Sonic Utopia

Discussion in 'Fangaming Discussion' started by Mr Lange, Oct 24, 2016.

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  1. This demo is nothing short of amazing, and is definitely the BEST 3D Sonic fangame engine yet. I can already see the potential here!

    One way you could make the game more linear would be to make the world look like a bicycle wheel shape, with the middle area being an Green Hill-esque overworld connecting to multiple "spokes" protruding outward, which would be the more linear levels/zones, like traveling to a volcano peak, or going underground to a cave zone.

    Also another suggestion, being able to run on water at max speed for a bit could make for more branching paths in a zone filled with water.
     
  2. Murasaki Fox

    Murasaki Fox

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    I actually did intend to create water-running for this demo, but since I pride myself on physics-based character controls, I didn't want to settle for just treating the water like ground. Ideally the effect of water running should have some kind of internal acceleration. This was working for a while, but there were issues with the logistics of applying the acceleration. I may build this feature for a later release of this demo, or wait until the physics are rebuilt in Unreal. Haven't quite made a plan yet.
     
  3. Unlimited Trees

    Unlimited Trees

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    UNITRES, Project Time, etc.
    Oh look you've finally made a thread about this now it's time for me to spread my thoughts.

    Ok, so let me just start by saying I love this but, it's not the best that people keep saying. In fact, there are a couple problems that I have with this. So, let's begin.

    First off, graphics. They seem ok. Kinda reminds me of Sonic Lost World. Sucks that my computer is shit so I have to run the game on the "fastest" setting, because I really liked the graphics in the trailer for the game.

    Controls: They're a start. It's nice to fuck around with the physics. One thing I have a problem with is rolling: unlike the classics, if you roll on a slope and let go of the controls, Sonic doesn't roll down himself. Instead, he stops in place. And to add to that, Sonic slows down when rolling up a slope . I get this is to make it so running is more important, but this just bugs me. I can't explain why, it just does.

    Finally, the level layout/design/whatever you want to call it. I don't like the open world design. I'd rather have level design similar to the classics except more big. It's just that open world levels are more "eh". Besides, we already have Green Hill Paradise. Sonic Utopia is just Green Hill Paradise but with better controls/graphics and more awesome secrets. Also, please make your loops and corkscrew more wide. I keep on falling off the loops, and on the corkscrews, I either fall off became I don't have enough speed (seriously these things are huge) or I hit the side which somehow makes me fall off.

    Anyways, this game is nice. I liked + - finding that cool Labyrinth Zone secret and the "gen room"   , and speed running the level is nice. Please though, make the levels less open world and more like the classics. And get rid of that "rolling up walls slows you down" thing.
     
  4. Jason

    Jason

    *Results not lab tested. Member
    So is there a Mac version so I can slip this onto my brothers iMac? Wanna see this in 5K.
     
  5. Blast Brothers

    Blast Brothers

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    The physics and presentation are superb, and while the open-world design can become confusing, it was fun to mess around in: I had no idea where I was supposed to be going and loved every minute of it. Two suggestions, however: zoom in the camera and make an option to have turning left or right effect the camera. Aside from these, I found this a very polished project for an early build. Congratulations on creating something so fun.
     
  6. MissingNoGuy

    MissingNoGuy

    Sounds totally automated. Member
    Was going to say, this could possibly be Kickstarted considering the demo is convincing. Sega could also show interest in it if it got popular enough.

    Though I would suggest keeping it as it is right now. Kickstarting is a very, very long process that requires lots of planning and heavy management.

    Edit: Good news! PCGamer wrote an article about this!
     
  7. Mr Lange

    Mr Lange

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    Sonic Utopia, Sonic Overture
    Thank you all for the feedback. I had a feeling most of what would be said would be echoing much of what has been said elsewhere, and believe me I'm well aware of these things already. I'll cover all this now.
    I've already thought of pretty much everything. Every detail, everything carefully considered, the gameplay tested extremely thoroughly with all weak points noted. For some things, there is no perfect answer, but there are usually best answers.

    It's important to recognize that a lot was rushed and cut to make it to SAGE. A lot of what's been asked for are things that were planned, and we'll be adding some of the cut features over the next few weeks, as well as generally polishing up.


