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Old 08-17-2013   #1
Violo
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Default Let's debate GFZ! (Split from "Yet Another 2.1 Update")

With all this work every zone is getting, GFZ is becoming more and more bland and dull. It's almost sad in a way. Are there any plans to adding maybe one more texture for GFZ to use for variation? Or will it just stay as it is graphically?

And yeah, I also second the skybox for THZ2 looks a bit strange. I think maybe it's due to how it looks like a city more than a factory. It sort of juxtaposes with the polluted canyon that was traversed in the first act.

Edit: Oh yeah, quick question of the LUA scripting. What kind of functions can we expect to be built in for SRB2 use? For instance finding a specific thing, etc etc. Or will it just use the functions already present within SRB2 itself?

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Old 08-17-2013   #2
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GFZ has been needing a visual revamp for ages to match even the current 2.0 standards. It has 2 main textures used throughout plus a shoddy Angel Island Zone edit for a sky texture, and that's it. Some are unaligned, used on both floors and walls, or repeated enough to probably create a natural moire effect. The old THZ had the same issues; but judging from the shots, the new one fixes everything wrong about the visuals and blows the old one out of the water completely, with better sector detail and a LOT of completely new texture variation.

Something people have to keep in mind is that you can't just slap on textures to GFZ1 or 2 and call it a day, some people, including me, have tried that and it just ends up worse. Many rooms, for the better or worse, would have to be made with the new textures in mind and whatnot.

Although this stuff is obviously not priority right now, as I've been told a billion and I mean BILLIONS of times (yes I literally pull any chance out of my ass to mention this in IRC on a daily basis), it'd be nice to get to in the future, I've seen better detailed 1.09 maps.


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Old 08-17-2013   #3
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Although this stuff is obviously not priority right now, as I've been told a billion and I mean BILLIONS of times (yes I literally pull any chance out of my ass to mention this in IRC on a daily basis)
And as you've also been told billions and billions of times in IRC, the fact that GFZ uses only two textures for most of the level is on purpose. The first zone is meant to ease the player into the game and give them a feel for the controls. Simple visuals are absolutely essential for that, because anything else would distract the player. It's for the same reason that Green Hill Zone and Emerald Hill Zone use only two different textures as well, and would you say they are dull too? In fact, THZ1 uses only two textures for its outdoor areas as well, and you seem to like it just fine.

That's not to say there aren't any problems with GFZ. 2.1 already fixes the problem with excessive tiling in GFZ2 by using a double-size GFZROCK where appropriate. There are also a bunch of alignment problems in GFZ1 where the wall texture just cuts off at the top and/or the bottom, and I hope these will be resolved too. As you might recall, a few months ago I made a long post with sector layout problems I perceived in GFZ2 in the Suggestions topic, and I'm told these problems were fixed in 2.1 (one of those fixes can be seen in the screenshot that was posted in this update). I've also never been a fan of the grass texture itself, which is way too grainy and pale (and don't get me started on those infinitely repeating mowing stripes), and I absolutely hope that someday it will be replaced.

There's still a lot of awkward design in GFZ that's simply the result of the levels being over a decade old, but not only is the dev team working on fixing that, these problems have nothing to do with the fact that there are only two textures. In fact, the only part of GFZ where I could see this being a problem is the cave at the end of act 2, which I agree is just an endless barrage of brown. But even then, there are a lot of GFZ-themed levels that get away with caves that use GFZROCK for all surfaces; it's just a question of how you design the cave.

Just because a level uses only two textures, that doesn't mean it can't look good. In fact, Jade Valley uses the same textures as GFZ, and I've never seen anyone complain that it doesn't look good. The visual issues that do exist in GFZ are an issue of level layout, not the texture set.
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Old 08-17-2013   #4
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Originally Posted by SpiritCrusher View Post
And as you've also been told billions and billions of times in IRC, the fact that GFZ uses only two textures for most of the level is on purpose. The first zone is meant to ease the player into the game and give them a feel for the controls. Simple visuals are absolutely essential for that, because anything else would distract the player.
Hardly. Consistency in a game is way more important, and this is honestly the first time I even heard of someone saying dull visuals help ease players into the game. Green Hill Zone/Emerald Hill Zone are simple but not dull. Despite using the same textures for the actual level there is plenty of color contrast with the sky and the water in the background. If you want a level to be simple, then at least make it interesting. Especially the first level, seeing how it's supposed to draw the player into the game. However I do agree that level design is to blame for it, but that being said there could be some color contrast at least.

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Old 08-17-2013   #5
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Green Hill Zone and Emerald Hill Zone use only two different textures as well
Bullshit.
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Old 08-17-2013   #6
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Originally Posted by Zap610 View Post
and this is honestly the first time I even heard of someone saying dull visuals help ease players into the game.
I didn't say that. I said that simple visuals help ease players into the game. Whether or not GFZ's textures or the way they're used in the level are dull is up for you to decide, I'm just saying that the number of textures isn't to blame.

