I don't usually do this, but I figured I should.
Sand Valley > Seraphic Skylands > ClockTowers > Floral Road 1 > Glacier Gear > Sacred Woodland > Midnight Caves > Emerald Lake 2 > Egg Outposts
Sand Valley: 9/10 This map is almost perfect. The level design is reminiscent of Sonic 3 - you fall down, you get another path (and the lower paths aren't bullcrap or even much worse than the upper ones), and the path splits themselves blend in seamlessly. The sand gimmicks, while hard to get used to at first, are probably the most intuitive gimmicks I've seen in the contest (and maybe even in SRB2 for a while). Plus, the level has very cool visuals, despite being almost totally brown. I'd probably like this level way more than Skylands...if it weren't for a few issues.
First of all, the enemy placement is totally annoying, especially the damn detons. The LEAST annoying enemy in this level were the jetty-syns. BASHes come out of practically nowhere and there's probably a minus on 70% of the cliffs this level has. And a bunch of the detons were just placed...badly. As someone who takes their time to explore things and find secrets, I found this downright irritating. Second of all, Knuckles' path is weirdly difficult compared to the rest of the level (not as much as before but still), and some walls seem like he should be able to climb on them even though he can't. Plus, it's really easy to screw up the sandfalls with him by accidentally gliding. Yeah, I realize I went on and on about this level, but it deserves it.
Seraphic Skylands: 9/10 This map is also almost perfect. The level design is interesting, the scenery is excellent (and yet it barely lags even for me), the gimmicks are fun and unique, and there are plenty of paths I didn't even find until playing through a couple times. The level manages to pull of going around in circles at the beginning and I never got lost. I love that~!
On the flip side, there are absolutely no enemies, and pretty much all the challenge comes from spikes which, odds are, you'll run into before even seeing. Also, although I knew about the spin-dash platforms beforehand (exclusive Kart Krew information), they look a bit inconspicuous. I mean, they have like the same texture as the floor around them. It barely loses out to Sand Valley since it's not quite as interesting. But other than those minor issues, I really have no complaints about this map. Amazing!
ClockTowers: 8/10 For the record, lua hates my PC and this level runs at around 15/35 fps, but I tried to ignore that when playing it.
The ways the paths split in this level are amazing. I love how you can see alternate paths in the fore/background. The theme and visuals here are unique and very nicely done. Some of the platforming was a bit annoying, but odds are that was the lag's fault. Robo-hoods are still the most broken enemy ever (well actually Glacier Gear may have changed that) and it's incredibly annoying when they shoot you while bouncing on chains. I couldn't stand still for a second in the last room without fear of getting shot...Speaking of the chains, they were a great gimmick. Figuring out how to bounce higher was a bit tough at first, though. Overall an excellent map.
Floral Road 1: 7/10 While the level isn't overly interesting, it's great in the fact that there's...really nothing wrong with it. It looks wonderful, the speed guage is a nice gimmick (though it definitely should require more rings to use), the extra hit for the red crawlas was interesting, and the level design, first level-wise, is pretty neat. My only gripe with this place is that...it doesn't really try anything or do anything exceptional. First level or not, it could stand out more. Regardless, a great map overall.
Glacier Gear: 7/10 This level has very interesting, exceptional visuals and extremely unique, enjoyable gimmicks. The level design itself, however, isn't all that interesting (except for the 2D part which was great), and the robot penguin badnick is completely overpowered. The damn thing can hit you from eons offscreen thanks to their ridiculous vision and approaching it directly never works, especially if it's elevated on a platform. That enemy really detracts from the level's quality, honestly. That aside, though, this level was pretty fun.
Sacred Woodland: 6.5/10 This level changes music too much, first of all. I love the Forest Temple music, and it works with the theme the best, so...why not just use that throughout...? Second of all, the level splits at the start - the right path was pretty fun and interesting, but the left was just annoying. It seems like every platform on that path was exactly the same height as Sonic's jump height, and the layout was really confusing at first. The outdoor temple has too many rings, but the part with the Spirit Temple music was interesting. Although the corridor with the spike balls and fire-shooting gargoyles is oddly difficult compared to the rest of the level. As for the boss...well, it was totally random, didn't fit the level at all, and had unnecessary invisible walls. I did enjoy this level for the most part, though.
Midnight Caves:6.5/10 Like Sacred Woodland, this level splits at the beginning (I played 2 paths, not sure if there are more). While the lower path is actually interesting, memorable, AND looks really nice, the upper, more obvious path is...well, it's totally forgettable, looks bland, and the level design is a lot less interesting. The level design is pretty average overall, though I will say the last room is really interestingly designed. Overall a decent map.
Emerald Lake 2: 5/10 I honestly can't say much about this level. It's very...uninteresting. The motobugs are just reskinned crawlas, the scenery and textures are good, but bland at some parts, the fish don't move at all, and the level design doesn't stand out a bit. The slopes at the end of the level are probably the most memorable part, and...there are only 2 of them. Why not use them more? This was pretty forgettable, but not at all bad, really.
Egg Outposts: 4/10 Ok, I'll admit the scenery here was decent and the theme was really interesting, but the level design itself definitely wasn't good. The last room was horribly annoying thanks to vague platforming and a HUGE drop if you fall down. And if you DO fall (especially if you got the checkpoint after the lasers) prepare to spend like a whole MINUTE climbing back up. The first time I played this I decided to drown myself after I fell the third time instead of climbing again. And I had around 200 rings. When I fell the fourth time I switched to Tails (luckily I was playing coop alone). That wheel with yellow and red lasers is especially annoying.
The second time I played this level I decided to go left instead of right, and I found myself inside a cave that was so freakin' dark that the entire time I wandered around aimlessly while staring at my own face's reflection in my black computer screen. Naturally I quit and took the right path on my retry. That room is impossibly dark. Overall, this level is pretty...poor. I reiterate, though: the theme and scenery are pretty nice.
