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Sonic VR

#76 User is offline qiuu 

Posted 27 September 2011 - 12:14 PM

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I'm a bit late to the party, only now trying out the recent releases, but anyway...
I tend to enjoy experimental hacks, and this one was no difference, especially as I like to play some hardcore platformer every now and then. The 'digital' art together with the music gave it a very nice athmosphere.

Quote

In fact it's probably the hack I've enjoyed working on the most, so I'd be interested to hear what you guys think.

I think this is the kind of project I'd enjoy doing as well, so I can totally understand your sentiment. It allows for a lot more experimentation and creativity than something like, say, Sonic 1 and 2, which was pretty goal-oriented and I can imagine partly tedious to do. Here you got some programmer art (simple but aesthetic), spiced up with nice visual effects, and then you can get going trying out whatever you feel like. And I also enjoyed playing this a lot more than Sonic 1 and 2, which, while technically more impressive due to the sheer amount of work that had to be put into it, doesn't have much new and interesting content to offer to me. I wonder what kind of hack you're gonna come up with next yeah, I wouldn't mind something in the same spirit. :)

The only level which I found a bit frustrating was the last one, because my success rate at hitting the 8 pixel platform and not getting flung into the spikes by the red springs wasn't too good, so I had to repeat the first sections a lot. Apart from a few like precision platforming, most levels were pretty nifty where the solution wasn't just executing a couple of obvious moves, but finding some way to doing it that isn't overly difficult to execute. The penultimate level turned out surprisingly simple once I started using the spindash, almost felt kinda cheap doing it.
I think the one downside of using the Sonic engine for this that comes with everything being rather macroscopic (I.e. large on the screen, thus not much fitting within the screen) is that you don't always see where you're going, especially when going downwards, which turned the part with the springs and the spikes at the ceiling into a bit of a guessing game.

#77 User is offline DustArma 

Posted 27 September 2011 - 12:53 PM

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View PostJaseman, on 25 September 2011 - 06:20 PM, said:

I love this hack (but the last world is kicking my ASS) but I do have one thing to note: Doesn't boot on Gensoid on Android (my phone is my primary Genesis emulator). I'd imagine this has something to do with the bankswitching, but thought it was notable.



I noticed that too as I posted earlier, it causes Gensoid to crash and it likely won't get fixed on the emulator side, AFAIK Gensoid's development is dead, it was pulled from the market and the last time it was updated was around April I think.

If you have a powerful device (1GHz+) get GenPlusDroid on the market, it's free and is far more accurate than Gensoid.

#78 User is offline Mr Lange 

Posted 27 September 2011 - 04:04 PM

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I absolutely love this hack and everything about it. I was disappointed in not finding anything after completing the game.
Who did the music for this? Nevermind, first page has the answer.

Also if there are any interests in continuing this hack, I'd love to develop more levels for it. I have... ideas... *rubs hands maniacally*
This post has been edited by Mr Lange: 27 September 2011 - 04:11 PM

#79 User is offline ColinC10 

Posted 27 September 2011 - 04:21 PM

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View Postqiuu, on 27 September 2011 - 12:14 PM, said:

I think this is the kind of project I'd enjoy doing as well, so I can totally understand your sentiment. It allows for a lot more experimentation and creativity than something like, say, Sonic 1 and 2, which was pretty goal-oriented and I can imagine partly tedious to do. Here you got some programmer art (simple but aesthetic), spiced up with nice visual effects, and then you can get going trying out whatever you feel like. And I also enjoyed playing this a lot more than Sonic 1 and 2, which, while technically more impressive due to the sheer amount of work that had to be put into it, doesn't have much new and interesting content to offer to me.

Hi qiuu, good to hear from you. When making Sonic 1 and 2 I had an Excel spreadsheet with a list of tasks and estimated durations on it - that fact alone should give you some idea of how enjoyable it was. Having said that though, I always saw that project as a stepping stone to other things, rather than a finished product. I ran out of time to do much more with the first version so I had to release it in the rather uninspiring "two games stitched together" format. However, now that the ground work's done I can get the benefits in other hacks like Sonic VR. The objects were all ready to go, the "split screen palette" trick became the level fade in/out sequence, and the menus were deliberately basic. I just needed a small amount of work on art and backgrounds and then I could spend the rest of the time doing the fun part of designing devious levels with witty names!


View Postqiuu, on 27 September 2011 - 12:14 PM, said:

The penultimate level turned out surprisingly simple once I started using the spindash, almost felt kinda cheap doing it.

Don't worry, that's deliberate. Like many of the levels, it's simply a puzzle that you found the solution to.


View Postqiuu, on 27 September 2011 - 12:14 PM, said:

I think the one downside of using the Sonic engine for this that comes with everything being rather macroscopic (I.e. large on the screen, thus not much fitting within the screen) is that you don't always see where you're going, especially when going downwards, which turned the part with the springs and the spikes at the ceiling into a bit of a guessing game.

