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Sonic 4: Episode 1 Discussion

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Cinossu, Oct 11, 2010.

  1. RubyEclipse

    RubyEclipse

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    Asking right now to see if I can get any more specific details on today's iPhone update. :)
     
  2. evilhamwizard

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    Do you know what happened to the US PSN demo of Sonic 4? It used to be up but it's gone now. I think it's still available in other countries, but I'm curious to know why since it seems Sega removed all their demos from PSN.

    Curious to know the real reason, etc.
     
  3. RubyEclipse

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    Really? I hadn't heard anything about that. Time to annoy my co-workers some more.

    Going to check this out on PSN from my home later tonight too, to confirm.
     
  4. Polygon Jim

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    All the bitches.

    What's funny is the URL that PSN would use for the demo is still active.

    http://ares.dl.playstation.net/cdn/UP0177/...&country=us



    Also Ruby it's definitely not there. Sega seems to delete all game demos after about 3 months on PSN. It's quite annoying really.
     
  5. Runner

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    RubyEclipse, I can understand due to the lack of blast processing in the actual consoles prevents Sonic 4 to have the same physics as the classics.

    But, is there some technical explanation to why Sonic 4 has the Spin and Dash noises swapped?
     
  6. RubyEclipse

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    I think the lack of Blast Processing can probably be blamed for pretty much anything and everything that might be different from the classics. In fact, if anyone asks from now on, I think I'll just start saying that. :)

    Thankfully, we're working hard on a new MIABPC (Mini-Integrated-Awesome-Blast-Processing-Chip) that should help bridge that gap a bit in the future. It's too early yet for me to gauge the effects in full, but hopefully we'll have some news in the coming months. The chip is also capable of taking you to the next level, even if you don't want to go there. (On the plus side, you will be welcomed.)

    As to the demo... I'm investigating now. It might be a SEGA/Sony policy that I'm just not aware of, but either way, we'll figure it out!
     
  7. MegaDash

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    Hey, welcome back to Sonic Retro, Ruby! The sweetest smoothest Sonic forum this side of Sweet Mountain. Shall we dance?

    Well, to be fair, that's all pretty weak for the simple reasons of presentation going against implementation. On the side of presentation, I've seen this before, so I expect it to be like that last time I played it. It might look nice, but then when the implementation doesn't match what I'm reminded of, and ends up being worse, the nostalgically-purposed theme is ruined. The swinging vines in Splash Hill don't really mean anything other than to remind me of how they were also in Angel Island Zone, but that reminder is nullified by how many of them there are and how they're implemented into the overall stage design. In that one act, they're almost as overused as speed boosters and bumpers are in every act of the game. Find me another 2D Sonic game that uses as many bumpers and boosters as the entirety of Episode 1. It's a big design problem that makes too much of the game repetitively automated.

    It just doesn't amount to much more than that first brief moment of excitement. They're quite literally copies of bosses I've already faced in Sonic 1 & 2, with a tacked-on pinch mode borrowed from X8/the Sonic Advance series that half the time don't even change the game at all. They literally add maybe 5-10 seconds of actual fight time. It wasn't even good, but it certainly wasn't good enough for a game that, 15 years after it's predecessor, is supposed to be a successor to it. Weak. Sauce.

    But I will be fair. Much was added to the final boss from Sonic 2 to make him a genuinely unique and different boss, and I at least enjoyed kicking its ass more than any other time I fought Robotnik. Even during the boss rush of E.G.G. Station Zone. The music was kinda ass, though, and it's still cheap for the same reason all the previous bosses were cheap: I've seen them before, and I don't need to fight them again in a new game with pinch modes that quantitatively and qualitatively don't matter.

    Okay, stop the thread. There's your problem right there. You or the development team don't know who you're making the game for, and Sonic 4 is the embodiment of nothing new. For the first part, it's always like this, it seems, for just about any Sonic game. There's always this big fucking duality about any Sonic game's development that is both irrelevant and a tidy excuse for not addressing the game's fundamental flaws. With Shadow the Hedgehog, it was between Sonic fans and American early-teens (I guess?), but one of the major problems was control and the weapons gimmick. With Sonic Unleashed, it was between Sonic fans and pre-teens (after the fact that people hated the Werehog), but the major problems were the duality between the Werehog and Sonic as well as looking for medals. With Sonic 4, it seems to be between Sonic fans who either grew up with the Genesis games or simply played them and fans who grew up with Sonic Advance, Rush, Adventure, Heroes, etc; but the problem is the game is trying to be two things that get in the way of each other's styles—Sonic on the Genesis and Sonic on the Nintendo handhelds—all while doing nothing new. Even the technically new things that Sonic 4 did, like the torch and the isolated puzzles, are swamped by things we've already seen cobbled together and abusively overused to the point of "whatever". Puzzles like that involving lighting sconces or simply going through the dark have been done better in other games, and in Sonic 4, even though I liked it, it is simply out of place and not well established. It's so insignificant and beleaguered so as to not even matter in the entire scope of the game.

