Ace Dragon

Member
This is my first official released zone made for Sonic Robo Blast 2. This 3 act zone has been tested with all six vanilla characters and uses custom textures and modified enemy graphics (not to mention a custom badnik).

I personally have a background of making work using digital 3D software, but building the map using technology originally made for Doom is a completely different adventure. In Zone Builder, there is no such thing as UVmapping and 3D modeling, so the approach to have nicely mapped set pieces of reasonable complexity can end up being a challenge.

Thank you to Dabir for his Spring-lock script.

EDIT: Changelog
Version 1.1

1. Re-arranged the layout slightly, the high set piece before the terrace was removed and re-inserted as a piece between the second fence jump and the terrace
2. Halved the number of white flowers in the flower beds
3. Lengthened the bridge area, it is now a bit more thok-proof. The player can still exit at the other end though.
4. The tall white fences near the beginning were replaced with short wood fences.
5. The checker tree sprite was swapped out
6. The sky texture was overhauled
7. The custom music was removed and replaced with CC0 music from FreePD.com (Inspiration by Rafael Krux).
8. The area before you jump the second fence has diagonal blue springs now (to kill a momentum killer)
9. The stuck buzz is fixed
10. The invisible wall issue near the boost pad seems to be fixed, at least I didn't encounter the issue on my last two test runs with sonic.
11. A couple other minor changes

Version 1.2
1. Tweaked ceiling heights in a couple of outdoor areas (with slope copying). Makes it harder for tails to fly far above the walls without creating invisible walls.
2. Changes to two areas where momentum is otherwise killed
3. A few fixes to alignments and textures.

Version 1.3
1. Some corridors are now less tight
2. Improved the slope you can spin down near the beginning
3. Increased the space in Amy and Fang's area
4. A potentially cheap ambush on Amy will no longer occur
5. The usual alignment fixes
6. A couple of fixes to thing placement
7. Gave a couple of slope areas more detail.
8. Improved the skybox and the 3D skybox to reduce blending with the foreground, the pillars were set further away too.
9. SOC script made ready for the future Act 2 (with a very WIP and very incomplete Act 2 technically included in the update, but can't be played). This also apparently fixed an issue with an emblem not being saved.

Version 1.4
1. Some texture improvements
2. More walls are climbable.
3. Opened up the visual bottleneck at the end of the starting area
4. Replaced many plant assets with 3D-rendered 16-directional sprites (as opposed to simple billboards).
5. Fixed the visual error with the floor around the mound at the start
6. (Hopefully) fixed emblems not saving by updating a tag and shuffling a little SOC code.
7. (very) minor layout tweaks, mainly to see if I can prevent Fang from skipping the gazebo)
8. Other small tweaks and fixes (due to actually making use of ZB map analysis tool to fix possible errors).
9. The big room midway through the level now feels far more open with the addition of an inaccessible area using horizon rendering.

Version 2.0
1. Acts 2 and 3 are in, entering act 3 may give the impression of the same-old GFZ boss, but a few changes were made to it.
2. Non-animated scenery objects use the Nothink flag now, saving CPU power
3. Made use of Dabir's spring-lock script.
4. Saves can now get to the complete state upon Act 3's completion

Version 2.1
1. Critical layout fix, resolved massive cheese opportunity allowing the player to skip the second house altogether (in Act 2). Tails and Knuckles can possibly skip still, but they classify as easy-mode characters in many levels.
2. Add spring to prevent a softlock for Amy and Fang in one spot
3. Smaller alignment fixes
4. More detail, rings, enemies, things in a few spots.
5. Another stuck buzz fixed
6. The custom GFZ boss code will now try to prevent Eggman from descending all the way to the ground.

LWZ-GIF2.gifLWZ-GIF3.gifLWZ-GIF4.gif
LWZ-GIF2_1.gifLWZ-GIF2_2.gifLWZ-GIF2_3.gif

Supporters / Co-Authors:

 

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Prime 2.0

Member
Pros:
- Beautiful landscapes, custom texture and spritework
- Lots of cool looking set pieces
- Sprawling, lots of places to look around. It big.
- Fun uses of slopes
- Character-specific paths

Cons:
- Difficult to find the way forward - getting to the highest point of a room does not mean it will become apparent where to go next, and may even be misleading.
- Not much in the way of gimmicks, detailed platforming, or combat scenarios; the high points of action are mostly variations of vaulting off slopes for high jumps up to or over obstacles like fences, and opportunities to take springs or crawla bounces over large swaths of land from a high place.
- Buzz have improper flags for some reason, and won't chase the player.
- What the heck is going on with the music?

