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.
Some new and improved visual effects.
Some additions to underwater sections like choppers.
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