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Old 07-03-2014   #101
ZX
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I honestly have nothing to say about this OLDC, as I wasn't really impressed by anything, so here're my rankings.

Spoiler: Single Player
1. Seraphic Skylands (Control sector anyone? http://puu.sh/9Uvrb/26e2af1b93.png)
2. Sand Valley
3. Clock Towers
4. Glacier Gear
5. Floral Road
6. Sacred Woodland
7. Emerald Lake (http://puu.sh/9Uvn6/5d7b475b8b.png)
8. Midnight Caves
9. Egg Outposts

Spoiler: Multiplayer
Match
1. Climate Chaos
2. Moonlit Precipice
3. Crystal Coast (0/10 best in show)

CTF
1. Forbidden Woods
2. Techno Laser
3. Quicksand Caverns
4. Old Sport
5. Wtf? Ctf
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Old 07-03-2014   #102
Fawfulfan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZX View Post
I honestly have nothing to say about this OLDC, as I wasn't really impressed by anything, so here're my rankings.
Did you play some different OLDC than the one I played?
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Old 07-03-2014   #103
MascaraSnake
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fawfulfan View Post
My main complaint is that the puzzles are very unintuitive at times...the Knux path, for instance, did not make it obvious that you were supposed to glide over that red laser field and then dart between the glass partitions quickly enough to reach the platform on the other side.
There is no Knux path in this level. I'm not sure what part you're talking about, but I suspect it's the section with the laser walls and the bouncy pads at the beginning. In which case, Knuckles can certainly glide through there, but the intended way to go through it is to use the bouncy pads.
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Old 07-03-2014   #104
ZX
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fawfulfan View Post
Did you play some different OLDC than the one I played?
If I did, I wouldn't be posting here, now would I? :U

The only two levels that left an impression on me were Seraphic Skylands due to its pretty texturing setup and (what I can only assume was a) Skybox, and Clock Towers because of the new concept. (Oh, and Glacier Gear's FUCKING PENGUINS-- *annoyed exhale*) Other than that, I can't exactly say it blew me away.
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Old 07-03-2014   #105
toaster
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I called them Waddaleks but Mystic's "hate penguins" term has kind of caught on in #srb2fun so I guess that's what they're called forever

Also Fawfulfan, SpiritCrusher is right. The left path, with the lasers, is not a Knux path. You're supposed to bounce from wall to wall, because they're wall-mounted bounce pads. BUT OH WELL
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Old 07-03-2014   #106
MascaraSnake
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Seraphic Skylands Zone
Clock Towers Zone
Sand Valley Zone
Glacier Gear Zone
Floral Road Zone Act 1
Sacred Woodland Zone
Egg Outposts Zone
Midnight Caves Zone
Emerald Lake Zone Act 2

Just a small heads up about the scores I gave: They're meant to compare directly to the scores I gave the official levels in that other thread, so they're going to be fairly harsh. Please don't take it the wrong way if I you think I gave a your map a really low score, a 5/10 is already quite an accomplishment in my book, especially considering how much work goes in a full-fledged single player map. And with that, here are my reviews (warning: huge!).

Spoiler: Seraphic Skylands Zone
Seraphic Skylands Zone - 10/10
It's no secret that I'm a raging fanboy for this, so I'll try not to gush too much over it. What makes this stage so great to me is the same thing that some of the people who didn't rate it quite as highly criticized: It's easy to miss just how much cool stuff there is in this level. Part of that comes from the visuals of course, which are so mindblowing that they command all the attention, but the other reason is that the gimmicky segments are interspersed with more rudimentary platforming. To some this is a flaw, I guess, to me it's the secret to its success: flow. The flow in this level is so good that I keep playing it again and again even though I already knew it inside out before the contest even started. Combine that with the tons of hidden stuff, some of which required a bit of cleverness to find, and the fact that the cool, gimmicky parts are spread over so many different paths, and the replayability goes through the roof. This is a level that doesn't reveal its full greatness to you in one playthrough, and that to me is a sign of a really exceptional stage. I would love to talk about all the bazillion other things that made this map so great, but this voting post is already oversized enough, so I'll shut up.

I guess I should mention some of the flaws of the map, few as they were. The framerate drop is an obvious issue, and although it didn't bother me much, some of the more notorious sections could stand to be simplified for the sake of playability. Somebody already mentioned the confusing path merge on the "forest" path, but I think that was already fixed in the extended version that you had to scrap at the last minute. A minor issue in the big spindash platform room on the "temple" path: The diagonal springs next to 1-up push the player against an empty wall. I guess the intention was to let the player fall down to the corridor entrance below, but this is still a confusing moment where it looks like I'm being flung into nowhere for a second.

The one gimmick that I think didn't work so well was the part where you had to jump up waterfalls at just the right point in your jump to gain extra height. I must have played through this section a dozen times, but I still can't do it consistently because it's hard to tell at which point in your jump you're supposed to enter the waterfall. Abusing SRB2's wonky water physics isn't a good idea for a gimmick. I'm also a bit sad that the Knuckles path that was supposed to bypass this area didn't happen after all, but no Knuckles path is definitely better than what was there before.


Spoiler: Clock Towers Zone
Clock Towers Zone - 8/10
Axis2D is a revolution in itself, and your map certainly uses it well - not just in the obvious ways - but it's more than just an Axis2D showcase. If we look back at this map in a few years (hopefully after more Axis2D maps have been made), I don't think we'll say "well, it was cool at the time because the gimmick was new, but it's nothing special now". The bouncy chains are a great gimmick that you used in absolutely crazy ways, most of which I would have never thought of in my entire life. I especially loved the chain on the Knuckles path that you had to glide into from just the right angle. The less gimmicky obstacles were also very creative. One specific example that stuck to my head was the part where two beams, each with a spring on it, were stacked on top of each other. A very simple idea, executed by very simple means, but nonetheless something I have never seen anywhere else before. I've even grown to love the room with the downwards platforming, which I used to dislike. The reason for that was probably that I would just jump blindly down instead of using the safe spot - it seemed so alluring to just skip all the "tedious" platforming. Of course, I later realized that falling into the inevitable spike was my just punishment for trying to cheat my way through the room, and from that point onwards I appreciated the room.

Obstacle-wise, there's pretty much nothing wrong with the map. The bone of contention is the enemy placement. I'm probably in the minority for thinking it was mostly fine and occasionally even contributed to my enjoyment (something that's far too rare with SRB2 enemies), but I will admit there were some problems that knocked the map from a 9 to an 8. While I liked the strategic element of waiting for the Egg Guards to turn around so I could hit them, their AI often refused to cooperate, turning around at totally arbitrary times. Some of them were also placed on ledges that were so small that you practically couldn't kill them without falling into some spikes or down to a previous part of the path. A few others had way too much room to walk, which caused them to appear in contexts where they wouldn't turn around at all. As for the Robo-Hoods, I actually thought most of them were fairly placed and totally avoidable unless you stood still, but some of them were indeed placed cheaply. The ones at the path split inside the final building were basically unavoidable without luck because they were so close to you and you actually had to move towards them. In the final room, there was one next to the bouncy chain where you had to gain a lot of height that was excessively tedious to avoid. In a few other sections, Robo-Hoods from the previous section were still able to shoot at you in the current section, which could be quite annoying.

One issue that isn't related to enemy placement is the path layout in the final building. In general I think it's awesome how much the paths intertwine, but three paths behind each other in the same room was a bit much and made it quite hard to see where you were going, especially on the middle path.


Spoiler: Sand Valley Zone
Sand Valley Zone - 7/10
A bit of a disappointment in that it would be totally epic if not for a few issues that kill the fun at times. For the most part I think the quicksand is a great gimmick, even the fast one with the countdown is fine for the most part (unless you are Knuckles - since you have to mash jump to escape, a lot of the time you cancel your glide immediately after getting out because you pressed jump one time too many, causing you to sink right back in). But the parts where you had to jump from static sandfall to static sandfall could be very frustrating. The problem is that you need to exit the sandfall with a jump because you need your special ability afterwards to get to the next one. However, once you start to jump, you lose almost all of your horizontal momentum. This led to situations where I was very close to the edge of a sandfall, jumping repetitively because I needed the thok afterwards but not quite making it out. Eventually I would either hit the ceiling or stop jumping at just the wrong moment, both of which led me to fall to my death. Eventually I got the hang of it: Gather some horizontal momentum and then jump once at the egde. However, until I had that realization, it was very frustrating, and even now I sometimes just barely misjudge the jump, leading to cheap deaths. The intermittently falling sandfalls didn't really have that problem since I would just mash jump until they disappeared and then thok over to the next ledge, but even that could get somewhat tedious.

