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Level Maps of Meaning Thread S3K level design analysis, annotation, discussion

#1 User is offline theyogwog 

Posted 15 November 2017 - 03:25 PM

  • Posts: 31
  • Joined: 17-November 12
  • Gender:Male
  • Project:S3K Analysis
Hey everyone. It's been a while... I haven't posted here in years, as I generally don't post much anywhere.

I doubt anyone here will remember me but some of you might know of me, I'm an ex-TASer and the "progenitor" of the Ring Attack category of Sonic TASes. Anyway, S3K is one of the only games that holds my interest these days and even then, I don't like playing it so much as just... thinking (and writing) about it. Consequently, I recently completed the pilot in a potential series of works I'm thinking of creating and I wanted to share it with you guys today. If you like either of the websites, TV Tropes or Genius - this is kind of like that, but in regards to videogame level design and more specifically, Angel Island Zone, Act 1.

Here's a preview:

Posted Image

Here's the full image, if you don't mind visiting my crappy S3K blog and just clicking "Act 1." Feel free by the way to have a look around the site but note that it's pretty unkempt at the moment, still an early work in progress. But, the map itself, I feel is ready to present publicly. Hopefully for your entertainment and information.

If you wish to leave me feedback, please do so either here or anonymously on my site. I'd be grateful whether it's comments, suggestions, questions, corrections, or criticisms of anything from the notes themselves to meta topics like the delivery format. A few things in particular that I'm wondering, are:

-Whether or not and to what degree people find this sort of thing interesting.
-There was supposed to be a little humor here and there - should there be more or less, or equal amounts, of that in possible future maps?
-Did anyone appreciate my, let's say, academic tone or would it be better if it was more like plain, spoken English with words like "you" and "I?"
-Was my use of shorthand, abbreviations, and made-up terminology too distracting or confusing, or was it okay?
-Any notes that stand out for any reason?

So yeah, to wrap up... thanks everyone for your time, I hope you enjoy the map, and let me know your thoughts.

#2 User is offline HedgeHayes 

Posted 15 November 2017 - 08:58 PM

  • Chaos Emeralds, Alola form
  • Posts: 340
  • Joined: 01-June 17
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  • Location:Bilbao, Spain
  • Project:Too many of them
I've read it all and I have some things to comment:

- Overall, is a quite interesting project. I like this kind of introduction to level design, with so many details and observations. Some of these, such as the ones about the monkey dudes being guards and going almost extinct are interesting and also help with plot designing and background logic. A good work of design philosophy at all levels, and a way to learn something more for people who didn't notice those details (I chose the monkey dudes as an example because I never noted their treasure guarding).

- That said, the general tone employed doesn't mesh well with the jokes and some vocabulary you've used. The joke about crack is totally out of place and it's your own fluff content, but the other apparent jokes, may or may not be that, since they sound more like a different way of explaining things. I'm talking about the reference to pokémon, or the bubble shield being waterproof, which are the closest things to a joke I've found but they sounded more like an odd change in your dialectics or a downgrade of those. I personally don't think the small gap of water in which the bubble shield appears encourages the discovery of its properties.

- I would also avoid "emotional" descriptions, which also interfere with the tone of the text; speculating or telling the spiritual background behind spome design choices is great, but your description about the underwater chamber with rings and invincibility is quite subjective. In that case, saying the invincibility serves to little purpose there is ok, but the little rant is unnecessary.

- If you're gonna use abbreviations for gameplay elements, add a reference table somewhere, or leave them aside and write full words (mRings <-> Ring monitors) to improve readability. It depends on your need of space, but, either way, the full names of objects must appear somewhere. I'm still wondering why the invincibility is named "sStars": is it "super: stars"? If that's the case, I'd talk about "iStars" or "sInvincible" because the item's power isn't minimally referenced in the name you've given to it, or, at least, it's not intuitive for the reader.

- I'm not sure about the couple of technical details you offered (transition for the jungle in flames, and bugs if somehow met the wrong boss): While they're still interesting, and the first one's a bit more relevant about level designing, the main topic doesn't seem to be related to the programmer's point of view, so, unless you can add more about the coding quirks to this act, those elements seem shoehorned and appealing to a different reader. If there was more about that, it would feel as a more complete analysis, so those explanations become more relevant and blend better with the rest of the text. It may just be this act's case, however, and you may add more info for coders in the other acts, hence why I'm not sure about this question.

While I've been nitpicky, it's just that I wanted to give you productive criticism, since, as I've said before, this looks like a great project, and I want to encourage you to keep it up. I've learned a lot reading this sample, and there are things which, while I already knew, are nicely worded to make those concepts clear. That's all, I think.

#3 User is offline theyogwog 

Posted 15 November 2017 - 10:30 PM

  • Posts: 31
  • Joined: 17-November 12
  • Gender:Male
  • Project:S3K Analysis
Thanks HedgeHayes. I'll take all that into consideration.

#4 User is offline Sid Starkiller 

Posted 15 November 2017 - 10:51 PM

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  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Virginia, USA
Agreed with HedgeHayes. A bit rough, but really interesting so far. Please keep going!

#5 User is offline Chainspike 

Posted 16 November 2017 - 02:23 AM

  • Stealing rings since 1994
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  • Location:Death Egg Zone
  • Project:Sonic sprite animation?
I actually liked how you described the hidden room and the Monkey Dude guard posts. It helps adds more depth to the level design. I also liked how you described the Fire Breath encounter. It seems like people forget the small details in Sonic 3 (which you covered) that help make everything fit together perfectly. I do however agree with HedgeHayes that the crack joke was completely out of place and a bit unnecessary. Other than that bit I think its a great project so far.

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