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Sonic Team restructuring and moving to America?


8ther
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I've have been following Sonic news for the last few years, so i've been out of the loop. What's this i keep hearing about Sonic Team being restructured and future Sonic games being handled by Sega of America for here on?

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A tl;dr rundown - Sam Mullen from Atlus recently clarified that SEGA's internal CS2 division (Sonic Team) had now basically been collapsed, so now instead of just being Sonic Team, it's also the Valkyria folks, the Sakura Wars folks, etc etc. Basically anyone that isn't Yakuza.

Some people took this to mean "Sonic Team is dead!" My understanding is ST will probably just continue as a sub-division inside CS2. The SoA move thing comes from more and more of the old ST guard (Iizuka, Hoshino, Nishiyama) moving to SEGA America to "work on the Sonic pillar," which does at least suggest Sonic's development will be cross-continent, if not entirely based in America. 

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58 minutes ago, Tracker_TD said:

A tl;dr rundown - Sam Mullen from Atlus recently clarified that SEGA's internal CS2 division (Sonic Team) had now basically been collapsed, so now instead of just being Sonic Team, it's also the Valkyria folks, the Sakura Wars folks, etc etc. Basically anyone that isn't Yakuza.

Some people took this to mean "Sonic Team is dead!" My understanding is ST will probably just continue as a sub-division inside CS2. The SoA move thing comes from more and more of the old ST guard (Iizuka, Hoshino, Nishiyama) moving to SEGA America to "work on the Sonic pillar," which does at least suggest Sonic's development will be cross-continent, if not entirely based in America. 

Could this be a good thing for  the direction of the Sonic series?

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Just now, 8ther said:

Could this be a good thing for the sonic series?

Could be, could not be, it's all up in the air at the minute. How much of a difference it makes really depends on how ST in Japan are involved, as they could still push someone like Kishimoto into a lead role, which at this point I think is only going to serve to harm the project. 

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19 minutes ago, Tracker_TD said:

Could be, could not be, it's all up in the air at the minute. How much of a difference it makes really depends on how ST in Japan are involved, as they could still push someone like Kishimoto into a lead role, which at this point I think is only going to serve to harm the project. 

Who is he, and how could him being in the lead be a bad thing?

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8 minutes ago, 8ther said:

Who is he, and how could him being in the lead be a bad thing?

Morio Kishimoto is a director best known for his work on Colours, Lost World and Forces. His work involves bite-sized levels, blocky platforming, stripping Sonic to the bare basics, and a heavy reliance on Wisps.

He’s not well liked among many fans for how stale his Sonic games are, so there’s a cry to have anyone but him direct the next Sonic game.

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2 hours ago, Polkadi~♪ said:

Morio Kishimoto is a director best known for his work on Colours, Lost World and Forces. His work involves bite-sized levels, blocky platforming, stripping Sonic to the bare basics, and a heavy reliance on Wisps.

He’s not well liked among many fans for how stale his Sonic games are, so there’s a cry to have anyone but him direct the next Sonic game.

Also, very low levels of detail, unresolved plot threads, poorly-written main characters, unfitting soundtracks, minimal DLC, the same final boss over and over again, etc. A shame, because in the past he did the storybook games. 

 

Also,, Hiroshi Nishyama has returned to this Sonic Team. He was a field artist from SA1-Shadow. 

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This is, to me, the most interesting Sonic related development in a good while. If this restructure/move was related to the reception of Forces (ESPECIALLY in relation to the reception of Mania), it could wind up being a meaningful change for the Main Sonic series. I don't know what such a change would mean (no one does) but it's the main reason I have any hope for it after Forces. There's also the return of Hiroshi Nishiyama. I don't know what he contributed on an individual level (I know he did some concept art for grinding in SA2) but I know that I really liked the art direction of the era he worked on the series (even Shadow which, while it isn't super great visually, still felt distinctly like the Sonic of that era).

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49 minutes ago, Miragnarok said:

Also, very low levels of detail, unresolved plot threads, poorly-written main characters, unfitting soundtracks, minimal DLC, the same final boss over and over again, etc. A shame, because in the past he did the storybook games. 

 

Also,, Hiroshi Nishyama has returned to this Sonic Team. He was a field artist from SA1-Shadow. 

Unresolved plot threads? 

Also, I wanna say the soundtracks is subject to a different part of the team.

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My big hope is that Kishimoto is assigned to a different franchise. It's hard to pick up a trail regarding recent Sonic games but there's a pretty clear trend of poor level design from the games he directed that I want broken. 

I haven't seriously examined the credits on the games to be sure though.

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18 hours ago, DabigRG said:

Unresolved plot threads? 

Also, I wanna say the soundtracks is subject to a different part of the team.

Like how the Eggmen got out, what happened to Classic Eggman being a teacher, the status of the Extractor, etc.

