Final build of Sonic Xtreme found, leaking as we speak

May 27, 2014
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#1
THIS DOES NOT RUN ON SEGA SATURN SYSTEMS.

It's been a long, weird road, but it looks like we finally have every bit of Sonic Xtreme ever worked on. A member of Sonic Retro and Assembler has his hands on Ofer's source code for Sonic Xtreme and has successfully built the binary, and is sending it out to a few people to test to make sure the game actually runs. In his possession is the final source, including source codes for the level editor and some files needed to turn your PC into a Dev Kit.

Some background on Sonic Xtreme, as many likely don't know the entire story. Sonic Xtreme was Sega of America's project while Sonic Team was working on NiGHTS, it was intended to be THE Sonic game for "next-gen" platforms. The roots of Sonic Xtreme trace back to the Genesis days, when Chris Senn originally pitched the game as an isometric scrolling game:



The game wasn't approved as is, but rather proposed to be moved to the then-in-development Sega 32X, under the name Sonic Mars. A pitch video, made on an Amiga 1200, has survived of what they envisioned Sonic Mars running as:



Mock-up of the pitch video, and the actual pitch-video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjuPHeNTcWs

The game was eventually OKed for the upcoming Sega Saturn, where it was positioned to be THE Sonic game for the system. Originally, the SoA team managed to get their hands on Yuji Naka's NiGHTS engine and had intended to use said engine for boss battles on the game:

Footage of the NiGHTS engine being used for bosses: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ajuzf79476Y

Some executives saw this and demanded the entire game be made with this engine, scrapping an early-in-development normal-stage engine they were working on in the process. Eventually, a small test of this engine leaked as a binary that can run on stock saturns:



Early version of the engine, that has leaked. It continued being worked upon, because leaks like this have popped up online:



This version featured improved graphics, morphing ground (ala soft museum in NiGHTS), and a 3D sonic. Unfortunately, Yuji Naka got wind that they were using his prized engine, and threatened to leave sega unless they stopped using his work. Rather than lose Yuji Naka, SoA yanked the NiGHTS engine from the team, leaving them about a year into the project with absolutely nothing to show for it.

At this point, a third complete rewrite of the game began, and this is essentially the Sonic Xtreme everybody remembers:









Several years ago, Chris Senn, one of the lead developers for the game, leaked everything he still had of the project from this build. he revealed in the process that this build of the game was never running on a Saturn, but rather was a PC build of the game by Ofer Alon, the main programmer. Senn had everything from this build except the actual game engine, but that meant not only all the tiles and arts and assets, but also the actual level files. In 2010, SaNIK, at Sonic Retro, built a model viewer for these levels after a few guys, including myself, cracked the level format from these files. His viewer worked with OpenGL and let you clip through the levels and explore them as non-playable representations of the levels themselves. Senn couldn't release the engine as he didn't have access to it, but for the most part, we had everything related to Sonic Xtreme except the game itself.

Senn released the following videos proving the engine build still existed, though:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzvS_beXtXk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zq_iPxQsbm0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IOd0mQ-uXE

interestingly, the final video states "Saturn version," which is odd because the game is a PC executable. That didn't make sense... until now.

Back in 1995, Sega launched the Sega PC initiative, which would have coincided with Sonic Xtreme's development. The heart of their initiative was a partnership with Nvidia to produce nvidia's first GPU, the NV1. The NV1 is a 3D accelerator video card that, unlike modern video cards, rendered in Quads rather than 3-pointed polygons, much like the saturn. The NV1 also includes Sega Saturn controller ports, and an audio processor making it an all-in-one card for playing Sega PC games. Only 5 games support the card - Virtua Fighter Remix, Battle Arena Toshinden, NASCAR, Panzer Dragoon, and a special version of Descent.

The full source for the above versions of Sonic Xtreme have finally leaked and been built. They use the NV1 SDK, which wasn't available to normal consumers of the NV1, to build, which essentially turned your Windows 95 box into a Sega Saturn development kit. Inside the source for this leak are stubs for a Sega Saturn build option. The game looks a good 70% complete, and includes the source for a level editor. The engine will only run on a Windows 95 machine with a Diamond Edge NV1.

Senn had long conceded that all the "levels" shown were thrown together in 10 minutes for the purpose of getting some screenshots out to magazines, and exploring SaNIK's model viewer made that obvious, as the levels are meandering without purpose. However, given how relatively complete the engine is, and that the game includes the source to the level editor itself, it wouldn't be out of the possibility for fans to actually complete this game. Next steps would have been finalizing the engine, building some levels, and programming some bosses.

The person behind the leak doesn't have an NV1 card himself, but he's built the binaries and is sending them my way to test on my NV1 card. Hopefully I can post some videos of the game running locally at my place soon enough. This is pretty exciting and essentially the holy grail of the Sonic Community. FINALLY Sonic Xtreme has been unearthed.

For me personally, this is the long culmination of years and years worth of research and leads and dead ends. I have personally been looking for this release since about 1999 when I first started speaking to people at Sega and past programmers about this. I had actually doubted we'd ever get our hands on Ofer's engine, this is an incredibly exciting time and I'm pretty honored to be the guinea pig to test this stuff out to confirm if the build is working.

Very exciting day, just so happened to coincide with a day I had taken off from work.
 
May 27, 2014
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#10
Holy shit, I NEED this
You need access to some very rare hardware to get it running. The NV1 is an extremely rare video card and they go for quite a lump of money. This leaked 2 weeks ago, actually, but they've spent all that time looking for someone with an NV1 to test it out.

