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Great Divide Zone Act 1 Details »»
Great Divide Zone Act 1
Version: 1.0, by 742mph (My work is never done yet) 742mph is offline
Developer Last Online: Jun 2019

Version: SRB2 Rating: (4 votes - 4.20 average)
Released: 09-07-2013 Last Update: Never Installs: 1
Characters Single Player Levels SOCs Scripts Sprites/Graphics

Special thanks to Jasper the Fox for allowing his custom character Jasper to be packaged with this zone (albeit with a different mid-air ability because of reasons), KO.T.E. for lending me his Angel Island miniboss sprites, Blade and Dr. Pepper for various other sprites and graphics, and RoyKirbs, Prime 2.0, and SpiritCrusher for lots of help finding and fixing bugs and other issues.

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Old 09-11-2013   #2
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Welcome to releases. The level itself has some really great ideas and it's lovely to see someone make full use of socs and custom content to create some new and interesting hazards and level gimmicks.

Also it's the first time I've died from taking damage with 0 rings in a while, impressed. Although you might want to be careful about including light blue Snailers and grey turrets in the first few rooms which make such heavy use of the colour grey.

Also the large rooms caused some serious framerate drop on my netbook, just so you know.
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Last edited by Whackjood; 09-11-2013 at 07:50 PM. Reason: and so it was not tagged as a multiplayer map any longer. Why couldn't I have done that myself? ;_;
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Old 09-11-2013   #3
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Why exactly is it that this isn't tagged as multiplayer anymore? It's perfectly beatable in co-op due to respawning Tails, and in Race the level ends before the Tails section, so what's the issue?

EDIT: Also, thanks for adding this to Releases. I've been waiting a while to get this level released to the general public (of this forum, anyway).
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Old 09-11-2013   #4
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The multiplayer tag is for levels that are designed for multiplayer gametypes, not single player maps that can also be used in multiplayer.
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Old 09-11-2013   #5
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You might wanna put CoatRack in the supporters list.
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Old 09-11-2013   #6
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Originally Posted by SpiritCrusher View Post
The multiplayer tag is for levels that are designed for multiplayer gametypes, not single player maps that can also be used in multiplayer.
Ah, I understand. Thanks.
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Old 09-12-2013   #7
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Okay, since our feedback session on IRC got cut short kind of abruptly, let me put down a few thoughts:

I still find Sonic's (Jasper's too) special ability absolutely infuriating. Yes, being able to defeat enemies easily is useful, especially since there are a LOT of enemies in your level, but it comes at the cost of having pretty much no mid-air maneuverability. In fact, should I try to thok during a jump for whatever reason, my entire momentum will be cancelled. So whenever there's no enemies around, my special ability isn't just worthless, I'm actually worse off for using it. That's not a good game mechanic. On top of that, there are a few very wide gaps to cross in your level (including one that I don't think is clearable without a spindash jump), which makes it even more frustrating that I don't have any way of building up momentum aside from taking a running jump (which is often difficult because there isn't a lot of space for that and the little space there is tends to have slippery ice on it). And since your level is very vertical, messing up a jump usually means I get to repeat the last 15-30 seconds of gameplay, only to potentially mess up again. That can make your level very frustrating.

My next pet peeve is the ring-drain water, which I always thought was a pointless mechanic. By the time I've found my way out of the water, chances are I'm already out of rings, so it doesn't really make a difference is my rings are slowly depleted one by one or taken all at once. And once I'm out of the water, I'll just pick up the nearest ring I can find and act like nothing happened. The ring-drain effect doesn't actually make a practical difference to how your level plays. It doesn't add anything to your level that regular water would lack, especially not any additional challenge (unless you have the bad luck of being sniped by a pop-up turret before you can grab a ring, in which case you'll probably feel cheated rather than challenged). I think you should bring back the quicksand that was previously there and change Sonic's homing attack to the one that comes with SRB2 (i.e. the one that lets you thok normally when there's no enemy nearby). Or just design a level around SRB2's default characters for a change?

