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SAGE 4 Interview: 'Retro Sonic' Developer Christian Whitehead (aka Taxman)

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Christian Whitehead - better known online as 'Taxman' - is currently doing a fantastic job on Retro Sonic, possibly the finest 2D Fan Game in existence at this moment in time. We spoke to him at SAGE 2002.


TSS: Taxman, thanks for being here today.

Taxman: No prob Dread, fire away!

TSS: For those that do not know, what is your Fan Game all about?

Taxman: Retro-Sonic is a C++ Direct X fangame. It stars Sonic and Tails in a new adventure to find the Dreampool. There will be ten regular levels with some extra custom levels.

TSS: Retro Sonic appeared at last year's SAGE expo, and a lot has changed since then. What has changed since R.S's last appearance to the online public?

Taxman: Since the last demo, a lot of changes have been made under the bonnet. It's now far easier for me to make new levels. In addition, new gameplay and objects have been added to the game, including Buzzbombers, Crabmeat and Bumpers. I've also sorted out what Zones I will be putting in the game and have most of the gameplay ideas on paper.

TSS: When did you first get the idea for Retro Sonic?

Taxman: Retro-Sonic has come a long way from it's beginnings. When I first got The Games Factory software, I wanted to make a Sonic game that was like Sonic CD. Over time I restarted the Sonic game again and again, each time with a new engine.

At first it was Platform movement, then Static (Which I called Manual movement at the time). By the year 2000, The game had changed radically, and now featured the name Retro-Sonic. Then at the end of 2000, I started working on a programmed DirectX version of the game.


TSS: What special features are there that make Retro Sonic different from the other entries here at SAGE?

Taxman: Some of the special features my game has are: Parallax layers (both foreground and background), classic-style gameplay for Sonic and Tails, custom levels (a level editor for the public is in the works), 3D special stages (to be included later on), groovy game objects like bumpers, flippers, log bridges, and more.

TSS: Because of the name and last year's appearance (seen from the screenshots of a Beta Spring Yard Zone as a playable level in your game), many people would think that Retro Sonic is an attempt at getting old beta and never-before-released zones (based off of your own ideas of what it would look like) in a Fan Game. Is there more to the game than this?

Taxman: Considering that only 3 of the 10 levels will be of any relation to the past Beta levels, I like to think that the public only knows about 30% of what Retro-Sonic will be like. All the other Zones are original.

TSS: How long has development of Retro Sonic taken?

Taxman: From the start of the MMF version in September 2000 to the current C/C++ version in March 2002. Retro-Sonic has been in development for about just over a year.

TSS: Can you reveal exclusively to The Sonic Stadium when roughly you expect Retro Sonic to be complete?

Taxman: Retro-Sonic should be complete around the end of this year. There should be some more substantial info at next September's SAGE.


TSS: Any major hitches you have encountered? Spill on your biggest technical bugger-up during development of this game.

Taxman: There hasn't been anything that has majorly hindered the progress of the game. However, there has been occasion where I've had to re-code a section of the game to reduce the amount of bugs. Often fixing little bugs can be just as annoying as fixing large ones.

TSS: How well do you think Retro Sonic is progressing?

Taxman: Quite well at the moment. Development of levels should speed up soon thanks to the changes I made to the engine. I also have groovy new features planned to add to the game.

TSS: How do you see your chances winning the booth polling, against other games on show at SAGE that you have seen?

Taxman: Well, If people forgive me for the lateness of the new demo... ^_^

TSS: Finally, what to you is the most promising game to rear its head at SAGE?

Taxman: At this SAGE I quite liked the demos of SV2, BRSX and the Elysium stuff.

TSS: Taxman, developer of Retro Sonic, thanks a lot for your time.

Taxman: No problem.

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