hey remember when I told you I'd give my thoughts
...2 months ago? Well here's (my attempt at) a review. As a quick note, these were all done on hard since it's the current "standard" difficulty with Knuckles, since he's the most balanced character.
Nice and simple goodness. The only complaint I've seen about the map are the textures being CRUNCHY, which I agree with. It makes sight reading slightly disorienting for newcomers, but it's easy to get used to due to the map's simple and mostly forgiving layout.
(don't mind the FPS in these gifs, the map runs fine but for some reason it drops while recording)
This area at the start is really nice and technical. Taking the ramps leads to a single early item box at the cost of being slightly slower than just driving normally. Taking the ramp also makes taking the turn easier for newcomers, since it's easier to read from in the air.
Using diagonal springs as a sort of "fail safe" for not reacting properly is pretty creative. You're the only person I've seen utilize them like this. It's a bit awkward at first since the springs don't make you face the direction you were launched at, but the area it sends you to gives you enough time to adjust and react. The upcoming turn is sloped as well, so you won't just bonk into a wall. I've mentioned the springs being "punishment" for failing to react to the turn properly, however, they make the the upcoming shortcut both easier to notice and take. Speaking of...
It's pretty awkward to weave into upon initial discovery. That may be your intent, given it's strength. I say "strength" but it isn't incredibly powerful or anything, as it leads to a considerably open room where the people behind you can pelt you with a well timed and aimed orbi or jawz if they know you've taken it.
On the subject of said room, this S-turn flows oddly in comparison to the rest of the map. It may be due to hard difficulty or how close I tended to take the turns, but releasing the mini-turbo at the end and awkwardly adjusting myself was something I always had to do to not hit the wall.
A minor nitpick, but this area near the end has always seemed pointless to me. Taking the ramps and springs is slower than just driving straight so it's easy to assume they're obstacles, but they're easy to avoid (even if you were to be bumped near them). It's inoffensive but I don't think it adds anything either.
This one's alright, it has some interesting ideas. I don't think I favor it over anything else in the pack, and it's main gimmick is weird and ultimately pretty useless without something like grow.
The ramp at the start is questionable. I'm no authority on kart mapping, but getting bumped and dying (or worse, landing in the shortcut offroad) can ruin your race with how wide and easy the map is. Knowledgeable players can drift store off of this and get an early lead though, which is cool.
Right, the shortcut offroad. It's absolute misery to accidentally get bumped here at the start. It stretches out pretty far too, given how even after sliptiding I still get caught in it for a second. The last part's a bit of a nitpick and doesn't really matter too much because of the nearby boosts, but I'd encourage thinking about doing something for those who accidentally get bumped into it at the start. I understand that making it weak offroad wouldn't help since you could easily lawnmower it, but surely there's some other way? Onto the next shortcut...
This "shortcut" doesn't seem to be useful at all. It's far off to the side of the main road and I barely made it onto the platform. I've never seen anyone take it online, either. I don't think you'd have anything to lose by either removing it or reworking it so it's actually viable.
You're probably already well aware of the shenanigans the springs here lead to, so I'll mention the area before them.
Your signature fail safe springs return! Like your previous map, they're the slower but safer option...usually. It's faster to drop down in this area (as seen in the gif above) but makes taking the downward slope less comfortable. I don't have gifs on me and don't have the desire to setup a netgame to try and recreate it, but there's been many occasions where multiple players will take the springs, bump each other mid-air, and die. Whether that's an okay thing to happen or not is probably up to you since it's ultimately avoidable, but figured it was worth mentioning anyway.
I really enjoy this one, it's one of the best flowing sprint maps I've played. I'm someone who typically doesn't like sprint maps, too. Unfortunately, the very nature of it being a sprint map leads to issues. afaik, you're already aware of the infamous checkpoint exploits. The shortcut near the final section (or the "meme cut," as people often parrot) is pretty strong as well, but that too has already been noticed by you at the time of me writing this so I'll skip over those.
You can easily lawnmower this first area.
I enjoy the technicality of the turn immediately afterward, requiring you to sliptide to take it effectively. It feels good and is a nice display of your maps increasing in difficulty, if only subtly.
Probably just nitpicking, but I think it's easy to accidentally hit these springs and crash into the nearby wall. This is likely only a newcomer issue, but something I felt that should still be addressed.
This turn is arguably the worst thing in the entire map. It's the only non-curved turn in the map and is obscured by an upward slope, making it a complete beginner's trap. Every netgame I've played I've seen someone smack into the corner of it for one reason or another.
