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The illusion of change (of the status quo)


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So interesting article I read today about how storytelling and writing for comics from comic book writer, Peter David.

He speaks about the difficulties faced when writing an ongoing superhero story, and how writers face a constant problem of how to progress a series, particularly in regards to the "illusion of change". The term was originally coined by the late Stan Lee in how he described that the most important thing when writing superheroes is selling the idea that the status quo is changing when it fundamentally isn't.

You've seen all of the time; characters die, but are brought back.  Etc etc.


So to get to my point and how this relates to Sonic, I've noticed that the series kind of in a similar position or arguably worse. The Sonic series is almost constantly at odds with itself between actually having meaningful changes that matter, versus preserving the elements that people like about the series. Its like every major product pertaining to Sonic either changes very little and becomes stagnant or it changes too much and deviates from its core values.

As far as this pertains to the storytelling and characterizations, just look at the controversies surroundings characters like Tails Knuckles and Shadow? For a while, they hardly felt like they mattered (And Knuckles arguably still doesn't matter right now) so then Sega decided to shift their characters in a different direction...and of course, people hated the changes and want them to be reverted back to what they were before.

So what's the solution to this? How can a long running series like Sonic make significant changes forward without changing the fundamental aspects of it? Change too little and people get bored, change too much and people feel alienated and angry.


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It's a complex problem, to be sure. I was quite into comic books when I was younger so the analogy is very accurate. I think in general, Sega needs to find a middle ground between the two. If we want to maintain the status quo to keep the fans happy, the status quo has to change. This could take the form of a soft reboot, or simply redefining the gameplay style or tone. Right now, lighthearted stories and boost gameplay are the status quo, so change the status quo, to more serious stories for example. Another way to look at it is, add things to the current status quo to make it more satisfying. Frequent spinoffs were once a part of the status quo, but now they are not. Fans like having more spinoffs, so add that to the current status quo, and then maintain it. I feel like the series should establish fundamentals that can't be changed: Sonic vs Eggman, Knuckles has Master Emerald, high-speed action, this and that, etc. This is the core of the status quo, and then there are more external things like I mentioned above. I'm going to stop talking now because this is becoming a tangent, but this is just my take. 

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This is an interesting question.  I think the big issue here boils down to having the older generation of fans clashing with the newer generation of fans.  You may have the older generation of fans wanting certain aspects of the series to remain the same, while newer fans might want something different for the status quo.  I think a way to possibly fix this is if SEGA goes back to doing spin off games again like they did years ago.  The main games could be the ones that are geared towards the older audience, while the spin off games can be geared towards a younger audience.  That way, SEGA can still keep their core target audience (the younger audience) in check, while also giving the older audience something they want through the main games.

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Personally I disagree. This problem doesn't touch Sonic... except for addition of new characters that is. But that slightly different dilemma.

Sonic is more like Donald Duck. New adventure every  week, then go back to status quo.

I mean, look at Sonic Unleashed. It's one of most popular stories (probably because it's epic enough for adventure fans, but not 'edgy' to scare modern fans), but it's absolutely self contained. And no one complains.

I mean, Shadow is jerk these days and we don't like it. But it's not "illusion of choice", there was no event that made him harsher. It just crappy writing, and not caring for his past characterization.

(IDW comics is sliiightly different case)

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