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Typical tropes topic

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Xiao Hayes, Jul 28, 2019.

  1. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    Hello, everyone! Glad to be back around!

    For a Sonic related project, I've been trying to define seven base tropes that would serve to cover the levels in (classic) Sonic games. This classification takes a "man vs. environment" point of view, covering a range between sheer nature and hi-tech. Seven is a key number for my needs despite probably not being an appropiate number to achieve what I pretend to accomplish.

    My current list is quite satisfying, but there's something still causing trouble, and I've come here to share this with you and see what do you think about it. Remember it's not just a scale, it's also meant to be faithful list of existing zone tropes:

    1) Elemental: A level where an element is an undisputed ruler of the zone. It doesn't have to be strictly something like fire or water, it can also be vegetation or outer space, for example.

    2) Primeval: The hand of man is present, but more as a guest or worshipper of the environment there, like a prehistoric or tribal culture believing in spirits of nature.

    3) Ruins: Civilization came and conquered, nature then fought back and recovered. If time is taken into account, it would cover places from the first civilizations up to the middle age or so.

    4) Resort: This would cover some degree of balance between the presence of man and natural beauty, with not too technological elements from these days, like a beach with parasols and and wooden docks for small boats, or a park with both trees and streetlights. This is the problematic trope, though as it also covers levels like green hill, natural places with not an specific dominating element like the elemental trope, not a relevant presence of mankind, and no evidence of the "man vs. environment" conflict I talked before.

    5) Pinball: Every level with bumpers would fit here, but, for the purpose of this list, it's the type of level where man-made modern stuff dominates the environment, yet nature is still present enough or at least not harmed in a meaningful way.

    6) Industrial: The presence of the nature here is either as a material to be processed, or just an incidental remain of the location in which the factory or something like that was built on. While it doesn't have to be that drastic, it's evident that nature has little to say there.

    7) Sci-fi: Everything is hi-tech with no nature around, an incarnation of an artificial future. Mostly reserved to Robotnik's main bases.

    While levels don't have to fit perfectly here, the ones that don't usually fall in between of two consecutive tropes, such as Sandopolis probably being halfway between the "primeval" and "ruins" tropes. As I said before, the my biggest gripe lies on the "resort" trope, partly sharing the definition of the "pinball" trope, just with no pinball around, and also being a watered down "elemental" trope that could have been positioned before primeval in this list. "Pinball" itself can have its own controversy just by looking at Sonic Spinball, with industrial and sci-fi tropes becoming a pinball table.

    Well, that's all I can think of at this moment; I may be forgetting something, but you have enough to understand what I'm talking about. What are your opinions on this? What would you change to fix this, or which would be your alternative take on this? Anything you say could be helpful.

    NOTE: I've created this topic in the general Sonic forum because nothing of my project's shown here besides this classification that tries to work with official games as well, and the project itself hasn't passed the concept phase. Sorry if it should have been placed elsewwhere.
  2. Powpuck


    You could change pinball to the broader "amusement park," which can contain both the industrial Casino Night and the green space (I hesitate to call them resorts) Spring Yard and Collision Chaos. Green space seems like the broadest category of human inhabited land that's deliberately left undeveloped, and can range from national preserves to urban parks. And SY/CC evoke skate parks in particular, which have been part of green spaces. Morevover pinball machines are typically found in amusment parks.

    Casino Night and Casinopolis are Las Vegas inspired, though it might be a stretch to classify LV as an amusement park, adult oriented that it is. Carnival Night however is unquestionably an amusement park in addition to being S3's equivalent to Casino Night, so all them are amusement parks by association.
  3. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    Yeah, I don't like "resort" as a name either, but I think I took it from the wiki to stick to standards, so to speak. And yes, I essentially merged the "green space" trope with that one. I'm trying to fit here a lot of things, and that's why it's hard for me to make it better: the "man vs. environment" thing, how advanced technology is on each trope, use names and concepts that you would easily recognise as sonic level tropes...

