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Masterofnone169

How should Sonic work in 3D?

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I don't know if this topic has already been done so I'm going to give it a go.

 

How do you guys think Sonic should work in the third dimension.  We all know that while has never been at his best in 3D, he has certainly been improving lately.  And with a new gameplay style coming up with Lost World it just seems like it is a question worthy of asking.

 

I would like to imagine Sonic in 3D playing and controlling just like in the classic games.  As in on a jump and a spin dash.  No homing attack, no boost mechanic and no parkour style gameplay.  I not saying I want this but I just think it would be very interesting. 

 

What are your thoughts?

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It appears that Lost World abides by important principles that were brought in 2D gameplay and that work well with the development of diverse gaming experience. Because there isn't much use to building an expansive world if you don't have gameplay instruments allowing its exploration, right?

 

There are some points that do concern me, though.

 

  • Sense of direction: If Sonic's fundamentally fundamental foundation is to depend on the movement to progress, attacking and defending (and often these two being the same thing) included, has an inherent problem of making you conquer the terrain you're running on while making you its slave at the same time, a sense of direction is needed to give fluidity and purpose to the gameplay. Sonic, more often than not, doesn't work in a maze and, unlike Mario in Mario 64, feels awkward to play in an environment with multiple, but unseen-at-first objectives. Sense of direction has been applied in 3D Sonic games making tracks out of the ambients that the levels were supposed to be and we saw a rise in automation. There must be other ways and examples within broad worlds can, however, be drawn from Mario 64.
  • Balance in the challenge: I must question how the game intends to hit you and make you lose. If victory is to feel completely rewarding, the game must make us lose or, at least, give us a glimpse of what it would be like to lose. Both through story and gameplay. You know, I think I haven't feared the next section of a level ever since Sonic Adventure or Sonic Adventure 2. That's important, you know! Level design seems to be much better in Lost World in terms of possibilities of use for Sonic's abilities. But how about the challenge? How will we feel there's somewhere we shouldn't go? And more importantly, will there be places we shouldn't go, but will want to anyway? Rings play an important part here because they are collectable life. And we've had far more rings than we need, recently.
  • Progression: I'm confident they can do as much as making later levels harder than the earlier ones, but will there be more than that? This is important for us to sort out our memories of the game. We associate different feelings with different levels as they contrast with each other. If story can support that, great. But if their main goal is to make Wind Hill look like Green Hill and not anything else, I'm worried. Also, in huge levels like the ones in Lost World will certainly be, how we will feel we're pushing onwards and not just playing the same stuff again?

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Lost World's mechanics seem to be the most well-defined that the series has ever had. In my ideal Sonic game, it would basically have the exact same controls we're apparently getting but in an environment not so up in the sky. Sonic Adventure-ish level design plus more meatier routes and controls would be supreme top-tier Sonic gameplay to me.

 

( Also, for the sake of not really knowing how the spin-boost works, I just would like to also say that I'd like it to be affected by slopes somewhat. Like, say it goes around "boost" speeds normally, but slows uphill and accels downhill. Would make a good compromise of boost mechanics and rolling mechanics, IMO. )

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I think there's three main points that a Sonic game should hit.

1. Speed. Sonic is fast, simple as. Of the three this is the one that Sonic Team has most consistently hit, but not always in the best of ways. What's important to remember is that feeling fast is not always the same as simply having a high top speed. You need contrasts in speed and significant interactions with the game to make a game satisfyingly fast.

2. Physics. Sonic is a marble, a skateboarder, and a roller coaster. Building proper physics into the game helps create the ebb and flow of speed that makes the fast parts stand out, and challenges the player to understand the mechanics and levels to get the most out of them.

3. Wallrunning. Also ceiling running, and everything in between. Sonic's not bound by gravity in the same way the average platformer character is. With a bit of speed he can run up halfpipes and loops and all sorts of terrain. This opens up a lot of options for crazy unique level design that can be traversed in a number of ways.

