Classic 2D Sonic has a "Camera" Problem

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by lopinjop, Oct 12, 2019.

  1. lopinjop

    lopinjop

    Vector the Crocodile 26th Anniversary Party 2021? Member
    When I say that classic Sonic games have a "camera problem," I mean that the field of vision is far too low for games designed around high speed platforming. Sonic 1, CD, 2, and 3&K are excused due to the limitations of the day. This argument mainly applies to Mania, and any potential classic Sonic games going forward. :V

    As someone who grew up on S3&K, the field of view wasn't an issue for me at the time and is something I've learned to adapt to, as I'm sure most of us here have. However, when you compare Sonic Mania to other modern platforming games, I argue Mania stands out as the most unwieldy in terms of being able to pick up and play with a real sense of flow.

    This is not a critique of Mania's level design, art, or animation, since Mania excels in all of these aspects. This is a critique of Mania's outdated field of view or "camera" when it comes to the amount of screen filled up by the playable character vs. what you can see in the level.

    To demonstrate, I've grabbed a 1280 x 720 screenshot of a standard moment from the games Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Mario Maker, Rayman Legends, & Cave Story. I've roughly measured out the size of the characters on screen vs. the screen space dedicated to the level by dividing the 1280 width and 720 height by the pixel count for the width and height of the playable character. Comparing Sonic to these other modern platformers, Sonic in Mania takes up more screen space than any other playable character. After the picture I have the math. If you don't like that I didn't include Diddy Kong's tail in Donkey Kong's character size I apologize. :specialed:

    [​IMG]

    Sonic Mania's screen is:
    13.61 times wider than character
    6.67 times taller than character

    DKCTF's screen is:
    16.84 times wider than character
    6.86 times taller than character

    Mario Maker's screen is:
    23.70 times wider than character
    7.13 times taller than character

    Rayman Legends' screen is:
    22.86 times wider than character
    13.33 times taller than character

    Cave Story's Screen is:
    24.62 times wider than character
    14.4 times taller than character

    These measurements are of course approximations, but I think they're close enough to make the point, and the differences are clear on their own just with the screenshots. In my opinion, all these other games are friendlier and fairer on the player than Sonic Mania due to the larger screen space dedicated to being able to see what's coming down the road. In addition, these other games aren't as fast, further improving a player's ability to react without having to memorize level layouts and enemy placements.

    Sonic's 2D camera should not continue to be restricted by Genesis-era tradition. Games like Terraria, a 16-bit ish game, allow the player to scale the visuals however they'd like. You can max out the screen and make your character a small spec in the game world, or zoom super far in if that's your thing.

    Future 2D Sonic titles drastically need an option to zoom out the camera. This would improve the experience for new players and allow experienced ones to play based on reaction time, rather than memorization.

    Thanks for coming to my TED talk. :words:
     
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  2. penBorefield

    penBorefield

    Beginner Member
    I'm sorry to say this, but I disagree with everything you said. The camera from Sonic Mania is fine as it is. So, why need to zoom out the camera to enjoy the game? There's no problem.
     
  3. LordOfSquad

    LordOfSquad

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    I don't think there's anything wrong with the standard classic camera, but Sonic CD's is better. ¯\_༼ •́ ͜ʖ •̀ ༽_/¯
     
  4. lopinjop

    lopinjop

    Vector the Crocodile 26th Anniversary Party 2021? Member
    Fair to disagree! Even if you think the camera is fine, I'd still argue zooming the camera out would at least improve the experience. Sonic Mania's excellent level design is hindered by how limited the field of view is. During my first playthrough of Mania, I found it was somewhat difficult to tell where I was going until I got there. If the camera was 2x farther out, I think the whole experience would be improved.
     
  5. XCubed

    XCubed

    Will Someday Own a Rent-A-Center Oldbie
    “This would improve the experience for new players and allow experienced ones to play based on reaction time, rather than memorization.” I forget who, but I watched a video on YouTube a few months ago explaining exactly why Sonic stood out in the 16-bit era. The learning and memorization helped tremendously with replay value.
     
