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Sonic Utopia An experimental 3D Sonic fan game.

#16 User is offline Blue Blood 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 04:29 PM

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View PostMurasaki Fox, on 24 October 2016 - 03:39 PM, said:

Hey everyone! Thought I'd answer a few things. Part of the reasons it's scaled this way is because of the numbers we based the gameplay around. We wanted the gameplay and level design to highlight the complex momentum physics, so our method for this was to make rolling more sensitive to gravity than regular motion. It's stronger than running downhill, but weaker uphill. But since gravity is equal to Generations' gravity at 35 m/s^2, rolling can end up accelerating you at 70 m/s^2, up to a maximum of 200 m/s. Pretty fast, and requires a large space.

Nice to hear from you!

This in particularly is interesting. As it goes, Sonic controls really well in the world at this scale. But the scale in itself I feel is a real problem. It's completely wrong for the player character to be the smallest object in the world. I don't know how fixable that is or how you'd go about it, but I can only imagine it being difficult to design a proper game with the scale what it is at the moment.

#17 User is offline Eduardo Knuckles 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 04:30 PM

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Looks promising! I'm anxious to see what will be going from this thing.

#18 User is offline MissingNoGuy 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 05:04 PM

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Wow... this is nothing short of impressive. How long did this take?

Looking forward to future developments!

#19 User is offline Murasaki Fox 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 05:15 PM

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View PostMissingNoGuy, on 24 October 2016 - 05:04 PM, said:

Wow... this is nothing short of impressive. How long did this take?

Looking forward to future developments!

I don't remember exactly, but I believe I started working on this particular Sonic-based iteration of the control framework a year and a half ago or something. Then I believe Lange and I coordinated the game itself beginning in February. It was a real learning process. The biggest thing I learned was, "Don't reinvent the wheel."

#20 User is offline MissingNoGuy 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 05:19 PM

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View PostMurasaki Fox, on 24 October 2016 - 05:15 PM, said:

View PostMissingNoGuy, on 24 October 2016 - 05:04 PM, said:

Wow... this is nothing short of impressive. How long did this take?

Looking forward to future developments!

I don't remember exactly, but I believe I started working on this particular Sonic-based iteration of the control framework a year and a half ago or something. Then I believe Lange and I coordinated the game itself beginning in February. It was a real learning process. The biggest thing I learned was, "Don't reinvent the wheel."
That's a good thing to follow. Re-inventing the wheel has made many a project fail in the past.

And just a year and a half ago? That's amazing!

#21 User is offline RGamer2009 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 06:17 PM

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This demo is nothing short of amazing, and is definitely the BEST 3D Sonic fangame engine yet. I can already see the potential here!

One way you could make the game more linear would be to make the world look like a bicycle wheel shape, with the middle area being an Green Hill-esque overworld connecting to multiple "spokes" protruding outward, which would be the more linear levels/zones, like traveling to a volcano peak, or going underground to a cave zone.

Also another suggestion, being able to run on water at max speed for a bit could make for more branching paths in a zone filled with water.

#22 User is offline Murasaki Fox 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 07:34 PM

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I actually did intend to create water-running for this demo, but since I pride myself on physics-based character controls, I didn't want to settle for just treating the water like ground. Ideally the effect of water running should have some kind of internal acceleration. This was working for a while, but there were issues with the logistics of applying the acceleration. I may build this feature for a later release of this demo, or wait until the physics are rebuilt in Unreal. Haven't quite made a plan yet.

#23 User is offline HorriblePerson 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 07:40 PM

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Oh look you've finally made a thread about this now it's time for me to spread my thoughts.

Ok, so let me just start by saying I love this but, it's not the best that people keep saying. In fact, there are a couple problems that I have with this. So, let's begin.

First off, graphics. They seem ok. Kinda reminds me of Sonic Lost World. Sucks that my computer is shit so I have to run the game on the "fastest" setting, because I really liked the graphics in the trailer for the game.

Controls: They're a start. It's nice to fuck around with the physics. One thing I have a problem with is rolling: unlike the classics, if you roll on a slope and let go of the controls, Sonic doesn't roll down himself. Instead, he stops in place. And to add to that, Sonic slows down when rolling up a slope . I get this is to make it so running is more important, but this just bugs me. I can't explain why, it just does.

Finally, the level layout/design/whatever you want to call it. I don't like the open world design. I'd rather have level design similar to the classics except more big. It's just that open world levels are more "eh". Besides, we already have Green Hill Paradise. Sonic Utopia is just Green Hill Paradise but with better controls/graphics and more awesome secrets. Also, please make your loops and corkscrew more wide. I keep on falling off the loops, and on the corkscrews, I either fall off became I don't have enough speed (seriously these things are huge) or I hit the side which somehow makes me fall off.

