The Evolution of "Classic" Gameplay.

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

  1. DigitalDuck

    DigitalDuck

    Arriving four years late. Member
    5,114
    259
    63
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL
    The classic games cap rings dropped at 32.

    I'd disagree that the game is "otherwise almost flawless", but the bosses are by far the biggest problem with the game. From OOZ1's "hey you stood in the wrong spot even though there was nothing to indicate there was a wrong spot, you're dead now" to FBZ2's "will flying into the bumper actually hit the boss, or will you simply pass through it and die to the spikes opposite? GUESS!" to CPZ2's "oh I know you wanted to play Sonic, but here, play Puyo Puyo instead!" the number of even acceptable bosses in Mania can be counted on one hand.

    The game would be improved by simply removing the bosses. And I'd go as far to say that's true of Sonic in general - while there are good bosses scattered throughout the classic games (most of S1, ARZ, HCZ1, ICZ2, MHZ1, and SSZ-K) most of them are just not fun and require you to either wait years for the boss opening to appear, or just rely on post-hit invulnerability to actually move on to some more gameplay.

    Why not do away with bosses entirely? They're just needless padding.
     
  2. Laughingcow

    Laughingcow

    Resident Edgelord PHD Member
    580
    3
    18
    Yes. Unless you'd like to point out a boss with an inescapable attack like the Final Boss of Ninja Gaiden 1 (who prevents no-hit runs thus pissing off many people).

    Interpretation is not an argument. And the quote in question specifies "Boss Programmer" who would know the boss in and out.

    You may not realize this but your argument breaks down to "make bosses easier/simpler" to which I will point out that is the philosophy of Modern Sonic and a large reason his games are forgettable. Again, bosses are suppose to be BOSS. You should not dumb them down (or any aspect of the game for that matter) because someone sucks at the game. Hell, Nintendo has an elegant solution with the Luigi cube of Shame because they know making things too easy is no fun.
     
  3. ICEknight

    ICEknight

    Researcher Researcher
    No, there's a difference between making things easy and making things fair for the player.

    Well, I don't think so.
     
  4. lupinsmask

    lupinsmask

    Member
    28
    8
    3
    Removing bosses which I do not support nor do I see as "padding" would equal less for Eggman to do. He would rarely be seen, his appearances similar to segasonic arcade or the game gear games minus the large/super badniks.
     
  5. While reading through this, I had an amazing idea. Right now, the traditional setup is that Act 1 get's a fully-automated robot as the boss encounter, while Act 2 is a fight against Eggman in whatever his latest Eggmobile attachment is. However, other than physically seeing Eggman at the cockpit, there's no real difference as far as the fight itself. You could color in the cockpit so it's a solid piece of metal, and it would just be another robot.

    What if the robot-type bosses stay the same, since they're pre-programmed to do a set thing, but Eggman gets treated sort of like Mr. Freeze in Arkham City? In that game, only Takedown attacks would deal damage to the boss, and all of the different Takedown attacks relied on some aspect of the environment. For instance, popping out of floor grates for a sudden strike, or gliding down for an aerial assault from a high perch. The catch with Mr. Freeze's boss battle was that each time you hit him with a Takedown, he would adapt so that you couldn't do that again. He would freeze over the floor grates so that you couldn't enter them anymore, or fill the air with enough ice particles to prevent Batman's cape from letting him glide.

    Now, let's apply this thinking to an Eggman encounter. On the normal difficulty, he just cycles through his attacks like normal. However, on a harder difficulty, he starts applying a similar strategy. If a particular attack manages to hit the player, you can expect that attack to appear *slightly* more often. If the player manages to land a hit during a specific move, Eggman will either stop using that move after getting hit twice (maybe he assumed the first time was a fluke, and the second time gets him to realize that repeating this is a bad idea), or he'll gradually decrease how often that attack is used.

    Now the player has a variety of ways to do the fight. Maybe a skilled player will just trump every attack Eggman's got and fly through the fight. A less-skilled player could get the idea to intentionally take a few hits from an easier attack and sacrifice a few Rings to goad Eggman into thinking that using that attack is a winning strategy, and the player will be able to trick him from using the more dangerous attacks. If Eggman starts out only using two or three different moves, and replaces each ineffective one with something else as the fight goes on, it would equate to a much more natural progression of the fight instead of just "phase 1, phase 2, phase 3".
     