  6. kyasarintsu

    kyasarintsu

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    I see no reason not to zoom out the camera. I've played these games a ridiculous amount of times and even do some minor speedrunning (got to the top of some Steam leaderboards for Mania) and even with all my muscle memory I still feel a sense of dread when running around because it's just way too easy for some unforeseen, untelegraphed obstacle to grind everything to a halt.
    All the fun in pathfinding, learning the rhythm and tricks, and mastering inputs won't suddenly be lost just because you can actually see what the hell is coming up. The series will still have its replay value, only it wouldn't also turn off so many newcomers with its frustrating, unfair first impressions.
     
  7. LordOfSquad

    LordOfSquad

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    I don't see anything wrong with letting the player choose a camera scale and positioning that works for them, if it's possible. I just wonder how things like boss arenas or secret areas would be handled in accordance with that.
     
  8. penBorefield

    penBorefield

    Beginner Member
    Meh. That would be too easy and less challenging for hardcore players. Is not gonna happen anytime soon even if you're correct. You don't have to zoom out the camera in order to play the game.
     
  9. lopinjop

    lopinjop

    Vector the Crocodile 26th Anniversary Party 2021? Member
    I think for a customizable camera, during boss fights, the camera could dynamically zoom to the distance designed for the fight. Since boss fights have far less emphasis on platforming, I think it'd be fine to take control away from the player for the benefit of the fight.

    For secret areas, I'd imagine they would just need to be hidden outside the range of the maximum camera zoom. This would involve an adjustment in the usual way secret areas are designed, but I think it's possible.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
  10. lopinjop

    lopinjop

    Vector the Crocodile 26th Anniversary Party 2021? Member
    With an option to adjust the camera, "hardcore players" could still keep the original camera positioning if that's their jam. Giving players the option to zoom out just makes the game more accessible and doesn't take anything away from those already satisfied.
     
  11. kyasarintsu

    kyasarintsu

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    There's a lot of things that you don't "have to do" in order to play the game. They can still be improvements that make the series better.
    I don't think that this series, of all things, needs any stupid gatekeeping in the form of a cramped viewport.

    Locking the camera in a boss fight sounds like it could be really useful.
     
  12. Rudie Radio Waves

    Rudie Radio Waves

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    Widescreen + Sonic CD Camera is the ideal combo for me, but 4:3/standard camera is also acceptable.
    Also, given that I did not grow up with the Genesis games, the fact that I run into enemies and hazards both is probably because of my lack of skill and reflexes.
     
  13. Dee Liteyears

    Dee Liteyears

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    zoom out? Usually that makes it just harder to keep track of anything on screen
     
  14. Beltway

    Beltway

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    OP, have you played classic Sonic from Generations? The camera I’d say is zoomed out a little bit more, but more importantly—IMO—it’s the only classic-inspired game that has dynamic camera positioning; which I’d say brings it closer to the more contemporary platformers mentioned in the OP. Various sections pan in or out or are set at different angles for certain locations in the level design. A camera like this might be a remedy to what the OP is asking for.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I’d also like to get other people’s responses about this too; because one potential problem to point out is that Generations’ level design is built with a 3D world in mind (and a very cinematic/showcase-centric 3D world at that) and the routes of the level design showcase that, as they are built on different or even multiple planes. Generations’ gameplay for classic Sonic, while it can be fun, also isn’t particularly faithful to Genesis Sonic principles in the physics or level design department. A future 2.5D Genesis game that uses a dynamic camera would have to keep these issues in mind.

    The other issue that’s more commonly cited with Generations’ classic gameplay is that classic Sonic is described as hard to see at certain points; although I think that has to do more with the busy backgrounds the gameplay is displayed against than the camera pulled too far back.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
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  15. ICEknight

    ICEknight

    Researcher Researcher
    Just giving an option for "Sonic CD camera" would be fine. =P
     
  16. lopinjop

    lopinjop

    Vector the Crocodile 26th Anniversary Party 2021? Member
    This is a great point, I totally forgot that Generations featured this! I played the classic levels back when the game came out but didn't really revisit them due to the somewhat un-fun physics.