    Work smarter, not harder. Onward and upwards. You might not have the strongest influence over what the final development of the game will be like, but as long as you're going to represent SEGA and see what we think, we'll speak to the developers and Takashi Iizuka vicariously through you.

    Also, this attitude needs to stop:

    I think we should expect it to be far more competent and tight that Sonic 4: Rehash Episode 1. Especially for $15 dollars. No excuses. I didn't pay anything for Cave Story, and it kicked ass. I payed $10 or so on Contra Rebirth, and it also kicked ass even while it kicked my ass. It's classic Konami action, and it's exactly what I'd expect from a good game with the Konami style injected right into it.

    Irrelevant. They weren't blatantly whored out in a single act with less-than-great level design.

    But thanks for the extra weak-sauce, though. Goes great with sandvich. :)
     
  8. TheKazeblade

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    This. A very good point. Attempting to make a game that attempts to cover two demographics is always going to fail. It's like the old saying goes, "jack of all trades, master of none." But even that's not the issue.

    The game was obviously and unfortunately hobbled together. The reason the vast majority on people on this site favor Sonic Colors to Sonic 4 (even if it's not a reason they're consciously aware of) is because the former had effort put in. It did things to build upon its predecessor with plenty of winks and nods to old players, tried some spicy new stuff, and the game has been a critical success, both among us long time fans as well as those the Wii is targeting. 4, on the other hand, has been investigated in-depth by very talented programmers and fans alike around here, and there is no way to deny that it is merely a game with an aesthetic reminiscent of the classics, while under the surface its being supported by a foundation that lacks structural integrity.

    Back to the first point: what's changed from the people Sega targeted with the original Sonic from now? There's absolutely no reason that there should be two distinct demographics as there are now; the original was targeted to everyone too, both serious gamers and new gamers alike. Difference being, the original succeeded where this one fails because of point number two: effort. And for those that want something new, I also agree with Mega Dash in that Sonic 4 does nothing new. This too can be cured by hankering back to the old design paradigm; because even though Sonic 1-3&K were similar, they are all very different and extremely unique games when placed beside each other. They were always fresh, while Sonic 4, even though its meant to be a nostalgic blast to the past, feels very, very stale.

    Essentially, the game needs to do what Needlemouse's original tagline stated: in needs to be "Built from the Ground Up." I.e., build the aesthetic on steady gameplay, it shouldn't attempt to cash in on the nostalgia without the meat that made the classics nostalgic to begin with.

    Or, in other words,

    physics need fixed, plz.
     
  9. RubyEclipse

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    With regard to the first part (about presentation V implementation), I think, to be fair (+1), that all comes down to opinion. With a look at the first bolded line: the nostalgia is supposed to remind, but not to make you expect that Splash Hill will be exactly like Green Hill/Emerald Hill/Angel Island, at least from a purely presentational standpoint.

    Your second point, about boosters and bumpers, is not something I'm quite as equipped to speak on, since I wasn't there for the level design in most cases. But we have taken a lot of the feedback about these things and passed it on to the full extent that our positions allow us - sometimes even going a bit further at the risk of making a few people mad at us. Realistically speaking, the hours we spend are probably something that you guys will never see - save for the times when something is changed or improved in the final product. And even then, except for rare cases like Episode 1, there's really no way to see just how far the game grew from where it was before.

    Noted. We could argue about Mad Gear's boss mode, but I already understand your point, and it has been made before. :)

    At first, I thought he was really too tough, personally. And then I remembered that I died more at the end of Sonic 2 where you started off with 0 rings, and I told myself to stop complaining and figure it out. Agreed that it is a nice feeling of accomplishment to take out a boss that's frustrating, but doable when you learn the patterns.

    Appreciate the advice, but please be careful not to assume you know how things work to the point that saying 'work smarter, not harder' has any relevance beyond being a common statement, or that you personally are privy to the most effective ways to improve.

