Does the concept of Sonic work in the Third Dimension at all?

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Dashtube, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. Well, Black Squirrel, just give me and my accomplice some time, and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by how close we come to finally creating a 3D game that stays true to classic Sonic gameplay.
     
  2. Dashtube

    Dashtube

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    Well, when it comes to the early 3D titles, maybe it was because of the budget limit and the time constraints. After all they got a portion of the game right. Maybe they were afraid that the game would be rather short for the average consumer if it was focused on Sonic only in the an era where games doubled if not tripled their campaign lifespan. Maybe they felt the need to compete with Super Mario 64's 120 Stars. Maybe they can but it requires an even bigger budget that the publisher's are afraid to take the risk in a franchise that's been unstable for some years now.

    I can go on n' on on why the developers may not have been able to do it. But I don't think it will really help solve the main question of the possibility of an entertaining 3D Sonic game that has the key elements of classic titles.
     
  3. SpeedStarTMQ

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    I kinda think they shot themselves in the foot by making Sonic UBERDUPERSUPERFUCKINGFAST. Yeah, in the original games if he curled in to a ball he would whizz at ultra speed (like those parts in Chemical Plant), but that wasn't possible in every level. Sonic himself had a speed cap running, and though there were sections where he'd go fast, he'd always have to take a lift, or jump through dangerous platforming sections at some stage. Hell, some levels were under water, or so badnik infested that speed was near impossible- Scrap Brain Zone being a prime example.

    The gameplay is great now, don't get me wrong, and obviously it is Sonic, and bears many hallmarks from the classics, but it's very limited. Obviously this doesn't apply to Generations as it had a great mix of different forms, but I can't say I'm majorly excited about the next 3D Sonic game, because it's going to probably be mostly boosting and running fast, then having the camera pan to a slow and slightly clunky 2D section above a pit somewhere, and though that's alright, it's been done in Unleashed and Colours already. Tacking on extra abilities won't excite me next time.
     
  4. ICEknight

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  5. I'd like to see them stick with what they created in Generations for another game or so. Physics and all. Some control over the camera would be nice, though, since the other control stick goes completely unused.
     
  6. Hodgy

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    I love the current gameplay they have in unleashed/colours/generations, but I would love to see a true 2d sonic game done is a style similar to rayman origins/legends, that game is just beautiful and the gameplay is so good.
     
  7. GeneHF

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    This is already a complaint going on now with the current games. Sonic only has made the games "too short" (though I love the fact you can blitz through Sonic Colors in about two hours) and people feel it's not worth the money. The problem is then padding out the content to make it seem more. When they did that with Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, they flooded the game with extra play styles that were mostly miss. They straight up dropped this for Heroes by just making you play the same game four times with a tiny bit of differences (barring Team Chaotix), and then just went "screw it" for Shadow and made you beat the game 10 times to even dream of seeing the final stage.

    All that is garbage and nonsense. Some will complain then that the price of admission is too high for a platformer then for so short a game. Sonic's strength comes in replayability, much like any arcade title. Outside of Colors with its Challenge Mode, I haven't seen any Sonic game since wayback when embrace this. I'd argue Generations could have used three more stages instead of 90 or so mini missions we got, but then we'd have people argue about more nonsense.

    This is dragging away from the point of the topic, on which I still stand by firmly that no one's gotten the formula right yet, though the pieces for it are already out there. The goal is trying to find the right balance. Sega has yet to do that for a full 3D game, though I certainly wouldn't mind more games like Colors, one half of Unleashed, and Generations.
     
  8. Candescence

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    While replayability is never a bad thing, I honestly feel that many Sonic games (well, ones designed around a single character) simply don't have that many levels. Even with 2/3 acts per Zone and a boss... Most Mario games have much, much more in the way of levels. For example, Super Mario 3D Land had 5 regular stages and a 'boss' stage per world, and there were eight regular worlds in total.

