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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.
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!