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Caravel Forum : DROD Boards : Architecture : 210 Levels of Terror: AE Edition (210 short but engaging levels, using nothing but AE elements)
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azb
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icon 210 Levels of Terror: AE Edition (+2)  
Hi everyone,

I am making a hold similar to 100 levels of Horror, but using nothing but AE elements, so no lighting or speech or anything like that, and it is 210 extra small levels rather than 100, and in general each level is smaller than 100 levels of Horror.

I currently want to get feedback on the first 16 levels, before overwhelming the player with all 210 at once.

Obviously I know not to pull a Jeff_Ray and go "I am too busy building new levels to listen to feedback", but actually revise rooms if they are too easy or too hard for where they are in the hold's progression.

Levels 1 thru 8 will be based on KDD level 1, and Levels 9 thru 16 will be based on KDD level 2.

Each level will have exactly 8 levels as a tribute to them, except every 5th which will have 10. Doing the math this adds up to 210 total.

Each level name is a reference to another level name in two somewhat famous indie games: Slyder Adventures and Loonyland 2: Winter Woods, after the round names in Tina's Arena.

02/12/2024 UPDATE:

Removed scrolls throughout hold given that the player was tasked to figure things out for themselves in that hold, and also trimmed down puzzles that were simply repeating the same action and waiting a million times, like level 8 1W.

02/12/2024 UPDATE 2:

Fixed levels 10 and 14 to be less tedious waiting and button mashing, and added levels 17 thru 20, with more interesting combat rooms.

Added challenge room to level 8, reflecting how it used to be before the fix with a twist to strike the orb exactly once.

Fixed rooms throughout hold that were mindless button mashing.

02/12/2024 UPDATE 3:

Added levels 21 thru 24, which are the hardest levels of section 3.

Also fixed level 17 1W having an unintended solution.

02/13/2024 UPDATE:

Added levels 25 thru 28, requiring more thinking and less "mindless stabbing and slashing".

02/13/2024 UPDATE 2:

Corrected checkpoints in level 25,

Fixed niches where roaches would camp in level 26,

Made level 28 Entrance more challenging/engaging.

02/27/2024 UPDATE:

Fixed entrance room of level 28.

Added levels 29 and 30 in full.

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[Last edited by azb at 02-27-2024 11:25 PM : 02/27/2024 Update, adding more levels and fixing one room.]
02-11-2024 at 10:59 PM
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Someone Else
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icon Re: 210 Levels of Terror: AE Edition (+1)  
Is KDD too fast of an introduction? This is somehow slower. Note that there are next to no scrolls in KDD, yet it explains all of the elements just fine. The scrolls here seem to expect the player to be unable to figure anything out for themselves.

The rooms themselves are not bad - for a bit. What possessed you to make four of essentially the same tedious room in Roachy Trail - at a total move count of ~3400 moves when I'm being efficient?

Nor is that the only offender. You've got pointlessly long rooms in the next level too. Monster Trouble is good, though, as is Wall Stoppers, except for the fact that you've basically got three or four of the same room in each level.

It's not that having variations on a theme within a level is bad. It's that you need variations on a theme. Pick one room from each of these levels, remove the condescending scrolls, and you've got something decent.

If you want to make an introductory hold, that's fine. But don't treat the player like they're unable to figure anything out on their own.

... and then I get to Winding Path which has yet another tediously identical room. And then another. Do you think it's fun or interesting to solve the same room a dozen times? And another.

I enjoy playing through KDD, even though I find it easy. I played through it with the slayer following me just to see how far it was possible (it didn't make it harder in at least 80% of the rooms). This, though, is just boring, because it feels like every room is the same as the last.

An example of condescending: The scroll in Sibling Rivalry tells you the best way to beat the room. If DROD is a puzzle game (which it is), then telling someone the solution before they even start trying sounds like, "I don't respect you enough to allow you to try to solve my puzzles."

