30 March 2012

Sonic 2 HD: Huge Debacle

So, I downloaded Sonic 2 HD, all excited to play the alpha after such a long wait.

When extracting it, my antivirus, Comodo, threw a hissy fit, quarantining the executable. Even after doing everything in my power to disable Comodo short of uninstalling it, the file would still somehow get quarantined.

In the end, I wound up specifying the download path for the Sonic 2 HD folder as an exception so the antivirus would totally ignore it, and that worked.

Game still won't run, though. It somehow fails to find the DLL files that are sitting right there in the same folder. I'm assuming this might still have something to do with my antivirus, but I don't really feel like going through the hell of uninstalling and reinstalling it just to play Emerald Hill with pretty graphics.

But I'm still a bit steamed at being stymied in my attempts; I don't like feeling left out of such newsworthy developments in the Sonic community. Videos salve the wound a bit, but not completely.

So I was totally prepared to blame Comodo for this snafu. It's not like it's the first time it's acted like a punkass dickbag. I had to lock horns with it in a bloody, protracted battle just to run Game Maker comfortably.

But it looks like the only reason why I, and countless others, are having such trouble with running Sonic 2 HD in the first place (due to balking antiviruses or other weird hurdles) is due to the incompetence and general dickishness of Sonic 2 HD's main programmer, LOst, and his insistence on hamfisted DRM.

Yeah, DRM. In a Sonic fangame. As if the obfuscated code and other anti-hacking measures are going to do a lick of good when a barrel full of Sonic Retro monkeys are let loose on it for a couple months. No, it's only going to hamstring the product, preventing people - like me - from enjoying it. If I would enjoy it, that is... but that's the thing, I don't get to find out, do I?

What really pisses me off about this is that the first thing I did when I joined the Sonic Retro was take time out of the development of my own project and start the Sonic Physics Guide, in the vain hope that it would catch on and be helpful.

I noticed a lack, and I wanted to fill it. I never really expected it to amount to much, but beyond my wildest expectations the link I added to the wiki was moved to a more prominent location, others contributed to and improved upon it, and now I quite often get messages and emails thanking me for it. And what thrills me the most is when I see others say things like, "why didn't you use the Sonic Physics Guide?", as if it's just de rigueur these days, a basic expectation.

And why did I bother to do it? For an "altruistic" reason, which - like most altruism - boils down to being basically selfish. I wanted better Sonic fangames! And it's worked - I'm not going to take credit in the sharp rise in quality of Sonic fangames over the last couple of years, but I'm fairly certain that the Physics Guide has at least helped iron out a wrinkle here or there that would have otherwise plagued these games.

Anyway, I'm not here to toot my own horn. In fact, the opposite - I would never have bothered making a guide without the Sonic Community Hacking Guide as an example of what could be done. The whole point is that, by working together, and building off of each other's new discoveries and ideas, fangames benefit across the board.

So I'm just really disappointed by this whole Sonic 2 HD debacle. I'm not really that angry that the code is obfuscated - hell, that's the programmer's choice, whether I agree or not. No, what really puts the sour taste in my mouth is that the horrid DRM is preventing people from playing the game, or playing it comfortably. And that it held the game's development back by maybe a year or more(!) And that it's a compromise the team had to settle for, in lieu of some much worse solution. I mean, come on, Yuji Naka idol worship is all well and good, but when it comes to emulating his egotistical behaviour towards the Sonic X-Treme team, it's gone too far.

You know, I'm the guy who probably broke a few thousand Sonic fan's hearts when I had to step down from the Sonic Fan Remix project because I hated working with 3D. My AeStHete engine which is supposed to be all cool and open and everything is still unreleased, because I'm having more fun working on Sonic Time Twisted than making my engine palatable for a public release. I'm obviousbly not some badass programmer god who can do no wrong.

But I don't feel I'm overstepping any bounds when I say that LOst is an embarrassment to the profession. Making your team miserable, and your product suck, is not cool.


  1. Mercury,

    Not only I thoroughly agree 100% with everything you have said, but I also truly believe that your work with the Sonic Physics Guide was one of the cornerstones of the rise of quality in Sonic fan games (or Sonic games in general), and it has even become a cultural reference: "why didn't SEGA use the Sonic Physics Guide?!".

    I, for example, can't live with the aid of the Sonic Physics Guide, and I even have a copy of it in my hard disc drive for the obscure times when the Sonic Retro Wiki is offline.

    I can only thank you for making the Sonic Physics Guide.

    1. You're welcome, and thanks for the kind words. =)

  2. I hope lOst gets what's coming to him. Like serious injury coming to him.

    1. Wishing serious injury, even in jest, is hardly a good thing to do!

      How about stick to "may his code remain ever buggy".