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I visited Sega yesterday.

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Sammybeany, Nov 13, 2010.

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  1. (I originally wrote this for and posted it on The GHZ, but the admin there is basically an asshole and locked my topic, chastising me for buying and playing Sonic 4. The funny reality is, I actually haven't played it or bought it, and this is something I was afraid would be used against me. I guess you just can't fucking win. Anyway, maybe someone here will actually give a shit. Enjoy.)

    A couple of weeks ago, our good friend Neil (aka KooshKoosh) alerted me of this: http://blogs.sega.com/usa/2010/10/27/join-...ommunity-event/

    These days, I live just a short train ride from downtown San Francisco. I figured "well, why not." I had no misgivings about this event, of course. I knew there was no way I could go in there and be taken seriously and have my opinions matter. Despite this, I sort of felt like I had to go. My ever declining interest in video games wasn't enough to quell the fact that Sonic was a big part of my childhood, and I felt like this was the only chance I'd ever have to defend the series in a way that at least pretended to be meaningful.

    So, I went. I wanted to be in San Francisco to see a movie that was opening today, anyway. (Four Lions, by Chris Morris. It was pretty funny. Recommended.)

    [​IMG]

    I got to Sega's headquarters about half an hour early. A few people had already showed up, so I joined the group and just sort of sat around and listened to them talk. It became clear, quickly, that most people were there for Phantasy Star and Valkyria stuff. I basically know nothing about either series, and I don't care about them. At this point, I realized it was probably going to be a pretty long evening.

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    Sorry I didn't bother trying to get convincingly good photos of this shit.

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    Someone briefly mentioned Sonic 4, and my ears immediately perked up, and I quickly weaseled my way into the conversation, and began to give an impassioned speech about why it's so bad. That RubyEclipse blog hero guy sort of stumbled through, and was like "you're already complaining about Sonic 4? That's supposed to happen later." So, I jokingly said "well, fine. I'll keep it bottled up until then." But, I actually did back off. I figured it would be better to do this on Sega's terms. Why not? They invited me in here for this. I withdrew myself from the conversation and went back to listening to everyone talk about the other games.

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    I thought the frosted glass windows with Sega logo style stripes were pretty classy. Nicely designed offices, overall.

    [​IMG]

    The crowd was very (very) nerdy, but they were generally the "good" sort of nerds (with only a few outstanding exceptions). They treated each other with respect, and generally tried to be social and include other people. The one funny case I noticed where this faltered was with a cute Asian girl, who seemed pretty withdrawn. I talked to her a few times, and she acted like she was shy and embarrassed. She warmed up to the group after a while, though.

    They served dinner first. Catered gourmet sandwiches and cookies. Not bad.

    Anyway, nobody cares about that bullshit. The Sega event itself was sort of arduous. Apparently the one game required everyone have a certain save file, and they had to go around and copy this shit to everyone's PSP memory card, and some people didn't have memory cards, so they had to scrounge these up for people, and some people didn't have PSPs, so they had to scrounge up loaner units, and blah blah. It was all pretty disorganized and ridiculous, and I was glad I didn't have any interest in participating. I felt a bit antisocial for refusing to play shitty animu games, but I wasn't there for that. I was there to criticize Sonic 4.

    After sitting around through all of this nonsense for close to four hours, they finally gathered around for the "Sonic 4 Community Feedback" session. RubyEclipse even had a whiteboard with "Sonic 4 Community Feedback" written on it. You know that shit's official.

    He started out by saying we'd go through items that people felt needed work. First thing he writes on the whiteboard is "physics." Everyone in the room laughs. How embarrassing for Sega!

    Brad Flick, some guy who is apparently an admin for Sonic Stadium and Sonic Retro, was the first to speak up. Everyone basically turned to him and assigned him the task of breaking the ice, as I guess he's been a vocal detractor of Sonic 4. He goes into a fairly cogent explanation of why Sonic 4's physics suck dick. I used his point as a springboard to interject, explaining that any "experimentation" they were trying to do with the game would have been slightly more understandable, if not for the fact that it's billed as SONIC FUCKING FOUR. I explained that they set the bar pretty high when they're claiming to be creating a direct sequel to the original games.

    After talking about this for a very brief period of time, RubyEclipse starts trying to push the conversation to a new bullet point. I don't even remember what he put up on the whiteboard next. It might have been "levels." From here, Brad started explaining how poor the flow of Sonic 4's levels are, compared to the original games. Other points came up, like how there's less variation in level design, from zone to zone, compared to the classics. Plenty of great points were made, and the people moderating the discussion did a fair job of acknowledging them.

