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Mr. Taxi

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Personally, I think your opening post is so complicated it's keeping a lot of people from posting. I don't even understand half of what you said! tongue.png

 

So basically what you're saying is that you think Lost World has good 3D gameplay? Is that what you're asking? If so, then I would agree...

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For a long time I've been trying to figure out my perfect Sonic game, because honestly I think there's not a single one in all the series' history that lives up to the full potential of the concept. A racing game that is also a platformer where skill, exploration and quick reflexes are rewarded with higher speed and where higher speed is needed to surpass bigger and bigger obstacles. I think you're absolutely right on the money with everything you've said. Sonic NEEDS more objectives and greater freedom. The developers couldn't have been more wrong when they put Sonic in a 3D corridor, and the mindset that Sonic only works in 2D is only true because the developers don't know what they're doing when Sonic is in 3D. Done right, 3D Sonic should be the greatest game --or at least the greatest 3D platformer-- of all time.

 

I think a somewhat open world is the perfect place, indeed the ONLY place for Sonic. I won't get into detail on exactly how I think everything should be handled here because it would take too long and wouldn't be particularly relevant and also I haven't quite worked out all the details yet. But not Shadow of the Colossus open, that's too much. More like Mario64, the old Spyro games, the first Jak and Daxter, and pretty much any other 3D platformer you care to mention other than Sonic and Crash Bandicoot. However keep in mind that levels for Sonic for the most part have to be bigger than levels for other characters because he's so much faster. He covers much less ground in much less time. But as you said, a somewhat open world is perfect for Sonic. The game should be about finding the fastest path, finding YOUR OWN path. The designers could and should certainly build paths into the levels, some obvious and some hidden, but the player should have the option to run anywhere they like between the paths and make paths of their own. You summed it up quite nicely; Corridors, branching as they may be, don't allow the player to draw his own way across an ambient because the paths are already given.

 

I have a solution for finding the end goal of a level as well; one I think is quite simple and fits perfectly into Sonic lore. At the start of the game Tails gives sonic a navigator which, among other things, detects high concentrations of chaos energy. This could appear on screen at all times as a simple radar showing which direction to head in to find the nearest warp ring as well as possibly showing incoming enemies. It wouldn't be like checking a map, just something to point you in the right direction. As well, or alternately, Tails himself could be flying around the level in the Tornado, perhaps occasionally offering advice or warning Sonic about incoming enemies and heading generally towards the goal. Get lost? Just follow Tails, he's always around!

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Is it wrong for me to say that while this post was well thought out, it was a bit too complicated and long, thus I didn't fully read it? :D

 

In order to make Sonic work in 3d, you need to get the control and physics right. I completely agree with the sentiment that Sonic Adventure has the best control of any 3d game, since floatiness of the playable characters makes platforming much more precise, and leaves room for less screw ups. When Sonic's not boosting in the recent games like Unleashed and Generations(and to an extent, Colors), I don't think he controls as well as he should, it just feels slippery to me, especially in the 2d sections. 

 

Is the double jump returning for Lost World? I always thought that was one of the best aspects of the control to Colors, although it felt a bit slippery in the 3d sections.

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Add me to the list of people who didn't fully read the OP's work. Tl;dr.

 

But really, in order to make a Sonic game work, you need to have good control and good physics. Imho Sonic Adventure had the best controls. Every other game afterwards feels especially slippery; this is amped up more in games like Unleashed, Generations, etc. It's kind of irritating having a rubbery hedgehog. He *is* a hedgehog; I expect some sort of control. The guy can spindash through steel but can't not be slippery. Granted, this is more of a fault of the programmers than Sonic himself, but still...

 

I'm hoping Lost World will have good controls *and* physics but I can't keep my hopes too high, lest they'll crash down around me.

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I like how the VERY FIRST THING SAID was "I don't intend to bring out more discussion about Sonic Lost World."

