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Sonic Utopia An experimental 3D Sonic fan game.

#76 User is offline NickonAquaMagna 

Posted 03 November 2016 - 11:37 AM

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After playing through it a few times, I like how the forest area to the left feels like the middle tier, the raised area with basins and lakes to the right feels like the upper tier, and the middle, flatter part of the level feels like the "bottom route." Feels like the 3D equivalent of typical classic Sonic level design to me, where you often have a higher, middle, and lower route.

The moment the game REALLY won me over, the moment where I was convinced this is how Sonic should move in 3D, was the end of that labyrinth area, where you run up a sloped wall, then jump off to land on the ledge behind you. It feels so natural and easy to do. I used to do that sort of thing all the time in the classic games, but you'd never see that sort of design attempted in an official 3D game. Not without a speed pad at the bottom and a spring at the top to help the player along so they don't mess up, anyway. Looking at Sonic team's track record, you'd think that sort of thing couldn't be done in 3D, yet here it is! And it feels just as good to pull off in 3D as it does in the old 2D games. So cool.

My favorite moments are the ones where you can "chain" the ramps and runways together and just keep rolling, rolling, rolling, rolling, yeah.

#77 User is offline VolgShan 

Posted 04 November 2016 - 08:26 AM

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Fantastic job with the game! I have been having a lot of fun playing it. My favorite thing so far is the animations. I love how the motobug get surprised when it sees you and also sonic's legs at full speed. Just the right amount of cartoony animations. Im excited with the mechanics and I hope you add more stuff in it. I saw you put the flicky in it. Man I cant wait to see whats next for you guys on this project. I liked the experimental open level. Think you will keep it in as a sandbox style level?

#78 User is offline Deef 

Posted 10 November 2016 - 02:21 AM

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View PostMr Lange, on 31 October 2016 - 11:53 PM, said:

View PostDeef, on 29 October 2016 - 05:57 AM, said:

Do you think you'll switch to the style of control the classics had? Ie, player input = slow down/steer, no player input = full speed rolling.

Not sure I understand your question. If you mean, will physics take over when Sonic rolls on slopes but the player can temper the speed and steer with DI, then yes, that's how it will work.


That sounds good. But please correct the other half of it too, so that the player doesn't hold the roll button to roll; rolling stays rolling. Rolling in the classics was a very clear piece of gameplay: You choose speed at the cost of control. You can barely stop, you can't get to your feet easily. Hold-to-roll, release-to-unroll deletes all of that.

Concepts aside, the way Utopia encourages the player to roll-down, unroll-up is very QTE. It removes the feel of "I can roll now and go for a joyride and hope I can pull out of it later". Instead, it creates the feel of "I just press, then release, then press, then release, right when I'm told to". Big difference from the classic feel.

It's also a bit of a controls clash that rolling after a spin-dash, and rolling after a run, have different rules.

The short version is that the classics' controls really were good. The way you've implemented the peel out is very good imo, but rolling needs to hold onto its roots. Terrain is one half, staying rolled is the other. Oh, on that note, spin-dashing does need more advantage over peeling out imo. The "drag to a stop then peel out" thing you've got going is good... perhaps that could be done with the spin dash too (applicable while the player still holds roll), but that is messing with the formula so much it would worry me. But as it stands, since a peel out can be fired anywhere, from any speed, and can tuck straight into a roll anyway, the spin-dash has little use.



Other random comments:

Someone else I saw mentioned that the uphill rolling deceleration is too high/has to go/something. I agree. Downhill increases acceleration: nailed. Uphill decreases acceleration: too much. Again, it turns rolling into a QTE. In the classics rolling uphill wasn't trying to be a killer like that. This also supported further the classic idea that rolling was a ride you chose and were committed to. You rolled uphill with hope; hope that your earlier choice to roll downhill will pay off. The high deceleration for uphill rolling in Utopia burns away that feeling much imo. Consider the huge uphill rolls you'd get through Launch Base or Hydrocity. In fact, the simplest test is that rolling permanently up and down a half-pipe should see Sonic gaining height infinitely (or until the speed cap anyway).