There are some okay rooms in here. I would go through, delete all of the essentially duplicate rooms, and condense it down. Who are you targetting with this hold? You've got enough rooms that might stump a new player (Stop n' Go: 1W is only possible with one exact move sequence after hitting the orb, and a new player might not be able to find it before getting frustrated), enough roach hordes that someone unfamiliar with clearing them might struggle for quite some time, and enough repetition that no new player is going to stick it out. But you don't have anything that would challenge someone who's been through a few other holds, and the hand-holding at the start is only applicable to someone who's never played DROD (and preferably no other puzzle games).

If this sounds harsh, it's because I wrote it as I was going through and I was increasingly annoyed by the hold.

[Last edited by Someone Else at 02-12-2024 05:30 AM]
02-12-2024 at 05:29 AM
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azb
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icon Re: 210 Levels of Terror: AE Edition (+1)  
No, you've got all decent points, even if delivered in a tone of frustration. I will omit the scrolls given how they weren't in KDD.

The roachy trail thing was because again, it's intended to be combat oriented, and the strategy isn't meant to be tedious - it's meant to be about timing your attacks to make them easier to deal with, and the solution presents slightly differently each room.

I don't understand how Sibling Rivalry is pointlessly long or tedious if you approach each room from the correct angle.

I wanted to be like the original KDD, and not 100% beginner oriented, so the first level is meant to be the easiest, but the second and third level had some harder puzzles in their rooms compared to other rooms, which I reflected here.

The orb puzzle in level 8 1W is not that hard if you stand in the right spot, and there's only a certain number of spots to stand in to strike that particular orb.

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02-12-2024 at 09:59 AM
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azb
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icon Re: 210 Levels of Terror: AE Edition (+1)  
Okay, so now I deleted the scrolls and fixed Level 8: 1W because it was too much of just waiting for the same move and repeating it, but again levels 10 and 14, although the rooms are very similar, the placement of the roach queens makes them different enough to require a different strategy each time.

And again, cause it's only levels 1 and 2 of KDD, there aren't a lot more puzzle options than huge hordes where you have to figure out a particular strategy to make them easier.

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02-12-2024 at 10:06 AM
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azb
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icon Re: 210 Levels of Terror: AE Edition (0)  
In more particular detail about the difficulty intended - the first half of each section will be the easier levels that get you used to the elements, and the later half will be the more challenging puzzles.

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02-12-2024 at 12:51 PM
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Nuntar
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I agree with reducing Stop 'N' Go 1W as you did, but the old version was solvable by hitting the orb only once and that was an interesting challenge; you could re-add this as a secret variant (with a broken orb, or if you insist on sticking to AE elements only, a widget where a roach will get stuck if you hit it twice).

Wall Breaking can be solved entirely without breaking any walls, and this even seems to be encouraged; with so many queens around, it's always going to be easier to rush the first queens to cut down the number of spawning roaches rather than hide in the walls.

But the main thing I wanted to reply to is this:

azb wrote: And again, cause it's only levels 1 and 2 of KDD, there aren't a lot more puzzle options than huge hordes where you have to figure out a particular strategy to make them easier.

Working with just KDD Level 1 and 2 elements -- orbs/doors, force arrows, roaches and queens -- there is a huge range of puzzles that can be made. I would really suggest taking a break and having a look through some of the classic holds to get an idea of how vast the puzzle space actually is. Of course, you don't want to just copy puzzles from other holds, but you might be inspired to create your own spin on an existing puzzle, or you might feel inspired to play around with elements and come up with something different.

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[Last edited by Nuntar at 02-13-2024 03:23 AM]
02-12-2024 at 02:31 PM
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azb
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I get that I can make more puzzles with just the elements in level 1 and 2, but my main point was those levels are intentionally combat focused, just like Sibling Rivalry and Wall Smashing, cause the original KDD level 2 was.

Maybe I can make them still mainly combat oriented, but still sneak small lynchpins so it's not just tedious combat, like in KDD level 2 the bottom left corner?

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[Last edited by azb at 02-12-2024 02:53 PM : Left, not right]
02-12-2024 at 02:53 PM
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Okay, I pared down levels 10 and 14, and added some strategy to level so 10 that is like that one room in level 2, where you have to move to a particular spot to make the room solvable.

