A Very Special Kind of Preview: S1 E7

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Often times, I show previews for episodes as big boring blocks of text. But not this time. This time, I’ve been working hard on a real preview, one that can really turn some heads. Take a look.

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S1 E10: Fate of the Dark Part 2

The exciting conclusion to the series’ first Tale of the Resistance has finally arrived! Read it right here!

As Rouge finally begins to settle in to her life among the Anti-Rebellion, she thinks back to the days when the fate of the entire world rested on her ability to fool some of the very same people. How was Sonic found on the Death Egg? How did Shadow escape? How did Rouge make it out alive?

Preview: Season 1, Episode 10

Three years ago – During the events of Sonic Forces
Four days after Sonic’s return

Rouge enters a spherical room that is quite massive in size, with many whirring mechanical parts and lights in the walls. But the elevated platform she stands on leads to the very center of the room, where a glittering green Chaos Emerald floats inside a glass chamber, power clearly running through it. “Have we really gotten to the point where a Chaos Emerald barely even makes it in as a backup plan, Doctor?” She walks up to the glass. “Well, if it’s really that unimportant to you, I’m sure you won’t mind if I take it for myself.”

“Looking for something?”

Rouge turns with a gasp. “Infinite!? But you’re supposed to be down on the planet!”

Infinite descends slowly to the floor. “Yes, I am. But why should I limit myself to being in just a single place at once…”

Two more voices echo, “…when I can be in three?” Two more Infinites descend down on either side of the first.

The one on the left continues, “Or four?”

The one on the right finishes, “Or…infinite?”

Rouge breathes, “Replicas.”

The Infinite in the center answers, “Ah, I never accused you of being ignorant. But the trash you choose to side with…well they certainly aren’t the brightest.”

“I don’t suppose you’d believe that I came in here looking for a way to stop them?”

The middle Infinite shakes his head. “You’ve been a useful tool, Rouge the Bat.”

The one on the left continues, “But your usefulness…”

The one on the right finishes, “…has reached its end.”

The center one charges an orb of energy in his hand, and throws it. Rouge dives back out of the way, latching on to the side of the Emerald chamber. Another orb quickly follows. Rouge dives off of her perch, and the orb hits the chamber, cracking the glass. Rouge flies over one of the Infinites, and attempts to drill kick right down onto it. It easily darts out of the way. The moment she lands on the ground, she’s struck in the back by a laser bolt. An Infinite catches her in front with a kick before she even hits the ground again, knocking her high into the air. An Infinite is already waiting there in the air, and strikes down with a heel, sending her straight back into the hard ground.

The closest Infinite to Rouge leans down to whisper into her ear, “This is where you die. The Death Egg will stand. Your friends will perish, if not now, then in a few short hours, when the plan is complete. After all your hard work…all of the terrible things you had to do just to convince me of your deception…it all amounts to nothing. You’ve lost.”

Review: Season 1, Episode 9

Well…I’ve dedicated about six straight, no-distractions, nearly-uninterrupted days into writing this episode. I reached 14,000 words before I realized that there was simply no reasonable way I could publish this as a single episode. Even though I really wanted to. Seriously, this season doesn’t have room for any two-parters. So I guess I’m just expanding the season. Needless to say, this episode wasn’t exactly supposed to end where it did. It wasn’t exactly a cliffhanger, we all know what happened to Shadow in the end. But, eh, it was dramatic, and roughly in the middle. It is sort of nice now that I have the two separate “Episode Shadow from another perspective” and “the rest of Forces from another perspective” episodes. This episode was originally supposed to be just the latter with a brief Episode Shadow based introduction, but, much like Vector, I guess I just got too caught up in the story. So that “brief introduction” basically became an entire episode of its own.

