November/December 2011 Voting

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That Aries Title
Well this was impressive OLDC this time. I really enjoyed it as well. Great way to start the new years. Anyway time to start my votes.


Aquatic Egg Zone by akb778 - 3/10

This level was way to small. I had problems moving most of the time. And the trees being attach to the sky is not a good idea. Making the leaves into FOFs is a better idea then that. And including the level was so cramp as well.

Maple Lake Zone by ZarroTsu - 7/10

I just love this map. It was so open space. And it let you move and thok anywhere you needed to. It even help Tails and Knuckles when they need to invade the players or when they need to run. Very good level. Including it had all kinds of places to go to as well. Such an awesome map. Only one thing that bring it down from a 9/10 was that there was no detail in the map and also it felt empty a lot. But other then that this maps wonderful.

Blissful Grove Zone by Scizor300 - 6/10

This map was lovely. It gave me the forest type feeling as well. It had water falls. Things to climb on anything. This level had its own style and I like it. Only thing that bring it down was that the chaos emeralds placements was all mess up. And some thing placements as well. And the level felt cramp to me. I felt like I had to keep jumping a lot over things to get to some rings and weapons.


Castle Flagman Zone by EternallyAries Red X - (None)

And this level was made by me and Teen JR. And by the way you forgot to credit him. Anyway this level is very cramp to me after playing it a bit in like a 8 player game.

Also Fawfulfan. I know Aries is not the god of war. It is a sign. But players always called me the god of war out of no where. So I just started using the name. Anyway Aries is a sign of a ram. And Ares is the god of war.

Spacebound Fortress Zone by ZarroTsu - 7/10

This level was neat to me. I really enjoy playing it. And I love the setup in it as well. And only problem I really have for it. Is that its hard for me to stay alive when there not much rings to pick up. But other then that the level plays perfectly to me. And it works great with Tails and Knuckles as well.


Aphotic City Zone by ThunderNova - 1/10

This map was god awful. The level was super cramp. And the texture hurted my eyes. Including there was a teleport problem as well. But hey at least you put effort into trying to make a map.

The End of Circuit by akb778 - 2/10

I don't know why but I enjoy this map. At first when it started it was all normal. But once you got out of the cave it changes into full of randomness.
I gotta say even if this is a joke map I love it.

Unstable Icicle Zone by Zipper - 5/10

I truely gotta say. You did well with this map Zipper. Even if its confusing and stuff. You put effort into it. And it also had changing rooms in it as well. And the springs where it makes you go back a bit. Was priceless.

Mountainside Greens Zone by Root - 2/10

Well this map is very flat indeed. It looks as it was made in less then 7 minutes. The level has like no detail and its very boring and its a full on thok fest as well. And I never minded thok fest style race levels. But this was ridicules.

CastleLand Zone by EternallyAries Red X - (None)

This is my map so yeah. I must admit I got to agree with Charybdizs with the springs and other stuff. If I had the chance. I go back and edit it again. And the cramp rooms and stuff. Well it need a full remake to make it even possible to do.

Black Magic Workshop by Internet Explorer - 6/10
I fell in love with this map dear Internet Explorer. It had amazing set up. And I love the devil and witch stuff. The pentagrams and everything. I love how there was even a 2nd path to choose from. And I bet most of SRB2 users have not seen the 2nd path. Since its hidden. Anyway this level loss the 8/10 to me. Because one it had that space count down thing. And it made it impossible for knuckles to beat it. Tails hardly can beat it. Gotta strafe fly to do so. And the teleports are broken sadly. It works perfectly for node 0 and node 01. But any higher and they only get one time to go in the teleports. After that it wont work anymore. Anyway awesome level.

Quartz Caverns Zone by glaber - 5/10
This level is ok. It was confusing and all that. But since our test you did fix the texture errors. And you add some detail to the map. But to tell you the truth. This map is still way to empty. There so much open space to add cool stuff into it as well. And jumping over and over with the stairs really pisses me off.

Requiem for a Soul by Boinciel - 7/10

I have one thing to say Boinciel. This level is fucking huge. It feels like you go on and on forever in this level. It took me like 3 minutes to even finish 1 lap for the level. The detail and textures are awesome and all. But the level was way to damn long. And I got confuse so much in this level. This level needs arrows or something. That tells you. Your going the right way. But once you made it past the 1st lap. You kinda know where your going then.

Conveyor Climb Zone by Shadow Hog - 0/10

Ok I have no idea what your thinking of when your making this map Shadow Hog. But making it only for knuckles makes this map useless. Including the belt move way to fast for knuckles to climb up to get some gliding time. It seems I always glide into the lasers walls as well.

Hot Chocalate Manor by Katmint - 3/10

Well this map was very cramp and hardly no room to thok or anything. I had to use Tails to even play in this map. Being sonic and jumping on the small platforms. Really made it hard to race in this map. Anyway the map was ok.

Coop/Single Player Maps

Running Special Stage Act 1 by ZarroTsu - 5/10

Well I like this stage. I kinda enjoy the fact that you can keep on running. It kinds feels like that sonic rush special stages. Always running one way and getting the rings. I enjoy it.

City Area by Internet Explorer - 4/10

Ah yes this level. I remember playing this with just you and me in your server. It was very enjoyable if I do say so my self.
Anyway this is an fun level. And it had its own style and its ways. I like the cars and stuff as well. I kinda got stuck at the part where you must hit the sping and hang on the chains then having to jump to the side a bit and push the switch down. I died a lot in that.And then comes the room with the spikes. That room hated me. I walk and I ran into the spikes like so much.

Polluted Plains Zone by 742mph - 6/10

Ah yes this one I mostly enjoy out of all the single player levels. The story was awesome. Even if sonic was in a coma for 3 weeks. I wonder why Eggman did not kill him... Anyway the level is very hard. I had to use the lives cheat code. To even beat it. Since everything you place in it made it like harder then hell to pass. And removing the thok was to me was a big down for this. It felt it kinda needed it. For sonic to jump over most of the big gaps that i keep falling into. But anyway besides that the map really was nice. With its own touch and its own style. And the metal sonic battle was awesome as well.
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Monster Iestyn

Sonic Team Junior
Kart Krew™️
The End of Circuit by akb778 - 2/10

It's a good/bad thing to see the circuit division go, but was it really necessary to enter this in the contest? When you reach the first checkpoint, it lags a bit. Also, in the backsection, the entire place is covered with random colormaps. Next time, put effort into your level before you submit it.

...Just pointing out that this was also a joke map, like Reqium For A Soul.
As i said i would make here are my review's.

Single player division

Running special stage 1 by Zarrotsu:9/10
I like it alot, but it is very hard, also i like the music choice.

City area by Internet explorer:7/10
It's an ok level, i like the car's in it, but in the room after the start(with the gas jet and the air vent) there were some door's i couldnt spindash through, what was with that?

Polluted Plains:9/10
Holy crap this is great, good level, and i like the metal sonic boss, and i liked the cutscene's too.

Match division

Aquatic egg zone by akb778
It was an ok map, but it was kinda small, you should of given it more space before you finished it.

Maple lake by ZarroTsu:8/10
Great map, i like how there are alot of small passage's in the walls in some parts.

Blissful grove by Scizor300:6/10
good map, i like the "Walk on a branch connecting two trees" part, i also like the waterfall.

CTF Division (Not yet there)

Castle Flagman by eternallyaries red X and Teen JR:7/10
its a good map, nice lighting effect on the outside of the map in the death pit, it is kinda hard to navigate the base's to find the flag.

Spacebound fortress by ZarroTsu:8/10
I like it, it has a nice layout, but the center of the map(you have to go around the center to bring the flag to your base or get the flag) doesnt seem to serve any purpose except if someone is coming towards you and you need to get to the other side.

