Sonic Generations Custom Levels
Saturday, 23rd June 2012, 12:58pm (UTC), 15 Comments
First of all, happy 21st Birthday to Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic 1 is of course 21 years old today - ensure you devote a bit of time to it. I've already done my playthrough, realising that I'm actually incredibly rusty! I died several times in really stupid places. How embarrassing. You can also celebrate by pre-ordering the English version of the History of Sonic book that was recently released in French by Pix'n Love. You can find out more about it here.

Anyway, that's all by the by, I mainly just wanted to flag up something really interesting going on over there on Sonic Retro - Sonic Generations hacking. You may have seen this video already but in case you haven't, it demonstrates Sonic Unleashed levels being imported into the Sonic Generations engine and thus being playable on PC and perhaps even perfected a little bit:

It's now gone even further than that though, videos of the same treatment on even older levels have been popping up all over the place, albeit still in very much a work-in-progress form. Still, the possibilities are getting even more exciting. Check these out...

First of all, the prospect of updating and re-imagining old levels that, with enough talent behind enhancing textures and re-modelling, could look as good as the ones that were actually re-made for Sonic Generations, is tantalising enough. This is all clearly still in the earliest stages, and from what I've read they are understandably still working things out, and importing old levels is obviously a very good way of doing that. I'm amazed at how much they've already managed to achieve, there's some amazing talent around in the community.

But the Sky Troops one interests me in particular because it looks a lot more customised and demonstrates the exciting possibility of being able to create your own entirely new stages. At this point in time it all seems way beyond me to get my hands dirty with it, and I'd need a decent PC for a start. But I'm a budding level designer, with a particular passion for coming up with fresh ideas in every aspect, and hope, over the next few years, to start realising some of these ideas I've had knocking around in my head for ages now. I've always imagined them as 2D, but I adore the modern Sonic Generations levels so much that I can't help but get extremely excited about the possibility of my levels taking that form as well. Problem is of course that while I reckon I can work my way pretty far through the creation of a 2D game with a bit (ok, a lot) of dedication, 3D is a completely new domain for me, I know next to nothing about it and frankly would struggle to make a model of a perfect cube.

However, for anyone with similarly colossal aspirations, I recommend keeping an eye on this scene as from what I've seen of 3D Sonic fan-made engines over the years, this looks like one of your best bets. Sonic fan game or hacking projects are notorious for getting scrapped along the way, and this is complex stuff that really requires collaboration, something that's very difficult to hold together within an amateur context. Plus I do have some concerns about SEGA's view on all this. Editing 20 year old games to put new characters in and change the colours a bit is one thing, but this is messing around with a very current engine that could be used to create very similar, rival content to new official Sonic games.

Still, that all being well, I'm hoping that these clever guys can come up with some nifty tools to make the whole process a lot more user-friendly and easier for less-technically minded, but more creative people to bring their imaginative ideas to life. Even then, creating a massive 3D Sonic level of the quality of those in Generations - or indeed any for that matter - has to be a huge undertaking if you want to do it properly, and I'm sure it will always require a lot of dedication and a willingness to understand new concepts. My mind is twirling with the possibilities of my imaginary level, but I'm trying to remind myself it's going to take a hell of a lot of work and perhaps collaboration with others. To that end I'd be particularly interested to hear from any of you for whom this has also got your brain ticking about what you could do with this engine given the best tools and capabilities at your disposal. Perhaps we could discuss further and share some ideas - believe me, I have a lot of them!

The best place I've seen so far to follow these developments is on this lengthy Sonic Retro topic. Spend a bit of time going back through the last pages and look at the kind of stuff they're working on. I think their goals seem to align with what I've mentioned above, and it all sounds really promising.
Comments   15 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Saturday, 23rd June 2012, 3:40pm
Even after 21 years of extreme platforming and high-end determination for world safety, sonic the hedgehog is still the world's most highly praised superhero character with a full 5 stars next to his name. LONG LIVE SONIC THE HEDGEHOG!
#2. Comment posted by afolita on Sunday, 24th June 2012, 10:56am
I don't think all this modding should bother SEGA so much: if they release some DLC, people will definitely buy them, not to mention a whole new game they surely have currently in development. Moreover, they can have a look at these fan-made stages to take a few notes about the most preferred level design and such things. Have you seen CorvidDude's Emerald Coast yet? It's the best of all by far!

I'd also love to design my own Sonic levels, both 2D and 3D, and I have a bunch of nice ideas, but my limited knowledge and a bit of laziness stop me from actually getting to make them. Tell us about what you have in mind a bit, LiquidShade!
#3. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Sunday, 24th June 2012, 10:59am
Did you see the most recent link I set you? (he most interesting one in my opinion)
#4. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Sunday, 24th June 2012, 11:03am

Did you see the Emerald Cost video by Corvid Dude that was uploaded... Today!!!! 100x better than the last preview. (That was the link I sent LQS btw).

p.s I didn't see your comment when I was writing mine, because I was writing it at the same time.

