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Ian Flynn to pen the story for "Sonic Frontiers"


Wraith
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Rabbitearsblog
2 minutes ago, Slashy said:

Is Ian a better writer than Shiro Maekawa?

Shiro Maekawa was the one who wrote the Sonic Adventure games, right?

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7 minutes ago, Rabbitearsblog said:

Shiro Maekawa was the one who wrote the Sonic Adventure games, right?

SA2, Heroes, Zero Gravity,Black Knight, 06 (screenplay responsible for Shadow mainly)

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Depends of what we want in a story, and it's kinda difficult to compare due to several thing :

- That we haven't Maekawa's true writing, but an - often kinda mediocre - translation of it

- That Flynn's corpus of work is way bigger than Maekawa's

- That videogame and comics are completely different medium.

- Maekawa's last story was ten years ago, and the landscape of pop-culture have changed a lot, with a lot of good stuff in the land of "good children stories" and YA.

 

But even with that in mind, I would say that I really tend to prefer a bit a big part of Ian Flynn's writing than Maekawa's, for some reason, like that he tend to write better some kind of character (especially the "less cool" ones) than Maekawa do. The handling of character emotions is often a bit more interesting in Flynn's work, IMO. And Flynn have a better balance of humor and seriousness, and of how the different type of tone bring us to his conclusion. There are some thing that I prefer in Maekawa's writing (for instance that he less overthink and is less focused on "canon", and use more symbolism and images), but overall, I kinda prefer Flynn's storytelling.

I also think that Flynn have a better diversity in the kind of story he can write, but on that point it might just be because we haven't seen Maekawa on other type fo story.

Notice that some of these elements are personal (for instance the balance, the handling of emotion), and of course it by all mean doesn't mean that Flynn is "objectively better" than Maekawa, nor that Maekawa is bad (he is a pretty good writer, especially for someone that started on this field after having worked in other field).

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CrownSlayer’s Shadow

Basically, Flynn has more detail than Maekawa.

And personally, I love detail. Ian tries to leave as few gaps as possible in his writing (which is great, because they make for great discussions in hindsight when you see his big reveals—the Death Egg mk II, the Metal Virus, etc), but again there’s no telling what extent he’ll be able to do that here in the games.

Let’s just say that after all these years, the story will likely be the least of Frontiers’ problems.

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Ian Flynn is fine. As mentioned, Sonic fans just get upset whenever their personal headcanons are violated; maybe Flynn doesn't write the characters exactly how they were (or how you thought they were) compared to Shiro Maekawa. 

But like, yo, no writer is going to adhere 100% to fan headcanon, and they honestly shouldn't because 9/10, some fans don't actually know what they're talking about despite thinking they do.  Ian still has to sell these characters to people who aren't Sonic fans, doesn't make a whole lot of sense to include a bunch of references and headcanons thay only a handful of people will get.

And despite that, Flynn still goes out of his way of adding tons of references and fandom nods.

 

 

Bottom line, there's no "perfect" Sonic writer and even Flynn has his own issues that he struggles with. The dude is a human prone to mistakes just like you and me. I know its not a high bar, but I think we can at least appreciate he cares a bit more and open to criticism than Pontac and Graff.

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I feel like Flynn mostly picks up where Maekawa fumbles by filling out all the cool character moments by having them actually lead somewhere and connect. Maekawa can come up with some cool sets and very memorable moments, but it mostly feels like he writes those scenes and then strings them together later. Ian is a little more creative with his scenarios for me.

Ian's biggest weakness, to me, is mostly in his pacing because he tends to slow things down a little too much to wring just a little more out of the characters or to lore dump. This was pretty prevalent in early reboot Archie, and while a lot of those worldbuilding details are appreciated (and in the case of the reboot it was a necessity given the circumstances), I'm a Sonic fan and of course I'll enjoy it. I want the universe to feel more connected. Sometimes it can feel kind of excessive though (he eases up throughout and gets more creative with how he integrates it later).