THE PIECE OF CRA- erm i mean um- GENIUS RACE DIVISION (Incomplete)

Aphotic city by ThunderNova: 3/10
Wow, there is alot of platforming in this, it isnt a good map nor a horrible-as-crap map, but it still isnt very good.

her iz mh ratine for end of teh cicruit: 10/10 *shot*
Funny joke map, random textures all over the place, and weird lighting-color effects *has seizure* anyway's i would give this a 1/10
but since i think its a funny map, 2/10

Unstable icicle by Zipper:5/10
Now heres a map that i actually like in the circuit division, while not great, i found it fun, i like the icicle's that were put in, nice detail.

Mountainside greens by... 2/10
This was my 2nd race map, and for some reason i submitted it to the OLDC, as people have already said, it is a thokfest, way too easy, and 1 path is WAY shorter than the other, bleh, this sucks. also, i am going to remake this from scratch, make the sky sunset, make the thing not just a thokfest(add platforming and other stuff) make it longer, make both paths about the same length, but with different stuff in each one.

Castleland by eternallyaries red X:5/10
I like the map, the clouds are a nice addition, but the first time i didnt know i had to go the other way on the yellow springs, ok map.
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Maybe out of retirement?
Here are the scores for easy tallying:

Single Player:
Running Special Stage Act 1 by ZarroTsu - 3/10
City Area by Internet Explorer - 2/10
Polluted Plains Zone by 742mph - 4/10

Aquatic Egg Zone by akb778 - 2/10
Maple Lake Zone by ZarroTsu - 10/10
Blissful Grove Zone by Scizor300 - 5/10


Castle Flagman Zone by EternallyAries Red X - 3/10
Spacebound Fortress Zone by ZarroTsu - 9/10


Aphotic City Zone by ThunderNova - 3/10
The End of Circuit by akb778 - 1/10
Unstable Icicle Zone by Zipper - 5/10
Mountainside Greens Zone by Root - 1/10
CastleLand Zone by EternallyAries Red X - 3/10
Black Magic Workshop by Internet Explorer - 5/10
Quartz Caverns Zone by glaber - 2/10
Requiem for a Soul by Boinciel - 2/10
Conveyor Climb Zone by Shadow Hog - 2/10
Hot Chocalate Manor by Katmint - 4/10

And now for the reviews:
Running Special Stage Act 1 by ZarroTsu - 3/10
At first I was quite amused, but then it quickly became as repetitive as SRB2's current special stages. And because speaking for everyone else is totally not arrogant, let me try it too: I hereby proclaim that the reception isn't mixed because one half hates special stages and the other half sees the stage as what it truly is. Rather, I would say that the former half sees it as what it is, while the latter half is so overwhelmed by the technical aspect of the map's engineering that they forget to notice how boring it becomes after a few playthroughs.

City Area by Internet Explorer - 2/10
There's no point in submitting year-old designs to the contest. Any feedback that we might give doesn't really help you because you're already better than this. I don't care how empty the contest is otherwise, submitting old trash as filler doesn't make it any better. There must have been a reason why didn't release this before, surely you shouldn't ignore that reason just to fill up the contest.

Anyway, the visual design in this level is awful to the point of being disruptive. You used textures from all across the board, even if they were clearly not city related. For examples, the walls at the beginning had a snow texture, the bed sheets used rock textures, the sofa in the second room used a lava texture, the cars used special stage textures and you frequently misused castle brick textures as if they were city brick textures. None of these textures look anything like the things you want to use them for. Additionally, the architecture wasn't at all city-like. There were no clear buildings, doors or even outdoor areas. All of this made the level even more confusing than it would have been otherwise.

The gameplay wasn't any better. You still didn't use any alternate paths nor were there all that many secrets, making the replay value as good as non-existent. The beginning was extremely confusing due to a lot of superfluous areas and the exit being tucked away in a corner. The second part of the level consisted mostly of boring corridors with no action whatsoever and the third part failed because of poorly executed gimmicks. The room with the chains had two problems: First of all, the button was tucked away in a hard-to-see corner and blended in with the gray background. Then, the actual chains, like many other people observed, left very little room for failure and required you to thok just at the right time, which was very annoying. The only seriously enjoyable part was the conveyor belt at the end, but even that suffered from a way too low ceiling.

Polluted Plains Zone by 742mph - 4/10
I am entirely uninterested in your non-existent storytelling skills. The idea of Eggman putting Sonic in a coma isn't very original in the first place, but just because I can, I'll point out the weak points of your "story": Why does Sonic just stand there and let Eggman poison him? A much more Sonic-y thing to do would be to fight Eggman. You actually mentioned the other weakness of the story yourself: Eggman should have killed Sonic while he was in a coma. When Eggman attempts to justify it by saying that it wouldn't fair, Sonic himself rebuts his argument and thereby informs the viewer that Eggman is never fair and your story thus broken. It's one thing to have a flaw in your story, it's another to actually make this perfectly clear to everybody in the story itself. This is called lampshade hanging, and you should only do it if you want your story to be flawed for comedic effect. Anyway, I don't see the point of having a story at all, seeing as all Sonic backstories are lazy excuses, but at least you gave Whackjood a good laugh. And now for the level.

Nerfing Sonic's thok was definitely a bad idea. When the player is running at or close to full speed, the thok actually becomes a crutch rather than an asset because it slows you down. Either lower the character's speed so that the thok becomes useful again or restore the thok to full speed. The way you have it now serves as nothing but a nuisance to the player because the ability is right there for you to use, but it never helps you in any way. Want to reach a platform but you're not quite there yet? Use the thok and you're guaranteed not to make it.

Not having rings and instead forcing the player to combat enemies to get rings isn't a bad idea, but problems arose in a few spots due to this. It's a commonly accepted rule that there should be a few rings in vicinity of every star post, so that you don't die to the first hit you receive. This obviously becomes a problem at the boss, because there are no enemies between the last star post and the boss. But I also distinctly remember a star post where the next enemy was a pop-up turret that you had to approach slowly while platforming over a pit, giving it enough time to hit and kill you. It's things like these that make your level unnecessarily cheap. Either place a few actual rings after each star post (and the spawn point!) or give the player an opportunity to safely kill enemies before doing something more challenging.

Getting down to the nasty details, most of the gameplay ideas you had were actually quite good. I especially enjoyed the rising slime part and the platforming section over crates and tubes, but even the more generic gimmicks like crumbling platforms and crushers were decent. Still, you shot yourself in the foot with a lot of questionable design choices that made the level cheap and tedious for even the most experienced players. First of all, there's no way to know at first glance that the slime is lethal, and previous experience teaches us that it shouldn't be. Either use green slime/death pits or (preferably) give the slime its characteristic effect and add escape springs to the bottom of the slime pools. That alone would make the map a lot more forgiving. There are quite a few instances where merely getting hit by something immediately propels you to your death. Especially in the first outdoor section where the slime is at the same height as the regular floor, this becomes a problem.

Death pits of any kind are okay in moderation and when the player is 100% aware of the danger, but in your map, he's often not. A lot of times, this is because your map tends to be excessively cramped, especially when it comes to pillar platforming. This is very uncomfortable for the player and makes it hard to spot the pit beneath you. Even worse, some of these small pillars had Crawlas on them, which made it twice as hard to get across. This crosses the line between legitimate difficulty and cheapness.

