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Little things you wish Sega had done differently

Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by doc eggfan, Sep 26, 2023.

  1. doc eggfan

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    I thought this was an interesting topic. I pretty much agree with most of the suggestions in the video, except I don't hate the Dreamcast controller as much. I never thought about pushing more mega drive titles out on the Mega CD with little to no extra content. I remember the press at the time were usually pretty scathing about a lot of Mega CD titles not offering much beyond what the cartridge titles offered, but no-one ever argued about how even if the CD title was no different, it could have been sold at a much cheaper price (I'm not sure there ever was much of a price difference in practice, given production runs and economies of scale, but it could have been explored further). I also never thought about the FM chip not being present in the Game Gear.

    It made me think of other little things I wish Sega had done differently.

    There should have been was a mute button for the VMU speaker, or at least not have it squeal every time you turned the Dreamcast on just because the batteries were flat. I ended up opening mine up and cutting the wire to the speaker.

    I actually wonder whether a modem at launch for the Dreamcast was a good idea. I know the online capabilities of the Dreamcast was a large part of its identity, but it felt like the infrastructure to support it wasn't really there until it was already dead in the water. The money could have been better spent elsewhere (maybe DVD playback, but I actually kind of like the fact that the Dreamcast doesn't have it and was more of a 'pure' games machine).

    I was thinking back to the SG-1000 and SC-3000 days and how the official Sega cartridge releases co-existed with homebrew and indie software released on cassette tape. I wondered what kind of bizzaro alternate universe could have been if Sega had stuck to its aspirations of remaining in the home computer market. What if they released the keyboard and floppy disk drive for the Mega Drive, maybe even in conjunction with a worldwide release of the Teradrive? I know there were problems with the Teradrive as an underpowered x286 and the original floppy drive attachment for the Mega Drive was originally planned to use proprietary 2 inch disks. But for arguments sake, lets say the Teradrive is a x386 and they went with standard 3.25 floppy disks. It would have been like a poor man's Amiga, but it would have been tied to arguably the hottest 16-bit platform at the time. Imagine the homebrew and demoscene that could have sprung out of that scenario. You could have had another separate stream of game titles on floppy disk from bedroom coders everywhere, and there would have been a generation of Mega drive owners who grew to know the machine even more intimately. How would this affect the 16-bit wars with the Super Nintendo? Would Nintendo have needed to follow suit? Or would the Mega Drive be in a unique position to take a large chunk of home console market and a small chunk of the home computer market. It would have been interesting to see.

    In know that this scenario could and probably would have lead to more piracy. However, if you use the SC-3000 as an example, the games loaded from floppy disk were limited by the size of the RAM cartridge you had plugged into the slot. Initially, Sega could have gone with 128kB RAM cartridge to limit the size of the program that could be loaded from floppy disk, so that only the earliest and simplest mega drive games could be pirated. They could then progressively release large capacity cartridges, but it would take a while before they matched the size of the AAA titles. Of course, there could be third parties disrupting this, but in some ways, piracy isn't always a bad thing in terms of hardware sales and increasing market share.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2023
  2. Billy

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    Well, avoiding stuff from the video and stuff people have talked about to death like "didn't do the 32X", I guess my list of little stuff would be:

    A very small thing, including stereo out in the AV port on the Mega Drive 1. I don't understand why they were so insistent on keeping the same output port as the Master System. It causes people to have to use a weird setup using the headphone out if they want stereo out to their TV or AV setup.

    I love the 6 button controller, but I've always preferred the size of the 3 button controller. I've always wished they had kept the size consistent when they made the 6 button. I know there's third party alternatives, but they're usually not as high quality due to the nature of such things. (Yes I know about the Retrobit BIG6)

    I wish the Saturn had inherited more of 32X's library. Whether this is an alternate reality where the 32X didn't exist, or Sega had taken more time to bring those games over. Stuff like Chaotix, Kolibri, Tempo deserved a second shot. I mean, they probably still would've crashed and burned, but they deserved a shot.

