A bold yet unintrusive new way to play as other characters!

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by NickonAquaMagna, Oct 18, 2012.

  1. First, lemme just say that comments like "blegh, it should only be Sonic. screw everyone else" are completely worthless silencer arguments here and deeply discouraged. We're here to discuss possibilities and encourage innovation, not to shut up anyone who has a different idea.

    This thread is something of a continuation of the thread I posted yesterday http://forums.sonicretro.org/index.php?showtopic=30048 and since then, we've established that Sega and Sonic Team are utterly incompetent when it comes to developing this sort of thing without it crashing down disastrously. In that case, please don't take these threads TOO seriously. Just forget about whatever Sonic team seems unable to do and let yourselves harmlessly wonder what could've been in the hands of other developers in some alternate reality or whatever. Lastly, I want to make clear that I don't play Sonic games for plot. Gameplay mechanics and level design matter to me more than story elements, but I still felt like talking about such things anyway.

    Anyway, moving on... I think the ability to play as other characters was handled the best in SA1. Sure, it was a pain to have to beat the campaigns of all six characters before being able to fight the true final boss, Perfect Chaos, but if someone really can't be compelled to go that far, they could just settle for playing through Sonic's story alone, with the Egg Viper sufficing as a final boss. And even then, the campaigns featuring the other characters were MUCH shorter than Sonic's story. Sonic himself visits almost every single stage, and the other characters range from 3 to 5. It isn't nearly as much of a hassle as some people make it out to be.

    Still, SA2, in my opinion, has a VASTLY superior storyline. SA1's storyline was fine, but it mainly centers around things introduced in S3K, making it.... Sonic The Hedgehog 5, I guess. As its own thing, SA2 had a great plot, despite having many elements that I'd usually consider wholly inappropriate for a Sonic game. It did have problems, though. Unlike in SA1, there was no option to JUST play as Sonic or Shadow. The story frequently cut to other characters, which really doesn't bother me much, but it is easily where a lot of people's disdain for Sonic's friends stems from. If they have to play as other characters somewhere down the line, they don't want to be abruptly cockblocked from playing as Sonic because it's totally intrusive.

    There's another problem, though. The story HAS to play out this way. In fact, it must be taken further. See, the plot of SA2 doesn't really shine as much as it could when playing through each half of the game separately. They work best when merged, and the entire game plays out in unaltered, chronological order. To see what I'm really getting at, check out this guy's LP of SA2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2dz-Qm5KCY This made me see SA2 in a whole new way. Nothing was jarring or out of place, nothing was confusing or incomplete or sporadic as they sometimes were with the campaigns being separate. This way, SA2's plot plays out with a great pace and feels like a really cool movie at times. Considering how many elements are in this story and the world its in that I think are wholly inappropriate for a Sonic game and may usually put me off (the presence of humans, somewhat more realistic settings stuff like that), just that it holds up DESPITE that is amazing.

    This gave me an idea. I believe I may have figured out a good way for the plot of a new Sonic game to play out with the use of other characters while keeping it all optional for those who really just can't be invested in it, while being easily accessible to those who can.

    The videogame adaption of Lord of the Rings- Return of the King had an INGENIOUS stage select system. It was basically a tree that started at the very bottom, split apart to follow the sub plots of different characters as they progress along other "branches" of the tree, and eventually, they all re-converged at the final boss. Think of it like SA2's stage select map, except instead of progressing from left to right, we're moving UP.

    Something like this may work really well for a Sonic game. Let's imagine Sonic being the core of the story, basically being the "trunk" of this plot tree. All the other characters (perhaps Tails, Knuckles and Amy being on one side, and Shadow, Rouge and Omega being on the other) could be the branches that diverge from this. Let's say you beat a coupla' levels as Sonic and suddenly, a new path has opened up. Now, you can either choose to progress to Sonic's next stage, OR play a stage in Tails' campaign to mix things up! The further you progress along the core storyline, the more options you have and the opportunity to flesh out the story through the actions of supporting characters becomes easier than ever. Sonic himself could have, like, fifteen stages in his campaign, with each of the other characters having three or four in their comparatively shorter stories. However, upon beating a stage as these characters, they become playable in other stages if you want to replay these stages as them without the context of the story getting in the way, with various branching paths made just for them, allowing them to reach things that other characters may not be able to. They could each have their own boss fight, maybe with Sonic having a few more.

