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General Questions and Information Thread

Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by Andlabs, Aug 25, 2011.

  1. Ted618

    Ted618

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    That may well be because not very many locations actually bought it - speaking from experience I've only ever seen the cabinets twice, and neither were really at 'proper' arcades (one was on rotation with several other racer machines in a small cinema foyer games room, the other was at a video game museum with pretensions of being an arcade).

    In any case I always thought it was rather lazy of them to just put out a heavily-stripped down conversion and not something new that toyed with the concept and its arcade sensibilities. Bandai Namco made three different Mario Kart arcade titles that have been successful in their own right, and those are still much more common sights as a result.
     
  2. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Found one!

    Visual Entertainment R&D Dept.

    Sega formed a division specifically for developing pre-rendered CG cinematics. It was spun-off into its own company and now exists as... Marza Animation Planet.


    Marza was made a subsidiary of TMS Entertainment, and given it was originally called "Sega Sammy Visual Entertainment Inc.", you could assume, as I did, that it was a purchase by Sega Sammy Holdings, living in the Sega Sammy group, but not really connected to Sega or Sammy. Its roots as a Sega division are not widely publicised, and even Marza itself claims it was "founded" before it was "established" (I'm guessing something was merged in?). Also most of its projects are not related to Sega video games - TMS is there to do 2D animation, Marza does 3D - I didn't expect to have to care.

    Although given both TMS and Marza are organised under the "Sega Holdings" umbrella maybe I should, but ehh.


    Sega has a long history in this style of pre-rendered computer generated animation. You've seen the "Sonic Ride" and "Man of the Year" shorts in Sonic Jam - these were made by Sega AM3 around 1993-ish, when they were the only group in the company with the technology and skills to produce that sort of thing (to the point where they were going to SIGGRAPH and positioning themselves a Japanese pseudo-Pixar). I had assumed Sega had given up on the dream in the early 2000s, as by this point they were outsourcing cinematics - by making a dedicated R&D division, this suggests otherwise.

    Marza is unlikely to reach the heights of Pixar or Dreamworks, but it has plenty of short movies to its name and was involved in the Sonic the Hedgehog films, so the foot is definitely in the door. I guess you could say the dream is coming true? If you're really really generous?
     
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  3. Ted618

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    That's conveniently made one rabbit hole I once fell down a bit clearer. Between AM3 getting their 3DCG subdivision established by Tetsuya Mizuguchi after he was given permission to order craptons of SoftImage + Silicon Graphics equipment ("Emotion Design Lab"), and Marza Animation Planet existing from 2006 right up to today, I wasn't sure what else had happened on that trajectory. Didn't actually occur to me that Marza itself may have a bit of info on its own site.

    All those Sonic experiments, AS-1 films, and other things like more AM5 support by a young Mie Kumagai + Satoshi Kitamura's shorts that appeared a few times at SIGGRAPH then swiftly fell off the face of the earth - at this rate I'd say that AM3 probably need a 'Filmography' list, with the sheer amount that their CG personnel ended up producing in the 90s.

    There's even some possible indication from Mega Force that they were responsible for the animation seen in Sega's TV commercials in Japan around that time, although I'm not sure specific answers on that front will be forthcoming.
     
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  4. JaxTH

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  5. Ted618

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    I think with Marza, it'd be getting a bit like adding all of TMS' works for companies other than Sega while they've been under the same conglomerate. But as far as I can tell everything that AM3 did is within Retro's remit.

    Animanium also likely comes into the equation, as that was when Sega decided to make the software for others to do 3D animation - though then ended up getting involved in a co-production made on it, Mamimume★Mogacho, themselves.
     
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  6. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    Fun fact: A good way to learn about Sega's corporate structure is to play the kart racing games by Sumo Digital.

    Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing/Production credits

    (I wish I could just copy-paste credits from other games rather than type these things all out, but they keep swapping the terms like "director", "supervisor" and "manager" around)

    Both All-Stars Racing and All-Stars Racing Transformed credit the specific R&D divisions of Sega (not quite sure what OCB is yet - I'll go hunting at some point). It's confirmation, should you need it, that CS1, CS2, CS3, AM1 and AM2 existed in 2009/2010.