For a first effort, this is absolutely fantastic. Looking forward to what you do next!

Welcome to Releases!
 
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Dave Lite

Absent from SRB2 community
I probably going to sound harsh, but please I know it is your first level release take my critique to heart for future projects rather dismissing it as hate. I will point out major things I probably won't bother with details this time.

Visual wise well it doesn't work for me, Theme wise it seems like it is Grasslands, yet there are random bricks or blocks used for ground, I would say that even type of fences are quite odd choice. Like I don't know what's really going on with theme.

Style isn't quite consistent, like even though it is painfully obvious you used
Brush tool for lot of objects, yet there are pixel-art checkboard trees that are quite out of place.

Few sections are covered in dark and I think you kind of overshoot it in some places, where it created this ridiculous contrast.

I don't see really point of the skybox, seriously there are 2 ovals in there, nothing else, that's not really good excuse to have it in first place.

Music at first few seconds thought it was alright, then those drum section was pilling up and it started to mix in all sort of unstructured ways. I had enough after 1st minute.

Level is just too open, People are often avoiding doing open levels in this extend just because of performance risk (yet you managed to slowdown for SRB2 my beast).

Level is quite not straight forward, you can easily get to path directed in wrong direction. Or you don't know where to go in first place, there is quite lack of telegraphing to player where to go (commonly rings are used as navigators, though they aren't really reliable)

There is lot I mean lot of unused bloat thrown in the path you are taking.
for example right after starting area you can just skip over entire bridge section by simple jump, like what's point of it you have to ask yourself.

There is thrown in for no reason ton of decorative flowers into specific areas,
1st of all it doesn't look good, it is just mess.
2nd of all you could get away with less of those.
3rd of all it seems like it contributes to all frame spikes

Well I will end it there, I often am more describing, but since this is your first released like I mentioned I probably won't go to ridiculous extends I often write for other people.

Recommendations for next time:

I think before adding level-design wise something you should think about if you can use it in any meaningful way, if not you better don't add it in first place.

Same way I would think about how players with no knowledge of level would react in those sections, if they will be aware to use gimmick or if they will be right away be able to proceed. Anyway you probably 99% of times want them to know where they should go. You can invite your friends or people from Srb2 discord to test out your maps, what they think or if they felt there was something wrong.

I wouldn't make next time be you such large areas, because it just contributes to confusion where to go and for most time it just looks empty like there is nothing to do.

With themes I would recommend make it obvious what you want to visually do as much as possible.

Anyway it probably is too much already for you to take, though this seems to be pretty strong first public try. Looking forward towards your second try.
 

PencilVoid

Circuit Enthusiast
This was definitely a very interesting level. The theme wasn't that bad, but there was absolutely no sense of direction at all. You could probably remove the exit sector and this would pass as a hangout map. It's so open that it feels like you're wandering around in empty space. Don't get me wrong, openness is a good thing, it's just that this level is too open. I managed to accidentally find my way back to the start of the level three times. The level tends to get a bit spammy with the yellow crawlas and buzzes sometimes, I think that's what leads to the frame drops. Your use of slopes was good, though. It made some parts of the level quite fun. I would say that next time, you should make your level more straightforward, either by making it less open or making the place the player has to go to stand out more. Very good effort for a first level.


By the way, it's ok to borrow music from another game.
 

Ace Dragon

Member
Hi all.

I have tried to take into account some of the critique I have seen for other zones, though I do admit I seemed to lose a little direction once I started work on the second half. I do appreciate the critique though. Since it is a fact that I never tried a lot of new-school mediums like Discord (outside of very limited use of Reddit), releasing it after all the work I've done would be the best way to identify where improvement can be done.
 

TrickyTex

Community croc enthusiast.
Is the music a remix of Pac-Dot Pond from Pac-Man World 2? Because if so, I'd just use that music. It still somewhat fits the themeing of the level, without the music losing all sense of direction a few seconds in.
 

Ace Dragon

Member
I am already making changes to the level, but I will post the detailed log in my thread in the editing forum.

EDIT: Hammered away on weak points for several hours today, the level is now at version 1.1. There were no compatibility breakages for those with save files.
 
