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Do Sonic Team even know what makes Sonic good?

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Laura, Dec 5, 2013.

  1. Nah, it still would have been poo.
     
  2. VectorCNC

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    No one seems to understand what I'm saying on the other threads, and it's just as well I suppose because I'm being directed here. So I'll try and say it as plain as possible...

    Why are comments from Sonic Team, Iizuka, being made which strongly imply they think Sonic Mania is targeted almost entirely to older fans, and Forces is for everybody/millennials? Shouldn't this be the opposite?

    I say this because classic platforming is obviously a MORE accessible playstyle for ALL AGES, then Sonic Forces which relies on the more niche racer/speedrunner playstyle? Certainly millennials who enjoy Modern Sonic will also be interested in Mania, perhaps more than older fans who want Mania will be interested in Forces. On top of that, Forces also has platforming classic Sonic. So why do Sonic Team approach Mania as though it has less appeal? Simply because of the pixel art is my only guess…

    As an example, Nintendo didn't say, NSMB will only appeal to “older fans”, so it's going to be treated as lesser, marketed as lesser, and only be a digital download. They didn't approach it with this tunnel vision. NSMW actually has a wider appeal because it's a more accessible playstyle. It appeals to older fans who grew up with it, and it appeals to millennials that currently enjoy 3D Mario. As a result it was one of their highest selling games ever, certainly of the decade.

    As a side note: This place is becoming so political lately. I say this as half of the responses interpret this idea as an assault on the Modern Sonic games, which it clearly is not. Or they say we can't discuss marketing without credentials, but for some reason armchair game dev stuff is free reign. On top of that we have site staff that never leave the forums, and constantly post the same thing ad nauseam without any new insights, but want to silence others whose opinions they find inconvenient.
     
  3. Beltway

    Beltway

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    I know I already somewhat gave my two cents to your comment in the Forces thread, but I'd like to flesh it out a bit more here since it is the more appropriate topic.

    I think you're onto something here when you say the opposite scenario should be the more likely case. I think the Forces is the "everyman" game and Sonic Mania is the fanservice game (for "older" fans in particular), only applies through their project scopes and release strategies (since Mania is a digital game + limited marketing + small budget + retraux graphics; while Forces will be on retail + mainstream advertising + large budget + modern graphics). The actual game structure and philosophy I think applies into the alternate narrative youre pushing.

    Forces is being split up into three playstyles, that each appeal to a different faction of fans of differing playstyles. You have your Boost Sonic for Boost fans. You have classic Sonic for classic Sonic fans. You have this third CaC playstyle that could honestly be aiming for anything. Fans of 3D Sonic that want something other than the boost? Sonic fans with their own OCs and character creation content in general? Are they even aiming to get people within the fanbase with this? Hard to say. It's arguably another textbook example at Sonic Team trying to make a game trying try and please everyone (or who they perceive as "everyone") at once.

    ...which I guess may technically be an example of making a game "for everyone", but I think we've seen enough times (both with Sonic games made by Sonic Team themselves, Rise of Lyric, and non-Sonic products in general) that products that try to please "everyone" usually end up pleasing few, if any, people.

    Contrast that to Mania. It's a game solely based on the Genesis games, a series of games that back then were targeted for and were well-received by general audiences back in the day--and given how they were so successful and accessible they have been ported to nearly every device capable of playing them under the sun (game consoles, handhelds, PCs, smartphones, pre-smartphone mobile phones, MP3 players...), the games can still be picked up and played by anyone today. Which is a given, considering those games were made when the series was designed to be Sega's rival to a universal icon of gaming. As you said yourself, you don't see Nintendo trying to divide the NSMB games as being aimed specifically for older fans or newer fans--they know that that both demographics can enjoy 2D Mario games just fine.

    Maybe this analysis doesn't mean much now, but I think it will become more relevant when we can compare the reviews and shelf life / longevity of both title when they are released.
     
  4. TimmiT

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    I'm not so sure Modern Sonic and Custom Hero are for two different fanbases. I imagine that generally those who like making fan characters are Modern Sonic fans. Still, Classic being there definitely does make it feel like some execs told Sonic Team they had to shoehorn him in.

    By the way, a couple of things to consider when discussing this stuff:

    1: Online fanbases aren't the only people targeted for Sonic games. We like to say that Sega is trying to target a splintered fanbase, but keep in mind that the primary audience for Forces is likely kids. Who probably don't spend much time online complaining about Sonic games. And I don't mean to excuse the quality of Sonic games here. I'm saying that with the exception of Mania you shouldn't expect online fans to be the target audience.

    2: We are just working off of assumptions here. I imagine Sega has done a lot of focus tests and bases who they target their games to on actual data. It's very unlikely they're mainly advertising Mania to the classic Sonic fans rather than the general audience just because they assumed the general audience wouldn't like the game. Not saying Sega isn't making wrong decisions or anything. Just saying: while we usually only have our assumptions to base our conclusions on, Sega has actual data they base theirs on.
     