    By All-Stars Racing Transformed (2012), the AM divisions are just known as R&D1 and R&D2 (i.e. no "AM"). I'm not entirely sure if this structure has since changed, but there's a good chance there isn't officially any "AM" divisions at Sega anymore (although the AM2 palm tree still shows up from time to time).

    Did we know this? Kinda.

    [​IMG]

    R&D1 came out of the shadows in 2013/2014 and had a website (which it killed in 2017) detailing all their products. R&D2 still digs out the old palm tree from time to time, but the red text doesn't mention "AM".

    When Sega decided to split itself up for a bit, (AM) R&D1 and 2 were moved to "Sega Interactive", while CS1, CS2 and CS3 went to "Sega Games". CS3 has since been scrapped (or became something else?), which means theoretically the modern 2020+ re-combined "Sega Corporation" has four "video game" R&D departments; R&D1, R&D2, CS1 and CS2.


    And in broad terms:
    - R&D1 makes all those arcade games you can't play because they never leave Japan
    - R&D2 also makes arcade games you can't play, and but are also the custodians of things such as Virtua Fighter and Daytona USA
    - CS1 is basically the Ryu ga Gotoku Studio. It feels like every product they release has that badge now
    - CS2 is basically Sonic Team

    There's still other groups producing physical hardware. I don't think they've got dedicated mobile divisions now, but honestly who knows.
     
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  7. biggestsonicfan

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    ALWAYS Sonic the Fighters
    I feel like AM2 was only involved in All Stars Racing because of Akira Yuki. It just feels really out there that they could contribute to other parts of the game.
     
  8. Black Squirrel

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    Oh they need to die.

    I've tried to piece things together from annual reports and investor relations documents - when people get promoted to top jobs (or top job titles change) Sega Sammy release a statement. That includes the heads of the R&D divisions.

    That's "divisions", not "departments".


    So between 2010 and 2015 there were four "main" R&D "divisions":

    R&D #1 - the AM1 lineage
    R&D #2 - the AM2 lineage

    R&D #3. This "division" had at least three consumer "departments" - that is, CS1, CS2 and CS3.

    R&D #4... built cabinets. So is the follow-on from "old" AM4, Mechatro, Product R&D, etc.


    Confusing also is that R&D #1 had a "Mobile Team" department for developing mobile games. But then they'd set up Sega Networks to do the exact same thing so idk where it all goes.


    In 2015 there's a split between Sega Games and Sega Interactive.

    ...and I think Sega Corporation's R&D #3 consumer "departments" become Sega Games' consumer "divisions". The rest go to Sega Interactive... except the bits that don't. But I'm so confused.


    I think when the two halves were re-combined in 2020 we're back to four divisions like they were pre-split, but you tell me.


    I also got briefly lost in a "PC R&D" division. But turns out that's on the Sammy side, and "PC" means "Pachinko" ("PS" being Pachislot). Because of course it does.
     
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  9. Ted618

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    Can safely say that a fairly quiet reorganisation (but quite a big one) looks to have taken place since Sega Games and Interactive were merged in 2020. Up to now, the details of it have only been gleaned from vague "flexibly reallocate domestic R&D resources" talk, credits on job listing websites, interviews, and a tweet from Hiroshi Kawaguchi. Sega used to publicise this stuff with more detailed announcements, but don't as much now.

    As far as the sources available suggest, the revised structure with rough staff diversions by mid 2020 was initially this:

    Development Division 1 - former CS1/Ryu Ga Gotoku, with some former R&D 2 people likely mixed in
    Development Division 2 - former CS2/Sonic Team, with some former R&D 1 people probably mixed in
    Development Division 3 - former Online R&D, but with staffs from consumer, mobile, etc
    Development Division 4 - former Mobile R&D, but with staffs from consumer, mobile, etc also
    Development Division 5 - Interactive R&D 1/2, but could be likened to R&D 3 in 2010-15 (?)