That's a really good point you make about the relative screen size in Sonic games, as it's something I had to constantly keep in mind for this hack. I'm glad somebody else has noticed it and it wasn't just me! No doubt Sega very much intended this as a way to increase the sensation of speed. However, it can limit what you can actually get away with in terms of design, particularly if you want the player to look around their surroundings and think before acting. I'm not surprised you've had this difficulty as well, since the hack you're working on is very puzzle-based. This was the first time I had made levels from scratch, and I was shocked by the amount of effort it takes to make layouts that are fair to the player, in that they can react to obstacles in time and don't have to make awkward leaps of faith. The fact that the levels in Sonic VR are deliberately challenging and one-hit-kill makes it even harder to get right.

Take the level Margin of Error for example, which is a series of halfpipes connected by corridors that have spikes on the floor and ceiling. You have to get enough speed up to cross the floor spikes and land safely in the next halfpipe, but not go so fast that you fly into the ceiling ones. It's a really simple design, but it took me ages to find the right starting point for the player, because of this issue of not being able to see very far compared to the distances Sonic can travel. The original starting point for this level was in the bottom of the first halfpipe. You'd begin by spindashing to the right and immediately see the floor spikes. But then your next reaction is to charge up a full speed spindash to clear the spikes, only to hit the ones on the ceiling that you didn't see!

A better option is to start in a corridor to the left, high enough up the wall so that dropping into the halfpipe gives you enough momentum to roll down and along the bottom, up past the floor spikes, and finally reaching the same height as the ceiling spikes on the opposite side. I've then shown the player all they need to know, so it's over to them to mess it up! However, there's no guarantee that the player won't make a blind jump out into space and completely negate this by landing on the bottom of the halfpipe, or worse, on the floor spikes. The solution I eventually came up with was to put the player in a corridor to the left, but place a Casino Night bumper at the entrance. This forces the player to drop slowly into the halfpipe and get the full tour of the area like I want, and hopefully also reminds them of the similar-looking area in Spring Yard zone so they're already expecting a halfpipe with corridors on either side.

There are a bunch of other levels where it's really important to show the player what they're up against, some of which I think I managed to get right, and others I didn't. In the last level, for the spikes on the ceiling part that you mention, I messed up at the very last minute by lowering the springs slightly. The reason was to avoid too many objects in a row because of sprite flickering, but it means you can't see the spikes any more and thus have no reference point to judge distances with. Sorry about that! Hopefully I'll make fewer mistakes next time round, as I've definitely learned a lot about level design over the past couple of months.

#80 User is offline WouldYouKindly 

Posted 28 September 2011 - 12:18 AM

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Dunno whether or not you all have seen this yet, but this hack is MegaGWolf's latest Showcase. He really seems to enjoy it.



#81 User is offline Mercury 

Posted 28 September 2011 - 05:14 AM

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I have just now finished playing this all the way through, and I have to say: WOW. It's brilliant.

I'm in the middle of packing for a move, so my controllers are packed away, and I played it through with a keyboard (which is less than ideal for me). But even with that, it played great. I had not one moment of frustration, which is highly unusual for me especially with this type of game. I think it's because the length of the levels was perfect.

I liked it so much I played through without the help of savestates (something I do for hacks I really respect), except for those 2 spots with the double SBZ barrels - at first I couldn't figure out how to pass them by, and I used states to experiment quickly until I caught the trick.

The layouts are professional grade, no scratch that, better than professional grade. It would have been so easy to just throw in a bunch of stuff and call it "challenge" especially in this type of game, but a huge amount of effort and thought must have gone into them. Your brief descriptions of your thought process while making it suggest - to me, at least - that you've mastered what it takes to make great game design. You should be extremely proud.

I couldn't pick a favourite level, but I did particularly enjoy Precision Platforming. It was no trouble whatsoever, and could have been much longer and I would have still liked it. My dream game would be a full-fledged Sonic with levels that incorporate clever challenges like these.

I don't want to sound like I'm having a jab at Sonic 2 Retro Remix here, but I feel I must contrast it with Sonic VR. When playing the former, I feel claustrophobic and powerless, like the Sonic engine isn't really that good after all. But with the latter, it makes me realise that - in expert hands - there's still an incredible amount of life left in it, and plenty more fun to be had.

When I get everything set back up and my controller out of storage, you can be sure I'll be playing this over and over again. =)

#82 User is offline steveswede 

Posted 28 September 2011 - 09:06 AM

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View PostMercury, on 28 September 2011 - 05:14 AM, said:

I don't want to sound like I'm having a jab at Sonic 2 Retro Remix here, but I feel I must contrast it with Sonic VR. When playing the former, I feel claustrophobic and powerless, like the Sonic engine isn't really that good after all. But with the latter, it makes me realise that - in expert hands - there's still an incredible amount of life left in it, and plenty more fun to be had.


Horses for courses at the end of the day mate. Retro Remix is just not your thing where it is for me because from my perspective puts it into a different gear with it's different game mechanics. With VR with what I noticed is that it pushes the player to think about using the classic physics to their advantage. The classic Sonic games have always been easy for people to pick up but they is so much more to them when you put a deeper look into them. Maybe this approach hits that sweet spot with you because it eases you in while Retro Remix you have to have a knowledge for the original mechanics and expand on them with the new ones plus change your game to emerald hunting rather than completing levels. Some people just don't find that complexity fun, especially if you already have a mindset about how a game should play.

