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3D Sonic Level Design

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by P3DR0, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. Dark Sonic

    Dark Sonic

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    I'd say that any levels after Sonic Adventure 1 do not deserve to be remade (In fact the only reason I include SA1 is because that game was made so early that there's a lot they can do to recreate a level, I mean look at Speed Highway in Generations). After that point, we've seen the levels before in 3D and especially in the case of shamelessly recreating Rooftop Run in Generations, what can you do to make it different? It just looks lazy in that regard. As for the classic stages though, I mean just look at Sky Sanctuary Generations vs Sky Sanctuary Sonic & Knuckles. If they gave the Generations version a different name, removed the death egg, and changed the music, it would still be more original than half of Sonic Heroes.
     
  2. Andrew75

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    How come everyone forgets about the technicly superior ghz 2.5D demo ? Oh wait,,, no eye candy you say?? It could easily have eye candy graphics too.... (using udk )*cries*
    Just imagin what's possible using the engine for both an original 2.5D or 3D type game, using the classic momentum physics systems that were painstakingly recreated.

    (anyways I say superior to fan remix in the way as in what's going on under the hood. like our custom depth change system that is not broken as seen in fan remix)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tR2sLAXzF84
     
  3. Dark Sonic

    Dark Sonic

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    Tooting your own horn is fun isn't it.

    ANYWAYS yes the point in this regard wasn't technicality rather it was eye candy. This demo didn't really have any.
     
  4. Mr Lange

    Mr Lange

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    I didn't forget about it. I would've added that to the list of images but it's too similar to the original, so it must be dumb and pointless, after all. I however regard it as every bit as interesting a remake as other remakes.
     
  5. Andrew75

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    The Fan remix assets could be ported to GHZ 2.5D classic engine and we'd have a more complete engine with less bugs.
    Maybe even add some improvements to the eye candy to boot.

    Edit:
    HMM,, for ghz. we could add lighting, replace the textures, and add normal maps and it'd look just as pretty lol
    But I think that using this engine for something like one of the above photo-shoped pics above would be a little more ideal. (2.5D game with hand painted sprites and textures)
    Or maybe even a 3D game with similar style.
    Sonic X-treme has the same physics shown in ghz 2.5D. and the game uses sprites, just replace them with a high res hand painted Sprites in the style of Sonic CD's intro and you'd have one hell of a kick ass visual. (And yes do away with the block environment.)
    We have it set up so that the camera can also rotate around Sonic's sprite and change sprite angle acordingly (its locked in Xtreme's main levels though) So yeah who needs cell shading when authentic hand painted images are used?!

    Anyways if any of you art guys out there are up for drawing up some sprite sheets in the fashion as shown below, I wouldn't mind slapping them into GHZ 2.5D.

    [​IMG]

    I've also been working on a formula that turns 3D models into what looks like organic moving paintings. (only a select few have got to see this in motion. been trying to keep this under wraps till after AXSX was finished)
    The tech is good for any game that uses 3D models.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Sparks

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    As I've been working a long time writing out 2D style gameplay applied to 3D, I find this to be a really great read P3DR0. :)

    For loops, I've always felt that loops were mostly a "cosmetic compliment" to Sonic level design, 2D or 3D, so I think you're on the money about their role. They basically compliment the atmosphere of the Sonic games. I think the ability to skip through a loop could actually be interesting in terms of speed running. Alternatively, a 3D loop can be designed to avoid easy "loop skipping," should the game give player full control as going through the loop.

    I agree about linearity too. Games like Mario work as a 3D platformer, where you go slow and take your time to collect things. That's not Sonics style as much, and thus a more linear style gameplay works. Loops working relies a lot on the camera, as you said, but that reminds me; A heavy part of making a Sonic game work in 3D relies on how the camera works and interacts with the 3D level architecture.

    For people struggling a bit with expanding their Z axis scenery, I'd suggest that it's a lot like designing the parallax in 2D Sonic levels, which have a pseudo-Z axis.
    [​IMG]
    Even in 2D, it's not hard to imagine how Emerald Hills background could convert to a 3D Z axis for scenery purposes.