I suppose I should probably explain the whole “Tales of the Resistance” thing. Sonic Forces is…incredibly unique in the way that it handled its story. Yes, I know, that’s a pretty funny way to say “terrible”. But that’s the thing. Generally speaking, Sonic game stories tend to fall into two categories. Either you have something like the Classic games or Lost World or Colors or something, where there’s a very loose, simple plot that is presented as it is with no questions to be asked, or it’s something like SA2 or ’06 where the plot is complicated and presents lots of questions, but is still designed to be self-inclusive and answer those questions for itself. But Forces is different. Forces presents this grandiose plot, one of the biggest in the franchise, but then leaves 90% of it up to your imagination. And when it comes to Sonic, I have a very active imagination. So that’s why I’ve decided to work on this sort of…subseries to take place within The Chaos Project. The idea is not to rewrite Forces, but simply to tell the stories that Forces left out. In fact, the Forces special I wrote nearly a year ago, After the Fight, would probably be considered a part of this subseries as well. I did consider writing this as its own separate story, instead of making it a part of The Chaos Project, but…why should I leave these things separate when they stand to benefit from the context of each other? Plus, as you may know from Shadow of Time, I don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to reliably working on non-Chaos Project content. I’ll probably compile it all on the website with C.P. content removed anyways.

One of the reasons I love this part so much (and why it dragged so much longer than expected) is because I couldn’t pass up the chance to reimplement some nearly-canon yet lost material of Forces. To most of my readers, half of the dialogue during the Virtual Reality novelization was probably completely unfamiliar. But all of it (right up before the end) was actual dialogue programmed into the real Episode Shadow, but left inaccessible for unknown reasons. I might’ve mentioned this before, but Shadow’s line “I thought you said he was destroyed three months ago…” was one of the most spectacular deliveries I’ve ever heard from this voice actor of Shadow. But they cut it out. So to spite them, I put it back in. Even at the end, once Shadow started talking about “Showing them Ultimate Power,” those were cut lines as well, although they seemed to be intended for Eggman’s Facility (possibly implying a cut Jackal Squad fight, curse you Sonic Team). In general, Tales of the Resistance is expected to be full of such references to cut content, little-known trivia, and even some unused concept art, as you will be seeing right at the beginning of the next part. In terms of the “little-known trivia,” I should probably mention that the first flashback scene, of Rouge coordinating Shadow’s run through Enemy Territory while Omega deals with Infinite, was actually, for the most part, straight out of one of the official Sonic Forces prequel comics. But that’s not the trivia part. What’s interesting is that that particular comic, “Looming Shadow,” ended with a brief exchange between Rouge and Shadow which was entirely missing from the original game, despite the dialogue otherwise lining up perfectly. That would be because that ending exchange was, you guessed it, made up of lines that are programmed in but cut from the final game. It’s hard to say whether the comic writers actually saw a beta version of the game where those lines were used, or if they were simply given a bulk script to work with before anything got cut. But the way I see it, I’m simply doing the comic’s work. Only better. Eat your heart out, Ian Flynn (not really I love your work plz don’t be mad).

Coming back to the episode as a whole, I would say this one in particular was inspired by a few very specific questions.
1) What the heck happened at the end of Episode Shadow that made Rouge call Shadow over?
2) Why the heck did Episode Shadow end showing Sonic being defeated by Infinite without any additional context of any kind? What was the significance of that scene?
3) WHERE THE HECK WAS SHADOW OVER THE FOLLOWING SIX MONTHS!!?? Seriously! They dedicate an entire prequel story to Shadow, and they don’t even bother answering the one question about him that was actually posed by the main game? What were they thinking!?

Over all, the ending of Episode Shadow was severely, severely lacking. It’s almost like they decided to cancel the second half so they could get it out in time for day-one DLC. IT’S ALREADY DLC!! YOU MIGHT AS WELL JUST TAKE THE TIME TO PUT ACTUAL WORK INTO IT!! Sorry. Anyways, two out of three of those questions were definitively answered by this first part. And that brings me to the Battle of Lost Valley. Green Hill was one of the many, many things in Forces that everyone reacted to, but never actually talked about. Why is it covered in sand? Why is it inhabited by an alien worm from the Lost Hex? Why is it littered with the scattered remains of Death Egg Robots? These are things that everyone points out, yet no one ever bothers answering. For these questions, I got one out of three. It’s a start. Writing the Battle of Lost Valley was immensely satisfying, just because it answered so many questions. It explains what Rouge saw at the end of Episode Shadow. It explains where the Death Egg Robots came from. It even explains where GUN went for the duration of the game. To top that all off, it gives the sand worm an actual purpose, and ties Episode Shadow quite neatly into the main story of Forces.

