Two of the Minds Behind Sonic World
With over 20 playable characters and one of the most customizable fan game experiences to date, Sonic World is certainly an expansive undertaking. We recently sat down with two of the people behind the project to discuss the ins and outs of bringing the game to life.
TSSZ: So let’s start with some introductions. Could each of you introduce yourselves and explain your role in Sonic World?
Ozcrash: I’m Ozan. I am the creator of the project. I am the main programmer and also the animator of everyone, including characters and enemies. As the coder, I usually deal with the algorithmic stuff such as various systems and gameplay. I have made other engines with BlitzSonic in the past, only to improve and eventually create Sonic World.
Nibroc.Rock: I am the modeler of the Sonic World project. I’m very talented when it comes to 3D models and artwork. I do a lot of the custom models in this game such as characters, objects, and stages. Ever since I joined the project I’ve been working hard to do everything I can to help.
Ozcrash: I am one of those rare people who loves every single character. I loved the Adventure series, and especially loved Heroes. I did not enjoy many of the games after those. So I always wanted to return back to these specific roots and execute each character properly, instead of being clones of each other. Of course, they’re still sharing some moves to quite some extent, but that’s necessary for the core fun. After those comes the individual abilities. In short, I always wanted to focus on this aspect of the Sonic series, and I always thought Sonic was more fun with all of its colorful characters.
To be honest, it has been such a long time, I don’t remember when I started working on Sonic World! I estimate it was last summer. Then with the first SAGE, I met my friend Nibroc and the project only got better with the help of our other members, such as Rodrick and Syphyous.
Nibroc.Rock: I joined the project back in March. I found out about the game because one of my friends showed me. I saw this game as the perfect opportunity to finally be able to put my modeling skills to use. Before Sonic World, my models were only ever used in Sonic Generations, but with Sonic World my models really get brought to life with characteristics and abilities that are unique to them, and I’ve been a supportive member of this team ever sense.
TSSZ: Did you encounter any significant difficulties while trying to bring all of these characters to life? If so, what were they and how did you overcome them?
Ozcrash: With the main cast, by which I mean characters up to Big, I can’t say there were any difficulties. They already had so many abilities in the official games that we could get inspired by. Once we started adding “custom” characters, though, we had to get original and make up our own gameplay for them. Marine’s Tanooki-ish jump action was Nibroc’s idea, for example, and it fit her so well. It was harder to think for the more specific “skills”, but not bothersome. We always had fun designing the gameplay and tried to include as much variety as possible. I don’t think any of us feel like it was necessarily hard in the end, and we’ve still got more characters waiting in the to-do-list.
Nibroc.Rock: I think the only significant difficulty I had was back when we first started working together. I was still new to a lot of things on BlitzSonic, and I was having issues with Marine the Raccoon (the first character we worked together to add in the game). There were a lot of small issues I wasn’t sure how to fix for BlitzSonic, but after a lot of hard work, we finally finished her and everything after that has been pretty smooth sailing.
Ozcrash: That’s true. It took a little time to get used to each other’s work style, but we learned how to perfect each other’s work, and we’ve got this kind of Sonic model collection going on.
Nibroc.Rock: I have like 12 versions of Marine lying around after all of that.
TSSZ: So you describe the game as a very advanced enhancement of BlitzSonic. How did you improve the engine?
Ozcrash: BlitzSonic is a very old fan engine. It was just a huge Green Hill level, with Sonic jumping and rolling. It didn’t have so much. I didn’t even know programming when I first learned about BlitzSonic. With time, I started adding more objects and varied actions. It took a certain amount of restarts of projects, from Sonic BGE Anniversary to BlitzSonic Heroes, until I got the perfect system in Sonic World.
In my view, BlitzSonic is very clumsy. My main aim in Sonic World was keeping everything organized and minimal, and it just improved upon that. With the menu, modern models and animations, and the overall representation, Sonic World eventually became something completely different than BlitzSonic. I still see BlitzSonic when I look into my source code, but no, not when I play this game.
Here’s a few things Sonic World has as “enhancements”: better translator objects, camera effects, better gameplay, underwater physics, better physics, aura effects, enemies, monitors, team systems, missions, and much more.
Nibroc.Rock: I didn’t help improve the “engine” per se, but I did help improve the visuals and the models in the game, making everything more colorful and Sonic-like.
TSSZ: A lot of fans may not fully understand the work it takes to bring a 3D game like this to life. Can you walk us through the general process of creating a level or a character from start to finish?
Nibroc.Rock: Well, when it comes to making characters, that’s where I shine. The first thing I do is bring a height chart and determine the characters’ height (it helps with keeping everything in proportion). Once I do, then I find parts from other Sonic models I could reuse, such as Sonic’s gloves or Sonic’s mouth, then I start cutting and chopping away at Sonic’s normal model until I have just what I need, then I start modeling from scratch the new parts I need for the character, although that’s how it goes for every character. For example, for two certain characters (whose names shall remain secret for now), I had to fully make the model from scratch. Normally it only takes me a couple hours to make a character if I don’t stop working. As for stages, I’ve only made a few for the game, and they’re not the best. My terrain skills are kind of poor, but I plan to keep trying and improving on them.
Ozcrash: After he’s done with the model of the character, Nibroc hands the model to Rodrick. Rodrick rigs the arms, legs, torso, everything spiky, basically everything. Then he sends to me, and I rig brows and eyelids. After these, the model is all done, and it’s time for me to animate, which usually takes half a day.
As for stages, we cannot speak about them at this time. We don’t have official Sonic World stages yet and the current ones are collected from previous BlitzSonic engines. Only Tokyo Street was made by Nibroc. We will able to talk more about stages in the future.
Ozcrash: We know the graphics do not satisfy most people. With such an old program like Blitz3D, it’s not possible to improve it beyond a limit, but we will continue trying to improve it. We will also try to get a proper grinding system. There will be victory poses in the end and characters will not be just standing. Obviously, there will be more characters. We are not done yet. Besides characters, there isn’t too much core engine development left, and we will be focusing on stages next.
Nibroc.Rock: I feel there’s still lots of things we can improve in Sonic World. Getting a lot of feedback is important to me as well as sorting out issues people had. One of the many things that we want to add later on is a “Chao Garden.” We don’t plan on it working exactly like Sonic Adventure and Adventure 2, but we plan to kind of create a whole new version of it that still has the charm of the original.
Ozcrash: I wonder if anybody has noticed they could pick up Omochao and throw him at enemies. So we will start from there and try to make a Chao Garden as Nibroc said!
TSSZ: Anything else you’d like to announce?
Ozcrash: I would like to announce that Bark will be in upcoming releases. His model wasn’t ready for this SAGE, but he will also be revived, completing Team Hooligan. I should also state that we are not doing any cartoon (Sonic X, Sonic Boom, SatAM) or Archie comics characters. We are sticking to a strict games-only canon. We often post updates so if you want to see where Sonic World goes, check out my YouTube channel and Nibroc’s deviantART page.
Nibroc.Rock: I hope you guys keep giving us feedback on the game and stay up to date on the game on our website!
Ozcrash: Thank you for inviting us for an interview Louis. It was fun.
TSSZ: Thanks, guys. Best of luck.