What is it about SEGA...

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Lostgame, Sep 24, 2020.

  1. Lostgame

    Lostgame

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    ...that has made them so consistently incompetent with Sonic releases over the past 15 years or so? I'll preface this by saying I do love the Classic Sonic games... (1, 2, 3K, CD, Chaotix; 3D Blast, Mania, even Sonic Adventure 1+2 are still kinda fun)

    [warning: rant, tl;dr at bottom]
    Today, I watched a demo of a SAGE 2020 game called 'Sonic the Hedgehog DVD'. So. Freaking. Good. Just super impressive.

    And it made me think back to all these amazing fan games, like - SRB2, the Retro Engine (which later became Sonic Mania), Project AXSX, Project: Mettrix, the efforts behind Sonic 2 HD...I'm sorry if I'm not mentioning any of the communities' particularly amazing projects here; I'm just trying to provide examples. This is, of course; not to mention, the myriad of amazing hacks this community has also output...you guys are awesome.

    And, you can look it up in my profile - I've been part of this community; hacking and active for 18 years. (I was even a tech member for a bit - for my advanced work on Spinball, Crackers and Chaotix hacking - the later mostly with JJFTails.)

    I have, over those 18 years; grown as a programmer, to a point where I am now a Senior iOS Developer at one of the five major banks in Canada. I've also had the pleasure of working for companies like LEGO, Universal Music; and VR/AR startups. :)

    If my bank; or any of the corporations I've worked at, dared put out the stunningly poor, obviously zero-QA level of output that SEGA has released over these 18 years, we'd/they'd be dead to their competitors, way more dead than SEGA just not making consoles anymore - and wouldn't even have a product to stock any more.

    I have consistently; always seen better output from this community than SEGA themselves, Mania aside, and in *any* company I have ever worked for, the level of sheer incompetence that resulted in a product like '06 or Boom would simply not be allowed to happen. Everyone on the responsible team would be fired; particularly QA and management.

    The problems - to be clear - with Sonic '06 aren't that it was rushed or completely broken. Which, obviously it was; but that's superficial. They begin and end for me with the planning that allowed the result to somehow include him kissing a human girl. It's planning and management that is the obvious problem. Chris-Chan-level cringeworthy bullshit, honestly.

    Back to the topic of the quality of our community output - here's a real kicker.

    If someone came up to me; as management, with a clone of our own product - for *free* - that someone made in their spare time and posted on some random forum...that was indisputably better than the current products we were offering...

    I would honestly wonder what the hell I was doing wrong as a manager. Especially if the creator of that clone is far younger than the majority of the team.

    It is uniquely bizarre, in my opinion; that this has been the case for almost 18 years with Sonic. I've been here to watch it. And I got to be there 'when it was awesome' to watch and palatably feel the slow motion train wreck.

    SEGA had this perfect formula from Sonic 1, 2, 3, K and CD. If they just didn't touch that formula - we'd get something like Advance 1, which is passable, but not particularly memorable - which was still more than 18 years ago - or Sonic Mania, which leads me to the biggest evidence behind this rant.

    Nothing proves this frustrated theory more than the fact that Taxman and Stealth (bless their souls) ended up making the only unanimously highly rated Sonic game in these 18 years I've been here. And they are, last I heard; no longer working on Sonic-related projects?

    Where is the change in management? Where is the quality control?

    How, in a business sense; has this been allowed to go on for so long?

    SEGA has seriously let down a whole generation of people who would've followed them to a much more reasonable death than this. Honestly; as a person who got her first SEGA Genesis at the age of 4 in 1993 for Christmas, and grew up wanting Sonic to be her go-to thing; I'm disappointed.

    The only reason I'm honestly in this community 18 years later is that I believe it's honestly the last bastion of anything good that has to do with that beautiful memory of Sonic I had growing up; because SEGA dun' fucked it up years and years ago when Sonic kissed a human girl in '06. (*Really*, Sonic Team?)

    That, and; I'm here because there are some of the most goddamn beautiful technical minds I've ever had the pleasure to meet on these very forums. *tips glass*

    I'm sad for the younger generation of fans who never got to see Sonic in his real prime (1992-1996)? It was really something to behold. Y'all missed out. It was honestly as dope as we all say it was.

    And I'm sorry to rant. But it's a very real truth - that we are all creating such better material than SEGA themselves has managed to do. We have for almost a decade and a half. Just watching some of these SAGE demos has only put the last nails in the coffin of what was left of SEGA's professional Sonic output to me. It's equally shameful to SEGA as it is an incredible effort by a dedicated community.

