Sonic and Sega Retro Message Board: Is Sonic's Game Design WRONG - Sonic and Sega Retro Message Board

Jump to content

Hey there, Guest!  (Log In · Register) Help
  • 2 Pages +
  • 1
  • 2
    Locked
    Locked Forum

Is Sonic's Game Design WRONG This bloke thinks so

#1 User is offline KingofHarts 

Posted 05 May 2018 - 12:54 AM

  • Posts: 1610
  • Joined: 07-August 10
  • Gender:Male
  • Project:Project Sonic 8x16
  • Wiki edits:1
I don't really take The Guardian seriously, and I don't take the article seriously either... but its still a rather tgought provoking opinion to consider, to be sure:
https://www.google.c...ect-game-design

Is Sonic an incorrectly designed game, on account of being based on speed? This writer reckons so... and while I feel he is way off base with his assessment on the classic series, I would love to have your thoughts.

#2 User is offline Chimpo 

Posted 05 May 2018 - 01:02 AM

  • Posts: 7304
  • Joined: 26-July 06
  • Gender:Male
  • Project:Atomic Sonic Part II
This is a stupid article.

There's my thoughts.

#3 User is offline 360 

Posted 05 May 2018 - 01:09 AM

  • Light Vision Overdrive
  • Posts: 2112
  • Joined: 22-September 10
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:United Kingdom
  • Project:Sonic Neon
The 6 million people that rushed out to buy Sonic 2 at Sonic's height of popularity in the Megadrive days seem to disagree.

That was my first thought. Then I read the article and it's worth noting that:

Quote

Sonic is incorrect game design and yet, like Green Light, it's a masterpiece. As Lorde sings, you want to just let go, but you can't – you're not really free. Yet sometimes in Sonic, when you get better, or through sheer luck, things take off, every jump is right, every loop-the-loop is perfect, and you're in the flow, sailing above the game's strange structure. Like the bridge in a brilliant pop song, it's an exhilarating rush. It's incorrect, but holy crap, when it works, it works.


He concludes by saying that Sonic's game design is "incorrect" but ultimately a "masterpiece" - so this article isn't as critically negative as you'd think.

As for further thoughts, The Guardian, and yes even the games section, is a top-tier well-respected publication so this article isn't automatically trash. It's actually quite well-reasoned and elegantly written. Note that his conclusion is more that Sonic's game design is masterful and subversive and at no point does he deduct that it's therefore outright bad, as many would assume without reaching his conclusion.

Just checked out Lorde's Green Light as a result of this and Christ - what a fucking amazing "incorrect" track. As Sonic is. And always will be.
This post has been edited by 360: 05 May 2018 - 01:24 AM

#4 User is offline Chimpo 

Posted 05 May 2018 - 01:24 AM

  • Posts: 7304
  • Joined: 26-July 06
  • Gender:Male
  • Project:Atomic Sonic Part II
It's not a critical article, but it's an idiotic statement that can't even be backed up or supported. There's nothing incorrect in Sonic 1's design. The game absolutely teaches you everything you need to know like any good game would in its first level. Shit to collect, enemies to avoid, power ups to hit, how going up a hill, down a hill, and up a ramp behaves. The only time Green Hill Zone throws you into a fast paced segment is the first Loop into the tunnels. Everything after that follows a very well constructed path that insures the gameplay flow remains at a decent pace. The "speed" aspect doesn't even fully kick in until Star Light Zone, 15 full stages into the game, and even that whole section is slow. And that's coming off the trails of Labyrinth and Marble Zone.

This is someone describing a Sonic game design from second hand experience. You don't even have to play more than 10 seconds to see the statement "all it establishes at the beginning is that speed is important" is a straight up lie.

#5 User is online Laughingcow 

Posted 05 May 2018 - 01:41 AM

  • Posts: 368
  • Joined: 06-August 17
  • Gender:Male
It's clickbait, nothing more.

