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Whatever the WhoCares

Your outlook for the 3D series

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Hard to have any real positive outlook after Forces turned out how it did after 4 years of waiting and at this point I have no clue where they go next. I doubt they have much of an idea of what to do next either. Their return to Boost was a flop and sidescrolling gameplay in the 3D games has only gotten worse and worse with each time it's used since it's return in Unleashed. Adventure is the most requested style, but I doubt they have the talent, funds, and money to give it a real shot. 

Not only that, it feels like the team is burnt out or just floating along. There's no real passion in their games anymore. Mania was full of it. You could tell the people working on it wanted to deliver something special and worked their asses off to provide it. I don't see that from Sonic Team, I can't feel or see that in their recent games. The team needs people who want to do everything in their power to try and deliver a game like Mania or Unleashed that looks and feels chock full of passion and effort, but I doubt that will happen.

I really don't know what they do next, but I'd lean towards it being another lackluster title, maybe a movie-tie in (which will sink my expectations further, but whatever at that point) in 2019. I don't have high hopes.

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I mean, fans have been warning that this would eventually happen. Forces is only the next natural step after Lost World. Makes sense honestly.

It became clear sonic team had not the slightest fucking clue what they were doing when sonic 4 and sonic colors came out, some of the worst 2D they ever created.

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11 hours ago, Zeer said:

Hard to have any real positive outlook after Forces turned out how it did after 4 years of waiting and at this point I have no clue where they go next. I doubt they have much of an idea of what to do next either. Their return to Boost was a flop and sidescrolling gameplay in the 3D games has only gotten worse and worse with each time it's used since it's return in Unleashed. Adventure is the most requested style, but I doubt they have the talent, funds, and money to give it a real shot. 

Not only that, it feels like the team is burnt out or just floating along. There's no real passion in their games anymore. Mania was full of it. You could tell the people working on it wanted to deliver something special and worked their asses off to provide it. I don't see that from Sonic Team, I can't feel or see that in their recent games. The team needs people who want to do everything in their power to try and deliver a game like Mania or Unleashed that looks and feels chock full of passion and effort, but I doubt that will happen.

I really don't know what they do next, but I'd lean towards it being another lackluster title, maybe a movie-tie in (which will sink my expectations further, but whatever at that point) in 2019. I don't have high hopes.

Exactly my outlook.

Forces, even though it is an okay game left such a sour taste in my mouth, considering what came immediately before it, the PR apologies, the longest development cycle of any modern sonic game.... It really felt like all they spent all that time focus grouping the game rather than try to understand the appeal of the series and create something fresh and fun. A part of me actually thinks that there must be some disconnect between the sonic series and its importance as an IP at the company, and the resources that sonic team is actually getting to make these games. I was at the SXSW gameplay reveal and, even as late as then (7 months before release) the game looked really unfinished. I knew it would flop from then on and it did.

And I know this is a commonly shared view about what will come next as a result. These guys just had tons of time to make something great and it still flopped. What can one honestly look forward to at this point? It doesnt even matter what they WANT to do. As consumers we need to be given a reason to believe, to keep the faith. Mania gave us, at the very least, a clear statement that the series has a reason to continue existing and perhaps one day can regain mainstream relevance. What can anyone really be hoping for with 3D sonic right now? SEGA/sonic team must communicate real passion to us somehow and I dont know how they're going to do it with the current team without actually showing us something we can get truly excited about, and not just a vague promise or statement but some physical demonstration of a concept/project that actually exists. Or maybe telling us that Whitehead and co are promoted....something that indicates a clear big change from where we've been. We haven't seen it, and I dont anyone can become optimistic until we see it.

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If we're talking about this in the context of Sonic Team, then I simply have no outlook. Their idea of what make a good Sonic game is so removed from mine that I don't really see the point of anticipating whatever they have in store next. 

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51 minutes ago, Whatever the WhoCares said:

One thing that sticks in my mind is how Sonic Team went on a trek to South America in search of inspiration for Sonic Adventure. Let’s set aside talent and just focus on passion here. Would modern Sonic Team have the spirit to do that? Not a chance. 

Unless they were forced to do it...

 

Which in that case would probably result in something closer to the “it’s a small world” approach of Sonic Unleashed, but even less realistic. 

 

Couldn’t they at least read a book for inspiration? 

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46 minutes ago, Whatever the WhoCares said:

I’m not talking about whether they could. I’m moreso saying, “would they?”

That's an impossible question to answer so there's no point in discussing it

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Sonic will never get better as long as it has devs who:

A. Don't hold it to a solid direction.

B. Aren't enthusiastic about it yet at the same time are too stubborn/proud/bitter to change course.

They failed at the first. Between the refusal to revisit older gameplay in 3D Sonic, the ridiculous Two-Worlds retcon, wonky characterization (hello Tails the Cowardly Sidekick). Say what you will about NIntendo, but Mario or Zelda or Pokemon all have had their visuals and other hard rules mapped out and stuck to. Sonic on the other still doen't have a solid direction for himself. Sonic Forces is a shining example of this problem (having an actual Mary Sue protagonist, the needless edgy villain who still manages to upstage Eggman at being the game's key villain, Classic Sonic, Eggman managing to be as underwhelming as he could be, bringing in past villains as illusions and still do little that's interesting with it, having Sonic's big posse all in the Resistance and still be cheerleaders overall, Knuckles being shoehorned as the Resistance Commander and still get treated as Zoidberg).

Sega of Japan doesn't really care about Sonic since it's a series that has long been more appealing to Western audiences (with Sonic even having Michael Jackson and Bill Clinton as sources of inspiration), especially considering the evidence I have from little things like fanart that the polarizing (at best) games from Adventure onward are more of a hit with Eastern audiences than the Genesis era. I say Sonic Team is torn between those who are tired of Sonic so they would be up for moving on but can't and those who let their bitterness/pride/whatever drive the franchise's direction (hence what I suspect is the passive-aggression of hearing complaints about the different characters with shoehorned alternate gameplay styles and proceeding to make them all non-playable while still using Sonic for those alternate gameplay styles).

