darkSpyro - Spyro and Skylanders Forum > Skylanders: Swap Force > Rampant Ruins, Winter Keep, Fantasm Forest.
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Rampant Ruins, Winter Keep, Fantasm Forest.
Drawdler Gold Sparx Gems: 2889
#1 Posted: 16:11:19 25/11/2019 | Topic Creator
Does anyone else think that these are far and away the worst chapters in the game, especially the latter two? The pacing in Rampant Ruins is still a lot better than the latter two, but I can't help but feel all these chapters feel like they just keep going, and going, and going.

Something they all have in common is being the ugliest chapters of the game: Rampant Ruins gutted the Arkeyan designs and has many dull textures and shapes, Winter Keep failed to transition properly from the concept art and looks garish and has many plain shapes anyway, and I believe that Fantasm Forest could have been great but the saturation levels there are horifically off-balance.

Winter Keep in particular I feel should be half its actual length. You unfreeze the Illuminator and then you have like three more stretches, a totally flacid final battle, it just feels like it blue balls you and is exhausting. By the way, the snowball minigame sucks. A lot of the content in that chapter just sucks! So many of the areas you find through exploration are just empty and many of its battles and other moments are lame...

And I'm talking about these levels wether you do the extra content or just run right through them, they're still annoying. Although I consider Rampant Ruins a little better if you explore and Fantasm Forest a lot better if you avoid all the exploration. Winter Keep is lame as hell regardless and I've always considered it the absolute worst level of this game.

All of the levels "keep going and going and going" to some extent in this game but I consider the rest to clearly have better pacing, more grandeur, all be prettier, etc. (I'm not saying they're all hits, but they don't consistently exhaust me/usually make me want to stop playing like these three levels.)

So yeah, I'm trying to get 100% again, this time on the PS4 version, and dude, I just haven't had it in me to do Fantasm Forest, it keeps making me bored...
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Quote: dark52
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Bifrost Platinum Sparx Gems: 6752
#2 Posted: 16:44:07 25/11/2019
All three of them feel like they got remade too often; they had this one big idea and kept reworking it instead of starting over, which made the levels very uneven. Fantasm Forest especially feels like it started out as a Lost Woods of sorts and instead of sticking to their new change into a lush grove, they just kept all the undead elements for no apparent reason and slapped in the plot fire.
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Drawdler Gold Sparx Gems: 2889
#3 Posted: 17:45:02 25/11/2019 | Topic Creator
I always thought the concept behind Fantasm Forest was good. It's obviously a bookend and callback to the starting levels- but then you toss in more glum stuff to fit the thematic progression better and pair it with firefighter thingies (because puns, because it's SF >_>), fire stuff's more glum too, it works out as one of those "multiple solutions in one idea" things. And I don't like the ents themselves in this game, but it's cool to bring them back from the very level theme they're calling back to. I think it's cool.
Although I think the village is sort of outta place in execution... I see what they were vaguely going for with having them, some last homely thing before the Outlands- but I was never convinced about them being lived-in, the houses feel just like game assets. Maybe if you got to travel into one... and you could have seen it messy, evacuated, maybe even going into one house would have sold it.

If you mean design- rather than concept-wise... which is really what matters, don't get me wrong, I assume you're mainly talking about it... I can agree hard there that they got caught up in that, made a mess, "spaghetti art". Those concepts I do like aren't defined enough. But I gotta stand up for those concepts because I really do like them.

I was looking at the teleport swap challenge that takes place there, I mean the one you can access from the side-mode and it sends you to that lonely island- and you can see much more of what they were going for design-wise there when it's just one island and they can compose it much more deliberately and the palette just worked better in that context. It's still not what it should be (of course it's not, it still has neon highlighter color grass...), but it looks a lot more pleasant than the actual level. They only had to create a little area from those assets instead of scrambling to make them work across a whole level when it turns out they didn't look good in practice. And maybe with the overdesigning thing, VV also tried to make too many focal points in Fantasm Forest because oh man it's meant to be a bright level...
Say what you want, but the vast majority of the game (even Rampant Ruins succeeds here, and even Winter Keep is not nearly this bad about this) at least reads really clearly and has clear and easy-to-look-at value maps, and the saturation levels weren't this- I can't help but feel like Fantasm was a huge rushjob because even those things are so unpleasant in the level. Some of it is even hard to keep looking at. I also feel it lacks the kind of composition and some things like camerawork the rest of the game still has.

If both our theories are right, and they both overdesigned the level and had to rush it of all levels, then maybe they realised and just had to accept the failure. VV got their problems, but surely they didn't think all of these assets looked good? Personally, I really think they're just that bad!

Note also that there is no PVP map with the verdant theme, and it was only reused for one bonus mission (I can't play it again at the moment but I remember it playing like a rushed level too, it felt very unceremonious, like parts were meant to be WIP). I don't know how much that says, given that they also planned Sheep Wreck bonus missions and that level looks a lot more complete and had assets reused much more often... and they still didn't go through with making bonus missions with its assets... but it always baffled me that Treble Theft exists.
Yes this game had one of the longer dev cycles of the series, but the more I play it and the more I look into its gamefiles and art, the more I feel like some parts of it were rushed because someone must have considered them very low-priority and misguided them, or thought they would be able to do more and wasted too much time. I really wish I understood more of gamedev and that we had a hard scoop on what was rushed for this game.

Now, I'm sure they just didn't and just wouldn't have realised some of the problems- but I'm really convinced that something went really wrong developing the level because again, the values and saturation, lack of composition and camerawork, that's still stuff this game did fine- I think it's just a decent theory that it's maybe one of the most, if not the most, rushed level? I also don't remember seeing it in promo material but I could be entirely misremembering that too.
Kaos' Fortress assets weren't reused a lot, but I'm just under the assumption they wanted to keep that level theme more unique and avoid reusing its assets (outside of the Sneak zones because they're tied to Kaos or something???). That level definitely looks and plays like one that is far more complete and I remember it being in some promo material, too. I think they just wanted it to be more "special" so it would contrast more and because it's Kaos' so it would be harder to excuse reusing it much.

Incidentally, while they're dull, the cave segments in Fantasm are at least much easier on the eyes than everything set outside. So yeah, I think they just didn't put that much work into them, and by extension, wouldn't have overthought them, perhaps giving your idea more credence. And, uh, actually maybe give mine some as well, I still think they would've wanted to put more work into those caves than that?

Sorry if a couple of these points are dumb, sorry for the number of edits. I'm really tired so parts of my brain are blanking out and now I am really into this. I'm gonna go to sleep it's 6 AM jesus chrom
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Quote: dark52
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Edited 10 times - Last edited at 18:54:21 25/11/2019 by Drawdler
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