    For starters, I should talk about the level since that's the biggest point of contention and criticism in this demo, and understandably so.

    It's not like I'm not aware the level is somewhat empty and unclear. This level was a huge experiment in design and I learned a lot in the process of making it. Making this wild, sloppy mess was important to get a grasp on how level design could or should work for this gameplay. For this demo, just consider it a playground to have fun in. It has a lot of different ideas for level design strung together without much direction, but many happy accidents have formed from testing it and I'm taking notes of all the strong points of its design, intentional and otherwise.
    The "emptiness" of the level is half intentional. There are areas intentionally left open and boring because they're designated as "punishment" for not staying on the progressive paths. They're places that are a novelty to roam and take in the scenery, but are usually not conducive to progressing the level and this can be clearly seen. I felt this was a good solution to "linear path over a void", where a level could have the best of both open free roaming areas and dedicated level design. A few parts of the main routes I intentionally left bare to see how they would play, ie "how would this part be if it were just a few hills and loads of badniks". When building it, I was taking into account many variables, one being what would the player's visibility be like if this were here or what height that would obscure vision etc, and overcompensated this a bit leaving much of the level fairly flat.
    However, because of the SAGE deadline, I did not have time to do a lot of the detailing I wanted to do on many portions of the level, and some parts were drastically cut and hurried. You might notice the second half of the level, that is, the whole area past the long road and field, has much weaker level design than the first half. This was done later and I had to spend less time on it.
    Underwater is terribly neglected. I had whole underwater sections of level design planned that had to be cut, leaving only a few essential chunks littering the lake beds. Choppers were made but unfinished, leaving lakes that much more boring.
    As for landmarks, I did actually have a few standout features planned. There were going to be giant bird statues at the cliff sides of the halfway point, and an Eggman statue on the cylindrical shape on the intersection near the end of the level.
    Despite the lack of landmarks, I do not agree with the complaints that "the level looks the same everywhere, there's no outstanding features and nothing interesting". Despite the cut elements, the level has very distinct geography and several significant shifts in setting depending on the route taken. There's a jungle-like section, caves, a lake section with bridges, upper and lower shelves, and a couple hidden areas that change the theme completely.
    I had a few more hidden areas planned too, such as a cave inside the largest mountain on the shelf above the midpoint, and an underground section based on Marble Zone.
    Overall I do consider this level sloppy work, and I'm probably going to scrap it, especially since I improved my workflow over time and working with it as it is now is too rigid and complicated.

    I would appreciate any screenshots or clips of what anyone feels is strong or weak design, with explanations. That would certainly help.

    Why Green Hill Zone?
    I knew there would be plenty of "not this again" responses. I chose Green Hill for a number of reasons.
    Not only is Green Hill a way for the player to learn, it's a way for me to learn as well. It allowed me to create a more loose, carefree level for both myself to learn design, and the player to learn gameplay. Now certainly, this isn't an excuse to be lazy; the original Green Hill Zone is a well designed, finely tuned level. But this was less being lazy and more about learning. I put in a tremendous effort despite the result. And it has payed off, as I've learned so much and players are starting to get acquainted with this formula of gameplay, and I'm seeing more creative gameplay appearing already.
    Along with this, I've felt that every depiction of Green Hill since its debut have lost its touch. Even in Sonic Generations, which was certainly impressive visually, does not capture the spirit of Green Hill to me. I wanted to show that even something as tired and repeated as Green Hill Zone still has so much life in it, and it just needs to be brought out. When Green Hill Zone is used to evoke "nostalgia" or the emotions it gave people, it needs to be done with understanding and intention. Simply mimicking its elements in a superficial way will not work. Same with Sonic as a whole, really. You have to understand what you're working with and what it made people feel and how, in order to revive it. The title "Sonic" does not have power in name alone. It is backed by a rich foundation of artistic and gameplay substance. That's what gave the title power in the first place, why people love the series, and that cannot be neglected. Abusing the title without its context will just destroy its value.


