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Old 08-18-2020   #1
Seaballer
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Default Techno Hill compared to the rest of the campaign

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The only problem with massively improving the game in every aspect, including visual design, is that now the visual design is good enough that it's worth critiquing!
This, of course, applies for level design, too.

In the eyes of someone fairly active in the Discord community, it seems like this topic has been on everyone's minds for a while, so I'll leave the majority to speak here. But explaining the crux of it for the unaware, Techno Hill isn't really interesting, is it? While THZ1 has some semblance of interesting design (key: some), I'd argue THZ2 is the worst level in the entire campaign.

And then, there's the goop. While a good gimmick on paper, you can feel the remnants of pain water in the level design. In THZ1, entering the goop is always a hindrance due to its placement being in areas where you'd usually fall after failing platforming -- in act 2, you're forced to go through it once, but if you're a skilled player (or you're playing as Tails) that's the only time you'll actually come into contact with it. I'd say even Haunted Heights uses goop in more interesting ways.

I know this is a topic fluctuating on a lot of people's minds so I wanted to hear whatever y'all have to say anyway.
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Old 08-18-2020   #2
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I like both acts of THZ, but the goop is really annoying as a gimmick, since it takes so long for you to properly surface, and then you have to slowly plod on it to retry a platforming section. I'd make it so you'd always run full speed on it, and need to be falling at a good speed to break through it's surface at all.
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Old 08-18-2020   #3
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Originally Posted by Seaballer View Post
This, of course, applies for level design, too.

In the eyes of someone fairly active in the Discord community, it seems like this topic has been on everyone's minds for a while, so I'll leave the majority to speak here. But explaining the crux of it for the unaware, Techno Hill isn't really interesting, is it? While THZ1 has some semblance of interesting design (key: some), I'd argue THZ2 is the worst level in the entire campaign.

And then, there's the goop. While a good gimmick on paper, you can feel the remnants of pain water in the level design. In THZ1, entering the goop is always a hindrance due to its placement being in areas where you'd usually fall after failing platforming -- in act 2, you're forced to go through it once, but if you're a skilled player (or you're playing as Tails) that's the only time you'll actually come into contact with it. I'd say even Haunted Heights uses goop in more interesting ways.

I know this is a topic fluctuating on a lot of people's minds so I wanted to hear whatever y'all have to say anyway.
I think Techno Hill needs a visual overhaul as well. It doesn't really look that interesting especially when compared to the 2.2 levels.
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Old 08-18-2020   #4
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Take this as casual criticism. As already been pointed out, the game itself is in such a good state now, it's deserving of pointing out the weakpoints it has.

I think the main problem with THZ is the second act. 1 is fine, more or less, but the second act just feels like a Doom level. It's fairly narrow hallways for the most part. Which, it's a factory so thematically it makes sense, but that doesn't always make it a lot of fun. There's a few moments of interesting movement you can do such as the jump up the slope with speed shoes and the piston jump with the wind shield, but overall the stage is rather lack luster.

I do think the main problem with THZ is the goop as I feel it's not used well. There's a couple of cool spots like some goodies under the goop in THZ1 and a few emblems, but far more often, and specially in THZ2, goop is used as a sudo bottomless pit. Now this would be fine, but not only does the goop take forever to stabilize in, there's usually only one way out of it. And since "running" through the goop is slow, you'll want to jump, which just extends the sinking problem.

I think the best place to exemplify this is the room with the two bridges, two red buzzers, and a speed shoe monitor in the back wall. If you mess up and fall, there's an area of goop under the bridge, but the only way back is the stair case near the speed shoes. Meaning if you fell off at any other point you have the long trek back to it. Add in the red buzzards in there that you have to deal with and it becomes an act of tedium.

Admittedly, that area isn't easy to fall into, but it's still possible and never a good time. This also doesn't take into account just being hit normally into the goop in which case you could be stuck upwards to 15 seconds if you're unlucky enough.
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Old 08-18-2020   #5
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I consider THZ1 to be one of the best levels in the entire main campaign. The level is laid out in such a way that it enormously rewards exploration with useful items and cool areas, which you can typically access by taking advantage of gimmicks like gas jets, spring shells, and occasionally goop. However, I won't deny that the goop is quite a bit too much of an annoying hindrance for a zone this early in the game. It's certainly an improvement from the damaging liquid the zone had before 2.1 back when it was offensively bad and uninteresting, but I think goop could afford to be adjusted not to be so annoying when you fall in it, and especially when you get hurt and land in it. I'm not sure how those stats would be adjusted, but maybe some numerical adjustments would do the trick. It would especially be a good idea to decrease the amount of time you spend bounce up and down after landing into goop before you can get back on your feet.