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Green Hill Zone/Emerald Hill Zone are simple but not dull. Despite using the same textures for the actual level there is plenty of color contrast with the sky and the water in the background.
The same color contrast exists in GFZ.

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Bullshit.
I see no point in answering that when you're unwilling to elaborate why it's "bullshit".
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Old 08-17-2013   #7
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GFZ's visuals were never really a problem for me, as I'm rather used to simply made environments. However, if it must have more than two textures, my first recommendation would be to have some (not all, I repeat, NOT ALL) underground/inside flats and walls use a dirt texture. There could also be improvement by adding decor instead of textures.

However, I'd like to argue that Emerald hill zone's textures are a lot more complex than GFZROCK. Emerald hill zone textures are made of varying block patterns and round pillars, changing from instance to instance based on the place they're used. On the other hand, GFZROCK is just a plain checkerboard pattern with no variation. However, if SpiritCrusher was trying to say that Emerald hill textures appear the same for the most part, (colors, shading, etc) then I understand.
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Old 08-17-2013   #8
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However, I'd like to argue that Emerald hill zone's textures are a lot more complex than GFZROCK. Emerald hill zone textures are made of varying block patterns and round pillars, changing from instance to instance based on the place they're used. On the other hand, GFZROCK is just a plain checkerboard pattern with no variation. However, if SpiritCrusher was trying to say that Emerald hill textures appear the same for the most part, (colors, shading, etc) then I understand.
I figured that counting all the variations as different textures would be akin to saying GFZ has two different wall textures because of the double-size GFZROCK. Emerald Hill Zone probably isn't as good an example here as Green Hill Zone. And I still point to Jade Valley Zone, which uses the same texture set and has received no complaints that I know of.
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Old 08-17-2013   #9
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The simple visuals claim is so farfetched, all I need to do is mention Angel Island Zone though. Green and Emerald Hill may have looked simple, but they were actually fun to play and looked nice, especially Emerald Hill. I really don't think there's an excuse for this. EHZ was sprited so nice and had so much variation in its patterns, that calling it on visual par with GFZ is sort of insulting. If you're calling it based on GHZ, I question your motives for choosing the most inferior of the genesis games. But even then, GFZ and GHZ are nowhere near each other in levels of plain because of GHZ's elaborate BG, whilst GFZ's could just be considered a joke, and you can't even see it 90% of the time because of its city like high wall syndrome.
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Old 08-17-2013   #10
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I dunno. I think some "distraction" wouldn't hurt really. I mean for GFZ1( assuming it's still as short in length and still small in height as the current official version), I can understand it being difficult to add a few new textures into the stage without it being too distracting, so I wouldn't worry too much about that one. In GFZ2 however, it's a whole different story. There's all these hidden areas around the stage and nothing to encourage exploration and I feel that making the stage look better would help with that. Granted, most of these secrets are easily found anyway, but when I look at the level, there's only 2 areas that make me want to explore. All I feel you're doing in neglecting to make it look better is railroading the player to just simply run straight towards the end( which of course is the prime objective, and more acceptable in the first zone since it's pretty much essential to easing the player into the game.), but you have all these hidden areas and nothing ( apart from the player's free will) making the player curious to find out what else could be seen/found in the stage. Think about it; there's no point having hidden areas( or just areas completely out of the way of the main route), if there's nothing in the level design encouraging players to explore and discover them.

As I've been made aware though, it's not a priority right now, so fair enough as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, all these changes that've been brought so far are brilliant! Can't wait! =3
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Old 08-17-2013   #11
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The simple visuals claim is so farfetched, all I need to do is mention Angel Island Zone though.
We've been over this a million times. S3&K's controls are much simpler than SRB2's, it's much easier to get lost in SRB2 due to the extra third dimension, you can assume experience with similar previous games in the case of S3&K etc etc. Not every platforming game needs to start with a simplistic first level. But considering how long most newcomers need to even finish GFZ1, the last thing we'd want to do is make it more complicated, no?

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Green and Emerald Hill may have looked simple, but they were actually fun to play and looked nice, especially Emerald Hill.
As I've said before, what you think of GFZ's quality is none of my business. I'm merely saying that just because a level uses two textures for the most part, that doesn't automatically make it ugly.

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If you're calling it based on GHZ, I question your motives for choosing the most inferior of the genesis games.
Sonic 1 might be the most inferior of the Genesis games, but certainly not for reasons that have anything to do with GHZ's visual design.

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But even then, GFZ and GHZ are nowhere near each other in levels of plain because of GHZ's elaborate BG, whilst GFZ's could just be considered a joke
Why? Because it only shows the sky and not the ground (which wouldn't be visible in most of the stage anyway)?