    As I've said, giving a space in this list to "pinball" is a mistake because those gimmicks could appear in a wide range of tropes without being out of place. I don't see a real difference between Spring Yard, Casino Night or Carnival Night for the purposes of this classification, but then there's Collision Chaos,which is an odd case since it's just another green hill but with a level of human presence similar to the "primeval" or "ruins" tropes, and modern enough technology to fit the "resort" definition I wrote earlier. I suppose "pinball" would be a secondary type, just like "underwater" or "lava", and having "park" and "field" as substitutes for "resort" and "pinball" might do a better job.

    Well, thank you very much, I don't know what I will be finally doing with this, but your thoughts have been very helpful. Let's see if someone else wants to share some thoughts.
  4. DigitalDuck


    Arriving four years late. Member
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL
    Mostly a good classification, but I'd remove some and modify a little:

    1. Natural. Areas which are mostly nature-driven, with little-to-no sign of human intervention. Even though Green Hill has bridges and totem poles, they're generally untouched. Likewise with Jungle, Emerald Hill, Hill Top. Aquatic Ruin could be considered in this category, or could also be:

    2. Recovered. Areas which were once mostly artificial, but have been reclaimed by nature. Marble is the best example of this, as well as the Past version of most Sonic CD stages.

    3. Harmonious. Areas in which nature and technology work together. See: Mystic Cave, Good Future of most Sonic CD stages.

    4. Artificial. Areas which are mostly technology-driven, with little-to-no sign of nature. This encapsulates all of Eggman's bases as well as many casino zones, Chemical Plant, and Oil Ocean.

    Things like elements are clearly a sub-trope to this classification, as an ice level or a lava level can be natural or artificial or anywhere in between.
  5. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    As I said before, seven is a number I have to stick to.

    Elements are a sub-trope, indeed; that's not what my "elemental" trope is meant for, but yeah, it's probably unnecessary as elements speak for themselves enough to disregard this kind of appreciation. I agree just "natural" could fit, yet, green hill looks more "countryside", but jungle zone feels more like uncharted territory, and bridge zone looks windy and has water but I wouldn't compare it to a high cliff or the bottom of the sea.

    I think my real fault here is giving too much importance to comparing between tech levels. The progression is clearly there, but it looks more incidental than anything else. Not sure if I have to rethink it or I'm just overthinking.

    Confirmed: yes, I was mixing too many things, because yes, I was overthinking it, because that's the kind of thing that happens when you check again the notes you wrote some time ago without remembering how did you get to those conclusions.

    The human influence and technology advancement scales where a way of organising the chosen tropes, but the main goal was just finding seven iconic tropes not taking into account elements like water, lava or sand (those belong to a different list).

    That way, the list in the first post failed to both possibilities, the human presence/tech scaling and the iconic tropes selection, but can serve as a base for both lists, changing different things on each case. The original list could go like this:

    1) Wilds/Nature: Not inhabited by humans, but it could have things like wooden bridges to traverse the area.

    2) Tribal/Settlement: Primitive human territory, or just stablished using traditional stuff.

    3) Ruins/Classical(?): Fallen ancient civilizations.

    4) Town/resort: Humans have been around for a long time in harmony with the environment.

    5) City/present: biggest modern-day inhabited locations go here.

    6) Workshop: zones where prime materials become technology.

    7) Cyber: Robots, computers and anything digital or sci-fi with no trace of nature.

    I have still to make a new iconic tropes list, though. That's what I really need for my project, so I have to choose more carefully this time.
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2019
  6. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    Double post for the conclusion since there's little interest in this topic. I've managed to elaborate the list I needed; it covers almost every level I can think of, leaving outside only a few oddities. It somehow retains a scale of human influence, but ignores completely the age of history and tech advancement of the zones if those are not a premise:

    1) Nature: the level is prominently a natural place, but it can have some degree of human presence.

    2) Maze: The level has narrow twisting corridors with traps or natural hazards in them. It usually happens in the underground or inside a building, but it's not essential.

    3) Ruins: Overall, the same as in the original list, but now fits better with the "recovered" concept from DigitalDuck, allowing for more modern constructions to be claimed by nature.

