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Old 11-19-2013   #81
ŠeltaResero
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Overall, I surmise the results of this contest to surpass the preliminary amateur expectations of this contest. Although each submission each had their own shortcomings, they each excelled in a unique way. Due to the lack of diversity among the entries (due to the nature of this contest), reviews greatly vary as they're reliant on the perspective of who's judging. Below I've ranked the submissions against each other and left feedback. A caution to any map authors, don't let any of the (hopefully constructive) criticism frighten you from making more submissions in the future, these all show a lot of effort and we're all looking forward to seeing more like this in the future.

Rankings/Ratings (from great to not quite as great):
1) House
2) Dark Dreams
3) Suspense/Desolation/Peaceful Enough?
4) Ghost Maze


Spoiler:
House
This was a disproportional funhouse full of inordinate furniture and an excess of gargoyle resembling spirits. The teleportation was a bit obvious as the textures weren't quite aligned correctly, but this was only a minor flaw. The major flaw in this level was the lack of purpose with the ending being too quick and open ended. In future contest, I recommend forced exiting of SRB2 as an anti-cheating mechanism and instead only exit back to the title screen. This submission got extra points in my rating for not abusing (and removing) most of the lighting like the others did.

This was why the ending was so confusing before the text appeared...


Dark Dreams
Beginning with some rings and enormous furniture, this map appeared quite ordinary and resembled that of a map from the 1.09 era. Once busting down the door to enter, everything quickly changes and this level becomes nearly impossible to complete without God mode or a super form for multiple reasons. The biggest issues with this level were the random occurrences of unwarranted damaged caused by seemly nothingness and the lack of lighting after the beginning. Just increasing this lighting by about 64 units would have made a huge difference as it's more frustrating than scary just wandering around not being able seeing anything. This level would also be better off without so many pits in the floor. The prodigious mystery presented in this level just lacks useful hints. For example, placing the concept of the falling door from the bathroom in the beginning between the hall and the starting room might have been better. The player would have to enter the hall by knocking down the door (presumably onto someone or something) and it would give reason for the events to occur farther down the hall. Fixing these minor things along with the FOF glitch (mentioned in an earlier review here) would have easily made it the best map in the contest in my opinion. Also, great idea with the piano playing Funeral March near the end. All that I can suggest here is that maybe next time you could consider using the Tails doll as mentioned in prior reviews.

A minor sector glitch


Tails's alter ego...



Suspense/Desolation/Peaceful Enough?

Was this suppose to be based off a scene from an old black and white movie because if not it lacks colour with little reason too. I'm not sure if the ghost were suppose to be collectable or not, but I had fun collecting/destroying them. The major issue with this level is the lack of direction while on the translucent paths was quite unclear to the point it was too frustrating to use anyone other than Tails to complete the level. Other than a few missing textures and a few bugs such as getting stuck in the ground at the first of the level via entering and exiting the black water quickly and the camera not reverting back to normal after exiting the level, there is nothing really wrong with this level. This map just lacks aesthetics, and purpose overall, but is still done really well.

Some of the missing textures can be seen here.





Ghost Maze
This was short and frustrating mainly do to the lack of direction in the maze and it being the greater part of the level. There should be a better way to tell where the ghost are in maze, it's not very obvious in the way that this was done. The gargoyles could have pointed unanimously in the right (or a wrong) direction to hint where to go next. This level was just too short compared to the others, but it the boss battle was a great addition. There isn't a lot of major things wrong with this level, it just lacks aesthetics and purpose, but what is there is done well overall.

There were some minor glitches/oversights as with this map as there were with the other maps here too. For example, when entering the castle, if the play notices the door closing behind them (mainly ones playing as Sonic), it's possible to get back outside before it closes and get trapped outside.

Eventually I got bored and gave Sonic all the emeralds and used noclip.


