*It's a C/P from SSRG. Hopefully, most of the post I've quoted cross-posted here as well and they cover the points people have here*
Heh, I think this is going to be a huge post, since I couldn't reply to many appearing posts in time, so...
First of all, thank you everybody! I'm so grateful to all your opinions, reviews and criticism and I'm so happy my hack was well-appreciated. This is one of the best felling I've had so far. That felling, when you complete and release the project of life, something you've been working on for years -- Sonic Winter Adventures was certainly my main project all the time, by far I've put more effort and hard working into it than into anything else. Now I'm proud, proud I could do it up to anything: lack of spare time, periods of loosing all the motivation, when I stopped believing there would be anything good coming out of this. But what I'm most happy about is that my work got appreciation. This makes me realize the years of work weren't just in vain. This is what it was made for: to provide you a good game that you enjoy, to make you impressed with what can still be done on good old Mega-Drive. My work (and, I believe, the work of many hackers around here) is mainly inspired by appreciation from other people, this particular hack and most of my work simply wouldn't exist without your recognition (and the highlight on Sonic Retro's front page was beyond my dreams), so thank you!
I know it's too little as a game, it needs A LOT of work and improvements, but still, this is the big event for me, because, I didn't believe I could finally put everything into a form of a complete release -- and here by complete I mean, I could finish all the features I started, made it through the stage of incomplete tech demo with no beginning and no ending, round everything up into one thing -- the game developers may understand me here: it's really hard to round everything up, especially in a hack, and the more features you have, the harder it is finish it, but not as harder as to assemble everything into one game.
I'm really grateful to your detailed reviews, Selbi, RHS and StephenUK!
Gotta go back a small step again, because despite the music being pretty fucking cool, it's just 'pretty fucking cool', not 'super amazing holy-shit-boner-incoming cool'. Plus, it's a shame that the boss music was re-used for every boss. I would've liked some variety. It's also a shame that there are many overused (I couldn't find a word that sounds less negative, sorry for that) ports from other Sonic games.
I would just like to fix that, however, we weren't able to produce more music in time to replace some overused songs, as I set the release date to April 28th (I made a big announcement weeks ago on Russian forums, since the topic of it's predecessor, Quick Winter Adventures, was still active somehow with people wondering about the release). I totally agree about the boss theme being overused. While there are quite a few alternative songs present in the sound test, I still think think the S3 Boss theme suits the best for the bosses I have so far. Not so long before the release I finally found a suitable song for one of my bosses, but it turned out too long and hard to do. I was working on it along with Jet, but unfortunately, we didn't make it in time.
And, to be frankly, SWA's soundtrack is quite chaotic now: it consists of variety of music genres. You see, most of the music was done on experimental basis, kind of to show some blast processing in the music aspect, try out some technically advanced ports, especially from other Genesis games, which are way harder to do then most of the MIDI/XM ports. The culmination of it was Jet's port of the Adventures of Batman & Robin music, something that nobody had done before in SMPS due to huge technical difficulty. But Jet not only did the port, he made an original remix of it, which, in my opinion, sound even more awesome than the original music.
First of all, the bosses (bearing in mind we're talking about level 1 here) are way too hard. I died a couple of times on the first boss, only once on the second, then game over on the 3rd. Plus, these don't "feel" like bosses to me, these feel like "very hard act 1 bosses" from S3K
It looks like the difficulty here is really a problem for many people. In fact, I didn't want to make the bosses hard at all, and they are really easy for me -- I simply can't die on the first 3 bosses unless I play intentionally bad. It's funny how some people complain that the act 3 boss became way too easy comparing to SQWA and the others find it the most difficult thing ever.
Seeing a couple let's plays and walkthroughs on YouTube, I've realized that people just can't find the right strategy against them. Believe me, they become really easy once you come up with a good strategy. Well, that's certainly my fault. I tried to do my best to 'push' players on the right track when fighting bosses, show their weak points and the exact moments you can attack by their behavior and design. I'm certain that a good boss mustn't take you several attempts just to figure out the strategy, he must clearly show you it when you're doing it wrong and his acting and, perhaps, few game hints must prompt you the right strategy. This is how most of the modern games do it at least. On the contrary, old-school games never were so friendly. I remember a lot of games were the bosses seemed as hard as my bosses for you, but in a while, I learned how to beat them and then was like: "How this could even be hard before?". Just play The Adventures of Batman & Robin to see how it tells player absolutely nothing on how to play, making you figure out the game mechanics by trial and error and beat the same level over one hundred times, yet I find this game a masterpiece. But I guess nobody wants this experience with modern games nowadays.
