Official Level Design Contest 2022: Round 1

Official Level Design Contest 2022: Round 1 1.1

Vixuzen

Member
Alrighty, wrote my reviews.

Spiral Hill Pizza by @Rogerregorroger
I'm the coolest

Foliage Furnace Zone, Act 2 by Othius, Kanna, and Spectorious
There's just always a showstopper at these OLDC's huh?
Complex new mechanics with the barrels, great visuals, pretty darn good level design.
Got a bit lost at some points but other then that, it's a clear winner.

Magma Laboratory Zone by RoyKirbs
I love these straight forward rollercoasterey levels and the 2 lava factory themes got it this OLDC.
Neat level gimmicks, great flow, good stage.

Hell Coaster Zone by Voidy2246
Hey, that's a familair Eggman there.
The second of the 2 Rollercoasterey lava factory stages. Litteraly a rollercoaster this time.
In some ways I prefer this one over Magma Laboratory, feeling a bit faster and leaner, but it has a few problems as well, particularly being a little busy and cramped.
Kinda makes the fast gameplay the level seems to invite a bit blow up in it's face.
Fun minecart section.

Tarnish Ward Zone by Princess Plushima
Well, it isn't so much a level as a full blown scientific exploration of what a emerald shard level should do. Great atmosphere trough music and visuals, really gives the level an identity.
How ironic, in the original Sonic Adventure levels I hated when the Knuckles levels had a lot of gimmicks and preferred the straight forward emerald hunts, but in SRB2 I've since learned you do kind of need some tricks and mechanics in these levels to avoid the player just running around like a chicken without a head.
Great job on the emerald hint gimmick too.

Enchanted Enclave by Vixuzen
Neat idea with having the Mario 64 ish different missions making players go trough the level again with different mindsets. It's a short and sweet level for speedrunners, but surpriisngly elaborate and rich for explorers filled with hidden paths.
THe cool trick with the change of time and music makes replaying more rewarding.
Only problem is that I get a headache if I have to search around in the Doom Engine graphics too long, spending 20+ minutes on locating all rings, enemies and lums does a number on my brain.
Great music choices, I recognise the style as Rayman 2 music but there's a few tracks I don't remember at all. Weird.

Bitter Brink Zone* by MarbleCheese
Another rollercoasterey Sonic level, now with ice.
You got some great ideas, but the execution is very awkward, sadly.
Axis 2d loop at the start is a bit confusing, altough it does look cool.
Love the idea of the maze section with the snowmobile, but have to admit the section does highlight how hard the thing is to control. Love the thumbnail.
Great ideas, awkward excecution, but love the ideas on display.

Festung oder so by The Shadow
I love dramatic setpieces, this is a cool concept.
Altough I have to admit it took a second playtrough to fully understand what was going on.
Fun idea, fun level design. Graphics a bit dull outside of the effect of it crumbling down.

Freezer Folley Zone by FAVman33
Great atmosphere, good functioning gimmick, couple gags. Good stuff.
Little too open for my taste at times, but there's no real problems.
Good charming stage. Huh, must be a tiny Pizza in the fridge, compared to the milk carton and egg sizes.

Yearning Yachtyard Zone by PhilJFou aka ChaRG
A level that goes for the feels. Kinda weird to associate yachts with a more melancholy/ introspective tone, but it works.
Neat easteregg with the Titanic, altough couldn't find out how to get there.
All these encouraing messages, how wholesome.

Egg Machine Zone by nickls2002
A level that deserves to be way up higher in the list in terms of technical achievements, a lot of cool new tricks and level design hazards on display and great atmosphere.
But yeah, a little too frustrating and long for it's own good, sadly the fun factor isn't entirely there, tough for those looking for a challenge, this is it.
Altough I love the floating gravity blobs in the air as platform gimmicks, it's so easy to just helplessly float trough them, with the player having little control, and the edges of the platform hard to see with all the transparent and color mode layers on top of each other. Shame.
Awesome easter egg.

SunkSea X Zone by Nuhu64
Decent level. Pretty long, yet technical sound, well done. Good guidance too.
Great variety in hazards and level design themes.
Kinda feel it needed something tough, felt a bit empty going trough the parts. Not sure what's going on.

Zaxel's Thunder Yard Zone, Act 2 by Zaxel Katsugyo
Well well, getting more dramatic now, with the cutscenes eh? Neato.
Levels still get me a weird Game Gear feel with the textures and blocky level design.
Love the fact it takes a theme and sticks with it, the electricity, and there's some nice hazards you build with it.
Problem is that it all feels overwhelming and everything starts melting into each other, so I don't feel each of your ideas and challenges really gets room to breathe to leave an impact.
Adding these mines to come after those with an electric shield is a neat extra dynamic that would have made for a nice level hazard, if players had more time to react to them. Now most of the time they just instantly hit you, making them feel more trolling then an exciting challenge. Shame.

