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HOT TAKE: Should Sonic Team stop listening to the fans?

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Yes, partly due to the fact that if they do listen to fans and they get something wrong (in the fan's eyes), the fanbase will start blasting them. When I first got into the fanbase, I remember people saying that Sega should listen to the fans. Then games like Forces come out, and now you have those same people telling SEGA to not let the fanbase influence their decisions. Make up your fucking mind! However, the problem at hand is the games have formulas that work but then they'll switch to a completely different formula for the sake of not being monotonous. If it works, it works. Stick to it. Don't let crybaby fans influence what happens in the department.

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I feel they should stop listening to the morons who say stuff like "Sonic was never good" and "Sonic is consistently bad" first before they stop listening to the people who are actually their fans. 

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Totally forgot I had an account here. I'm not happy at all with the replies to my posts years ago, as I feel like people weren't really reading what I was saying and were trying to read around it to find some weird motive. Much as I'd love to respond to those, that was years ago and I don't think anyone really cares anymore. If anyone wants to talk about that topic (the merit of Special Stages in Sonic games), I am open to any questions.

Instead, let's try something different. Something you can't just read around without clearly showing yourself to have not read it.

Hi there! I have a dilemma. There's this video game series I like, but most of the people I get to talk about it with treat their series in a way that no other fanbase treats any other series, which makes it very difficult to have real conversation. When I attempt to call people out for this, I get called a "contrarian" because (surprise) I'm the only person actually willing to challenge what is a terrible status quo. There are multiple people in this community who have zero issue making things up about me from scratch to attack my character, solely because I seem to be the only human being on the planet who's able to tell these people that they need to take a step back and reevaluate their attachment to this series.

(Part of this is because Discord and chat rooms are a terrible place to have real discussion, and they should never replace a real message board.)

Guess what video game series I'm talking about! I came here because this is the only place on the internet that would ever have a topic asking this question. Everything I'm about to tell you is the truth. It's not my own opinion; my opinion is irrelevant to everyone else and to myself.

Sonic fans have no idea what they actually want. They think they do, and that's a big problem. Thinking you know what you're doing has always been worse than being willing to admit that you don't know what you're doing.

Whenever people talk about Sonic Team, and Lost World and Forces, it is always with language that boils down to "Sonic Team is incompetent, Lost World and Forces are low quality product". The idea that Lost World or Forces are actually good games and not at all what people describe them to be is not allowed to be spoken. Lost World and Forces being errors is supposed to be a fact that we're all just supposed to accept. I can't accept it, because I know it to be untrue. I know it to be untrue because I've actually played the games and compared them to other games in the series and other games period. The crimes people charge these games for are things the games aren't actually doing, or things that previous games had done without any real issue (things that aren't actually crimes, in other words).

I'm not gonna say that Lost World and Forces are better than Mania. I'm not gonna say "Sonic was never good", because that's a boring meme. However, I also won't say that Mania is better than Lost World and Forces. None of these things can really be true. The truth is far more complicated than that, and is not really for this topic. I'm also not gonna mention Boom because that's a topic of its own (it's not what people think it is); funny enough, I don't think Boom was ever mentioned in this thread.

That aside, there are a few things that are flatly untrue and really need to stop being said:

1. "Mania was made by fans, so clearly fans need to take over Sega." Mania was not made by fans, it was made by newly-minted professionals who were hired for a particular set of skills. To call them "fans" is to insult them and to insult their work. Mania is also the product of a fairly large team and had a solid budget for what it was supposed to be. Letting "fans" take over Sega will lead to more things like Sonic 06 and less things like Mania, I can already tell you that right now. I can go on and on about this topic.

2. "The Sonic base is fragmented. The games, too, are fragmented." Neither of these are any more true than for most game series in existence, especially very long-running ones like Sonic. "Fragmented" is also a very loaded term that does not begin to consider the idea of releasing different games for different people. In fact, that's what many Sonic fans keep thinking they want: for Sega to keep making a very limited kind of game that caters to them specifically.