The next issue is that as the level goes on, I increasingly feel that you're just bombarding me with projectiles in lieu of any actual content. That multi-bullet turret in particular doesn't work at all. It just shoots bullet after bullet and never stops, and the only way to destroy it is to run up to it and hope that I'm lucky enough not to get hit. There's practically no way to dodge its shots aside from staying out of its range, which is of course impossible due to the way you're using them. Even worse is the large room with the lava in it, especially on floor level. There's absolutely no structure here, just a bunch of platforms over lava with no clear path forward and bullets coming from every which way. This is incredibly frustrating, not to mention confusing, because on top of not knowing where to go, I'm also constantly hit by projectiles whose source I can't even locate. It's not as bad in the higher parts of that room - on the other path - but even there are spots where I feel like I'm just rushing through your level as fast as I can to avoid all those annoying bullets and flames and whatnot. Your level could be ERZ2-quality otherwise, I still wouldn't be able to enjoy it like. So bottom line, place less enemies, and where you do place them, place them strategically.

Last but definitely not least, gimmicks. This is a recurring problem with your levels: They have a lot of gimmicks, but they're rarely executed in a particularly interesting way. Case in point: The snailers that shoot stepping stones. It's not enough to say "I'm gonna have snailers that shoot stepping stones, and that will be my gimmick". That's the easy part. The hard part, and the more important one, is integrating that gimmick into your level. You need to create interesting situations for the gimmick to be used in. Situations that pose a challenge to the player beyond the basic premise, and that - if you're really good - take them by surprise because they didn't expect the gimmick to be used in that way. The ability to use gimmicks in creative and novel ways rather than just the most obvious and basic ones is what separates an average level designer from an exceptional one, and that's what will make people enjoy your level.

I'm probably just blabbing on and on here, so let me give you a specific example: One of the gimmicks you use in your level are the snailers that shoot flames in regular intervals. I don't know whether that's intentional or not, but they're very similar to the flamethrowing gargoyles in Azure Temple Zone. But observe the difference between the way your level uses them and the way ATZ uses them: Mystic builds something like 50% or even more of a pretty long level around just that one gimmick. Why does it work? Because he constantly finds new ways of using the same idea. In your level, it feels more like "hey, let's put a row of flamethrowing snailers here" and that's about as far as you go with it. I'm not saying that you should copy Mystic's ideas from ATZ, but look at the difference between that level and yours, and try to understand what exactly it is that makes ATZ better.

One spot in your level where I felt like you were trying something beyond the most basic approach with one of your gimmicks occurred where you had two gray snailers opposite each other and next to a high ledge with an extra life or something on it. And to reach it, you had to get the two snailers to stack their stepping stones on top of each other so you could make the jump. That was a clever idea, and that's exactly the kind of thing that will make your level entertaining, which of course should be your primary goal. This wasn't by any means the only interesting spot in your level, there were several things that I found entertaining (or would have found entertaining if they weren't plagued by unrelated issues, like the projectile spam I mentioned above), but I'm gonna be a bit mean here and leave it to yourself to figure out which parts you think might be the most interesting ones.

Related to this issue, I think you should throw out all the gimmicks you don't really need. I already mentioned the ring-drain water, but another one that I felt was absolutely tacked on and pointless was the factory section with the lasers. Not only does it pretty much have nothing to do with the rest of your level thematically, it's also something we've seen a million times in custom and official levels alike, and your level gains nothing from doing the same old thing again. And of course, in case I wasn't clear on this above: Don't repeat the same idea twice in the same level. I already said above that what makes a level entertaining is using the same gimmick in different ways, but there are times when a gimmick just doesn't have the potential for that (or maybe it does, but you can't think of anything). That's fine, you don't have to exhaust every idea to its breaking point. But if you can't put a new spin on something, then don't just repeat it, because that will only bore the player.

