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The Future of The Boost Formula


Stephen Rodriguez

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My first topic! OK, so Forces may not have done the Boost formula right, but I don't agree that ST should get rid of it. I think they need to review the formula's use in previous games, understand what made the formula work in those games, and figure out how they can improve from there. I also want it to stay in order for future Modern games to remain consistent. I understand most people want the Adventure style gameplay back, but I just feel that scrapping the Boost formula entirely and going straight back to the Adventure style formula will just raise even more questions about what Sonic is gameplay wise (as if there weren't enough of those already), given how the inconsistency in gameplay has been a commonly criticized aspect of the games in recent years.

But hey, those are my thoughts as to what should be done with Boost. I'm curious about what you guys think. Should the Team keep the Boost and build upon it, or should it be considered an old hound dog that needs to be taken to the back of the barn and put down?   

                                   -Steveo

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Personally I'd like to see movement physics for Sonic like we had In Lost World one more time. I can't be the only one who really enjoyed that game.

As for for the future of boost. I think it has set the standard for modern Sonic games , I don't think it was the boost gameplay that was the problem in Forces but rather the quantity over quality of levels.

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Honestly, the boost was way too primitive of a thing on it's own in Unleashed, and it seems that with every new game Sega seems to dumb it down even more. Like, I swear, after a few games it will just be "Hold button to beat stage" kinda stuff. 

I personally would like the boost to just die, and for Sega to make a game with Lost World/Adventure/Classic as the GAMEPLAY basis. 

Because, let's be real, as shitty as SLW, 3D Blast and Heroes PS2 were, at least they had SOME degree of GAMEPLAY, and with enough care and effort could be made into great games.

Although, if Sega will decide to bring the SLW/Adventure/Classic formula back as a main Sonic thing, then the game journalists will go apeshit over it, saying how it's "DARK SOULS 5", because you can't skip levels. Like, it's the same people that said that the bosses in Forces were "Powerful".

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It's harmful to the focus and quality of the games and really ought to be removed.

Given that Sonic Team have spoken about it taking a massive time to construct boost formula levels, I think it's hard to argue that it's not objectively bad from a design perspective since they need to spend ages crafting a level that you barely interact with. Sonic needs to be fast, sure. But it doesn't need to be quite on that scale.

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Honestly, as far as my 2 cents on this goes, I think the boost formula needs to stay in some capacity. Forces was its worst showing, sure, but it still remains one of, if not, the most solid gameplay style this side of the classics. It's proven itself to be a solid entity throughout more games than not.

I'll stick to what I said in an earlier post somewhere on here that if ST can't get the level designers for it then maybe it should swing more away from it but I still say that it should remain in some shape or form for consistency's sake. This series has an absolute problem with not sticking to anything and I feel that's part of the reason why we can never have a substantial ringer in a game. They're always trying to do something new and rarely ever give a gameplay style the proper time it needs to develop. They often just put their tails between their legs and run the moment something gets criticized in any shape or form. We saw them buck this with Generations. Then they went to LW, fumbled, and tried to swim back to shore with Forces but at that point Generations had come out half a decade prior. The staff that made that game great were long gone so they basically had to start back from level zero in terms of level design with the formula. Whatever the next gameplay style is, unless it's another Labyrinth, they need to stick with it for a bit.

The boost is just a move. It can be applied to just about any other gameplay style in Sonic’s vast history of them. Like real talk here though, I always find it pretty confusing when some say that they don’t like the boost as a whole but then turn around and ask for something like the spin dash. What is the boost but a streamlined spin dash? Both send you flying in a direction and both make you invincible during their use. One just takes a lot longer to charge up which, in a series about speed, is pretty silly when you think about it. I honestly see the boost as the logical evolution of the spin dash.

Also, I still absolutely disagree on the idea that boost levels take longer to develop on the level designing side than any other gameplay style in this series. I’ve gone into this in length before but each gameplay style you go after, if done well, involves a fast moving character going through detailed environments with enough fast moving platforming elements and hazards to extend itself for 3+ minutes. From a level designing perspective, it doesn’t matter how fast a character is moving through it. Whether it’s slightly more condensed because the designers can count on the player standing still for a couple of moments to use the spin dash or more spread out with the boost, it’s going to take time to develop good levels in this series no matter what you do.

Also, if we are to believe this long standing idea that ST often does the bare minimum when it comes to their games, why one earth would they have kept with the boost if the whole longer dev cycle was actually the case? Add in that, from a programming perspective, Unleashed is going on a decade old and the sheer notion that they haven’t found a way to streamline any difficulties in the dev process for one of these levels seems quite silly to me.