#6 User is offline Felik 

Posted 05 May 2018 - 01:47 AM

  • Posts: 1689
  • Joined: 11-April 10
  • Gender:Male
  • Wiki edits:1
But that's just a theory. A GAME theory.

Also

Quote

The 6 million people that rushed out to buy Sonic 2 at Sonic's height of popularity in the Megadrive days seem to disagree.

There's so much wrong with this statement, I don't even know where to begin.
Not that I disagree that Sonic 2 is a good game but that definitely not a good argument to defend anything ever.

#7 User is offline big smile 

Posted 05 May 2018 - 01:52 AM

  • Posts: 622
  • Joined: 01-July 05
  • Gender:Male
The classic games had a "science" to their speed. The problem with speed is that the player quickly gets used to it and loses it thrill. So the classic games would frequently have slow moving sections. These not only stopped the player getting used to the speed, but they would also allow the speed to act as reward (for completing the obstacles), thus making it even more enjoyable.

This is where the majority of the 3D games went wrong. They were all about continually increasing the speed, which resulted in the games turning into an unenjoyable memory test (as the obstacles often came with no time to react resulting in death).

This article is clueless.

#8 User is offline Ritz 

Posted 05 May 2018 - 02:23 AM

  • Subhedgehog
  • Posts: 3959
  • Joined: 01-January 06
  • Gender:Not Telling
  • Location:Glimmering Cornhole Zone
  • Wiki edits:2
Well-written, sure. Well-reasoned, nah. I'll disregard anyone trying to definitively assert what does and does not constitute correct game design in an industry this young, where nobody outside Japan has any demonstrably consistent method for success in game design, and we can't even confirm whether that's a product of deliberate intention or an incidental design pattern of theirs that just happens to work. That they're not passing this knowledge on suggests the latter. Until we have an agreed upon list of codified game design principles like visual design, animation, and whatever constitutes music theory, I'm calling bullshit.

His cited frame of reference for "correct" game design is a game that debuted six years prior to Sonic- too short a time frame to be calling any of the rules a lock- and a single book with no pedigree by a guy who's only known for working on MMORPGs, a genre that de-emphasizes interactivity to mitigate latency (compromised game design). If he was going to cite a book for clout, I would've accepted Game Feel, which does present a solid step towards a more objective game design framework. Assuming he's not misrepresenting the author as badly as he did this game, I'm immediately skeptical if he thinks the essence of game design is "teaching." That would be true if the goal of a game were to teach you something, but the goal of a game is to entertain. The essence of game design is fun. Any sufficiently simple game is easily taught. Tic-tac-toe is almost self-explainatory, but that simplicity also makes it a boring game.

That aside, Chimpo's right on the money, the big problem with this article is that the guy is writing about how he thinks Sonic plays, like every hack on a reputable editorial site with a fresh new games section who thinks he's got something smart to say about Sonic:

Quote

In pinball you understand that you never really have full control over the protagonist (the ball), you are attempting to influence its speed and direction through secondary inputs, through deft touches. But video games are all about control.

The implication here is that Sonic's interactions are random, but every slope and object that propels the player does so in a consistent and reproducible manner. Most of these interactions can be influenced by player controls. Chimpo covered the rest. It's the same "Sonic is all about speed" and "the level design is bad because you run into things you can't see" angles we've all heard before with an intellectual veneer. And Lorde.
This post has been edited by Ritz: 05 May 2018 - 02:34 AM

#9 User is online Laughingcow 

Posted 05 May 2018 - 02:32 AM

  • Posts: 368
  • Joined: 06-August 17
  • Gender:Male

View PostFelik, on 05 May 2018 - 01:47 AM, said:

Not that I disagree that Sonic 2 is a good game but that definitely not a good argument to defend anything ever.

Actually it is. A product made to be sold to the masses justifies its existence by being profitable. Yes video games are art but selling a video game is business. Clearly the market has shown favor to the design sentiments which hold up to the present day (see Sonic Mania) ergo this article exists as nothing but clickbait. It's the type of thing written by kids in college who don't understand why their avantgarde masterpeace isn't selling because they are too invested into their own opinion to realize that they've made a product only they would want (Google a video game called "Sunset"). Couple this with standard Armchair game designers being critical without any experience or education to temper said criticism and you have a worthless pile of words.

