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Sonic Utopia

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

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  1. Sparks


    Sondro Gomez / Kyle & Lucy
    Gave this a playthrough as well recently. It's hard to give a review on it that isn't already echoing the majority opinion. So I'd say just add another vote to those sentiments. :v:

    Personally, I would like to see the future level design be more obstacle course based, sprawling with gimmicks to play with in each stage to encourage exploration of many paths within said obstacle course.

    If you guys are going to make a full fan game out of this, what is the projected scale of the project (aka amount of zones, acts, bosses, etc)?
  2. Lilly


    United States
    Shang Mu Architect
    The dropbox mirror is dead as expected. :v:

    I plan on playing this on Windows tomorrow! Just watching the trailer got me smiling in all the same ways the Mania trailer did. I agree with everyone that this is so much more than a demo; it's the living blueprint of everything we've ever wanted in a 3D game, and it's real, it's here in our hands. Even Naka had to acknowledge this, if the demo's own qualities didn't already speak volumes for themselves.

    Half of what captivated me was the music. I got a lump in my throat like I was halfway near tears; everything you touch is beautiful, Mr Lange. You breathed so much new life and color into such an old, worn tune as Green Hills Zone. This is going to be stuck in my head and my playlist for a long time.
  3. Liliam



    will play this when I get home today
  4. Dark Sonic

    Dark Sonic

    Working on my art!
    I wonder how an adventure stage would play with this engine. Windy Valley might be a lot of fun with this.
  5. Rudie Radio Waves

    Rudie Radio Waves

    Many a game.
    I think it would be glorious. Imagine going into the tornado! Wow.
  6. Truner


    So, is this a place you can actually enter, or are those rings just leftovers? Yes it is, wrong approach.
    I've been trying for a constant hour to climb mountains and potentially find a third secret place, but no luck so far besides those rings.
    EDIT: This took a while but it's so worth it. This whole demo reminds me of Super Mario 64. The engine and physics allow for so much raw silly fun to happen that it's fun to just turn the game on and fuck around.
  7. Murasaki Fox

    Murasaki Fox

    It makes me unbelievably happy that people are comparing Utopia to Mario 64. I will do my best to live up to this comparison in future releases. <3
  8. TheKazeblade


    "Our Life is More than a Side-Effect" Member
    BETA Windy Valley. Its like this engine was made for it!
  9. Mr Lange

    Mr Lange

    A wise guy eh. I know how to DEAL with wise guys. Member
    The Land of Waldos
    Sonic Utopia, Sonic Overture
    Looks like we spoke too soon. There are too many obstacles with UE4 to reliably move the project to it. In discussion, we've decided to stick with Unity, but we're going to start fresh with the gameplay framework that's built around the core physics system. We'll have something much cleaner and more efficient, and more room to do things.

    On that note, the real project begins now. The demo was a novel sample. We can do much better and we want to really work out things like cleaner controls and camera, proper level design and game planning, a setup that will support a full game in the long term, etc.
    While the programmers do their thing, I'll be planning out the game and reworking various fundamental assets (Sonic could sure use facial animation). I've already begun work on a new zone, this time an original concept with solid, focused design.
  10. DarkVDee


    Duke Of Palettes Member
    Sonic DVD [CD2]
    Oh man...I wish you the best of luck for you and your team man...
  11. Cooljerk


    Professional Electromancer Oldbie
    What problems are you having with ue4? I've migrated projects between unity and ue4 in the past.
  12. Murasaki Fox

    Murasaki Fox

    The team finds the interface too messy to work in, and the art style requires too much hassle to recreate in UE4. Personally I'd still prefer working in it, and I may end up developing a Sonic framework for it anyway at some point. For now though, we're focusing on revising and improving what we've got in Unity.
  13. Cooljerk


    Professional Electromancer Oldbie
    Ah. opinions and all, but I much prefer working in ue4.
  14. TheKazeblade


    "Our Life is More than a Side-Effect" Member
    I have to say, I actually am happy to hear this. Historically speaking, Unity has always been more accessible to people with low-end machines to run their games (like myself) than UE4, so the fact I'll still idealistically be able to play future Utopia releases makes me pretty happy.

    Out of aesthetic curiosity, is there any future work that will be done to Sonic's animations? Specifically for when turning, sharply, if he were to lean in that direction ala Mario 64 or SA2, would make him look a little less stiff. I imagine the emphasis of development will be more focused on gameplay and level design in the future, however.
  15. Murasaki Fox

    Murasaki Fox

    Ah, I'm interested to know what you think about the two engines, particularly when it comes to setting up objects, scripting, and shaders. I'm still learning the engine, and it certainly is trickier than Unity. But I like how robust it tends to be.

