TEMPORARY THREAD, TO EXPLAIN WHAT'S GOING ON

Discussion in 'Project: Sonic Retro (Archive)' started by Phoebius, Nov 9, 2008.

  1. Jayextee

    Jayextee

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    I DONE MAKED GAMES.
    I have been in conversation with Matwek, and we've both put together a plan; mine is a general, bigger-picture sort of plan and Matwek's is more focused on short-term goals. We have read each other's plans and it's clear we're on the same wavelength here. Here goes;

    CURRENT AIMS

    Project focus - A lot of work has already been done into a few areas of this project without proper focus. Admittedly, we've already seen some extremely competent and genuinely impressive work, but without the correct focus, we have no idea whether this can/should be used. A decision needs to be made, first and foremost what the "target platform" of this project is going to be. Seriously, a lot rides on this; what colour depth can we use, are we limited to MegaDrive colours, is there a sprite limit? Also, thinking about emulation and the portability this offers, or the possibility for people to play on their own hardware -- this is as much about our audience as it is us, people.

    Back-to-basics - I, for one, would prefer a more top-down approach to the design than the current disorganised mess. Right now, everybody is shouting a million different things and it's very hard to keep track of everybody's ideas and pay them all the equal attention that they deserve (Yeah, that's right, each and every idea is important, so please leave your ego at the door, and have some fun). The zone concept threads are a good idea -- why do we have essentially three forest/jungle levels? Why do we have "???" zones? Why have we settled right now, even? Surely one thread where we pitch as many ideas as is humanly possible for, say, a week or so then narrow down the best. 100 unique ideas for zones can turn into 50, 25, 12 and then we have 7 (Or whichever number is decided) final ones, and through this process there can be no question that the very best were chosen. The same for sprite and art styles, and everything. As many different approaches as possible, never ruling one out until we're sure we've exhausted the alternatives. This will take a lot of time, but thankfully we aren't mired by a release date or whatever.

    OBJECTIVES

    Even now the ultimate goal of this project is not set. There is no bigger picture for definite, so there is no wonder that people are unsure as to where they fit. Let me propose one (Which can be disputed, this is a community project not Jay's Big Gay Sonic Fangame Shit(tm).):

    We are making a 'spiritual' sequel to the Sonic games as they were in their prime. The focus of which is to show what the franchise could (And arguably should) have evolved into were Sega not so keen on bandwagonning and immolating their intellectual properties with ill-informed marketing decisions. The format of which will be chosen to reach the widest possible number of fans.

    GUIDELINES

    Here's a few rules I think aspiring contributors should try to stick to;

    Research! - Yes, this one again. I made another post on this, but it's pretty simple. Look into the styles and influences that made the series, see if you can emulate, perfect, even better the application as done by Sega. Also, you want to know what a cactus looks like? Google for about fifty different pictures of cacti. You have the Internet, research is easy. If you're wondering why you should even bother, let me tell you; it is vital to inform the design process. And Sega did it.

    Experiment! - "What would Sega do?" is often the worst thing you can think when designing. Seriously, I think you'll get it wrong. What can't hurt though, is what I call "the rule of 10". This means, for every thing you design, make ten of them. All ten should be instantly discernable as different to the others. Sound like a stretch? It isn't when you really try. And doing this opens your mind up to more creative options... and remember, when Sonic came out in 1991, there wasn't a single thing out like the game; ergo, it can be argued that creativity is the backbone of the series.

    Open your mind! - Don't just knee-jerk and say "that sucks" or, even worse "no". If you genuinely have such a strong reaction against something, try this; construct an entire paragraph of everything you think is good about an idea. See if you win yourself over. This is the polar opposite approach to giving good constructive criticism on something you like, and is every bit as helpful.

    Have fun! - Seriously, if you had no fun making a thing, it usually shows. I've seen illustrations from colleagues which they didn't enjoy doing, and the results tend to be stiff and lifeless. I'm not saying that this should turn into a 4chan-style imageboard (hell no) but don't be afraid to have a little fun. Who knows, maybe good ideas will come out of it (Because I'm totally convinced that The Doomsday Zone was the product of too much sake at Sonic Team and guys pitching totally nutbar ideas at each other; "Let's take Sonic... and make him... fly... IN SPACE").