    Perhaps some characters could even find level up items a la the Adventure games but find themselves unable to use a few of these items. However, maybe another character CAN! Something like this would ENCOURAGE the player to play as the other characters from time to time for the sake of making them all stronger! If there was a Chao garden that all the characters shared, like in SA2, they could each find Chao eggs that other characters wouldn't be able to reach! They could each have their own story that is mostly independent from Sonic's story, while learning about things that he never gets the chance to on his own. They could uncover new layers of Eggman's schemes, letting the player learn intriguing things about the going ons of this world that they would never know if they ONLY played as Sonic. Also, having exactly seven characters could present an oh so convenient way for them each to acquire a chaos emerald and then all of them could meet up at the end of the game. I prefer getting the emeralds via special stages if possible, but if you find the emeralds through the story mode, this may be the way to do it.

    The end result may be a final encounter that is only made available if the player plays the ENTIRE game, but Sonic himself could have a satisfying encounter with Robotnik to cap off his own character driven story, with the TRUE final boss only having relevance if the player did go out of their way to learn about this part of the story, otherwise its presence may not make sense. Instead of depriving the player of something, it would just reward them for going the extra mile. Maybe, as a bonus, even a character like Metal Sonic or Mecha Sonic could be made a special unlockable upon beating the game, able to play in everyone's stages and possessing certain abilities from all of them, making a well rounded, all-purpose gameplay style that would make him the ultimate prize for beating the game 100%!

    Overall, I think it would be best for Sonic, Shadow and so on to play similarly to how they do in the Adventure games, but with some tweaks. Sonic rolls, Shadow uses his crazy chaos powers to obliterate the opposition, Tails flies like in SA1, Knuckles punches, Rouge kicks, Amy... well, maybe she could run a little faster. Last but not least, I'd like to see Omega play like a faster paced version of Ratchet and Clank, tearing through Eggman's other robots with a shitload of crazy firearms and zooming around like in Heroes.

    Perhaps some other time I'll make a thread that goes into greater depth about how these other characters could play, but for now, whatcha' guys think of this idea? I think something like this could easily make it possible to play as other characters without them stealing the spotlight against the player's will or becoming intrusive, instead being something they'd have to welcome, which some, like myself would!
     
  2. KingofHarts

    KingofHarts

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    EDIT: Removed that long ass quote. Thanks dsrb, I didn't realize that...
    Lemme preface this by saying I have only a small amount of experience playing the Adventure series, but I plan on keeping it that way...

    I like your idea of adapting the LOTR concept, and it would certainly be a good way of making the story a bit more interesting... but in my opinion, I think you missed the REAL reason why the alternate characters didn't work. Yes... The campaign in SA1 could be daunting to go through as EVERY character... and YES, it could feel intrusive to feel forced to jump to another character in SA2... but the core problem above all else is how the characters play. Perhaps if SEGA could create an enjoyable gameplay experience that could
    A) Provide an alternative feel to the same exact game... aka creativity, so to avoid feeling like you are simply playing as a reskin of Sonic.
    and B) Doing so while retaining the core elements that make people prefer to play as Sonic, and not his "merry band of retarded misfits"... I mean... friends, in the first place.

    If they were fun to play through... at all, then perhaps we might not even be having this discussion. NOW, I know you started to list gameplay ideas at the bottom, but I personally felt like you listed the story as the primary reasoning behind why the games alternate characters didn't work well... which I disagree with.