  6. DigitalDuck

    DigitalDuck

    Arriving four years late. Member
    5,114
    259
    63
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL
    So it's okay if the boss instakills you with no warning, as long as the programmer knows how to avoid it?

    I guess all those "impossible" Mario Maker levels are actually good levels then.
     
  7. Laughingcow

    Laughingcow

    Resident Edgelord PHD Member
    580
    3
    18
    Wasn't your solution to just get rid of bosses all together?

    They have their audience. That's why they make them.
     
  8. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    Umm... let's go one by one:


    Laughingcow:
    I see why you don't get the point about how discussing about bosses isn't related to evolving the classic formula, if this is the discussion you have about it. Not everything said here is about that either, but my question was how to solve the issues in the boss design philosophy so it can produce bosses more appropiate for a Sonic game. General quality is desired, of course, but also keeping the pace of the game and giving a fun experience to the classic Sonic player. of course, there are differing opinions about what's good and bad, but it's good to have easy-peasy bosses like the ones from Sonic 2 so they don't interrupt your gameplay. Oh, and, btw, there's no real reward for keeping rings in a boss battle, so I usually abuse the ring trick to finish quickly and move on; I can get later the extra lives the high score could give me.


    DigitalDuck:
    Removing bosses is overkill, but I agree with the sentiment of bosses being an uncomfortable halt that should have something else to be there than just interrupting exploration. I'm ok with bosses that have a rhythmical pace, and I don't mind playing some long bosses as long as I have something to do that keeps me thrilling, like that big arms battle.

    Kharen:
    The ring loss formula sounds nice; the overthinking Robtonik, no so much. However, giving the bosses their own tools sounds better than nerfing the ring thing. While Egg Reverie is a quite unpleasant battle, I found really interesting that boss attacks only make you lose precious time in the form of rings, and you could get more but not as much as you'd lose if you don't play clever. While Doomsday Zone was about the same, was a lot less thrilling and had a worse mix of this overall.

    IceKnight:
    I'm with you in everything you said, specially when Labyrinth Zone boss is one I used to skip through level select because I couldn't defeat it, yet it follows, yet it follows the design philosophy of every boss in S1. And those are quite rhythmical, so they feel good to fight even if most of them are too easy.

    This all's coming from someone who played S2 repeteadly on the game gear and had no problem with the first boss, hating a lot more the Green Hills boss act thanks to that unfair sequence of springs and spike pits which sequence and proper navigation I had to learn the hard way, that was the true boss of the zone and not the sumo pig. I want bosses that I don't mind to fight against and feel like I'm still playing a Sonic game. Casino Night boss is one of my favourites because you have to make use of the environment to reach the boss, and different methods lead to different strategies. Evolving the classic gameplay when it comes to bosses, I think, means to create bosses that you can't have in another kind of game and that feel as good to play as the rest of the classic gameplay features, and keep that happening on each boss fight if possible, since that's a refinement we haven't had yet..


    Now, let's try with special stages. //forums.sonicretro.org/public/style_emoticons/default/v.png
     
  9. DigitalDuck

    DigitalDuck

    Arriving four years late. Member
    5,114
    259
    63
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL
    This isn't even a counterargument. You may as well have said "Haven't you painted your shed yet?"

    A boss that instakills you with no warning is a bad boss, even if the boss programmer knows how to avoid it. You are wrong to think otherwise.

    They have an audience of niche sadists, yes. There isn't much overlap with Sonic's audience there.
     
  10. I don't see a boss having an insta-kill ability to be a bad thing, so long as every boss does not have one. Really, it should only kill you once, maybe twice, before you see how its killing you and how to avoid it.

    Perhaps I'm on the sadist-side, since outside of a few wipes to learn the fights, I rarely struggled with any boss in Mania or 3K. (Bosses in 2 were a breeze, 1 had a handful of trickier ones but not hard.)

