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Aaron Webber's first interview since returning to SEGA of America!


Barry the Nomad
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Barry the Nomad

Aaron Webber was nice enough to join George and myself for our 80th podcast episode, which turned out to be Aaron's first interview since returning to SEGA and assuming his new role!

 

Here is the news post of the interview: http://segabits.com/blog/2015/07/02/swingin-report-show-80-interview-with-aaron-webber-sonic-the-hedgehog-pr-social-media-manager/ 

 

Some questions asked include:

Can you tell us about your new role? How does it compare to past positions you've held at the company?

SEGA of America will be moving to Los Angeles soon, how is the move going for you and the staff?

When can we expect to hear the exact location of the new offices?

Was Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice's development name Mach 2 or did Mach 2 ever exist?

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice was announced pretty soon after Shattered Crystal and comes out a year after the release of the last game which was met with some criticisms. Do you think the developers have enough time to release a polished follow-up?

How big of a role will Enerbeams play in the game?

Story-wise, can we expect more cutscenes than the last game and the addition of side characters like the island folk and Orbot and Cubot?

Sonic Team has always been a big mystery for us in the West. As a primarily Japanese dev team it comes with the territory. Is there any possibility of us getting to know the actual staff a little better in the future? When Unleashed was coming out there was an amazing production blog that gave a great look at some of the talent behind the games be it character designer or level designer.

This has been bugging me for a while now, what is the name of the island (or islands) in Sonic 4 Episodes 1 & 2?

Back during the promotion of Sonic Colors, Iizuka mentioned that the Sonic games have two different worlds: one is human and the other is non-human. Are these literally two worlds, similar to Sonic X’s storyline?

What would you consider to be the most underrated Sonic game?

Is there a Sonic title that you have not played that you would like to?

The 90s featured several Sonic branded foods and snacks, can we expect a resurgence of Sonic branded foods as the 25th anniversary and movie release near?

When are we getting that Big the Cat game?

 

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ChikaBoing

Regarding interview with Sonic Team staff...I would find it interresting to try an interview with Sachiko Kawamura, Art director since Unleashed...ask about the approach for each game: Colors, Generations, Lost World

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shdowhunt60

It'd be awesome if we could get more of an elaboration of Sonic's world... Or worlds in this case. Because so much is in the air, and I don't think anybody has any real clue what's going with that.

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Failinhearts

Well, that was a fun watch. But yeah, the whole concept of Sonic's multiple worlds is kinda strange. Especially because Sonic Generations seems to tie everything into one world. Does Sonic like, have the ability to hop between worlds as games go on or something?

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ThePrinceOfSaiyans

So wait, there are 2 separate universes within the main continuity? Welp, I suppose that explains why Blaze can be from the Sol Dimension and the Future in Sonic '06.

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Spin Attaxx

Wait, what's this about multiple worlds for people who don't have the time or patience to sift through 50 minute videos?

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I don't really care that much about the whole multiple worlds thing, lets talk about that art book

 

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Wait, what's this about multiple worlds for people who don't have the time or patience to sift through 50 minute videos?

 

 

The question starts at 34:45 - the short answer is that yes, SEGA does consider there to be two different "worlds", the human world and the non-human world, not entirely dissimilar to Sonic X; when asked if these are two actual planets, Aaron replied "....Something like that, yeah". He also said that for the sake of his sanity, he personally thinks of each different era and storyline as its own 'world', although just as headcanon for simplicity.

 

I'm... not too sure how Sonic hopping between two worlds is supposed to work, and I suspect that reading between the lines, SEGA themselves don't either - it's interesting to note that after the question is asked, there is a long pause before Aaron replies "Alright... how far down this rabbit hole do you want to go...?" :lol:

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Spin Attaxx

...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That sounds fucking stupid, not going to lie.

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...

 

That sounds fucking stupid, not going to lie.

 

They could make it work though (as per Sonic X) if they actually made it a coherent part of the storyline instead of a random rationalisation due to painting themselves into a corner. I mean, I can't believe that in quarter of a century they haven't even been able to solidly define what the basic setup of what planet the setting takes place on! The fact that something so crucial to understanding the setting isn't mentioned or even hinted at in any game and was revealed in a random interview really shows what efforts of world-building SEGA have put into the Sonic franchise.

 

Compare and contrast with something like Mario, where despite the absurdity of the setting, there is at least a somewhat coherent idea of the world setup.

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The fuck is wrong with "planets with magic on them can have varied geography and cultures?"

I'm gonna have to cut someone with Occam's Razor.

 

I'll never, ever understand why they decided to kinda-sorta set it on Earth and not a different planet. For all its faults, the SEGA of America regionalisation's concept of Mobius made 100 times more sense than trying to shoehorn everything to be in our world.

 

I mean... Sonic's world(s) bear almost no resemblance whatsoever in any way shape to Earth; is it a future Earth? An alternate Earth? It's completely undefined and incredibly confusing (especially considering the age range of Sonic's intended audience) and I suspect that SEGA themselves don't really know either; they seem to be just putting things in at random without any real attempt at continuity.

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Sega's whole viewpoint on certain games taking place within their own respective "world" just comes across as really odd.

