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Sonic Utopia An experimental 3D Sonic fan game.

#1 User is offline Mr Lange 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 06:47 AM

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Posted Image




For the longest time I have felt a true 3D Sonic experience is possible. It is a concept that has been incredibly elusive and challenging to solve due to its monumental design implications and variables. However, the ingredients for an ideal formula have been there all along in the classics. They only need the right perspective and application.
But even when 3D Sonic gameplay is attempted, I always feel like the rest gets overlooked. What Sonic also had in the classics was outstanding themes and aesthetics that I have not seen truly captured since the 90s (except for say, Sonic Mania), especially not in any 3D games.
I wanted to not only achieve a long dreamed of formula for 3D Sonic gameplay, but to go the extra mile and bring with it the kind of style and feel that Sonic had in his best 90s incarnations. But my aim was not to merely mimic and regurgitate what existed, but to really reflect and expand on everything in a way that makes sense, to intelligently extrapolate.

Nearly everything you see, hear, and play in this demo was made from scratch. The only things that aren't, are placeholders (goal images, a few sound effects and jingles) and the OVA sound effects. The engine and its program, the art, models and animation, the music, and the sound effects are all freshly created. Yes, even the sounds from the Genesis games were recreated to make them more flexible (ie there are multiple variations of the ring scatter and bust sounds). The new sound effects are FM based and other forms of synthesis practiced in the 80s and 90s.
The vision I've had for Sonic's gameplay was made possible by a skilled programmer, Murasaki, who I've been working with for a while now to flesh out an ideal engine for 3D Sonic physics and mechanics. I believe that Sonic should have movement and abilities that compliment the generation and preservation of momentum that reward skillful play. More than this, Sonic should have more abilities than just verbatim translations of his 2D moves. When Mario was translated to 3D, he was given an extensive set of moves that gave the player many creative options to tackle a 3D environment, and Sonic has never really been given this same treatment.

I hope to achieve what myself and many others have wanted from a 3D Sonic game for a long time with Sonic Utopia.
In this thread, I'll be talking about some of the concepts I have for this game more in depth, complimented by various media, as well as posting updates on the game's progression.

Current Team:
Mr Lange (myself) - Art, Modeling, Animation, Sound and Music, Game Design
https://www.youtube....sgf6F2fhE_okGYw
https://twitter.com/GreatLange
https://soundcloud.com/mr-lange

Murasaki Fox - Engine and Physics Programming
https://www.youtube....KKSoFBx6bsN64qg
https://twitter.com/MurasakiKemomo

Tpot - Gameplay and Misc Programming
https://www.youtube....I_AgZb8mOjdBH0A

PicsAndPixels - Textures and Concept Art
http://picsandpixels.deviantart.com/

tripplejaz - Concept Art
https://www.youtube....n1ijpEBOMw9pWZA
https://twitter.com/tripplejaz

Sean Evans - Music
https://soundcloud.com/nine-zero-music


In Progress:
- Polishing game framework
- Improving physics and camera
- Reworking existing and making new fundamental assets
- Solving level modeling workflow
- Design of new zone


Early demo info and download:
Spoiler

This post has been edited by Mr Lange: 01 September 2017 - 03:10 PM

#2 User is offline DigitalDuck 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 07:19 AM

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Normally the millions of attempts of "oh look we put Classic Sonic physics in 3D see we're much better than SEGA hahaha" are just awkward, crap, and no fun to move about in. This one isn't. This is the first one that has actually made me think, "I'd like to see this with proper level design."

I'm a tough critic to please. Good job.

#3 User is offline Kono Mike da! 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 07:42 AM

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I'm really impressed too. I'm the kind of person who likes the latest Sonic 3D games, save for Lost World. But this is on another level. Impressive job. I'm stunned.
This post has been edited by Kono Mike da!: 24 October 2016 - 07:43 AM

#4 User is offline amphobius 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 08:52 AM

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I said this privately, but call me when there's something actually substantial other than a glorified tech demo.

It's clear the level design you have here is anything but representative. It's cool to see classic aesthetic in 3D but that's all the novelty there is here. Good luck with future endeavours but there's so little to be excited about here.

#5 User is offline Yeow 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 10:05 AM

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In terms of controls and physics, I gotta say--it's on the money on what I've been wanting to see in a Sonic game, let alone any Sonic project, in ages. Dare I say it makes for a solid groundwork for a momentum-based 3D Sonic.

The open-ended nature of the level design and some technical issues do leave a fair amount to be desired; but the base gameplay I really can't say its significantly flawed, in contrast to past 3D attempts I've seen and tried. I imagine another demo with the levels scaled back in size and being of a more linear nature (namely with levels akin to the first Adventure or Sonic R) would really get the ball rolling.

View Postamphobius, on 24 October 2016 - 08:52 AM, said:

I said this privately, but call me when there's something actually substantial other than a glorified tech demo.


Aside from it being saved as a the surprise project for SAGE, I don't recall Lange implying that it would be something more than that?