Note again though, those levels are intentionally combat focused. I get the point that the rooms were getting repetitive after a while without any interesting combat, but I thought the point at first was just complaning about long-winded combat in general, which is always the primary focus of my holds - old school AE and JtRH style combat with only some puzzles here and there thrown in, again referencing those holds' styles.

Now that I have feedback on levels 1 thru 16, I added levels 17 thru 20, and made sure that the combat rooms were interesting and weren't just "mindlessly mash Q+W in one spot, like watching paint dry".

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02-12-2024 at 03:01 PM
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azb
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Nuntar wrote:

Wall Breaking can be solved entirely without breaking any walls, and this even seems to be encouraged; with so many queens around, it's always going to be easier to rush the first queens to cut down the number of spawning roaches rather than hide in the walls.

This is actually intentional, again because I want to make relatively easy - 2 to 3 brain hordes, and not the next Beethro's Teacher.

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02-12-2024 at 03:11 PM
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azb
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So overall, the posts were helpful, but definitely seem to be complaining about the levels being intended to be fun and simple combat, rather than mind-bending lynchpin after lynchpin, which is usually what something like Simplicity, Chaco's Hold, or Simon's Dungeon is.

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02-12-2024 at 03:14 PM
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No. I'm fine with that. It's that all of the rooms are the same. You've got a dozen rooms of "Roach queens in a back-and-forth hallway". The minor variation of "this one is north-south and that one is east-west" or "this one has 3-wide passages and that one has 4-wide passages" is essentially inconsequential. One level has three of the same room, with roach queens around an identical block of wall, just placed in different places in the room.

The other thing is that 1- or 2-brain hordes are not interesting, as the solution tends to "press ctrl-q for a while". Hordes can be interesting when you have a timer, you have a goal to accomplish while fighting the horde, or there are enough roaches that poor efficiency leads to making no progress. There are probably a few other ways to make it interesting too. Any of those three things are possible, even with only force arrows and orbs, and the first two can be done without making it too hard.

A good example is KDD Level 2:2S1E. You've got to hit orbs while fighting off roaches. Are there tons of roaches? No, but it's enough that new players struggle.
02-12-2024 at 03:49 PM
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azb
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Now that's very useful feedback! Thank you so much for it and I will edit the rooms accordingly, if I want it to be serious about being like KDD and not just mindlessly mashing Q+W in one spot.

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02-12-2024 at 04:10 PM
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Nuntar
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azb wrote:
So overall, the posts were helpful, but definitely seem to be complaining about the levels being intended to be fun and simple combat, rather than mind-bending lynchpin after lynchpin, which is usually what something like Simplicity, Chaco's Hold, or Simon's Dungeon is.

...I have no idea how you got that from my post, because I wasn't even complaining. You said you couldn't think of ideas for puzzles with just Level 1 and 2 elements, so I gave you some suggestions for where you could look for ideas. Just trying to be helpful :(

Most of these holds are not "mind-bending linchpins". The early levels of each one are at a beginner-to-novice level, similar to what it feels like your hold is aimed at.

Moving on... I like the idea of Jump Pads, and I think it would be interesting to have more rooms like this. You could even have a group where all the stairs are behind green doors, so the player has to work out, from several rooms that look impossible from the main entrance, which one is actually possible.

In this case, 1W is pretty easy to solve from the main entrance.

Burly Brawl: Entrance is a very nice room! It's much harder than anything in the hold before this point, but I enjoyed the process of breaking it down and finding a good strategy.

Left or Right? and Narrow Paths are both pretty good. And, you know, you are making puzzle rooms here even though you claim not to be :P

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02-12-2024 at 05:50 PM
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azb
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Oh yeah, puzzle ideas are always welcome - my point was that levels 1 and 2 of KDD weren't about those kinds of puzzles, and the more harder puzzles with manipulation involved were reserved for the later levels of KDD. Maybe I used unfair hold comparisons,

and maybe I mixed up your post with Someone Else's where he was saying "playing the same room but with a slight twist is the same room and therefore boring" when I keep pointing out the twist is what makes each room different,

But yeah. Your suggestions are always appreciated, cause they always help make my hold better. Don't give up or be discouraged! :)

I am actually gonna do that idea for Jump Pads, but wanted a nice intro level before using more challenging applications of it later in the hold, again cause it's the very early levels.