Another few specific problems I observed:

  • You overused the laser gimmick. Dodging the lasers was fun in general, but they were used so often that at some point it became a tedious routine.
  • A certain 2D section involved barrels full of slime where only the edges were safe and landing in the middle dropped you right into the deadly slime. The problem here was that due to the 2D camera, it's impossible to see in time that only the edges are safe.
  • The texture you used for the crumbling platforms was not very obvious, and oftentimes I landed in a pit just because I wasn't aware I was standing on a crumbling platforms. Use textures that imply weak structure.
  • You often brought paths together with zoom tubes and the likes, which often ended up with the player reconnecting to another path at a 90° angle. This forces you to choose between going left and right when only one of the options is the correct way. Ideally, you should force the player in the right direction by automatically making him face that way upon exiting the zoom tube. This way, you can void backtracking.
  • Many of the star posts made me spawn facing the wrong direction. It's up to you to figure out which ones.
  • There was a major shortage of secrets. Obviously, the cramped design of the level didn't leave much room for exploration. Design more openly and don't be afraid to create areas that lie beside the actual path, You can easily use such areas for secrets, and if not, they can still serve as decoration. Also, don't be afraid to leave the player more space than is necessary.
  • Please, no random monitors. Decide on a specific item for every location so that the player can memorize these locations and acquire the desired items whenever he wants.
Nevertheless, despite all these issues, I enjoyed quite a few parts of your stage. If all the underlying problems were fixed, I could see this climbing as high as an 8.

Aquatic Egg Zone by akb778 - 2/10
Yum, cramped corridors aligned in an overly linear fashion, how I love ya! Play it with two people and you'll never meet your opponent. Play it with more than two people and you will find that there's no room to avoid your opponents' shots. Spamming Grenade or Scatter down the hallways will suffice to rack up tons of points. The outside area was okay and worked well structurally as the back-end of the map, but since it was entirely flat, combat there was reduced to a mere shoot-out with little variation. Thanks to the overly restrictive design of the map, you had no choice but to place all the panels out in the open. A good Match map allows the player to make strategic decisions that influence the outcome of the game. Your map was linear, flat and didn't leave any room for movement, so the strategic decisions boiled down to circling around the map and spamming rings any which way.

Maple Lake Zone by ZarroTsu - 10/10
I must say, you know a thing or two about visual design. Simple yet elegant. Same thing can be said about the layout. I admire your ability to stuff a lot things into a map that seems to very simple at first. I also admire the idea of having a large open center area and then distributing the weapons to the sides. This gives the map an interesting dynamic: If you stay in the center, you will have plenty of targets but no weapon rings, which makes it difficult to hit people because of the open nature of the map. To get an advantage, you must go out of your way and into one of the corridors on the outside of the map. You must do this quickly, or else you will miss out valuable time in the center room, where you can score the most points. If you do meet somebody in the corridors though, combat will be much more intense because there's less room for dodging. The really powerful items are placed in the center room itself, but to acquire them, you will need to perform difficult platforming which makes you an easy target.

I consider all of this to be perfect execution of the risk vs. reward principle. There are plenty of strategic choices to make and the choices are highly balanced, each decision having its advantages and disadvantages depending on the situation. The characters are also very well balanced. In particular, using Tails gives the map a whole new angle. Skilled Tails players can use their flight to their advantage, remaining difficult to hit for Sonic and Knuckles. Rail is much easier to grab for Tails, so you can try to guard the Rail location and snipe approaching players from above. Possibly this strategy is too powerful, especially in smaller games, but I'm sure Sonic players can outsmart Tails players who use this strategy by simply staying out of reach and concentrating on the tighter areas of the map. This will leave Tails with no possible target, so he'll have to come out of his safe spot and expose himself to the faster Sonic players.

And before anyone asks, the perfect score is because a.) even after playing several matches, I still had a ton of fun here and b.) I can't see anything wrong with the map.

Blissful Grove Zone by Scizor300 - 5/10
There's very little room in the land parts of the stage, particularly at ground level. You even decided to cut off more space with an useless platform with nothing but a Bounce ammo and some rings, another useless platform with nothing but a 10 ring box and more rings, a completely superfluous hole in the floor and a platform that floats on the water when it could just as well be part of the main ground. The fact that four of the game's six weapons are supplied in that area (including absolute game-breakers like Scatter and Grenade) only makes it worse. All this means that combat in this area leads to a giant, no-holds-barred spamfest where you can't dodge the attacks because there's no room.

There are only two ways to escape: You can fall into the lake, which will happen inevitably at some point because any hectic movement will end you up in there anyway. Problem is, the lake has no useful items of any kind, which is certainly strange for an area that takes up a good part of the map's space. You can get a freebie Elemental shield in the otherwise useless staircase (why use the staircase if there are springs everywhere?), but it's not of much use because there's no incentive to stay underwater. The other escape route is via the treetops, which is much more attractive because it gives you easy access to an SRM and the waterfall area with the other two weapon panels. The big wooden structure in the middle of the lake looks like you intended for it to be the centerpiece, but it's entirely useless. It's hard to access from ground level, you have to make a tricky jump to the waterfall area, and the treetop route is safer and quicker anyway.

There is almost no ammo in the entire stage but an almost endless supply of rings. The emerald spawns are up in the air for whatever reasons. As I've already alluded to, the weapon distribution is horribly unbalanced: Four panels are deployed at ground level and the other two on the waterfall. This means that ground level, treetops and the waterfall are the only areas worth visiting. The lake, the platform in the middle of the lake, all the small platforms that take up space on ground level and the staircase with the Elemental Shield are almost entirely useless. To fix this, you need to move some of the weapons around. For the Grenade ring, you could do something with the tree trunk to make it harder to access. For example, put a yellow spring in there and make the panel float above it so that you have to use the spring to get it. Bounce could be moved to one of these useless platforms that take up space at ground level. Scatter could be moved into the tunnel instead of the useless Elemental Shield.

I told you not to rush this, but you wouldn't listen. With some testing, you could have easily identified the problems with this map and fixed them. The map has potential - especially the dynamic with the treetops and the waterfall area is interesting - but it's ruined by the fact that several areas don't fulfill their intended purpose. You can fix this by making your intended centerpiece (the wooden structure in the lake) easier to use, giving the player more incentive to visit the lake (for example by putting an important weapon panel there), creating more space at ground level and retooling the item placement (more ammo, less rings) as well as the weapon placement.

Oh, and visually, you're a one-trick pony. Every nature-themed level you do uses this exact texture set.

Castle Flagman Zone by EternallyAries Red X - 3/10
What a giant mess this path layout is. Did nobody tell you that CTF maps are supposed to be straightforward? For example, the non-Sonic paths are completely useless. The outside area is so remote that it becomes entirely pointless. The crushers that lead to it are extremely annoying, and you can bypass them anyway. The crusher that guards the SRM is also annoying because you need to bypass it to go forward. Instead of putting the path to the side so you can put the power-up in the center, why not push the power-up to the side so you can put the path in the center? Again, CTF maps should be straightforward, so you need to prioritize and streamline. In a Match map, the layout would have worked much better, but in CTF, you need to make every path blindingly obvious and easy to access. You can still salvage the outside path if you make it less remote and easier to access. I'd also replace the harmful rivers with regular ones, the damage seems tacked on for no particular reason.

Another problem is that everything is so cramped. Just resizing the whole thing by 200% would go a long way (although then a few parts would become comically stretched out). The way it is now, navigation is a mess. In the part with the staircase, it's incredibly annoying to run up the stairs just to land in the springs which you couldn't see previously. The same thing applies to the towers that connect the outside part to the inside. If you try to get back inside from above, you might just land on the red spring that bounce you back up. Issues like that are especially egregious in CTF where fluid navigation is essential. You should also cut down on the scenery items, which tend to fill up the map so much that it becomes hard to identify what is important for gameplay and what is simply decoration.

Another thing that annoyed me was that you forced me to hop on tiny crates to get items. Crates aren't a bad idea per se to place items on, but the player should be able to do it comfortably. You also always placed the ammo directly next to the weapon panel. This goes against the purpose of what ammo pickups are for: They should be distributed across the entire map so you can refill your stock without getting back to the panel location again.

All in all, what you have here is a map with potentially good layout ideas that is ruined by a lot of superfluous padding and architecture that is uncomfortable for the player. If you work hard on strictly eradicating all these issues, I can see a good map coming out of this.