There's one part of Green Hill that doesn't quite soft block the player, but forces them to suicide on some spikes. You're probably already aware, and it probably doesn't matter since you're rebuilding. It's on the right side of the stage anyway. One of those smooth narrow curving platforms. It curves to the left. If you drop off the right, you're stuck with a handy set of spikes to die on.

I second the vibe written above by The Deleter. The openness isn't a bad thing imo; it's a good thing people aren't used to. Not knowing which way to go is unsettling but it isn't the ultimate evil. Sometimes it can be done and the reward is that feeling you get; you're exploring a world, not just a track. Answering "Where do I go" with "Anywhere!" has a lot of positive that can work. Even if it means multiple exits, whatever makes it feel better, it can work and can be more refreshing than 5 minutes of spoonfed directing. Just my (and someone else's) 2 cents.

#79 User is offline Aerosol 

Posted 11 November 2016 - 01:53 AM

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Don't tell me that I don't like it because I'm not used to it bucko. I didn't know where to go when I first turned on Super Mario 64 either, but I loved it.

I didn't know where to go first time I played Sonic Adventure (I started in the middle of someone else's save) and thought it was stupid. Sonic's core abilities aren't that fun in 3D for me. He's no Spiderman. Open world, imo, is antithetical to a Sonic game.

#80 User is offline Deef 

Posted 11 November 2016 - 02:36 AM

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That doesn't mean it's not a good thing people aren't used to. In fact it's hugely common for that to be why some things are liked and disliked by many at the same time. Enjoyment very often comes down to what people decide they are looking for, and the creator's role is often about manipulating exactly that. If you have decided hardcore that open-world Sonic, nup, just refuse to enjoy it, that's your thing. Meanwhile, there's good in it that could be really be special. Linear 3D Sonic? Eh, things can get better.

#81 User is offline JucieBX 

Posted 11 November 2016 - 09:20 AM

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I few things I found, playing the demo, that need to be looked at, if that aren't already:

- A motobug was stuck on a 90 deg incline. I ran toward it and curled into a ball to roll through it and continue going up. I got hurt from it while I was still in a ball. I think this a bug. :/

- It seems that buffering the super peel out, while still moving, continues your forward momentum for a bit. I'm sure this was the intent as it's great for positioning and strategy for continued movement. I don't think it was the intent for the continue movement to be applied upward on any 90 deg inclines.

If I'm wrong I'm wrong. But, It looks silly for sonic to be able to charge the super peel out while moving upward at a 90 deg angle at a super slow rate. LOL... He does die off and drop, eventually, but it lasts for way too long...

#82 User is offline Aerosol 

Posted 11 November 2016 - 09:43 AM

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View PostDeef, on 11 November 2016 - 02:36 AM, said:

That doesn't mean it's not a good thing people aren't used to. In fact it's hugely common for that to be why some things are liked and disliked by many at the same time. Enjoyment very often comes down to what people decide they are looking for, and the creator's role is often about manipulating exactly that. If you have decided hardcore that open-world Sonic, nup, just refuse to enjoy it, that's your thing. Meanwhile, there's good in it that could be really be special. Linear 3D Sonic? Eh, things can get better.


This sounds like "well if you can't open your mind" mumbo jumbo. How about this though: I am used to it. This isn't the first attempt at open-world gameplay, and I've never liked it for more than 5 minutes. And also my least favorite parts of Sonic Advance 3 are the open world parts, which are mercifully rather small, so this isn't just a "3D Sonic" issue for me. Sonic is an A-to-B kind of game, and I've yet to see anything from anyone to show me that it could be more than that.

I mean if you want loop-de-loops and corkscrews and crap in an open-world, there are a few racing games to scratch that itch. And it works in a racing game.

#83 User is offline winterhell 

Posted 11 November 2016 - 10:09 AM

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This looks like a sandbox themepark/playground. A hubworld at most.
It seems people's critics about this demo is that it doesnt have an actual level.
In a normal game(any game, not just Sonic) level when you encounter an obstacle or an enemy you have to use any amount of skill to jump over, dodge or time your way to pass through.
There is nothing more boring than a badnik that is standing there in the middle of a football stadium, you can see it from a mile away, and you can simply walk around him in a radius of many screens. Moreover, from what I see on gameplay videos, it looks like you have to try intentionally
going into the spikes or the badnik.