 

So with all that being said, and more on topic, how I would improve the boost is a two-step process that should really be applied to any gameplay style they use going forward. The first is that they need to drop any secondary playstyle they might be trying to push in and use those resources to extend the levels into multiple paths for replayability. The second would be to have flow be the driving factor for rewards over anything else. Bring back the parkour from LW but fix its God awful controls so that Sonic can run smoothly on and off them. Bring back actual physics so that the player can utilize slopes in levels to move faster and know to avoid ramps (without the proper speed) for further speed-running challenge. These two steps work side by side with one another as the player has a multitude of ways to get from point A to B depending on their skill and experience.

Though, again, that's just my take. Doesn't really matter what ST does if they don't have competent level designers in the first place.

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26 minutes ago, Strickerx5 said:

The boost is just a move. It can be applied to just about any other gameplay style in Sonic’s vast history of them. Like real talk here though, I always find it pretty confusing when some say that they don’t like the boost as a whole but then turn around and ask for something like the spin dash. What is the boost but a streamlined spin dash? Both send you flying in a direction and both make you invincible during their use. One just takes a lot longer to charge up which, in a series about speed, is pretty silly when you think about it. I honestly see the boost as the logical evolution of the spin dash.

I could get behind the boost replacing the spin dash...if Sonic was a cheetah. Not only is the spin dash an iconic move, it's an extension of Sonic's natural ability to curl into a ball.

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1 minute ago, Splash the Otter said:

I could get behind the boost replacing the spin dash...if Sonic was a cheetah. Not only is the spin dash an iconic move, it's an extension of Sonic's natural ability to curl into a ball.

That's simply a visual thing though. You can easily have him roll into a ball and perform the same functions as the boost.

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On a semi related note, I want to say that I dislike the boost as an attack from an aesthetic point of view. It makes Sonic seem really stiff and boring in combat. Since it makes his his specialty... running into the opponent.
A good example of what I'm talking about is the finale of the Shadow boss fight in Sonic Generations, where to finish him off you slow him down with meteors so you can boost into him and it looks really awkward and feels really unsatisfying. It's not dynamic in any way. There's no impact to it, there's nothing to make it stand out because there's no change in what Sonic is doing.

 

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2 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

It's about balance, dude. The spindash has actual downsides that mean it's not always the best choice for going fast. Because you need to come to a stop and charge it, you need to decide when that extra burst of speed is going to save time in the long run or if you're better off just continuing to run. Because it puts you into a rolling state you need to decide if it's worth putting yourself more at the mercy of the terrain or staying on your feet so you can manually accelerate (or take the risk of spindashing and find an opportunity to hop to your feet). You need to think ahead regarding loops and wall/ceiling runs because you can't spindash if you aren't on the ground. Because the spindash isn't always available or ideal, nor is it how you reach the fastest speeds, other game mechanics like the slope physics and various level gimmicks have time to shine.

Meanwhile, if you want to go fast in a boost game, just press boost. That's it. That's always the right answer. It's essentially instant, continuous top speed at the press of a button, usable in almost any situation, for only the cost of some fuel that the game almost constantly throws at you.

By being so "streamlined" and effective, it becomes a much shallower, and thus much worse, game mechanic.

Eh, fully disagree there. Coming to a full stop and having to charge up just to go a bit faster before something stops you doesn't really feel much like a decision to me. More like I just want to get to a certain section a bit faster (something I've already decided on) but I have to kill all my momentum to do it. Sure it can make the difference in speedruns for the classics, but now it just seems a bit like a waste of time. It goes directly against the speed mechanic of the series. That decision you're making of trusting the route ahead enough to go faster is the same thought process that is applied when you choose to boost. Sure it's a simple decision to make in some levels (much like the spin dash is in some of the classic levels) but there are plenty of times where the wrong use of the boost will see you hitting an obstacle when reckless or simply have you fly off an edge. Both moves also have the same form of protection against enemies too.

With the spin dash you have to kill all the momentum you have going just to use it. With the boost it adds to it. Of course there are a number of cases where bad level design makes it a bit more shallow than the spin dash (same thing can be said when bad level design is applied to the spin dash) but when properly utilized I find it to be a great upgrade. It's like the upgrade the light speed dash got going from SA1 to 2.

I believe adding in more opportunities to gain and keep speed (such as slopes and wall running) would do wonders for the play style. The kill should come from maintaining such speed through platforming sections instead of killing it constantly.

