Sonic 3 now in progress!
Wednesday, 9th September 2009, 2:41pm (UTC), 1 Comment
Update: Sonic 3 guide has begun! Angel Island Zone has been added, in addition to the Background info and Stages and Story pages.
Wow, busy day. Sonic & Knuckles released on Xbox Live Arcade, a mysterious new 2D Sonic announced under the codename of Project Needlemouse, the ten year anniversary of the Dreamcast and Sonic Adventure's US release.. but also, as promised, our Sonic 3 guide has begun! Way to steal my thunder though, Sega, you knew I was releasing this today..

In the new Sonic 3 section you will find the obligatory Background Info page, the start of Stages and Story and of course the centerpiece, Angel Island Zone. Perhaps it's unwise to start on a game that I know I'm not going to have a lot of time for after this month, meaning the return of lengthy waits between updates I'm afraid, but I guess it's better than nothing. This game guide has been waiting four patient years since I actually finished writing all of it, so it can wait a little longer! These map sizes aren't too bad (3 and 4 megs), but I think for Sonic 3 and S&K we can expect some phenomenally bigger file sizes coming up for later juggernauts, so there's not much I can do about that I'm afraid.

You'll notice a few new additions to the mapping formula, particularly colour-coded arrows to indicate which characters can go where, where appropriate I should be able to point out slight differences in object placements between the S3 and S3&K versions of the levels, and I've even highlighted those hidden items at the end of the first act! All would have been much more difficult without the help of Mercury's Sonic 3 & Knuckles extractor, which works like a charm! I'm also adding music to these downloads again (I couldn't add them to Sonic CD because there was just too many really, considering my hosting limits at the moment) and I thought I'd throw in the Smash Bros Brawl mix of the Angel Island theme too, just for fun.

So the debut of the Zone: 0 forum this past weekend was a massive success, much more so than I was expecting, thanks largely to Tweaker and QJimbo, who kindly advertised its existence to members of the Sonic Retro and SSRG communities, respectively. Thanks guys! We managed to accumulate around 40-50 members just in that first weekend which is pretty amazing for a new forum and the kind of discussions that have been going on have been exactly what I was hoping for. I love how we're not just running through tens of different, empty topics, each one is given plenty of attention and feedback before moving on to new ones, so hopefully we'll keep this up! Thanks to everyone who has joined and contributed, and If you haven't seen it yet, wander by sometime and see if it might be your sort of thing. There's been a lot of thoughtful and detailed posts with great discussion value, and everyone seems to be getting on great so lets keep it going and see if we can make an excellent community out of this place!
Comments   1 Comment has been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Meph on Wednesday, 9th September 2009, 2:50pm
I can't wait to see the rest of the zones. Keep on going. This is great!
Project: Needlemouse?!
Wednesday, 9th September 2009, 9:26am (UTC), 1 Comment
I'll just leave this here..

A perfect opportunity to Discuss in the new forum!
Comments   1 Comment has been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Meph on Wednesday, 9th September 2009, 2:40pm

Hopefully we'll find out more at TGS 2009.
The Zone: 0 Forum is here!
Friday, 4th September 2009, 4:20pm (UTC), 1 Comment
Update: Zone: 0 officially launches its own forum!
You asked for it (well, mostly more like I asked if you wanted it, and you said yes), and I wanted it too, so here you go..

The Zone: 0 Forum!

As I write in the introductory topic (which I urge you to read), this is a forum with a mission, not just some community board bolted on to the site for the sake of it. I really want this to be a special little place where intelligent and interesting Sonic-based topics can be discussed. Where opinions are respected and arguments are minimal. Where you can make like-minded friends and just generally share in the appreciation of Sonic the Hedgehog. Ideally, that's probably every Sonic forum's mission, but I'm hoping that those of you who have already posted helpful, detailed, interesting responses around the site in the form of notes and comments will want to bring their enthusiasm and good nature to make this a great place to be a Sonic fan!

I'm going to add one or two more topics over the weekend to get the ball rolling a bit more, but don't wait for me, if you've got a burning issue to bring up, go for it! I know one or two do. For the moment though I've started us off with a nice light-hearted, nostalgic discussion about the origins of your Sonic fanaticism. I'm sure everyone has their own story, so go ahead and share! You'll need to register of course, and validate your account with an email address.

