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Legosi (Tani Coyote)

Fans Increasingly Influencing Sonic - Expectations?

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In recent years, as Sonic fans have come of age, they increasingly are finding themselves in positions of influence in the franchise.

Aaron Webber was a Sonic fan and now is the brand manager. As an example of what this can entail, the "Gotta go fast" meme made it into his AOD panel. I have the strangest assumption that he was the one who suggested it to whoever vetted ideas for the slideshow. If it was someone even higher up who put it in... well, there you go.

Ian Flynn was and remains a strong fan of the series, starting off with his epic fancomic Other M, and now is the head writer for the Archie strip. Memes and references to the entire canon abound, with Eggman singing his theme, Regina Ferrum shouting how she hates that hedgehog as she's beaten, and more than one of the infamous Adventures of Sonic memes being used in places.

Evan Stanley is best known for her Ghosts of the Future fancomic, and now likewise is working for Archie as one of their artists.

Lee Brotherton can be safely counted as a Sonic fan as he made a few remixes when he was younger, and thanks to those remixes, was eventually contacted to do official work with Sega.

These are just a few examples, and the ones most readily thought of.

Originally Sega was run entirely by individuals who sought to market Sonic, but now several people are as much fans of the franchise as they are eager to make a profit from it. Will this trend continue to intensify? Will Sega become more and more responsive to fans' ideas now that we're increasingly occupying positions in Sega and its branches? To what extent will this gradual empowerment of the fanbase reach? Will development teams be increasingly of the fans, for the fans?

Please discuss.

I think it'll help give the fanbase a voice with Sonic Team and such. While these positions are hardly one of power, they certainly do have some influence on the progression of things. Who knows, Sonic Team might take someone like Flynn or Webber's opinions into account when pitching ideas to the higher ups. After all, fans are the ones who buy the titles, so it makes sense to see what they're thinking.

The change of power to people who do it as a labor of love as much as money, if nothing else, can only benefit us in the end, I think.

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The fans don't know what they want, making seeking their thoughts on something as a whole hard to follow. It's the reason as to why there are polls alongside the sheer size of the fandom me thinks.

 

I do like to think that the rumor about the Colours writers haunting this forum has credence. I do find it perhaps a bit odd how there were two SatSR references in Generations. I have entertained the notion that if they do haunt this forum, they've heard of the opinions regarding the Storybook's and their positive reception narrative and characterization-wise and looked into them to derive inspiration from them. That'd be so damn cool if it was the case :D

 

I for one found it utterly sweet how Generations' credits contained the fans wishing Sonic a Happy Bday at the end.

 

Whilst I think that SEGA can learn a lot from the fandom, I still feel that there needs to be some measure of distance too. I mean, wasn't it certain fans that asked for Shadow to be given a gun?

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Its a nice idea, until you realise what fans are like. The loudest and most frequently heard fans are the obnoxious folk you you'd probably not want to talk to. This is the case with all fanbases. To make things worse, Sonic fans are split in a billion different directions, and even with those divisions there isn't unanimity. We don't know what we want and as such we shouldn't really be trusted to point in the direction Sonic should go.

 

Sonic Team should merely introspect. Take a look at what made the franchise great and then work from there. 

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 To make things worse, Sonic fans are split in a billion different directions...

 

This. Especially fans of Sonic in the '90s, where different regions saw the Sonic universe in completely different ways. Different people want to see different things from the character... well, apart from "go fast"! :D

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Remember Cash Cash and their history of loving Sonic, too.

 

I wouldn't mind seeing the people who wouldn't want to be so obnoxious about things get some roles at Sega or something. It'd be cool. hey Sega can I be PR or something it'd be great

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I believe it's bound to happen in any long-running franchise. Transformers is full of former fans working on it right now, and it is going very well. Ronald Moore was a fan of Star Trek who wound up becoming head writer of the latter seasons in The Next Generation. Doctor Who, unsurprisingly, is full of people who grew up watching the show since 1963.

 

 

We can't generalize the fanbase as one entity, however, I think that this can only be beneficial as the people they'll be hiring will at least have prior knowledge of the franchise. That's always a pro.

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I believe it's bound to happen in any long-running franchise. Transformers is full of former fans working on it right now, and it is going very well. Ronald Moore was a fan of Star Trek who wound up becoming head writer of the latter seasons in The Next Generation. Doctor Who, unsurprisingly, is full of people who grew up watching the show since 1963.

 

 

We can't generalize the fanbase as one entity, however, I think that this can only be beneficial as the people they'll be hiring will at least have prior knowledge of the franchise. That's always a pro.

and dont forget it was on the radio for even longer

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The fans don't know what they want, making seeking their thoughts on something as a whole hard to follow. It's the reason as to why there are polls alongside the sheer size of the fandom me thinks.

