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Legosi (Tani Coyote)

Fans Increasingly Influencing Sonic - Expectations?

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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.

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

Now how can any of that even slightly translate to "racist" in even the broadest sense of the word?  Attempting to appeal to your audience by emulating something popular in their location is, in theory, an intelligent business decision.  If you didn't try that in your own business, I'd be kind of worried.

 

But I do agree that blaming the fanbase is a dumb, annoying trend that's sadly becoming more and more popular these days.  If you look at something as simple as the Nostalgia Critic, a low-budget web series about a cynical douchebag who watches old movies, you still have people that aren't happy with the direction the series is going and who do these very vocal people blame?  Doug Walker for writing what is, in their opinion, a subpar script?  Nope!  The fanbase for caressing his ego and encouraging him to be "lazy" with his work!  Because as you know, fan encouragement always leads to bad writing!  Seriously, it's becoming such a ridiculous trend that seems to only have the effect of targeting not just the subject of the criticism but those who may dare have a different opinion.

 

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.

I'm not going to argue with you there, because you are right on about every account.  But I'm just going to say that pairing Gamma and Shadow together due to their common element of shooting is a bit misleading.  The difference between Gamma and Shadow is that Gamma was a cartoony robot with cartoonishly exaggerated attacks shooting at cartoonishly exaggerated enemies.  It was as far less seeded in reality than ShTH.  That's not to say I'm calling ShTH "realistic" or "down to earth" because, you know, aliens and hedgehogs and such, but you were using real, tactical weaponry to shoot at aliens, robots, and most alarmingly of all, people.  Granted, they were all generic soldiers (and the ludicrous voice acting certainly didn't make them feel any more human), but they were still humans.

 

You could argue that there were real guns in SA1 as well, and you'd be right, but it was never the central focus of the game, nor were they ever used to any avail.  So that's what I mean when I say it went against the integrity of the franchise.  While it is true that the vague concept of "Shadow having his own game with guns" is not inherently wrong, what they did with it was definitely a step in the wrong direction.  Again, you're right in saying that that is completely Sonic Team's doing and not the fan's, but if they interpreted the fan letters in their mind to mean what ShTH ultimately became, then they probably should have just ignored the suggestions altogether.

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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.

 

As I recall, Mr. Iizuka said that prior to his taking control, most development was in Japan. Then when he took over the team, he began to make increasing use of western studios in development. Lo and behold, while we get a half-right product like Unleashed, we get excellent ones like Colors and Generations. Seems he's already way ahead of us on making use of non-Japanese studios. This just makes logical sense: the larger the group involved, the greater possibility one will have a good idea, and the greater each person can specialise. It's simple economics, and so far is paying off dividends.

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Not to mention that Sonic is a series ultimately built with westerners in mind (I mean seriously, he literally wears the colours of the American/UK flags, for fuck's sake), so when it comes down to appealing to their target audience well, it makes more sense if westerners are developing the games too. At least that way there's less of a language barrier when you're trying to figure out the contradictary mess that is our fanbase.

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Plus you know there's just something priceless about the fact memes from the fandom are actually showing up in official presentations. Even the higher ups are infected now. Something tells me when Sega approved all those memes and references (Eggman singing his theme song, quoting Adventures of Sonic, etc.) in the comics, they didn't even understand their significance. Mr. Flynn and his reader base were surely laughing their butts off at it though.

 

Really it's all a testament to growing fan power. Originally we just had Summer of Sonic as a testament to the fanbase's strength. Now we're seeing fans directing the presentation of some aspects of the franchise.

Edited by Ogilvie Maurice

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