Also, it appears knuckles can climb air as shown below:


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Last edited by ŠeltaResero; 11-19-2013 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 11-19-2013   #82
Charybdizs
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DeltaRosero, you're using OpenGL, which is inherently full of graphical and visual glitches. Don't blame the level designer for not appealing to the less used and infinitely more buggy renderer.
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Old 11-20-2013   #83
ŠeltaResero
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charybdizs View Post
DeltaRosero, you're using OpenGL, which is inherently full of graphical and visual glitches. Don't blame the level designer for not appealing to the less used and infinitely more buggy renderer.
The glitches are present in all rendering modes, they just cause other anomalies instead, but OpenGL rendering helps show exactly where the errors are. As for most of the maps being too dark, this is consistent with the other rendering modes as well. These errors should have been caught by Doom Builder (or the equivalent). It's not the choice of texture I dislike anyway, it's the lack of detail, but this is understandable considering the type of competition this, the somewhat short time restraint, and the theme.
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Old 11-20-2013   #84
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I wanted to join.. :( Though I have to say, this looks very interesting. I will check these out tomorrow, if I have time.
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Old 11-21-2013   #85
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The voting is over! (9 hours later thanks to work popping up and sucking away my time) The turn out of this contest was quite good if you ask me, it shown that we still have some mappers that have skills that lay waiting to be fully seen.

The judges votes are in the spoiler tag below.
Spoiler:

CoatRack’s Reviews

House
This level managed to hit the spooky theme in a way the other levels didn’t. Instead of flat out trying to scare the player, it opted for a more unique style of spook, one that was unsettling and often had me wondering “what is next” almost every time I turned a corner.

But sadly enough, the level lacked details and visuals. The level was all pretty much one light level. Had you made it use some shadows and light effects, it would have increased the quality a lot. The texture set you picked was good, but very very basic, and the level felt like it was just a brick building and not a house. Had you made some rooms have wallpaper, furniture, and other cool spooky house items, it would have been more like a haunted house.

The gameplay, while there was no platforming, made the player think on how to progress. The notes were also a neat way of helping the player out in some ways, and overall making it feel more haunted. The story being told from the notes was also really cool in a eerie way, and the way the game ended was a nice touch.

In summary, this level was quite well designed in the gameplay aspect and story, but lacked in the detail department.


Suspense
Welcome to greenflower- nope, welcome to a twisted land filled with ghosts. The theme presented here was very good and spooky, the way you handled the “otherworldly” theme was right on spot. I know I was sometimes a bit afraid, thinking there might be something waiting to attack and murder me as I went along. I mean, look at those ghosts just staring at you as you go by…

The details in this level were great, and this was the best looking map of the contest. The overall level structure and the style of the corrupted part fit very well and even if it looked ugly, I knew it was intended. The music in the level also was really nice, and added to the enjoyment of the theme.

Gameplay wise, this had the most Sonic like feel to it out of all the levels, with there being a lot of platforming. The invisible floor gimmick was a nice idea, but unfortunately you were inconsistent with how you used the lights, sometimes using them to show where the floor was and then using them as simple decoration. It made it hard to know which ones were detail only, and which ones were actually meant to show you where to go. At least you showed some mercy by using teleports instead of death pits, saving me from pulling my hair out.

This level, in the end, was very well made, but the inconsistency with the invisible pathways made it somewhat annoying. Many places like inside the mansion had me confused on where I was to go, and that was not good.

Dark Dreams
I really wanted to rate this level higher. I really did, but the level has some huge flaws dragging it down. While you nailed the theme of “spook” on the head, the rest of what makes a level an actual adventure was left lacking.

The details of this level were not that bad, being better than house, but worse than Suspense and Ghost Maze. The fact that a lot of the level used the THZ Grey cement wall really dragged the scenery down, and since the level was already dark, the overload of grey made it feel even more bland that it was. However, the small details such the the blood, knives, and other small objects made me smile to see someone cared for the small details like I do.

But, you forgot one very very important thing: engaging the player in more ways than making them press buttons and find notes. While the badniks kind of helped, the lack of gimmicks and things to do other than run from room to room down long hallways made the level feel more like a movie than a level. Now, if you took better care in making the running more fun, by say, making the hallways come to life in a eerie way or have something chase you that you’d have to avoid, it would have been okay the level lacked some platforming. But this level is pretty much just running, and I can think of only a few areas that I even had to tap the jump button.

All in all, this level had some nice ideas formed, but the lack of substance other than running the theme made it feel quite lacking.



