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Kishimoto Confirms The Intake of Player Feedback For Frontiers



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https://soahcity.com/2022/11/12/kishimoto-says-we-are-listening-to-player-feedback-for-the-next-sonic-title/

It would appear that in the wake of the reception that this game has gotten, we do have a strong confirmation of sorts:

Kishimoto goes on to say that Sonic Team are treating the feedback seriously, as if it were a global playtest of sorts.

This heavily seems to suggest that unless SEGA slam Sonic Team with an order to change course, that like with Unleashed, or Sonic 1, they have a formula that they are very much going to stick with and refine for some time at least.

Kishimoto also acknowledges that they have room for improvement and a ways to go.

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As much as I wanna be positive and hopeful that he and Sonic Team will listen and improve on the formula...

I just can't?

Call me cynical all you want, but considering Kishimoto's track record I honestly just don't have any faith that the next game he directs won't have heavy automation, or 2D sections, or more boost gameplay, or recycled assets and locals that will be pushed to a side mode. I just....can't.

I'm sorry.

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If Sonic Team says to it’s audience it’s willing to listen to feedback, now is the time for any frustrated fans to shed any annoyances with the team or past games, nor any intensity; get it out of the picture and just let them know straight what should change or be improved in future titles.

If they take these responses and general consensus to heart, then, it’s not on miscommunication or anything the community flubbed if they do not pull through. You would’ve done what you could.

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And what good are the promises from a person who translated this game's JPN script as well as Tails can translate? If they were thrown such a big curve from Flynn (which implies they weren't actually aware what his prior work was like), I question how much the bigger queries the western fanbase had for years actually get through to them.

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Frontiers was supposedly the result of taking feedback more seriously and the fundamental issues are still as prominent as ever. Sonic Team, specifically this iteration, has been "gauging feedback" and feeling things out for 10 years at this point, so I feel justified in saying I can't really take this statement seriously. I'm tired of waiting 4 years and paying premiums for them to find themselves when there's so many other developers who have already figured it all out on the same shelf.

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40 minutes ago, Jake_LeOFFICIAL said:

As much as I wanna be positive and hopeful that he and Sonic Team will listen and improve on the formula...

I just can't?

Call me cynical all you want, but considering Kishimoto's track record I honestly just don't have any faith that the next game he directs won't have heavy automation, or 2D sections, or more boost gameplay, or recycled assets and locals that will be pushed to a side mode. I just....can't.

I'm sorry.

I just think that that's the kind of game that Kishimoto wants to create. All of the boost games, the storybooks and Frontiers share a lot of the same DNA, but I think it's relatively clear to see where Unleashed HD and Generations stand aside from a design perspective. I don't know how to put it into words (and also cba to try at this very moment). Point is though that the two games he didn't direct are the best. They have their share of automation, but they feel a lot more robust in their level designs. There's a lot more depth to them. It's not just the same limited number of ideas on how to build a Sonic level recycled over and over. 

I'll give Kishimoto props where it's due. I think that the combat in Frontiers is largely quite successful. I enjoy fighting bosses like Spider, Ghost, Tank, Tower and Sumo. And some of the standard enemies, like the spring guys or the jellyfish on Ares all blend in to the gameplay loop well, balancing a few combat techniques without slowing the game down. The most intrusive combat comes from the shielded basic mooks and the wolf things on the final island. The combat isn't amazing and unfortunately all of the unlockable moves basically amount to auto attacks. But in the whole its actually fairly decent. 

Frontiers also make Sonic control beautifully in the open world (unfortunately not in cyberspace) whilst of all Kishimoto's previous games have had bad controls. Obviously I'm not counting the storybooks here because they're so different. But despite those beautiful controls, there's nothing creative about them. No innovation, no desire to use Sonic's unique skillset in any way. Physics, loops and slopes? Kishimoto just isn't interested in that. Frontiers proves that beyond a shadow of a doubt. To him, Sonic is all about boosters, springs and grind rails. I swear it feels like 90% of Frontiers is grind rails, which are basically hear auto-running sections at this point. 

