Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Lostgame, Sep 24, 2020.
You have a good point. I mean if seven examples of "this happens" isn't proof that "this can't happen" (not even "this doesn't happen"!) is wrong, I don't know why I thought an eighth would change things.
For me, the problems always appear to stem from incredibly questionable business decisions internally. Deadlines that cannot be reached due to deals with other companies, a team of developers who all have their own vision of how the project should go, team management from Iizuka that we've seen isn't as cohesive as we'd like, etc.
I'm not going to go on a rant about my own personal opinions on the games, as I don't think this is what this thread is intended for, but rather why Sega, as a developing and producing company, keep making these decisions which negatively affect the "Sonic" brand.
I'm not a business-minded person, but as time has gone on, and I've gotten older, my expectations for the Sonic franchise have dropped. I no longer expect a game that will blow me out of the water, but rather a game that won't make me disappointed. And I think that says a lot about both my expectations and what Sega are currently working towards themselves. I'm not expecting anything big anymore. But not because I don't think it could happen, but rather I truly believe that Sega don't want, nor care, for it. As long as the game is popular enough to sell, make a profit of some kind (not even financial at this point, but it certainly helps), and not be a complete waste of time and resources, then they seem satisfied to continue in this way.
We've seen the lack of consideration of what "made the games good" as time has gone on. A lack of understanding of what actually work, what can be kept and improved upon, what should be removed or refined, etc. The "Sonic" formula has been thrown away and restarted from scratch so many times now, I've lost count. And yet, I still don't think Sega have grasped this, because I honestly don't think it matters to them. I think this will continue for quite some time.
Also, I'd just like to point out this is all my opinion. I still love the Sonic series; the franchise as it were. I think I always will. But it's going to take something drastically big for my opinion to change. And I really cannot see it happening any time soon.
Yeah, there really doesn't seem to be any ambition in this series anymore. With the way Sega keeps cutting away time and manpower from the developers whenever they start working on a title, it might have just been a matter of time before that happened.
It feels like the only bar they've set up for themselves is "as long as it sells and it isn't Sonic 06."
Something which isn't talked about much but I imagine is a big factor is that Sonic Team are probably just incredibly depressed and frustrated about the long line of critical and fan disappointment of their games. I think it's no coincidence that Generations had a lot more passion in it when it was coming off the back of Colors' goodwill.
For as flawed as Lost World was and as much as it relied on Mario tropes, I think that game did have some energy in it: it had some interesting ideas and introduced new villains, which was a bit of a risky way of shaking things up. I think they were trying to be ballsy after the success of Generations. The team were probably burned out a bit after the bad feedback on Lost World and Runners when working on Forces, and the horrendous feedback of Boom probably didn't help much either.
Mania was probably a mixed experience for them. I think they genuinely like Team Mania and enjoyed working with them, but might have been uneasy by how much more popular the game ended up being than Forces and it receiving much more marketing
Imagine working for a company for almost ten years and the games you've recently made are products which no one really likes. I'd probably not give a fuck either. That's not an excuse for their sub-par products though, nor am I saying we should complain less. I just think it is what it is.
I think we also need to ask how much staff Sonic Team has retained between Generations and Forces. I know for a fact that the level designers for Forces weren't the same level designers for Unleashed or Generations, and I believe they were fairly inexperienced? If someone could collaborate that for me I'd appreciate it. That said, for any of the staff that did remain for those 10 years (likely higher ups and seniors in Sonic Team) Then I can agree that they're probably largely demoralized and frustrated.
In addition to the negative reception, I imagine there might be some burnout creatively after working on 4 major titles in the same franchise for the past 10 years. The only times that Sonic Team worked on anything other than Sonic in the past decade have been Puyo Puyo games. Maybe a large reason for the attempts at reinvention for the franchise with Lost World and the subsequent lack of enthusiasm for Forces (aside from the character creator) might be because they're just tired of working on the same franchise with no chance to innovate.
I don't remember the exacts, but I know that after Generations many of their designers made their way to companies like Nintendo or Monolith Soft, some of them likely using their roles in the M&S Olympics games as stepping stones to move over.
Not entirely sure what caused so many people to jump ship between then and LW, but I've always assumed that the small period in which Sega considered passing the handling of Sonic to BigRedButton might've had something to do with it. There was definitely a period where they wanted the Japanese Sonic games to become secondary to the upcoming Boom series, so maybe a downsizing happened? Maybe people on the team were insulted at Sega's decision? Maybe they just needed an excuse to jump to another company?
Eh, it's all conjecture.
Forces only has three level designers. The senior level designer worked on Secret Rings, Black Knight, Colors and Lost World and the two junior ones were new.
At the senior level, the staff were all experienced. There's a persistent rumour going around that all the staff were newbies who had no idea what they were doing and SEGA lied by saying it was made by the people who worked on Colors and Gens. It's easily proved wrong.
The director worked on Colors. The art director had worked on Colors and Gens (fun fact too, she designed the Chao). The lead programmer worked on Gens. Several character artists worked on Gens.