Chaos Cove Zone by glaber
Oof, never fun to pick the lowest scoring winner, but here we are.
Emerald shard hunting wihle there's death pits everywhere that reset your emblem score again? Oof, that ain't fun.
Thing is, with a level where the players have to run and search a large landscapes, having an interesting landscape with lots of landmarks is useful.
And hey, points for your lighttower and little house, there's some fun structures, but most of it kinda blends together.

Sure, I can make a hangout version of Spiral Pizza. What game mode does that fall under tough? Not single player or race or anything.
But yeah, let me know what you want me to add to it or what you want to see in it.
The music is actually all from Rayman Arena.
 

Turret 49

Member
Chaos Cove took me a depressingly long amount of time to find the third emerald shard, so long that I had to open up Zone Builder and check each hunt spot manually through a process of elimination. It was actually a spot that I'd passed through multiple times, but the shard must have blended in with the moving fish and seaweed, looking like a green fish at a glance, I guess? My brain just thought nothing was there.
srb20058.png

(I got Perfect Bonus after this screenshot :dramahog:)
 
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glaber

Emblem Radar Ready
Chaos Cove Zone by glaber
Oof, never fun to pick the lowest scoring winner, but here we are.
Emerald shard hunting wihle there's death pits everywhere that reset your emblem score again? Oof, that ain't fun.
Thing is, with a level where the players have to run and search a large landscapes, having an interesting landscape with lots of landmarks is useful.
And hey, points for your lighttower and little house, there's some fun structures, but most of it kinda blends together.
Emblem score?! I didn't assign a score emblem to this stage!
 

glaber

Emblem Radar Ready
Well in any case, the Death pit is only around the border of the main island. Everything else that can kill you are enemies or drowning.
 

PhilJFou aka ChaRG

What is this for?
Alright, it’s time for me to express my opinions on every stage of this OLDC. Originally, I wanted to make a playthrough video with commentary and a review video after that, but I was too lazy for that, so here are all the stages reviewed in order I played them. I’ll try to be as informative as I can.

This stage gives me classic SRB2 levels vibes. Aesthetics are decent but other than that it doesn’t really stand out to me. This level also has a problem with sense of direction, I had no idea I was running in circles at some spots (for example the passage hidden behind the seaweed? Is it? Or a part at the very end, if it weren’t for red springs I wouldn’t have known it was the end). However I see potential here, looking forward to new stages from this creator!

It was the stage I didn’t like at first. It took me several playthroughs to see good in it. Let’s get the negative things out of the way first. Hazards. There’s a lot of them and majority of them are either too fast to react or chaotically placed. The latter also applied to the purple jello and gravity flip sections. These sections feel like somebody was just messing around with the level editor. And the record attack emblems requirements are quite harsh, I did get the time emblem with seconds to spare, but I don’t think the ring emblem is happening considering the amount of hazards. Also, it would be nice if floating platforms were intangible from the bottom. On the other hand, the stage has a really good aesthetics to it and especially the lighting and the level’s geometry that is the part of “skybox”. While hazards are difficult to avoid, they provide a decent challenge. I like that the gimmicks are presented in a safe environment before throwing player into action. And of course, how can I forget about the best easter egg in the whole pack (you know what I mean).

Now it took me a while to figure out that Vix’s stages are inspired by Rayman games. If it wasn’t for Lums, I wouldn’t even know that, haha. That out of the way, I quite enjoyed the stage. I like there’s two routes you can take: the dark woods and the beachside. And the stage comes with a handful of challenge emblems to gather (I like that some of them reference creator’s 0 score challenge). However, some of the challenges are quite time-consuming, e.g. 1200 rings challenge, and while I know you don’t have to keep all the rings to the end, but it still would be a struggle. As for all Lums/all enemies defeated challenges… I couldn’t find the last remaining enemy on the stage, nor could I find three remaining Lums, though I can swear I went through the whole level numerous times and eventually gave up on these. I think the less strict requirements for the challenges would be better. But it’s overall a decent level.

