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Sonic Forces Thread

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Blue Blood, Jul 23, 2016.

  1. Beltway

    Beltway

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    I like how the first video ends with the entire game freezing.

    Worth noting that in said first video, the Sunset Heights beta level actually includes segments from Park Avenue (Avatar) and Red Gate Bridge (Tag Team / Metal Sonic Boss). Seems they were designed to be one complete level at first, before being broken up into three small individual levels for the final game.

    And aside from the beta level in the second video having what could only be summed up as boost pad poisoning (with a bunch of spikes shoveled in to halfway match their excessiveness), the level structure (especially the second part, with the rows of platforms and lasers sitting above bottomless pits) seems to be just a bunch of random crap strewn together. There's nothing coherent about it outside of having some serious do-or-die trial-and-error stuff (especially since there are no rings).

    The intended quick-step sequence that's near the end is is even more hilariously bad. You're supposed to side-step flying enemies bombing the route, but the entire sequence is covered with dash panels pushing you forward. I literally started laughing at the points the player ended up being thrust into a exploding bomb by a chain of dash panels that either causes Sonic to lose their rings or straight-up die.

    Level design for this game (either beta or final) is just amateur hour all around. Makes it all the more hilarious that the game's development team held a panel last year to teach what good level design was about. (I don't recall us here at Retro actually talked much about that panel, let alone mentioned it at all; but SSMB had fun with it).

    One translated image from the panel (courtesy by TwilightZoney, you can see a bunch more here) just sums up Forces' level design in a nutshell.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Lanzer

    Lanzer

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    Oh yeah, that. Zoney had a field day with that panel on Twitter.
     
  3. Lozicle

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    I actually wouldn't be surprised if the excessive dash-panels in Beta Mortar Canyon are meant to emulate automation keeping Sonic in one lane, possibly because they hadn't gotten around to making that automation yet.
     
  4. Dark Sonic

    Dark Sonic

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    Of course they could have just added drifting and they wouldn't need dash pads to guide your way :v:

    Isn't it amazing how we had 2 Sonic games this year, and one is ending up in everyone's top 10 while the other is in everyone's bottom 10? What a contrast.
     
  5. makoeyes

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    You know, one day I want to write up a review and retrospective to dive deep into where Modern Sonic gameplay is now, versus around...9 years ago.

    Because I went and restarted Sonic Unleashed which came out November 18, 2008. And just.

    The stark contrast between the two is astonishing. I knew there would be differences but...

    The sheer magnitude of the dumbing down of level design, boost gameplay and overall quality of content is shocking. It's horrific to me. The gap between Forces and Generations is wide and knew this, but... I guess I'll just say, that for whatever one may find wrong with how Unleashed did it's unique gameplay mechanics or presentation (specifically the Werehog and hub worlds for instance), there was an undeniable proof of effort, talent and creative execution that gave the game it's chops. Unleashed was an unapologetic challenge that made the player work to master its gameplay and rewarded the player for learning. Nothing came cheap.

    Yet the spirit of it's gameplay mechanics have somehow been lost through each subsequent iteration of the formula.

    For one, the entire concept of "boost" was one of trade-off. For high speed and invulnerability, you (the player) had to sharpen your reflexes and memorize the level layout to avoid collision with obstacles, falling into bottomless pits, or missing key points of the course that required you to make precise jumps or side steps to prevent having to do a portion of the level again. You could never "boost to win." If you were boosting, then you were hyper-aware of the level you were on and it required you to master drifting, side-stepping, timed air dashing, and light-speed dashing. You NEVER could just hit forward, jump occasionally, and boost. You'd die if you did that.

    Quick time events were put in the level to challenge you and ensure you were present in the game and not just automatically button mashing or mindlessly moving forward. Each QTE was random in it's button input!!! And the success or failure of said QTE had tangible consequences. Get it right, and you advance through the level on a path that was faster, less dangerous, and potentially rewarding with rings, unlockables, etc. Fail the QTE, and you either took damage from an obstacle, got placed on a slower or more trap ridden part of the course, or you just straight up died. QTEs had a purpose and consequence.

