What is it about SEGA...

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

  1. Mentski

    Mentski

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    It's not so much Sega is it is who they've put in control of this particular department.

    There's other departments in Sega that do their thing, do it well, and make products their fans enjoy: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio being the notable example, Nagoshi and crew know what their fans want, and give it to them.

    (Admittedly this new Yakuza is a bit of a wild new direction, with completely different gameplay, but even then it still holds true enough to the spirit that the fans are willing to give it a go)

    Sonic Team have been flailing in the wind since Yuji Naka left... Not to say all of his decisions post 2D Sonic are winners, because they almost certainly weren't, and I've always pointed to Yasuhara leaving being the cause.

    But when Naka finally packed his bags, Iizuka was essentially grandfathered in as leader of the team based on seniority within the department.

    ...and I'll come out and say it: Iizuka isn't, and never was the right person to become the leader of Sonic Team. It's gotten progressively worse as he's chucked shit against a wall hoping something will stick, as now you have this fractured userbase consisting of multiple age demographics all with different opinions on what Sonic gameplay is supposed to be.

    In an alternate dimension Yasuhara didn't leave, eventually took over, and none of this shit ever happened.
     
  2. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

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    As I said before, I don't think it's necessarily Izuka's fault here. There have been instances where he tries to stick to a certain principle and not too long later it's been broken. For instance, there was some interview before Generations came out where he said Classic Sonic wasn't a thing that that the modern iteration of the character was the only version they would be using, and at least a month later we had the Generations teaser showing off Classic. I'm genuinely inclined to believe that upper management at Sega have been forcing his hand saying "this sells so add this into the game". There's more examples, but seeing how I just woke up I can't think of them at the moment.
     
  3. SuperSonicRider

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    I don't know if this whole idea of SEGA of Japan being jealous of Mania's success is necessarily completely true. I'd agree that, from what we know, the relationship between SoA and SoJ was more tenuous in the past, but it at the very least seems better now, in some capacity.

    Once it was found that Mania did well and Forces didn't so much, they didn't hesitate to double down on Mania with the likes of Mania Adventures and Mania Plus. Meanwhile Forces hasn't really received any substantial support, outside of representation with Speed Battle and the general plot ending being built on in the IDW comics. Iizuka said he was outright glad that Mania managed to reach more than its target demographic, and he was involved with greenlighting the game in the first place. These follow-up things were probably started / pitched with the western teams, but it had to have been approved by JP teams at some point, probably? To be clear, I'm not saying the people who approved the ideas deserve credit over the people that pitched them, but moreso that if they truly hated this western involvement, a lot less of it would've ever happened. (Moreover, the division certainly isn't even as simple as "SoJ vs. SoA+other SEGA teams" but I digress.)

    I certainly don't doubt that there are some people who have been working on Sonic games for years that feel sore about Mania's success. But, to me, the lack of an immediate game successor to Sonic Mania seems more like some type of uncertainty or volatility in other areas rather than solely due to them being "shown up." Maybe there is some weird petty stuff going on behind the scenes or higher up, but I look at stuff like the Mania Plus dev diaries that have Iizuka and Hoshino (the creative director of Sonic Team) in them, and don't exactly get the vibe that they feel negatively about Sonic Mania being a good game :V
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2020
  4. The lack of a Mania follow up might have more to do with Christian and the rest of headcanon creating their own studio with Evening Star. Sega probably doesn't want to produce an in-house sequel, because on some level, they know it wouldn't be as good as the original Mania. They'd have to outsource to Christain's studio and have them develop it, and if there was some issue with that, then well...we gotta wait.


    On the topic of 3D games and limitations; I have no idea when or how it happened, but the fandom seems to have become obsessed with the idea of non-linearity and open ended gameplay, probably due to the likes of Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild influencing this mindset. So the idea that Sonic "needs" to be non-linear seems to have been born from that. But that kind of ignores that Sonic, due to its nature as a platformer based around SPEED, kind of needs some degree of linearity and limitations put in. People point to the classic games for their non-linearity, but if people actually studied the level design, there's only three paths to the goal, and the level design itself tends to be pretty boxed in. The classic games really aren't as non-linear as people think they are.

    The faster an object goes, the less control it has to steer and Sonic is no exception, and this is a big problem in the 3D games; if people want non-linearity, then Sonic would need to be slower so the player could better control on where to go, otherwise you'd just be running in an open field with little control. This is why the 3D games are so boost pad reliant, because they have to dictate where Sonic goes. To counteract that, Sonic's speed cap needs to be lower.

