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Old 07-03-2020   #1
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Default Do you think Aerial Garden and Azure Temple are still salvageable?

This is a topic that the Mystic removal thread has gotten into, so I thought it would be worth making a thread about it, just like how the super form thread was unlocked a few days ago.

I'll begin with my answer to the question: no, I do not think Aerial Garden Zone is at all salvageable. While I have no doubt that heavily revamping the stage could make it enjoyable without technically remaking it from scratch (think THZ1 from 2.0 to 2.1, for instance), it's enough of a dated, monotonous, slope-less drag that I don't think it warrants being in the game anymore, especially considering Mystic's removal from dev. It would be weird to put in a totally new level with a roughly similar aesthetic and the same name, because of its undeniable significance to SRB2's history.

As for the bee enemies, I honestly really like the concept of those and wish they'd appear in a level other than Aerial Garden. The bees incentivize you to get through areas without stopping to smell the roses unless you know how to deal with them, but Aerial Garden doesn't really have any roses to smell other than long, repetitive platforming, so it's a moot point as it stands. I feel similarly about some of Egg Rock's enemies, especially spincushions—I imagine they would provide extreme depth and challenge to a future version of Egg Rock that has slopes.

EDIT: I've renamed this thread to allow for discussion of Azure Temple Zone, which was also made by Mystic.

Last edited by cookiefonster; 07-04-2020 at 01:43 AM.
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Old 07-03-2020   #2
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It needs a rehaul. Aesthetic is really all it has going for it, as a stage in the sky. However, the level design itself is pretty blocky, semi-strict, and I can see it becoming a bigger problem if physic changes do come to pass. As much as a like the concept of the Bees they don't really seem to belong here other than to be douchy for the sake of it.

But at this point, I'd rather have a stage more bee-themed to actually fit the badniks than a rehaul of AGZ, and I'm not saying this because of my usual bee meming. I think a more interesting stage can be made with these badniks that fit them more rather than trying to salvage something that really doesn't. Hell, a more bug centric stage is an idea I don't think really has been a thing yet.
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Old 07-03-2020   #3
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Once OpenGL rendering becomes standard in SRB2 (thanks to recent patches vastly enhancing it), an aerial themed level that is chock-a-block with FoF's (sloped or not) would be a good way to showcase what creators can now do without dealing with glitches and slowdowns.

It might be possible to turn Aerial Garden into that, but it is in great need of an expanded texture set along with fewer areas that are little more than floating blocks.
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Old 07-03-2020   #4
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Aerial Garden has aged like milk and it has no place in modern SRB2.
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Old 07-03-2020   #5
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From a technical side, sure, the level could definitely be improved. However, Aerial Garden Zone comes directly from the passion project of a single individual who's no longer around (or welcome), and unlike Azure Temple Zone it was never originally planned for the main game. Due to recent events, there's just too much stigma surrounding the level to keep it around in future versions, let alone edit or remake it, and the only reason it's being kept around for now is to maintain savegame compatability. At this point, it should return to its original home.

Hive Elementals and Bumblebores will stay around, as they were primarily created by other developers, and they might find their way into another level in the base game.
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Old 07-03-2020   #6
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Originally Posted by SeventhSentinel View Post
Aerial Garden has aged like milk and it has no place in modern SRB2.
True. It's one of my least favorite levels in all of 2.2, no doubt. Sure, there might be a way to save it, but I wouldn't care at all if it was just scrapped entirely.
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Old 07-03-2020   #7
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Old 07-03-2020   #8
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Aerial Garden is a dumb poopyhead. Thematically - and historically, too - it's an incredible piece of work, sure, but who cares at this point. It's not the largest level in the game now that we have that monstrosity of a castle and giving me precise platforming over a wonky and dated physics code ain't the way to go. That, and the only thing Aerial Garden gives is precise platforming and nothing else. From where I come from, that's called cheap difficulty. The game is better than this now.