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Just gonna leave it here that Sonic Mania was worked on by Sonic Team. Quite substantially, as matter of fact, and Sonic Team was suitably happy when Mania turned out good. Indeed, the reason it is what it is and not a remake of Sonic 1 and 2 with some extra bonus levels is actually because of Iizuka, who suggested the core concepts behind Mania and elevated the pitch to more than just a remake, coincidentally at a time when it was needed. So its a bit odd to read things like this (bolding mine)...

On 8/20/2018 at 4:18 AM, Zeer said:

Not only that, it feels like the team is burnt out or just floating along. There's no real passion in their games anymore. Mania was full of it. You could tell the people working on it wanted to deliver something special and worked their asses off to provide it. I don't see that from Sonic Team, I can't feel or see that in their recent games. The team needs people who want to do everything in their power to try and deliver a game like Mania or Unleashed that looks and feels chock full of passion and effort, but I doubt that will happen.

On 8/20/2018 at 3:42 PM, UpCDownCLeftCRightC said:

And I know this is a commonly shared view about what will come next as a result. These guys just had tons of time to make something great and it still flopped. What can one honestly look forward to at this point? It doesnt even matter what they WANT to do. As consumers we need to be given a reason to believe, to keep the faith. Mania gave us, at the very least, a clear statement that the series has a reason to continue existing and perhaps one day can regain mainstream relevance. What can anyone really be hoping for with 3D sonic right now? SEGA/sonic team must communicate real passion to us somehow and I dont know how they're going to do it with the current team without actually showing us something we can get truly excited about, and not just a vague promise or statement but some physical demonstration of a concept/project that actually exists. Or maybe telling us that Whitehead and co are promoted....something that indicates a clear big change from where we've been. We haven't seen it, and I dont anyone can become optimistic until we see it.

...when Mania is, by all accounts, as much a Sonic Team/Sega game as it is a Headcannon game. I'm not forcing anybody to be optimistic (though as a side note I do disagree very strongly with the statement that nobody can be optimistic about the future of 3D Sonic-- there are reasons, you may not agree with them and you don't have to, but they are there). But well, not gonna lie, its kind of annoying to see people put Mania on a pedestal as the antithesis to Sonic Team when it is, in part, Sonic Team's game. Sonic Team can't both be devoid of any passion and responsible for a passionfest, or both unwilling to work hard and willing to work its ass off to provide something special. And well, there's a good chance it isn't nearly that black and white anyway.

I've said it once and I'll say it again-- if the only thing 3D Sonic needed was passion and knowledge, I wouldn't be able to count on one hand how many 3D fangames are actually close enough to being decent and there'd probably be a whole lot more of them in a finished state right about now, because nobody is denying the fans' passion and research. Budget, resources, management, etc. are vitally important too. And it shows, since a lot of 3D fangames have been worked on for much longer than Forces, but most fail to even get close to it in terms of quality and completeness despite that being kind of a low standard to match.

And well, I could go on a long rant about how Forces doesn't actually qualify as a flop if it sold strongly, even if some people very vocally didn't like it, because a flop refers exclusively to something that has failed to sell. If you think the game is of poor or insufficient quality, fine, but don't make unsubstantiated claims to prove your point because that ultimately damages your arguments' credibility more than it helps. Especially if you don't actually need to make stuff up to prove your point. But that's kind of a tangent, so I'll stop here.

I guess my overall point is-- there are no angels and there are no devils in games development, only people. Its a complicated situation and I'm certain if there were a simple and quick solution, it would have already been implemented. And well, whether its convenient or not, Sonic Mania is a recent Sonic Team game, and should be treated as such so that there aren't any people who worked on the game getting excluded from being credited for their work. If nothing else, its important to acknowledge this to avoid a "George Lucas" sort of situation-- where people put down a person for being little more than an incompetent hack, until said person leaves their work on the franchise and people kinda realize "fuck, this guy was actually valuable after all but he's not coming back because we convinced him that he's not wanted or needed."

----

As for the future of 3D Sonic and my reasons therein, I see baby steps in Forces. I like the ambition of the Avatar, the raising of stakes (which, while not required for a good story, is good to have every now and then to maintain interest), and I think the Lost World-y aspects of the game were actually handled in a way that improved on Lost World's mechanics and ideas (and not just the 3DS version either) which makes me really happy. I mean, finally, a Zavok fight that is actually well designed and good-- I never thought I needed it until Forces provided it. And well, baby steps might not be good enough for everybody, but I'm not expecting a 180 turnaround anyway. For now, from my perspective, things are vaguely oriented in the right direction and that keeps me satisfied. For now, anyway.

While I can't say I know for sure what the future holds, knowing its history, I strongly doubt that this'll be an "everything is the same forever" kind of deal, and overall I think the next game at least won't be bad. There's potential to be mined from Forces; how will it be handled and what will be extracted is my big question.

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Posted (edited)

People see Sonic Mania as the antithesis to Sonic Team's output and I think part of why that is is because Sega's previous effort at a classic revival - Sonic 4, which too was under direction by Sonic Team - was bad and showed a total lack of understanding of what made the originals so high quality. Sonic Team is also programming-deficient when it comes to classic Sonic's gameplay and feel and Forces is the second time they screwed it up, even worse than they did in Generations. If anything you're giving Sonic Team (as a whole) far more praise than they deserve when the so-called passion they contributed to Mania isn't reflected in their own products.

Iizuka gave a lot of invaluable input in Mania's direction, and I definitely believe he owns a place in Sonic's direction in some way, but it was what it was: input. And I don't really hear about a lot of other Sonic Team members, if any, contributing much to Mania aside from Senuoe in the sound department. (if anyone has any info on it I'd love to hear it however) The team as a whole didn't program the physics or design the actual levels, two of the most important things that they consistently have failed at time and time again whether it comes to modern or classic Sonic gameplay. Nobody at Sonic Team even knows how to design a classic Sonic level, and they've had nearly an entire decade to get it right. It's easy to see that they're just plain incapable of it. If they truly cared about their own work then I think getting classic Sonic gameplay right should be their first priority, especially since Sega is now pushing classic as its own separate branch.

Maybe you're right and Sonic Team is great in an advisory role, but they should stay the hell away from designing classic Sonic gameplay in-house. They don't fucking get it at all and they never will.

Edited by Sean
Changed some of the first paragraph because I forgot Sonic 4 wasn't an in-house ST game.

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I’m not buying another 3D Sonic game unless I can play as someone else and no I’m not counting the create-your-own from Forces.