    Mind you, 3D threw out 'themed worlds' entirely and went absolutely fucknuts with the level variety, too. Hell, it's one of the things I love most about that game, the designers simply boiled the core Mario gameplay to (mostly) its essential elements in 3D (running, jumping, powerups, coins, etc, though wall-jumping and ground-pounding are present as well), no real gimmicks, and then they asked themselves, "hey, what kinds of crazy shit can we pull off with the level design?" One moment you're in a Zelda homage (complete with a room with torches that plays a Zelda jingle when you light them), and next thing you know you're in a level with platforms that appear and disappear along with a musical beat, and then you're trying to traverse platforms that tilt depending on where you're standing (which also have rolling spike logs that are affected by gravity, uh-oh). A good chunk of the special worlds are basically 'hard mode', but they're very challenging without being unfair. Of course, it helps if there's solid gameplay already there that you know for sure works perfectly.

    Crap, I kinda went a little off-topic with that one, but I'm basically trying to say that, well, Sonic games wouldn't feel so short with just one character if there was actually more content. Yes, I know there's the whole 'Sonic goes fast' thing that can force levels to extend themselves more to compensate, especially with games that go fucking overboard with it (Unleashed and its ilk, I'm looking at you), though back in the day, Sonic wasn't much faster than Mario unless he was going REALLY fast (that fatass plumber can be pretty quick himself if you're holding the run button, seriously, between him and Eggman, you gotta wonder how fat guys in games can run so fast), and level length, a good deal of the time, was fairly comparable, Mario levels aren't THAT short... I think. I haven't checked, myself, it's 4:38 AM, for God's sake, I might do it later.
     
  9. MegaDash

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    Speed shouldn't just be a characteristic of Sonic games, or Sonic himself. It should be a tool. This idea is exemplified briefly in Sonic 2 & 3, where some stage mechanics required Sonic to run or spindash on them, and in Sonic CD, where the boss is defeated using speed friction. This speed-as-a-tool function is also found when running along vertical surfaces after getting a running start. These are decent applications of speed in a 3D space, but I think Sonic can do more with it. What else could he do? That's a good question for the prospective 3D game designer who wants to make Sonic in 3D work better.

    I think it's possible to feel speed/fast without wizzing past miles and miles of pixel space for an entire stage. That latter is nice, but the tradeoff is you can't control that ridiculous speed or provide enough space for it. What matters more in a game: the ability to play it, or how often you're being played by it? It's like outrunning a bear: Sonic doesn't need to be faster than the bear, he just needs to be faster than everyone else; I.e. not that fucking fast. How much faster does Sonic need to be than, let's say, Mario or Banjo most of the time? He could be faster than F-Zero some of the time, but he shouldn't be that fast all the time.

    Maybe Sonic should have gear shifts. Actually, no, that's stupid. Maybe it should be like in Super Mario, where holding a button raises your speed cap gradually. I think the idea of more gradual speed game should be practiced when developing a 3D Sonic game. The speed's just out of control, and it's not necessary. That being said, I'm not against having a large 3D sandbox to just run freely around. Just give me a general direction, something pretty to look at, rocky terrain and I'm good to go. See the intro to Sonic CD.

    EDIT: Plus, I think 3D Sonic should be more about just going from point A to B. Inevitably, it's going to be that, as any game would be, but it should include more into the basic experience—the journey in-between. The simple joy of wandering around a well-crafted island, bizarro-world, or sky city shouldn't be hard to translate into a Sonic game. Exploration was a big part of why I enjoyed the old Sonics, so why shouldn't it be part of what makes 3D Sonics fun? It didn't mean I couldn't go fast if I wanted to.

    Arin and Jon take either sides of this debate when playing Donkey Kong Country; Jon emphasizes flow by blowing through stages while Arin emphasizes exploration by getting all the secrets. Can't it be said the game supports both wants?
     
  10. RhikoruNa

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    I haven't posted in Retro in a million bajillion years, but I definitely saw this topic of interest.