By "no puzzles", I meant no puzzles in the style of The Second Sky or KDD level 23, or again, Beethro's Teacher is still an infamous example, that involved uber-tricky knowledge of the ins and outs of how exactly the monsters work - we're gonna save those for later levels.

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02-12-2024 at 05:57 PM
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azb
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Ummmm... how did you solve Jump Pads 1W from the main entrance? That isn't meant to be intended at all, and kind of defeats the purpose of the gimmick in this level.

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02-12-2024 at 06:08 PM
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Nuntar
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azb wrote:
Ummmm... how did you solve Jump Pads 1W from the main entrance? That isn't meant to be intended at all, and kind of defeats the purpose of the gimmick in this level.

Have another try and see if you can figure it out before reading :P
Click here to view the secret text


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02-12-2024 at 06:26 PM
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:facepalm:

How did I miss something so obvious? Thank you for pointing that out!

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02-12-2024 at 06:56 PM
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Nuntar
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Now, wouldn't that be a perfect linchpin for a 2-to-3-brain hold? :P

More seriously, I don't understand why you intend to limit yourself to what KDD does. Introducing the elements in the same order, sure, but you don't have to limit the puzzles as well. Especially as you are already not doing this -- the latest four levels each have a distinctive feel to them coming from the types of puzzle they contain, and those are each different from anything that was in KDD. So wouldn't it make the hold more interesting and inviting if there was more of that kind of thing earlier on? For example, in Winding Path you have the single room where you have to redirect the queen using her spawn -- that could easily be a theme for a whole level.

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02-12-2024 at 07:13 PM
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azb
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I am just doing it as a tribute to KDD, I didn't say it has to be an exact copy, especially given how notorious levels 11 and 13 are; my tribute levels will be very different then, although the same theme (cutting tar carefully and a big multi-room-maze).

My point still stands I want the early sections to be focused on very simple hack-and-slash combat, and not puzzles that make you need to think too much.

I used the AE elements only for the old school aesthetic, and similarly I used blocky layouts cause I want the layouts to be simple and not full of fancy decorations everywhere.

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02-12-2024 at 07:25 PM
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azb
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icon Re: 210 Levels of Terror: AE Edition (0)  
And again, in the early levels of KDD you only had one or two rooms per level that were challenging puzzles, all the rest of the level was relatively straightforward hack n slash.

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02-12-2024 at 07:27 PM
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azb
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Levels 23 and 24 should be the most challenging in my latest post and actually make you think carefully, again just like KDD level 3 was much more challenging than KDD levels 1 and 2.

With the introduction of mimics and trapdoors in section 4, and the introduction of wraithwings in section 5, the hold should definitely become a lot more challenging and less "mindless hack n slash"-y, just like how KDD progressed.

There will also be re-cycling of some levels with a new change, just like re-cycling of rooms with a change to them, like how the "level itself as a boss fight" from level 15 will appear in levels 48 and 135, but harder and harder as you get to higher number levels and learn about more and more elements and puzzle types.

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02-12-2024 at 07:37 PM
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azb
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I think this will be my last point before I wait for feedback on levels 21 thru 24, but when I said "I wanted the first 16 levels to be straightforward combat and not mind bending lynchpins" I meant that even something considered straightforward by the community, like Roaches and Walls or the early Simon's Dungeons levels, still requires you to think and strategize in a more complicated way than KDD levels 1 and 2 required you to do.

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02-12-2024 at 07:55 PM
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azb
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My plans in full for each level until the end and their theme, kept in secret tags because it's 210 - 25 = 185 levels long!:

Click here to view the secret text


These are all great ideas for the rest of the hold?

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[Last edited by azb at 02-12-2024 09:35 PM : Asking if they're great ideas outside the secret tag, so the reader doesn't have to read every single idea, cause there's 185 of them!]
02-12-2024 at 09:34 PM
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Nuntar
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The new levels are very nice, especially Maze of Death :thumbsup I don't have any suggestions for improvement.