Spacebound Fortress Zone by ZarroTsu - 9/10
Another one of these simple-yet-neat ideas. It almost feels like a parody of Cloud Palace Zone, where the overly straightforward main path is blocked as if to say "use the other paths, you idiots!". I like that, and fortunately you placed a weapon panel there so that the area isn't entirely useless for Sonic players and flag carriers. There's also a sufficient supply of options to travel around the stage, even as the flag carrier. Contrary to popular belief, it is indeed possible to take the upper path with the flag by using the small balconies attached to the center building as stepping stones. I admit that this is excessively difficult though because you have to jump around the corner in a blind spot, so I suggest you make this a tiny bit easier. I do, however, like the idea of making one of the paths inaccessible as the flag carrier because it making capturing the flag more of a strategic and logistic challenge. The stepping stones serve as an additional option for clever players, which is neat, but as I said, it need to be slightly easier.

Placing additional items on the rooftops for Tails and Knuckles is a good idea, as is leaving the ceilings open for stealth attacks from above. But when put together, there are simply too many rings on the rooftops, especially with the 1-up monitor. Let's say there's a game with only one Tails player. By flying up to the rooftops, he can rack up an incredible amount of rings in a pretty short time. Regarding the visual design: Library and ERZ floors mixed with CEZ bricks? An odd choice, but it works okay.

Final verdict: If Maple Lake and Spacebound Fortress play as well as they appear to be, ZarroTsu must be made a dev. He seems to have mastered the concept of simple and easy-to-understand ideas that nevertheless provide lasting entertainment, and I think they would make a good addition to the official rosters.

Aphotic City Zone by ThunderNova - 3/10
Okay, first of all, why all these arrows? In most of the cases, it's completely obvious where you have to go thanks to the fences. There's one part where there's a sharp turn to the right and a death pit in front of you (it's right before the part with the tiny gray platforms over a pit). That's the only part where the arrow is actually helpful, but it would be better to just make the area more spacious so that there's enough time to see the pit coming.

Speaking of space, that's the overarching problem in your level's design: There's not enough space. Many turns are way too tight, most platforms are too small and the indoor section is just ridiculously cramped. The most important skill in Circuit is to maintain a steady flow, and you're making this extremely hard for the player. There are a lot of instances where I have to stop dead completely to make something as trivial as a turn. Even when approaching a platforming section, I should be able to take at least some of my momentum with me. It's okay to have things like tight turns or precise platforming, but within limits. You're overdoing it.

There's also the issue with the annoying and honestly gratuitous teleports that come completely out of the blue and could have easily been averted by tinkering with the track a bit. On the plus side, I am pleased to see a Circuit map with some actually interesting platforming, even if it's hampered by the crampedness. A lot of these elements would have made for a good Single Player map.

And then there's another thing I want to talk about. I understand that your map was previously called "Dark City Zone" and you had to do something to change the name. But unfortunately, "aphotic" means "completely devoid of light", not "dark". If you want to use the thesaurus, please make sure you actually know the meanings of the words you're dealing with. (This reminds me of the time when glaber used a thesaurus to rename "Desert Dream" to "Barren Ambition", misfiring on not one but two words.)

The End of Circuit by akb778 - 1/10
"Honoring" the Circuit division with a disgrace like this is just the appropriate way of sending the division to hell where it belongs. The map is of course totally worthless, even if you were rooting for comedic value.

Unstable Icicle Zone by Zipper - 5/10
I don't have a map editor at my disposal right now so I can't check, but does this final version even have the "level changes after the first lap" gimmick anymore? Not that I miss it. Thanks to a bunch of fixes, I must say that this level doesn't suck anymore. There are still two annoying sections, namely the cave with the overly slippery ice where you slide around avoiding all those obstacles blocking your path, and the alternate path with the waterslide and the pits that you can't see before they're coming. Why even have an alternate path at all. In Race, the longer path will always wind up being unused. But aside from these two issues, what you've got is a bunch of pretty decent, if not particularly original gimmicks, packaged in a competent level. Sorry, but I can't find nicer words for a map whose gametype I think is flawed.

Mountainside Greens Zone by Root - 1/10
There's a major shortage of rings, neither the rings nor the spikeballs float like they should, one path is in all respects inferior to the other and the map is completely flat and devoid of anything interesting. In other words, there's nothing redeeming about this map aside from the fact that it can be completed.

CastleLand Zone by EternallyAries Red X - 3/10
Some parts looked quite nice, but ultimately the map didn't play well due to cramped sections and awkward use of springs. Some required you to move in midair in non-intuitive ways while others only worked when you didn't move at all. Additionally, some of the death pits were really gratuitous and killed you for what I perceived as minor screw-ups. And in the room with the arrow, I found the pits tough to see because of the unusual floor shape.

Black Magic Workshop by Internet Explorer - 5/10
After some heated discussion with Prime_2, I eased up on the map somewhat, but I still have some major complaints. There's at least one instance of a pit that you can't see coming, and that's right after the hallway with the mesh textures, which itself comes right after the cogwheel. If you approach from the wrong position, you fall into a pit that is completely invisible because the whole sector is pitch black. There's also the infamous looping section, which is really unintuitive because of a few reasons:

  1. The wall that teleports you doesn't look like it does.
  2. There's this whole altar and pentagram stuff in the center of the room which draws attention to you. You think that to progress you must do something with these things, but they're not the solution. This is not a puzzle or a maze game. Even if the solution isn't completely obvious, you should still give the player hints to figure it out instead of drawing his attention to something else.
  3. When I first found the teleport and ended up in a room I already visited (or thought so anyway), my reaction was "Ah, this is a trap! The real exit is somewhere else!" So instead of going through the same teleport again like I should have, I searched even harder at the altar for a way out. You tried to draw attention to the fact that this was indeed a different room with the ring drain, but if you're collecting rings at the same time, you can easily miss the fact that your rings are being drained. A better way would have been to change something very obvious in the room's architecture.
Oh, and the staircase right before that section, with the pentagrams that suck you in? You can easily bypass all the challenge if you don't thok and just run.

Quartz Caverns Zone by glaber - 2/10
The purest of boredom crystallized into level form. There's just nothing going on in this map. The staircases are especially tedious because you have to jump for every single step. The giant clusters of rings are also incredibly easy to snatch away with an Attraction Shield, leaving everybody else notoriously short of rings. Oh, and the whole thing looks absolutely disgusting, but I expected no less from you and I don't think you will ever change. At least it's some sort of progress that you didn't ruin the map with any off-the-wall gimmicks.

Requiem for a Soul by Boinciel - 2/10
Just like SSN, I'm glad it's over. And so should you! And then there's the irony of having to hear SSN and Sonikku constantly proclaim it's over while the level never ends.

Conveyor Climb Zone by Shadow Hog - 2/10
I never knew this tune existed. Anyway, you basically took a cool part of ERZ1 and ruined it by repeating it over and over without any creative deviation. That's no fun.

Hot Chocalate Manor by Katmint - 4/10
And the winner of this year's Internet Explorer Award for most ridiculous level theme is: Katmint. Congratulations, despite stiff competition with Black Magic Workshop, you've managed to beat the master at his own game. Come visit Eggman at his Grand Hot Chocolate Party in the Manor of Awful Texturing! I mean, just look at that texturing job: disco walls, special stage textures and the dirt texture posing as hot chocolate, which truly must be the least believable hazard hedgehogkind has ever seen. And you also get delicious candy canes to go with the hot chocolate! But wait: If the hot chocolate is so hot that it actually burns you, you can't be sure if those candy canes are digestible. I wouldn't trust a fat crazy scientist who apparently tried to warm up the chocolate with flamethrowers that jump out at you from nowhere.

Okay seriously, what the fuck have you been smoking? Anyway, the level is too cramped a lot of the time and the flamethrowers, as I've said before come from nowhere. Otherwise, it's not too interesting, but nothing seriously wrong with it either.
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Okay, here goes nothing...