THZ2 is an extremely flawed level with a lot of weird monitor placement that doesn't make sense; it's definitely a level worth changing big chunks of, especially because it got relatively few changes from 2.1 to 2.2. The level starts off purporting itself to be themed upon creative interactions with goop and does a good job teaching you how to dive into goop at the very beginning, but unfortunately there aren't a lot of things you can do while under goop besides waiting to get out. This means that the only real goop interactions after the beginning are a few more instances of diving under goop to get past a wall or press a button, all of which are entirely possible to bypass. There are a few monitors hidden under goop in the zone, but there are plenty of instances of those same monitors located outside goop so there's not much of a point. I think THZ1's open layout makes the zone suit itself better to goop diving than THZ2, even though the latter zone is the one whose current layout was designed with goop in mind.

Haunted Heights unquestionably pulls off goop interactions than either act of THZ does, but it's still not my favorite gimmick by a long shot.

Also, I think the worst level of the main campaign before Egg Rock is unquestionably DSZ2, for reasons I've explained plenty in other forum threads. At least THZ2 can boast a clear theme and identity, unlike that bizarre mess of a level.
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Old 08-18-2020   #6
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It seems like every stage is getting a "this level sucks" thread now. lol

Yeah, the goop is annoying, but the stage is fine. My biggest problem with it is the Knuckles route, which has two main issues:

1. I didn't even realize the route was there until I saw someone doing a letsplay of the game. There's nothing forcing Knuckles to go that way, and it's pretty well hidden. Which means there must be something worth finding in there, right? Ehhh...

2. The route is significantly more difficult than the rest of the stage, particularly in the part where you're navigating through the glass, climbing the treadmills on the walls while that gun from Egg Rock shoots at you. And what's the reward for Knuckles taking this optional route made just for him? Uh? Well, unless I'm remembering wrong, there are no emblems in there, and no emerald tokens. Does it even serve as a decent shortcut?
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Old 08-18-2020   #7
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Well, unless I'm remembering wrong, there are no emblems in there, and no emerald tokens. Does it even serve as a decent shortcut?
There is a token there, but it's Amy exclusive.

As far as a shortcut, definitely not. I think I remember timing it out and it's at least 15 seconds longer plus you don't even get to grab the first super sneakers.
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Old 08-18-2020   #8
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The only thing that bugs me is the goop and buzz combination. Everything else is fine.
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Old 08-18-2020   #9
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I'd honestly prefer if the goop worked a little more like the bounce goop in Mania, which in turn is inspired by a gimmick from CD. I don't think it should launch you super high every time like in those games, but it would be preferable to not submerge into it at all when you jump into it and to just bounce off it, to make it less annoying if you miss your jump.

As it is currently, it takes way too long for it to get to the point where you can recover from a mistake, and simply just isn't fun to deal with when that happens. I'm fine with Knuckles being able to submerge via climbing down into it along a wall but other than that the gimmick is just way too slow when you mess up a jump and just want to regain control so you can get out.
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Old 08-18-2020   #10
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Originally Posted by GrayAngel View Post
It seems like every stage is getting a "this level sucks" thread now. lol

Yeah, the goop is annoying, but the stage is fine. My biggest problem with it is the Knuckles route, which has two main issues:

1. I didn't even realize the route was there until I saw someone doing a letsplay of the game. There's nothing forcing Knuckles to go that way, and it's pretty well hidden. Which means there must be something worth finding in there, right? Ehhh...

2. The route is significantly more difficult than the rest of the stage, particularly in the part where you're navigating through the glass, climbing the treadmills on the walls while that gun from Egg Rock shoots at you. And what's the reward for Knuckles taking this optional route made just for him? Uh? Well, unless I'm remembering wrong, there are no emblems in there, and no emerald tokens. Does it even serve as a decent shortcut?
The THZ1 Knuckles route is designed to be mandatory, I'm not sure what you're talking about or how you skipped it. I say "designed to be mandatory" because it is technically possible to skip the path split, but it's not something new players would think of.