4 minutes ago, Emerald Chaos said:

On a semi related note, I want to say that I dislike the boost as an attack from an aesthetic point of view. It makes Sonic seem really stiff and boring in combat. Since it makes his his specialty... running into the opponent.
A good example of what I'm talking about is the finale of the Shadow boss fight in Sonic Generations, where to finish him off you slow him down with meteors so you can boost into him and it looks really awkward and feels really unsatisfying. It's not dynamic in any way. There's no impact to it, there's nothing to make it stand out because there's no change in what Sonic is doing.

I think that's less of the boost's fault and more of ST choosing not to do any special animation for such moments. Of course the look of the move itself is subjective so I can't really say anything further than that.

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Not a fan.

It turns Sonic basically into a invisible object that destroys anything in his path, making gameplay shallow and straight forward. Theoretically, so long as you can find something to constantly replenish your boost bar, you could just keep going and going and going.

 

It's... not really fun -- at least, not in the long term. It's like cake. Sure, tastes good, is pretty, but you eat too much of it, you get sick.

 

I'm more of a fan of the speed stages from Adventure titles. I'd like to use that same basic idea and then see it refined with more modern coders. Which could either go well or be terrible. I dunno.

 

On the flipside, I wouldn't blame SEGA for keeping it because it has shown to be successful. Whatever, I stopped really caring.

 

7 hours ago, Emerald Chaos said:

It's harmful to the focus and quality of the games and really ought to be removed.

Given that Sonic Team have spoken about it taking a massive time to construct boost formula levels, I think it's hard to argue that it's not objectively bad from a design perspective since they need to spend ages crafting a level that you barely interact with. Sonic needs to be fast, sure. But it doesn't need to be quite on that scale.

This doesn't even get into the financial side. You gotta make these levels big so Sonic can blow through them in 3-5 minutes so the player is satisfied with their spent cash. But big levels equal more time spent on models and art. More time spent is more money spent making it. Gotta pay everyone.

 

Honestly, this seems like this has been a problem that's plagued Sonic for years. From the very first 3D game. What's a way to pad out super fast Sonic? Well, alternate playstyles. Give Knuckles those shard to look for, he'll spend some time there. Tails is slightly slower. Amy was significantly slower. And Big and Gamma. Adventure benefited from being able to resuse levels that Sonic already played through. Adventure 2 gave most of the characters unique levels already although some were shared.

 

Heroes had you literally replay the game four times.

 

Shadow gave you choices and had you replay the levels several times.

 

Sonic 06, I never really played. I assume it's something like the Adventure titles.

 

Unleashed had Werehog.

 

Colors and Gens. Well, they're already pretty short games, and they kinda wanted to get away from the "OTHER CHARACTERS IS BAD" thing. Best thing they could do there was wipe out a dimension every so often -- or entirely for Classic Sonic. Which, hell, helps a lot. Might frustrate me because when I play a 3D game I want 3D, but that probably helps make a level get created faster. Generations probably also benefited from being able to reuse art assets for Classic Sonic.

Lost World, Sonic got slowed significantly, some levels were strictly 2D. Heavy automation too.

 

Forces, I haven't even played yet, I just... don't care. But I seen there's a loooooooot of 2D there. Think Classic is entirely 2D so is Avatar and Modern is probably 2/3 2D.

 

Then again, I'm not a SEGA employee, I'm just making a probably terrible assumption based on what I seen over the years as a former fan.

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3 minutes ago, Strickerx5 said:

Eh, fully disagree there. Coming to a full stop and having to charge up just to go a bit faster before something stops you doesn't really feel much like a decision to me. More like I just want to get to a certain section a bit faster (something I've already decided on) but I have to kill all my momentum to do it.

The decision is whether or not the spindash will get you there faster or not given the fact that you need to stop and charge it up. There's really no disagreeing with that...it's just a fact. You are deciding whether a consistent but lower speed or a delayed but higher speed is more effective in reaching your goal. Whereas boosting is always going to be a faster way from point A to point B than not.

3 minutes ago, Strickerx5 said:

It goes directly against the speed mechanic of the series.

No, it doesn't, because you were never supposed to have instant access to speed all of the time. Sonic 1 didn't even have the spindash; going fast was all about taking advantage of slopes and level gimmicks and then maintaining that speed as much as possible. The spindash smoothed over the rough points where you needed speed but there was no easy way to gain it (if you failed to make it around a loop, for example, you could quickly spindash to try again instead of having to backtrack and run up again) without eliminating the focus on gaining and maintaining speed. The boost then destroyed that by being by far the dominant strategy in any speed-related situation.

