Hello! First of all, apologies for the delay; this one was supposed to come out earlier but some IRL obstacles got me busy. However, the wait is now over!
As you might know already if you are familiar with this site, at the start of this year I concluded The History of Sonic Adventure DX Modding, a massive article covering the topic of the name; in which I also provided several excerpts from interviews that formed part of this story. Among these, the last two interviews were with Roaxes (one of the administrators of Chao Island), and Sora, a french modder which brought the latest highlights in SADX modding as the author of SA2 Conversion. With that said, this is the final interview being published from this whole story.
Now for some context, this “SA2 Conversion” mod (which is still in active development) has the concept of porting Sonic Adventure 2 levels into Sonic Adventure DX, not only having the layouts recreated from the original game, even implementing grinding on rails (which was not in SADX, but was crucial in some SA2 levels); but also adds the HUD, objects, extra abilities, the Chao Gardens, and even the Rank System! It showcases the potential of how much can SADX engine be pushed to its limits with new additions (in this case, completely new levels to the game).
On top of that, he had worked in some other mod ideas, like SADX Randomizer and Better Tails AI, which does essential improvements to Tails’s as a partner during Sonic gameplay, and even adds a quicker way to move through Adventure Fields!
He also has been recently working in a “Better Tails” mod for Sonic Adventure 2, which aims to restore Tails’s moveset from SA1 into SA2. For context, Tails in SA1 acted like Sonic but with flight and a tail spin attack; however his SA2 incarnation was cutdown to just moving and flying since you would only be able to access Tails outside of his mech in the Chao Gardens.
So, without any further introduction left, I hope that you please enjoy!
This interview was conducted on December 29, 2020.
Alright so first of all, thank you so much for this opportunity; not only I’m glad to see people still going strong with modding in Sonic Adventure DX, but also I’m amazed with the amount of effort you put in porting the SA2 levels in there (even with grinding). Had been waiting for something like this (brand new levels to SADX) since years, so I’m glad to be able to chat with you 🙂
No problem! It was my pleasure, this game sure doesn’t have that much custom levels, so it’s always cool to see more stuff being added ^^
So to begin, what can you say about yourself?
I’m just a regular french guy who enjoy video games and animes, I’ve been playing Sonic games since I was 3. I’ve been also messing around with computer stuff for years now, this universe has always fascinated me for some reason haha.
That’s pretty relatable; always loved games since had consoles and my local arcade at the mall. I remember playing a lot of the SADX Demo A back then, and then the full game…fun times with Windy Valley playing over everything xD
What could you say you are skilled with?
I would say I’m good at trying really hard, I know that’s not really a skill, but my obsession to reach my goals allowed me in the past to perform stuff I would have never expect. Like when I’m motivated to do something I don’t mind persevering until I figured out, sometimes, believe me, this is a lot of patience haha. On another note, I sometimes speedrun game, including SADX since you mentioned it, so I guess I can say I’m also skilled at this game lol.
Fascinating! What would you say or remember that was your first experience with Sonic?
It was around 1996-1997, back in that day my sister had a Saturn with Sonic Jam, this game was a compilation of Sonic 1, 2, 3 and Knuckles. I discovered each game with it and I had so much fun, Sonic became the first video game I ever played and as today, I’m still a huge fan of this serie. I also remember the Sonic World included in Sonic Jam, it allows you to play on a small 3D world with some cool features, like watching ads / small video from previous Sonic games. I was so fascinated with this, I was watching them for hours haha.
It sounds amazing to have seen Sonic Jam like that; the Sonic World aspect of that game always fascinated me despite that I only knew of it through internet and emulators.
Now, that gets me wondering about how it was the first time you saw Sonic Adventure?
It was easily one of the best day in my entire life, I will never forget when my sister got the Dreamcast and brought it back with the game. I saw her playing it and I got so excited, I was impressed by the graphics, the humans, the gameplay etc. All of that was really new for a Sonic game. Sonic Team tried something and it worked so well. I played this game for years and never got bored of it, and despite being on Dreamcast, you couldn’t even skip cutscenes, so I had to deal with it. After many playthroughs it’s definitely something lol.
That must have been quite the experience 🙂
It sure definitely was haha.
This makes me curious about how you must have felt when Sonic Adventure 2 came out…
As for Sonic Adventure 2, I also had fun, but I would admit not as much as SA1. I remember watching screenshots before the game came about Shadow and City Escape. I was excited and started to have the (naive) idea that City Escape was basically an extended version of Station Square (lol). You see, in Station Square, there is some places where you cannot go, like the parking around the hotel. For some reason I imagined that SA2 would allow me to go there and got disappointed when I realized you not only couldn’t, but also there wasn’t any hub world at all.
I loved the hub world idea which added a small RPG part and got kinda confused about why they removed it, although you could argue that the story plot would make it difficult to have one. I was also sad that Tails was just stuck in a mech for the whole game, I think they missed an opportunity to just improve his mechanics in general. That said, I still enjoyed the game and Shadow quickly became one of my favorite character, I also loved how they improved the Chao Gardens in this game.
