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Sonic Utopia An experimental 3D Sonic fan game.

#196 User is offline Morph 

Posted 15 August 2017 - 04:27 AM

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View PostMr Lange, on 15 August 2017 - 03:11 AM, said:

We're doing pretty well, but taking our sweet time with it. The last few months have been very much R&D work. Murasaki has been rewriting the engine, and I've been working out tools and workflows for building levels. I had to ditch this effort with the first demo and ended up with a very hackish mess. Since then I've been trying to find solutions and now I'm close. When it's ready then building levels will be incredibly swift and flexible. I think we're going to skip SAGE to take our time with this, but we're still working towards a new demo. All this effort is going to pay off in the long term.

I have seen a lot of comments along the lines of "this is what Sonic Team should've done on the Saturn/Dreamcast to begin with" etc. This is a certainly understandable sentiment, but I think it's worth explaining some things in their defense.
Sonic Utopia is relying on technologies that did not even exist back then. Aside from the robust amount of geometry and calculations at its disposal, it's also utilizing Unity's PhysX implementation to power motion and collisions. The Dreamcast had comparatively very limited technology, Sonic Team had to do things like movement and collision way more raw, and they were tapping into unexplored territory. Trying to compare Super Mario 64 and Sonic Adventure is terribly unfair for Sonic. Mario is a much simpler platformer and translating it to 3d was already a very daunting task. Doing the same for Sonic is exponentially more complicated in terms of technology and game design, and so you can safely bet the probable reason for Sonic being in limbo during the Saturn era. You can see they made an earnest effort in the earlier stages of Sonic Adventure, particularly with the Windy Valley beta. It's much more natural and there's a much greater emphasis on slopes and exploration in the level design, showing they were attempting a genuine translation of 2d Sonic, one that was based more around momentum and slope physics. The final contrasts this with much more linear level design filled with boosters and scripted events. When you take this into account with the untethered slope physics being pretty buggy, it paints a picture of them having to abandon their intentions and make some big compromises. They ended up with a stable, understood formula, and the rest is history.

The closest thing to a "page" right now is this thread and my twitter, but this will be remedied after the new SFGHQ site rolls out which won't be long now. We'll have a nice proper place setup for Sonic Utopia with info, updates, and downloads.


I know the Sonic Adventure thing is sort of a tangent, but having only just scratched the surface of how its collision works under the hood, I cannot stress that point enough. Right on the money. They had to design their own robust collision system capable of handling high speed collision, and it had to run fast and efficiently on a 200 MHz CPU. Not easy by any means, and it shows!

That aside though, I look forward to seeing more of Sonic Utopia in the future. I loved it. You guys are doing a fantastic job.
This post has been edited by Morph: 15 August 2017 - 04:28 AM

#197 User is offline UpCDownCLeftCRightC 

Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:43 AM

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View PostMr Lange, on 15 August 2017 - 03:11 AM, said:

We're doing pretty well, but taking our sweet time with it. The last few months have been very much R&D work. Murasaki has been rewriting the engine, and I've been working out tools and workflows for building levels. I had to ditch this effort with the first demo and ended up with a very hackish mess. Since then I've been trying to find solutions and now I'm close. When it's ready then building levels will be incredibly swift and flexible. I think we're going to skip SAGE to take our time with this, but we're still working towards a new demo. All this effort is going to pay off in the long term.

I have seen a lot of comments along the lines of "this is what Sonic Team should've done on the Saturn/Dreamcast to begin with" etc. This is a certainly understandable sentiment, but I think it's worth explaining some things in their defense.
Sonic Utopia is relying on technologies that did not even exist back then. Aside from the robust amount of geometry and calculations at its disposal, it's also utilizing Unity's PhysX implementation to power motion and collisions. The Dreamcast had comparatively very limited technology, Sonic Team had to do things like movement and collision way more raw, and they were tapping into unexplored territory. Trying to compare Super Mario 64 and Sonic Adventure is terribly unfair for Sonic. Mario is a much simpler platformer and translating it to 3d was already a very daunting task. Doing the same for Sonic is exponentially more complicated in terms of technology and game design, and so you can safely bet the probable reason for Sonic being in limbo during the Saturn era. You can see they made an earnest effort in the earlier stages of Sonic Adventure, particularly with the Windy Valley beta. It's much more natural and there's a much greater emphasis on slopes and exploration in the level design, showing they were attempting a genuine translation of 2d Sonic, one that was based more around momentum and slope physics. The final contrasts this with much more linear level design filled with boosters and scripted events. When you take this into account with the untethered slope physics being pretty buggy, it paints a picture of them having to abandon their intentions and make some big compromises. They ended up with a stable, understood formula, and the rest is history.

The closest thing to a "page" right now is this thread and my twitter, but this will be remedied after the new SFGHQ site rolls out which won't be long now. We'll have a nice proper place setup for Sonic Utopia with info, updates, and downloads.


