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Old 03-08-2018   #1
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Default Sonic Robo Blast 2's 20th Anniversary

Posted by Mystic on 03-08-2018 09:01 PM.

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This month, Sonic Robo Blast 2 celebrates its 20th anniversary. Sitting down to write this post I don't even know what to talk about. It's been so long and I've spent so much of my life playing or being involved with SRB2. To start, though, we're celebrating with a preview trailer for 2.2, and I'm sure you want to see that way more than any nostalgic ramblings I can come up with, so let's get right to it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cfK3EWnn2E

We'll let that sink in for a bit. It's hard to overstate how much the scope of the project has expanded over the years. When I joined Sonic Team Jr. seventeen years ago, SRB2 had already been in the works for three years, and every single clip of that trailer would have been considered impossible. It's truly hard to overstate just how much the project has expanded from the original scope, due to advances in the code base and just a stubborn desire to prove everyone wrong.

Originally, SRB2's intention was to have only Sonic running and jumping through small stages. Maybe we'd even get him rolling! The stages were so small that it's really hard to describe. The first version of GFZ1 had the end sign where the first Star Post currently is. GFZ2 was from there to the tunnel entrance. Yes, really. This is why very early in the project there were suggested final releases in 2000 or 2001. The game's scope and size has become absolutely enormous compared to the early days, through a long series of advances that have utterly changed what the game is capable of. While I originally thought of going through a history of the game itself, you can find out more than I could ever cover here on the versions page of the wiki. Instead, I'm going to talk about just a few of the expansions of scope and features that have changed SRB2 from that original intention to what we have today.

One of the first significant scope increases was added as the game's basic coding was still being made. Originally, SRB2 was planned to include only Sonic. SRB1 included only Sonic with the exception of a couple of stages where you played as Knuckles, and their gameplay was identical. XMas 0.93 introduced Tails, and also introduced his ability to fly. Tails was introduced with mostly garbage sprites, and Knuckles was introduced later with even more nonsensical sprites until the affectionately known "Ugly Knux" model-based sprites were made. The sheer introduction of multiple characters was a huge change that still continues to add variety (and work to do) to this day. Even ignoring the popularity of custom characters, SRB2 would be a very different game if it featured only Sonic.

While early versions of the game supported multiplayer, it wasn't truly featured heavily until Demos 2 and 3. Introducing match, tag, and race mode, these versions kickstarted a much larger community than the game had previously. Back then you had to use the command line or a launcher to even play multiplayer, but a lot of people still gave it a shot thanks to the introduction of IRC chat rooms and other methods of finding people to play with. The specifics of all three modes were also incredibly different. Match and tag modes had no weapons, only basic red rings, and tag had a "No Tag" zone in the stage where you could be immune to being tagged, like a safe spot in real life tag. Race mode wasn't a straight race, either, it was what we currently call competitive mode, the 2P mode from Sonic 2. Multiplayer has expanded in scope a lot on its own since, but even just coop requires a lot of mapping support to make sure players don't get stuck. While in the final demo cycle we ended up spending way too much time on minor multiplayer features, there's definitely something to be said for helping your friend through a particularly hard section.

Modding was a thing from the very start, but one thing SRB2 didn't handle originally was map settings. In order to make a custom MAP01 not display "Greenflower Zone Act 1" at startup, you had to make a custom graphic with the name of your map in the font. Skies and music similarly had to be overwritten. Final Demo finally introduced level headers, fixing this problem. The format would be horrifying to modern level designers, though. Instead of using variables, the header had a fixed line structure with 8 lines. In order: zone name, act number, force skin, music number, next level, gametype (as a number, of course), weather, sky number. This was then inserted as a text lump named "MAPxxN", where xx was the map. That was it. There was no way to change the fields, and yes you had to type 255 to disable force skin every time. Even with these limitations, the introduction of level headers dramatically increased the amount of custom levels being made, as it made some previously very tedious stuff quite easy. It also finally made custom level packs practical to create.

Another dramatic engine improvement in the final demo cycle we barely talk about is the blockmap generator. One of the first map size limitations a level designer will come across in Doom's map format is the blockmap, which is created by the nodesbuilder and has a limit of 128K. To give you an idea how strongly this limits map size, THZ1 in 2.1 is just shy of 90K. Instead of requiring the blockmap to be generated by the nodesbuilder, SRB2 could now build one on its own at runtime, and in a new format that didn't have the same filesize limitations. Without this feature, our stages couldn't possibly approach the size they do now. Even RVZ1, one of the older and smaller maps in the game, breaks this limitation.

