Hello, it's been a month since we've updated you on our progress on the mod. First things first tho, if you weren't aware already, there's a release of the latest update to SonicGMI, which includes the renderer you'll want to use for this mod. So feel free to gives that a try!
On to the important stuff, here's our latest update of our work on Cool Edge. Keep in mind this stage's still in development and likely to change before the final version. Some sacrifices had to be made in level design and changing stuff up due to the engine change, but we believe the transition has turned out quite well.
As to be expected, lots of people have been asking questions daily since the last video on JJ. And I expect lots of questions to pop up from this new video as well(although they're likely to be the same that people keep asking). Onwards to the FAQ then:
- When are you going to release the mod?
I can't give you a release date yet since I can't guarantee we'll develop what's remaining in a certain time frame. So, when it's done. Don't expect this to drag out for much longer tho... I've promised to release it in early 2013, no matter what it takes. My best guesstimate is less than a month, but I can't guarantee it since we work on this on our free time.
- But I've waited for so long, why do you take so much time to do this?
Yes, I know you people have waited, you don't need to give me exact dates and calculate the months in the comments of my videos. However, I'm addressing this because there seems to be a big misconception here. No serious work actually started until the Dragon Road demo and this mod page was created... so technically, we've only started developing this around June last year. Most of the work you saw BEFORE the Dragon Road demo was completely scrapped, since all of that was just research. It's hard to plan development around research, since you can't estimate when you'll discover what you want to do.
Secondly, this is all done on our free time by hobbyists. Sure, it might not look like much work since most of the level's already done from Sega, but it takes time to do this properly and get it working. There's far more stuff behind the scenes than what it looks like.
- Is this going to be free? Do I need to own Sonic Unleashed to play it?
As nuts as the first question sounds, it's been asked a lot more than I'd like to admit. Yes, it is free.
As for requirements, you don't need to own Sonic Unleashed to play this. Someone will likely ask if this is even legal then, but seeing as Sega has unlisted Sonic Unleashed from its titles due to a low metacritic score, and they haven't issued any sort of statement yet, we'll have to assume it's on the safe zone.
The only requirement you need is obviously just Sonic Generations on Steam, no more, no less.
- Do I need a better PC for playing this mod?
Given our limited control over this engine and the poor optimization of the PC port, you're gonna need something better than the average requirements to play this smoothly. The reasons are that Sonic Unleashed does push a lot more of stuff into the screen than Generations ever does, and it's not as properly optimized for that. Some levels chug, some others will work better than Generations ever did, and Jungle Joyride will probably kill your framerate unless you have a decent CPU from the past 3 years.
If you're already struggling with Generations, don't hope for much better performance on this. We'll be providing an additional mod for lowering draw distances/terrain streaming, which can MASSIVELY improve performance in most levels... but it ultimately looks like crap due to the pop-in. But hey, it's still playable if that's what you want! Only thing I'll ask is that any recordings of that should state that it's using the low-resources version of the mod(and switching between both will be as easy as toggling a 1 MB mod on or off)
- Do I need to use the Unleashed Renderer for playing this mod?
While it's not mandatory, the FxPipeline renderer will certainly be the preferred way of playing this mod, and the process to using it has been simplified a LOT. A lot of effects are simply not available in Generations, and we won't fix graphical issues that affect the Generations renderer, but not the FxPipeline one.
- What issues can we expect from this mod?
Given the vanilla game isn't stable either, you can expect this mod to be even worse in some particular levels. Crashing and freezing, expect those to happen randomly, or never happen. We've stabilized it a lot since the last time we did some public demos, but some bugs are likely to pop up.
Don't swamp us with bug reports as soon as it's released, as it's obvious something like this will have its fair share of bugs. You can already test whether you'll be able to play this or not before release with the Dragon Road demo, so if you haven't given that a try yet, you should.
- How will I be able to keep updated on this mod after release? I don't want to redownload 3 GB.
And you won't have to, as the new SonicGMI version includes an online updater. Whenever we release an update, it'll be a simple matter of clicking the updating button on SonicGMI. It'll even check for updates automatically if you want.