    I'm aware of the camera issues. Also aware of Sonic not responding to slopes and halfpipes correctly when rolling, issues with homing attack, etc. There were plans for more nuanced controls that also didn't make the cut.
    In fact, numerous features were cut for time, and we want to get those in soon.

    Cut things we want to add/fix soon:
    Various bug fixes (effects, "tanooki suit bug" with peelout and jump dash alternating, rolling responses on slopes and halfpipes, etc).
    Various camera improvements, pullback effect with speed, centering button likely mapped to left bumper.
    Subtle acceleration based steering to make turning less touchy.
    Improved powerups.
    Some new and improved visual effects.
    Some additions to underwater sections like choppers.
    Breakable walls.
    Totem poles (assets made, cut because they'll actually be interactive and we needed time to finish).
    Curved homing attack, nuance to allow control over resulting speed/direction.
    New abilities: water running, water peelout, brake drift, more on those soon.

    I've noticed that the game has distorted dim reddish colors for a lot of people, no idea why this is happening or how to fix it. I've heard of a few other weird bugs too. The thing with the camera spinning around on its own happens sometimes with PS4 and Gamecube controllers, and it's a problem with Unity. We're planning to move from Unity to UE4 and that should address a lot of issues and make development a lot easier for us. Don't worry, I'm dedicated to maintaining this art style, and UE4's rendering differences have been a concern that I'm steadfast in solving and working with. I should even be able to improve things.
     
  8. TheKazeblade

    TheKazeblade

    "Our Life is More than a Side-Effect" Member
    Not going to repeat what I said in the other thread, but just a couple more observations after spending the better part of yesterday afternoon playing with it: want to echo the suggestion of others that it would benefit from a camera auto-center button behind Sonic. Also wanted to point out that there's a lack of camera control for laptop users not utilizing a mouse, leading to a tedious slog of zooming the camera into Sonic's head and slowly moving left or right to reset the camera into a desired direction. I know that set-up isn't ideal, but it's the conditions I had to work under :P

    But again, Sonic has never controlled better in 3D than in this demo, and I cannot wait to see what directions that you guys take the project. All the kudos.
     
  9. Murasaki Fox

    Murasaki Fox

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    Yeah, moving to Unreal is really going to make development easier for us since it's already got a fleshed out gameplay framework. I initially started developing this framework to account for multiple character options, multiplayer and stuff like that, but that required a very detailed framework to begin with. And that was complicated by two big factors. I'm terrible with blank slates, and my chronic illness makes it difficult to keep up the continuous effort necessary to build it.

    Unreal already has everything I was trying to build in Unity and more, so now I can specialize in what I'm good at! <3
     
  10. Trunks

    Trunks

    AGAIN TRY Oldbie
    I really, really loved Sonic Utopia. There's some stuff here and there that seems a little wonky, like Sonic at slow movements, sensitivity for double jumps, and the camera's got a lot of work to go.

    The massive, sprawling level is really neat, but I think it'd be better if the dozen different pathways were divided up into a number of smaller, focused levels. With everything looking pretty much the same, I have a hard time pinpointing where I am in the level.

    The really impressive thing about this game isn't that it's an open-world Sonic game, but rather that it's a great way to envision Sonic 1/2/CD as a 3D game, and really does a great job of incorporating the Sonic OVA's aesthetic.

    The open world approach would be cool if there were Mario 64 style missions. Like find the hidden crystal cave, collect all eight flickies, run across the falling bridge to get to the goal point. Stuff like that.

    Great work, and I hope you'll open it up a bit for people to make content for it. It's a really powerful start.
     
  11. Ritz

    Ritz

    Subhedgehog Member
    I have nothing to say about the mechanics, because the problem of controlling Sonic in 3D has effectively and unequivocally been solved here- like, holy shit. This is exactly how I would have done a 3D Sonic, from the handling of the homing attack right down to the animations you chose, like the Sonic CD intro baseball pitch curl when spinning after catching some air. The consistency of our visions doesn't even really come as a surprise to me, because the answer on how to handle Sonic in 3D has always been right there, in plain sight, for anyone with the taste and perspective to connect the dots. I never doubted for a second that classic Sonic controls could work in 3D, and I don't doubt that classic Sonic level design can work in 3D. Can we just rap about level design for a bit? It deserves its own thread somewhere, but I wanna do it here because between this and Green Hill Paradise Act 2, we've got a lot of fascinating data that needs digesting.