Why do I type paragraphs upon paragraphs
Why can't I ever be short and simple
Skybox looked nice, made the level feel like its own world in a way
Really felt like a mine with the railroads and textures
Super quicksand and jumping quicksand were alright, not a huge fan of them but they worked
Some rock sprites float above the ground
Not a fan of the rows of spikeballs
Couldn't figure out how to get Sonic past the giant machine on the wall, had to use another character
Camera really fucked me up, but that isn't mostly your fault
Detons were just plain assholes
I really, really enjoyed seeing the gravflipped Whirlwind Shield on the stalactite. It greatly reminded me of the similar, upside-down situation within The Great Gatsby and how the characters' lives were being swept away, as if by a whirlwind. Kudos on your subtle yet powerful symbolism.
Definitely the most fun level to play in the pack
The theme was fresh and it worked
Music really added to the atmosphere
Hated the penguins, dodging was annoying and the range and accuracy were ridiculous
Gimmicks proved to be truly enjoyable
The blue "alarm" laser things proved for an interesting punishment for less agile players
Visuals are another plus
First impression: beautiful scenery, beautiful music. Reminds me of an older song in a foreign language with a music video in a Catholic church, perhaps in France. It had two parts.
Exploring the trees was fun
The first level I played that made white water look good
It feels less like a level and more like a positively gorgeous terrain explorer. There are hardly any obstacles to challenge the player.
Definitely the greatest beauty I've encountered in SRB2, but there's hardly any substance to running and jumping through it.
Too many levels in this contest attempted terrible mushroom platforming
Bridge area looked pretty sweet
Having multiple tunes for the same level was unneeded
For some reason, I really liked the dark waterslide room with bright flames. Made them easier to see
A boss and it's Brak. No.
Clock Towers Zone
The camera was pretty cool, separated it from other 2D levels
The broken movement was a definite blunder
Did not particularly enjoy playing through it, partially due to Robo Hoods
Took me ages to find the bustable block in the castle thing
The giant ring waypoints were pretty cool, haven't seen it done before
The end sign felt really out of place
You clearly know how to design levels, but there is much room for improvement. The level was as average as average can get.
Floral Road 1
Ring meter thing made it slightly more interesting, actually made me want to keep my rings
Red Crawla two hits added a little variety
Really short, and that goes doubly so because of speed+
Definitely a solid level, but nothing makes it memorable
Emerald Lake 2
tails can't fly over the fence to end sign
Certainly not terrible by any means
but platforming is rather elementary
Nothing really noteworthy to the level in gameplay or aesthetics
Dodging lasers is trivial
Nothing noteworthy in visuals
Undeafed rings in 2.1
Mushroom platforming is annoying
Pitch black cave = no
Moonlit Precipice Zone > Climate Chaos Zone > Crystal Coast Zone
Old Sport Zone Act 1922: New Money vs Old Money > Forbidden Woods Zone > Techno Laser 4 > Quicksand Caverns Zone > Wtf? CTF Zone
Spoiler: MP Reviews
Moonlit Precipice Zone
Nighttime is refreshing
Hallways and underwater areas are rather boring
Feels a bit overpacked with rings and flora
Could use more texture variation and sector-based scenery
Climate Chaos Zone
Interesting concept, but the climate changes far too rapidly for players to accustom to it
Too much purple
Not much to explore. This could easily be remedied by having certain areas exclusive to specific climates
Crystal Coast Zone
Hey, this actually reminds me of my maps when I first started building.
Opaque water over a death pit. Don't do that.
Clashing textures everywhere
Very flat and long, and as a result it plays terribly
I can tell you've got the basics down; you just need to practice practice practice before you take on a level design contest.
Old Sport Zone Act 1922: New Money vs Old Money
What can we say? The novel is easily our favorite, so we felt compelled to give it a proper adaptation in a new medium. It's not often that one encounters playable literature in a video game.
While we did have to make tiny sacrifices in the level's gameplay, it was done to ensure that it would be a definitive testament to F. Scott Fitzgerald's literary masterpiece, one we consider a true work of art. In that case, the CTF level could be considered an OOPArt.
Forbidden Woods Zone
First impression: very bland and brown
Second impression: it manages to be very fun and competitive
please make the FOFs above the springs intangible from below
Some sort of coloration would make the level easier to look at
Techno Laser 4
Definitely the best visuals in the rotation; it's music to my eyes
It's fairly easy to get lost on the first few playthroughs
Experienced players can just hide behind some obstacles, including flag holders
Find the opposite base is quite a chore
Pretty fun once you memorize the layout
Quicksand Caverns Zone
Gotta admit, the colored quicksand was cool
Skybox was nice, but beyond that there wasn't much to the level's aesthetics
Quicksand felt like it did more harm than good. Remove the countdown since slowing down the player is enough of a hazard for CTF.
It plays decently, but it's not a map I'll remember a week from now
Wtf? CTF Zone
do I even need to explain this one
As co-creator of Old Sport Zone, I feel it is necessary to at least shed some green light on the less literary players. In addition to what Jellybones has already explained, there is the matter of the hidden flags. As any savvy reader could deduce, this was deliberately designed to represent the metaphorical walls that Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby had constructed around their inner feelings, with the flags representing their respective hearts. The death pit near the fireplace was our way of demonstrating the novel's true message: death awaits Gatsby, death awaits Myrtle, death awaits New Money and Old Money, and (most importantly) death awaits the American dream. Some players might even realize that the pianos are mysteriously unplayable. Why? Death awaited Klipspringer.
There is much more symbolism to the level than that, but I fear that Jellybones and I may have spoiled just enough.
I'm not good at reviews, so I'll just leave my list here. From best to worst IMO:
Single Player Division Seraphic Skylands Zone by Spherallic Clock Tower Zone by RedEnchilada and Pac Floral Road Zone, Act 1 by "Lat'" Glacier Gear Zone by toaster Emerald Lake Zone, Act 2 by glaber Sacred Woodland by HAPPYFOX Midnight Caves Zone by Chaobrother Egg Outposts Zone by Tyrannic Sand Valley Zone by Chrome
Good show, old sports! (hehehe.) Tyrannic, you're playing my map in 2.1.7- the bounce pads work if you're running 2.1.8, as Red said for his map. Also, "undeafed" means that the rings haven't been given the ambush flag, which means they don't float above the ground like in the official maps. Anyways, let the games begin!