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55 minutes ago, Miragnarok said:

Like how the Eggmen got out, what happened to Classic Eggman being a teacher, the status of the Extractor, etc.

Oh yeah, the Extractor is definitely a good question.

Like, we can make assume some things, but that was kind of a big thing to leave up in the air.

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On 4/25/2019 at 11:27 PM, Tracker_TD said:

A tl;dr rundown - Sam Mullen from Atlus recently clarified that SEGA's internal CS2 division (Sonic Team) had now basically been collapsed, so now instead of just being Sonic Team, it's also the Valkyria folks, the Sakura Wars folks, etc etc. Basically anyone that isn't Yakuza.

So instead of Sonic Team + Sega, now we have Yakuza team + Sega.
Heh, I know I'm exagerating and Sega always had/has more teams, but the way you wrote that down was funny to me. And makes sense, Yakuza is hard on it's way to surpass Sonic as Sega's flagship franchise.


I don't know if I prefer Japanese Sonic Team or American Sonic Team. The Japanese take more chances, are more shameless and enegertic and tend to create the most memorable and fun parts of the franchise, but they're unreliable and tend to fly off the rails pretty bad.
The Americans are more reliable and tend to give people more what they want, but play it too save and tend to be a bit bland as a result.
Plus are wayyyy too Meta these days. So I don't know.



Eh, I can forgive them not resolving Sonic Generations ending, that was clear to be a comedic punchline at the end. And it's difficult to write a resolution of that in the next game without it feeling clunky. Lost world's story would feel awkward if it has to start with Eggman escaping limbo first when it has nothing to do with Lost world's events.
If anything, I'm more bothered with how the plot of his games are pinballing around with several plotpoints having either no set up or pay off during the adventure.
But I ranted enough about that, so never mind.

That said, no idea if Morio Kishimoto is to blame for the story lines.
At this point I'm weary of pointing fingers at any individual, to me it seems the whole development envirement around Sonic is a giant mess and there's no one villain to blame or one hero that'll resolve it.

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46 minutes ago, Roger_van_der_weide said:

I don't know if I prefer Japanese Sonic Team or American Sonic Team. The Japanese take more chances, are more shameless and enegertic and tend to create the most memorable and fun parts of the franchise, but they're unreliable and tend to fly off the rails pretty bad.
The Americans are more reliable and tend to give people more what they want, but play it too save and tend to be a bit bland as a result.
Plus are wayyyy too Meta these days. So I don't know.

 

It's a bit of a juggle, eh?

Proper collaboration would probably be better.

46 minutes ago, Roger_van_der_weide said:

Eh, I can forgive them not resolving Sonic Generations ending, that was clear to be a comedic punchline at the end. And it's difficult to write a resolution of that in the next game without it feeling clunky. Lost world's story would feel awkward if it has to start with Eggman escaping limbo first when it has nothing to do with Lost world's events.

That's my general stance as well..

46 minutes ago, Roger_van_der_weide said:


If anything, I'm more bothered with how the plot of his games are pinballing around with several plotpoints having either no set up or pay off during the adventure.
But I ranted enough about that, so never mind.

That said, no idea if Morio Kishimoto is to blame for the story lines.
At this point I'm weary of pointing fingers at any individual, to me it seems the whole development envirement around Sonic is a giant mess and there's no one villain to blame or one hero that'll resolve it.

Well we know Lost World's plot was written by Misters Pontac and Graff with SEGA giving them the characters and location, so that may or may not be the least involved.

With that said, it does feel like many recent games have a story that feels incomplete and/or cobbled of mixed intentions. 

 

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3 hours ago, Roger_van_der_weide said:

The Americans are more reliable and tend to give people more what they want, but play it too save and tend to be a bit bland as a result.
Plus are wayyyy too Meta these days. So I don't know.

Aside from Mania, has there been any other Sonic games made by Americans?

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On ‎4‎/‎25‎/‎2019 at 9:23 PM, Miragnarok said:

Also, very low levels of detail, unresolved plot threads, poorly-written main characters, unfitting soundtracks, minimal DLC, the same final boss over and over again, etc. A shame, because in the past he did the storybook games. 

 

Also,, Hiroshi Nishyama has returned to this Sonic Team. He was a field artist from SA1-Shadow. 

Are...any of these things the Directors job? I admit I don't know a lot about Game development but I'm pretty sure the Director has no say in stuff like Story or DLC.

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4 hours ago, SBR2 said:

Are...any of these things the Directors job? I admit I don't know a lot about Game development but I'm pretty sure the Director has no say in stuff like Story or DLC.

The general purpose of the game director is that they ensure all the components of the game come together into a complete product as they see fit, and they also have the primary/final word about who is responsible for each department of a game's production and the evaluation of the work those departments produce. So while the director of a videogame may not be directly responsible for handling those roles, they do have a critical amount of input/influence on how the work those roles are responsible for turn out.