Another problem was the enemy placement. The BASHs were in fact placed extremely well, always clearly visible but often requiring quick reactions to avoid getting hit. The Minuses could be annoying at times, especially when they were placed on very small (or very brown) platforms. Minuses are best used in at least somewhat open situations where the player has some kind of chance to react. In a few spots I found myself jumping on a platform only to be immediately knocked back off by a Minus. The real kicker were the Detons though. I'm not sure why you even placed Detons to begin with, since they don't really fit thematically, but with a few exceptions they were extremely irritating. Many of them were hidden behind 90 corners, where you would immediately get hit if you were curious and took a look in the other direction. Others were hidden behind crates, which again punished the curious and accomplished nothing else. But the worst ones were on Knuckles' path. You must have had some temporary loss of sanity while designing that section, because nobody in their right mind would combine a timing challenge with a homing attack enemy!

Apart from those (glaring!) issues, the map was excellent. You found a lot of very good applications for the quicksand - the sinking crates and the sections where you had to sink into the quicksand to avoid spikeballs were especially cool - and I must thank you especially for demonstrating that quicksand can be a hazard without placing a death pit underneath it. The Knuckles path, aside from the Detons, was also brilliant, especially the parts involving crumbling platforms. It's rare to see a test of reflexes in SRB2 that isn't cheap. I was also a big fan of the way you stacked your paths on top of each other, causing you to fall to a different path if you messed up certain jumps. It can be quite a challenge to do this in 3D because getting the paths to end up where you want them to be is hard, but you pulled it off marvelously.

I did have a few other complaints though. In the large room with the sandfall in the middle of the map, the second set of spindash platforms was kind of frustrating because of how easy it was to overshoot. I know that this section was designed before 2.1 came out, but with the new buff to the spindash, the platforms are too close to the player. At the first path split, I felt that the paths in the cave were much less interesting than the other two: the quicksand-spikeball gimmick was already used on another path, and the other path didn't have much of interest besides some rudimentary sandfall climbing. The room where these two paths merge also has a somewhat disorienting layout, and a weird-looking (because it's square) rope pulley that's a bit out of place since the rest of the level doesn't use rope pulleys. Another general complaint was that you used the falling beams in hallways a LOT, and towards the end they get a bit tedious (of course, this depends on the combination of paths you take). And finally another minor issue: Some small platforms were positively overloaded with tumbleweeds, which made it quite hard to see the boundaries of the platform.

If you remove the Detons from the map and find some way to make the sandfall mechanics less frustrating, this could be a truly glorious map. As it stands, it's still very entertaining, but with a few rage-inducing sections.


Spoiler: Glacier Gear Zone
Glacier Gear Zone - 6/10
I kind of feel bad giving you such a comparatively low rating, especially after giving you mostly positive feedback on IRC, but the more I play your map, the more I realize that one thing bothers me enormously: Especially in the first half, your map is a total gimmickfest, and I mean that in the worst sense of the word. Every room seems to be specifically built to support a single idea, and apart from that one idea, the room is entirely uninteresting. Sometimes this is of course unavoidable - something like the waterslide room has to be self-contained to work - but your map frustrates me because with most of your ideas it's NOT necessary, and some of them would in fact work better if they were used in a larger context. To me this the most obvious in the room with the waterfall that periodically dowses a bouncy pad. Sure, the fact that the bouncy pads short out in water is the central idea of your level, and it's a great idea. But this particular implementation of it doesn't strike me as interesting enough to deserve an entire room devoted to just this and nothing else. Yes, I know there is an emblem accessible from that room, but that's bonus content. The gist of the room is just that one waterfall with that one bouncy pad in it. You demonstrate the basic concept, there's a little timing challenge, but then that's it. The room has barely begun, but you suddenly decide that this is enough and switch to the next room. As a player, I've just begun to get into it when you suddenly pull the rug out from under me and kill all the momentum that this little bit of action has built. I expect you to either give me some variations on the same waterfall/bouncy pad combination or, if you can't find any other use for it, continue the room with some other, possibly related idea. Anything but just stop the fun after a mere five seconds of action and send me into a hallway.

Various variations of this problem occur all through the first half. The bouncy pad/laser combination is such a sudden rush of difficulty (perhaps too much for the very start of the level) that I feel bait-and-switched when I'm then suddenly dropped into a room where something entirely else is going on. The same goes for the room with the horizontal bouncy pads. This is an idea that deserves a buildup and some elaboration, but you just throw a very advanced variation of it at us, way too difficult considering we've just gotten accustomed to the idea of horizontal bouncy pads, and then abandon the entire thing. It's as if ACZ1 began with its final room and then stopped using rope pulleys for the next two minutes of gameplay. In the room that is flooded by the laser doorway trigger, I feel like you didn't think your idea all the way through. The idea itself is marvelous: "Bouncy pads short out in water, so let's make a room that plays differently depending on whether or not it's flooded." But you don't really seem to grasp the possibilities you can milk out of "plays differently". The way the room originally was (for everyone else who reads this, I already mentioned this problem to toaster during the beta phase and he changed the room to accommodate my complaint), "plays differently" only meant that you can no longer use the bouncy pads as shortcuts. But this only acknowledges the useful attributes of the bouncy pads, it ignores their function as a hazard when shorted out. I suggested that you remedy this by revamping the room to place the bouncy pads in more strategic, so that they're actually in the player's way when the room is flooded. Of course, this was very late in development and you couldn't do much about it anymore. You did enlarge one of them to take up more place on the platform, but it's still easy to avoid, and that particular pad isn't even that useful when the water is down. I feel like the basic idea here could make for a really awesome room, but this is not that room, sadly.

The room with the drill is disappointing for somewhat different reasons. Big red buttons that you have to press to activate an effect somewhere else in the room have long been a pet peeve of mine, and one of the main reasons I was glad when I heard THZ2 would be redone. Granted, the drill that the button activates is right next to it, but it's not really about the distance anyway. Pressing a button is, in itself, such a dull activity (the few platforms you have to climb in this case don't help all that much) that it doesn't offset the fact that something cool happens when I do it, for me at least. It just doesn't feel truly interactive if I press a button and then something happens that I didn't even know about beforehand. If you're gonna have the player trigger an effect like this, I think you should at least let him trigger it with a mechanism that is fun in itself. Not that I have any idea what such a mechanism would be. The platforming with the waterfall dodging itself is fine, one of the better moments in the first half, but I'm not too keen on the water pit, which is essentially dead space except for its purpose as an escape ruote. The challenge itself isn't that easy, so some players will probably fall into the water quite often and then have to get out and do it again and so forth. With challenges where the punishment is having to redo the challenge, you want to make it as convenient and quick as possible to get back to the spot where you can try again.

At this point I have complained about pretty much every room in the first half of the level, except the opening room (which is completely fine), the platforming room before the flooding room (not particularly interesting but not a big issue, you kind of went overboard with the random Jet Jaw and Mine placement here) and the waterslide (fine by itself, but in the context of what came before and what comes after it, it feels like yet another quick diversion that's over as soon as it starts). I was admittedly very nitpicky so far, so let me just say that none of the level is actually bad or anything like that. The first half is generally enjoyable, it just feels unsatisfying, both because of individual issues with the rooms and because the level progression amplifies these issues. But then, out of nowhere, these issues all magically disappear. The second half is much much stronger than the first half, and if I were to average it out, I'd probably have to give the level a 7 (it was close either way). I didn't because the second half doesn't go on for quite long enough to wash away the impression from the first half, but scores don't matter anyway, so...

Now for the pleasant part. The 2D section is absolutely brilliant and interestingly enough does everything right that I just criticized about the first half. For the first time in the level you don't cut off the momentum built up by an obstacle immediately afterwards. Instead you let the fun continue, and the result is the most enjoyable section in the map. It helps that you're first one to use the THZ slime like this, but it would be enjoyable even if it had been done before. This is also the only place where you use the bouncy pads in a combo pattern, which is honestly something I expected you would do more in this level. The rooms before and after the 2D section are a bit rudimentary, and I wish you had hidden even more stuff in them, but they're enjoyable as well. In general I felt that exploration was something of an afterthought in your level, although you remedied it somewhat with the emblems.

