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Old 07-04-2020   #21
Rumia1
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While I have no real respect for the original creator at this point, and there are far better levels to showcase the sheer scale of stages you can design now, I feel Aerial Garden could use a complete redesign from the ground up with the intention of showcasing difficult platforming while pushing the physics engine to its absolute limit. I want to see slope jumps that require you to have a keen eye for where to go next and well timed thoks to get you going in that direction, perhaps a sense of speed that is hard to maintain but if you're skilled enough you can breeze through with ease. I think this level would be a good fit for the champion's road/darker side of the moon type level. A real gauntlet of a test to see that you've mastered the movement of the various characters.

Or you could just scrap it and leave it to the people remaking Mystic Realm to do something similar.
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Old 07-04-2020   #22
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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!
Big agree with this. 2.2's Aerial Garden music kicks so much ass, it really deserves a better level than what it currently has.
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Old 07-04-2020   #23
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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's worth noting that Aerial Garden as it stands is a combination of four acts in one. AGZ Acts 1-3 + Starlight Palace/Tower. It's no real wonder why it's so long.




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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.


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Or you could just scrap it and leave it to the people remaking Mystic Realm to do something similar.

wait
so someone other than Mystic is remaking the Mystic Realm?
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Old 07-04-2020   #24
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It's worth noting that Aerial Garden as it stands is a combination of four acts in one. AGZ Acts 1-3 + Starlight Palace/Tower. It's no real wonder why it's so long.
I imagine a large portion of people posting in this thread already know that. Just because the zone is four acts crammed into one does not excuse how much it overstays its welcome, especially without bringing interesting gimmicks to the table like every modern SRB2 level does.
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wait
so someone other than Mystic is remaking the Mystic Realm?
Yes, some people are working on projects like that, though I don't know if anyone's remaking the entire Mystic Realm rather than just Aerial Garden.
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Old 07-04-2020   #25
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Yes, some people are working on projects like that, though I don't know if anyone's doing remaking the entire Mystic Realm rather than just Aerial Garden.
Kwiin and Pv2 (don't know if anyone else is on their team) are giving Mystic Realm a purely visual overhaul, as far as I'm aware. Verdant Forest looks strikingly pretty now.

-------

Erm, I know that's not the original point of the thread, and I kinda wanted to go on a tangent here-- we're talking about Aerial Garden, but why not add in ATZ to the conversation? I think there are points to be made about how to approach Azure Temple too, especially because of the, uh, interesting (?) design choices.

I'll go ahead and throw in my one cent at it: Figuring out the Glaregoyles's flame pattern and dodging them with grace is very satisying. I like how ATZ flows (hah. get it? water.) but I don't like like the stage, honestly. I wouldn't mind that level being thrown out the window either.
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Old 07-04-2020   #26
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ATZ is part of Sonikku's (or SSNTails, or both) original SRB2 roadmap. It's a bit different from the current situation. AGZ is a purely Mystic thing, so whether it's in the game or not depends on whether people think it's worth keeping. In contrast, ATZ will basically be in the game no matter what, even if it's totally remade at some point in the future and doesn't resemble the current version at all.

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Old 07-04-2020   #27
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Erm, I know that's not the original point of the thread, and I kinda wanted to go on a tangent here-- we're talking about Aerial Garden, but why not add in ATZ to the conversation? I think there are points to be made about how to approach Azure Temple too, especially because of the, uh, interesting (?) design choices.
Good idea, actually. I think I will rename this thread to be also about Azure Temple as well.

Unlike Aerial Garden, I think Azure Temple is most certainly salvageable. It might be best off given the 2.2 treatment (2.3 treatment?), with the good parts kept and the uninteresting parts replaced, plus slopes to make the bubble shield actually interesting. The zone would also benefit from having its gimmicks mixed up and combined to create engaging challenges, rather than just doing as much as possible with one gimmick at a time.
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Old 07-04-2020   #28
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I imagine a large portion of people posting in this thread already know that. Just because the zone is four acts crammed into one does not excuse how much it overstays its welcome, especially without bringing interesting gimmicks to the table like every modern SRB2 level does.
I was in no way trying to excuse it. If anything that was to emphasize the point. If the problem could be solved mitigated by trimming portions of it down, maybe getting rid of some of the acts would help. iirc Act 3 is purely optional.
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Old 07-04-2020   #29
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I don't really like AGZ, but the music is awesome and I can appreciate the concept of garden in the sky. I wouldn't remake it so much as take the theme and make something more like a garden. It doesn't have to be about extreme platforming. Same goes for ATZ. I've seen so many people complain about the buggles and shitty gargoyles.
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Old 07-04-2020   #30
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I think ATZ has a much more solid foundation and interesting gameplay than AGZ. ATZ's final path split is terrible - the gargoyle puzzle rooms are boring and the fan rooms have nothing to do with the rest of the level on top of being introduced rather poorly, but the first half of the map does a pretty good job of getting mileage out of limited gimmicks. I do think the Buggles could have a larger role in the stage - it's an exceptionally clever mechanic for an enemy considering how simple it is.