In the end, I went with a free forum package called Vanilla. It's not quite the standard forum setup that other sites use and that you may have been expecting. I thought about that, but I want this to be a bit of a smaller affair, not to mention one that's slightly more unique, because this should be a small forum, not some sort of Sonic mecca for all. A little community off the beaten track but hopefully a haven for anyone who wants some intelligent, non-cynical discussion. The standard forum appearance hasn't changed much in years anyway and I think this one's a little more contemporary and minimalistic.

There's only one board as such, and all posts are bundled together, but you can categorise them as being Sonic-related, about Zone: 0 itself, or other, and then view posts according to one of these categories. It's not particularly rich in features because I think they can be a bit of a distraction, but you should have everything you need to chat away. Vanilla is open source and has a variety of extensions that people have made, so if you really think the place could do with something in particular, let me know and I can always try and find a suitable extension if necessary. It's a good package all in all, I'd recommend it to any other developers out there looking for a more uniquely styled forum. The community behind it don't seem to have made much for it in the last couple of years, but it was easy enough to set up and customise. I edited a theme whose colour scheme was mostly black and pink and I don't think you'll run into any left over remnants of this, but if you do, that'll be why!

Keep an eye out for bugs for me, but I think it should be pretty sturdy. I really hope this can achieve its potential and be something of a big milestone for the site as a whole. So don't leave me there on my own, come on in and have fun!
Comments   1 Comment has been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Meph on Friday, 4th September 2009, 5:38pm
Here's hoping that the forum does well. ;)
A Zone: 0 forum. Interested?
Sunday, 30th August 2009, 11:48am (UTC), 9 Comments
First and foremost let me point out the fact that today marks exactly five years of the entire project of Zone: 0 being in existence! A proud day for me indeed, as although the site has only been up for half that amount of time, the guides you are now reading were in production between 2004 to 2006, and are presented now with only slight alterations. Back in those days the whole project fit on a floppy disc, with plenty of room to spare. Good old floppies, remember them? Simpler times. Admittedly, slower and much more restricted times too, sure, but simpler times. Given the typical longevity of my crazy, hair-brained ideas at the time, it amazes me that this place is still chugging along, slowly but surely, even after all this time - and I'm still not quite sick of it yet! Even when I do call it quits with regards to guides of my own, I'm hoping that with the help of other writers, the resource will continue to exist on and on. Thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way!

I had hoped to bring you the first update to the much-anticipated Sonic 3 section, as a way of marking this date (and tying things up in a very satisfying way, as it would be exactly four years since I actually completed my Sonic 3 guide in its entirety, in text form!), but I've been working hard lately and while I could have scrambled Angel Island Zone together over the course of this week, I decided not to rush it as I don't really need to pile on any more stress for myself!

This weekend, I've been keeping up with Summer of Sonic over in London, yesterday. A Sonic fan convention, the only one of its kind as far as I'm aware, if you don't know. I couldn't make it myself, but I took in bits of the live video stream all day and I must say it seems like a great event. Hopefully I'll be able to show up at next year's, assuming there is one. I've never had the opportunity to meet and have a good chat with other die hard Sonic fans, there aren't really any proper geeks in my real life world, sadly, but I would love to do so. I used to go on one or two forums now and again but always felt my voice was drowned out from the sheer number of other members, so I've never been much of a community man when it comes to Sonic. My love for Sonic has always been something that's been sort of privately mine, especially to the extent at which I love it (represented by this site, as a whole, I like to think). Still, I've been thinking and I'd like to see if I can change all that.

On the about page, tucked away in a dark corner of this site, I mention the possibility of a Zone: 0 forum. I have had two or three emails from people interested in the possibility, but I feel the time is right to officially put it on the table and see what people think. If this blog post gets overrun by tumbleweeds and little else then I'll assume no one would bother to participate and there's no point going further with it at this time, but if what I say sounds like your kind of thing, do please leave a comment telling me so! There's kind of a community aspect to the site already, through comments and notes throughout my blog and the game guides, featuring several recurring posters who I would hope would be interesting in joining a full community forum, which is probably why the time is right to make this transition.