Knuckles in THZ1 is forced onto a different path from the rest because walls with the black X texture aren't climbable and he can't jump as high as the others, so a black wall blocks him off from jumping off the last black block like the other characters can. Instead, he has to go follow a triangle of rings to break a wall and start his own path which starts with climbing a conveyor belt. Also, the climbable conveyor belt really isn't difficult at all; you just have to follow the rings to avoid getting pushed by the downwards gas jets and it's a total breeze after that. I do agree that Knuckles' path isn't quite as exciting as the rest of the zone, but it's really just a short detail.

Also, there are no emerald tokens on Knuckles' path, but there is an emblem on that path that's up in a high balcony that Knuckles can't climb up to, so Tails has to get it instead.
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Old 08-18-2020   #11
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^ GrayAngel is talking about the THZ2 Knuckles path.
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Old 08-18-2020   #12
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^ GrayAngel is talking about the THZ2 Knuckles path.
Oh god, I'm stupid. I'm definitely not a huge fan of the THZ2 Knuckles path. It's weird and confusing, and heavily abuses non-climbable walls in the first room. There's some cool spectacle with climbing down the conveyor belt under goop and coming back up, and the section with dodging a turret, but there really isn't any incentive to take that path. There is a barrage of monitors you can collect at the end of the path that feels kind of like a reward for taking it, but you can easily collect all those by backtracking into the area from the main path as Knuckles or Amy, and as Amy, you can even get an emerald token there. Speaking of emerald tokens, the only other token in THZ2 is extremely deep under goop, which I'm also not a fan of. I like having monitors under goop quite a bit, and it incentivizes you to use the elemental shield, but that one extra deep token is HUGE overkill. There's already a token under goop in THZ1 anyway, which makes the other goop token feel extra weird.
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Old 08-19-2020   #13
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It seems like every stage is getting a "this level sucks" thread now. lol
A thread for complaining about MAP99 when???

Haha, anyway, I want to add to the discussion of Knuckles' THZ2 path. I had no idea what you guys were talking about at first. I looked at the wiki and sure enough there seems to be a Knuckles-only path in the level. Where? I don't remember that being a thing. Unfortunately the wiki isn't very clear on where the path starts (why in the world is that section of the article sandwiched between the end of the conveyor path and the second path split!?) so I had to look all over for it while trying my hardest to remember what path everyone's talking about. I did find it eventually, and it was once I saw those diagonal wall conveyor belts that the memories came back. Ahhh, this path. I think I travelled this path... once? While emblem-hunting, maybe?

It's not even a bad path, IMO. Just needs some better signposting and for the climbable walls to be retextured so they don't have the same texture as the non-climbable walls from the first act (how did that happen?). I liked it, but I'm pretty sure that path is longer than the regular path, there's not really any big rewards at the end, and yet doesn't have the excuse of being mandatory for Knuckles - in fact, you have to make a conscious effort to get into it in the first place.

As it is, the poor thing is just kinda there for everyone to just... ignore.
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Old 08-19-2020   #14
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A thread for complaining about MAP99 when???

Haha, anyway, I want to add to the discussion of Knuckles' THZ2 path. I had no idea what you guys were talking about at first. I looked at the wiki and sure enough there seems to be a Knuckles-only path in the level. Where? I don't remember that being a thing. Unfortunately the wiki isn't very clear on where the path starts (why in the world is that section of the article sandwiched between the end of the conveyor path and the second path split!?) so I had to look all over for it while trying my hardest to remember what path everyone's talking about. I did find it eventually, and it was once I saw those diagonal wall conveyor belts that the memories came back. Ahhh, this path. I think I travelled this path... once? While emblem-hunting, maybe?

It's not even a bad path, IMO. Just needs some better signposting and for the climbable walls to be retextured so they don't have the same texture as the non-climbable walls from the first act (how did that happen?). I liked it, but I'm pretty sure that path is longer than the regular path, there's not really any big rewards at the end, and yet doesn't have the excuse of being mandatory for Knuckles - in fact, you have to make a conscious effort to get into it in the first place.

As it is, the poor thing is just kinda there for everyone to just... ignore.
I'm not sure what you mean by "conscious effort". You can get to the path simply by smashing a breakable wall (which leads to a few more walls that make me go "OW MY EYES WHERE AM I") at the start of the level instead of diving into the goop.

Also, the reason the Knuckles' path section is sandwiched between the conveyor path and the second path split is because it's one of three paths you can take from the beginning of the level before the second path split. It's a subsection of the "First section" header. I edited the wiki page to be a bit clearer on it though.
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