    If I'm still on the fence when I start up my own framework again, maybe I'll defer the decision to the fangame community.
  16. Cooljerk


    Professional Electromancer Oldbie
    Well, part of my preference for UE4 comes from a background of life-long work with C++, where as I'm relatively unfamiliar with C# (and don't really like garbage collected languages in the first place). And another big part comes from the specific type of applications I work with in UE4.

    It's really mainly a preference. I learned UE before Unity, so that probably plays a role in it. Setting up objects isn't too different between the two languages, really. Scripting is a bit easier in Unity, I've found. The Visual Programming language of UE4 is useful for shader programming - particularly because I can pass it off to a non-programming artist and it's simple enough for them to understand that I don't have to deal with it exclusively... but unity has a very comparable visual programming language.

    The main benefit of UE4 is that you can really dive under the surface and extract performance which, given the types of applications I work with, is really important.
  17. Bartman3010


    Site Staff
    Recently did a livestream with the developers talking about the development of the fan game, with Lange playing the game.
  18. Late on this... congrats Lange & Fox!!

    Lange I didn't realize you where great at game design as well as awesome music. Very talented, this is surely a springboard for great things for you.

    First time I've seen proper physics in a 3D Sonic game. You guys defiantly understand what's been needed by listening to Bartman's livestream.

    I hope SEGA get on board with this. Although it will take them some time (like with the 2.5D Mushroom Hill demo years back, generations followed)

    Getting on the D/L now, although I doubt my craptop will handle it...
  19. Deef


    Just when everyone thought they were sick of Green Hill, this comes along.

    Utopia blew me away. Firstly because of its look, and how finally there's a legitimately playful 3D Sonic zone out there that just does not give a s*** about cutting corners to deal with Sonic's speed. I love that it's so open, and that you can speed along and fly past so much content, for just so long, and that that's ok. The fact that you can do that is probably the first time we've seen a Sonic game actually acknowledge what speed really means. Actual relocation past lots and lots of other stuff. Speed isn't half as meaningful when the real nature of it -- passing lots of explorable land that you didn't have to pass -- isn't also implemented. Utopia does that really well. The player is aware of how much they're not doing as they barrel along, and I know that must feel jarring to some but that is a great feeling to have in a Sonic game. It is luxurious, for the game to say "Yep, it's ok, I can handle it. Blast past all the platforms you want, there is more than enough level lying ahead for you."

    It still just feels kind of wrong that just a level can spread out for so much distance, but that's exactly what Sonic needs. I love that I'm trying to get used to a level having so much area. It is literally the meaning of spoiling the player, and it's refreshing.

    And then it blew me away some more because there are so many classic principles that it just gets right, many because of the above. Getting lost because you haven't played the level many times. Seeing paths and not knowing how to get to them. Badniks being out of your way yet, honestly, actually more fun than badniks in the original Green Hill Zone.

    So I've got a huge ramble coming, but I have to preface it by saying I love it, and imo this is the direction 3D Sonic should have always been going. This is what should be in shops, and a Sonic game saying "Yes there is a lot of space, yes you can blast past a lot of content if you want" is, imo, what I think Sonic games should be telling people to get used to. That is what the classics did. So I think criticism about how much space there is should be taken with a grain of salt; it's easy to notice at first glance, but also remember it's something people aren't used to, and complaints are possibly largely fueled by that. I'd say respect your vision, don't be too afraid to dismiss opinions that were formed before getting used to the game, because clearly you're doing things very right.

    On with my ramble....


    For me, control was the biggest issue. I'm surprised some have said that to them it's perfect. To me, it feels like you've taken a really good crack at handling the problem but still not quite made it. If I tried to make bullet points out of it, I'd say that:
    * sensitivity often got in the way
    * turning sharply, not-turning sharply, and skidding didn't feel clear to me. I think it's a tricky issue, but I also don't remember it being so tricky to get used to in Sonic Adventure 1. Perhaps there's a fundamental there that Utopia follows and SA1 doesn't, but I'm not sure.
    * when airborne specifically, be it jumping, falling or homing, issues of direction were often unclear. I often didn't know when I couldn't slow down properly in the air, and often felt surprised by the double jump's direction.

    Some/all of the above might have just been me. But yeah, I don't recall such confusions in SA1. Where there are factors of control being restricted deliberately, I think the player needs more of a way to recognise, understand and accept it. Somehow. Drifting, for example, might be worth considering, which you've already mentioned. Anyway this is the only back-seat designing I'll do.


    I do find it a bit off that it's easier to steer with the camera than with Sonic.