    SHORT-TERM

    Matwek has suggested that work initially be focused on the first zone, a tropical one. I concur with this, for the following reasons;
    • I'd personally like to go back to the drawing board with zone themes, and generate a new set. As I have outlined above. However, one tried-tested-trusted cliché we cannot afford to omit is the Tropical first zone. As far as I am concerned this is the only thing set in stone right now.
    • The focus here would allow pixel artists or anybody else not comfortable with more general concepts and experimentation to contribute to this project. I'm trying to think in everybody's best interests here.
    • Similarly, the other, undecided content can be a boiling pot of innovation, creativity and fun. Whilst some focus on the Tropical zone, anybody else with an idea need not hold back. Just post it! :(
    Matwek's more focused plan, centred around the tropical zone will follow. And it's good. :)
     
  2. Matwek

    Matwek

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    Intro:
    First things first I want to get people in the right frame of mind; this is a group project not just a collaboration of different peoples ideas (there's a subtle difference). If someone posts an idea or piece of pixel art try not to immediately shoot it down or post some counter piece of work in attempt to shoehorn your own idea into the project. Instead work together, try to improve upon what someone else has done, some of the best work we have so far is stuff that's been worked over by many different people. Likewise if you're bad at art don't be afraid to post work anyway, bad art doesn't necessarily mean a bad idea. If we work how I suggest above someone more talented should be able to base future improvements on your initial inspiration.

    Now on with the more important part, picking out which bits we need to work on first.
    I suggest we set our sights upon getting the art done for the Tropical zone first; we may not necessarily continue to work on a zone by zone method but by getting one finished will allow us to essentially develop a blueprint we can follow for the rest of the project.


    Aims:
    This is a list of the current aims we should be setting our sights on; I will list them in bullet point form then go through them in more detail in the next section.

    Main aims
    - Come up with a tile set design
    - Implement that design into the current tile set
    - Expand on the tile set we have so far
    - Think about what structure and style we want to piece the tiles together as

    Secondary aims
    - Gimmicks
    - Objects
    - Badniks

    Each following section is a part of the project that we need work done on, eventually once we've decided on final content for each part things can start to be combined.

    Tile set:
    There has been a fair amount of controversy about the tile design for this level, for many it's the choice between detailed and non-detailed but I don't think this is the case. I think it's simply that some people like one and others like the other, a problem that can be simply solved by the fact that these two aren't our only options.

    [​IMG]

    There have been various attempts to alter and improve on both by adding moss, broken tiles, that sort of thing but at the end of that day we're just going round in circles with the same similar design. So our first port of call is variety, give us more options to choose from. Doesn't matter if it's not very good we just need as many different styles as we can, don't worry about little touches of detail that can be taken care of later, what I want is to collect a mass of ideas that I can group together in the hopes that one or a combination will provide someone with enough inspiration to produce something worth while. At which point we can begin discussing the finer detail of said design.

    Layers:
    Continuing on that theme another idea for giving the tiles a more randomized feel is what I like to call ‘Layers’ (for lack of a better term), Its not often used in sonic levels but is well used in the Angel Island Zone. Essentially it is a second title design that's placed on top of the existing one, not quite a tile set itself and not quite a piece of foreground.

    [​IMG]

    In this case it's in the form of vegetation. So what we need for this is a few ideas and designs of what could add some variety to our tiles, eventually this would be implemented into the tile set but for the time being I think the design process should remain separate if only for the option of being able to try out various combinations.

    [​IMG]

    Two examples of using either rock or sand, both might not be very fitting for our current direction but it's all about getting as many ideas down as possible.

    Tile Set:
    This is something that will be fairly tricky to start work on before having picked a tile style yet but it's something to think about when working on the above projects.
    How is this level going to play? Fast? Platform based? Will the water be used sparingly or will it play a major roll? Will there be a difference of playing style when underwater? Will there be any noticeable differences in pallet, design, or level structure from one act to the next?
    So keep these questions in mind as you work.

    Gimmicks/Objects:
    As well as providing decoration for a level throughout the sonic series they also started to become more interactive. From basic rocks to smash able boulders, swinging platforms to zip lines each providing a different element of play whether it's just a new method of travel or a way of opening up new routes.
    I think we should continue this trend when coming up with our own objects and level gimmicks; we should be heading in the direction of more player interaction with the environment, various objects possessing multiple uses. Here are a few examples of what I mean.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Again we need as many ideas as we can to find the best of the best, even if you can't draw at least give it a go, its much easier to se what's going on in a crudely drawn sketch then a paragraph of words. Also don't be afraid to get inventive with your ideas we can always tone things down a bit and make them more ‘sonic like’ once the basic premise is down. Just try and keep things simple though, more isn't always better.

