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The State of Sonic Team

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9 minutes ago, Santamus Prime said:

I'm all for never say never but I won't lie, I think it's looking bleak. That team has been hemoorrhaging talent for years and clearly still nothing has been done to satisfy them. For gods sake they stuck the director of Generations in the Olympic game hole too, while they let the lost world guy direct the next big game. I honestly think if we want a great Sonic game, we need another crew from Sega to tackle it, not Sonic Team. Sonic Team needs to go.

Maybe let Sonic Team take a break from Sonic games for a while and let other developers take the helm (like Dimps)

 

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It's kinda sad that I ALMOST don't blame them though.  I mean, the Mario & Sonic collaboration is VERY precious to SEGA, being able to ride on Nintendo's successful coat-tails like that.  They can't afford to NOT put their best talent into those games.  If we got the opposite situation, the M&S games would be clunky messes and Nintendo would quickly lose interest in allowing SEGA time and money with their IP.

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Sega of Japan doesn't care. They're a Japanese company while Sonic has long been bigger in the West. Sonic's not even their most important IP.

Sonic Team doesn't want to work on Sonic anymore (I speculate the meme that is 06 broke them). But through a combination of stubborn pride, questing for that $, and not knowing where to go they still slap together Sonic games.

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17 minutes ago, Razule said:

"Laying off of them" isn't going to fix Sonic's reputation. Laying in to them isn't doing anything either though. So.. maybe we just shouldn't buy their games. Which is the most rational thing to do when a product ceases to please you. Of course, if a majority of people who might buy the product think this, that will surely lead to the end.

Sonic Team isn't some kid who got all Cs on a report card, they're a development company, and if they can't make games of a certain level of quality then they're going to get crap for it until they do. However long that may take.

Well saying bad things about them isn't going to fix Sonic's reputation either now is it?

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Well, that puts all the "Lol Mario Odessey looks like Sonic Adventure" jokes in a new perspective.
Not to mention I've said on several occasions that I thought Mario Kart 8's art design and attitude is what I would have liked for a Sonic game myself.
Now I know why. And worse, now I know we COULD have had a Sonic game with Mario Kart 8 qualities if things ended up diffrently. Damn.

And what's with all these "Sonic Team needs to take a break/ needs to be layed off" comments?
Isn't it the point of this discussion that most of Sonic Team IS  "having a break/ being laid off" by jumping to Nintendo?
So hooray, your wish has come true! And it led to the same situation that caused you to make said wish to begin with. It's the circle of misery.

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First off, I'm glad the people mentioned by OP found (Really good) work after Sonic. 

In regards to "Have Sonic games lost their soul?" I do feel that Lost World felt really empty, but to me, Forces is lackluster at worst. Not offensively bad, more like "Ah man, that kinda stinks." I'm not really a huge fan of calling for the end of Sonic Team as a whole. Could there be changes in management? Totally. Should everyone be fired? That's a bit extreme. I'm not gonna lie, I let my feelings get the better of me here because when people vehemently call for the firing of say, Iizuka, that seems a bit harsh to me. Then again, what do I know?

 

 

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55 minutes ago, EvanUn0 said:

I let my feelings get the better of me here because when people vehemently call for the firing of say, Iizuka, that seems a bit harsh to me.

I agree here, I don't think it's right to call for someone to genuinely get fired. People love to point fingers to a specific person, but really it's a mix of all sorts of things.

I think the bigger problem here is that Sonic Team just aren't given enough creative freedom that they deserve. Maybe the current Sonic Team are capable of making a good Sonic game? They just need the training.

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Sad, but it just proves that what people been saying in years. If Sonic Team is now weakened by their best talents fleeing, maybe give them something smaller to do and look for fresh talent to make  Sonic games. I refuse to believe there are no talented people who want to work on Sonic. (Even ignoring Taxman).

Sonic Team might be less at fault, but petting their heads want give us good Sonic game. Let them work on something simple and relaxing, like Ristar 2 or something.

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17 hours ago, Monkey Destruction Switch said:

Also, I would reiterate that Sonic Team is a professional development company, making a product for our consumption. "They're trying their best" doesn't fly for me as far as professionals producing a product for people to spend their hard-earned money on are concerned.

I'm pretty sure Sonic Team also spends much of their time doing a lot of hard work to create games, probably more than their own consumers. In fact, I'd say the consumerist have much less of a reason to complain about an object they simply received(especially) or gained(Japanese companies have a much harsher work mentality form what I understand).

Though your last statement is true. Criticism should always apply, as with sympathy and understanding. 