There are millions of other things I'd like to talk about in your level, but I think this is a big enough wall of text already. There's one more thing I'd like to say however: If I'm not mistaken, you explicit tried in this level to make the design more open and natural, and less "corridor with stuff in it" like your previous levels. That definitely worked, and it makes a huge difference (to the positive, of course).
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Old 09-12-2013   #8
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This is very cool and challenging. Only thing I want to complain about is Sonicīs new ability. Please, make this time-attackable! It would be really cool in this map.
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Old 09-12-2013   #9
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Well, that was fun! Big level with interesting new ideas and some actual challenge for once! Sure, the controls are a tad awkward when you first start up the level, but I honestly don't think it hurt the level too badly. However, would a regular (or reduced) thok ruin some of the gameplay mechanics? That momentum-halting is really jarring, and I can only picture it being there if you absolutely needed it. It'd be fine if you trained the player to do some momentum-halting tricks and then built a platforming segment around that, but as far as I can tell, it didn't actually do much other than annoy me.

Anyway, some things I thought were cool:

-Making rings a necessity and not just an aesthetic device for pointing where the player should go (that's the only way I ever know how to use them D:). Right on!

-Big open spaces. You've grown so much! I really like how big and organic this place feels. I could really tell that your rooms evolved and adapted in size and shape over time to fit the needs of the level, and that's awesome. The best works of art tend to evolve as you create them, IMO.

-Enemies are an essential part of the level. Very few custom maps actually achieve this. And even though, as spiritcrusher pointed out, you may have spammed them a bit too much near the end, it's refreshing to see some enemies that actually have integrated use in a level. Far out!

-A palpable difficulty curve. You do this pretty well. I gameover'd my first playthrough, and when I started from the beginning the level was noticeably easier at the beginning than it was at the end. This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it's actually quite a challenge for level designers to steadily ramp up the difficulty as the level goes on, but I feel you did that pretty well here.

-I don't know if the other rooms did this, but I thought this was really cool: In the second-to-last area in the HUGE open room with the upper and lower paths, you pulled a classic sonic move on us. The upper path is way less dangerous, but it's harder to stay on it than the more brutal lower path. In a way it's like Aquatic Ruin Zone. It's ideal to stay above, but you have to have some good platforming skills if you don't wanna face the dangers below. Great job!

-Holy shit that room with the randomly-firing-turrets and the ice platforms was cool. It may not have been functionally perfect, since the bullets just hit the floor near you if the platforms are going up, but I'll be damned if I didn't feel like a badass hopping across ice and dodging lasers. That's the best little moment in the level, IMO.

So yeah, great stuff here. To be honest, the worst part was the last little bit with tails. Not because it didn't work (it worked rather nicely, actually), but because you didn't train the player to use tails adequately before you threw him in that situation. It's too unforgiving in that if you don't get it perfect the first time, your only other alternative is death. This is even WORSE since it's right at the end of the level when the player has expended most of their lives and has to start the entire level all over again if they get a game over.

Other than that, stellar job. We haven't had a big creative level like this in quite a while.
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Old 09-12-2013   #10
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Thank you for all of the advice and feedback all of you have posted so far. I've noticed that a lot of you are unhappy about the momentum-halting homing attack, and I am as well, but the alternative was either homing attack height gain that made the crystal snailers essentially useless or an awkward diagonally down-pointing thok that causes severe issues when homing-attacking a spring. If not for the bug with A_ZThrust's Var2, I could easily SOC a non-height-gain homing attack that becomes a normal thok if there's nothing to home in on, but because it's there, I'm pretty much stuck with the momentum cancel.
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Old 09-13-2013   #11
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Sometimes it's better to sacrifice a gimmick in order to make your level much less frustrating in the end result.