  5. Sean Evans

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    Well sure, I figure Sega probably realizes the vast majority makes fan characters, meaning there is indeed potential overlap there. And seeing how it's basically modern Sonic, I feel like that's really who the thing is for, which is why I'm not against just spinning that idea off into it's own subset in the franchise. Sega probably knows better than all of us who's buying and playing their games, but I think they're using that data they've collected strictly in business/distribution/marketing terms and not actual development. And that makes a lot of sense seeing as that was the process that got the series to the top, in the first place. But it's just weird how they refuse to establish a image for the series from fear of not hitting all of their bases, even though they made the giant ass change to everything in the first place.

    Like, After 06 flopped they decided to greenlight Sonic Unleashed. A less edgy Sonic game, but still rated at ages 10+, featuring gameplay akin to racers (not exactly but similar) and an M rated combat game based on greek mythology. The visual style the game went with was inspired by locales and areas from all over the world, attempting to have a somewhat animated look, but make the landscapes pop via a new lighting engine (that it took nearly 3 years to make) to keep the game up to snuff with current hardware. The setting and themes are very reminiscent of Final Fantasy, which members of the unleashed team would work on in the future. The focus on things like small talk, world hubs, food, bizarre "fantasy" creatures, and semi-real environments. But they slapdash all of Sonic's weird cartoon-y stuff in the game because "whoops Sonic game", and they sort of haphazardly throw some Pixar elements in there to make all of the humans "fit" with Sonic...even though Sonic's supposed to be in the real world.

    I wanna know why Sega keeps thinking that Sonic having to leech off of already successful brands and ideas is the only way it's gonna be able to appeal to anyone anymore. Because that's been all we've gotten for these past games, which were taken to their logical extremes with Lost World and Boom. Why is it that Sonic has to be everything other than just Sonic? Sonic Team went out of their way to mention how things like Colors and Lost World were influenced in part by Mario Galaxy, so this isn't just some crackpot theory or anything. Now I feel like we're at that point where Sega's looking more into the interest of the fanbase (probably via the internet), and are using that to influence there decisions for newer games, hence why we got Mania and Forces. I don't think they had these concepts in mind with a general audience, or an audience outside the fanbase. I think the target audience here is definitely fans (which makes sense, it's an anniversary title, but still).
     
  6. Beltway

    Beltway

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    I was speaking more on the basis of the gameplay direction, rather than the appeal of the concept. The Custom Hero playstyle looks decidedly more slower-paced, and its gameplay direction seems to be about using the gadgets and powerups (Wispons) forplatforming and combat; as opposed to constantly moving fast and maintaining your speed as we see in the Boost playstyle.
     
  7. TimmiT

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    I dunno, isn't that still Modern Sonic though? Custom Hero's gameplay very much looks like an evolution of the gameplay in Sonic Colors.
     
  8. Beltway

    Beltway

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    But Sonic Colors was focused more on 2D puzzle/precision platforming and using Wisps powerups, as opposed to being a more straightforward Boost game like Unleashed and Generations. The gameplay template was based on the Boost formula, but the Boost formula itself was more of a background thing; which I think also applies to what we're seeing with the Custom Hero playstyle. I'm not saying the engine / template it is based on are different, I just think the Custom Hero's gameplay intents and design decisions are.
     
  9. TimmiT

    TimmiT

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    I know that it's different playstyle, I just don't think they're trying to appeal to another separate part of the fanbase with it. If Forces didn't have Classic Sonic in it and just had Modern Sonic and Custom Hero, I don't think people would be complaining about it trying too hard to appeal to two different audiences.
     
  10. Scarred Sun

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    There's a pretty straightforward answer to this question if you're willing to do a bit of a thought exercise. Grab a pen and piece of paper.

    So, congratulations! You are now the director of a big-budget Sonic title, and it's time to plan how you're going to make this piece of software. For simplicity's sake, let's say there are 10 components of a Sonic game:


    - CG/cutscene art
    - In-game art
    - Music
    - Sound effects/voice acting
    - Story
    - Unique features (i.e., having to design, create and build something that your team is not familiar with)
    - Engine programming
    - Level/game programming
    - Level/game design
    - QA, testing and bugfixing

    Look at each of these on a scale from 1 to 10 points, and then allocate a maximum of 70 points across these 10 components. This is now your game's quality.

    Twist #1: you may or may not always have your 70 points. Bad financial quarter? Lose 10 points. Tell your team there will never be a Sonic game again if this game fails so they work overtime? Gain five points. As a result, you're going to need to choose the order in which you spend your points to have more of what you want secured should there be a point shakeup. You'll have to prioritize everything you pick, and do a +/- 10-20% of your points to just guess what the final product will be. Further up? Probably going to meet your points or even exceed. Further down? Probably 20% or more of your points subtracted.