    Front-loading this with some of my unwritten game design philosophy™: I believe the fundamental basis of fun is tension, which is essentially the threat of failure. The key to understanding any genre is to identify its primary action, the means by which it generates tension. The primary action of the platformer is jumping; the conflicting force is gravity. The more jumping the player has to do, and the more pervasive the threat of gravity, the more fun that game is going to be. I think the reason we generally still hold Super Mario 64 to be the best of the 3D platformers is due to how inherently vertical the level designs are. Verticality is exhilarating because the risk of falling becomes increasingly more costly- more tense- the higher you go. Most of SM64's maps are essentially a 3D bell curve- fairly open around the perimeter with a large elevation at the center. If you're shooting for open-concept level layouts, this structure is really the optimal way of going about it, since it leverages freedom and exploration with a sense of direction. The goal is compelling to the player and visible at all times.

    The problem to be solved here is that Sonic's speed clearly prioritizes horizontal movement over vertical traversal. Horizontal tension is racing genre territory, and that works just fine for the Unleashed formula, but the point of bringing classic Sonic into 3D is to emphasize the platforming. As a baseline, when you're designing these maps, time out the spacing of your geometry so that the player never has to go more than 2-3 seconds without jumping- unless you're explicitly doing a run-for-fun segment (because pacing matters too). This will help you work out the density of design you should be shooting for, which is definitely something to focus on, because a lot of this map is just outrageously flat and boring. Bottom line: Jumping Is Fun. Speed only matters insofar as it enables bigger and better jumps.

    Of the two games, I think Green Hill Paradise has the stronger level design- far from perfect, but it's doing a much better job of marrying Sonic's physics to the platforming. It's extremely vertical, there's a good density of iconic landmarks that each represent a puzzle to be solved my means of momentum-based platforming with a tangible reward at the top (Chaos Emeralds). Oldschool Cliff Bleszinski wisdom, one of the cornerstones of good level design is showing the player a visually distinctive landmark and making them think, "Awesome, now how the fuck do I get up there?"- something teased off in the distance, just out of reach. They may not even realize they were working their way up that structure until they get sidetracked and just happen to find themselves at the top, where they're rewarded with a moment of epiphany. GHZP does this wonderfully. The problem is that it controls like shit, and you become so singularly obsessed with scaling these landmarks that you wind up trying, failing and backtracking over and over, which is profoundly un-Sonic. Something we need to understand about the classics is that though they seldom explicitly prevent backtracking, they do discourage it- it's easier to go down a slope than up. Higher paths are more rewarding and require more intensive platforming, but when you fall, it's always more interesting to press forward. Save what you missed for the next playthrough.

    To this end, I propose taking SM64's bell curve and inverting it. The Zone 1-1 of 3D Sonic should probably resemble a bowl in profile. You want to talk about easing the player into the classic Sonic state of mind? Make it a Downhill Jam. Punctuate with plenty (plenty) of flat ground and peaks to climb, but if they fail that climb, don't allow them a second chance. This ties into a critical element that most every 3D Sonic to date has largely been missing (even SRB2, while still having the best level design to date, doesn't push this far enough due to technical limitations)- floors over floors. At peak density, I demand your level have at least three layers of ground overlapping one another. Float your geometry. Player needs to play smart to leverage enough momentum to reach the highest levels, and the layout should feature multiple opportunities for them to filter up and down through the stack. Merge back down to the ground plane at the end of the map.

    Going back to verticality, I think the route to making verticality work for Sonic, and to really set the game apart from every other 3D platformer out there, is to really make his surface clinging a primary focus of the game. You have the helix and at least two cosmetic wall runs going- I want to see that become a staple, and I want it to be a fixture of the most challenging routes through the map. Do this, all the time. Allow the player to run upside-down. That's a feature we seldom recognize about the classics, you don't lose momentum when running on the ceiling. Sonic GDK doesn't account for this, but I think you should. Bottom line, it's okay to be this, but if we're faithfully extrapolating classic Sonic into 3D space, it's going to look more like this.