Unleashed Day and Gens Modern focused almost exclusively on the first point, and not even in a good way. Lost World I think has a better grasp of how speed should be used (although I'm pretty wary of the boost-like spin move), and the parkour mechanics should help expand how he's able to move. Still, it's hardly my ideal Sonic game, from what we've seen; there's no indication that they're doing anything physicswise, and the levels could use more meaningful curves.

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It appears that Lost World abides by important principles that were brought in 2D gameplay and that work well with the development of diverse gaming experience. Because there isn't much use to building an expansive world if you don't have gameplay instruments allowing its exploration, right?

 

There are some points that do concern me, though.

 

  • Sense of direction: If Sonic's fundamentally fundamental foundation is to depend on the movement to progress, attacking and defending (and often these two being the same thing) included, has an inherent problem of making you conquer the terrain you're running on while making you its slave at the same time, a sense of direction is needed to give fluidity and purpose to the gameplay. Sonic, more often than not, doesn't work in a maze and, unlike Mario in Mario 64, feels awkward to play in an environment with multiple, but unseen-at-first objectives. Sense of direction has been applied in 3D Sonic games making tracks out of the ambients that the levels were supposed to be and we saw a rise in automation. There must be other ways and examples within broad worlds can, however, be drawn from Mario 64.
  • Balance in the challenge: I must question how the game intends to hit you and make you lose. If victory is to feel completely rewarding, the game must make us lose or, at least, give us a glimpse of what it would be like to lose. Both through story and gameplay. You know, I think I haven't feared the next section of a level ever since Sonic Adventure or Sonic Adventure 2. That's important, you know! Level design seems to be much better in Lost World in terms of possibilities of use for Sonic's abilities. But how about the challenge? How will we feel there's somewhere we shouldn't go? And more importantly, will there be places we shouldn't go, but will want to anyway? Rings play an important part here because they are collectable life. And we've had far more rings than we need, recently.
  • Progression: I'm confident they can do as much as making later levels harder than the earlier ones, but will there be more than that? This is important for us to sort out our memories of the game. We associate different feelings with different levels as they contrast with each other. If story can support that, great. But if their main goal is to make Wind Hill look like Green Hill and not anything else, I'm worried. Also, in huge levels like the ones in Lost World will certainly be, how we will feel we're pushing onwards and not just playing the same stuff again?

 

You didn't fear the next section of Eggmanland when you first played it? All bow to Palas!

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I think there's three main points that a Sonic game should hit.

1. Speed. Sonic is fast, simple as. Of the three this is the one that Sonic Team has most consistently hit, but not always in the best of ways. What's important to remember is that feeling fast is not always the same as simply having a high top speed. You need contrasts in speed and significant interactions with the game to make a game satisfyingly fast.

2. Physics. Sonic is a marble, a skateboarder, and a roller coaster. Building proper physics into the game helps create the ebb and flow of speed that makes the fast parts stand out, and challenges the player to understand the mechanics and levels to get the most out of them.

3. Wallrunning. Also ceiling running, and everything in between. Sonic's not bound by gravity in the same way the average platformer character is. With a bit of speed he can run up halfpipes and loops and all sorts of terrain. This opens up a lot of options for crazy unique level design that can be traversed in a number of ways.

 

What about Direction? With all the speed, physics, level design, and wallrunning there needs to be something that channels all of that as it guides the player to the goal they are given. I mean, it would be easier to argue that you could simply go forward, but if Lost World is anything to go by we won't just be going forward anymore and the level design seems to have multiple places to go. We don't exactly wanna to player themselves to be lost in this Lost World.

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Well that's true of most games, I was talking specifically about the things that make Sonic Sonic.

I'm not worried about getting lost in Lost World; if the rest of the game is designed like what we've seen, you just have to follow the tube.

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Well to me a Sonic game shouldn't rule out the speed of the character in favor of more platforming, but it should not nix platforming to allow for more crazy speed. It should create a good balance between these along with adding depth with more areas to explore and secrets to find to make the game fun to play years down the road. The Adventure games in my opinion were the last to do this in a proper way. Granted it was nowhere near perfect, it still was a great step in the right direction for Sonic gameplay in 3D. 