When you give the game to a random person, how many times does he die before they reach the goal? Now try giving them any of the classic Sonics.
This post has been edited by winterhell: 11 November 2016 - 10:12 AM

#84 User is offline Mr Lange 

Posted 11 November 2016 - 03:52 PM

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View PostTheKazeblade, on 02 November 2016 - 12:57 AM, said:

Now that it has been decided that Unity will continue to be used going forward, were there any features that were cut because of the expectation of them not being supported by UE4 that you are re-evaluating including in future releases?
And out of curiosity, Sonic 1's original GHZ's only real 'gimmick' were s-curves. Were they ever attempted in Utopia's GHZ, and if not, do you think they are possible to translate into a free-range 3D Sonic level without either being extremely awkward or extremely scripted? If so, do you have any ideas on how they might be approached just as a hypothetical?

Nothing was ever cut on that basis.
Could not think of a viable way to include S curves. Instead there are a few tunnels to go through.
Green Hill also had swinging platforms, breakable walls, collapsing platforms, and rotating thorn logs. None of these were made in time for this demo (the thorn logs in particular have design problems in 3d).

View PostThe Deleter, on 03 November 2016 - 07:40 AM, said:

Don't know whether or not it'd fit the aesthetic 100%, but I believe this sole element would be able to help answer all these problems, if not outright fix them. On the lower routes, soft-railroading or guiding of the areas with routes and "walls" made out of small hills and bumps would prioritize the places they should run, and be further accentuated with rings, enemies, and eventual level design on the inside of them. And for problems like junctions and direction-based judgements, simple stuff like small banks with rings alongside the inside leading to the routes, or angled and cut-out giant platforms indicative of a split, would fix the above problems in a jiffy. Platforming areas would have more intuitive foresight with the way they're directed in more challenging 3D areas, BUT! unlike outright making them hallways or creating jagged edges and walls, the more natural terrain would still be open and inviting to the more playground-based gameplay mentality. Want to run straight through that junction as if it were a flat plain still? No problem; just run right over the bumps that would usually indicate direction, and ignore them to your heart's content.

Long, shallow, rolling hills were planned, along with checkered pathways. Cut because time and too many variables. Making frequent bumps like those in the original Green Hill is way more difficult in 3d, especially for something of this scale where it would need to be fully consistent throughout. Not to mention the issue of Sonic and the camera's rotation changing constantly, which would need some kind of solution.

View PostThe Deleter, on 03 November 2016 - 07:40 AM, said:

Here's my proposition to open 3D Sonic games in general, in order to possibly rectify this: If you're going to make a goal to the level and want players to immediately understand direction, make the goal either immediately visible from the start, and/or state one from the start. It can be something like an Eggman factory billowing fumes marking an "end" to the level, an entirely new zone to reach in the distance, or simply internalized after several levels as the game's design, but it all has to be immediate and clear. Not small and specific, which is the cause of players doubting themselves and the level in the first place.

IF YOU'RE STRONG
YOU CAN FLY
YOU CAN REACH THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RAINBOW

Posted Image

The level was designed to guide the player with various major cues that I'm surprised have gone so frequently overlooked.

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted ImagePosted Image

Posted ImagePosted Image

Posted Image
Posted Image


View PostVolgShan, on 04 November 2016 - 08:26 AM, said:

Think you will keep it in as a sandbox style level?

Have said multiple times now the actual levels will not be nearly as sandboxy.

View PostDeef, on 10 November 2016 - 02:21 AM, said:

That sounds good. But please correct the other half of it too, so that the player doesn't hold the roll button to roll; rolling stays rolling. Rolling in the classics was a very clear piece of gameplay: You choose speed at the cost of control. You can barely stop, you can't get to your feet easily. Hold-to-roll, release-to-unroll deletes all of that.