    4) Playground: The level has a collection of fun or distracting gimmicks as its main trait. Evolved from the "pinball" trope to make this last one a sub-trope other tropes could have to some extent.

    5) Streets: The level involves highways, roofs, or traversing between different buildings. Many zones are located on populated areas or have them in their backgrounds, but this trope is focused on those areas themselves.

    6) Industrial: More or less the same as the number 6 of both previous lists.

    7) Sci-fi: This one keeps the previous concept too, except for the fact that total absence of nature isn't necessary, as there are cases in which the hi-tech involved can support nature or harmonise with it.

    In cases where a level could fall under more than one of these cathegories, it usually belongs to the one with the highest number on the list, since the tropes are meant to be the main theme of a zone, not a strict definition of it. Still, in some cases we can find a hybrid trope when two tropes have the same level of dominance, but that's ok.

    One more thing: I'd suggest to classify acts separately for games that have relevant changes from one act to another; I've been chacking the wiki out, and some zones have crazy classifications trying to handle everything in just one place.

    That's all. I hope readers find the concept of this topic at least a bit interesting. if there's something you can add, you're welcome to do so.
  7. Felik


    7 sure sounds like a nice, "right" number but ultimately it's arbitrary.
  8. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    It's just the number I needed, and of course "seven" sounds like the right number, more evidently if you consider special stages as an eighth trope that works differently from the other ones. Yes, I chose it as a reference to the number of chaos emeralds (or time stones), and there's a special trope not listed that you could link to the master emerald to complete the set.

    The number also helped to not get too specific, since most zones (and acts) can be very different from each other. While we may have some level clones in classic games, there's also a lot of weird stuff, and levels that, while related, manage to get different enough to feel unique; that's good, but not a practical approach for a comprehensive list, so having a small fixed number helped me getting a clean selection. There would be room from improvement in different circumstances, though, but even for that, it's still a good starting point. Oh, and, as I said before, I kept things like "underwater", "lava" or "desert" as sub-tropes, so the list gets a lot longer easily.
  9. Apslup


    Feelin' Fine. Member
    There is also the final boss type level which includes one or more hedgehogs going Super and taking on some big final threat, sometimes as a secret final level if you collect all the Chaos or Super Emeralds. Some examples include Doomsday Zone from S3&K, Egg Reverie Zone from Mania, Perfect Chaos from SA1, Final Hazard from SA2, Time Eater from Generations ETC. There are so many more levels in this archetype that I would be here ages if I listed all of them.
  10. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    Classic Eggman art Member
    Bosses are bosses, and mechanics are mechanics. Tropes are level themes/styles, and, while words like "pinball level" could open a door for what you said, I put some distance from that and wrote "playground" instead for a reason.

    Special stages (and bonus stages) usually share an uncanny look and setting; I only brought up they work differently because they're non-standard levels, but that's not the reason why I'd put them in a separate extra trope, it's just because they're realms created by mystic jewels. In that regard, you could say Egg Reverie shares that trope, but special stages from Sonic Chaos and Triple trouble don't.

    - Doomsday Zone is a "Nature" zone for me, because outer space is also a natural place, even if it's out of the atmosphere.
    - Perfect Chaos area still belongs to the "Streets" trope, even if those streets are flooded.
    - Final Hazard is either "Nature" or "Sci-Fi", depending on your approach.
    - Time Eater, like Egg Reverie, could fit into the "Special Stage" trope too, but, remember...

    Either way, the "special stage" trope is just a honorific one, I'm classifying standard zones/gameplay, and I can only think of both versions of Sonic 1 (16-bit and 8-bit) as standard gameplay special stages with non-standard look, with the 16-bit version almost missing the mark thanks to its weird gimmicks. Even then, those two and the bonus stages from S3&K would belong to the "playground" trope. If that's not valid for you, "Nature" trope strikes again, since outer dimensions seem to be a common occurrence in Sonic's universe.

    I apologize if something of what I've said in previous posts has been confusing, or if I've been too harsh here, but in my project there's more going on than this tropes list, and I understand it can be hard to get my point without that info, but divulging it could cause some kind of spoilers. I already made good use of the final list above and got what I wanted from it.