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Other possible uses for the Hedgehog engine?


John43
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So I was having a think about what if Forces ends up proving that Sonic Team has ran out of things to do with the Boost gameplay. I know the games not out yet and it could end up having some fresh ideas later on in the game, but we all know how the impressions are sounding at this point...

Anyway, I do feel that the Hedgehog engine is one of the best engines in gaming, and Sonic team put a lot of effort into developing it, and for them to only use it in 3 games over 10 years, that's pretty tragic. Of course Colours and Unleashed on Wii used different engines built from the ground up for Wii. Not only was 3D Sonic perfected (arguable) with this engine, it was absolutely gorgeous. I went and played Unleashed on 360 the other day and it really does look like a current green engine - on last gen hardware. Its graphics are holding up to the test of time, and it's gonna be a 10 year old game soon! Even generations didn't look this good. 

Before I get too carried away, I obviously think this engine deserves more use and I'm gonna quickly mention my ideas. Let me know what you think and please share your ideas :)

License it to other devs

The engine is graphically beautiful. I'm not sure how scalable the engine is and what else can be fine with it (if you're a modder, let me know), but graphically anyway, it had potential to be like Unreal Engine 4.

Use it to make a racing game 

If Sonic Team can't come up fresh level design ideas for Forces then why not make a game where learning the course is rewarded in the best way. Make a competitive racing game. Even better, use it to evolve the gameplay and make a sequel to either Sonic R or Sonic Rivals. If made well it could even be an esport.

And like Sonic Team, I'm fresh out of ideas (joke), let me know your thoughts below! 

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The Hedgehog Engine was made for a very specific purpose - to render Global Illumination at very high speeds. And it's still debatable whether they even did that right (case in point, Jungle Joyride) or whether Forces's Hedgehog Engine 2 improves in that area, but either way it's still overspecialized as all hell. Unless your game happens to have several square miles of level design that your character is going to blaze through in a matter of minutes, you might as well just use UE4 because it's practically guaranteed to do every other thing better than it.

So besides obligatory boost games, that basically narrows it down to racing games and certain kinds of sandbox games?

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The initial idea with the Hedgehog Engine was for it to be licensed. SEGA did a presentation on it back in 2008 that gave us a little look at how it works. However, these plans never took off. Unleashed flaunts the Hedgehog Engine front and centre, but neither Generations nor Lost World were quite as keen, mentioning it only briefly in the endgame credits (if at all). 

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1 hour ago, Blacklightning said:

The Hedgehog Engine was made for a very specific purpose - to render Global Illumination at very high speeds. And it's still debatable whether they even did that right (case in point, Jungle Joyride) or whether Forces's Hedgehog Engine 2 improves in that area, but either way it's still overspecialized as all hell. Unless your game happens to have several square miles of level design that your character is going to blaze through in a matter of minutes, you might as well just use UE4 because it's practically guaranteed to do every other thing better than it.

So besides obligatory boost games, that basically narrows it down to racing games and certain kinds of sandbox games?

Afterburner would benefit

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There really isn't much that can be done on an engine mainly focused on global illumination. Apart from platformers; there's racing games, open world/sandbox games, fighting games, sports games, could even work on RPGs. Anything that is either realistic that needs it to be closer or the opposite really stylized and cartoony to be of use. Something that has a dark, dull, greyscale or an outer space setting may not be of use. Basically any game that is set in the day or have a strong focus on lighting.

While I can't think of anything Sonic Team wise, it might work with other Sega titles though. Bits could be used in Yakuza and Shenmue for sunrises and sunsets around Japan, it would enhance After Burner again for the same reason. It would pop on Virtua Fighter and would enhance the realism in Virtua Tennis around the players and the courts. Daytona, Sega Rally or any of their high caliber racing games, it would help like the other racing games that use it (GI, not exactly the Hedgehog Engine). It might even enhance Samba de Amigo or Billy Hatcher however the performance cost and extra time might not be worth the improvement. 

Sega wanted other companies to use it way back in 2008 but no one was interested because they either had their own engines to make games or more commonly these days use an existing engine with plenty of support e.g. Unreal, Unity, Cryengine. It might be too much to fit the Hedgehog engine into those other engines (you know what Sega is like with support) and might even use a different programming language plus there are performance issues. Also mainly games of that era weren't exactly bright and colourful, opposite really however you did see a few.

Besides other companies have their own global illumination systems. Ubisoft attempted it with Assassin's Creed Unity but performance issues and bugs meant that it got to the point that their next game didn't have it. Polyphony did one for Gran Turismo Sport and it is beautiful to look at. Not just photo mode but in game too where it is as impressionable as Sonic Unleashed was especially if you have a 4K HDR display. I'll imagine that the other realistic racers would have them too. The technology isn't there for real time yet however it is advancing.

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