Those Ice Snailers are cool, but they have their own issues, and the level wouldn't feel too different if they weren't there. If removing them allows a much less infuriating homing attack to be used, I would recommend you do that.
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Old 09-13-2013   #12
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The ice snailers just crushed me and got me stuck into various areas to no end. I didn't even know they could be used for platforms until I read SpiritCrusher's post, I'd just been cleverly badnik bouncing everywhere I couldn't reach.

You need to make it not spawn them after hitting them, which is usually when you're inside/under them, or remove it entirely.
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Old 09-13-2013   #13
742mph
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chrome View Post
Sometimes it's better to sacrifice a gimmick in order to make your level much less frustrating in the end result.

Those Ice Snailers are cool, but they have their own issues, and the level wouldn't feel too different if they weren't there. If removing them allows a much less infuriating homing attack to be used, I would recommend you do that.
The problems with the homing attack height gain would still be present if the ice snailers were removed, although there are areas where they make it worse. Of course, I'd have to put something in their place if I removed them, and I'm not really sure what.
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Old 09-15-2013   #14
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The problem, I think, is properly training the players to use them. It's best not to home in on the ice snailers but simply bounce off of them with a regular jump. They're actually pretty cool!
But how do you teach the players to do that?
Do you tell them with text or make a silly diagram or model some very specific level geometry to FORCE them to do it a specific way? I'd most likely vote for the last option, but it's the hardest to pull off (especially in this context - how do you stop the player from using the homing attack?) and there's no guarantee that your players actually understood the point of the exercise.
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Old 09-15-2013   #15
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I don't know how you managed to beat the level (maybe you just took a very specific combination of paths), but I can think of several instances in the level where it's actually impossible to advance by homing in on them - you need to bounce off them to get the blocks in the right position. Personally I figured that out pretty quickly, and I think so will most players.

Last edited by MascaraSnake; 09-15-2013 at 08:02 PM.
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Old 09-15-2013   #16
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Let me clarify a bit -
The first time I encountered the snailers, it was in that last giant room because I had fallen to the lower level. Homing everything else had worked up until that point, and when I homed in on the snailer, I just got crushed. There's no telling when the players might encounter the snailers for the first time, and when they finally do, it may be at a moment when they have little to no lives and no idea what to do with the things. It's a setup for cheap deaths, and I think it's due to improper player training.

He has a couple of options to begin fixing this (aside from rewriting some socs somehow), from what I see:
-somehow make it immediately obvious what to do with the snailers any time the player encounters them, since the intuitive answer - using the homing attack - will most likely end up with a cheap crushing death

-separate the snailer paths from the other paths so you can't just crisscross through them (this option sucks)

-force the player down a snailer path right near the beginning so the player knows what to do no matter what way he takes later on in the level

I'm sure there are more options here, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind.
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Old 09-15-2013   #17
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This level was pretty fun. Quite a bit going on that I like for the most part. There is some stuff, however that could be touched up some more.

I am going to start out bringing up that Sonic's homing attack ability. The homing attack would be much if you did not drop like a rock after using it. For segments like the top path of the fire section it is especially frustrating when you perform a spindash jump only to figure out that you still did not build up enough speed to cover the distance. A suggestion I have is to make it work similarly to how the airdash in Sonic Generations since it will not be exactly like the thok, it will be less frustrating if the player has to cover more distance in different areas where they may not be used to using the spin jump technique and the momentum the player has going through this level can be kept.

The level overall had interesting concepts. Some of the ideas were used fairly well, but there were other ideas that could have been executed better.

