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Sonic Mania Dev Headcannon Says He's Broke, Recent Kickstarter a "Spectacular Failure"

Kazza

Gold Member
Oct 6, 2018
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This is a really sad video:



Summary:
- tried to kickstart a new 2D platform game, Vertebreaker, but it had only raised $14k of the $275k goal when he cancelled it
- $275k was needed, as development was only just starting, not already part way through, as with many other kickstarters
- was broke before Sonic Mania and living in mother-in-law's house
- used the Sonic Mania money (which was paid on a development milestone basis, so didn't get a share of the sales) to pay off his old debts, move out of mother-in-law's house and buy a second-hand car
- it's been 1.5 years since the final Sonic Mania Plus payment
- used some time after Mania Plus working on Darkwing Duck prototype after a Capcom producer expressed some interest, but no response from Capcom since then
- tried Patreon and spent time on Vertebreaker engine
- other members of the Vertebreaker team are also in similar financial straits

The saddest part was when he spent the last 15 minutes of the video personally thanking every single kickstarter backer. :messenger_loudly_crying: As a backer myself, I want to say no need to apologise or thank me. You're a talented guy and hope things work out for you. I'm ready to back the project/buy the game whenever it is ready.

If anyone here is on twitter, maybe give him some support here. The chap looks genuinely cut-up about it all:

 
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Melter

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May 13, 2011
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didn’t know he was even doing a Kickstarter. I would have probably backed another game from him
 

Al3x1s

Member
Nov 24, 2018
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He should do another Kickstarter for a smaller but still super cool project that he can finish by himself and so not ask for $250k but more like $25k which should be enough for him to live through some time until he figures out a more permanent solution.
How can you make the best Sonic game in decades and then be broke...? Like, how? What? What happened?
Its development was just a job which was finished over a year ago as he says, how much do you think he got paid by the hour or whatever for it?

Maybe the developers of Freedom Planet 1 & 2 could use some help with their current or future projects?
 
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ROMhack

Member
Jul 14, 2018
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How can you make the best Sonic game in decades and then be broke...? Like, how? What? What happened?
Says he wasn't given a share of the sales, just developer milestones. Sounds like SEGA took advantage of his naivety/he had no leverage because he used their prize IP.

I don't think it's that weird though. He was a gun for hire and if you went from working on, say, Sonic Adventure 3 to not working on anything then the money would quickly dry up...
 
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OrochiJR

Gold Member
Jul 2, 2014
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Damn, that sucks to hear. I also thought the guys who did Sonic Mania would have made bank. Life is cruel.

Sega should help him out/ hire him for new Sonic or other projects.
 
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Tekkenfan

Member
Oct 2, 2019
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Unfortunant, but not really shocking, the Kickstarter bubble was burst a long time ago, maybe it would've been wiser to use indiegogo or something else.
It's truly disheartening that good indie games are failing and stuff like pubg and the like get massive amounts of money for an unoptimized game that still runs like total trash even 3 years after launch and hundreds of millions of $ made.
 

Teslerum

Member
Nov 29, 2018
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Says he wasn't given a share of the sales, just developer milestones. Sounds like SEGA took advantage of his naivety/he had no leverage because he used their prize IP.

I don't think it's that weird though. He was a gun for hire and if you went from working on, say, Sonic Adventure 3 to not working on anything then the money would quickly dry up...
Thats standard practice for independent developers though. Not his fault.

Blame the industry in general.
 
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Nero_PR

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Jun 17, 2019
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Sega should hire the guy fulltime. Or any other good developer should give a talented person like him a chance.
 

ROMhack

Member
Jul 14, 2018
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Thats standard practice for independent developers though. Not his fault.

Blame the industry in general.
For sure. If talented people like him who prove themselves aren't fast-tracked then you really are looking at a poorly organised industry. (edit: or an insanely competitive one).
 
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deriks

3-Time GIF/Meme God
Dec 21, 2013
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Sega should hire the guy fulltime. Or any other good developer should give a talented person like him a chance.
Exactly. The guy has the hand on how Sonic is, which can lead to really good plataforming, and guess what? We don't have that much of great plataformers from AAA publishers
 

Darak

Member
Jun 18, 2013
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That Kickstarter's video is really poor. You need to watch one entire minute of story bits with a lackluster presentation and only then some gameplay (which is actually pretty amazing) is shown. I don't know if a good video would have saved the project, though. Kickstarter is not what it once was, after a long string of failures and scams.

Where is he located? With his background it should be easy to land a decent job in the industry. Sure, working for others means you can't do your own thing, but nowadays building an indie game studio is just like building any other business: being able to create a cool product doesn't automatically mean you have a business plan.
 
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Trojita

Rapid Response Threadmaker
Feb 9, 2009
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He didn't get any income from the sales of Sonic Mania? Fuck man.
 
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Saberyoko

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Jan 30, 2019
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As a proudly fan of Sonic Mania, this is kinda sad news. Does he not get anything from Mania?

I feel sorry for him.
 

Teslerum

Member
Nov 29, 2018
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He should have sought a contract with royalties, this sucks but it is what it is.
Contracts with royalities aren’t that easy to get otherwise they would be much more common.