Single Player Glacier Gear>Seraphic Skylands>Clock Towers>Sacred Woodland>Sand Valley>Egg Outposts>Floral Field>Midnight Cave>Emerald Lake
Glacier Gear- NaN/10
I made this map! Since I can't objectively rate my map, I'll just put it first and give you some developer commentary. First off- I am astounded by the extremely positive response from the community for my first OLDC entry. I haven't done any comparisons to anybody elses' average map ranking but I suspect that I'm behind only Seraphic Skylands on that front due to the polarised reaction with everyone else's maps. Anyways, enough self-fellating- time for some self-criticism! I kind of expected the Waddalek to polarise some, but it seems to be the sole sticking sore point in everyone's critique. That laser really is overpowered, I guess, and I'll shy away from badniks being too powerful in future. A 1.10 (POST-OLDC edition!) will be forthcoming once the voting period ends (at bare minimum; may take forever) with a change to the Waddalek behaviour. I wish I could have had more paths in this map towards the end as well- especially something to make that 2D section more substantial. However, I'm really, really happy with how far I've come. A side-by-side comparison with Frozen Wasteland (the single map released in the heyday of 2.0 that was the inspiration for this map) definitely shows that I've improved substantially, and I'm glad that everyone else agrees. My only real regret is entering it in an OLDC with so much high-quality competition!! There are a handful of interesting ideas that I've got under incubation that I'd love to share with you- but hey, maybe next OLDC! ;D
Seraphic Skylands - 9.999.../10
grumble grumble you're better than me I MEAN I LOVE SERAPHIC SKYLANDS. Spherallic's biggest talent isn't even mapping, though. Their greatest talent is their adaptability- their ability to listen to any little bit of criticism and take its message to heart. It's kind of like filing off the edges of a piece of marble, chip by chip, criticism by criticism to construct a statue of nigh-perfection. I mean, seriously. Throughout its development, I've been observing its pre-releases on #srb2fun- and Seraphic Skylands was originally a lot more bloated, empty and un-fun. After some pestering, Sphere decided to completely re-order the map to give it additional fun and balance, which easily bumped it up from fourth place to first (not including the locked-in-first of Glacier Gear). I'm serious- the beta5 to rc1 upgrade was so momentous and I really don't think Seraphic Skylands would have had a chance of winning this contest if it weren't for that complete re-organising. Other rough edges being rounded off include making the wind funnels much more aesthetically pleasing with the soft white glow from below. Basically every piece of advice I could have given this map was given during its alpha, beta and rc testing and it was all taken to heart (with the sole exception of a complete absence of badniks... which I suppose was a nessecity considering it's simply too large to test each change with a REJECT lump.) There is exactly one piece of criticism I can give right now that was not given before and that is that the final version is significantly laggier than any pre-release version, which is a darn tootin' shame and subtracts the 0.000...1 point I've stolen from its admittedly worthless score out of 10. There's also a general sense of disappointment that after 4 years of development it managed to make this particular contest, because it looks like this is the sole map that stands between me and victory.
Cock Towers - 7/10
Axis2D is the perfect example of how Lua has revitalised SRB2 modding. Lua is ridonkulously powerful, as evidenced by the fact that Red has basically completely stripped out the entire player movement system and recreated it using Nights Axis objects. Like, seriously, he and Pac are fucking wizards. In addition to the fact that they fuck wizards, they appear to have absorbed some of their magic. It's just a shame, therefore, that the postermap for Axis2D has some design decisions made at an early stage that have affected the entire development of the map for the worst. That's not to say that it's not a good map- it's fun as hell! Those chains, wow. They've never even been attempted before and are a fun twist on the classic bridges and how they're drawn, with easily reusable rendering code to boot. But when you get things like the choice of enemies being Egg Guards (IN 2D? what were you smoking???) and Robo-Hoods In the foreground and background, to boot! I could have excused them if they were only on the main path- they're theme-appropriate and a ranged badnik, but depth perception in software is abysmal. My other serious complaint is that death pit just before the exit sector. Maybe trace an arc of rings through the air to suggest to the player that they need to jump? Also, I still totally think you (you two? Or did Pac just work on Axis2D) have a chronic inability to texture indoors areas, with all of that WOOD and MORE WOOD and OCCASIONAL STONE. I love those big clock faces, although that could have MAYBE done with another texture in front of it to have some sort of ridge/rim around the edge and make it not like a giant paper plate stuck to a building. Also, maybe it should be a little darker. But I digress. Red and Pac know their stuff.
Sacred Woodland- 5/10
This map has beauty. It's pleasant to play through! I enjoyed it a lot. Well, okay, I say it's pleasant to play through and I enjoyed it a lot. When I say "it", I mean "everything in this map up to that spooky skull with flames in its eyes on the floor". Before I talk about that, though, the change to Robo Hoods is an enjoyable one- creating fire where it lands is pretty awesome- although maybe you could have made them red, to communicate that they shot fire bullets instead of arrows to the player. (Certain visuals demand certain expectations, and circumventing them confuses the player unnessecarily.) I was never turned around in this map and it remained consistently a challenge and an adventure throughout. Those two into-darkness teleports were weird, but... whatever. I have no qualms with that part of the map. Unfortunately, once you get up to the spooky skull with flames in its eyes, everything changes- and I would have placed it above Clock Towers had there just been an exit sign there. Everything becomes cramped, the spikeballs on the floor blend in to the dark floor texture, and that obnoxious teleport to the Brak arena just makes me sad. Seriously, this feels like you rushed the ending because you thought you needed more. Did you need more? I don't think so! Don't shoot yourself in the foot next time and you could end up with a much better ranking, my chum.