I want to stress again that I'm complaining on an exceptionally high standard here. The problem is less with what is there, which is generally enjoyable, and more with what could be there. You didn't exactly make it easy on yourself, tackling many concepts that are quite difficult to pull off. Considering this is your first "serious" level, it's an astonishing accomplishment that it turned out like it did.


Spoiler: Floral Road Zone Act 1
Floral Road Zone Act 1 - 5/10
I've seen worse GFZ clones. That said, there are a few issues that prevent this from being any more than average. In a GFZ clone, since the gameplay is going to be so basic, you want to make sure there's a lot to explore. You're clearly aware of this, since you placed a lot of monitors all around the level, but the general layout of the level, especially the outdoor rooms, is somewhat counterproductive to exploration. Basically, they're all round and fairly flat, with all the elevations shoved off to the side and a lot of dead space in the center. In other words, the player can already see everything that is in the room at first glance (except bustable walls, maybe). He might still need to figure out how to access some of the items, but nothing is really hidden from the player's view. It's hard to make a player interested in exploring your level if there's not really anything left to find. Compare a level like GFZ2 to yours and you will see the difference. In GFZ2, the topography is diverse and there are lots of areas that the player won't even be aware of at first glance. You actually have to explore the level to see all of the terrain, whether or not it actually contains any useful items. What happens in your level isn't really exploration, it's more like item hunting. Which is fine on its own - not everything has to be hidden from the player's view, it can also be very fun to figure out how to get to something that is in plain sight - but it's the only type of exploration that exists in your level, and that hurts the replay value. A bit more diversity and complexity in the layout would go a long way towards making your map more interesting.

The indoor areas were generally better, because that's where the action was happening. I especially liked the room where you had to do some platforming over a current that ran backwards. That was a very nice way of adding some platforming that's still basic and easy, but not trivial. I also liked how you drew attention to the path split, with a low hanging beam you can either spindash under or jump on top of. That's a lot more organic than just having two exits to a room. The last cave before the final area was also an instance of exploration done right, because you couldn't see everything there is to that room at first glance, but the room felt somewhat weird because the actual path hugged the right wall, with the rest of the room seemingly being there for no reason at all. Switching to the outdoor areas again, there was the occasional issue with direction, especially in the first one. I already mentioned this in the Sacred Woodland review because I did the reviews out of order, but let me repeat it for you again: Don't start out the player in an area where he already has to make choices about where to go. Give him a second or two of straightforward running so he can look at what's ahead of him and make a decision.

A few words about the extra game mechanics you introduced: Only add something like that to the game if it really makes a difference. I found the speed boost after collecting 30 rings mostly pointless, especially since there weren't really any sections where speed was all that beneficial. The 5 ring boxes were also completely pointless. You have more than enough control over how many rings you want to give the player with single rings and 10 ring boxes, so don't introduce a new monitor that doesn't really accomplish anything. Maybe you thought it would add diversity or something like that, but it doesn't work that way. An item is only really interesting to the player if he can do something with it that he can't do with the other items. For the same reason, placing pity shields in a single player level isn't a good idea. The shield system is deliberately designed in such a way that all the shields have some extra value to them that the other shields don't have. By using a shield that is inferior to all of the others, you break that system for no gain.

All in all, a fairly average level, certainly a lot better than your first version of Floral Road, but still with some issues that prevent you from making a truly interesting GFZ clone (something that I do believe is possible).


Spoiler: Sacred Woodland Zone
Sacred Woodland Zone - 5/10
If Glacier Gear gets better and better as it goes on, this one gets worse and worse. It doesn't start at the same level of quality where Glacier Gear ends up, but still, the first half is a pretty decent half minute of platforming. Good layouts, good flow, the occasional secret item to keep things interesting on further playthroughs and... well, just the one mushroom, but better than nothing. I also liked the wooden structures you used throughout the level. Pretty much my only issue with the first half is how the level starts. The exit to the right is clearly visible, but the path to the left is obscured by trees and kind of confusing at first. It's also not a good idea to start a level directly at a split itself - you should give the player a second or two to get his bearings before confronting him with a path split. This could easily be fixed by placing a little corridor in front of the room and putting the player start there. Still, so far so decent in the first half of the level.

And then things start to go wrong. The first thing that bothered me were the abrupt teleports that came out of nowhere. Is it really so hard to keep your level in one piece? Especially when the level is as short and rudimentary as yours. If Spherallic can avoid teleports in a level as large and complex as his, you can do it in yours. And if for whatever reasons you do have to use teleports, at least try to make them seamless (see Chrome's level for example). The area that the teleports lead to is also strange. Big, epic building entrances are fine in big, epic stages, but this is completely disjointed from the rest of the level - you enter the building only to be teleported back into the forest, making this entire area pointless.

The second half of the level is initially not much worse than what came before, except for the Trapgoyles that fire into nowhere. If you place Trapgoyle in such a way that they are trivial to avoid, you might as well not place them at all. At the path split, it's not very clear that the hole in front of you is actually a separate path. You should place a trail of rings that leads towards it, or even downwards. The path that you drop down to is actually quite good. The Trapgoyles are used a bit more effectively here and there's some more decent platforming after that. The other path, though, is pretty much rubbish. I thought at this point it was generally known that button hunts aren't fun. On top of that, the spikeballs in front of the one button blend in so much with the background that they're impossible to see, and it's not obvious at all that the second button even exists. The teleports to the boss are even more disruptive than the previous teleports, since you don't even make an attempt at hiding them, and the boss itself is pretty much pointless. I play custom levels to see custom content, not to replay the same bosses I already fought in the game proper. Still, it didn't bother me that much, since Brak is surprisingly easy without his electric barrier.

Normally you'd expect a map to start out simple and then gradually become more and more intense/complex/difficult/whatever. This level does the opposite. It starts out promising and then it gradually fizzles out. It seems like you either lost interesting halfway through or had to rush this to meet the deadline. What saves you from a lower ranking is that even in its weaker parts it was never really frustrating or annoying, and at least it had proper content all the way through, even if some of that content wasn't so great.

And holy shit, tone down that filesize. If there are nine maps in a contest and you're responsible for almost half of the size of the ZIPs, you're doing something wrong.


Spoiler: Egg Outposts Zone
Egg Outposts Zone - 3/10
This review is gonna be long and painful, so if you're only taking one thing away from it, it should be this: Get a playtester. Hell, get a whole armada of playtesters. Join #srb2fun and forcefeed your betas to us like toaster did. Because trying to make a map of this scope without playtesting is madness. There's one thing that divides the maps I placed in the first four spots from the rest: They all received extensive playtesting from multiple people. I was involved in the playtesting for some of these maps, so I can tell you that they wouldn't be nearly as good as they are now without playtesting. And since you're a dangerous combination - a mapper that is both new and ambitious - playtesting is even more important for you. Even the most experienced mappers would have a hard time making a map of this scope without any feedback during the process. And since you're just starting out, it's only natural that you will run into problems and make mistakes that somebody like Spherallic or Chrome might not make. A lot of the problems in this map could have been avoided if you had had a second opinion, especially stuff like the extreme darkness in the cave.

The overall impression that I got from your level is that if Thompson had been a new mapper by the time he made Clockwork Grove, it would be kind of like this. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. You both have a fondness for large setpieces and gigantic vertical rooms that combine simple obstacles in creative ways to create unique challenges. You also both have a fondness for crude, occasional confusing layouts and tendency to clutter up the level with too much extraneous scenery. The difference is that Thompson's maps are fun and yours is frustrating. I don't think this is because Thompson has more mapping talent or better ideas that you do, he just has more experience. It's rare that somebody jumps into this whole mapping business with as much ambition and raw creativity as you did, and if set aside my own experiences as a player aside for a moment, I have to say I'm seriously impressed by the sheer amount of content you pumped into this map, a lot of which is technically complicated and must have required countless hours of dedicated work. Still, nobody starts out as a master level designer, and the downside of throwing everything you've got into your first map is that, most likely, it won't be a very pleasant experience for the player. It's absolutely true that the best way to learn is by making mistakes, so forgive me if I'm a bit cynical for a moment and say that you can certainly learn a lot from this map.

