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Old 01-11-2020   #1
Ace Dragon
 
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Default Ace Dragon's adventures in Zone Builder.

The first time I played SRB2, it was at version 2.1, but I only played the official content.

With version 2.2, I am not only playing user content, but also messing around with making my own as well. It will more or less be just levels in Zone Builder, but I am now doing more than just using what came with the game.

The first go-around with Zone Builder was seeing about making what would amount to an amalgam between Aerial Garden and Greenflower, complete with custom textures. However, it quickly became too ambitious for a first level and realized I need to do something smaller and more fitting as a first project. This is one shot.
https://mb.srb2.org/attachment.php?a...1&d=1578775543

One thing to note is that I also got into the game's Lua scripting as well (hence the Yellow Crawlas). I figured that at the rate everyone was using the blue ones, I needed something to differentiate my content. These go at a speed between the blue ones and the red ones.

The other thing I'm using Lua for at the moment is custom scenery objects, the following tree is not the prettiest, but it gets the job done.
https://mb.srb2.org/attachment.php?a...1&d=1578775566

I tried using SOC files for custom objects as well, but for some reason I found Lua easier to use. Maybe it's that I know how code syntax works and SOC does not have any (which thereby makes issues and missing attributes easier to spot). It has been a bit of a learning curve, but I've been wanting to make Sonic levels since I was a little boy over 20 years ago. I have made other things like homemade games and 3D artwork, but this is not something I have done for real yet.

Now of course, the level isn't even close to being ready for the releases forum, but I figured this thread will be fine based on what other people are posting.
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Old 01-11-2020   #2
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It looks pretty cool
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Old 01-12-2020   #3
Goldenhog
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Nice textures! And the Crawlas look surprisingly neat in yellow.
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Old 01-12-2020   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldenhog View Post
Nice textures! And the Crawlas look surprisingly neat in yellow.
Thanks, both the custom spriting and the custom textures use a program known as Genetica as the main workhorse (not the crawlas though, which were done through Slade's color remap).

The company that made it went belly up, but the nice thing is that if offers a non-destructive workflow using nodes. The tree sprite utilizes its canvas node which offers a non-destructive layer and shape-based workflow. I like non-destructive approaches because it makes revising easier without the fear of mangling what is being made.

Another thing I can say is that the Lua scripts so far are not complex by any means. You have to start somewhere and I figured the easiest ones to make would be a new scenery object and a new crawla color. The intent is so I at least have the most basic possible reference for future custom objects. One thing I am not interested in is making new characters, I will very likely stick with the 6 that come with the game.

If you're wondering about my age by the way, I am 31, so I'm old enough to remember getting Sonic 1 as my first console game. Some of the sections in SRB2 can be tough if your twitch has slowed down since your teen years.

Last edited by Ace Dragon; 01-12-2020 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 01-12-2020   #5
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Another custom graphic, with the goal being to create a piece of animated scenery.
https://mb.srb2.org/attachment.php?a...1&d=1578869479

The orange flowers obviously came with the game, but the white flowers are not. What they do is rotate their petals over 5 frames. The alignment between frames is a little off right now, but one of the aims was to have a nice template for custom animated objects as well (via a Lua script).

The other reason is that the stock flower options were a bit limited if you want larger plants, learning to make your own will offer a lot of freedom.

---
EDIT: Another shot added, the first part of the level actually looks like something now, but it still needs to be filled with objects (ie. rings) and I haven't yet tested with the other characters.
https://mb.srb2.org/attachment.php?a...1&d=1578945199
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Last edited by Ace Dragon; 01-13-2020 at 07:54 PM.
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Old 01-21-2020   #6
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I wish I knew about the movie maker earlier, it will make WIP reports (with detail) far easier to make.

Among the things I discovered and utilized, solid mid-textures and skybox viewpoints. The beginning was also extended just a little bit.
https://mb.srb2.org/attachment.php?a...1&d=1579573327

The overall route is being extended more and more, and the outline of a new path near the beginning is in place. The discovery of what solid midtextures do allowed me to remove some FoF's and simplify a few things.