    I'm sure this is both a controversial post and opinion - and I'm also sure this must be how a lot of us old-school fans are feeling more and more the older and older we get, especially those of us in software dev. The lack of quality control on the output from SEGA has been astounding; and nothing less than headache-inducing, I imagine, for a lot of fellow techies.

    I expect this question may have as many answers as 'why did the Beatles break up?' - and I want to hear all of them - but, just like that question; I also imagine there are a couple prevailing influences as to why SEGA's management has been allowed to stumble around like drunken toddlers for a decade and a half.

    EDIT: Could it possibly just be corporate buyout after corporate buyout? Or that the games consistently sell despite their absolutely horrendous quality?

    td;dr: I'm a professional, senior software developer now; of 12+ years, an active member of this community for 18+ years; and I absolutely cannot *fathom* how SEGA operates/continually shits out such piss-poor quality software, while the community creates beautiful gems. What gives with management? How can people in their spare time create such better quality software than a paid organization?
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2020
  2. Pengi

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    Lack of time and resources. Upper management prioritising frequent releases over quality products, at the expense of their reputation.

    https://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2016/11/14/where-sonic-went-wrong.aspx

     
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  3. Lostgame

    Lostgame

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    Wow - this is the fantastic kind of mature, educated post I expected here in response and am still proud to see in this community after so much time. That is a *fantastic* article - it doesn't quite address, rather than simply confirm; my many issues with management, however, it's an amazing read. Thank you! :)

    Very similar to the Beatles comparison I made in the above post. But at least the Beatles stopped making music and didn't drag a carcass along for years, worse, IMHO than even the Simpsons. :3

    In response to the posted article:

    This was kind of my point. If your development cycle is that fucked up and way too pressure-inducing that you make several developers sick and continue to shit out poor quality products *change something*. The quantity over quality thing in the article really makes a point.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
  4. MH MD

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    .............is this real? did they really make SA2 with only 11-man team? that's really impressive if true.
     
  5. Lostgame

    Lostgame

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    Honestly, upper management at SEGA must have been aware of the Dreamcast's impending demise; and, also; due to the fact that the issue there was budget cuts, it would honestly not surprise me. To be honest - I'm sure they based it off of SA1's source; which would've made it easier - but, no less impressive. Indeed, if that's true; all the kudos to them!

    If that's the case; a rushed schedule cannot; will not, excuse stupid shit like the human kiss in Sonic '06. If nothing else that shows how out-of-touch they truly were. It wasn't just budgets or rushing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
  6. I know a lot of people love to give Iizuka all the shit for how the franchise has been handled in recent times, but honestly, based on interviews like these, he strikes me as one of the only people at Sega who actually likes Sonic and desperately wants it to succeed as a brand. If only Sega wouldn't keep screwing him over.
     
  7. Knucklez

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    I want to thank you for... everything you posted there. If I had posted any of that, I would probably get an immediate ban. You are spot on, and no, no qualifications are required to point out the entire obvious truth of the matter a chunk of this community turns a blind eye to. Thank you.
     
  8. Beltway

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    What's the deal with Sonic Team? Who knows, and more importantly, who cares. (Or to be less harsh, I'd ask why should we (still) care.)

    Fans have for some years now tried on their own merits to figure out, explain, and provide solutions to problems with the games that have been made as (sometimes personally-requested) fan feedback. What has been the response. No meaningful long-term change from ST/Sega themselves, sometimes with outright flippant reactions from Sega's PR team as a bonus. "Stop whining and be grateful" and "armchair analysts who don't know a goddamn thing about game development" from people outside the series and even certain fellow fans. (Some of which I'm sure we'll see in this thread very soon.) So by this point, I've stopped stressing over what the problems are or could be surrounding this particular studio.

    I only care about if Sonic Team continues to be the X factor in the series' development; and as far as I'm concerned, no more Sonic games would actually be an improvement over another presentable Sonic Team(/Dimps) half-baked joint, especially after Forces. Although Mania has shown that it very obviously doesn't have to be "Sonic Team(/Dimps) or bust" outcome on getting another team to make Sonic games/lead the series' direction. No matter how many arrogant "*insert practically any developer with a proven resume of quality games here* is incapable of making a good Sonic game!" hot takes are generated to hit critical mass of bullshit.
     
  9. Lostgame

    Lostgame

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    tbh this post is kind of just a knee-jerk reaction of...for lack of a better word; trying to be a dedicated fan for so long.

    Should've been, and I think I was; more specific in my post. My real criticism is whatever management is in charge of Sonic, e.g. us paying for repeatedly getting shit on basically since SEGA stopped making consoles, Mania excluded - where the quality control is; and if their problem is consistently rushing games - why didn't management try *not* rushing even just a couple to see if they couldn't save some face?