    Unfortunately, every time we'd get the ball rolling on some topic, they'd be forcing us along to a next one. As I noticed this happening, I began to get pretty pissed, and I started just interrupting people and talking over the moderators. I know I was being a dick, but, fuck this! You call me in here and tell me you want my opinion. Then you rush me through it? We have a room of more than fifty people sitting around, trying to tell you why this game sucks balls, and you're barely giving us a chance to speak?

    I should have known this was coming. Well, I sort of expected it, but I really should have known, because it was in black and white from the beginning. Look at the event schedule on that blog post, and you'll see that they allotted HALF AN HOUR for this Sonic 4 discussion, amongst all of the other bullshit they did for the evening. What a joke! They're sitting there, saying how valuable our feedback is and how this community is so great and we're going to help so much. Fuck that.

    You call us in for a four hour Sega circle-jerk, then you sit us all around in a campfire-esque circle in a goddamn room for focus group bullshit, and then barely give anyone a chance to speak? A few of the people who tried to make points about what bothered them would do so in a belabored, barely coherent way. And, I mean, you EXPECT that. These are nerds coming in here. They're not sitting behind the comfort of their keyboards. This is difficult for them. But, if you value their opinions so much, why don't you fucking give them enough time to try to convey what they're feeling!

    In the end, about 90% of the discussion was between Brad + me and the discussion moderators. Ruby Eclipse was trying to wrap it up, but I kept jumping in as soon as he'd lull slightly and try to inject more criticism. I know it was pretty ridiculous to do that, but, goddamn it, Sega invited me there to tell them why Sonic sucks. Give me my satisfaction.

    Finally, he puts his foot down and declares the discussion is closed. There's nothing more I can do. At that point, I had to sit through a bullshit SEGA SHWAG RAFFLE! YAAAAAAY.

    I won a fucking clock.

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    A clock doused in shitty, soulless, overused Uekawa art.

    I'll probably put it on eBay.

    Anyway, yeah. That was it.

    As people dispersed, I was surprised that a number of the random nerds went out of their way to come up to me and shake my hand and actually thank me for talking over them and ranting like a frothing lunatic. They told me (paraphrased) "we agreed with pretty much everything you said, and we're glad someone said it." No joke. I guess I sort of felt vindicated.

    A couple of the employees came up to me, and "thanked" me for my "passion." That's nice and all. I tried to explain to them how ridiculous this whole event was. I mean, does Nintendo have to ask their fan-base how to make a proper Mario game? Do famous bands organize press events after releasing an album that is critically panned, and go "okay, folks, we want to know what you feel we did wrong."

    They "explained" to me that it's difficult, when you're working on something, to take a step back and observe it's faults, because you're too absorbed in it. So they need some constructive criticism. Um, what? You're a fucking company, paying teams of "talented" people to make games for you. But you have to petition fans for critical input? How absurd. This was pretty much the final insult, for me. I didn't really have anything else to say, because nothing has ever made their corporate delusion clearer to me. You have teams of professionals working on these games, but you bring a bunch of nerds in off the street trying to fix your problems, and then you don't even give them a fucking chance to provide what you apparently expect.

    Anyway, I sort of lingered around for a while, after that, even though the event was "over," and most people had already left. I guess I was sort of shell shocked.

    I don't know why any of it surprised me. I knew it was going to be bad! Just like I knew Sonic 4 was going to be bad. Just like I've known every fucking Sonic title of the past ten years was going to be bad.

    My decision to awkwardly stand around for a while was rewarded with an opportunity to go back a bit deeper into the offices with a couple of the employees. I didn't take any pictures, because this was all part of the area that was deemed off limits during the actual event. There was confidential development stuff laying around. We were in the middle of the Sega cube farm, basically.

    Tons of employees had old Sega relics scattered about their desks. It was sort of endearing, and I guess it was a reminder that some of the people in this company actually still give a shit. At some point, one of the guys working there mentioned how much of this stuff was "rescued" by the workers, because it would have otherwise been discarded and destroyed by the company. He was very quick to follow that up with "but, you'd be surprised how common that is amongst companies like this." What a lousy justification. Sega, as a company, does not care about their culture. They don't care about their games. They don't care about their fans.

    I don't regret attending. It was interesting. To some extent, I feel like this was a final footnote in my enduring interest and concern for the series and the company. I've been "over" Sonic for quite some time, but this is sort of the last nail in the coffin, I guess. I'll always be able to look back on the old 16-bit games fondly. I'm pretty confident that I'll never look forward to another Sonic game, though.

    The best part of the day was biking around San Francisco.
     
  2. FeliciaVal

    FeliciaVal

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    wow sounds like fun XD
    PS: I buy your clock :P I want it so badly.
     
