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Yuji has apparently left Square Enix


Zoomzeta
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Zoomzeta

So, not necessarily Sonic related, but apparently Mr.Naka has seemingly departed Square-Enix back in April 2021. 

Given how big of an impact he, Prope, and Arzest (Comprised of the old guard at Sonic Team), had on Sonic as a franchise and other IT'S at SEGA, I was wondering what you fellas thought of this.

I personally feel bad that he has seemingly seized working at Square, but given that the company was probably not going to give him another go at directing another project, going by the critical and commercial failure of Balan Wonderworld, so he may have felt necessary to leave to pursue his own plans again (That or they fired him, but the circumstances behind him leaving are still not entirely clear yet).

 

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Silvereyes

I wish him well. The video game industry can really chew and spit people out. Hopefully he can be able to move onto another company and be able to do work he genuinely loves.

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CrownSlayer’s Shadow
10 minutes ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

Balan Wonderworld at it's core is a game built on a faulty structure, with a very flawed core coming from an outdated methodology of game design. Yuji Naka came in with a vision of the game and apparently didn't compromise on it. He wanted a one button system for everything for "simplicity", despite the fact that the game suffers for it in basic areas as a result, and make the simplest of tasks even slightly more annoying for the player (EG - even the menus only work on ONE button, meaning you can't just hit circle to go back, you need to scroll to a specific menu option). 

Brah...I can’t even imagine nowadays playing most games except the most simplistic using just one button. That’s partly why I had a few gripes with Sonic Mania still using that philosophy when playing Sonic.

 

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Jovahexeon Jax Joranvexeon
21 minutes ago, CrownSlayer’s Shadow said:

Brah...I can’t even imagine nowadays playing most games except the most simplistic using just one button. That’s partly why I had a few gripes with Sonic Mania still using that philosophy when playing Sonic.

And yet, even in Sonic, you could arguably do more actions than in Balan.

With Sonic Mania, you can time dashes, rev up dashes and whatnot, due to its structure. It's tailored around it in a way that still leaves the player feeling like they have enough agency in the game to make it work for them. This is mainly thanks to the game being of the 2D variety of course. Therefore, the up and down buttons could be used for functions other than movement. Not so in a 3D game like Balan Wonderworld.

Balan literally limits you to just jumping as a default action, to the point where it can and will break costumes, and leave you boned.

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KoDaiko

I gave the game a try and it was okay aside from the price (yes I have low standards). I enjoyed it enough if I was told to play the entire game again I'd be like "ok sure!".

Ever since I've heard rumors about Balan Wonderworld's development I felt bad for the game. I don't believe its 100% Square Enix's fault or Yuji Naka's completely innocent, but the game really feels like it was rushed/interrupted and given last minute changes. It does feel like a bunch of content that's supposed to be there is straight-up missing, like basic tutorials and cut scenes, while other feel slapped on like the ending /recycled content. It's like they got the rough outline done, but didn't have the time/resource to continue on from there. I enjoy his style and direction, so hopefully he get's another chance working on a game. I'll totally support it. Hopefully it's more "complete" next time though.

 

...Oh yeah, so Square Enix owns BWW right? Not expecting them to do anything with it, but since Yuji Naka left there's little to no hope of it coming back I suppose. Very sad about that, I love the design and lore (from the novel, didn't buy but saw spoilers).

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Azure Blue Tori

Really, it was to be expected from the sales. I just hope he learned from this game's failure. There are too many prima donna directors in the entertainment industry that come out of these still thinking they did nothing wrong (e.g. Sakamoto and Other M).

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Scritch the Cat
8 hours ago, Jovahexeon The Undyne said:

And yet, even in Sonic, you could arguably do more actions than in Balan.

With Sonic Mania, you can time dashes, rev up dashes and whatnot, due to its structure. It's tailored around it in a way that still leaves the player feeling like they have enough agency in the game to make it work for them. This is mainly thanks to the game being of the 2D variety of course. Therefore, the up and down buttons could be used for functions other than movement. Not so in a 3D game like Balan Wonderworld.

Balan literally limits you to just jumping as a default action, to the point where it can and will break costumes, and leave you boned.