And I suppose that’s all I’ve got for this part!

-So until next time, remember to live and learn every day!

S1 E9: Fate of the Dark Part 1

The first in a new Chaos Project sub-series is here at last! Tales of the Resistance begins right here!

Rouge has joined Infinite and the Anti-Rebellion. Three years ago, she once did the same. How did Team Dark survive the War to Take Back the Planet?

And by the way, today’s a special day! Sonic Adventure, Sonic’s first leap into the world of 3D, was first played anywhere in the world 20 years ago today! Happy Anniversary, Sonic Adventure! (I was planning a special episode, but…stuff happens. The episode is still coming, but…it may not be for another month or two.)

Preview: Season 1, Episode 9

On Empire Day, a great battle was lost, and Rouge fled from the Rebellion to work for their enemies. But years ago, on the day that Infinite attacked, something similar once happened.

Rouge watches as a black-painted Death Egg Robot collapses into the sand of the Lost Valley under the onslaught of the GUN airships that fire from above. A buzz comes in her communicator. “Rouge, this is Shadow. What’s going on?”

“Finally back from your top-secret mission, are you? Did you find Eggman’s weapon?”

“No. Now tell me what’s happening.”

“Well, there’s this big battle in Green Hill. Eggman’s trying to take back the city. But we pretty much have it wrapped up.”

“Rouge, are you telling me the truth?”

“What’s the point of lying about it? Eggman got word that Sonic is nearby and mounted a massive assault. I mean, sure, A for effort, but it’s nothing to worry about. We’ve got the advantage now. Sonic is on his way too, so I don’t think it’s a big enough deal for you to head out.”

Shadow lets out a grunt of discontent, as if thinking deeply about something. “I can’t imagine the Doctor would do something like that without…” He trails off.

But Rouge hardly notices. Out of the central Eggman airship, the largest in the fleet, a point of pulsating crimson light slowly descends. Rouge lets out a gasp. “Shadow! This is not good! Hurry, get over here!”

Infinite’s voice booms loudly over the sandy plains, bringing an eerie silence to the battle. “Attention, insects of the military. You have been chosen as the first to witness the full extent of the power that will conquer this earth. Enjoy your final moments of life.”

Shadow’s voice can faintly be heard through the crackling static of the comm. “W––t –s i–, Ro–g–? W––– h––pe––d?” The voice is completely lost.

Infinite spreads his arms wide, and a massive wave of negative energy sweeps over the entire battlefield. Soldiers are lifted from the ground, tumbling uncontrollably through the air, and flying mechs seem no longer able to keep control, plummeting towards the ground. All of the airships aim their fire directly at Infinite. He chuckles softly as the vast majority of the fire passes him by completely. He points up an outstretched hand, and fires off a thin crimson laser beam of his own. Though the beam is thin, it wreaks massive destruction as it carves through the entire fleet one ship at a time, sending them all diving down into the negative space.

Infinite lets both of his arms drop down to his sides. In the air around him, countless hundreds of cubes are generated, each floating independently. He stretches back, then crosses his arms in front of him. One by one, in rapid succession, the cubes are launched away from him at immense speed. Each one seems to target a person or a machine. And each time one comes in contact, it appears to erase its target from existence in an instant.

From a perch high atop a cliff, away from the chaos, Rouge watches in horror as hundreds upon hundreds of soldiers appear to be annihilated before her eyes. Even the falling airships are removed.

Suddenly, the bubble of negative space contracts. There are no more cubes. And no more sign that GUN was ever there. Save for the wrecks of the Death Egg Robots, and the Egg Pawns quickly taking up defensive positions throughout the lost valley, there is no sign of any battle at all. The rest of the Eggman’s forces surge onwards towards the city.

—–—

Later…

Infinite bends down to pick something up from the streets of the city. “I’m sure we can find…some use for this…thing.”

Rouge’s voice sounds behind him, “I might be able to help with that.” Infinite doesn’t bother turning at the sound. “The name’s Rouge. I’m something of a treasure hunter. A jewel expert, you might say. And I want in.”