    All that said, I have no interest in seeing the difficulty increased. I'd much rather be able to cruise through the act and not spend long on the boss, but not if it means making the bosses worthless. I certainly never want bosses removed either, and enjoy having them at the end of each act.
     
  11. Covarr

    Covarr

    Sentient Cash Register Member
    4,233
    3
    18
    Trapped in my own thoughts.
    Two stageplays, a screenplay, and an album
    I think it boils down to telegraphing. Telegraphing should be somewhat intuitive. If the player asks "how was I supposed to see that coming?" (which does happen a few times in Mania's bosses), the boss has failed at some point in its design. A player should be getting frustrated with their own failure, not with the boss itself.

    I think the Death Egg Zone Act 2 second boss in Sonic 3 & Knuckles is a perfect example of boss design and telegraphing done fairly well. The first phase, it's quite clear that the fingers are aiming for you and you need to dodge them. The telegraph (them following your position) is directly related to the attack (them slamming down). The damage strategy is similarly apparent, since they're the only thing to attack. In phase 2, the disappearing floor is a constant hazard, one that makes itself clear right at the beginning of the phase, and a source of challenge that nobody will be blindsided by. The actual boss telegraphs its giant laser pretty well, by making the laser emitter itself flash, and the weak point, consistent with other bosses, is glass. Technically, falling off when the floor breaks is an instant death, but it is naturally telegraphed by there being no floor, which is a consistent cause of death throughout the franchise.

    Sonic Mania, by contrast, has several bosses where the telegraphing is not intuitive and requires some amount of memorization to determine what telegraph goes with what attack, or how the boss is defeated. It may be perfectly feasible for an experienced player to defeat these bosses without trouble, but to a new player who is unfamiliar with the boss, even if they are experienced with the franchise as a whole, it feels unfair. Oil Ocean 1 is a prime example of this; it's quite easy not to hit the spikes at the top once you know they are there, but virtually every new player is going to get launched into them at least once, because the telegraphing only conveys that you will go up, but utterly fails to convey that there's an insta-death up there, as well as where the safe spots are. Admittedly this is a worse and more unfair example than most in the game, but the whole game is rife with poor boss telegraphing. A good tell needs to convey in some way what's about to happen, not just that something will happen, and that is far and away the greatest weakness of an otherwise excellent game.
     
  12. Overlord

    Overlord

    Now playable in Smash Bros Ultimate Moderator
    18,614
    594
    93
    Berkshire, England
    Learning Cymraeg
    It's worth noting, specifically regarding insta-kills, that nothing in Mania even BEGINS to approach the eldrich horror that is the pinnacle of terrible Sonic bosses - Sky Canyon 2, on Sonic Advance 2. I have no real beef with any of Mania's bosses, really - now that OOZ2 has been nerfed, anyway.
     
  13. On the matter of the OOZ act one boss in Mania, I didn't even realise that was something anyone had trouble with until scanning through the Mania thread. I had intuitively stood on the platforms not beneath spikes, unaware that they would launch up, and certainly not that they would that fast. After reading through that thread at the time I did begin to understand how newcomers, or players less enthusiastic about boss battles, could struggle with designs like that. Perhaps a frame or so of the platform glowing would be a way to make it telegraph better?
    [sub]And as a slight aside, but still related enough to gameplay evolution, OOZ act 2 is something I initially struggled badly with. I was playing as Knuckles though.[/sub]

    Telegraphing does seem like a critical element now, I would hate for new players to reach walls they may never seek to break down if it appears unfair to them.
     
  14. Pengi

    Pengi

    Member
    1,613
    362
    63
    Sonic Mania had, what, 27 bosses? A few of them had issues (that hopefully won't be repeated in a sequel), and people are right to point out those issues, but others were among the most creative the 2D Sonic series has seen. Even the duds, for the most part, were at least experimental and interesting. It's clear that a lot of passion went into designing them.

    I'd certainly be disappointed if Sonic Mania 2 dialed things down and had fewer and/or more generic bosses. I always did prefer the Sonic 1/CD bosses over the 2/3&K bosses though. Partly because the former had stronger gimmicks, and partly because...

    ...of this.