Now I have always had a couple of reservations about introducing a forum. While I appreciate that if done successfully (by which I mean, a significant number of people are posting regularly), then it'll get people coming back here all the time and keep them very involved in the site as a whole, which is brilliant. However, the loyalty it brings to the site is a bonus, as far as I'm concerned - what I would really want is for it to actually have worthwhile posts. Not just filled with people for whom punctuation and good spelling is only a mild acquaintance, leaving pointless posts about who their favourite characters are. It's pretty hard to stop that sort of thing from happening completely and I am tolerant to a certain extent, as they're usually posted by kids. But in general I'm looking for a place where mature discussion can be had about the sorts of things that the site focuses on; game content, level designs, and even plots and characters if you like, although my personal preference would be the former two. Discuss your own theories, post any interesting Sonic finds like articles, fan-made things and news, perhaps even those currently writing guides for the site could share preview and gauge reactions - whatever you want really as long as it follows the key theme of Zone: 0 - DEPTH!

Another concern I've always had is if the forum becomes too big, gets out of control too easily, people start arguing and attacking others or even the site itself if things get particularly nasty. It seems to happen frequently with the larger sites, but Zone: 0 has always been a quieter, friendlier place built on a passion for Sonic and I would love for the forum to follow a similar ideology. Though it's difficult to control, I feel that a small group of members would be best, not that much larger than the number of different people who leave notes around the site. I kind of like the fact that this site isn't really a well known and heavily discussed part of the Sonic community, just a little thing that people sort of stumble on one day, and I'd like the forum to follow that level of.. intimacy, I suppose you could say.

I used to hang around at the GHZ forum many years ago (even before I started these guides actually), which was a small, simple board of only a handful of regular faces, and that's the sort of thing I'd like to match. Of course, the GHZ has always been noted for its unrelenting cynicism about all things Sonic since about 2003, and I've no idea what it's like now, I haven't dared to set foot there in years. But I definitely don't want to go down that road - my forum should ideally be positive and/or constructive, depending on the topic at hand.

I see no point in having more than one board for everything, at least initially, be it site or Sonic related, or neither, and it'll be a simple board. No unnecessary fancy features - I'm not trying to reinvent Facebook or anything like that. I don't particularly see the need for anyone other than me to have moderator privileges, thereby removing any lust for power that some forum-goers seem to crave. I don't wish to enforce any sort of moderation very much at all, myself. If it all goes down the drain, I may very well just drop the whole forum altogether, no matter how developed it is. There will be no hostility on my server thank you very much.

Hopefully, if we can get a little lively discussion going between a few regular members then the thing will grow by itself. I know I personally would be interested in joining a smaller, intelligent group of Sonic fans where my voice would be more likely to be heard, and responded to. Think of that when you consider the possibility of a Zone: 0 community center and tell me if it's something you'd be up for!
Comments   9 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by sonictails1189 on Sunday, 30th August 2009, 7:31pm
This is exactly the kind of thing I would love to be a part of. When I first stumbled upon the site last July I sent you an email stating my encouragement for adding a forum. I hope you will indeed follow through with this and look forward to joining.
#2. Comment posted by Mercury on Sunday, 30th August 2009, 8:24pm
Your vision of a forum sounds very appealing indeed. I, for one, am all for it. I'm a member of Sonic Retro, and post there pretty often, but I'm sometimes disappointed by the sheer amount of negativity. A tighter-knit forum for deeper, dare I say it, scientific discussion would be very cool.

And I haz a passing akwaintance with spelling! :P
#3. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Sunday, 30th August 2009, 10:36pm
Excellent! Thanks a lot guys, keep em coming! :D
#4. Comment posted by 1963886 on Monday, 31st August 2009, 1:35am
I've never been a really big fan of forums but I ABSOLUTELY would love to see a forum for Zone:0. That'd be amazing. I avoid forums because most of the time they're so chaotic, but I don't think one for this site would be much of a problem.
#5. Comment posted by Chaoswalker on Monday, 31st August 2009, 3:13am
Short Version: Yes

I know my first topic allready. Can't wait.
#6. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Monday, 31st August 2009, 12:04pm
Thanks all, I think that's pretty helpful toward my decision, but keep your yays or nays coming in anyway, everyone else!