Most of the problems with your map were specific to certain sections, so I'll be going through the level step by step, but first let me mention some general issues: I already mentioned that you have a tendency to clutter up your rooms. As great as it is that you managed to pack so much stuff in your map (especially power-ups, the placement of which was one of the best things about this map), the clarity of the layout often suffers because of this. Unsurprisingly, this is most notable in the large rooms, like the factory entrance on the right path or the huge vertical room with the swinging chains near the end (I will call this the "climbing room" from now on). There's a lot to explore in these rooms, which is great, but the downside is that it's hard to figure out where you're supposed to go, which kills the flow. I know that this is a hard balance to strike: not enough stuff and you end up with dead space, too much stuff in the wrong places and the room becomes cluttered and confusing. One of your key jobs as a level designer is to figure out a layout that allows you to put a lot of content in a room and still have the path be straightforward.

Then there were some minor issues, like the fact that a lot of the rings don't float (which you're already aware of, apparently). I also have to question your motives behind placing score monitors on the map. Score monitors were invented to fix an issue in Record Attack, namely that extra lives are pointless. You're not supposed to place them like that, for the very simple reason that score rarely matters during normal gameplay unless you get enough to gain an extra life. I also went over pity shields in another review already, so I'm not gonna repeat myself. If you expand the roster of monitors, make sure the additional monitors actually add something to your map. Last but not least, while I didn't play the map extensively as Knuckles (I did play through the Knuckles path near the beginning, which was almost entirely devoid of anything interesting and could have been left out without any ill effect), I can imagine that it can be quite annoying because there are a lot of 96-fracunit jumps in your level. Remember that Knuckles' jump height is below that, so he has to use his climb ability to make the jumps, which quickly becomes tedious. For the most part, you should stick to 64-fracunit jumps.

Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let's dive right into the left path. The beginning, just like on the other path, was pretty corridor-y and flat and lacked any real action. Since this is your first map, I assume it took you a while to get used to make rooms that are more open and diverse, so I'm not going to dwell on this. The first section also had two crumbling floors that interrupted the flow for no good reason. Okay, the second one that dropped you into the cave was understandable, but the first one served no purpose but to stop the player dead in his tracks. As for the cave itself, I think by this point you're aware of the issue. The problem with darkness in SRB2 is that how dark the level actually varies wildly depending on your monitor, brightness settings and renderer. What might be comfortably playable for one might be pitch black for another. No guarantees can be made for anything below a light level of 128. For that reason you probably shouldn't attempt to use darkness as a gimmick.

Aside from this general issue, it also seemed like the design of the cave didn't actually take into account that it was dark. There were crystals that acted as a light source, but instead of highlighting important platforms, they were scattered all over the room. The rooms themselves were also not nearly straightforward enough considering the fact that you can't really see where you're going, and many times I ended up going in the wrong direction because of this. At the part where the cave crosses back over itself and you have to bounce on a mushroom, the mushroom itself was easy to overlook and miss, which caused me to fall back down and have to do everything all over again a bunch of times. In the last cave area, where you break the ceiling (nice cutscene by the way, even if it was horribly laggy), I didn't really get the point of the waterslide that led to back to the other path. It can be nice to have connections between paths after they've already split off (see Sand Valley), but not like this. Since the section the river leads to is much earlier in the level progression than the part it comes from, there's really no point in jumping into it, but the player doesn't know this, so until he has memorized the level layout, you're basically ripping him off.

I don't have much to say about the stuff that follows on this path after the cave. The factory might just be my least favorite section of the map, since not only does it contain almost nothing of interest, the Deton placement is also even worse than in Sand Valley. If you're placing Detons like they're placed in THZ2, you're doing it wrong. The player should always be able to see a Deton before it sees him, and he should always be able to somehow lure it into a wall or something and escape unharmed. The Detons in your level came out of nowhere and were almost impossible to avoid. There was also a little cave area between the two halves of the factory that, aside from being kind of pointless, also had a strange layout that caused me to go in circles a few times.

Now for the right path. This path was much better overall, but still a long way from perfect, or even thoroughly enjoyable. This was where the general issue with cluttered rooms and confusing path layout came into play the most, but once I got acquainted with it, this path had some very enjoyable things on it. There was a LOT of exploration to do, especially in the extended river section, which was probably the most structurally interesting part of the level. I very much enjoyed exploring the riverbanks, but what dampened my enjoyment was that if you fell into the river and didn't try to get out, it was basically a long cutscene in which nothing happened. What was especially weird that if you stayed in the river, you could actually skip part of the level. Rewarding the player for not doing anything is exactly the opposite of what you want to do. Still, if you could find some way to make the river itself more engaging, this section would really shine. Another part I liked were the laser patterns in the small factory building. The implementation was a bit crude, and it was way too tempting to just abuse temporary invincibility to skip this section, but once I actually tried to avoid the alternating laser, I found it very enjoyable.

But then we come to what I already called the climbing room earlier (the rest of the path is mostly simpler platforming, which was generally fine, so I don't have anything to say about that). This is a room that could be very fun if it was executed correctly, but it's not. For one thing, the whole room is simply too tall. If you fall down, you have to redo a lot of platforming until you get to the point where you failed, and fall down you will. A lot. The general path through this room is everything but obvious. This starts with the way you enter the room, from a high platforming that allows you jump right into the middle of the whole climbing sequence. Because there's so much random stuff on the floor of this room, finding the point where the whole climbing sequence starts can be pretty difficult if you fell down. Several parts of the climbing sequence itself were quite unintuitive: Several jumps were very long and high and looked like you couldn't make it. Several platforms that you had to jump to weren't in clear view. With some of the bouncy mushrooms, it wasn't obvious from which position you should jump on them.

Then, once it got to the swinging chain, you made the fatal mistake of placing pop-up turrets right next to them. That's just annoying, because you have to stand still to grab on to the chain, which means they will probably hit you if you didn't go out of your way to kill them. And if they do hit, you fall right back down to the beginning of the room. The laser pattern on the floor of that one tree is almost impossible to dodge because the floor curves around the tree in such a way that you can only ever see a small part of it. On top of that, the spring that leads you upwards is tucked away in a corner where you might easily miss this. Finally, if you die and respawn at the star post, you have actually have to backtrack to the button that removed the laser barrier in front of the exit. Once I figured out all these issues and how to avoid them, the room became kind of fun, but up until then, it was a horrible experience. This is a room of considerable complexity where finetuning can make a huge difference, and this is another reason why playtesting is important. You're the designer, so you already know all the tricks, but it's not until you involve people who have never played the map that you discover issues like this that can completely ruin an otherwise fun room.

...which brings us back to the beginning of my review. You definitely seem like a mapper who has the dedication and the hunger to do great things, but until you get there, it's gonna need a lot of practice, just like it did for everyone else. This level is a huge first step though, and I hope the mostly negative reception doesn't stop you from taking this as an opportunity to take into account our criticism and make a better second map. And then an ever better third map, and an even better fourth map, and so forth. I'm definitely looking forward to what you do next!


Spoiler: Midnight Caves Zone
Midnight Caves Zone - 3/10
This feels less like a map and more like a disjointed series of unrelated, mostly empty rooms. A lot of the level consisted of glorified hallways where nothing was going on, and even when something was going on, it was generally limited to rudimentary platforming and maybe a crumbling platform or two. One path had a waterslide with some spike dodging, which is at least something, but the small, dark spikeballs were hard to see against the background, which made this section kind of irritating. There's a reason why Chrome resprited the spikeballs for his level. The 2D section seemed like an attempt to do something interesting, but you never did anything with it. The mere fact that a section is in 2D doesn't automatically make it interesting. The same goes for zoom tubes. There were a number of reasons why zoom tubes were fine in ERZ - they fit thematically, they were pretty much the only way to keep a level as large as ERZ2 connected without teleporters, they provided a good way to flip the gravity between rooms, and they provided a breather between all the heavy action. None of these really apply in your level, and thus the zoom tube seems pointless and out of place. Even worse are teleporters, which are disruptive on top of being out of place. Your level isn't so large or complex that you have to resort to teleporters, it just requires a bit of pre-planning with where your paths are going.