    Lastly, I wish Sega hadn't ignored a lot of their old properties on the Dreamcast. Don't get me wrong, I'm super happy with a lot of the new properties we got (I love Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio, etc.), but they probably could've brought in more people if they had brought back stuff like Streets of Rage, Shinobi, Golden Axe, ToeJam & Earl (I'm sure your list will be completely different). I know some of these were planned/in development (like Shinobi).
     
  3. DigitalDuck

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    Obligatory and obvious "not do the 32X" as mentioned before.

    Agreed with more games released for the Mega CD, even if it's just "same as the Mega Drive game but with CD music", would've helped encourage more CD sales and double-dipping. For the few games that were on Mega Drive and/or SNES but also got a port to the Mega CD, the Mega CD version is usually the best version by far (think: Earthworm Jim, Shining Force, Ecco the Dolphin, Batman Returns). Now imagine OutRun CD with SST soundtrack, along with Streets of Rage, Ristar, Pulseman, Gunstar Heroes, and Phantasy Star having enhanced ports - the Mega CD would've been a must-have add-on.

    Also agreed with the Dreamcast modem. Yes, the Dreamcast is notable because it had online play out-of-the box, but it was released at a time when many people hadn't even heard of the internet, let alone were happy to block their phone line to play a game online. I think a better play would've been to more heavily utilise and promote the system F355 Challenge used - plug your VMU into the arcade game and unlock content on your home games, and vice versa. Save the modem for Dreamcast 2: Dream Harder.
     
  4. The Joebro64

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    (A) Don't launch the Saturn early and (B) instead of Sonic 3D Blast, put Travellers' Tales on a 3D Sonic game for Saturn with Yasuhara as the designer for Christmas 1996.
     
  5. BenoitRen

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    So what? As was already said, it was a defining feature, introduced many to the internet, and I would have missed out on lots of fun with Phantasy Star Online if it hadn't been there.
    So the modem has to go because the Internet hadn't become widespread yet, and its replacement is a tie-in feature for something that most people only saw about once a year at a local fair and that was on its way out? At least that was the case where I lived. Actual arcades only existed in the region close to the beach.
     
  6. Black Squirrel

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    I do think the halting of Dreamcast production in January 2001 was misguided.

    The numbers suggest it was a reasonable strategy, but I can't help but feel it was a political decision made by people who didn't like being console manufacturers. I think it could have held its own for another year - to all intents and purposes it was doing that anyway since so many games were still in production - I don't think having a "console's dead lol" stigma attached did them any favours.

    ... wait is that a "little thing"



    The internet was a novelty in 1998 and most Dreamcast games which supported it treated it as such. There was a mistake someone in Western marketing about the possibilities of online gaming - Sega of Japan didn't seem to care too much about that, treating the feature as more of a fact-finding and communication tool.
     
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  7. Pirate Dragon

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    Yeah, that was a thing, by Konami at least. I also don't know why Sega didn't also release all of their larger expensive cartridge games on Mega-CD. I mean, why not release an uncut Garfield with "The Lost Levels" included?
     
  8. Black Squirrel

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    When you consider the music industry was happy to put singles on CD, cassette and vinyl at the time (at different price points), it's odd the same line of thinking wasn't applied to games. Assuming you ignore home computers where it was.

    I can only assume it's a load time issue. Presumably it wasn't acceptable to someone, having old games perform worse on new hardware... even if they could be sold for a fraction of the price.


    I guess a modern comparison might be a PS5 with a mechanical hard drive. You get more loading, not all games would run as intended, but you'd pay less for the console - good plan?
     
  9. Pirate Dragon

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    They would need to be programmed with Mega-CD in mind from the start as the game needs to be streamed off the CD into RAM, so it's not as simple as just sticking a MD game on CD (except for tiny ones which can completely fit in RAM such as Sega Game Toshokan games). Still, it's a little puzzling that they never had the foresight to do this for games like Phantasy Star IV which at 24 Meg had a US SRP of $99.99.
     
