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I started working on Sonic: The Fated Hour in 1999 at the age of 16. In the intervening years, it has seen a lengthy and drawn-out development cycle as I've repeatedly delayed the project either to recode it from scratch (to improve the game's code base or due to data corruption/loss) or to focus on other projects. I am now back to work on this project full-time, having either canceled, postponed or finished all other projects. I want to finish it, once and for all, before I end up working on it for ten years solid.

Report article RSS Feed Sonic: The Fated Hour March Update

For those of you who did not like the changes I mentioned in last month's update, it would be best to look away now, because I've got more this month.

Posted by BlazeHedgehog on Mar 23rd, 2009

What a month it has been. Spring is upon us (and Spring Break!), and the coming heat meant it was time I switch out my failing motherboard (it was not the best of friends with warm weather). Despite expectations, I did not have to re-install Windows for the new Motherboard, meaning work on TFH continued, smooth as ever. Last month, I promised you guys some video, so let's just get that out of the way right now:

The video mostly speaks for itself, but it doesn't explain everything. First thing you'll notice is the new test level. Here, I demonstrate the new shields, which I talked about last month. To recap: The old Fire Shield was simply too powerful, and it has been nerfed to make room for the new Wind Shield. The multi-directional dash is gone for the exact same reason. Some minor animation flair has been added (ledge tilting animations, something I can't believe I neglected until now). Since how Boost works has been completely changed (more on that later in the video), the little glowy orb thing that comes out of enemies has been instead replaced by the good ol' Sonic CD flowers. While implementing Sonic's pushing animation as more "animation flair", I decided to implement pushing objects, too (which is giving me a lot of good ideas towards level design).

But, really, let's not beat around the bush, here: The biggest change in this video is at the end. The game's boost system has received a complete and total overhaul. As much fun as it was boosting around the demo level Sonic-Rush-style, that's not what I really wanted. Again, this all goes back to gameplay balance - having a boost that you can just hold down constantly lends itself to a certain type of gameplay. Levels have to be designed around boosting that much, and those are not the kind of levels I had in mind for this game. I'm not trying to make a Sonic-Rush-clone. I want TFH to be more like the classic Sega Genesis Sonic games with some elements to update it with the better parts of modern Sonic games. I didn't want to remove boosting completely (since, in some vague form, boosting has been a part of TFH even before it was officially implemented in Sonic Rush), so I tried to go for a system that still lets you boost... just not forever.

Essentially, if you've ever played Excite Bike on the NES (or, for a more recent example, MotorStorm on the PS3), you'll notice that you can only boost until you "overheat". When you overheat, you become incapacitated for a while and it breaks your flow. It's the same concept here. If your boost meter fills up all the way, you are stunned and cannot boost again until it drains completely empty. While destroying enemies and collecting rings can slow down how quickly the boost meter fills, pretty much the only way to drain the boost meter again is to not boost.

That's all for this month. Glancing at the "To Do" list I keep around, there's only two or three major features left to implement (and a bunch of polish) before I can start working on levels. If you're wondering why I haven't started on real levels yet, it has to do with the way Multimedia Fusion handles the code you give it - it's better to have a complete "engine" first and then start building levels through that. Regardless, it feels a bit like I'm nearing home stretch here - there might actually be proper game stuff to show you guys soon!

See you in 30 days!

Post comment Comments
Nickelpat Mar 23 2009 says:

Excite Bike still has to be the best game ever, creating your own little maps that you know with result in the bots becoming a big cluster and be flipping everywhere is always fun :D

I love TFH, I got my demo working and found myself playing it for a good bit of time. It's great to see people going back to the good ole' days! Now, to find a Genesis style Golden Axe... :P

+1 vote     reply to comment
Henley Staff
Henley Mar 23 2009 says:

Im quite excited for this

+1 vote   reply to comment
Bird_of_Prey Mar 23 2009 says:

Some nice new stuff. Good work!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Hitez Mar 23 2009 says:

nice design desicions i like the sound of this

+1 vote     reply to comment
JimJamX Mar 24 2009 says:

First of all, the Wind shield is very interesting, but I think it is a bit too strong. The amount of height, distance and speed gained from the wind jump is over powered. It out performs Knuckles glide ability. Its important to keep Sonic's double-jump moveset as varied from the other characters as possible. Even if Knuckles isn't going to be in the game, Sonic should not infringe on Knuckles abilities.

Here is my more literal analysis of your shields. Figure A shows the approximate distances each jump carries you. I've drawn on Knuckles glide pattern as a comparison.

Figure B and C show show a little idea for an alternative glide ability. B does a small loop and then juts forward. Figure C would be similar to the wind attack in Sonic Heros. It also gradually lifts you up and forward. Both of my methods would require Sonic to be in his Ball form, and make the move both utility and attack. Both B and C would end with Sonic Gliding down slowly as he already does in your video.