For every cool nod like integrating the Game Gear games into the background and adding the DiC/Archie villains (see something like "Eggman's Dozen" or the Fighters story) into the mix to flesh it out, you have things like "Shadow Fall" with a billion editor's notes to go play a game that wasn't in print at the time of publication or half of "The Great Chaos Caper" being Knuckles reciting Pumpkin Hill lore to the Chaotix. It needs balance. I grant those two specific stories were the first Universe arcs immediately after the reboot and Shadow and Knuckles needed to be re-established but I personally felt they were the weakest stories of that period.

I can sort of appreciate IDW cutting down on that even if it's Sega overcorrecting in the other direction to the point we have them apparently telling them stupid shit like the Master Emerald doesn't do anything anymore.

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Honestly, that's exactly why I feel like IDW should have just wiped the slate clean and start from scratch. The biggest problem Flynn has had imo in both Pre and post reboot Archie, and IDW, is that he has to basically juggle a continuity that is already shaky to begin with. Every Sonic series he has written had over 10 years of established lore that he has to manage through, and even as a long time fan, that shit is tough because some details are just gonna fall through the cracks. 

He has never gotten a chance to run his own continuity and establish his own rules. If you look at his Mega Man series, you can tell when he has full creative control and not have to clean up other people's shit, he's way more on point.  I'm glad he's being brought on board for Frontiers, but I have to honestly wonder how much creative control he has, because at the end of the day, he's at the mercy of what Sega will and will not allow. 

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Rabbitearsblog

Even though I really enjoyed Maekawa's writing in Sonic Adventure 2, there are a few things that he does miss on.  Like for example, even though I found Sonic Heroes to be a fun game, the story was a bit weak as it was just Sonic thwarting Dr. Eggman's plans, while a mysterious new foe also threatens Sonic and his friends.  It feels like in some of the games that Maekawa wrote in, the stories are missing a certain depth that would make the stories more interesting as a whole. Flynn meanwhile is able to fill in the blanks when it comes to his storytelling. It seems like he is able to bring in so much depth to the stories he writes and that clearly shows in his run on the Archie Comics and the IDW comics.  Of course, comic books and video games are completely different mediums, so Flynn probably has more time to develop stories than Maekawa does.  However, Flynn's biggest flaw when it comes to his writing is that he tends to get too "wordy" with his narration and he starts info dumping on the Sonic stories, which can cause many new readers to get confused about what is going on.  But all in all, I do think that both writers have interesting styles to their stories.  I'm just more concerned about what SEGA will allow Flynn to write in Sonic Frontiers and will they ever be opened to the idea about the Sonic franchise needing much more development to their stories instead of pushing for weaker stories.

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Flynns biggest problem he writes every character with pandering ass pulls that makes them take attention to the real stars of the series, especially shadow and blaze who are deliberately made to job to almost every character in order to make his own fanfiction depiction of characters he loves get the spotlight, outside of sonix, ypu can see where he unloads his fsnboy cream when writing someone like Knuckles, Omega, Silver, Scourge, Eggman and even Big the cat.

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17 minutes ago, Himoney said:

Flynns biggest problem he writes every character with pandering ass pulls that makes them take attention to the real stars of the series, especially shadow and blaze who are deliberately made to job to almost every character in order to make his own fanfiction depiction of characters he loves get the spotlight, outside of sonix, ypu can see where he unloads his fsnboy cream when writing someone like Knuckles, Omega, Silver, Scourge, Eggman and even Big the cat.

What the fuck are you talking about?

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My biggest problem is that he isn't creative. He is pretty good at making good use of underutilized or poorly conceived ideas and understands what fans want out of the franchise.

I will give the edge to Maekawa because he didn't have much of a framework on how to build a Sonic story when he started and made many of the elements that Flynn uses to build his stories.
Maybe it is being stuck in non-canon comics but there is nothing from Flynn that I really thought were ideas so amazing that they need to be permanent fixtures in the franchise.

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I don't think he's good at plotting. Characterization, interactions, dialogue, those are his strong suits and usually carry me through stories that feel poorly thought out or like he didn't really have a conclusion in mind. I don't think he's terrible at this: He's done plenty of well plotted arcs that I can name, I can just think of more where something went off the rails or he didn't stick the landing like I hoped he would. Sometimes this is down to editorial but honestly, most writers in creative industries are dealing with restrictions and rapidly changing situations like that. It's how you adapt that counts.