Another problem with your map is how confusing some parts of it are, especially the beginning. The center of the room is slightly lower than the ledge you start out on, which means it's partially obscured even if you're close to it. The hill to your left is also blocked from your view, so basically you have zero overview over the room. This is fatal, since paths spread out in several directions, not all of which are clearly apparent to the player - the one that leads up the hill even requires you to do a U-turn. Both the tunnel entrance with the vines and the floating platforms to your right that cross over the room from above are clearly visible, but you can't see that the tunnel actually leads there, which adds further confusion. Finally, there are two entrances to the path on the top of the hill, one of which requires you to do some pointless platforming just to get to the other, even though you could have just walked there. This isn't a Match map, where multiple connections between the same areas are a good thing - this is single player, where the path forward is supposed to be clear.

Other sections are confusing as well. In the underwater area that the right exit of the waterslide leads to, you have to climb up a series of steps only to jump back down again to use a row of poorly visible springs that... lead you back up again. On my first playthrough of this particular segment, I got totally confused because I was looking for additional platforms that weren't there - it's entirely counterintuitive that you're supposed to jump back into the water. The final room was also quite weird because the exit was tucked away below the entrance of the room. I didn't get lost because the path eventually led you there, but I was still confused for a moment. Oddly enough, some of the LESS confusing areas had arrows that pointed to the exit. I'm not a fan of arrows because they're basically an admission by the level designer that he failed to make the layout clear on its own, but if you're gonna use them at all, at least use them in the spots where they're necessary.

I don't want to sound too negative because for the most part, the level wasn't offensive or incompetently designed - it just wasn't interesting. Pretty much the only thing stood out positively was that some of the rooms used the leftover space quite well to place hidden items. Other rooms, however, were almost totally empty, especially on the path with the glass ceilings. If you can't fill up the space in a room with interesting stuff, it's probably too large. The general impression I got from your level is that you're probably capable of much better things, you just get bored with a room before it's finished and move on to the next. If you actually spend your time planning out the level and making sure every room is as polished and interesting as it could be, I think you can make something quite enjoyable.

Two more stray observations I couldn't fit in anywhere else:
  • Invisible windows are unintuitive and only serve to annoy players that want to explore your level. Either make it clear visually that the windows are closed off (by adding bars or a glass texture) or allow the player to go through.
  • The staircase in the first room had strangely large steps, some of which had a step-up and some of which didn't. The player should always be able to walk up a staircase without jumping.

Spoiler: Emerald Lake Zone Act 2
Emerald Lake Zone Act 2 - 3/10
While this is never as frustrating as Egg Outposts Zone, it commits the even bigger crime of being totally devoid of anything interesting. At least Egg Outposts Zone tried and failed. You didn't even try. And since you have proven time and time again over the last nine years that you are either unwilling or unable to accept our criticism, I won't waste my time trying to provide you with any.

Last edited by MascaraSnake; 07-06-2014 at 02:11 PM.
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Old 07-03-2014   #107
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Originally Posted by Rob View Post
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.
Sorry for asking so late, but I wanted to know: What do you mean by giving Sonic more precision?
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Old 07-03-2014   #108
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Spoiler: Single Player
#1: Glacier Gear Zone by toaster (Superior with Distinction)

I needed this, but didn't know it until I played it. Bait out penguins to advance, wall bounce on bouncy walls, I especially liked the security laser thingy that made the given part of the map harder if you hit it. Enemies that aren't glorified decorations? Check. Gimmicks that are interesting and don't make me roll my eyes? Check. A level I enjoyed enough to play through a couple more times? Check.

#2: Clock Tower Zone by RedEnchilada and Pac (Superior)

This is how 2d mode should have been from the beginning. Level is well constructed, somewhat challenging and for once in this game's history actually benefits from being in 2d mode. Clock faces looked funny but the gear fakery made up for it. Now all we need is a cleaner more official implementation.

#3: Seraphic Skylands Zone by Spherallic (Excellent)

Superb looking level, well constructed, well executed, but nothing gameplay-wise really stood out.

#4: Sand Valley Zone by Chrome (Good)

Good ideas with lackluster execution. The quicksand mechanic looks good on paper but in practice overuse (huge columns in room, jump in, spam jump to traverse, repeat) trivializes any difficulty this level might have had otherwise. When I saw that you had columns of quicksand falling with crumbling platforms in between, I thought I was finally in for something, only to realize that if I just jumped into the quicksand columns instead of avoiding them, the entire section was completely trivial. This level is good looking and well constructed.

#5: Egg Outposts Zone by Tyrannic (Good)

A lot of poorly executed but otherwise great ideas. I like seeing someone try something interesting even if the execution isn't so great. Remember to check the ambush flag on your rings. Main issue was the lack of direction in the level, you need to make the right way more attractive to the player than the wrong way. I had to peek in a map editor to see how to get in the building on the right path. The vast majority of the level was well constructed and it is clear that there was some good thought involved during creation.

#6: Sacred Woodland by HAPPYFOX (Fair)

The firebolt mechanic for the Robohood was interesting, otherwise the level was generic, and well constructed.

#7: Midnight Caves Zone by Chaobrother (Fair)

Nothing out of the ordinary here. Generic, and well constructed.

#8: Floral Road Zone, Act 1 by "Lat'" (Fair)

Nothing out of the ordinary here. Generic, and well constructed.

#9: Emerald Lake Zone, Act 2 by glaber (Fair)

Nothing out of the ordinary here. Generic, and well constructed.

Spoiler: Match
#1: Climate Chaos Zone by EvilEternity3000 (Good)

Good idea, but could have used way more overall changes on the map for each theme. Only the water and to a lesser extent the zero gravity themes actually had a significant impact on gameplay. The underlying map itself isn't all that interesting, big loop to the top, jump down, repeat. Having more things change could have really helped that.

#2: Moonlit Precipice Zone by Knux576 (Fair)

Cluttered with scenery objects but otherwise well constructed.

#3: Crystal Coast Zone by Steel Titanium (Poor)

It is a bit late to say this now, but you probably shouldn't have submitted one of your first maps to contest. Keep working at it and don't get too discouraged by your contest results. It is to be expected.

Spoiler: CTF
#1: Quicksand Caverns Zone by RedEnchilada (Excellent)

The bad news is that quicksand is pretty annoying. Good news is it doesn't matter because is all avoidable and does a good job of punishing poor movement. Map flows well and there are even some mixups you can do in the quicksand. Map also is a good size, navigates clearly with multiple choices, and doesn't overstay its welcome. Can't really ask for much else.

#2: Techno Laser 4 by CoatRack (Good)

Great looking, well constructed map that for the most part flows pretty well. The only problem is, there are simply too many places to hide with the flag.

#3: Forbidden Woods Zone by the cyan (Fair)

Could have used more color (texture) indication of what side of the map I was on. The Sonic/Knux flags only did so much. The springs leading up to the flag platforms were pretty annoying at first until I realized how much they benefited the defenders. Otherwise well constructed, but nothing to write home about.

#4: Old Sport Zone Act 1922: New Money vs Old Money by Jellybones and Eblo (Fair)

I am glad to say that the furniture scenery didn't get in the way anywhere near as much as I would have thought from first glance. Of course the scenery didn't really add anything either...

#5: Wtf? Ctf by Root and CyanFox (Bad)

I hope for your sake this is a joke level. I am assuming from the name that it is.
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Old 07-04-2014   #109
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Spoiler: Coop
1 Seraphic Skylands
2 Clock towers
3 Floral Road
4 Sand Valley
5 Glacier Gear
6 Sacred Woodland
7 Egg Outposts
8 Midnight Caves
9 Emerald Lake


Last edited by FN.FIRESONIK; 07-04-2014 at 06:06 PM.
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Old 07-05-2014   #110
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Whoo! OLDC is back!

Righto, only Single Player here, as usual.


1. | Seraphic Skylands
2. | Glacial Gear
3. | Clock Towers
4. | Sand Valley
5. | Sacred Woodland
6. | Floral Road
7. | Egg Outpost
8. | Midnight Caves
9. | Emerald Lake


Spoiler: Comments

Seraphic Skylands

This is the stuff of dreams.

No further comments.

Ok, actually, I lied. I'm awake now, which means I can give comments.

First off, this level is HUGE. ABSOLUTELY HUGE. The amount of stuff you've jammed into this map is glorious. I just spent a full 4 minutes exploring it—utterly fantastic.

