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The Evolution of "Classic" Gameplay.

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Prototype, Oct 12, 2018.

  1. Gotta echo the call for an aquatic character if a new character aside from Amy were to be added to the roster. It doesn't have to be new new charcter. Like Pengi said, Vector could be tweaked to fit the role. [sub]He might be OP though, with swimming, swoop-gliding, and climbing...[/sub] Same could be said for Espio. Though if it was a brand new character, I nominate a froggo.

    Would be especially interesting for an Encore mode; choosing between flight or climbing, speed or swimming, power, etc.

    I too enjoy collecting anything and everything in an act. So Red Rings are fun, but still really only as fun as the Act itself.
  2. Prototype


    I think S3&K did well in adding a variety of bonus stages, and janky physics aside, I was really glad to see the pinball bonus stage in Plus. I would love to see multiple bonus stages in a new game, dependent on how many rings you had when you hit the starpost. I feel like Mania was a step backwards from that, albeit remedied a little with Plus. Though I can't say I wasn't a fan of the whole Blue Sphere medallion unlockable thing they had going on, at least on my first playthrough. After I'd already gotten the medallions there was no incentive for me to replay them.

    Bonus/Special stages are where they can experiment and add new styles of gameplay, because they're not the main game itself, thus avoiding a "wahh, it's different!" situation. Mania's special stages are now my favourite special stages of the entire series. I wouldn't say no to a combination of the Mania special stages and the Chaotix special stages though. There are many combinations that could lead to fun new experiences.

    I wouldn't exactly call something like that new, or moving forward, but it is an aspect of the games that I would like to see evolve naturally and maintain some level of freshness even in a game that maintains it's identity via the continuation of momentum-based gameplay.
  3. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    I've been delaying posting here because I know I'd write a really huge post, and I'll probably forget something I had to say nonetheless, but, well, here we go:

    I've been thinking a lot about this, as I have an absurd list of fan projects in which I try to experiment with new things or improve the existing ones. My conclusion: classic Sonic hasn't that much space for real evolution, as it was a quite refined concept since the beginning, if only because they had such a talented team in charge of making a game that had to be also a tech demo of the full power of the mega drive, and they really put a great effort in fulfilling all expectations. Sonic is an easy thing to play for the user, yet a complex thing beneath, and that required a lot of balance that, as laughingcow so eloquently explained in his thread, easily breaks apart in the wrong hands. I think that, for the most part, the best you can do is improve and to some extent expand on what we already have, in other words, using the tools we have in an innovative way instead of trying to creat an unlimited number of new ones without thinking what are we really doing.

    What can be always exploited to give a new game also a new feeling is the level design; a different design philosophy or intended goal changes things a lot, or just think how different feel the classic titles from each other. Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 provide such a different experience, even if the second one didn't add that much to the gameplay the first one already had... But we have that even inside the same game, so I think a good combination of varied level designs already gives enough reason to play a new title that doesn't add that much to the existing formula.

    Anyway, since the topic's about evolving, The easiest thing to add are new characters and shields, which in both cases translates in double jump skills. This must be handled with care, though, to avoid creating redundant or useless abilities. I have found some interesting results in thiat regard, and yet, I didn't figure out something like Ray's glide, well, at least not so refined, so I'm sure there's still a lot to discover in this department.

    Shield interaction was really interesting in Mania (I didn't knew about bubble shield protecting from chemicals, lol), but new shields also have to protect against different kinds of hazards, so there's room for experimentation if we start thinking about new types of hazards and new shields that work with them. Of course, there are a lot of already existing hazards that don't have an official shield protecting against them (spike shield's only in fangames, for example, and there's not guard against laser beams).

    For characters to be something else than Sonic clones with a different double jump skill, more variables could be added, or more often applied. We already have the reduced jump from Knuckles (not very fun, but it's there), but we could also add character size for branching paths and an impact in physics. If Big the cat was in a classic game and be able to spin there, he wouldn't fit in, say, the standard tubes from chemical plant, but there could be a different kind of tubes that only by completely "filling" them (Sonic doesn't block it to cause a reaction, but Big's size is OK), would activate them and bring character-based branching paths . Of course, there's also max speed, acceleration, braking... I prefer simpler things, anyway, so I didn't like Mighty's shell and shockwave mechanics, I wouldn't go that way again to create a new character. We're discussing gameplay, so I'll leave aside my preferences on the look and background of new characters.