    You also mentioned that you wanted to talk examples? Ok... I'll list my cases: Take 'em with a grain of salt...
    1. The BIG gameplay in SA 1 just didn't work. Now... personally, I think Big is a useless fat piece of shit. But speaking unbiasedly, one could easily come up with a creative way to make Big fun. The problem with Big wasn't the fishing aspect. It was that the near entirety of Big's gameplay revolved around fishing. Nothing wrong with that... but generally speaking, people that pick up a Sonic title, and opt to play a Sonic title, want to feel like they are playing a Sonic title. If they want a game entirely around fishing, they will take out Sonic Adventure, and put in FISHING instead! My solution? I'd like to think that having a powerful fat cat, that could roll and tumble, or belly bounce enemies, and use a variety of collectible tools to advance through the story would be much better... and have a fishing side game that only Big can access... and all you have to do is throw an incentive to WANT to play that side game. AKA think of if Big the Cat met The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Make Big a short side story of this... and BAM, you have a slower, but more enjoyable alternative... with an RPG feel, which is what SA's goal was anyways.
    2. Tails in SA2... You want to control a machine??? That's what you have Eggman for! Tails was completely homogenized and neutered to be a carbon copy of the doctor, and the game suffered for it. (Not the only reason but still.) Tails should've retained his SA1 gameplay, with one or two additions for using mechanical tools when wanted/needed. Think of it like a Ratchet/Clank-esque type of gameplay. Then go play David vs. Goliath as the little fox that could, uses his physical skills, and tools on HAND to take down the giant mech. OR vice versa... take the mech, and squash the little fucker, and now we know why poor Eggman wanted to swat that damn fly in the first place... Felt damn good!
    3. Shadow felt too much like Sonic. Yes... they are clones... but for god sake, couldn't we have made him a bit more unique? I thought the stuff in ShadowtH were a nice step in the right direction... aside from the programming being clunky, broken, and downright unplayable. But that shit CAN be fixed... at least in theory.
    4. Knuckles/Rouge treasure hunts... They suffer Big's syndrome, in that both games relied WAY too much... ENTIRELY on this mechanic. Take Sonic style gameplay, make the characters slightly slower, you know... give them slight handicaps much like S3K did with Knux... and allow them to use these new abilities to work around that... and make treasure hunting an occasional/optional thing OR a minigame alone...
    5. Gamma's gameplay could've been so much better. You have a chance to give players a first chance to play as a badnik, and all he gets is a simple lock-on tracking weapon? AND a fucking timer? Gamma was such a letdown... why not a variety of at least 3 selectable weapons? A standard gun, the lock-on weapon, and maybe a rocket, OR a sniper? What a fucking disgrace. I hated Gamma.
    6. Amy... my only real complaint is that her 3 levels revolved entirely around running away from Zero... Sonic Advance got Amy perfectly right, I think.

    Finally, the gameplay itself, much like many of the games post-S3K were just broken... My final point is, I like your idea, but I think the real issue isn't how the story progresses... but what the player has to sit through to advance through the story. If it's an enjoyable gameplay experience... I'd sit through a Final Fantasy length version of Sonic Adventure...
     
  3. dsrb

    dsrb

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    Holy pointless full-quote.
     

  4. I think alternate characters were handled the best in S3K, gameplay wise. There's nothing wrong with Tails and Knuckles being fast and being able to roll and spin dash. Tails could fly, and Knuckles could climb and glide. Those may seem like little changes to Sonic's gameplay, but they give you new ways to traverse the level. I think that's really how the gameplay should be handled for everybody. They should play similarly to Sonic, and all be reasonably fast, but have their own abilities that allow them to reach chunks of a level that may be inaccessible to a character like Sonic.

    NO, I do NOT want Tails to be in a machine and play like he did in SA2. I want him to play like he did in SA1, flying around all fancy free. It was so liberating. Tails was more fun to play as in that game than he has been in any other Sonic game, 3D or 2D.

    Amy playing like she did in Advance 2 is indeed a good idea.

    I think Knuckles and Rouge should play similarly to each other but have different fighting styles when it comes to beating up enemies.

    Aaaand at this point, I'm just reiterating the things I already said in the opening post.

    I guess my point now is that I don't mind the other characters playing similarly to Sonic. That's how it was handled in the genesis days, and for SOME characters in the Adventure games, and it worked just fine. If anything, this may be the best approach since that would make it easier to get used to the others and have consistent gameplay that makes you feel like you're still in the same game the entire time. SA2 felt like 3 incomplete games because everyone played so differently, with the speed, platforming and exploring jarringly divided between each set of characters, instead of the elements blending together to make a cohesive, consistent gameplay style..
     