    3D games seem to have fallen into the mantra of open-endedness, but as you can see, it's resulted in basically a bunch of wide open areas with really nothing to do or interact with, because Sonic goes too damn fast. I can guarantee you that it would not do well if it was an official game at all.

    Unleashed, to me, probably captures the arcadey style that I feel is good for the series and it's level design best accommodates the Boost. But because Unleashed was VERY unforgiving to newer players, they streamlined the level design in Colors, Generations, and especially Forces, to make them more accessible to a general audience, but at the expense of the depth that Unleashed had established.


    Sonic is kind of a difficult franchise to develop for (in case it wasn't obvious by now) because what the fans want isn't necessarily good for the general audience, and this is probably Sega's biggest issue. They're torn between trying to accommodate the amalgam that is this fandom and it's varying tastes, and actually making something a child won't get pissed off and rage-quit at. Mania almost feels like a miracle in that it managed to please it's target demographic and the general audience, but then of course, you got the droves of Modern fans who are annoyed and feel left out.


    So yea, Sega have very poor managerial skills, but the fandom and pressures of deadline and budgets don't exactly make it easy for them either. The company has always been like this, and it's really caught up to them in a huge way now.
     
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  5. Frostav

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    SRb2 has existed for a long time, but 2.2 makes the earlier versions look like beta tech demos. With that, SRB2 graduated from a cool passion project to a legiitmately good game that could be sold in stores for its own right if not for being a Sonic fangame. Outside of ERZ still using old level design and RVZ2 not being done, it's feature-complete and nearly done.

    Well for one SA2 has the chao garden which makes it a million times better than Unleashed and an objective 11/10 game :V

    Regardless, SA2 may have completely shit the bed level design wise, but its physics and controls are generally a lot more variable than Unleashed, which by definition cannot be anything but superhyperblastspeed through hallway levels. SA2 could be that and often was, but it also could be slower and more platformy, even if it rarely takes advantage of that. Point is, Unleashed has a fundamentally restrictive design that hit its absolute peak with Generations and has basically zero ways to go forward. Like, to use SA1 as an example (since it and SA2 control similiarly), Unleashed Sonic would be utterly impossible to control in a level like Sky Deck or Red Mountain. Nor would you see levels in boost Sonic games that aren't completely straight-on hallways and have unique gimmicks like those two.

    For what it's worth Unleashed's level design fits its gameplay style better than the respective design of SA2 fits its respective gameplay style. I just find Boost to be inherently limiting. You get lots of speed and airtime, but it's all artificial.

    Also forced 2D sections in a 3D game are awful, at least at the infestation levels they are in current nominally-3D Sonic. Especially when Mania does it better anyway.

    I would rather have a Sonic that's too strong than one that's too limited. I'm tired of automated speed boosters. I'm tired of automatic dash ramps. I'm tired of automated loops. Something like SOnic GT that gives me the tools to do the stuff they myself and tells me to go nuts is far more appealing. Even as a kid, I remember being annoyed at how often Sonic in SA2 would just do things himself instead of letting me do stuff. Playing a game like GT and taking advantage of the physics to fly across the level with nothing but my own skill determining how fast and how cool I'm going is like a breath of fresh air.

    I do not want Sonic to be Kinda Faster Mario. Sonic should feel like no other platformer character. Where they are constrained by the rigid gameplay mechanics of their systems, Sonic should feel like he's able to break free of those limits and feel like a superhero. That's what makes Mania so much fun. That's what makes every classic Sonic game fun.

    When I play a game like Unleashed or Generations, I feel constricted. I feel like I'm just doing the exact path the developers wanted, just more skillfully than everyone else. Games like Utopia and GT tickle my imagination, they give me a sense of wonder. "Hey, can I get there?" "What happens if I go back a bit, roll down this hill, and jump off this ramp?" The only 3D Sonic game that gave me feelings even similar to that is SA1 and it's much more limiting. I have spent hours combing over both Utopia and GT just to see what I can do. Because in those games, "What you can do" is so much more expansive than even the best 3D Sonic titles.

    That's what 3D Sonic should be. Freedom. No automation, no super restrictive physics. Freedom to fuck around with the physics and have fun. The levels should be ultimately linear but expansive. The physics should be slightly loose and powerful when exploited.

    Oh and by the way, GT and Utopia are not "non-linear" at all, where on earth do people get this bizarre conception? Even the latter's (test) level ultimately has an end goal and GT is VERY linear point-A-to-point-B to the point where it's basically impossible to get lost or turned around. I swear, some of you have been so traumatized by a decade of hyperlinear 3D Sonics that you think any level that isn't a hallway is a completely directionless open world.
     