#83 User is offline Ambil 

Posted 30 September 2011 - 05:17 PM

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I enjoyed this game very much. Specially loved the level names :v:

However, I got a suggestion for level 029 (Arrow Escape). If you run too much, the arrows disappear, making the level much easier.

I remember, many years ago, a post by drx:

View Postdrx, on 13 August 2005 - 06:40 PM, said:

Every sprite has a killing routine, which removes it from memory when eg. you are go away from it.


So I guess you can keep all the objects, including the arrows, no matter how far you run from them, by just disabling this autokilling routine. It shouldn't be a big problem, since there's space in RAM for 80 sprites and I'm sure that the number of objects in any level of your hack is far from the limit.

#84 User is offline nineko 

Posted 30 September 2011 - 06:20 PM

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I think it's not only a matter of RAM. By not "killing" objects you would keep on executing their code indefinitely, eventually hogging the CPU. Perhaps you can alter the behaviour for the arrows only, though.

#85 User is offline DalekSam 

Posted 30 September 2011 - 06:41 PM

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Finally beat it without video assistance! All Together Now was some nasty work, but I had fun without any major hitches.

The Picodrive emulator for PSP fine, though Helix Nebula for the first filesystem worked normally, any other would only play Mermaid, though its a kickass track so I didn't care.

Great fun this, stunning work as always.

#86 User is offline Sik 

Posted 30 September 2011 - 06:45 PM

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View Postnineko, on 30 September 2011 - 06:20 PM, said:

Perhaps you can alter the behaviour for the arrows only, though.
I think that was his intention.

That said, even then you could argue it's too easy - just spindash like hell right at the beginning and you'll go through like half the level in a couple of seconds, getting a huge advantage. So if he really wants to be evil, he could instead put a distance cap on the arrows. But yeah, that's way unfair =P

#87 User is offline nineko 

Posted 30 September 2011 - 06:49 PM

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View PostSik, on 30 September 2011 - 06:45 PM, said:

View Postnineko, on 30 September 2011 - 06:20 PM, said:

Perhaps you can alter the behaviour for the arrows only, though.
I think that was his intention.

View PostAmbil, on 30 September 2011 - 05:17 PM, said:

So I guess you can keep all the objects, including the arrows
:colbert:

#88 User is offline PsychoSk8r 

Posted 30 September 2011 - 06:50 PM

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It can definitely be done, altering code for just one specific object to keep been processed. It's a pretty easy task too.
Though I will say, I had problems out-running the arrows. :v:

Overall though, I've had so much fun playing through this in it's entirety, I still love playing it over and over. Good job as always, and I look forward to what next year may bring. =P

#89 User is offline ColinC10 

Posted 30 September 2011 - 07:29 PM

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View PostMercury, on 28 September 2011 - 05:14 AM, said:

I don't want to sound like I'm having a jab at Sonic 2 Retro Remix here, but I feel I must contrast it with Sonic VR. When playing the former, I feel claustrophobic and powerless, like the Sonic engine isn't really that good after all. But with the latter, it makes me realise that - in expert hands - there's still an incredible amount of life left in it, and plenty more fun to be had.

Wow, controversial - I'd never associate the phrase "claustrophobic and powerless" with Sonic 2 Retro Remix! I'm really glad you enjoyed it though, Mercury, as you were another of the members that I was looking forward to hearing comments from.


View PostAmbil, on 30 September 2011 - 05:17 PM, said:

I enjoyed this game very much. Specially loved the level names :v:

Hooray, somebody else appreciates my daft puns! :v:


View PostAmbil, on 30 September 2011 - 05:17 PM, said:

I got a suggestion for level 029 (Arrow Escape). If you run too much, the arrows disappear, making the level much easier.

Yes, I'm aware of this. It's not that easy to do though, so if you manage it then I'd say you've probably earned the free pass to the rest of the level. Removing the "kill routine" from the arrows would be very easy, but I deliberately didn't do it because being able to outrun them is a feature from the original game. I decided pretty early on when making the hack that every object would be taken directly from Sonic 1 or 2 without any modification whatsoever, so the player doesn't have to relearn how anything behaves and can concentrate on solving the level. The only "new" objects are the VR-themed collapsing floors, breakable walls and moving blocks, but in reality these are just Sonic 1 objects with new art and the occasional resizing, so it's obvious how they work as soon as you encounter them. I must admit I was very tempted to create something for the "final boss", but I think what I came up with in the end using basic objects makes for a reasonably decent fight!

#90 User is offline Sik 

Posted 01 October 2011 - 09:43 PM

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View PostPsychoSk8r, on 30 September 2011 - 06:50 PM, said:

Though I will say, I had problems out-running the arrows. :v:
Spindash right at the beginning (and maybe jump to dodge some obstacle). You'll literally go through like half of the level and the arrows will have been already destroyed.

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