Also it’s really hard for me to call them “3D games” when half of it is in a 2D perspective.

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Considering how from all evidence Iizuka was surprised at Sonic Mania's performance, it's not hard to wonder if he and really Sonic Team juuust migt be out of touch with the fanbase's wishes (at least among the West). I mean, he's really surprised that a game that's a proper return to the Genesis Era in gameplay, visuals, and whatever else counts is a success?

I wouldn't overhype Forces sales if I were you. It has what, no more than around 1 million across all systems?

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On 8/21/2018 at 9:08 AM, Sean said:

People see Sonic Mania as the antithesis to Sonic Team's output and I think part of why that is is because Sega's previous effort at a classic revival - Sonic 4, which too was under direction by Sonic Team - was bad and showed a total lack of understanding of what made the originals so high quality. Sonic Team is also programming-deficient when it comes to classic Sonic's gameplay and feel and Forces is the second time they screwed it up, even worse than they did in Generations. If anything you're giving Sonic Team (as a whole) far more praise than they deserve when the so-called passion they contributed to Mania isn't reflected in their own products.

Iizuka gave a lot of invaluable input in Mania's direction, and I definitely believe he owns a place in Sonic's direction in some way, but it was what it was: input. And I don't really hear about a lot of other Sonic Team members, if any, contributing much to Mania aside from Senuoe in the sound department. (if anyone has any info on it I'd love to hear it however)

You also forgot that Sonic 4 wasn't actually intended to be a Classic Sonic game. In Japan it wasn't even called Sonic 4 or advertised as such, and the game itself is loaded with evidence to fortify what I'm saying. The rebrand was Sega's decision to make the spinoff possibly more appealing to Western players, who had been wanting a 2D game for awhile. Sonic 4 doesn't have accurate Classic physics because it was never trying to have accurate Classic physics. Forces and Generations are at least fair enough game, but Sonic Team had the rug pulled out from under it with Sonic 4. And well, we both know that there's several reasons that one product may do worse than another that has nothing to do with developer competancy or passion.

Input is effort and work though, because without it there would be no output at all. You need to put something in to get something out, and for people providing insight and input to be listened to and respected, they need to be at least competent. Admittedly I don't know the specifics, but I recall there being an interview somewhere where it was mentioned that Sonic Team did a lot more work on Mania than normally gets acknowledged.

On 8/21/2018 at 9:08 AM, Sean said:

Nobody at Sonic Team even knows how to design a classic Sonic level, and they've had nearly an entire decade to get it right. It's easy to see that they're just plain incapable of it. If they truly cared about their own work then I think getting classic Sonic gameplay right should be their first priority, especially since Sega is now pushing classic as its own separate branch.

Who is "they"?

Sonic Forces was developed entirely by newbies. Lost World likewise was mostly newbies. Even Unleashed, Colors, and Gens. had different staff rotations working on them at various times within the three year period. What does scrapping the Sonic Team label and replacing everybody actually change, beyond appearance? Very little that wasn't already practically standard procedure already, except with even less people around with lots of experience working on Sonic.

Besides maybe Iizuka and Onshima and some Sega people, nobody has had a decade to figure this out because Sonic Team seems to change staff after every game. Reminder that Sonic Team is not some amorphous mass-- its composed of people, and their amount of experience isn't postmarked by Sonic Unleashed's release but rather when they worked and when they were hired. And well, opinions. The Boost trilogy had solid physics. Forces did well on the Modern gameplay front, at least. The problems with Lost World weren't related to physics. And Gens. still has several excellent examples of good level design that most people can agree on (and personally, I quite liked Colors's and Lost World's level design too, something I know I'm not alone in). I don't find it at all easy to see that they're just plain incapable of doing it, because that opinion relies on the assumption that the games are so bad at level design and physics on a regular basis that anybody and everybody could agree on that, when that is clearly not the case.

If they truly cared about their own work... well, that operates under the assumption that all the issues stem from the fact that they don't, when there's no real evidence beyond mistakes that could have happened for a ton of reasons besides lack of care and effort. What if instead of Classic Sonic, Sonic Team focused on making up for all the bad Sonic Boom games by working on making a good one? Opinions aside on how good of an idea this would be, would that mean that they didn't truly care about their work after all because they strove to do better with something that, unlike Mania, wasn't even a little bit their responsibility and isn't what Sega is pushing at the moment?

On 8/21/2018 at 9:08 AM, Sean said:

Maybe you're right and Sonic Team is great in an advisory role, but they should stay the hell away from designing classic Sonic gameplay in-house. They don't fucking get it at all and they never will.

Again with "they". "They" can be many, many people-- Sonic Team hasn't had a consistent staff since 2011 and even that year still had a lot of staff rotations going on.

"They" can change once more, and the new "they" may well be perfectly capable of understanding Classic Sonic. "Never" is saying that its impossible for that to happen, but in theory, it is completely possible. Again with the "RUINED FOREVER" sentiments fans tend to have-- Sonic Team messes up Classic Sonic a couple of times and that means that there can never be a good Classic Sonic game made by Sonic Team ever again for the rest of time? Yeah, no. This is ridiculous. Its reasonable to not have any faith in a good change happening anytime soon, and/or to think that the right people for the job won't be on Sonic Team's crew anytime soon, but when an argument amounts to something that isn't actually all that elusive being presented as quite literally impossible, in this case people that understand Classic Sonic getting jobs at Sonic Team? Yep, fallen into an emotional thinking pitfall. Don't get me wrong, emotional thinking isn't actually bad, but it sure loves to exaggerate things in the worst way possible and that needs to be kept in check with logical thinking (and the opposite applies too-- logical thinking sure loves to callously disregard other people's needs and viewpoints, so it needs to be kept in check with emotional thinking).

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4 hours ago, knuckles20 said:

I’m not buying another 3D Sonic game unless I can play as someone else and no I’m not counting the create-your-own from Forces.

Also it’s really hard for me to call them “3D games” when half of it is in a 2D perspective.

Or Shadow? 

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3 hours ago, Miragnarok said:

Or Shadow? 

Sure the DLC is free but he only got 3 stages and from what I saw from it, entire segment lasted around 15 minutes. To me It feels like a last minute effort to win over people who wanted other characters playable or to win over fans who were sick of classic pandering.