This is why Ian stories that are "plot light" and just involve him putting a bunch of characters in a jar and shaking it up are my favorites. Treasure Team Tango, Seasons of Chaos, etc etc.

He is a better writer than Maekawa. Maekawa is okay but usually has a pretty poor grasp on characters that aren't his favorites ie Blaze's characterization suffering for the sake of propping up Silver, Rouge losing agency to prop up Shadow etc. I'm pretty down on his version of Sonic too. He shaved way too many edges off of him to make Shadow seem cooler.

He's usually pretty good at nailing the emotional climax of a story though, which Ian is not so good at, so maybe if they collaborated something special would come of it.

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I do feel like Flynn is more ideal for a series like Sonic since he prioritizes characterization over plotting. For the most part, most fans of anything are generally going to remember the cast more than whatever plot they're in, and no matter how much Sonic fans argue otherwise, Sonic plots are not really anything to write home about. The simplicity of the plot allows for more character motivated drama, and I think that's the series' strength and more writers need to focus on on that rather than trying to be "epic". 

Fans love to prop up Maekawa, but I feel like that's less because his plots are interesting (they're not) but because his stories tend to have a lot of superficial elements that appeal to the base instinct of most of the fanbase. Maekawa pretty much turns the series into a Shonen Action Anime that rely more on how cool and badass the characters look more than their personalities, and yea, he blatantly plays favorites and priorities characters like Shadow and Silver at the expense of everyone else. Its understandable with Shadow at least, since he partially created him, but yea the bias is real. He even straight admitted that the Classic Sonic games didn't really appeal to him and his writing style drifted as far away from it as possible. 

 

So it mostly comes down to what you prefer; I generally understand most Sonic fans are young, so of course they want more focus on how cool these characters are rather than who they are as people and what makes them tick, but I really do like how Flynn isn't afraid to make these characters feel more down to earth beyond the "coolness" factor, but I get why that turns some people off. Shadow's eaten the most L's he's ever had under his pen, which is gonna turn his fanbase off that mostly like him being on top of everything and looking "badass", but I feel like Flynn's willingness to take him down a peg or two every now and then helps the character feel more relatable than just....well a stereotypical Shonen rival character. 

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27 minutes ago, Wraith said:

I don't think he's good at plotting. Characterization, interactions, dialogue, those are his strong suits and usually carry me through stories that feel poorly thought out or like he didn't really have a conclusion in mind. I don't think he's terrible at this: He's done plenty of well plotted arcs that I can name, I can just think of more where something went off the rails or he didn't stick the landing like I hoped he would. Sometimes this is down to editorial but honestly, most writers in creative industries are dealing with restrictions and rapidly changing situations like that. It's how you adapt that counts.

This is why Ian stories that are "plot light" and just involve him putting a bunch of characters in a jar and shaking it up are my favorites. Treasure Team Tango, Seasons of Chaos, etc etc.

He is a better writer than Maekawa. Maekawa is okay but usually has a pretty poor grasp on characters that aren't his favorites ie Blaze's characterization suffering for the sake of propping up Silver, Rouge losing agency to prop up Shadow etc. I'm pretty down on his version of Sonic too. He shaved way too many edges off of him to make Shadow seem cooler.

He's usually pretty good at nailing the emotional climax of a story though, which Ian is not so good at, so maybe if they collaborated something special would come of it.

He only had a limited amount of control over 06. He was working off of Shun Nakamura's outline.

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2 hours ago, Kuzu said:

I do feel like Flynn is more ideal for a series like Sonic since he prioritizes characterization over plotting. For the most part, most fans of anything are generally going to remember the cast more than whatever plot they're in, and no matter how much Sonic fans argue otherwise, Sonic plots are not really anything to write home about. The simplicity of the plot allows for more character motivated drama, and I think that's the series' strength and more writers need to focus on on that rather than trying to be "epic". 

Fans love to prop up Maekawa, but I feel like that's less because his plots are interesting (they're nno

 

SA2 and Black Knight are among the most interesting plots in the series.

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Sonic Adventure 2's plot starts falling apart the second you put it under scrutiny. Its definitely entertaining, but there's a lot shortcomings that aren't really acknowledged...cuz of the lot of the stuff people focus on is all of the cool action shit. 

