I played through the first half (or so, I think!) of your new level. It is very fun and quite creative! I got stuck in a rut trying to freestyle the opening section, and I almost pulled off a really great trick - but not quite. I need to finish to level first, before I start that stuff(I can't help it though, since it's so fun!)
I also noticed, you have lots of "straight hills"... Did you make those by hand? They are really great. I was wondering if it would be useful to anyone if I included an option like that in the curve program(maybe it should be a separate program). You specify a length, width, a number of lumps, total rise in the middle, and any desired "slope"/difference in beginning height to ending height... It would be a piece of cake to make it, but I'd only do it if people were interested.
Also, in terms of adding detail without decreasing performance I have had a flash of what I hope is a brilliant idea. Perhaps we need rlk to confirm this, but it makes sense to me that it would work this way : Lumps which are structural are taken into account with the physics engine, and are processed for collision each frame. Lumps which are detail are not processed for physics collisions. Any surface that is textured will be processed by the graphics portion of the engine(EXCEPT invisible textures). Therefore, if those statements are true:
We could use one big invisible/structural lump for the physics part of the platform, and use textured/detail lumps to provide the variety of texturing. For example : any platform with an "edge", like the wooden edges around many of the ones in your new level, could be converted to "detail" brushes with a few simple mouse clicks, and a single invisible one which is still structural can be placed to occupy the entire space of the platform. If I'm correct, only ONE lump will be taken into account for the physics part of the engine, even though 5 (or many more) lumps would be drawn by the graphics part of the engine. This technique, if it's correctly implemented(and I'm not wrong about how the game engine is working), could drastically improve performance in very large maps, since honestly, most of the big levels in Neverball are not going to tax the graphics cards as much as the CPU(except cards which can't handle reflection, but that should be turned off, if that's the case.) Since many of the sides of lumps(all of the "inside" faces) have the invisible texture, anyway, when you think about it, there are not a whole lot of actual triangles being drawn, but the physics code is calculating each individual structural lump and determining whether the ball is touching it or going to have a collision with it.
Would you mind trying this idea out, tones? it should be relatively easy to do in your new level. Just select all of the brushes/lumps that are making up a single platform, change them to detail, and create a new single invisible brush to place in the same spot. If you were noticing performance problems on your machine, hopefully you'll notice if they get better(or worse! but I really don't think that would happen!) after trying this out. (I'd save it as a different filename, and hold on to the one you've got right now, just to be safe.)
Sorry for the long post guys, but at least I don't think it was boring
(edit: I couldn't possibly post that much without messing something up)