Sand Valley - 5/10
This map looks nice, and I'm always up for a sand-based level. Glacier Gear was Rune Ruin for a little while. Anyways, there was a lot to love about this map. The sandopolis-style quicksand walls that you can jump up, the slowly sinking platforms, the basic texturing... although it does fall victim to Clock Towers' uniform colour fault, where there's nothing inside that visually stands out that much. That bloody fast-suck quick-quicksand caused me like three game overs, the only map to cause a single game over at all! The quick-quicksand pisses me off to no end and I really wish it were just normal Sandopolis quicksand- it would make the indoor areas more visually interesting (more yellow highlights! Not just one bland colour scheme!) and make the map much less insufferable to play. To give you a quantifiable value of how much I hate that- that quick-quicksand cost you third place in my list. Just mull on that. It's a lovely map, though, and I can't wait to see more from you!
Egg Outposts - 5/10
There were some really neat ideas in here. The idea of mixing Jungle and Electric- one straight off the wiki- is a pleasant change from the single-theme zones of yore. The idea of using those texture sets to represent them... not so much. The resultant map is extremely visually busy and grating to look at. Another point is that I've never seen a map that's both huge and cramped at the same time- that big, big room that punished me so much for falling and not understanding exactly how the mushrooms worked. What I mean, I guess, is that the amount of space the player has to platform is basically nil and the player has no visual clues on where to go. My favourite- and least favourite room was the room with the glowing crystals. I liked it because it's the most beautiful room in the map. I also disliked it because it's way too dark to do the kind of platforming you demand the player to do, which actually made me ragequit! Which is a shame. It's the most beautiful room... A prime example of a not-so-beautiful room is the big, big room I mentioned earlier- which is the first place I discovered the mushrooms in the map on my first run (when I went on the right path at the beginning, the one without the crystals). It's ungainly, cramped-yet-open, visually confusing and above all just downright punishing. That room turned what would have otherwise been an 8 minute run into a 12 minute run. Four minutes on a single room- worse than my first run through 2.1 Eggrock. Also, those tiny mushrooms with blue springs in them? The blue springs show through. Yeah. Aside from that, the usual newbie errors- rings just sitting on the ground undeafed, crawlas and buzzes for badniks (again? is this 1.09.4?) and weird texture/flat usage and alignment. (What's up with that script button having diagonal lines through it?) Other than those things, Tyrannic, this is a solid foundation to start with, and I really hope that you can take this feedback on board and improve/remake this map. I will make one last note- remember, quality, not quantity!
Floral Field - 4/10 Diagonal-Walls-ified Greenflower Zone Act 4 is probably my best description of this level. It feels... it feels simplistic and uninspired. It's like that obligatory first zone every person who ever considers making a mappack starts working on, historically, in the SRB2 community. You added a fun little ring-level-up meter, but the fact it caps at 30 when I ended the map with 170 rings and not a single hit makes me feel a little sad. I kept on getting turned around in basically every room. Like, seriously, basically all of the outdoors rooms are circular with a very low thok barrier wall and that does plenty to keep me lost. Aside from that, there's consistent production values throughout- pleasant but not exemplary- and despite all of its flaws, playing through it brought a smile to my face, which is more than some maps can say. That could be a grin, my friend- just invest more of your heart into this map and you will have my goodwill.
Midnight Cave - 3/10
This map... I don't really know what to make of it. While it has some interesting aesthetics. it suffers from oddly distributed checkpoints and incredibly confusing level design. Like, I spent 2 minutes in the last room trying to follow the arrow rightwards... until I realised it suggested I go around the spiral staircase down, where I find the exit sector... on the opposite side of the room to the way the arrow is pointing. It also doesn't help that all the springs in that room lead me directly to the hidden emerald token. The 2D section was completely without substance and honestly reminded me of the SRB1 remake- and that's not a favourable comparison. However, your theme is very solid, and you have vague understanding of how to make interesting gimmicks. With practice, you can be awesome! Unfortunately, that practice is something that's going to happen in the future, and in the meantime we have this map.
Emerald Lake - 2/10
This level felt extremely open, just like Seraphic Skylands. Unlike Seraphic Skylands, it also felt empty. Empty and open are a horrible combination, especially when combined with short and unchallenging. The textures look like they were blown up double-size from Palmtree Panic- with no smoothing around the now hard, large pixelated knife edges that cut your eyes like some sort of person intent on serious violence with long lasting consequences. The dark Green Hill indoor walls weren't the most pleasant, either. Oh, and don't have the exit visible to the player on spawn and then have it walled off somehow. It's extremely grating and I think I've seen that done in an OLDC before- it was poor form then and it's poor form now.I do like how you used Motobugs, and the Motobug sprites were aesthetically pleasing (if a bit pillow shaded), but I wish they behaved more like Motobugs in Sonic Generations than in Sonic 1, because those were just unicycle Crawlas. I have little more to say about this map, honestly. glaber, you've been in this community how long? How long have you been producing maps, all of which have systematic flaws similar to this one?
Last edited by toaster; 07-14-2014 at 01:50 PM.
Reason: Swapped Egg Outposts and Floral Field.
There's a "Float" or "Deaf" checkbox on the Ring thing's options. If you check it, the ring will float 32 units in the air, which looks a lot more natural. You'll notice all the rings in the other stages are floating in the air, where the rings in your stage are touching the ground.
I'm not good at reviews, so I'll just leave my list here. From best to worst IMO:
Single Player Division Seraphic Skylands Zone by Spherallic Clock Tower Zone by RedEnchilada and Pac Floral Road Zone, Act 1 by "Lat'" Glacier Gear Zone by toaster Emerald Lake Zone, Act 2 by glaber Midnight Caves Zone by Chaobrother Egg Outposts Zone by Tyrannic Sand Valley Zone by Chrome
Sphere, as awesome as your level is, there's one glaring flaw in it. There's a problem with a wall here. I also just realized you're supposed to jump to that plave where I came from, so it's actuallly quite an obstruction.
Here's my voting, just minor notes with each one because I don't feel like doing full reviews.
Sand Valley Zone by Chrome - Has a set gimmick and sticks to it, lots of interesting uses of the sand, only a few minor annoyances to me.