Concepts aside, the way Utopia encourages the player to roll-down, unroll-up is very QTE. It removes the feel of "I can roll now and go for a joyride and hope I can pull out of it later". Instead, it creates the feel of "I just press, then release, then press, then release, right when I'm told to". Big difference from the classic feel.

Uh... I don't think you understand what a QTE is. QTEs are where the gameplay is fully interrupted to demand a series of specific inputs to progress a scripted sequence. There's nothing about the rolling mechanics in Utopia that are QTE, certainly not any more than any other mechanics or anything in the classics. The gameplay is not interrupted, you have full control, and it's up to the player to apply input in fully variable situations.
Toggle and hold based rolling were tested a lot and the latter felt a lot more fluent and natural, it makes sense in 3d with this control scheme. There's a shift in perspective (not just literally) with how Sonic and levels work in 3d that make this much more sensible. The hold based control has been, as far as I've seen, unanimously praised in Utopia. I intend to keep it and design the game with it in mind.

View PostDeef, on 10 November 2016 - 02:21 AM, said:

Oh, on that note, spin-dashing does need more advantage over peeling out imo. The "drag to a stop then peel out" thing you've got going is good... perhaps that could be done with the spin dash too (applicable while the player still holds roll), but that is messing with the formula so much it would worry me. But as it stands, since a peel out can be fired anywhere, from any speed, and can tuck straight into a roll anyway, the spin-dash has little use.

Again, the peelout is mapped to the "special" button. It's an ability unique to Sonic, and naturally has advantages over the spindash, which is a common ability. Main advantage of the spindash right now is that it can be charged much more quickly.

View PostDeef, on 10 November 2016 - 02:21 AM, said:

Someone else I saw mentioned that the uphill rolling deceleration is too high/has to go/something. I agree. Downhill increases acceleration: nailed. Uphill decreases acceleration: too much.

Long since aware and discussed. Separating uphill and downhill effect is one of the physics goals. Rolling decel uphill will be reduced some.

View PostDeef, on 10 November 2016 - 02:21 AM, said:

There's one part of Green Hill that doesn't quite soft block the player, but forces them to suicide on some spikes. You're probably already aware, and it probably doesn't matter since you're rebuilding. It's on the right side of the stage anyway. One of those smooth narrow curving platforms. It curves to the left. If you drop off the right, you're stuck with a handy set of spikes to die on.

Aware of this and other inescapable spots that have been found.

View PostJucieBX, on 11 November 2016 - 09:20 AM, said:

*bugs*

Known.

View PostAerosol, on 11 November 2016 - 09:43 AM, said:

This sounds like "well if you can't open your mind" mumbo jumbo. How about this though: I am used to it. This isn't the first attempt at open-world gameplay, and I've never liked it for more than 5 minutes. And also my least favorite parts of Sonic Advance 3 are the open world parts, which are mercifully rather small, so this isn't just a "3D Sonic" issue for me. Sonic is an A-to-B kind of game, and I've yet to see anything from anyone to show me that it could be more than that.

I mean if you want loop-de-loops and corkscrews and crap in an open-world, there are a few racing games to scratch that itch. And it works in a racing game.

This is not an open world Sonic game. I have never used the words open world to describe it. Please stop calling it that (this goes to everyone, not just Aerosol). Open world suggests you can go in any direction to find a goal that can lead to any other direction etc. This has one goal, at the end, it is A to B. The level is just big. Big level =/= open world game. The real levels will also be big, but have more controlled environments and clearer directions.

View Postwinterhell, on 11 November 2016 - 10:09 AM, said:

This looks like a sandbox themepark/playground. A hubworld at most.
It seems people's critics about this demo is that it doesnt have an actual level.
In a normal game(any game, not just Sonic) level when you encounter an obstacle or an enemy you have to use any amount of skill to jump over, dodge or time your way to pass through.
There is nothing more boring than a badnik that is standing there in the middle of a football stadium, you can see it from a mile away, and you can simply walk around him in a radius of many screens. Moreover, from what I see on gameplay videos, it looks like you have to try intentionally
going into the spikes or the badnik.

