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Sonic CD's Mysterious Cut R2 Level Discussion - Post Origins Edition

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by HEDGESMFG, Jul 12, 2022.

  1. Blue Spikeball

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    S3K did have scrapped levels - the ones Knuckles would have gone through in place of FBZ and LRZ. That's all we know about them, though.
     
  2. Forte

    Forte

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    The problem with DD/RR is that there might not be anything to uncover. I doubt any part of the level got past conceptual stage, the best we can hope for are some rough sketches.

    The boss and badniks are a different case thought.
     
  3. Jaxer

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    Honestly, it's straight-up depressing how little we truly know about this level. First we were told that the angel statue room assets weren't created for it, then we were told that the Sonic Remix tracks aren't from it and now it seems likely that the ending animation with the antlion Badnik, the primary piece of visual material that everyone has associated with R2 for years, doesn't actually depict it either.

    The waterfall illustration, the zone progression concept art and the Little Planet song are all we have left.
     
  4. saxman

    saxman

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    This is all just a simulation.

    </life_ruined>
     
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  5. As stated prior, according to Mazin the round only got into the image visual (which most likely means mockup) phase before the decision was made to axe it due to time and disc space. This means most if not all of the graphics for at least the present were made. Whether we'll see those or not is really up to Mazin and (mostly) Sega now.

    I think your goal succeeded, the mod couldn't be possible without you and the rest of Retro's research and speculation. It's nice to have a reliable source of info that doesn't tell you the bgm of the round was made by an Italian artist who was obscure up until that point in 2014.

    Extra Badnik and (I think) Makasina are working on making it Origins+ rsdk compatible though it's tough since no one on the team has a copy of Origins.

    I'd love to see that as well, and if a DD '11 topic does get made I'll be there on day one, there's so much stuff about the round it's quite fascinating, such as the demo songs.
    Has a development team member ever confirmed this? I know a lot of people who take Mazin's line of "There is only music for the present." literally have repeatedly said this but I've never heard it from any of the goose's mouths, let alone from one of the only people who most likely would know, Naofumi Hayata.
     
  6. HEDGESMFG

    HEDGESMFG

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    Well, keep it up. I'll be interested to see how the boss eventually gets coded and implemented. Some of the recent concept art shown in the thread just this past week makes it look like a surprisingly simple affair that may have had a rolling mine drill on the front, simply rolling back and forth across the screen at varying speeds. And it's an early game boss, so it shouldn't be terribly difficult. I would actually guess it would end up about on par with the Sonic 2 Emerald Hill boss, only with a spring on the back to prevent the player from spindashing into it from behind.

    And I heard ExtraBadnik did eventually get the Origins RSDK he needed, didn't he?
     
  7. MasterDreamcaster

    MasterDreamcaster

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    There many similarities between ideas for these two games. Even a small thing like jumping on a branch of a tree made it in Sonic CD (in some form).
    Mecha Sonic – Metal Sonic
    Time Travel
    Eggman in a vehicle with wheel(s) and a drill in front.
    Robots with drills from Dubious Depths and Aquatic Ruin.
    Speaking of AR, it has ancient architecture. Marble Zone introduced that theme in Sonic games, then they also wanted to develop it in DD, it seems (aqueduct).
    Aquatic Ruin has it all: waterfalls, mountains in the background, architecture (I remember how "Emerald Isle" art was recolored and called "Roman column"), swinging platforms, drilling badniks, surface / underground (underwater) sections.
    If the developers of Sonic CD wanted to have Round 2 as a stage with routes between upper and lower levels, than having one music composition actually makes sense. Because the track would not fit underground-only location.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2023
  8. McAleeCh

    McAleeCh

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    That's right - early on Knuckles was planned to have a unique Zone 5 and Zone 10 at least, as the sketches for Carnival Night and Sandopolis mark his exit as progressing to "Zone 5 for Rival" and "Zone 10 for Rival" respectively. This is further corroborated by the sketches for Sonic's Zone 10/11/12, which contain no mention of how the Rival would progress through the stage, strongly suggesting he wasn't intended to visit any of those three Zones. However, as no completed sketches for the Rival-specific Zones are known to exist, it's impossible to tell whether the Rival's Zone 10 was supposed to be the end of his campaign or if there were plans for any further stages.

