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Pokeyph

Modern Sonic Games Too Linear?

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Just to make it clear, SA2B was my first Sonic game and I loved it. I also loved Heroes, but then stopped buying the games following Shadow because I didn't have a 360 or PS3 until recently. Now that I have both, I've been playing recent games like Colors and Generations. Now, don't get me wrong, the games are fun in their own right, but they seem like Sonic is on rails and all you do is boost with the occasional 2D platforming. Back in the Adventure games and Heroes, you could slow down, look around, explore. In recent games, everything moves by in a blur, you can't see anything in the level, and you mainly just move straight ahead. I personally think Adventure 2 and Heroes had the engine going right, and they ruined it with 06. Anyone feel the same way?

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A lot of players value speed greatly in Sonic The Hedgehog games, and if one is to design a game to be full of speed, I think it easily becomes linear.

 

Although I have not played many Sonic games, I did recently play through Sonic Generations, which I do feel is a game that both can be full of speed (something which I like but absolutely cannot handle due to clumsiness!) and can offer exploration. =)

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I feel I should point out that Heroes generally wasn't open ended. It did have alternate paths and branching levels; but the alternate paths usually just worked out to be "grind rail located about 12 feet to the right of the normal path, maybe with a ring box as a bonus for taking it," and the branching levels basically were just "you come to a door you have to open, and there are three areas to check to open it, but two of the areas are deadends with nothing in them." There were big exceptions (Hang Castle and that other Halloween one that I forget the name of), but that's mostly how Heroes played out.

Edited by Tornado

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Yes.

Not so much in terms of the number of routes, going by Generations' better levels, but in the way you go through them. The boost especially has led to games where the answer is almost always "go forward", with significant changes in direction generally being either one of a small number of drifting curves, or a spring/booster/ramp/other gimmick. Sonic is not well-suited to going anywhere other than "forward", and the levels generally don't ask him to do otherwise.

 

The issue I see with this problem is that when you get Sonic control on a dime to function right in slower times (like exploration), it becomes too finicky at top speeds where when you barely blow on the joystick it throws Sonic way out of control.

Sonic doesn't need to control the same at all speeds, tho'. He already doesn't, in recent games; once you get up to a run the controls become a lot stiffer and you can't make any sort of turn without the drift. What they need to do is refine this, smooth it out; come up with a function that translates Sonic's speed into an effect on his controls, so you have a smooth continuum from free movement at low speeds to stiffer movement at high speeds.

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Actually I find generations and unleashed to be the most explorative out of the newer games being somewhat on par with adventure 1 and heroes and to some extent shadow the hedgehog, you can choose to move through the stages quickly but if you stop and look around you will find quite a bit.

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Back in the Adventure games and Heroes, you could slow down, look around, explore.

 

Adventure 1 had a few chances to look around and explore, but Adventure 2 uses more "straight line" level design than most of the modern levels. Final Rush had some nice alternate paths, though.

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Hm, unless I'm mistaken, pretty much all of the 3D Sonic games have had some problem in regards to the linearity in its level design.

 

I've never played Sonic 06, but I have heard there were plenty of optional pathways to take to reach the goal, which in turn makes it less linear than SA2, don't ya think?

 

Some of the levels did; the main problem with them is that they just weren't good. At all.

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People often parade the exploration aspect of the older 2D games because well yeah, it's easier to manage such a thing.

To expand on this, I always kept getting a vibe from some types of people who always insist on 3D gameplay with Classic Sonic physics that they are mostly thinking about the implementation from a 2D design perspective. Thing is, minus some rather inventive gimmicks used by some more recent 2D games, like being able to jump into the foreground or background, you only really have 4 directions to deal with in most 2D games: UP, DOWN, LEFT, AND RIGHT.

 

In a 3D environment, the game changes because now you have to factor in an additional axis, and new directions you can go in. Now you have to worry about moving SIDEWAYS, DIAGONALLY, and all of those other little directions as a result of being able to move more freely. This makes transitioning 2D mechanics A LOT more challenging, because now one has to factor in all of these little directions, and if you don't, the only difference between life or death in a game is slightly nudging the control stick too far in one direction (I'm looking at you, higher route in Modern Sky Sanctuary; that cloud jumping has fucked me over more times than I can count, and that's not factoring in the invisible wall).

