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Christian Whitehead Sonic Revolution interview

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Levi Church, Sep 9, 2022.

  1. Levi Church

    Levi Church

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    A few months ago Christian Whitehead did an interview on Discord with Sonic Revolution. I uploaded a clip of the interview onto YouTube where he revealed that Infinite was almost in Sonic Mania but was cut. But the rest of the interview kinda fell into obscurity, which was a shame because there was loads of great information revealed about Sonic Mania in it that deserves to be shared around. So I got permission from Kevin in the Sonic Revolution Discord Server to share the interview here for archival purposes.

    Here is the Taxman interview
    https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=!AJW6S3dha-wec9A&id=1559B09D5FABEF83!85392&cid=1559B09D5FABEF83

    Here is a link to Sonic Revolutions' Twitter: https://twitter.com/SonicRevolt
     
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  2. big smile

    big smile

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    I made some notes on this interview when it first came out. I am sharing them here in case they are useful.

    These aren't supposed to be an exhaustive list of notes, just things I found interesting. There's some anecdotes that aren't related to the games so I didn’t include them.

    16:00 Press Garden originally started as a paper mill stage. But Sonic Team really wanted an ice stage so they worked in the ice theme.

    18:00 CW didn't think the Mean Bean Machine idea would be accepted. However, Iizuka thought it was funny.

    20:35 At first, it was up in the air over which characters to add for the DLC. Sega's guidelines considered Mighty and Ray as a pair who are friends that always go on adventures together. That stacked it in their favor to return. They did consider Amy or Metal Sonic at one point. CW wasn't too keen on Ray at first but changed his mind when he saw the unique goofy personality he had.

    Fang, Bark, and Bean are mirages created by Heavy Magician.

    28:40 They had a board for Studiopolis that had a Robotnick pun that played homage to the misspelling of his name in Sonic the Fighters. The board read "Robotonick: the fragrance from Eggmanpuri"

    But Sega didn't want them to use the word Robotnick. Pressed for time, they replaced it with "Eggnog".

    29:40 They had a Sega/Ages pun but couldn't use it for legal reasons.

    30:54 CW would like to remake the Hot Shelter and Chao Gardens in 2D.
    CW is a big fan of Hot Shelter because it (like the Egg Carrier in general) gives an insight into Eggman's private life.

    46:00 Chemical Plant Zone 2 was originally more horizontal in its design. However, they took inspiration from Chaotix to make it more vertical which helped them to better accommodate the gimmick ideas they had.

    50:00 They originally had a new bonus stage idea for Mania. But they didn't have time to implement it, so they re-used the Blue spheres from the Sonic 3 Remastered pitch.

    53:00 Sonic 3 Remastered couldn't be done due to a company/licensing issue.

    1:13:30 Iizuka didn't know how people would react to Mania when it was first unveiled.

    1:15:50 Hard-Boiled Heavies discussion: The game design doc for Mania has lore that wasn't translated into the game, as Classic Sonic uses a silent pantomime format, which is hard to convey lots of information.

    Sega wanted to tie Mania to Forces but didn't give much information about the Phantom Ruby. Originally, Sega wanted Infinite to be in the game, but Sega didn't give much information about what Infinite was or how he looked. Sega later provided details about the Phantom Ruby which they described as a gem stone that reacts to people's sense of being or will. CW felt that if the Chaos Emeralds are power enriched by the heart, then the Phantom Ruby is power enriched by the mind. So in the Sonic Mania universe, the Phantom Ruby reacts to people's personality and will.

    In Mania, the Egg Robos have animals inside them, which have their own personalities. When the robos dig up the ruby, they are transformed into the Hard-Boiled Heavies. And the animals personality fuse with the robots' AI and over-rides it slightly, which is why they don’t always follow Eggman's commands.

    Their exteriors reflect the animal's personal interests and desires. They had animal designs for all these characters. The smalls animals are not meant to be as smart as Sonic. They are a different tier of animal that don't go on adventures.

    In CW's head canon, one animal was a ramen shop owner and became Heavy Shinobi. The pig became a cop (Heavy Gunner). The monkey, she became Heavy Rider with Jimmy the Motor bug. The penguin, she became Heavy Magician, because a penguin looks like a tuxedo.

    They had several backstories for Mania that changed twice during the pitch process. The original pitch was a simpler story. But when they wanted to include the old levels and Phantom Ruby, they had to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new cast of characters to use.

    1:31:56 Mania Plus only had a short development cycle of around 3 months (the rest was all Q&A). CW wanted more original Zones, but Sega wanted a focus on alternative play styles and modes.
     
