When I first started my Sonic 5 Fan Game project, I dived into creating my own Zones' level designs, gimmicks and Badniks almost immediately.
However, as of the past year or so, during my hiatus from working on level designs, gimmicks, Badniks and so on, I have taken some serious time to revise my approach to this project.
In hindsight, I was way too eager to go full throttle into creating my own stuff, without enough prep work under my belt.
When starting this project, I should have first analysed the existing classic Sonic games, to fully understand their art directions, gimmicks, Badniks, bosses, level design flow and structure, etcetera.
Sonic 5 Fan Game aims to build upon the official classic Sonic games, so it's only correct that I have a solid understanding of what precisely made them so successful, plus what some of their weaker/underdeveloped elements are which I could learn from and improve/expand upon.
To this end, I am shelving my own Zones' level design work to the backburner, and as a sub-project of the main project, I will be placing a selection of classic Sonic games' Zones under a focused lens, as well as some Sonic Mania Zones and a Zone from Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II.
I will study them, create my own renditions of their level designs, and re-create their visuals with an art direction primarily inspired by Rayman Origins, Sonic Mania Adventures and Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee.
I plan to use the same visual inspirations later for my own levels in Sonic 5 Fan Game.
I will be looking at the following levels:
Scrap Brain Zone Act 1 & Act 2 and Star Light Zone from Sonic The Hedgehog.
Emerald Hill Zone, Casino Night Zone and Mystic Cave Zone from Sonic The Hedgehog 2.
Azure Lake Zone, Balloon Park Zone, Chrome Gadget Zone, Desert Palace Zone and Endless Mine Zone from Sonic The Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles.
Sky Fortress Zone Act 2 & Act 3 from Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II.
Mania Mode & Encore Mode variants of Studiopolis Zone, Press Garden Zone, Mirage Saloon Zone and Titanic Monarch Zone from Sonic Mania Plus.
Of course, I will first be analysing the art of Rayman Origins, Sonic Mania Adventures and Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, to understand how their visuals work, in order to apply their influences to the Zones.
With some Zones, I will stay faithful to their original level designs, with minimal tweaks for minor improvements.
Sky Fortress Zone Act 2 and Act 3 will undergo more significant level design changes, due to their original level designs having notable weak points and significant opportunities for improvements.
I will also greatly expand upon the original small level designs of Azure Lake Zone, Balloon Park Zone, Chrome Gadget Zone, Desert Palace Zone and Endless Mine Zone.
Every one of my Zone re-creations will consist of 2 Acts each.
All of the above will be a lengthy process, but is absolutely a necessary part of my project. It will give me plenty of art, level, gimmick, Badnik and boss design experience using existing materials, which will be incredibly valuable when I am tackling my own concepts and creations.
I want to approach my fan game development carefully. I firmly believe that my work can only be successful if I first study similar successful media to fully grasp what made them good, and also recognise weaker media and apply improvements.