 

I do like to think that the rumor about the Colours writers haunting this forum has credence. I do find it perhaps a bit odd how there were two SatSR references in Generations. I have entertained the notion that if they do haunt this forum, they've heard of the opinions regarding the Storybook's and their positive reception narrative and characterization-wise and looked into them to derive inspiration from them. That'd be so damn cool if it was the case biggrin.png

 

I for one found it utterly sweet how Generations' credits contained the fans wishing Sonic a Happy Bday at the end.

 

Whilst I think that SEGA can learn a lot from the fandom, I still feel that there needs to be some measure of distance too. I mean, wasn't it certain fans that asked for Shadow to be given a gun?

 

 Agreed. I think Sega can learn quite a bit from the fans via feedback. By means of feedback Sega would know how the fans feel about their games, whether it is good or bad. Even with criticism. When it comes to criticism, it isn't always a bad thing. More times than none I think criticism proves to be very helpful in order to improve things. Generally speaking, when looking at feedback it is good to look for what the majority is both commending and complaining about and go from there. If a lot of people like something, continue doing it; if a lot of people are complaining about the same thing then maybe they need to stop and try something else. With Sonic games it's no different.

In the end there needs to be a balance on what Sega should listen to, as I feel the fanbase's viewpoints and opinions should be considered to a degree. There is a difference between legit complaints and concerns and constant nitpicking. For example, Sega should listen to the fan's complaints about physics being off, silly gimmicks that interrupt gameplay and the games being too short, where complaints about Sonic's friends and the color of his eyes needs to be ignored, IMO. And if Trying to cater to everyone is pointless, as it is impossible. Sega can't please everyone, no matter how hard they try, but it is best to please as many as possible. That should be Sega's objective to make Sonic games that we should thoroughly enjoy. We can help make that happen with our suggestions, which should prove to be helpful as well as having an influence, but we shouldn't dictate how the games are made with them.     

 

Its a nice idea, until you realise what fans are like. The loudest and most frequently heard fans are the obnoxious folk you you'd probably not want to talk to. This is the case with all fanbases. To make things worse, Sonic fans are split in a billion different directions, and even with those divisions there isn't unanimity. We don't know what we want and as such we shouldn't really be trusted to point in the direction Sonic should go.

 

Sonic Team should merely introspect. Take a look at what made the franchise great and then work from there. 

 

This is exactly what Sonic Team should do. The problem with Sonic games today summed up is that deviated rather far from what made Sonic so great in the first place. While I commend Sonic Team for trying new things in recent games they just haven't been implemented correctly for the most part. If they go back to what worked in the first place, then the Sonic series can get back to being great again.

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Well, "the sanic fanbase is terrible" remarks aside, I think that every brand, including Sonic, should take fan suggestions with a grain of salt.  Every fanbase is sort of divided in its own way, and as such, everyone is bound to have different opinions.  The difficult part is learning which opinions are worth listening to.  When you listen to complaints and make minor improvements based upon those complaints, you get a game like Colors.  Even if you don't like the game, you can see where they handled criticisms of Sonic Unleashed and made vast improvements to the gameplay engine, and of course, the most notable change was the long-awaited change in voice cast.

 

When you begin to take advice that completely contradicts the integrity of the series in general, then you get games like Shadow the Hedgehog.  Enough said.  Just because a lot of six-year-olds asked for it doesn't mean it's really the best thing.

 

So yeah, I think having some fans of the series on board is a good thing, and taking fan advice, with caution, is definitely a good thing... if Sega learns what kind of advice is best to take.

Edited by Akito

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If nothing else, the increasing number of fans in positions of influence means there's an indirect voice for the rank and file. They adore the characters as much as us, and will probably do them far more respect than any businessman who's solely concerned with profit. I think it's possible to both be profitable and at the same time do a labor of love, and the rise to power of some childhood fans will likely assist with this. Flynn, Webber, etc. may not call the final shots on things, but by merit of job they have a lot of clout with presentation, and can probably do something better than someone who had no emotional connection with the characters.

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Even when parsing the more ridiculous aspects of fan demand, the end result is still Sonic Team's responsibility. There's absolutely no objective reason why either a Shadow game or a Sonic game with gunplay couldn't have been done objectively well. And as far as I'm concerned, no one actually asked for aliens, awkward controls, convoluted and unnecessary storytelling, and a mostly-muddy art style. There's far more to games than the initial concepts and the fan demand that they sprung from. So for Sega, it's not simply a matter of listening to the "right fans" (a concept not too far removed from that "true fan" bullshit) so much as merely knowing how to make a good game regardless.