    (To be clear; though the syntax of these sources vary and use 'department' often too, 'division' also comes up in some cases, including the only time so far that Sega have clarified this structure and the heads in what is likely to be its entirety - so I'd go with that, despite titles still being messy)

    I think this all has a lot to do with the whole "Super Games" thing and some recent PR noise - consumer development does seem to have been beefed up, partly with some of the old mobile and amusement personnel, and barriers between companies have once again been brought back down to aid flexibility. The hope appears to be that an internal development structure with fewer arbitrary corporate hurdles will then ease the deliverance of all these big new global blockbuster games for consumer markets, which Sega keep claiming they are going to be putting out in the next few years.

    Soon after the 2020 restructure, some indications of how this was playing out appeared. RGG/Division 1 collaborated with old R&D 2/AM2 alumni on VF5 US, and Division 2 took in racing developers formerly of Division 5 + R&D 1, both coming after Sega publicly said some amusement staff would become involved with consumer work. Division 3, home of PSO2, presumably had the first of a $1bil investment and were gifted Sapporo Studio.

    However, parts of this structure have already been abandoned. Division 5 probably broke off and abandoned its initial name at some point - once again going back to using the old AM notation ("AM Development and Production"). This kind of goes against some of the intended flexibility that Sega wanted to achieve by putting Games and Interactive together only two years ago, but who am I to argue with their constant flip flopping.
     
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  10. Trippled

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    As someone who spent way to much time studying this exact issue (and edited a bunch of stuff on Sega Retro and Wikipedia), it basically went like this:

    In April of 2000, Sega made 10 subsidiary companies (Co., Ltd in legal terms with a president and CEO for each company). There was a sense of crisis that Sega may actually die, but the development teams were important - it was part of a mission to keep Sega alive much like funding Sega out of Okawa's pocket after failing the Dreamcast.

    However that stucture (WOW Entertainment, Sega AM2, Hitmaker, Amusement Vision, Sega Rosso, Smilebit, Overworks, Sonic Team, United Game Artists) basically only lasted two years anyways. In 2003, measures were already taken to consolidate teams and move into a different development structure again. Chaos was actually in full visibility.

    To go down the list:
    WOW and Overworks became Sega WOW, not so much due to low selling games but because of the arcade market situation. Sega was succesful in arcade but didn't need the wide variety of games that overlap each other often. I noticed alot of staff actually moved to Paon (As an example, Virtua Golf credits overlap with DK: Barrel Blast of all things)
    Digital Rex split from Sega AM2, so Suzuki has his own dev studio. But that was pretty much more of a Gunpei Yoko 'put him in a corner' type situation because of the Shenmue failure. As Digital Rex basically made no games whatsoever.
    Sega AM3 and Sega Rosso merged pretty much for the exact reason Sega WOW was made. Efficiency, as they made similar games anyways with being arcade focused.
    Amusement Vision and the non-sports teams of Smilebit merged, mainly because the original Smilebit games especially for Xbox totally failed.
    Then there was UGA which merged with Sonic Team because it also failed to sell with Rez and Space Channel 5. Part of that team actually made Astro Boy PS2. None of the Rez people stayed at Sega, but because the Space Channel 5 people had roots going back to Sonic, they merged with Sonic Team.

    This was 2003 and 2004.

    2005 there was no subsidiary system anymore. But they had rather unique names for their console development which were Global Entertainment and New Entertainment R&D. I think, the idea - was - that Yuji Naka made games with global appeal and heads GE and Nagoshi heads NE to make "New games" because he was on a succesful run with new IP Super Monkey Ball and Yakuza. But that didn't last. Yuji Naka left, GE became mostly focused on the Japanese market instead of having global appeal and NE was not so new anymore after Yakuza sequels.