    I think discussing Sonic in 3D really depends on your definition of a 3D game. Down to some of the topic discussion in the back few pages, I think the reason Sonic hasn't really had his "Super Mario 64" yet is because I really don't think that Sonic Team captured what Nintendo did when they made Super Mario 64. I believe BlackSquirrel mentioned it earlier when they mentioned that Super Mario 64 wasn't really like Super Mario World. Nintendo didn't so much make Super Mario World 3D as they took the concept of a Mario game, stripped it down into it's essences, and figured out how to make a game that utilized that in 3D. Heck, Galaxy 1&2 are fairly linear games compared to 64 and Sunshine, so whether you would consider the Galaxy games truly 3D Mario games depends on your definition of a game in a three-dimensional concept.

    Now I'm going to discuss Sonic in terms of 3D in relation to the open-world design of Super Mario 64 and that moment, and I do not think that open world is the only way for Sonic to go, but if it was a direction and Sonic was really brought into 3D in that sense, here's what I see.

    ---

    Look at the level design of some of the levels in Super Mario 64. They weren't A -> B paths like in the older Mario games. Nintendo didn't try and make a linear Mario game in 3D, but they instead looked at Mario as a platforming game with themed levels that had specific level elements and enemies that suited those levels. Many SM64 levels were designed in such a way that you COULD go straight to the Star you chose, OR you could meander around and explore for secrets, just like you could in SMW with Yoshi coins and pipes that led to different areas. Levels had depth, many had mountains or valleys that you could climb or dive into. You also could unlock power-ups later in the game and revisit worlds to find new stars and new areas.

    Sonic Adventure 1&2 were linear games that emulated the 2D Sonic games. There may be branching paths, but they all lead to the same point. It's just a 2D Sonic game with the camera behind him and it didn't really bring him into 3D (in an open-world sense), because he wasn't stripped down to find his elements first. It's not bad, and I love the Adventure games despite their age.

    But even with Sonic Unleashed/Colors/Generations, camera and control issues have been fixed, and there are better level designs and there is a greater sense of speed, but he is still in levels that go from A -> B. Again, not bad, but it isn't 3D in a radical, innovative way. I don't think that this is necessary for there to be a functioning 3D Sonic, and heck, if you look at Metroid Prime or Zelda OOT versus their SNES counterparts, they aren't so different from each other. A -> B isn't bad, but it limits what SEGA can do with Sonic. To put Sonic into something drastic, like an open world setting, would mean stripping down his movesets, the level design, and finding core essences that "make" a Sonic game regardless of whether you're in a linear or open world game.

    While there are lots of essences that could be (and have been) tossed around regarding 2D Sonic, I think instead I'd prefer to see what SEGA hasn't captured from classic Sonic yet, which are:

    - the act of gradually building AND maintaining momentum
    - exploration elements

    Let's look at Sonic Unleashed. Remember those Day and Moon Medals? I sure do, I collected every one of those blimey things out of boredom. They can be in creative places, but the fact is, you'll either blaze through the levels and miss everything and find medals by luck, or you'll take the level slow and just have that feeling that you're not playing the game right. It just isn't fun. I'd say that the Werehog levels were more fun to find medals in because you could explore without feeling like you were playing the level wrong. There are Red Rings in Generations, which are nice, but it's still really limited. Sonic Colors had the most exploration, and in some ways, I like it better than Generations because of this. There are different paths you can take because of the Wisp power-ups, but in the end, they're only for points and not much else. No Big Rings, no power-ups that you can hold onto into another level.

    I'd like to see just more options in exploration, and more incentive to explore. Levels in Generations may be at their best in 3D Sonic because of the fluidity of branching paths, but there is little gameplay incentive to explore them. There doesn't have to be, but it'd be nice to have branching paths that lead somewhere for a reason other than you failing the "best path". And this ties into my viewpoint on how momentum is currently handled.

    Sonic as he is now doesn't have gradual momentum, and when you're on a speed craze, it's easy to maintain. Rings and enemies are a plenty, and you have little risk at slowing down. It's too easy to go fast, and once you've played a level a few times, you'll eventually find the best paths, which ties back into exploration elements. The 2D games, especially Sonic 3, may have had paths that were faster than others, but other paths also had shield monitors and Big Rings that encouraged exploration.