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  3. Starduster

    Starduster

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    Iizuka being based as always, I see.

    The idea that Infinite could've been in the game is fascinating to me. Like, would his design have been changed to match classic proportions? How would this have impacted Forces' story?

    Also, the idea of the Phantom Ruby being enriched by the power of the mind not only makes it a great foil to Chaos Emeralds, it also gives me some ideas... Catch me over in the headcanon thread.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2022
  4. big smile

    big smile

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    From the way CW talks and reading in between the lines, it seems like Sega wasn’t giving them much information about Infinte. So this would be a new Infinite for the Mania universe and doesn’t directly connect to the Forces universe (much like how the ruby doesn’t neatly line up with the Forces ruby).
     
  5. Linkabel

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    So back when Mania came out I was wondering what happens to the animals inside the Egg Robos when they got transformed to the Hard Boiled Heavies.

    But if I'm reading this right they got completely fused with the robot's AI?
     
  6. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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  7. Snowbound

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    Honestly after listening to this interview I’m wondering if Mania Plus was the final straw for Whitehead. Now let me be clear: this is just speculation… BUT CW WANTED to make more levels. Instead he had to crunch to make new characters. During the interview Whitehead rightly explained why crunch times isn’t good for creativity. Maybe he didn’t want to work for Sega after Plus? Again this is JUST speculation. I’m curious what y’all think.

    In retrospect I think the best move would’ve been to not make Mania plus and instead give the team ample time to work on a Mania 2.
     
  8. Starduster

    Starduster

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    I think the "final straw" thing may be a tad dramatic. At the end of the day, while Taxman and co. do garner huge respect within the fan community and obviously know their stuff with regards to the classic Sonic formula, at the end of the day they were effectively contractors on Sonic Mania and it was always going to be SEGA's word as law. Besides, he still licensed (and even further developed) the Retro Engine for Origins and seemed quite pleased for it to be used, so I don't think the relationship ended sourly. I think the overriding factor in all of this is simply that Taxman and co. simply didn't want to be working on Sonic for all their careers or to be locked in to that perception. Given their love for the series, I'm sure that offered its own temptation and the desire to resist that may have been a motivator to strike out as Evening Star before we could really take Mania for granted.
     
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  9. Xiao Hayes

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    I would simplify this as "Nice to work on Sonic, not so nice to work for Sega". If I were in their position, I'd prefer to help other fans with their Sonic clones rather than keep working under Sega's policies.
     
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  10. HEDGESMFG

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    I think you're underselling it a bit, as the crunch comments do seem to tie into what Stealth/Headcannon has said about origins/S3Remaster's development.

    It's also an honestly logical factor (though I'm sure not the only one) in why we haven't gotten a Mania 2 yet, and perhaps won't at all.

    I'm not saying Stealth/Tax wouldn't do it again if asked (the former almost certainly would), but I do honestly think this could be one detail of the mystery we need to remember. Bluntly put, crunch culture is awful and Sega had no need to use it for Plus, and likely origin as well.
     
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  11. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Mania Plus is DLC which I don't think was originally planned(??). I didn't expect it, and I don't recall Sega publishing any post-launch roadmaps of how they were going to fleece more money out of the game, so I can't imagine the developers being too upset that it didn't take the form they wanted. The fact it exists should be satisfaction enough.

    This isn't to knock Mighty and Ray mind you - while I think you're inherently limited to how many character movement ideas you can tack on to the basic Sonic gameplay, it's a wonderful thing that the characters exist (and they're not in some untouchable legal limbo as was speculated ten years ago) and a pleasing subversion of expectations from "hey look it's Amy lol". But Encore mode could have done with more... "content" - "same levels but blue" is a far cry from say, Shovel Knight, that almost quadrupled in size over the years for no extra cost. I would have liked to have seen more new levels, especially given this is the number one complaint with the base game (which people were complaining about from day 1).
     
  12. Starduster

    Starduster

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    The Shovel Knight comparison isn’t all that apt, given it only bundled everything together for relatively early adopters. As the scope of the project expanded into what eventually became Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove, the last two campaigns were separated into their own releases and are available as standalone purchases today. It’s telling that Plague of Shadows, the first additional campaign that is still bundled with the purchase of Shovel of Hope, changed things the least of the three additional campaigns and is probably the most comparable to Encore Mode.
     
  13. Aesculapius Piranha

    Aesculapius Piranha

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    Forces's greatest weakness was being a tie-in to Mania (even if the reverse was intended). I'm kind of glad they didn't go that way.

    I am glad that Iizuka encouraged my favorite boss in that game to happen.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2022