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and you can't even see it 90% of the time because of its city like high wall syndrome.
I seriously doubt the beginning of act 2 counts as 90% of the time.

Your arguments seem to boil down to "if it's not detailed, it sucks". I simply don't agree. When I look at the GFZ2 screenshot in this update, I don't see anything wrong with it visually. Sure, it would be prettier if it were more detailed, but I don't think it's anywhere near the eyesore you make it out to be.
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Old 08-17-2013   #12
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I don't know how anyone can defend GFZ when a large part of the playerbase says they almost stopped playing because of how boring it was, and only didn't because they got a glimpse of the later levels in the game.

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Bullshit.
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Originally Posted by Spiritcrusher
I see no point in answering that when you're unwilling to elaborate why it's "bullshit".
I'll elaborate for him.

The "The originals only used two textures so we can too" argument is ridiculous, especially considering how it is almost the same the argument everyone criticized Glaber for using in defense of Emerald Lake Act 2. In the Genesis titles, which were 2D, only a small portion of terrain was ever visible at once. Therefore having only 2 textures wasn't actually a fault in any way, because you weren't seeing so much of one texture that it tired your eyes. In SRB2, which is a 3D game, you see hundreds of times the amount of wall texture you see in the classics.

And Iceman is completely right. Even if you still want to use the classics as an excuse, you can't. Considering the parallax scrolling background, the waterfalls, the totems, the trees, and the actual light and dark that is played at with the hollows in the walls, you've got a lot more going on, in a viewport that is a fraction of the size of the one in SRB2.

The reason no one complains about THZ1? Obviously because the monotony has already been fixed in 2.1. The reason no one complains about Jade Valley? Obviously because it's a match level, and very inconsequential to the game compared to the first impressions level.

Also, detailed =/= complicated.
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Old 08-17-2013   #13
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I don't know how anyone can defend GFZ when a large part of the playerbase says they almost stopped playing because of how boring it was, and only didn't because they got a glimpse of the later levels in the game.
Putting aside the fact that this is news to me, I'm not defending GFZ (that's a topic for another day). I'm defending the design choice of using only one wall texture for the whole level.

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The "The originals only used two textures so we can too" argument is ridiculous, especially considering how it is almost the same the argument everyone criticized Glaber for using in defense of Emerald Lake Act 2.
Now hold on a minute. The argument I was refuting was "GFZ uses only two textures, therefore it looks ugly". I think that's wrong, and I pointed out examples for why it's wrong. From that, it doesn't follow that "GHZ uses two textures, so every level that does the same looks good", and neither did I claim it did. I know that any comparison between SRB2 and another game is inherently problematic. I am aware that wall textures are a lot more prominent in 2D Sonic games than in SRB2 (and this is exactly why Iceman's comparison between GHZ's sky and GFZ's sky doesn't work - the reason GHZ's sky is more elaborate is because it's a much more integral and visible part of the level than GFZ's sky could ever be). I'm saying that any criticism of GFZ's texturing scheme must run deeper than "it uses only two textures", and that adding a third texture wouldn't necessarily help. GHZ and EHZ were merely examples among several others, including SRB2-specific examples, and I think you're placing way too much weight on something that isn't even important to my overall argument.

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The reason no one complains about THZ1? Obviously because the monotony has already been fixed in 2.1.
It hasn't. If you look at a screenshot of the new THZ1, you will see that precisely zero has been changed about the wall texturing, the grass has been changed from green to a light brown, further reducing the variety of colors in the level, and the sky has been changed from blue to orange, which is also closer to the color choices of the rest of the level. The slime color has been changed too, but that's a minor change that I doubt makes any difference in either direction. The only real change has been the addition of more sector detail, which is a separate issue from texturing altogether. If the level was monotonous before, it's certainly not less monotonous now. I'm not saying that it is monotonous, in fact I think it looks great as it is, but I don't think the problem with THZ1's texturing scheme has ever been monotony. I honestly don't see the difference between, say, THZ1's slime pool room in 2.1 and GFZ2's final room in 2.0 when it comes to perceived monotony.

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The reason no one complains about Jade Valley? Obviously because it's a match level, and very inconsequential to the game compared to the first impressions level.
That would imply that people think Jade Valley looks just as bad as GFZ and are simply voicing it less. That's not the impression I'm getting.