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Ace Dragon

Member
1.2 is out with a few changes (though not as extensive or as numerous as version 1.1).
1. Tweaked ceiling heights in a couple of outdoor areas (with slope copying). Makes it harder for tails to fly far above the walls without creating invisible walls.
2. Changes to two areas where momentum is otherwise killed
3. A few fixes to alignments and textures.
The current focus is on Act 2, need to figure out the final design.
 

Chicmunk

πŸŠπ“•πˆπ“π““ 𝐓𝓗𝐄 π“’π“žπ“œπ“Ÿπ“€π“π„π“‘ π“‘π“žπ“žπ“œ!😜
A nice and calm 2-4 minute stroll ^-^ I love the idea of jumping over fences into other people's lawns.😁Also I spotted a missing texture here:
 

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Eliwood

Member
I noticed that one of the emblem never seems to save, which is really annoying because it's the last one I need to get. It's the "trees in corners" one.


Also the music is really nice. My only major gripe is that one segment for Knuckles/Fang/Amy where the camera is absolutely and obnoxiously super cramped and limited in view. Something like that would work in a first person perspective but I don't think it holds up as well in a 3rd person Sonic stage. Any chance you could possibly expand the area to have a bit more freedom with camera movement?
 

Ice

Pretty chill guy
Well, that was nice!

I played through as Sonic and at first, I didn't see what everyone was griping about in terms of getting lost. Yes, the level is quite open and sometimes the way to go isn't obvious. But pay careful attention to where you've been and where you're going and you'll be fine! This isn't a place I mind getting lost in anyway. Then I played through as Knuckles and I got turned around more than a couple of times. I don't really fault this with you, though. Characters with extra "shortcut" abilities should really pay even more attention to their whereabouts instead of expecting to just "go" and have the level sort itself out for them. I may be in a minority here but I like levels to be a little confusing. When I get rewarded for accurately charting out the level in my brain's mini-map, I feel a lot more satisfaction than when the right path is just handed to me.

I actually really loved the endless lawn theme. I used to have dreams where I was lost in a never-ending, perfectly-manicured garden and this level really blasted me back to those dreams/memories. I've always wanted to make a level exactly like this, with vinyl-garden architecture and freshly-cut laws, but it appears you got to it first. And you didn't disappoint! I really liked all the fences, the lawnmower marks, the flowers, the stone walls. Mixed with the calm and beautiful music, it all makes for a wonderful atmospheric journey.

There are some minor annoyances. As Dave pointed out, there are visual elements that are out of synch. The skybox in particular was done somewhat poorly. Don't get me wrong, I love the infinite lawn idea, but the random pillars and walls threw me for a loop. You see, when something like those pillars are in a skybox, they're supposedly very far away. And things that are very far away should look different from things that are very up-close. However, the stone texture in your monolithic skybox pillars are the same stone texture as the wall two inches in front of my nose. This always sends my brain into an error mode. Not only should the textures in your skybox be different from the ones in your level (see the Genesis games' backgrounds, for example), but they should also be less detailed. Bob Ross always warned us: save the detail for the foreground.

Another gripe of mine was some general inconsistency. Not in brush-tool vs pixelated, per se, but in the fact that your level seems to live in the extremes. Areas are either open as a Nebraska corn field or cramped as an air duct in a stealth FPS. Light is either super bright or nearly pitch black. The level feels expertly made at times, and oddly noobish at others. There were three areas where my jaw actually dropped because what I was looking at was so beautiful: the covered walkway that contoured the sloped hill, the dark viney area behind the breakable wall, and the house at the end. These are genuinely delightful places to be and serve as memorable landmarks in the player's journey. But there are some frustrating design decisions as well: the aforementioned cramped areas, the occasional hordes of enemies, and some of the stiffly jagged slope geometry.

In my mind, though, all of the cons can be forgiven. This is your first. Freaking. Level. I'm surprised you didn't make Cramped Hallways Zone like most people tend to do. And not only that, you gave me a memorable and often eye-poppingly beautiful level that I got fully absorbed into. Sometimes, and for all their perfectionism, not even the experts give me that.

Stellar job. Now give me act 2.
 

Ace Dragon

Member
Version 1.3 is out.

Version 1.3
1. Some corridors are now less tight
2. Improved the slope you can spin down near the beginning
3. Increased the space in Amy and Fang's area
4. A potentially cheap ambush on Amy will no longer occur
5. The usual alignment fixes
6. A couple of fixes to thing placement
7. Gave a couple of slope areas more detail.
8. Improved the skybox and the 3D skybox to reduce blending with the foreground, the pillars were set further away too.
9. SOC script made ready for the future Act 2 (with a very WIP and very incomplete Act 2 technically included in the update, but can't be played). This also apparently fixed an issue with an emblem not being saved.

