Discussion in 'Fangaming Discussion' started by Mr Lange, Oct 24, 2016.
I proposed a solution in the Hedge Physics thread:
I'm sure you have. Would expect nothing less from someone who clearly gets Sonic.
Also I'm not suggesting that this loop idea is the only way or best way to tighten up the loop experience. Was just curious what you were thinking on the idea. Loops are so integral to the series and yet so problematic in the translation from 2D to 3D, one has to make a firm decision (in my imaginary world as a game designer) on what they are trying to accomplish. In general, I think more than just trying to replicate Sonic's iconic gameplay the priority would need to be on creating a strong overall concept that is inspired by the original Sonic. You clearly get that as well, as you've mentioned elsewhere IIRC.
Carry on. I'm just really really excited that you guys are doing this. Its a personal dream of mine, since '95. I'm incredibly interested in how things are going because I want it to be proved resoundingly that 3D Sonic can be excellent...and it hasn't happened yet. Its otherwise easy to be an armchair critic.
No pressure. :v:
This is something me and Mura thought of a long time ago and I'm still strongly considering it. There's just some small fringe issues that go along with it and it's a tricky thing to do on a technical level.
I appreciate it and I'm glad to see detailed feedback and ideas.
Have you guys thought up a story yet? Or are you guys just not there yet in terms of the to-do list of things that need to be done before that?
The story has been figured out and is pretty well planned. It was tricky for a while because there's some surprises we'd like to have that make a story difficult to fit around, but it has worked out wonderfully. It's a bit weird but still based on what's been established to work with in the series, synthesizing something new and interesting from it.
Interesting. Will there be any dialogue in the narrative or will the story be told without words like Hyper Light Drifter or the classic Sonic games?
Very nice, that's great to hear! I'm now very excited for this game, more than I previously was! Looking forward to the updates, Mr. Lange!
Still deciding. On one hand, it'd be more directly faithful to the classics without dialogue, but there's some parts of the story that would be really difficult or impossible to convey that way. Though, it may not be too important; there's parts of the story in the classics that only exist on paper. Some feel that dialogue would dilute the classics.
I don't feel that strongly about it. There was dialogue in the Genesis version cutscenes of 3D Blast (granted the cutscenes in the Saturn version were without). There's messages in the tutorial mode of Knuckles Chaotix. But the most important thing is that there are intended personalities and dialogues with the characters conveyed in official media by Sonic Team outside the games, such as the stories in the manuals, albeit scarce. I'd like to see this actually adapted to in game scenes, trying to depict the characters as they were intended to be. The OVA does a good job of this but, kind of its own thing and only a sample of what could've been, and only in the form of a short movie.
This is all of course, assuming Utopia will have cutscenes, which is something I'm aiming to do.
I really like this. I'm so late to the train but I recently played this and I gel with the controls instantly. I'm repeating a lot of people when I say this so I'll just emphasise by saying that my 7 year old sister can play well too, with more ease than she can a 2D game. The mouse control is perfect.
The level decoration and lighting I feel directs the players attention perfectly, making the open-ness a non issue for finding the goal. To be honest I didn't want to find the goal and deliberately stayed away as long as I could find new areas. I hope while the levels will have a focus on a particular area/route, that we still get to explore as thoroughly, the outskirts and secret way-off areas.
Sorry for my late opinions
Guess who took a look at Utopia....
Any updates so far, Mr. Lange?
Nothing ready for public, and even then I don't want to spoil much ahead of time. We are shooting for SAGE, so we'll have new things to share within the next three months.
Its odd that the dawn of Mania is here...and I'm still thinking about my ultimate game, which since 1995 has been a classic-inspired Sonic game in 3D.
I've been wondering a lot over the weeks how progress is going on Utopia. How goes it, Mr Lange?
I'm willing to bet that your team has thought through some of the same decisions Yuji Naka and company did in the mid 90s when 3D Sonic was first a concept. What they chose to do back then was understandable given the issues with camera/player perspective in the first ever 3D translation of Sonic. But in my years of studying, I think they may have thought too hard about the problems in translating the 2D gameplay directly over and tried to force it to work, instead of boiling down the important concepts and expanding into something new. In the process they found that it doesn't work the exact same way, and then did some patch work with automation to try to fix their formula...their excuse being "We wanted to take a more cinematic approach". Ha!