    As for 2D level design in 3D platformers, my personal opinion is it should be avoided.


    I've been wanting to make a topic a long time about my interpretation of a speed based 3D platformer, but I think it'd be pretty useless to do without a test engine to show off the concept. :flunked:

    Your guides off to a beautiful start, P3DR0!
     
  7. Mr Lange

    Mr Lange

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    ...oh god.
    They play into the physics you know, you don't just step into a loop and magically move through them... that is, in the 2D games. They're as much a part of the natural terrain as anything else. They double as passageways and platforms and can be used to increase speed with skilled jumps. They're the best of form AND function, not just form. They don't just sit around to look pretty, but they can do that too.
    This is why they became pointless in the 3D games since momentum physics no longer exist and a script just yanks you through them automatically. Nowadays they really are nothing but a cosmetic piece.
     
  8. Andrew75

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    Corkscrews are also an obstacle of sorts, if you don't have the speed you wont make it across, potentially losing out on accessing an alternate path.
     
  9. Hukos

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    Fantastic topic and a great read! :)

    I'd always felt like S3&K was trying to go in a 3D-ish design, but the tech of the Genesis limited what they could do at the time. Glad I'm not the only one who felt that way.
     
  10. Tiller

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    Wat. I'm going to agree with Lange here. Loops should function as part of level design and not just eye candy. They can serve both roles quite well but its all up to implementation. 3D wise things are harder but not impossible. There are plenty of designs from 2D that could work in 3D, for example:


    [​IMG]


    Can easily be applied in 3D and diverge to an alternate path in the same manner. Think Adventure controls and physics with more polish. The player would see the alternate path before traversing the loop letting them know it exists. Through correct timing you can use the momentum and angle for the slope to jump to the alternate path. You could even just skip the loop by hopping over it, though you would miss out on rings and the alt path if you think it would save time.

    [​IMG]

    Alternatively: Modern Sonic edition

    [​IMG]

    Please excuse my pitiful attempts at perspective.
     
  11. Sparks

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    You guys are right, I did forget instances like that (perhaps I'm due another playthrough of Sonic 2 and 3 to jog my memory!).

    Shame too, since I regularly use loops for extra momentum by rolling when I play through levels. :ohdear: When you begin rolling right at the top of a loop, you get a bit more speed than you would by running.

    edit: the heck is going on with the emote code?
     
  12. Tiller

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    Specifically I recall in Sandopolis you spun around in the loops to gain momentum to launch you upwards to the next part of the act. Emerald Hill uses the two loops and the momentum from spinning through them to get to the interior mountain path. Sonic CD's uses them to help with going to the past and hides item boxes on top of them.
     
  13. Well...... I just don't see why it's bad for speedrunners to do things like that. Thing is, not everyone is a speed runner. Sure, I can do a good speedrun, but I find it much more fulfilling to breeze through the stage and take it all in, rather than just getting it overwith for the sake of it. As such, I'd find it more thrilling to move through a loop with the camera behind Sonic so I can watch the world flip around me, than to just skip that. Some may find it dizzying, in which case they're free to avoid it, but I just think it's coooooool. I do agree that loop splines aren't a big problem and are a good compromise as long as whether the player makes it through or not is dependent on... well, the PLAYER, which I can't say for recent Sonic games, but like you've said, it's important to give the player options and let them experience what they want.

    Anyway, I do agree with most of the things you wrote here. Some of these are things I've ranted and raved about for years, though.... not as well. That said, I am trying to bring certain ideas into practice with Exodus. I guess my problems with, say, the daytime stages is how claustrophobic and limiting they feel. Sure, there often ARE the usual expected 2 or 3 alternate paths, but they don't impress me much because they only occasionally connect and, for the most part, just feel like randomly intersecting lines, and not a world in itself. Each path on their own is tiresomely linear, but together, they still don't work, especially in 3D. Some of the modern stages, however, are a MASSIVE improvement, especially Seaside Hill. This place feels so open, and it's because all the paths frequently overlap and mesh together, making it feel more like one big place than a bunch of mostly disconnected, isolated smaller places... and yet, the player still knows where to go. They have options, they have wiggle room, but it all leads them to the goal ring eventually.