    Twist #2: you're no dummy. Sonic games clearly were made before you. There's no need to reinvent the wheel if you don't have to. If you can reuse pieces of previous games, like engines or design or music, you basically gain a free point or two in that category, because the heavy lifting was already done for you. You only need to iterate on what's been built.

    Imagine what that final game would look like--what it's strengths and weaknesses would be based on your points allocation. How would it be critiqued in the press? How would a variety of audiences react to it? How likely do you think it will sell in the current video game market? Take some time. Write out your thoughts.

    Can you reverse engineer based on the reactions to go back not just to the final point distribution, but the original, intended spread?

    With that framework in mind, look back at various games made by Sonic Team--not just Sonic games, but pretty much every title in the past 10 years or so. What patterns do you start to see emerging when you apply this exercise? Your answer will be pretty clear.
     
  11. Dr. Mecha

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    All I could say is that's the reason why Sega is short of okay with our fangames; their lawyers wasn't, but screw strict copyright laws.
     
  12. Beltway

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    Hmm...
     
  13. Beltway

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    The reason why I posted this quote yesterday is because it looks like Iizuka is referring to pleasing 2D fans with Sonic Mania and 3D fans with Sonic Forces.

    It's actually from 2010, and Iizuka is talking about pleasing 2D fans and 3D fans with Sonic 4 and Sonic Colors, before Sonic 4 and Sonic Colors were released.

    As we now know, despite what Iizuka is saying here, Colors and each subsequent Sonic Team game afterwards --Generations, Lost World, and now Forces-- still have large amounts of 2D gameplay, despite those titles supposed to be 3D games.

    So yeah, Sonic Team are really doing their job. They already said "We know we can't please everyone with one game" seven years ago.
     
  14. Beltway

    Beltway

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    ...so how about that Forces, now leaking and will be officially released in eleven days' time? Has what you've seen from Forces convinced you Sonic Team knows what makes Sonic good?

    ...personally, I can't say so. If anything, I feel we're back where we started when this topic originally began, really. There is one major difference, though--it looks like Sonic Team can't even get Boost gameplay right anymore.

    As of now, I'm not only convinced Sonic Team don't know what makes Sonic good; I'm convinced Sonic Team don't even know Sonic, full stop.
     
  15. Glaber

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    at the rate things are going, I'd say SRB2 has a better chance of being the better 3d sonic game than anything Sonic team could put out, And that fangame is still not finished yet! (but it's slowly getting there)
     
  16. makoeyes

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    In light of Sonic Forces launch and rather... Lukewarm, reception.... I thought it'd be interesting to perhaps post my opinion on this topic here? I hope that's okay, since it's a very interesting question.

    Does Sonic Team know what makes Sonic good?

    Well, given what we know now about Sonic Forces troubled and fractured development, I think the better question is, "is there enough of a 'Sonic Team' to even care or learn at this point?"

    Because what we now know of Sonic Forces development shows that it was almost nothing more than a side project carried about by a bunch of newbies because for some reason Sega pulled the veterans from Sonic Team to work on other more important things like... Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games again.

    That's.... Very troubling and unfortunate. And almost false advertising since from the start with Sonic Forces' teaser trailer, it said "From the team that brought you Sonic Generations..." yet... Almost none of Sonic Generations original team was even present here developing it!!!!

    This game was mailed in by substitutes, essentially. Because Sega just didn't care enough about it. That's depressing and utterly confusing.

    If the game had the manpower, time, and wasn't forced to be developed for the Switch midstream while faced with a looming deadline...Maybe we would've got something better.
     
  17. TimmiT

    TimmiT

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    It's almost like the problem isn't with Sonic Team but rather with how Sonic Team is treated by Sega. :v:
     
  18. Laughingcow

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    As amusing as the above is, the obvious answer to that is Nintendo clearly pays better than Sega. Especially when you remember it's not Sega but Sega Sammy whose primary source of income is pachinko/gambling. Sega isn't funding Bayonetta 3 after all.

    The real question is whether or not there is any loyalty within Sonic Team/Sega? If not and Sonic is just a "product" to them well, that would explain a lot. This is admittedly speculation but fairly plausible.
     
  19. Zephyr

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    "Sonic Team" isn't a singular hive mind entity. "It" doesn't, and can't, "know" anything. I think the problem is that whoever is in charge of putting people in charge of these products has a poor judge of talent, or just doesn't care. Which must either be someone higher up in Sega proper, or Iizuka himself.

    The people who are repeatedly put in charge (Kishimoto, for instance) don't seem to know, or care about, what makes a video game good, let alone what makes a platforming good, let alone what makes a Sonic platforming game good. Or they don't care.

    It's honestly probably a combination of both. If they don't care about making the games good, then why would they remember how to do that in the first place? It's apparently not practical knowledge. It's apparently not necessary to do that which they exist solely to do: acquire profit.