The Act 1 boss
is the last boss I've coded so far (not counting the Ancient Castle 'boss'), it's more technically advanced then the others in the hack, it took more work and effort and I think of it as one of my best bosses. I wanted to make the strategy clear: The weak point is his 'eye' that throws missiles on you and you can hit it only after it stopped charging to generate new missiles. When it's vulnerable, the crosshair appears and you can perform homing attack, pretty similar to Sonic 4. The crosshair and ability to home on it were implemented after the private release, when I got some feedback from Tech Members. I thought that would make it much easier and obvious. Well, it did for me, but didn't for many people, to my regret. I've seen that many people attempt to attack the eye between shooting the missiles, which is wrong acting, because, look at the eye -- it's flickering, which means charging! In one guy's LP, he even thought that the crosshair bugs because he couldn't home on the eye or hit it between missiles.
But at least, some players got it right: http://bit.ly/ZjkeSX
-- here's a lovely example of beating this boss with a right strategy. No moves beyond human's reaction. No damage taken.
I'll be thinking of what can I do to resolve all those vaguenesses with figuring out the right strategy.
The Act 2 boss.
I'm glad most people found it pretty good and not over-complicated. Actually, this one of my early bosses, no changes were made since 2011. I think I was lucky on this one, the strategy is obvious and the difficulty is pretty balanced -- it's really hard to pick that balance when making a good boss.
The Act 3 boss
I consider as the worst boss in a hack. In fact, this is the second boss I've ever made in a Sonic hack. Both this one and Act 2 boss were programmed years before Megahack, so they are of a worse quality. This one is the oldest: it was programmed back in 2010 and no significant changes were made since then. So it's obviously inaccurate. I planned to redo it from scratch, but the new ideas I have would require creating additional animations and a lot of effort for other things. I just realized I wouldn't make this in time. I didn't want to reject something that I put much effort into after all (even though creating a boss like this isn't an achievement for me anymore).
I really have no idea where these two weird glitches were coming from. There was a big beta-testing of SWA, involving several good testers as well as real-life testing with so of my friends, which took place in Tula (a Russian city). I played through the hack several times myself and couldn't spot any glitches like this, other people didn't have problems with playing it as well. Nobody hasn't met anything like this before, which makes me wonder.
If that happens only on hardware, check out if the SRAM works correctly. The only thing that cause weird in-game glitches was spoiled SRAM data. This usually ended with the game being unable to pause or crashing if the pause button is pressed. I though I fixed the case of broken SRAM data, but maybe I've missed something.
Anyways, it's really sad some weird glitches ruined the whole game experience for you.
I think the concept of a winter based hack is a little too basic for a hack of this calibre, and I think with a different approach and storyline, this could go on to be one of those rare gems that I would love to play again and again. At the moment though, I don't think the current direction does it the justice it deserves. I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future though all the same, as the technical stuff was indeed very impressive.
I totally agree with this point. I myself realize that the idea of the hack is somewhat stupid and I'm already running out of ideas of how to develop it. Actually, I have an idea of the plot, explaining everything about the hack, the fact is, I don't know if I can produce more winter-themed levels and make them unique without the same color teasing your eyes.
You see, this hack slowly evolved from a small mini-hack, Sonic Quick Winter Adventures from 2009. Literally. I didn't even change the disassembly since SQWA's source. To my surprise, SQWA was somewhat successful when firstly released. I didn't expect it, I had a different plans back then, but as a lot of people asked me to continue this hack, I did. At first, I was just enjoying working on it as a small mini-hack, playing around with implementing different things and ideas, mainly to practice my coding skills. As I didn't have time to start something serious back then -- I worked on SQWA. Apparently, the development almost stopped in 2011 as I had even less time then as well as lost the interest. In the end of 2012, as many people were still wondering about the project, I decided to revive it. Somehow I realized it can turn out into a big project and I always wanted a big project. So, I chose SQWA that had a plenty of new stuff, but nothing was finished, changed the name to Sonic Winter Adventures and started the toughest hard working I've had so far. To say, a HUGE amount of work has been made since the end of 2012 and the hack has finally got its face.
I think for a while in the nearest future this will still stay Winter Adventures. I'll try to get as much as I can from this idea: extend levels, fix bugs, improve the bosses. Then, I'll most likely make another project based on it. Which means you see a lot of stuff from SWA, but under another title, with different zones and settings. But this if only I'll have enough time in the future, which I am unsure on.
* * *
Collect 50 rings and press A+C.
The only thing I don't understand is how do you activate the Super Sonic form.