    The camera itself has only the minimum intelligence built in and that got in the way a lot. I assume this is just a demo thing, so all fine. I also think getting the camera to play nice could be a tricky job.

    It really depends on what you do with the camera, but it would be much nicer to have the horizontal swing on the L and R triggers. A bit more control for the player, and no more cluttered thumb problems. Nothing worse than necessary simultaneous controls being on the right stick and the right buttons. This would be a non-issue if Unity's control settings actually let you set 2 things for that axis, but for some reason it doesn't. It would still be good to have the full camera control on the right stick in this case, for those stop-and-look-around moments, but having the horizontal control on the triggers also would just help a lot.

    But yeah, it depends on what you do with the camera anyway. The main thing is, if that right stick is necessary to play well, something's going wrong.

    I'm a bit sad that the FPS controls, with mouselook, are the easiest way to play. It just aint right for a Sonic game heh.

    I actually have something positive to say about the camera though! Your decision for it to immediately orient itself to any non-flat terrain was a good one. It looks good, feels good, and even works nicely when viewing Sonic side on.

    -Back to control-

    I'm not sure why you've done this since you've put due diligence in to most other things, but there just isn't any form of natural acceleration down slopes. Now that definitely sounds worse than it turns out to be, but still, this is a huge thing to have missing. You can stand still on pretty much anything that isn't a wall, and there's just no concept at all of being able to drop onto a curve and let it convert your fall into speedy running/rolling. That's a real shame. And it's sad because gradient actually is listened to while the player is applying input; just not when they aren't.

    OH MY GOD HE SKIDS FIRE!! <--- Sorry this is just where the cursor was when I noticed. ^-^

    More bagging out the controls.

    Rolling is a mixed bag because it does the most important thing very right -- accelerating faster downhill than running -- but gets the basic controls wrong. I guess you've decided to do things this way, but I'm not sure why. In the classic Sonics, rolling had two important factors: 1. Sonic rolled without being directed, and you couldn't direct him to go any faster than not directing him. And 2. Sonic couldn't unroll without being forced to jump (and thus, finding a good piece of land to let you jump safely). Sonic 1, 2, 3 & Knuckles took that further with that horizontal control-lock on a rolling jump.

    Both of those factors meant that rolling was about letting the landscape take over, and losing control. Both were important parts of feeling like "It's time for a roll, some free speed, relax because I can't direct it anyway.... and I'll have to worry about control later." Sonic Utopia misses all that. Rolling is just as player-driven as running, and you don't even get caught in the roll. No need to find a good exit jump. Kind of all borks the classic feeling, in my opinion. Another thing I don't really like about the way it's done is that up/down/up/down terrain turns into a quick time event. Roll on, roll off, roll on. The classic gameplay was about choosing which rolls were worth it, and committing to a roll. Weighing up the speed you're going to gain, against the exit you're going to have to figure out, or perhaps even the speed you might lose. In Utopia, none of that mental play is going on. It is instead replaced with the roll on, roll off, roll on aspect of hilly terrain. Honestly, when that happens it feels like the developer interrupting the game to say "This is exactly how you are meant to play right now". It's very Sonic Adventure 2/QTE. I very much miss the original feel of rolling.

    This rolling issue, plus the terrain-doesn't-move-you-on-its-own issue, plus the 3D factor all equates to another big issue. We all know that tying direction to the camera means that control is difficult for the player if the camera has to move around a lot. But Sonic naturally has a solution for that, and that is motion - especially rolling - that works well without needing the player's input. Think of a halfpipe in Sonic 2. You can roll up and down it, exploiting the physics, getting higher and higher, forever. More importantly, you can do it without ever pressing forward. You can quite legitimately do it with your eyes closed. The same thing when dropping into any quarterpipe. Not only does Sonic Utopia miss that aspect of Sonic's control, but it needs it and would benefit from it ten times more than Sonic 2 needed it. The decision you guys made to actually require the player to satisfy the camera's forward has inserted bad control into the rolling mechanic.

    So I do plead that you get terrain-induced, input-free motion working, and that rolling is what happens when you press no direction. Basically, the classics do it right.

    With that all said, I will say it's great that it does accelerate properly downhill. When I noticed that working properly, I felt like "Holy crap I'm playing a Sonic game. Oh my god." Felt really good, and hugely sold me on the game. Very legit classic Sonic play in that bit.

    Oh and those random bits of terrain that wind like a horizontal 'S'; really nice. Fantastic way to offer the player a chance to build some speed, if they're skilled enough, while barely affecting the current path. They look cool, they give you speed but not for free, they're easy to ignore if you don't want to bother... really good idea and addition. In fact those bits of terrain alone really speak for the game. Other 3D Sonics haven't been tight enough to just drop some little pieces of twisty terrain in and go "There, gain some speed off it".