Secondly, the graphics are god-tier. This has to be the best-looking SRB2 level I've ever seen—and perhaps one of the best-looking pieces of architecture I've ever seen. Ever. Everything just fits so perfectly together in a way I've never seen before. I thought that Glacier Gear looked fantastic until I saw this—Glacier Gear pales in comparison.

Absolutely brilliant.

One bug I caught, though:


(sorry for the framerate, needed compression)

There's a small patch of ice/crystal at the opening of the cave (right path @ 1st split) that does not have a friction modifier effect. This does not appear anywhere else that I noticed, though, and similarly is the only bug I can see.


Glacier Gear

[literally dies]


Clock Towers

OH YEAH. I've been waiting a very long time for this type of level.

First off, your script is fantastic. The gameplay was pretty good in that sense, with some minor bugs here and there (knocking into an egg guard and teleporting to a spot about 75 feet away) that are probably just due to SRB2's potato physics hating you. Anyway, the graphics had some good concepts but lacked in execution—same with the gimmicks—but since this did exist to show off the script I'd say you've succeeded.


Sand Valley

This level looks pretty good. I like it a lot, actually. However, your sandfalls toward the middle are buggy as all hell and the physics dies when you leave them half the time—causing me to game over TWICE at this segment.

That, however, is my only complaint.


Sacred Woodland

This level looks GOOD. It's really executed well for what it's trying to do.

No real complaints here!

Also, watch yourself: some nasty HOMs on the loose!




Floral Road

Wow. This level is like pure 1.08/1.09 nostalgia.

I love it.

Few things: I LOVE the amount of exploration possible here. Nothing is blocked and everything is open. Actually...too open, in some places. Some rooms are so open they feel empty. Maybe either add stuff to the middle of those or close 'em off a little...nothing too much, but just enough.

Also, I love the geometry. Looks great!

Also, watch this HOM:




Egg Outposts

I mean, jellybean jungle zone.

This level got better as it went on, but overall was just kinda meh. Also, those rings will be the deaf of me. Get it? Get it?

Anyway, there's some solid gameplay in here, and then there...isn't. Like the outpost entry room on the left-first path split that totally baffled me. Some rooms are nice and spacious, and others are hallways you barely fit through. Similarly, there's some cool visual moments, like the cave-shattering thing that destroyed my PC with lag and the subsequent red caves that looked cool until they turned back into pastel-eye-burning.

But by no means is this a terrible map at all.


Midnight Caves

Not a bad level. Looks pretty good, plays pretty good...it's really quite empty, and kinda...empty...


Emerald Lake

Meh. Exceedingly meh.

A lot of same, same, same...not much gameplay...not much content...really not much to talk about. Big and empty with a few cramped corridors stuck here and there. Some of your geometry is great, though—please, please flesh this thing out.

Also, half your moto-bugs don't work...

Last edited by Metal96; 07-07-2014 at 11:29 PM.
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Old 07-05-2014   #111
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Multiplayer
Match
1.Moonlit Precipice
2.Climate Chaos
3.Crystal Coast
CTF
1.Forbidden Woods (by me)
2.Techno Laser Zone 4
3.Quicksand Caverns
4.Old Sport
5.Wtf? CTF

Last edited by the cyan; 07-09-2014 at 08:37 PM.
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Old 07-05-2014   #112
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Single Player votes
1. Glacier Gear
2. Seraphic Skylands
3. Clock Towers
4. Sand Valley
5. Floral road
6. Egg Outposts
7. Emerald Lake
8. Midnight Caves
9. Sacred Woodland
Spoiler: Reviews

Now that I’ve played all of the single player maps to completion. Having explored the entire level, to the best of my knowledge, and gotten all emblems available in the level, if there are any (barring perfect bonuses and devtime emblems as some crazy people implemented) it’s time to do some reviews and general commentary. No numbered scores because I always hated giving those out, trying to put a numerical value on my opinions is silly.

Floral Road review

This is a very average map, and honestly, I’m okay with that. I had a lot of fun playing through this and I appreciate the effort you’ve put into it by including emblems and record attack bonuses too.

With regards to your stat buff gauge you’re using, it doesn’t add much to this level but I assume you plan on using through all of New Horizons, it would be ideal if you could come up with a few areas and gimmicks in future levels that made good use of it. For example, a path only Sonic can access when his speed his boosted, things like that.

You have a good grasp on how large to make the rooms in your maps now too, there’s a lot of room for exploration and I fully approve of that.
When time attacking for the time emblem, I also liked the clever placing of the two speed shoe monitors.

Overall, I’d say this map is well designed but doesn’t bring much new to the game that the player hasn’t already seen by playing through SRB2’s vanilla campaign. But you are definitely improving and I’d love to see you make more levels!

also this

Sacred Woodland

The first thing that grabbed me with this level was how it is very atmospheric, you were going all out with your forest temple inspirations in the theming and level design. A notable area where I liked the visuals was on the long bridge leading up the temple, having the area get darker towards the sky was great.


For these lilly pads near the start, try making them separate FOFs rather than sharing the same control sector, so they bob independently of each other.


The spikeballs in this room need to be clearer, they’re very difficult to make out until you’re almost on top of them because the room is so dark, and they’re black objects against a grey background. Either using different hazards (or new spike ball sprites that stand out more) would have been better.

The dark tunnels should be more seamless if you plan on using them as teleporters like that, you can achieve this by making the exit fade to the light just as the entrances faded to the darkness and tick effect 4 on the linedef so the player retains their speed and momentum going through the tunnel.

SUDDENLY BRAK WOAH WHAT. While I like Brak as a boss, I don’t think he added anything to the level. Also his inclusion was completely out of tone to the rest of the map, as was the method of getting to the arena. A more organic way to enter rather than a high-tech teleporter in this collapsing woodland temple would have been nice. Incidentally, the music doesn’t reset when the player dies during the Brak fight.

Overall, I’d say that this level has had a lot of effort put into it with regards to the theme, visuals and atmosphere. But I think it’s quite lacking in the gameplay department. There’s a lot of interesting ideas to be had, but the low light level obscuring platforms and hazards combined with the large amount of empty space on display (most notably on the bridge to the temple, it looked pretty but offered nothing gameplay wise) was a disappointment, sorry.

Glacier Gear Zone

HEY I REMEMBER WHEN YOU RELEASED THIS IN 2.0 AND IT WAS MERELY OKAY
Now it’s really good, fantastic in fact. I absolutely love the wacky workbench bouncy floors and walls and I was delighted to see how much mileage you got out of them by coming up with new ways to implement them. How the bouncy walls reminded me a bit of the bounce gel in Portal 2 as well, which is pretty neat. I also liked how you took the new THZ slime and found some amusing ways to combine them with the bouncy pads. (If you make an act 2 though, I’d love to see a bouncy ceiling used to launch the player deep under the slime).

Regarding the penguins, I’m perfectly okay with them being as tough as they are to fight directly, but I felt their range was a little too long. It was rather frustrating getting sniped from huge distances away by their super fast sweeping laser.

Visually this stage looked pretty damn good too, the purple rocks did a good job of making the blue ice easier on the eyes and the darker colour tone of the factory areas contrasted nicely with the surrounding area.
Overall, I love this level a lot. It was hella fun to play through initially, then just as fun to replay to hunt down the emblems and record attack it. You’ve done good, and I’d love to see you make more levels in future if you’re up for it!

Also lol that hidden boss, thank you for putting all those crawlas there to make record attack possible :V fighting a box in a boxing ring to get an xbox emblem was silly.

Clock Towers

This is a technical achievement and a half, my word. Axis2D is a fantastic idea and this level is a wonderful proof of concept (and an enjoyable level on top of that!) I’m looking forward to seeing what the community can do with Axis2D that’s for sure.

I especially loved how you explored the interesting ideas for unconventional exploration and breaking the level that Axis2D provides, looping around structures to grab monitors, that kind of thing. Or even leaping onto an alternate path on the wrong axis to find secrets, that was great.
First of all, because this baffles me, why did you use Egg Guards in a 2D level? The only way to beat them is to jump straight at them and hope you get lucky and catch them with their back turned to you in their erratic movement patterns, which is clearly not designed to handled 2D gameplay. (Although I seem to be in the minority that the Robo-Hoods weren’t a bother for me. Although I did find it funny that I finally took damage from a Robo-Hood jumping in this map)

The bouncy chains were a really fun gimmick, although I keep expecting to be able to use a characters ability while bouncing because it retains the character spinning animation and that killed me a few times. It might be an idea just to force the player into the spring up frames to keep it clear that abilities cannot be used when bouncing.