 

This was meant to be a discussion of how to handle Sonic in 3D, something Sonic Team have always done the same way (that is, lock him in a corridor so it's basically still a 2D game but seen from behind instead of the side.) Lost World is more open than usual, but it's still basically just a corridor. Just a much wider corridor that's twisted around in a tube. Just because you're not walled in, doesn't mean you're free to choose your own path.

 

A lot of people seem to think this is the only way for Sonic to work in 3D. Some of the more hardcore classic fans think that he doesn't work at all in anything other than sidescrollers. I'm convinced that a well made Sonic game, barring bugs and glitches, faulty cameras and everything else that can be called objectively bad in the highly subjective art that is game design, with a more open style of level design would be the best 3D platformer ever to exist.

 

The idea of a game where playing well means playing fast and where the better you play, the faster you go just seems awesome to me but without the freedom to choose your own path the player can't be rewarded with speed; the speed is built into the corridors the player is forced to run along. In every 3D Sonic game made so far there is no reward, there is no momentum, and there is no freedom; your speed is constant. Lost World is something new and different, and looks like it will be the most diverse experience we have been offered so far, but the changes are inconsequential. You can run up and along walls, but you don't do it through skill or by running fast enough for your momentum to carry you forward; you do it by pressing a button.

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Birthday topic woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo~

 

I don't intend to bring out more discussion about Sonic Lost World, but it is the first game since, I don't know... Sonic 3D Blast? To handle Sonic's foundation in gameplay differently from what we are used to. No matter how different Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Triple Trouble are form one another, they have the very same premise for the gameplay, which is:

 

GET "THERE"

 

"There" being an undefined place with a vague direction which you must reach by facing a series of challenges on the screen. Each and every major Sonic game in the 2D era, much like each and every 2D platformer, is based on this very simple premise. Well, not only platformers, really. Shoot 'em ups, beat 'em ups etc. were games taht told you "go there" and you did.

 

However simple this may be, this is a major problem in a 3D perspective. See, the screen has four sides and you may designate any of them as a general direction for your player, which he will try to follow even if the obstacles on screen don't allow him to. Once you've established the general direction, you can do whatever you want with level design. 3D perspective doesn't allow that becausse there isn't a physical front or horizon for us to follow. We can't know where we are going or supposed to go unless there is graphical or sound information telling us about it.

 

Mazes are perfectly possible in a 2D environment, because we will always be able to tell where we are in relation to the space even if the game deprives us of any information of where we actually are. Do you remember those early RPG games that would use those terrible mazes with invisible walls? They are boring, but we can't handle them. Now, what is a 3D maze like?

 

labirintowindows.jpg?w=300&h=225

 

Not very exciting.

 

Also notice how completely 2D racing games hardly ever tell if you are going the wrong way. There is no need at all, whereas in 3D racing games they often make sure we have not only a WRONG WAY warning, but also a map and a compass. And, not only that, they'll sometimes block the way if it abslutely has nothing to do with the course we're supposed to run - virtual guard-rails are very common in the Need for Speed franchise.

 

We, more often than not, don't need a compass to navigate 2D worlds.

 

So how do you make a 2D platformer game become 3D? Isn't that a more complicated matter than it would seem? Well, we do have lots of ways to handle objectives in a 3D environment. A concept that begins to exist and that allows redefining of orientation at will is the camera. There isn't a camera in 2D, really - what we have is a frame. We will know what's "ahead" and "backwards" precisely even if we move the character out of the frame. With a "camera", these notions change constantly - a consequence of this is that we may change the direction we're pressing on the joystick exactly in order to keep going "forward".