Note: Every single NV1 game was eventually patched to work with Direct X, so getting this running on modern-ish hardware might not be out of the question. But for now, if you don't have a Sega PC card, you're SOL.
 
Sep 14, 2006
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#15
I hope it can be made to run on the Saturn using the stubs of the code.

Great news for Sonic fans and even better for the historians of video games.
 

StoOgE

First tragedy, then farce.
Jun 8, 2004
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#16
From what I've heard (and seen in videos) it appeared the game was a complete unplayable mess.

Still, it's super exciting that it will see the light of day.

Also kind of weird that they scrapped the 3d isometric game, and then wound up making one for Genny and porting it to Saturn (along with Sonic Collection) when it became clear there wasn't going t be a Sonic game on the flailing system.



Has it been confirmed that this was a faked shot? The IQ always seemed too clean even when I was in Jr. High.
 
Feb 15, 2013
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#23
I'm kinda glad I stopped working on my SX Engine project now...

Just thinking about how badly this would've crushed me is making me feel bad.
 
May 27, 2014
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#27
From what I've heard (and seen in videos) it appeared the game was a complete unplayable mess.
Essentially what I expect. The game nearly killed Ofer as he worked day and night to get it going, but realistically the build we're getting was put together in a few months. Even in 1996 that would have been an incredibly short dev cycle.

This game is the definition of development hell. I think, had they stuck with the NiGHTS engine, they likely would have produced something cool, but too many false starts doomed the project.

But, still, getting our hands on the holy grail of the sonic community is unthinkable and I'm so incredibly excited.

Also kind of weird that they scrapped the 3d isometric game, and then wound up making one for Genny and porting it to Saturn (along with Sonic Collection) when it became clear there wasn't going t be a Sonic game on the flailing system.
It's funny because, at once, there were 4 planned isometric sonic games being worked on, and none of them were related even though they seem like they should have been. Obviously Sonic Xtreme on the genesis never actually began development, but you also had Sonic Labyrinth the year before on the game gear, then Knuckles Chaotix (back when it was Sonic Stadium) had isometric special stages, and you obviously had Sonic 3D Blast from Traveler's tales. Just a weird coincidence.
 

breander

Neo Member
Jul 18, 2014
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#28
This version featured improved graphics, morphing ground (ala soft museum in NiGHTS), and a 3D sonic. Unfortunately, Yuji Naka got wind that they were using his prized engine, and threatened to leave sega unless they stopped using his work. Rather than lose Yuji Naka, SoA yanked the NiGHTS engine from the team, leaving them about a year into the project with absolutely nothing to show for it.
You read things like that and know exactly why the Sega Saturn and Sega itself failed.
 
Mar 6, 2013
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Damaniel, DM
#32
I'll never understand why Yuji Naka didn't want to let them use the NiGHTS engine for this.
I'm assuming he was proud of the engine (which was pretty decent as far as 3D engines on the Saturn went), and didn't want any other game - even a Sonic game - stealing his thunder. Kind of petty, but I can understand.

As much as I'd like to see the game released, I'm more interested in the source code (yeah, kind of weird, but I like seeing how old projects were put together).
 
May 27, 2014
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#35
This is awesome news. Did Sonic Crackers ever become more than Knuckles Chaotix per chance?
Yes. Sonic Crackers likely was never the name of the game, actually, despite the thrown-together title screen. The game is known in the header as "Sonic Studium" but it's obviously meant to be Sonic Stadium.

DRX released like a dozen protos of KC from various stages of development, that chronicles its change from Sonic Stadium to Knuckles Ringstar to Chaotix Starring Espio to Knuckles Chaotix. There are even builds with Tails still in the game.
 
Aug 4, 2011
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#36
Great writeup Krejlooc, looking forward to any video that comes from this.

While I'm not the biggest fan of Sonic, Xtreme had such a crazy story behinds it's development I've always been interested in reading about it over the years. Fingers crossed you can get it up and running!
 
Apr 8, 2014
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#39
Great writeup Krejlooc, looking forward to any video that comes from this.

While I'm not the biggest fan of Sonic, Xtreme had such a crazy story behinds it's development I've always been interested in reading about it over the years. Fingers crossed you can get it up and running!
Didn't the main programmer get some kind of serious ailment from the crunch time imposed on this project?
 
May 27, 2014
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#40
I'm assuming he was proud of the engine (which was pretty decent as far as 3D engines on the Saturn went), and didn't want any other game - even a Sonic game - stealing his thunder. Kind of petty, but I can understand.

As much as I'd like to see the game released, I'm more interested in the source code (yeah, kind of weird, but I like seeing how old projects were put together).
The game is coded in C, but there's a good strong chance the source will never be released to the public, because Ofer doesn't really want it leaked. It's sort of up in the air. I'd be ecstatic if the source was made public, but don't hold your breath. Likely, only a few high ups in the sonic community will get their hands on it out of respect for Ofer.

but the builds are definitely coming and have been backed up and everything.
 
May 27, 2014
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#44
Didn't the main programmer get some kind of serious ailment from the crunch time imposed on this project?
Yes, Ofer developed some sort of sickness that put him into critical condition because of marathon coding for this project. He seriously almost died.

A true nightmare project.

It's part of all the Sega games found recently, right? Like Hammer Away.
No, that's from a different source.
 

Zonic

Gives all the fucks
Mar 21, 2013
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#49
I cannot wait to see what comes out of this, especially considering the history behind this game. So great to finally get more info on this after all these years.