AGZ has some interesting concepts, but there's very little redeeming qualities about the map itself today. The Bees are one of them - they were a great way to breathe new life into the zone in 2.2 but frankly don't do enough.

AGZ worked (?) in final demo because the smaller map sizes allowed for real, honest-to-goodness enemy spam. I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but imo it offered some real exhilarating gameplay dodging massive swarms of Jetty-Syns while platforming. Crawlas were an actual threat in that they patrolled the raised borders of each platform - even if you didn't get hit by them, bouncing off of one could ruin your jump. The sheer amount of potential bounce targets added depth to the ways you could move through each rooms. Of course, the issue is that, casually, many players would wait to kill the Jetty-Syns and then move on - the fact that you can't do this with the bees is the best part of the new mechanic, but they still don't offer nearly the same threat level as the old design.
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Old 07-04-2020   #31
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I like when difficult platforming is required to continue a level's upper path, and falling off is punished by knocking you onto a lower path. I don't like as much when tight platforming (especially over a death pit) is the only way to get through an area, and the majority of Aerial Garden is exactly that.
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Old 07-04-2020   #32
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I honestly find it insulting that your reward for beating the game and then beating HHZ (which is an amazing level) is two levels that I see just about everyone disliking them. AGZ's level design still feels like a final demo level in a SRB2 version that tries to move away from that level design philosophy, and ATZ just feels mostly unfun, despite having a few neat rooms with one or two novel puzzles.

The amount of effort that would take to salvage them might as well be spent on making any other new levels that can be enjoyed by most people, instead of just being hard for the sake of being hard and instinctively causing everyone to avoid them. Both levels are just unfun, and I would rather not have them coming back, whether we feel like separating them from the creator or not.
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Old 07-04-2020   #33
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I, for one, think Aerial Garden's concept and theme is worth salvaging. It's got the "floating ancient ruins" thing going on, which we've seen in Sonic before, but AGZ still stands out from zones like Sky Sanctuary because of the "garden" part, which is at least visible in the current design with all the grass in the outdoor sections. Plus, AGZ is the game's only sky level as of now, and even once Grand Eggship gets introduced, a ruins/nature sky level like AGZ would feel plenty distinct from an airship level like GEZ. I also like some components of AGZ's aesthetics, like the sky texture introduced in 2.1 (though I know the devs would probably want to turn it into an even better-looking skybox), and the music, especially after its 2.2 revision.

That said, I think AGZ's map itself could use a thorough transformation or complete remake - not just to get rid of the more frustrating platforming choices and secrets hidden behind unfun button hunts, but to help the zone live up to its full thematic potential. I'd love to see AGZ lean more into its distinctive "garden" theme - that is, the fact that whatever ancient civilization built this place was intentionally growing plant life there. Imagine if AGZ had larger and more impressive flora than grass, small flowers, and the occasional seaweed (EDIT: and decorational bushes). The plants could be used as platforming gimmicks (or just straight-up platforms), and would give players more to look at besides the endless walls of carved stone. If AGZ is going to continue to be a long level, I also think it would be cool if the time of day changed as you progressed through it. By the end of the level, it could be straight-up nighttime, making the final sections evoke the Starlight Palace from which they were lifted.

As for the Hive Elementals and Bumblebores, I'll echo a complaint from the original Mystic thread:

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The bees are meant to attack from above. They position themselves above the player, lock in place with a sound cue, and then after a short delay, slam down. This attack is telegraphed, and provides players sufficient time to get out of the way.

However, the bees can also just slam into the player from the side, if they happen to be on the same vertical plane. And if this happens, there is practically no preparing for it. They can come from outside the camera's field of view and strike quicker than a player can reasonably react. The only way to guarantee this never happens is just to never be out of ball form, which is easier said than done.

Usually what causes it is any situation that involves vertical traversal, because while the bees usually remain above the player so they can divebomb down, if the player moves up (such as to reach a higher platform) the bees will sometimes hit the player directly while attempting to move into position above the player to do their normal attack.
To fix this issue, perhaps Bumblebores could be made incapable of dealing collision damage until they enter their deliberate attack phase?

Finally, if we're uncomfortable keeping around a level so closely tied to Mystic, we could always completely remake AGZ while keeping the general theme, and then rename the level so it no longer directly references Mystic's work. Evolve SRB2's "AGZ" into a separate thing from Mystic Realm's AGZ, and give Mystic credit for the inspiration, but the inspiration only.
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Old 07-04-2020   #34
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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.
That stage is fantastic, even for pre-slopes. My guess is that it didn't make it into the vanilla game because Sphere did not want it in the game in it's current state.

He's working on an update to the stage that has slopes. It's gorgeous.