  10. Hivebrain

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    I'd like the Mega Drive to have better graphics hardware based on the System 16B, which came out around the same time. Also VRAM should have been accessible by the CPU, instead of using those weird control port instructions.

    Releasing the 32X as an add-on when it could easily be a standalone console seems a bit silly. Maybe it could even be a handheld instead. It's certainly small enough by itself.
     
  11. saxman

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    Lots of things I can say I wish they had done for the sake of having more power out of the hardware. But if I am to limit it to things I think could potentially have helped them, I would pick...

    * 4096 colors for the Genesis instead of 512.
    * More memory for the 32X (512KB SDRAM, and 512KB Video RAM).
    * Make the Saturn with 3D firmly in mind from the start. (This one could be broken out into any number of sub-bullets.)
    * Include DVD capabilities in the Dreamcast.
    * Don't abandon franchises!
     
  12. biggestsonicfan

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    I haven't watched the video but based on the title alone I wish "Sega Forever" played out much differently...
     
  13. BenoitRen

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    How would that have helped them?
     
  14. saxman

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    I'm unsure of the premise of your question. I'm not going to argue about whether the 32X was good or bad for them. But if there was a reality in which it had any sort of success, my opinion is they should absolutely have given it more memory. And I'm not the only one to say it.

    I tried my hand at 32X development. Without going into too many technical details (because it's pretty exhausting actually), I will tell you that the limited memory handicaps the system's otherwise impressive hardware.

    For example, it has two frame buffers, and the 256KB it has for video is split between them. An 8-bit 320x224 image takes up 70KB of the 128KB available to a frame buffer. 128 - 70 = 58KB. Just under that actually, if you count the line table needed for the display image. Imagine trying to convert the Genesis VRAM's 4-bit tiles to 8-bit tiles with this amount of memory. You'll run out before you can finish! And if it's 15-bit, you can't even get all 224 lines drawn before running out!

    And the SDRAM needs to be greater too. You can use that space to store those VRAM tiles, but then you have even less room to store program memory there, because running off the cartridge is quite slow.

    Less memory = very inefficient = difficult to develop for.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2023
  15. Overlord

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    32X was an obvious-at-the-time massive disaster that should have happened, though yes, everyone knows this.

    MD2 should have kept the headphone port from the first one, that's a little thing. Also it would have been interesting if they'd brought the Genesis 3 over to Europe, I think a Mega Drive 3 would have sold well enough at a budget price considering how long the Master System clung on.
     
  16. Azookara

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    - Delete 32X out of the plans wholesale and just focus on Saturn. Less budget and time spent trying to design and market two separate systems could've meant more budget to put into one. A Saturn that could better power-match the PS1 (or at least could afford to eat a few dollars to get the price down at launch) would've been ideal.

    - On a similar note, move all 32X games to Saturn development. Chaotix would've helped out as a launch title, and Star Wars Arcade on Saturn would've been a huge deal, considering how well done the 32X port already is. It would've also done AM2 good to not split themselves across multiple versions of Virtua Fighter and Virtua Racing and instead just honed into the best single versions of these games they could get.

    - Seconding @The Joebro64 on turning Sonic 3D into a proper Saturn game, with both Sonic Team and Travelers Tales at the helm. Aim for Summer 1997 if Holiday 1996 couldn't be met. If it means ST dropping Jam and TT nixing Sonic R out of existence to make it happen, then both calls are for the best.

    - If we still needed the "keeping the Genesis/MD alive" angle. push forward the Nomad while phasing Game Gear out. I could see it as a great success for Comix Zone and Vectorman, and a greater chance of life for games like say, Ristar or Alien Soldier. If it failed then oh well, that's more games for your Genesis to play. If it succeeded, it would've been the proper high end alternative to the Game Boy, with an already established library.