Does anyone have any suggestions for good, clean, simple, open source PHP forum software I could use? phpBB seems most prominent in my searches but I've just found a nice looking, more modern one called Vanilla which looks quite good. Any others I should be aware of?

If I had more free time I might have had a crack at creating my own, as I did the site as a whole, but for now at least, a more flat-pack solution will have to suffice!
#7. Comment posted by Shredding Day on Monday, 31st August 2009, 6:04pm
I'd be down for a forum account here.
#8. Comment posted by True Dude on Tuesday, 1st September 2009, 9:58pm
I'd probably get a forum account here as well.

You should get IPB for the forum, though I don't know if it costs money or how much.
#9. Comment posted by True Dude on Friday, 4th September 2009, 12:46am
So, what is the new forum going to be used with?

You should kick it off with the start of Sonic 3, that'd be a great entrance.

Oh, and if you're stuck on topics, you could make an area dedicated to discussing new additions to the Game Guides.
Mental Metal
Saturday, 8th August 2009, 1:22pm (UTC), 6 Comments
Update: Sonic CD guide now fully complete! Metallic Madness page added.
Huzzah! Metallic Madness is finally here, thus drawing a close to the Zone: 0 guide to one of Sonic's most beautiful and complex adventures, Sonic CD.

Word of warning, this one's a real juggernaut, probably the biggest level guide that I've written. So much so that I feel that it earns the privilege of having some stats listed for it, despite the fact that I've already mentioned these previously. It weighs in at approximately 12,000 words (in context, Scrap Brain Zone is around 4000 and Wacky Workbench, 7000), 652 screenshots were taken (normally I only need about 200-300) and 128 of which are used on the page. Surprisingly the map making process was quite quick here - the page building one was not. Time Travelling Tips for Zone 2 is perhaps a bit on the lengthy side but I felt it was important to consider more than just how to get to the Past. Hopefully it's not too confusing. Point #1 still puzzles me though. Maybe, somehow, it's just me but I just can't figure out why I can't get to that ledge on the Mega CD emulated version, yet it's perfectly fine on PC/Gems. If anyone can at least confirm whether or not they also experience this problem, either on emulation or an original Mega CD, that would be very helpful. Just leave a note for me on Point #1.

So, all done now, at last! Despite its size compared to Sonic 1 and 2 pages, it's only taken about 6 months to publish, whereas those two ended up taking literally about a year each. But then I did have to make all their maps from scratch. Sadly, due to other things getting in the way, I haven't managed to do nearly as much Zone: 0 work over this summer as I had planned, as I think back to the slightly ludicrous prediction that I would have Sonic CD, Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles all published by next month. I at least thought Sonic 3 would be in the bag but it was only ever going to be possible if I did pretty much nothing else all Summer, and it didn't exactly pan out like that. Still, never mind, we're getting there, slowly but surely and hopefully with all the new writers throwing their names into the hat, who knows where we'll be in a year's time!.. Possibly not much further really, as I have my final year at Uni to spend my time on, but we'll see! I think I'm done trying to make accurate predictions in terms of months, of when things will be ready by though. They're done when they're done.

On that note, I had hoped to kickstart Sonic 3, with Angel Island Zone, on the 30th August, in celebration of the fifth anniversary of the birth of the whole Zone: 0 project. It might still happen, but I've probably got some other freelance work coming through between now and then, so we'll have to see. Keep an eye on my Twitter feed for the latest.

Hope you've enjoyed Sonic CD with me! It's been bumpy and fiddly at times but overall I'm proud of what I've done. The game needed a good clear solid guide for it, not to mention detailed maps, and I hope I've fulfilled that requirement.
Comments   6 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Meph on Saturday, 8th August 2009, 2:27pm
Congrats! I can't wait to see Sonic 3 & Knuckles.
#2. Comment posted by sonictails1189 on Sunday, 9th August 2009, 11:57pm
Don't take this the wrong way. I love the guide and I know you put a lot of work into it. Are you, however, going to add a "Music" category to the Sonic CD "Downloads" section with the tracks from the game? You did for the other two games so I assumed you would with this one as well, unless, of course, there's some reason you're unable to.
#3. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Monday, 10th August 2009, 10:16am
It's mainly a bandwidth and webspace concern at the moment really in that I don't think I have enough of it to offer all the Sonic CD tracks, since I'll need to cover both soundtracks. I may add them eventually though if I have to upgrade my server package, and there will probably be room for Sonic 3/S&K ones anyway. There's just not enough space right now for all of them, given that I also use my server for other things.