The bees, however, are quite the figure. Aside from Telos and Cyron's dumb Ember memeing, I imagine I'd like the fellas more if we had something else than utter dogshit to put them in.
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Old 07-03-2020   #9
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A firm no from me. It's riddled with design issues that stem way too deep for any form of potential fix. I mean sure it has a few thing going for it, like it's premise and abundance of secrets, and I guess with enough effort it could be made more in line with 2.2's standard. However, I feel that sort of effort would be vastly better spent on just making a new stage entirely.
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Last edited by Spectorious; 07-03-2020 at 09:43 PM.
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Old 07-03-2020   #10
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I think we should keep the badniks, but completely remake the stage. Currently it's just boring platforming with no gimmick.

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Old 07-03-2020   #11
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I've criticized AGZ for not being up to the standards of the game since 2.1. That's been magnified exponentially with 2.2.

However, I once again want to link back to my topic The majority of SRB2 levels are dark or grey. While level-design-wise it has no place in modern SRB2, aesthetically it or something like it needs to stay. An ancient sky temple is an excellent theme that doesn't feel anything like any other level.
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Old 07-03-2020   #12
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Nah and hi everyone who thinks this level never going to be remade into form it deserve. I am here, person who will in next year remake entire AGZ. I am aware I am not funny, regardless since this is "what do you think" -type of thread I should give my opinions on stage.

Directional wise it is pretty neat stage, just bit too empty and doesn't try to do lot with garden part, but I like how simple it is. It is not trying to be complex, yet it is difficult enough for pre-endgame stage of pack from era before even game considered it self anything more than pre-release.

Salvageable it is heavily, even if you see flying blocks in level design, then definitely what stage present can be salvage. It works with feature set presented in 1.09x days, but it tried to be creative with what it had or was limited to. What saddens me that lot of directional work gone to AGZ also is ignored, yet it is part what it made others feel differently about project and just that focus on direction than level design made it more special.

I seriously would love to make remake of this lovely stage out of my childhood, it doesn't matter who made it, but that stage alone represents what Mystic Realm was for many in it's age. What I noticed that Community members just dismiss things based on age or some standard (in SRB2's case it means that it doesn't have something newer iterations do). Yet I could myself push just in this year alone lot of stages into 2.2 standard with relative ease (obviously they are not released yet, due to being limited to something).

When it comes to drama I often take study mindset (or rather ignore it entirely, if it is over pointless thing), what let to this outrage and such. Yet I often find people trying to suggest lot worse things in discussion forums or medias than person it self ever did. And it saddens me even most passionate work can be flushed through toilet and threaded as it was something absolutely horrible, just because person maybe or was doing something unforgivable.

I would fully be for stage staying until I or maybe with random group remake it into it's fullest protentional it has.
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Old 07-03-2020   #13
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I kind of like the aesthetic and the idea of vertical progression AGZ tries to bring forward, but I've always felt that this concept was lost and negated by all the frustrating design choices. Whenever my friends and I reach this stage during our coop runs, it tends to be where our collective enthusiasm dies very quickly.

The bees are annoying in themselves, but as mods have proven for me, they're manageable when you're not also struggling with ridiculously precise platforming over wide play areas that are mostly death pits and tiny platforms.

Speaking of the death pits, even if they were reduced or entirely removed, I feel the very nature of certain parts of the stage would still be rather frustrating to get through. If you missed that precise jump and have to start the sequence of platforming over again, not losing a life from it isn't necessarily a fix for that frustration. It can remove one part of it, but then you're just left with another source of frustration.

In this way, I think I can say that while individual things about AGZ are frustrating and unfun in themselves, the sum of these parts ends up being even worse as they play off each other in awful ways.

In my opinion, it's not particularly salvageable and should probably be scrapped, and perhaps the core aesthetic and vertical-focused concept should be held on to, so that something more palatable for new and old players alike can be made with it in the future.
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Old 07-03-2020   #14
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I think the stage itself is definitely salvageable. The aesthetic, theme, concept and overall goal of the stage is pretty solid. But as so many people stated before me, the design is stagnant and honestly not all that great. Honestly after seeing what was done with all the zone revamps in 2.2, whether or not Aerial Garden can be salvaged shouldn't even be a question.