Ghost Maze
This level had a more comical spooky theme than the others, if you ask me. The level takes place in a haunted mansion, or castle, with spooky scary skeletons peeking around walls, and with creepy faces staring and ghosts awaiting you down below.

The details in this level are just about as good as the ones in Suspense, if not in some ways better. The blue flames were a nice touch, as were the creepy faces and skeletons. The Twinkle Park Mirror Hall song helped support the theme, making the level somewhat more enjoyable, but you forgot one key thing that I will now go into.

Mazes are an aspect of SRB2 mapping that is almost impossible to do right, and some would almost call it a sin I bet. While mazes in themselves are not bad, when you only see hallways and walls as you run from point A trying to find point B makes it not very fun at all. Especially not when you have very generic jump scare ghosts lurking around corners. While you can sure scare someone with them, it is a very weak way of doing it. A better way you could have done it was make the maze be viewed from the top down, and making the ghost stalk the maze, like in Pacman.

Also, the boss at the end, the arena you have is way too large for a simple eggmobile reskin. That and the fact it was a eggmobile reskin made it seem more cheesy and a last minute thought. It would have been much more enjoyable had you managed to find a way to make it more like a real ghost fight. An example would be having the boss be able to clip through the pillars in the arena while slowly bobbing up and down, dashing at the player or shooting flames at the player that erupt in a ring of fire when the hit the ground, leaving a blue flame on the arena.

This level, despite looking like one of the more finished ones, was the worst of the pack. The fact the only real engaging thing was the boss fight made the level very boring to play, the detail was one of the only things that kept it alive for me.


Blade’s Reviews

Suspence
  • The air shield made all the platforming trivial. Might be best to remove it
  • Liked the atmosphere
  • The room with the four smaller rooms was rather confusing

House
  • Definitely needs work on visuals.
  • Story was pretty neat.

Ghostly Maze
  • I liked some of the detail work, like the eyes under the tables and the laughing
  • Boss was annoying with how it'd fly really far away. The whole fight was basicly sitting around waiting for it to reach you
  • Mazes still aren't fun :(

Dark Dreams
  • Buggy, some kind of death bug
  • Visually rather boring, with a bunch long dark hallways
  • Pretty creepy feeling, but the normal SRB2 enemies kinda ruins it somewhat


Charyb’s Reviews

House

When I read the name, I was totally expecting house22 w/ tails doll. I was pleasantly surprised with what awaited me, though.

Let’s start right off with the ideas behind it. You clearly have a formidable understanding of what sort of ideas and features make any given story “spooky” or not. Your idea was to present a “monster”, in this case the spirits trapped in the house, and slowly reveal them to the player through semi-anonymous communication. Using context clues and dialogue, you could show the player the story behind the spirits, their actions, their personalities, and why they had fallen into their predicament in the first place. Finally, you’d give the player a chance to be directly involved in it and have an effect on the conclusion of the story. These are good ideas. Getting the player emotionally invested enough to actually care about the outcome may have been overly ambitious for a single srb2 level, though.

Now the question is, how well did you utilize these ideas? You chose to progress your level with the “not everything is as it seems” gimmick. Sort of along the lines of that Antiland level we saw recently. Unfortunately, yours falls a little short when it comes to this point. Why? Well, it doesn’t really offer that much of an actual challenge. Almost every single room boils down to “enter, read note, leave through the way you couldn’t go before. The mirror room was an especially large letdown. I thought there was going to be some sort of mirror puzzle along the lines of Twinkle Park’s mirror room, but no. The room with the hidden passage in between the torches felt really dull in the same way. Overall, the escher gimmick you have in play here compliments the theme well, but isn’t used in much of a way to actually make it engaging or challenging. It doesn’t actually function as a very satisfying level for a game, because the “game” part is missing.

But the saddest and most glaring oversight of this level, is the lack of suitable visuals. This is supposed to be the mansion belonging to the hundreds of souls now trapped inside for their lifetime sins of corruption, extravagance, and debauchery, right? If so, why does it look like a dank basement? Where are the massive banquet halls, the rich tapestries, and the sets of gold inlaid furniture? You know, the extravagance? The lack of any sort of visual opulence killed a large part of your theme impact. The only rooms that had any sort of filling, were the dining room, which was sparse, and the painting room. The latter of which was a direct lift from a Disney ride. I don’t have a particular problem with that, but I can’t help but feel that you tacked that on not because it complimented your theme, but rather because “it’s scary” even though it didn’t really work with your story in any but a far fetched way.