  6. SystemsReady

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    Indeed, they do not. It wouldn't have surprised me if standing still on a ramp was filed as a bug by someone, only to get told "no, that's intended behavior, Will Not Fix". Going back into industry-wide problems also, QA in the video game industry is grossly, grossly underpaid and overworked compared to QA in other tech - if I wanted to QA in video games instead of being a Software Quality Engineer for a tech company, I'd be taking a pay cut in the order of many thousands for a job that piles on way more work, in an environment where bugs are triaged as a given because there isn't enough time to fix everything.

    And outside of the Knuckles/Rouge levels it was pretty bad at it. Sonic and Shadow are fast enough at a walk that it feels precarious, and Sonic in particular has his completely hamstrung by how Light Speed Dash and Bounce are on the same button, and the game expects you to not die. I A-ranked that whole game and I'm still salty about that. And, Cosmic Gate aside, the mechs can't jump high enough to not feel stodgy in anything other than long, slow glides.
     
  7. Word of advice, stuff like this is how people will not take your word seriously. Lay off the potshots will you.


    To address your points, while I understand where you're coming from, I don't really agree. Sonic to me was never about the freedom to do whatever you wanted, because the games themselves were all inherently limiting in someway. Sonic is platformer whether you agree with it or not, and he is (and should be) bound by the same limitations of the genre as every other platforming franchise. Yes, Sonic has a unique gimmick associated with it that helps him stand out, but it should enhance the game, not define it.

    I don't play Sonic games for open-ended level design and playing around with what I can do, I play them for the challenge of beating the levels in the most pleasing way possible. This is how the platforming genre works. Even the open-ended Mario games give the player some objective or so to beat so the player isn't just playing an open sandbox of nothing.


    I played Sonic GT from start to finish, while it's not egregious, there were definitely times when I had no idea where I was going and just running around aimlessly. It wasn't until I got to the last two levels, which are much more linear and straightforward, that I felt like the game had some coherent direction to it's design. Even Sonic Adventure isn't that non-linear, as it's non-linearity pretty much equates to going off the beaten path and playing the game in an unusual matter. I like interacting with level design and clearing it, and I really like the idea of just being able to skip large portions of a level because I can.



    Now obviously, this just comes down to different tastes when it comes to the games and I don't really think how I think is necessarily better than yours, or vice versa. That said, I do think there's a reason there hasn't been an open-ended Sonic game, and I don't think there ever will be. Games like Sonic GT are fine as one-off fan projects, but as I said, I don't think they're substantial enough to be a fully licensed game sold for retail.[/QUOTE]
     
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  8. Beamer the Meep

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    Honestly, I would say that Beta Windy Valley in Adventure was a good direction to go with Sonic level design, even if just a smidge smaller. Like the classic games, the level has multiple pathways but they're all pushing you towards a single goal. Some pathways are harder to traverse and some are easier to traverse but it's not just limited to higher or lower routes. It's expansive enough not to feel as hallway-esque as SA2 could be or the final Windy Valley we got (which was developed very last minute) but it still maintains a cohesive structure. With SA1's physics which for the most part feel really fun to play with, it makes for a good time imo.

    The problems inherent with open world games is that it increases the difficulty of coherent level design and structure tenfold that of your traditional 3D platformer. I'm convinced that you need to have a very strong knowledge of psychology in order to pull off games like Breath of the Wild because you need to know how to control the player's experience without the player realizing you are. If a player can truely go anywhere and do anything then they're going to do things that you simply can't predict, but conversely if that player realizes you're controlling that "open world" experience then they'll get frustrated. It's a very difficult thing for even seasoned game developers to do right now and I would say it's even worse for fangame game developers.

    You can have more open levels sure, but you still need to keep a hand on the reins so to speak. In SA1, I would say Sonic Team held onto the reins just enough with Sonic's stages (after all, attempting to break Speed highway rewards you with hidden 1-ups) but as time goes on they start to get maybe a bit too restrictive. It's a hard balance, but I would not go to either extreme of restriction vs freedom in order to solve the current dilemma in Sonic level design.
     
  9. Beltway

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    Probably because Mania is based on a group of games that were actually marketed towards and were/are popular with a general audience to begin with?

    This is something I feel has been severely lost in the plot when people speak with bafflement about why Mania was received so warmly outside the fanbase, far warmer than any other contemporary Sonic game; both in reviews as well as digital storefronts. Who would had guessed people outside the fanbase who liked a group of games collectively referred to as "the classics" would also be receptive towards another game that faithfully followed in their footsteps... (?????)
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2020
  10. Laura

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    Aside from its aesthetic, Beta Windy Valley is awful. It's very confusing to know where you are supposed to go and the final level is far more focused. The final's railway in the sky is also far more memorable than the beta's floating islands.