I'm glad you folks do understand what they went through. Though 3D Sonic has had a rough history I personally have always been a bit more forgiving of SA1 in comparison to later titles simply because they were in uncharted territory at the time. And you correctly point out things I hadn't though about as much, primarily because I'm not a game designer (I study astrophysics....so while I think about translating physics to higher dimensions, it is not quite the same variety ;) ).

I'm painfully curious about how you all have decided to handle the level structure, from taking a more classically "point A to B" approach or building upon a more open philosophy. With this I'm sure you have your own plans and goals, as seeing as you're merely trying to get to full proof of concept, you don't have to worry about designing a full game yet. I wonder what road you'll take though. The purely A to B level structure of the classics would probably make for a pretty short game no matter how quickly one can design levels, so I'd imagine there'd be something more to the concept. And expanding Sonic's potential into something more than the classics could be may have you utilizing exploration in ways that couldn't be done before. There are a lot of really cool scenarios I can imagine Sonic in, in which Sonic can fully engage the terrain and independent objects within the environment. That I'm sure is also a matter of what kind of base level physics you have. Ugh, I just see soooo much potential for this, its driving me nuts.

#198 User is offline Mr Lange 

Posted 15 August 2017 - 05:43 PM

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View PostAmnimator, on 15 August 2017 - 04:22 AM, said:

^ Interested to see what kind of gameplay you guys will do outside of the proof of concept!

Also, I wouldn't say Adventure's physics were buggy because the technologies didn't exist. I think it's mainly just how the system was designed. Given enough R&D, they could've gotten pretty reliable tech running behind Adventure 1 on DC and GC. I know you didn't mean this, but the wording makes it sound like Nvidia PhysX or Havok is the only reason why we can get collision and slopes in 3D functional. I think it's all about the methodology.
Eg.) How collision and what not are more reliable on the DC version than the ports.
Good luck peeps, on your work on Sonic Utopia. With lessons learned from the proof of concept, this can be pretty good.

EDIT: Glossed over the fact that the Dreamcast wasn't all that powerful to begin with, limiting them in what kind of solutions they had to think up of. Morph mentions this in the next page.
I still feel it's mainly in the methods they used still. Mario 64 was using half steps and what not - giving it high speed and reliable collision way back on the N64.

I was not speaking in absolutes. I'm saying that Utopia was made possible with the technology we have today, and only specified what it's using. There's many ways it can be done.
And I do believe it's possible on the Dreamcast even if to a limited extent, but the conditions they had to work with was not enough.

View PostMorph, on 15 August 2017 - 04:27 AM, said:

I know the Sonic Adventure thing is sort of a tangent, but having only just scratched the surface of how its collision works under the hood, I cannot stress that point enough. Right on the money. They had to design their own robust collision system capable of handling high speed collision, and it had to run fast and efficiently on a 200 MHz CPU. Not easy by any means, and it shows!

That aside though, I look forward to seeing more of Sonic Utopia in the future. I loved it. You guys are doing a fantastic job.

Thank you. And not just high speed collisions, but functioning 3d slope physics with good control. Not even ordinary ball physics either, but the abstract kind unique to Sonic. You're looking at a game that demands not only these systems made from the ground up on limited hardware, but large levels that demand extra polygons for defined curves, a comfortable accessible control scheme in tandem with all of this, a well behaved camera to go with it, and figuring out the game design for all of it and applying it properly across huge levels for an entire game, and none of this had ever really been explored before. All things considered, even the compromised state of Sonic Adventure is an impressive feat, and one can't help but be forgiving of them for the challenges they were facing.


View PostUpCDownCLeftCRightC, on 15 August 2017 - 09:43 AM, said:

I'm glad you folks do understand what they went through. Though 3D Sonic has had a rough history I personally have always been a bit more forgiving of SA1 in comparison to later titles simply because they were in uncharted territory at the time. And you correctly point out things I hadn't though about as much, primarily because I'm not a game designer (I study astrophysics....so while I think about translating physics to higher dimensions, it is not quite the same variety ;)/> ).

I'm painfully curious about how you all have decided to handle the level structure, from taking a more classically "point A to B" approach or building upon a more open philosophy. With this I'm sure you have your own plans and goals, as seeing as you're merely trying to get to full proof of concept, you don't have to worry about designing a full game yet. I wonder what road you'll take though. The purely A to B level structure of the classics would probably make for a pretty short game no matter how quickly one can design levels, so I'd imagine there'd be something more to the concept. And expanding Sonic's potential into something more than the classics could be may have you utilizing exploration in ways that couldn't be done before. There are a lot of really cool scenarios I can imagine Sonic in, in which Sonic can fully engage the terrain and independent objects within the environment. That I'm sure is also a matter of what kind of base level physics you have. Ugh, I just see soooo much potential for this, its driving me nuts.