Alright, here comes the first level I did not enjoy, no matter how many times I played it. Firstly, the problem from the previous Voidy’s entry migrated here – little ground to stand on. What I’m trying to say that most of the level geometry is either filled with hazards or is a death plane. Speaking of which, I don’t like lava, or any other fluid for that matter, to be a death plane, it’s not something we’ve all get used to while playing SRB2. There’s a minecart section, but then, it’s skippable with some characters. I mean we all hate minecarts, but what’s the matter if you don’t have to ride one? The stage is somewhat unfairly difficult on its own, but then I found out you can stand on the empty island with no consequence and even use them to your advantage, which sometimes drastically simplifies the playthrough, I don’t think it was intended. And yes, the 2D section is also bad, if not the worst part of the level, mostly because of the crushers and bumper platforming. I suggest creator to make an easier stage or at least give the player more solid ground with less hazards. But there’s something I must say. Thanks for encouraging me to finish my stage :D

ARGH! WHAT’S UP WITH THESE LAGS!? I swear the stage lags so bad it spoiled my overall impression of the level, which might have been really good. Not even the software renderer does the trick in decreasing lags. I guess it’s because of all the flamethrowers and other objects that constantly create other objects. I tried to get an overall idea of what this stage is like, but lags are just too bad to ignore. All I could realize is the new gimmick – cannons, and although it’s cool to see a big object flying around and helping you proceed, I don’t really get how the momentum is carried after the blast, and some cannons are placed at the most awkward spots too (e.g. right above dozens of flamethrowers). I wish I could have said something good about this level, but again, lags are ruining my experience. I think removing some of the flamethrowers or whatever causes the lags would be a good idea.

This level feels empty – some parts take a lot of space, but barely filled with anything other than lava. This brings another problem – if you fall in lava, you won’t likely made it out before you die. Platforming is also somewhat intense, which just adds insult to injury. This level also has some problems with sense of direction, I also ran in circles before I realized that. Other than that, I don’t see anything special about this stage. Maybe adding some more stuff in empty areas would work fine.

I like that Roger tries something new every contest. This time it’s some sort of a time trial to deliver 6 pizzas to various locations of the city. This is a fun stage, though I have some complaints. The arrows that show the next destination, while are big enough, blend into the background because of their color. While, it’s more about memorizing the route, I think the arrows should be colored differently (e.g. blue, or some color that is not prevalent in the level). I like that you’re allowed to explore the city with no restrictions after you deliver all 6 pizzas, but I think this should be an option either from the start to known some of the locations, or after delivery regardless of whether you delivered all 6 pizzas or not to figure out a better route. Also, the arrows rising from the earth doesn’t seem right, they better just appear over next destination.

I have to admit, I did NOT expect this stage to be THAT good. And while the concept might be simple, being a time limited button hunt, this stage I enjoyed playing the most. While I could see the true colors of many other stages after a few playthrough, I loved this collapsing fortress from the first play. The only real problem I may have with this level is the bobbing platforms at the start, but I can ignore it completely. I like that the more time you spend on the stage the more collapsed it gets, changing not only the parts of “skybox” but the level’s geometry too. I like that you don’t have to press all the buttons to access the exit, meaning you can try much more different approaches in playing the level. I love how fitting the music is. I love that you can get an emblem if you decide to press all the buttons. And record attacks are good too, though the score emblems usually scare me away, but I quickly figured out that I just need to get a perfect bonus, which is fairly simple considering the total amount of rings. All in all, my absolute favorite out of all!

Another pretty COOL stage (pun intended). While it’s not very challenging, it’s built quite well. Honestly, it’s the aesthetics that really got me – it’s been very hot lately I wished for some ice cream and this level gave me the cold I needed. This stage also reminds me of a level from one of SUGOI packs (which I haven’t played myself), Fudge Canyon, was it? Which is not a bad thing, vice versa actually. It’s always neat, when people try to make some unusual setting for their level, which this stage does quite well. It’s a shame it’s kinda short in the end, but it’s still in the top half of my list.

Oh man… The level select picture looked promising, but the level itself is really disappointing. First of all, the level’s geometry looks kinda dull and the same snow texture applied to most of it. Then there goes a 2D section (why do we have to wait for the door to open to access this part?). While Axis2D is cool, it executed poorly in this stage – a trap that keeps you on the same route before you realize you have to jump over it, but not too far, the camera that takes the most awkward angles possible where you can’t see where are you going, and chaotic hazards placement, plus one of the route ends with a wall that you have to spindash through and neither Amy or Fang can pass this part and you have no means of tracking back, so this part forces you to restart, which may not seem like a big problem, but if the OLDC had no infinite lives, you could have just softlock yourself. The final nail in the coffin is the main gimmick of the stage – sleds. Oh my god, why are these things so hard to control? Maybe it’s the point of them, but when you have to continuously jump over death pits or move sideways to hit the boosters to avoid death it becomes a real problem. I want to believe, this stage was either the first at creator’s portfolio or it was just an experiment that when wrong due to lack of time for proper testing. It could have been a really cool stage, but in the end we got what we got. Fixing above mentioned issues is an absolute must.