 

Review: Season 0, Episode 8

And it’s done! The mid-season finale of The Chaos Project Season 1! Yes, that means this season’s going to be quite a bit shorter than the last, but Season 0 was always supposed to be a special case. And actually, I’m really liking this 16-episode format so far, it gives the perfect amount of focus on the episodes that matter, while leaving just enough room for the occasional fun filler episode. But, on to the episode itself.

Obviously, I’ve been waiting to do this one for a long time, it being a turning point for the season and all. But that really only applies to the second half of the episode, as the event that would lead up to Rouge leaving was always left vague in my plans. It was by a series of coincidences that I ended up going with the 4th of July date. During early planning for this Season, this episode was actually going to be in early June, but about four episodes in, I decided to accelerate my plans for Sonic’s Birthday episode so that I could get Big in a bit earlier, which meant this one had to be at the end of June or later. I decided early July would leave a good amount of time between this episode and the last, and the 4th, obviously, was the first early July number that came to mind. Before I discarded the date for that reason, it occurred to me that I could have some irony, having the Rebellion take such a big loss on a day of independence. It was around that time, on an entirely separate train of thought, that the timeline of Sonic Forces came to mind. Six months Sonic was out of commission, plus three days for Eggman to execute his big Sun plan, applied to the start date of this new war, January 1st, makes July 4th. It was too perfect. So I went all-out with the Empire Day thing from there. Even so, the details of the big fight weren’t set until well after I had written this episode’s opening scene. Which means, Sonic’s fight with Infinite on top of the balloon floats was actually inspired by my own showcase of a balloon float on the news report at the beginning. I had only done that for something that makes sense to see, I was only planning fireworks at first, but you obviously wouldn’t be able to see those before the actual event. Of course, I was also inspired by a Spider-Man movie, which had a similar balloon float fight scene that I always thought was really cool as a kid. I think I captured that kind of action really well, even for the relatively short fight sequence.

I should, of course, mention the fact that I’m perfectly aware 4th of July is a specifically American holiday. There’s not much reason for anyone else in the world to celebrate it, and there’s even less reason for it to be celebrated in the Sonic universe. That’s why I had to be very careful in the way I phrased things. It was never stated in any way that the date had any significance beyond what Eggman had given it. But if you should happen to celebrate the holiday, then you’re very likely to agree with Sonic’s sentiment of it making you sick, just for considerably different reasons.

And…I guess that’s all I really have to say. Surprisingly short for such a long and important episode. From here, I may be going on a brief holiday/mid-season break, but then again, there’s a certain date I’m trying to make for a special episode coming soon, so episodes may actually be coming out even more rapidly than usual. We’ll have to wait and see.

-So until then, remember to live and learn every day!

S1 E8: Insubordination Day

Well…I swear, I was planning on publishing this a week ago. But Thanksgiving weekend happened, and the week was just as busy. So I hope you enjoyed spending time with your families instead of reading my story. But regardless, the mid-season finale is finally here!

Six months, three days. That was the length of the First Great Eggman war. That was the longest period of time Eggman’s ever held power. But today…marks six months and four. Eggman knows it. And he’s making sure everyone else knows it too.” Everything changes on Empire Day.

Preview: Season 1, Episode 8

Well, as much as I’d love to do an animated preview for every episode, that last one took almost as long to make as the episode itself, and that was supposed to be an easy one! If I kept making those, I wouldn’t have any time left to actually write the stories they’re trying to tell! So, for now, it’s back to the old, boring, block-of-text previews. That certainly doesn’t mean that I’ll never do another animation again, it just might be a while. We’ll have to wait and see. And so, without further delay, I give you the preview for the very first Mid-Season Finale, coming one week from today!

The Eggman Empire Day Festival — Empire City

Down on the streets, citizens of many races and species are gathered in great lines down the sidewalks, staring up silently as confetti rains down from the sky. Speakers loudly blare a familiar yet strangely upbeat tune celebrating the Eggman Empire, and the sound of cheering can be heard as the first balloon float approaches between the skyscrapers, depicting a more classic appearance of Eggman, even blown up in a familiar pose. Despite the odd cheering, there don’t seem to be many happy faces in the crowd. Large digital screens hung up on the walls of buildings show zoomed images of what appears to be the same crowd, though that digital crowd seems unusually excited. Several of the real people in the back rows give an occasional nervous glance back at the guard robots stationed periodically behind the groups of people, weapons raised raised up to their chests as if prepared to fire on a moment’s notice.