After Sonic 06, Sonic Team had to go into MAJOR damage control so they had to find a different gameplay to fit with Sonic, which led to Unleashed's boosting mechanic. While this was incredibly fun and gave an amazing sense of speed, thats all it focused on to be honest. It tried to be TOO speedy. All while sacrificing competent platforming by giving you mile long tunnels to wear out your thumbs on.

Then when Sonic Colors came along, they did a complete 180 and decided to do the complete opposite of Unleashed. They gave you a large amount of platforming with some brand new gameplay thanks to the wisps, but they almost completely nixed the speed in favor of more basic platfoming than even Sonic 1 had. This led to the game becoming incredibly Mario-ish while not trying to seek a good balance between the two.

Sonic Generations on the other hand brought back the focus on speed, BUT added a lot more alternate paths and brought in plenty of platforming sections that made the game feel far more balanced. There is one thing that is still lacking though, a good sense of exploration. The classic Sonic games are still fun to this day not only to the fun gameplay and addictive nature, but also due to the fact that we keep finding secrets we never knew about as kids.

Sonic Lost World looks like it is going to finally bridge the gap between exploration, speed, and platforming together in a balanced way, more so then even the Adventure games did back in the day. They are going to have a 3-tier system of speed, giving you the exact speed that you want at that moment without going from 0-100 in a second. From the screenshots it seems to have much more platforming and extra paths than we have seen in a LONG time. But we will have to wait and see if this really holds true in the future.

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3. Wallrunning. Also ceiling running, and everything in between. Sonic's not bound by gravity in the same way the average platformer character is. With a bit of speed he can run up halfpipes and loops and all sorts of terrain. This opens up a lot of options for crazy unique level design that can be traversed in a number of ways.

 

I'd go slower here. Even though Sonic does stick to vertical walls and even ceilings when he's running, it's all a very natural movement to watch and work with because it's something physics *do* allow. Ceiling running from the outside face of the floor is stupid and we end up glueing Sonic to the floor for no reason in particular.

 

What happens here is not supposed to happen.

Edited by Palas

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Personally that's never bothered me. And not "supposed" to happen...by what standard? According to physics, yeah, but Sonic does something impossible every five seconds anyway; there's only so far you can take "realistic" when you're dealing with a supersonic cartoon hedgehog. And even if it's not how things actually work, I think it's easier to understand Sonic as "sticking" as long as he's got enough speed, than how a loop actually works.

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Personally that's never bothered me. And not "supposed" to happen...by what standard? According to physics, yeah, but Sonic does something impossible every five seconds anyway; there's only so far you can take "realistic" when you're dealing with a supersonic cartoon hedgehog. And even if it's not how things actually work, I think it's easier to understand Sonic as "sticking" as long as he's got enough speed, than how a loop actually works.

 

True.  But while remembering it's a game franchise which relies on good (if not great) physics to work.  Take Sonic 4 episode 1 as example.

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Personally that's never bothered me. And not "supposed" to happen...by what standard? According to physics, yeah, but Sonic does something impossible every five seconds anyway; there's only so far you can take "realistic" when you're dealing with a supersonic cartoon hedgehog. And even if it's not how things actually work, I think it's easier to understand Sonic as "sticking" as long as he's got enough speed, than how a loop actually works

I guess you could make an argument for Sonic having a "ground effect" like some racecars do. Maybe his spines act as diffusers? Still, I'm not sure it would work too well in 3d (although Lost World may very well prove me wrong).

Edited by ElectroKyurem

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Sonic games (at least, any that are aspiring to be classic-like) require a certain kind of physics system, but not necessarily an accurate-to-life one. Having some grounding in real-world physics is a good thing, but even from the start the rules had been bent. Rolling back and forth in a half-pipe to gain height, for example, wouldn't work in real life; without any kind of propulsion at best you could only reach the same height you started, and realistically you'd get less and less height each time due to friction. But that isn't fun, that isn't the experience they wanted, so they broke the rules a little.