    Okay I'm out of juice. This is the game to solve 3D Sonic and your reason for existing right now is to get this right. The importance of this cannot be understated and your soul should be reeling under the sheer gravity of this responsibility, but I think you guys can do it (and maybe I want to help someday because I really like level design and painting textures)
     
  12. Okamikurainya

    Okamikurainya

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    Sonic Utopia looks really great, I haven't had a chance to play it yet since my PC is out of commission at the mo, but watching the videos put a smile on my face.

    I want to weigh in on the level design conversation that's going on right now... I think that a good way to translate the classic style of level design to 3D while somewhat retaining the open field is to have the level built like a step-pyramid.

    We have the low-route, a wide open field that serves as the base of the pyramid. The area would be more focused towards building up the players skill and control of the physics without much danger or fear of failure. This route would have various ramps back into the mid-route, though on the ramps would be a relatively challenging section, testing what you've had a chance to practice. (L)

    We have the mid-routes which are the main routes. These require a gradually increasing mastery of the physics and level design to keep on, though being more open than the high-routes but less so than the low-routes. This is where the real "level-design" would be placed. (M)

    And then we have the high-route. Like in the classics, this would be the hardest to reach as well as the hardest to stay on but would also have the greatest rewards and would push you forward faster. (H)

    So like:

    HHH
    MMMMMMM
    LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

    In my opinion it gives you the best of both worlds while retaining a lot of the essence of the classics.
     
  13. Beltway

    Beltway

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  14. roxahris

    roxahris

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    I love how this plays. The physics, too.

    While this is probably an engine artefact, my framerate would die at high speeds. Mostly without an increase to CPU or GPU load, and regardless of resolution. I wonder what's going on there.

    The following opinions may be wrong.

    1) The camera should be more assertive - at least when playing on a gamepad. Sonic's movement should drag it around, and there should be some weight and friction to it. It doesn't always need to be behind Sonic, but it shouldn't let the player run into it with no consequence. That's not to say camera correction doesn't happen, but I found myself needing to keep control of it at all times.
    2) There should be some bit of force sticking the player onto platform edges. Just a little bit. I kept flying off and sliding off pathways at the slightest provocation. Although, the framerate dips may have been the main culprit.
    3) The music is annoying. The sound design is great, especially the way enemies behave, and the way rolling changes pitch based on speed.

    I look forward to seeing this project proceed, especially if you can pull off a stage that isn't a big playground.
     
  15. winterhell

    winterhell

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    Random guesses would be there is geometry and assets streaming on the background and when you move fast you go through them faster.
    That or there is a lighting and shadows calculations that are done on the fly once per area.
     
  16. Turbohog

    Turbohog

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    Wow. That's super cool and must be flattering for the guys behind this.

    I haven't played the demo yet, but it looks good. Looking forward to having time to try it.
     
  17. GeneHF

    GeneHF

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  18. MissingNoGuy

    MissingNoGuy

    Sounds totally automated. Member
    This is starting to hit mainstream territory now.

    Hooooo boy, are we in for a ride. A good one, that is.
     
  19. Truner

    Truner

    Member
    Wow.
    You know, I get a kick out of 3D Sonic fan games because they always control worse than Sonic Free Riders with a broken Kinect.

    But this, this is something else. Put some actual, non-sandbox stages in there and you could easily rival real 3D Sonic games with this. At least as far as pure gameplay goes.
    EDIT: another thing I've appreciated is that while the stage is basically a sandbox test level, it has some really nice stuff in it. The first time you see the stage open up to you (after the opening segment) is quite an amazing sight to see.

    Also the extra little zone bits, though I'm not sure what one of them is supposed to represent, but eh.I wonder if there's anything else to find. Tried breaking out of the stage, but no matter where I try to climb up, the invisible walls stop me.
     
  20. Dark Sonic

    Dark Sonic

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    But yea this is making the rounds. Even Vinny from Vinesauce played this and he actually enjoyed it, and this is coming from a person who usually dismisses anything Sonic (Those 90s US ads really rubbed him the wrong way). Great work guys, can't wait to see what lies ahead.
     
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