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02-13-2024 at 01:32 PM
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Thank you so much! I am thinking then of making levels 25 thru 28 now, and be dazzled by how engaging they are compared to the hack n slash boredom of levels 3 and 6?

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02-13-2024 at 03:06 PM
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Okay, it's posted.

Levels 29 thru 32 will be even more challenging after these are tested on and approved, and level 30 in particular will be a very hard level given its title as the Stronghold - this is just like how some rooms in KDD level 4 were much harder than others, or levels 5 and 6.

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02-13-2024 at 03:54 PM
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azb wrote:
Thank you so much! I am thinking then of making levels 25 thru 28 now, and be dazzled by how engaging they are compared to the hack n slash boredom of levels 3 and 6?

No-one has complained about Levels 3 to 6. They're simple, but they're also short. They don't outstay their welcome. I'm not an optimiser, but I imagine that an optimiser could enjoy some of these rooms.

The original version of Don't Get Shot: Entrance had way too many roaches, but you already toned it down.

The only thing I would say about these levels is that Not Too Hard 1E has a pretty precise solution, and you might want to think about whether that's okay for the intended difficulty level.

* * *

On to mimics... not my favourite kind of room but they went by pretty quickly.

Sticky Situation Entrance: Better to either have checkpoints only in Beethro's area (and then it could be just one, in the middle) or only in the mimic area.

Sticky Situation 1W: Checkpoints are badly placed. The first one is off the main route, and the second is in open space and so hard to tag without losing the mimic. Please play through the room and move the checkpoints to tiles you find yourself naturally stepping on.

Pachinko Entrance: One roach will get stuck at (22,21) and that's a lot of extra work for one roach at a point when the player feels they have earned victory. I would consider preventing this.

Pachinko 1N: Similar issue with a roach at (22,24). This is a good example, though, of a variant room that's interesting after solving the original room; the different queen placement means that Beethro is getting hassled a lot more, and that makes it trickier to manoeuvre the mimic.

Bricks a Lot Entrance: Not a fan of this, just because "get the mimic from A to B" has been done a lot in other holds, including a large chunk of your Hundred Levels, and this isn't bringing anything new to the table.

Bricks a Lot 1W: Nice room! This is much harder than anything so far because your movement is limited by the trapdoor field and having to leave yourself a way out. I would honestly suggest replacing the Entrance with an easier room on the same theme to lead into this one.

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02-13-2024 at 04:33 PM
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All great suggestions, not only on level 5 but the most recent ones as well! Thank you!

The only thing/critique is that I did indeed playtest through Sticky Situation 1W, and felt the checkpoints were appropriate to where they were and weren't off path, but the other things like reducing checkpoints in the entrance or the entrance of Bricks a Lot being nothing new I will definitely fix.

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02-13-2024 at 04:54 PM
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Again though about a point I never find helpful no matter who says it: "This has been done in other holds" is usually something I ignore, unless the point is the room is boring to play and is just mashing keys which is your point here, and I fixed it to be more challenging.

The reason is that not every hold needs a brand spanking new invention each room from the ground up, and it's fine to recycle rooms with only a small twist for simple and casual fun, like my level 13 is intended to do and people like Someone Else didn't approve.

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[Last edited by azb at 02-13-2024 05:33 PM : Re-phrased my meaning to be clearer and less harsh sounding]
02-13-2024 at 05:05 PM
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azb
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icon Re: 210 Levels of Terror: AE Edition (0)  
Hi everyone,

I am thinking of posting only levels 29 and 30 for my next issue, and not all of levels 29 thru 32 - because each level is getting more and more challenging, it makes sense to post fewer levels at a time to make sure the quality is as highest as possible, and that the levels are actually challenging and engaging, rather than posting batches of 4 hard levels that take forever to finish for no reason and/or have trivial rooms other than posting batches of 4 mindlessly.

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[Last edited by azb at 02-18-2024 12:11 AM : Fixed typos in post]
02-18-2024 at 12:09 AM
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Caravel Forum : DROD Boards : Architecture : 210 Levels of Terror: AE Edition (210 short but engaging levels, using nothing but AE elements)
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