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Plasme

Sonic fans have no idea how to make the franchise work well in 3D.

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One thing that the 2010's have taught me about 3D Sonic is that no one knows how to fix it. Even fans have no clue where to start.

After the release of many glitchy, buggy messes, and especially 06 and Boom, fans requested Sonic Team to release games less frequently and put more polish into their products. The release of annual Sonic games has now long gone. We had Sonic Colors in 2010, Generations in 2011, Lost World in 2013, Rise of Lyric in 2014 (a separate company), Sonic Forces in 2017 and nothing as of yet. Yet pacing out of releases hasn't done much to resolve the fundamental design problems facing all recent 3D Sonic games. Moreover, Sonic fans generally complain that they have to wait too long for Sonic games and see no difference in their quality.

Another very popular fan request was for Sonic Team to stick to one Sonic gameplay formula and improve it over time. This was especially prevalent after Lost World and Boom ruined the goodwill of Sonic Generations. The view is best expressed by Jim Sterling's video on Sonic and innovation, which I remember was extremely popular among the Sonic fanbase at the time and was shared widely in fan circles. Yet now, after the release of Forces, the vast majority of Sonic fans have completely changed their tune and are calling to throw away Boost and get a completely different gameplay style.

The truth is, Sonic fans have no idea how to make Sonic work in 3D and they change their mind about how the series should be handled after each main release. They are good at picking problems in the bad design of the 3D games, such as automation and poor level design, but when it comes to actual solutions they just give vague answers. "More open levels", "more playable characters", "a more serious story", all ideas which have no real substance behind them and could be said by anyone. You very rarely see these claims substantiated by 3D level design sketch maps for example. 3D fangames are almost always proof of concept engines with no real game design. Sonic Utopia and Sonic Infinity are impressive tech demos, but they fall far short of the 2D fangame scene.

The only real arguments ever offered up are appeals to precedents. So some people will call for Sonic games to go back to Sonic Adventure, for example. This is probably the argument with the most substance behind it. Yet appealing to go back to a game from 1998 shows how little progress the fanbase has made on this front.

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I don't really see what the point of this thread is. "You all are wrong and that sucks"?

I think it's only natural we'd get less 3D fan games than 2D ones, even among indie devs you will see far more titles in 2D, as the effort to make a full 3D project is a much longer and harder task than a 2D one. (more so considering several Sonic fan games were based off of the originals instead of from scratch) I have seen some 3D projects, but many never get finished. Even one of the highly praised ones like Sonic Robo Blast 2 took over a decade to get to it's current state.

I do agree that many fans base off of current expectations. Even for Chao fans I see this where fan titles want what we had but MORE, instead of brand new things. How many times the same old gardens are recreated instead of new ones. I love seeing it, but what I'm saying is it's hard to predict something you want before you see it. As an example, would we have asked for grinding on rails before it was added? What about Knuckles being able to climb walls? Even the spin dash itself? I'm sure some fans were able to bring up similar features, but not all of these were thought of as wanted.

About fans asking for specific things like "just stick to boost" or "only focus on Sonic", it's not entirely the fan's fault. They can't predict how Sega is going to take those requests. Many didn't know that sticking to boost would mean changing it from Sonic Unleashed, or that even with only sticking to Sonic the games would still feel not quite right. Back when Unleashed came out the "day stages" were heavily praised, so can you blame Sega for wanting to run with that idea? The fans are right that splitting themselves too thin can be bad for the gameplay, but as we've seen by example now they will do that with or without new characters. Be it wanting to please fans or just wanting to try something new but having to stick to Sonic games, the Team will want to put in new gimmicks into the titles at the cost of improving on gameplay.

As for my requests, I have been saying like Adventure but better for awhile now. It's not that I think that the series peaked 20 years ago and that it should go backwards to that time, but that I can see that system being improved on that they weren't able to do back then because of limitations. Even "like Adventure but better" doesn't exactly mean that much. It's more explaining the general feel than specific mechanics. But thanks to fan efforts like Sonic Project Hero instead of saying that vague statement I know how to better express it by pointing out things like "instead of automated boost pads the momentum should feel more natural and that the level design reflect this". It's not 100% clear because I don't have firsthand experience of making 3D physics, but it's more clear than before.

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I'm not sure what the point in this thread is. Consumers are allowed to make demands and they're also allowed to change their mind about things if they want. They're also allowed to exaggerate or even be misguided on certain subjects. It's not especially unique to Sonic fandom nor hurtful to the franchise on its own. 