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Also, detailed =/= complicated.
A detailed area is always more complicated visually than a less detailed area.

tl;dr: I'm not saying GFZ is perfect and doesn't need to be changed. What bugs me is that every proposed "fix" I see ignores at least one of the fundamental design principles of the level.
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Old 08-17-2013   #14
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I seriously doubt the beginning of act 2 counts as 90% of the time.
the entirety of gfz2's walls are absurdly high because it's a very vertical level, so the entire map would need to be changed around to get rid of that

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I'm saying that any criticism of GFZ's texturing scheme must run deeper than "it uses only two textures", and that adding a third texture wouldn't necessarily help.
the problem with gfz is that it's incredibly underdetailed and generally boring to look at
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Old 08-17-2013   #15
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I said in my first post there outright that it needs a complete redesign if it got more textures. It's cramped, its boring to look at, and Act 2's walls tile so high it only makes it more blatant. It needs sector detail, more open rooms, lower walls, as WELL AS more texture variety. There's no excuse to the high walls anymore considering we now have skyboxes, which can let you manipulate the background to be as prominent and visually pleasing as the genesis games, if not better. Based on GHZ? It's not colorful, its not tropical, its not open, and its not long (each act of GHZ is 30 seconds, whilst GFZ is 8-13 while rushing). It's just an ugly canyon with two textures repeating forever in 3D with dreary turnoff music.

It's a total turn off for anyone looking at the game who's new, it looks extremely dated to people who don't even KNOW the standards.
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Old 08-17-2013   #16
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Using one wall texture is honestly fine if it manages to be used well with other types of architecture which add some variety. In the case of GFZ I think it's more of an issue of dull design, as not having texture variety ultimately falls under that. I read your other post and I have a feeling this is where you are coming from, but I apologize if I'm wrong. But no, a more detailed area is not more complicated than less detailed in every circumstance. Take a labyrinth of identical rooms, then take the same rooms and add details to define each room to prevent back-tracking. If details are done right, they shouldn't be complicated. And I honestly hate when people say "details"; it should really be interesting architecture instead of "details" and thinking "hmm, what little things can I add to this for no reason?"

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Old 08-18-2013   #17
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I frankly don't want to revive an argument that went nowhere after we continued it in #srb2fun, but I wanted to reply to one thing in particular.

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But no, a more detailed area is not more complicated than less detailed in every circumstance. Take a labyrinth of identical rooms, then take the same rooms and add details to define each room to prevent back-tracking. If details are done right, they shouldn't be complicated.
Even in that case, the rooms would be complicated visuallythan they would be without details. Of course that would be irrelevant in this case, because the rooms need detail for gameplay reasons. I'm not saying that all detail is evil and should be banished from GFZ. I'm merely saying that GFZ is a level that strives to be simple, and that should be reflected in its architecture and scenery.

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And I honestly hate when people say "details"; it should really be interesting architecture instead of "details" and thinking "hmm, what little things can I add to this for no reason?"
I agree. But I honestly think that aside from a few sections that definitely show their age (the very first section of GFZ2 comes to mind), GFZ's level architecture isn't any less "interesting" than that of most other official levels - we're just used to it more. SRB2's level architecture is very functional in general and rarely tries to impress on its own. This is just more apparent in a level like GFZ, which is still very simple in terms of gameplay.
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Old 08-18-2013   #18
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Honestly speaking, I'm with the others that the current GFZ2 probably needs to be scrapped. Lots of tall, blank walls, and big, unused (or barely used) areas. I even remember getting lost in some places as tails/knuckles when I first started playing SRB2, because they were so hard to get out of due to the bad design. I wouldn't say that details alone would make that better or worse, but I would definitely recommend a redesign. A major redesign.

But I definitely wouldn't recommend that if it meant another year to get 2.1 released. *epicface*

I don't think that the color contrast in the same level is what makes THZ1 better, but the contrast between levels. Most of THZ1's outside textures were the same colors as GFZ: green, orange-brown, blue. Changing them to grey-brown, orange-brown, and light orange makes them less different from each other, but much more different from GFZ. It's also decent pollution colors!
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Old 08-18-2013   #19
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I'm just gonna chime in and say: function over form. Each zone should be be graphically designed in a way which distinguishes the level's geometry and key features. The visuals don't need to be complex, they just need to have purpose.

Greenflower Zone I works, because it has a noncomplex graphic design for a noncomplex zone. Every area is naturally distinguished by the different terrain, varied plateau heights, water areas etc. Plenty of sections have their own differences too, such as the house on top of the first half and the cave with its darker wall patterns.

Greenflower Zone II doesn't work as well aesthetically, particularly in the first half, due to the towering GFZROCK walls and floors that create a checkered mesh of barely-defined terrain. I don't feel like I'm scaling a mountain in GFZII's heights; I feel like I'm navigating a Sonic-themed ZDoom map. That's not good visual design. I don't think it needs a rework, but it should receive some attention, as it definitely looks worse than any other section in the game by comparison.
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Old 08-18-2013   #20
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the cave with its darker wall patterns.
Darker walls, huh.







Darker walls, yeah.
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