I was a playtester for Destructive Creations (the guys behind Hatred) for those who don't know. I learned quite a bit from the devs who are currently working on a new game called Ancestors.

#10 User is offline steveswede 

Posted 05 May 2018 - 03:17 AM

  • Posts: 4964
  • Joined: 13-April 09
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ask my hand
  • Project:Fighting against the Unitary State of Europe
  • Wiki edits:6
I only read half of it I can easily say if that was posted by a trial member here they would never get full membership for the complete and utter tripe that it is. I'm not even bothered/salty/seething about the criticism he does bring alight to, it's more about his thought process that left me thinking "WAT DAFUQ YA TALKIN BOUT!" it almost makes me think he needed something to write to get paid so got stoned off his rocker that evening and wrote whatever shit came to mind.

#11 User is offline Jayextee 

Posted 05 May 2018 - 03:28 AM

  • Comic Mischief
  • Posts: 3218
  • Joined: 22-October 07
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Project:I DONE MAKED GAMES.
  • Wiki edits:27
I stopped reading when the writer said that Naoto Oshima "filled each stage with pinball flippers". I thought it was common courtesy to actually play a game before calling it sexist critiquing it in any way. Guess that's unnecessary because lolvideogames.

On a less-snarky note, the author starts on bad footing assuming that Sonic is designed 'wrong' because it doesn't teach the player what to expect. Well, Keith, you clearly just weren't paying any fucking attention.

#12 User is offline MarkeyJester 

Posted 05 May 2018 - 04:58 AM

  • It's Saturday TV Toons!! (90's Style)
  • Posts: 1860
  • Joined: 22-July 08
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Japan
  • Wiki edits:16
The article is nearly a year old, so I wouldn't advise anyone to get upset or annoyed over it, it can serve no purpose other than to make yourself feel angry.

I personally do like the comments on the bottom though:

Quote

Lordy, I remember being a Ring-Meister.

We really hammered this game, that trill of the ditty drilled into our heads whilst trying to achieve the glory of beating the game without losing a single ring and all under the influence of a fuck-tonne of drugs

Now that's the way to adulthood. Brill.

Quote

The trippy bonus-levels when you finish a regular level with over 100 rings, I can still remember the music.

Dooo-do-doooo-do-doooo-do-dooooooo...
Hahaha, well OK then!

#13 User is offline Sir_mihael 

Posted 05 May 2018 - 06:23 AM

  • DON'T TRUST THIS MAN
  • Posts: 686
  • Joined: 26-June 11
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Isle of Wight, UK
Definitely confused, since the conclusion at the end is more or less "Despite all the above it's actually brilliant, so there". So who knows, maybe it's all just one big backhanded compliment after all? :thinking:

#14 User is offline ICEknight 

Posted 05 May 2018 - 09:12 AM

  • Posts: 11051
  • Joined: 11-January 03
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Spain
  • Wiki edits:18

View PostLaughingcow, on 05 May 2018 - 01:41 AM, said:

It's clickbait, nothing more.

And it's spreading into message boards one year later, so I'd call it a big success.
This post has been edited by ICEknight: 05 May 2018 - 09:13 AM

#15 User is offline steveswede 

Posted 05 May 2018 - 09:32 AM

  • Posts: 4964
  • Joined: 13-April 09
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Ask my hand
  • Project:Fighting against the Unitary State of Europe
  • Wiki edits:6
Well the best way to deal with click bait is to deny them the clicks.

Here I've copy paste it so there's zero need for anyone to click the link.

