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Awoo.

Ken Pontac and Warren Graff are implied to be moving on from Sonic.


Kuzu
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The relevant part is around 48 minutes for anyone wondering. 

While I don't share the same level of hatred the rest of the fandom had towards them, I can't really say I'm going to miss them the same way I am Roger. 

Aside from Colors, I was never really fond of their type of writing. 

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Same here. Honestly, some of their work was okay—I actually liked their script in Colors in spite how safe it was compared to others, but they haven’t really grabbed too much me either after that.

That said, I never had the same level of disdain for them. I figured some of it also had to do with Sega too, so eh? They’ll find better work for them than this.

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I was never into their writing style at all. They should find a series better tailored for it in the future.

It with them and Roger leaving, it's almost starting to feel like a while new era is starting. That actually has me more curious on the current development of the 30th game, if it means anything.

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I'm not a fan of their writing, but yeah the fans have been in general terrible to them. 

SEGA relied on them too much after Colors success in hopes of trying to recapture that magic and its clear it just didn't work. But some fans just took their criticisms waaaaay too far to blame them for absolutely everything to go wrong for the series story wise. 

I hope the best for them if they are gone and that they find a series that gels with them better.

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I still feel like they never got an entirely fair shake, either from Sonic Team or from the fanbase, but it's clear that the series' storytelling is not in a good place right now so something needs to change. Just gotta hope it's change for the better.

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I mentioned this elsewhere, but between Sega letting Roger go and now the writers of the last decade leaving, it really does feel like Sega constantly redefining what Sonic is less due to incompetence and more a deliberate design choice. At this point, to me, it feels like they want every new generation of potential fans to have "their own Sonic" to latch onto so to speak. 

It really does remind me how the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise is, or My Little Pony; generational franchises that refine what they are every interpretation, with only broad traits holding them together. 

 

So it wouldn't shock me at all if the next people that Sega bring in will have yet another interpretation of Sonic and the cast that isn't necessarily consistent with what came before.  That's what the Movie was after all, and it was a smash hit. So change is coming, whether it will be towards  a direction I prefer is up in the air, but it's definitely gonna just as divisive as the last two eras were, I can tell you that much. 

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I feel like they're too hated. They were just writing what Sega told them too. Plus they're comedy guys in general. 

I feel like people have this misconception that writers have full control of every part of production and don't really realize that they write what they are told to. 

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I feel the last decade of Sonic can be summed up primarily as missed potential. 2011 we saw a lot of potential for better things with Generations and Colors right before, but as it turned out, those games weren't solid building blocks as we would have hoped- they were, in fact, as good the next decade was going to get. Ten years later we approach the 30th anniversary, precious little of interest has been added to this franchise's canon since the 20th.

All of this extends to the writing and storytelling of these games. Colors's story and writing were in my book fine, as, much like Colors overall, it was assumed this was a new foundation for things to gradually improve. This did not happen, in fact Generations had even less story, Lost World forced half hearted character arcs into a game that was clearly built with no story in mind beyond an opening and ending, and Forces is Forces. With Colors and Generations, there was a moment in time to course correct the story telling of a series that by the mid 2000s had gone well off the rails (though frankly I'm at the point of missing all the crazy shit but that's another matter entirely). This moment was squandered, the storytelling largely failed to break meaningful new ground, and when it did, we largely wished it hadn't.

I'm not here to put Pontac and Graff on trial. I think they seem like good dudes even if their scripts were not what the fanbase at large was looking for, and some of the behavior they were subjected to is completely unacceptable. And the fact remains that Sonic game development is not a particularly transparent process; how much of what we like/dislike in these stories is down to them vs SEGA/Sonic Team remains the product of speculation. But the fact is Sonic stories have not been interesting for quite some time, and while I have no intention to dance on their graves so to speak, I also cannot say I will miss their contributions, and I speak as one of Colors' most ardent defenders. 

Now, Pontac and Graff leaving will mean little if anything if Sonic Team continues approaching their games and stories in the ways they have been. It is entirely possible they intend for another game light on plot but still filled with cutscenes that add little of value to anything, and will simply find someone else to write bad jokes in between levels. But between this news and Roger Craig Smith no longer voicing Sonic, the winds definitely seem to be blowing in a new direction. If SEGA is intent on business as usual after all, why would they not stick with the people they know can do that business?

I'm sure many are hoping for a return to the type of stories we saw in the Adventure games- and I can't say I'd mind that myself- and many might want to see things go in a direction more like the movie, or any other which way. I caution anyone getting their hopes up for anything in particular that Sonic has gone in a zillion directions over the years and expecting anything in particular will only be bad for you health as a fan. We have only heard of writers and actors being let go, we know nothing about anyone else being brought on- for all we know, they're axing the writers and actors because the new direction will be completely dialogue free! Or we could be looking at soap opera drama so nonsensical it would make Ken Penders raise an eyebrow. We could be seeing Mania on crack or the next Boom or anything in between, and hell, there is still of course the most boring scenario- I'm reading into nothing and SEGA does in fact just keep doing what they've been doing, with different contractors!

