Sonic Team and Sega - some insight from a disgruntled employee.

#1
Credit to Alvin Flummux over at GRCade for spotting this story...

tssznews.com has an interesting article, with sources and links, about a blogger who years ago, seemed to have more insight regarding Nights: Journey of Dreams than anyone else.

In particular, it reveals an internal strife between Sonic Team and Sega of Japan, highlighted by the fact that NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams was originally developed as an Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 title - going so far as to say he (Ben Andac) played an Xbox 360 build of NiGHTS at one point. Upon witnessing the overnight success of the Wii, Sega of Japan apparently forced Sonic Team to retool the game for Nintendo’s lower-spec platform, something its producer (Takashi Iizuka) was not happy about. Despite the shift in platform, the game’s fast-approaching release date and limited development budget remained firmly unchanged, giving Sonic Team roughly one year to rebuild NiGHTS exclusively for the Wii (when most games typically take two years or more to develop).
The story gets more interesting. In the blogger's tirade, he went on to mention the mechanics of Sonic Unleashed, a year before they were made public.

“Sonic Team are a relic from a past age who have overstayed their welcome. For the same marketing reasons that their name was initially kept (and has since backfired) they should be dissolved - it may already be too late for NiGHTS (and I really hope it isn’t and they manage to turn it around, which with Iizuka-san’s passion for the project is a possibility), but for the good of the company’s image; for the future of Sega’s other prestigious IPs and lastly for its iconic mascot it needs to be done… before they release another Sonic game with a transforming Evil ‘Night’ Sonic who looks like a werewolf and can stretch his arms out Dhalsim-style. It will happen, mark my words.“
After publishing said comment, the blog suffered a quick mass-deletion of posts, and was then replaced with:

The sidebar of his blog now contains a typical “My opinions are my own and do not reflect upon my employer, and I will not discuss my job with you” disclaimer, but most importantly, reveals the blog owner’s true name: Ben Andac. Ben Andac, as it turns out, worked as a “Game Consultant” and an “Admissions and Recruitment Executive” for both Sega Europe and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Ben’s job was most likely to evaluate the quality of products coming out of the publisher and potentially scout for new recruits to develop software.
There are other glimpses of insight to be had in the article, and the linked archived blog entry, but I find this perspectve to be very interesting:

Sega of Japan had intended NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams as a brief rest from the never-ending onslaught of Sonic game after Sonic game. In Ben’s own words: “There’s no doubt that Sonic Team have lost their quality touch. They are worse than talentless: they are without passion. Bored, weary, closed-minded and out of touch with any sense of what makes games good anymore.” Quite simply put, after making so many of them, Sonic Team is tired of Sonic games - something Ben cites as a reason for Yuji Naka’s resignation in 2006.
Discuss?

(I know the website is not well known, but the article seems fully sourced.)
 

drohne

hyperbolically metafictive
#4
one more reason to loathe wii if true, but some of this seems overly harsh after the 'actually-quite-good-except-for-that-token-collecting-business' sonic unleashed
 
#6
It would not surprise me if NiGHTS was the epic abomination it was due to that, because a lot of its low-tier problems were related to its technical aspects. But I have no doubt it would have still sucked if it was designed at all like the game turned out to be... it was a very very poor shadow of the original.
 
#8
Amir0x said:
It would not surprise me if NiGHTS was the epic abomination it was due to that, because a lot of its low-tier problems were related to its technical aspects. But I have no doubt it would have still sucked if it was designed at all like the game turned out to be... it was a very very poor shadow of the original.

Did you actually play through the whole thing? Because I remember you absolutely hating it.

I loved the original and personally couldn't stand that fucking Owl and gave up after like 4 levels because it just wasn't as good. And made me feel awkward playing it.
 

grandjedi6

Master of the Google Search
#10
“There’s no doubt that Sonic Team have lost their quality touch. They are worse than talentless: they are without passion. Bored, weary, closed-minded and out of touch with any sense of what makes games good anymore.”
Such an awesome quote, and justifies so much too!
 