Quote

Why Sonic the Hedgehog is 'incorrect' game design:- Keith Stuart

Recently, hit-maker Max Martin referred to Lorde's track Green Light as ‘incorrect song-writing'. His theory applies to game design – especially Sonic

In April, the pop musician Lorde gave an interview to the New York Times where she talked about a meeting with famed song writer Max Martin. The genius who helped create Katy Perry's “I Kissed a Girl” and Taylor Swift's “Blank Space”, referred to Lorde's song Green Light as “incorrect songwriting”. He saw its early key change, weird melodics and the lack of drums until the chorus kicks in, as improper. “It wasn't an insult, just a statement of fact,” said Lorde. “It's a strange piece of music.”

Weirdly, as soon as I read the fascinating little snippet of song craft theory, I thought of Sonic the Hedgehog. The legendary platformer, in which a spiky creature sprints furiously through a series of multi-levelled environments is incorrect game design. It shouldn't work. It's wrong.

If you take a classic platform game design, such as Super Mario Bros – the player is always given the chance to read the level: to look ahead and assess every new piece of scenery or patrolling enemy. Then you get a series of neatly placed hazards that present discrete challenges.

In his excellent book on game design, A Theory of Fun, Raph Koster, says the essence of good game design is teaching – a well constructed level slowly introduces you to its themes, and shows you how to beat them. Learn, test, master.

Sonic doesn't do this – all it establishes at the beginning is that speed is important. In a single playthrough, you only ever get a passing feel for the levels; you miss vast areas – all the rules are broken. As in Green Light, the melody and the maths are wrong; new players always find it hard to read the screen, because it's not working like a good game.

To reach the more reward-intensive upper levels, you need to master the exact distances and timings between launch pads and obstacles, but it's impossible to garner this information on a first run-through because the speed of the game – its main appeal – hides everything from you. In Sonic, you must learn through repetition rather than observation. This is confounding for a lot of people – just like the opening verse of Green Light, which holds the drums back for ages, and even then layers them deep beneath the piano.

Even the influences behind Sonic are incorrect. Designer Naoto Ohshima, who sketched all the zones out by hand, was influenced by pinball table design, filling each stage with flippers and bumpers to project Sonic in new directions like a ball-bearing. But pinball doesn't work like video games.

In pinball you understand that you never really have full control over the protagonist (the ball), you are attempting to influence its speed and direction through secondary inputs, through deft touches. But video games are all about control. Players want to inhabit the avatar, ideally with a symbiotic relationship. Sonic even mocks this whole idea, by having the lead character tap his feet impatiently when the player dares to stop for a few seconds. Sonic tells you you are not really in control.

Lorde says about the making of her Melodrama album that she and her engineers laboured over every sound, every sample. It was a technical endeavour; they explored the negative space between notes, they manipulated song elements to discordant and disorientating effect. Sonic the Hedgehog is built around effects too; it is entirely inspired by programmer Yuji Naka's revolutionary coding, which teased incredibly fast sprite manipulation out of the Mega Drive processor. Sonic is more about Naka's ability than yours.

Sonic the Hedgehog punishes the player by manipulating their sense of momentum, by frustrating them into unexpected starts and stops. It is awful to be stuck at the base of a ramp in Sonic, unable to jump your way out, having to wait for the character to accelerate; trying to read the angles so that you spin out of a rut rather than straight back into it.You're always fighting the system. The maths feels wrong, or at least it feels like the maths is against you.

Sonic is incorrect game design and yet, like Green Light, it's a masterpiece. As Lorde sings, you want to just let go, but you can't – you're not really free. Yet sometimes in Sonic, when you get better, or through sheer luck, things take off, every jump is right, every loop-the-loop is perfect, and you're in the flow, sailing above the game's strange structure. Like the bridge in a brilliant pop song, it's an exhilarating rush. It's incorrect, but holy crap, when it works, it works.

Since the New York Times article, Lorde has suggested Max Martin's comments were about her song Royals not Green Light, though interviewer Jonah Weiner is adamant they relate to the newer song. Sonic the Hedgehog remains a weird game.

This post has been edited by steveswede: 05 May 2018 - 09:34 AM

  • 2 Pages +
  • 1
  • 2
    Locked
    Locked Forum

1 User(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users