Oh, Zaxel, Zaxel… Did your last year’s entry really needed a bad sequel? And when I say bad, I mean just that. Awful sense of direction. Low resolution textures. Cyan lightning over cyan bricks. Traps that make you feel like they can help you proceed, but actually hurt you or straight up kill you. And of course, the infamous electric shield traps. What’s the point of electric/attraction shields if you can’t use one for more than 10 seconds? I’m sure those bomb placements were intentional as they get attracted too and make you lose your shields. What is the ring emblem requirement again? 1700? Yeah… No. I don’t think the record attack emblems were even tested properly (Why people make such big requirements in the first place?). The Twins Palace from the previous contest was the move in the right direction. Sure, that stage had its issues too, but it was going well, what happened? Same goes for an ULDC stage Plutonium Plant (?), which also wasn’t the best, but at least it had a new gimmick to play with. Zaxel, I really hope you will take all the criticism into consideration and make your next entry superior to any other you’ve made so far.

A peculiar paradox – at first I didn’t like the mood of the level, now I find it to be the strongest aspects of the stage. The atmosphere just screams depression, which is not a bad thing, at least in my humble opinion. It’s an emerald hunt stage, the type of level that is usually not appreciated by community, however this level has some tweaks that make it unique, like emerald hint monitors that, as expected, give you a hint on one of the emerald shards locations and if one hint is already revealed, it gets more specific the more monitors you break. It’s not a big stage, though it gets confusing with some of the emerald shards spots, like those behind graffiti walls that are shatter if you touch them, this may take a while to figure out. Also, there must be some easter egg if you place flower in specific spots, though I couldn’t activate it. I might have lost some of the rooms I need to visit.

I had hopes for glaber’s stage to be something decent and hopes were worth it. It’s another emerald hunt stage, though this time with nothing really special. The map is large and, as for me, not too confusing, though it may be a bit annoying to find shards that are on the entirely different ends of the map. I guess this stage was just meant to farm all chaos emeralds before diving into difficult levels, a decision I personally don’t mind, however I find it kinda strange that both chaos emeralds and emerald shards can be found at the same spots, which removes some challenge. I also don’t like the death pits under the water, it would be better to have some ground to run around. Overall, it’s not a bad stage, it’s just outmatched by others.

Alright, finally we got to my level! This time, instead of doing a joke opinion, I’ll tell some things about this stage. At some point of developing a level, I decided to make a chill stage, that doesn’t have too much challenge to it. As mentioned in the end cutscene, this level was inspired by meditation livestreams that showed some tropical lagoons (try to find something like “deep focus music for studying/relaxation” on Youtube). I really wanted to make another challenge stage though, but ultimately decided to go with east level. Originally I wanted to give my stage a sense of space – make something out of player’s reach to make them think that the level is bigger than it actually is, thus we have the border texture with “do not enter” fences and lines of buoys. Unfortunately, I could execute this idea the way I wanted due to time limit and lack of imagination. And frankly, I don’t know what else could I have added to the level, but at least I feel like this stage is complete. Short, but complete. In the end, I hope you all enjoyed it much more than my previous entries.

1. Yearning Yatchyard Zone (because voting rules)
2. Festung oder so
3. Freezer Folley Zone
4. Tarnish Ward Zone
5. Spiral Hill Pizza
6. Enchanted Enclave
7. Chaos Cove Zone
8. Egg Machine Zone
9. SunkSea X Zone
10. Foliage Furnace Zone, Act 2
11. Magma Laboratory Zone
12. Hell Coaster Zone
13. Bitter Brink Zone
14. Zaxel's Thunder Yard Zone, Act 2
 
Okay, I finally figured out what I should do in Spiral Hill Pizza. So I re-vote every level because of that.
About feedback, I... Can't say that much about that map, it's simple but kinda unusual city map, but I kinda wish that all "pizza delivery" mission will be kinda random idk, because I beat and collect emblems in this map fast enough, can't say that was hard tho, but still, that was kinda interesting map.
 

Othius

[A person in a place]
Contest Winner🏆
Hello! Here's an FFZ2 lag fix for people who can't play the stage due to the framerate. Just load this file after the OLDC file.

I wish I knew about it sooner, as the level runs completely fine on my end. It's really unfortunate because it's probably affected the score of the level a lot too.