ZeoVGM

formerly omg rite
#14
Very interested. And he is right, they just have no passion.

But Sonic Unleashed was pretty damn good, so at least there's that.
 
#15
I hope people don't seriously think that Nights 2 would have magically increased in quality if it had remained on 360/PS3 (which was a stupid initial decision on the first place, but hey, it's Sega). The change to Wii resulted in TECHNICAL downgrades
 
#17
I think I'm like one of five people here who actually really liked NiGHTS: JoD. But yeah, that is pretty sad if it was indeed a 360/PS3 title originally. I ended up using a Classic Controller with the game anyway.

Please give Sonic to another development team, SEGA.
 
#21
Sega's really going to have to take Sonic out of Sonic Teams hands if they ever expect the series to really get back on the right track. Similar to what Eidos did with Tomb Raider. They should let DICE have a go out the series.
 

grandjedi6

Master of the Google Search
#22
omg rite said:
Very interested. And he is right, they just have no passion.

But Sonic Unleashed was pretty damn good, so at least there's that.
Except for you know the werehog and the QTEs and the bottomless pits and the trial & error aspect of the speed stages and the hub world and the diologue/cutscenes and the item collection to open worlds and...... But other than that it was fine!

Diablos said:
Nights team being forced to scale down for Wii is BULLSHIT. I WANT NEXT-GEN NIGHTS
Considering Sonic Team USA's history of glitchy and incompetent games I doubt Nights would have been "HD worthy" even if it stayed on the 360 and PS3.
 
#23
grandjedi6 said:
The vast problems with Nights Wii had little to do with anything caused by a sudden platform change though.
I think it does, people would just stop caring and just get the job done quick and forget about it

bad upper management decision do affect moral in game development and dumb upper management decisions translates into lack of confidence of the crew of giving a damn, so they will contend in shoveling it out to meat the deadline without a care.
 
#24
So, basically, they don't want to be Sonic Team anymore. Why don't they just leave sega and open a studio on their own?

But what suprise me the most is the fact that Sega (assuming what the Blogger says is true) is fine in keeping the team the way it is.

Poor Sonic Team, what is Sega doin to you?
 
#25
I have a hard time believing that NiGHTS would've been better on X360 or PS3 in any aspect other than visuals.

The game may have been rushed, but the general design still would've been quite similar

NiGHTS wasn't the only recent Sega game to drop to $20 in a matter of just a few months. Same thing happened with Sega SuperStars Tennis, Sonic and the Secret Rings, and it'll probably happen with all versions of Sonic Unleashed.
 

SapientWolf

Trucker Sexologist
#27
Zoramon089 said:
I hope people don't seriously think that Nights 2 would have magically increased in quality if it had remained on 360/PS3 (which was a stupid initial decision on the first place, but hey, it's Sega). The change to Wii resulted in TECHNICAL downgrades
Well, the time they spent retooling the graphic engine is time they could have spent re-examining the gameplay. But then again, they've shown a determination to salt the earth for their old franchises.
 
#28
Zoramon089 said:
I hope people don't seriously think that Nights 2 would have magically increased in quality if it had remained on 360/PS3 (which was a stupid initial decision on the first place, but hey, it's Sega). The change to Wii resulted in TECHNICAL downgrades
I don't think you could just flip a switch and have a game up and running on a different system, especially one with such a great deficit in power. I imagine it took a lot of time, which could have been better spent improving the game. And who knows what state the game was in when they changed platforms... it could have been really early. There's no way of knowing if the game wouldn't have been different if they didn't switch platforms. I bet the framerate problems wouldn't be there on 360/PS3, at least...
 