Anyways, this game is nice. I liked finding that cool Labyrinth Zone secret and the "gen room", and speed running the level is nice. Please though, make the levels less open world and more like the classics. And get rid of that "rolling up walls slows you down" thing.

#24 User is offline Jason 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 07:41 PM

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So is there a Mac version so I can slip this onto my brothers iMac? Wanna see this in 5K.

#25 User is offline Blast Brothers 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 07:52 PM

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The physics and presentation are superb, and while the open-world design can become confusing, it was fun to mess around in: I had no idea where I was supposed to be going and loved every minute of it. Two suggestions, however: zoom in the camera and make an option to have turning left or right effect the camera. Aside from these, I found this a very polished project for an early build. Congratulations on creating something so fun.
This post has been edited by Blast Brothers: 24 October 2016 - 07:52 PM

#26 User is offline MissingNoGuy 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 08:26 PM

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Was going to say, this could possibly be Kickstarted considering the demo is convincing. Sega could also show interest in it if it got popular enough.

Though I would suggest keeping it as it is right now. Kickstarting is a very, very long process that requires lots of planning and heavy management.

Edit: Good news! PCGamer wrote an article about this!
This post has been edited by MissingNoGuy: 24 October 2016 - 09:02 PM

#27 User is offline Mr Lange 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 09:58 PM

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Thank you all for the feedback. I had a feeling most of what would be said would be echoing much of what has been said elsewhere, and believe me I'm well aware of these things already. I'll cover all this now.
I've already thought of pretty much everything. Every detail, everything carefully considered, the gameplay tested extremely thoroughly with all weak points noted. For some things, there is no perfect answer, but there are usually best answers.

It's important to recognize that a lot was rushed and cut to make it to SAGE. A lot of what's been asked for are things that were planned, and we'll be adding some of the cut features over the next few weeks, as well as generally polishing up.

For starters, I should talk about the level since that's the biggest point of contention and criticism in this demo, and understandably so.

It's not like I'm not aware the level is somewhat empty and unclear. This level was a huge experiment in design and I learned a lot in the process of making it. Making this wild, sloppy mess was important to get a grasp on how level design could or should work for this gameplay. For this demo, just consider it a playground to have fun in. It has a lot of different ideas for level design strung together without much direction, but many happy accidents have formed from testing it and I'm taking notes of all the strong points of its design, intentional and otherwise.
The "emptiness" of the level is half intentional. There are areas intentionally left open and boring because they're designated as "punishment" for not staying on the progressive paths. They're places that are a novelty to roam and take in the scenery, but are usually not conducive to progressing the level and this can be clearly seen. I felt this was a good solution to "linear path over a void", where a level could have the best of both open free roaming areas and dedicated level design. A few parts of the main routes I intentionally left bare to see how they would play, ie "how would this part be if it were just a few hills and loads of badniks". When building it, I was taking into account many variables, one being what would the player's visibility be like if this were here or what height that would obscure vision etc, and overcompensated this a bit leaving much of the level fairly flat.
However, because of the SAGE deadline, I did not have time to do a lot of the detailing I wanted to do on many portions of the level, and some parts were drastically cut and hurried. You might notice the second half of the level, that is, the whole area past the long road and field, has much weaker level design than the first half. This was done later and I had to spend less time on it.
Underwater is terribly neglected. I had whole underwater sections of level design planned that had to be cut, leaving only a few essential chunks littering the lake beds. Choppers were made but unfinished, leaving lakes that much more boring.
As for landmarks, I did actually have a few standout features planned. There were going to be giant bird statues at the cliff sides of the halfway point, and an Eggman statue on the cylindrical shape on the intersection near the end of the level.
Despite the lack of landmarks, I do not agree with the complaints that "the level looks the same everywhere, there's no outstanding features and nothing interesting". Despite the cut elements, the level has very distinct geography and several significant shifts in setting depending on the route taken. There's a jungle-like section, caves, a lake section with bridges, upper and lower shelves, and a couple hidden areas that change the theme completely.
I had a few more hidden areas planned too, such as a cave inside the largest mountain on the shelf above the midpoint, and an underground section based on Marble Zone.
Overall I do consider this level sloppy work, and I'm probably going to scrap it, especially since I improved my workflow over time and working with it as it is now is too rigid and complicated.

I would appreciate any screenshots or clips of what anyone feels is strong or weak design, with explanations. That would certainly help.

