With its unique hand drawn animations, Sonic AGES has become another SAGE fan favorite. We took some time to sit down with Foxeh, the developer behind the project, and discuss the inner workings of his game. You can read up on all that and more after the jump.
TSSZ: Alright Foxeh, tell us a little about yourself!
Foxeh: Well I’m a person that generally just enjoys art, animation and games. I love seeing things move.
TSSZ: For those unfamiliar, give us the scoop on what Sonic AGES is.
Foxeh: Sonic AGES is simply a Sonic the Hedgehog game about other SEGA games that I love. It features smooth hand drawn art within 2D gameplay.
TSSZ: Where did the concept for AGES begin, and how long has it been in development?
Foxeh: So originally Sonic AGES wasn’t going to be a whole thing; it sorta just went in that direction. The original plan was to take some Sonic sprites I did back in 2013 and put them into a Sonic engine. This was because I used to frequently lurk as a guest in the Sonic Retro forums for a few years. I’d always see people trying to start ambitious game projects, half of them being someone trying to make an HD Sonic game. It always bothered me that I would never hear anything about their progress again, so I figured it’d just be better if I helped someone with their project. I found someone working on an engine in C++ that I was interested in passing the sprites to, but progress was going slow on both of our ends, so that didn’t happen. If he ever finishes that engine I still don’t mind passing him the sprites.
Anyways, a couple years later (around 2016) I ended up browsing the retro forums again, when I met Kohctpyktop. He was working on an engine in Unity called Sonic Realms. This was perfect for me, because I was very interested in learning Unity for it’s freedom to do whatever you want with it. The engine wasn’t all that bad either; it was definitely a clear sign of great potential with its flexibility. Unfortunately, I read some pretty harsh feedback from others opinions on the engine. I ended up feeling bad reading it all because I personally thought his engine was very good, and not many people could see what he was trying to do. So I approached him and said I wanted to use my sprites for his engine. I showed him what I was doing and he liked it, so I started to focus on helping him get ready for SAGE 2016.
We weren’t ready enough for SAGE 2016, so we kept at it for the next year. Unfortunately Kohctpyktop ended up disappearing sometime around January last year, and I had no idea how to contact him. I didn’t want to let his hard go to waste, so I decided to grab the source, buckle up and learn the engine enough to put my sprites in.
TSSZ: What have been some challenging hurdles? On the opposite end, what’s been rewarding?
Foxeh: The main challenge for me was the fact I was a baby when it came to Unity. I knew pretty little about how to make it do what I want. 2017 was me spending the majority of my time learning the basics of Unity and trying to keep them in my head. Thanks to YouTube videos, Google, game dev Discords and my buddy JMan, I managed to get competent enough to barely make it in the SAGE trailer last year. I’m talking nothing was colored beyond what was shown in that ten second clip of AGES back then. So after the SAGE trailer showed up, the rest of the time was me trying to finish up the unfinished things, such as coloring the other half of Sonic’s sprites, and the rest of the stage.
The good part of this was that I managed to learn Unity, which was one of the things I’ve wanted to do for years but didn’t have the proper motivation to get started. Also it’s very motivating when I can hear someone say they really like what I’m doing with my project so far. It really drives me to keep going. Also the fact that I know as long as I keep working on it, I’ll get a little bit faster and better at it every day, so that’s what really matters to me.
TSSZ: Word on the street says this isn’t the only project you’re working on. What else do you find yourself busy with?
Foxeh: Yeah I’m working on quite a few projects. Like I said before, Sonic AGES wasn’t going to be a whole game at first, since I was working on a few other fan/collaboration projects. Before Sonic AGES took off, I was trying to teach myself Unity by putting together a couple of smaller/quicker fan games to see what were better approaches when working on art and animation for games. I think the only other thing I’m the closest to finishing is an HD Gunstar Heroes I was working on back in 2014-2015. But I put it on hold for a bit till I gained a better understanding of Unity through AGES. Of course there’s many other projects since I can’t seem to stick to one thing.
Personal projects aside, I help out with tiny things along side JMan and the rest of Team Cross FEVER, although the things I do there doesn’t impact much. Outside of teaching myself game stuff, I tend to do commissions with traditional drawings and paintings. Mostly portraits, though I’m open for whatever. Also whenever possible I like to get a good game or two in the mix of my day.
TSSZ: Where can readers find you?
Foxeh: Well if readers are trying to find me, I’m at a few places. I guess the best way to contact me would be through Discord, through Team Cross FEVER. That’s where me and JMan post our updates on our projects (Sonic, AGES, Battle Cross FEVER, Sonic Battle R) it’s pretty lively there if people are looking to get some fun multiplayer games happening.
The second place I frequently use would be my Twitter (Twitter is distraction heaven).
Other than that I’m on a few art websites, but I’d rather people ask me directly for that.
TSSZ: I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us, Foxeh. I wish you the best of luck as development on Sonic Ages continues!
Foxeh: Thanks! Sonic AGES still has quite a way to go before I’m happy with it, so pardon the mess with all the place holders (haha).