    -Good stuff-

    Utopia gets speed right. Very happy with that. As you get better, you inhale larger chunks of the level and combo pieces together and it's all pretty good.

    The peel-out is done well. Cute too. Don't buff it imo, it's just right. i love that you can start it up from anywhere, and that works because it's not overpowered. It doesn't make the mistake of SA1's spin dash.
    On that note, I do have a complaint about it. You can cancel any peel out into a spin dash, and vice versa, and just cancel the whole buildup of speed. I think the player simply shouldn't be able to do that, partly because again it loses a feeling from the classics ("It's powered up, I'm committed to it now"), but also largely because it looks a bit sloppy. If the moves *must* be cancelable, doing so by beginning a different move is kinda tacky.

    Level design-wise I could pick at things, but it seemed obvious to me that more work would be happening. As mentioned earlier, I love the openness. Lots could be hidden in so many places. A little more direction probably would be a positive, but don't throw out the good thing you've already got going imo. Some little comments though:
    * I find there to be a strangely high number of platforms that are just a liiiiittle too high to jump on, with no useful ramps around. If it were a final demo I'd say that has to be fixed, because it just trolls the player a bit too often.
    * A few more small dips and bumps would have been nice. Lots of very flat space.
    * I liked that underwater was dangerous, but it was also lifeless.

    I have no idea how people find the openness off-putting. It is just so good. Speed actually has meaning. And the way you can just see forever, but none of it is out of bounds... it's literally a good long run away... really fun. It sounds so common to express wonderment at how huge a map is, but yeah, really, damn it's so huge! It's just hard to believe. It's not GTA, it's not Skyrim, this isn't an open world game, it's just one level. But it's like that whole problem of "How do I deal with Sonic's speed because it demands just too much content" has simply been completely ignored. No chunks of level floating in space because it's easier on the GPU. No long corridors of speed because it would demand too much level to be designed otherwise. None of that. Just a big, fat, massive level with playful terrain everywhere, and if you go flying past 90% of it then you go flying past 90% of and that's great. Come back and explore it later, meanwhile the zone just goes on and on and on. Sure GTA V et al have a bigger map of course, but it's not the same. This level just feels like it hasn't been done before, to me anyway. It's just one playground, but it's massive. It's so big that I plain assumed it didn't have a goal. I thought it was just a runaround.

    What else is so great about that is that feeling when you look at a place and wonder how you get there. No such thing in any other 3D Sonic really; everything is so localised. But in Sonic Utopia there are plenty of "How do I cross that water?", "How do I get on the other side of this drop?", and "How do I get up there?"s. Speed might have something to do it with mabes. There's one path I've failed to get to a few times. I see it, I look for its origin, I can't see it; it's just miles away. So I set off on this mini journey along the side of a path I can't get to, just to try to find where it starts. That is cool.

    And mainly, I do love how you come back to play it again, and just get lost, again. It's just another thing that surprised me in how it channels the originals when you didn't expect it. You play the level... it's not instantly memorised; there's too much of it. I like that I'm waiting for my memory to catch up.

    I just love how soon after the start you don't even know which way is forward. Yes there are definitely issues with that; players need some direction and all, but if people are only finding fault with this and not seeing how much cool is in there... just wow.

    The badniks are great! They look fun, sound fun, and are fun.

    Audio on the whole is really good (especially the badniks, and the music).

    -Homing attack-

    Not sure about this one. I like that it's in, and I like the way it executes, just fine. But the player probably needs more visual cues. But I say that loving how it is visually silence. Having reticles everywhere would ruin things imo.

    Overall, I think the control needs work, and the camera needs work. It would be very nice if hands-free acceleration was put in like it should be, and if rolling stayed rolling so it actually made you commit.

    But as imperfect as the controls and camera are, this definitely had more highs than lows, and the highs were very very right. The big take home highlights are that speed-as-a-reward is in there, and is totally legit and satisfying. Physics-with-rolling is in there, good. The terrain is playful like at least some fans have been hanging out for, and expansive like wtf r u 4 real. Such a big, satisfying Sonic playground.
  20. JansenM


    Devon, UK
    Generations mods
    Absolutely loving it. I don't suppose you guys ever put a map together for the environment, or rendered out a top view of the completed work? Something in me is really interested to see the area I've covered from above and where the paths actually lead to since most of the time I'm just going somewhere because it appeals to me, not taking into account where in the world I actually am besides a general direction.
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