Happy Birthday, Zone: 0!
Thursday, 30th August 2007, 5:55pm (BST), 0 Comments
Update: Page Reply feature added to all pages in the Sonic 1 and 2 guides, allowing visitor submission of extra info.
That's right, one pleasant summer's evening, three years ago to this day, I decided to sit down and write about Green Hill Zone, after spending the previous few weeks throwing around an idea in my head about the ultimate online reference guide for all Sonic levels. Granted, it took only three hours and it wasn't immediately as detailed or accurate as it is today, but the foundation was laid, and the remaining Sonic 1 levels followed shortly, all within the space of just over a week! Three years on, and here is that resource, and though its really only just started to break out of text documents on my computer and onto the interweb, it is already far more detailed and impressive that I could ever have imagined it would be. How the hell that one idea has survived to this day, through all the potential pit-falls and reasons for me to give up, and now with my enthusiasm for it fully intact, I have absolutely no idea, but you can bet your ass I'm sticking with it!

I don't let anniversaries like this go by unnoticed, so to celebrate, I've gone and launched the Zone: 0 Page Reply system. Journey to any page within the Sonic 1 and what's currently available of the Sonic 2 guides, and you'll find a pair of outlined boxes at the top and bottom, which link you to a pop-up window filled with.. well, at the moment, not much, but it will be filled with dozens of comments left by loyal Zone: 0 followers (who will also materialise in due time). They'll be talking about extra bits and pieces of info that I've missed from that particular page, maybe asking me inane questions that would probably have been answered on the page if they'd looked hard enough, and hopefully a touch of debate here and there about the level in question. Dunno what kind of debates those would be, but I'm sure they'd be darn fascinating. I'm hoping that over time, regular visitors will make themselves known through that system and my blog comments, and one day a proper Zone: 0 forum may emerge with a ready made community to use it. A real nice forum, where the matters of level and game design are discussed in a friendly atmosphere, but only between knowledgeable and devoted Sonicologists.

Unfortunately, Casino Night is still not ready, and both act maps still need completing. It's all those darn bumpers and flippers all over the place. As I mentioned last time, my eyes have given up on me recently and decided to hurt unbearably, sometimes all day long, and especially when I try and look at a computer screen. Given that my life isn't much without being able to receive visuals through some sort of screen that's in front of me, this has proved to be highly inconvenient. Got new glasses yesterday though, which are a massive improvement, and I don't have to squint to try and see anything anymore, which I reckon was what the problem was. The pain is still a bit on and off but I'm hoping it'll go completely very soon, and I can get on with things. Being idle sucks.

So, realistically, expect us to hit those glitzy slots sometime next week, all being well (though it may not be). Then I might have a little break to get a few other non-Zone:0 things sorted, like heading back to uni. And then we've got Sonic Rush Adventure to look forward to! Start practicing that piratey accent now. I don't need to, I talk like that all the time.

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Zone: 0 needs YOU!
Friday, 24th August 2007, 4:05pm (BST), 3 Comments
Well, nominations for the Sonic Site Awards have been posted up, and I'm thrilled to see that Zone: 0 has made it through to be nominated for three different awards, including Information Station, Impressive Layout and even the big one, the Sonic Site Award itself! Given that this site has only been up since April, and for it to already be eligible for the top award is quite an achievement and I thank Dreadknux and whoever else helped him choose the final nominations for giving Zone: 0 the opportunity.

As of writing, you can't vote just yet but by the time you're reading this, it'll probably be open, so I'd be very grateful if you could vote for Zone: 0 in any of those categories (though you do need an SSMB account, I believe). And by all means, let me know here if you voted for me, by leaving a comment on this blog post. Though it's against strong competition, I think Zone: 0's amount of detail gives it a good chance in the Information Station award. I'm not so sure about Impressive Layout, after seeing the likes of the extremely stylish EverSonic. I'll probably vote for them myself, actually. Although I'd like to suggest that Zone: 0's best in that department can be found more in the way the content pages of the games are organised and are hopefully quite clear and easy to read, rather than in this still quite temporary home page area. As for the biggie, its anyone's guess really. I'm not expecting to get it, but I'd be overjoyed if I did. Whatever happens, I'm sure it'll be a big help to spreading word about the place. Thanks also to Hogfather and anyone else who was kind enough to nominate me for that award, as I only went in for the other two, myself.