The one thing about Frontiers that's really innovative is the cyloop, and it's just the biggest load of missed potential. If they didn't want to create a open world Sonic games with a creative use of running and rolling physics, they could have at least used the cyloop to bring joy to Sonic's movement. They amount of things they could have done with the ability to trace paths is huge. It should have been a defining mechanic. But in reality, it's just drawing circles on enemies, and even that gets an automatic option later on. 

I think that Frontiers shortcomings are the fault of its director not knowing how to create a particularly exciting, innovative or engaging game whilst also being too afraid to venture away from the old hat. The cyberspace levels shouldn't be in the game at all in their current state. Reused level themes, reused layouts, those controls... It's all bad direction. 

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4 minutes ago, Wraith said:

Frontiers was supposedly the result of taking feedback more seriously and the fundamental issues are still as prominent as ever.

Well,  honestly, it seems to have yielded a keen result, and with them actually putting their money where their mouths were.

The game's pretty delightful overall with great promises for the future as an extra; not necessarily the only credit to its name.

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8 minutes ago, Wraith said:

Frontiers was supposedly the result of taking feedback more seriously and the fundamental issues are still as prominent as ever. Sonic Team, specifically this iteration, has been "gauging feedback" and feeling things out for 10 years at this point, so I feel justified in saying I can't really take this statement seriously. I'm tired of waiting 4 years and paying premiums for them to find themselves when there's so many other developers who have already figured it all out on the same shelf.

I'm completely on board with this assessment. 

It's clear that Frontiers tried. It's not like Forces or Sonic 4 where it was plainly obvious that they didn't a strong conviction to any direction and were just hashing something out to please everyone. It's not even like Lost World where they rushed together a Mario clone. Frontiers is new and different, but also familiar for all the wrong reasons.

The team developing Sonic games right now either don't know what makes a good Sonic game or are just barely capable of putting a good Sonic game together. Or both. I think it's both. 

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58 minutes ago, Blue Blood said:

 

I'll give Kishimoto props where it's due. I think that the combat in Frontiers is largely quite successful. I enjoy fighting bosses like Spider, Ghost, Tank, Tower and Sumo. And some of the standard enemies, like the spring guys or the jellyfish on Ares all blend in to the gameplay loop well, balancing a few combat techniques without slowing the game down. The most intrusive combat comes from the shielded basic mooks and the wolf things on the final island. The combat isn't amazing and unfortunately all of the unlockable moves basically amount to auto attacks. But in the whole its actually fairly decent. 

 

The combat is the only part of the game where I kind of see what people mean when they say it's a "good start". but that's all it is. The fundamentals are there: Dodging attacks feels good, hitting enemies feels satisfying, even with my intentionally underleveled Sonic I've encountered maybe one enemy that was too tanky in the whole game.  The animations are a bit shit and lack satisfying follow through, but the enemies HAVE tells which was more than i was expecting.. On a basic level, this feels better than Unleashed and Heroes. That's all the praise I have for it though.

Sonic is stuck with a limited range of special moves that mostly just do the same thing. The enemies all hog the camera and come with attack patterns so isolated and specialized they can't ever actually have more than one of them on screen at once, so the designers can't mix and match enemies to create interesting situation like a normal action game would. This pairs with the fact that the combat and the platforming encounters are completely different games, even in the open world zone where they're usually taking place inches apart from eachother. They don't combine level design with combat design in fun ways like Breath of the Wild or Ratchet and Clank. It's an isolated chunk of platforming or an isolated field to fight enemies in. Any intense platforming section will dumb the enemies back down to Unleashed tier bowling pins and any combat encounters will take place in a parking lot.

There are a couple of exceptions. Some of them use Sonic's movement mechanics in extremely prescribed ways before you're allowed to hit them, but they have the same problem the regular enemies do where they feel solved after your first go around. A few of them spawn on every map and they never shake up their attack patterns.

The other big exception is the cyloop, and I'll happily admit that it's fun to figure out how to weave through enemy patterns to lasso them, but as you said in your post it didn't even really seem like the developers knew what they had on their hands here since they rarely encourage the use of this mechanic over the other options.

This means that you're fighting enemies individually or the same groups, in the same empty fields the vast majority of the time, which means the combat wears out it's welcome extremely quickly. Even Unleashed had a better handle on encounter design than this.