  3. Lyrica

    Lyrica

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    not too sure who this Brad guy is off hand, but that definately sounds like how I've always seen Ruby as acting. Seems like a kid trying to play "boss". I take it there was no talk on Sonic Colors? after having been playing it for a few days I will say it's closer to "Sonic 4" than Sonic 4 was.
     
  4. Guess Who

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    Calm down, son.
     
  5. Urban Flow

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    Wow, Thanks for sharing that with us as I would have probably done the same. HALF AN HOUR? I'm pissed just as much :argh:
     
  6. Tweaker

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    That would be Slingerland.

    Thanks for the writeup! Sounds like attending would have been a waste of time, especially given that Brad was basically dominating the entire conference (and rightfully so!). It's pretty irritating to hear how only a small portion of time was actually dedicated to Sonic 4; it just goes to show you that it was just another piece of overhyped garbage where they use Sonic as a springboard to get spectators for their other products. Or hell, who knows, maybe people actually care about those games! I just don't know why they would expect people to care about them when it's supposed to be a Sonic 4 feedback session.

    Sorry to hear you pretty much got shafted the whole way through. You should have gotten trashed with Ken Balough like I hear Brad did. Good shit.
     
  7. Oh, I think you misunderstood. Brad and I split up the complaining pretty evenly, I think. I got to say a lot, and it was pretty cathartic, even though I know it was a completely empty gesture and will result in nothing.

    I went home and went to bed. I have no regrets. Ken and Aaron were pretty cool, though. All of the employees were friendly and hospitable. The company they work for just sucks.
     
  8. Arctides

    Arctides

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    You kids today bitch too much.
     
  9. Yuzu

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    If it wasn't on the other side of the world and in decent distance from me, I would've probably visited and played some Phantasy Star Portable 2, of course I'd probably get owned by nerds who are level 200 or so while I'm still stuck as Level 78.

    Nice to know that the Sonic 4 discussion was basically people arguing at each other for half an hour straight.
     
  10. Aerosol

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    I really don't care if the event was all a clever ruse. I find it hard to be so mad about the fact that Sonic 4 discussion was actually only a small part of the event. Not only that, but I never believed for one second that feature episodes of Sonic 4 would directly benefit from this little get together. I'd love to be proven wrong, though.

    I mean really, does anyone even need half an hour to explain why Sonic 4 sucks?
     
  11. Skyler

    Skyler

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    Holy shit, that was you? I had no idea you were here on Retro! This saves me the trouble of having to write out everything that happened.

    And don't forget, a certain third person brought up a lot of good points as well. Don't give Brad and Sammy all the credit. ;)
     
  12. plushifoxed

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    So basically you pissed and moaned about how shitty their cash-in game was and you expected them to deal with it.
    Congrats, you brought the Sonic 4 thread into the real world.
    Also, I'll take the clock off your hands if you hate the "soulless" art so much.
     
  13. serpx

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    I'm just glad there were actual fans (you guys) in that audience that knew exactly what was wrong with the game.
     
  14. OSM

    OSM

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    Damn. Sounded like a huge waste of time, but I'm glad you guys stuck it to them about Sonic 4. Good for you guys.
     
  15. Ritz

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    I don't know, I think Gibbs has the right idea here. Must be a touchy subject for him to outright lock the topic, though!

    So what do you think about Colors?!
     
  16. Andrew75

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    Wish I could have been there to add in my 2 cents,

    Did anyone bring up how some fan games beat out sonic 4 in both play mechanics and level layouts?
     
  17. Icewarrior

    Icewarrior

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    What would have been the point honestly? The session was supposed to be entirely focused on Sonic 4, they wouldn't be giving a shit about Sonic fangames.
     
  18. Aerosol

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    But apparently..the session was only about Sonic 4 for 30 minutes! Talk about a ripoff :argh:.

    Yea but really I agree with Gibbs. I find it hard to sympathize with people that get so mad about it they just have to march on over to Sega and give them what for. It's one thing to present your arguments respectfully but...
     
  19. The KKM

    The KKM

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    Yeah, I'll agree with Ritz here. I mean, not only the question of giving yourself the work of going there to have a nerdrage with them, but also the bashing the other games (more nerdrage? YOUR GAMES ARE NO DESERVING OF THE TIME THEY'RE TAKING FROM MY GLORIOUS SONICS!) and taking offense on SEGA actually inviting people over to talk of their games. I find that pretty cool, to be honest, and maybe it SHOULD be done more.

    Reading your post just made me feel I was reading a spin-off of ANIME CLUB!!!, though.
     
  20. Mr. Mash

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    Neat, I'd like to visit sega, and it's pretty cool that they actually do hold these things.
    But you probably should have actually played through Sonic 4 before critiquing it.
     
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