Running Special Stage Act 1 by ZarroTsu: 5/10

I think your idea of a “running special stage” is actually really good – if only the stage were better gameplay wise, it would have been given a higher score. All I’m doing is running and jumping to collect rings, as the stage lacks platforming. There are those occasional pits towards the end, but for the most part, it was a bit too simple for my taste. Try adding more emphasis on platforming, and less on the repetition.

City Area by Internet Explorer: 3/10

For the most part, the level looks and plays very dully. The theme of the level is… very confusing. It’s called “city area” but I don’t necessarily feel like I’m in a city. What purpose do the Toads in the beginning of the level serve? They’re just kind of… there. The room with the chains was rather annoying at first, since the gray button blends into the textures, and the chains are impossible to jump off of without quickly thokking away from each one. The conveyer belt part at the end would have worked well if it wasn’t so short, either. Not your best map IMHO.

Polluted Plains Zone by 742mph: 3/10

The cutscenes were completely unnecessary, first of all. They weren’t funny or entertaining at all from start to finish. It just makes the entire level less enjoyable than it already is.

As for the actual level, the extremely cramped areas, excessive usage of turrets, lasers, and crawlas, and the “get-ring-by-killing- enemy” idea overall makes the level very frustratingly difficult to play. I had to go into the console and give myself 99 lives just to prevent from starting over again.

The most effort seems to come from the Metal Sonic boss, which is still a little irritating to beat. First of all, the checkpoint before the boss gives absolutely no rings, which means I had to, once again, cheat and give myself rings. The area in which you fight him is too small, which led to most of my deaths coming from the death pit insta-kill slime. When I actually hit him, I sometimes go right through him, and fall into the slime. His lasers shoot without warning, unlike the Eggman boss, who actually raises his arm before pressing the button to shoot. This makes dodging the lasers very annoying. The spindash attack is difficult to avoid without running straight into him.

Try spending more of your time on developing simple, open-spaced maps, rather than making long and narrow maps.


Another mediocre, anti-climatic contest for the Single Player division. That's all I have to say.

EDIT: Just changed parts of my post that seemed too harsh. I was pretty tired last night and I just wanted to "get the voting over with". Most of my opinion on the maps remain unchanged, but parts such as referring to Polluted Plains as a "Dumbventure clone" have been completely removed. Sorry if I seemed like a complete jerk at the time.
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Maybe out of retirement?
"The level has cutscenes and a custom Sonic. It must be a Dumbventure clone!"

I agree, that's a silly presumption.


My work is never done yet
That's why I said it's a silly presumption.

I apologize, I was under the impression that you were being sarcastic.

Also, here are my votes:

Single Player

Running Special Stage Act 1 by ZarroTsu--4/10

I suppose the stage idea was original, and the background was interesting enough, but the execution just seemed rather sloppy. There's nothing that actually keeps you running other than the threat of death from the floor moving up and down into the death pit below in waves, which looks quite ugly by the way and just seems lazy. You could have done the effect by using Instant Kill intangible, invisible FOFs that lower from the ceiling and raise back up in that same pattern at the very least. (I'm not the only one out there who's figured out how to do automatic running, right?) Also, the level lacks any interesting gimmicks, even for a special stage. The only hazards are the aforementioned death pit and those diagonal walls that try to knock you into it. It might have been interesting to see some of those take-10-rings sectors, or perhaps springs that attempt to bounce you off course. Also, the ring requirement is rather steep for a first special stage, don't you think?

City Area by Internet Explorer--3/10

This level was extremely confusing and puzzling, but in more of a frustrating than a fun way, and provides almost no platforming challenge except for the coveyor belt at the end. All the rest of the "challenge" came from the fact that most of the time I had no idea what to do or where to go, which isn't fitting for the type of game SRB2 is and therefore not enjoyable for many of us who like SRB2. The texturing and gimmicks were also so inconsistent and unfitting that I mostly couldn't even recognize what part of the "city" I was supposed to be in. The part with the death pits and the road is an example. If it's a normal street, then why is it inside? If it's a sewer, then why is there a road? What are the pits even doing there if you can usually just touch a spring and watch your character fly across them and therefore don't really count as a hazard? I'm giving you some points for the conveyor belt at the end, which really was the best part of the level IMO, and for the unique, albeit out-of-place, use of some gimmicks.

Polluted Plains Zone by 742mph--My level

Wow, I knew the community's standards were high, but this is just rediculous. Do people even know that you can just hold spin to skip cutscenes? And if a level having so many pits is such a horrible thing, then why is RVZ1 tolerated? (I know, the lava isn't instant kill like the sludge is, but it's very difficult to escape it a lot of the time.) I admit that the level is a bit cramped, but if you look at the level in a map editor, you can see that I had quite a few issues with spacing near the end. A slightly more spacious version of this level will be included in a soon-to-be-released mod of mine as the fourth zone of seven, minus the boss fight, which will be used for the sixth zone instead, so everyone won't have to worry about facing it with no rings. People also complain about the level's difficulty, which I find a bit odd, considering how many people here have been playing SRB2 for years and I thought they would at least partially enjoy a challenge. As for the criticisms about lack of secrets, this level has plenty of hidden monitors and whatnot, and if you were hoping for a magical happy My Little Pony lol lotz of powerupz room like in Chemical Facility, too bad, because I despise that show. But the most confusing thing that people are saying is this: they are actually criticizing the alternate paths. I was under the impression that people liked non-linearity. I can partially understand complaints about confusion between entrances and exits, but the only place where I can actually see that occuring is where the cave-outside transition area meets up with the end of the storage area, and even that'll only confuse you for five seconds or so at the most. One very obvious thing about people's reviews, though, is that Metal Sonic, the only complex SOCed object in the level, is almost universally liked. That, combined with people's critiquing of my older creations (stomp attack character ability = love it, Flux Satellite Zone = hate it), sends a message to me that my object programming is much more enjoyable and capable of being messed around with than my level designs. I suppose I'll go back to SOCing for a while now, and I plan to get a Lightspeed Dash or something similar to you guys by the end of this week or so.
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Oh boy here we go...

Single Player

Running Special Stage 1 by ZarroTsu : 8/10

Well that was a well executed concept, although not even strafing can catch the feel of automated running. I haven't got much to say about this one, as it's just a special stage, but I can say you could get more creative with obstacles, like walls, or flames, anything works, you decide.

City Area by Internet Explorer : 4/10

Uh....when I first started the level I was confused. Everything blends in with everything, some texturing choices were horrible, ALL Thing placement was horrible,room designs were mostly confusing and there were obstacles that were ridiculously annoying to pass (read: those chains). But I guess I can give a few points here and there by the NOT sucky areas of the level, like the conveyor at the end.

Polluted Plains by 742mph : 5/10

We start with an unnecessary cutscene, okay. Then we get to the level itself. First of all, this "rings from enemies" gimmick should be introduced better.Since I had no rings right at the start I simply avoided the enemies, and only learned I got rings by getting outside help.
Next, the level design. It was decent, I'll give you that, but some areas were really cramped and som- no wait, ALL jumps were lethal. You don't want THAT in a level. I gameover-ed a few times JUST because I slightly mistimed a small jump.
Then we get to the boss. A well SOCced Metal Sonic, but it was annoying, as he kept flying high in the air, and with the danger of going to the boss with no rings, this can ALSO get brutal.


Aquatic Egg by akb778 : 4/10

Yet another cramped map.Well, most of it anyway. The inside areas were a pain to navigate, the outside area had too little of a screentime, and the map didn't live up to its name at all.Normally I wouldn't mind this but this time I expected a proper water gimmick, and was disappointed. This map could do better with a x1.5 size increase for everything.

Maple Lake by ZarroTsu : 10/10

VERY well done. The level felt very balanced (balanced = THOKTHOKTHOK) and item placement was fair. It didn't have any of those "spring abuse" moments either. Just one thing you could do is, maybe extend it a little from the sides, or make some more elevated areas to improve gameplay.That's pretty much it.

Edit: You know what? After a few more matches in here, I understood my complaints were due to MY OWN lack of playing skill, not because the level was flat, or cramped. So yeah, enjoy your 10.