3 minutes ago, Strickerx5 said:

I believe adding in more opportunities to gain and keep speed (such as slopes and wall running) would do wonders for the play style.

They'd do nothing for gaining and keeping speed, because they'd be inferior to the boost.

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1 minute ago, Diogenes said:

The decision is whether or not the spindash will get you there faster or not given the fact that you need to stop and charge it up. There's really no disagreeing with that...it's just a fact. You are deciding whether a consistent but lower speed or a delayed but higher speed is more effective in reaching your goal. Whereas boosting is always going to be a faster way from point A to point B than not.

There is because I've literally already made that decision when choosing to play a Sonic game. Your whole goal is to reach point B as fast as you can. I already know I want to keep the highest speed possible so the spindash isn't really a choice, it's more of a necessary, momentary hindrance.

14 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

No, it doesn't, because you were never supposed to have instant access to speed all of the time. Sonic 1 didn't even have the spindash; going fast was all about taking advantage of slopes and level gimmicks and then maintaining that speed as much as possible. The spindash smoothed over the rough points where you needed speed but there was no easy way to gain it (if you failed to make it around a loop, for example, you could quickly spindash to try again instead of having to backtrack and run up again) without eliminating the focus on gaining and maintaining speed. The boost then destroyed that by being by far the dominant strategy in any speed-related situation.

They'd do nothing for gaining and keeping speed, because they'd be inferior to the boost.

The boost is more about whether you can actually handle going at that speed while getting from point A to B. You can have all the speed in the world but if you're not able to dodge an obstacle when you need to it becomes more of a hazard than anything. That's more of what I want here, the ability to keep speed going when enough skill is applied instead of having to stop constantly. It's actually one of the reasons why I appreciate the drop dash so much as it was a mechanic that kept you going instead of having the breaks applied when you didn't need them. The boost is literally just that want to go faster without the charge-up time.

The boost can also play directly off the momentum you gain by going down slopes. There shouldn't be a set maximum speed you achieve with it (sort of like how speedrunners can get Sonic going faster than normal in recent games because they know what they're doing).

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I'm not necessarily in favor of scrapping the Boost gameplay completely, but my belief is firm in that the future of Boost formula should not be the future of 3D Sonic platformers. It's a perfect example of a gameplay formula built to support one style of play and that style of play alone, it's too limited and shallow in its focus and overall design to function or even support nearly anything else.

3D platforming is largely an afterthought to the Boost formula's game design and that becomes very obvious whenever the gameplay steps away from high-speed thrills and spectacle and makes it the focus. Whatever flow the Boost gameplay establishes with its consistently fast-paced nature falls apart due to how clunky and choppy the controls are at slower speeds and how rudimentary the level design shows itself to be when it's not tailored towards moving as fast as possible.

That's not even getting into how other critical game design elements (camera, level gimmicks, game mechanics, enemies, playable characters, bosses, etc.) are railroaded under the game focus. Or how resource-intensive it is (even putting aside or ignoring the sheer size/length of the levels, you also have to factor just how heavily graphically detailed the levels are despite the game designed for you to breeze past them; as well as the respective limitations of the Hedgehog Engine built around the playstyle). Or how the playstyle has historically been unable to carry an entire platforming game by itself (developers recycling level maps for separate acts/missions; cramming in a truckload of 2D side-scrolling gameplay, and adding separate alternate playstyles like the Werehog, Classic Sonic, and the Custom Hero). 

The Boost formula is neither good enough to compete against other 3D platformer games on the market; or even flexible enough to serve as a sustainable long-term formula that can stay fresh in the genre it occupies. It speaks volumes that when Sonic Team opted to go in a new direction with Lost World, they did so by completely dumping the gameplay and making a new playstyle from scratch, rather than try retooling the formula so it could support the ideas they came up with for that game. If the Boost gameplay has to have a future, that future should be as a spinoff series, preferably a racer (since that's where the gameplay focus arguably fits best). Sega and company need to absolutely stop using it as the foundation of mainline 3D Sonic games.

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3 minutes ago, Strickerx5 said:

There is because I've literally already made that decision when choosing to play a Sonic game. Your whole goal is to reach point B as fast as you can. I already know I want to keep the highest speed possible so the spindash isn't really a choice, it's more of a necessary, momentary hindrance.

Are you even reading what I'm saying? The decision is whether or not choice A: continue with your current speed, or choice B: stop and charge a spindash, will get you to your goal faster. The spindash is not always the right choice, because of the delay in stopping and charging. If there was no delay and essentially no cost, then there would be no decision to make, as is the case with the boost.