I wasn't saying they should "listen only to the right fans," but "learn to listen to the right suggestions."  Any fan can make a stupid suggestion.  I know I've made my share of completely dumb ideas that Sega, thankfully, never took into account.  My main point was that if a brand is to be successful, it shouldn't succumb to suggestions which go completely against the integrity of the franchise, which ShTH did.

 

With that said, though, you are right.  We can't blame the fans who suggested it for the horrible quality of the game as, in the end, the premise itself was only one thing that was terribly wrong with the game.  I think the game COULD have been really good if executed better, but it wasn't, and that was clearly a bad move on Sega's part, not the six-year-olds who all wanted to see a Sonic game with guns.

Edited by Akito

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In terms of fans working on the actual product. It's a natural process for any long running series. Kids grow up loving something and if it still exists in their adulthood it's natural to try and get in on working on it.

Generally it should be a good thing, but thinking about it, alot of the variety in the series in the early days was down to people working on it and having no knowledge of the games, that's how we got cartoons so radically different from the games.

Having actual fans on board might hurt that variety in the future.

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Let me just state the elephant in the room: more Western game designers who grew up Sonic fans need to be involved in the series.

 

Talented programmers like Taxman, who got us the Sonic CD remake (and was working on additional new content to the game before Sega axed it) need to be involved in Sonic projects (2D and 3D) and keep the quality control up and push some new ideas that Sonic Team can't seem to think of.

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Having fans becoming main workers on the series is great. I know it has happened in other franchises. With Sonic it's amazing that people like Ian Flynn get to make their imaginations when they were younger come to life in front of them when each comic is finished.

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I wasn't saying they should "listen only to the right fans," but "learn to listen to the right suggestions." Any fan can make a stupid suggestion. I know I've made my share of completely dumb ideas that Sega, thankfully, never took into account. My main point was that if a brand is to be successful, it shouldn't succumb to suggestions which go completely against the integrity of the franchise, which ShTH did.

With that said, though, you are right. We can't blame the fans who suggested it for the horrible quality of the game as, in the end, the premise itself was only one thing that was terribly wrong with the game. I think the game COULD have been really good if executed better, but it wasn't, and that was clearly a bad move on Sega's part, not the six-year-olds who all wanted to see a Sonic game with guns.

My point was that ShtH didn't go against the integrity of the franchise due to vague demand for a Shadow game, or even the barely-more-specific-but-less-popular demand to have a Shadow game with a gun. These things do not inherently contradict what the franchise stands for unless you think Shadow himself or a popular character like Gamma are egregious mistakes. The things in the game that rubbed everyone the wrong way were due to how Sonic Team developed the game further from that initial ambiguous demand. Of course Sonic Team is not going to take someone's shitty fan character and run with it, but at the same time, the games that were bad and the measurable result of "fan service" did not have enough specificity in the requests to lay on the fans in the first place. ShtH is Sonic Team's mistake and theirs alone, not my thirteen year old self for having the audacity to think Shadow could helm a game.

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It ties into the same crowd that wanted a darker and edgier game like SA2, just because fans wanted it doesn't suddenly mean they're to blame because those very games were shitty. In short; fans don't make bad games, Sonic Team do so if they wanna take fan demand and cock it up they only have themselves to blame.

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Sonic fans entering the industry may turn out better material themselves in the sense that they are emotionally close to the subject matter, but "positive influence" isn't going to make other people magically more talented.

Now-a-days I feel like Sonic Team is like a restaurant with this really new talented and passionate team of cooks preparing all the ingredients but the same tired chefs slopily composing everything. So the owners struggle to make sure the chefs make as few decisions as possible. The result being a series of events that are impressive on their own but generally unmemorable as a whole. Which depending on outlook may or may not do the job just fine.

 

Others have said it before, but I still find the idea of blaming the Sonic fan base for the drop in quality to be ludicrous.

Blaming the fanbase is like blaming a bee for enticing a person to stomp on it with their bare foot full knowing they have an allergy and being sent to a hospital. While it’s best to treat your audience with respect (for the honey), the bigger party is a series of professionals and they should have known better.

 

The reasons given as to why the ShtH game was created range from responding to fan letters from kids asking for "Sonic with a gun", to wanting to appeal to Americans (during the time gta san andreas was popular), to possibly recycling a cancelled game.

Edited by DuraV

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People also need to realize that there's a lot more going on behind the scene than Sonic Team simply screwing up, Sega in a bit of a financial pickle which probably influences the way the games are developed.

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In short; they were dumb, racist, and cheap but used the excuse of public interest to cover their asses.

There is nothing racist about making a third-person shooter/platformer at a time when shooters were popular not only in America, but the entire west (that, along with catering to direct fanmail, is also the very definition of acting on public interest)....

Especially since "American" isn't even a race, it's a nationality. -.-

Edited by Nepenthe

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