A somewhat subtle example of this in action is to compare Forces, Lost World, and/or Colors (all of which Kishimoto served as the director) to Secret Rings and/or Black Knight which Kishimoto was the lead designer, but not the director). Despite Kishimoto serving significant executive roles in the production of all five games,  each group of games has a markedly different approach towards the presentation and focus on certain properties of the game design.

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On 4/26/2019 at 1:40 PM, Wraith said:

My big hope is that Kishimoto is assigned to a different franchise. It's hard to pick up a trail regarding recent Sonic games but there's a pretty clear trend of poor level design from the games he directed that I want broken. 

I haven't seriously examined the credits on the games to be sure though.

If you're interested, here's a list of designers and directors for Sonic Team's Sonic titles from Sonic 2006 up to Forces I did a couple of years back.

(EDIT: Now updated with producers included and credits for Wii/PS2 version of Unleashed.)

 

(Sonic Team directors/producers/designers who have worked on three or more games are italicized.)

Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) :

Director - Shun Nakamura (also credited for Game Story and Game Title)

Producer - Mashahiro Kumono

Chief Game Designers - Shun Nakamura, Atsushi Kanno

Game Designers - Hiroshi Miyamoto, Takao Hirabayashi, Masayuki Inoue, Takako Nagase, Makoto Hirata, Daisuke Shimizu

Sonic and the Secret Rings:

[Creative] Producer/Director - Yojiro Ogawa

Lead Game Designer - Morio Kishimoto

Game Designers - Yojiro Ogawa, Shiro Maekawa, Emiko Sunaga, Harumasa Nakajima, Jyunpei Ootsu, Takayuki Okada, Eitaro Toyoda

Sonic Unleashed [PS3/360]:

Producer - Akinori Nishiyama

Director/Lead Game Designer - Yoshihisa Hashimoto (also credited as Technical Director for Hedgehog Engine Development Team)

Day Time Level Designers - Masayuki Inoue, Yoshinobu Uba, Takayuki Okada

Night Time Level Designers - Takao Hirabayashi, Natsuha Matsubara, Hideo Ohtsika

Lead Planner - Takao Hirabayashi

Boss Game Designer - Eitaro Toyoda

Combat System Designer - Takao Hirabayashi

Sonic Unleashed [PS2/Wii]:

Game Director - Toshiyuki Nagahra, Yoshihisa Hashimoto

Day Lead Level Designer: Masaaki Yamagiwa

Day Level Designers: Mai Kikuchi, Shouhei Shimokawa, Masanosuke Shimizu, Yuka Kobayashi

Night Level Lead Designer: Minoru Yamazaki

Night Level Designers: Tatsuro Tsumori, Yoshihito Okuno, Kentarou Kiyono, Kyouko Kataoka, Atsushi Kanno, Emiko Sunaga

[Sega Development Support Section]

Game Director - Yoshihisa Hashimoto

Lead Designer - Takao Hirabayashi

Designers - Takako Nagase, Masayuki Inoue

Sonic and the Black Knight:

Producer/Director - Tetsu Katano

Lead Game Designer - Morio Kishimoto

Game Designers - Harumasa Nakajima, Shintaro Kai, Takahiro Ono, Midori Iwabuchi, Kanano Yamaguchi

Sonic Colors:

Producer - Takashi Iizuka

Director and Lead Game Designer - Morio Kishimoto

Lead Planner - Harumasa Nakajima

Planners - Shintaro Kai, Takeshi Yamazaki, Jyunpei Ootsu, Mitsuru Osakada, Kiyoteru Mizuhara

Lead Level Designer - Takayuki Okada

Level Designers - Natsuha Matsubara, Takahiro Ono, Katsuyuki Shigihara, Kanano Yamaguchi, Midori Iwabachi

Sonic Generations:

Producer - Takashi Iizuka

Director - Hiroshi Miyamoto

Lead Game Designer - Yoshinobu Uba

Game Designers - Daisuke Shimizu, Katsuyuki Shigihara, Utako Yoshino, Takamasa Usui, Takayuki Okada, Kanano Yamaguchi, Haruhiko Kashiwazaki

Sonic Lost World:

Producer - Takashi Iizuka

Director - Morio Kishimoto

Level Designers - Natsuha Matsubara, Takayuki Okada, Kanano Yamaguchi, Rei Hata, Yuma Matsunaga, Jyunpei Ootsu, Takahiro Ono

Sonic Forces:

Producer - Shun Nakamura

Sonic Series Producer - Takashi Iizuka

Director and Lead Game Designer - Morio Kishimoto

Lead Planner - Takayuki Okada

Planners - Atsushi Kusama, Takeshi Endo, Masashi Kanda

Lead Level Designer - Jyunpei Ootsu

Level Designers - Shoko Kamiya, Yuya Setogawa

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