What I think should have been realized instead, is what Miyamoto and Mario's team realized with Mario 64, in terms of asset re-use and the size of levels becoming problematic. Its ironic that the current Sonic Team is actually regressing to pre-1996 thinking, having issues with the stages being far too large and taking too much development time. Nope, a different concept is needed, one that allows a controlled expansion of Sonic's movement potential in 3D space.
I think a direction like Utopia is something that is, arguably, necessary for Sonic to work as a AAA platformer. What Sonic had been doing since day one, and the reason I think he has always had greater potential than Mario, is having complete environments to traverse through and explore. Mario's worlds have always been comparatively a bit abstract (and flat), while Sonic's worlds, while fantastical, feel like actual, vibrant, beautiful places that he happens to be adventuring through. A direction like Utopia can take full advantage of that, depending upon how you play it, while still allowing for Sonic to have traditional action stage progression in key spots like in the classics. In addition to that, the 3D space should eliminate 2D Sonic's weaknesses in platforming, which mainly are the blindspots and enemy placements on screen, while also allowing the gameplay to be more immersive than 2D. Sonic also has a higher potential for interactivity/scaling the environment in comparison to the 2D classics. You'd want to keep the control scheme as elegant as possible of course, and expand the number of actions Sonic can take based on this elegance... but this can be done I think.
Anyway, I'm just curious to know the general outlook on Team S Utopia. You all don't have like a page or anything (I don't think?) but in between my career and other things I think about this all the time, wondering how its going. I don't know what will happen after Sonic Forces inevitably misses its mark but Sonic Mania's success could potentially be a bad thing for a project with this kind of goal. Sonic Mania is being done on a much smaller budget than Forces and its THIS successful? Why would SEGA bother to keep churning out mediocrity, especially if it costs way more and possibly sells less? I fear they will axe 3D Sonic completely, when a solution to Sonic's foundational problems already exists, though not proved as of yet. They need a proof of concept like they need a shot of insulin though because those guys have ZERO confidence in themselves to be able to do it and truly, fully revive Sonic in the gaming world. Mania alone cannot be the future of Sonic. He needs something like this too and someone needs to step forward to show them it can certainly be done.
We're doing pretty well, but taking our sweet time with it. The last few months have been very much R&D work. Murasaki has been rewriting the engine, and I've been working out tools and workflows for building levels. I had to ditch this effort with the first demo and ended up with a very hackish mess. Since then I've been trying to find solutions and now I'm close. When it's ready then building levels will be incredibly swift and flexible. I think we're going to skip SAGE to take our time with this, but we're still working towards a new demo. All this effort is going to pay off in the long term.
I have seen a lot of comments along the lines of "this is what Sonic Team should've done on the Saturn/Dreamcast to begin with" etc. This is a certainly understandable sentiment, but I think it's worth explaining some things in their defense.
Sonic Utopia is relying on technologies that did not even exist back then. Aside from the robust amount of geometry and calculations at its disposal, it's also utilizing Unity's PhysX implementation to power motion and collisions. The Dreamcast had comparatively very limited technology, Sonic Team had to do things like movement and collision way more raw, and they were tapping into unexplored territory. Trying to compare Super Mario 64 and Sonic Adventure is terribly unfair for Sonic. Mario is a much simpler platformer and translating it to 3d was already a very daunting task. Doing the same for Sonic is exponentially more complicated in terms of technology and game design, and so you can safely bet the probable reason for Sonic being in limbo during the Saturn era. You can see they made an earnest effort in the earlier stages of Sonic Adventure, particularly with the Windy Valley beta. It's much more natural and there's a much greater emphasis on slopes and exploration in the level design, showing they were attempting a genuine translation of 2d Sonic, one that was based more around momentum and slope physics. The final contrasts this with much more linear level design filled with boosters and scripted events. When you take this into account with the untethered slope physics being pretty buggy, it paints a picture of them having to abandon their intentions and make some big compromises. They ended up with a stable, understood formula, and the rest is history.
The closest thing to a "page" right now is this thread and my twitter, but this will be remedied after the new SFGHQ site rolls out which won't be long now. We'll have a nice proper place setup for Sonic Utopia with info, updates, and downloads.
^ Interested to see what kind of gameplay you guys will do outside of the proof of concept!
Also, I wouldn't say Adventure's physics were buggy because the technologies didn't exist. I think it's mainly just how the system was designed. Given enough R&D, they could've gotten pretty reliable tech running behind Adventure 1 on DC and GC. I know you didn't mean this, but the wording makes it sound like Nvidia PhysX or Havok is the only reason why we can get collision and slopes in 3D functional. I think it's all about the methodology.