Still I think we should leave it up to him to tell us his reasoning- I could be entirely wrong lmao. I do hope whatever becomes of it is made vanilla because damn, sphere's work on both Seraphic Skylands and Castle Eggman 2 have both been direct inspirations for a lot of my map architecture.



On the topic of Aerial Garden? I think... you guys will be in for a surprise.
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Old 07-04-2020   #35
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AGZ would need to be completely remade in order for it to mesh with the rest of the game imo. I like the aesthetic but it’s just so primitive in its design.

ATZ is mostly fine, the gargoyle puzzles suck though.
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Old 07-04-2020   #36
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I honestly find it insulting that your reward for beating the game and then beating HHZ (which is an amazing level) is two levels that I see just about everyone disliking them. AGZ's level design still feels like a final demo level in a SRB2 version that tries to move away from that level design philosophy, and ATZ just feels mostly unfun, despite having a few neat rooms with one or two novel puzzles.

The amount of effort that would take to salvage them might as well be spent on making any other new levels that can be enjoyed by most people, instead of just being hard for the sake of being hard and instinctively causing everyone to avoid them. Both levels are just unfun, and I would rather not have them coming back, whether we feel like separating them from the creator or not.
Yeah. I mean, Dave's sketches for their AGZ remake look neat. But as they are now, AGZ and ATZ are my least favorite levels in the game. I had to play as Tails just to get myself through ATZ and even then I had a miserable time.
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Of course, the issue is that, casually, many players would wait to kill the Jetty-Syns and then move on - the fact that you can't do this with the bees is the best part of the new mechanic, but they still don't offer nearly the same threat level as the old design.
I mean, I fail to see how being able to either take your time to make things safer or blaze through with precision is a bad thing. I probably would have been one of those people killing the Jetties first, because I don't like being harried while trying to be precise. In the end, I gave up and just used Tails(of course, this was BEFORE his nerf) and just kinda didn't like the whole thing.
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Old 07-04-2020   #37
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I wouldn't mind seeing Seraphic Skylands become one of the unlockable levels, I'd take that over obnoxious Megaman-style platforming any day, at least the gimmicks are more interesting in SSZ and the visuals are less repetitive, AGZ feels like 2 sections copy-pasted multiple times.
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Old 07-04-2020   #38
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I think me still really enjoying Aerial Garden and Azure Temple at this point is just a symptom of what I can only describe as "MellowJacket just enjoys everything in SRB2 and it's really hard to not impress them" syndrome. Given how that seems to be a fairly uncommon opinion now, but hey.

But I do genuinely think AGZ is salvageable, there are a few areas that would definitely need to be cut out (The AGZ3 tower, for example, is an area I actively dislike) and a lot of the tiny platforming block sections aren't really my thing either. But everywhere in which the level geometry is large enough to actually focus on the 'garden' part of the theme I really enjoy. I'm sure it could be touched up with some modern standards but it is absolutely salvageable, and seeing the entire zone get thrown out now would be a bit of a waste in my opinion. (Also the bees are very good, I really like their design. They do something different to the rest of the games badniks and complement the stages design pretty well)

While talking about Aerial Garden as well, I want to point out that the vertical section that Knuckles or Fang get to climb up is one of my favourite areas in the game simply because it's such a different challenge to what the rest of SRB2 has to offer. I don't see purely vertical sections like that very much and I thought it was a clever way to make those two characters approach a unique problem, as Knuckles can't climb all the way up without interacting with the floating platforms due to the rooms shape and Fang has to effectively thread the needle with masterful bounces to navigate it. Even if people don't want the room as it currently is in future, cutting out the concept entirely would be a huge wasted opportunity I think.

Also, Azure Temple. Honestly, still good. It has a role, it's an unlockable post game extra that sets out to be comically difficult and it succeeds in that. I don't like the gargoyle puzzle path, but the rest of the stage is interesting and I don't think it's a level that really needs slopes or 2.2 features beyond a visual touch up to break up the long purple corridors.
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Old 07-04-2020   #39
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I remember back in 2.1 when I was going through Record Attack to get all the emblems, the moment I came across this stage, I felt intimidated by the long layout and obstacles. When I finally completed it, I said "thank god that's finally over". This stage was a pain to finish in Record Attack, but that's probably because I found it longer than it's sibling, ATZ, and mostly because of the ring emblem. Whatever overhaul or rewrite this stage gets, I just hope it will be good.

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Old 07-04-2020   #40
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I mean, I fail to see how being able to either take your time to make things safer or blaze through with precision is a bad thing. I probably would have been one of those people killing the Jetties first, because I don't like being harried while trying to be precise. In the end, I gave up and just used Tails(of course, this was BEFORE his nerf) and just kinda didn't like the whole thing.
This is subjective, but to me it feels like if you are *just* platforming without jetty-syns/bees/etc. to hurry you along, you lose one of the only exciting experiences of the level, and turn it into an even longer slog than it normally is.
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