If you're wondering what's going on with regard to updates, I'm afraid it's a bit slow at the moment. I've practically blown out my eyeballs in the last few days, and while they're alot better today, it's been the case that I've been unable to keep my eyes on the monitor for more than ten minutes without them starting to hurt unbearably. Too much strain on them as of late, but I'm getting new glasses next week, which will hopefully fix the problem. The Casino Night Zone page is half done, but the maps aren't and I can't say for sure when they'll be up, but hopefully within the next couple of weeks.

As I mentioned last time, it's the third anniversary of the whole concept of this resource on the 30th August, and I hope to celebrate it by unveiling a new comment system for each individual page of info in the game guides. This will allow you to write a response, or read a list of previous responses relating to any specific level etc, and it allows you to post further info that I've missed, ask me questions, or help solve anything I don't get or can't access. No login will be required, so I'm hoping to build up more of a community by making the site a bit more interactive.

I better go now cos me eyes are playing up again. See you on the 30th, and VOTE VOTE VOTE!.. for me. Please. Thankyou.

Comments   3 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Hogfather on Saturday, 25th August 2007, 3:14am
I'm voting for Zone: 0... and so should you... Also.. Vote for A Rose and a Thorn in fiction 2007... It's not my fic... but it's blood good and deserves to win. Just like Zone: 0 deserves to clean house.
#2. Comment posted by 1963886 on Saturday, 25th August 2007, 2:50pm
I'll vote for your site... actually, I'll vote your your site in all 3 categories.
#3. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Saturday, 25th August 2007, 3:37pm
Cheers guys! Lets hope this can gather in more loyal Zone: 0 followers, who will also pledge their votes.
Water Erosion
Monday, 13th August 2007, 11:58am (BST), 6 Comments
Update: Aquatic Ruin Zone added to the Sonic 2 section
I had Aquatic Ruin all finished up and ready for showing yesterday but unfortunately my IP became blocked from my own web host for some reason just as I was uploading. The maps took quite a while this time, what with complicated routes, all those foreground bushes and different colouration for the underwater segments. Worth it though.. then again, come to think of it, I haven't actually received any feedback as of yet about any of the maps, specifically. You guys DO have a look at these maps I invest a fair bit of time on, right? Of course you do, I can see them being accessed in the stats, but I hope they come to good use, or will do in the future. I like Aquatic Ruin Zone, it's a cheerful little level with a very interesting structure that's filled with sub-routes and hidden bits and pieces, though it strikes me as being quite underrated in the community. You never hear people talk about it much, do you?

So, SAGE (Sonic Amateur Games Expo) has come and gone once again and there were a handful of impressive offerings. In general, the fangaming community is now becoming quite successful at making their various game engines emulate the real thing, compared to where they were 4 or 5 years ago, where things like loop-de-loops and platforms that make Sonic move with them were the stuff of the absolute experts. There's also some quite good level design and interesting ideas popping up aswell, but the problem is that still, nothing is ever completed. The only half decent completed fangame I've ever played was Sonic Time Attacked, which now is quite old and can be improved upon. Otherwise, all we ever get is an endless stream of demos featuring only one or two levels, and then the creator usually scraps it shortly thereafter, often replacing it with another game that is essentially the same basic concept. I understand it's all part-time stuff (like me with this site), and sometimes things don't always work out the way they were planned, but surely there should have been more of them that have actually been finished by now. Maybe everyone should just forget about trying to make whole games and just focus on releasing individual, unconnected levels of varying difficulty and type. That's what I'd do I think.

Retro Sonic is one fangame I've been keeping an eye on over the last few years and I'm thrilled to see it back and better than ever at SAGE, even though it was only just released this morning. Its physics are about the best I've seen from anyone, and the level design is excellent. Very smooth and flowing and flat out fun. If there's one game that I really hope to see complete one day, it's this one. Sonic Nexus was also impressive, with some nice, original ojects, and its good to see a fanmade level that isn't just a succession of speedy curves. I don't normally play many hacks on emulators, mostly because I get the impression they usually just replace Sonic with someone like Shadow or Mighty and then warp the level graphics into horrible colour schemes. Yes, Sonic 1 Megamix is partly that, but it also features completely redesigned, and very long levels that add whole new ideas to Sonic 1. Racing through it is good fun, and it's nice to play something that's actually a whole game, from what I've reached so far. Not something that I would have thought might appeal to me, but I liked Tikal and Chaos for its inventive platforming maneuvers given to Chaos, particularly, and just the interesting level design. I know people work very hard on their fangames, so well done to you all. Show SEGA and Sonic Team that level design doesn't always need too many death drops and gangs of enemies with health bars to be a decent challenge.