Same with Black Knight. The story can basically be summed up as "Sonic goes to Camelot and beats the shit out of a bunch of Knights", pretty simple and to the point. The stuff people generally talk about is Sonic being a complete badass and making mostly generic Shonen action speeches. 

Its the same with 06; everyone acknowledges the plot is fucking stupid and makes no sense, but the stuff people care about is once again, all of the cool action shit. What's the part about Shadow's story that everyone remembers? Him powering up and going Super Saiyan against Mephiles in his ending. 

 

I love those games as much as the fandom does, but they're really not much more in-depth than your average Anime plot. 

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Are Flynn's plots all that deep or interesting when held under that scrutiny? Metal Virus was a typical zombie story.  Neo-Metal borrowed a lot of elements from Heroes.

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13 minutes ago, Slashy said:

Are Flynn's plots all that deep or interesting when held under that scrutiny? Metal Virus was a typical zombie story.  Neo-Metal borrowed a lot of elements from Heroes.

Everyone has literally admitted that Flynn isn't that good with plotting either, are you just not reading what people are saying? 

 

We said he's good at characterization and dialogue, something Maekawa falters in himself unless its pertaining to his favorites. 

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28 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

Everyone has literally admitted that Flynn isn't that good with plotting either, are you just not reading what people are saying? 

 

We said he's good at characterization and dialogue, something Maekawa falters in himself unless its pertaining to his favorites. 

Fair enough, I made a mistake there.

I feel like the characterization stuff is only because the limited amount of time for cutscenes and dialogue and the drive to keep the story moving to the next gameplay segment. There is not really a point to make the characters down to Earth when you have to move to the next gameplay segment and I would argue the in stage dialogue from Heroes shows that he can write them down to Earth.

I won't be surprised if Frontiers has the same problem of Flynn needing to prioritize making the characters cool to facilitate the the gameplay driven narrative.

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Yea, that's fair and I agree. Writing for a video game is a pretty different from writing for a comic, and we have no idea the involvement Maekawa had in the development of the games he wrote. 

Just personally speaking, outside of Shadow, I don't feel like any of his interpretations of the characters are particularly interesting. They mostly just say pretty generic stuff. But like you said, the games have to be written under the constraints of being a video game first and foremost, so there's only so much characterization you can establish. And since Shadow was a major character in almost every game in that era, it made sense he got the lionshare of development and intrigue. 

 

So I am mostly curious on Flynn adapts his writing to that format. Since it's a video game, I don't think he has to worry that much about plotting, and will mostly being doing the dialogue like Pontac and Graff. Flynn has shown that he does understand these characters a lot, so at very least, I expect a lot of good dialogue if nothing else.

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41 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

Yea, that's fair and I agree. Writing for a video game is a pretty different from writing for a comic, and we have no idea the involvement Maekawa had in the development of the games he wrote. 

Just personally speaking, outside of Shadow, I don't feel like any of his interpretations of the characters are particularly interesting. They mostly just say pretty generic stuff. But like you said, the games have to be written under the constraints of being a video game first and foremost, so there's only so much characterization you can establish. And since Shadow was a major character in almost every game in that era, it made sense he got the lionshare of development and intrigue. 

 

So I am mostly curious on Flynn adapts his writing to that format. Since it's a video game, I don't think he has to worry that much about plotting, and will mostly being doing the dialogue like Pontac and Graff. Flynn has shown that he does understand these characters a lot, so at very least, I expect a lot of good dialogue if nothing else.

You have Heroes where he had a lot of control over characterization since there was so much opportunity to throw in dialogue during gameplay and it had a super simple plot that didn't demand much screentime.

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I fucking hate Heroes....but that's for gameplay related reasons. 

Yea....more or less the same thing. Team Sonic's story is literally just about beating Eggman, Team Rose is about finding Sonic (and Chocola and Froggy I guess), and Team Chaotix is about gettin that bread. Only Team Dark has an interesting plot thread, and surprise, it's centered around Shadow.

In terms of characterization, Team Dark and Team Chaotix are kind of the standouts; but Team Dark has Maekawa's baby, and this is Team Chaotix's formal debut in the Modern branch, so a lot of work was put into establishing them. Team Sonic and Team Rose are pretty generic by comparison.

 

And the less said about Metal Sonic the better...

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