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Interview with Craig Stitt, the mind behind Sonic 2's Hidden Palac

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Laura, May 14, 2014.

  1. LordOfSquad


    bobs over baghdad Member
    Winnipeg, MB
    making cool music no one gives a shit about
    No questions but I wanted to leave a thanks for conducting the interview and thanks to Craig for answering so graciously. I love reading development stories, even ones about the people that made the games rather than the games themselves. Hope he'll have a few more anecdotes to share!
  2. Meat Miracle

    Meat Miracle

    I remember that anecdote with the Sonic Spinball theme tune, with Howard Drossin composing the new theme literally on the spot when it was pointed out that they can't use the classic theme. Howard Drossin did awesome music on the Megadrive, easily some of the most unique tunes on the hardware. Loved the grunge music in Comix Zone, they really made the games rock hard (it was as if Nirvana was playing 16-bit tunes).
    And the music in The Ooze sounds like if Danny Elfman was playing a creepy B-movie horror score on guitar.

    The STI games were easily among the most memorable Megadrive games for me. I don't know who came up with the concept for The Ooze (you play as a living radioactive waste!), it was incredible. Shame the game was hard to control and had very difficult levels.

    Now I have to go and check out Kid Chameleon and the Spyro games.

    One thing about Hidden Palace. It was mentioned that the backgrounds were changed back and forth. There is this old magazine screenshot, most likely a mockup screen, that uses different backgrounds:


    And there is this sprite, found in the prototype Sonic 2:


    The sprite seems to match a background element perfectly:


    Do these graphics look familiar?
  3. To recall from drx's big prototype haul, even the prototype as far in as a mere month from release (When you'd have expected the game to be going gold and be printing) didn't have Super Sonic, pointing to signs that he was a last-minute addition (As last-minute as that redone Spinball music, perhaps.). Perhaps we can ask Craig more about this? Especially if he was one of the supposed STI guys that loved watching Dragon Ball Z. :P
  4. ICEknight


    Researcher Researcher
    Something more like this, I guess:




    I chose another scan with a better color balance because lolpurplesonic.

    EDIT: I'm just using the existant blue colors in a way that makes sense, not sure if anybody has already tried to directly apply the actual level palettes to the unaltered graphics data, to see if the results make sense in one of them?

    Even if we still can't be sure if my version is 100% accurate, it's about time to trash that misleading white-colored thing that's been around since forever.
  5. Montblanc


    Well, two of my questions had already been asked (about the original layout and the backround of that mockup). So I want to ask if he can talk more about that map, how it was, what kind of information or details it had. If it contained information about the object placement (like the emeralds) what kind of things were supposed to block: pipes only, springs like the final form of the level, or something else?

    He said that the level ended without a boss. It ended abruptly? Or there was something special, like a chamber, a tunnel (like Laura mentioned before)?...

    And in his personal opinion, of the two tracks, wich one he likes more (or it is closer to the feeling that he wanted to give to the level with his art)?

    Finally I want to thank him for dedicating his time to reply us. :)/>
  6. winterhell


    I love Sonic Spinball.
    If its not much offtopic, which levels/pieces has Craig worked on? Have there been levels and major cutscenes that didnt make it in the final game?
  7. ICEknight


    Researcher Researcher
    In Spinball, Toxic Caves. In Sonic 2, Hidden Palace and Oil Ocean.
  8. TheRedEye


    I'd be interested in hearing more about the process of building and testing these levels. Was Craig able to implement and test the art somehow? It sounds like HPZ work was done beyond what we saw, but never committed to a game did that work?

    When he mentions "maps," is that in terms of data or paper or what? Did Yasuhara deliver art-less maps that art was put into?

    Was the level fully functional at some point?

    How were Naka's debug tools? I would assume they were awesome since Sonic levels are among the best ever made, but maybe that's all Yasuhara's foresight?
  9. ICEknight


    Researcher Researcher
  10. Meat Miracle

    Meat Miracle

    Also, Toxic Caves supposedly reused Hidden Palace assets.
  11. Mastered Realm

    Mastered Realm

    Supposedly-no. It DOES reuse assets
  12. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    Final bit of correspondance with Craig Stitt. We have confirmation here that Craig had no input with the 2012 version of Hidden Palace:


    Hello Laura!

    It's been a bit crazy here, although I'm slowly healing. I may repeat myself here if I did in fact write you a letter bout this before...

    Unfortunately I know next to nothing about the programming side of things with Sonic. And Naka kept things pretty close to the vest, so I don't know if there is any significance to the numbers. I would guess there is, but what it is, I don't have any idea.

    It's been SO long since I last played 'my' version of HPZ that I can't be specific about changes to the level, enemies, music. The background I really can't say what did and did not change, except the addition of the 'Boss/Organ room' at the end. As I said, that was not on the map given me, so I never created any art for it. And 'why and organ' I have no idea. I'm going to guess that there were some changes to the layout, but all the pipe/slide/tunnel art is original. They may have moved a few things around (but I don't know), but as I said, the only thing I KNOW is new (as far as the background) is the Boss Room.