Maybe I’d like it more (and possibly get the game) had the Shadow been playable from the start and had as much content as the 2 Sonics and fill in the blank. 

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4 hours ago, Mad Convoy said:

Input is effort and work though, because without it there would be no output at all. You need to put something in to get something out, and for people providing insight and input to be listened to and respected, they need to be at least competent. Admittedly I don't know the specifics, but I recall there being an interview somewhere where it was mentioned that Sonic Team did a lot more work on Mania than normally gets acknowledged.

I'd like to see this interview.

All I recall is Whitehead talking about Iizuka's input specifically, which is what Sean said. Sonic Team's involvement was limited to Iizuka and Hoshino-san, as far as we've been made aware - makes sense since they were based alongside them at SoA. I'll gladly take an L if I'm wrong, but I'm not seeing receipts.

I'll always be one for crediting Iizuka and Hoshino's work on Mania, but acting like "it was just a much as Sonic Team game" isn't exactly based in reality so much as looking for a conveniently vague rebuttal. 

EDIT: In fact I just went through the txt file for the Credits in the game's data folder with the Find tool and uh

Sonic Team aren't credited as a unit at all. 

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19 hours ago, Tracker_TD said:

I'd like to see this interview.

All I recall is Whitehead talking about Iizuka's input specifically, which is what Sean said. Sonic Team's involvement was limited to Iizuka and Hoshino-san, as far as we've been made aware - makes sense since they were based alongside them at SoA. I'll gladly take an L if I'm wrong, but I'm not seeing receipts.

I'll always be one for crediting Iizuka and Hoshino's work on Mania, but acting like "it was just a much as Sonic Team game" isn't exactly based in reality so much as looking for a conveniently vague rebuttal. 

EDIT: In fact I just went through the txt file for the Credits in the game's data folder with the Find tool and uh

Sonic Team aren't credited as a unit at all. 

"Looking for a conveniently vague rebuttal"? Woah, that's very presumptuous.

I was genuinely wrong about my information there, and I will fix my previous post accordingly. But there was no ill intent or intentional desperate reaching on my part. I was simply, well, mistaken. And it isn't even the only point I made.

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On 8/20/2018 at 11:21 PM, Mad Convoy said:

Just gonna leave it here that Sonic Mania was worked on by Sonic Team. Quite substantially, as matter of fact, and Sonic Team was suitably happy when Mania turned out good. Indeed, the reason it is what it is and not a remake of Sonic 1 and 2 with some extra bonus levels is actually because of Iizuka, who suggested the core concepts behind Mania and elevated the pitch to more than just a remake, coincidentally at a time when it was needed. So its a bit odd to read things like this (bolding mine)...

...when Mania is, by all accounts, as much a Sonic Team/Sega game as it is a Headcannon game. I'm not forcing anybody to be optimistic (though as a side note I do disagree very strongly with the statement that nobody can be optimistic about the future of 3D Sonic-- there are reasons, you may not agree with them and you don't have to, but they are there). But well, not gonna lie, its kind of annoying to see people put Mania on a pedestal as the antithesis to Sonic Team when it is, in part, Sonic Team's game. Sonic Team can't both be devoid of any passion and responsible for a passionfest, or both unwilling to work hard and willing to work its ass off to provide something special. And well, there's a good chance it isn't nearly that black and white anyway.

I've said it once and I'll say it again-- if the only thing 3D Sonic needed was passion and knowledge, I wouldn't be able to count on one hand how many 3D fangames are actually close enough to being decent and there'd probably be a whole lot more of them in a finished state right about now, because nobody is denying the fans' passion and research. Budget, resources, management, etc. are vitally important too. And it shows, since a lot of 3D fangames have been worked on for much longer than Forces, but most fail to even get close to it in terms of quality and completeness despite that being kind of a low standard to match.

And well, I could go on a long rant about how Forces doesn't actually qualify as a flop if it sold strongly, even if some people very vocally didn't like it, because a flop refers exclusively to something that has failed to sell. If you think the game is of poor or insufficient quality, fine, but don't make unsubstantiated claims to prove your point because that ultimately damages your arguments' credibility more than it helps. Especially if you don't actually need to make stuff up to prove your point. But that's kind of a tangent, so I'll stop here.

I guess my overall point is-- there are no angels and there are no devils in games development, only people. Its a complicated situation and I'm certain if there were a simple and quick solution, it would have already been implemented. And well, whether its convenient or not, Sonic Mania is a recent Sonic Team game, and should be treated as such so that there aren't any people who worked on the game getting excluded from being credited for their work. If nothing else, its important to acknowledge this to avoid a "George Lucas" sort of situation-- where people put down a person for being little more than an incompetent hack, until said person leaves their work on the franchise and people kinda realize "fuck, this guy was actually valuable after all but he's not coming back because we convinced him that he's not wanted or needed."

----

As for the future of 3D Sonic and my reasons therein, I see baby steps in Forces. I like the ambition of the Avatar, the raising of stakes (which, while not required for a good story, is good to have every now and then to maintain interest), and I think the Lost World-y aspects of the game were actually handled in a way that improved on Lost World's mechanics and ideas (and not just the 3DS version either) which makes me really happy. I mean, finally, a Zavok fight that is actually well designed and good-- I never thought I needed it until Forces provided it. And well, baby steps might not be good enough for everybody, but I'm not expecting a 180 turnaround anyway. For now, from my perspective, things are vaguely oriented in the right direction and that keeps me satisfied. For now, anyway.

While I can't say I know for sure what the future holds, knowing its history, I strongly doubt that this'll be an "everything is the same forever" kind of deal, and overall I think the next game at least won't be bad. There's potential to be mined from Forces; how will it be handled and what will be extracted is my big question.

Sonic team had input here and there with Mania, but we shouldn't pretend that it was a sonic team game because it was not. It was primarily handled by a different group of developers. Sonic Team suggested things here and there and had to okay things, but they were not anything near primarily involved in that game. Should not try to spin the situation to appear that way, because they've said this themselves. They were there to look over the shoulders of the people who actually did make the game and give the thumbs up. This is not a sonic team hate post, its what happened.

