Hey there hi there ho there! So, it's been sort of a short month, and given my lame work ethic as of late, that means nothing has happened in TFH, right? This is just going to be another boring news post as I try and dig up something - anything - that is relevant to post for the monthly update.
You'd be wrong.
You may remember that last month I put up a 10-question survey on Survey Monkey to help me with the direction of TFH a little bit. Since I had a free account, only 100 people could answer the survey before it was automatically closed down, but I got what I needed out of the survey and it probably wasn't a good idea to let it go on too long anyway.
Since some people were interested in the answers to the survey, I will oblige with the top three answers to every question:
Results wrote: What year were you born?
- 1993 (15%)
- 1989 (11%)
- 1995 (8%)
Would you consider yourself a "Sonic fan"?
- Definitely (68%)
- Sure, I guess (24%)
- I was, but not anymore (4%)
What is your opinion of recent Sonic games?
- They are pretty cool, but could be better (45%)
- I want to like them, but some are pretty terrible (19%)
- I liked the old Genesis games, but not the new ones (14%)
How long have you been following TFH?
- TIE: Less than a month and 4+ Years (24%)
- 1-2 Years (17%)
- 1-4 Months (13%)
Which demos of TFH have you played?
- Dry Savannah Version 2 (62%)
- Dry Savannah Version 1 (60%)
- Christmas '07 (58%)
Does it bother you that the project has been in development so long?
- 5: No (43%)
- 4: Not really (23%)
- 1: Yes (12%)
Favorite Sonic game?
- Sonic 2 for the Genesis (24%)
- Sonic 3 for the Genesis (14%)
- Sonic CD for the Sega CD (10%)
Least Favorite Sonic game?
- SONIC the Hedgehog for PS3/360 (36%)
- Sonic Labyrinth for Game Gear (12%)
- TIE: Sonic Heroes for GC/PS2/Xbox and Sonic Unleashed for PS3/360/Wii (4%)
How Important are... (1 is "Not Important", 5 is "Very Important")
- Story - 5: Very (28%), 3: Indifferent (26%), 2: Not Really (18%)
- Exploration - 5: Very & 4: Kind of (34%), 3: Indifferent (19%), 2: Not Really (7%)
- Action - 5: Very (48%), 4: Kind of (38%), 3: Indifferent (8%)
- Boss Fights - 5: Very (58%), 4: Kind of (28%), 2: Not Really (6%)
- Graphics - 4: Kind of & 3: Indifferent (31%), 5: Very (24%), 2: Not Really (8%)
- Platforming - 5: Very (58%), 4: Kind of (24%), 3: Indifferent (14%)
- Music - 5: Very (56%), 4: Kind of (26%), 3: Indifferent (12%)
- Replayability - 5: Very (53%), 4: Kind of (28%), 3: Indifferent (13%)
- Time Trials - 3: Indifferent (27%), 4: Kind of (21%), 2: Not Really (20%)
- 2 Player Racing - 3: Indifferent (30%),1: Not (23%), 4: Kind of (19%)
- Playing as Tails with Sonic - 5: Very (25%), 3: Indifferent (24%), 2: Not Really (22%)
Final Question: Would it bother you if certain elements of TFH changed dramatically between prior demos to future ones?
- Not Really (50%)
- A Little Bit (22%)
- Definitely Not (21%)
A few of the options given were kind of vague (my fault), so some of the answers aren't what I expected - but what is most important to me is the final question. For those of you out there who have been paying attention, you'll know that I've been struggling with implementing a certain element of TFH since August: Sonic's equip screen menu. As I was trying to force myself to write it, a friend suggested that if I don't want to code it, it shouldn't be in the game. We argued about this (and other things related to this) for many months as basically little or no work was done on TFH. It was that final question that allows me to say this:
Sonic's equip system is no more.
Really, it should have been more obvious to me. Sonic's equip system wasn't added because I thought it would work well with the dynamic of the game, it was added because I had heard Sonic & The Secret Rings had a similar system, and I wanted to copy that. I wanted to copy a system from a game I've never played (and may never play, 'cause I won't have money for that stuff for a while). That's not game design! That's just copying something else and doing a poor job at it.
Axing Sonic's equip system has a big impact on the shape of the game. I had a good 20 or so minor skills Sonic could equip to slightly modify his abilities. Sonic would wear different colors of shoes. Pretty much all of that is gone. To make up for the loss of the equip system, the dynamic of the game is changing a little bit. Instead of buying and equipping shoes and skills at Amy's shop, she only offers up single-use items (think of it like buying a potion in Final Fantasy, except here it's a Lightning Shield). The number of items on offer has been expanded upon, too. The most dramatic change in this regard is that instead of three shields, there are now five shields in total.
Only one of the two shields is actually a new concept. Those who played Sonic 3 back in the day no doubt remember the bubble shield. With the bubble shield, you are given infinite breath underwater and a mean bounce attack. The shield on the far right, on the other hand, is a new concept for TFH: the Wind Shield.
As with all elemental shields, the Wind Shield comes with a special double-jump ability. In order to increase the importance of shields and to make room for the Wind Shield, Sonic's multi-directional air dash has been removed as a skill, and the fire shield's function has been tweaked. This is mainly because, design-wise, each shield is made to augment Sonic's air control in different ways.
The Wind Shield has a few other tricks up its sleeve, too. Though not as powerful as dashing with the Fire Shield, the nature of the Wind Shield gives Sonic a little more hang time in mid-air - sort of like gliding down in low gravity.
Of course, a lot more has been done to TFH to re-balance Sonic's skills than just adding two shields, but this update is already becoming long in the tooth. All you really need to know is this: Work on TFH has resumed and things are progressing at a brisk pace. While certain elements have been changed or removed since you last saw them, I'm sure it will ultimately lead to a far more balanced and much more fun game in the end. Do not consider this a loss of features - think of it more like the dropping of dead weight.
I'll definitely have video for you guys next month, so I'll see you then.