I will somewhat rephrase what I heard in a video interview about the game; I forget which: The difference between the two is that in Sonic you can use just one button to do several moves, in BWW you can use several buttons to do just one move.  Costumes change what that move will be, but as they’re mutually exclusive the flow suffers.  

It seems natural for everyone to bring up Sonic only using one button as something that inspired Naka to do the same here, but the two properties feel so very different that control similarities are irrelevant.  Sonic is designed and marketed as a fast and powerful character; that his games only used one button was hardly the selling point but they made that control scheme feel justified because in the thick of things at high speed it adds convenience to be able to keep your thumbs resting in exactly the same places while doing it all.  Meanwhile Emma and Leo are slow and weak, and though costumes may improve them the means of switching the costumes is still time-consuming and it makes the game even slower.  Sonic’s controls are designed to be as efficient as possible to do a lot of precise, quick-reacting stuff in response to excessive level challenges.  BWW’s controls seem purposefully INefficient in order to make even basic level gimmicks a challenge.  Or maybe not even a challenge so much as a chore.  So despite all of this allegation that Naka refuses to move on from the Sonic mindset, in most ways he actually did.  Ironically if he had actually been so stubborn that he insisted on a game far more like Sonic, he very likely would have been able to do much better with that and a lot more people would have bought it for the nostalgia.

incidentally, can anyone here tell me if other Naka games made between Sonic and now also used one-button controls?

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Rabid-Coot
7 hours ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

The game wasn't rushed out,

It might have been with it getting shoved out right at their year end.

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Scritch the Cat
51 minutes ago, Rabid-Coot said:

It might have been with it getting shoved out right at their year end.

I’m not sure what you mean there.  The game released in quarter one of 2021.

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Blue Blood
2 hours ago, Scritch the Cat said:

I’m not sure what you mean there.  The game released in quarter one of 2021.

End of the financial year, which runs from April 1st to March 31st. 

But still, Balan doesn't feel like it was rushed out. And if it was, I'm certain that it was because Square knew what a trash fire it was going to be and figured that trying to recoup some of their losses by releasing the game was better than just cancelling it.

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Ryannumber1Scarer

If Balan Wonderworld was rushed out, then Arzest must be amazing at polish work, because the final product features zero signs of it. The only bug I’ve run into is that there’s a visual bug where Tims lose their badges if you throw a small one at a big one to make a new Tim. Even at that, leaving and re-entering the Isle of Tim fixes it. So I heavily doubt it’s been rushed, because there’s no signs of it in the final product. At best, you have the seizure effect on the final boss, and that feels more like a consequence of poor decision making on whoever came up with the effects for that boss.

It doesn’t matter how much time they had to polish it. Arzest and Naka could’ve been given up til this month to polish it and nothing would’ve changed because all of its issues are baked into the core of the game. Nothing short of literally pulling a Prime 4 and restarting development from scratch would’ve fixed Balan’s problems.

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Wraith

Polish isn't really a great indicator how how smoothly development went. Sonic Forces is also a very polished game but I wouldn't say it reads like a game that had a smooth development cycle for a lot of really obvious reasons.

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Ryannumber1Scarer
5 minutes ago, Wraith said:

Polish isn't really a great indicator how how smoothly development went. Sonic Forces is also a very polished game but I wouldn't say it reads like a game that had a smooth development cycle for a lot of really obvious reasons.

And there’s still no indication that it was a rough development cycle either. The game has no major bugs, there’s a pretty hefty amount of content in the game itself, to the point that there’s even an extra 12 stages unlocked following the main campaign, and there’s two pretty long and involved side quests with the Tim’s. Even all 80 costumes that Naka envisioned - for better or for worse - all made the cut, even though Naka said he thought he could only pull off 40 at max.

It isn’t a Forces situation where the game is polished but also has like three hours of content, max, nor do we have any development stories talking about how development for Forces essentially only really started one year before the deadline. The most we have are stories about Naka admitting 80 costumes were a stretch and that Square had to get the CG team involved for cutscenes because Naka was going with in-engine ones.