3. "Lost World and Forces are inconsistent and try to cater to everyone." As I said before, they simply aren't the low quality games people keep saying they are. This is simply untrue information. Lost World builds heavily on Colors to the point where you could have called it "Sonic Colors 2" and it likely would have gotten far better reception. Likewise, Forces was even understood by most to be a direct followup to ideas from Generations, yet it was still called "inconsistent" even though the vast majority of the game is patterned after Generations. It is not physically possible for games that are so much like the previous games to be "inconsistent and trying to cater to everyone"; there is simply too much of Colors's and Generations's DNA in Lost World and Forces for this to ever be true.

Anything beyond this is whining using one's own personal opinion. Noone should really care if you don't personally like the Deadly Six. I don't particularly care for the Deadly Six myself, because I think they could have been handled a little better. I think the whole series could have been handled better, from start to finish. That's called hindsight, and it's unreliable in how clear it seems to be, because you don't necessarily have the context behind the original decisions. It is almost as irrelevant as personal opinions.

Fans do need to take a step back and think a little harder about why they hate what they hate and what about this series keeps them invested. I can answer this question for myself: it's a decent series that's had mostly ups and not a lot of downs, and the developers/partners mostly do good work. I don't really agree with some of the fundamental design, but I respect that the developers have taken it in various ways and over such a long period of time. It's very hard to really hate most Sonic games and very easy to like them. Pretty much all of them are at least inspiring even if I may dislike a specific game.

If I can be this measured, why can't anyone else? Why do fans hold this series to an impossible standard that no other fanbase ever holds their own series too? The only thing this kind of behavior does is hold the series back in a way that Lost World and Forces never could, no matter how "bad" they supposedly are. I am not saying that Sonic Team are perfect and unfallible, I'm saying they do good work even though everyone swears they don't. This can be verified by putting aside that "ideal" Sonic game in your head (would you like to see mine?) and actually playing the damned games in front of you.

I'm writing this because I'm tired of being asked to "explain myself" and then twenty people start talking over me. When people ask me that from now on, I just want to be able to link this post. If that's not enough of a reason to have real forums, I don't know what is.

Thank you for reading.

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Yes, because After the 06 game, Sonic became the only chracter who mattered as the brand to sell alone, despite him being to core main character. The other characters stopped being neutral solo acts and can't hold their own plotlines without Sonic being the core focus. In game play and in story importance, it seems diebard fans are only getting their fair share of the main stream sonic status quo instead of expecting the game developers to invest in components of Sonics colourful cast to market to more neutrality based fans of not just sonic but other characters.

I feel I'm reading a plot about sonic as fanfiction when dealing with the main lead, Sonic is not a fleshed out depth based hero, he's a brand persoanlity with simple abstract concepts of teenage wish fufillment and super speed. When he gets the focus, it's basically stopping evil plots and being a super fast badass with the cast proping his impressivenesd. Characters like Shadow, Metal, and Silver depend on Sonics charisma to shine as equals to him, which is the problem. Shadow is prolly the most neutral big player of self development out of all of Sonics rivals and yet he gets no real attention to be as important as Sonic when the story has a recyclable need to use him with Sonic in saving the world or having prominence outside of Sonics foil relatonship or Rouges agent development.

He still plays the shadow doppelganger role and shares too many of his spotlight moment to minor or mainstream characters that barely have any of the brand appeal he's supposed to have as a badass action hero. He's basically a niche anti hero caricature for cheap laughs or fangirls nowadaya, and not the badass solo act of a iconic maimstream rival sub protagonist back in early days. Even in forces, he doesnt stand out im the plot despite being the origins of infinite. He was just filler Fan service at its least potential.

Sonic Team does not listen to fans anymore, they only pay attention to Sonics generic appeal to sell his brand and  to be all consuming and all encompassing commercial market. Sonic Team has given Sonic all the essential features to stay in front of everyone because every fan that likes other characters is ignored on purpose by their investors who want Sonic solo as a cheap profit to appeal to anyone under 13 with Sonic hogging all the cool shit. You don't see Knux do cool shit, Amy any more independent of her sonic obsession ,Tails being more than just sidekick, or Shadow acting on his own accord to stop something not connected to Sonic later or working with Rouge. Because it's always Sonic that gets to do stuff they don't do amymore.

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I find the idea that “fans don’t know what they want” to be a huge lie. Because fans generally have a good idea about what they like about their favorite franchise. The issue comes from the expectation of the fandom’s desire to be strictly uniform with no variance.