 

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I think Sonic Team are on the route to an inevitable implosion of themselves from their great loss of good staff. Maybe even the bad staff starts to pack their bags (or just get fired) And when they do implode, it’ll be glorious. It’ll probably be an Adventure-pandering-festival or a bland new IP.

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1 hour ago, Mad Convoy said:

As with a lot of things, I think a sense of balance is in order.

It is okay to feel sympathetic for Sonic Team staff or think that Sonic Team isn't soulless. I mean, I'll echo @Jar Jar Analysis 1138 in saying that Japanese video game development cycles are brutal on a level that makes American video game development cycles look relaxing by comparison. I'll also point out that generally speaking, nobody sets out to make a bad game. Even if the end product is poor quality, its still often the result of a lot of hard work and long hours spent dedicated to thinking about and making the game. People who completely lack passion, or "soul" as OP calls it, generally don't do that effectively. When I think of a passionless game, I generally think more of stuff like Sonic Drift or Sonic Schoolhouse, with their bland and oversimplified gameplay that makes Forces look like SA1 by comparison, than anything recent.

I also find it annoying when people just assume that any bad (or even less than desired game, but let's just stick to bad for simplicity's sake) game that comes out was the result of lack of effort. Because its then often revealed that there's a whole lot more to the story and effort was barely a contributing factor to the game's failings. It happened with Sonic 06, it happened with Sonic Unleashed, it happened with Sonic Xtreme, it happened with Rise of Lyric, it happened with Fire and Ice, and it'll probably happen with Forces too. A telling sign that effort had nothing to do with the failings of a game is that there's tons of concept art that's really really good but the majority of the best concepts don't end up in the final product. This almost always happens because there wasn't any time for most of the best stuff to be fully implemented or because the game went through development hell or ill-advised executive meddling in some way. Lazy people generally don't come up with tons of concept art that's really, really good-- they lack the effort to be creative which is necessary for good concepts to happen on a large scale and especially after criticism. The only exception I know of in the franchise is Sonic 4, as its concept art is okayish and very in line with the final product. So hey, I'll concede that one, Sonic Team probably didn't care a whole lot about Sonic 4. With every other game, especially those I listed sans Forces, this rule hasn't steered me wrong, and so I have reason to believe that Forces is going to follow it too.

And that's not even getting into how we're defining "soul." That is such a vague statement and has so many meanings to so many people that its hard to come to any sort of consensus as to where or when a development team has it. I use the "overall effort" definition but even then others might think of it differently than me. I would be curious as to how others are defining it.

However, that doesn't mean that you can't criticize the end product. However, the best and most useful criticisms are usually from people who understand the complexities of video game development and are able to understand that no, the developers aren't always setting out for cash when their games underperform. This allows them to give advice and insights that are realistic and applicable. No praise or endless bashing on its own will change the course of Sonic Team, but who said it had to be that black and white? You can point out the positives and the negatives of game, which creates a foundation of respect and understanding that might inspire a tiny shift in Sonic Team's direction that makes a big difference.

As for the state of Sonic Team, its probably not as bad as people think. Some folks have moved on, some guys stuck around as they have for years, and some guys are newbies who have yet to be properly vetted by the fans. I'm also going to point out that Lost World and Forces aren't the only games Sonic Team has released in the last few years. We also have Puyo Puyo Tetris, which is very good and proves that Sega can assemble a Sonic Team that can knock it out of the park as well as the fact that its not completely impossible for Sonic Team to make something simultaneously surprising and high quality. Was Forces Speed Battle made by Sonic Team or Hardlight? Can't remember. Anyway, I think the point is clear. Sonic Team's not exactly in the best state at the moment, but its also not nearly as dead, dying, and hopeless as it would seem just looking on here and at Forces.

I really agree with your sentiments here. It's nice to see this point of view expressed on this site.

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When considering the corporate side of Sonic and the culture at SOJ, Sonic's future does not look too hopeful at the moment.

Even though Mania was released this year, I am not currently optimistic in that I don't think the right message or action will come as a result of it. Corporate SOJ does not respect Sonic as a cashcow in the way that Nintendo does Mario. Notice that they are both cashcows and have been for a longtime but Nintendo realizes that cashcows have to be nurtured and respected in order to keep producing at a high level. SEGA has never in their entire history realized this. They've squandered the talent they've had over the years and continue to kick games out the door because they "can" sell, even while staring in the face of decline, rather than optimizing development such that they have much greater ROI.

The only hope is that their PR about ensuring quality does become meaningful in the future and that they are much more careful about the IP after Forces.

Again, little hope for that though. Even with Whitehead and co around (hypothetically) history says they'll be run ragged until they're burned out.

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