Now then, what's all this cafuffle about Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity? It seems that PLAY magazine is boasting all the info before SEGA release it. Unusual for some mag to be the very first to divulge stuff about a new Sonic game, but I guess they would have no reason to lie. That makes a cluster of five different games coming our way within the next year or so, which is quite alot, and if Zero Gravity is for real, that makes 46 Sonic games in total, by my list. I break up the series into two distinct generations, Pre and Post Sonic Adventure, and SA was Sonic game #24. That makes the first and second generations now exactly the same size as each other.. Time for a third then? Maybe.

I'm eagerly awaiting the start of the voting phase for the SSA's. Even if Zone:0 is just nominated for something, it'll be a much needed boost to my hits. Although it is doing quite well in Google search results at the moment, coming up quite high for the right kind of phrases. Also, this whole project celebrates three great years of being in production on the 30th of this month. That's right. First two years spent writing, the third spent on building all that you see here right now. To celebrate, I hope to build that system I've been promising, where you can leave comments in response to each level page, and just generally improve the functionality of the comments system. And Casino Night Zone will probably come up along with it aswell.

'Til then!

Comments   6 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by 1963886 on Thursday, 16th August 2007, 2:55am
...Of course we look at the maps. That's funny, Aquatic Ruin is a good level, but I consider it the worst in the game. What do you think is the worst level in the game? What about the best level? The section looks nice... you're a good writer.
#2. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Thursday, 16th August 2007, 9:24am
I would say Hill Top is my least favourite. Ever since I noticed it, I just can't help but be put off by the fact that it has the exact same foreground as Emerald Hill, only turquoise instead of orange. Otherwise it's cool, but I just think it could have done with more originality in its graphics.

As for my favourite.. don't really have one that stands out for me especially, but I've always enjoyed Casino Night, and of course Sky Chase is always pleasant and simple.

#3. Comment posted by Flint on Tuesday, 28th August 2007, 10:35am
Aquatic Ruin's amazing. The huge Greek mythology nerd in me was overjoyed when I played it as a little kid. Just thought I'd say "great work" again, noticed that this site had proceeded to Sonic 2 as I was checking out the SSA stuff (voted for ya btw). Sonic 2's my favourite out of the 2D games, excited about seeing what you can write. Hell, I never knew about the Chemical Plant Zone secret way D: There is however an ounce of criticism here as well, and that's with the music descriptions. I'm a huge music fan and it's slightly disappointing that you don't really insert even nearly the same amount of detail to the music descriptions as to every other description: quite often it's merely "lively and , which fits the stage". Now I do understand it's probably a bit harder to write about short loops of songs in detail than whole levels or enemies, but it's something I see as a tad of a flaw. (I might actually assist you on that stuff, but don't hold on to me on that like it's set in stone. Just an off-shoot mention. Plus I don't even know if you want helping hands) But yeah. Fantastic work still. You have a huge chance of becoming one of THE Sonic sites in the future. Good luck with the SSA!
#4. Comment posted by Flint on Tuesday, 28th August 2007, 10:35am
And for some reason the posting killed my paragraphs and made it all into one big pile of text. OUCH.
#5. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Tuesday, 28th August 2007, 11:16am
Yeah, sorry about the paragraphs. That's just the way it comes out, and I haven't quite sussed them yet, but I will get round to it. In the meantime, <p> tags work just as well.

Thanks alot for your vote and support! There's a reason the music doesn't get as much description as anything else, and it's not because I don't care about it. On the contrary, Sonic music is among my absolute favourite things about the series. It's simply because I really don't know how to describe music, I'm not very musical at all. I try to write more detail there but that's really all I can ever come up with.

If you want to add a bit more to it then by all means feel free, though I won't hold you to it. Very soon I'll be implementing a system whereby visitors can post comments to any specific page, just like you can with these blog entries. This can be used to add things that I've missed, so by all means post anything you want in there and I can add it to the actual page at a later date.

It'd be really cool if I could get someone who actually knows what they're talking about to write the music descriptions, so yeah, go for it! :)

#6. Comment posted by Flint on Tuesday, 28th August 2007, 5:25pm

Ehh, I don't know if I actually /know/ what I'm talking about (I've no clues about notes and whatnot!) but I do love to chat crap about things of musical nature. I'll see if I can find the time to give it a try, mail ya some stuffs when I do (don't expect immediately, I've got pretty long work days so energy goes doooown).

Thanks for the approval though :D

Let's see if these p-tags work!

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