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The problem is of expectancy. It‘s not supposed to happen because breaking physics if ok, but breaking the understanding of how they work is not. It‘s startling. You‘d expect any object to fall off a cliff if it rolls beyond its limits. When some kind of cliff breaks that notion, you‘ll take a lot of time finding correspondence in other cliffs until you figure out what‘s the logic behind it. It‘s so much better to agree on what‘s intuitive.

 

And U-rolling isn‘t any better, but at least the designers would use other resources to give you a reason to find out about it, be it a boss at Casino Night or a badnik teleporter at Collision Chaos. In-game purposefulness precedes verisimilitude, but I can‘t see any purpose in such a thing as silly ceiling running unless you introduce new logics, such as that Wisp that was designed specifically for that anyway. That or you prepare the player for this law breaking. Before rolling back and forth, you already know that rolling equals propulsion on descending terrain. It's already something you might expect, unlike uncurling.

 

And yes, I know this happens at Mushroom Hill. Yes, I do consider it a flaw.

Edited by Palas

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I don't think it takes long for a player to understand how Sonic reacts to curves as opposed to sharp angles, as far as cliffs go. The fact that the player might not expect it, I don't think that's a bad thing unless you expect them to react to it immediately and punish them for failing. Present it in a relatively safe context first and that's about as much preparation as you should need.

 

And honestly any kind of confusion or shock that people might have at it is pennies compared to the options it allows, IMO, especially in a 3D game.

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It's also fairly easy to see where it is possible, generally in 2D games its where there is a curve to a wall/ceiling means there is a way/path to running on it, if there are sharp angles 99% of the time you aren't meant to run there, I can see how that would easily translate into 3D aswell as an indicator if which walls you can/can't run on

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It's also fairly easy to see where it is possible, generally in 2D games its where there is a curve to a wall/ceiling means there is a way/path to running on it, if there are sharp angles 99% of the time you aren't meant to run there, I can see how that would easily translate into 3D aswell as an indicator if which walls you can/can't run on

 

Sonic has to then build up speed to accomplish the gravity-defying feat, which the 'run faster button' may make slightly easier.

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Parkour like movesets are hard to deal with.....I'm kind of inclined to leave most walls available to be run on, unless its silly for it to be possible, or if its the level boundary. Surely it would inspire players to be more creative in how they use Sonic's moveset to overcome challenges in the level design, even if it wasn't necessarily intended by the level designer. Obviously, this would require rigorous testing, to be prevent game-breaking glitches, but eventually you'll reach a point where all crazy speed-runners will abuse something for that extra second off their time.

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I don't think it takes long for a player to understand how Sonic reacts to curves as opposed to sharp angles, as far as cliffs go. The fact that the player might not expect it, I don't think that's a bad thing unless you expect them to react to it immediately and punish them for failing. Present it in a relatively safe context first and that's about as much preparation as you should need.

 

And honestly any kind of confusion or shock that people might have at it is pennies compared to the options it allows, IMO, especially in a 3D game.

 

But it takes a lot of time to figure out why gravity works in a context, but is completely ignored in the other, since curves generally don't annulate gravity in Sonic. And if you have to separate such a specific time and place to show the player what it's like, then I wonder if it's really so much more worth than it's trouble.

 

It's true that 3D holds lots of possibilities for denying its own physical rules, but that's something I see covered in Lost World, much like in Mario Galaxy and Sonic X-Treme. But I still see more possibilities in its limitation than in its nature, since it opens conditions for such a jolting happening. The wisp is one possibility, but alternate characters could also do the job. This way you exchange jarring unintuitiveness for replay value.

Edited by Palas

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To be honest, all of this stuff about level design, cliffs and physics.....it requires level design where the gravity is pointing down. I.e. Grounded level design, rather than the floating tubes/planetoids we have here in LW.

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