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New Sonic 2 development lore drop - Genocide/Cyber City palette and art!

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by The Joebro64, Mar 19, 2023.

  1. HEDGESMFG

    HEDGESMFG

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    Not very effectively, because we don't know why the roms we have were assembled the way they are. Assets could have been built and tested without being implemented into the roms. By mid August, all the cut zones were gone and the game we knew was being finalized right up through the end of September.

    Because of this, we're stuck with a very broad window of any time between May and end of July 1992. Those months seem to be the ones where Sonic 2 was actually built, then reorganized based on the needs of time, budget, and the art director's discretion.

    The early time travel plan was likely scrapped before the simon wai build was made (likely mid june/early july 1992), but at that point the goal was just to figure out what content could or could not still make it into the game, then figure out how to build a narrative around those assets later (which they seemingly did in August, once it was decided to built Sky Chase/Wing Fortress as the transition to Death Egg). By mid August, they dumped any remaining zones infamous cut zones for a variety of reasons (mostly the ones discussed in the new Beep21 interview), and went ahead with what they'd already built.

    Remember, the intention at the time was just to make a good game with what resources were available in time for holiday 1992. They weren't ever considering the idea of the public being interested in cut/incomplete content until years later. At most, they felt sad about losing some good art, but not about the 'potential' full zones we think of when we think of lost stages. The interview makes it clear that Brenda Cook was cut from the project entirely, probably by the early summer, even if the assets of her work stayed in the level a bit longer, they were clearly never finished beyond a certain point, and don't even seem to be finalized graphics at all. (I wonder if one of the reasons she was let go was because her art assets were 12 bit color in their raw form, like some have pointed out, or if that was the norm for how level graphics were first built?)

    Again, the early stages of Sonic 2's development were very chaotic and unusual for a game of that time. A dual language team that struggled to see eye to eye, in an era well before japanese media was as respected as it later became. It is a testament to the team's sheer talent that the final product is still remembered as one of the best sequels ever made, even decades later. We only tend to undervalue it because we're aware of how much better it could have been, but Sonic 2 was a massive success at that time and went on to define the success of the franchise for many more years, even if you believe games like Mania, S3&K, or CD were objectively better.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2024
  2. Jaxer

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    Are those diagonal lifts in the GCZ maps the exact same mechanic as the MZ3 rhombuses, though? Like I speculated before, there could've also been a diagonal lift mechanic in HPZ, so it's not like all instances of this gimmick must've worked the exact same way. Especially since the lifts seen in the GCZ maps aren't even rhombus-shaped.

    I used to think this way too, but the recent Beep21 interview has made me question this. Because if I understood it correctly, I'm pretty sure that Yamaguchi implies that the time travel plan was still around after many of the zones were cut. He said something along the lines of Metropolis, Chemical Plant and Death Egg all being time travel counterparts. This means that either he misremembered which zones were counterparts to which, or that the time travel storyline was kept much later into the development than we think, with the relationships of all the zones being changed to accomodate for the absence of all the cut zones.

    We should also consider the fact that gaming magazines of the time were still reporting about the time travel storyline well into the summer of 1992. Obviously they're not the most reliable sources in the world, and many of them did confuse Sonic 2 and CD, but many of them described the game as a "time travel adventure with a ruined, polluted future and a prehistoric past with dinosaurs". That specific description, or a slight variation of it, shows up in a lot of magazines from that time, and there's no dinosaurs in Sonic CD as far as I know. Meanwhile, we explicitly have concept art of dinosaurs in the past of Sonic 2. So if the time travel was cut so early on, why was Sega giving that synopsis to the press for such a long time?
     
  3. HEDGESMFG

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    I'm just skeptical in general that there was any intent to keep the "overworld map" storyline to push time travel as late as Simon Wai. I personally think the famed S2 Beta represents a build of the game where they were restructuring, but had not yet finalized what the end result would be, because they had to decide what content could still be finished on time. The level select order and zone slots do indeed closely match a trimmed down version of the time travel outline. I don't deny that connection, but I think it's one of the last remnants of the old story by that point, and the 4 zone order in the beta itself doesn't resemble either the final or the time travel outline. I could fully believe the time travel plot being on the cards around the time the Nick Arcade build was made in May, however.

    Again, I think major concepts became digital assets in the spring, some "slower" zones got cut very early (Sand Shower), then they collected everything that they had by the end of June, realized the game would not be finished on time as planned, and restructured. Simon Wai was the build produced right around this time, and my guess is that Brenda was cut from the team entirely concurrently with it being built, or not long before this. I also think Sand Shower was already dropped entirely, and GCZ was either already gone, or stopped short of being actually built in the digitizer (even if maps were drawn up).