Its not the fandom's job to crack 3D Sonic. You should just be glad people are willing to put their free time in to try.

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Playing Crash Bandicoot with the speed shoes both in the original and the remake has always felt like a solid starting point for building 3D Sonic gameplay to me.

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There's a fundamental flaw in this topic and that it's assuming that the fanbase is some type of hivemind with a unanimous opinion. This series is going to be 30 next year, and is one of the most profitable multimedia franchises in the industry. Do you really think three decades worth of old and new fans are going to agree on how to "fix" the series? It's foolish to pin the blame on a fanbase with little to no knowledge of game design, and who's demographic skewers to ages below 18. So yes, with how diverse the fanbase is, you're to get many, and at times, contradicting ideas on where the series should go. This is true for any fucking franchise on the planet. 

 

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10 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

There's a fundamental flaw in this topic and that it's assuming that the fanbase is some type of hivemind with a unanimous opinion. This series is going to be 30 next year, and is one of the most profitable multimedia franchises in the industry. Do you really think three decades worth of old and new fans are going to agree on how to "fix" the series? It's foolish to pin the blame on a fanbase with little to no knowledge of game design, and who's demographic skewers to ages below 18. So yes, with how diverse the fanbase is, you're to get many, and at times, contradicting ideas on where the series should go. This is true for any fucking franchise on the planet. 

 

I don't actually think that's true. As much as people say the fanbase is divided and fractured, I actually think the general fan's attitude is very, very similar to each other. There's a dominant ideology which the fanbase follow. There's obvious stuff, like everyone at least liking Mania, but beyond that, virtually everyone calls for less automation, more open level design, more playable characters, a move away from Pontac and Graff to more 'serious stories' and a call to return to the Adventure Sonic gameplay. The ideas are vague but the ideology is strikingly consistent, I'd say more than most fanbases. In fact, the false idea that the fanbase is too fractured to fully please everyone is one of the untrue dogma of the fanbase itself.

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23 minutes ago, Plasme said:

I don't actually think that's true. As much as people say the fanbase is divided and fractured, I actually think the general fan's attitude is very, very similar to each other. There's a dominant ideology which the fanbase follow. There's obvious stuff, like everyone at least liking Mania, but beyond that, virtually everyone calls for less automation, more open level design, more playable characters, a move away from Pontac and Graff to more 'serious stories' and a call to return to the Adventure Sonic gameplay. The ideas are vague but the ideology is strikingly consistent, I'd say more than most fanbases. In fact, the false idea that the fanbase is too fractured to fully please everyone is one of the untrue dogma of the fanbase itself.

"like everyone at least liking Mania"
(SA3 Facebook page joins the chat)

Joking aside, I don't think everyone agrees on all of those points. For several years all I heard from fans and critics was "Sonic's friends suck, they need to die and never be seen again", and I still see some say so to this day. While some fans prefer serious stories, many prefer Sonic to be lighthearted and have as little plot getting in the way of the gameplay as possible. People still defend Lost World to this day because "at least it's not Forces". There are still fans of boost and think that Sonic should stay with it.

Although a lot of this comes from the regulars here, if you go to other Sonic communities they will have different opinions. To this day I still hear the ever popular opinion of "Sonic Adventure was never good, Sonic didn't make the jump to 3D well, everything but Sonic sucks, no one would replay these games if not for the speed levels and Chao".

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24 minutes ago, Plasme said:

I don't actually think that's true. As much as people say the fanbase is divided and fractured, I actually think the general fan's attitude is very, very similar to each other. There's a dominant ideology which the fanbase follow. There's obvious stuff, like everyone at least liking Mania, but beyond that, virtually everyone calls for less automation, more open level design, more playable characters, a move away from Pontac and Graff to more 'serious stories' and a call to return to the Adventure Sonic gameplay.

Yeah I mean, I don't? Obviously I'm just one guy and I'm aware I've got some non-mainstream preferences so you could chalk me up as just being whoever's not "virtually everyone", but things don't look quite so unified from where I stand.

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1 minute ago, Fire-N-Space said:

Big Red Button had a good idea how 3D space worked but they got a bad hand by Sega and the fans, they should get another go at making a 3D Sonic game.  