Glacier Gear Zone by toaster - Very nice and clear gimmick, used well throughout the level, I got lost at least once and the 2D section seemed off.
Seraphic Skylands Zone by Spherallic - I want to rate this higher, but while it is a gorgeous map, I feel like a lot of the time I was just running waiting to get to the next room and some platforming, has a very nice flow though.
Floral Road Zone, Act 1 by "Lat" - A nice simple first level feel, I never felt like I had nothing to do and felt the need to explore the zone.
Clock Towers Zone by RedEnchilada - A wonderful technical achievement (fix NiGHTS plz), but the level falls flat by bad enemy placement/choices (Unhittable robo-hoods? Egg Guards!? Really!?). The ending was also dreadful, you did a DIMPS.
Sacred Woodlands Zone by HAPPYFOX - A nice map with a nice theme, brak appearing at the end was weird and there were some areas I got lost. Other than that, just quite simple.
Egg Outposts Zone by Tyrannic - Kudos for trying something interesting, even if it faltered a little, the map still looked nice and played well for the most part in the outside sections. The ending was a little frustrating though, I could see someone falling all the way down and having to climb up all of it again. Another thing is that I was still in the level around the 10 minute mark and I wasn't trying to explore. This is something you may want to avoid.
Midnight Caves Zone by Chaobrother - I'll be honest, I forgot everything about this map when I came to write this and had to go through it again to remember. Nothing memorable in here and nothing interesting to see or do either.
Emerald Lake Zone, Act 2 by glaber - This map was boring to play and nasty to look at. Not much fun at all.
I might add Multiplayer votes if I can actually play in a netgame, but yesterday it was impossible to do anything without consistency kicking me, so I'm doubtful it'll happen.
<TehRealSalt> At least with slopes we can properly sculpt DroidDragon's ass
<TehRealSalt> ...that's why he's so excited
Three things I wanted to do going into this map: Make Quicksand fun, have challenging but fair enemy placement that the player cared about, and use Sonic 3 styled level design. Apparently, I failed on all three fronts! I suppose we could call this level a failure like Waterway Ruin? I don’t know, you tell me.
Glacier Gear – 9/10
This is exactly what I look for in a Sonic level. The visuals do just enough to let you know you’re progressing through the level, and the challenges change to match the area you’re in, building on previous encounters you had with the same gimmicks. Enemy placement was spot on, when they were used in a room, they were the focus, and they were a powerful threat that you had to actively fight against as you made your way past them. Their attack was well telegraphed, and it made it rewarding to react and counterattack each enemy. The Penguin in the 2D section was pretty poorly placed, however. You’re given very little room to maneuver away from its laser, and in your efforts to try to avoid it, you jump into the goop, and if you hadn’t already encountered damaging bouncy electric floors in another path (they only appear in one path, and not both) you’ll feel extremely cheated. Aside from that one gripe, the Haiku’s were unique and clever, and made finding the emblems fun, and not frustrating. Knuckles had to actually think about where he could and couldn’t climb, and Tails couldn’t fly aimlessly because the penguins are sharpshooters. Overall, the attention to gameplay detail was really well thought out, easily my favorite.
Seraphic Skylands - 8/10
While it’s easily the best looking singleplayer level (I’ve seen better looking levels) and the platforming has a lot of flow to it, as well as the gimmicks being simplistic and effective, it doesn’t really build up to anything significant. Difficulty has nothing to do with it, this level just keeps throwing stuff at you with no real build up on what it did near the beginning. There’s no “climax” in either the visuals or the platforming, the level just keeps going until it suddenly abruptly ends, and I’m left feeling a bit unfulfilled. A lot of the item placement was also questionable, Super Sneakers were placed in areas where it was initially a good idea to run, but then that idea was dropped for platforms over a pit, which killed the flow and reward for grabbing the item in the first place. Shields were often far too difficult to find compared to what they gave you (Pity shields are the absolute last thing you should give a player). Spike pit FoFs were oddly higher than the platforms around them, which killed flow. Now, it may seem like I’m nitpicking compared to my top choice, but when a level is using a minimalist style like this one, the much smaller aspects of the level are what bring it down the most.
Clock Tower – 7/10
First off, ignoring the level entirely, this is amazing in concept and has opened entirely new doors for 2D levels, and you should feel proud about that, regardless of how the level itself has turned out. Now speaking about the actual level itself, the main gimmick works wonderfully, but you should use a different player state if you want to disable abilities, because it’s very misleading to be spinning, but suddenly unable to use any ability. It initially caused a few cheap hits because of the change. Second, the deathpits during the outer segments were this strange water-over-some-ghz-flat, which in no way described “this is death”, so my first instinct was to jump onto it, killing myself. Third, the idea of a robo-hood in the background is neat, but you should have changed his arrow sprites to something much larger and easier to see, because the brown arrow on brown/gray/black texture is difficult to make out, not to mention his terrible firing animation and lack of sound. The ggg guards I did not like, however. They’re often placed right at edges, and the platform you’re given is tends to be very small in comparison. The worst offender of this is the egg guard in the spinning outer tower segment. There’s a robo-hood behind the tiny platform you need to stand on to hit the egg guard, so you have to keep your eye on the robo-hood, and don’t have enough time to react to the split second that the egg guard shows his back to you due to the awkward movement pattern in 2D, and at any point you could get hit by an arrow or bounce off the shield, forcing you to fall down a level, and redo your work to get to that point so your forced to go through it again. It is by far the worst experience I had in the level. I love the progression your level had, from outer section, to under the clock tower, the clock tower’s core, and really enjoyed the knuckles-only path. You’re path splits also add a lot of replayablity (sadly I tested them all when I was testing this for you), but they fall into Dimps style platforming, which kills some of the enjoyment.
Floral Road – 5/10
A solid beginning level that has good horizontal flow. There is a large lack of vertical platfomring, which makes the level drag on quite a bit, but you balanced this out somewhat with the waterslides and underwater portions. I’m not going to go into detail about the “Level up” feature, because I think it’s imbalanced in pretty much every way possible, but it is an interesting idea.