3 minutes ago, Strickerx5 said:

The boost is more about whether you can actually handle going at that speed while getting from point A to B.

99% of the time you will, because they compensate for the speed and terrible controls by automating most of the gameplay.

3 minutes ago, Strickerx5 said:

The boost can also play directly off the momentum you gain by going down slopes. There shouldn't be a set maximum speed you achieve with it (sort of like how speedrunners can get Sonic going faster than normal in recent games because they know what they're doing).

Unless they severely nerf the boost or make the slope physics almost nonexistent this would be nearly unplayable.

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1 minute ago, Diogenes said:

Are you even reading what I'm saying? The decision is whether or not choice A: continue with your current speed, or choice B: stop and charge a spindash, will get you to your goal faster. The spindash is not always the right choice, because of the delay in stopping and charging. If there was no delay and essentially no cost, then there would be no decision to make, as is the case with the boost.

Trust me, I am. It still boils down to the choice of "do you want to go faster" which, at least for me, the answer is 99% of the time always going to be yes if I'm playing a game from this series. What then follows is a complete stop and go motion. If for that rare moment it isn't, then the mechanic becomes pointless as it's the means for a faster time but the delay makes it worthless. It's like a move in a fighting game that takes a long while to charge up and hit someone but barely does any more damage than just doing a few normal attacks in that time. That's never an issue for the boost.

So in that way, yes, it's a decision. Not a great one given the series it's in, but one nonetheless. Sorry if my previous post came off as ignoring that.

8 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

99% of the time you will, because they compensate for the speed and terrible controls by automating most of the gameplay.

There's no way of getting around the fact that these games have had more automation than other gameplay styles. Yes, though I'd argue that Forces is the only time it got out of hand. Unleashed-Generations used it sparingly and still often gave you full control of Sonic.

Which basically brings me back to the point of this topic in which how I'd like to see the formula done better in the future. Less automation is absolutely key there.

13 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

Unless they severely nerf the boost or make the slope physics almost nonexistent this would be nearly unplayable.

It would require balancing but in turn would also require more out of the player. With the proper design team behind it I believe the style could do wonders for this series.

Though, like I said early, it is all about the design team here. Without that they could uproot the entire series from start to finish and still come up with something awful.

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The Boost doesn't really need a future. It's not really on the level for a long lasting series. Personally I see it as more of a spectacle thing rather than interesting game-play wise.

 

Reaction based game-play isn't really my thing and having decent control of the character to play around with their abilities and movements is more preferable.

 

Maybe they should try something else.

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12 hours ago, Strickerx5 said:

Trust me, I am. It still boils down to the choice of "do you want to go faster" which, at least for me, the answer is 99% of the time always going to be yes if I'm playing a game from this series. What then follows is a complete stop and go motion. If for that rare moment it isn't, then the mechanic becomes pointless as it's the means for a faster time but the delay makes it worthless. It's like a move in a fighting game that takes a long while to charge up and hit someone but barely does any more damage than just doing a few normal attacks in that time. That's never an issue for the boost.

Ideally the games will allow you to choose to make your goal to go as fast as you can, as opposed to railroading you into it and if different options have different weight, then there's room for player expression in how you make your decisions based on your preferences. If your end goal is to go faster, then having to pick between running and spin dashing will test your awareness in each situation of which option is more appropriate. With the boost there's no such test of your awareness which ends up reducing the overall level of depth. Also, if you find the "stop and go" quality of the spin dash is undesirable, then that increases the incentive to play skillfully since it serves as a penalty for dropping your speed.

The boost games designed the way that they are lend themselves to one style of play, I tend to refer to boost style games as platform-racer hybrids. I used to have a heavy disdain for them, before I grew to accept them more for what they are. Well played speedruns of these games can be breathtaking, but still the games shouldn't be speed at the cost of absolutely everything else.

I think you seem to be making an assumption that when you play a Sonic game the only thing you want to do is go fast. While that's true for you, that's not necessarily true for everyone who plays them. The ability to go fast should certainly be part of the games, but When you make a game that accounts for slower speeds, again you increase the amount of options available to the player, moving in more directions becomes a viable option as opposed to the boost formula which works on such a scale that the only viable option is moving directly forward. This is a common criticism of the lack of depth in the boost games. Sure they might have different paths available, but the reality is, even with diverging paths, there's very little variety even in the best designed boost style levels.

