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SEGA Fans Chronicles - Chapter V: LiQuidShade

Zone: 0 is a different kind of Sonic fansite. Its owner is now preparing the guide for Sonic 3 & Knuckles,  set to be up on August 30th. Who is LiQuidShade, though? Read on.


Who? LiQuidShade
   Twitter: @LiQuidShadeZ0
   Email: liquidshade[at]soniczone0[dot]com
Why? Owner of Zone: 0, a Sonic fansite with strategy guides for Sonic 1, 2, 3, & Knuckles and CD.
SEGA Fan since… Summer 1993, when he saw Sonic 1 being played at a friend's party.
Favourite SEGA game: Sonic 3 & Knuckles
Favourite SEGA console: Mega Drive/Genesis
RadioSEGA: Hi there, LiQuidShade! Good to have you on the SEGA Fans Chronicles! Why don't you start by telling us a bit about yourself?
LiQuidShade: Good to be here! Thank you very much for inviting me :) Well, not much to know really, I'm 27, living in London, I'm a web developer by trade, but most importantly, I love Sonic. Always have, always will! Fortunately, I also love filling my time with big computer-based projects, so a combination of the two is a real winner for me. 
RS:Tell us about your fansite, Zone: 0. How would you describe it and what makes it different from all other Sonic fansites around?
LS: Zone: 0 is a Sonic the Hedgehog game information site, but while others have a great range of information on a variety of games and other Sonic stuff, Zone: 0 focuses on extremely detailed information for just five games - Sonic 1, 2, 3, Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic CD.
RS: Every level is fully mapped, and every major point in them fully explained, so for the newbies it's a strategy guide, while for those of us who think we know the games inside out, there are still plenty of secret routes and hidden things that might just still surprise us!
LS: I love Sonic levels, their individuality and the way they differ so much from each other in every aspect, so I also get a lot out of analysing each one in terms of appearance, structure and obstacles, and I hope my passion for it comes out in these aspects in particular. People have told me it's fun to just sit and read my guides aimlessly, and hearing that makes me feel like I've put something together that's really quite unique :)
RS:How did the idea for Zone: 0 cross your mind?
LS: It all started a long time before the site existed - in 2004. I was heavily inspired by theghz.com, another Sonic information site covering many more games (until the creators sadly became disillusioned with the franchise, I suspect). I loved reading all about the older titles that I never played, such as those on the Game Gear, as well as the ones that I knew extremely well. But to me, levels are the most crucial part of any Sonic game, yet they're usually given little more than a few screen grabs and a paragraph on most Sonic info sites. I wondered about a site that could delve a lot more into this aspect. It wasn't initially a strategy guide as such, more a place where levels across the whole franchise could be catalogued, classified and compared on all of their key statistics, with a whole page dedicated to each.
I knew a little about web development at that point, so after a few months of thought, I decided to sit down and have a go. I wrote my first drafts for all the levels of Sonic 1 in little more than a solid week, and its Mega Drive neighbours quickly followed. Information about general aspects of the guide were important too, but more of an afterthought, as I felt like I couldn't offer much that was unique in that aspect.
As I wrote more and more level guides, they started to get more detailed, and gradually transformed from just a reference guide for mostly those-already-in-the-know to a strategy guide for beating the games that would appeal just as much to new players. This meant having to go back over and add twice as much detail to the first guides though, so it wasn't until two years later that I actually completed the text for all five games.
I wanted to keep going, but at the time it was a complete secret, and I had no idea if anyone was really interested in any of this. I could have just been wasting my time, so I decided to turn them into html pages, with screen shots and maps and test the waters. The response was better than I could have ever hoped, so since 2007 I've been busy publishing my original writing into illustrated guides and building up my website.
RS: To do all these in-depth guides, you sure need a lot of dedication! How long does it take for a guide to be completed?
LS: Well, it's been five games over eight years, so roughly just over a year and a half in total? Not all of that time of course, I'd work on Zone: 0 as a job if I could, but it's a year and a half of my free time, anyway. I wish I could have had more time to work on them, I'd probably have done a few more guides by this point!
RS: Which of your guides took the longest to do?
LS: For the writing part, it has to be Sonic CD. With its time zones, It's almost like a regular Sonic game multiplied by four, and describing how to get to and from any time zone in every zone certainly makes that guide my lengthiest! Building the maps for Sonic 1 and 2 took longer than the others though, simply because I initially had to place every object by hand. I've since got a little help from Sonic game engine expert Mercury, who kindly made map extractor tools to help me. Otherwise I'd probably still be doing Sonic CD maps now!
RS: How long have you been a SEGA fan? How did it all start?
LS: Since, what I reckon was probably Summer 1993, when I first saw Sonic 1 being played on a Mega Drive at a friend's Birthday party. To say it changed my life is probably not an understatement. I was completely mesmerized by it, it was the most awesome thing I'd ever seen, and sure enough I got a Mega Drive of my own that Christmas. Even though I wasn't really very good at any game, my friends were, and I often just loved to watch them play, all the while gathering information in my head about every level, for later use!
RS: What's your favourite SEGA game?