Even with all that considered, the simplest answer is that Balan’s issue still isn’t polish, or glitches, efforts that would’ve been impeded by developmental cycle issues, they’re all conceptual gameplay fundamentals. They’re the 80 costumes that Naka envisioned, they’re the simplistic one button design of the game, it’s the random QTEs only present to pad out the game length, the near non existent story that Naka decided on, somehow wanting to aim for a blend of Persona 5, light-hearted story telling, and a simple story in one. 

Those were Naka’s gameplay conceptions and were the basis for what the game was built off. No amount of time or polish was going to fix that. There’s zero indications that Balan’s issues come from bad developmental cycling, the game plays as complete and as its own thing, unlike other Square titles that had their interference (Avengers for example). It’s all just the gameplay conceptions that Naka introduced where most, if not all major issues spring from. The point where Balan Wonderworld - from what I’ve played of it thus far (which is up to the bonus levels following the campaign) fails is the game itself, because the visuals, music, and designs are all pretty rad.

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Wraith

Why do you keep referring to Persona 5

This game's premise has nothing to do with P5. It's an expansion of the original NiGHTS concept

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Jovahexeon Jax Joranvexeon
27 minutes ago, Wraith said:

Why do you keep referring to Persona 5

This game's premise has nothing to do with P5. It was taken from the original NiGHTS game wholesale

I can see where he's coming from.

Balan Wonderworld, without a doubt, certainly comes off as a spiritual successor to NiGHTS, but the way worlds and levels work, with helping people deal with mental issues, making them better people and hell, even having them morph into giant mental monster mash boss battles, there are definitely similarities to Persona 5.

Heck, the Balan Theatre might as well be an allegory for Mementos. The point is that, the similarities are certainly there, and it just makes Balan's story all the more embarrassing in comparison.

I believe the main point @Ryannumber1gamer is trying to make is how Balan Wonderworld's story absolutely wasted its potential in-game with subject material that other products like Persona 5 have surged and excelled with.

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Ryannumber1Scarer
9 minutes ago, Wraith said:

Why do you keep referring to Persona 5

This game's premise has nothing to do with P5. It's an expansion of the original NiGHTS concept

The game’s premise is literally on the same lines of Persona 5’s metaverse premise, right down to Balan literally mentioning the theatre is basically the Collective Unconcious, using that exact phrase.

Instead of palaces being created as a result of distorted desires, the rooms in the theatre are created by people allowing their despair and turmoil to overtake them, turning them into monstrous forms representing the turmoil in their heart. Meanwhile, the way you get through them is by going through the stages to find two pieces of their heart, which when reconnected together - opens the pathway forward. Meanwhile, their theatre stages represent how they see things and the fears that led them to this point (Most do at least). The novel goes further with it by showcasing darker backstories for the characters that leads them into this.

Maybe Nights came up with that before, but if you’re genuinely trying to tell me that Balan telling people to go into the literal collective unconscious to go inside people’s worlds created through their hearts and turmoil, in order to restore their heart and fight their monster forms which act as a personification of what’s gone wrong with them has nothing to do with Persona 5’s plot, I don’t know what to tell you.

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nobukitsu88

While I respect Yuji Naka, doesn't he have a history of being a little... stubborn regarding certain things?

Even during his time at Sonic Team I thought there were stories about how he wanted things a certain way to the point of being a little picky. For example I know the voice director said for the older 3D games that he was adamant about having the voice actors look like their respective characters. While I know the voice acting industry is different in Japan (but this isn't typical in Japan either), the voice director tried to argue with that.

That isn't to say Yuji Naka isn't a visionary or hasn't done some great things. But what I am saying is that his track record shows that he can get fixated on certain things with other aspects being sacrificed. He can shoot his own foot many times. 

We also don't know the full story, but I think this is less a company issue than potential a leadership issue. I wish the best for him though. He is someone that works great with other people when some of his ideas can be reigned in it seems.

 

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Jovahexeon Jax Joranvexeon

The only sign of a potential rushing is the shoddiness of the Switch port, and even still, that can be attributed to incompetence.