    2005-2008:
    GE1 (used the Sonic Team brand) - Sonic Team that made Sonic Adventure DX (remember this team is different because the OG Sonic Adventure team was split into the teams of PSO and SA2), Billy Hatcher, Puyo Puyo and Feel the Magic XX/YY. Also had staff from Overworks that worked on Shinobi and Nightshade, likely to help get Sonic 06 out of the door together with the Billy Hatcher team (bizarre I know). Aside from Puyo and everything Sonic (Riders, Storybook games, supervision of handheld DIMPS games, 06 and Unleashed) they also made a few edutainment games in the style of Feel the Magic XX/YY. You can spot them on the official Japanese Sonic Team website.
    GE2 (did not use the Sonic Team brand) - pretty much the team that made Sakura Wars and Skies of Arcadia that then made Valkyria Chronicles. However - the Segagaga producer joined too, and made Thunder Force VI
    GE3 (uses the Sonic Team brand for Phantasy Star Universe) - this is actually the PSO team. They also partnered with Mobile & Game Studio to develope the obscure Kaseki Play and Pole's Big Adventure
    Sega Studios USA - Takashi Iizukas team
    Sega Studios China - the team that made the Altered Beast PS2 game as well as the NiGHTS and Dynamite Deka PS2 ports
    Network Business that uses the "SEGA PC" brand also existed for a bit - for PC versions of PSU and sports sims and things like Sega Splash Golf and Typing of the Dead 2 were made there.

    NE1 - Nagoshi's team, Yakuza and Super Monkey Ball
    Sports R&D - Japanese sports sims and the first Mario & Sonic Olympic game (which was co-developed with people from Sonic Team actually)

    AM1,2,3, Family Entertainment - mostly Japanese only arcade stuff. This shift happened around 2003-2005. Notably with the Key of Avalon, Sangokushi Taisen and Quest of D. However it is interresting that previously people involved in big console titles like stuff from Overworks (Sakura Wars, Guru Guru Onsen) worked on Dragon Treasure and Sangokushi Taisen and the people that worked on Shenmue worked on Mahjong, Quest of D and Border Break. As always in Sega's history - the arcade staff is never just involved in arcade stuff. Sadly it's been minimized for a long time now. VF5 and Virtua Tennis 3 are big known examples from this era. But there are outliers in comparision to what the arcade staff released on consoles back then (even if they were just supervising externally developed arcade ports, like Virtua Fighter 3 by Genki or Sega Rally 2 made by Smilebit).

    2008 - 2018 (?)

    CS and AM studios (or just R&D), the names change around but the amount of teams stayed consistent to say the least:

    CS1 is NE with the Japanese sports simis. They began using the Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio brand, the old version of it, with Binary Domain.
    CS2 is GE1 plus the Mario & Sonic sports team. The Sonic Team brand is used pretty much only for Sonic. Mario & Sonic never used it. Off-shoots like Rhythm Thief and Project 575 never used it.
    CS3 is GE3 + GE2, so Overworks and the Phantasy Star team. Made all the non-arcade versions of Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA. Made Rise of Nightmare too btw lol
    Sega Networks was established around 2013 for mobile games. It was sort of an umbrella company that included mobile games from the Mobile R&D team that was from CS1 (Masaoyshi Kikuchi, Masamitsu Shiino, Takaya Segawa), and mobile games from AM1,2 and other teams.
    CS3 staff established a new team that involves mobile games and updating PSO2 (Online R&D). The difference to other mobile teams within Sega is that they focused on cross-play across PC and other devices. But in essence, Sega of Japan has multiple mobile teams, not just one.

    the AM studios got reduced to just two. Which caused AM1 to disproportionately get alot of games, which caused them to get their own presence for a while. Arcade games, Mobile, Medal games lot of stuff got into R&D1. Once again in addition to Japanese only arcade stuff and the occasional console ports (such as the fantastic X360/PS3 downloadable ports that are also featured in part in recent Yakuza games), both AM1 and AM2 were involved in mobile games (Chain Chronicle being the most successful example)

    Current structure

    Currently the studios are called 'Asia & Japan Studios'. I have also seen them just called "Divisions 1,2,3 etc."