    Boost gameplay did not detract from the overall expansiveness or exploration of a level; there were numerous hidden routes or areas to explore, not to mention portions that required platforming. Furthermore, the stages themselves were unique to their environment and even filled with easter eggs, people or things to show you that this stage was present in the country it took place in. Not just in the background but all around you.

    Guard rail segments were in levels but for a a specific reason. They were interspersed in levels as a means of transition to another part of the stage and to prepare you for what was to come. If a guard rail segment was the focus, you were then challenged by having to know when you were supposed to switch to another rail, or risk falling to your death via a spike trap or the rail abruptly ending.

    And finally, 2D platform portions of the level were varied, not everywhere nor just rote, simplistic, or non-dynamic. The camera gave a perspective to make it flow with the rest of the level, and it fit the theme of the stage. It wasn't just a means of cheapening out on design.

    All of these aspects have been totally flipped in Sonic Forces, although to be fair, they've been watered down with each game they appeared in.

    Boost offered absolutely no drawback in Forces, whatsoever. There's no downside or challenge in boosting all stage.

    QTEs are pointless. Fucking Double Boost is pointless. There are maybe 2 QTEs that result in you actually dying. And in the end, the QTEs only require one fucking button. They're used as a substitute for gameplay, not as a challenge to ensure the player's presence in gameplay.

    The guard rail portions of the game are fucking obnoxious. Null Space is almost just 2/3rds guard rails and you do nothing but slide and collect rings, and maybe switch once every few seconds without any challenge. What the fuck?

    And just. I don't need to mention the 2D portions.

    I'm really just shocked. And then, the level designers for Forces tried to hold a panel on how to make good level design?!

    Boost gameplay is dead. Not because it's bad but because the current Sonic Team has absolutely turned it to shit.
     
  6. Aerosol

    Aerosol

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    Inevitable take: Boost gameplay was always doomed.

    Inevitable counterpoint: Nuh uh, you just need to have IMAGINATION!!!

    Hopefully we don't need to retread that argument :v:
     
  7. The common argument I get when saying boost is shit is "don't you want Sonic to be fast?"...and my response is, if you need to hold a down to "make him fast" then what's the point of it? It's so redundant. Forces just intensified everything that was wrong with it. Unleashed--while it had "WHOOOOO" and "HYEEEEEEEAH"...at least it had good level design. Even the Wii version had decent level design. Generations was more of a 2.5D platformer, and now you have Forces. That with OC, this game is just concentrated cringe imo. Bland, cheesy, and boring.
     
  8. Laughingcow

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    On the subject of boost: Give me Sonic Rush or Rush Adventure

    I consider Sonic Team's rendition of the boost formula to be nothing more than a watered down Crash Bandicoot game. Instead of awesome platforming, you have quicksteps, QTE's, and memorization. This would be fine as special stages but not as the main game.
     
  9. synchronizer

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    A main issue that they bootstrapped Sonic Lost World instead of just going back to Unleashed/Generations, which means that core gameplay was "broken" in the context of the more "traditional" 3d boost format. The main team only ever worked on Lost World if I understand correctly.
     
  10. Dark Sonic

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    And they say the boost games play themselves:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhm2_iccAeU&t=0s

    But no for some reason this early layout (That's like the 4th early layout for this level hidden in the files. How many layout iterations did this stage go through?) for Sunset Heights is entirely automated.

    Also seems rather odd, at some point they just decided to make this game a lot easier. These earlier layouts contain a lot more obstacles and spikes than the final, hell just look at the early Mortar Canyon layout. That section with the laser grid under it used to have enemies and platforms and actual lasers, but in the final they just said fuck it and put a launch panel in that sent you over the entire pit. I really wish we could learn more about this disaster.
     
  11. makoeyes

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    Boost gameplay never played itself until Sonic Forces.

    Anyone who just mindlessly pressed boost and forward would either collide with an obstacle, go off onto a crappier path, or more likely, just fly off the level entirely.