I also found that half way through the level there was a huge difference in terms of path difficulty and reward. Where the player can either enter a building from the top, or head downwards to take a windowsill platforming section. The lower path is far far more punishing but provides the same reward, a few rings.


It’s worth pointing out that I had some trouble figuring out where to go on my first playthrough. I entered this room from the top path, saw the downward pit of spikes and assumed that must have been the exit of an alternate path I missed, and I wound up backtracking through the outside the building path.

Visually I’d say this level was okay, I’m not a fan of the grey and brown colour scheme myself, but the gears stood out as particularly fantastic looking.

Overall, this is level is a phenomenal proof of concept for Axis2D and you deserve a massive round of applause for the idea. The level itself is good, make no mistake, but it’s just not as good to play as some of the other levels in this OLDC, which says more about the competition really.

Emerald Lake Zone 2

This level is nothing too special, really. It is larger than I initially expected on my first time through though, I kept finding new paths and routes over several playthroughs so that was pretty fun, the level is rather expansive.
The scenery fish at the start who don’t move rather bother me, because I initially mistook them for enemies until I got closer and saw that they weren’t moving at all.

Regarding your emblem radar, it’s a nice idea but I’m worried about players finding it after they find all the red rings in the level, which would make it pointless.

About the slopes, they work alright as far as I can tell, but you don’t use them for anything interesting beyond some decoration and a small obstacle at the end of the level. I suggest trying to come up with ways to use them in combination with platforming or hazards for your next level, for example enemies which are dangerous to spindash into at the top of the slope, or a jump that’s difficult to reach because the slope is slowing your momentum.
Sorry this review is a bit short, but I don’t have much to say on this level. It’s fairly large and it’s okay, but there’s just not much going on in it.

Midnight Caves

Honestly, kind of empty and uninteresting. I’m sorry, but the simple design and overabundance of Crawlas as decoration rather than hazards reminds me of 1.09.4 levels and that is not a good thing.


This room here was a bit of a cheap shot, there’s nothing to indicate the floor will collapse under the players feet and instantly kill them until they walk into the trap for the first time.

The spike balls used in the water slide section are pretty hard to see and react to, I’m not a fan of them being used as a hazard with their default sprites under any circumstances really.


You’re using invisible walls to block the player from jumping off of the intended path and onto a different alternate route. Honestly, this actually hurts the level, because you would have nothing to lose in opening the route up for players willing to leap off of the path and explore. But if you really wanted to block the player, then finding a different way such as stone bars to provide a visible block would be better.

The three floor glass room was pretty cool though, I love the concept and how the player could clearly see their progress through that area of the level as they made their way down. I did feel that the glass was a little odd thematically when compared to the rest of the level though, it seems a bit too advanced when surrounded by stone firelit structures.

Sand Valley Zone

Yooo, someone remembered Knuckles exists and made a Knuckles only path. Not only that, but the Knuckles path was absolutely glorious. I loved it.
My initial hype on being pleasantly surprised by that really good Knuckles path on my first playthrough aside, I really enjoyed this map. I felt that the entire product came together very well. The gimmicks were lovely and (for the most part) I enjoyed how you remembered to place badniks strategically so they were a hazard. The only time the badnik placement annoyed me were the ones on Knuckles’ path when you also need to avoid the timed sand falls. That felt cheap, because damned if I jump damned if I don’t.

It was nice to see the new and improved sand physics at work and I felt that they worked out pretty nicely here too. Take advantage of the odd quirks of Quicksand movement was certainly an experience. Although regarding the brown quicksand, I’m okay with having to deal with it as a time wasting punishment for making mistakes, but I feel it’s a non-threat when you’re in it. Because it’s so easy to bash jump to escape.

I’ve never been a fan of spin to rise elevators either, in any map, simply because it doesn’t feel like a logical connection is in place. There’s no mechanism on the lift that requires spinning, maybe if there was a wheel the player could turn by spinning it would be more intuitive. Right now it’s just “try everything, hope something works because there is no sign how to operate the lift”

New spikeballs are neat, especially after I complained about the default spikeballs in my previous reviews :V thank you for using them, much easier to see.

Also, the Minus’ don’t work on quicksand. They just remain stationary.


and this monitor was a 1-up and Armageddon shield in one, looks like you accidentally placed them on top of each other.

Egg Outposts Zone

There was a lot wrong with this map, but this is a really good attempt for your first submitted level! And really a lot of the mistakes you made are things people learn to avoid through experience, so those mistakes are perfectly okay. You took quite a few risks in designing this level and some ideas worked better than others.

For the large blocks of lasers you use, I would recommend using damaging fogblocks rather than flashing lasers. It’s easier on the eyes and they’re much easier to see at low frame rates.

The music felt a bit too dramatic for the theme, tunes 24 would be something more suited for something more grand, such as a Death Egg themed level or the end of a level pack. I can’t think of any tunes in SRB2 that would fit though, so finding a new song is a good idea if you’re interested in changing the music.

The dark area was really bad. It’s a nice idea but platforming like that really strains my eyes, not to mention getting hit by crawlas I couldn’t see. I know that a dark room with guiding lights can work well, Lightless Labyrinth is a good example of this.

Your use of detons is very hit and miss, I disliked them for the most part but the area near the end with all of the opening doors and hazards to avoid was fantastic.

I also quite enjoyed the tall room where you have to push a button to turn on the lasers and make progress. However, you do have a few issues with pointing the player in the right direction here. I think next time you attempt an area like this, make sure the player can see cause and effect of pushing a button themselves so they know where in the room the event is happening. For example, it would have been nice if the player could have seen the blue laser turn off through a window rather than a cutscene.

Generally a respectable attempt, and I did enjoy playing through it despite its flaws. I’d love to see what you design if you make more maps in future!

Seraphic Skylands

Oh my oh my, this level is absolutely gorgeous, beautiful even. I think this is the most visually impressive level I’ve ever played in SRB2.


I cannot stress how much I love this effect, having the level get brighter towards the bottom of the cave is such a lovely touch.

There was a ridiculous amount of hidden areas and little secrets to explore and that was fantastic. I did attempt to get a perfect bonus on this level, but I only found 846 rings in the end. How close was I?

This level plays very well, I initially thought that the 2:10 requirement for time attack was insane, because of how long I felt the level was at my normal slow pace. But I found it was quite manageable with a little planning.

This level is pretty easy, but that’s fine, especially as the penalty for failure can be pretty high in the outside areas of the level. Also I know a few other people have criticised the map for not having any badniks, but I’m okay with that, I don’t think any of SRB2’s current enemies would have fit the level, honestly it was really nice to just explore these floating ruins, like they were a lost sanctuary Robotnik hasn’t found yet. I understand you’re interested in having custom enemies for the level though, and that would be pretty great.


This spike pit, I think the damaging FOF is a little too high, because it’s possible to run into the pit and be blocked by air. Also trying to jump it a little too close means you lose all momentum and as such probably take damage, assuming the player doesn’t use an ability.

I found this level to be nothing short of incredible. However, I put it as second place because I enjoyed playing through and interacting with the gimmicks in glacier gear more. But as an art piece, a level I got immersed in so thoroughly I missed a few phone calls without realising, you achieved that flawlessly. Very good job indeed.

Please make more! Although no rush, maps this pretty take time after all.

Also if it helps the map makers at all, here are my time attack replays for maps with time emblems.

Glacier Gear
Floral Road
Clock Towers
Seraphic Skylands
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Last edited by Whackjood; 07-06-2014 at 11:15 PM. Reason: fixed the broken Seraphic Skylands ghost time link
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Old 07-05-2014   #113
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whackjood View Post
HEY I REMEMBER WHEN YOU RELEASED THIS IN 2.0 AND IT WAS MERELY OKAY
Nope! Glacier Gear wasn't released before. You may be thinking of Frozen Wasteland, a map with the same theme which inspired Glacier Gear but definitely isn't anywhere as good.