Blissful Grove by Scizor300 : 4/10

Ouch. I don't care how wide open it may look, it was VERY cramped for gameplay. Ammunation was VERY lacking, and some so called "decorations" managed to block my path pretty easily. However, the challenge to get to the higher ground was fun, and the level gets a nice feel to it once you start avoiding all those trees and whatnot.


Castle Flagman by EternallyAries : 6/10

What's with all the cramped maps lately? Anyway, this map was.....fine actually. Despite the horrible crushers and some cramped corridors, not to mention that ridiculous useless "Anti-Sonic" path, the elevation variation was nice, object placement wasn't too shabby, and the outside area, whilst VERY hard to reach, added some variety. The bases seemed very hard to defend though, you might want to put some obstacles and whatnot.

Spacebound Fortress by ZarroTsu : 7/10

While certainly not amazing, this level certainly wasn't BAD, not at all. Some ledges had jumps that were very hard to make, and since I can't get AROUND them, it was bothersome. Other than that, it felt like Cloud Palace, just with less running and more jumping.


Aphotic City by ThunderNova : 3/10

I admire your efforts to make Sonic NOT win in a race, but this shouldn't be how it works. Airtight platforming, awkward steamy segments, not to mention a broken teleporter. The texturing wasn't that bad, but that's not what I'm focusing on. Anyway, lots of checkpoints right near each other, was really silly, ESPECIALLY near the end. Try loosening the paths a little, and don't be so harsh on players, like punishing them with death pits on every given chance.

The End of Circuit by akb778 : 1/10's not going to work. A joke map is NOT how you say goodbye to circuit. Nothing interesting other than the eye-blinding texture usage.NOTHING.


Can't tell if proud because it's actually decent or sad because the gimmick backfired horribly.

Anyway I think I did a good job on this, and even if the area warp gimmick failed miserably, I might still grab a few points from other edges, no?

Mountainside Greens by Root : 1/10

Still not working. LITERALLY totally flat, those spikeballs are pretty much invisible to the eye, and having a single checkpoint breaks the whole idea, since you can U-turn and you'll reach the end faster. I highly suggest texture variation, alternate paths that are actually challenging and worth something, NORMAL paths that are actually challenging and worth something, more rings, and probably some elevation, we are near a mountain after all.

CastleLand by EternallyAries : 6/10

I admit. I had fun with this level. What with the bottomless pits, and the bookcases that create small mazes, it was very good. However the inside of the castle had a problem most maps had: Crampedness. It was very hard to navigate through most of the castle, and you seem to have a love for using springs everywhere. Try to give the player more control okay?

Blackmagic Workshop by Internet Explorer : 6/10

Another great level. Putting the outstanding scenery aside, the level was simple, but the gimmicks were well executed. However having Brak Eggman in the level was odd and the space countdown area kept dragging on forever and was bothersome. One last thing. That bookcase secret path was....guess what? Cramped!

Quartz Caverns by glaber : 3/10

Those giant stairs burn.Those not-so-antiSonic paths burn. Those flat roads with monitors spilled everywhere burn. Those lowered areas in the road that do nothing but get you back out burn. Those horrible texture choices burn too but I won't get into that.

Requim For a Soul by Boinciel : 5/10

For a joke wad this was pretty impressive. But it dragged on FOREVER, and while the level design was actually very good and the shortcuts were a nice touch, it was awkward. Very awkward.

Conveyor Climb by ShadowHog : 4/10

Most of the problems have been explained here. Knux being hard to navigate, lack of variety, and whatnot.

Hot Chocalate Manor by Katmint : 4/10

Very short, very cramped, yet still pretty fun. Those flamethrowers were pointless and/or annoying at places, but still, not THAT bad.
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The unreliable judge
Single Player votes

Running Special Stage Act 1 by ZarroTsu - 5
This is certainly an interesting idea for a special stage and I thoroughly enjoyed playing through it a few times. The technical execution of the level is also excellent, especially as it allows pretty much any character to complete the level at the speed their wad allows (unless they completely out luck like Robohood, but you can’t account for a character with such low stats)

Assuming that this is going to be a part of a level pack, this level would be a little too difficult for a first special stage and would need to be shortened. But as a demo of the concept and a stand alone stage, the difficulty was reasonably well balanced and could be completed after a few attempts.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t much more to it than this. What I played was fun, but after I completed it once there was very little for me to come back and do. I tried to complete the stage faster, or with characters such as MonsterIestyn’s Robohood wad, but then the level was exhausted. This is the fault of the standard style used for special stages in SRB2 rather than a fault of your design, I imagine branching paths would have either been too difficult to make technically or a nightmare to balance.

City Area by Internet Explorer - 3
The first thing that struck me about this level is that the theme of the level is not very well established in the visuals during the opening area of the stage. Until the player reaches the car park I honestly have no idea what the opening rooms are supposed to be because of an extremely poor use of textures and visual design. After I reached the car park, your theme was clear, but the opening gave a horrible first impression of the map.

On the topic of visuals, the cars using chequered special stage textures were very ugly. While the cars I made in my own city themed level ‘Metropolis Sprint’ suffered from a similar problem, care was taken when choosing textures that fit the visual style of the cars and the area around them. Instead of using bright orange and blue chequered cars in a grey car park.

The room with hanging chains is executed terribly. It is extremely difficult for the player to jump off of the chain he or she is holding onto and this meant that the most efficient method of passing the gimmick was to either ignore it entirely as Tails or Knuckles, or thok as Sonic and hope for the best that you manage to escape the chain instead of automatically grabbing it again. The problem is worsened when you finally reach the end of the chains and discover that you needed to press a button just before to open a door and have to repeat the chain platforming section again.

The elevator shortcut, which is activated by spindashing, is interesting and is a nice reward for players who explore and experiment with the environment. However there are no signs that this elevator has a purpose other than decoration. It would have been ideal if the elevator was instead linked to a secret of some kind, for a example a button the player could have pushed in one of the secret areas in the car park.

The use of SonicX8000’s graphics pack really isn’t necessary and only serves to inflate the file size of the map. If the player wants to use this graphics pack, then they will add the wad themselves.

I must say though, I quite like the music used in this level. Where is it from?

Polluted Plains Zone by 742mph - 6

The cutscene that introduces the level is more than just bad it was absolutely hilarious. Of course, I’m not looking for deep story telling in a Sonic game, but you provide exposition on the scenario and setting in a very haphazard way and you tell the player information that can instead be shown to them. (I expect you have heard the phrase ‘Show not tell’ at school, it applies to all forms of media including videogames when telling a story). For example you tell the player that enemies will drop rings when being defeated, when this could just as easily be shown in motion by the crawlas at the start of the level and allow the player to make the same connection that rings are being used to power the robots. Similarly, the fact that Robotnik built the factory on Green Hill Zone was shown through your texture use and visual design out the outside areas. Another example of how your writing was poor was that you tell the player that the factory collapses, instead of showing it happen. That’s not just bad, that’s ridiculous, you effectively cheat the player out of their victory by using a line of dialogue instead of letting the player reap what they sow and watch it happen.

Personally, I don’t mind playing as the nerfed Sonic in this level and I quite enjoyed it as a change of game mechanics. However, the player is introduced to this change in stats when they try to jump over the death pit at the start of the level and find that their thok can no longer carry them over, resulting in the player loosing a life just to learn what was changed about the player character.

I have to question your use of the random monitor as well, power ups normally remain static so that the designer can balance what power ups are given to the player for reaching them. However, when the power ups are random, the player may earn an overpowered reward such as an Armageddon shield for completing a simple task like breaking a wall or receive a useless power up like speed shoes just before a platforming heavy segment of the level

Purple slime being used as an instant death trap was not a good idea either. The player is already conditioned by vanilla SRB2 to assume that purple slime only damages the player, resulting in an unexpected death as the player learns the new mechanics behind the slime, if you’re going to use a liquid that could kill the player, then either use the green acid or create a new liquid for this purpose. Also, extremely shallow pools of slime that instantly kill the player are more than a little ridiculous.