You pick out 10 random fans and ask them about what they like about Power Rangers or Star Trek there a good chance you’re gonna get 10 different answers. And I’m sure the same can be said about the people on this very forum when it comes to Sonic.

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Yeah, I know exactly what I want as a fan. Have for a long time. (And I accept that I may not get it and have already prepared to move on)

And so does the next guy most likely. The problem is that there about 10 different subsections of us in this fanbase. So SEGA and Sonic Team need to pick a lane and intelligently stick to it. Theres a way to do it without pissing off everyone (although some will be of course. You accept that with the territory).

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On 3/8/2019 at 6:00 AM, Despatche said:

*snip*

There's a lot to respond to, so forgive me if I don't fully address some of the points that you consider the most important.

First of all, Lost World and Forces are bad not because they don't match fan expectations (although, it is a very much a valid reason to express distaste for), they're bad because of nonsensical quirks that permeate large parts of these games.

For example, I don't like the soundtrack of LW, because its nature completely contradicts what I'm used to expect from Sonic games. But I can't deny that the actual work put into it is high-quality and I won't think that other people's tastes are invalid for liking it. Gameplay direction - same thing: there are plenty of interesting ideas and it's clear that Sonic Team tried to make the game as good as they could. But the implementation failed. Hard. Here's just one example of many. Many people will not normally notice that in Lost World your movement direction affects speed as well, and jumping the wrong way can spazz out the entire screen. For others, however, it means they'll be frustrated over and over due to their individual playstyles failing to conform to what is a completely unintuitive behavior (especially when any other game ever and especially past Sonic games functioned without this behavior just fine), something that can't dismissed as being "bad" at the game or whatever. Want more examples? There are soooooo many videos on YouTube talking about them (I personally recommend RadicalSoda's 3-parter on LW for his comedic style and indepth look). You have to understand that this stuff is not nitpicking. People aren't just different in their tastes or skill levels - they're different in their approaches to playing games, and a competently done game does not discriminate on the basis of that.

Forces? Same thing as Lost World, really. It's a game that is not for a lot of people in the Sonic fanbase due to really low level of challenge, but that's not what makes it bad. Ridiculously inconsistent art style (as much as I disliked art style of LW, at least it didn't have hyperrealistic trees and cities alongside LW-esque hills and enemy designs), "walk slowly for a bit and then instantly get top speed" physics that are completely not fit for platforming, literal boost2win sections (which is not a "low level of challenge" problem, it's a "playing the game at all" problem) and many, many more. Saying that Forces was "patterned after" Generations is also simply absurd, because, as far as I'm concerned, you can only come to that conclusion without actually looking at these games' level design sensibilities. "Here's a road, go boost on it" is not a level design sensibility. Diversity of engaging level set pieces that fit the level's aesthetics, as well as the impact the player gets when transitioning from set piece to set piece are just some of the things you have to pay attention to when designing levels. The psychology behind this can be really complex sometimes, putting it into words sometimes might even be near impossible, but it's a very real thing that shapes people's perception of the game as a whole.

Of course, by this definition Sonic Adventure would also be a bad game. I fucking LOVE Sonic Adventure, but I can admit that its flaws are very much real, they're something that will annoy the everliving shit of people and they're mostly something that can be addressed without changing what is undeniably good about the game (making them actual flaws and not preference difference). Due to certain circumstances things in SA that appeal to me greatly outweight the negativity that I've received from encountering its issues, but that's just my personal experience and I'll still admit that the game is bad/flawed in the grander context of things. You may not have experienced too many of the flaws when playing LW and Forces, but, regardless of whether you personally liked or hated these games, other people will notice their flaws to a much greater degree, and it's a bad thing.

 

Now, onto other points:

1) Fans shouldn't "take over SEGA" and "professional" does not contradict "fan". "Fan", first and foremost, means understanding what other fans want, and this is why Mania is a success. Another example: Devil May Cry V, made by experienced professionals who also happen to really enjoy their own work. If you have a concern about competence of execution of certain parts of games (like, "people can design good engines, doesn't mean that they can design good levels too"), industry veteran guidance is a thing. Nobody suddenly hires a bunch of rookies to replace veterans - they coexist and they (generally) work together to highlight each other's strengths. "Fans" weren't alone on Mania, and they sure as shit won't be alone if they were to make a new 3D game.