(i just wanted to qualify this statement because this sentence makes me extremely nervous because it's against the rules to re-release content you've put on the MB before and i really don't want to get disqualified for something that is patently false)

Last edited by toaster; 07-05-2014 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 07-05-2014   #114
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toaster View Post
(i just wanted to qualify this statement because this sentence makes me extremely nervous because it's against the rules to re-release content you've put on the MB before and i really don't want to get disqualified for something that is patently false)
You're in the same contest where KOTE released his fourth remake of Techno Laser. I think you're fine regardless.
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Old 07-05-2014   #115
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Originally Posted by Whackjood View Post
Yoooo Sand Valley has emblems too. Not sure why people don't notice this. :(
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Old 07-05-2014   #116
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Maybe because Sand Valley doesn't have Record Attack? All the other ones with emblems do.
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Old 07-05-2014   #117
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Emerald Lake act 2 doesn't either, but has other extra emblems.

Last edited by glaber; 07-05-2014 at 05:43 PM.
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Old 07-06-2014   #118
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My single player votes:
1. Seraphic Skylands
2. Glacier Gear
3. Clock Towers
4. Emerald Lake
5. Midnight Caves
6. Sacred Woodland
7. Floral Road
8. Sand Valley
9. Egg Outposts

Match:
1. Climate Chaos
2. Moonlit Precipice
3. Crystal Coast

CTF:
1. Techno Laser 4
2. Forbidden Woods
3. Quicksand Caverns
4. Old Sport
5. WTF? CTF

Whew...

Last edited by Phantom-blade; 07-06-2014 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 07-06-2014   #119
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Match division:
1.Moonlit Precipice
2.Climate Chaos
3.Crystal Coast

CTF division:
1.Forbidden Woods
2.Quicksand Caverns
3.Techno Laser Zone 4
4.Old Sport
5.Wtf? CTF
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Old 07-07-2014   #120
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SP Votes first, whee! All of my votes are in order from best to worst.

Single Player

Sand Valley Zone Act 1 by Chrome
This was probably the second level I got to test early (perks of kart krew), and as a result it grew on me over time. At first, I found it a bit hard, but I was able to get used to it quickly. Chrome really outdid himself on this map, even with the rush to finish the Knuckles path. Almost every gimmick in this level is really fun, with one being held back by a bug with the game (which has apparently been fixed for 2.1.9?), and the other just being painfully difficult. The two weakest parts of this level are the dark sand and the enemy placements. The dark sand makes for a good hazard in some cases but parts of the level have these falls hanging over bottomless pits which wasn't very satisfying. The enemy placements I didn't really find to be that bad, but the Minus placements are a bit different than you'd normally think, and the deton placement is either bad, or you can avoid them entirely with enough memorization of the level. That aside, I really did love this level. The quicksand gimmick was pretty fun with 2.1's improved handling of it, the Knuckles path was full of all kinds of genius gimmicks that I hadn't seen before, and most of the challenges/difficulty increases were all properly set. If not for a few shortcomings, this map would probably be the best I've ever played.

Glacier Gear Zone by toaster
Wow. This was certainly the most surprising level of this contest. I had previously played all of the levels ranked around this in their beta states, so I got to learn them, get used to them, and get bored of them before the contest even started (which, they're great maps, but you DO get bored of them eventually.) I was kinda looking forward to this since I held off from the IRC beta for that reason. Onto the actual level itself, I loved the creativity of some of the gimmicks, like the wall jump, the laser pad room (which is fun but thrown in your face way too quickly), and the short but sweet 2D section. I think the gimmicks would've worked better if they were rearranged to increase in difficulty like one would expect. Aside from that, those penguins are the bane of my fucking existence. Seriously, they can go to hell. The fact that they never miss unless there are obstructions (which there usually aren't) really makes them a frustrating enemy to deal with. They also move way too quickly so trying to hide behind the ledge they're on outside of their range is not an option either. I think with some rearrangement and a total nerf to those fuckers, this level could be perfect.

Clock Towers Zone by RedEnchilada and Pac
This is the best 2D level I've played by far. It really shines above them with the amount of polish put in and the numerous paths even on a 2D plane. This was a great surprise for me the first time I played it (pre-contest betas) and I still find it really interesting that someone put this much effort into SRB2's crap 2D levels. Axis2D really does turn them into a breath of fresh air and while I don't think the level design is perfect, I don't feel like I can really point out what exactly was wrong due to my lack of experience in 2D levels. I will however say that the placement of Robo-hoods was sort of meh. Great job on the overall level though, it was really fun!

Seraphic Skylands Zone by Spherallic
This level has, without a doubt, the best visuals I've ever seen in a single player level. Everything in it meshes so beautifully and that alone makes it enjoyable to play! Well, except for the fact that there's hardly anything to play at all. The level is big, open, and VERY empty. Through the segments I DID go through to complete the level, I found there was little to no challenge and only one gimmick that stuck out to me. The level really felt only slightly above average in terms of its platforming and difficulty, which I really didn't like. Having played through this numerous times during its beta stage (kart krew secrets huehuehue), I have had all the time in the world to admire the visuals, and past that the level just really isn't as much fun for me as I had hoped the final would be. Still, I have to give you credit Spherallic, for your first SP level this is probably the best first attempt at a level that anyone's ever made.

Sacred Woodland by HAPPYFOX
I was genuinely surprised by this map. I expected it to be a lot worse, honestly. I liked the way it looked visually, and its platforming challenges. The music did change too many times and the boss at the end felt really unnecessary but it was still quite fun at some points. One thing I remember having trouble with was the platforming segment near the beginning around the trees, the gaps in height between the platforms was only enough to get over at the peak of your jump so I was forced to thok into platforms, something I'm not so used to doing. The gargoyle section was pretty easy to be honest but aside from that I liked it.

Floral Road Zone Act 1 by "Lat'"
Well, for a start, this level was better than GFZ1, but that's not saying much. The level overall was real flat if you ask me and lacked challenge. Not to mention the spam of monitors of different types (which were not really necesary) and the pointless Speed meter Lua script which gave you permanent speed shoes pretty much. The only other thing I have to say about it is that its way too short, even for the first level of a pack.

Midnight Caves Zone by Chaobrother
Really average map. Big, not much to look at, and the layout is confusing at times. In particular, I didn't like the location of the end level sign since it left me fumbling around for a minute or so to find the damn thing because it wasn't on the cliff I'd landed on, and I had to move downwards and to the right to find the sign. Average enough already, but this sort of made it even more difficult to enjoy.

Egg Outpost Zone by Tyrannic
Really average, but the only reason this gets a score this low is because of that dark room. It looks nice, I like that, but I couldn't finish the level and quit after spending five minutes stumbling around in the dark. Good idea, execution could've been much better. The music was also very unfitting and areas of the level other than that cave really didn't look all too great to me. I have a feeling this is your first map, so all I can say is keep trying and maybe you'll get better one day.

Emerald Lake Zone Act 2 by Glaber
Those motobugs are really basic and lame, the stage looks like another GFZ clone, and those slopes were an awful idea. When I used them, their physics didn't even work properly when I was thokking straight into them. Looking at it from the side, the game actually started lagging which is something I'm not used to since I always run the game in OpenGL and my specs max almost every game I play. This is not good. When looking at these slopes from the side, I noticed that they were also not even shaped properly, which I thought would've been trivial.


Match/CTF now. Don't really have anything to say about most of them, but I'll leave some extra notes on some.

Match

Climate Chaos by Evilgasm

Moonlit Precipice by Knux576
I liked how visually appealing this map was, nice job.

Crystal Coast Zone by Steel Titanium

CTF

Quicksand Caverns Zone by RedEnchilada
Turned out much better than expected.

Techno Laser Zone Act 4 by CoatRack
Was actually fun aside from the shrinking path.

Forbidden Woods Zone by the cyan
Really surprised me. I like the map design, but the springs up to the flag area let me screw Red over like five times xD

Old Sport Zone by Jellybones and Eblo
Good idea, bad for the contest. The design itself was sort of obtuse and the lack of custom textures made the level look nasty.

Wtf? CTF Zone by Root and CyanFox
Garbage. Not even good for a joke map. It took two people to make a map this redundant? Seriously. If you can't tell what's wrong with this map then you really have another thing coming.
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Last edited by Wolfy; 07-07-2014 at 07:43 AM.
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