    The point of boost is to give Sonic an incredible burst of speed which allows him (or rather the player) to demolish enemies through nigh invulnerability and cross large swaths of the level quickly while avoiding certain hazards. However, boost required "ring energy/boost gauge" consumption to maintain while also challenging the player's response times and spatial awareness in gameplay. It was the trade off and a means of actually making "gotta go fast" gameplay have depth.

    If you want to go fast, then you have to manage the hazards of such speed. Usually you only see those type of elements of gameplay in racing games or simulators of sorts but it being combined with a PS3 era 3D platformer was what made it pretty unique.

    In the end, I think the point of such a playstyle is one of challenging and exhilarating gameplay. The skill demand required to clear a difficult level, like say, Shamar's Day Stage, with a high score, is something that requires you to really get into the game and absorb it. Levels and gameplay like that require more than precision jumping and platforming skills. You also need fast reaction time and level mastery.

    On that note, a game that uses such a concept must have intricate, in-depth level design because when boosting, you're covering a huge part of the stage in a short amount of time; the levels can't be just straight or corridor-y. Sonic Unleashed's developers understood that and made the levels sprawling set pieces with variability, alternate paths and gimmicks that played to their country. You never had a linear experience, and the levels culminated into the most challenging and nightmarish final zone/level: Eggmanland.

    I think with Sonic Colors and Generations, they used the 2.5D as a means of padding because they either didn't know what else to do with the level or they ran out of juice for design. Either way, Colors was the start of the trend, and while Generations was an awesome game with unique designs, most stages weren't as challenging or expansive like those in Unleashed. Modern Seaside Hill, Modern Sky Sanctuary, and Modern Rooftop Run are the best examples of the game going mostly all-in with the 3D and expansive level design. The rest kinda are just 2.5D levels, which don't get me wrong, I still love for what they are.


    I mean. If you're just referring to Forces as that, okay whatever.

    But pointing to the worst possible example of the gameplay style as indicative of it's flaws while ignoring it's most successful iterations is kinda misleading. Awesome platforming and the boost game formula do not have to be mutually exclusive. Like, at all. Look at Jungle Joyride, Skyscraper Scamper, Seaside Hill in Generations, and a whole bunch of other stages. The gameplay is a solid combination of both, but it requires intensely crafted and massive levels.

    Unfortunately Sonic Team seems to simply not be up to the task for it anymore.

    I will say, when I look at these demo stages, I see a fledgling seed of potential that could've become really awesome, massive and challenging stages, but then I see how simplisitic they are and the final product. Whatever creative energy or juice the team had in the past is simply gone. There's been a talent drain that I don't think can simply be replenished. I know a good chunk of the Sonic Team that was from the Adventure days left after Unleashed, and then the ones that stepped in for Colors and Generations have left already for Nintendo, so... We're left with the ones who did...Lost World and some Olympic spinoffs?

    Yeeeeeah, somehow I'm not optimistic at all about the future of modern Sonic gameplay.
     
  12. Beltway

    Beltway

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    From the imagine-nation NHK World interview from late November last year (I've tried to embed the video to start at 10:13. Can't get it to work for myself, so you might have to manually go to the timestamp):

    [7/6/2021 EDIT: The previous two videos on YouTube I posted here, which contained the full interview, have long since been removed via account terminations. As a result, I have posted in its place the supercut from Tails' Channel, which does include most of the relevant quotes. Timestamps have been updated accordingly, and the quotes below contained in brackets are not included in the supercut. The full interview has been preserved on archive.org, though, for those curious.]



    Narrator (10:13 1:49): "Since it's a long-running series, the gameplay of this latest game was designed to be easy for new users."

    Nakamura (10:24 1:54): "Many games feature complex and intricate gameplay. However with Sonic, it's more sloppy but easy. Above everything else, we wanted this game to be a non-stop action experience. Often with games, there are many moments where one must take time to aim before shooting. But in this game, you simply press and hold the button to attack. So you can really enjoy ultimately just dashing like a maniac through the stages."

    Narrator (11:00 2:20): "This emphasis on simplicity can be seen throughout the game. [The game has stages that can be tackled in pairs by Sonic and the player's customized character. But to keep it simple, the button for switching between characters has been eliminated.]"

