Just gonna leave it here that Sonic Mania was worked on by Sonic Team. Quite substantially, as matter of fact, and Sonic Team was suitably happy when Mania turned out good. Indeed, the reason it is what it is and not a remake of Sonic 1 and 2 with some extra bonus levels is actually because of Iizuka, who suggested the core concepts behind Mania and elevated the pitch to more than just a remake, coincidentally at a time when it was needed. So its a bit odd to read things like this (bolding mine)...
...when Mania is, by all accounts, as much a Sonic Team/Sega game as it is a Headcannon game. I'm not forcing anybody to be optimistic (though as a side note I do disagree very strongly with the statement that nobody can be optimistic about the future of 3D Sonic-- there are reasons, you may not agree with them and you don't have to, but they are there). But well, not gonna lie, its kind of annoying to see people put Mania on a pedestal as the antithesis to Sonic Team when it is, in part, Sonic Team's game. Sonic Team can't both be devoid of any passion and responsible for a passionfest, or both unwilling to work hard and willing to work its ass off to provide something special. And well, there's a good chance it isn't nearly that black and white anyway.
I've said it once and I'll say it again-- if the only thing 3D Sonic needed was passion and knowledge, I wouldn't be able to count on one hand how many 3D fangames are actually close enough to being decent and there'd probably be a whole lot more of them in a finished state right about now, because nobody is denying the fans' passion and research. Budget, resources, management, etc. are vitally important too. And it shows, since a lot of 3D fangames have been worked on for much longer than Forces, but most fail to even get close to it in terms of quality and completeness despite that being kind of a low standard to match.
And well, I could go on a long rant about how Forces doesn't actually qualify as a flop if it sold strongly, even if some people very vocally didn't like it, because a flop refers exclusively to something that has failed to sell. If you think the game is of poor or insufficient quality, fine, but don't make unsubstantiated claims to prove your point because that ultimately damages your arguments' credibility more than it helps. Especially if you don't actually need to make stuff up to prove your point. But that's kind of a tangent, so I'll stop here.
I guess my overall point is-- there are no angels and there are no devils in games development, only people. Its a complicated situation and I'm certain if there were a simple and quick solution, it would have already been implemented. And well, whether its convenient or not, Sonic Mania is a recent Sonic Team game, and should be treated as such so that there aren't any people who worked on the game getting excluded from being credited for their work. If nothing else, its important to acknowledge this to avoid a "George Lucas" sort of situation-- where people put down a person for being little more than an incompetent hack, until said person leaves their work on the franchise and people kinda realize "fuck, this guy was actually valuable after all but he's not coming back because we convinced him that he's not wanted or needed."
As for the future of 3D Sonic and my reasons therein, I see baby steps in Forces. I like the ambition of the Avatar, the raising of stakes (which, while not required for a good story, is good to have every now and then to maintain interest), and I think the Lost World-y aspects of the game were actually handled in a way that improved on Lost World's mechanics and ideas (and not just the 3DS version either) which makes me really happy. I mean, finally, a Zavok fight that is actually well designed and good-- I never thought I needed it until Forces provided it. And well, baby steps might not be good enough for everybody, but I'm not expecting a 180 turnaround anyway. For now, from my perspective, things are vaguely oriented in the right direction and that keeps me satisfied. For now, anyway.
While I can't say I know for sure what the future holds, knowing its history, I strongly doubt that this'll be an "everything is the same forever" kind of deal, and overall I think the next game at least won't be bad. There's potential to be mined from Forces; how will it be handled and what will be extracted is my big question.