    Part of me hopes that sketches do exist for these somewhere, but since the only known sketch related to them - Rival's Zone 5 - having seemingly abandoned before being properly started and used for character sketches instead, it sadly doesn't seem very likely.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2023
  9. Childish

    Childish

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    makes me wonder if they ever thought about giving Tails an exclusive level or alternate boss.
     
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  10. MasterDreamcaster

    MasterDreamcaster

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    It's aMAZINg!
    Two developers of Sonic CD shared some information in one day!
    First, a comment by Masato Nishimura.
    [​IMG]
    DeepL translates it as:
    "I remember that when the songs were completed to some extent in the middle of development and the capacity was calculated again, it was discovered that the DA would not be able to hold all the songs for all the stages, and it was decided to use the past stages as the internal sound source."

    Second is a message by Naoto Ohshima:
    "Regarding SonicCD Round 2 I looked for past materials. There was a Round 2 that was deleted only in the project brief. Round 3 of the materials under development had already become Round 2. I deleted Round 2 before I came up with any concrete ideas at an early stage."
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2023
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  11. saxman

    saxman

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    So, both of those pretty much just reaffirm what we suspected, that there wasn't enough room for all the tracks (thus the past music being sequenced), and R3 becoming the second level before much concrete planning was done for R2.

    I don't think there's much else to learn. In time, we may see some additional planning documents, but I think we've almost exhausted this hunt for information.

    Only thing I'll add though... what IS that "R2" ending animation? Because it sounds like any planning they did was bare bones.
     
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  12. CaseyAH_

    CaseyAH_

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    I mean, we know that some amount of concept art for R2 was made (rainbow waterfalls), assuming that that section of the end animation is R2 its probably based on some small amount of concept art we just have never seen.
     
  13. The Joebro64

    The Joebro64

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    Pretty much reaffirms what we've heard/suspected, that aside from some enemies and music the stage never progressed beyond concept art.
     
  14. BenoitRen

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    What I still find strange is that, despite R2 being cut early, it was still along far enough to gain a permanent spot in the zone order. It even had two names during development!
     
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  15. MasterDreamcaster

    MasterDreamcaster

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    Edited the previous post. It now has a link and two screenshots.
    If I understand Ohshima's message correctly, R2 only existed in design document.
    However, sprites for robots and boss were made. They are based on Kazuyuki Hoshino's artwork.
    And Masafumi Ogata composed music for Ridicule Root | Dubious Depths.
    The stage still can be restored. For example, various ideas for stages in Sonic 1 formed Golden Capital. It is another level that previously existed only on paper.
    It seems that for Classic Sonic there is a new "tradition" called "Plus" (Mania Plus, Origins Plus).
    If they are planning to make Superstars Plus, it would be great to see more previously unused concepts.

    I don't have any intention to ask Naoto Ohshima and Masato Nishimura more questions about Round 2. They already remembered what they could and checked the development materials. It is much appreciated.

    The only person who could provide more information about visual part of the level is Kazuyuki Hoshino.
    You see, Ohshima and Nishimura have design documents. But there seem to be some basic details on each level, like names / order / part of storyline / map.

    And Hoshino has his sketchbook, which he showed in development diary video. He explored ideas from documents further. Like, if they planned to include 8 Rounds, work on those started early on. So, Hoshino made some colorful drawings to choose from, to sort out and decide which ones can be used in each stage.
    That would explain why Nishimura does not recognize rainbow colored waterfall and Ohshima doesn't think it's Zone 2 in animated ending.
    Simply because there was a lot of drawings and some of them were handed over to Toei Animation.
    Videos also were created early in development of the game. It looks like developers had concrete ideas for most levels, except R2 and R4. After Toei delivered their work to SEGA, the team chose what resembled game's locations the most. Maybe there were no scenes that looked like Dubious Depths and Tidal Tempest. The one featured in later editions of the game was probably just based on a picture by Hoshino.