    Anyway...
    There is Div.1 which is the Yakuza team unchanged. However the RGG Studio brand name has become popular outside of Japan. Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown used it. And the two new Monkey Ball games did too (oddly not in Japan).
    Div. 2 is CS2 + CS3. Loads of stuff outside of Sonic. For example, an obscure observation, Makoto Suzuki, lead programmer of Sonic 06 and director Sonic 4 Ep2, worked on Shining Resonance Refrain and Index X Virtual On. The people usually involved in Sonic games now do development support for Valkyria Chronicles, Sakura Wars, Sega Ages etc. stuff that they were previously not involved in. Sonic Frontiers has 60 people working on it. They are likely working on other unannounced stuff too.
    Div. 3 is Online R&D. They recently (last year?) opened a new dev studio Sega Sapporo. Interresting as it's a completely seperate office, much like how they established their own dev studios back in 2000. Anyway we heard of the nebelous "Super Games" they are working on, and this will apperentlly take the lead with a new Crazy Taxi in development.
    Div. 4 is the mobile team that broke off from the Yakuza team in 2012. Appearently they will also be making a "Super Game". It's a real pleasure to see the director of Jet Set Radio, Masayoshi Kikuchi move away from mobile.
    Div. 5 is the arcade stuff. Unsure how many divisions, if AM2 exists as a division despite their brand name being used in Virtua Fighter. Who knows.

    Either way, Sega has declared their "Super Game" as their future. But this just means that Sega is gonna stop doing Japan & Asia only games and have all their console, mobile and arcade for together to make games. Mobile and arcade in Japan has reached it's zenith. However, good thing that Sega has tons of experience with GaaS games. PSO2, their mobile stuff, their arcade stuff all are live service games being constantly updated.

    I think that's enough

    Edit: Looks like Ted made similar points just now. Good links btw, just learned that Sega Div. 4 is making the One Piece Bounty Rush
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2022
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  11. Black Squirrel

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    It's wiki time. There's no need to be afraid.
    [​IMG]
    https://retrocdn.net/index.php?title=File:Joypad_FR_035.pdf&page=23

    Doom went to ECTS Autumn 1994 (which we don't have a precise date for, but late August/early September is a good bet). A build earlier than our earliest prototype (6th September), that was taken to the show despite not having a working HUD.

    We have a "40% complete" figure for this. Which would be accurate if you didn't know how to count.
     
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  12. Black Squirrel

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    It's wiki time. There's no need to be afraid.
    I've been trying to work out whether Product R&D ever existed under that precise name. In theory, a page for every time it changed its name would mean this needs splitting into three.

    We have it down as coming into existence in 2009 (following Mechatro), but mere months later it becomes R&D #4. Then in 2015, Sega Interactive Product R&D.

    Unfortunately 2009 and 2010 are really bad years for "Sega-made arcade games that give credit to their developers". Sega Golden Gun is the only useful one I've found, and it calls the division "AM Product R&D". The extra "AM" is what began this quest.


    Such is my devotion to this tedious cause that I got the wiki to list every game from 2009 and every game from 2010. But I suspect the answers lie elsewhere.
     
  13. Ted618

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    I tried looking and just got even more confused. A video interview article from 2019 says "1st Mechatronics Development Section, Product R&D Dept., Sega Interactive Co., Ltd." - whatever that means.


    As per the other developer interviewed in the above video, there is also the matter of Sega Interactive seemingly having an "R&D 3" (the spiritual successor of AM3/Hitmaker?) at some point during its time as a company though.

    It may well be that the department was purposefully made just to take some games off of, as already mentioned, an increasingly overloaded R&D 1/AM1 - they noticeably faded from public view in February 2017, and that one Japanese job profile for Kenji Arai (sign up only now, screenshot here) implies R&D 3 opened at the same time.

    From the looks of things, Wonderland Wars, Chunithm, and maimai were three franchises that got transferred from R&D 1 to become 3's responsibility. Ongeki then joined the latter two in 2018, so that's at least one original title it had the chance to make. Perhaps it still exists as a subdivision though - all four games remain in operation.
     
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  14. JaxTH

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    Jack shit.
    Sega Gamescom 2022 trailer:
     
  15. Trippled

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    Regarding the product r&d thing. I think it always existed. Names change around a lot, mechatronics or product r&d etc., and likely always had more subdivisions making crane games, mechanical games, non-games etc.

