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Sonic Team design philosophies.

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So I was browsing Retro and reading their thoughts on Forces, and I found an interview with Iizuka from about 10 years ago on Nights: Journey into Dreams. This caught my eye because what he says in the very last question just kind of opened my eyes, because it explains so much on why modern Sonic games  are the way they are.

https://web.archive.org/web/20130531050551/http://www.edge-online.com/features/interview-nights-watchman/

Quote

You’ve made games at the US studio that have sold very well, but haven’t been well received by critics or hardcore fans. Why do you think that is?

I felt that if I kept developing Sonic Adventure sequels, only core gamers would pick them up. I wanted to develop Sonic for more general users as well, so that’s why I changed the name each time. With Nights: Journey of Dreams, we didn’t call it Nights 2 because I wanted to create it for a mass market, not necessarily for fanatics who’ve waited 11 years. To make it appeal to that market, I needed to introduce the story from the beginning. There’s still the original gameplay the hardcore loves, but we’ve combined it with things that kids love – like rollercoasters, or simple action-platforming with the children.

 

So with that said, does anybody have any other interviews or their own thoughts on how Sonic Team runs their games? This isn't just limited to Sonic either, since they've made games from other series` too. I figured it'd be good for us to discuss how they go about Sonic games in the past, present, and future. It'd probably give us better ideas on what to expect.

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I don't have anything to add, but I remember hearing him say during Sonic Heroes something to the extent of "We didn't make a Sonic Adventure 3 because we feared that only the hardcore fans would play it, so we wanted to make a sonic game with a more general feel."

My initial reaction to that (and this which doesn't surprise me) is why not just make an SA3 that naturally tailors what's good about both series without sacrificing what's already been established for the sake of "generalizing your audience". It doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

But yeah none of this surprises me, it would be cool if other people had more sources to interviews like this...

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1 hour ago, DonWaffleleven said:

Redesigning your entire game to appeal to a completely different target audience? I'm sure that works every time right? Right?

For whatever difference it makes, that's not quite what happened. Fuze was overhauled mid-development in response to deeply flawed focus testing, when it already looked like a pretty good game prior. Say what you will about Colours and Lost World, but they compromised on nothing - they knew exactly what they wanted to be right from the start.

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1 hour ago, Blacklightning said:

For whatever difference it makes, that's not quite what happened. Fuze was overhauled mid-development in response to deeply flawed focus testing, when it already looked like a pretty good game prior. Say what you will about Colours and Lost World, but they compromised on nothing - they knew exactly what they wanted to be right from the start.

True though it doesn't make the paradigm shift from Unleashed to Colours any less of a bitter pill to swallow knowing that it was created to be different.

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Seems to be generally a Sega thing, fear for clear sequels.
How many succesful franchises haven't been laying dormant for ages? And weirder, a lot of their succefull IP's that do get a follow up game with the exact same style gameplay might suddenly be rebranded into something else.

Like AfterBurner, a popular IP of them that seems to be rebranded to a diffrent name every other sequel, like G-Loc Battle or Sky Target.
And I never knew that made a brand new Space Harrier in 2000, because it's called Planet Harriers instead of openly advertising itself as Space Harrier 3 or whatever.
Far as I'm aware, both of these IPs are quite popular and would be very marketable...If Sega didn't let them suddenly die out for no reason.

And very little loyalty in keeping the same main characters If you get a sequel, with games such as Crazy Taxi, House of the Dead, streets of Rage and Yakuza constantly rotating the cast and reassigning main characters to last act surprise/ Cameo status.
Quite the opposite of Nintendo who Will make you very aware of who their main characters are and make sure they show their face everywhere.

Sega seems to take that "don't alienate new audiences" logic pretty far, and I'm surprised Sonic even managed to remain so tame in terms of constant reboots and redesigns, if not immediate meanignless cancelation compared to other Sega Franchises.

To a degree I can understand and respect their careful stance toward sequels, but they're often so clumsy at it.

Like Sonic Unleashed being designed like it's a fresh new start for new fans. Yet the game immediatly starts with a hyperactive cold opening that requires you to be very aware of what Chaos emeralds are and a Super Sonic is, and even then might be still confusing when it starts throwing in a Werehog on top of that.
It's a cool scene for seasoned Sonic fans, but for new comers with no prior knowledge, that's a lot of weird info to take in straight away.

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