One robot is suddenly drawn back into the shadows in a blur, and the sound of crunching metal can be heard. No one seems to notice. A few moments later, another disappears in the same way. This time, just a few people manage to see. Whispers quickly begin to spread through the crowd. The guard robots start to scan around on high alert, but still they disappear one by one, some hit with weapons, others by more direct attacks. By the time the second float approaches, depicting the Egg Mobile carrying a large checkered ball on a chain, there’s a clear excitement and confusion amongst the crowd. And that’s when Sonic appears on top of it.

He wears a large earpiece with a microphone that extends most of the way down to his mouth. When he speaks, his voice is greatly amplified, booming through the streets of the city. “Citizens of Empire City! As most of you probably know, my name is Sonic the Hedgehog!” All of the screens on the walls that had been showing the floats are now pointed directly at him, so the entire city can see. “No matter what Eggman’s been trying to tell you, I’m still alive, and I’m still fighting!”

The members of the Rebellion, now spread throughout the crowd, start to cheer. The rest of the crowd quickly joins in.

“Eggman wants us to give up! To accept his rule, to celebrate it! But we’re doing no such thing! The Rebellion will keep fighting until this world is ours again! And if you care about this world, if you’re tired of Eggman’s tyranny, then you can–”

“You can scatter like insects to avoid a far worse fate.” Infinite’s voice projects through the streets just as loudly as Sonic’s. “Because your little blue savior won’t be saving anyone today.” Infinite descends down to stand on the float across from Sonic, caught on the cameras for the whole city to see.

Sonic doesn’t lose his confidence. “Well, look who’s back from the dead. The masked clown. I almost can’t believe you’ve been hiding from me all this time. It’s been years, hasn’t it? Guess I must’ve left a pretty big impression.”

Infinite lets out a booming laugh as he adjusts the mask on his face. “How amusing it is that you think I fear you, filthy little sewer rat. It may have been years for you, but it wasn’t so long ago that I held your life in my hands. You are the only one who has something to fear.”

“I wasn’t afraid of you before, and I’ve only gotten stronger since then.”

“You could never defeat me alone.”

“I never said I was alone.”

On the streets below, the members of the Rebellion step forwards amidst their crowds, cheered along by the citizens around them.

Infinite pushes his mask up once again. “True. But then, neither did I.”

Heavy King slams down onto the street in front of Knuckles and Hero. Citizens immediately begin to scatter, screaming in terror with the new danger so close to them. But he is also not alone. Heavy Rider zooms through the streets, skidding to a stop in front of Amy and Tails. Heavy Gunner jets through the air, drifting down with weapon pointed at Shadow and Omega. Heavy Shinobi leaps in to cut off the escape route of Vector and Espio.

“So, you’re working with Eggman again? Guess some things never change.”

Infinite answers as he lifts back into the air, “We’ve been expecting you. Are you afraid yet?”

“Hmph.” Sonic wipes across the bottom of his nose, and takes off at a run, leaping from the float in a Spin Attack.

Rouge watches all these battles unfold nervously, slowly stepping back into the shadows of an alleyway. Until she is stopped by the muzzle of a gun pointed at her head. Fang gives a smirk behind her. “Rouge. Fancy meeting you here.”

The Battle of Empire City has begun. But something far more sinister lurks behind. What is the Anti-Rebellion planning? And where’s Heavy Magician?

Review: Season 1, Episode 7

This episode was…not bad. The writing process dragged on a bit, but it was enjoyable really digging into Sonic’s emotions again. I almost cried for him in the beginning, but by the end I was cheering at him getting his spunk back. So theoretically that means I wrote it pretty well. But then again, I really didn’t care for the pacing as a whole. Nothing really happened for almost the entire episode, and then suddenly, there’s a brief bout of action, and then the episode ends rather suddenly, leaving the episode rather short by comparison to the rest of this season. This is the first time since episode one that I’ve used a Heavy solely for the purpose of adding action to an episode that otherwise wouldn’t have any. Not that it’s a bad thing, it made me really thank myself for bringing them in in the first place, but it does sort of emphasize the fact that this is a more boring episode.