EDIT: More .gifs will be posted as new things and new sections are added.
https://mb.srb2.org/attachment.php?a...1&d=1580048788
https://mb.srb2.org/attachment.php?a...1&d=1580250972
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Last edited by Ace Dragon; 01-28-2020 at 10:36 PM.
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Old 02-13-2020   #7
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Finally figured out moving Poly Objects
https://mb.srb2.org/attachment.php?a...1&d=1581597104

While it might seem to be a simple concept once you figure it out, it did take me a while to fully get how to make one properly, even after looking at the tutorial and the example files. Apparently, everything from the height of the midtexture image to the height of the control sector plays a role (which the latter determines the translucency of the object).
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Old 02-14-2020   #8
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That's looking pretty great Ace Dragon! I honestly really like the "Lawn World" concept, it's similar to a theme I never got around to trying, which is a level like a walled garden. I like the large amount of custom content, too. That helps make things feel fresh and unique, and you typically don't get this much custom stuff in a first map. The level design looks interesting and open, and the atmosphere is sunny and a little mysterious, which is awesome.

However, I really don't like those main wall textures. I'm not really sure how to describe it. Grainy? Busy? Dull? Mainly, it doesn't fit in with the art style of the game. It looks realistic in a 90's-3D-rendering kind of way and makes me feel uncomfortable. It feels more Doom64 than Sonic in my opinion.
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Old 02-16-2020   #9
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I updated the wall texture to be less 'busy'.

Meanwhile, the full layout is starting to come into view as the end sign gets placed, but much of the second half of the zone is still fairly empty and therefore far from finished.

Even the layout might see a few changes as everything evolves, ideally I wouldn't want sonic to be able to blow through the entire zone at high speed, while avoiding the idea of slowing progress to a crawl. Tails will probably be able to cheese the level like he does for almost all of the official ones, but his running and his flight speed was buffed for version 2.2 so there's not much you can do other than add large and tight indoor areas (which is not what I'm aiming for).
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Old 03-20-2020   #10
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https://mb.srb2.org/attachment.php?a...1&d=1584740522

Most of my time has been on other things, but I have not forgotten about this level. The Initial pass is done, but there's still some todo items (such as wider testing and making sure there's no dead-ends for Amy and Fang).

Also on the list is a custom level icon, that might be one of the last things before I release it, barring any redesigns that my mind might think of. I know of the high bar some on this forum like to see in custom content, so I'm trying to make sure I take into account what has been said about other user-made levels.

EDIT: All six vanilla characters can pass the level, though it might be a little too easy for Fang to cheese it. Any anti-cheese design will be for the six characters that come with the game, use your own discretion as to what custom character to play as after this is released.
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Last edited by Ace Dragon; 03-26-2020 at 09:49 PM.
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Old 04-05-2020   #11
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What I did in the last week...

1. Verified that the mod is fully functional (with emblems) when loaded into SRB2. All six vanilla characters have been tested.
2. Lots of small alignment issues and whatnot resolved.
3. Cracking more secrets of floor texture alignments and aligning FoF's.
4. Some anti-cheese stuff
5. Open up a bottleneck with an elevated area to the side with many spikes, not really a bottleneck of gameplay, but trying to reduce the instances of the sky strongly clipping the player's view. The large spike field is optimized by many not having collision (I use an invisible FoF instead).
6. Open up an inaccessible region at the end of the level (but it's still just inaccessible decoration to make the layout appear less like a classic Doom engine game).
7. Create animated .gifs to use as attachments for the submission

I hope to submit this soon and then start work on Acts 2 and 3, there's just a ton of little things to find and improve if I want to avoid doing "patch" releases when Act 2 is unfinished.

EDIT: Just converted the project to a .pk3 file and got everything working for running it in the game and for testing in Zone Builder. My project has that little Knuckles icon now.
EDIT2: Got the level released, and noted a lot of comments that talk about where improvement can be made and what needs to be fixed (which includes the critique on Discord), the following changes have been made already.

Spoiler:

1. Custom music replaced with CC0 music from FreePD.com
2. the final third of the level has re-arranged set-pieces for a more left to right layout. To do this, the terrace area onward has been rotated 90 degrees, the upper setpiece with the columns has been separated out and re-attached as a transition piece between the final fence jump and the terrace. I did intend for a more left to right flow from the beginning, so this is closer to my original idea.
3. The checker tree graphic was swapped out
4. The sky texture was overhauled
5. Lengthened the bridge section to make it thok-proof (Sonic can still exit the water on the far side though). As a result, since the spring can no longer be used to get near the high platforms, the tall fences were replaced with wooden ones.
6. The area just before the first checkpoint makes it more obvious where to go, the alternative paths have clearer design showing which way would be backtracking.
7. A line of springs was added below the final fence jump. Now sonic can jump the first fence, into the springs, to quickly reach the yellow springs to get to where you need to be to get over. The other characters can still run into them to quickly move in the right direction.