    Nakamura (11:21 2:28): "[Normally there is a button for switching between characters. However in this game, Sonic comes forward when the boost button is pressed, and the Avatar comes forward with the attack button.] As a result, the player doesn't need to think about switching characters. Instead of sticking to Sonic's traditional style of gameplay, we decided to design the game to be as simple and enjoyable as possible; focusing more on the excitement of dashing through the stages, without having to think about, you know, complex game controls."

    TSSZ actually reported Nakamura's "we designed the game to dash through stages like a maniac" quip shortly after it aired on Twitter (can't properly post the link due to the site's autocorrect, so just copypaste this link into the browser and remove the numbers in the account name), but many people questioned the context (and their credibility, because lolTSSZ)....so there you go.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2021
  13. makoeyes

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    Oh sweet Jesus tap-dancing Christ.

    He said that.

    He actually said that.

    ....I have no words. Nakamura just openly stated with pride, "we dumbed down the game as simply as possible so you just dash through a stage cause it looks cool and easy!"

    God, Sonic Team has no clue. At all. How would anyone think that is a good design aesthetic for a platforming game? Let alone a fucking Sonic game?

    It takes something really special to be clueless about your whole team's namesake and purpose. Wow.
     
  14. Dark Sonic

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    Huh, so at some point they did consciously decide to make the game easier. That explains at least some of the level layout revisions. Also somewhat explains what they didn't re-implement the drift.

    Ya know you can have a game that doesn't have complex controls but still has good level design and some fun but accessible challenges. Huh almost sounds like another Sonic game that came out recently.

    HMMMMMM....
     
  15. Laughingcow

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    No, I am not. I meant what I said. I want a platformer NOT a stupid game of memorization. I'll leave it at that.
     
  16. makoeyes

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    You know, it's really astonishing how many times my anger and frustration for this game resurfaces. However, I don't know how not more fans are angry or troubled by this shocking admittance to their failure. Not only is it insulting, it makes absolutely no sense.

    Like... The entire statement is garbage on it's face.

    "By keeping the game simple, it aims to reach out to the greatest number of players"

    What players?

    What reservoir of new, skill bereft players are chomping at the bit to play a Sonic game that's absolutely braindead simple?

    It can't be children. Children gamers are actually more skilled and discerning now than a gen ago, thanks to earlier exposure to video games, "let's-player" word-of-mouth, and games just being more advanced and interactive. Do they mean literal single-digit elementary age children?

    If that's the case, why? Wasn't that what Sonic Boom was supposed to do? Sonic Boom was meant to be a franchise entry point for new kids unfamiliar with the vast, long history of Sonic from the 90s. Suddenly, Sonic Team is playing at that market too?

    But wait, that can't be right. Sonic Forces was a commemoration of Sonic's 25th anniversary! So why the hell did Sonic Team make the game as simple as possible for "new players?" It's a fucking commemoration. Forces should be a love letter to the fans who were there propping up said franchise for those 25 years, not some cash grab that's blindly chasing imaginary numbers of fans who can't handle the high skill threshold of manually switching between two characters.

    It's like Sega and Sonic Team have been locked in a vault for the past 10 years. Console gamers, specifically gamers who drop real cash on said games, aren't interested in mind-numbing simplistic gameplay.

    They want a challenge. They want depth. They want a feeling of engagement and immersion. Look at two of the most successful games of 2017. Super Mario Odyssey, Zelda Breath of the Wild, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and of course AAA titles. Best selling games from 2016 included Super Mario Maker, Overwatch, Uncharted 4, Pokemon Sun/Moon, and the typical AAA titles like Call of Duty, Madden, etc. 2015 had Fallout 4, SW Battlefront, and Mortal Kombat X. 2014 gave us GTA 5, Smash Bros, and the usual AAA titles.

    The point I'm making is, there's no clamoring for braindead simplistic gameplay. Period. Not from actual, game buying consumers. The type of players Sega seems to want to attract are mobile, smart phone gamers, who will never tear themselves away from their phone screen or drop money on a console to play Sega's crappy games in the first place.