  5. Kampfer

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    I disagree with the branching aspect of the original post, and think multiple character should be handled the way 3K and the Advanced Series handled them: Levels that are the same, but are played differently depending who you choose because different routs are accessible. This means they can focus on making a good, quality level that incorporates all the play styles. This also means you can stick with your favorite character, without having to jump back and forth between them just because the story says so.

    I was thinking recently how Knuckles might work in a modern Sonic style game play, using Sonic's type of levels without Sonic's signature boost or homing attack mechanics. The first thing I thought is that with Sonic, getting up higher is the faster route, since the lower routes have more obstacles to negotiate around. How about with Knuckles, giving him abilities that make the lower routes the faster way to go? For example, why not have Knuckles incorporate an ability similar to the Drill Wisp from Colors, and dig through the ground to get around the obstacles that Sonic would have to deal with. Also in the alternative, making Knuckles's "boost" a forward charge that maintain's his running speed the same as Sonic unboosted, but destroys enemies he runs into and also destroys walls and metal boxes that Sonic's boost can't destroy. And also make it so Knuckles can access the upper routes with climbing and gliding, but make it not the fastest for him.

    The reason I bring up the lower routes is that although they are great level layouts, after you get used to speed running the level you never see them again because you want to get faster times and stay up top. If someone like Knuckles can make those routes the fastest for them, this means more of the level is used and more replayability each time. This doesn't even go to some character exclusive routes that could be made.
     
  6. Mike Arcade

    Mike Arcade

    Free Scriber of Mobius Member
    I like the branching idea, it sounds like a good way to play through the game, personally I thought they made SA2 more streamlined with having 3 types of gameplay, I didn't mind the fact that Tails was in his Cyclone the whole time, but I do like it when he's not piloting a mech, then again his and Rouge's 2006 gameplay was terrible, you cannot understand my HATE for the Dummy Ring Bombs...

    As for how the other characters should play as, I've had this idea down for years since Colors came out.

    Tails - He should be free and on foot, HOWEVER he should have the option of piloting a number of mechs and stuff, all the while having a variety of gadgets in hand should a situation call for it, think of his gameplay as a combination of Sonic's and the Game Gear game Tails' Adventure, he doesn't need to use his gadgets or pilot anything to complete the stage, but doing so might get him some extra goodies, like extra rings, new stuff, etc. I'd love to see Sega do this with Tails one day.

    Knuckles - Ol' Knucklehead is pure strength in the series, and while I loved hunting in the Adveture games, I felt that he never had a good chance to use his fighting skills to his full potential, that's why I think he should be the Beat em' up character of the group, similar to the Werehog in Unleashed but far more refined, Knuckles can smash through anything in his path with a number of combos and special attacks! If you want you can add the hunting thing for him as side gameplay, by digging you may find some cool stuff as well.

    Amy - There is not much I can really say about Amy, her gameplay from Advance 1 and 2 is pretty spot on, if anything she would probably be the character that goes through easier levels (similar to Heroes), that and/or she can use her Hammer to solve a number of puzzles and reach higher places, that's about it. On a side note Cream would without a doubt be an easy mode character if she's ever playable, seriously Cheese is a Chaos Chao in the making.

    Shadow - Ah yes, how would Shadow's game go? My best bet is that he'd be a combo of Sonic and Knuckles' gameplay, he can speed though the level pretty fast, and use his Chaos Powers to beat down anything in his path, and if they have weapons in the game Shadow would proabably use that too, think of it like this, if you use up your Chaos Meter then using Chaos Powers would drain your rings, using weapons allows you save up that extra amount of power you might need later. Since I highly doubt Sonic and his friends would ever use guns, if they have them SHadow would be the only one able to use guns. I guess we can think of Shadow almost as the run n' gun (or Ranger) of the group, having a good balance of Speed, Power, and Utility.

    Rouge - Naturally Rouge would be just as good of a fighter as Knux, but not as strong. I feel that hunting and stealth would be better suited for her, perhaps being an Agent means that she can use some fancy gadgets like Tails, not to mention she does have wings so should could possibly Fly. The gameplay of both Tails and Knuckles with a flair of Batman Arkham? Maybe so.