    Aside from elemental shields, it's hard to tell if there's any meaningful power-up to add: maybe things like those rocket shoes from Sonic Chaos, or boosters for the characters skills, such as having extra time to fly as Tails without getting hurt, or Ray hitting enemies with his head when gliding as if he was spinning. There are enough types of protection in the classic games (rings/shields/invincibility), so I wouldn't add more on that side, so it looks like only character-specific power-ups have any chance to shine along with the expanded shield roster.

    Ok, now that we've covered the basics, let's go to the big thing: the Chaos Emeralds, and what's not the Chaos Emeralds, the Time Stones. If there's room to evolve, these jewels and the way they've been used are the key for said evolution. Besides good endings, these mystic gems have given us either the power to become super/hyper (a character-based reward), or the chance to travel to a different time (a level-based reward). Super Sonic essentially gave us both powerups with a time limit, which affect the basic gameplay, reformulated in a way that gave rings an additional purpose and a way to keep said power-ups forever. Hyper Sonic gave a double jump skill to super sonic who had none, one that would be the most radical one, as it both destroyed everything that could be destroyed and launched sonic in the chosen direction at great speed. Sonic CD itself gave us different reworks of the same level, plot reason being the presence of the time stones, which gave us the best future once collected. We also had the chance to get this result through some questing, which rewarded exploration and give us a different goal other than crossign the finish line. I mixed things a bit with this last sentence, but it was necessary, because...

    If we really want new experiences in a Sonic game, we have to focus on these level-based rewards, with exploration and alternative goals being the main purpose of the gameplay. Some people don't like Sonic CD, but it's usually because of the level design, and that game was the only official one to be played differently and still be a Sonic game. Also note that we don't need the chaos emeralds to be the plot device that unlocks the good ending, and a lot of people have expressed there's room for fun without super sonic being the greatest reward or an available one, but, even if the CD style doesn't fit someone, we have a fan example of what can be done with Sonic out of the standard formula: I'm talking about LakeFeperd's Chrono Adventure, which gave us a Metroidvania style game that turned really good for the most part. Idon't know people's opinion about that game as a whole, but it's excellent as a sample of what can be done with classic gameplay.

    I'm keeping sekrit what I have already found and done for my projects, but I can tease you that I have a sequel to CD with more time zones, with each kind of them having specific mechanics, and varying ways to affect the future time zones, with time stones and those ways being complementary goals rather than alternative ones. I have a bunch of new elemental shields, an expanded lore beyond the chaos emeralds, the master emerald and the time stones that actually affects gameplay, and no, not really new characters, but I've been working into harmlessly adapting modern characters to the classic lore and gameplay, also considering an equivalence in double jump skills between elemental shields and characters (spoiler: Silver could perform double jumps and attract rings like electric shield does thanks to his psychokinetic powers). Amy is a special case, with three alternative conepts for her gameplay, but those are on an early stage for the most part. I have special plans for Tiara Boobowsky too, and character adaptations from other franchises to the Sonic gameplay... A lot ot plans, as I said, but that's a different topic.

    I'll finish this saying what I said at the beginning: the real evolution for classic gameplay is making good use of what we already have seen and done, with the main formula being hard and unwise to change, and not really necessary since we have still so much to toy with, specially on the level design department (I haven't touched bonus stages, but those are alternative level design after all). it wouldn't be the first franchise that stays alive and kicking by doing so, either. I hope it's more than wishful thinking and we can see this and contribute to it.
  4. ICEknight


    Researcher Researcher
    I'll be honest and say that, while I like how they were implemented in Mania, I'd exchange Ray and Mighty for Amy as a main character for the next Classic Sonic game.

    Not that it wouldn't be cool to see them again as DLC/bonus/extra/whatever.
  5. doc eggfan

    doc eggfan

    Are you pondering what I'm pondering? Wiki Sysop
    GreatMegaLD, GreatSC3k, Great SG1k
    To me, the original game is the one that holds the most magic. Maybe I'm just one of the few fans left who nostalgically remembers a time when there was only one game and the sequels had not arrived yet. Many contemporary sonic fans were introduced to the series from Sonic 2 onwards (or in some cases, Sonic Adventure onwards) and have expectations that extra characters, gimmicks, special moves, and the spin dash are all integral elements to Sonic gameplay. In many ways they are, and they do add life and colour and value, but in other ways they dilute what was special about the first game.