Lastly I want to say the fact that you were so bold to give the player a choice on the outcome of the story was impressively bold, albeit the fact that it fell flat due to the player not feeling connected enough. There wasn’t enough time for the player to connect to the level and individuals presents in it. As it goes, it’s just a matter of whim rather than a complex choice at the end.

To wrap up, it’s a lot of very good and interesting ideas, but the execution is more than a little botched through faulty gameplay elements and lack of visual story clues.

Key takeaway points:
  • Engage the player more by expanding upon your gimmicks in puzzling ways
  • Work on using the visuals to compliment the overall theme

Suspense
Why hello, Hell Valley trees. It’s been a while.

This one is a real interesting specimen. But that aside, the map has some really good, and some really bad. The beginning greenflower themed room leaves a lot to be desired, and its horror flash is completely trivialized by the fact that the title card reads “peaceful enough?” like you’re just ASKING for them to expect the flash.

On entering the shaft, here’s where the scary really begins. It becomes pretty clear that you had a very vivid and specific idea of scary, and I love it. You’ve crafted a really dark and ominous world where nothing is comfortable. The occasional ghosts you have scattered about watching you from dark corners are the tiniest bit un-nerving, and I often found myself making them disappear just because I didn’t want them there in case they did something. Kind of a shame that they actually never did try anything. It would have been especially a good idea to have most of them do nothing, but a select few stalk you or move or something. Either that or just keep them entirely unreachable by the player like they were in the end.

The big glitchy ghosts that appear in the corrupted mansion are cool, but they lose their forbode when you realize that they do nothing and you can just thok against them all you want. The use of them in the surprise attack on the left path of the forest section is way more effective.

All in all, you really nailed the theme on the head. Unfortunately, the broken gameplay detracts from the level making any sense to the player. Probably the best example is the little white “lost soul” things, that you use to make bridges in the first area:

Upon reaching the top of the main island, they function as leading lights, which form the invisible walkways. Then, in the next room, they are there, but don’t form a walkway at all. Then, in the mansion, they’re just randomly scattered in the little cubby holes and seem to serve no purpose at all. I still don’t get what the purpose of them there was. Inconsistencies like this are bad because it stops the player from being able to make any rational decision about their surroundings and what to do next.

Here are a few other examples of oddities and inconsistencies in your level. The glitchy ghosts in the mansion are intangible once and not other times, and the moving platforms in the forest section are tangible on one path and not on the other? The only way to progress in the beginning of the dark world is by jumping into the hazard water? And those cubbyholes, what even were they supposed to do?

A lot of the “challenges” in your level were really just nonsensical gimmicks with trial and error. If there was one thing that really impressed me though, it was the drowning sequence trap. That got me quite on edge when I couldn’t find an escape.

I’m still confused as to why your skeleton didn’t use this wonderful mix instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOpt30TiJX8

Key takeaway points:
  • Make sure all your gimmicks are consistent and can be understood by the player
  • Work on making clearer cut direction as to what the player must do next

Dark Dreams
I really, really wish I could say “good job!”. Like, damnit you tried an awful lot! If there was any scary technique you could think of, it was in there! However, it’s all in such disorder that the end result feels like a messy bedroom full of broken toys.

I’d kind of like to go about reviewing this in a different way than I did the others. I’ll start it off by talking a little about your gameplay, and then reviewing a smattering of the different gimmicks one by one.

So to begin, you did gameplay all wrong in this, I hate to say. I’ll tell you why: because wandering around in dimly lit hallways searching for buttons or notes to progress to the next area just isn’t fun at all. It’s just a hunt, rather than a puzzle. You don’t have to use your mind, you just have to keep walking. Compare or contrast your level to a traditional zelda puzzle. Zelda puzzles also focus on finding buttons or switches to unlock the next door, but the difference between your level and a zelda level is that a good zelda level would make you solve a puzzle to push the button. In yours, it’s just there.

Your level was stuffed full of gimmicks, some okay, but most bad.