 

Also the reality of game development is complicated for sure. But the totality of where we are is a result of both sonic team and Sega the company's decisions. They have been some good entries in the series over the last twenty years, but the mediocre-bad reputation it has is no accident, no fluke. We're here because they brought us here. It's not about singling anyone out or putting anyone down. It's about realizing that sonic has a lot more potential to be an excellent platforming series than has been realized in some time, and the company has absolutely not put their best foot forward in trying to reach that goal...with Sonic being one of the largest IPs in gaming history and easily capable of being a top performing series in the marketplace. They've admitted it themselves publicly numerous times, so maybe you might have an issue with their proclamation more than you do any naysayers among us.

 

As far as flopping... maybe that's a stretch for me to say. The company said it did fine numbers wise, without releasing any actual numbers so really no one knows....but from what we actually have access to in hard data, we know for a fact mania performed much, much better on a much lower budget. This is not to mention the mediocre press and reviews surrounding the game, when it was the big title after 4 years of development and promises and apologies. I mean, I dont know exactly what you're looking for for flop but there are many clear signs showing that this was not nearly among their best showings. Its important to take into account the state of the series before release as well, and what they needed to do here after boom stalled any momentum they had before generations. Forces was supposed to get things back on track in a obvious way, and it really did not. 

So for the future, it's easy to understand why many aren't optimistic. I want to be and will become optimistic when I see a clear demonstration of change in some way but as of now, I'll temper my expactations to match the.current situation. To me, forces was mediocre and passionless and that's where my outlook rests. 

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2 hours ago, UpCDownCLeftCRightC said:

Sonic team had input here and there with Mania, but we shouldn't pretend that it was a sonic team game because it was not. It was primarily handled by a different group of developers. Sonic Team suggested things here and there and had to okay things, but they were not anything near primarily involved in that game. Should not try to spin the situation to appear that way, because they've said this themselves. They were there to look over the shoulders of the people who actually did make the game and give the thumbs up. This is not a sonic team hate post, its what happened.

Again with the insinuation that it was intentional. I was mistaken. No intentional spin, just an honest mistake that I made. And I'm sorry for it, but it was not intentional.

2 hours ago, UpCDownCLeftCRightC said:

Also the reality of game development is complicated for sure. But the totality of where we are is a result of both sonic team and Sega the company's decisions. They have been some good entries in the series over the last twenty years, but the mediocre-bad reputation it has is no accident, no fluke. We're here because they brought us here. It's not about singling anyone out or putting anyone down. It's about realizing that sonic has a lot more potential to be an excellent platforming series than has been realized in some time, and the company has absolutely not put their best foot forward in trying to reach that goal...with Sonic being one of the largest IPs in gaming history and easily capable of being a top performing series in the marketplace. They've admitted it themselves publicly numerous times, so maybe you might have an issue with their proclamation more than you do any naysayers among us.

And I get it, and the problem was never people being cynical. I'm not saying the series has been perfect either.

I don't really know where they outright said that they haven't been putting their best foot forward, or how that automatically equates "doesn't actually have passion and is lazy" anyway. I'm seeing "we really should do things better for people.", yes, but not necessarily "all that stuff before was just phoned in".

2 hours ago, UpCDownCLeftCRightC said:

As far as flopping... maybe that's a stretch for me to say. The company said it did fine numbers wise, without releasing any actual numbers so really no one knows....but from what we actually have access to in hard data, we know for a fact mania performed much, much better on a much lower budget. This is not to mention the mediocre press and reviews surrounding the game, when it was the big title after 4 years of development and promises and apologies. I mean, I dont know exactly what you're looking for for flop but there are many clear signs showing that this was not nearly among their best showings. Its important to take into account the state of the series before release as well, and what they needed to do here after boom stalled any momentum they had before generations. Forces was supposed to get things back on track in a obvious way, and it really did not. 

Well, the definition of flop as its most commonly understood in media industries is that it is a total failure in the sales department. Its not so much "sold less than Mania" and "didn't perform as well as expected but still did decently enough" that defines a flop here-- a flop would be more like "sold around what Rise of Lyric got." And it has no bearing on a game's quality or people's perceptions therein. Great games can and do flop, bad games can and do chart-smashingly incredible. There is seldom true fairness in regards to how a game performs sales-wise, no matter what you or I or even the majority of people want or think.

And you have a valid argument to think that Forces was disappointing. But its not really a good thing to conflate that with a term that refers exclusively to sales data, especially when, well, you already have a good argument and obscuring it with exaggerations, intentionally or not, only makes said good stuff harder to find and/or take seriously.

2 hours ago, UpCDownCLeftCRightC said:

So for the future, it's easy to understand why many aren't optimistic. I want to be and will become optimistic when I see a clear demonstration of change in some way but as of now, I'll temper my expactations to match the.current situation. To me, forces was mediocre and passionless and that's where my outlook rests. 

For future reference, I was never saying that it was unreasonable to not be optimistic. What I took umbrage with was the reasons people were citing why, which weren't lining up with actual good reasons to think so and came off as exaggerated. This made me question just how much of the cynicism was impulsive rather than well thought out, and I wanted others to think to question it too since most people don't mean to have an opinion that's more impulsive than well founded. Because if people don't recognize think about why they made the decision to exaggerate or act ridiculously to make their point, then they're likely to make the same decisions over and over again, to their own detriment emotionally and credibility-wise.

And well, I find people tend to conflate mediocrity with passionlessness. It is true that well-known passion projects seldom end up in between good and bad in terms of quality, but its not impossible for a game to turn out mediocre despite passion, and its in fact very very common for some smaller project to end up being much more well known and popular than a big project. Whether you think that's the result of being out of touch or something else (IMO its usually because the big project gets overthought and focus grouped excessively while the small project never had those problems, but your interpretation may vary), it happens to the best of creators. And when fans say they think a game is passionless, usually what they mean is that its boring. Its a common conflation between care and entertainment value-- that somehow enjoyable stuff can only come from people who are passionate and deeply thinking about games-- when that isn't inherently true (indeed, a surprising amount of video game developers aren't themselves gamers. They just like what they do or at least like the paycheck possibilities that come with doing well enough to get promoted to want to keep their job).

The actual meaning of the word being used is more important, of course, but the mix-ups that happen are reflective of a larger misunderstanding of the creative process, and I do think its important to at least point out when its treated as the basis of an argument. Even if its not intentional, and I don't think most of the stuff here is, its still important to correct stuff.