    The beta level also has some geometry which is so unfathomably bad that I'm convinced it was completely unfinished before being scrapped. Case in point:

    [​IMG]

    This section here is absolutely dreadful, especially the sharp steps up on the right. What is the point of this, because it's an absolute mess.

    I know the level has gotten a lot of appreciation because it was an internet mystery for a long time and it's an open stage, but let's be honest, it isn't fun to play.
     
  11. Beamer the Meep

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    I'll agree to disagree on this one. For certain sections like that one, there's a lot more open space and branching level design to play around in it. For as streamlined as the final level is, it's not all that interesting to me honestly. It's literally railways in the sky. My appreciation for the beta level is more to do with the way it plays, not the fact that it was a mystery for so many years.
     
  12. Well for me it's mainly that every other instance of 2D gameplay before Mania was received well, but not to the acclaim that Mania got. Sure, Mania being a follow up to the classic helped it's popularity massively, I'm not taking that away from it. But so was Sonic 4, and before you retort with "Sonic 4 sucks", yes it did, but it was received slightly better among the public than the fanbase.

    It's not just a matter of it being a classic game, but that and ya know...being game with a clear direction and being competently put together.
     
  13. Frostav

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    Count me as one of those people who vastly prefers beta Windy Valley to the original. It's in fact one of the best 3D Sonic levels Sonic Team has ever made.

    [/QUOTE]

    Two things. Firstly, I am totally cool with 3D Sonic not slavishly following Classic Sonic's philosophy and instead re-interpreting it. For me, this open-ended much more loose style is a good reinterpretation of the strengths of 2D Sonic to suit 3D gameplay.

    Secondly, and much more longly, I don't actually agree that freedom isn't at least part of Classic Sonic. Let me explain: one of the most core themes of Classic Sonic--not an intentional decision, but an organic consequence of the series' gameplay design--is that it's a platformer that fundamentally changes when you get better at the game. If you get good at, say, Mario, you just go through the exact same motions and stuff as the person playing for the first time bumbling through the levels, you're just doing it more skillfully. If you get good at Sonic, though, the game straight-up changes. You find newer, faster routes. You get more powerups to make the journey easier and perhaps even unlock faster ways through the games. You literally go faster, not merely-time wise but actually going at a higher speed through proper use of the physics system and not making mistakes. And finally, if you can find and master the special stages, you straight-up get a superpowered form that lets you go even faster and borderline break the game. Starmen in Mario are quite rare--S2, S3&K, and Mania straight-up let you access an nearly-infinite version of Sonic's equivalent at will by the 3rd zone of each or so if you're good enough! That only makes sense if you accept the viewpoint that letting the players mess around and experiment was an intended part of the Sonic experience.

    When you finish Super Mario World for the first time, going through the levels slowly, getting hit a lot, dying frequently, etc. you've seen most of the game besides a few bonus levels and tiny alternate routes/secrets. All you have to do is "do it again but better". But Sonic? If you awkwardly hobble your way through any of the games, but especially S3&K and Mania, you really didn't get to see a ton of the game. Replaying is worthwhile not just for its own sake and fun, but to see what you could not before because you weren't good enough.

    That is, Classic Sonic is excellent in giving you the feeling that you're not merely going through a simple obstacle course of a level--but that you are in a world, given a set of mechanics and given the chance to use them to see what you find, be it powerups or new routes or big rings/special stages or simply a faster way through the level. It is still very heavily focused on "get from here to there" gameplay, but that extra spice is there, and why I find them so much fun.

    So for me, fangames like Utopia and GT simply take that core idea and then use the inherent advantages of 3D gameplay to crank it up to the absolute maximum--taking "I wonder what I can do with these mechanics if I'm skilled enough? Can I get there? Or there?" as far as it can go. That is why I like them. The freedom to use Sonic's superpowers to carve my own path through a level, to see if I really can get upon that mountain by utilizing the physics, or to see just how much unnecessary airtime I can get by jumping off a ramp after a huge hill.

    I would not say it is a totally slavish "3D-ifying" of the classics--SRB2 is much closer to that--but it's a philosophy I gladly support as a possible direction for Sonic.
     