Thanks :)
#4. Comment posted by mercury on Monday, 10th August 2009, 7:51pm
Re the underpowered spring in the Past of Act 2, I confirmed that it's also the case on the real Mega CD. I dropped a more detailed explanation under the Point #1 notes on the MM page.
#5. Comment posted by healthyfood on Tuesday, 18th August 2009, 10:38am
Hey GREAT work here!!! I've just started to re-play sonic 1 and 2 and your site is the best one hands down! gonna play sonic 3 again soon so looking forward to your section!!
#6. Comment posted by supersonicsmash on Friday, 19th February 2010, 11:24pm
The Problem with Fan-Games..
Tuesday, 28th July 2009, 10:40am (UTC), 9 Comments
Those of you who have your head buried in the sand to any and all Sonic news will have no doubt missed that this year's SAGE event (Sonic Amateur Games Expo) is upon us yet again for this week only, where fan-gamers put together minisites to publicly release latest demos of their fan-game projects. I've played a handful of them and at first I thought I'd like to give brief reviews of my experiences with them, but they've caused me to think a little deeper, so instead I have a bit of an article on Sonic fan-gaming in general. These are just my own opinions about where fan-game development could go and why I feel, as a whole, it hasn't lived up to its full potential. It's not really a rant as such, I don't think anyone's lazy or that they should be working flat out to achieve their goals at the expensive of their real lives, but I end with a suggestion of what I think might be a better approach for all of us. I've no idea whether or not I speak for a large numbers of others, but it's just some thoughts.

I've been following the fan-game quadrant of Sonic fandom for the best part of a decade and in that time, it's grown exponentially. I remember when all you got when you put "Sonic fan-game" into google was a couple of very basic platform-ish games that had no hope of emulating the true Sonic experience. I myself contributed to such things back in 2001/2002 with my own attempt. Looking back I shudder at certain design and story approaches I took with it and if I were to make another attempt (which I would like to do, in some way), it would be a significantly different affair, although as basic and imperfect a Sonic emulation as it was, I must admit I do kind of enjoy a play of it once in a long while.

Things are a different story now though, there's a number of generic Sonic engines for a number of different languages/programs, most of which are very capable of providing a pretty thorough Sonic experience with momentum, friction, loops, curves and the kitchen sink, and frankly you'd be a fool to ignore them, if incapable of doing a better job yourself. It's what people have come to expect, having been spoilt on pixel-perfect titles such as Sonic Nexus, Retro Sonic, Project Mettrix, to name some of the best, plus legions of the slightly less famous too. We can now do it, we've been able to do amazing things for years. Just this morning there arose an example of how brilliant this community can be. We can make games that can be just like sequels to the original Mega Drive Sonic titles, even surpass them in technical quality.. so why haven't we done so yet?

How come that seemingly 99% (an estimate, but probably one that's not far off) of Sonic fan-game projects that have ever been started have either been scrapped or are yet to actually be completed? It seems that a promising game in the form of a single level demo might materialise one year, you may not see it again for another one or two and when it finally does come back with an update, it's essentially the same thing but with a slightly better engine, or maybe just one new level if you're lucky.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not having a go. Quite the opposite in fact. I know full well that a little thing called "real life" gets in the way. I suffer from the same problem with this site, the concept and content of which is but a month away from its fifth year in existence and look at me, all I've got is five game guides written and only three of them published online. Everything take ages and like a fan-gamer desperately seeking to irradicate every little imperfection in his engine, I too have gone back and re-written old material, taking months and ending up with something that, to most people, is essentially the same. But that won't do for a perfectionist. A love of Sonic and a belief in our respective dreams drives us to strive for that holy grail, and nothing else will do.