The levels will primarily be start to finish. Sonic does have to adapt its gameplay for 3d, and while it's understood that Super Mario 64 addressed the jump to 3d by going for an open world mission design, this does not mean Sonic has to copy Mario's approach in order to make the jump as well. Sonic and Mario have unique gameplay and priorities in their design. Granted, going with the SM64 approach would probably work nicely for Sonic in theory (Sonic CD already sets the stage for such a concept), I don't believe this is the ideal.
I consider traversing a world from start to finish an important part of Sonic's game, and I want to preserve that in a 3d setting. Being able to explore and make your own ways through is part of this experience. This can be capitalized on in 3d as you can scope out your environment and pursue places of interest. But, I would consider that part of the journey, and not an end goal by itself.
Note that I said primarily start to finish. There will be secondary objectives that reward exploring, collecting, and learning the game. There will also be special missions in each level that can be played outside of the main game (think Sonic Adventure 2; it had the main goal campaign and a separate stage select with selectable missions).

#199 User is offline Ritz 

Posted 16 August 2017 - 12:27 AM

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View PostAmnimator, on 15 August 2017 - 04:22 AM, said:

Also, I wouldn't say Adventure's physics were buggy because the technologies didn't exist. I think it's mainly just how the system was designed. Given enough R&D, they could've gotten pretty reliable tech running behind Adventure 1 on DC and GC. I know you didn't mean this, but the wording makes it sound like Nvidia PhysX or Havok is the only reason why we can get collision and slopes in 3D functional. I think it's all about the methodology.
Eg.) How collision and what not are more reliable on the DC version than the ports.

Reminder that the original Super Monkey Ball was running on NAOMI hardware and a Dreamcast port was planned. Sega already solved the physics problem, just too late for Sonic.

Come to think of it, given the timing (2001), I wonder if Super Monkey Ball wasn't a byproduct of continued R&D within Sega towards solving Sonic physics in 3D? Something to ask Toshihiro Nagoshi if he ever winds up on a panel.

#200 User is offline UpCDownCLeftCRightC 

Posted 16 August 2017 - 09:41 AM

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@ Mr. Lange if you guys do create a strong, full game concept that allows Sonic to primarily keep his A to B level philosophy, that will be quite an achievement. Even Sonic Team has not managed to do this in almost 20 years in all their experimentation without resorting to padding gimmicks.

I'm rooting for this so hard, you have no idea.

#201 User is offline Murasaki Fox 

Posted 20 August 2017 - 11:10 PM

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Indeed, we stand on the backs of giants. I greatly appreciate everything that's gone into the pursuit of 3D Sonic games, especially from games like Sonic Adventure 1 and Sonic Unleashed. Each of them is a step in the journey in that pursuit. Between these and the classic games and my unstable joints, these experiences have been training me nearly my whole life, and I owe a great deal to every Sonic game I've played. Yes, even '06.

As for whether these kinds of physics would have been possible on older hardware, I can't quite say. I'm still waiting to perfect the design before I really test the CPU footprint. However, the mathematics of motion are very engine-agnostic.

#202 User is offline Aerosol 

Posted 21 August 2017 - 01:16 AM

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Out of curiosity, are you guys using a Rigidbody and applying physics force to move Sonic? Or a standard capsule collider and more explicit scripts? I stumbled on TCRF's page on Sonic Adventure and it showed that game used capsule colliders, and obviously there was no robust physics simulation going on, so it made me wonder.

#203 User is offline Murasaki Fox 

Posted 21 August 2017 - 09:02 AM

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View PostAerosol, on 21 August 2017 - 01:16 AM, said:

Out of curiosity, are you guys using a Rigidbody and applying physics force to move Sonic? Or a standard capsule collider and more explicit scripts? I stumbled on TCRF's page on Sonic Adventure and it showed that game used capsule colliders, and obviously there was no robust physics simulation going on, so it made me wonder.


I use a rigidbody with a capsule collider, though thanks to the new input-output format it would be very easy to apply it to any other kind of controller as well. I may not be totally fond of Unity's CharacterController system (which also uses its own built-in capsule collider), but it should work too.

#204 User is offline UpCDownCLeftCRightC 

Posted 24 August 2017 - 09:20 PM

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Just wanted to put out a short feeler on some "Utopia-inspired" thinking, something I posted on another forum. Of course I've been wanting a legitimate 3D classic since 1995 but not until I spent time considering your (incomplete) open world demonstration did I---for funsies---rethink some of those ideas into a different framework. And yes I said for funsies. Deal.

Also I'm fully aware this is not well timed because you all are deep in foundational development mode but I'd had a thing or two I wanted to run by you. I also know that you have your team and internal ideas and brain trust, and I'm an external cheerleader. Understood.