    Momentum had to be earned and sustained, and these lessons were hardest learnt in the first game. I know there is lots of banging on about physics and momentum, but it is important. Take the half pipes in Spring Yard Zone. In your first inexperienced play through, you would slip and fall in, collide with the spinning spiked ball and lose your rings. You'd madly scramble to grab one back, try to get out and fail, and get hit by the spiked ball again. You would rinse and repeat this several times, and maybe you'd fail to grab a ring and die, restarting the level in frustration, or maybe you'd start to learn from your mistakes, and start to figure out how to time your jumps, build momentum like a skateboarder in real-life half pipe, and earn your freedom to a euphoric sense of accomplishment. This level design element wasn't meant to cause frustration, it was there to teach you how to "get good." Once the spin dash was introduced, this kind of trial by fire and level interaction was lost. Salvation was no longer earned, it was gifted on a silver platter. I'm not sure this was the right path forward. Sure, it made things less frustrating and easier, but it also made things a little more shallow. Does the game really need to be any easier when the ingenious ring system is effectively an infinite health bar?

    Lets try an experiment where we strip it bear and just keep the core elements: Levels with loops and curves, one playable character who runs fast and can gain momentum by rolling into a ball, dispatches enemies by rolling and jumping, collects rings for health, extra lives and points, interacts with the environment for going fast (springs) or solving simple puzzles (heavy block on switch opens gate), and collects emeralds for the good ending. No spin dash, no extra playable characters, no extra gimmicks or elemental shields. Just the original basic elements. What now?

    Lets return to the original design documents. I don't think any Sonic game has ever captured the essence or the majesty of Naoto Ohshima's and Hirokazu Yasuhara's original drawings

    I'd like to see the first game remade into something more like these drawings brought to life. Lets not be limited by a 16-bit (or 32-bit) pixel art aesthetic, lets go all out and revive the original promise of an interactive cartoon. Lets animate Sonic as adorably as he's depicted here, complete with the spiky spiral rolling animation. And lets bring back the trippy fantasy elements and the highly stylised art direction that was evidenced in these original conceptions. The first game had a gritty realism and a theme of environmentalism versus industrialism. I'd be happy to see this theme dropped in favour of something more fantastical and dream-like, taking inspiration from games like NiGHTS, Dynamite Headdy, Fantasy Zone, and Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars. Drop the robots and the badniks and bring back the sentient hand enemy, or even the dog from Alex Kidd who barks the letters BOW WOW at you. Make it more like Alice in Wonderland (with a Professor Asobin cameo). Remake Scrap Brain Zone into ClockWork zone with wooden cogs and childrens blocks and lego bricks. Drop Robotnik and bring back the very original Eggman, the court-jester-like mad-man complete in his original pyjama outfit.

    I think this approach and change in art style and theme could lead to some brand new and interesting level design and gameplay concepts and elements. I would hope it would recapture the same lightning-in-a-bottle feeling I have for the original game.
  6. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    While Sonic 2 is the first game from the series I played, I find Sonic 1 a lot more enjoyable for replays, just because of that magic and the extra effort. I got used to try doing things without the spindash in games with it, as long as it was something special like the U-shaped pits where you had to run back and forth the earn some momentum and start rolling for speed and height to exit the pit. The 1-up at the beginning of SLZ1 is the moment where I noticed the lack of spindash the most, as it gets a bit tricky to backtrack to get it without instantaneous momentum gain, yet I liked the challenge of going back up without that turbo-boost. I wouldn't go as far as to have the hand-with-face enemy, but I'd love that Star Light Zone from the sketches with big stars and more of a rollercoaster theme, and all the other zones, of course. There's also a lot of gimmicks from the sketches that are yet to be introduced in games, like the one you posted, and those would be true changes in gameplay itself.
  7. DigitalDuck


    Arriving four years late. Member
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL
    I never understood the whole "navigating loops etc. without a spindash is a challenge" thing.

    You hold left for a second. Then you hold right for two seconds.

    That's not a challenge, it's a three-second wait before I get to some actual gameplay.
  8. SuperSnoopy


    I like Sonic Advance Member
    Lyon, France
    Improving my art and studying Japanese
    I agree with this, and I also want to say that I disagree with the "you have to earn your speed in the classic games" argument.
    The spindash give you near maximum speed instantly, so much for earning it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    The only game without the spindash is Sonic 1, and as DigitalDuck said, it's not the most exiting game because of it.
    I love Sonic 1, but I would never replay the spindash-less version.
  9. Beltway


    The most grateful Sonic fan of all time this week Member
    Sega of Darkest Peru
    Artwork and classes
    Honestly I see the opposite of loop argument more often than that, with people just saying the structures are entirely pointless. I don't think they are a challenge but if you're familiar with the Genesis gameplay they're a pretty good example of the physics those games are built on.

    And the comment about the classic spindash wasting the idea of building speed--nah man. Not even close.