This is all due to limitations with the base controls, engine and design philosophy, which is why I think Frontiers is actually a pretty bad foundation to base the future of the series on, but that'll have to be saved for a later post. I got the rest of Chaos island to chug through along with the endgame before I give my final say on it, but at this point I don't know if I'll ever get there.

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Honestly, and this is just based on impressions and not objective fact, but I think the only reason why there's potential is because it's a mismash of other existing formulas and elements from other and better games rather than it actually working with Sonic's core gameplay.

But that's just me

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3 minutes ago, Wraith said:

The combat is the only part of the game where I kind of see what people mean when they say it's a "good start". but that's all it is. Sonic is stuck with a limited range of special moves that mostly just do the same thing. The enemies all hog the camera and come with attack patterns so isolated and specialized they can't ever actually have more than one of them on screen at once, so the designers can't mix and match enemies to create interesting situation like a normal action game would. This pairs with the fact that the combat and the platforming encounters are completely different games, even in the open world zone where they're usually taking place inches apart from eachother. They don't combine level design with combat design in fun ways like Breath of the Wild or Ratchet and Clank. It's an isolated chunk of platforming or an isolated field to fight enemies in. Any intense platforming section will dumb the enemies back down to Unleashed tier bowling pins and any combat encounters will take place in a parking lot.

This means that you're fighting enemies individually or the same groups, in the same empty fields the vast majority of the time, which means the combat wears out it's welcome extremely quickly. Even Unleashed had a better handle on encounter design than this.

This is all due to limitations with the base controls, engine and design philosophy, which is why I think Frontiers is actually a pretty bad foundation to base the future of the series on, but that'll have to be saved for a later post. I got the rest of Chaos island to chug through along with the endgame before I give my final say on it, but at this point I don't know if I'll ever get there.

That's a good point. I know exactly what you mean. All of the enemy encounters play out the same way every time. There's no variation to them. That's probably why I stopped bothering with them at some point during the second island. 

Fun (annoying) fact: the types of gameplay in this game are so isolated that Sonic actually loses all of his combat abilities in 2D and enemies always go down in one hit even when their health bar is almost full. Sonic can't punch even when you press the button. 

When you look at it, Frontiers' Open Zone exploration and combat are just two new gameplay styles that've been added on next to boost gameplay. They're isolated and don't mix. Instead, the game just shunts you from one to next all the time. 

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See, this discussion was kinda what I meant. I have my hang ups with Kishimoto’s games and they’re all reflected here, but I also know we’ve never been directly spoken to on a social media platform about taking the critiques. They usually make those statements while standing in the background behind a press statement or gaming website, but Kishimoto seemed pretty determined for this play style to be received well and has been posting publicly on it.

I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt this one time that he and the team could be trying harder to pay attention, but that kinda extends to both sides of my thoughts on this. If they only take what they want to see from it and don’t listen to the bigger criticisms now then it’s definitive that they’re just not interested in it. At least I could move on from it. lol

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This is why I find it so weird how much everyone are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt...again. Because we all said that Boost "had potential" when Unleashed came out...and it didn't. So Frontiers "has potential" and nobody is really basing it on anything but the goodwill of the developers word...you know the same developers that just  gave them a game they all hated five years ago. 

So, this isn't even being a hater, I have no reason to assume they're going to take any of this to heart; they're gonna look at the most superficial complaints and praises and then just double down on them.

This is definitely a Kishimoto problem as Unleashed and Generations didn't have these issues, but because Kishimoto made one game that peopled in 2010, Sega apparently think he's the guy for Sonic despite how uninspired his game design philosophy is and it bugs me the hell out how reverently people are defending him despite most of his issues still being present. 

 

 

I like Frontiers for the record; I don't hate any of Kishimoto's games. I enjoyed Colors and Lost World to an extent, and even Forces has some redeeming qualities. But none of them compare to Unleashed or Generations, or even older games directed by Iizuka ironically enough. But nobody seems to care about that, so we're just probably gonna get more of the same in the end. 

 

I'm on the last island, I'll post my full impressions of the game later. 