Interesting! Now, can you comment about since how long have you been part of the (online) Sonic community?
I met different Sonic Communities (as weird as it sound haha), It started a while ago, I don’t recall the exact year, but I think it was before Sonic 06 came. I used to be a part of Planete-Sonic, a french site and forum where I met many cool people, as today some of them are still my friends, I even met few of them in real life. Although, back in that day, I was still very young and didn’t really know how to act properly on a forum. Today watching some old messages would give me a nervous laugh. x)
Early 2017, I joined the Sonic Speedrunning Community, I was already speedrunning SADX, although i had no idea what I was doing since I was very new in this world haha. As of today, I’m still a part of this community and I’m always around to help new people when they have questions.
Finally, I joined X-Hax somewhere in 2019, when I decided to learn SADX Modding, although I also had no idea what I was doing haha.
So you caught wind of SADX mods as late as 2019? Or had you known about those before but only got into learning how to make mods at that year?
It’s a bit weird actually, I didn’t wait 2019 to start “hacking” SADX, in fact, I tried that back when I was a part of the Planete-Sonic community, I remember trying to edit Sonic’s textures with some really old tools, I’ve been messing around with them and it was really fun. It was also harder because back in that day, we didn’t have Texture Editor or even the Mod Loader. We had to swap the files directly in the game files and hope we didn’t break anything. We also had to type some “obscure” command lines to build the texture file. I had no idea what I was doing, I was just following a tutorial and hope it would work. It was also very important to make backup, otherwise you had to re install the game, this happened to me a lot. I was dreaming to do more than texture hacks, but didn’t have any experience or knowledge, so I put everything on standby for a while.
In the end, I can say I started making mods in 2019; it just wasn’t the first time I “edited” the game. lol
I also remember starting out with texture mods; I’m still amazed by how that small project about replacing textures with Dreamcast textures ended up bringing PkR and many others into doing the fantastic work they did.
Did you have any particular inspiration or reason behind wanting to start modding Sonic Adventure DX?
I sure have, not only I love this game a way too much and always want to improve it, but also, playing with so many cool mods made me want to create my own one. I can easily say Dreamcast Mod and Lantern Engine amazed me a lot (they still do today). The work put by PKR, SonicFreak and many other people is just amazing and I’m so glad people have been doing this, I’m also glad to be a part of a community who like editing this game, I think it’s really cool. I would add though, I started losing my mind when I played Sonic Heroes Conversion by Kell, I remember back in that day the mod was very early and had only one stage, but it was enough to made me realize the progress made with SADX Modding. That’s where I started to get information about how to mod the game.
What was the first mod you ever started working on?
It was SADX Randomizer, I remember discovering the idea of Randomizer with SA2. Prahaha made one and I loved the idea. I said “someone should make a rando mod for SADX”, but instead of waiting for something I would have probably never gotten, I decided to do it myself, although I had no idea where and how I should start haha. I randomly found PKR’s old tutorial about “getting started with SADX Modding”. I read it and asked help to a really good programmer friend called Raytwo. He isn’t a SADX modder, but he mods Super Smash Bros Ultimate on Switch which is obviously a very different game, but I had hope he would help me to understand better what I had to do. He helped me a lot to understand how to mod a game and how to write basic code to edit SADX. I had almost 0 programming experience so I started from basically nothing, still I ended making the mod at some point.
Do you have any story about how you started working on SA2 Conversion?
I do, I originally wanted to port Final Rush, as it’s my favorite SA2 Stage, while Kell was working on City Escape. That made me realize that if each people would make a separate mod for a SA2 stage, that would create a lot of issues, specially if each mod adds some specific SA2 features, such as grinding or a custom HUD etc. (You know, mod conflict is definitely something nowdays haha.) So I asked Kell “hey look, you are making City Escape, I’m making Final Rush… what if we just make a single mod to port every SA2 Stages?” And here we are today I guess haha.
How much did you end up having to learn or investigate in order to make SA2 Conversion?
Many things; I never ported any stage before this, so I had no idea how that worked. I had to learn how to make SADX loads custom geometry, how to create custom objects, how to make an object interact with player (when needed) and also how to edit gameplay. I learned a lot with how SADX was working with its code just by making this mod alone. This is easily my most ambitious project and I cannot thanks enough MainMemory, ItsEasyActually, SF94 and many other people who worked on SA Tools, because without them and their help, this project couldn’t even exist.
I would also add, today if you are new and want to port a stage, don’t worry, you do not need to learn as much as I did, but since we had ambitions, we decided to add “as many SA2 things as possible”, so we ended making things a lot harder than what they should have. I guess Kell and I really like challenge lol.
This is also my first “team” project, so I had to adjust how I work to make that match with Kell’s goals, it wasn’t really difficult, but it was sure a different experience, today I’m still really happy that Kell agreed to make this. We both learned so much and had a lot of fun.