    I can acknowledge that the spindash streamlined the process of building speed, but I really don't agree with the occasional narrative that the mechanic entirely re-wrote or made redundant the philosophy of the original games. There is some actual balance that went into the spindash's design and incorporation into the gameplay that I think a fair amount of people are either oblivious to or pretend does not exist/matter. The levels aren't built for players to just use it anywhere without risk and/or the move itself has specific limitations (can only activate on flat ground, player needs to be at a total standstill to actually use it, speed varies on how long the player charges it, and its locked rolling jump --CD/Mania notwithstanding--, among other things) that the original rolling mechanic doesn't have.

    If you want an actual "spindash2win!!!" that gives you top speed and disregard for balance to the point you can use it alone to eat through the level design, go hit up the spamdash spindash in Generations or the Rolling Combo in Epi. II.


    As for the actual thread topic, there has been some ideas I've floated or repeated from other users over the months/years about what new ideas I'd like to see taken with the Genesis gameplay, but I'll have to come back to post it later.
  10. DigitalDuck


    Arriving four years late. Member
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL
    The spindash can be activated on sloped/curved ground too, in Sonic 3K you don't need to be at a total standstill to use it (although you do need to be moving slowly enough to crouch rather than roll), and the original rolling mechanic also has the locked rolling jump.

    The key thing that makes it fit with classic gameplay is that the spindash puts you in a rolling state - as such, although it's an instant start, it still requires skill to maintain the speed you get in most instances. Compare with the Peelout, with which you have full control the moment you let go and can maintain the speed as though you'd reached it normally.
  11. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    What do you mean by "locked rolling jump"? I know jumping from rolling state its different from doing it from a running state, but I don't know how it works internally; I always thought it was a result of the physics and not a flagged state, which seems to be what you're saying.

    Anyway, there's a difference between enjoying the spindash-less game and wanting it to be the standard: the difference gives personality to the first game, but having the spindash in the second one was a great relief. I also think the ability to enjoy that difference is linked to the level design: the spindash is not that necessary in the first game, while it was really necessary in the second one thanks to the changes in the level design style. It's more like enjoying the extra "difficulty" (ok, it isn't that hard, but it's still harder) as long as it happens in an acceptable level, which I see varies a lot from one person to another.
  12. Fred


    Taking a break Oldbie
    Sonic 3 Unlocked
    It's totally a flag. When you jump out of a spin, the left and right keys are disabled until you land. Sonic 3 lifts this lock when you use a double jump ability, and CD doesn't have it to begin with.
  13. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    Oh, ok, that was all then. I thought there were more tweaks to how rolling jump worked compared to the standard one besides a direction lock. I indeed noticed that back in the day, but I probably thought it was related to inertia or something like that.

    EDIT: Forgot I had something else to say, this time on topic.

    After reading some discussion about bosses on the Mania bugs thread, I thought it would be interesting to discuss here how could they be handled, since there's a bit of controversy about them:

    -First, we have bosses like those on Sonic 2, easy to beat through the dropped rings invincibility, something many people find not fun because there's no challenge.

    -Then, we have these Mania bosses that have you waiting a lot between each hit, which are not funny when you have nothing else to do but wait.

    -We also have things like auto-scroll and auto-run bosses, which bring side effects that aren't really fun most of the time.

    To me, it looks like they have to add those behaviours in battle and movement to give the boss some advantage to fight against the player, risking the flow of gameplay in the process, unless they are as easy as the eggmobile in mushroom hill, or the time between hits is reasonably short but still not spammable. I always thought Big Arms had a good design choice in protecting most of it save for that open in the front, so you had to aim right and you didn't have a second chance to try again if you were hit or were slow since it crossed the screen rather quick. It's not the best boss in other terms, but they did that right and gave insta-shield a good reason to be available.

    I would evolve the bosses or at least improve their quality by giving them smaller weak points but giving the player frequent chances to try and hit them while the bosses do their dangerous stuff so hitting the hitbox isn't always a good idea or at least not something easy to abuse through the dropped ring invincibility. Or you can have a boss on a separate act with a basic shield monitor and no rings, but making the bosses better so they can be fun and challenging without crippling the standard gameplay should be the best.
  14. I've said before, the easiest way to fix the problem with abusing Ring invincibility would be to tweak how dropping Rings works. You know how with Mania (and I think Chaotix), some of your rings fall into the foreground when you get hit? I think it was to solve the thing where you get hit with 200+ Rings and you only see like 50 appear that you can pick up? Do something similar, but use it so that the number of Rings dropped is the number of Rings collected, divided by 2, and subtract 1 more.