The only true cuts from Gens are the director and level designers, many of whom are working on the Olympic games (lol). So on a level design level it's true, but otherwise it's completely incorrect.
For the record, I found Forces’ art direction to be really solid, it’s definitely one of my favorite looking 3d Sonic game.
The all too common "This game was made by a bunch of rookies that didn’t know what they were doing" argument never sat right with me.
The level design might’ve been amateurish, but the rest of the game was fine.
Didn't we already have a discussion about how the level design for Forces was originally more complex but someone above the paygrade of coders and level designers asked for it to be simplified so the game could more accessible?
It's already been established the team was fine. They were dealing with a lot of other issues above anything they had the power to deal with though.
I would had liked Forces' art direction more if it took on a consistent direction and ran with it. The fact that the bulk of assets in Forces was directly lifted from past games was already working against it, but they could have at least either fully reigned the overarching aesthetic towards Generations (more detailed/semi-realistic/natural) or Lost World (simplified/stylized/saturated). The way it incoherently mixed assets from both styles together only helped accentuate concerns that the game was either made on a much lower budget or was rushed together at the last minute.
As for the whole designers and Colors/Generations marketing bit, I feel the bigger takeaway there was that Sega was directly associating Forces with those two games as a means to set expectations. If Forces turned out as good as those games, if not better; the question of which people on Forces' production actually worked on Colors/Gens would had been a moot point. Sega were so intent on connecting Forces to Sonic Team's recent successes that they made zero reference to Lost World in that teaser, despite LW being the studio's immediate previous game.
That would be fine, except that's not what people said is it? They claimed it was bad because the game was made entirely of new designers. They claimed SEGA lied because the game didn't have the Colors and Gens staff. They didn't even do the most basic of fact checking.
I think this rumour persists as long as it does because it feeds into the desperate argument that we are seeing the game from Team B and the badass Team A are going to launch their new game they've been cooking up for years. If you look at the credits of Sonic Team games, there is no Team A and Team B, there's one team that goes back to Secret Rings. The closest thing to a Team B are the guys who make the Olympic games. It's sad, but it's true. We've had the best brass of Sonic Team all along.
Were there ever any more speculation or theories (or anything confirmed) as to why this situation occurred? You'd think they'd have left some of the more complicated layouts in the game as a hard mode, or even done it as DLC, as it's already completed work. They could have just bundled it in, and then gotten positive feedback for including more content, it'd have been a win win.
We were just venting, any other achievement beyond that would be an unexpected bonus.
Back on topic, I had this picture in mind that may not be real, but short of feels like it:
Boss: "[Employee]-san, you'll work on the next Sonic game."
Employee: "Why [Boss]-sama? What I've done wrong?"
Boss: "Do as told and take a look at Iizuka-san; he seems to be recovering faith in Sonic's future, and we should bring him back to reality."
Not that I know of but I don't think anyone has tried to go deeper down that rabbit hole.
Forces has a lot of nice assets and art but the aesthetics are extremely inconsistent, from Green Hill's super blocky simplified look to Chemical Plant and Sunset Avenue being highly detailed and Metropolis looking it came from 500 years in the future for no reason. Speaking of Metropolis, it doesn't even look like what you'd expect an Eggman-ruled City of Tomorrow (which is a great concept on paper by the way) to look like.
I wonder how the next Sonic game would be if Sonic Team was given a chance to work on a new IP for once.
Sonic Adventure was only so good because the team had gotten a break from Sonic and WANTED to return with a bunch of new and ambitious ideas in their helm. Working on the same franchise over and over has probably killed a lot of their creativity. I bet if given a break and allowed to return to Sonic at their own time we would see a really enjoyable game.
People mentioned PPT2 as a game that Sonic Team working on, but also they actually worked on Sakura Wars as well, it's not their original IP, but its not like they only work on Sonic all the time.
Also i actually think it's more of a direction problem, not "whole team" problem, if the next game also had been directed by colors/LW/Forces director, it will be most likely turns out bad as well, the franchise need new creative vision , just like back in Unleashed days when they brought a lot of young talent and new director who later went to Square Enix, and it showed with the sheer passion in that game even if it was still flawed
The Sakura Wars reboot was the first game in a long time from Sonic Team (or at least, the CS2 department that houses Sonic Team) that was neither a Sonic game nor a Puyo Puyo game. Or at least, it was the first major non-Sonic/Puyo game from the group in years that was released outside of Japan, anyway.
And speaking of Puyo Puyo, most of the games in that series haven't left Japan either. Until the 2017 worldwide release of Tetris, the last Puyo Puyo game released internationally was Puyo Pop Fever in 2004. It's hard to even be aware Sonic Team (still) makes games outside of Sonic, when they don't even bring to the West the few non-Sonic titles they do make.
I'd wouldn't say there were any official, designated "Team A" and "Team B" groups, but there were definitely multiple groups operating within Sonic Team at some point, at least before Iizuka became the new Sonic Team head. He's said so himself on two occasions:
I was one of them. I don't think they work on PPT because they want to either. And I highly doubt Puyo Puyo gives them a chance to try new abstract concepts and ideas. It's a puzzle game that changes very little between iterations.
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