    Sega and Sonic Team aren't just ignorant of how to make a good Sonic game or what makes him appealing. They don't even know who their target audience is anymore. And because of this, Sega has become the Susan Smith parent to Sonic. Hellbent on driving this hedgehog into the cold, murky river of mediocrity, and drowning him as he screams for rescue.

    Christ, Taxman and Stealth seem to literally be the only people attached to Sega with any clue as to who Sonic is, why he's liked, and what fans want. Amazing.

    Well, okay. But, you do realize that Unleashed, Colors and Generations had platforming that was integral to their gameplay style, right?

    Platforming in and of itself requires some degree of memorization of stage elements, anyways. Even with classic Sonic titles, when going fast and trying to safely navigate through a zone, you needed awareness and memorization of at least the basic hazards and elements of the level in order to successfully navigate the zone.

    So I really don't get what you're saying. Platforming has never been missing from the boost type games. Just because you need a higher level of reaction speed and spacial awareness doesn't detract from said platforming elements. It's merely an additional gameplay layer. A level of depth that's true to Sonic's spirit as a character.
     
  17. Aerosol

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    I knew this argument was gonna happen again.
     
  18. Laughingcow

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    I'm gonna assume you don't play much else but Sonic games if you call having a jump button platforming. My advice is for you to play other games. Mario Odyssey being the obvious in explaining what being a platformer means, Cloudbuilt/Super Cloudbuilt if you want to see real platforming in a high speed game, and Bayonetta because it has better platforming despite being primarily a beat'em up.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wOju0U7X00
     
  19. makoeyes

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    For one, I most certainly do play more than just Sonic games and have been playing Mario since he was called Jumpman and chasing after an oversized gorilla on scaffolding. So please don't try to lecture me on platforming, I'm well aware of the genre.

    For one, Mario Odyssey is an open world platformer, which is awesome and pretty rad for Mario. Mario can take advantage of that kind of design in Odyssey due to the heavy emphasis of in-depth exploration, environment immersion, item hunting, and of course the game's unique bosses. Why? Because Mario always has been about that kind of open, exploratory non-linear platforming since his 3D debut on the N64.

    Sonic is not, and has never been an open world exploratory platformer. How could you even compare that genre to Sonic? Sonic's levels have always been broken down into stages; isolated set pieces with a definitive start point and end point that you progress through via different paths that converge at the end point. This has been true, even in 3D, since Sonic Adventure.

    An open world platformer for Sonic would be extremely difficult to design from the jump. Why? Because Sonic levels have always been designed around movement, momentum and speed. Start point to end point. From corkscrew paths, steep curved slopes, elongated paths that twist and turn, springs, high rise cliffs, etc. Keeping that design aesthetic while maintaining a totally open world design clashes with the controlled element of a Sonic stage with platforming and speed elements.

    What's the point of a loop-the-loop or corkscrew path if you can either go around it, or just jump through it? Not only do the levels have to be massive for the sake of Sonic not just zooming through them in an instant, but now you have to construct the levels massively in all directions to account for the freedom of player choice. What do you fill that empty world space with? Because it would have to be open to a significant extent to account for the potential of Sonic's speedy movements. Levels would be massive and directionless. If that's your bag, that's cool but that's never been Sonic or his style.

    Like, all platformers don't have to be open world affairs like Odyssey to be good. And I'm not even gonna bother tackling that ridiculous Bayonetta comparison because that's a clear hack-n-slash, beatem-up game with a few platform elements interspersed within it. Saying that those bits of platforming somehow trump an actual platforming game like Sonic Unleashed, Colors or Generations is laughably dumb on it's face. I'd ask if you played them but I won't condescend you like you did me with that earlier question.

    You don't have to like the Boost mechanic, but trying to pretend the games that have it are magically not real platformers when they clearly are, is just wrong. If Sky Sanctuary in Generations isn't indicative of 3D high speed platforming then I question what standards you use to denote the genre.



    L
     
  20. Dark Sonic

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    I'll give ya Cloudbuilt, which was good high speed platforming if not a bit sadistic, but Bayonetta? That's a stretch. Generations felt far more like a platformer than those games did.