    They're like a bug that keeps repeatedly flying into the light without ever trying something else; and every time they do it, they only ensure their only path is to keep flying into that light forever more and more.

    The community has showed that bug repeatedly an open window beside it, and is trying its best to shoo it out that window, but management *insists* on rushing games and flying headfirst back into that light.

    On no budget we are doing better. That is seriously; almost history-makingly shameful.

    EDIT: @Beltway I fixed my original post to just say 'SEGA' where it said Sonic Team before. At the end of the day; SEGA decides who the development team will be.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
  10. Mana

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    I have no issue with him as a game designer, after all he's the reason we got Mania expanded into being a full game and his game design work on 3 and Knuckles and the Adventure games were legendary.

    My issues with him are that, despite the deadlines, he's still the head in charge of the Sonic franchise. So things like Classic and Modern being different worlds with characters only one or the other can use now, the two worlds that they slip in and out of (and one has humans the others only have the main cast and Eggman), and Shadow increasingly becoming a jerk in other media are all because these are the things he mandated and they've hurt the franchise more than helped by making it overly confusing for no reason.

    And if not confusing a lot of the character mandates he's made ended up making the outside media less interesting because they can't go out there with the characters if they want to try something fun but different.

    The games need a dedicated lore person and it's not him.
     
  11. Lostgame

    Lostgame

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    Could they maybe turn to people within the StC franchise? Would that help? I know very, very little about StC.
     
  12. SuperSnoopy

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    I don't even know what's the point of replying to a thread like this, but I guess I might as well be that guy.

    The big thing you failed to take into account, is that I (and many, many others) actually LIKE the Sonic games Sonic Team released after Adventure 2, even the ones I don't like I can recognize as good games (and yeah, 06 was terrible. It's also 15 year old, let it go.)

    Yes, the fanbase might've produced amazing tech demos over the years, but they're just this. Tech demos. I have yet to see a FINISHED 2D Sonic fangame that can rival with the classic trilogy, and it's even more true with 3D fangames (with maybe the exception of SRB2. There's literally nothing else)
    The truth is that standards are way lower when it's fan produced content, and that's fine! Got no problems with that, it's just completely unfair to say stuff like "fan do better games than Sega lol" when they clearly aren't.
    Most promising fan projects end up being cancelled or abandoned because making a game is actually super fucking hard, who would've thought¯\_(ツ)_/¯?

    I'm sorry, but this post reeks of that 2010-era of Classic Sonic elitisms that I though we got over a while ago. You fell sorry that newer Sonic fans didn't get to experience Sonic in his "real" prime? Are you for real?
    Yeah, Sonic Blast and Sonic Labyrinth are such glorious masterpieces. You can tell Sega had much better quality control back in the day.
    And they didn't rush their games like they do nowadays... with the exception of Sonic 2 having so much cut content people are still discovering new shit to this day and Sonic 3 LITERALLY being cut in half because of time constrains.

    I know this topic obviously wasn't meant for younger fans like myself, but...I guess I couldn't resist opening my mouth :V
    This is the same rehashed argument I’ve been hearing for a decade now, I’m just tired of it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
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  13. Wildcat

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    Ya this sounds like many other “Sonic is no good anymore” posts with the exact same complaints and examples being used. I honestly have read 2 others in last couple of months.

    I have no idea what bank software is like, or those other companies software but I’m guessing that’s totally different from video game development. Not sure why any of that was even brought up.

    A human kissing Sonic in 06 is the least of that game’s problems. Even if the game was technically superior it still would not be a problem. I see why some find it dumb but it’s just petty to bring up more than once as if it was actually offensive.

    Aside from 06 and I guess maybe Forces the quality of games is really subjective. So nobody is allowed to have a “bad” game in 20 years? I could probably point to bad games from other companies. Does not mean they’ve sunk themselves.

    Something that’s been on my mind that I’ll just say here since it was brought up. I’m annoyed that it’s become popular to be anti-Sega/Sonic Team. Now everyone wants Christian Whitehead to do everything. I have absolutely nothing against him. We can all agree Mania turned out great but the notion that Sonic needs to be “saved” by the fans is very silly to me.

    I too have seen some of the better fan games on YouTube. The creators deserve a lot credit for putting so much effort into them but they were unfinished. Also in my personal opinion Sonic Robo Blast 2 is NOT the direction he should go.

    From a technical standpoint it’s impressive but being able to run around completely ignoring enemies and entire areas is not good level design. They might work for one of the other characters but they seem more like big hub worlds you have to find the exit to. It is all very nice but people keep referring to it like its the new standard.