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4 hours ago, Mad Convoy said:

Again with the insinuation that it was intentional. I was mistaken. No intentional spin, just an honest mistake that I made. And I'm sorry for it, but it was not intentional.

And I get it, and the problem was never people being cynical. I'm not saying the series has been perfect either.

I don't really know where they outright said that they haven't been putting their best foot forward, or how that automatically equates "doesn't actually have passion and is lazy" anyway. I'm seeing "we really should do things better for people.", yes, but not necessarily "all that stuff before was just phoned in".

Well, the definition of flop as its most commonly understood in media industries is that it is a total failure in the sales department. Its not so much "sold less than Mania" and "didn't perform as well as expected but still did decently enough" that defines a flop here-- a flop would be more like "sold around what Rise of Lyric got." And it has no bearing on a game's quality or people's perceptions therein. Great games can and do flop, bad games can and do chart-smashingly incredible. There is seldom true fairness in regards to how a game performs sales-wise, no matter what you or I or even the majority of people want or think.

And you have a valid argument to think that Forces was disappointing. But its not really a good thing to conflate that with a term that refers exclusively to sales data, especially when, well, you already have a good argument and obscuring it with exaggerations, intentionally or not, only makes said good stuff harder to find and/or take seriously.

For future reference, I was never saying that it was unreasonable to not be optimistic. What I took umbrage with was the reasons people were citing why, which weren't lining up with actual good reasons to think so and came off as exaggerated. This made me question just how much of the cynicism was impulsive rather than well thought out, and I wanted others to think to question it too since most people don't mean to have an opinion that's more impulsive than well founded. Because if people don't recognize think about why they made the decision to exaggerate or act ridiculously to make their point, then they're likely to make the same decisions over and over again, to their own detriment emotionally and credibility-wise.

And well, I find people tend to conflate mediocrity with passionlessness. It is true that well-known passion projects seldom end up in between good and bad in terms of quality, but its not impossible for a game to turn out mediocre despite passion, and its in fact very very common for some smaller project to end up being much more well known and popular than a big project. Whether you think that's the result of being out of touch or something else (IMO its usually because the big project gets overthought and focus grouped excessively while the small project never had those problems, but your interpretation may vary), it happens to the best of creators. And when fans say they think a game is passionless, usually what they mean is that its boring. Its a common conflation between care and entertainment value-- that somehow enjoyable stuff can only come from people who are passionate and deeply thinking about games-- when that isn't inherently true (indeed, a surprising amount of video game developers aren't themselves gamers. They just like what they do or at least like the paycheck possibilities that come with doing well enough to get promoted to want to keep their job).

The actual meaning of the word being used is more important, of course, but the mix-ups that happen are reflective of a larger misunderstanding of the creative process, and I do think its important to at least point out when its treated as the basis of an argument. Even if its not intentional, and I don't think most of the stuff here is, its still important to correct stuff.

A couple of points:

1) SEGA (and sonic team) has outright said that the quality of games in recent years has been disappointing and that they would do better. Heres a link to one instance on which SEGA reps have stated this (there are several, on several different occasions)

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.polygon.com/platform/amp/2015/7/7/8906275/sega-ceo-sonic-boom-console-betrayed-trust

Again there are numerous sources on that, and they've said it several times outright.

2) I didnt conflate flopping in sales with quality. I said that the sales were questionable because the company did not release any numbers, and instead just opted to essentially say "oh it did fine" without releasing any hard numbers. The hard numbers we do have show that mania did much better across all platforms. Considering that mania was a low budget game made by a small team, and forces was a bigger budget game by a well established team, on top of the fact that SEGA had just gone through a series of public apologies stating that they will promise higher quality games in the future (see: above), forces obviously did not accomplish those things and most certainly didnt set any sales records. I agree that evaluted in a vacuum, forces was not a disaster. But within the context of the time it was released and the state of the series and the company, forces was not a success in the way they wanted it to be. Forces was to be the game that followed their statement about wanting sonic to be a major brand again, since sales have declined in recent years. Forces did not help do any of that, by any metric really. Mania on the other hand performed to a much higher standard across the board, actually delivering on the brand excellence.

3) I equated the mediocrity with the passionlessness because in the case of forces, the game really comes across (in my opinion) as a game that was heavily focused grouped. There were bits of many common elements that are popular among the many sections of the sonic fanbase but in almost every case they seem to completely miss the point of why they were liked in the first place, particularly in the case of classic sonic.

 

I appreciate your fairness and politeness in having this dialogue. I do think we're way past the point of generalization in terms of finding excuses for why sonic team may have had the best of intentions but didnt deliver. We've heard this song and dance before, many many times. I'm definitely not an angry fan. It's just how the old saying goes: "if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck".....  Well in this case, SEGA looks, quacks, swims, eats, poops, and mates like a duck. They've had something like a 20 year grace period to show us that they are, in fact, a duck, when it comes to Sonic.

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2 minutes ago, UpCDownCLeftCRightC said:

A couple of points:

1) SEGA (and sonic team) has outright said that the quality of games in recent years has been disappointing and that they would do better. Heres a link to one instance on which SEGA reps have stated this (there are several, on several different occasions)

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.polygon.com/platform/amp/2015/7/7/8906275/sega-ceo-sonic-boom-console-betrayed-trust

Again there are numerous sources on that, and they've said it several times outright.

2) I didnt conflate flopping in sales with quality. I said that the sales were questionable because the company did not release any numbers, and instead just opted to essentially say "oh it did fine" without releasing any hard numbers. The hard numbers we do have show that mania did much better across all platforms. Considering that mania was a low budget game made by a small team, and forces was a bigger budget game by a well established team, on top of the fact that SEGA had just gone through a series of public apologies stating that they will promise higher quality games in the future (see: above), forces obviously did not accomplish those things. I agree that evaluted in a vacuum, forces was not a disaster. But within the context of the time it was released and the state of the series and the company, forces was not a success in the way they wanted it to be. Mania on the other hand performed to a much higher standard, and actually delivered on the excellence.

3) I equated the mediocrity with the passionlessness because in the case of forces, the game really comes across (in my opinion) as a game that was heavily focused grouped. There were bits of many common elements that are popular among the many sections of the sonic fanbase but in almost every case they seem to completely miss the point of why they were liked in the first place, particularly in the case of classic sonic.