    Right now, there is only one best path in the Unleashed/Generations formula, and that is the fast and shortest path. If you are on another path, chances are you are on that path because you failed to go fast enough to stay on the fast path. Along with speed. Boost is great for capturing a fast picture of Sonic, but in the Unleashed -> Generations formula, it is much too easy to maintain. I like the concept of the Rainbow Rings in Generations, but most of the time you go through them, you're close to max boost meter anyways. If they were to stay with the Boosting formula, I'd like to see it used in a way that doesn't make levels a pain to explore, and also in a way that makes it not something to be a default status of Sonic, but something that is built up to. Speed as a reward and a utility for doing well, rather than something given to you for free.

    I think it just comes down to the vision that SEGA and Sonic Team want to portray of Sonic, and I'm fine with their vision. I love Generations to bits and replay levels frequently, but I would love to see exploration injected in a truly 3D way. Make levels that don't have a best path, but that have paths that have consequence. Give us things to find, incentives to explore that affect gameplay, and a sense of speed that doesn't make you fight with Sonic to slow down nor one that is too easy to maintain. I know, it's easier said than done, but that's just my take on what has worked and what has been left out of Sonic's current 3D transition.
     
  11. To me, Generations has the 3D Sonic style perfectly. All we need is another game to use it that isn't an anniversary title (new areas and whatnot) and we have a winner. Personally, I'd rather they not fiddle around too much with Sonic's gameplay style as they have it good and fun.

    However, all these other ideas could be implemented into other characters perhaps. Other characters haven't had a chance to be played as since '06 so, much like Sonic gained the ability to boost, maybe other character has developed their own separate skillsets over time and can be used to make a speedy but exploration based gameplay style without fiddling around with Sonic himself. Sonic can maintain his boost to win gameplay style that does work (though levels opened up like in Generations) but other characters can fill in the slot of your ideal 3D Sonic game. Perhaps bring in either a new character to take on the style or bring back an older one, such as Mighty or something, who can take on the Adventure style. Or perhaps use Tails and Knuckle's abilities to allow some exploration elements whilst still maintaining speed and platforming.

    But those are just my thoughts.
     
  12. I think that Sonic Adventure had the right idea, they just didn't go in the right direction with it. Five different storylines, with five different play-styles and an entirely different experience with each. The problem was how they were implemented.

    Sonic was the character that worked the best, and I think the best thing to do with his gameplay is what we have now. You think of Sonic the Hedgehog, you immediately think of speeding through the levels as fast as you can. Take the current Generations formula, use levels that are designed like Sky Sanctuary or Seaside Hill with lots of alternate paths to look around in, and maybe add the ability to control the camera with the right analog stick (if on console). The biggest complaint I have with the modern formula right now is the 2D sections. They haven't bothered to get the physics correct ever since they went 3D to begin with, which takes the biggest draw to 2D Sonic away, at least to me. Instead, replace them with some more tightly-packed 3D level design so that you can't easily use the boost at all. If we have decent camera control, then it would be just like playing Sonic Adventure, which I think would be pretty fun to alternate between the two in the same level.

    Back in Sonic Adventure, Tails was actually my favorite character to play as. Not because I enjoyed the levels more, but because I saw the potential he had in the game and couldn't wait for a sequel that would utilize his abilities better. Unfortunately, we got the Mech segments in Sonic Adventure 2, hampered with the Team gimmick in Heroes, and I haven't yet had the "pleasure" of playing Sonic '06 since I don't own a 360/PS3. Why not bring back Tails just as he was in Sonic Adventure, but give him actual unique areas to play through instead of simply using his abilities as a shortcut in races against Sonic. Have levels where you can run to the exit like you do with Sonic, or you could explore added areas and special routes since he can fly to places that Sonic just can't reach. If you want to keep Sonic as your "speedy" character, then just let him keep his modern play-style and let everybody else use the Adventure play-style. It still felt fast, just not as fast as the modern stuff.