    The music also was recorded pretty early. We could get details about audio part of this story from Masafumi Ogata. If we will find a way to contant him, that is.
    The composers could have started with "Present" versions of tracks with this in mind: the game will feature 8 Rounds. And developers possibly showed art for each place in the game. We don't know what was shown to Ogata, but judging by music for Round 2, it was more like a forest (Ridicule Root) than a dungeon (Dubious Depths).

    Speaking of forests. Sonic CD has a plant theme. In Mega Drive trilogy, Sonic saves animals. They escape from badniks and capsules thanks to the hedgehog.
    In Mega-CD game, it's flowers. Seeds are inside robots and capsules. After breaking them, seeds fall on the ground and grow immediately. First 2 stages were called Salad Plain and Ridicule Root initially. Good Future version of Tidal Tempest has reservoirs for plants. Even Quartz Quadrant, which is a cave for the most part, has ivy growing in Past version of the level.
    In Sonic Mania, Stardust Speedway has a lot of vegetation. If we're taking into account how much prototype content returned in that game, the original R7 could have also been covered in greenery to some extent.

    If any concepts really were reused in Knuckles Chaotix, they probably took form of Botanic Base.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2023
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  16. Devon

    Devon

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    This pretty much lines up with how v0.02 had leftover code for Collision Chaos (stuff for handling bumper collision that includes a table of block IDs that nearly matches the final, and stuff for the pinball flipper physics), but nothing for R2 besides some dummy table entries. Hell, the set of music playback functions doesn't even account for R2 at all.

    Knew it :P
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2023
  17. Palas

    Palas

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    But it becomes clear (to me) that anything regarding music file size had nothing to do with cutting R2, exactly. So it sounds like they cut R2 because of a qualitative issue, not a quantitative one. R2 itself and as a whole was deemed not worth the hassle.

    So okay, that's all we have.
     
  18. Devon

    Devon

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    Yeah, cutting R2 wouldn't have solved the issue with the disc space for the CD audio tracks, since there would still need to be an additional 7 tracks for the past music. The (Japanese) final game's disc size is around 573 MiB, with a CD audio track being around 10-20 MiB, and the maximum capacity of a CD is like 650-700 MiB. Yeah, that's not a lot of room to breathe.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2023
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  19. HEDGESMFG

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    Excellent work on getting the response.

    I agree with you that Kazuyaki Hoshino may be the only one left that has anything else substantial on the level, but I don't know if contacting him in the short term is ever reasonably possible. And even then, he may have shared all that he had. Perhaps, if anything, it'd be interesting to see more concepts from R4/Tidal Tempest to see if that evolved in any way from R2's unused ideas, and if that could have influenced the Toei animation concept.

    Whateve the case, I'm very satisfied with our answers here so far. After all this time, we've learned enough to have some rough ideas of what the zone could have been like if it was built in Sonic CD's general style. Very little of it exists, so at this point we're left to speculate more on what it could've been like, rather than discover a build with what it was, and that's perfectly okay! The team themselves never fully finalized the concept, so all we're left with is guesses on a thought process that was never even finished.

    I've contacted and started supporting ExtraBadnik's team for the RSDK DD mod, BTW. I'm playing around with a first draft build for an extended act 2 in that mod based on things we've discussed in this thread over the past year, and already built a prototype underground ruins section with branching paths for the second half of act 2. It's based closely on the loose ideas shown on the R2 section of the planet map (with a touch of Marble Zone inspirations because... why not?). The team will probably amend and revise that map much further, but my hope is we end up with a fully playable and fun interpretation of all these ideas sometime over the next few months. I already put about 10 hours of work into building and testing all 4 time periods in the map, so I look forward to seeing what else they come up with.

    For those curious, here's a sample of the prototype Extended Act 2 I've built so far and submitted to the team. Please note that SonicLVL won't show the graphics of all the new objects with new scripting yet (like fans, switches, swinging platforms, breakable blocks or moving walls), backgrounds, or enemy placements. I'm not even sure if this version of the map will ever be publicly accessible, but for now, it can be played from start to end. I deliberately emphasized more of the heavy exploration based design elements of marble/labyrinth/tidal tempest than I did the speed based concepts seen in Sonic 2/3K/Mania.