- What levels are going to be in? Will you port the DLC levels? What about the Hard modes? What about Classic Sonic levels? Will you port Eggmanland?(Can I ask that last question again tomorrow?)
The level list is the following. All of these levels are already playable and working from start to finish. The mod has a linear progression unlocking system for Modern Sonic only. Beat the previous stage, unlock the next. Beat all of them, mod finished. It probably takes around 40-60 minutes for a casual playthrough, but we all know that really isn't the point of the game.
- Windmill Isle - Tutorial Level
- Windmill Isle
- Savannah Citadel
- Rooftop Run
- Dragon Road
- Cool Edge
- Arid Sands
- Empire City
- Jungle Joyride
The first release of the mod will only have these levels. No extra acts. No DLC acts. And no Eggmanland. The reasons for this are obvious, unless you want to see this mod take another year to develop. As for the latter, I've already stated that without of most of its gimmicks in Generations, its complete lack of High-Quality GI since Sega never released DLC for Eggmanland, and its obvious day/night switching mechanic, it's pretty much pointless to port it without completely remaking the stage on the first place.
And for the ones who suggest the Wii version... do you really want to see that awful geometry and level design on this...?
- Why haven't you still released this if all the levels are done?
That's not the way development works. Currently we're doing the "Beta phase", which involves polishing the levels and fixing issues. We're even applying some minor HD retextures officially, so some of these levels are already looking much better than when you last saw them.
Other changes we're doing include the missing theming of some enemies as mentioned in previous videos, fixing some accuracy of the gimmicks in various levels, preparing the mod for distribution... I even added a special meta-game that I'm sure some of you explorer-types will appreciate.
This beta-phase has been ongoing in January, and the following levels are already done:
- Windmill Isle
- Savannah Citadel
- Rooftop Run
- Dragon Road
The remaining 4 levels should have this phase finished in just a few days, as that is my goal for January.
What the beta-phase also involves is the development of our entirely new HUB. The concept is there, the main hurdle to overcome now is modelling it. Most of the HUBs are modelled bare-bones already mostly for reference and not polished/optimized at all yet, but I can show you one concept of Arid Sands at the moment.
This is by no means final and will have to be rearranged to fit properly. I should also mention that it's not going to be styled as the White World on Generations. It won't include white at all in fact. But I will hide this surprise a bit more until either release or another video before it.
Developing the HUB is what will likely take the most time in Febraury, and it's why I can't promise any release dates yet. I know a lot of people will be disappointed if the HUB isn't there, especially when Falk did all of the songs already, so this is the reason I ask you to just wait some more time.
- Does beta-testing mean I can get invited to play early?
Exactly for that reason is why we're not accepting any requests yet. If we want you to test, we'll ask ourselves. The workload is already manageable and doesn't need more people testing anyway.
- Is there any way I can contribute? Do you guys accept donations?
We don't accept donations of any monetary kind. If you want to legitimately help us, here's some stuff that we currently need:
Hosting: Seeing as GameFront has added certain problems to hosting files on ModDB lately, we've been left with the need of another host for when we release our mod. The entire thing can be estimated to be around 3 GB. So if you can find us any easy hosting solutions, even if it's just for mirroring and they support single-file downloads, let us know.
Publicity: As a mod developer, all we're looking for is obviously not money. It's to have experience under our belt, and ultimately, bring some fun to people with our work. Publicity and acknowledgement is all we're looking for in the end, so that's the best way you can help. Do you have any relations with the big guys? What about your favorite social networks? Even your friends that might be interested on it will surely like to know about it. When the time for release comes, you can do your part and just share it!
- Can I mod this mod? Can I stack my other mods in top of it?
Mods for a mod is completely possible, and we won't prevent it. However, it would be appreciated for you to not associate any of that with our mod "officially", and always give proper credit for who did what(I'm looking at you, "Repackers of Mod Packs", you don't need to distribute the Dragon Road demo included with your character mod).
- Will you be doing the other levels after release?
I(Dario) will likely not bother with those levels after the first release of the mod. Whether someone else will add it later remains to be seen, but I'm afraid I'll have plenty of stuff to do regarding College in most of the year later on.