Are they still around? Also it's mostly Sega, the fans got mad at the end result. I think many didn't know until later about it's troubled development. YouTube makes it way easier to spread "wow this is the worst game ever?!?!" videos than "this game is awesome!" ones, so it's natural it would attract that kind of audience. Thanks to Sonic 06 YouTube will have several big anti Sonic YouTubers out there. I saw 06 more through Let's Plays bashing it than actual discussion back then, so I imagine for many it was the same for Boom, more so considering the low install base of the Wii U. How I felt not owning the systems 06 was on before that point.

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1 minute ago, Diogenes said:

Yeah I mean, I don't? Obviously I'm just one guy and I'm aware I've got some non-mainstream preferences so you could chalk me up as just being whoever's not "virtually everyone", but things don't look quite so unified from where I stand.

There are some divergent opinions in the fanbase for sure. My point is that it's nowhere near as diverse as people claim and the vast majority of fans agree with what I've posted.

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As someone who was just entering the online Sonic community at the dawn of the 2010s, I don't really see much about the current state of projects and ideas about what to do with 3D Sonic that is anymore egregious than it was ten years ago with respect to 2D Sonic. "Back to basics" stuff like being "2D only", "no story", "no voice acting", and "no crappy friends" were the vague superficial ideas on repairing the series at the time. The most prolific and most recent fan projects back then were submissions like Sonic Fan Remix, Sonic 2 HD, and Sonic XG--a great majority of them never got past one playable zone, and several of them either reused or were recreations of existing assets from the official games. Some of them didn't even have any public demos available during that point. And yet, not only look where 2D Sonic fangame development stands now, but also where some of the creators of those projects have ended up. 

Meanwhile, 3D Sonic fangame development at that time might as well had been a pipe dream to attempt, beyond one or two token projects (recall that SRB2 owes its roots towards being a mod of Doom, rather than an original engine). Projects like Utopia, the Infinity Engine, Project Hero etc. would had been considered impossible to make in 2010. That they even exist now represents a serious mark in development in that field.

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2 hours ago, Plasme said:

I don't actually think that's true. As much as people say the fanbase is divided and fractured, I actually think the general fan's attitude is very, very similar to each other. There's a dominant ideology which the fanbase follow. There's obvious stuff, like everyone at least liking Mania, but beyond that, virtually everyone calls for less automation, more open level design, more playable characters, a move away from Pontac and Graff to more 'serious stories' and a call to return to the Adventure Sonic gameplay. The ideas are vague but the ideology is strikingly consistent, I'd say more than most fanbases. In fact, the false idea that the fanbase is too fractured to fully please everyone is one of the untrue dogma of the fanbase itself.

This is factually false and only holds true if you simply have no real interaction with other factions of the franchise. Sonic has had television shows, movies, and comic books, all with different continuities that all have different status quos. In the 90's alone, there were no less than five alternative continuities running concurrently along with the games having two separate continuities separated by Sega of Japan and Sega of America. Each of these mediums served as the introduction to the franchises and they based their preferences around them. When Sonic Adventure came out in 1999, it effectively rendered all of those other continuities moot and adopted the Japanese canon as it's primary source.

There is absolutely no way you can tell me that fans who grew up on all of these different storylines have converging ideas, because their fundamental understanding of the franchise came from vastly different sources. This is why there is such a divide nowadays just within the games, because you have people who grew up with the classic titles versus people who grew up on the dreamcast tiles versus people who grew up on the modern titles, and the video games alone have been pretty much everywhere on the spectrum.

 

You might get a consensus here or there, but there is a fundamental divide on what people define as "Sonic the Hedgehog". The only consensus that really exists is that Sonic is blue and runs fast and he fights an Egg shaped scientist. 

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2 hours ago, Kuzu said:

There's a fundamental flaw in this topic and that it's assuming that the fanbase is some type of hivemind with a unanimous opinion.

 

Especially since 12 years ago (since people are apparently never allowed to change their minds on something even after a decade of it being run into the ground with increasingly marginal returns) when the boost gameplay was shiny and new, there absolutely was not an overwhelming majority opinion on how great it was.

 

 

Certainly not one that was concluded based on something fucking Jim Sterling of all people said.

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No shit that that the Sonic fandom as a whole doesn't know how to fix 3D Sonic, when SEGA did a magnificent job chopping up the fandom into multiple subsections with their different Sonic games, and now they don't even know which subsection should they listen to, given that pleasing all of the subsections with a single game is not possible. Heck, I often get the feeling the Sonic fandom can't even agree how Sonic as a character should look and sound like.