    - Delayed the Dreamcast until a worldwide late 1999 / early 2000 release instead of launching a year early in Japan, and dropping the unnecessary limitation of needing to be $199-range. For one, a more collected selection of launch games for ALL regions would've been smart (and maybe a better-cooked Sonic Adventure..). Two, DVD players dropped in manufacturing costs drastically by the turn of the millennium. And three, that $199 hard limit only further enforced the need to cut corners. Launching at $299 with a DVD drive I'm sure would've sold a lot better than $199 without a DVD drive.

    ...I don't guess most (if any) of these are "small" decisions, but this is Sega we're talking about. No small mistakes were made here. lol
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2023
  17. Devon

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    Adding more memory wouldn't have fixed the other problems the 32X suffered from, such as taking priority over the Genesis and the bus contention problems with the dual SH-2 design, among a bunch of other stuff to look out for (cough).
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2023
  18. saxman

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    We'll agree on some of that, disagree somewhat on other details. But I think you have to admit that 256KB is pretty darn tight. I had a hard time understanding why some folks considered that insufficient, because having four times the memory sounded like a major step up to me, that is until I started developing for it. You have to get creative with how you store memory. Those other things you mentioned, I don't feel are nearly as problematic as the lack of RAM. Just give me plenty of RAM, and I can write good, fast code comfortably without having to worry about running into a brick wall every time I want to throw in something else.

    We can debate the twin processor deal all day long, but it's no different than a more modern processor handling multiple threads. The bus contention is not an accident, and processors running in parallel shouldn't be hitting the bus together anyway. The problem was it was 1994, and it wasn't common to write with multiple processors in mind. Nowadays, that's often preferred. Perhaps a single, more powerful processor would have been more "friendly", but again, I think RAM would have made a far greater difference.
     
  19. Devon

    Devon

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    Oh, I'm not disagreeing on the RAM being tight, especially with the framebuffer not even being able to fit a full screen direct color image without repeating lines. Mainly was going on about the other quirks of the console that personally give me grief. With bus contention, regardless, it's still an annoyance to deal with on a low level.

    ...then again, I'm also speaking from the perspective of a young hobbyist programmer without a good development environment and tools in 2023. Emulation is still not ideal for testing with if you're a hobbyist developing for the 32X with the many inaccuracies and missing critical details in a lot of emulators. This perspective can definitely make 32X development even more of a pain if you got something that works in emulation, but not hardware, but don't have the resources to easily debug it.
     
  20. wonder-inc

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    Hmm, I'm somewhat limited as a Saturn only (primarily) and DC owner. But I will try to think up of some different things not covered above.

    - Saturn

    1- I can live and manage with any of the other mess ups that happened during that timeframe with the system, except for ditching it early, because of how many titles ended up being cancelled for it. Lunar: Silver Star Story and Destruction Derby 2, were titles I would have loved to play. Thankfully, the former is being translated, but the latter is unlikely to ever surface.

    2- I wish Sega of Europe/Working Designs localized more games for the EU market. I really wanted Iron Storm back then, but waiting for an EU release ended up being fruitless.

    3- By 1997, I think SEGA should have started including the 3D Controller with the system, thanks to the greater emphasis by then on using Analog sticks. Costs may have been a hindrance though.

    4- While I understand it was primarily for cost, I do wish SEGA never switched to Sanyo CD Drives. My first Saturn had them, and I was shocked in later years how much faster the JVC drive is in comparison.

    5- While unfeasible, I do kinda wish the Saturn had two Cartridge slots, to allow for copying storage from one to another for backup purposes.

    6- Although the cardboard Saturn's case glue is an issue I can mitigate with wrapping paper, the disc holder not having an area enclosed around it, which causes the disc to fall off is not.

    While I have a lot of points for DC, it's a platform I'm not really fond of personally. So I'd be here all day lol.