    Omega - You do not know how much I liked Gamma's gameplay, I didn't mind that he only had a Lock-on Laser, as far as I'm concerned that's all he needed, that and it was good gameplay for it's time. So what would Omega's gameplay be? I'd say for Omega KingofHarts has the right idea for his gameplay, able to use and switch MANY weapons at will, using them to blow EVERYTHING up in his path, I guess that would make Shadow not the only one to use ammo then. I liked all of Omega's attacks in Heroes and always wanted to do more and play with Omega on his own, flamethrowers, rockets, lazers, this guy would be slower then the others, but MAN the amount of destruction this Tank can do would be awesome, think of his gameplay as a much more destructive version of Gamma's.

    Big - I strangely liked Big's gameplay, it was different but it was decent for it's time, KingofHarts pretty much has the right idea, nothing else to add on that.

    That just about covers everyone, whenever Sega gets other characters playable in the frontlines, I hope they can do something similar to this list. Silver's gameplay just needs to be more refined and maybe a bit faster, while Blaze could be similar to Sonic and Rouge maybe? I dunno, I'd say that's about it for me on the other character's gameplay.
     
  7. Epsilonsama

    Epsilonsama

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    Holy tl;dr Batman!

    Real Talk, if you want different characters then just do them like it was done in Sonic 3 & K. SA1 is the worst implementation of different characters.
     
  8. TheKazeblade

    TheKazeblade

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    Not by a long shot, '06's implementation is lop-sided and awkward, and above all, broken on a fundamental level. If any game deserves the title of worst implemented characters, it would be that.

    Sonic Adventure actually did a very good job of using the same basic principles for each character, but varying their abilities enough that each character felt unique. In a lot of ways, it did the exact thing that S3&K did.

    Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles all play fundamentally the same, but with varying abilities. Sonic has the charge up spin-dash and homing attack, Tails has flying, and Knuckles has gliding and climbing. But take away each character's specific powers and they would be the exact same character, just like how they were handled in S3&K. In all actuality, Big, Amy and Gamma all adhere to this as well, but with much more noticeable alterations, specifically Amy and Big's low overall top-speed, and Gamma's slippery controls.

    While their gameplay styles may vary in quality, Sega did deal with individual characters in exactly the way they should have been: alterations made to a single character template.

    As for what they should be now, nothing has really changed. I think a lot could be done simply with differing acceleration speeds and top speeds. I will illustrate speed with a 1-10 scale, and acceleration with 1a-10a.

    •Sonic's initial acceleration (1-5) is decently fast, increasing at, let's say 6a. He'll get up to his "bird-run" (5) animation quickly, but after achieving it, his acceleration slows to maybe 4a, like you would in a car after shifting gears. His top speed, however, is a full 10, and if you achieve a full 10, you can then initiate a boost mode that will go into a speed of 11 at 10a (instantaneously).

    •Tails is smaller, so his initial run (1-5) could be achieved rapidly at something like 8a. Once he goes into his tails-propelled run, his acceleration would increase slightly, maybe to 9a or 10a, but his overall top-speed is not as high as Sonic's, and would level out at a natural high-speed of maybe at a 6, but could exceed that with the help of a decline or speed boost, ranging from 7-9.

    •Knuckles is bulky, so his acceleration is slow pretty much across the board. Probably around 3a to begin with (1-5), and possibly increasing to 4a or 5a after achieving second phase run. Because of his weight, he would act like a bowling ball, being able to achieve faster speeds than Tails (probably around an 8) and could reach a 9 or a 10 with the help of declines or boosters, but unable to achieve Sonic levels of fast naturally, and once Sonic reaches boost, no one can keep up with him.

    Right there, you already have 3 unique characters created not out of unique abilities, but simply out of different top speeds and accelerations. This is the base. Different Sonic characters should always start out with the base of how fast can the character go, and how quickly can the accelerate as a common element. After establishing this, you can then begin to add abilities, such as Sonic's homing attack, and charged spindash and boost, Tails flying, and Knuckles' gliding and climbing.
     
  9. Gee, thanks for coldly dismissing my entire post. Sigh... I'm not going to go into detail about why I think the other characters were handled well anyways, since I already wrote that down in the OP. It's already there for you to skim through, but hey, like you said, "tl:dr".
     
  10. Metal Man88

    Metal Man88

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    My thought of this idea is the same as every other "this will fix it all" idea—interesting, novel, and unlikely to ever actually be used anywhere.