    I do know that many (all?) of the enemies are different... but I do not know if what was in the level I played 20+ years ago were just 'place holder' enemies (this would be my best guess, since that was a very common practice, to put an enemy that was already done in as a 'place holder' until the 'real' enemies or obstacles were ready.

    Yes, the levels that you attached the images of are the ones I remember. They were done my an artist by the name Brenda Ross (now married). And boy oh boy was she PISSED when her levels got cut AFTER she had then completed. Unfortunately, I don't know anything about what 'plans' there were for these levels. I barely knew what plans they had for the levels I worked on.

    I had NO idea, much less any communication prior (or since) the re-release of Sonic 2 and the inclusion of HPZ. I've been contacted by people such as yourself and other Sonic fans, but nobody from SEGA.

    Their may or may not have been plans for HPZ and cut scenes or whatever... but I was not involved with any of that.

    When I was at Insomniac, we use to have the office right next to Naughty Dog (and yes, there really was a 'naughty dog'. Beautiful black Lab (I think) that came to the office every day) For the first several years years, Naughty Dog and Insomniac were almost 'Sister Companies'. We shared technology, we were both working with Mark Cerny as our Producer/Game Designer. As far as I am concerned, those were the 'Golden Days' of Insomniac.

    I've since lost touch with most of the people at Insomniac and almost everyone at Naught Dog. I also have not kept up on the various Sonic games. To be honest, by the time I left Insomniac, I was pretty burned out games, and really have not played much at all since then. To be honest, I don't even have a system of any kind hooked up right now. Although I do play a lot of chess with a friend.

    One interesting thing, that took me by surprise, was just a few days ago I participated in a 'Career Day' at one of the local Jr Highs. (a friend who is a teacher there asked if I would be interested). I use to do this kind of thing all the time, but it's been years since I've done anything like it, so I was nervous, but really looking forward to it. (although I almost had to cancel because of my shoulder, but luckily I was 'healed enough' to be able to do it).

    The big surprise was the kids response when they found out what games I had worked on. I knew most of the kids would be about 12-14 years old.... so, about the time I STOPPED making games, they would have been just about the age to start playing video games. I figured their parents would be more interested and excited in the games I had worked on.

    But much to my surprise, a lot of the kids said their favorite games were the first Spyro games, and the first Ratchet & Clank games. And they were very proud of the fact that they had the original Genesis and PS1 and PS2. So they were actually very excited to meet me, and actually knew the games I had worked on. Wasn't really expecting that.

    Well, I had better run. Any more questions, feel free to ask. I'm sure more 'stories' of that time will come to me, but unfortunately I really did not ever know much of the technical stuff from my days at SEGA. I knew a little more when I moved down to work for Insomniac (smaller, all American team). At first I was part of everything... then as the company grew, my job description, became more and more focused, and in time more and more limited. Instead of being a voice in a room with 4 guys, I was one voice in a room with 165+ people.



    I think that's everything we can squeeze out of him :v:

    He's been very generous and friendly. It's nice to know that someone who worked on games like Sonic and Spyro can be so great!
  13. D'aw, we can't squeeze any Dragon Ball Z fanboyism out of him? Too bad. :P
  14. OKei


    OKeijiDragon Member
    Isn't that more of a Naka question anyways?

    Actually, I wanna know if Oshima had a hand on Sonic 2 given his comments on Wing Fortress Zone in the Sonic Jam guide. Maybe he was among the thirteen Japanese members sent by Sega of Japan to briefly wrap up the project in the end of Sonic 2's development.
  15. Vangar


    Yup, actually that was a post I made with a comparison gif when I passed my trial status for the first time!

    EDIT: Here, a much simpler time
  16. Orengefox


    Snooping as usual... Researcher
    Right in front of my computer.
    Some artwork, a ZZT game, and a hack.
    I remember at the time of Sonic 2 (2013 - iOS/Android version) being released, I saw a comment from Craig somewhere talking about how he was informed of HPZ being finally implemented into the game and how he was really pleased to hear about that. It's nice to know that he found out about that and was so happy about it.

    If you're still reading this Craig, I just want to say we can't thank you enough for your time. It's very much appreciated.
  17. E-122-Psi


    As said I didn't expect to get a lot of answers, after all it's been over two decades and even then Craig wasn't in charge of the entire development process. Still it was worth asking and I appreciate him giving as much info as he could.

    Hmm, well that's where things may get complex, since the remake was done by Sonic fans such as ourselves.

    Shame Ross wasn't as lucky. Oh well, now that one level's been restored, maybe they'll be another remake that will realize her contribution one day. :D
  18. ICEknight


    Researcher Researcher
    From the existant interviews and the few times I talked to her, I don't think she'd be too happy to hear again about the old days at SEGA.