it needs to be introduced in a reasonably benign context, where either it is made perfectly clear whether it is dangerous and how dangerous it is, or it is very lenient if the player makes a mistake. Then, if you want it to be really dangerous, you should use it in a variety of increasingly challenging contexts...build up to the real danger.

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Originally Posted by 742mph View Post
I admit that the level is a bit cramped, but if you look at the level in a map editor, you can see that I had quite a few issues with spacing near the end. A slightly more spacious version of this level will be included in a soon-to-be-released mod of mine as the fourth zone of seven, minus the boss fight, which will be used for the sixth zone instead, so everyone won't have to worry about facing it with no rings.
Sounds like you've fallen into a trap that I am only too familiar with from my own level design exploits...being afraid of really shifting things around. Levels are as modular as you are willing to make them...if things are too cramped, you can separate rooms from the rest of the level and shift them into a more pleasing format. From there, you can either add extra content to make the level fit back together (preferred), or join them with teleports (lazy, but acceptable in very small amounts). There's really no reason you should let your previous poor design choices dictate what you do to the level now.

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Originally Posted by 742mph View Post
People also complain about the level's difficulty, which I find a bit odd, considering how many people here have been playing SRB2 for years and I thought they would at least partially enjoy a challenge.
Don't confuse "challenge" with "cheap". I'll admit it's not an exact science of determining what is a fun challenge and what is annoying, but there are definitely a few things that won't fly. Repetitive dangers, badly placed enemies, and cramped pillar platforming are among the things that are almost never fun.

You're right that the community loves a good challenge, but a good challenge is hard to make. The best advice I can offer you is to use a variety of different hazards, or use several distinct variants of a hazard, and make sure your difficulty curve is fair. Be very careful about reusing a gimmick; if you really love it and can't resist using it again, at least put a new spin on it.

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Originally Posted by 742mph View Post
As for the criticisms about lack of secrets, this level has plenty of hidden monitors and whatnot, and if you were hoping for a magical happy My Little Pony lol lotz of powerupz room like in Chemical Facility, too bad, because I despise that show.
I don't know where that's coming from; we never asked for My Little Pony-based secrets, and I assure you that a significant portion of the community would be annoyed with you if you did. People want cleverly-hidden secrets, and they also want the stage to be open and pretty enough to give them the incentive to go hunting in the first place.

A small boxy alcove with a 1-up is only marginally better than nothing; the secrets should be concealed at least as creatively as the central gimmicks of the level. And by "creatively", I don't mean "hard to find". I mean hidden in a way that makes the player chuckle appreciatively.

To give some examples, build a really cool-looking machine that takes up a good portion of a factory room, and hide a 1-up in one of the exhaust valves on top. Or put an easy-to-see pipe containing three Super Ring Monitors underneath a pool of toxic slime, and place an Elemental Shield on an out-of-the-way ledge next to the main platforming challenge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 742mph View Post
But the most confusing thing that people are saying is this: they are actually criticizing the alternate paths. I was under the impression that people liked non-linearity.
Of course they do, but alternate paths aren't some magical cure-all that makes linearity go away. Alternate paths have to be balanced and equally interesting, and they should branch and merge in an obvious way. If an alternate path is a tacked-on afterthought, it's usually going to be feel like a tacked-on afterthought. As I've learned the hard way, path splits work best when you design the level with the alternate paths in mind from the outset.

There's more to alternate paths than just splitting one linear hallway into two linear hallways; you have to be inventive. You can make a path split within a path split. You can hide different kinds of secrets in each path. You can replace a path split with one big, open room where there are several different ways to get from one side to the other. And you should avoid using teleporters or zoom tubes to bring the paths back together; use natural level architecture to merge them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 742mph View Post
I can partially understand complaints about confusion between entrances and exits, but the only place where I can actually see that occuring is where the cave-outside transition area meets up with the end of the storage area, and even that'll only confuse you for five seconds or so at the most.
When I played through the level, there were a few other places that similarly confused me. In any case, any confusion at all is a bad thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 742mph View Post
One very obvious thing about people's reviews, though, is that Metal Sonic, the only complex SOCed object in the level, is almost universally liked. That, combined with people's critiquing of my older creations (stomp attack character ability = love it, Flux Satellite Zone = hate it), sends a message to me that my object programming is much more enjoyable and capable of being messed around with than my level designs. I suppose I'll go back to SOCing for a while now, and I plan to get a Lightspeed Dash or something similar to you guys by the end of this week or so.
I don't think that's the best take-away from this experience. Put into perspective, this level is actually the best thing you've done so far. People are just less likely to bring up what they liked about it than what they didn't like. You probably have more creative potential in making levels than making SOCs. Keep making levels; just remember not to take offense when people point out your mistakes, and keep all past feedback in mind whenever you're working on a new project.

Oh, and in case you don't know, we had a hardcoded lightdash back in the 1.09.4 days ;)
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Last edited by Fawfulfan; 01-02-2012 at 06:05 PM.
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