19 hours ago, Strickerx5 said:

Also, I still absolutely disagree on the idea that boost levels take longer to develop on the level designing side than any other gameplay style in this series. I’ve gone into this in length before but each gameplay style you go after, if done well, involves a fast moving character going through detailed environments with enough fast moving platforming elements and hazards to extend itself for 3+ minutes. From a level designing perspective, it doesn’t matter how fast a character is moving through it. Whether it’s slightly more condensed because the designers can count on the player standing still for a couple of moments to use the spin dash or more spread out with the boost, it’s going to take time to develop good levels in this series no matter what you do.

Devs from Sonic Team themselves have said that the levels take a long time to develop, and that is the reason why the games continue to have gimmicks like the Werehog/Classic Sonic etc instead of working entirely from a solid foundation. If they built the core of the game around more than speed and more speed, they would be able to increase the variety without needing to work from the ground up and use extra characters with an entirely different playstyle that is similarly shallow. The speed that the character is moving at does matter, because there are only certain things you can be expected to react to moving at high speeds, so the shape and form of the levels by necessity has to follow certain rules.

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Also, if we are to believe this long standing idea that ST often does the bare minimum when it comes to their games, why one earth would they have kept with the boost if the whole longer dev cycle was actually the case? Add in that, from a programming perspective, Unleashed is going on a decade old and the sheer notion that they haven’t found a way to streamline any difficulties in the dev process for one of these levels seems quite silly to me.

The fact that the levels in Sonic Forces are very lazily constructed stands as evidence against the point that they must have improved the development process. If they had, then surely they would be able to offer much more freedom to the player, instead of keeping them locked onto a path to avoid them seeing how bare bones the game is. As for why they would stick with that gameplay style. As you said before, it's tested and it works, to an extent. The problem is, while it's functional it's inherently limiting.

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3 hours ago, Emerald Chaos said:

Ideally the games will allow you to choose to make your goal to go as fast as you can, as opposed to railroading you into it and if different options have different weight, then there's room for player expression in how you make your decisions based on your preferences. If your end goal is to go faster, then having to pick between running and spin dashing will test your awareness in each situation of which option is more appropriate. With the boost there's no such test of your awareness which ends up reducing the overall level of depth. Also, if you find the "stop and go" quality of the spin dash is undesirable, then that increases the incentive to play skillfully since it serves as a penalty for dropping your speed.

The boost games designed the way that they are lend themselves to one style of play, I tend to refer to boost style games as platform-racer hybrids. I used to have a heavy disdain for them, before I grew to accept them more for what they are. Well played speedruns of these games can be breathtaking, but still the games shouldn't be speed at the cost of absolutely everything else.

I think you seem to be making an assumption that when you play a Sonic game the only thing you want to do is go fast. While that's true for you, that's not necessarily true for everyone who plays them. The ability to go fast should certainly be part of the games, but When you make a game that accounts for slower speeds, again you increase the amount of options available to the player, moving in more directions becomes a viable option as opposed to the boost formula which works on such a scale that the only viable option is moving directly forward. This is a common criticism of the lack of depth in the boost games. Sure they might have different paths available, but the reality is, even with diverging paths, there's very little variety even in the best designed boost style levels.

I guess that's just where I'm not seeing eye-to-eye here. For me, yes, this franchise's number one priority should be the flow you get from running through levels as fast as possible. Without that you risk losing what makes this series any different from your standard Mario clone. That's why I prefer the boost over most as it feels more like you're playing as a character that can actually go at the speed of sound rather than just another Mario game with a beefed up run button.

The thing with the spindash is that the stop and go quality of it is always going to be there whether you use it properly or not. There's always going to be those moments with the character just standing still even with the best speedrun. The boost does the exact same thing, only without that waste in time. Some may find that it adds more weight to them using it and feeling rewarding when pulled off, I just find tedious and overall unnecessary when you know what you're doing.

As for slowing things down to give players more option, my answer to that would just be not to use the boost button. In this hypothetical next game with a perfect boost formula, I'd think that the levels could be designed in such a way to limit the boost to a skill based move. Think of it like using the turbo nozzle in Mario Sunshine. Some of the more skilled players will be able to use it in heavy platforming segments to get through them fast while more inexperienced players will probably choose not to. That would be catering to a player that wants to move more slowly while also not penalizing those who do.