However, I could come up with a list of probably at least 20 different games (maybe loads more if I really looked back over old files) that I've played demos of in the early to middle portion of this decade that I would have loved to see completed by now and not one of them has been. Most of them either officially canned or missing, presumed dead. Perhaps the developers had bigger issues to sort out, or they got bored with it. Perhaps the pressures became too great, maybe they got a girlfriend or something tragic happened. Who knows? Not my place to judge. I know that a small number of people scrapped their promising fan-game in favour of a new one that essentially fulfilled the same purpose! Frustrating for someone like me who only really craves new exciting levels to play rather than complete stories that have levels crow-barred into them. Some however, are still going strong. Or perhaps crawling along with their fingertips would be a better way of putting it. They pop up every other SAGE or so with something only slightly new, they said they were about 60% there 6 years ago and now they're still 60% there, having built an entirely new engine.

To repeat myself, I know why, I'm not knocking them and in fact I admire their dedication to perfection, but to be honest, as a Sonic fan and a consumer of fan-made products (whom they're hopefully trying to reach, aside from making the game of their dreams) I'm getting a little tired of it. Every year we have half a dozen variations of Green Hill Zone, as most fan-games seem to start with their own version of the tropical paradise level, so naturally that'll be the one level of their demo. This by no means speaks for everyone but it's becoming a pattern and the fact that in about eight years I can name only three (count them, three) complete, decent fan-games, two of which are released this week(!), is baffling! And none of them are quite my idea of a "Sonic 4". I understand stuff gets in the way and these things take time, but taking an overall view, you would think that number would be much higher by now.

With a third Sonic Rush looking increasingly unlikely this year, and that mobile Sonic Unleashed game hardly a suitable replacement, I'm wondering if there's a responsibility for fan-gamers to contribute more traditional 2D gameplay to the fanbase? The Sonic Rush style of play is a great experience, but it's not the same as the classic form, where the emphasis was on unique level designs, exploration, multiple routes and straightforward stories and character moves. Sega haven't quite provided us with this in the same way they used to for a number of years now, but fan-gamers can, and many of them are working on it and what they're capable of amazes me. My concern is just that.. will we ever get to see it?

When I started writing this little article/gentle rant, I guess I didn't really have a solution, but as it went on, I realised I did. Something that I thought I would probably be inclined to do if I were to start creating my own levels, and indeed something I actually did in that brief fan-gaming stint of mine I mentioned earlier. Hell, it's the very same technique I employ with updates to this website. Summed up in four words: Release games in bits.

Technically that's already the way it's working. Except in those very rare cases, the only thing that ever gets released is a one or two level demo. That's a bit. It's enough to provide us with entertainment and hope but the problem is we keep getting the same demos while the creators are working on the later, unseen levels. What's worse is that all the different demos are essentially the same! A tropical paradise level. So why would it be so bad to release individual levels in their own self contained pack? Maybe a pair of levels. If you insist on a complex story, why not break that up into those parts too? Release them as you make them, and then every year we actually have a variety of different levels to explore. Different levels at different degrees of difficulty, with different themes. Lots and lots of individual chunks that we can play at will.

With impressive engines like Sonic Worlds for Multimedia Fusion (and upon reading that page it looks as if they're attempting something on the lines of what I'm suggesting), various Game Maker engines, plus the brilliant Retro Sonic engine and Damian Grove's anticipated ProSonic tool, it seems we're getting closer, if we're not there already, to cleanly separating programming from design. You don't need to be a scientific genius to figure out how to make Sonic go up and down a slope properly, it's already there. So now, more than ever, should it be possible to just whip out clean, singular levels with largely uniform gameplay physics on a pretty frequent basis.

I can see that someone who is aiming to achieve a big, deep, story-centered experience might see the solution as less attractive for their game. If you've got a complex plot or a lot of surprises later on, you might not want people jumping in half way through because that's the part they've started with. Certainly, some games would benefit more from the full experience and that should always be an option. If it ever is released, it's going to be a lot more fun to play something that feels like a whole game. However, I just think many fan-gamers need to start thinking a little more realistically about their projects. Something that takes years and years may never fully come to fruition and if it doesn't, then all that work is wasted because nothing ever comes of it. We never get to play those lost levels. Maybe it's something that more people should start to think about, as an insurance policy and something to help maintain the strength of the Sonic fan development scene.