Some individual fans have nice ideas, but is it a surprise single individuals alone who dabble with this stuff as a hobby with probably not industry professional skills (save for a few exceptions I assume) can't fix something even a huge billion dollar company with dozens of hired professionals with decades of experience can't figure out?

Yes, the tech demos without properly designed stages, enemies and the like don't make for a full experience, but some of them already show more potential than anything Sonic Team put out in the last 15 years.

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Far as I'm concerned, the main reason why fans change their minds so often is because they keep understimating Sonic Team's incompotence.
When we scream "We want more Boost", we mean that in a "Take Sonic unleashed, improve on it's shortcomings and evolve it to the next level", where Sonic Team is just "Derp, here's more boost" in a way that doesn't improve or evolve Unleashed at all, but if anything makes it even more simplistic and worse.

Sonic Team only solves problems by burning everything to the ground that fans complain about, which is why everything feels so hallow and empty these days. I wouldn't say they're throwing out the baby with the bathwater, as much as they're straight up chucking baby's out the window whenever bathwater is even mentioned.

Yet somehow it took us too long to realize this and we blamed the trouble on the direction Sonic Team mishandled, not the actual mishandeling.

It's why I don't bother much with any "Sonic team should make 2d games/ Sonic adventure 3/ Stop with Boost games" opinions.
Sure, I have preferences, but in the end it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that Sonic Team is the one working on these games and they completely lost any control, passion and coherence over their franchise. It's Sonic Team themselves I'm concerned about, not what specific flavor of Sonic they're going to completely miss the point of next.


As for 3d Sonic fan games, Sonic Robo blast 2.2 man. There's your Sonic Adventure style 3d platforming with multiple playable characters, full compaign, level gimmicks, the whole shebang right there.

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I would argue that the fans have proven that Sonic can work in numerous different ways in 3D and that Sega has completely ignored them and did everything the wrong way. There is no necessary definitive way to make Sonic play, just like there isn't a definitive way to make any platformer, per say, but it goes without saying that there are ways to make 3D Sonic fun and ways to make 3D Sonic not fun at all.

We have so many different 3D fangames, demos and proofs of concept that show that Sonic can work at 3D. Pick your cup of tea, from Sonic GT, Sonic Utopia, Project Heroes, Sonic Robo Blast 2.2, Project 2020 and likely a few more I'm overlooking right now. All of those are good or at least have quite a decent amount of potential to be good, they all display a 3D world totally capable of being recreated with far more polish by Sega within their budget range, but they instead provide garbage.

All of those fangames above at least have something, a following of people that consider it to be a good enough concept that Sega should emulate it. I don't see anyone looking at Forces thinking "Yes sir, that's what Sonic is all about right there". So even if we all can't agree what 3D Sonic should be like, I think it's pretty easy to determine what 3D Sonic should NOT be like. That seems to be a concept Sonic Team struggles greatly to understand.

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I definitely think the Sonic fandom is fragmented, and the impression that the bulk of the fandom is changing its mind and will never be pleased is actually a misinterpretation of certain fragments becoming more or less vocal depending on circumstance.  If that’s not the case, I’d be very surprised.  It’s understandable that fans of the 2D Genesis games would resent parts of the Adventure games as an unwelcome diversions.  It is understandable that fans of the Adventure games would resent the games that strip away all playable characters besides Sonic.  It is understandable that people who valued the momentum challenges of the Genesis games would be mad at how momentum has mattered less and less starting with the Adventure games and culminating in Boost games.  

Then, it also works in reverse; obviously Sonic Mania appealed a lot to people who saw the 2D games with momentum physics and minimal plot as the highest point in the series.  They’ve gotten what they want.  The fans of the Adventure series have not, which is why they’re the segment of the fan base that makes the most noise these days, and SEGA has started to notice.  But so far their noticing hasn’t taken any form but fanservice; no return to anything in the Adventure formula yet.

Then, in defense of the vocal segment that pleads for a more open-world approach in 3D Sonic, it must be allowed that SEGA has never given it a serious attempt.  The most commonly cited argument against this concept is that fangames utilizing it tend not to get past their engine and demo stage phases, but at least part of that should be blamed on the fact that they are fangames.  
 