Starting out with the ice section, the design itself is not exactly poor to me, but there is some areas that I believe could use some work. I am not much of a fan of the water that can drain your rings, especially in that one room where there is the combination of slippery ice and Snailers to contest with along with dealing with the mechanics of the homing attack. The threat of the water just feels non-existent for the most part and would not feel all that different if they were removed since there is a good enough number of enemies to ensure that you lose rings; however, if the water slowed down your mobility I personally feel that would better complement the areas a bit more since there are Snailers and Pop-up Turrets all over the place. Having elemental Snailers is something that I thought was neat, but the Ice Snailers were not executed all that well in my opinion. A suggestion is to make the trajectory of the shot work similarly to Chill Spike in Mega Man 10 or at least similarly to Chill Man's version of the weapon except with how much it arcs upwards or how far it will go being dependent on the height above the Ice Snailer you are and the distance from how far away you are from it. The 2D section where the Ice Snailers are just do not add much to the level, they feel like they are just there to me. Using the Ice Snailers in more creative ways in this section is one way that can make things more enjoyable and bring more to the table since the 3D sections already uses them the basic way that was already shown (as a platform or platforms to a higher area).

The factory segments were okay to me, it is just after seeing this part I would recommend putting in more factory-like influences the closer you get to that zoom tube that leads rest of the level and more of the same type of influence in the outdoor parts of the fire section since it would look really nice when it looks like you are progressing towards a more factory-like level in the next act (depending on what you have planned for Act 2 of course). I like the idea of the Berserk Turrets, but the from the last part of the ice section heading into the fire section they feel like they are too overused. For the ice section that you go through after the factory part having Berserk Turrets on the pieces of the broken ice people are likely to jump to next would be a lot better than to have them on every last piece that way people who would rather not deal with these turrets may try to head up to a piece of ice that may appear to fly higher than the other one which is likely to have a Berserk Turret on it.

The fire section was a part as whole I want to like, but cannot due to some issues. The Berserk Turrets in all honesty are better off on the higher path, used a lot less than they are in this build, or non-existent at all. The panels that can make you fly higher or blow you downwards are both gimmicks I like, however, the blue panel was the only one that felt like they were properly introduced. The red panels could have introduced in a way that is not so punishing. On the higher path when there is a group of the red panels connected together with Berserk Turrets was the only time their usage shined, this part felt fun compared to the other ways the said panels were used. The Ice Snailers really feel out of place here and do not work at that well either. With them the lower path feels too slow and can be frustrating when you have to deal with the Fire Snailers. Speaking of Fire Snailers, this whole section would benefit a bit more if there were more creative placements much like the part where you have to go in the spindash motion in order to duck under flames. The 2D segment was pretty alright compared to the one in the ice section. I really like how the Fire Snailers shoot you from the background, I would like to see them used to create more interesting challenges if there are suppose to be more 2D segments in Act 2. One problem I do have with the 2D segment is how it just seems out of place since you just enter it with almost no indication that it is there, you just enter the area as if you went through a zoom tube despite nothing being there that looks like a zoom tube.

The last section where you fly with Tails can be too punishing for anyone who are not used to the controls or do not know how to maneuver around the AIZ midboss since once you get hit you just fly into a pit. Having a segment where you have to fly through an area over some ground where the Fire Snailers shoot at you before transitioning into the part where you have to avoid getting hit by the AIZ midboss.

I am looking forward to seeing how Act 2 turns out, a lot of neat ideas were going on in this level.
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Old 09-16-2013   #18
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Ah yes, I just remembered - It'd be cool if you implemented a segment where the player has to use the snailer's ice blocks as moving cover in order to avoid fire-snailer projectiles. No idea if it'd even work well, but it sounded like fun to me!
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Old 09-16-2013   #19
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Quote:
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Ah yes, I just remembered - It'd be cool if you implemented a segment where the player has to use the snailer's ice blocks as moving cover in order to avoid fire-snailer projectiles. No idea if it'd even work well, but it sounded like fun to me!
I thought about doing that, but since the ice blocks only last for 10 seconds and you can't push them very fast, I decided the section would be too slow and tedious to flow with the rest of the level.
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Old 10-01-2013   #20
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I haven't played such an awesome level in awhile. I like all the enemies and I especially love the part where Tails flies the player across the pit alongside the Sonic 3 mid boss trying to shot you. Love the work dude, keep it up.
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