LS: I love all of the original Mega Drive Sonic platformers equally, but you can't beat Sonic 3 & Knuckles. It's the epitome of great 2D Sonic level design, with the kind of non-linear routes that have never quite been seen since, and such an epic yet beautifully simple storyline. I don't think it'll ever be bettered in my eyes, but I'm perfectly ok with that. I'm still playing a lot of Sonic Generations over and over. I've always been a fan of 3D Sonic as well, despite the lack of it on my site, but in Generations, it's finally been honed and perfected into a truly wonderful and exhilarating experience. I never get bored of it!
RS: What about your favourite SEGA console?
LS: The Mega Drive is the one to which I attach the fondest memories. It's a huge part of my childhood!
RS: Being a Sonic fan, would you say platformers are your favourite genre of videogames?
LS: Definitely. I'm not a big fan of most modern, huge games, I tend to prefer smaller and simpler platformers and puzzle games. I have an Xbox but I'm more likely to be found downloading its Live Arcade games rather than buying disc-based ones these days. The surge in mobile games on smartphones in the last few years is also great news for these smaller indie titles too.
RS: Any other non-SEGA franchises strike your fancy?
LS: My second favourite series is Legend of Zelda. I've played most of the big ones, including last year's Skyward Sword which was good, but I did prefer the others. Ocarina of Time may be my favourite non-Sonic game.
RS: Just a side note, were you a victim of the dreaded "BARREL OF DOOM" in Sonic 3's Carnival Night Zone?
LS: Do you know what, it never affected me. I wasn't that great at games in my childhood, so I first encountered it when I was playing as Tails, accompanying my friend who had already figured it out and luckily I had it explained to me before I went through the horror of having to figure it out myself. My own personal "doom" moment is the rising water section in Chemical Plant Zone. I knew what to do, I just couldn't do it, I would panic and then either fall to my death or drown! Since making my guides I've discovered so many new routes and shortcuts I had no idea about, including a completely alternate route that avoids that whole area! I really wish I knew about that when I was a kid!
RS: You're now close to finish your Sonic & Knuckles guide. When do you expect it to be completed?
LS: It's scheduled for 30th August! Not only is that a realistic time scale for me right now anyway, it also happens to mark exactly eight years since the very start of the project, so I really wanted to aim for that date in particular. During the week of the last update only, I'm also running free banner advertisements for any appropriate website as well. Any interested site owners, please get in touch!
RS: Which game did you lock-on to S&K the most?
LS: Sonic 3, although I've clocked up a fair few hours on Blue Sphere too. My friends and I were baffled that it just never seemed to end!
RS: Will this be your final guide? Or can we expect more in the future?
LS: This will be my final guide. I had originally hoped to one day write a guide for every game in the series, no matter how long it took, but not only is that going to take me much longer than I originally thought, I just can't commit to that anymore I'm afraid. I have lots of ideas for other projects that I'm really excited about but they're never going to get done if I'm still slaving away on game guides, so all good things need to come to an end sometime unfortunately. I felt this was an appropriate place to leave it.
That doesn't necessarily mean the end of Zone: 0 as a site though. Though unconfirmed at the moment, I have new ideas of where I might like to take it - possibly into a system that offers a more user-generated experience. Regardless though, the guides will always have their home there, alongside any new features or content.
RS: Did you ever think about broadening the range of your guides to include other SEGA games? I'd love a Jet Set Radio or Shenmue guide! :)
LS: That would be nice, but for me Sonic comes far ahead of anything else so I'd be unlikely to do any other guide. Especially since I'm not even doing any more Sonic ones now either!
RS: If you were going to a desert island and could only take the soundtrack to one SEGA game with you, which one would it be and why?
LS: It's a bit of cop out, but probably Sonic Generations. It comprises some of the best music from the whole series, and in many cases even improves upon it. I'm totally in love with Tomoya Ohtani's takes on Rooftop Run and Crisis City, they're just sublime. I love almost all Sonic music though, so beyond that, it's an extremely hard decision indeed!
RS: We've been having a lot of talk about the new Sonic & All-Stars Transformed. Are you excited about this? Any bets on what the yet to be announced characters will be?
LS: Sure, it's pretty cool. I'm most excited about new Sonic platformers of course, but I have the original and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The new transforming idea sounds pretty cool. I wouldn't like to guess on anything unannounced, that would probably demonstrate my lack of knowledge on obscure SEGA characters!
RS: Finally, what other hobbies/interests do you have?
LS: I like to draw. Not as much or as frequently as resident Zone: 0 artist Ricky Earl, but enough that I'd like to do more of it in the future. I'm also a developer of flash games and applications as part of my day job, so I like to make games as well as play them.
I have a number of project ideas to go onto next, some Sonic-based, some not, but one of my dreams is to use all of the knowledge I've acquired over the years to build my own original levels, as fan-games. Hopefully I'll be able to combine both of the above hobbies in order to do that. Whatever I choose to do, I'm pretty sure you won't have heard the last of me within the Sonic community, after the end of August!
RS: Thanks for your time, LiQuidShade! It was a pleasure to have you on SEGA Fans Chronicles. We wish all the best for you and Zone: 0 in the future and we'll be checking out your Sonic & Knuckles guide in a few days!
LS: Thank you very much, it's been a great opportunity. Keep up the great work!
There you go! Be sure to check out Zone:0 and keep an eye out for the final guide by LiQuidShade on August 30th.
If you have any suggestions for future interviews, be sure to leave me a private message on the message boards. Be sure to come back next week when we write a new chapter in the SEGA Fans Chronicles.

19th August, 2012 - 01:18 GMT KC Article viewed 2545 times 0 Comments


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