    Badniks:
    At the moment I feel like badniks are open to all suggestions, as of yet a specific style is yet to be decided upon and only a few have reached a high enough level of completion. That being said I do have a few concepts for you to think about when coming up with one.
    Try and differentiate between badnicks, are they passive/defensive or aggressive? Basic or more complex in their movements? As with the objects I believe more player interaction is the way too go, like the star badniks of metropolis only attacking once you get near or the ghosts constantly attacking you till you turn the lights on. Again don't be afraid to get inventive but keep it simple (might sound like a contradiction but its all about getting the right balance).

    Future Plans:
    Not necessarily things to be worked on now but a list of things that need to be kept in mind for the next stage of development.

    How will the Boss and Mini boss work? What type of machines are we likely to go up against? Who's actually going to be the boss?
    Are we implementing cut scenes? Will they be interactive like the airship bombing run? Will we have them in every level? Will they take place at the end of each zone or will some take place mid act?
    Moving from one level to the next, will the changes be quick and take place near the end? Or will they be more organic in their alteration from one to the next and take place over the course of an act? Later on when a Tropical tile set is complete we'll have to think about how we can merge it with the next zone (circus zone).

    Just to reiterate bad art is better then no art at all and to remember to work as a team, if you see something that has potential but needs improving, help out.
    I would like to point out that whilst I have given a set of current aims to be worked on by no means should you stop work on the other levels all together, just try not to let it distract you too much from what needs to be done. If you have a good idea then post it, its just in some cases it may be worth your while saving it for the appropriate time where everyone can give it can receive the attention it deserves rather than getting lost in a sea of posts.

    Might be nice if these two 'documents' could be moved to their own seperate topic or something, just to make it easier for people to get hold of. Somewhere were we can add more when the time comes?
     
  3. Qjimbo

    Qjimbo

    Your friendly neighbourhood lemming. Oldbie
    Aren't those two points a bit of a contradiction? :(

    Still I like the way everything is brought back down to earth so to speak, I think that's very important. Whether it will stay there is another matter of course.
     
  4. Matwek

    Matwek

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    Good point, could have been worded better. The point I was trying to make was try not to get bogged down in your own ideas and work but instead try and gather inspiration from others.
    Bit of a last ditch attempt to get things back on track, I never intended to get this involved but im willing to keep it up if it works.
     
  5. Mobiethian

    Mobiethian

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    I couldn't agree more. When we finish the first zone, we can get a demo released so everyone can have a taste of what the game will be like. Then we can proceed to working on the next levels.

    Excellent planning guys! Keep it up! :(
     
  6. Matwek

    Matwek

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    Easier said then done. Even with that goal in mind you're still a long way off from producing a demo, no coder, no music, no decision on the key features such as title cards, sonic sprites, level structure...etc. At best we can make a start on the pixel art work.
    Its likely to be a slow process and running before you can walk won't be the best approach.

    Pixel artists and a coder are your main concerns right now, you can't work on level design if you don't know what you're able to fesably do, likewise you're unlikely to get someone interested in helping if you have no content, bit of a vicious circle.
    I can't vouch for Jayexee but my knowledge of coding is beyond non-existance so thats something you're going to have to adresse.
     
  7. Mobiethian

    Mobiethian

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    I can get to work on the pixel art but it will take some time as it is very time consuming and somewhat delicate. As for coding, that's not my area but surely after we have a completed tileset we'll find someone who will be interested to do that.
     
  8. NinjaMan

    NinjaMan

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    I can code a bit. I'm mainly interested in working on Linux compatibility for the engine (if it's not E02, apparently), but I'd willing to try my hand at other pieces if needed.
     
  9. Jayextee

    Jayextee

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    I DONE MAKED GAMES.
    I would also be interested in Mac compatibility; coming from a design background, I probably know a disproportionate amount of Mac users, but yeah most of my friends use them.

    Having said that, if the required spec is low enough I see no reason that it can't be run in Virtual PC or Parallels Desktop.