Egg Outpost -6/10
This is a strange one, it had good progression, and it built up on what it started with, but it’s texture usage was all over the place with colors (nothing like a jungle, to be honest), and while I didn’t get lost, the entire time I was playing I felt lost, and that’s not a good feeling to give the player, because it makes the more likely to take a wrong turn. For instance, after you scaled that monster of a room with the boring platforming, you hit a switch, which activates a cutscene, which makes the platform you were on move down, now, I was traveling up the entire time, so I assumed you were trying to force me back down and make me take another path from down there, but I jumped away at the last second to find the area from the cutscene. Little did I know that the elevator was actually safe, and it was the right direction. Having the player move down during the cutscene would have made for a much smoother transition, and allowed them to know instantly where to go afterwards.
Sacred Woodland - 4/10
You had a good theme and distinct rooms that felt expansive, but the major problem is that there was really nothing to find in these rooms, so instead of exploring, which could have helped your level greatly, you just rushed to the exit which was fairly obvious at first glance, which means each room has very little time spent in them before you’re suddenly dropped into a boss fight with Brak Eggman for no real reason. It only detracts from the overall theme of the level.
Midnight Caves - 4/10
A mad mesh of themes and textures that don’t really do anything out of the ordinary, I like the many branching paths at the start, but many stay similar in their styles of platforming, which kind of ruins the point of branching paths in the first place.
Emerald Lake – 4/10
Nothing “wrong” with this level, but it feels very outdated and 1.09.4 styled: Crawla-esque enemies all over the place, massive walls that shape up the thok barrier, and odd texture choice and placement. I find it hard to give you suggestions here, because there isn’t much wrong with it, it’s just plays like old stuff we’ve all seen before.
Lastly, to anyone who has not played Sand Valley as Knuckles: Go play Sand Valley as Knuckles.
There’s more to see when you play as him.
Your freedom lies within the Hidden Sanctuary.
Single Player Rankings:
1. Sand Valley
2. Seraphic Skylands
3. Clock Towers
4. Glacier Gear
5. Floral Road
6. Sacred Woodland
7. Egg Outposts
8. Midnight Caves
9. Emerald Lake
Clock Towers Zone:
I don't know where I truly stand on this level. I loved the usage of Axis2D for things like that large platforming tower outside and during the chain bouncing area with the gears in the back. It did however disorient me greatly during simple curved staircases where Sonic would run normally and suddenly decide to skid backwards, due to the change in perspective. And early on, the staircase that jumping over would get you speed shoes shows off just how well you can utilize the script. Putting things in places that require the player to think about how the game handles its pathways and what may be possible. Granted it can get confusing, like with that 1up monitor, but it's perfect for simpler things like a rather optional item that isn't too hard to get.
The bouncy chain gimmick was both a fun and interesting way to open up a level and something I'd expect from a really difficult rom hack. On the one hand, the height manipulation and how much interaction it forces on you compared to a normal spring, but on the other, there were too many instances of challenge thrown in with rather cruel Robo-Hood placement. I can understand placing them in for a challenge instead of purely bouncing over, but how they were handled was really annoying. It's not even the gimmicks fault, so much as it is rather haphazard enemy placement.
Aside from that and on the more visual side, it's... a bit too empty. It's gameplay focused, but there isn't enough general scenery polish. Moments inside the tower or the aforementioned outside tower climb are just so empty. And more of a technical problem on my end, it lagged a ton during the open, outdoorsy areas. Not so much as every outdoors section, but when I could see the giant clock and hills.
And just as a quick level design complaint, Dimps-style end level bottomless pits aren't cool.
Egg Outposts Zone:
Let's just start out with the aesthetics. There's too many textures. It doesn't focus on a single color and it's awkward when 85% of the way down a wall it changes to sudden yellow. Not to mention the sudden factory partway through doesn't look good at all and the cave section is impossible for me to go through because I can't see anything. There was also a random line of sky on the ground in a certain area...
Actual level design, it's a cross between tacked on platforming and tight corridors. The camera gets stuck in so many congested areas with no clear direction to go to. I've seen large open areas I can't see in, large open areas with no obvious entryway into a path, and large platforming sections where a screw up takes you FAR DOWN and it suddenly stops being fun to run through it. I needed a Whirlwind Shield just to get back up to and through the mushroom section and it just gets worse as you go up with it being difficult to traverse through. Not to mention the lack of an obvious direction to go to makes it very annoying when you fall and have to start over because you weren't sure where a certain platform was.
Not to mention that the pathway I'm referring to is blocked off from Knuckles, my favorite character to play as. The pathway would function just fine with him on it and he's only denied access because of a wall he can't jump or glide over. If the path will still work functionally with Knuckles, he shouldn't be denied access.
Emerald Lake Zone:
OK aesthetically this is bad. Not because of texture choice, but there's nothing here. Where are the flowers? The bushes? Things that make Sonic levels feel alive? I'm running through everything and it doesn't feel like there's anything there. Not to mention the "slopes" of the level are rather ugly because of just how many times the same strip of pixels repeats itself.
Level design wise... there's still nothing here. You don't have nearly enough staircases, engaging platforming, and overall quality level design to make it feel like fun. You're okay for at least including two paths, which is more than many maps of this quality can say, but there's no reason to take the water path because it's not fun. Also, why does a spring lead up to a platform that the player is going to jump from, only to not make their jump because the platform they jumped off moved down? Why does it move down? It'd be better for it to start off at a low height and slowly move up, rather than waste the player's time because of something they couldn't see coming.
The motobugs don't move for some reason, making them a non-threat. And why are there slopes put at the end of the level? Never mind how they don't look visually pleasing or just don't fit in. This thing wasn't all that impressive in GFZ2 and it isn't now. Just use a normal staircase, saving time you can invest in improving the other bits of the map. Also, consider making the player spend time in the level. I finished it in a minute and thirty on my second run. I could cut off plenty more simply thokking through the level. A minute and thirty is what I'd expect from a lousy speedrun, not a typical, casual playthrough.