Last edited by Ace Dragon; 04-07-2020 at 10:25 PM.
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Old 04-12-2020   #12
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A new update...

1. Released Lawn World Zone Act 1 (version 1.0)
2. Did further changes and fixes for versions 1.1 and 1.2 (thank you for some much needed feedback).
3. LWZ2 is being built, attached are a couple of WIP shots (with the second taken much later in the process than the first).
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Old 04-21-2020   #13
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A very, very WIP and incomplete look at LWZ2's layout (at the current stage of development). The text shows this is still quite far from completion
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As mentioned, it's still very WIP and critique should respect that. The intention is that the layout will be less of a left to right trek and more in the way of winding around, and it will appear as if it's a single region with some areas alluding to other areas already seen by the player.
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Old 04-28-2020   #14
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Wow this looks inpressive! Better than anything i could ever create
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Old 04-29-2020   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by felix44 View Post
Wow this looks inpressive! Better than anything i could ever create
Once you figure out how to make sloped FoF's, then you pretty much have everything you need to make something look decent with the built-in resources. All of the information you need is on the wiki.

Once you figure out the insertion of custom objects (like scenery) and the use of custom textures, then you can make something truly unique. The basic tooling isn't too complex, though it will take some time to build the skill needed to pull off things like the official 2.2 levels.

EDIT: A custom badnik, something different from "move towards the player".
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Last edited by Ace Dragon; 04-29-2020 at 02:11 AM.
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Old 05-05-2020   #16
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Another post reserved for any .gif I might record for sections of LWZ2, such as the main setpieces.

The first two are of the second standalone house (which means I'm not counting the one you start in).
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The next one is in a very early stage yet, two gazebos instead of one. I had to learn how to properly paste the thing in from the previous level and then operate on both tags and values to make the second one. Then they had to be lowered to the ground's elevation.
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3D rendered assets with 16 directions are coming (now found in LawnWorld 1.4)
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Last edited by Ace Dragon; 05-11-2020 at 09:50 PM.
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Old 05-11-2020   #17
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I played LWZ1 the other day and I must say I was really impressed with the environmental design and level of detail. Sometimes I was a little unsure about if I was heading the right direction but it kinda added a little to the atmosphere and it was not too confusing in the end
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Old 06-20-2020   #18
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Thanks, now some good news for those waiting for LWZ2.

The level layout is largely complete now (with the end slgn and starposts in place) and I am now in the process of polishing the layout, populating the level with things, and playtesting. The overall playtime for this level will be a bit longer than LWZ1 so these later steps will take longer to complete. The standard yellow/red crawlas and yellow buzzes now have custom 16-directional (and animated) sprites as well (no screens for now though).

The reason it is taking a while is primarily because I split my time between this and making art with Blender (not because of difficulty with zone builder).

Last edited by Ace Dragon; 06-20-2020 at 05:01 PM.
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Old 06-28-2020   #19
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LWZ3 is coming.
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I intend to have at least some degree of custom boss behavior (as opposed to putting out yet another act 3 with the Greenflower boss). Right now it is a hasty re-implementation of that standard boss with Lua, so I am aware the behavior looks a bit broken.

Once I finish polishing LWZ2 and get LWZ3 working, version 2 of Lawn World Zone will be released.
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Old 07-04-2020   #20
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Note; Crossposted from the general WIP thread, not everything seen here will be posted in that thread.

-----
Starting the first phase of a level pack now (which will include Lawn World at the beginning). This one is named Broadside Cliffs Act 1
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There are no large cliffs in the .gif, but the plan for this level is that you will find yourself at the top of pretty large cliffs later on. The first part meanwhile is about getting to that point.

The second zone will take place at twilight and will have areas of light where lamps are. The cliffside you are going to will be a central theme by then.

EDIT: First peek at Skyward Garden Zone. Watch out for the deep blue crawlas though, they are more difficult than the yellow and red ones.
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Last edited by Ace Dragon; 07-06-2020 at 08:25 PM.
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