Just now, azoo said:

See, this discussion was kinda what I meant. I have my hang ups with Kishimoto’s games and they’re all reflected here, but I also know we’ve never been directly spoken to on a social media platform about taking the critiques. They usually make those statements while standing in the background behind a press release, but Kishimoto seemed pretty determined for this play style to be received well and has been posting publicly on it.

I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt this one time that he and the team could be trying harder to pay attention, but that kinda extends to both sides of my thoughts on this. If they only take what they want to see from it and don’t listen to the bigger criticisms now then it’s definitive that they’re just not interested in it. At least I could move on from it. lol

If you want him to really understand your point, I highly suggest you get someone to properly translate your words in his native language so he can get the point. 

 

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23 minutes ago, Blue Blood said:

When you look at it, Frontiers' Open Zone exploration and combat are just two new gameplay styles that've been added on next to boost gameplay. They're isolated and don't mix. Instead, the game just shunts you from one to next all the time. 

Going to have to disagree on that bout. Honestly, with all the gameplay feeling speed based, it feels natural when the combat crops up.

If anything, the cyberspace levels feel more jarring than the combat transition. 

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18 minutes ago, Jovahexeon Jax Joranvexeon said:

Going to have to disagree on that bout. Honestly, with all the gameplay feeling speed based, it feels natural when the combat crops up.

If anything, the cyberspace levels feel more jarring than the combat transition. 

Yeah, the cyberspace levels are as jarring as the worst of the series' genre roulette from the older games, if not more so! They're similar on paper to the rest of the game, but feel so different in practice. It ain't good. 

Combat feels pretty natural to me too, but it's divorced from the rest of the open world. You have to stop playing to engage in combat. The game doesn't mix its combat into other movement and activities. 

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Frontiers is honestly a better start than what they did with Unleashed, I've give them that credit.

Problem is that it also repeats a number of its flaws that I didn't expect would return.

For one, it's too much of a required collectathon to let you progress without frustration. At the time of this writing, I'm still on Ares Isle trying to collect medals to progress. It's basically the Sun and Moon medallions all over again. The saving grace is that exploring is...kinda fun in most aspects. If I weren't so interested in looking around, I'd probably be more frustrated than I am, so there's some mitigation to it.

But I still want to progress, and the Cyberspace levels are ASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Good lord, they're the single worst aspect of the game!

The combat is a great start. No really, it is. They should keep it, albiet rework it--I like how enemies require different strategies to beat, but I really don't think I should need to upgrade my strength in order to beat some of the lesser mooks. That's basically returning to Heroes/ShTH damage sponge enemies, and it really ruins the flow. The way I see it, unless it's a boss-like enemy like a Tank or Ninja, no enemy should take more than one or two hits to kill.

That, and some of the moves could use some work. The fighting feels almost like a pseudo-Devil May Cry hack n slash, and while I like that direction, they could do far better than this if that's where they want to go.

On the plus side tho, they actually did well with Big and his fishing compared to their start with SA1. They're more welcome to bring that back if they keep it that way! (never thought I'd actually want fishing back in a Sonic game 🤣)

All in all, I'd actually like them to keep this Open Zone format they've got going on--again, I'm still on Ares, and I've been hearing about this "Chaos Island" giving you guys hell, so...not looking forward to that. But the idea is so close to what I've been wanting from this series.

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6 minutes ago, CrownSlayer’s Shadow said:

Frontiers is honestly a better start than what they did with Unleashed, I've give them that credit.

Problem is that it also repeats a number of its flaws that I didn't expect would return.

For one, it's too much of a required collectathon to let you progress without frustration. At the time of this writing, I'm still on Ares Isle trying to collect medals to progress. It's basically the Sun and Moon medallions all over again. The saving grace is that exploring is...kinda fun in most aspects. If I weren't so interested in looking around, I'd probably be more frustrated than I am, so there's some mitigation to it.

I honestly didn’t see that as a problem. Granted, come the final island, it became a little bit of a problem because the token requirements were so absurdly high that even through my normal gameplay, I wasn’t close to the requirement for all side stories.