2) That's how brands work. It's only natural that people's expectations are defined by their past experiences, and meeting those expectations is a sign of competent brand management. That doesn't mean you just have to copy-paste every game. It means that every thing you add or change in a new entry has to play on strengths of the things that people have found appealing in the older games, as well as cover the areas in which the games are lacking. Of course people will have preferences and the newest game won't appeal to all the fans, but they won't despise it and the fanbase will not be fragmented as a result. It'll be much more united, positive and calm about personal preferences, in fact.

3) I've already covered the "Forces is just Generations" argument earlier. "Lost World is just Colors" kind of speaks to me, because I can see similarities in level design sensibilities (neither games appeal to me with their level designs, really, but that's besides the point) despite massive core mechanic differences. But other people will see it very differently due to mechanic changes, so it's an extremely subjective assessment.

 

Now, onto "this fanbase complains about things too much". What kind fanbases have you been in? Maybe the general platformer-loving populace is positive (because indies are indies and Nintendo is Nintendo), but it's REALLY not the case for many other kinds of fanbases. Some popular examples: Destiny, Overwatch, Counter-Strike, World of Warcraft, DotA 2. Some more niche examples that I've experienced: Phantasy Star (especially PSO2), Paladins, Quake... Especially Quake. Quake has the kind of community where some people will complain that netcode improvements ruin game balance (NetQuake vs QuakeWorld, CPMA vs OSP) and trying to adjust the balance and physics to them only makes the game more boring (Quake Live is just that to Quake 3, albeit it has its other flaws, and its netcode isn't perfect either). Guess what? It's called "passion", it's because we love that we care so much. People who made these games made them extremely appealing to a specific subset of people, but they don't fully understand why these games are actually appealing to people they're appealing to and why they're so appealing that people will sit on forums and complain about every little thing. Because things that are "little" to you are not "little" to them. We want discussions to happen because we want the best for what we love. Just because you feel like someone is expressing their view with overwhelming negativity, it only means that you would have to be outraged to talk like that, and it doesn't mean shit about how they actually feel. And yes, a lot of the time people don't know what they really want, and what they really want ends up being stupid even when the execution is perfect (which, in SEGA's case, never is). That's not a reason to shut people up, it's all the more reason to pay closer attention and discern the reasonable voices from the "ignorant" ones, try to understand the psychology behind "ignorant" voices (as in, what's the actual cause of these people's problems, rather than what they perceive as the cause), and let the resulting games show the light. And if the light is nowhere to be seen... maybe some of those ignorant voices weren't ignorant after all (or some of the "reasonable" voices were really ignorant), in which case - live and learn. Try again and eventually you'll get it. As long as you actually try, that is.

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On 3/8/2019 at 3:00 AM, Despatche said:

Post

I disagree with your statements on Lost World and Forces.

However, I strongly agree with your sentiment on the series allegedly being too fragmented. People on forums talk about this as if the fanbase is utterly divided and that SEGA could not possibly please fans because so many sub groups want so many wildly different things. This is wrong for a multitude of reasons.

Firstly, as you say, many franchises have sub game styles which cater to many people. Just look at Mario, with its Galaxy linear games, open world Odyssey games, 2D sidescrolling games etc, etc. It's comparable to Sonic's Classic, Boost and Adventure style games, but you don't hear people go on about the Mario franchise as if its experimentation has somehow made the fanbase too fragmentary to satisfy. 

Secondly, the reason for Mario's success is because the games are good. People who wanted a follow up to Mario 64 weren't utterly turned off by Galaxy, because the game is good. Similarly, when Mania came out, it pleased an overwhelming amount of fans, because ultimately people just want good, fun games. It's also the reason why a lot of people who wanted an Adventure style game liked Generations, because despite being more linear, it's a solid game, and people really just want fun games.

I really wish this fan sentiment of 'Sonic fans are too divided to be pleased' would just go and die. It's such a stupid statement.

 

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On 3/9/2019 at 7:28 AM, Plasme said:

I disagree with your statements on Lost World and Forces.

However, I strongly agree with your sentiment on the series allegedly being too fragmented. People on forums talk about this as if the fanbase is utterly divided and that SEGA could not possibly please fans because so many sub groups want so many wildly different things. This is wrong for a multitude of reasons.