    I'm going to keep the same idea going for Knuckles as I did for Tails. You have a character that can glide, climb walls, and punch and tear through walls. He's able to run as fast as Adventure-era Sonic and Tails, so you can keep the same speed gimmicks that they used. Why on earth would you restrict his part of the game down to a scavenger hunt? Give me a level with a set goal to reach, and let me use Knuckles and all of his abilities to reach it. Let me glide between airships to get past Eggman's flying fleet. I want to smack an enemy so hard that he goes flying and knocks down something holding a hidden route out of my reach. Give me the chance to see Knuckles chasing down a fleeing boss (bring back the Egg-Robo from Sonic 3 and Knuckles!), having the enemy close huge metal doors to slow us down and Knuckles having the ability to just tear right through them. (The scene from Monsters vs. Aliens comes to mind.) Give me more than just hunting down Emerald Shards with a crappy radar that won't detect something two feet away because they don't want be to grab it first. If you want to keep the radar idea, then let it track down OPTIONAL stuff hidden in the level, and justify their existance with an unlockable for collecting enough, and showing me beautiful locations in the level that I wouldn't be able to see if I just ran straight to the goal like normal.

    Believe it or not, I actually enjoyed Amy's levels. I didn't mind having a slower character, the skills I could pull off with that mallet were pretty fun to mess around with. You know what screwed it all up? Zero chasing me through the whole thing. You know how Generations wasn't on the Wii at all, because having HD graphics was so important? If you're going to go so far with beautiful locales, then having a slower character isn't a bad thing. Just remember that if they're slower, not to try and force speed to be a major issue. Give me a combination of Sonic Adventure Amy and Sonic Heroes Amy. Let me smack enemies with a hammer, smash the ground for an extra high jump to reach special areas, and use that tornado ability to twirl up poles. Let me explore at my own pace, not curse at my character for feeling like she's wading through maple syrup compared to the others.

    I did not play the Adventure-era games in order, and had started with Sonic Heroes. For a long time, I could not understand why everybody hated Big the Cat so much, until I finally bought Sonic Adventure DX and tried the fishing portion of the game. You know what? Let me have Big the Cat again, but let him control like in Sonic Heroes. Give me the big dumb muscle that can be fun to tear stuff up with. Imagine Big the Cat, searching for Froggy yet again, and inadvertantly tearing up Eggman's entire army in the process. I want to see Big somehow come across the idea that if there are animals inside the robots, then maybe if he opens up enough of them, he'll find Froggy. You know, having his story be just looking for Froggy could work if it actually had an impact with everybody else. Maybe his actions while looking for which robot contains Froggy actually does something, like accidentially crashing one of Eggman's airships and the explosion hits the ship where Sonic is captured, freeing him or causing enough of a diversion to do something useful. If you're going to have some idiot in your story, make him a useful idiot.

    Gamma's dead, so let's look at Omega. He's big, covered in weaponry, and has a compulsion to blow up Eggman's machines out of spite or something. (Last I remember him, it was Sonic Heroes. I don't know if his motivation has changed over time or something.) How can you possibly screw this one up? Think about it, he was built in a set of robots designed to efficiently combat Sonic. He should be able to move at a fairly decent clip, right? Don't make it a slow shooting setup like Sonic Adventure 1 and 2. Imagine the Werehog, but with heavy artillery. We aren't playing as Sonic necessarily, and those claw-hands look like they could deal some decent damage on their own, so why not? Let's see just how much damage we can do when given a huge robot.

    Anyways, long story short. I liked Sonic Adventure's multiple play-styles best, but they didn't go far enough. We've gone through enough Sonic games and different methods of playing them that there should be something fitting for each character by now. Tweak them to make them fun to play, and let us have some variety for everything. People are complaining and arguing over whether Sonic Adventure of Modern Sonic is best, so give us both at once instead of half-functional make-us-wish-for-what-could-be 2D segments.
     
  13. Endgame

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    While these are fantastic ideas I'd truly love SEGA to go with [particularly with what RhikoruNa said], I get the feeling some people would then complain that having more platforming and exploration would basically be too much like a Sonic-themed Mario game (which IMO is certainly not a bad thing!).

