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Jade Garden Zone Details »»
Jade Garden Zone
Version: 1.0, by ShihoAJoke (Local Squirrel Service) ShihoAJoke is offline
Developer Last Online: Jul 2020

Category: Version: SRB2 Rating: (5 votes - 4.80 average)
Released: 11-10-2016 Last Update: Never Favourites: 5
Single Player Levels

Jade Garden Zone is my first complete Single Player level, its full of valley and flowers.

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File Type: rar scr_jadegarden.rar (208.0 KB, 778 views)


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Old 11-10-2016   #2
AKA FuriousFox
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Old 11-10-2016   #3
Prime 2.0
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I did enjoy it, thanks. Feels like something that might have been released before 2.0 came out. People did short level packs a lot more frequently back then, and the style of enemy placement is certainly reminiscent.

Nevermind the RedXVI houses, hah. Don't think I've ever seen anyone else do a reference to the black emerald secret specifically, but it got me to smile.

The levels were fun to explore, and more importantly to my tastes, quite vertical and fun to climb. Days past that was just chain bouncing and the whirlwind shield to do interesting stuff, but you've deliberately arranged areas to be just barely reachable through some spindash jumps on particular slopes... but, with them so abundant, there were often alternatives which was appreciated. Gave me the feeling that I was really choosing my own path through everything, even when I wasn't going down an explicit path split.

The sense of interconnectedness in the levels was also really awesome, what with seeing the ledge behind you at the start of act 1, and having clear sight lines from the higher-up springs across the whole level. The measures you took to enable backtracking were pretty neat sometimes, especially in the DSZ waterslide - it felt like I was going through a secret passage or something, and seeing that it went over the same bridge that I saw and wondered about on the way there just felt really good. Making a map feel like a single, coherent place rather than an obstacle course is a rare quality these days.

When it comes to set pieces, the thing that stands out is of course, the big ramp in your first screenshot. Visually impressive, and fun as all heck to run off, especially since you put speed shoes in reach of it! And invincibility, for that matter - I had a fun time bopping everything in sight with the combination of powerups before rushing down that ramp, and curling up into a ball to keep that speed as it ran out before I made it off the edge. Nice stuff, really.

Decoration was pretty good, too.

Not much to say about the boss arena - it's pretty and not overly huge which I appreciate... many people have made arenas without paying attention to how eggman running away after each hit interacts with it to horrible results, so it's good that you didn't fall into that pitfall. It's unusually pretty as well, which I appreciate, though at the end of the day it's a just there for the sake of completeness. Nothing special, but it doesn't really need to be.

It's not all sunshine and roses, though. Some of those high-up places had invisible walls around them when they weren't thok barriers; nothing ruins springing and bouncing from up high quite like suddenly stopping dead in mid-air for no reason and having to spend time getting back up because of it, and there wasn't even a consistent visual cue for where they would happen. I was surprised in act 2 to find high-up areas using GFZRock on their surface (can't remember the exact flat name) that I could walk on, after having all similar structures in act 1 be off-limits. I'd rather none of them be, except where they're actual level boundaries. There didn't seem to be any reason for them to be blocked off, honestly.

The water slide at the end of act 1 had another invisible wall, and though this had less negative impact, there are options for visually blocking things like that off without resorting to invisible walls, such as middletexture grating.

On the technical front, I've seen two issues: The map warp secret just seems to act like the sound test, and special stages are kinda broken, not that you actually added any - the mainCFG settings just appear to be configured such that the game thinks they're all final demo style special stages with a requirement of 1 ring. Odd.

Last bit, and this is a topic I can go really deep into, but I'll try to keep it short: Your enemy placement seemed to follow 1.09 norms - that is, it looks like you made the level, and then put in the enemies as the last step, rather than designing any of it with how the enemies would function as a gimmick for the room in mind. When it's crawlas in a vertical level, this has the incidental effect of letting people have fun getting places by bouncing on them, but it's very possible to do better.

And I don't mean by throwing other badniks types into the stage willy nilly, if that's what you're thinking.

Eggman's robots are, to many people's surprise, not primarily about giving something for Sonic and friends to fight: they're gimmicks. Badniks are things you can put in a stage to have a specific effect, and which typically include a way of getting hurt, and a way for the player to remove them. And like with any gimmick, if there's a way for the player to bypass it without interacting with it at all, they're going to do exactly that, so to make them feel like more than just scenery, you have to put a bit of thought into how the room will use them in advance.