    Present
    [​IMG]

    Past (the view here shifts to the left a bit to show more of how the first half of Act 2 connects with the new area)
    [​IMG]

    Bad Future
    [​IMG]

    Good Future
    [​IMG]

    All of this is subject to be changed as the project continues development. I may not even be that heavily involved beyond submitting this Act 2 prototype stage, but I wanted to at least show it off such as it is.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2023
  20. MasterDreamcaster

    MasterDreamcaster

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    In the beginning of this year, Naoto Ohshima revealed the name of R2. He also provided some "guesses", like what the level was about and why "they" removed it.
    However, his latest R2-related message contradicts earlier information. He writes that he had deleted R2 from the project brief before there were any concrete ideas for it. And Masato Nishimura's latest post on this topic is basically the same statement: the story ended before it properly began.
    What about the dungeon Ohshima mentioned earlier, music that was recorded, sprites of robots and boss, which were based on Kazuyuki Hoshino's artworks? What about the animation sequence, which clearly lives up to the name Ridicule Root and has that level's signature badnik? One version of Sonic CD even has a level select screen with 3 acts of Round 2.

    I figured out some reasons why pieces of this puzzle are hard to collect in one place.

    First, it depends on a perspective. I mean, each person has a story about that stage:

    Naoto Ohshima – has access to a design document, which contains the name Dubious Depths. He probably could not remember much about R2 simply because there is no more reference than what's in the document. It's also the possible reason why he writes that no further work had been done. As I see it, Ohshima made the map of Little Planet with basic ideas for each location. Other people had been developing those concepts further. I think various concept images were handed over to Toei studio. And they actually used some dungeon drawings as a basis for that Antlion sequence. So, it's been a while since Ohshima saw the concepts. If that's the case, it's no wonder he doesn't recognize the scene as Round 2.

    Masato Nishimura – found other development materials. They feature early names of levels, one of them is Ridicule Root. Roots are seen in the aforementioned animation. They could have been a part of scenery or an obstacle.
    I don't know what details are there in Nishimura's document, but the initial name for R2 actually links it to the animation. Just look – roots are ridiculously big here:
    [​IMG]
    I suppose that element could have been featured in the "image visual", which was mentioned by Nishimura. He also does not seem to remember anything beyond what's stated in the materials he keeps. Hoshino's drawing doesn't say much to him, because, well, Nishimura could have seen it in 1992. And rainbow-colored waterfall is only one of many sketches.
    However, there is one important detail which, again, contradicts the statements that no further work on R2 was ever done. And this is by Nishimura himself. He wrote several times about music for the level.

    Masafumi Ogata – composed the theme. He even remixed it in a medley (Techno Power Mix). It's there, right after Palmtree Panic.
    Nishimura's statement "there is only music for present" could mean:
    a). only "present" mix was recorded
    b). in the final game, only "present" mix was left
    In my opinion, it's option b)., as I see no reason to add "future" mixes in the game. Especially when there was not enough space for other stuff they originally planned. Developers needed a song for "interactive music player" mode, so they used the theme of a level that did not make it into the game. It's a nice way to find a place for music. In Sonic 2, for example, unused song 10 is just... there, in the sound test. It has no purpose whatsoever.
    Also, the soundtrack was recorded early. In December 1992, several tracks for R1 were ready. I don't think they had asked Ogata to compose only "present" mix for R2, and then said: "Look, plans have changed, don't make "past" and "future" mixes for R2." I think after recording a song, composers also proceeded to create remixes.
    In any case, references to Ridicule Root / Dubious Depths are heard throughout "Sonic The Hedgehog - Remix" album. It was released in 1994, two years after the original 8 Rounds plan of CD Sonic had been made. The album has 8 tracks, one of them is called #8th SPACE, there is a secret 8th special stage in the final game... Strange, isn't it?