    Some questions that I'd have about Simon Wai by that point - Why are there 3 acts for Metropolis if the intent was to match the earlier time travel storyline? What is the story with Neo Green Hill, and why is it the second to last zone in the slots, but first after the start screen? The whole thing is a really weird transitory mess that doesn't match any outline for the game we saw on paper accurately.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2024
  4. RankoChan

    RankoChan

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    Some random RPG project.
    This is pretty much my thoughts on it too, that the time travel story was dropped sometime between Nick Arcade and Simon Wai protos, the latter build being from a time where things were getting reworked for the final release.

    The internal level order in the Simon Wai proto suggests a later time travel story from the current documents we have, where Neo Green Hill was added, the two past map visits were merged, and Hidden Palace was moved from the ruined present to the past. It definitely made it farther then we initially thought, especially with many of the level artists having knowledge of the time travel story in early interviews.
     
  5. HEDGESMFG

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    Exactly. The flip side is the level select order and slots do show solid proof for the time travel ideas remaining in the game at least until the early summer.

    upload_2024-2-16_15-40-53.png

    I just happen to believe this was the last remnant of them, but I think it (and especially the level slot order) still proves they were on the cards for all of spring.
     
  6. Jaxer

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    I wasn't saying that the time travel elements were "cut". Instead, I was suggesting that they were never implemented at all.

    The time travel concepts that we do have suggest that Sonic traveling through time would've been conveyed through the world map and cutscenes - and nothing of the sort obviously made it into any of the prototypes that we have. Whether it was due to memory limitations, lack of time or a wish to stick closer to Sonic 1's pacing and structure, we may never know.

    However, this does not mean that the game's story was changed to remove all time travel elements. The story obviously was not the main concern of platforming game developers in 1992, so if the game's narrative was initially conceived as a time travel adventure, there was no reason for the devs to assume that it had been changed to anything else. After all, Simon Wai's level select screen still shows a clear transition between eras; Natural environments and a steampunk factory at first, then rocky environments with dinosaur-like Badniks, areas that are being harvested for their resources after that and finally an industrial cyberpunk dystopia - aside from Neo Green Hill, of course (It's such an outlier, isn't it?).

    I think that it must've been late into development when they finally went "Let's forget the whole time travel thing, players wouldn't even get that it's what we're going for by just playing the game", after which Sky Chase and Wing Fortress were created.
     
  7. Antheraea

    Antheraea

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    ah apologies, I was referring to my post in the first page:

    ...er. which was based on them being called "rhomb" and not much else. it had been really striking to me at the time because of all of the "early" zones this is, like, the one where they clearly planned a set of mechanics and then just completely gutted them after.
     
  8. Jaxer

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    The earliest MZ3 maps had no lava either, so it really makes sense why people were so convinced of it being a recycled GCZ map for so long.

    We obviously now know that it was definitely not Genocide/Cyber City, but Naka has still explicitly said that it was once a unique single act zone repurposed into MZ3. I'm still willing to bet that it had something to do with all the Warp Point/time machine stuff.
     
  9. Kilo

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    My interpretation of what Naka meant by GCZ becoming MZ3 is that the allocated ROM space they had planned for GCZ was now free so they just figured they'll use it for an extra act of MZ.
     
  10. Jaxer

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    He specifically used the word "map". And he never mentioned GCZ.

    So we can therefore deduct that MZ3's layout was indeed designed for an another zone. And while we cannot say for sure that GCZ being axed had nothing to do with Metropolis getting a third act, that's starting to seem more and more likely every passing day.
     
  11. Blastfrog

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    Question is, what would MZ3 have even been used for? They said they had a map, was it a loose drawing or actual chunks? Because with actual chunks, they'd have to be for MTZ's chunks. Jaxer's idea is interesting, perhaps it was the first warp point. If Hidden Palace was indeed a misinterpretation of what Olympus was supposed to be, then there's our second warp point. And if that's the case, that revised time travel document that mentions HPZ by name might have been made after HPZ's assets were made, possibly sometime around the Nick Arcade proto.

    I swear, the more we learn about S2's development, the more questions we're left with than answers. I'd rather not resort to idle speculation, but it's more engaging than giving up and not caring.
     
  12. Lodmot

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    I would be fascinated to see a Sonic 2 build from either May or June of 1992, just to see if the build had any Sand Shower remnants, a different level select order or something else. We'll probably never see that happen though, realistically.
     
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  13. Jaxer

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    My guess is that this "map" would've been something along the lines of that water level concept that was found among Tom Payne's stuff, where it resembles a full level layout, but doesn't yet have chunks or anything.

    But again, we can only speculate unless we happen to find this map somewhere.
     