3 hours ago, Emerald Chaos said:

Devs from Sonic Team themselves have said that the levels take a long time to develop, and that is the reason why the games continue to have gimmicks like the Werehog/Classic Sonic etc instead of working entirely from a solid foundation. If they built the core of the game around more than speed and more speed, they would be able to increase the variety without needing to work from the ground up and use extra characters with an entirely different playstyle that is similarly shallow. The speed that the character is moving at does matter, because there are only certain things you can be expected to react to moving at high speeds, so the shape and form of the levels by necessity has to follow certain rules.

Not to discredit the fact that they said that (as it's probably true in a lot of cases... just like it's probably true for every other gameplay style) but I doubt they'd say anything else. You don't just go out into the public eye and say that your job is easy in most cases. With that being said, it still doesn't explain how designing one good boost level is that much more taxing than designing a good classic level or an adventure one. Especially considering what's been stated above. Also, on a side note, can someone link this article to me? Haven't seen it in a bit and have been unsuccessful in finding it.

As for the gimmick issue, that's been a thing in this series long before Unleashed came out. Whether it was Heores and having you play the game 4 times over to complete it or SA2 with its mech and treasure hunting levels.

3 hours ago, Emerald Chaos said:

The fact that the levels in Sonic Forces are very lazily constructed stands as evidence against the point that they must have improved the development process. If they had, then surely they would be able to offer much more freedom to the player, instead of keeping them locked onto a path to avoid them seeing how bare bones the game is. As for why they would stick with that gameplay style. As you said before, it's tested and it works, to an extent. The problem is, while it's functional it's inherently limiting.

I feel the problems in Forces stem from a complete lack of level design which is more than likely a direct cause of its staff being relatively new to the series. The people making those levels were not the experienced ones that made Generations and the others so that was probably a strain in terms of dev time (hence why I keep saying none of this will even matter if they don't get the proper people for it). Though, as for simply coding/making the level, do keep in mind that they were still able to produce most of that game in a year.

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I have never been a fan of the boost mechanic. Even playing Sonic Unleashed Day stages, I find that without memorizing the levels, you can't really use it effectively, which defeats the purpose. 

If they want a boost type environment they can just add in some high speed sections like Sonic 06 did, but do them right and that'll be sufficient. I don't think anyone wants the whole game to literally turn into "boost to win," the common thing that people who don't like Sonic games refer to the franchise as.

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1 hour ago, Strickerx5 said:

I guess that's just where I'm not seeing eye-to-eye here. For me, yes, this franchise's number one priority should be the flow you get from running through levels as fast as possible. Without that you risk losing what makes this series any different from your standard Mario clone. That's why I prefer the boost over most as it feels more like you're playing as a character that can actually go at the speed of sound rather than just another Mario game with a beefed up run button.

Yeah, I got that impression. I understand why you feel that way, but let me reiterate that I feel speed is absolutely part of Sonic's identity. But from the series inception it's not been the sole thing defining it and giving it its own uniqueness.
You've probably heard plenty of people say this, but the thing that really separated the classic Sonic games from Mario games wasn't necessarily the speed, but the unique way which Sonic moves and interacts with his environment. That is something at the core of the gameplay that remains intact even at slower speeds, and it sadly something that I feel hasn't really converted into the 3D games well. But when you're playing an older Sonic game, even when you're not going fast (and they're designed in a way that there's plenty of opportunity and incentive to) it still feels very different to Mario.

It's a bit demeaning to the intricacies of these games to say that because you're not going as fast as possible it's just a clone of Mario. But honestly, if a Sonic game could even scratch the depth of a Mario game like Super Mario Sunshine in terms of depth and options of movement, I would be much happier with it than most of the games we've been given.

1 hour ago, Strickerx5 said:

The thing with the spindash is that the stop and go quality of it is always going to be there whether you use it properly or not. There's always going to be those moments with the character just standing still even with the best speedrun. The boost does the exact same thing, only without that waste in time. Some may find that it adds more weight to them using it and feeling rewarding when pulled off, I just find tedious and overall unnecessary when you know what you're doing.

Well, spindashing well in the classic games does take a good amount of skill to do well in terms of being in control of Sonic, positioning and executing it. I'm all for moves that keep the flow of the game up, so long as, as Diogenes said, it's balanced. The boost is, as it has been in the games so far, not balanced and it overshadows other aspects of Sonic's gameplay that gave the series its identity.

2 hours ago, Strickerx5 said:

As for slowing things down to give players more option, my answer to that would just be not to use the boost button. In this hypothetical next game with a perfect boost formula, I'd think that the levels could be designed in such a way to limit the boost to a skill based move. Think of it like using the turbo nozzle in Mario Sunshine. Some of the more skilled players will be able to use it in heavy platforming segments to get through them fast while more inexperienced players will probably choose not to. That would be catering to a player that wants to move more slowly while also not penalizing those who do.