    Second, some secrets in Sonic's history are being kept for a long time. And SEGA releases a certain amount of development materials once in a while. For example, concept art for levels in Sonic 2 was published 25 years after game's release. If I remember correctly, Hirokazu Yasuhara also showed maps and revealed time travel concept in 2017. Two major news about Sonic 2 in one year.
    Little Planet map was released 30 years after CD Sonic's development had started. That image is the first officially published art with all 8 Rounds. Prior to that, Jim Tretheway and Christian Whitehead had been asking people who had worked on the original game. According to one source, designer of R2 did not do a good job. According to another, nothing was left of the level, except for some sprites. Even its name was unknown.
    But this year, two names were revealed. Why? Because it's 30th anniversary of Sonic CD and now it's "allowed" to share another bit of information? Nishimura stated previously that R2 had a name, but he did not want to tell what it was. He only shared that info after finding out Ohshima had done the same. It's like some unspoken rule, when one event triggers another.
    Like when SEGA could not find a way to release Sonic 3 because of situation with Michael Jackson and Brad Buxer team's songs. Then SEGA found out that a prototype with earlier tracks from other composers was discovered. So now there is an "excuse" to use those tracks.

    I guess there won't be any new details on R2 this year. Ohshima and Nishimura are at a point when all they can say is: it stopped at creating concept art. Well, maybe it is so for them. However, if you asked Hoshino, he would probably add that there were various ideas for the stage, including badniks and boss. If we asked the person who made sprites, we would see that some of those ideas went beyond the concept art stage. The same with people from Toei. Antlion went through evolution: a drawing by Hoshino –> sprite form, then pencil test –> final animation. The scenery also could not have appeared out of nowhere. It's based on something. Roots and pits are seen / mentioned: on the map; in Amy storyboard; in initial name of Round 2.

    Finally, if we could interview Masafumi Ogata, what would he say? It looks like he and Naofumi Hataya divided the music of Sonic CD, so opening is Ogata's composition, while ending's Hataya's.
    4 Rounds are by Ogata, 4 are by Hataya. In Ogata's version of the story, Dubious Depths would probably be a part of the game, as he composed its theme along with Collision Chaos, Tidal Tempest and Wacky Workbench.
    But it's hard to contact him.
    Now it's up to SEGA and Kazuyuki Hoshino to release music and art. And the proof of R2's inclusion in Sonic CD can only be found in a prototype. Because, according to 2 stories (Junetsu Kakuta's opinion and Naoto Ohshima's initial message), developers had to try out the level to see if the designer did a good job or does the stage fits Sonic's speed.
    Those last posts from Ohshima and Nishimura regarding R2 appear to be a polite way of saying: "Look, we shared all we could find and remember at the moment." So they said the idea never left the design document to stop us from asking more questions. It's obvious that there is more to this story than meets the eye. But I see no point of asking the developers for clarification again.
    I showed interest in Kazuyuki Hoshino's art with traffic signs, rainbow-colored waferfalls and so on. He saw the post. Of course, it does not mean he will decide to show his sketchbook just for me, but if more people are genuinely interested, maybe Hoshino can show that stuff somewhere. Like, he mentioned a tour to meet the fans, and as far as I know, some animation frames from Sonic CD were presented at one event. Another example of rare art appearance is Sonic 20th Anniversary at Joypolis. Some unreleased stuff was there: Mushroom Valley sketches, "Temple in the sky"... The latter had been previously seen in MTV's "Rock The Rock" video from 1994 with other concept art for Sonic 3.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    I don't know for which occasion (maybe, 30th annivesary of Sonic 3 next year?) and where exactly (artbook, compilation?) SEGA will eventually release those images. So I tried to recreate the picture of Ice Cap.
    [​IMG]
    Similar situation is with stage designs made for Sonic CD – we only saw them in a video. This time it's Developer's Diary from 2011.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Here is my expanded version of that drawing:
    [​IMG]
    Most of the elements are based on Hoshino's images, some of them – on sprites and map (swing, spikes, spring).
    Oh, there is also a big fan from Ohshima's map. You know that I'm a big fan of Ohshima and Dubious Depths.