But from my view, signs right now are pointing towards change being in the air. And for a series that has spent the last several years circling the drain, unsuccessfully chasing the highs of the tail end of the PSWii60 era, that is necessary. I can't say if things will go in any particular direction or another, but with only the vague idea of a directional change, I can say for the first time in a good while, the future of Sonic has me, if nothing else, intrigued.

 

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25 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

I mentioned this elsewhere, but between Sega letting Roger go and now the writers of the last decade leaving, it really does feel like Sega constantly redefining what Sonic is less due to incompetence and more a deliberate design choice. At this point, to me, it feels like they want every new generation of potential fans to have "their own Sonic" to latch onto so to speak. 

I don't think the series has ever been consistent enough to categorize like that, though. The series doesn't really have clean breaks between different "eras", it just keeps on mutating until eventually it ends up as something else, and then there's all the different spinoff media on top to muddle things further.

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1 hour ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

Frankly, I think this should’ve been done a lot earlier. I don’t think their scripts have ever been particularly good, and the fact they’d admitted a lot of times that they didn’t even know much of anything about Sonic prior to hopping aboard never sat well with me. I feel like if you’re going to become the main story writer for a franchise this big, the bare minimum would be to familiarise yourself with it and the characters. Even if you see it as just a job, doing proper research like playing a few of the important games, or reading material such as that is important IMO.

Let's be honest most of these people try to do the best they can but are limited by Sega and their mandates. Of course most of these characters are thrown on board without a specfic purpose in the games. (SIlver was redeemed in the Idw comics). To be able to see real change Sega needs to start to care about Sonic and start to learn from their mistakes and this is the first sign of Sega making ammend to what should have happened a while ago.

1 hour ago, Diogenes said:

I still feel like they never got an entirely fair shake, either from Sonic Team or from the fanbase, but it's clear that the series' storytelling is not in a good place right now so something needs to change. Just gotta hope it's change for the better.

The Sonic Fan Base is like this if you make one screw up that effects the series and the way they like it to be it's over. You can see a lot of people didn't like Roger Craig Smith as Sonic and that's okay because as @Kuzu Said...

 

47 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

I mentioned this elsewhere, but between Sega letting Roger go and now the writers of the last decade leaving, it really does feel like Sega constantly redefining what Sonic is less due to incompetence and more a deliberate design choice. At this point, to me, it feels like they want every new generation of potential fans to have "their own Sonic" to latch onto so to speak. 

 

There are certain things that are going to change but that's why they gave the classic fans their last dose of Classic Sonic in Forces. Sega is showing that they are at least putting in some kind of effort. So that not just our generation but the next will see Sonic as current not like that old cartoon Felix The Cat that is no longer present.

To wrap things up Sega is trying to keep the idea of Sonic The Hedgehog alive!

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30 minutes ago, SBR2 said:

I feel like they're too hated. They were just writing what Sega told them too. Plus they're comedy guys in general. 

I feel like people have this misconception that writers have full control of every part of production and don't really realize that they write what they are told to. 

Not to mention that SEGA's mandates over the franchise tend to limit what the writers can do.  Like the most infamous example is how Shadow is being written in the IDW comics because of SEGA's mandates on wanting to make Shadow like "Vegeta," despite the fact that Vegeta actually went through some character development in the Dragon Ball series that Shadow hasn't gone through yet in the comics.

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17 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

I don't think the series has ever been consistent enough to categorize like that, though. The series doesn't really have clean breaks between different "eras", it just keeps on mutating until eventually it ends up as something else, and then there's all the different spinoff media on top to muddle things further.

You can actually break up each "era" by the turn of the decade almost; 1998 saw the design shift towards the Adventure games, which would define the series for the next ten years until Sonic Unleashed, which roughly served as the basis for what Colors and onward would become, and that defined the series up until 2017 with Forces, and each shift saw major staff members who worked on the games at the time shifted out in favor of fresh blood.  

Iizuka was directing the games up until 06, and with the exceptions of 06, Unleashed, and Generations, Kishimoto directed all of the games from Colors onward. To say nothing of other staff members likes Shiro Maekawa being shifted out for Ken Pontac and Warren Graff as well as all of the other voice acting changes. 

Given recent events, I can't help but feel like this was very deliberate on their part, especially this being yet another turn of the decade and ushering in a shift in staff. I honestly wouldn't be shocked if Morio Kishimoto got the boot behind the scenes too and they brought someone else in. 