This one if my favorites in the entire pack. I actually don't have very much to say about it due to it's short length and consistency.
bless the return of the fail safe springs
My only complaint would be that it's 4 laps. 4 lap maps have an awkward pacing to them and have no real business being 4 laps. This seems like a perfect 5 lapper (in my recording, a completely unoptimized run on hard, I finished around 1'43"00), so please consider changing it to one.
Alternatively: Eldog's Complex. Joking aside, this is easily one of the best maps in the pack. Visually, it's incredibly faithful to it's source. You even added in an area that didn't exist in the original but still fits thematically (and with a changing skybox, no less)!
These arrows are a nice, natural way of directing the player as well. Though it's a bit hard to get lost on the map since the visual clarity is good. Gameplay-wise, it's a blast. It's drift store heaven, being able to constantly charge rainbows from the large amount of springs and wide turns, and then releasing them for a rush of speed on the straightaways.
Unfortunately, that's also the map's biggest weakness. Frontrunning is absolutely trivial, and there's pretty much no reason to pick any character that isn't on the right side of the stat blocks. That isn't to say that the map is completely easy or non-technical either, though.
This in particular is a bit tricky and feels really good to nail.
In the same area is this shortcut though, which is one of the worst shortcuts I've seen. Not because the shortcut itself is overpowered or anything, but because of the singular strip of glue you decided to band-aid to the ground. Glue isn't a band-aid for badly designed shortcuts.There's already strong offroad so what's the point, to stop grow users from lawnmowing? Either way, if it's so powerful that it needed glue I'd recommend reworking the shortcut entirely in some way.
Another one that I don't have much to say on due to it's simple yet solid and mildly technical layout. These seem to be your specialty! It makes great usage of a leading line similar to Volcanic Valley, and it's many sloped turns remind me of it as well. I've heard horror stories of people getting launched into oblivion trying to take the first spring shortcut, but I've never seen it myself. https://imgur.com/a/W9nZYQX
(WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE'S A 20 IMAGE LIMIT)
This shortcut's a bit narrow. I recall it being even more narrow in previous versions so you've definitely noticed. I can understand why you wouldn't want to widen it so I'll assume this is an intentional choice, however, exiting the shortcut is a bit awkward as a result. https://imgur.com/a/37LDztd
Even with the boosters this path is still slower, leaving it mostly unused in netgames. The option is still nice however, and it does become a viable option in crowded netgames where the ideal path becomes cluttered with more players and items.
My thoughts on this one aren't too different from the previous. The layout is solid, easy to grasp, and enjoyable. The booster than you can fall onto near the beginning is a nice risk-reward scenario. There's two things I felt the need to point out, however. https://imgur.com/a/OuK6ysV
This uphill slope is pretty steep and doesn't at all convey what's coming up. Of course it's just a straightaway, which could probably be deduced from the lack for any signs. But I don't think having such a large uphill slope (or anything, for that matter) blocking where your going next is good design. Luckily, you're unlikely to fall into the pit below if you don't keep straight so it's not all bad.
(what, you thought I had another gif?)
The second thing is the same as Tempest Ridge, exiting the shortcut. It's worse here though, as the exit's even more narrow and there's less time to react to it. Even upon exiting, you'll need to go out of your way to readjust yourself on the main path.
...And that should do it! I omitted Coconut Mall due to it being a port. Hopefully I was able to provide some useful criticisms and thoughts on your maps. You had mentioned taking a break from mapping due to feeling distraught about a lack of true feedback, only really taking notice of quick and emotional reactions from netgame players. I hope that if nothing else, this at least gets you back into things. You make some good stuff, it'd be a shame to see you stop.
Honestly really love your work for Nightmare pack. There are some really good courses here. Looking at the latest update, these are my thoughts:
Honestly have no idea why the ramps at the end with the springs exist. They don't help too much for dodging items, and changing the springs from grey to directional blue seems to make them slower from how you land. Overall still really good.
The air boost fofs don't cast a shadow on the ground below them. I think this is because you made them transparent and can't fix it? In that case I can understand the oddity (not like it matters much).
Some people find this stage a bit poor, but I really like it. It's one of my favorites. Don't see why it was made 5 laps however. 4 felt like a better amount.
Hooray! No longer in map hell! I like it being 5 laps, and taking out the meme-cut definitely helps it out in terms of quality.
At first this stage felt a bit weird in design, but after a while I seem to get it now. There are some issues I have. I don't get why these red springs are here in this cave.
You can just MT for the water skip cut, and it seems better than the normal path which IMO is confusing to now it's the right way anyway.