    I'm trying to be respectful as much of the post has a holier-than-thou feel to it, and while I don't know if it was intended or just came across naturally, I can understand that it stems from a frustration at not seeing the things you wanted to see in the game - things which might seem like easy, simple changes to many here - the reality is that directing that added layer of frustration doesn't help give your points any more credibility or credence. I'd much rather read a polite, well-worded post about someone's thoughts than one that was trying to mock me or was laced with a satirical air of assumed knowledge.

    But even for all the names we've been called and all the insults we've seen (and, to be fair (+2), your post was quite tame, compared to these), we still read these and look into them for the underlying core statements that people are trying to make.
     
  10. Hey, Ruby.

    Try to convince them to add a Classic Sonic mode. I mean, just be able to play as Classic Sonic for once.
    On another note, the boosters do need to go. I hope not even one is seen in Sonic 4: Episode 2. I mean, I can't even think of way that they can be used well anymore.
     
  11. Chaos Rush

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    I'm surprised no one has asked the most obvious question.


    *ahem*


    Dear RubyEclipse, will future episodes have the classic physics used in Sonic 1, 2, 3&K, CD, and Advance 1?


    EDIT: (sorry if this has already been answered by someone else. I understand that you're not one of the developers (or are you?), so I apologize if you don't know, but you do work at SEGA, which is why I'm asking)
     
  12. Even if he knew that at this point, I'm sure he couldn't answer that.
     
  13. MegaDash

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    You say that now, and you've said it before, but the presentation just speaks volumes against you. It's not simply that I expect to play exact copies of the stages I'm reminded of; I expect to feel like I'm playing them without actually playing them. With Sonic 4, I do sorta feel like I'm playing a classic Sonic game some of the time, but that feeling's erratic and interrupted by simple, yet very different design paradigms that come off as far less elegant and perfected than what this game is supposed to harken back to while being new. It barely succeeds at being a decent game, and the nostalgia is there to sweeten the deal, but it's very much cosmetic, not intrinsic.

    Well, Ruby, once this is all over, I'd love to hear more about yours and Ken Balough's jobs handling the community involvement for Sonic 4. I'm sure we'd all be interested in hearing what you have to share.

    Right. Sonic 4's final boss is the narrow exception to the norm of the game.

    But what was I assuming? I apologize if I assumed anything that I didn't know. I meant "work smarter, not harder" to be directed not at you, but to the developers and Iizuka vicariously through you as a way of saying ... you know what? It was a vapid suggestion. I take it back. I'm sorry. I just see and hear about all this hard work from you and the community team and mistakenly conflate it as the hard work of the actual developers of the game, to which most of us essentially want to send messages to.

    I poke holes into your statements when I see that I can and should, but any assumed knowledge I or any one of us may claim about the games we play comes from objective observations and actual experience of those games. We're not trying insult you, Aaron. I'm not trying to insult you. We're just arguing and debating, and occasionally poking each other in the rib out of good-natured joking, which is something I'm happy to see coming from you and your team as of recently, both for Sonic 4 and Colors. It means you're all good sports and we're happy to have you, and would hate to lose you. So, if I'm making fun of something you say or making you feel belittled, do speak out, but understand we're not really making fun of you. We're making fun of the games and what we see wrong with them versus what we're being told about what's wrong (or right) with them by the powers that be.

    See? You're more than just a good sport. You're a good man. I respect that, but I reserve my right to not withhold honest commentary and debate.
     
  14. RubyEclipse

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    Right now, it's too early for me to say anything about physics. I spoke up about physics based on what I was told, and without seeing them in action, back near the beginning of the Ep.1 reveal, and then again when we extended development. My personal policy now is to wait until I see it firsthand. :)

    I'm not a developer, but a Community Manager here at SEGA. My job is an interesting medley of many things, for many different games, but with regard to Sonic 4, I pass along feedback between both fans and the teams here at SEGA, including the devs. I wrote a proposal for the overarching Sonic 4 storyline back in 2009, and while at least one key part of that - the return of Metal Sonic - did make it into the game, I'm not sure yet how many suggestions for future key moments will be accepted / developed.

    I'm one person who is part of a much larger team, so even though there may be some really cool moments (like Metal in the above), it's also important to know that many things may and will change as other opinions and ideas come in from other people. Whichever the case though, everyone involved is working to try and do what they think is best for the game, and ultimately for the franchise.
     