Well in a hypothetical new game, boost as an analogy to the turbo nozzle has some potential I suppose, to take the comparison a bit more literally than you intended,  in SMS the turbo nozzle is far better balanced than the boost in Sonic right now and isn't the main focus of the game. It's actually slower than sliding, and isn't an attack and Mario doesn't always have access to it, it's not standard in his moveset. So maybe if boost is included as an individual move that costs resources in a meaningful way, and is an easier but less rewarding, alternative to natural movement, rather than the core mechanic of the game, it could work out in a way that I'd be happy with it.

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1 hour ago, Emerald Chaos said:

Yeah, I got that impression. I understand why you feel that way, but let me reiterate that I feel speed is absolutely part of Sonic's identity. But from the series inception it's not been the sole thing defining it and giving it its own uniqueness.
You've probably heard plenty of people say this, but the thing that really separated the classic Sonic games from Mario games wasn't necessarily the speed, but the unique way which Sonic moves and interacts with his environment. That is something at the core of the gameplay that remains intact even at slower speeds, and it sadly something that I feel hasn't really converted into the 3D games well. But when you're playing an older Sonic game, even when you're not going fast (and they're designed in a way that there's plenty of opportunity and incentive to) it still feels very different to Mario.

It's a bit demeaning to the intricacies of these games to say that because you're not going as fast as possible it's just a clone of Mario. But honestly, if a Sonic game could even scratch the depth of a Mario game like Super Mario Sunshine in terms of depth and options of movement, I would be much happier with it than most of the games we've been given.

Well, spindashing well in the classic games does take a good amount of skill to do well in terms of being in control of Sonic, positioning and executing it. I'm all for moves that keep the flow of the game up, so long as, as Diogenes said, it's balanced. The boost is, as it has been in the games so far, not balanced and it overshadows other aspects of Sonic's gameplay that gave the series its identity.

Well in a hypothetical new game, boost as an analogy to the turbo nozzle has some potential I suppose, to take the comparison a bit more literally than you intended,  in SMS the turbo nozzle is far better balanced than the boost in Sonic right now and isn't the main focus of the game. It's actually slower than sliding, and isn't an attack and Mario doesn't always have access to it, it's not standard in his moveset. So maybe if boost is included as an individual move that costs resources in a meaningful way, and is an easier but less rewarding, alternative to natural movement, rather than the core mechanic of the game, it could work out in a way that I'd be happy with it.

Well it isn't the sole thing but I'd argue that it is the main thing. When your driving goal when making a series is to be "the opposite of Mario", it should really continue trying to be just that while remaining in the same genre. Sonic 1 did that well for the time.

After Mania, I definitely found a bit more appreciation for the classics (more than I had before definitely) but that still doesn't mean they're without their own issues to me. Specifically the idea that Sonic gains speed through the environment. While that's certainly true for a handful of levels there, a lot of the later levels in these games (outside of CD which is just a damn mess throughout but hey) do boil down to the "here's a platforming section, platform here" and "here's the speed section, roll into a ball and let the controller go here". There's barely any flow to them.

I just feel like removing the boost while replacing it with something like the spindash is going backwards. While some claim, with proper reasoning, that every decision ST made after the classics was to hinder gameplay, I absolutely don't see that with the boost. To me it's a better spindash that still requires the same skill and foreknowledge to utilize without the clunky stop and go setup. Balance certainly needs to go into it with the hypothetical next game, but getting rid of it would just end up punishing the players who'd rather go fast while the only thing players who want to move slower gain is not having the option to (an option they didn't need to use in the first place).

 

Real talk here, if they can marry speed and flow with platforming better by doing something else then so be it. The thing is that I'm not seeing how they can. We already know the boost can be done very well in that regard so dropping it simply because of the few entirely fixable flaws it has, and with the stellar success it's already garnered, still just seems like a backwards move to me.

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9 minutes ago, Strickerx5 said:

...boil down to the "here's a platforming section, platform here" and "here's the speed section, roll into a ball and let the controller go here".

This is more a problem in Mania than it was before honestly. In the classic games these sections were only in existence to show off the rolling physics and the processing power of the system...which was impressive back then but not so much now.

In Mania these sections aren't so much necessary now because it's not as impressive. It's important to note how these sections also got shorter and shorter as the games progressed, while in Mania they didn't. Each Classic game has a level with a dedicated speed section, while Mania has multiple.

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