The real question should be "Should it be salvaged?" In which case, I'm a lot less reluctant to say yes. In light of recent events, I'm sure keeping Mystic's "magnum opus" in the core would rub many people the wrong way, no matter what form it takes. Even before I learned everything I did about this guy and knew next to nothing about him as a person, I always felt the inclusion of Neo Aerial Garden (later renamed back to just Aerial Garden Zone) felt like Mystic shilling his mod because he was on the devteam. I can only imagine how people who actually knew him must've felt when that happened.
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Old 07-04-2020   #15
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No. Its quite evident that it feels old and Ancient. The general theming could of been improved and the set pieces feel bland and samey. It shocks me to know it has little to no changes between 2.1 and 2.2... or even since its inception in Mystic Relam :/

I feel like the Elementals and Bumblebores can stay since they have soo much more potential that hasnt been tapped into also the community adore them.... for some reason.

Although i do like its difficultly in platforming it doesnt take usage of slopes, This feels like a missed opportunity to sprinkle SOME life into the level with some slopage but even still it... Its begging to be remade.
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Old 07-04-2020   #16
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The connection between art and artist seems to be a pretty big factor in people's decisions, and I'm not gonna judge anyone for that. I'm gonna set that aside and judge AGZ solely on its design.

I think the map's biggest flaw is how long it is, and how many of its unlockables end up being confusing button hunts. I think it could be salvaged into an okay map if the rooms that are literally just tiny floating blocks over pits were removed along with some of the other weaker sections, and the rest of the content was shuffled around into something the length of... maybe DSZ1 or so.

It wouldn't wow people by any means, since it's still just basic platforming, but nothing else about is offensively bad to me. There are enough setpieces to feel like you're progressing through a distinct location (which is more than I can say for Frozen Hillside) and the platforming meshes well with the enemy design. If you had to stick something else in there, maybe the map could revisit ACZ's dust devils in a more challenging environment?

I also don't see a problem with the map being old, or coming from a mod originally. Over half of the unlockable stages came from 2.1 era mods! I can't help but feel like that complaint is an extension of an attitude I've been seeing more of since 2.2 (or even 2.1.15) came out, where anything that isn't making ample enough use of slopes is seen as "too ancient" or "not up to standards", and I don't think that's a good approach to take with level design. There's still plenty of space in the game to have simpler levels that focus on straightforward platforming as opposed to slope physics.

That all said, if keeping it around is a problem, I'm personally not gonna miss AGZ.
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Old 07-04-2020   #17
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I'd certainly miss the 2.2 soundtrack's rendition of the music. That stuff is a bop, even if the level's bland. If it's definitely being thrown out, at least consider using the music for whatever replaces it!
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Old 07-04-2020   #18
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Personally, I think that the stage is outdated and, considering recent events, is even MORE of a relic of a bygone era. It could be heavily remade, but at that point it'd basically be an entirely new stage.

One level I've always wanted in the game was sphere's Seraphic Skylands, though I don't know how that stage is looked at nowadays.
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Old 07-04-2020   #19
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Originally Posted by fickleheart View Post
I can't help but feel like that complaint is an extension of an attitude I've been seeing more of since 2.2 (or even 2.1.15) came out, where anything that isn't making ample enough use of slopes is seen as "too ancient" or "not up to standards", and I don't think that's a good approach to take with level design. There's still plenty of space in the game to have simpler levels that focus on straightforward platforming as opposed to slope physics.
I feel that AGZ is outdated even by 2.1.0 standards. The level wants to feel like a grand ancient sky temple, but that illusion is ruined by the thok barrier. It too obviously exposes that the whole thing is just a bunch of rooms with a sky texture slapped on the walls. Like the TARDIS, the rooms are all "bigger on the inside!"

I'd like to see AGZ in future versions of the game, but it needs a structural reimagining.
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Old 07-04-2020   #20
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Here's an idea, why not a community event were we try to remake, or remix the level? Since it's Vanilla content we could make use to the currently existing rooms in our version.
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