  15. Chimpo

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    Honestly, I don't think the fact that it's a downloadable game should be used as some sort of crutch. There are multiple absolutely stunning titles available on XBLA, PSN, and Wii Ware that deliver a triple AAA experience to its audiences. That's what I find sad about this whole thing. As a one of SEGA's big faces, Sonic should be one of the leaders of this new market. It should be pushing the limits and show everyone else what this new medium can do now that the hedgehog is back at doing what he use to be doing best. Instead we get a trip down memory lane that pushes nothing. An acceptable and satisfying experience for some, but not a very memorable one years down the line.

    Because its been complained about and asked a million times. He's already mentioned the subject in the thread and he obviously can't tell us details about it.
     
  16. I've got a question you might be able to answer, Ruby.

    If you've seen the dev team lately, do they seem more ambitious about Episode 2's development?
     
  17. Dude

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    Still glad to see you're not letting vitriol upset you, Ruby. Talk about taking it like a champ. Anyways, do you think SEGA will ever let a western developer take a crack at a 'main' sonic title? To clarify, I mean the kind of title that gets the full 2+ year treatment and is aimed primarily at not-being-a-spinoff like ASR/that bioware RPG. I think it would help because such a development team wouldn't have the language or cultural barrier between them and the sonic fanbase, especially considering that sonic isn't even that popular in japan.

    Also I think you should keep bugging them for an ingame level editor. I know the devs think its a silly idea but it would really add lots of fun imo =P
     
  18. RubyEclipse

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    Ken's job actually isn't to get too involved in the community - he's more on the side that tries to manage game-specific direction of all the teams, from PR to trailers to any sort of messaging. To his credit, he understood the fact that the Sonic community would make or break Sonic 4 as a series, and he came to me very early on asking for opinions and ideas.

    As to how it all went down: that's a story for another day, long, long from now. Perhaps in the future, we'll get to shed more light on what happened behind-the-scenes. The good news, though, is that the first chapter does at least have a happy ending.

    It's all good, no worries. We're all essentially working towards very similar goals, I think. There's a whole business mindset that has to slowly be destroyed and then rebuilt, though, and especially in the Japanese market, as well the rest of the world, the importance of community and the feedback it can offer is something that is only recently beginning to really gain ground. Some developers get it faster than others, but the trend is moving in a good direction for fans.


    Anyone who works in community has thick skin, so don't worry about hurting our feelings. My point was just that the way something is presented can make a difference, just as in the real world.

    No offense taken, thank you for being understanding. :)
     
  19. GeneHF

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    An aside: this is probably the most time Ruby's heard the word physics uttered since being in high school. :specialed:

    While I had fun with Sonic 4 (I give it a full play from time to time still) and the throwbacks were nice, I'm a little more interested in seeing the team now let loose and have fun with ideas. I did like the ideas used for the consoles' Casino Street 2 and Lost Labyrinth 2 (give the person who thought up that torch puzzle a prize. It's the CNZ Barrel for this generation) and would like to see the team do more things like that, but without inundating the game with them... building a balance, essentially, of these and ordinary stages.

    One thing I do see mentioned a lot is utilizing gimmicks zone wide. Example: until Mad Gear, where in Act 3 we see gimmicks from act 1 and act 2 together in one act, no other zone really shares level objects. CSZ3 has cannons, but lacks CSZ1's slot machines or CSZ2's cards (understandable for act 2, at any rate.)

    Regardless, perhaps I'm giving Episode 1 an easier time than other people here because part of me is interested in seeing what lessons are learned in Episode 2.

    Oh, and yeah, I hope the spin dash and rolling sound effects are fixed, since they are reversed. :v:
     
  20. RubyEclipse

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    I haven't seen them lately, but should get a chance to say hello to some of the devs in a couple months when our Sonic 4 Birthday Contest winners head over. I do think that Episode 1's success will continue to prove to many people internally that the series is worth the attention and care to detail that the name alone brings with it.

    Hah, probably so, actually! I was totally an English/History guy in high school as opposed to a Math/Science type.

    Agreed with your thoughts about the gimmicks continuing throughout the acts of a zone. :)

    To your last point, we have already, but just to be safe I'll pass on another note that the sounds are reversed, too.

    I'm taking off for now, but wanted to say thanks for all the comments and questions, and for pointing out the PSN stuff too - I'll be back tomorrow with more news on that. Time to get out of the office and go home.

    Good night!