OP even states this:

View PostMr Lange, on 24 October 2016 - 06:47 AM, said:

Nearly everything you see, hear, and play in this demo was made from scratch.

...

The latest version of the demo (v1, still very raw) can be downloaded here:
https://www.dropbox....o%20v1.rar?dl=0
Alt: http://www.sonicfang...10232016521.rar


:/

#6 User is offline Kono Mike da! 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 10:11 AM

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View PostYeow, on 24 October 2016 - 10:05 AM, said:

In terms of controls and physics, I gotta say--it's on the money on what I've been wanting to see in a Sonic game, let alone any Sonic project, in ages. Dare I say it makes for a solid groundwork for a momentum-based 3D Sonic.

The open-ended nature of the level design and some technical issues do leave a fair amount to be desired; but the base gameplay I really can't say its significantly flawed, in contrast to past 3D attempts I've seen and tried. I imagine another demo with the levels scaled back in size and being of a more linear nature (namely with levels akin to the first Adventure or Sonic R) would really get the ball rolling.

View Postamphobius, on 24 October 2016 - 08:52 AM, said:

I said this privately, but call me when there's something actually substantial other than a glorified tech demo.


Aside from it being saved as a the surprise project for SAGE, I don't recall Lange implying that it would be something more than that?

OP even states this:

View PostMr Lange, on 24 October 2016 - 06:47 AM, said:

Nearly everything you see, hear, and play in this demo was made from scratch.

...

The latest version of the demo (v1, still very raw) can be downloaded here:
https://www.dropbox....o%20v1.rar?dl=0
Alt: http://www.sonicfang...10232016521.rar


:/


I mean, "v1, still very raw" could just as easily be "don't worry, we'll make other, better versions of this." Perhaps I am overthinking it, though.

#7 User is offline Blue Blood 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 11:12 AM

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Just going to C&P my comments over from the SAGE thread, since they're better suited here.

Turns out this this game will run on my toaster of a laptop if I use the absolute bare minimum settings and if I can put up with an unstable framerate. Sonic really does feel great to control. Everything is so, so natural. His movements are just spot on. Watching the landscape twist by as Sonic ran through that corkscrew and launched from the ramp into the air with no hand-holding was an absolute joy.

There are some things that need seeing to though. For one, I think the camera is a very difficult to put up with. It doesn't really try to stay behind Sonic, there's no way to centre it and it would help if some areas moved the camera to a set position for ease of navigation.

I also have mixed opinions about the homing attack. The fact that it retains your forward momentum after hitting a target is both a blessing and a curse. Especially in more precarious places, I find that Sonic hits the target and then carries on going to end up somewhere I don't want him going. It's particularly bothersome with springs - hit them at just slightly the wrong angle and you've got no hope of reaching the spot you want. Regular 3D Sonic games avoid this by having springs that are almost entirely automated which is an issue in itself, but Utopia needs to have some way to manage it. Maybe the solution would be to have the homing attack bring Sonic to a dead stop (ala every 3D Sonic game) if the jump button isn't held? A > A = regular homing attack, A > A (hold) = momentum preserving homing attack. An optional target marker wouldn't go amiss either. It tooks Sonic Team until Unleashed to realise why it's so beneficial.

One thing that I really enjoy and can't rave about enough is curling and uncurling in mid air, or in fact at any time at all. Rolling does hugely alter Sonic's maneuverability, so it's nice to have that complete control. And nicer still is rolling off a ramp and into the air, only to then continue when you land. It's totally on point.

Basically what I can gather from this is that it's not dissimilar to other 3D Sonic engines out there, but the key difference is that it controls a lot better. Some issues really need resolving with the camera and homing attack too. I look forward to seeing this develop into something with actual stages, instead of a sandbox tech demo. Congrats on your hard work!
This post has been edited by Blue Blood: 24 October 2016 - 12:22 PM

#8 User is offline DarkVDee 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 11:30 AM

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This is a fantastic demo that you and your small team put together : 3
The controls are super easy to use even on keyboard. This feels like another lost gem that was missing from the Saturn era. Everything feels so nostalgic and well executed at the same time. I will look forward to more of it soon.
BTW, will this interfere with your other projects (Overture) like schedule term wise perhaps?

#9 User is offline Blue Blood 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 12:24 PM

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A question about the artstyle - what made you choose to scale Sonic so small when compared to everything else? He looks like an ant in the world. The terrain, badniks and every other item absolutely towers above him and it feels rather strange.
This post has been edited by Blue Blood: 24 October 2016 - 12:26 PM

#10 User is offline Felik 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 12:41 PM

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The game looks nice. Very nice. And engine seems to be very refined and seems to be the best of 3D fanmade engines I've seen so far.
But ultimately it's another example why 3D open world exploration-based Sonic simply doesn't work. It's boring, confusing and feel pointless. Also camera is awful which is unsurprising given it's very basic.

For it to be something good I'd consider dropping the openworldness and make levels more tight and streamlined.