  14. Beamer the Meep

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    Well sure, it might be a good direction to go, but I doubt that Sonic Team or the fan community as they stand now could effectively pull it off. We're talking about massively ambitious projects here that gives seasoned game designers a hard time to get right. I'd be happy for someone to prove me wrong, but fans just don't have the skill yet and Sonic Team doesn't have the time or resources.
     
  15. Xiao Hayes

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    You know, GT and Utopia are fun and all that jazz, but proportions are not right in them. I can hardly control Sonic in GT because he flies so much when jumping, homing and bouncing I don't know where I am, or what's worse, I don't know where the enemies that shoot at me are. I can do the star combo challenges because I can't chain anything beyond maybe 12 stars. And yes, the first time I played the first level, it took me more time to know where I was and which was the forward path. These issues even come up together and I end up clinging to a wall over a bottomless pit in not-Studiopolis because I don't know what happened and I don't know either where to go to make my way back through wall climb abuse (a real life saver, but also really annoying when you don't need it to happen and it does). But yes, going up to that chimney's summit in hilltop zone was fun for a few seconds.

    People who want to make classic physics into 3D should design levels in classic proportions, only after that we could discuss if 3D fangames are faithful to them.
     
  16. I mean, you're more or less saying the same thing, but trying to imply that Sonic is somehow a more rewarding experience for learning how to play it better than Mario. That's a subjective opinion, so I'm not gonna comment on that, but the general sentiment is the same. And it's the crux of the platforming genre in general; trial and error, the more you play the game, the better you get at it. Sure, I'll agree that mastering Sonic games gives you an overall better sense of reward, given the sense of speed is wonderful.

    But the feeling you get from playing Sonic GT and Utopia is the same feeling that a lot of people, including myself, got from mastering Unleashed. But to you, the Boost gameplay just has no more potential to improve or go further? I'm not going to sit here and lecture you on why I'm right why you're wrong, or tell you that you aren't allowed to dislike the Boost gameplay, but I don't feel like Boost is any less valid than the Adventure games, and the like in terms of what direction should go.

    The bottom line is, while we all have our own preferences in terms of Sonic playstyle, there's no "one true way" for Sonic to play in 3D, especially when there's been a whole bunch of playstyles of it. Ideally, we would all get what we want, but we don't live in an ideal world, so we gotta settle for what we can get.


    That said, when I play Sonic GT, I feel less "What can I do and where can I go", and more "Where the fuck do I go, and how fast can I get there" but that's just my preference when it comes to video games in general. I prefer having a goal to strive for, and mastering the skills needed to get there and improve my score.
     
  17. Crasher

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    I'm almost certain that you were supposed to curl into a ball and let the physics handle it. Unfortunately, the current Adventure physics don't play nice with it at all - rolling into a ball doesn't do much, and trying to run through them makes you fall down due to Sonic not sticking to the floor.

    That entire section and the ramp before it, are from a game that was more physics based, I feel. They don't work with the current version of the game we do have, but would work in something that was less constrained. I'd like to see it ported to something like Marble Blast, just to see how it'd handle.
     
  18. Beamer the Meep

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    I honestly wouldn't be surprised if this was the case. Based on the artstyle at play and the spinning windmills in the stage, I bet Windy Valley was one of the first stages ever created for Adventure. It shares a lot of similarities with what we saw in Sonic World within Sonic Jam and we know all of that was compiled from alphas of Adventure. I do wish we knew a bit more about development of the game from when it was "Sonic RPG", but I digress.

    Regardless of that section, I still believe that it's a good example of the type of level design that suits Sonic.
     
  19. Beltway

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    As warmly-to-lukewarmly received the previous post-Genesis 2D games were reviewed, I’d retort that practically none of them are known outside the fanbase. Virtually all of them beyond S4 and Mania were made for portable platforms, which got a fraction of the promotion the console games got and apparently have sold as much. Only the first Advance is confirmed to have sold one million copies from any source, only a couple of them even have any sales numbers to begin with from reliable sources; and the “handheld cousin” versions of the console games have their sales lumped with the console versions, leaving little clarity for how much those handheld versions individually sold.

    And the other thing is that none of them (again, besides S4 and Mania) directly tied themselves to the Genesis games. The 2000s era of 2D games (Advance/Rush/Rivals) were billed as their own style of games; and the 2010 era of 2D games had no distinct identities to speak of, since they were reduced into being stepchild versions of the Sonic Team games/licensed games for the Boom series.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2020
  20. DigitalDuck

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    No shit. SA2 Sonic would be boring as shit in a level like Jungle Joyride. OutRun 2006 would be awful if all the levels were straight out of Halo.

    You've already been shown multiple levels where this isn't true. You're actively lying now.