Floral Road Zone:
This was a lot of fun. Aesthetically, this level is nice looking. You can't take a glance around without at least one bush or flower around. However, sometimes it's feels a bit too flat. I'd prefer a bit more trees spread around or something to make it feel less empty. However, it was still lush and fun to run through, not that I did much of that.
Level design is brilliant for the explorative type. I spent over two minutes just collecting rings in the first area and ended up with 86. I managed to get plenty of lives just going around grabbing as many as I could. Areas are open and it just feels nice to grab hundreds of rings spread out in monitors and all over the level. Granted, the non-explorative type wouldn't find much fun in this. There isn't enough actually challenging platforming for your typical speedrunner. I did a Knuckles run through in barely any time. The level was fun, but it needs more to engage someone who doesn't find joy in grabbing ring after ring. There's also a lot of instances where I feel there should be more than just some flat platforms in a river.
Sacred Woodland Zone:
This was okay. Only the starting area ever made me feel as though I needed to explore and the rest was a rather linear experience. It looks pretty enough, sans that random mushroom at the beginning, but it's not very interesting overall. Interrupting teleports, unclear gimmicks, that random fight with a weakened Brak. It feels like Egg Rock 2; a level that has a bunch of one-off gimmicks that aren't ever fleshed out.
Other than that, I will say that the Brak Eggman fight's invisible walls aren't very intuitive. They just feel as though they're there to limit your overall mobility just to make the boss fight challenging. The main area of the arena is a giant bottomless pit.
Glacier Gear Zone:
I didn't enjoy this one much. Aesthetically, there's not much to say. It's an ice level, yes. But the ice doesn't blend well with the factory settings. It usually has a random machine placed on some ice here and there. It's not something to make my eyes bleed, but I wish there was a bit more improvement.
Level design wise... well, it has some good gimmicks, but the focus isn't so much on the gimmicks that work as it is awkward platforming. There's one instance where you're just waiting until the right time to jump over to platforms and each time you don't get a certain jump right, you have to move through the slow water section and try again. There's bursts of water that push you straight down and the timing is rather awkward. Then there's the strange penguin robots that fire the GFZ boss laser. Extremely painful when dealing with slow underwater platforming and trying to climb up a rare wall as Knuckles.
Speaking of which, Knuckles is a terrible choice as he can't climb nearly enough things for it to be worth it and Sonic is always dealing with difficult platforming, so if you can't bear through the challenge, pick Tails. I didn't, but I'd recommend it for a first playthrough.
There's these bouncing panels from Wacky Workbench that are interesting enough in their own right, but the most they ever did for me was electrocute me because they shock you underwater. There was a single part of the level that showed off how they could be used to constantly bounce between walls and stay airborne and while a neat concept, I only saw it once.
Midnight Caves Zone:
Aesthetically, once again empty. There's once again a lack of anything here and then we get to the problem where it starts looking like Deep Sea Zone with absolutely nothing in there. And then we get to a cave with absolutely nothing there. It's a straight corridor without any rings, enemies, or interesting scenery.
Level design wise it's completely linear with a hint of confusion. It starts off with a single, uninteresting pathway and if you happen to find your way around, you can find more. There's only a single section where deciding to look around will get you a Elemental Shield. It's so straightforward that the GIANT ARROW SIGNS feel completely unneeded since we're already on a linear path, at least until the end. There, you get to a giant wall you can't climb. I walked back, hit a spring, got an extra life and emerald token, and had no idea where to go until I found another arrow sign telling me to go down. And then the level just ended.
Sand Valley Zone:
In terms of level aesthetics, I do like the majority of texture choices, but one of my main issues was with platforms involving Minus. When it's digging, it's a moving pile of dirt. Only, the platforms are brown, requiring me to spin in place until they're stupid enough to walk into me. I know it's more of an enemy to listen for, but that was still an annoyance the first time around.
The level design reminds me of Sonic 3 and Knuckles; rich in gimmicks. The main gimmick of the level is the two types of quicksand. We have the yellow ones which, like the Sandopolis Act 1 sand, require you to mash the jump button to send yourself upward. I know plenty of people on the IRC thought this gimmick wasn't very good, but I really enjoyed some of the more creative uses of it. There's one wide open area with quicksand falling and you have to time a jump into the sand to cross platforms. This gimmick wasn't all good though, as there were times where I couldn't understand why I wasn't allowed to thok, but I eventually got the hang of it.
Then we have the brown quicksand which somehow causes space drowning. Again, people on the IRC didn't appreciate this, but for the path I took, it wasn't very bad at all. Even when it was intentionally made to force you into bottomless pits, it didn't challenge me too much.
There's also the random reappearance of the Lava Reef spindash platforms. It took me a while to figure out what they did since there was no indication that they'd move up and quite frankly, they didn't really do much in the end. Though I will say, I like how Knuckles actually had some varied pathways. Granted, I beat the level as Sonic and not Knuckles, but it's nice to see maps going for the character specific routes. And there are plenty of routes in this level.
Seraphic Skylands Zone:
This level is absolutely beautiful. All of the scenery is put together nicely and the texture choice makes it all visually pleasing. Vines hanging from the ceiling, flowers all over, and a very impressive skybox. It's wonderful.
In terms of level design, it isn't too much. It's focused mostly on rather basic platforming with occasional gimmicks to expand the level. Most notably are the air lifts that are mostly used for sending you up large walls with the one time where they're made more as a threat with added ceiling spikes. A lot of the challenge is minor and when playing as Tails or Knuckles, nonexistent. The level is more focused on looking visually impressive, as opposed to providing challenge.
There was only one thing that confused me at first and that was how Sonic was meant to beat the level. Turns out the platforms with rings directly above them were actually spindash platforms. I didn't find that out until after my second run through, not that it was of any real importance.
Last edited by Pixel-Voxel; 07-09-2014 at 05:42 AM.