Version 2.0 brought a ton of things to the game overall, but probably the most dramatic is the introduction of proper zone gimmicks. Most maps made for 1.X were pretty basic, and a lot of stages would work just as fine if all the textures were swapped from one theme to another. 2.0 featured waterslides, moving ropes to grab onto, and gravity reversals. Each zone finally started to be fleshed out as a concept beyond just "factory level, water level", and gameplay finally started to feel significantly different from map to map. This change is even more obvious when going back and trying out older mods, and noticing that basically all that changes between the zones is what texture hurts to land on. This has dramatically increased as we've continued work, with 2.1 expanding on it especially in improving THZ and CEZ's gimmicks, and 2.2 will continue this even more, introducing more gimmicks, large and small.

Finally, even a retrospective would be incomplete without mentioning slopes, which are already changing the game in modding. The warnings of old that "introducing slopes would force us to rework the entire game" certainly came true. 2.2's release was likely delayed by at least two years by the introduction of slopes. That doesn't mean it won't likely be worth it in the long run, but we apologize to all those that were looking forward to just a simple ACZ2+3 release back in 2015. The trailer above doesn't even come close to touching how much slopes have completely changed SRB2, but if we get to a 30th anniversary I'm sure we'll look back at all this work and laugh.

I'd like to leave you with another YouTube link, but in this case it's not a video. It's an audio preview of another expansion of scope: the GFZ1 theme from our updated soundtrack. Give it a listen and I hope you'll join us for many more years to come.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hx71OegJZ4I
View on SRB2.org

Last edited by MascaraSnake; 03-09-2018 at 08:29 AM.
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Old 03-08-2018   #2
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As a reminder to everyone, discussing known information and speculating based on that information is okay, but don't go on tangents or make baseless speculation or absurd claims. To start off the thread, here are the answers to the questions I KNOW half of you are dying to ask yet again:

1. There is no release date. Asking will not change that. Making stupid jokes about how long it'll take will also get you infracted.
2. The netcode is still just as shitty as it ever was.

Keep things civil and intelligent, for everyone's sake.
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Old 03-08-2018   #3
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I wasnt expecting to see any trailer for 2.2 at all. Definitely caught me be suprise and all the levels look amazing! The added shields ablities were long over due imo (force shield one kinda stinks)

I also wasnt expecting new music for GFZ1. Nice and chiptune~y
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Old 03-08-2018   #4
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The force one is actually a tad incomplete, but it's weak on purpose. We don't want the shield with two hits to have a super powerful effect on top of that.
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Old 03-08-2018   #5
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(Aw yeah, this is happening), happy 20th anniversary SRB2 and congrats STJR for the achievement.
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Old 03-08-2018   #6
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Everything in that trailer looked amazing, really glad the art style is getting overhauled. (Castle Eggman isn't just 90% dark grey/beige anymore!)
That GFZ1 music remake is pretty eh though, why aren't you using CobaltBW's remakes?
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Old 03-09-2018   #7
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Seeing this much effort into this game amazes me. I am glad that this is still going strong and I cant wait for it to be released. I don't really care about how long it takes considering rushing things can never be good in the first place.

This is also kind of special to me cause its the same month that I started playing this game.
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Old 03-09-2018   #8
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I don't know exactly when i started playing, i only know i started in 2008 (i was 3 years old, possibly first game in my life) so, for now i have been playing Srb2 for 10 years :D (i used to play chaos in 2 player mode with my brother)

Can't wait for the update; it looks Amazing and more because Srb2 is one of my favorites games

Spoiler: :thinking:
where is the hype train?
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Old 03-09-2018   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Root View Post
That GFZ1 music remake is pretty eh though, why aren't you using CobaltBW's remakes?
Turns out that GFZ's theme tune is the music equivalent of GFZROCK (that is, before we finally had success with that one): absolutely no one can agree on how it should sound! As always though, these things aren't necessarily final anyway, it's just what we have at the time the newspost was written. It may even sound completely different by the time 2.2 comes out. =P

I think we were planning our own updated soundtrack before CobaltBW started working on his remasters, but at this point my memory is all a haze on what we've done on music the last few years... That, and we have our own musical team members to use now in any case. The music in the main trailer video itself is another example of what they can do, what did you guys think of it?
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Old 03-09-2018   #10
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I think the problem with the new theme is that the piano makes the song sound empty. Both CobaltBW's version and the original use an instrument that can be sustained, which fits how the melody was designed, since it has long gaps between each of the notes. In-order for the piano to work, the melody would have to be redesigned slightly, to have less time between each note while still having the signature GFZ-vibe.
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Old 03-09-2018   #11
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Oh my goodness, this is the most drastic (visual) change I have seen from this game to date. The new soundtrack, the new sprites, textures, everything's so alive and animated, the new levels look absolutely amazing and I'm absolutely speachless!
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Old 03-09-2018   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mystic View Post
The netcode is still just as shitty as it ever was.
Why does not that impress me? ._.

at least the visual will improve a lot. I like.
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Old 03-09-2018   #13
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Woah, I'm speechless, that's just amazing! Happy 20th anniversary.
By the way, I love the updated soundtrack.
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Old 03-09-2018   #14
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I'm extremely happy to see SRB2 still so alive and well after 20 full years of work and development being put into it! Despite being a Sonic fan game made out of a Doom source port, I would probably not be the same person I currently am today if it weren't for my experiences both playing and creating stuff for it. I applaud every single individual who has poured hours of work into this game over its entire lifespan, especially the dedicated community making such fun and sometimes ridiculous addons.