    It is quite sad that a 3D environment (due to the nature of gameplay possibilities you have when you're not going a million miles and hour) does seem to be more suited to Mario for that very reason. Could it be that Sonic is practically too fast for his own good? That speed is what's stopping exploration - not just 'cheating' by using a branching pathways approach [but always to the same goal, like what's been said]?

    Would this mean Sonic may need to be more like Mario if he's to survive in a 3D environment?

    I wasn't intending to ask so many questions here, lol
     
  14. Candescence

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    Indeed, the problem with high speed is that doing serious platforming with it is virtually impossible. Unleashed, Colours and Generations are excellent demonstrations of this - there's a reason why large chunks of 'modern Sonic' levels tend to be basically linear racetracks with what are basically quick time events. There is literally nothing interesting you can do with Sonic at high speeds anymore, especially not when speed is handed out like candy. This is why I think the boost should simply be gotten rid of entirely. Speed should be something you seriously have to earn, not a commodity, as others have said.

    Generations and its ilk are a complete dead-end, design-wise, and incredibly fucking shallow when Sonic is going fast. I don't care if people draw parallels to Mario, Sonic needs to slow the fuck down for his own good.
     
  15. You should care. Speed is what separates Sonic from Mario. Take that away and what reason do I have to play Sonic over Mario? Mario's games are more often then not much better crafted than Sonic games are, before or after the dark age, so I really don't have much reason to stick with Sonic if all he has is the same.

    Sonic has other characters that can do the platforming. Why not just get them to fill in that roll whilst not fucking with the current Sonic formulae that, whilst not clever, works and is fun. I honestly don't see this obsession with getting Sonic himself to do regular platforming. Maybe work on Tail & Knuckles? Take the concept of Silver from '06 and work on it for platforming a lot better. Want the regular Sonic platforming of old? Introduce a newer, younger hedgehog that looks up to Sonic and works like Sonic did in Adventure. Sonic himself doesn't have to be the one with the regular platforming. There are many ways to bring back regular platforming into the Sonic franchise without completely abandoning the Boost style of gameplay.
     
  16. Caniad Bach

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    I still think that the current Sonic formula would be greatly improved if the boost was a function that you earned from simply going forward uninterrupted for a period of time. To me that would combine modern gameplay with classic sensibilities.
     
  17. Candescence

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    Hilarious 'logic' this is, because Mario is the originator of platform games in every sense of the genre. Well, most senses of it, the rest is basically Prince of Persia (both 'realistic' platforming and parkour-based platforming). Every platformer takes cues from Mario by default.

    The Genesis games were the closest to Mario the franchise had ever been, and even then, they were completely separate beasts, and with good reason. Much of the history of video gaming has been very much iterative, the mechanics of hundreds of titles are borrowed from games that have come before. This is not necessarily a bad thing - great games often take mechanics and shape them and add on to them in ways that they can genuinely call their own. Sonic did exactly this, taking the running, jumping and platforming from Mario, and then modifying those mechanics, and adding new ones to make it stand out from the crowd, such as momentum mechanics, rolling, rings, etc. Of course, there are always games that will simply rip-off mechanics and do virtually nothing else with them, such as Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.

    Slowing Sonic down a bit from going "GOTTAGOFAST" all the damn time to "gotta work for that speed" like the Genesis titles hardly takes away the identity of the franchise. If a Sonic game is good (if not great) and it offers a deep gameplay experience in its own right, I don't give a damn if the next Mario game is better structured or whatnot, I'll play both! It's that simple.

    Modern Generations is not this. It's a shallow gameplay experience that uses 2D as a crutch, and in 3D, linear corridors with diversionary paths. Modern Sonic in 3D is little better than your typical spunkgargleweewee game.
     
  18. Ross-Irving

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    Another thinly veiled how-to-fix Sonic thread. Goddamn goobers.
     
  19. Dashtube

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    But when you can have the two (Speed n' platforming) blended in one gameplay style together fairly well.. Why separate them with unnecessary characters and make the gameplay overall less interesting and less varied that it quickly becomes boring and feels somewhat cheap?

    I just don't support the idea of putting a quadrillion other half-assed characters just for the sake of stretched gameplay time. It's quality of quantity for me.