HAHA I am a peot, and I didn't even know it!
#5. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Sunday, 24th June 2012, 2:59pm
Yeah, I saw the Emerald Coast one, it looks awesome. Very exciting.

I've had several level ideas over the years - enough for a full game, and each one either in a completely unique locale or with a certain gimmick to it that hasn't really been done before. I'd be most interested in doing my idea for the first level however, a grand country garden, with neat flower patches, woodlands, fountains and pools, hedge mazes and old country mansions. If you happen to be British, you'll know of our National Trust gardens and old houses across the countryside - it's basically that sort of thing but on a grand and slightly more ridiculous scale (I imagine the hedge mazes - which you can go inside and get lost in - towering up into huge multi-sided cubes for example). Broadly, it's probably closest to Marble Garden Zone, except it's not a ruins level, the buildings are slightly old but well maintained, and with pristine gardens.

And most importantly, no seaside, beach or tropical palm tree in sight! If I were to do a more traditional seaside zone, I'd turn it into a challenging water level, for the middle of a game, crossing with a haunted theme as Sonic would delve into sunken shipwrecks amongst coral reefs. I've had ideas similar to Rooftop Run and White Park as well, but pre-dating both of them, though I still might like to do them anyway, and I'm a big believer that the rarely seen Wild West style level has thus far been criminally overlooked, for the most part.

I'm desperate to get cracking on these, or at least just the garden level, after my plans for Zone: 0 are complete (although note, at this stage, I may not just be referring to the S&K guide there...). If any good 3D modellers are reading and happen to be looking for a level to contribute to.. let's talk!
#6. Comment posted by afolita on Sunday, 24th June 2012, 8:05pm
LiquidShade, you seem to have read my mind with that seaside zone paragraph, seriously! My wish would be to create an ocean level with beaches, coral reefs, sunken pirate ships, submarine caves... all with colourful fish swimming around and other misc seafloor decoration. My main idea is to show players that water levels can be fun and enjoyable and not a nightmare (they don't have to be more challenging than others) when done well. Aquarium Park is my favourite area in Sonic Colours for a reason.
#7. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Sunday, 24th June 2012, 11:01pm
afolita, I don't think it's easy to get Sonic Colours for the ps3, because I think it's rare to find one.
#8. Comment posted by netch on Monday, 25th June 2012, 9:17am
Sonic Colors was never out on PS3.

I am particularly most excited for the Emerald Coast custom level. Beats the 3DS version already (and "...the level isn't even halfway done!")!

If you're not good with 3d modeling, then you might just "plan" the classic level design in SonEd2.

P.s. You might not be able to run SonEd :(
#9. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Monday, 25th June 2012, 5:11pm
I thought I'd get here & find a better answer to my question.
#10. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Tuesday, 26th June 2012, 7:51am
What better answer is there to a question other than the right one?
#11. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Tuesday, 26th June 2012, 7:54am
Oh, and LQS, PLZ Check ur e-mail, 3 new (and exciting) vids.

Windy Valley Custom Level (Ok-ish)
Emerald Coast Preview#2 (Great!)
Sonic Unleashed Porting, HUB test (Dragon Valley looks awesome, and it looks like the HUB CAN be in 3D!)
#12. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Tuesday, 26th June 2012, 9:08am
I'm no expert on remodelling or restoration for many levels of the sonic the hedgehog series, but I still give him a full 5-star rating for world-class safety.
And as an added bonus, the upcoming new sonic game (Sonic & All-Stars Racing TRANSFORMED) has more in it than it's predecessor, sonic & sega all-stars racing.
When you think about it, it's like having something to share with other sonic fans around the globe.
One last thing, when will the ''death egg'' & "the doomsday'' zones plus the miscellaneous section be added to the sonic & knuckles game section?
#13. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Tuesday, 26th June 2012, 11:09am
I shall speak on behalf of LQS for the last bit, because it has just been asked too many times...

Death egg is Coming, and Doomsday will be added to misc. Probably without a map.

"... I still give him a full 5-star rating for world-class safety."

Isn't that what you said in the 1st post? And I kinda have no idea what you mean (the safety bit). Can you Please elaborate?

@afolita Hydrocity was fun too! Oh, and Aquarium Park Act 5 I think it was, WAS a nightmare (you know, the bit where Sonic gets chased by that THING, the one that gets re-incarnated in Terminal Velocity Act 1)
#14. Comment posted by Brady Meyers on Wednesday, 27th June 2012, 6:08am
It means that we're safe from evil moustach monkey Dr. Eggman.
#15. Comment posted by Kabam! on Sunday, 1st July 2012, 2:18pm
This is amazing! Just imagine Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) remade into what it was supposed to be. If the speed section of wave ocean was that good then the possibilities are endless! And I agree SEGA should take a deeper look into this stuff and learn from it.
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