The boss fight with Metal Sonic was nice, however there is a very serious problem in the fact that if the player dies for any reason they are forced to try again with 0 rings. Because of his unpredictable pattern and no sign indicating that he will either spindash or fire lasers, trying to defeat this boss with no rings is an exercise in patience and frustration rather than one of skill. Fortunately, this is not a common issue so I found the battle to be quite entertaining when played with rings. Unfortunately, I passed through Metal Sonic on occasion instead of bouncing off him, which leads to problems with the death pit surrounding the arena.

While I like the music for the level, it doesn’t loop properly. It would have been fantastic if you cut out the short silent space at the end of the song before it looped with a program such as audacity, but it doesn’t harm the level much.

I found the new mechanics for ring collection where enemies drop rings instead of animals to be very interesting and fresh change compared to normal Sonic gameplay. Encouraging the enemy to defeat enemies that aren’t directly on their path for the rings and adding an element of risk and reward when attacking an enemy such as a pop-up turret with 0 rings. I liked that very much indeed.

The Badnik production line used as decoration caught my attention, but I was disappointed when it didn’t pay off. The new robot made out of a sea egg and a jetty-bomber struck me as foreshadowing for the boss fight Eggman alluded to in the intro, especially as the player can see progress made on the production line. But it was never mentioned again sadly. If this new enemy were introduced near the end of the level it would have been an excellent example of plant and payoff, which is a critical element of storytelling, which seems to have been something you wanted to have in your level.

With all of my criticisms and complaints put to one side, I really enjoyed playing this level and I have come back to play through it many many times now and I will probably find it a few months later, play through it again and still enjoy it. Even with all the flaws I can discover in its design, there is something in Polluted Plains that appeals to me that I cannot identify. Oh well, I had fun and that’s the important thing.
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The Tortured Planet guy
All right, 742mph, I feel compelled post a response to your comments about PPZ.
Wow, I knew the community's standards were high, but this is just rediculous.
Seriously? Forgive me, but this sounds incredibly childish. As a college student pursuing a degree in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences, do you know what one of the first things my professors drilled into my head was? The biggest mistake a game designer can make is to whine that players don't "get" the level.

You cannot somehow convince unsatisfied players that your level is actually good, and you certainly won't make any friends by sulking about your failures. If even a couple of people out of a dozen tell you your level sucks, you ought to at least consider what they're saying. If everyone is telling you your level sucks, you're only shooting yourself in the foot by trying to make it sound like it's their fault.

A more appropriate reaction to what the community is telling you is to stop taking criticism personally and learn from your mistakes. Your level has plenty of good parts, and plenty of bad parts. Just use our feedback to recognize which parts worked and which parts didn't, and keep that in mind for your next project.

Do people even know that you can just hold spin to skip cutscenes?
Holding spin doesn't "skip" cutscenes; it just speeds through them. And your cutscene is so long that even speeding through it still forces you to wait about ten seconds before you actually get to play the level.

And if a level having so many pits is such a horrible thing, then why is RVZ1 tolerated? (I know, the lava isn't instant kill like the sludge is, but it's very difficult to escape it a lot of the time.)
You've missed the point here. It wasn't so much your use of pits that annoyed people as the fact that you used them in a thoroughly nonintuitive way. SRB2 players expect purple slime to deal water-damage (that is, damage which occurs when the player is submerged rather than simply touching). They certainly don't expect to die. Also, people don't generally place deadly floors at the same height as the surrounding non-deadly floors, so the outdoor sections with the slime spills seemed unfairly punishing.

Originality is generally a very good thing in SRB2 levels, but to a point. First of all, don't completely fly in the face of player expectations. Players expect water to be harmless, purple slime to be damaging at sufficient depth, lava to be damaging and solid, and acid to be instant death. There's really no good reason to mess with this formula willy-nilly...the creativity is in using those well-established dangers in a completely new way, like intermittently spewing slime faucets or rolling waves of acid.

Second: an original gimmick or design choice shouldn't be a matter of life and death from the needs to be introduced in a reasonably benign context, where either it is made perfectly clear whether it is dangerous and how dangerous it is, or it is very lenient if the player makes a mistake. Then, if you want it to be really dangerous, you should use it in a variety of increasingly challenging up to the real danger.

I admit that the level is a bit cramped, but if you look at the level in a map editor, you can see that I had quite a few issues with spacing near the end. A slightly more spacious version of this level will be included in a soon-to-be-released mod of mine as the fourth zone of seven, minus the boss fight, which will be used for the sixth zone instead, so everyone won't have to worry about facing it with no rings.
Sounds like you've fallen into a trap that I am only too familiar with from my own level design exploits...being afraid of really shifting things around. Levels are as modular as you are willing to make them...if things are too cramped, you can separate rooms from the rest of the level and shift them into a more pleasing format. From there, you can either add extra content to make the level fit back together (preferred), or join them with teleports (lazy, but acceptable in very small amounts). There's really no reason you should let your previous poor design choices dictate what you do to the level now.

People also complain about the level's difficulty, which I find a bit odd, considering how many people here have been playing SRB2 for years and I thought they would at least partially enjoy a challenge.
Don't confuse "challenge" with "cheap". I'll admit it's not an exact science of determining what is a fun challenge and what is annoying, but there are definitely a few things that won't fly. Repetitive dangers, badly placed enemies, and cramped pillar platforming are among the things that are almost never fun.

You're right that the community loves a good challenge, but a good challenge is hard to make. The best advice I can offer you is to use a variety of different hazards, or use several distinct variants of a hazard, and make sure your difficulty curve is fair. Be very careful about reusing a gimmick; if you really love it and can't resist using it again, at least put a new spin on it.

As for the criticisms about lack of secrets, this level has plenty of hidden monitors and whatnot, and if you were hoping for a magical happy My Little Pony lol lotz of powerupz room like in Chemical Facility, too bad, because I despise that show.
I don't know where that's coming from; we never asked for My Little Pony-based secrets, and I assure you that a significant portion of the community would be annoyed with you if you did. People want cleverly-hidden secrets, and they also want the stage to be open and pretty enough to give them the incentive to go hunting in the first place.

A small boxy alcove with a 1-up is only marginally better than nothing; the secrets should be concealed at least as creatively as the central gimmicks of the level. And by "creatively", I don't mean "hard to find". I mean hidden in a way that makes the player chuckle appreciatively.

To give some examples, build a really cool-looking machine that takes up a good portion of a factory room, and hide a 1-up in one of the exhaust valves on top. Or put an easy-to-see pipe containing three Super Ring Monitors underneath a pool of toxic slime, and place an Elemental Shield on an out-of-the-way ledge next to the main platforming challenge.

But the most confusing thing that people are saying is this: they are actually criticizing the alternate paths. I was under the impression that people liked non-linearity.
Of course they do, but alternate paths aren't some magical cure-all that makes linearity go away. Alternate paths have to be balanced and equally interesting, and they should branch and merge in an obvious way. If an alternate path is a tacked-on afterthought, it's usually going to be feel like a tacked-on afterthought. As I've learned the hard way, path splits work best when you design the level with the alternate paths in mind from the outset.

There's more to alternate paths than just splitting one linear hallway into two linear hallways; you have to be inventive. You can make a path split within a path split. You can hide different kinds of secrets in each path. You can replace a path split with one big, open room where there are several different ways to get from one side to the other. And you should avoid using teleporters or zoom tubes to bring the paths back together; use natural level architecture to merge them.

I can partially understand complaints about confusion between entrances and exits, but the only place where I can actually see that occuring is where the cave-outside transition area meets up with the end of the storage area, and even that'll only confuse you for five seconds or so at the most.
When I played through the level, there were a few other places that similarly confused me. In any case, any confusion at all is a bad thing.