Glacier Gear Zone > Seraphic Skylands Zone > Clock Tower Zone > Sand Valley Zone > Floral Road Zone > Midnight Caves Zone > Sacred Woodland > Egg Outpost Zone > Emerald Lake Zone
Glacier Gear Zone
Uhm...I have no words. I don't know what I was expecting, but this was just a sincere blast of awesome at every turn. The Wacky Workbench style electric walls were brilliant, and the way they were handled was phenomenal. Secret paths and hidden items, alternate paths for players who fail to pass the platforming challenges, everything about this was fun and I loved every minute of it.
Seraphic Skylands Zone
This is a fantastic and beautiful map. I really wish I could have given this first place, given all the hype I was seeing about it in #'fun for the past month or so, and that the beta I played was phenomenal. What really holds this map back isn't the design, but the distinct lack of enemies, and there are just some areas that could really use some more hazards or something to spruce up the map. Don't get me wrong, the stage design is strong and this is a fantastic map, it just needs a little more in there and it'd be perfect.
Clock Tower Zone
I first played through this stage with Knuckles and I feel like I made the right choice. The path options and curves that you can dodge, work around, etc are amazing with him and allows for so much exploration. I love the hidden secrets and items that are just about everywhere. This level definitely rewards exploration and is awesome for that.
I like the ideas presented in this a lot and the stage design is absoltely stellar. It's brilliant and there's so much depth to this stage, it's unreal.
The hazard placement is where this level falls apart and ruins it for me. The Robo-Hoods are absolutely cheap and there's almost no reaction time whatsoever to deal with their arrows. And good luck if you're doing precarious platforming and all of a sudden, unexpected arrows from a Robo-hood you can't even see. The Egg Guards are just ridiculous in 2D and send you absolutely flying. There are just not enough checkpoints or extra lives that I've found to make up for what seems like an unreasonably large amount of deaths. Maybe it's that I'm bad at 2D mode, but I feel like I just died unfairly too much.
I'd love to see this level done with enemies specifically designed for it. I feel like it'd be way more fun with less in the way of cheap deaths and more in the way of interesting enemies that can take full advantage of the path system here.
Want more of this style though. Fun and incredibly genius.
Sand Valley Zone
This level is great, but ultimately has some issues that keep it from being outright amazing.
There are lots of OpenGL errors. And while I realize it's hard to catch all of them, there are a lot of real obvious ones that I caught just playing through the main stage. I also really don't like the dark quicksand mechanic. That's not fun. It's really irritating and needs to die. There's also some questionable use of appearing/disappearing sandfalls in the middle of areas with death pits. Those things are very hard to adequately control your jump (and ability use) within them. I recommend either making them constant, or finding a better hazard. Also, really, NOCLIMB? C'mon, that kills half the fun of Knuckles. :<
That all being said. The stage layout is phenomenal and the level is really fun to play. I love the extras hidden all around and I love the split paths. Enemies are actually a hazard in this and I love them for that (though really? Detons? :<). The spindash pads could do with better conveyance to the player but are otherwise really great. I love the Knuckles path and had a blast with it.
Overall, really solid stage. Fix some of the quirks and you've got a real gem here.
Floral Road Zone
This level feels like it's trying to be in the style of traditional first zone of a game. It is almost there, but it's real easy to get lost in the stage. Direction isn't always obvious and for an entry stage, it really needs to be.
I like the concept of the rings giving benefits to the player, and it works well for Tails and Knuckles, but it brings Sonic to a point where it's just awkward to try and control him. I'd consider tightening his controls or something to give him better precision, rather than upping his speed.
Item placement is really good here, I like how I'm rewarded for exploring, but can't help but feel that the stage isn't designed in such a way that exploring is a good thing. It's really hard to get your bearings in this stage and I had issues with that.
Good start, I think there's merit here, and would like to see more with improvements.
Midnight Caves Zone
There's...Stuff. And things. But that's about it. There's a distinct lack of anything going on here and that's problematic. Needs lots of things to make it interesting. Also, please no dark hallways with teleports. Those are awful.
This level is bad. The stage is simple. It's also lacking in secrets, exploration or depth.
There's also some telegraphing issues. Dark areas are typically not places that you go into. It means bad things. If you want to divide the level up into segments, there are far more natural ways to do this than dark areas with teleports.
Item placement was good. What few sections I found that attracted me off the beaten path adequately rewarded me, and there was not a lack of goal posts. But I suggest toning down the rings in some places. Generally there's not a lot of reason to put massive amounts of rings in some areas.
Brak being at the end was really random, and that arena had big invisible walls. Never ever ever use big invisible walls. It's awful and confusing. I thought it was just an OpenGL texture error until I heard from other people. That's unacceptable.
Going from LoZ music to Pokemon music was really jarring. I know it's not something typically addressed in stage design, but music really needs to not only fit the theme of the map, but also set the mood of the map. The music selected for the stage definitely brings a feeling of "Hey, there are traps and puzzles everywhere" for anyone familiar with it, and those just weren't there. Then to go from that to Pokemon music was just...Well, like I said, really jarring and just didn't fit.
Honestly, this is really a poor stage. Try for replayability, interesting mechanics, and depth next time.
There's so much potential with this map but it's all lost so much in many areas
First is that there's nothing that gives the player any sense of direction. I got lost so many times, I don't even know. The dark room with the crystals...Maybe I'm missing something major there because I'm playing OpenGL, but that is ENTIRELY black and I can't even tell what I'm supposed to be doing there. I just quit and started playing as another character. Your rings are kinda just scattered and they lack Deaf tags, a necessary component for this game.
I really wish I could rate this better but its flaws make it impossible to navigate. It's clear a lot of love and work went into this. I don't think it's unsalvageable, but it's definitely going to take work to get it anywhere.
Emerald Lake Zone, Act 2
Please stop submitting maps like this to the OLDC. I'm tired of playing your low-quality maps out of necessity to give fair reviews for everyone. It's been 10 years, there's no justification for maps of this quality from you anymore.
EDIT: And deliberately including terrible content that you know is terrible content really shows that you have no care what you're doing. Placement for this map moved to the bottom for deliberately ignoring good design practice.