I took several of Ice's and Eliwood's annoyances into account.
 

Eliwood

Member
It's great that there was more space made in 1.3, but I still can't seem to collect the emblem. Will I need to delete my save and recollect the emblems to get it to work? Either way, thanks for making a few changes.


I think probably the last thing that comes to mind is that there's a lot of major slowdown in certain parts of the map. There's a big field where you loop around where it's particularly laggy. Maybe putting a few walls here or there with some invisible render cutoff thing could help somewhat. Though I know it would make it a less open area as a result. Could also help with guiding the players into the right direction as well.


Keep up the good work, excited to see more of this!
 

Ace Dragon

Member
It's great that there was more space made in 1.3, but I still can't seem to collect the emblem.
I'm not entirely sure what the issue could be then, it seems to work for me though I often delete my save file between testing revisions. The SOC file appears fine and I compared it with ones used by other maps with emblems.

I might need to post the script elsewhere to see if anyone has ideas.
 

flarn2006

Member
I think the main issue with the music is that it doesn't loop very well. That is, it sounds like you're listening to a short melody on repeat, rather than a continuous track that repeats itself seamlessly.


About emblems not saving, I got the one (ROT13) [ba gur yrqtr va gur ovt qnex ebbz npprffvoyr sebz gur ghaary arne gur ortvaavat], and it didn't save. This is the first (and so far only) one I've found, so it's possible the others would have that same issue for me.



One particularly annoying issue I noticed is that Knuckles is unable to climb about half the walls in the level, seemingly arbitrarily.


Other than that though, I enjoyed it. I don't think the navigation issue is too much of a problem; it just takes a different approach. I didn't really have trouble with it, and even playing the vanilla game I sometimes find myself running into already-activated checkpoints.
 

Dabir

Nitpicker
It is kind of aimless feeling and that's a bit stressful. I found a hole in Act 1 (screenshot 1). Also, is this moving platform (screenshot 2) supposed to be moving in a triangle? A platform like that would normally follow a square path, it took me completely by surprise when it started retreating as soon as it reached me instead of going straight up.
 

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Felix44

The red SRB2 Modder
the level looked nice but there where 4 problems:

-some rooms were a bit laggy but they didnt lag too much so not a big deal
-i didnt understand where to go that much, the red springs that went back confused me and i didnt notice the slope to spin above the fence so i just went back to the springs again also i didnt even notice that i was at the end of the level and it felt a bit too short
-the only emblem that i found...did not work
-in some part i was attacked from like 8 or 10 buzzes, those things annoy alone, those where too much, you dont need to spam such annoying enemys, they are strong alone, you should put them more in different part of the level not all in one place

there are problems, but the level was ok, i will play act 2 when it will come
 

Ace Dragon

Member
Version 1.4
1. Some texture improvements
2. More walls are climbable.
3. Opened up the visual bottleneck at the end of the starting area
4. Replaced many plant assets with 3D-rendered 16-directional sprites (as opposed to simple billboards).
5. Fixed the visual error with the floor around the mound at the start
6. (Hopefully) fixed emblems not saving by updating a tag and shuffling a little SOC code.
7. (very) minor layout tweaks, mainly to see if I can prevent Fang from skipping the gazebo)
8. Other small tweaks and fixes (due to actually making use of ZB map analysis tool to fix possible errors).
9. The big room midway through the level now feels far more open with the addition of an inaccessible area using horizon rendering.
 
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Ace Dragon

Member
Version 2.0

1. Acts 2 and 3 are in, entering act 3 may give the impression of the same-old GFZ boss, but a few changes were made to it.
2. Non-animated scenery objects use the Nothink flag now, saving CPU power
3. Made use of Dabir's spring-lock script.
4. Saves can now get to the complete state upon Act 3's completion

I had to make a small compromise with the transparency of the greenhouses in act 2, apparently the software renderer throws a fit when confronted with sloped transparent FoF's, so the roofs aren't actually transparent. OpenGL handled it though (2.2.5 and its massive OpenGL improvements can't come fast enough).

This largely concludes the work for my first full 3 act zone for SRB2, but as seen with 4 releases of LWZ1, it will likely not be the end of the work in general. I have a couple of other ideas I would like to get to for other acts, but feedback is welcome.
 
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