When you give the game to a random person, how many times does he die before they reach the goal? Now try giving them any of the classic Sonics.

Already well aware and has been addressed repeatedly now, especially near the start of this thread. I've seen players get hit often, though it's been a mix of fair and unfair causes. All of this was an experiment to see how players respond to the game. To determine the strong and weak points of design. To know much better how to actually make the real game.
This post has been edited by Mr Lange: 11 November 2016 - 04:07 PM

#85 User is offline Deef 

Posted 12 November 2016 - 04:30 AM

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View PostMr Lange, on 11 November 2016 - 03:52 PM, said:

The level was designed to guide the player with various major cues that I'm surprised have gone so frequently overlooked.
Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted ImagePosted Image
Posted ImagePosted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image
This is all much cooler than I had consciously noticed. I wonder how much my subconscious was in on this though.

View PostDeef, on 10 November 2016 - 02:21 AM, said:

That sounds good. But please correct the other half of it too, so that the player doesn't hold the roll button to roll; rolling stays rolling. Rolling in the classics was a very clear piece of gameplay: You choose speed at the cost of control. You can barely stop, you can't get to your feet easily. Hold-to-roll, release-to-unroll deletes all of that.

Concepts aside, the way Utopia encourages the player to roll-down, unroll-up is very QTE. It removes the feel of "I can roll now and go for a joyride and hope I can pull out of it later". Instead, it creates the feel of "I just press, then release, then press, then release, right when I'm told to". Big difference from the classic feel.


View PostMr Lange, on 11 November 2016 - 03:52 PM, said:

Uh... I don't think you understand what a QTE is. [...] There's nothing about the rolling mechanics in Utopia that are QTE, certainly not any more than any other mechanics or anything in the classics.
I have to disagree there. I understand what a QTE is, so I didn't say these things are QTEs but rather that they feel very QTE. I have to disagree where you say "certainly not any more than any other mechanics in the classics." In Utopia, there are pieces of terrain shaped like this: --> unu <-- . This will deliberately reward the player most if they: do something with 1 button at exactly the right time, then less than a second later, something with 1 button at exactly the right time, then less than a second later, something with 1 button at exactly the right time. You see why it stands out. When I was playing it jumped out at me immediately. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to shoot anyone down or badmouth Utopia; I love what I've seen. I respect your choice on how you do things, plus since you've gone through a trailing process and have deliberately chosen what you feel is better, that's all there is to it really. I am only clarifying what you mentioned you couldn't understand in my post, and I am acknowledging that it discards a particular aspect of the classic feel; the reckless abandon and somewhat yolo-ish feel of rolling. While that is a personal whine, and you'll probably hear plenty from many, it's not a "Your game sucks!". Your game pretty much has me more keen than Mania.

So it is intended that spin-dash rolling and run rolling keep different controls?

I hope my (and everyone's) whining doesn't cause too much stress. Ultimately the heat Utopia might attract is because it is so promising. Your replies are appreciated but everyone will understand if you just outright ignore posts, what with all the repeating that appears to be happening, myself included. Overall, good work on everything. In the end, Utopia is already amazing when you guys were running only your own feedback, so whatever choices you make, they're likely to be pretty solid. Heck I'm just more impressed by those visual design elements above.

#86 User is offline TimmiT 

Posted 12 November 2016 - 08:59 AM

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View PostMr Lange, on 11 November 2016 - 03:52 PM, said:

View PostThe Deleter, on 03 November 2016 - 07:40 AM, said:

Here's my proposition to open 3D Sonic games in general, in order to possibly rectify this: If you're going to make a goal to the level and want players to immediately understand direction, make the goal either immediately visible from the start, and/or state one from the start. It can be something like an Eggman factory billowing fumes marking an "end" to the level, an entirely new zone to reach in the distance, or simply internalized after several levels as the game's design, but it all has to be immediate and clear. Not small and specific, which is the cause of players doubting themselves and the level in the first place.