 

In addition, level design becomes more complex, since because you can move in almost any direction, you now either have to factor in those directions so they don't become an issue, or you wall off those directions to prevent potential issues.

 

On top of that, there's also the detail that most 2D games tend to have a fixed camera, and even those that don't generally only have to worry about 8 or so directions. In 3D, your camera can get stuck in places, be placed at the wrong angle so you can't even see an incoming obstacle (although if done well, this might be a good thing), or if you use a free camera, the gameplay becomes half controlling your character, and the other half adjusting a potentially finicky camera into the right position, thus slowing gameplay down.

 

TL;DR I'm not targeting anyone specifically, but there are some places outside of this forum where I see people thinking that dumping 2D mechanics into a 3D environment would somehow be easy and smooth, and shake my head.

Edited by 743-E.D. Missile

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This makes transitioning 2D mechanics A LOT more challenging, because now to have to factor in all of these little directions, and if you don't, the only difference between life or death in a game is slightly nudging the control stick too far in one direction

Not if the levels aren't 90% empty space...

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Not if the levels aren't 90% empty space...

That empty space is what killed me in Modern Sky Sanctuary due to nudging the control stick a little too far in one direction. Or are you talking about something different?

Edited by 743-E.D. Missile

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In 3D, your camera can get stuck in places, be placed at the wrong angle so you can't even see an incoming obstacle (although if done well, this might be a good thing), or if you use a free camera, the gameplay becomes half controlling your character, and the other half adjusting a potentially finicky camera into the right position, thus slowing gameplay down.

I'd consider that a design flaw rather than an inherent problem with 3D gameplay; it's not impossible to create a working camera system. I agree with the rest of your post though. Edited by Frogging101

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That empty space is what killed me in Modern Sky Sanctuary due to nudging the control stick a little too far in one direction. Or are you talking about something different?

I'm saying the levels shouldn't be mostly empty space, that'd solve most of the problems with launching yourself into the abyss.

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I'd consider that a design flaw rather than an inherent problem with 3D gameplay; it's not impossible to create a working camera system. I agree with the rest of your post though.

Even in the best scenario, there are still points where your camera can still end up at an awkward position, so you are either forced to waste time altering the camera to get a better position, or take a huge leap of faith and hope like hell you don't get screwed over. Granted, cameras have improved, but that doesn't change the fact that you still have to take it as a factor, ESPECIALLY if attempts to get 2D Classic Sonic's physics working in a 3D environment are made.

I'm saying the levels shouldn't be mostly empty space, that'd solve most of the problems with launching yourself into the abyss.

Well yes, that I can agree with, although that does mean that there needs to be more inventive ways to screw you over, since bottomless pits would be out of style.

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The linearity in the modern games mostly seems to manifest itself whenever the gameplay shifts to a 3D perspective. It seems like they put a considerable amount of effort into making the platforming of the 2.5D sections good, but when it's in 3D, all we get are predominantly straight paths where we're told to keep moving forward--drifting and sidestepping from time to time.

 

That's my main problem with the recent games; in the 3D sections, Sonic plays like a car on a racetrack. Once he reaches jogging speed, it's impossible to smoothly maneuver him in any way other than forward. It makes it feel less like a platformer and more like a glorified racing game. Colors did it best, as the 3D portions demanded more action than constant forward motion and the game didn't allow you to spam the boost nigh-indefinitely. If I remember correctly, Sonic even had an easier time moving in all directions.

 

I think it really says something that starting with Unleashed, we lost the ability to manually adjust the camera and look around the levels. We're not supposed to, because we're not supposed to stop boosting.

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I think it really says something that starting with Unleashed, we lost the ability to manually adjust the camera and look around the levels. We're not supposed to, because we're not supposed to stop boosting.

 

Unleashed HD allowed camera movement via the right stick. This was dropped in Colours.

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I think it really says something that starting with Unleashed, we lost the ability to manually adjust the camera and look around the levels. We're not supposed to, because we're not supposed to stop boosting.

Well to be fair, there really wasn't much you could look at anyways, outside of some texturework and finding the medals in the not so obvious/just plain jerkish locations. Not to mention that being able to alter the camera at will would probably end up being really wonky with Unleashed's level design.

Edited by 743-E.D. Missile

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