I suppose I should mention, I intend for this to be the final significant impact of Chaos’ death, at least for a good long time. Three out of the last seven episodes felt a bit excessive, but I needed to deal with all of this while it’s still fresh (relatively speaking). So now, it’s on to other things when it comes to character development for Sonic and Shadow. Speaking of which, let’s talk about Big. If we’re being honest, he’s probably my single least favorite character in the entire Sonic franchise…at least as he’s been written (and played) in the games thus far. I’m still amused by the memes, though. But anyways, given that fact, I was very unsure of how to treat him in this series. I considered ignoring him entirely. I considered killing him off early on so I wouldn’t have to deal with him. I considered giving him a brief spotlight, and then sending him on his way so I wouldn’t have to keep dealing with him. Technically speaking, several of those options are still available. But anyways, I came to he conclusion that, if I was going to use him, as I ended up doing for the first time back in Crisis of Chaos, I would need to do something to elevate his character, if only a little bit. So I began the process back then.

Everyone sees Big as a bit slow (in more than one sense), so I thought it would be both refreshing and amusing if Chaos, someone who hadn’t yet met him, instead saw him as wise and misunderstood. This episode was simply a continuation of that. But, as it turns out, it wasn’t just Chaos’ unusual perspective that made it seem that way. Big spends his days isolated in the wilderness, like a guru or something, discovering the true meaning of life. Through the lens of fishing. The results, I think, are kind of hilarious, but also open up some interesting opportunities, such as those seen in this episode, making it more than worthwhile to include him, at least for the time being. What’s that you say? Malicious smile? I don’t know about any malicious smile. Big definitely isn’t an evil mastermind in disguise. Definitely. Probably. Well, actually… Wait and see.

And…I think that’s all I have to say on the episode. But there’s also the sprite animation to talk about. The reason why I made it? Well…it’s the same reason I made that official trailer a while back, the same reason I got into making sprites, the same reason I started writing The Chaos Project in the first place. I like to try new things. But what inspired me to do it now in particular? Well, I’ve actually been thinking about it for a while. But I decided a long time ago that frame-by-frame animation was more work than I was willing to do, and that Adobe Flash Builder was way outside of my price range. But I realized another option quite recently, while watching my Physics Professor give a lecture in class, which involved several animated objects on the PowerPoint slides. And I realized, if I can tell animated gif sprites to move across the screen in precise ways, that would be all I needed to create a quality animation. So yes, the video you’ve seen is actually a recording of a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. There were a couple of small limitations for this method, but honestly, it worked even better than I’d hoped. I mean, if it works, right? Generally speaking, I was also waiting to come across a scene to write which could have some powerful visual impact based on setting and dialogue, without the need for excessive movement, because that would be harder to animate. There are a couple of options I’ve considered from earlier in the series, which…I may consider retroactively animating in the future. But I’m still a writer at heart, so animations like these are going to remain very rare in the future. Obviously, there are some external inspirations for this as well. Sprite animations wouldn’t even be on my mind if it weren’t for great fan works I’ve seen over the years, like Super Mario Bros. Z, Sonic RPG, and the recently-revived Final Fantasy Sonic X. I suppose I should mention before I go, a kind reviewer (thanks as always, Heat Salamance) gave “props to everyone involved”. I apologize for the confusion, I realize that I did say “our website” on the original advertisement for this video, but this was actually a solo project. My brother did review the video after it was done, but he wasn’t involved with the creative process or anything. Just wanted to make sure that was clear. And…I think that’s all I have to say for now.

-So until next time, remember to live and learn every day!

S1 E7: The Bigger They Come

The episode that inspired the sprite animation is finally available to read! Learn the full story, right here!

A special day has come around once again. But this time, it’s an unhappy Birthday that awaits our hero. Sonic is always running. And there’s only one person in the world who can show him how to slow down.