The left sign here makes me think I should go forward, and I don't see the right sign up there in the corner until after I'm already turning. Speaking of turns, I did not think this would be a U-turn, but the last second arrow was still react-able to me.
I feel like using the smaller arrows for the first U-turn in the track would be a better guide for here. And for the yellow spring bit, you can turn too far in ward causing a water skid that slows you down. Not a bad track, but it has some kinks.
ROCK BOTTOM SIGN, YAY!
Making some of the downward slopes less intense really helps. Those turns were blind before practically. Helps with direction and item avoidance. Also I see you have put a stop to a little checkpoint cheese which is always good.
I like it, good port. All I got.
Another great 5 lapper. I like this one more than party cruiser, always have really. Although the tombstone shortcut needing a wide turn to set up can feel a little strange. But hey, it's a bit faster at least.
Nice new track! I suppose trying to make the vertical floating "barrels" a part of the track wasn't feasible, but for what is used fits in really well.
I do find it odd that these boost pads here are so small and blocked by boxes (that got me the first time I drove through here not expecting them. I wanted to try drifting wide, don't ask), and that this area isn't fully impassible.
There is nothing here at all, but I can see someone getting launched here by items and having to drive backwards to catch up. THAT would suck.
Removing the ramp cut is understandable. As is the yellow springs to make the opening section fair to the right path. But I still don't like how the red diagonal spring jump sends you into an up-hill bit.
I know any items placed here are unavoidable anyway because it's a jump, but it still doesn't feel like it fits to me.
Ah, the Ninferno map. Nice to see the final cut is less punishing to those who get ghosted. Also thanks for the light indicator. Now the only thing to maybe look at is this red spring bit that you can lawn mower for free, lol.
I like the contrast with the water and the lava. Spike balls aren't as evil as in Crimson Core, but they add some tension which is nice. I don't like how the lava path just drops with no slopes. Taking the boost pad from the middle and going right makes it very easy to just collide with the wall.
I really, really like your maps Ninferno. I may have some gripes here and there, but you are one of the best map makers kart has I feel. Keep up the goof work!
I'm here just to give a quick notice of something that you might be able to adjust in a later patch-it's possible to clip through several linedefs on a speed pad in the last cut on Final Fall Zone. Do you think you can look into it, if possible?
Hadal Trench is a super cool track. The addition of the rooftop path that shows not only upcoming turns, but even boost pads and springs, is incredible signposting design. However, the original Hadal Trench is a personal favorite track, so I do hope you'll rebrand it and add it back into the main pack, since the two of them are pretty much completely distinct from each other besides being 'deep water' themed.
Second, the music track is rather shrill with its high-pitched synth sections, as well as not feeling thematically fitting with the track design.
Sleeping Egg Zone is less ugly now, but it's kinda still ugly. I don't know if that texture style can possibly be saved at this point. Firmsneakers mod and Grow causes you to reach the roof of the first big jump and, while the boost pads below help, I think it would just be more elegant to have red springs on the jump, which would also cut down on the frustration of being bumped into a long oblivion. Alternatively, cut back the roof jutting out, or put springs on the roof's edge so you're at least launched down to the speed boosters below faster.
Mission Street's bridge section background is a little ugly in its low-rez glory; visually cluttered and what looks to be a stretched out 'real world' picture doesn't jive with SRB's graphical style.
Man oh man, though, Robotnik Winter Zone's music track by itself makes me not want to play it. It's just this cacophony of vaguely winter/christmas-themed instruments and a high-pitched guitar wail. It's probably just me since most other folks don't seem to mind it, but I've never heard someone compliment the song either, just respond "It's not that bad" when I bitch about it.
Overall the pack has some great tracks, I just have some nitpicks
Oh my gods do I love this new Hadal Trench so much more. Mainly in the past I really didn't like it when so many votes were cast for it in a netgame because that meant sooner or later I'd reach single-digit FPS and ping out because of it since I play the game using a decade+-old HP Windows 7 laptop. Not only does the version in this update eliminate a long-standing performance issue I had with it, but in my opinion the aesthetics, especially the skybox, making the name "Hadal Trench" very deserved, surpasses the original by a lot.
Wasn't expecting to take off like a plane, get lodged in trench walls, or ignore the speed pads here [hard speed]
The music also I've noticed is kinda not a seamless loop but that's a minor gripe
Besides the above, you've drastically changed my attitude about this map from like, fearing every time it'll cause an online disconnect, to having so much fun running through it and being able to appreciate its appearance. Might just even be among my top favorite custom maps, now. Your hard work on remaking it paid off, good job!
(It's hard for me to not grin every time I see the Rock Bottom texture)