Green Hill Paradise Act 2 is probably (and we’re happy to be proved wrong) the best Sonic fangame ever. We played the download to death and justifiably so. Adrian caught up with the game’s maker, a man surely destined for great things, Daniel Coyle for an insight into this great game and what makes him tick.
How exactly did you first come up with the idea to make Green Hill Paradise?
It all began in early 2012. Sonic Generations had come and gone with thankfully a good deal of critical praise. But myself and my college roommate Christopher saw more potential in the established Modern Sonic formula than simply blasting through an obstacle course as quickly as possible. We began work on what we now call Green Hill Paradise – Act 1: a large island environment with no clear goals, or objectives. It was mostly a playground to test the waters and to see how Modern Sonic felt in an open environment. It wasn’t until the release of 2013’s Sonic Lost World and then 2014’s Sonic Boom, a time when Sonic’s future was uncertain, that I decided to revisit the concept with GHP – Act 2. I truly wanted to show the world how I thought Sonic can not only work in 3D, but how he could thrive in it.
What software did you use to create Green Hill Paradise and how long did it take to make?
GHP was developed using the SonicGDK (Game Development Kit) which, itself, was developed using the Unreal Development Kit. The original creator of the kit, Xaklse, provided the framework on which Green Hill Paradise could be forged. Pre-production began in October of 2015 and the project was finalized in September of 2016, just in time for the Sonic Amateur Games Expo (SAGE).
When do you hope to release Green Hill Paradise as a fully fledged game to the public and what platforms do you hope it will be available on?
Unfortunately, there are currently no plans to continue the GHP project. Having just recently graduated from college I hope to enter the games industry and create brand new experiences that people can play and enjoy. I cannot make a living creating Sonic fangames (unless SEGA picks me up someday, that is!). Green Hill Paradise – Act 2 is, until further notice, the final version of the project.
Why haven’t you used Sonic in the title of your awesome 3D game?
First of all, thank you! Traditionally, each new entry in the franchise begins with the name “Sonic” followed by a subtitle. I figured that breaking this tradition would further the notion that Green Hill Paradise is unlike any previous Sonic experience.
Many people see your 3D Sonic game as the best 3D Sonic game ever made – how does it feel to have created something SEGA have so far struggled to do?
I very much appreciate these compliments and am very happy that this project has managed to reach people in such a powerful way. However, I would not go so far as to say that I created something that SEGA could not. I merely state that I have created something that SEGA have not created yet. I have no doubt that SEGA could create a Sonic game like mine, given the time and direction to do so. I simply beat them to it.
Perhaps the idea of a more open, exploratory, physics-based Sonic was something that had simply not crossed their minds before and perhaps the critical success of GHP, as well as other projects like Sonic Utopia, will steer them towards something like it. One can only hope.
Why do you think previous Sonic the Hedgehog games have struggled to adapt to 3D as well as Mario titles?
Oh, dear. That is an immense topic that could fill an entire essay itself, but I will attempt to summarize my thoughts in a dialogue that I oft use to describe my thoughts on Sonic’s core design as a whole.
“Finish this sentence: Sonic the…”
“Hedgehogs, in the real world, are famous for doing this:”
“Curling into a ball?”
“Good! Now, Sonic the Hedgehog is famous for…”
“Right again! Now, let’s put those two together. How does Sonic curling into a ball help him to go fast?”
“He… Goes down hills?”
And therein lies the crux of the issue. If Sonic the Hedgehog does not curl into a ball and roll down hills in order to “go fast” then the name “Sonic the Hedgehog” loses all meaning. I believe that, somewhere down the line, SEGA lost sight of this key component of Sonic’s character during his transition to 3D. Sonic doesn’t need hills to go fast anymore. All he needs now is a few boost pads.
Are SEGA supportive of your game?
As far as I am aware, yes! In a miraculous twist of fate, the popular YouTube channel Game Grumps played GHP on their show. I have been a fan of their channel since its inception in 2012 and, as it turns out, the head of Sonic’s official social media, Aaron Webber, is also a fan of the Grumps. Mr Webber left a comment on the Game Grumps playthrough of the game in support of not only GHP, but of all Sonic fangames, encouraging creators to keep on creating.
What is your personal favourite Sonic game ever made?
Call me boring if you must, but my favourite Sonic game is Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles. It features some of the best music in the franchise, some of the largest levels and it even manages to tell a thrilling story that is told entirely through the environment and clever level transitions. Not to mention, the game features the fan-favourite Hyper Sonic.
Have you created any other games in the past?
In high school I dabbled in the M.U.G.E.N fighting game engine. With it you could create your own fighting game characters and rosters using a simple scripting language. After that I began working with an earlier Sonic fangame engine, BlitzSonic. During college I created many prototypes and game projects for my University coursework.
What other projects are you currently working on?
Two of my most recent game prototypes include an Augmented Reality platformer called Impossidie and a Virtual Reality game for the HTC Vive called Sorcerer’s Trial. However, these two projects are currently on hold at the moment, as my current focus is on finding a stable job. For more information about these projects, feel free to visit my blog at https://thecoylecave.wordpress.com.
If you could share a few drinks with a video game character who would you choose and why?
I would love to be able to sit down in the Hyrule Castle courtyard with Princess Zelda and discuss Hylian politics. Their world is so fascinating that I’d love to hear about its inner-workings from royalty. Plus maybe, if we hit it off, she’d give me her number! Or perhaps a… Carrier Cucco? I dunno. Either way, “Prince Daniel” sounds pretty sweet to me.