 

I appreciate your fairness and politeness in having this dialogue. I do think we're way past the point of generalization in terms of finding excuses for why sonic team may have had the best of intentions but didnt deliver. We've heard this song and dance before, many many times. I'm definitely not an angry fan. It's just how the old saying goes: "if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck".....  Well in this case, SEGA looks, quacks, swims, eats, poops, and mates like a duck. They've had something like a 20 year grace period to show us that they are, in fact, a duck, when it comes to Sonic.

1) Indeed, but that again isn't the same as saying "We didn't care!" Its more along the lines of "We made mistakes in the past, and we don't want to make them in the future."

2) Well, you sort of did in some ways. A flop basically means massive sales failure, on its own or in context, and you're bringing in stuff like non-money context which aren't really relevant to raw sales data. None of what you're saying indicates a flop-- underperformance, maybe, but not in a way where its fair to label the game an outright sales failure which is what saying a game flopped basically did. And you don't need hard numbers because its demonstrably true that even with games like Rise of Lyric that are massively embarrassing, Sammy Corp. won't lie and say that a game that did horrible/mediocre actually did reasonably well. They may come up with marketing BS as to why sales were bad, but they won't lie outright about finances relating to them. Lying about finances is an excellent way to get investors to call deals off and sue, and I don't think Sammy Corp's higher ups have any death wishes regarding the company. If they said it sold strongly, then for better or worse, it almost certainly really did sell strongly.

3) And focus grouping isn't inherently a bad thing in itself-- if anything, its often though not always a sign that the people behind it want the project to do well, since they're willing to put it through several rounds of thorough evaluation by outside people before releasing it to the public. The pitfalls of focus grouping often come when people who are not reasonably informed about how video games work or unable to articulate much valuable insight are brought on, and naturally their suggestions tend to be really, really dumb at best. This usually happens when people are chosen at random (often by a third party that arranges focus group meetings on the behalf of companies-- in theory its supposed to ensure scientific accuracy and eliminate bias, in execution its not taking into account different levels of insight that people can state clearly and its not a good idea to do 100+ trials here like a scientist would to compensate for possible errors) instead of being properly vetted for informative value. Another common pitfall is to overdo and/or overvalue focus groups. Its good to take in criticism, better to take in criticism from people who have a lot of informative value, but you will never please everybody. It isn't going to happen, and trying to placate every person with a complaint instead of looking for running themes within the recorded complaints from a small amount of focus group assessments almost always results in the finished product coming off as sterilized and/or desperate to be loved.  In the case of Forces, it seems like both were factors in the game turning out the way it did.

And I happen to disagree. I think there are other factors that fans often ignore-- whether it be budget, executive decision making, management, etc.. While Forces itself may not have been a victim of this specific thing, there is a strong precedent for Sega pressuring Sonic Team and other Sonic developers to rush out titles, and things like TSR and to a smaller extent Mania are not exactly helping the company's case that its completely over rushing Sonic games out. Are those bad for staff morale? Oh yes, they certainly are, but it doesn't mean that the people working there don't like what they do or are cynically basing their decisions solely on profit.

I mean, I don't think this is the song and dance you think it is. Its disgraceful that morons have beaten people over the head for not being their definition of sufficiently optimistic, or defend every single bad decision without thinking, and its super unfortunate if that's painting how you view anybody trying to defend being optimistic or rebut a cynic's claims (as I do suspect). But it can get to the point where you forget that others don't necessarily perceive things the way you do, and through that become frustrated when they say things that seem to directly conflict with reality-- even though the reality is, there is no one answer that is undeniably right at this point, and really the only outright wrong ones are ones built on deliberate lies and insults instead of fact and balanced thinking. Unfortunately, I'm still not seeing this elusive "they", given that Sega is no stranger itself to downsizing, buy-outs, restructures, and large staff changes and so its possible that not everybody has actually had over 20 decades to figure it out. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, or that a cumulative perspective of a company overall is invalid, but well, I'm going to be honest here and say that its not really helping me reach an understanding here.

As a side note, I didn't expect you to know this before, but my brain kind of doesn't do "a million is a statistic." It just skips right over the part where the information is condensed to be not overwhelming, and as a result what I perceive when I see large groups isn't compressed like most others' perceptions are. Its not something I actually want to change, since I do benefit from all the avenues of empathy, insight, and prioritization it opens up for me, but I'm also not gonna deny that its a source of bias for me that ought to be kept in check too.  So y'know, do criticize when stuff like that is clouding my judgement. Maybe I won't like it, but like everybody I'm always in need of it and I do respect people more when they come forward and express their problems with me honestly and to my face. Its much appreciated... well, eventually much appreciated, anyways. So thanks for the polite response and I hope to be hearing your response soon.

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1 hour ago, Mad Convoy said:

1) Indeed, but that again isn't the same as saying "We didn't care!" Its more along the lines of "We made mistakes in the past, and we don't want to make them in the future."

2) Well, you sort of did in some ways. A flop basically means massive sales failure, on its own or in context, and you're bringing in stuff like non-money context which aren't really relevant to raw sales data. None of what you're saying indicates a flop-- underperformance, maybe, but not in a way where its fair to label the game an outright sales failure which is what saying a game flopped basically did. And you don't need hard numbers because its demonstrably true that even with games like Rise of Lyric that are massively embarrassing, Sammy Corp. won't lie and say that a game that did horrible/mediocre actually did reasonably well. They may come up with marketing BS as to why sales were bad, but they won't lie outright about finances relating to them. Lying about finances is an excellent way to get investors to call deals off and sue, and I don't think Sammy Corp's higher ups have any death wishes regarding the company. If they said it sold strongly, then for better or worse, it almost certainly really did sell strongly.