Having said that:

Goal: To design a 3D, open-environment Sonic in a way that is not a full on collect-a-thon like Mario, and make his actions/goals working towards something important based on a simple and straightforward narrative. Instead of primarily collecting items, for example, Sonic could travel to new areas to defeat Eggman's (Robotnik) presence as he's attempted a hostile subjugation of the natural life and energy. Maybe Eggman has trapped a village of creatures that need saving and Sonic needs to work to destroy a system of machines powered by the animals. The larger framework in which I might do it is having Sonic travel across a series of islands/sub-islands in order to restore their natural environment from Eggman having already taken over or preventing his incoming onslaught. But this can happen in many different ways as well, with different tasks depending upon what machines Eggman has built there or the environment itself. Each island is designed differently, as "Zones", or perhaps contain several connecting Zones between them based on unique, transitioning themes. Maybe there's a sub-island designed like a small city (Starlight Zone/Casinopolis) in which Sonic can go try the slots. There, exists an outdoor skatepark in which Sonic is challenged by someone to a contest for some meaningful reward. Or Sonic for some reason needs to knock out a group of robots that have tried to hack the casino slots, or divert power away from the Casino for Eggman's machines etc.


This is kind of where I'd go with it, and there's almost unlimited potential in the amount of things you can create for Sonic to do while having it naturally progress toward some ultimate goal of "saving the world/islands" like Sonic typically does. What makes it work is that you design the game's physics to be rewarding to control and master like the classics, and thus the player is motivated to reach new areas by mastering Sonic's smooth movement mechanics. And not only make Sonic naturally fun to control and experiment with, but design the environment to have many interactive pieces that complement Sonic's natural movement and make him perform standard actions in new ways.
The narrative/story can be written in almost an episodic format, so that as you unlock and reach new areas you have reasons to occasionally return to old ones, while working towards a final segment or final island-zone. And the bosses, I can imagine being done in a way that mimics the traditional A to B level progression of the classics.
Think: boss levels could be your traditional "Act 1" and "Act 2" level runs with bosses at the end; act 1 serving as sort of the mini boss for the area and then Act 2 being the main boss but these bosses appear at different, appropriate times. Maybe Act 1 happens as an introduction to a new Zone on an island or sub-island and then you can explore the area after defeating the mini boss; then Act 2 happens after a completion percentage in restoring/saving the area, as an active transition to the next Zone... and then you're ambushed by the main boss of the current one. So the game still connects the essence of the classics but expands it into a new framework. And as a bonus unlockable mode (or a totally separate mode at the title screen) you could have "Arcade Mode", which would simply be a progressive playthrough of the Act 1s and Act 2s combined in the traditional way of the classics, for purists and speedrunners. Mind you, this is not to separate the open world experience from the core elements that make Sonic unique but just to offer a side attraction for those who really want a specific thing and provide additional hours of fun, replayable content.

Tails and Knuckles can easily exist and complement this kind of gameplay, though my main focus would be on establishing Sonic first and proving that it is excellent. Done well It can make for an experience that has plenty of meaningful, motivating content to warrant a AAA budget and rival other game competitors like Mario and Zelda. Goodbye to the days of gimmicky padding; now alternative exploration fully complements the core experience!

But um... yeah all that sort of jazz. :D
This post has been edited by UpCDownCLeftCRightC: 24 August 2017 - 10:07 PM

#205 User is offline Frostav 

Posted 26 August 2017 - 01:19 PM

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Mr. Lange, I just want to use my Trial period to tell you that this is without a doubt the best translation of Classic Sonic mechanics into 3D, and that this one demo has been one of the most fun things I have ever played, no joke. I honestly think you need to be hired, Taxman-style, to make a full-on Sonic game with this engine.

However I've been having a weird problem with the demo on my computer, where the controls are all messed up and the camera does nothing but point straight down at Sonic's head and spin around. I'm using a Dualshock 4 with Ds4windows and it's worked before, but I dunno what's causing this.
Weird, it works fine now. Welp, nevermind. My other comments still stand, though I think it's a little weird that you can move right after hitting a spring, making landing on tiny platforms after hitting one tricky. The classics restricted your movement more in that situation I feel.
This post has been edited by Frostav: 26 August 2017 - 07:08 PM

#206 User is offline WhoWhatWhenWhale 

Posted 10 September 2017 - 02:55 PM

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Oh crap! SAGE is in a few weeks! That means that there might be more news about my favorite incarnation of 3D Sonic Fangames! Seriously, I think that this has the potential to be, (and already somewhat is,) what
Sonic Adventure was trying to be. Can't believe I'm this hyped about the possibility of some news about this game at SAGE 2017. I can't wait to see what a non-techdemo level will be like, even if it doesn't come this SAGE. You guys are great and you should feel great for continuing work on this awsome game!

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