Emblems are not collectable with this file loaded.
 

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Turret 49

Member
It's possible to get stuck in the cloud floor in the hub, though it fixes itself when passing under the bridge or the train tracks:
 

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NerfPlayeR135

Just call me Nerf.
Thanks for the feedback!

I wish I knew how to LUA to fix the long control freeze in the goop and gravity areas, I think that would fix it for the most part -<-
And I kinda noticed a lot of people are trying to control the character in the spring part (At the end of the first gravity area), even though I put rings to indicate that they shouldn't move. I guess that's because they don't see the platform and assume that they should do something. Should've really made it more visible I guess.

Okay, noted everything, I'll try to avoid stuff like that next time :V
Hey, no worries. The OLDC is, first and foremost, a way to put yourself and your ideas out there, and to receive detailed feedback like this. I still think you did a great job - certainly better than anything I’m capable of doing (i.e. nothing).

About that spring jump - Othius actually DM’d me on Discord right after I posted my feedback telling me how to do that part. I personally think it would’ve been fine if not for two things: the gravity flip causing the landing platform to be out of sight, and the previous spring you have to use not giving enough momentum to make it to the next platform without player input, which makes you think more springs will be like that.
 

clairebun

Community Noise Maker
Sonic Team Junior
What song did you use for the hub theme? I sounds awfully familiar to another song but I don't remember. Lol
It may sound familiar because it shares musical commonalities with the previous OLDC hubs. Any tracks in this playlist with the name "Creation Station" are original tunes created specifically for the OLDC.
 

PencilVoid

Circuit Enthusiast
Here we go.
  1. SPIRAL HILL PIZZA
    1. Very creative concept. The adrenaline rush the pacing and music gives you is nice, and the dialogue is fun.
    2. The green arrows can be hard to see from a distance - would be easier to see if they were bigger and more like a beacon. The ingame description actually had me thinking they would form a path in the sky.
  2. CHAOS COVE ZONE
    1. Nice and simple. Reminds me of the earlier days.
    2. Shards can be hard to pinpoint in some places. I think one of them actually ended up inside level geometry?
  3. BITTER BRINK ZONE
    1. The bobsled gimmick is creative and fun.
    2. Would have liked to see the bobsled used more throughout the level. The places it did end up being used were underwhelming
  4. FESTUNG ODER SO
    1. Very unique and stark aesthetic.
    2. Buttons can be hard to see, arrows should be bigger. Though this isn't much of an issue; I was able to beat the level on my first try.
  5. FREEZER FOLLEY ZONE
    1. The theming is creative, and the jellies as springs are fun.
    2. Certain routes can be awkward to navigate at times. Not too bad, though.
  6. FOLIAGE FURNACE ZONE ACT 2
    1. Great sense of scale, cannon gimmick is interesting and technically impressive.
    2. I SIGSEGVed three times. Also, frame drops in some rooms with polyobjects
  7. ENCHANTED ENCLAVE
    1. Very nice aesthetic work
    2. Level is a little short? I was able to beat it quite quickly
    3. Note: apparently, this level has a day-night cycle or something like that. I don't think I saw it
  8. SUNKSEA ZONE X
    1. Not much to say about this one. It was alright
    2. Not much to say about this one. It was alright (unremarkable, but not bad)
  9. MAGMA LABORATORY ZONE
    1. Nice theming, fast-paced
    2. Some rooms can be confusing, such as the lava wave room. As Sonic, I didn't know where I was supposed to go.
  10. TARNISH WARD
    1. Very good aesthetic work. Really makes it feel like I'm searching for emerald shards among people who've hit rock bottom
    2. Emerald shards are hard to find unless you use the hint monitors. I didn't realise I was able to break through the grafitti on the walls
  11. EGG MACHINE ZONE
    1. Great theming, skybox is impressive
    2. Goop segments seem a little unfair, hard to predict where you're going in 2D segment. The lack of a texture makes it hard to judge how far away a goop block is in 3D mode.
  12. YEARNING YACHTYARD ZONE
    1. Nice theme, easy to navigate
    2. I actually don't know how this ended up so low in the ranking, I liked it
  13. HELL COASTER ZONE ACT 1
    1. Cool theming
    2. Hazard spam in some places, 2D section is overly difficult
  14. ZAXEL'S THUNDER YARD ZONE ACT 2
    1. Cutscenes are fun, coherent colour scheme
    2. Obstacle placement seems haphazard, hard to see some hazards coming such as the death pit you're launched into by some red springs
If any mappers want more feedback or clarification of feedback I've written here please don't hesitate to ask.
 

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