#11 User is offline Sonic Hachelle-Bee 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 02:01 PM

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View PostFelik, on 24 October 2016 - 12:41 PM, said:

The game looks nice. Very nice. And engine seems to be very refined and seems to be the best of 3D fanmade engines I've seen so far.
But ultimately it's another example why 3D open world exploration-based Sonic simply doesn't work. It's boring, confusing and feel pointless. Also camera is awful which is unsurprising given it's very basic.

For it to be something good I'd consider dropping the openworldness and make levels more tight and streamlined.

I agree entirely. Take a look at Crash Bandicoot and its 2.5D style gameplay : sometimes back and forth, sometimes left to right movements, but always one of the 3 axis that is strained. Maybe this is more suitable for a Sonic game.

#12 User is offline Azookara 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 02:11 PM

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I adore the gameplay and have raved about it in multiple places, but since some critique on that would be healthy (especially for myself after playing this for about 2-3 hours lol), I'll give a little.

- Rolling feels very satisfying, but it's odd how it's mechanics don't work properly unless you're holding the direction you want to move. I noticed that even on sharp slopes when I let go of the stick while rolling, Sonic will come to a halt, and I can't even duck on a sharp slope to get rolling. I'm sure it was an intentional decision (since I can see why keeping that 100% could be problematic), but I still feel like it'd be better if it at least somewhat worked, albeit maybe weaker than while holding the stick forward. Coasting along after building up big speed without having to press much of anything until you needed to was one of my favorite bits from the classics, and I kinda miss it here.

- A way to center the camera behind you would be fantastic. Often times I'm trying to get turned around and approach a slope at the right angle, but the camera doesn't like cooperating. Maybe a camera center button would be good? I know someone suggested clicking the right stick for that, but I don't think that's very comfortable, so I'd personally suggest left bumper since that's free of any action.

- I feel like the HA needs an indicator on if it's within range with an enemy or not. It's sometimes a little too hard to tell if you're at the right jump arc or distance away to make the shot, especially at great heights, leading to a lot of moments where I thought I aimed right for a good bounce, only for Sonic to jump dash forward instead. I know a reticle may not exactly fit the look you're aiming for, but something akin to one would definitely help.

- The peel-out feels a little too underpowered. Maybe it's partially due to the huuuuuge map, but it feels like it doesn't get you much faster than normal running speed even after a long charge. I know the intent is to keep it from becoming overpowered, but I think a slightly faster version of it would be nice. That's just a nitpick though.

- Obligatory comment about the level design. The slopes and general ideas are fun, but something a bit more compact and streamlined would really make it shine. Like TimmiT said below; like Adventure but more open and less scripted would be a dream.

But yeah, good shit otherwise. Keep it up!

Spoiler

This post has been edited by Azookara: 24 October 2016 - 02:23 PM

#13 User is offline TimmiT 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 02:18 PM

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View PostSonic Hachelle-Bee, on 24 October 2016 - 02:01 PM, said:

View PostFelik, on 24 October 2016 - 12:41 PM, said:

The game looks nice. Very nice. And engine seems to be very refined and seems to be the best of 3D fanmade engines I've seen so far.
But ultimately it's another example why 3D open world exploration-based Sonic simply doesn't work. It's boring, confusing and feel pointless. Also camera is awful which is unsurprising given it's very basic.

For it to be something good I'd consider dropping the openworldness and make levels more tight and streamlined.

I agree entirely. Take a look at Crash Bandicoot and its 2.5D style gameplay : sometimes back and forth, sometimes left to right movements, but always one of the 3 axis that is strained. Maybe this is more suitable for a Sonic game.

Sonic Team already did this with Unleashed/Colours/Generations. :v:

I feel like this play style would work very well with slightly more open and less scripted Adventure level design.
This post has been edited by TimmiT: 24 October 2016 - 02:18 PM

#14 User is offline Aerosol 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 02:19 PM

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Echoing the above. Feels good mostly. I've got a few nitpicks but they're probably not worth bothering about (except Sonic's weight. He feels a little floaty, and hitting badniks feels like there's no real impact). But this open-world shit is...just nah. If that's what you're going for then power to you, but I don't think it works. Makes the game feel like a never ending hub-world. Sonic's levels have always had exploration, sure, but those have always been sidepaths. Getting from A-to-B has always been the goal of a Sonic game, and anything else just feels like...something else.

I mean, swap Sonic for Knuckles and you have the beginnings of a kickass treasure hunting game :v:
This post has been edited by Aerosol: 24 October 2016 - 02:21 PM

#15 User is offline Murasaki Fox 

Posted 24 October 2016 - 03:39 PM

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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.

Not sure about the objects though. Lange can give more insight on that.

This demo was intended to be more of a playground than a direct A-to-B sort of level, although it was also designed to eventually funnel players toward a destination after they've started getting used to building and maintaining speed. We wanted to encourage players to learn Sonic's physics and enjoy the experience of motion. This is our first time developing a level for controls like these, and we'll be taking everyone's comments into mind with the next iterations. Personally, I would like to experiment with a level that has more defined paths, but which also leads in multiple directions like C-to-D, D-to-A, or B-to-C. But of course, the gameplay framework needs to be finished first.

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