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2 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

You can actually break up each "era" by the turn of the decade almost; 1998 saw the design shift towards the Adventure games, which would define the series for the next ten years until Sonic Unleashed, which roughly served as the basis for what Colors and onward would become, and that defined the series up until 2017 with Forces, and each shift saw major staff members who worked on the games at the time shifted out in favor of fresh blood. 

But the "Adventure" era has games as disparate as Heroes and '06, two different sets of VAs, and '06 was intended as some kind of semi-reboot despite also very obviously being SA3. Then Unleashed introduced a new gameplay style and moved away from a lot of Adventure-era elements but it predates the VA and writer changes of the "meta" era; it doesn't fit cleanly into either. It's fuzzy no matter how you try to cut it.

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No, Diogenes is right. There are essentially no clean breaks in practice and they're established years after the fact by fans. Even Sonic's infamous design change wasn't exactly sudden. He'd been getting skinner and his legs had been getting longer in official art for years by that point.

There are sudden introductions and adjustments, but these usually happen on a per-game basis, basically at random and not as some sort of ceremonial turn of the decade practice. 

If you want a good example, Lost World is generally just paired with the Modern games as part of a set now but anyone who was around back when it was announced remembers that a lot of people who liked Colors and Gens fine were alienated with it on sight.  

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5 minutes ago, Diogenes said:

But the "Adventure" era has games as disparate as Heroes and '06, two different sets of VAs, and '06 was intended as some kind of semi-reboot despite also very obviously being SA3. Then Unleashed introduced a new gameplay style and moved away from a lot of Adventure-era elements but it predates the VA and writer changes of the "meta" era; it doesn't fit cleanly into either. It's fuzzy no matter how you try to cut it.

But you said it yourself, 06 is Adventure 3 in all but name. Out of every game from the 2000's, it's the most deliberately like Adventure in terms of everything, Even Heroes, as different as it was, retained a lot of elements and references to Sonic Adventure. The VA change was generally a result of Sonic X's influence, so that is debatable I admit.

I'm not saying it's a clean shift, it's very rough as you said, and if we didn't just get news that they're deliberately swapping out prominent staff members again, I would have never thought about it. 

But I honestly can't think of any logical reason to begin yet another paradigm shift, it's not like the series` reception is any worse than it was a decade ago, or in 1998 when the other shifts happen so I'm just left sitting here wondering why now if it was not a deliberate attempt at reinventing the series for a new generation. 

9 minutes ago, Wraith said:

No, Diogenes is right. There are essentially no clean breaks in practice and they're established years after the fact by fans. Even Sonic's infamous design change wasn't exactly sudden. He'd been getting skinner and his legs had been getting longer in official art for years by that point.

There are sudden introductions and adjustments, but these usually happen on a per-game basis, basically at random and not as some sort of ceremonial turn of the decade practice. 

If you want a good example, Lost World is generally just paired with the Modern games as part of a set now but anyone who was around back when it was announced remembers that a lot of people who liked Colors and Gens fine were alienated with it on sight.  

Lost World is kind of similar to Heroes in that it's deliberately different from the prior games that came before, but retains a lot of elements from them. This isn't even in hindsight either, because a lot of us noticed how similar the game was to Colors in terms of aesthetic from the outset, albeit with a much simplified artstyle. 

 

 

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Unlike with Roger, I never really liked Pontac and Graff's writing, but I will try and give their era a bit of a fair shake here post-mortem.

First, with the exception of Lost World, all of their scripts were based on outlines produced in Japan. You can't fault them for stuff like less emphasis on story or not involving the series' extended cast more in the narrative. Colors Wii was never going to have more than Sonic, Tails, Eggman, Orbot, Cubot, and Yacker. Generations wasn't going to have more of a plot than "Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic meet and go through old levels". These were decisions made above their pay grade they had no control over, it's just the direction Sega decided to go with based on criticisms of the previous era.

The outlier here is of course Lost World, which they publicly admitted they were given creative control over the story. I greatly dislike Lost World's story. I dislike how out of character Sonic and Tails seem to act. I dislike the personalities given to four of the six Zeti (I like Zavok and Zik). I dislike how shoehorned in Amy and Knuckles are when their scenes contribute nothing. I dislike how heavy handed the moral is, especially due to how contrived the conflict is achieved. It is my least favorite Sega Sonic story and that falls squarely at their feet. But that doesn't mean I hate them as people. The fandom has been incredibly harsh to people that are just doing their job. I believe Lost World is the perfect example of why the pair of them had no business writing for the Sonic, showing they had little idea of either the franchise or the fandom by writing it. But at the end of the day, it's just a bad story, and doesn't reflect them as people. More folks need to recognize that.