At the end of the day, everyone is doing what they do because they want to. No one should ever be forced to feel pressured into making anything if it's purely a hobby. However on the other hand, the things that fan-gamers show us, excite us and we like to know things are still ticking along and we like to play them whenever we can. If things were done in levels rather than games, I believe there would be much less pressure on anyone. You make however many levels you can, whenever you can, we get to play one as soon as its finished and no one has to end up waiting for something that might just be scrapped in the end, losing forever anything that may have been made. The whole cycle is reduced in length so it's not a big deal if a fan-gamer decides to call it quits on the latest level they're developing because they've already given us a whole bunch to play with.

If I were to glance ahead another eight years into the Sonic community, I would love to see a grand directory filled with individual levels that you can download. You can browse by creator, difficulty level, environment, length. Levels packs can be standalone executables, maybe containing extra missions or mini-acts. Their designs can also be huge, covering vast routes with many hidden items to seek.

I don't expect that this will be read in full by many but hopefully it strikes a chord with some fans and developers alike, and provides a simple option to contemplate. If you have read this article through and have a response, please leave me a message as I'd love some feedback on the idea, especially from fan-gamers themselves.
Comments   9 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, 28th July 2009, 2:08pm
"...I can name only three (count them, three) complete, decent fan-games, two of which are released this week(!)..."

Which fan-games are going to be released this week?
#2. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Tuesday, 28th July 2009, 2:33pm
Sonic Robo Blast 2 (although I understand it still has further work to be done, it is essentially a complete game) and Sonic Revival, which is available from Thursday.

Only other half decent, completed one that I can recall is Sonic: Time Attacked by Jamie Bailey, way back in 2003 (I think), and as nice as that was, the community has come a long way since then. If there are other good, complete fan games out there then I haven't played them.
#3. Comment posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, 28th July 2009, 9:37pm
Sonic Nebulous is another complete game I believe. Of course the art style bothers me a bit. I haven't played it yet and therefore I really can't say if it is a good fan game or not, but it is complete with only patches for possible glitches to be fixed when discovered from what I understand.
#4. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Tuesday, 28th July 2009, 10:50pm
Oh, is that complete? Fair enough. Yeah, I agree, the sprites in particular look a bit dodgy and I'm no Archie fan, but it has some interesting ideas and effects. Funny, maybe now is the time that games are actually starting to be completed, almost in unison! I still think individual levels might be the way to go for many now though.
#5. Comment posted by mercury on Wednesday, 29th July 2009, 8:53am
I agree wholeheartedly with this assessment.

When I first began my project, I'd planned on it being episodic. It was a revolutionary concept at the time. Now, I've been beaten to the punch by Sam & Max. :(
#6. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Wednesday, 29th July 2009, 1:25pm
Glad you agree! I was wondering whether you had thought about that idea for your own game.
#7. Comment posted by True Dude on Monday, 3rd August 2009, 9:39pm
You have a point LiquidShade, almost nobody finishes anything. The exceptions are the three you mentioned, and a few others, namely Sonic SV and Sonic: The Fast Revolution.
#8. Comment posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, 4th August 2009, 8:17pm
Dude what about Sonic Megamix?
I know it's a heavily modified versoin of Sonic 1 but it's bloody brilliant with some excellent level designs, plus you can burn it onto a CD-R and play it on an original Mega-CD!
#9. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Wednesday, 5th August 2009, 8:50am
True, I suppose I had glossed over the hacks. Admittedly I haven't played many other than Sonic Megamix, but that is a very enjoyable title with a chaotic style all of its own. From what I've seen, hacked ROMS never really stray far from the original games though in terms of level themes and ideas (they usually just give the levels horrible colour palettes or make some character playable who wasn't before) - I'd just love to see a full, high quality, completely original fan made game, and I don't think I've seen a full hack that is quite like that, even though it seems to be possible to completely change the graphics and level layouts into whatever sorts of level the creator wants.
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