Besides just setting things up to force some kind of interaction, you need to think about what they do in a room, and how they can change what the player does or should do. With that in mind, crawlas are notable for the following effects:

  • They take up space. Need space to make a running start? Need to stick a landing? Trying to get a good vantage point? Going up or down some big stairs you have to jump through? Crawlas can complicate these tasks, but only if there is a small enough space available to do them at the time that the crawla(s) can noticeably shrink how much of it the player has to work with. This allows you to punish or inconvenience a player who is rushing or inattentive, if you plan it out.
    • The most infamous example of this is of course edgeguarding, where you place some on a high ledge the player uses a spring to get up to. Be careful with that one though, if you can't clearly see them before springing up, it can feel a bit unfair if you do this.
    • A more reasonable example for an early stage like this is just putting crawlas down in an area where the player is expected to land from a big diagonal spring, to force the player to aim their landing.
  • They're one of the most easily jump-able enemies in the game, only monitors are easier to hit. The more optimally crawlas are arranged as a group to keep them from overlapping but still close, the better you can rely on them to give the player something to bounce on to get form point A to point B for a neat secret somewhere - think about that group of crawlas fenced in in GFZ2 for an example.
    • As with any bounceable object, there's a special case for when they're underwater, due to the water's surface amplifying your momentum when coming out of it. This can lead to some bounces of extreme height.
  • When red and blue crawlas are used in combination, they 'telescope' out from each other as they move towards you, causing them to take up even more space. In general, using combinations of the two is better than using just one or the other.
    • That said, red crawlas in confined spaces force the player to deal with them before doing other things, while blue crawlas might be dodged in those same situations - which is better really depends on what you're trying to accomplish there.
    • Blue crawlas, being slower, are generally easier to hit when doing high crawla bouncing, but blue and red in combination takes up more space, and thus make an easier target than blue or red alone, generally.
...Well, I guess I went kinda deep into that anyways. If you can believe it, I can go deeper than that, though, but I think that's sufficient to chew on.

Good work, had loads of fun with this. Looking forward to what you do next!

Last edited by Prime 2.0; 11-10-2016 at 05:28 AM.
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Old 11-10-2016   #4
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Not bad! You've got a good feel for platforming, flow and general architecture. It's kind of a shame you went for a generic GFZ clone -- it's clear you tried to match the same feel as the original, but I think it's extremely limiting and you could do a lot of good with some additional game mechanics.

A couple minor critiques:

* You should avoid low ceilings if your player can spring into them.
* Try and avoid using invisible walls in the middle of the room. I was playing flying characters and I kept thinking that I could land on the barriers.

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Old 11-10-2016   #5
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Well, that was a lot of fun! I was going to offer some critique, but Prime pretty much nailed what I was going to say. Act 1 felt more experimental, but it seemed like you were really having fun using slopes once you got the hang of them for Act 2. Hope to see more stuff like this from you sometime, it's good stuff.
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Old 11-12-2016   #6
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I like it! Short, sweet, and most importantly, fun!
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Old 12-12-2016   #7
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This was an awesome set of levels! I think grassy stages are where every sonic game is best, and I also have a huge soft spot for these stages when people do them right. And you did this right!

In terms of visuals, you did everything basically right. There's a good amount of flower textures and objects everywhere to keep the level at the perfect amount of visual interest, you kept things familiar and warm with the GFZ textures (which get too much hate in my opinion), but you also kept a good amount of your personal influence with the repeating motif of the apparently inaccessible rock bridge arching above you. The only suggestions I can give you in terms of visuals is that you should try to keep the textures a bit more aligned. I know this can be hard, but the textures can get a bit messy at times. Also slopes tend to feel less like rolling hills and more like a flat level that got crinkled up, but that's SRB2's fault, not yours! Plus, you use them in a super meaningful way!

The levels only really had one main path through them, but you prove that this can be okay! That's because your level architecture was basically begging the player to explore every corner and not just blaze through the level as fast as possible. More than that, you rewarded the player with more than just items for exploration. Any average designer can reward the player with a few extra lives and ring monitors in an out-of-the-way cave or something, but you also rewarded them with clever areas. What I mean is that the secret areas are satisfying to get to by themselves because the level geometry teases you with them. The player sees a curious bridge or ledge from below and thinks "how on earth do I get there?". And when they finally make the right decisions and soar into that area, they think "cool! I finally made it!" To me, this is what makes fun gameplay. Gimmicks are less important to me than the feeling I just described.

Both acts accomplish this by having that pleasant quality GFZ2 has, where the walls of the levels aren't actually impenetrable walls, rather they're actually high-up chunks of the level the player can explore if they're clever and curious enough.

Lastly, the best part of these maps is that they're both small and interconnected! I get fatigued when I've been playing a level for 6 or 7 minutes (for the main path ALONE) and I know I haven't even scratched the surface when it comes to secrets. When I play these levels, I know I could either beat the level in 1 or two minutes, OR I could dig into the exploration and spend a lot more time. The short, interconnected quality of these maps makes exploration very pleasant, since the player learns the entire layout rather quickly and thus develops a map in their own head to help guide them to secrets. As much as I love stages like Seraphic Skylands and Oceanic Cove (where is that level anyway?), they're way too huge for my tastes and I have absolutley 0 mental maps when I play through them, even for the millionth time.

GFZ stages like this always make me nostalgic for when I first played SRB2 and battled the controls and ran around lost in GFZ2. For that reason I'll never dock points from a "GFZ clone" for being a GFZ clone, especially when they're as fun as your levels.

Great job!
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Last edited by Ice; 12-12-2016 at 07:08 AM.
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