  14. Hez

    Hez

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    Except for we do have the map for Metropolis act 3? Did anyone actually open any of these documents before these wild speculations? The language barrier is big at play too on both sides. Maps, to whoever, could have been interpreted as "slots". We don't know. What I DO know is that there is a rough map, and then a more mid/finalized map (like Genocide Citys) laying out the chunks of Metropolis Zone act 3. Unless we carbon date these papers, they're designed (as in, same looking paper and ink) in a very similar fashion to Genocides map layouts. I'm no scientist, but it really screams to me that Metropolis Zone act 3 was almost always a thing fairly early on.

    EDIT: I'll also note, that Genocide City ALSO has wildly different gimmicks in its second act. So using the no lava and rombus tidbits really adds no backing to anyones case. It's like saying Chemical Plant Act 2's layout must have been a lost layout because water no be in the act 1 holy cow.
     
  15. GoldeMan

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    On the subject of Metropolis Act 3, what I assume is the earliest map we have (the first Act 3 on the Development subpage) there seems to be a cutscene of sorts, showing the very crudely doodled Sonic being blown out, Hydrocity style with some kind of explosion. I don't remember if this has been discussed much yet.

    I don't have the ability to properly translate but using Google Lens it says "*Something* Collapse" "Open" "Big Explosion?" "Be Blown Away". This also exists on the "annotation" revision, but then is removed by the time the second revision happens. I assume that's the sign post on the ground since its similar to how its doodled on the Act 2 map (also, sign post in act 3?). Act 3 having a specific set piece planned for its ending makes me wonder what its intended to represent, relic of the time travel story? Just a fun setpiece? Since its exclusive to this one part, and is replaced by the gear platform ride by the time of Simon Wai. It at least highlights how early in the development timeline Metropolis 3 as an idea was.

    Explode.jpg

    (Oh and a silly detail I noticed, Act 3's first layout follows the Simon Wai layout up until the first tape crease, from there barely resembles it.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2024
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  16. HEDGESMFG

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    We discussed this in the thread last year. My feelings at the time were that it was one of the examples of a fan like object from GCZ makings its way into Metropolis. My theory was initially that this was an early example of the zones sharing elements, but that was before we got the 3 act maps from GCZ.

    Still, between this and the Rhombus objects, there were at least some shared ideas between the earliest iteration of the stages, and that version of the map clearly predates the Simon Wai layout, with the first half of it being an almost exact match for the actual digital zone.
     
  17. Blastfrog

    Blastfrog

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    Yes, I did. It's already labelled as MTZ3, what I was getting at (and probably should have been clearer on, admittedly) was that an even earlier iteration may have been meant for something else entirely and that it was recycled into MTZ3, at least going by Naka's quote (which as I've said before I think should be retranslated in the hopes that may clarify what he may have meant more).

    Again, I know this is wild speculation (so take it with a grain of salt) but what if GCZ was stripped down to a single act zone and that was what became early MTZ3? There's no way of knowing, obviously, but I think it's good to consider every possibility, even if distant.

    Admittedly, it's more likely that Naka's quote was already extremely vague to begin with in Japanese, and he might also be misremembering stuff or misconceived of what was going on at the time (S2's development was chaos). That MTZ3 also has a layout from possibly around the same time period (again, would be nice to have actual dates for these documents) does imply it was already planned early on.

    As another bit of wild speculation, is it possible that all zones were to be 3 acts long at one point?

     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2024
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  18. Jaxer

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    This theory was thrown around a lot when we first saw those rough chunk recreations of the GCZ maps. I was frustrated by it then, I'm frustrated by it now.

    The way I see it, "Metropolis Act 3 is Genocide City" is a mentality that we've all embraced so surely for so long that we're hesitant to let go of it, even when we probably should by all accounts.

    We indeed do have maps for both Metropolis 3 and Genocide City from roughly the same era of delvelopment. I think that's a pretty definitive answer.
     
  19. jbr

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    Just wondering - do we actually have a reason to assume Neo Green Hill wasn't another industrial dystopia? To me the "neo" sounds modern and techy al la Neo-Tokyo from Akira (which came out 4 years previously). It would have been a cool way to bookend the story - starting with the original Green Hill and ending with the modern, ruined Green Hill - before Sonic fixes things. Pure speculation obviously, but just wondered if there's a reason we're assuming it's not that?
     
  20. Jaxer

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    No developer has ever talked about such a concept, nor do we have any development material suggesting the existence of a zone like that. The only ruined Green Hill that we do know about is Dust Hill, which presumably transformed into Mystic Cave at one point (While some others speculate that it briefly transformed into a completely different castle level).

    That being said, "Neo" does mean new - it really does sound like a zone that belonged in the future. Aquatic Ruin makes no sense in a dystopian sci-fi future, though.