#29
360/PS3 NiGHTS probably would've have been the same piece of shit. Technical problems are the least of JoD's worries. Maybe that extra time could've made the PS3/360 NiGHTS a better game, but then again, this is SEGA we're talking about. :lol

That said, it's a real shame that any development team should be forced to completely move their projects from one platform to another. I have no doubt it plays havoc on the development process - just look at Perfect Dark Zero, for instance. Hell, that game was ported up, and still came out a turd.
 
#30
Journey of Dreams isn't nearly as bad as it's made out to be. Yes, it's riddled with stupid superfluous content (especially at the start), but there's actually an engaging game at its core, even if it takes a while to peel back the layers and get to it. I actually think that out of every 3rd party Wii game it's the one that cries out most for a sequel. With a bit more polish and less extraneous content a sequel could be amazing.
 

grandjedi6

Master of the Google Search
#31
gutter_trash said:
I think it does, people would just stop caring and just get the job done quick and forget about it

bad upper management decision do affect moral in game development and dumb upper management decisions translates into lack of confidence of the crew of giving a damn, so they will contend in shoveling it out to meat the deadline without a care.
How would this explain all the other crappy games Sonic Team USA produced over the years? Sonic 2006 withstanding, Sonic Team USA always seemed to be the more incompetent of the two Sonic Teams.
 
#33
That's unexpected considering the plan for the canceled Air NiGHTS was going to use extra controller sensors for movement.
 
#34
They should give Sonic to Nintendo for a bit and let Sonic team do whatever they want to re-ivigorate their souls. They've been beaten so much through Sega Corporates grind house that it's killing them.

That said: Sonic Unleashed, pretty good effort and some decent fun.
 

ZeoVGM

formerly omg rite
#35
grandjedi6 said:
Except for you know the werehog and the QTEs and the bottomless pits and the trial & error aspect of the speed stages and the hub world and the diologue/cutscenes and the item collection to open worlds and...... But other than that it was fine!
Wow, sarcasm!

I didn't think the werehog parts were that bad. They were mediocre. Not horrible, not very good. But they weren't unplayable like you're suggesting.

The actual Sonic stages were awesome. It was a good game. Not amazing, not one of Sonic's best. But it was a step in the right direction, and most importantly, for the most part, the game was fun.

As for the trial and error aspect of the speed stages, there's nothing wrong with that. Though you may not like that style of gameplay. It's not an automatically bad quality like bad graphics or shitty controls are. You just don't like that style of gameplay.

Sonic Rush was the same way and it's one of the best Sonic games.

And as for QTEs, there's nothing wrong with them. I don't understand the constant bitching. In some games, they're not needed. But in a game like this, they fit.
 
#36
“Sonic Team are a relic from a past age who have overstayed their welcome. For the same marketing reasons that their name was initially kept (and has since backfired) they should be dissolved - it may already be too late for NiGHTS (and I really hope it isn’t and they manage to turn it around, which with Iizuka-san’s passion for the project is a possibility), but for the good of the company’s image; for the future of Sega’s other prestigious IPs and lastly for its iconic mascot it needs to be done… before they release another Sonic game with a transforming Evil ‘Night’ Sonic who looks like a werewolf and can stretch his arms out Dhalsim-style. It will happen, mark my words.“
.
i love it! i know their are some unleashed fans out there, but i personally took offense to it. It was utter bullshit. And the Sega Sonics were my favourite games back in the day. Hell, i still love playing Sonic 2.
 
#37
grandjedi6 said:
How would this explain all the other crappy games Sonic Team USA produced over the years? Sonic 2006 withstanding, Sonic Team USA always seemed to be the more incompetent of the two Sonic Teams.
Sonic 2006 needed one more year of production, that game smelled like tight deadline written all over it
 
#39
That last two Sonic Team games, SSR and Unleashed, were both competent. I loved SSR myself.

These guys aren't completely incapable of making a good game. They just can't rush things. On top of that, they need to TEST.

Just imagine how much better Sonic Heroes would've been if they had just tested and tweaked the controls and the goddamned camera.
 
#41
omg rite said:
Wow, sarcasm!