IF YOU'RE STRONG
YOU CAN FLY
YOU CAN REACH THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RAINBOW

*image*

The level was designed to guide the player with various major cues that I'm surprised have gone so frequently overlooked.

*loads more images*

While this does make it more likely that the player will find the end goal, I don't think it really solves the problem of the level feeling directionless. When I finished the level it didn't feel like I intentionally reached the end goal, it felt like I happened to go the right way. And unless you want the player to feel directionless, it's important for it to be clear and obvious to the player where the end goal is in "go from point A to B" level design.
This post has been edited by TimmiT: 12 November 2016 - 09:10 AM

#87 User is offline Aerosol 

Posted 13 November 2016 - 09:41 PM

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View PostTimmiT, on 12 November 2016 - 08:59 AM, said:

While this does make it more likely that the player will find the end goal, I don't think it really solves the problem of the level feeling directionless. When I finished the level it didn't feel like I intentionally reached the end goal, it felt like I happened to go the right way. And unless you want the player to feel directionless, it's important for it to be clear and obvious to the player where the end goal is in "go from point A to B" level design.


Quoting this because this is basically my response to what you said to me Mr. Lange.

I call it open-world because that's what it feels like. If that's not what you intended it to feel like, then I'd say you failed in your intentions. You can swap "open-world" with "direction deficient" if that suits your fancy, but it's the same shit. There is no obvious direction for the player to go in besides a vague "this way" and I don't think that works.
This post has been edited by Aerosol: 13 November 2016 - 09:43 PM

#88 User is offline JucieBX 

Posted 14 November 2016 - 08:51 AM

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View PostDeef, on 10 November 2016 - 02:21 AM, said:

That sounds good. But please correct the other half of it too, so that the player doesn't hold the roll button to roll; rolling stays rolling. Rolling in the classics was a very clear piece of gameplay: You choose speed at the cost of control. You can barely stop, you can't get to your feet easily. Hold-to-roll, release-to-unroll deletes all of that.

Concepts aside, the way Utopia encourages the player to roll-down, unroll-up is very QTE. It removes the feel of "I can roll now and go for a joyride and hope I can pull out of it later". Instead, it creates the feel of "I just press, then release, then press, then release, right when I'm told to". Big difference from the classic feel.


I don't think this feels QTE. QTE takes control completly out of the players hand and tells you to "press this button when I tell you to". I think I like the ability to roll and unroll as I please. It gives me, the player, MORE control over sonic. Not being able to control sonic and letting him go on a joyride was a thing I felt should be changed from the classics. There are to many times, in the classics, where i roll down a hill to gain momentum and level out to lose momentum cuz I'm still in a ball. I have to jump out which make me lose more momentum. The more control and influence you have over the character, the less likely you are to blame the game for anything that happens because it was outside of you control. And if it is changed in the end, I would still love the ability to curl and uncurl at any given moment.

That's what I feel anyway

#89 User is offline Mr Lange 

Posted 14 November 2016 - 11:11 AM

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I'm not trying to excuse the sloppiness/aimlessness of the level. That's still very much an issue. Just sayin it's not as completely chaotic and guideless as it's been criticized. It has some significant cues, big and small. I'm figuring out much better level structures. I don't want to submit that this is a non viable gameplay concept. I really believe it'll work. If I can't make it work, then I'll consider that my failure, and this demo level is a semi deliberate failure that I'm learning a lot from. There's many gameplay videos that I've been analyzing, which are showing how players approach and respond to the level and I've been fascinated by them, in particular the common occurrences. It's giving me a lot of ideas on not just level design, but adjustments to controls, camera, etc.

#90 User is offline Aerosol 

Posted 14 November 2016 - 11:17 AM

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Care to elaborate on your thoughts? I want to see you succeed, but I'm not seeing the path to success that you are. Exploration in a Sonic game works best when there's a clear and obvious path peppered with areas that make you wonder how you get there. Seaside Hill Generations is like this, and it's a concept I'd like to see go further. Many Tony Hawk games are like this also, and that's probably even more relevant to you what with THPS' emphasis on maintaining speed and momentum to get where you want to go.

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