    Basically, let's take somebody with insane Ring-collecting skills, who is somehow able to re-collect every single Ring they drop when they get hit. They're putting in no actual effort on the boss battle, figuring that they can abuse the Ring mechanic to never die. Let's say they start the fight with 50 Rings. As they get hit, the most Rings they could recuperate would be...


    The key component here being what happens when you're down to less than 10 Rings. The average player is only going to manage to grab maybe two or three Rings at most when they get hit, so while you can still rescue yourself for a while by grabbing dropped Rings, you're quickly going to end up with no Rings left to possibly re-collect. You can't just keep saving yourself forever, but the Ring mechanic hasn't been completely removed. Even better, this new system would only make a major difference in boss battles. Most players wouldn't even notice the new system if they get hit while going through the actual level.

    It would make it much easier to design a boss that actually has challenge to it, without turning it into an unfair one where you only win by abusing the Ring system, and without doing what Sonic 2 did and forcing the player to fight the final boss with no Rings at all.
  15. Modern


    what tu hecc is modern! Member
    IIRC the game caps rings dropped at 20, and any excess rings are removed entirely, so you might have to factor that into your math a bit.
  16. ICEknight


    Researcher Researcher
    Sonic Rush made the rings fly away faster with each hit, maybe that should be enough.

    Regarding the bosses, the player should be taught in an obvious way what they're going to do and what their weak point is... before they land a hit or kill the player by doing something unexpected, as tends to happen in Mania. How to accomplish this includes slow-but-steady attacks, reusing mechanics that the player just got familiar with throughout the level, etc.

    I mean, let's have a look at Sonic 1's bosses:
    • GHZ: Boss just moves left and right, with a very predictable swinging ball (the player just came from learning that this game is all about well implemented momentum).
    • MZ: Lava to avoid but there's some safe land on the other side that I can reach in case that the boss comes. You'll no doubt jump out of the way as soon as the boss announces a fireball drop.
    • LZ: By now it's pretty obvious that you can drown in water and should move to the surface ASAP.
    • SYZ: The player has just avoided some nasty pits and now he's safe thanks to those strange blocks. Say... I wonder what's so special about them--OH CRAP, gotta finish this quick!
    • SLZ: Seesaws without a spiky ball? Oh, there's the spiky balls.
    • FZ: The four presses have similar designs to those scattered through the level, so the player is expected to know that they're going to try to stomp him. Also, you can see the electricity coming towards you from a mile away.

    Then in Sonic Mania you have things like:
    • A mid-boss fight where the enemy suddenly throws stuff at you without a chance to avoid if you didn't jump beforehand, and where you can all of a sudden get crushed by a familiar gimmick that never crushed you before.
    • A returning Sonic 2 boss which you've already been taught that can harm you if you touch even his legs... except that now you can just go through them unharmed.
    • The weather boss: You just can't know how to avoid the "heat" and "wind" attacks if you haven't already seen them. The former goes too fast for the player to notice that they can take shelter, and the latter requires you to latch onto a metal pipe that not only never appears before in the level, but it's also non-functional during the rest of the boss battle...

    I could probably keep going, but you get my point. I don't mean that this is a problem with all the bosses, but it is a big problem in an otherwise almost flawless game.
  17. Laughingcow


    Resident Edgelord PHD Member
    When it comes to bosses, there is a quote from Koji Igarashi that sums up my mindset:

    It's the baseline for balance and the bosses in Mania fulfil that. Likewise, bosses are suppose to be BOSS. Every hit must be avoidable but said evasion should NOT be so damn easy. I'm not asking for Ghosts n Goblins but I still like to feel accomplished when I beat a boss.
  18. Flygon


    The issue is that the way to avoid being hit is not being telegraphed well. And it becomes easier/more obvious for people to just tank hits with rings instead.
  19. Laughingcow


    Resident Edgelord PHD Member
    That is a non issue in that using post-hit invincibility to kill a boss is a valid strategy for those that suck. Of anything, the existence of such lends credence to make the bosses harder in that most cases have an easy option available.

    Thinking about it, I don't see how boss design discussion actually pertains to evolving the classic gameplay. This is more quality control but whatever.
  20. ICEknight


    Researcher Researcher
    Do they, when playing as Sonic alone and without power ups?

    I haven't found a no-hit boss run that didn't exploit things like the shields, Tails' carrying ability or Ray's flight.

    EDIT: Also, I'm pretty sure that Igarashi didn't mean that it's fine when the player has to know the boss' attacks beforehand (or react to them before they even start).