    Whatever management issues or unexpected problems have happened behind the scenes is unfortunate but I’m sure that has affected every company out there. Saying Sega/Sonic has been in a constant nosedive ever since whenever is an exaggeration. The fans who grew up on or after the Dreamcast are fine. They don’t need 90s nostalgia to enjoy what came before.
     
  14. Frostav

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    If this is true, then on one hand, wow, no wonder the level design took a hit from SA1.

    But on the other? Shit, SA2 is superior to SA1 in almost every other regard. The framerate is better, the cutscenes are vastly better animated, the technical aspects of the graphics are superior (though the art-style is a debateable topic), the chao system is much more advanced, sheesh. The fact that like 3 of those 11 people put together such a complex side mode as the chao garden in SA2 should embarass the modern Sonic Team who can barely get their fucking main modes right.
     
  15. Blue Spikeball

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    Honestly, I would say anyone who calls 1992-1996 the series' golden age is in no place to lecture others about what "Sonic in his real prime" is. If you had set it 1991-1994, you could at least have made the argument that the series was at its peak in critical reception and success. But extending that period to '96 --a time when Sonic was seen as past his prime and surviving through low-quality spin-offs-- and leaving '91 out makes your criteria no more objective than that of any fan belonging to "the younger generation" in my view.

    And as a 90's kid, I'll say that I'd rather play Unleashed, Colors or Generations over any contemporary Sonic fan game or hack I know of, or any official game released in 1995-1996.

    Agreed. I've noticed that people are quick to overlook issues when fans do something that would prompt them to rip Sonic Team or Dimps a new one if it came from one of their games. I also agree that for all the promising fan games we've gotten, very few of them have or are close to reaching completion. In fact, I'm getting a bit tired of playing fan games made up of a single Green Hill-esque zone.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
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  16. LucasMadword

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    As much as I like to bash on Sonic Team (it's cathartic after the disappointment of Forces), I don't think it's fair at all to say that Sonic Team's management and output *hasn't* gotten better. It definitely has, and that is easy to see with the game output that they do learn from their mistakes somewhat, but other external forces play into why the games are lukewarm at best.

    Let's analyse their "incompetence" with the series, eh?:
    • Sonic 06, no more needs to be said. Everything went wrong.
    • Sonic Unleashed, whether you like the boost formula or not, or whether you like the werehog or not, this is definitely a game that has some merit in it. I really enjoy the boost gameplay, I just hate the werehog, but I can't deny this is the start of getting the series back on track. It's not buggy, the story is lighthearted, and there's a lot of enjoyment to get out of it if you enjoy that type of arcade-styled gameplay (which, not everyone does, and that's okay).
    • Sonic 4, the main problem with both episode 1 and 2 are that it was called Sonic 4, as it gave certain expectations to the game. The games aren't bad, they're just mediocre. And I think analysing them from a "classic game" perspective is just wrong critique, as the actual design quite clearly isn't trying to be classic-styled. Some of it is fairly enjoyable, certainly on par with some of Dimps' older output on the GBA and DS.
    • Sonic Colours, just elaborating on Unleashed really. An abundance of 2D, but that's not a problem.
    • Sonic Generations, arguably their best 3D game in the franchise. It's not for everyone, as again it's an arcade-style game, but for people who enjoy that? It's stellar, I love it.
    • Sonic Lost World, I do think this is a blip, but it's not bad.
    • Sonic Forces, I generally can't hide my distain for this game (I genuinely hate it with a burning passion), but I can't bring myself to say it's bad. It feels as though it's a soft-reboot for the franchise; reset the stakes for the game, appeal to younger children, bring them in with an easy game, so their next one can have more complex level design. That's what I'm hoping. But I can't possibly say the game is terrible, it's just not for me.
    So over all the mainline games within the past 14 years, none of them are as bad as your post would suggest. Your post seem to have a fascination with Sonic 06, that was 14 years ago now, get over it. Nothing they have put out since then has hit the same lows, and they've all at least been passable, mediocre games at worst.

    I think an argument about "Sonic has been inconsistent" misses the fact he hasn't been inconsistent for 14 years. He's been consistently mediocre, and consistently missed opportunity, sure, but nothing has been outright bad or horrible to play. And some of the games are even *good*!

    To continually miss the problem SEGA/Sonic Team has, does a disservice to the actual discussion. Full-length Sonic games are hard to make. Period. And unfortunately, since the community doesn't have the resources to make a full-length 3D Sonic game, no output there is comparable to Sonic Team's outings (it's a silly comparison as nothing the community makes in 3D compares to a fully-fledged game going into a different market). There are expectations when you release a game as a large company, you aren't just appealing to hardcore fans like you are with fangames. Just because the games they have released over the past 14 years aren't a style you like, doesn't make them bad or "horrendous quality", and frankly it's kind of insulting to the franchise you claim to care about so much along with the people who do enjoy that style. To state that there was a lack of quality control on the latest Sonic games, which have had very few bugs and very few issues at all, is just outright wrong.