    It's the reason Sonic 2's Death Egg Zone doesn't have any rings. Sonic Jam's "Normal" mode (as opposed to "Original" mode) places a handful of rings in the level, and it makes the whole affair an anti-climactic cakewalk.

    The ring system is so baked into the series that getting rid of it would be a mistake. Giving younger and less experienced players enough leeway to beat otherwise tricky bosses certainly isn't a bad thing. I think the best solution would be to give an extra reward to more skilled players for defeating a boss without taking a damage.

    Sonic 1 and CD did this with its non-boss levels. If you were skilled enough to finish a level with 50 Rings, you could to go a Special Stage to collect a trinket and ultimately aim for a good ending. I find myself taking more care not to get hit in Sonic 1 and CD, compared to 2, 3&K and Mania, for this very reason.

    End of Act Special Stages wouldn't really work with 3&K/Mania's setup, since they would interfere with the dynamic stage transitions and story scenes. So how about if the animal Capsules had a ring meter? You jump on it and all your rings get drained - the more rings you deposit, the more critters are freed, and if you meet a certain threshold (let's say 50 Rings) you get a Magical McGuffin. Sonic's ring counter has always reset to 0 at the end of each Act anyway, so they might as well contextualize it.

    This would also incentivize players to find and keep hold of shields for boss fights, making them more valuable items.

    The problem was that the spikes were off-screen.
     
  15. Covarr

    Covarr

    Sentient Cash Register Member
    4,233
    3
    18
    Trapped in my own thoughts.
    Two stageplays, a screenplay, and an album
    The platforms do shake, so to that extent the telegraph is accurate. These are the same as platforms that have already launched them into the air earlier in the stage, so people will expect to get launched up. The solution, I'd think, would be to make the spikes visible from the start of the match, so people know as soon as the platforms start launching which ones are safe and which aren't. A lesser solution might be to glow them different colors based on safety when it's about to launch, but that's not so good for colorblind players.
     
  16. Laughingcow

    Laughingcow

    Resident Edgelord PHD Member
    580
    3
    18
    The thing is, there isn't anything inherently unique about Sonic game boss design that doesn't apply to other franchises.

    Bosses you can attack at will (Megaman)
    Bosses you have to wait for an opening (Mario)
    Bosses who have limbs you can damage (Metroid)

    A good boss vs a bad boss is something done on a case by case basis. Even if it follows Iggy's rule, it can still suck (see Sonic 4). Likewise, if the player in question sucks, there is nothing a designer can do about that. Even Kirby games which are made with a pre-school audience in mind have engaging boss fights (See Meta Knight).

    As for the Ring argument, mostly correct. You do get a Ring score for keeping your rings. It ain't much but it is something. Maybe if they implement a score attack mode?

    What Sonic Mania boss would this be or are you just saying generic stuff to pretend your argument holds any water to the subject of Sonic? For all I know, you're talking about Metal Gear Rising.


    Bosses with Insta-kills are fine depending on circumstance. Sonic 1 had the Final Zone boss which was perfectly fine to me.
    You should look at the speedrunning community for Sonic games.


    While I agree with the sentiment, the fact that we are talking a boss in the later half of the game makes this okay to me. It is also worth noting that the player by chance may survive that first unknown launch (like I did because I was still trying to attack him). It is harsh but much like the Misery Mire pit or that fucking barrel, sometimes harsh is memorable.
     
  17. ICEknight

    ICEknight

    Researcher Researcher
    That's the problem.
     
  18. Overlord

    Overlord

    Now playable in Smash Bros Ultimate Moderator
    18,614
    594
    93
    Berkshire, England
    Learning Cymraeg
    Is it? You die to it ONCE at most and then that's it, you'll never do so obliviously again. I never got the issue people have with the OOZ1 boss.
     
  19. Dark Sonic

    Dark Sonic

    Member
    13,942
    1,102
    93
    Working on my art!
    I'm inclined to agree for the most part but I mean they could have lowered the spikes a bit so you could see them prior to platforms launching. It's a cheap death. And they fixed some of the other cheap deaths in Mania Plus so I'm surprised they didn't address this one.
     
  20. ICEknight

    ICEknight

    Researcher Researcher
    Same happens with Syobon Action, and that's not fair game design...