Why Green Hill Zone?
I knew there would be plenty of "not this again" responses. I chose Green Hill for a number of reasons.
Not only is Green Hill a way for the player to learn, it's a way for me to learn as well. It allowed me to create a more loose, carefree level for both myself to learn design, and the player to learn gameplay. Now certainly, this isn't an excuse to be lazy; the original Green Hill Zone is a well designed, finely tuned level. But this was less being lazy and more about learning. I put in a tremendous effort despite the result. And it has payed off, as I've learned so much and players are starting to get acquainted with this formula of gameplay, and I'm seeing more creative gameplay appearing already.
Along with this, I've felt that every depiction of Green Hill since its debut have lost its touch. Even in Sonic Generations, which was certainly impressive visually, does not capture the spirit of Green Hill to me. I wanted to show that even something as tired and repeated as Green Hill Zone still has so much life in it, and it just needs to be brought out. When Green Hill Zone is used to evoke "nostalgia" or the emotions it gave people, it needs to be done with understanding and intention. Simply mimicking its elements in a superficial way will not work. Same with Sonic as a whole, really. You have to understand what you're working with and what it made people feel and how, in order to revive it. The title "Sonic" does not have power in name alone. It is backed by a rich foundation of artistic and gameplay substance. That's what gave the title power in the first place, why people love the series, and that cannot be neglected. Abusing the title without its context will just destroy its value.

I'm aware of the camera issues. Also aware of Sonic not responding to slopes and halfpipes correctly when rolling, issues with homing attack, etc. There were plans for more nuanced controls that also didn't make the cut.
In fact, numerous features were cut for time, and we want to get those in soon.

Cut things we want to add/fix soon:
Various bug fixes (effects, "tanooki suit bug" with peelout and jump dash alternating, rolling responses on slopes and halfpipes, etc).
Various camera improvements, pullback effect with speed, centering button likely mapped to left bumper.
Subtle acceleration based steering to make turning less touchy.
Improved powerups.
Some new and improved visual effects.
Some additions to underwater sections like choppers.
Breakable walls.
Totem poles (assets made, cut because they'll actually be interactive and we needed time to finish).
Curved homing attack, nuance to allow control over resulting speed/direction.
New abilities: water running, water peelout, brake drift, more on those soon.

I've noticed that the game has distorted dim reddish colors for a lot of people, no idea why this is happening or how to fix it. I've heard of a few other weird bugs too. The thing with the camera spinning around on its own happens sometimes with PS4 and Gamecube controllers, and it's a problem with Unity. We're planning to move from Unity to UE4 and that should address a lot of issues and make development a lot easier for us. Don't worry, I'm dedicated to maintaining this art style, and UE4's rendering differences have been a concern that I'm steadfast in solving and working with. I should even be able to improve things.
This post has been edited by Mr Lange: 24 October 2016 - 10:06 PM

#28 User is offline TheKazeblade 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 10:34 PM

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Not going to repeat what I said in the other thread, but just a couple more observations after spending the better part of yesterday afternoon playing with it: want to echo the suggestion of others that it would benefit from a camera auto-center button behind Sonic. Also wanted to point out that there's a lack of camera control for laptop users not utilizing a mouse, leading to a tedious slog of zooming the camera into Sonic's head and slowly moving left or right to reset the camera into a desired direction. I know that set-up isn't ideal, but it's the conditions I had to work under :P

But again, Sonic has never controlled better in 3D than in this demo, and I cannot wait to see what directions that you guys take the project. All the kudos.

#29 User is offline Murasaki Fox 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 10:49 PM

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Yeah, moving to Unreal is really going to make development easier for us since it's already got a fleshed out gameplay framework. I initially started developing this framework to account for multiple character options, multiplayer and stuff like that, but that required a very detailed framework to begin with. And that was complicated by two big factors. I'm terrible with blank slates, and my chronic illness makes it difficult to keep up the continuous effort necessary to build it.

Unreal already has everything I was trying to build in Unity and more, so now I can specialize in what I'm good at! <3
This post has been edited by Murasaki Fox: 24 October 2016 - 10:59 PM

#30 User is offline Trunks 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 11:37 PM

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I really, really loved Sonic Utopia. There's some stuff here and there that seems a little wonky, like Sonic at slow movements, sensitivity for double jumps, and the camera's got a lot of work to go.

The massive, sprawling level is really neat, but I think it'd be better if the dozen different pathways were divided up into a number of smaller, focused levels. With everything looking pretty much the same, I have a hard time pinpointing where I am in the level.

The really impressive thing about this game isn't that it's an open-world Sonic game, but rather that it's a great way to envision Sonic 1/2/CD as a 3D game, and really does a great job of incorporating the Sonic OVA's aesthetic.

The open world approach would be cool if there were Mario 64 style missions. Like find the hidden crystal cave, collect all eight flickies, run across the falling bridge to get to the goal point. Stuff like that.

Great work, and I hope you'll open it up a bit for people to make content for it. It's a really powerful start.

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