Falling Tiles

Putting the player in first person was a really good idea! It helped to stop the player from getting distracted by the fact that they’re silly ol’ Sonic, and made them feel like they were a little more up personal and close with the level. But you can NOT have blind hazards dropping from above if the player is in first person and can’t see them in time to avoid.

Wind hall

The one hall has wind shooting down it until you press the corresponding button. May I ask, uh, why? It makes no sense at all. The idea that a button would turn off a mysteriously windy hallway is a little unintuitive also.

Tails ghost

Having actual ghosts that appeared and disappeared was a really good horror idea. But, you should have used something more creepy than uh, tails. Maybe some creepy little girl sprite, or some phantom type thing. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but if you die during the level, you get a state error or something that causes a bunch of sonics to spawn in the room with all the beds and a few other places.

Screams

Ugh, why would you even put loud screams in certain areas? Jumpscares just aren’t fun at all.

Minuses

I thought the inclusion of normal enemies sort of went against the theme a bit. You’re supposed to be building up a feeling of tenseness, with unimaginable horrors waiting around every corner, and yet you’ve got… a minus? That’s not scary at all. Seeing their tiny familiar faces made me feel quite comfortable.

Falling Elevator

Good, good! Way to throw the unexpected at the player. Solely a visual touch, but a very nice one at that. This is the kind of stuff I would have expected to see in a much more experienced designer’s level.

Key takeaway points:
  • Find a funner way to have a level challenge the player than wandering around from button to button in the dark
  • Refine your gimmicks in such a way that you can use them to tell somewhat of a story rather than being a mishmash of mostly unrelated events

Ghostly Maze
Okay, first off: mazes are bad game design. And here’s why: What is the main purpose of a game? It’s to engage the player, giving them some sort of puzzle or obstacles to overcome. Whether it’s something they need to think their way through, or maneuver their way through, ultimately the goal is to test the player’s skill. A maze doesn’t do that. A maze (at least a maze as viewed from the perspective of someone inside it) is a series of blind turns, lefts and rights, with no real player input.

Secondly, jump scares are also bad. This isn’t some arbitrary standard I made up. Think of it this way: People willingly submit themselves to the trial of playing a horror game, but have you ever seen someone intentionally watch a screamer? The fact is, one type of scary is fun and therefore good for levels, and the other isn’t fun and so makes a bad level.

I’m glad you had the sense to understand how much of an important part visuals would play in making your audience uneasy, but you overdid it a little bit with the creepy eyes. It was a nice touch in the beginning, because it made the player feel like something was in the darkness watching them. But then, you make the mistake of putting the eyes in places where the player can actually TOUCH them, like under the table in the house. Any illusion of unease you had built was broken the moment the monster was conclusively revealed for being nothing at all.

Sadly, I think visuals was really the only thing you got remotely right with this level. You don’t seem to have any concrete idea or plan to scare the player, so you resort to a few random gimmicks and generic deton recolors to do the job. There is one thing I want to compliment you for, and that is the one ghost that only appears after you press the button, in a hallway you’ve already “cleared”. The level needed more confusion like this, and if used in various ways it would have benefited the theme very much.

Ultimately, your level is a haphazard mess with no idea to bind it together, and absolutely zero satisfactory gameplay. The eggmobile recolor at the end floats like a badge of shame above a map of equal quality. Try giving a little more thought to your basic level ideas next time, okay?

Key takeaway points:
  • Find better gameplay elements than blind mazes.
  • Don’t use the same gimmick repeatedly, lest it become stale. Expand upon your ideas, and use them in different ways to challenge the player.


The final results of the contest, and names of the entrees are as following.

Suspense - Zipper - Judges' Pick.
House - Simsmagic - Community's Choice
Dark Dreams - LJ Sonic
Ghostly Maze - The Cyan

I would like to thank you all for entering and voting again! We may hold this again sometime down the road if we get the time, and if we do, the winners may be contacted when we start to pick a new theme. But until then, the ASDT is officially over!
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Old 11-26-2013   #86
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Well done to you both, Zipper and Simsmagic! It's a bit of a shame I couldn't get in to vote before the time ran out, but then again I'm not really one for scares. Still, I hope that the next ASDT would be better than before.
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