+2 votes     reply to comment
JimJamX Mar 24 2009 replied:

My other comment is on the new boost system. If you do use this system, you have to take into account a few things. In Sonic Rush (and your game) just lightly tapping the boost button adds enough momentum to instantly put Sonic at top speed. The thing about the Sonic Engine, is that once Sonic is at top speed, he stays at top speed. Thats how Sonic works. In Excite Bike or Motor storm, you can only boost for so long because the boost is actually exerting the engine of the car. So when you let off of the boost, you slow down to normal top speed. But Sonic doesn't slow down after accelerating, because he isn't an over exherting engine. This can be seen in the long slope area in Chemical Plant Zone that pushes Sonic off screen beyond his normal speed limit. The boost in your game is instant acceleration, not like the Motor Storm, which has a gradual acceleration to its physical limit. So there really is no reason to hold the boost in, because once you let go you will still be traveling at the same speed. It would be the same as if Sonic's Spindash was instantly charged on the first button press. Whats the point ot pressing the button any more?

Which leads to my reason of the instant boost system being broken. You have to charge (accelerate) the Spindash. The spindash has variable output speeds. You can "instantly" boost for how ever fast you can charge the attack. But with the Instant Boost there is not acceleration factor, so there is no real trade off. You need to not limit how LONG you can hold the boost (because that is pointless since top speed it met instantly), but instead you need to limit how often the boost is used.

+2 votes     reply to comment
JimJamX Mar 24 2009 replied:

The other very important thing is avoiding the GTA 3 glitch. If you weren't aware of it, I'll explain.

Grand Theft Auto 3 (and its sequels) had a very similar system but with a hidden "stamina" bar. When you held dash, you would deplete stamina. When it hit Zero, you could no longer dash until your gauge refilled. This took about 5 or so seconds. That meant the difference between life or death in a pinch. You had to pace yourself with how often you dashed, and how long to avoid a "fatigued" state.

But what was the glitch? If you repeatedly mashed the Dash button instead of holding it, you character would accelerate to top speed. But since you weren't holding the button, the stamina would replenish itself inbetween button press intervals.That means, for every time you pressed the button, you would lose say 1 stamina point. When you let go, you gain 1 stamina point. But your character doesn't slow down to normal speed for a few seconds. So your stamina bar is just fluttering between 99% and 100% instead of depleting slowly to 0% when holding. To summarize, repeatedly pressing the dash button effectively gave you infinite running ability. (a broken game mechanic)

And in your game, it looks as though this glitch is already present.

How do you fix this? Well, the only way I can imagine is to make the FIRST button press consume more stamina than the holding process. When you press DASH, subtract 25% stamina, and then only 5% every frame after when held. What this does is prevent people from Dash spamming. Dash spamming would then cause the gauge to deplete 100% in only 4 repeated presses. This may also help in preventing overuse of the instant dash, and promote a balance with the traditional SpinDash.

Sorry for the huge posts. I would just like to see the project head in the right direction, and you've been doing a great job already.

I'm just an enthusiast and and a critic.

+2 votes     reply to comment
BlazeHedgehog Author
BlazeHedgehog Mar 25 2009 replied:

I'll reply to all of these in one post:

- I'm fine with Sonic muscling in on Knuckles' abilities a little bit, because this ability is tied to a shield. Shields are power-ups, and generally their effects are temporary. Considering Knuckles is not a playable character in this game (though he does appear), I'm fine with expanding Sonic's abilities in this way.

- Boost is taken care of. You're basically commenting on the short little clip you've seen of boost in action and not how the boost itself actually functions. When you boost, your top speed is nearly doubled and you get an increase in acceleration. When you stop boosting, your top speed goes back down to normal and you slow down again. You also cannot roll while boosting.

- Tapping the boost button does not work, as one "point" is added to your boost meter just for pressing the button. Basically, tapping is a really fast way to max out the meter.

+1 vote   reply to comment
Seiseki Mar 24 2009 says:

Looks very interesting, I'm a big fan of sonic rush myself, but I also love the old games, I think your boost system should use the same as Rush, which means that you have a meter which charges as you score points, and when you boost the meter depletes..
A overheat doesn't really feel like sonic..

+1 vote     reply to comment
Seiseki Mar 24 2009 says:

Sorry, just read what you wrote about rush and the new system..
Perhaps another way of doing it would be a stamina meter, dashing would deplete your stamina, which would recharge while not dashing..

Sorry again, not a big fan of overheated sonic ;P

+1 vote     reply to comment
DOLBYdigital Mar 24 2009 says:

These updates are great and really show the consideration it takes when implementing powers and features of items, moves, and power ups in games.

My favorite part of any sonic game is just flying around the screen as fast as possible, dodging and weaving through the level. So I really like how your boost system is coming along but I may have to agree with JimJamX. With the current system, it does seem easy to get infinite boost which I would actually like ;)

So maybe you could have an un-lockable option to allow infinite boost after you beat the game once ;)

+1 vote     reply to comment
snowdecay Mar 25 2009 says:

Wow, just found out about your project today. I got to say I am quite impressed. I love how smooth the transition between animations are. Keep it up, I can't wait to see more!

+1 vote     reply to comment
segasonicfan4life Apr 15 2009 says:

what ever happen to knuckles AI

+1 vote     reply to comment
BlazeHedgehog Author
BlazeHedgehog Apr 15 2009 replied:

You'll find out soon enough.

+1 vote   reply to comment
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