3) And focus grouping isn't inherently a bad thing in itself-- if anything, its often though not always a sign that the people behind it want the project to do well, since they're willing to put it through several rounds of thorough evaluation by outside people before releasing it to the public. The pitfalls of focus grouping often come when people who are not reasonably informed about how video games work or unable to articulate much valuable insight are brought on, and naturally their suggestions tend to be really, really dumb at best. This usually happens when people are chosen at random (often by a third party that arranges focus group meetings on the behalf of companies-- in theory its supposed to ensure scientific accuracy and eliminate bias, in execution its not taking into account different levels of insight that people can state clearly and its not a good idea to do 100+ trials here like a scientist would to compensate for possible errors) instead of being properly vetted for informative value. Another common pitfall is to overdo and/or overvalue focus groups. Its good to take in criticism, better to take in criticism from people who have a lot of informative value, but you will never please everybody. It isn't going to happen, and trying to placate every person with a complaint instead of looking for running themes within the recorded complaints from a small amount of focus group assessments almost always results in the finished product coming off as sterilized and/or desperate to be loved.  In the case of Forces, it seems like both were factors in the game turning out the way it did.

And I happen to disagree. I think there are other factors that fans often ignore-- whether it be budget, executive decision making, management, etc.. While Forces itself may not have been a victim of this specific thing, there is a strong precedent for Sega pressuring Sonic Team and other Sonic developers to rush out titles, and things like TSR and to a smaller extent Mania are not exactly helping the company's case that its completely over rushing Sonic games out. Are those bad for staff morale? Oh yes, they certainly are, but it doesn't mean that the people working there don't like what they do or are cynically basing their decisions solely on profit.

I mean, I don't think this is the song and dance you think it is. Its disgraceful that morons have beaten people over the head for not being their definition of sufficiently optimistic, or defend every single bad decision without thinking, and its super unfortunate if that's painting how you view anybody trying to defend being optimistic or rebut a cynic's claims (as I do suspect). But it can get to the point where you forget that others don't necessarily perceive things the way you do, and through that become frustrated when they say things that seem to directly conflict with reality-- even though the reality is, there is no one answer that is undeniably right at this point, and really the only outright wrong ones are ones built on deliberate lies and insults instead of fact and balanced thinking. Unfortunately, I'm still not seeing this elusive "they", given that Sega is no stranger itself to downsizing, buy-outs, restructures, and large staff changes and so its possible that not everybody has actually had over 20 decades to figure it out. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, or that a cumulative perspective of a company overall is invalid, but well, I'm going to be honest here and say that its not really helping me reach an understanding here.

As a side note, I didn't expect you to know this before, but my brain kind of doesn't do "a million is a statistic." It just skips right over the part where the information is condensed to be not overwhelming, and as a result what I perceive when I see large groups isn't compressed like most others' perceptions are. Its not something I actually want to change, since I do benefit from all the avenues of empathy, insight, and prioritization it opens up for me, but I'm also not gonna deny that its a source of bias for me that ought to be kept in check too.  So y'know, do criticize when stuff like that is clouding my judgement. Maybe I won't like it, but like everybody I'm always in need of it and I do respect people more when they come forward and express their problems with me honestly and to my face. Its much appreciated... well, eventually much appreciated, anyways. So thanks for the polite response and I hope to be hearing your response soon.

A semi-quick reply (could respond later but I fear I'll forget to completely with work, and its late now)

1) Given the stories surrounding development which I can't assume you or anyone else knows, SEGA really put the devs in a tight spot in terms of forcing them to release Boom before it was finished. But again this has happened many times before within the franchise, most famously with '06. The only reason why a company would release an unfinished product is if they believed people would still buy it regardless of the quality. If you think they can still claim to care inside of that practice, then I can't convince you further. However, as a loyal consumer of the brand that tells me they're taking advantage of the fact that I will buy their stuff regardless of how good it turns out, ergo, they don't care. This doesn't equate to something extreme like they have never ever cared or anything. It just means that in recent history they have not put forth their best effort in developing and releasing games. I have read just about interview concerning this topic over the last four years I can find and my summary of them is that, yes they are apologizing for just that. Its pretty plain to me.

2) I could do without claiming 'flop' because you're correct that I don't know that and SEGA would not report sales that it didn't make. I used it in a relative sense and tried to set the stage for it. Perhaps I could say disappointed or something else. I dunno. In my original post I was really trying to convey emotion and you've dragged me a little further into this than I expected to go (haha! good on you).

Forces in my opinion, and I believe also in the view of the company at the time, needed to not be just another Sonic release given the state of the brand at the time. So this is how I formed my judgement. It was not a disaster and was not the worst performing game in terms of sales, and from the sales numbers we did have, didn't seem to outright tank. However, when a low budget game with less marketing and a much smaller dev team does far outdoes your big budget product, to many the big budget one can be said to have 'flopped'. Not just because the smaller one did better, but because the big one really did not meet its own goals in terms of creating buzz for the brand. There are no specific numbers attached to that that I have any access to, but I'm sure that for SEGA Forces was not a major success in terms of the very language they used in the four years leading up to its release ("revitalizing the brand", etc). For example, I think the Star Wars franchise might consider episode IX a flop if they expect to easily clear 1 billion after some number of weeks, with a budget of 400 M but fail to break 800 million. They made money on the movie, but the studio is definitely going to be disappointed (just an example). 

(For the above two points I could link more articles for you but it wouldn't take much googling to find at least a few of them. I did a lot of this reading in the months prior to the 2016 summer party reveal).

3) No comment really. We don't know all of the brain trust for this project but it seems that the focus group really missed the mark in understanding the desires of the wider fanbase. In my humble opinion, its always a bad idea to poll a divided fanbase such as this one and then try to please them all. I've stated for a while now that Sonic Team really needs to reconnect with their mascot on their own, and try to understand some the basic appeal that made the series popular in the first place, what makes the game so fun and unique, those kinds of things. I'm sure they want to, but its pretty telling that Whitehead/Pagoda West and company were able to not just do it, but completely nail it on their first official project. We know they're not rookies but they're not Sonic Team veterans either. It is an amazingly stark contrast in the amount of detail paid attention to between Forces and Mania. 2D vs 3D is a completely different analysis, so definitely not comparing them in terms of ease of development but Mania really hit all of the right notes with fans and even casual players because it really seemed to fundamentally know exactly what it was and why it worked the way it did. Forces....did almost the exact opposite for a lot of people, which is probably why it reviewed much worse.

 

To conclude, my opinion is not gospel so please don't take it that way. I do think that I'm certainly not alone in my feelings however, and if you took a random poll about the state of the Sonic series, the result would paint a pessimistic picture. And I think the trend has been that way for a long time, especially among the wider gaming public.

 

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