    The camera perspective in those screenshots is definitely more in line with what I had in mind for potentially improving the field of view in 2D Sonic games. However, like you point out, the camera in Generations was designed around a more cinematic 3D level layout. Generations' classic levels are more straightforward and scripted than the open, exploratory design of Mania. I think the dynamic camera in Generations was largely used to show off certain set pieces and 2.5D shenanigans.

    With this is mind, I don't think a dynamic camera during standard platforming tied to specific level moments like in Generations would be appropriate for a Mania styled 2D game. However, a different dynamic approach could be useful.

    Maybe a dynamic camera based around the players speed could be implemented? Like if you are moving slowly in a tight platforming section, the camera could position itself close to Sonic, but once you reach a certain speed threshold the camera dynamically zooms out. I'd image this might be disorienting after hitting a spring or spin dashing, but maybe it could be done in a smooth way.

    I think the option to have a static zoomed out perspective would be great, but I could see a dynamic camera working based on the player's speed as long as the motion of the camera is fine-tuned to avoid quick and confusing perspective changes.
     
  17. Creature SH

    Creature SH

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    I was going to suggest this, too, before reading the last few replies. I think it would make a lot of sense to zoom out a little bit at high speeds. Not a whole lot of distance, just a bit to show what's ahead. Also, it should be relative to the speed in that higher speeds yield progressively further zoom. I think it would also add to the feeling of accomplishment for the player to get a particularly wide zoom and sustain it increasing periods of time.
     
  18. Overlord

    Overlord

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    Nah, I don't think anything needs adjusting. I've been playing 2D Sonic titles for over a quarter of a century and I can honestly say I've never had any camera issues with them.

    If anything needs camera fixes, it's most of the 3D games.
     
  19. Laughingcow

    Laughingcow

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    I disagree but I'm not against having the option for such as can be seen in Freedom Planet 2 (Strife, what's taking so fucking long?).

    One of the issues with having the camera zoom out though is that it makes Sonic appear slower as a result especially if we are talking smaller areas. In contrast, being able to outrun the camera makes you feel like you're faster than the speed of sound.
     
  20. lopinjop

    lopinjop

    Vector the Crocodile 26th Anniversary Party 2021? Member
    That's just it though, a lot of us here probably have a biased view of the 2D camera because we've been playing 2D Sonic titles for literal decades. I didn't realize that the field of view in 2D Sonic games could be an issue until I tried playing Mania with some friends who had never played a Sonic game before. They struggled to balance the speed of the game with how limited the field of view is. Then, I got into a bunch of other platformers like Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze, Rayman Legends, and Mario Maker, and the field of view in those games significantly improves the experience in my opinion.

    Assuming we get any other 2D Sonic titles, there's really no reason to limit the field of view to the default Genesis camera other than for nostalgia points.

    And this isn't an issue limited to Sonic, it'd be great if more 2D platformers allowed camera customization for accessibility, but it usually isn't an issue in other games because most characters have a set speed. The issue is particularly prevalent in Sonic games due to the unusual speed and the more limited field of view when compared with other platformers.

    I think a good comparison to my point is with 3D racing games due to an emphasis on maintaining speed as a reward for performing well. Most driving games allow for a number of camera options suited to player preference. The goal is to drive fast, and it's significantly harder to do if you can't see where you're going, so driving games have incorporated overhead cameras, far back cameras, cameras from the car's perspective, and others to ensure the player has options to perform well. I argue 2D Sonic games should have similar options.

    Also it's true 3D Sonic games have troubling cameras, but that's a whole different issue.

    I didn't know Freedom Planet 2 will be including that as an option, that's great!

    And you're right, zooming the camera out would diminish the feeling of speed, I don't think there's any way to help with that. However, that's not something that would bother me. I'd rather have a greater field of view than a greater sense of speed based on forced perspective. Some would disagree though, and that's totally fair. The option to either zoom the camera out to a static position or use a dynamically zooming camera would absolutely need to be an option. If you want to play with a Genesis style field of view, more power to you, any future games should allow this. I only argue that the option to zoom out is necessary for improving accessibility for any future titles.