    Then there's Green Hill Paradise... which is cool, but lacks direction. Granted this sort of thing could easily be solved by showing the player where the goal is with a big beam of light that reaches the sky and is always there until the player is ready to head over there, like in Brutal Legend or Ultimate Spider Man... that said, it's kind of a copout and something you want to avoid having to use in a Sonic game.

    In the case of Sonic Exodus, I am trying to make a statement of how I think level design should be. Granted, not the entire stage is going to be designed like "The backyard" near the beginning. That's just a place for players to practice rolling and get a hang of how momentum can be used to get around. Most of the stage is going to be like modern Seaside Hill, but on an even bigger scale if I can help it. There will be many, MANY paths, but they all lead somewhere and eventually converge at the other end of the island. The player won't, or at least shouldn't, get lost.

    Anyway, great opening post.

    Also...... I freaking love Corviddude's work. He knows what's allll about.
     
  14. Aesculapius Piranha

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    Great post, P3DR0.

    One nitpick that is bugging me is that I don't feel that a game can be "too open." You do touch on the solution which is cueing the player visually, which is something a good sandbox game has to do a lot of. That doesn't mean you have to restrict the level to three paths. Just keep in mind if you are making a sandbox game around Sonic, just having a large, pretty, open world is not enough. You have to have a full environment with things to distract and entertain you along with objectives. Classic elements in 2D Sonic don't lend themselves to that very well. The adventure fields in Sonic Adventure both succeed and fail at this in different parts. Keeping in mind some of the things you can interact with in Station Square may be a good start to making a Sonic game with a sandbox feel.

    My two cents. :specialed:
     
  15. Chimera

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    I don't think the focus was "sandbox Sonic" design, but the idea behind sandbox sonic is actually an intriguing one. I'm ok with Sandbox games but when people say sandbox, I usually think they mean they want a game where the objective is literally "fuck around," I.e. Minecraft. I personally get tired of Minecraft after a while; there's so much to do but sometimes I do all the things I'm interested in, realize there's no objective, and I start to feel like when I finish Pokemon or Saints Row; the story's done and all the objectives are finished so what do I do now? Just go around and grind/shoot people (respectively)? I mean yes the point of minecraft itself is to make your own objective with all the resources you got, but perrssooonaalllyy I prefer a game where at the very least you DO have a good amount of objectives to complete, a goal, quest, journey, story if you will.

    Personally I'd like to see, if a sandbox Sonic were to be a thing, something like a seamless HUB world that has a variety of environments that blend into each other, but the entirety of the world is a bunch of zany twisted geometry that make it a challenge to get to some points, but a fun challenge. And when you get to certain areas, you're given missions/quests/objectives, sending you to other places on the map, giving you that A to B, "conventional Sonic" sort of feel. However, it's not something where you enter an icey cave and suddenly you're going to a ski resort, or going up a wind tunnel and suddenly you're in a garden in the sky. It'd be more like, the HUB is a gaint ruinous area and your quest is to go through the ruinous area and reach a place to go THROUGH that ruinous area, OR you reach an area of beaches and tiny islands and you're told to go to a certain place and run towards an island way out in the distance, thus running from small island to small island and going through, IDK sea ruins or something. Basically you can run through the world in a sandbox fashion, but you also get quests as you explore, and those quests would be your A-B "acts." Then you have a multitude of paths to go through, and quite possibly those quests could change the object placement or what have you and open/close some areas to move to.

    I could see this working, actually.
     
  16. Pexs

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    Chimera, that actually sounds a lot like Burnout Paradise. And I think that would actually go PERFECT. Paradise is quite literally a "racing sandbox." All it says is "get from point A to point B, choose your own path." The city you race in is HUGE, and even when not racing you can still "run" around as you please.