As far as all information goes, at best you could maybe blame Square's Hashimoto for convincing Yuji Naka to make Balan a console game instead of the mobile game he originally planned it to be. Which is fitting, because Balan really does feel like a shoddy mobile game more often than not.

And let's be honest. We're playing Stretch Armstrong at that point.

A lot of the this tangled web was directly of Naka's weaving.

Heck, they even used a dumbass AI for programming which didn't work out.

The only interference Square has reportedly had was twisting Naka's arm to include more actual story, and I doubt that somehow threw development off the rails.

Naka was just clearly not the man for the job that he claimed himself to be.

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Wraith
26 minutes ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

The game’s premise is literally on the same lines of Persona 5’s metaverse premise, right down to Balan literally mentioning the theatre is basically the Collective Unconcious, using that exact phrase.

Do you think Persona 5 invented that phrase?

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Ryannumber1Scarer
14 minutes ago, Wraith said:

Do you think Persona 5 invented that phrase?

No, I don’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that the game’s theatre acts in essentially the same capacity as the Metaverse and that the game features many similar themes, so that doesn’t remotely change or counter my point.

Not that it matters because my point wasn’t even “it’s copying Persona 5”, my point was that it’s attempting to tackle difficult themes like Persona 5, only it’s total lack of story and consequent shoving it all into a novel ends up making all of the potential of that premise fall apart. When your premise of “helping people get over their turmoil and despair corrupting their hearts” is solved by just a cringey, random dance number at the end of each world, the plot’s pretty much failed at tackling the concepts it brings forth. It’s yet another failing of the game and another bout of total wasted potential because Naka didn’t want a story in this game, and he deliberately chose the 12 “lightest” scenario premises he could out of 40, causing severe tonal dissonance between each of the scenarios

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Jovahexeon Jax Joranvexeon
3 minutes ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

No, I don’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that the game’s theatre acts in essentially the same capacity as the Metaverse and that the game features many similar themes, so that doesn’t remotely change or counter my point.

Not that it matters because my point wasn’t even “it’s copying Persona 5”, my point was that it’s attempting to tackle difficult themes like Persona 5, only it’s total lack of story and consequent shoving it all into a novel ends up making all of the potential of that premise fall apart. When your premise of “helping people get over their turmoil and despair corrupting their hearts” is solved by just a cringey, random dance number at the end of each world, the plot’s pretty much failed at tackling the concepts it brings forth. It’s yet another failing of the game and another bout of total wasted potential because Naka didn’t want a story in this game, and he deliberately chose the 12 “lightest” scenario premises he could out of 40, causing severe tonal dissonance between each of the scenarios

Which is honestly rather disappointing, given how it's apparently the end result of all his bluster about "researching" better story telling and getting all prepped for it. And yet, for the game. that turd of a story is all he could churn out.

The actual story got foisted off to a digital novel.

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Azure Blue Tori
12 minutes ago, Jovahexeon Jax Joranvexeon said:

Which is honestly rather disappointing, given how it's apparently the end result of all his bluster about "researching" better story telling and getting all prepped for it. And yet, for the game. that turd of a story is all he could churn out.

The actual story got foisted off to a digital novel.

Maybe something was lost in translation, but "research" is a very odd way of describing the process of learning how to be a better writer. It reminds me of the people who think they can write a good story just because they watch a lot of anime or read TV Tropes a lot.

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Zoomzeta

I am hoping this topic isn't simply evolving into a full on rant about Balan Wonderworld rather than a discussion about everyone's feelings about Naka's departure from Square.

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Jovahexeon Jax Joranvexeon
3 minutes ago, Azure Blue Tori said:

Maybe something was lost in translation, but "research" is a very odd way of describing the process of learning how to be a better writer. It reminds me of the people who think they can write a good story just because they watch a lot of anime or read TV Tropes a lot.

Yeah, that's part of why I put the term in quotations. Either something got lost in translation or Naka apparently thought that would be enough to do the job. Either way, it's quite apparent that things didn't add up in the end.

Honestly, everything about how Yuji Naka handled his directorial debut at Square is just baffling. Cannot say I'm surprised he's ended things with Square, given the train wreck left before us.

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