    Games are made by programmers and game designers, not random guys who write huge posts on forums. Oh, it'd be great if they actually paid attention to some of the great ideas out there, but no—they just aren't interested. Add in xenophobia and how the control over who deals with Sonic plots is mostly relegated to established game writers/internal SEGA people...

    ...Yeah. I'm afraid that while any attempt to solve it may be possible on paper, the reality is that Sonic Team doesn't want anybody's ideas and will continue to do their own dysfunctional way of things no matter what.

    Bonus points—the effort needed to fix Sonic is much larger than that to simply create a new franchise. If all this energy was used on that instead, we'd have 3-4 good franchises and we could leave the dysfunctional Sonic machinery to rust in the dust. Competition drives the market—Sonic is basically the only game in town for his type of platformer, so the creators feel free to give nothing but 'meh' effort on many of the titles (although they have gotten better recently.)

    So. I don't discourage you from writing, but I suggest you consider your ideas purely theoretical—no one at SEGA will actually listen to anything, even if it was a Nobel Prize winning idea that would make them rich as kings. *Shrug*
     
  11. KingofHarts

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    Then... you commented because...?
    The whole purpose of this post is regarding the fact that the 3D games fumbled the multiple character aspect... whether it be by gameplay... story-related, or otherwise... and it COULD be done better.
    It's already been stated all over this thread that Sonic 3K got it done the best.

    Oh, and SA1 is FAR from the worst... as bad as I, and possibly many others thought it was. Sonic Adventure 2 was WORSE... At least SA1 attempted to make each character different. SA2 didn't even try to fix the issues with characters in SA1... instead opting to duplicate 3 base characters. Sonic and Shadow were copies, Tails and Eggman were carbon copies... based somewhat on Gamma's gameplay, and Knuckles and Rogue... yea.

    I think someone else beat me to it... but Sonic 06 was the worst... IMO followed by Sonic Heroes. Now, Sonic 06 is Sonic 06. It's the worst at everything outside of music... As for Sonic Heroes, THAT game, is a guilty pleasure of mine that I still have on my PC. However, the team concept that sounded so great on paper... really failed to deliver... it followed the formula of SA2 in that they started with base characters, and copy/pasted it over.

    At the end of the day, it's all a moot point... as Sega tends to shy away now, from the multiple character aspect... as evidenced by EVERY game after Sonic '06. No... the Werehog, Wisps, and Classic Sonic DON'T qualify as true alternative characters... though I love Generations and the classic/modern aspect.
     
  12. Caniad Bach

    Caniad Bach

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    I think 06 should be exempt from these kinds of discussions. It was universally shit in every way and pretty much everyone thinks so. Saying that it did anything worse than another game is a moot point.
     

  13. Oh, I don't expect this to reach them. I still think such ideas are worth talking about, for the sake of it, though. Just because Sonic Team can't be bothered to innovate nowadays, there's no reason that should deter us from outsmarting them, you know?

    Anyhow... looks like I only have one post left to go. I hope I'll be accepted based on my "track record" so far.
     
  14. Solid SOAP

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    I think that having the game revolve around Sonic, with extra characters being unlocked after as bonus content, perhaps even with a handful of unique level design to accomodate their powers (ie; Rooftop Run as Tails would primarily focus on platforming and flying, as opposed to Sonic's high-octane thrill ride) would be the best way to handle multiple characters. Think of Galaxy 1 & 2 and how you can play as Luigi as an extra bonus if you get all the Stars.
     
  15. Dark Sonic

    Dark Sonic

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    Precisely this.

    Oh, and as far as the whole Sonic 06 thing is concerned, it had the best way of playing as other characters who aren't Sonic IN PRINCIPAL. In execution, it's god awful, but it has the right idea (minus the whole forcing you to play as them bit). Characters who play sorta like Sonic but with some power deviations. Sure, some moves are kinda... strange (Tails's ring bombs, Amy's invisibility, what have you), and they were also a bit slow. But still, right idea.

    Actually Sonic & the Black Knight also had a good idea with their alternate characters. It's very unfortunate that these alternate gameplay things have been in crappy games. I await the day something like what Solid SOAP described exists though.