 

Think of a game that never made you wonder where the hell you were going. Or, at least, methods in a game that did so. Am I thinking the same as you? Did I hear "Mario 64"? Oh, but I did! But why does Mario 8² handle objectives so well? It's certainly a change from what we had seen before in his 2D installments - I'm sure Miyamoto noticed the problems with 3D perspective on a 2D frame, so he invested in two tactics:

  • Corridors
  • Diversifying goals

 

sm64.jpg

 

We, Sonic fans, know corridors all too well. What is it about corridors that work in Mario 64 and that don't work in Sonic (that is, if we are specifically looking for a gameplay that is based on dynamic platforming, with emphasis on momentum etc etc etc)? Certainly there are some questions about Mario's gameplay that differ from Sonic's, such as the fact that Mario doesn't really use the level design as part of his movement. His interaction with a level's structure is mostly limited to the objects and their specific functionalities, whereas Sonic and level design are basically one in that you absolutely need it to build speed and momentum (ironically, in order to overcome the obstacles that the level design itself imposes). Corridors, branching as they may be, don't allow the player to draw his own way across an ambient because the paths are already given. This is detrimental to this unique relationship between a character and his levels.

 

However, there is one more factor that made Mario 64 work so well: it wasn't (all) about getting somewhere. It was about getting to a lot of arbitrary places where there were stars. Restricting the goal to a single "thing" whose location the player is unaware of might make him confused - that's what the developers probably thought. So they made the game more open by having lots of "things" in the same ambient. This ot only helps alleviating the pressure of always having to go forward, but also makes each task shorter. You can see the star on the top of the castle, so you can try to find a way to get it. It's basically a set piece that you don't perceive as a set piece (also because you may come from different places).

 

I've already mentioned how racing games handle this issue of orientation with multiple instances, indicating with objects where you are going or where you should be going. Those are not the only games that do that, though! We have Shadow of the Colossus as a prime of example of how to give directions by, well, giving directions. In a fast-paced game like Sonic, there is the simple problem of rhythm. Can you imagine yourself having to look back and forth at Sonic and some map or object on screen in order to know where to go? Like this:

 

024.jpg

 

How do you think a pure Sonic platforming could be applied to 3D? Certainly this topic has been discussed extensively, but I want to call the attention to this fact: how much does the simple of issue of orientation forces change in an entire gameplay foundation? Do you think Sonic Lost World accomodates its gameplay well with how it tells you where you are going? Do you think that's even important?

 

I have to admit that I am a bit confused about one detail Palas. Excellent post nevertheless.

 

You say that all Sonic games are usually about:

 

Get To There

 

Unless I am mistaken you seem to imply that Sonic Lost World is radically breaking away from this tradition. But, how? You bring up Mario 64, and examine it admirably, but Sonic Lost World isn't taking its strongest influence from 64. Sonic Lost World is essentially the same design philosophy as Mario Galaxy in its level design (and not Xtreme which is a more traditional world level with a fish eye camera).

 

You see, both Lost World and Galaxy are glorified obstacle courses. Literally, floating independent obstacle courses. If you complete the first challenge in Galaxy, you are flung off to the next obstacle course by a Star. In Lost World, you are flung off to the next obstacle course by floating springs (which are essentially the same thing).

 

Whilst you are right, Mario is about collecting stars, Galaxy is only about collecting stars in the strict sense that you collect a star to win the level. Most levels in Galaxy function like a quintessential platformer where you go from A-B. So, yes, whilst you do collect stars, they might as well be Goal Rings.

 

Lost World is going in this direction. It is still very much go from A-B, only in an obstacle course format. The only difference is that whilst some level in Galaxy where more open ended and tasked you with how to get to the star, there are presumably no equivalents in Lost World.

 

I hope I am making sense here!

 

I am excited to hear your response!

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For a long time I've been trying to figure out my perfect Sonic game, because honestly I think there's not a single one in all the series' history that lives up to the full potential of the concept. A racing game that is also a platformer where skill, exploration and quick reflexes are rewarded with higher speed and where higher speed is needed to surpass bigger and bigger obstacles. I think you're absolutely right on the money with everything you've said. Sonic NEEDS more objectives and greater freedom. The developers couldn't have been more wrong when they put Sonic in a 3D corridor, and the mindset that Sonic only works in 2D is only true because the developers don't know what they're doing when Sonic is in 3D. Done right, 3D Sonic should be the greatest game --or at least the greatest 3D platformer-- of all time.

