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[Portal 2] Verdant Ascent


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Hey there!

"Verdant Ascent" is a Portal 2 map revolving around four core concepts:

- Reusability of mechanics.
- Climbing upwards.
- "Assasinating" turrets.
- Overgrown aesthetics.

I've been working on it for 4 weeks, and would greatly appreciate any critique or feedback.
This map will serve as a piece of my upcoming Level Design portfolio, so i cannot stress enough on the importance of your input!

Difficulty: Easy to Medium.
Duration: 15 to 30 minutes.

Link to Steam Workshop: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=890986421


Edited by Yokogeri
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I spent some time fixing several visual issues today. 100+ adjustments have been made in order to make the experience smoother. Those include:

- Corrected lots of levitating/clipping foliage and tiles.
- Brightened up a few areas that were extremely dark.
- Adjusted a few misaligned textures.
- Attempted to make the info panel look more 'overgrown', but failed. Had issues with the overlay affecting transparency.
- Fixed a few tiles that should not have been invisible.
- Removed a few props from unfitting places.
- Added new props to places that felt too empty.
- Added collision to a few props that were missing it.
- Minor performance improvements.

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Well, you certainly got the overgrown style right. It's a cool environment to look at. I especially like the abundant vegetation growing on the walls. I have no issue with that as it doesn't get in my way. However, I can't say the same thing about the floors. There's simply too much clutter and unnecessary props that don't add anything meaningful to the overall experience. I got stuck in this prop model a few times whenever I encountered it through the level. 


I understand that the ceiling has crumbled and all the tiles have scattered through the environment. It's logical, but it's not efficient. You can improve performance and navigation by removing more than half of the tiles. It also took me a while to figure out that I can use the gel on this runway. You should consider cleaning that area entirely. 


Another thing I don't like are the moving panels. They play such an insignificant role in solving the puzzle that you might as well remove them; the elevator too (redesign so you don't need it).

Overall, it's a well thought out level. I like the fact that no bit of space is rendered completely irrelevant after you've gone through it; "reusability of mechanics" as you said. Though, I feel like it could use a complete redesign to make it simpler and compact. While you're at it, you should also consider improving the lighting by changing it to something like the image bellow. It will add depth to your environment and bring out the wall details.


P.S: That tree has become a cliche at this point.

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@Radu Hey, thank you for the awesome feedback!

Several people have mentioned problems with the ergonomics of the map (especially getting stuck in rubble as you mentioned) - something that should be fixed in the newest version of the map, released today.

I removed almost all of the moss on the ground in key areas, and also removed several static props that obstructed the player. I had to keep some of them for the sake of decoration, but collision has been disabled for those.


@FMPONE Thanks a lot for the spotlight! I hope you played it late enough for me to have had time to update the map to its newer version. :)


Here are some other things I've tried to improve, based on the feedback I've received from multiple people:

"The map is too linear, which makes it too easy"

I've made smaller redesigns to several parts of the level, which should make it feel less like I am "forcing" solutions on the player. It's still linear, but should in relation to the previous version be somewhat harder for someone who has never played it before.

"The start is confusing. It took me a while to figure out that the tunnel is not the right way."

I removed the tunnel altogether and opened up the area with some added toxic goo. This makes it clearer to the player that they are not supposed to head that way.


"However i seem jump at the end, i almost always land ON TOP of the end gate - sometimes falling down, forcing me to redo parts of the puzzle."

Removed the ramp. It is much easier to land perfectly into the end gate now.


"I feel that several parts of the puzzle were unnecessary/i never needed to go there."

I removed some parts of the puzzle (example: the small room which got unlocked at the end) and made less visited parts more vital to the solution (example: laser is now located in the shaded part of the second level, instead of being next to the turret).


The two things which i am most worried/ashamed for now are:

1. Lighting. I really need to check out env_projectedtexture and take another lighting pass.

2. I'm worried i might have removed too many props when it comes to the visual part of the level. Has it not lost some of its visual charm?

Am i right to have those two things as my main focus for a final update in the nearby future?

Here's a quick screenshot from the new first floor:


Edited by Yokogeri
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I would go ahead and say this qualifies as a great puzzle. I'm a big fan of the way you used turrets as soft, easy warm-ups for the big puzzle tasks and the way they flowed naturally into the problem solving. It never felt too overwhelming. There were, however, two big issues I noticed that I think you definitely want to address.



I understand you don't want to give everything away totally with your lighting, and that this is a pretty darkly lit theme you're going for, but this wall was simply too poorly lit IMO. 

The other major issue I had, was that the very first switch in the map, I was able to strafe jump along the wall to reach it rather than actually solving the puzzle. This is a really bad design IMO because you don't want to tempt players to play things incorrectly, you want them to be totally focused on the "real" solution rather than wasting time with what are essentially exploits.

Overall, really high marks. I think the music could be altered as you progress through the puzzle for extra sense of reward and satisfaction. Really nice!

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You pushed this platform back by 64 units and the player can't make the jump now. Maybe I'm doing something wrong? I just always fall short of it.



As FMPONE mentioned, you need to address the dark areas, especially the new one where you added goo. It's so dark people might end up walking into it. Look into env_projectedtexture for the light coming in from the ceiling.

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2 hours ago, Radu said:

You pushed this platform back by 64 units and the player can't make the jump now. Maybe I'm doing something wrong? I just always fall short of it.

Did you turn off the tractor beam and use the portable surface furthest up on the wall? With enough goo and a jump (jumps were not needed before) it is relatively easy to reach the second floor. :)

I'll definitely make sure to address the lighting!

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