I mean, it's not like the main series is so focused on establishing a certain level of consistency that this kind of explanation was needed anyway. The fact that they felt it necessary to sit down and answer as to why some games in the series appear more fantastical compared to others just kinda baffles me.

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Wittymations

I don't mind split worlds. I just wish they'd actually show it as a split world, rather than treating it as if it were a single timeline. It simply feels like they have no idea what they're doing. But that's been evident for years now.

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Wittymations

For me, I completely accept it's fantasy Earth, but at the same time it also feels like SEGA doesn't know if it wants it to be Earth or not. Once calling it Earth, then calling it Sonic's World. SEGA seems to just forget what they do in the past titles.

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Compare and contrast with something like Mario, where despite the absurdity of the setting, there is at least a somewhat coherent idea of the world setup.

Is there? Mario's always struck me as just "whatever we want to exist, does". It's coherent more by theme than by the world itself.

 

I'll never, ever understand why they decided to kinda-sorta set it on Earth and not a different planet. For all its faults, the SEGA of America regionalisation's concept of Mobius made 100 times more sense than trying to shoehorn everything to be in our world.

 

I mean... Sonic's world(s) bear almost no resemblance whatsoever in any way shape to Earth; is it a future Earth? An alternate Earth? It's completely undefined and incredibly confusing (especially considering the age range of Sonic's intended audience) and I suspect that SEGA themselves don't really know either; they seem to be just putting things in at random without any real attempt at continuity.

I dunno, making it specifically a different planet kinda rubs me the wrong way. Calling it another planet makes it sound alien, and I think Sonic's world feels more like Earth with a twist than an actual alien planet. You've got Earth animals, at least one human, and plenty of typically Earth-y settings ranging from untouched nature to modern civilization. Granted there's also talking blue hedgehogs, checkered dirt, and floating islands, but they're less alien and more real-made-fantastic, IMO.
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Does alternate, fantasy version of Earth need to be explained? Are cartoons and comics and manga that are obvious fantasy but take place on Earth now tasked with the burden of coming up with ironclad historical records of every conceivable scientific and cultural difference from our world? At what point is one's suspension of disbelief at some fault for audience dissonance?

DBZ alone has gotten away with this for around 30 years and no one complains that Earth is a place with dinosaurs, normal animals, funny animals, funny animals that fly, flying cars, normal cars, interstellar travel, aliens from space breeding with our women, green aliens from space not breeding with our women, wish-granting gods, creative gods, destructive gods, multiverses, three-eyed men, unassisted flight, futuristic places, tribal places and everything in between.

Instead, people complain about power levels.

 

There doesn't need to be ridiculous levels of detail, but I'd suggest that there should ideally be a very, very basic level of coherency. I mean, DBZ may not be able to explain in detail every strange occurence, but there is at least a coherent attempt at world-building (with whole Earth/saiyan/Namek stuff) and it can at least fall back on the "Because... aliens!" excuse.

 

Sonic, meanwhile, hasn't even managed to properly define what planet it takes place on after 25 years, to the point that most people didn't even realise there were supposed to be two worlds! Even the most sketchy of outlines (it's a lost island somewhere / it's in the far future / it's an alien planet) should really have happened by now; we don't even know what Sonic and co are, nor why we only see a handful of them but humans are everywhere. To be honest, this should all be really, really basic storytelling and world-building - it would be like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles just having the Ninja Turtles running around New York, living in the sewer... because, without giving them any sort of backstory or rationale. Sure this works fine for some less serious things (like AoStH), but for a franchise that seemed initially to be aiming at a light hearted but quasi-coherent outline (similar to TMNT), I'd suggest it's just bad storytelling.

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Monkey Destruction Switch

In a way, it's nice that Sega's acknowledging the inconsistencies in Sonic's world. Too bad they chose a really, really dumb explanation for it. Like others have said, it could be OK, if it was actually in the games themselves. But this? This is just profoundly messed up.

 

I don't mind that Sonic games play it sort of "fast and loose" and have different settings and styles in different games, and there isn't a whole lot of consistent world-building, but at least you can kinda accept it at face value and conclude that Sonic's world is a varied place, with some areas that are more populated by humans and others that are more fantastic. Don't get me wrong, this explanation of two worlds would be okay if it ever came up in the games themselves, but as it is, it confuses more than it actually explains.

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I like the concept of Mobius as it adds a sort of mystery and otherworldiness to Sonic's existence that I personally enjoy, but in the end, it's really only a name, as is Earth.  To me, Sonic's world being referred to as "Earth," is a convenience for the writers and players to establish a common ground of sorts.  Similarly, all the characters speak English (or whatever language the series is localized in for the individual viewer) even if it would only make sense that they speak their own language.  I mean, that certainly would be an impressive display of world-building, but that doesn't make it particularly engaging. (Looking at you Starfox Adventures)   That's the great thing about cartoons.  They're bendable.  Earth doesn't need to resemble Earth.  Earth doesn't have to have earthly qualities.  We call it Earth not because it resembles our home planet, but because, as earthlings, we perceive earth to be the default.

 

Anyway, I don't think it's important.  I'm just going to go out on a limb and assume that Aaron probably didn't put much thought into that response.  It was an off-the-wall comment at best, from the looks of it.

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Badnik Mechanic

Can we get a transcript or a York Notes version of the interview?

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