And why would they be easy to get in the first place? The publisher can just laugh in your face and say “NOPE*

He isn’t dependant on financing this game after all. YOU, as a developer, however absolutly are to pay bills. Without work you’re fucked. The power to dictate a contract lies with the publisher, not with the developer.
 
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Jan 29, 2019
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He didn't get any income from the sales of Sonic Mania? Fuck man.
He was paid, he just doesn't get a per unit sold cut (which probably doesn't happen unless you're some super star studio).

I'm sure he will find something else, that pays, the guy is amazing.

To those saying Sega should have offered him work, he would probably have gotten it if he asked. However I think he wanted to work on his own thing, self publishing and all, which is something that could have turned pretty good if it worked, but it is risky - as he found out.
 
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IKSTUGA

Member
Jan 9, 2019
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What a shame... Mania was the most fun Sonic game since at least Generations.
 

Vawn

Member
Feb 20, 2018
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Sega should hire the guy fulltime. Or any other good developer should give a talented person like him a chance.
We don't know this isn't the case. In fact, I'd be shocked if he couldn't land a developer job, but wanted to own his own games and strike it rich.

It's a risky endeavor. But I believe if this guy just wanted a job to pay the bills, he'd find one.
 

Sp3eD

Member
Jun 6, 2004
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Let’s remember when he was signing contracts here sonic mania wasn’t guaranteed to succeed or even be good TBH. He likely jumped at the opportunity to get income and was happy to get the resume buff of working with Sega on a sonic game. It just sucks when the game became a rollaway success And the deal wasn’t about sales.
it happens all the time in any sub contractor “hire for per job” industry sadly.
 
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Naibel

Member
Sep 17, 2019
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Man, that's just sad. The industry's cruel sometimes to game developpers, and many talented ones just throw the towel and move somewhere else because of a lack of recognition and decent salary.

Being a game developper was my dream job when I was a grade schooler. I quickly changed my mind afterwards and I'm glad I did. Better keep playing games than making them.

Hope he finds a good job and gets out of this slump. He deserves it, Sonic Mania was freakin' awesome.
 

iconmaster

Member
Jul 18, 2013
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the least sega could do would be to give the guy a steady job/income.
No, Sega doesn’t owe him a job. They paid him for his work on Mania, and that’s the end of the deal. That’s how outsourcing works. (Would we even want the poor guy stuck at Sega anyway?)

Also I wouldn’t think a contractor would normally receive a share of the sales, though of course anything can be negotiated into a contract.

He’s clearly talented, he just needs to find his career groove. Kickstarting barely-begun games doesn’t work for anyone anymore.
 

evanft

Member
Dec 25, 2009
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So he got paid for Sonic Mania per his agreement with Sega and has been unable to secure another gig since then. I don't see a big story here.
 
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diffusionx

Member
Feb 25, 2006
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SEGA should be ashamed of themselves to do this really.

Pay the guy a decent chunk from the Sonic Mania sales. You could (and do) a lot worse with Sonic Team who rest on their laurels a lot.

In fact, just hire Headcannon to make Sonic Classic games for awhile.
I’m not sure what Sega should be ashamed of. They paid the guy based on a contract he signed. He chose what he wanted to do with the money, and chose what to do next. It’s not Sega’s job to take care of this guy the rest of his life.
 

cireza

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Jun 1, 2014
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His Kickstarter game did not look so appealing and the money asked for was really a huge amount.

Darkwing Duck ? How can this be a top priority game to work on in this day and age ? Strange decisions.
 
Aug 28, 2019
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Sad to hear, He made the best Sonic game this millenium you'd think the least sega could do would be to give the guy a steady job/income.
SEGA has a HORRIBLE history of being unable to retain their top talent. I.E Micheal Katz, Tom Kalinski, Yu Suzuki, Yuji Naka, Mark friggin Cerny, Yakio Futatsugi etc. They also failed to bring certain devs onboard who really did magical stuff with their hardware and would've clearly been great 1st-party (or 2nd-party) developers, i.e Treasure, Lobotomy Software, Kenji Eno (Warp) etc. Hell they only just recently purchased Technosoft's library, they could've purchased them back in the MegaDrive days honestly.

They're also generally pretty shitty at putting the right people in the right positions. E.G NOT putting Sonic Generation's director Hiroshi Miyamoto at the driver's seat for Sonic Forces (they put Morio Kishimoto for that instead). Honestly the only notable top talent with name recognition they've retained is Toshohiro Nagoshi. There's a few others for sure, but I don't think they carry the name recognition of Nagoshi, Suzuki, Naka etc.

Really don't think there's another dev which has as notably bad a record at keeping top talent within the company itself. It's just pattern after pattern of horrible oversight and lack of effort for retention. Closest I can think of is Konami, and that's mainly over the Kojima fiasco (tho seeing how DS's being received, they might've had a reason for that split :pie_wfwt: ). After that, maybe Microsoft.

Like, why haven't they purchased M2 yet? Bring that talent in-house FFS!
 
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Sycomunkee

Member
Jan 21, 2019
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Sounds to me like him and his team need to find day jobs and work on passion projects on the side. I feel bad that this happened, but as a husband and father, I would do anything to make sure my family is fed, clothed and housed first and foremost then worry about anything extra that I need to worry about. You can't tell me that he couldn't find a job or pick up other contract work somewhere with his skills.
 
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