Eg.) How collision and what not are more reliable on the DC version than the ports.
Good luck peeps, on your work on Sonic Utopia. With lessons learned from the proof of concept, this can be pretty good.
EDIT: Glossed over the fact that the Dreamcast wasn't all that powerful to begin with, limiting them in what kind of solutions they had to think up of. Morph mentions this in the next page.
I still feel it's mainly in the methods they used still. Mario 64 was using half steps and what not - giving it high speed and reliable collision way back on the N64.
I know the Sonic Adventure thing is sort of a tangent, but having only just scratched the surface of how its collision works under the hood, I cannot stress that point enough. Right on the money. They had to design their own robust collision system capable of handling high speed collision, and it had to run fast and efficiently on a 200 MHz CPU. Not easy by any means, and it shows!
That aside though, I look forward to seeing more of Sonic Utopia in the future. I loved it. You guys are doing a fantastic job.
I'm glad you folks do understand what they went through. Though 3D Sonic has had a rough history I personally have always been a bit more forgiving of SA1 in comparison to later titles simply because they were in uncharted territory at the time. And you correctly point out things I hadn't though about as much, primarily because I'm not a game designer (I study astrophysics....so while I think about translating physics to higher dimensions, it is not quite the same variety ).
I'm painfully curious about how you all have decided to handle the level structure, from taking a more classically "point A to B" approach or building upon a more open philosophy. With this I'm sure you have your own plans and goals, as seeing as you're merely trying to get to full proof of concept, you don't have to worry about designing a full game yet. I wonder what road you'll take though. The purely A to B level structure of the classics would probably make for a pretty short game no matter how quickly one can design levels, so I'd imagine there'd be something more to the concept. And expanding Sonic's potential into something more than the classics could be may have you utilizing exploration in ways that couldn't be done before. There are a lot of really cool scenarios I can imagine Sonic in, in which Sonic can fully engage the terrain and independent objects within the environment. That I'm sure is also a matter of what kind of base level physics you have. Ugh, I just see soooo much potential for this, its driving me nuts.
I was not speaking in absolutes. I'm saying that Utopia was made possible with the technology we have today, and only specified what it's using. There's many ways it can be done.
And I do believe it's possible on the Dreamcast even if to a limited extent, but the conditions they had to work with was not enough.
Thank you. And not just high speed collisions, but functioning 3d slope physics with good control. Not even ordinary ball physics either, but the abstract kind unique to Sonic. You're looking at a game that demands not only these systems made from the ground up on limited hardware, but large levels that demand extra polygons for defined curves, a comfortable accessible control scheme in tandem with all of this, a well behaved camera to go with it, and figuring out the game design for all of it and applying it properly across huge levels for an entire game, and none of this had ever really been explored before. All things considered, even the compromised state of Sonic Adventure is an impressive feat, and one can't help but be forgiving of them for the challenges they were facing.
The levels will primarily be start to finish. Sonic does have to adapt its gameplay for 3d, and while it's understood that Super Mario 64 addressed the jump to 3d by going for an open world mission design, this does not mean Sonic has to copy Mario's approach in order to make the jump as well. Sonic and Mario have unique gameplay and priorities in their design. Granted, going with the SM64 approach would probably work nicely for Sonic in theory (Sonic CD already sets the stage for such a concept), I don't believe this is the ideal.
I consider traversing a world from start to finish an important part of Sonic's game, and I want to preserve that in a 3d setting. Being able to explore and make your own ways through is part of this experience. This can be capitalized on in 3d as you can scope out your environment and pursue places of interest. But, I would consider that part of the journey, and not an end goal by itself.
Note that I said primarily start to finish. There will be secondary objectives that reward exploring, collecting, and learning the game. There will also be special missions in each level that can be played outside of the main game (think Sonic Adventure 2; it had the main goal campaign and a separate stage select with selectable missions).
Reminder that the original Super Monkey Ball was running on NAOMI hardware and a Dreamcast port was planned. Sega already solved the physics problem, just too late for Sonic.
Come to think of it, given the timing (2001), I wonder if Super Monkey Ball wasn't a byproduct of continued R&D within Sega towards solving Sonic physics in 3D? Something to ask Toshihiro Nagoshi if he ever winds up on a panel.
@ Mr. Lange if you guys do create a strong, full game concept that allows Sonic to primarily keep his A to B level philosophy, that will be quite an achievement. Even Sonic Team has not managed to do this in almost 20 years in all their experimentation without resorting to padding gimmicks.
I'm rooting for this so hard, you have no idea.
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