 

I think a somewhat open world is the perfect place, indeed the ONLY place for Sonic. I won't get into detail on exactly how I think everything should be handled here because it would take too long and wouldn't be particularly relevant and also I haven't quite worked out all the details yet. But not Shadow of the Colossus open, that's too much. More like Mario64, the old Spyro games, the first Jak and Daxter, and pretty much any other 3D platformer you care to mention other than Sonic and Crash Bandicoot. However keep in mind that levels for Sonic for the most part have to be bigger than levels for other characters because he's so much faster. He covers much less ground in much less time. But as you said, a somewhat open world is perfect for Sonic. The game should be about finding the fastest path, finding YOUR OWN path. The designers could and should certainly build paths into the levels, some obvious and some hidden, but the player should have the option to run anywhere they like between the paths and make paths of their own. You summed it up quite nicely; Corridors, branching as they may be, don't allow the player to draw his own way across an ambient because the paths are already given.

 

I have a solution for finding the end goal of a level as well; one I think is quite simple and fits perfectly into Sonic lore. At the start of the game Tails gives sonic a navigator which, among other things, detects high concentrations of chaos energy. This could appear on screen at all times as a simple radar showing which direction to head in to find the nearest warp ring as well as possibly showing incoming enemies. It wouldn't be like checking a map, just something to point you in the right direction. As well, or alternately, Tails himself could be flying around the level in the Tornado, perhaps occasionally offering advice or warning Sonic about incoming enemies and heading generally towards the goal. Get lost? Just follow Tails, he's always around!

 

I would love to see your ideas applied. Jak and Dexter indeed holds a lot of weight when we compar it to Sonic because one of the game designers was no one less than Carol Yas, who is one of Sonic's fathers. Tails being around would be lovely and could be experimented, but being fast-paced as Sonic is, how can we ensure the player won't waste too much of his time searching for a Tails in the sky?

 

 

I have to admit that I am a bit confused about one detail Palas. Excellent post nevertheless.

 

You say that all Sonic games are usually about:

 

Get To There

 

Unless I am mistaken you seem to imply that Sonic Lost World is radically breaking away from this tradition. But, how? You bring up Mario 64, and examine it admirably, but Sonic Lost World isn't taking its strongest influence from 64. Sonic Lost World is essentially the same design philosophy as Mario Galaxy in its level design (and not Xtreme which is a more traditional world level with a fish eye camera).

 

You see, both Lost World and Galaxy are glorified obstacle courses. Literally, floating independent obstacle courses. If you complete the first challenge in Galaxy, you are flung off to the next obstacle course by a Star. In Lost World, you are flung off to the next obstacle course by floating springs (which are essentially the same thing).

 

Whilst you are right, Mario is about collecting stars, Galaxy is only about collecting stars in the strict sense that you collect a star to win the level. Most levels in Galaxy function like a quintessential platformer where you go from A-B. So, yes, whilst you do collect stars, they might as well be Goal Rings.

 

Lost World is going in this direction. It is still very much go from A-B, only in an obstacle course format. The only difference is that whilst some level in Galaxy where more open ended and tasked you with how to get to the star, there are presumably no equivalents in Lost World.

 

I hope I am making sense here!

 

I am excited to hear your response!

 

You are actually right. Mario Galaxy relies more on A to B experiences than I made it seem. Mario 3D Land also does that with a great deal of success. But Mario Galaxy is very much attached to corridors, counting stuff you do and bottomless pits. I mean, you have to get 8 coins to access the next planet or hit the enemy 5 times. Something of the kind. That's a way to diversify goals and Lost World does that when you have to get don't-know-how-many flickies.

 

Of course, that doesn't change the fact that Lost World is, at times, more corridor-oriented than ever, to the point the tubes are straight lines. Your freedom of movement is smartly enhanced by the fact that your horizontal movement isn't restricted (because, well, it's a tube), but it's a corridor nevertheless.

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