But when it came to the other islands, I had no issues with memory tokens. By the time I was done exploring the island, doing challenges, and playing Cyberspace, I always had way more than enough to not only progress the main story, but also to hit up all of the side stories as well. Between medals being frequent, respawning often, treasure spots more often than not having bundles of them, not only did I have enough, I consistently had way more than enough to finish everything on a given island. If anything, I’d honestly say it’s way too easy and generous with collectibles. A ton of times, I had far more than enough gears and vault keys to last me through the islands.

Even with the final island’s requirements being higher, I still wouldn’t even say it was that big a issue. Ten minutes in Big’s fishing spot and I had the memory medals maxed out. I really don’t see it as a big problem, especially compared to the nightmare that was tracking Unleashed’s finite sun and moon medals.

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While I want to be happy that Kishimoto is acknowledging the flaws of Sonic Frontiers, I'm still a bit concerned about what criticisms he's exactly focusing on?  Like, if I were to ask Kishimoto personally about what criticisms did he see in people's reviews of the game and lay them out to me, would he respond to a criticism that was never mentioned by the people reviewing the game?  Or would he mention a criticism that was actually stated by the critics or the audience?  Like for example, if people have a problem with the Cyberspace stages and they were just stating about how the game could improve on the Cyberspace levels, what if this translates to "let's get rid of the Cyberspace levels and never improve on the gameplay in future games" despite the fact that that's not what the critics or the community were saying?  I would feel more comfortable with this if he just flat out stated what criticisms from Sonic Frontiers he noticed and alert the community that he's going to fix these mistakes for the next Sonic game.

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1 hour ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

Even with the final island’s requirements being higher, I still wouldn’t even say it was that big a issue. Ten minutes in Big’s fishing spot and I had the memory medals maxed out.

You just gave Big the Cat another saving grace. Gonna start doing that now!

(Big is now one of my favorite characters in the game!)

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6 hours ago, Blue Blood said:

Yeah, the cyberspace levels are as jarring as the worst of the series' genre roulette from the older games, if not more so! They're similar on paper to the rest of the game, but feel so different in practice. It ain't good. 

I cannot help but wonder if, with the cyberspace levels being the equivalent of special stages, that Sonic Team have a quota for those things to always have some wonky gimmick or whatnot. Granted, some cyberspace levels operate far better than others so I don't think the idea of boost levels being used to obtain chaos emeralds is completely without merit.

They do however, need to decide on how much they really want to commit to keeping the linear boost formula around though, and refine that.

6 hours ago, Blue Blood said:

Combat feels pretty natural to me too, but it's divorced from the rest of the open world. You have to stop playing to engage in combat. The game doesn't mix its combat into other movement and activities. 

I honestly never really got that feeling. Maybe it's because everything is speed related, but I never felt like things were really shifting all too much when combat took place.....well, except maybe on Chaos Island, for obvious reasons.

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6 hours ago, Blue Blood said:

Combat feels pretty natural to me too, but it's divorced from the rest of the open world. You have to stop playing to engage in combat. The game doesn't mix its combat into other movement and activities. 

Personally I'd argue that it does balance this well.

From my experiences, the Cyloop is one very important new ability that you can use in and outside of combat scenarios (pretty frequency in fact). It allowed me to zip into battles using this exact move right from the off in an engaging and reactionary way without having to stop before pulling into combos.

Heck even the side step and boost move play a good part in linking right into a lot of the movesets when you throw yourself in that it felt like a seamless transition to me. A good percentage of the enemies (including mini bosses) contain this high octane feeling that gels with the speed of the open zone traversal as well. It never felt separated out to me... well apart from the Super Sonic bosses... but that's a purposely sectioned off player engagement scenario. 

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I just want them to finish their damn games I’m so tired of budget restricted anemic final third/final acts of these game.

The game just feels like it was meant to be beta tested except we were the testers who paid $60 to judge their games. It doesn’t inspire confidence if this game hasn’t been out a week and they’re already asking for feedback to improve. Like imagine Naught Dog or Nintendo saying something similar

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I mostly just wish the final boss had more going on in terms of presentation,

Spoiler

loved the final boss in terms of gameplay, but presentation-wise it was so damn limp compared to how spectacularly the other bosses played out.

Island 4 being the way it is and the overall state of the game tells me that they just did not have enough resources/time/whatever to get the game in the state it should have been in.

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