I don't spend a whole lot of my time interacting with much of this community anymore, but I've recently moved to take a game development course at a college in Ottawa. When I was younger, I didn't honestly expect to dive into such a demanding field, but my experiences with SRB2 and what I learned helped me decide that this is something I definitely want to work towards, even if I have to work on many of my own personal flaws. Before SRB2 and my time working on Jasper, I only had experience fooling around with Game Maker and downloading pre-built libraries. It was only until I found this game and pushed myself more that I realized I could do a lot more than I thought I could and had fun doing it.

Without you guys and this wonderful game, I probably would have never experimented past what was easy for me to do and may have never became confident in myself. Thank you all so much for having the sheer willpower to keep working on this with whatever time you have, whether you're fighting the dreaded C within or tediously cleaning every sprite. You're all awesome!

Spoiler:
Did you get all those Chaos Emeralds?
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Old 03-09-2018   #15
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If it wasn't for this game (or at least the forums), I wouldn't of had those moments of thinking to myself every time I got an infraction on this site. It more helped of how I act and say. That is really strange to say but its true. Same things about when I played online. it helped shape up who I am today. Also the reason why I don't post on here anymore with a few exceptions.
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Old 03-09-2018   #16
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I have no words
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Old 03-09-2018   #17
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Happy 20th Anniversary, SRB2! My favorite fangame by far. Can't wait to see what the future holds.
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Old 03-09-2018   #18
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Looks like Sonic Team Junior's gonna need a new name next year.
Jokes aside, I am really amazed with the trailer and the present detail of the game.
So many subtle details are animated and the game just looks so BEAUTIFUL in motion.
I really like the "environment", along with the room from what I presume to be either GEZ or CEZ in 0:06.
In fact, it reminds me of what happened in 2.0 with the trailer and how it was a improvement from 1.09.4, and the same with 2.1, with every screenshot giving a bout of hype at the time.
Here, the game's so beautiful compared from 2.1. which is a masterpiece at its own right, that it doesn't feel like Doom.
Everything's breathtaking along with DSZ, I MEAN LOOK AT THAT, IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL OH MY GOD.
...Apologize for the rambling, here's a video describing my feelings for 2.2.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGBSdYGA9II
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Old 03-09-2018   #19
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20th anniversary? 20th anniversary?! Even if I've 'only' been in this community for 12 of those years, seeing a 20th anniversary trailer completely blows my mind. It's really been that long.

As other people in this thread and on the discord have discussed about themselves, I suppose I'd have wound up as a slightly different person without meeting everyone I have here over the past decade plus two as well. Maybe not in some great dramatic way, aside from the time someone recognised me as 'Whackjood from the SRB2 forums' in real life a few years back :V

Also, hot damn. That trailer looks nice! I love how all of the new content currently looks! And seeing the 2.0/2.1 content but with a new touch of paint looks fantastic as well. Great work so far, STJR! Will look forward to playing it, when it's done™

And I adore this detail in the new Greenflower Zone sky.
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where is the hype train?
There was certainly a big spike in activity on the Discord server when the trailer first went live! It's out there.
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Old 03-09-2018   #20
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I got this game by chance when I was a little annoying kid (If I think about the odds of getting knowing this game.. they are astonishingly low).
Me and my brother were testing what games our $h!tty system can run. We were testing games in a CD that we got for free with CHIP magazine.
Most of them didn't installed properly because of the crappy CD writer. Then.. just before pulling out the CD.. This amazing game started (it took a while to install in background after we clicked on the title in CD software GUI). It was version 1.09.4.

I remember that we spent numerous hours in this $hit ('$hit' in a good way). The times when we thought that the last button hunt level was difficult. The day when we accidentally discovered that sonic can turn into supersonic after getting 7 chaos emeralds (that we got by chance using objectplace command). We were so happy when we learned that WADs can be added. We download 2 of them with our limited data (Yup.. 2G shit internet with datacap) The very first character wads that we played with were Shadow and Metal Sonic... The times when we used to enjoy Mystic Realm.. Those two player game session..

Then we installed version 2.0... and god damn... we got busy again in this game.

We made crappy levels for each other too using doom engine. Our system didn't supported live preview (I forget the precise term) and OpenGl back then (It still doesn't :( ) so we solely relied on 2D map and test preview.

Now we don't live together and I play this game alone even at 19... I mostly play in multiplayer nowadays (have a pretty good broadband now).

Damn.. so many memories attached with this game.

Last edited by Dying Dark; 03-09-2018 at 12:41 PM.
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