    What you're speaking of really would translate well to an Open-World 3D Sonic Sandbox. The real thing to get down would be making Sonic enjoyable to run around as.
     
  17. Chimera

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    Literally I think refined Lost World gameplay with acceleration and a jump dash as powerful as the air boost would be perfect. HARDCORE PARKOR.

    As well as a system I believe LinkSonic5 came up with: tapping B = stomp but holding B = bounce. Genius.

    EDIT: oh and no fucking gravity gimmick. That's fine for once and a while but Lost World gameplay with acceleration would SHINE with actual slopes, curves, etc in geometry instead of glorified flat planes with blocks protruding out of them.
     
  18. Aesculapius Piranha

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    Perhaps I wasn't clear. I'm just trying to point out that I don't feel there is such thing as too open, but when you go into completely open you naturally get into sandbox elements. You can't be wishy washy about it, which I think is where the problems P3DR0 mentioned emerge. It's not because a level is too open that it becomes bad, but because the designer is treating an open level like a standard 3 path level.

    And you are kind of lending yourself to my point. =D Yes, there are indeed good ways to go about an open Sonic. I just don't know if fan games have gone there yet.
     
  19. Chimera

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    Yeh I see what you're saying; having "open design" naturally lends itself to open world in a way, I spose. Of course, like what Pedro said with "where the fuck do I go?" as a problem, I think that's more of a sense of directionlessness. Like, you have really NOWHERE to go but, well, wherevee you feel like. It's dicking around: the game. Sandbox of course doesn't HAVE to go that route I guess :p

    And I spose I am leading into your point; I don't think any fangames have tried that yet, no, but mainly I think that's due to lack of an engine that would support such a feat. Of course we have UDK but I refuse to use that as my core development tool until I can actually import assets in BATCH and remove useless features that only make the game run slower :X (the latter is probably possible, but the former is not. At all as of now. Hell there's even some legacy features that would help a whole load but just don't work anymore which is such a PAIN.)
     
  20. Faseeh

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    That was such an amazing read. I'm designing a Modern remake of Egg Fleet so expect to see some of the tips I've read there :P

    Oh this just caught my eye, might go off-topic, sorry, but I'll try to relate it.

    You see, in Sonic games, the level design should not be like "hey you can screw around in this part" and then "you can jump here and there but you know there's the final part you need to go to" and then "hey I have a huge hill here, and nothing at the top, but exploration". There needs to be a constant flow, it shouldn't be like jarring and too off-throwing. I haven't seen this mentioned in this thread very outwardly yet too.

    I mean, most people know physics well enough to get into momentum easily and honestly, there aren't gonna more than 4 new Sonic fans from your game that really have no clue about rolling and moving. I mean, Sonic 1 didn't need it. If that didn't need it I see no need for a backyard and a field sticking to a level that has nothing to do with the actual level.

    Unleashed needed it because it was a very different gameplay and even then, it had relavance to the story. Sonic was getting from where he fell to the actual Apotos town. This gameplay is pretty much kinda sorta SA. The gameplay should be considered when making level designs, be it 2D or 3D.

    The art style of the backyard and house, compared to the seaside stuff, clashes too hard sometimes, I mean, honestly if you put it as an OPTIONAL tutorial level in the main level select screen, all alone, none of these problems are a large issue. It's the fact that it's a not fun section being compulsory, when I know how to play Sonic, and so do most people that are gonna play your game.
    -------------------

    Anyways though, for myself I believe that art style plays a huge part in the design. I mean, Lost World going for the abstract idea is probably why the went for highway-in-the-sky and floating level designs. To be perfectly honest, while I like simplistic art style, I also like the stuff from Gens and Unleashed, but if it's gonna cost the gameplay being limiting I'll stick to the simplistic artstyle. I myself prefer grounded level design with parkour gameplay to be fully honest.

    Limits really should be known when designing 3D stages, you can't have too much or too little going on. You can't really cheat a lot with the new axis in play.

    Nice job again P3DRO!