What did you think of the feedback that SA2 Conversion received?
I was really scared when we released it, I was afraid people wouldn’t like it for some reason, we also found few bugs 3h hours before the public release, so we had to fix them fast haha. In the end, the majority of people enjoyed it and were impressed, that made me really happy, we’ve been working hard for months, so reading positive feedbacks was amazing.
That’s great to hear! Do you have any future plans regarding mods outside of increasing the amount of content in SA2 Conversion?
I do, I recently released a new version of Better Tails AI and people seems to enjoy it, that’s a mod I care a lot so I’m glad its getting well received. I also want to continue improving the game in other ways. I used to want to add to Tails and Knuckles a Spin Dash, but Kell was faster than me haha. I also plan to do Super Knuckles at some point since Super Tails was really fun to do and I got request about that. I also have few secret projects that I will share eventually. I don’t know for how long I will continue to make SADX mods, but I’m still having a lot of fun making them at the moment.
That’s great! On a somewhat off-topic note, what are your favorite Sonic games?
I think you don’t have to guess that far if I tell you that it’s SA1. Even 20 years later, I watch the opening and still get chill when Sonic runs and face you while smiling. “Open your heart” playing in the background also help a lot haha, words can’t really describe how cool this is. For the rest, I can say Sonic 3 & Knuckles and SA2.
What would you say that are your favorite mods for SADX?
I can easily say Dreamcast Conversion and Lantern Engine, it’s really hard to play without them today. I also love DC Characters made by ItsEasyActually, I know a lot of people prefer DX models, but I grew up with the Dreamcast version and I really love how Sonic looks in this.
I also really like a mod I made myself that I mentioned earlier: Better Tails AI. The idea was really simple, it’s not a massive game changer, but this is the first mod I made entirely alone without asking for any help and I’m really proud of it. I always loved the idea of Miles following you, I remember trying to make him spawn in the hub world by trying to edit the game code. I was so excited when it worked. It’s also a mod people can permanently use, unlike the Randomizer or SA2 Conversion which are usually used just for a specific game session. So yeah, I’m always happy when I see people using it.
Now I think I thought on this question a bit late (lol), but I wonder what you thought about SADX mods back in 2010 or so (when it still was rough and rudimentary, but JCorvinus’s Mushroom Zone among other mods were showing the potential in the game)
I sadly didn’t hear about that mod or any custom level in general back in that year, so I didn’t know, still when I saw it few years later, I was really impressed, the work put on it is amazing. Back in 2013, I remember we could mostly find textures level hack with few object changed but the stages were still using the same geometry. People were calling it “Wave Ocean” or “Crisis City” haha
Haha, yeah those were the biggest highlghts back then.
Just by curiosity, have you interacted with other game communities or have any other game series in particular that you are fond of?
I didn’t really interact with other game communities, despite I love many other games, specially RPG. Sonic has always been my first choice, for the best and the worst lol. I guess the fact that it was my first video game has a big role on that. As for any other game series, I think I can easily say that I love Kingdom Hearts and Zelda.
What did you think when I reached out to you for this interview?
I wasn’t expecting that at all haha, I don’t have a role as big as the other modders, but I’m trying my best to improve. I appreciate that you did though! It’s a good opportunity for me!
To be honest I’m glad to have got to talk with you along with everybody else; specially with how Kell and you did so much to bring new levels into SADX at all, and its so cool to see SADX modding keep giving as time goes on!
Do you have any greetings or special thanks for someone?
I mentioned them earlier, so I’m kinda repeating myself, but: X-Hax in general, specially: MainMemory, ItsEasyActually, PKR, Exant. They are really cool and are always around to help. Obviously, every other people who worked on SA Tools because without them I wouldn’t have started modding this game. So yeah, I’m really happy we are able to make our dreams true by editing Sonic games, so a big thanks to them. Also my friend Raytwo who is always around to help me about programming stuff.
Got any message for the Sonic community (and everybody in X-Hax)?
Don’t wait people making the mod you wish, come here and learn to make it yourself! Work hard and don’t give up, anything is possible!
Do you have anything else to add?
Thank you for this interview! Thanks to all the people who tried any of my mods, I wouldn’t be here without you.
Thank you so much as well for this!
If you enjoyed this, you can check out all the other interviews I have done with several other X-Hax members (as well as some few emudevs; more of these soon), and I also work on articles (like the finally completed SADX Modding History article, but also got some newer ones planned).
If you liked my content, sharing this with others helps me out; and you can lend me a hand through my Ko-fi page as well! Any feedback and ideas are appreciated, so don’t be afraid to drop a message either here or on my Twitter.
Whew. It has been a long ride with this topic but I was quite glad to be able to do all of this, and I’m very grateful with everybody in X-Hax for all this wonderful journey. As this chapter is “closing” (since there still will be new mods and advancements going on as time passes), I’ll be looking forward to write about more stories like this! But until then…see you next time!