    At least give Sonic Team credit where they deserve it, because although some of us don't like the direction Sonic Team are taking the franchise (myself included), to claim it's incompetency that's behind that, and to claim that there's no quality control is downright wrong.
     
  17. As a guy who grew up with the Adventure games on the Gamecube, I'm gonna have to agree to an extent. I don't think EVERY game released in the past 18 years has been bad, but there is a notable drop in quality around Heroes' release. Unleashed seems to be the last 'big budget' game too, and after that, the scale and pricing in Sonic games have dropped off too. It's a bit tough for me to say this, but replaying most of the Sonic games from the past 18 years or so made me realize I didn't enjoy those games as much as when I was a kid. I can't go back to Heroes, Shadow, Unleashed, or even the modern games (yes, including Colors and Generations).

    It seems the series is just plagued with mismanagement and tone-deaf people who shoehorn dumb ideas into the series in a desperate attempt to stay relevant with what's trending with kids, and learning about how damn near every game in the series having troubled development makes me sometimes wonder if this series' success was an absolute fluke.

    I'm going to be blunt when I say this, and it may be a hot take, but I don't care: the fact that Sonic Mania, a low-budget retread of the Genesis games with some bells and whistles added that was outsourced to fans who had experience with the Classic formula via working on fangames and ROM hacks in the past (because SEGA and Sonic Team themselves have been unable to properly replicate that style of gameplay properly for years now); the fact this little digital title is the most successful and critically acclaimed game in 18 years is both a marvel for the Sonic community's dedication, and an absolute embarrassment on SEGA, who had been pouring millions of dollars into the franchise for years, and kept fucking their devs over, leading to mishap after mishap.

    This isn't something exclusive to the 2000s era, either. Look at the failures that were the SEGA CD, 32X, and of course, the SEGA Saturn. SEGA left the console industry because they kept making one bad decision after another, and it nearly killed off the company when the Dreamcast had to be discontinued if they weren't bailed out by SEGA Japan's CEO at the time. Sadly, these bad decisions just keep persisting, at least where the Sonic franchise is concerned. The fact that Iizuka was nervous over the reaction that a 'Pixel-style' Classic 2D Sonic game being made kinda shows just how out of touch SEGA is.

    That said, I still respect the hell out of Iizuka and his staff for the most part, but it's just so painful to see this keep happening again and again. Just let the man make a new NiGHTS game or something. He really needs a break.

    That said, I don't really have much hope left for the series anymore, because of all this nonsense. Look, I know some folks want to be optimistic right now, but understand that a lot of folks in the fandom have been burned pretty badly again and again. Why are we even still here? Hell if I know. Everyone's got their own reason, I guess. Call me 'entitled' or not a 'true' fan or whatever, I don't really care anymore. Anyway, that's all I wanted to say. Hope you all have a nice day.
     
  18. Mana

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    Ian Flynn who wrote all the Archie Comics after Penders left would be a good choice IMO. He's even working on an official lore book with Dark Comics as we speak.
     
  19. Pengi

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    Agreed. There are a ton of talented fans out there making fan games in their spare time as a hobby, but you could probably count on one hand the number that end up completed and of publishable quality. And that's absolutely fine. A hobbyist's pursuit shouldn't be expected to measure up to the works of a team of professional game developers working full time.

    Sometimes the more promising fan games go unfinished because the people working on them do go on become industry professionals, and they no longer have time to commit to a fan work that could be spent working on a game they're getting paid for.
     
  20. big smile

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    I think a big problem with a lot of Sonic games is that the Sega management push for a big feature list. Sonic 2006 is a classic example of that. Why did they need to have 9 characters, adventure fields and missions when they were creating a brand new engine on a new platform they hadn't developed for. It just sounds like a recipe for disaster, especially as that point, Sega still hadn't nailed how to make Sonic work in 3D.

    That's probably one of the reasons why Sonic's gameplay felt so stagnant for such a long time. They just didn’t have time to properly refine it, because their resources were eaten up by other stuff.

    Sonic Colours and Generations were the first to throw out the feature list and pair the game down to the bare essentials and they turned out good (they don’t even have a big level list). With Lost World, they increased the number of stages and the quality faltered. And then with Forces they were back to feature stuffing with the Avatar and it ended-up a mess.