Firstly, as you say, many franchises have sub game styles which cater to many people. Just look at Mario, with its Galaxy linear games, open world Odyssey games, 2D sidescrolling games etc, etc. It's comparable to Sonic's Classic, Boost and Adventure style games, but you don't hear people go on about the Mario franchise as if its experimentation has somehow made the fanbase too fragmentary to satisfy. 

Secondly, the reason for Mario's success is because the games are good. People who wanted a follow up to Mario 64 weren't utterly turned off by Galaxy, because the game is good. Similarly, when Mania came out, it pleased an overwhelming amount of fans, because ultimately people just want good, fun games. It's also the reason why a lot of people who wanted an Adventure style game liked Generations, because despite being more linear, it's a solid game, and people really just want fun games.

I really wish this fan sentiment of 'Sonic fans are too divided to be pleased' would just go and die. It's such a stupid statement.

 

I agree without even using the harsh sentiment you do. Good games will be liked and praised by the majority and mediocre or bad games wont. I think the fan division is largely irrelevant to the big picture of "reviving" the franchise. Simply making good games that have broad appeal is enough and this is all I really wish to see from sonic team even though I have my own personal vision for what sonic could be. Sonic has done this a number of times before, despite his spotty history.

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No one should really listen to anyone when it comes to creating his/her own art. If you do that, then you just tangle yourself in your own creativity to the point where you the artist do not what to do with your one creation. And that is the problem Sega know hs to face. They have listened to much to the fans. Sonic is too much of everything and no one really knows, what he should be and what he is. And that all happen because they have listened to much to the fans.

 

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On 3/9/2019 at 8:28 AM, Plasme said:

Firstly, as you say, many franchises have sub game styles which cater to many people. Just look at Mario, with its Galaxy linear games, open world Odyssey games, 2D sidescrolling games etc, etc. It's comparable to Sonic's Classic, Boost and Adventure style games, but you don't hear people go on about the Mario franchise as if its experimentation has somehow made the fanbase too fragmentary to satisfy. 

I have absolutely seen Mario fans at each other's throats over what kind of Mario games are coming out, though. In particular Odyssey kicked off a bunch of arguing between fans of the more "open world" 3D Marios like 64/Sunshine and fans of the more linear Galaxies/"3D" games.

The general high quality of Mario games absolutely dulls the effect compared to Sonic, but these divisions still happen. And considering Sonic hasn't had that unifying factor of actually being consistently good, it's not hard to believe its divisions run a lot deeper and aren't going to be easily cleared up.

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To be blunt, hardcore fans arguing on the internet are not worth seriously concerning yourself with anyway. It's going to happen with a big franchise regardless of the actual tangible quality of the work. I've seen equally intense arguments from the Zelda fandom and it'd be laughable to consider that series on par with Sonic quality wise. 

It's not something you can really stop so it's not worth thinking about too much. Devoting yourself to pleasing  narrow minded fans is always end with you coming up short. It's good to have a pulse on what your audience wants but that includes casual fans and non-fans as well. I'd rather a game designer go with their gut when faced with all this outside pressure than listen to people who don't have a good grasp on these things.

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44 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

I have absolutely seen Mario fans at each other's throats over what kind of Mario games are coming out, though. In particular Odyssey kicked off a bunch of arguing between fans of the more "open world" 3D Marios like 64/Sunshine and fans of the more linear Galaxies/"3D" games.

The general high quality of Mario games absolutely dulls the effect compared to Sonic, but these divisions still happen. And considering Sonic hasn't had that unifying factor of actually being consistently good, it's not hard to believe its divisions run a lot deeper and aren't going to be easily cleared up.

What I'm talking about is that Sonic fans often seem to think that Sonic is somehow uniquely fragmented and that the series' fragmentary nature is part of the reason why Sonic fans are especially hard to please.

Your point backs up what I'm saying. Even though there is arguments between Mario fans, people don't go on as though the franchise is ruined by its fragmentary nature because the games are good. So in other words; while there are divisions, they are really quite minor.

So what I'm saying is that Sonic isn't uniquely fragmentary and that it''s problems would be mostly resolved through the release of quality games. So I'm essentially saying the same thing as you.

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