Back to criticism, while Lost World is the only one you can really blame them on in terms of plot, you can judge them on the rest in terms of script. If there are jokes in Colors or Generations you didn't find funny, that's on them. Stuff like "true dat" and "none of this is good... that's why it's called war" in Forces. Those are their contributions as writers and it's on them that they don't work. The Pontac and Graff era is praised for the characters acting with more personality, and I think there's an argument to be made for that especially for Sonic, Tails, and Eggman. Their dialogue was specifically tailored to appear more relatable and the focus on comedy allowed them to be more engaging for the audience. I don't really think they had a strong handle on what the character's strengths were, not to the level of someone like Ian Flynn for example, but there are people who liked their portrayal in Colors specifically for a reason, and Pontac and Graff's writing is the leading reason for that. It wasn't popular with everyone, but it did have it's fans that should be acknowledged.

In the end, I can really only my thoughts on how they compared to what came before and speculate on what will come after them. I will always prefer the character writing from 1998-2009 versus 2010-2020. While Pontac and Graff may have made Sonic and Tails sound more like regular people, they stopped sounding like the characters that attracted me to this series. At this time Lost World remains my least favorite game plot, and unless something worse comes later that's going to always color my opinion of their work and this era. I am hopeful that whatever comes next, regardless of who's writing it, is more open to learning more about the characters' history and interacting with the fandom to smooth over any issues they come across. A sense of openness about their process would help alleviate a lot of the alienation folks experienced during this era.

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While I stand by everything I've said about their work in this series and am excited to see the series finally start to move past this phase, I do obviously wish them both the best. I've been pretty critical of their work since Colors but you'd have to have simply not looked at some of their other works to say that they don't have talent. Hell, even with Sonic, I'll always applaud them for two big things; the sheer direction of bringing up the buddy angle between Sonic and Tails and their contributions of brining up Orbot and Cubot (who are great characters imo). Plus, hey, 06 is still very much the low bar for writing in the series so at least they didn't go below that.

With that said, like others have mentioned, it's obvious that this won't be the only move needed to get the narrative in this series up. It's clear that members within both Sega and Sonic Team had a strong hand on the wheel in every narrative over the last decade. Things can still easily be steered right into a ditch again if those contributions aren't addressed as well.

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Honestly I'll always be gratefulthey at least gave Sonic a personality beyond just being a dull Shonen protagonist that occasionally seems like an adventurer and a wise cracker.

Also it's not popular but I like how they wrote Tails. I enjoyed the fact he and Sonic could trade barbs with each other. It made them feel like equals instead of Tails just fawning over how cool Sonic is.

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28 minutes ago, SBR2 said:

Honestly I'll always be gratefulthey at least gave Sonic a personality beyond just being a dull Shonen protagonist that occasionally seems like an adventurer and a wise cracker.

Also it's not popular but I like how they wrote Tails. I enjoyed the fact he and Sonic could trade barbs with each other. It made them feel like equals instead of Tails just fawning over how cool Sonic is.

I really don't understand this assertion that "Sonic had no personality" before. 

Was it just a personality that you didn't personally care for? Because he very clearly had one otherwise. 

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He had a personality; I just think people didn't like that Sonic was too soft and docile for a while, especially in 06.

And to be fair, he was. That said, I think a softer side of Sonic is admirable, but maybe he shouldn't be that as frequently as he was. I remember when Colors came out that people responded rather well to Sonic having a bit of wisecrack and smug mischief to him; it was missing in all recent material at that point besides Night of the Werehog (a short with no dialogue).

Granted that too got grating over time, but that's what happens when the answer to one extreme is to take it in another..

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This is only my personal opinion, but Sonic is a mascot character...so wouldn't him being soft and docile be a GOOD thing? A role model for kids basically.  Hell, what made Sonic standout wasn't JUST his attitude, but it was the fact that he was heroic to a fault in spite of his attitude. 

If Sonic was all attitude, he would have never became as popular as he was, and I know that because look at how many of Sonic's imitators who never left the 90's for zeroing in on "attitude" and being written off as obnoxious? 

They literally parodied this with The Simpsons and you all know what I'm referring to.

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Now if you wanna argue that they softened Sonic too much, fine. But that I felt was a result of characters like Shadow having the all of the intricate storylines and characterizations. Sonic is static by nature, so he's not going to change much, so being surrounded by characters who are more developed and fleshed out is going to make him look a lot more one-dimensional.  But it's like...yea, but that doesn't make Sonic a bad character lol. 

And when they DID go back on that and played up Sonic's attitude, it was cute at first for old head who grew up with that, but it quickly grew obnoxious and people turned on it. Don't think it's a coincidence the movie version, which is much more nicer by comparison was so well received. 

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I mean, that's what I said, yeah. I'm not arguing it. LOL

I'm personally not a fan of how they softened him too much, but I like that being an aspect of him just as much as him being an irritable little shit and a showoff, and going too far in the other direction is also a mistake for reasons you mention.

Besides, these traits to him are hardly contradictions, they can be used together to make him have layers. It's just too often that people cling to one side or the other whenever he can be both, and certainly has been before.

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