    Yeah. So it seems that this Interactive R&D 3 was more of a bridge solution. kenji arai screenshots are helpful. 2017-2020 an Interactive R&D3 did indeed exist. Does it exist now? Don't know really know to care, as Sega doesn't want us to know either...

    What's more interresting is that I spotted Toru Ohara from R&D1 in the Sonic Origins credits as a chief producer along with Eigo Kasahara, who is long associated with Sengoku/Sangokushi Taisen. In any case, Div. 2 is looking likely to have more things going on than Sonic Frontiers..we'll see...
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2022
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  16. Black Squirrel

    Black Squirrel

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    It's wiki time. There's no need to be afraid.
    Fun statistics! Yakuza 2/Production credits

    ~290 lines of English credits vs. ~160 for Yakuza 1 (and that game has English voice actors!) - about a 80% increase in the number of people getting a mention in the span of about two years. And I would expect Yakuzas 3/4/5/6/7 to be even bigger.

    I'm not keen on overly long video game credits, and am now relatively sure that 2005-2008 was the period where they became widespread. Sega, for example, started crediting its marketing and sales departments, before making way for legal gubbins and finance. The good news is they're not a Western developer - while Sega credits are long, much of it is justified by the fact tasks are frequently outsourced. It's really just the Sega of America and Sega Europe branches which insist in mentioning their 3429032432 vice presidents, even though you know fine well they had no input into the final product.


    Basically, no "production babies" or tedious developer messages, and they don't credit receptionists, janitors or the in-house kitchen staff. Some companies do, and sometimes you can't skip it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2022
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  17. Trippled

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    Browsing old versions of the Japanese Sonic Team website I dug up an old Sega of Japan website from 2006 detailing their consumer departments during the GE and NE R&D era.

    https://web.archive.org/web/20070305213816/http://csjob.sega.jp:80/

    GE1 R&D, GE3 R&D and Sports R&D are all what I expected. But some clarity for GE3 and NE came clear to me. So the new rebooted Shining series was in fact with NE, consistent with the fact that the Shining Force remake on GBA was with the AV moniker. And GE2, which at the time was creating Valkyria Chronicles was mainly credited as the "character-based" and group. Which meant that they had stuff that relied heavily on licences and the whole anime mediamix world (Sakura Wars, and outside IP like Doraemon and Bleach). Interrestingly they credit Shinobi series as one of their flagship series at that point still. Did they have plans for an SoJ produced Shinobi?

    I also love the description of Sonic Team during this period haha

    1. 『SONICTEAM』とは、『夢と感動』をテーマにエンターテインメントする、安心と信頼のブランドです。 株式会社セガの開発チームとして、精力的にハイクオリティなエンターテインメントを提供する「SONICTEAM」。今後もジャンルを問わず新しさ・楽しさ・面白さを追求していきます。
    2. [22:16]
      SONICTEAM" is a safe and reliable brand of entertainment based on the theme of "Dream and Excitement". SONICTEAM" is a development team of SEGA Corporation that vigorously provides high quality entertainment. We will continue to pursue newness, fun, and excitement regardless of genre.
    Another thing I found as a descriptor for Sonic Team/GE1:
    https://web.archive.org/web/20070204055442/http://csjob.sega.jp/GE1/

    Going through machine translation it basically talks about how games should be accessible and all that. The Puyo games and the DS Project Rub games fall into that category, but then they put out stuff like Secret Rings and 06 which likely frustrated most consumers who bought them lol
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2022
  18. Black Squirrel

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  19. Trippled

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    Yeah but Nightshade came out 2003, and by 2004 was by all accounts "dead". This job hiring page was in 2007, and by then they didn't promote other dead series like Jet Set Radio, Shenmue or Panzer Dragoon. Doesnt really mean that Shinobi was actively developed - could also just be for potential employees to be attracted.
     
  20. There was a new Shinobi game in development after Nightshade in-house at SOJ. But the project and staff were moved to be part of the Sonic 06 Team; that is why you have Sliver and Havok psychic psychics in Sonic 06, that was originally going to be the basis for the new Shinobi game. Not with Sliver of coruse :).