One very obvious thing about people's reviews, though, is that Metal Sonic, the only complex SOCed object in the level, is almost universally liked. That, combined with people's critiquing of my older creations (stomp attack character ability = love it, Flux Satellite Zone = hate it), sends a message to me that my object programming is much more enjoyable and capable of being messed around with than my level designs. I suppose I'll go back to SOCing for a while now, and I plan to get a Lightspeed Dash or something similar to you guys by the end of this week or so.
I don't think that's the best take-away from this experience. Put into perspective, this level is actually the best thing you've done so far. People are just less likely to bring up what they liked about it than what they didn't like. You probably have more creative potential in making levels than making SOCs. Keep making levels; just remember not to take offense when people point out your mistakes, and keep all past feedback in mind whenever you're working on a new project.

Oh, and in case you don't know, we had a hardcoded lightdash back in the 1.09.4 days ;)
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Well, to all the folks that reviewed mine, gave it 1-3, and made me feel like absolute shit, don't worry, the Teleporter problem is fixed. Sadly, it was after I submitted the map, but it's fixed nonetheless.

Otherwise I work with what I have. I was given a suggestion to retexture the whole level, but I didn't have enough time to go through the level and switch every texture.

The arrows are there to direct people. It might not be obvious that you jump on that thingy to get to the next part of the level, so I put arrows to help guide the way.

But I'm not going to bother voting for the other levels, as it won't really matter. I'll still have the second shittiest Circuit map in all of history.


Maybe out of retirement?
The arrows are there to direct people. It might not be obvious that you jump on that thingy to get to the next part of the level, so I put arrows to help guide the way.
I think it's always completely obvious that you need to "jump on that thingy", since there's nothing else you could possibly do besides jumping into the pit, which nobody in their right mind will consider an option.


Only Multiplayer votes for now, I may or may not do Single Player later.


Aquatic Egg Zone by akb778 - 3/10

Mostly just a series of hallways with a completely awkward theme transition. Shoot rings randomly down a narrow hallway, hit 5 people.

Maple Lake Zone by ZarroTsu - 6/10

Pretty solid map. It's nothing special or memorable, but there's not much wrong with it. It's kind of hard to navigate though, because everything looks the same.

Blissful Grove Zone by Scizor300 - 4/10

This kinda reminds me of a revamped Forest Rush Zon Zone. There seems to be just too much junk crammed into one room. Also, I'm sure you know this, but the emerald spawns have broken Z offsets.


Castle Flagman Zone by EternallyAries Red X - 2/10

This map has some potential, which is all wasted because it is a complete nightmare to navigate. Instead of running in circles forever I often found myself just giving up and camping my own base.

Spacebound Fortress Zone by ZarroTsu - 8/10

Simple, but very fun. My only complaint is that it's not immediately clear where the front door to the bases are, but it's a minor issue, especially with a back door and a rooftop door to use.


Aphotic City Zone by ThunderNova - 2/10

Totally bland. A checkpoint near the start respawns you on top of a death pit, causing a mandatory game over. It also tries too hard to make Tails and Knuckles usable, making the map tedious for Sonic. Also, please don't use Each Time for teleports in multiplayer, it tends to make them not work. The first time we played this I had to run it all alone while everyone else was locked in a room.


The End of Circuit by akb778 - 1/10

Bad joke map, QED.

Unstable Icicle Zone by Zipper - 5/10

Fairly average as a map, fairly good compared to the competition. I always win as Tails here, except when the "change the terrain on the final lap" gimmick decides to work. It usually doesn't. That was a neat idea though, but something is definitely broken with it. Also, that tunnel with the yellow backwards springs in it needs to go. It seems to serve no purpose except to slow down Sonic.

Mountainside Greens Zone by Root - 1/10

Completely. Flat. And ugly. With undeafed spikeballs and rings. There's also no sense of direction. And because there is only one checkpoint, the race becomes "thok to the checkpoint, u-turn, thok to the finish line, u-turn again, repeat."

CastleLand Zone by EternallyAries Red X - 3/10

The visuals here are pretty good but it doesn't mean much because it's hard to find the way forward at first, but the biggest problem is that it is FAR too easy to miss the checkpoints, and since you can't backtrack at certain points you pretty much lose the race if you miss a checkpoint even once, which is very easy to do. Also, I'm repeating myself for the third time this contest but the map is more tedious for Sonic to point of making him an unfavorable choice.

Black Magic Workshop by Internet Explorer - 6/10

This map's presentation and ambiance are amazing and totally blew me away. The main problem here is that it doesn't feel like a race map. I want to go slow and explore a map like this, but that would be doing the opposite of the objective in Race, which is to speed through the map as fast as possible and finish first. I was also not sure what to do in the inverted cross room at first, but I eventually figured it out. I liked the hidden alternate path. But really, this has so much potential as a Single Player map. It doesn't really belong in Race.

And one more thing...


It's raining in space!

Quartz Caverns Zone by glaber - 2/10

The problem with this map is that it is completely boring. There's just not really much to do, and it drags on way too long. The Tails/Knuckles paths are also accessible by a Sonic with a whirlwind shield.

Requim for a Soul by Boinciel - 3/10

Some of this is kinda fun, but it's ruined by absurd length and total lack of direction. Although, the map more than succeeds in its purpose of forcing you to listen to it being over while making you wish it was over yourself because you cannot find the way forward.

This message brought to you by Katmint.

Conveyor Climb Zone by Shadow Hog - 2/10

This was fun for about 30 seconds. Then it got progressively more boring. It needs to be a lot shorter and have some more variety.

Hot Chocalate Manor Zone by Katmint - Lorem/Ipsum

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.
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My work is never done yet
@Fawfulfan, I suppose part of the reason this level's gimmicks confuse people so much is because the modification that it was designed from the beginning as a part of changes the rules quite a bit itself, so people are naturally confused because they haven't gone through the introductory level of the mod first, and this is definitely my fault. I should have included the introduction in this level, or modified it so it fits better with vanilla SRB2 logic (I assume the latter would be preferable to most people). The reason I say that I should go back to SOCing is because it comes much more naturally to me than level design and it seems much less frustrating in general. I've been designing levels for about six months, and from what I've heard from the rest of the community talking about their personal accomplishments, their levels were much more widely liked after six months of practice than mine, although that could be because the community's standards were lower back when they started, or they could be exaggerating things for bragging purposes. The most profound reason that SOCing appeals to me more, though, is that there just aren't many people who are good at it or actually bother to do it. The fact is that so much attention on the MB is aimed at levels that nobody really recognizes the potential of SRB2's other customization capabilities (this is obvious because the only official contest we have is for levels only), and that makes the few especially active SOCers unique while causing many newbies to simply go with the flow and compete with the hordes of other MB members in a great level design race which they can never truly win, because even if they're paid attention to, they're rarely well-liked. I hear people on #srb2fun talking about Tortured Planet a significant amount of the time, but everyone seems to think it's mediocre at best. They even regularly diss Mystic Realm for whatever reason. If people like you and Mystic are barely taken seriously as level designers, then what chance do I have? However, from what people have posted on SOC topics in Releases, it seems like SOCs are treated much less harshly, mostly because they're rare, a case of significant demand but barely existant supply, and, like a small business, I see a perfect opportunity in filling that demand. Perhaps my reasoning is rediculously flawed, but I just don't see a point in level design when I don't find it that fun and I know I will never be taken seriously as a level designer, especially lately when it's become clear to me that there are other types of custom content that people enjoy using just as much and I enjoy making more.
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Over The Speed Limit
For example, I cannot seem to find a way to access the Rail Ring as Sonic.

The rail ring is at the topmost ledge, and it's deliberately a little tough to get to as Sonic, since the map's open nature leads rail to be a little overpowered.

Spindash jump (or thok-jump-thok) either from the blue line or orange line to the plateau on the left, then just spring up to the top ledge.
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