Making a good Sonic level isn’t a short or easy process, and the single biggest reason for this is that Sonic moves quickly.  Even in 2D, where people have been doing it for three decades and at least some fangames have met the professional standard, level designers have to utilize various techniques to make levels that are still of substantial length and challenge even for a highly mobile character.  This task has gotten even longer and harder when that character has an instant acceleration button, which is why every boost game has 2D segments, generally employed so Sonic can be locked into segments where his speed isn’t really useful.  That’s a shorter and easier level design choice than giving Sonic more room to move and filling it with more stuff.  It’s another reason I, along with many other people, wish the boost would just be thrown out, yes; games that use it put Sonic’s signature element on full display but they also yank it away arbitrarily when it’s time to do whatever other thing they want to put in the game. I think they should throw  out dimension-shifting for the same reason; it’s too arbitrary.  Playing as Sonic should feel liberating, but as it exists in its current modern form, it’s a rather obvious ordeal of playing a prepackaged experience exactly as those who packaged it intended.

Fully 3D and more open Sonic stages will take a lot more time and effort to make, but I continue to argue that the player experience will be more worthwhile if the level creators can get it down.  And for what this is worth, I think the boost formula has reached its peak so I would rather SEGA puts in the time to make a fully 3D and more open Sonic game.  If they want to release another Sonic game in the interim, make it another fully 2D, Classic Sonic game.

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On 4/1/2020 at 2:13 PM, Kuzu said:

There's a fundamental flaw in this topic and that it's assuming that the fanbase is some type of hivemind with a unanimous opinion. This series is going to be 30 next year, and is one of the most profitable multimedia franchises in the industry. Do you really think three decades worth of old and new fans are going to agree on how to "fix" the series? 

 

This. /thread

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People can say the fanbase is fragmented as much as they like but that doesn't stop me from hearing the same complaints over and over again.

'No more Green Hill', 'No more Solo Sonic', 'I don't like Sonic's cocky new persona', 'I want Tails to be like he was in Adventure', 'I want more open levels', 'I want more serious stories',  'I want more 3D', etc etc

I hear this all the time online in different Sonic vommunities and even in real life. What's more annoying is that people usually say this as if they are the first person to come up with and they are being profound.

Sure, you get people like Diogenes who actually have different opinions on how the story should be handled, but they are very rare. The vast majority of fans conform to the above.

And before you attack me, consider, do you agree with the vast majority of the points above? You almost certaimly do. If you don't, I bet you already know that your views are a bit eccentric in the fanbase.

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I actually agree that the fragmentation point is mostly exaggerated and limited to fringe sonic fans online. There are a lot of different Sonic continuities for sure, so it's a good thing most human beings are capable of nuance and can like more than one thing with Sonic's face on it. 

The popularity of the pontaff stories were also pretty low even back when those games came out. People mostly just liked that they weren't the mid-2000s games. It's not surprising to me that they're basically not popular at all now when they were barely praised on their own merits at to begin with. Those games were mostly popular due to their polished gameplay and even thats fading with the realization that having  interesting gameplay to begin with is more important. 

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1 hour ago, Plasme said:

If you don't, I bet you already know that your views are a bit eccentric in the fanbase.

I...will agree or disagree for the sake of it, as my own opinions do not matter.

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1 hour ago, Plasme said:

 

And before you attack me, consider, do you agree with the vast majority of the points above? You almost certaimly do. If you don't, I bet you already know that your views are a bit eccentric in the fanbase.

This is what's called a "Vocal Minority", emphasis on vocal. 

 

Like dude, just do your own research and stop assuming that the loudest voices in the fanbase speak for all of us.

37 minutes ago, Wraith said:

I actually agree that the fragmentation point is mostly exaggerated and limited to fringe sonic fans online. There are a lot of different Sonic continuities for sure, so it's a good thing most human beings are capable of nuance and can like more than one thing with Sonic's face on it. 

The popularity of the pontaff stories were also pretty low even back when those games came out. People mostly just liked that they weren't the mid-2000s games. It's not surprising to me that they're basically not popular at all now when they were barely praised on their own merits at to begin with. Those games were mostly popular due to their polished gameplay and even thats fading with the realization that having  interesting gameplay to begin with is more important. 

The general public are, at best, simply indifferent to the Pontac and Graff and Sonic stories in general. The main group of people who criticize them are the group who preferred the storytelling from before.

No review ever goes into detail about Sonic plots beyond a basic synopsis, even the ones that are considered "good" among the fanbase because the average viewer with no real attachment to Sonic likely isn't going to prioritize it.

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