I didn't think the werehog parts were that bad. They were mediocre. Not horrible, not very good. But they weren't unplayable like you're suggesting.

The actual Sonic stages were awesome. It was a good game. Not amazing, not one of Sonic's best. But it was a step in the right direction, and most importantly, for the most part, the game was fun.

As for the trial and error aspect of the speed stages, there's nothing wrong with that. Though you may not like that style of gameplay. It's not an automatically bad quality like bad graphics or shitty controls are. You just don't like that style of gameplay.

Sonic Rush was the same way and it's one of the best Sonic games.

And as for QTEs, there's nothing wrong with them. I don't understand the constant bitching. In some games, they're not needed. But in a game like this, they fit.
i just dont get it i LOVE sonic one and 2. i HATED the "actual sonic stages" in unleashed. Felt like shit on a stick to me. I had heard those parts were pretty good, so i was so dissapointed when i played the game. The wherehog stuff was shit. Thats just not Sonic. Not my Sonic....*twitches...
 
#42
Zen said:
They should give Sonic to Nintendo for a bit and let Sonic team do whatever they want to re-ivigorate their souls. They've been beaten so much through Sega Corporates grind house that it's killing them.
To be an egotist and quote myself...

Mama robotnik said:


Never forget.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43Lr2jKe1Bg

Now I've said this before but...

This video is not just a testament to the awfulness of Sonic Genesis GBA, it's a testament to how far Sega have fallen. They can't even make the main character run fucking forwards in their oldest, most cherished game.

Stealth, a hacker very well renowned in the Sonic community, proved that it can be done by one man, in a month or two, without the source code. Sega, with the company's entire resource base, GBA development kits, and Sonic 1 source code, only managed to make a cartridge-shaped pile of fecal matter in more than that time.

They are in no state to produce Sonic the Hedgehog 4. They are in no state to even produce Sonic the Hedgehog 1.
I originally had a very vindictive perspective on Sonic Team as shitty, shitty developers. That hasn't really changed with this article, but I do have an explanation for their lack of quality.

For the love of god, Sega, release them from their own, hellish Sonic Cycle.
 

grandjedi6

Master of the Google Search
#43
omg rite said:
Wow, sarcasm!

I didn't think the werehog parts were that bad. They were mediocre. Not horrible, not very good. But they weren't unplayable like you're suggesting.

The actual Sonic stages were awesome. It was a good game. Not amazing, not one of Sonic's best. But it was a step in the right direction, and most importantly, for the most part, the game was fun.

As for the trial and error aspect of the speed stages, there's nothing wrong with that. Though you may not like that style of gameplay. It's not an automatically bad quality like bad graphics or shitty controls are. You just don't like that style of gameplay.

Sonic Rush was the same way and it's one of the best Sonic games.

And as for QTEs, there's nothing wrong with them. I don't understand the constant bitching. In some games, they're not needed. But in a game like this, they fit.
QTEs ruined the flow of speed stages for me. Blech. But you are right, Unleashed was a step in the right direction. Though that isn't saying much. Again, Unleashed fell for the same problems every past Sonic game has: a bunch of shit that drags the experience down and stupid design choices.

gutter_trash said:
Sonic 2006 needed one more year of production, that game smelled like tight deadline written all over it
Another 2 years of production still wouldn't have fixed the glaring design flaws with the game.
 
#44
Eh, I dunno about that. I remember hearing about a NiGHTS sequel coming to the Wii WAY before it was ever made official. Like 6 months or more. It was one of those "Kid Icarus Wii" things over at IGN, only it turned out to be true.
 
#46
EschatonDX said:
This topic is so depressing. :[

I think i actually feel bad for Sonic Team all of a sudden :lol
agreed with the depressing part.


i dont feel bad for the bastards though. on a side note: i am really starting to hate my Wii. And i was so excited when i first got the thing. Now it just sits on my tv grinning at me with it stupid, stupid grin. I just want to smash its damn teeth in.
 

ZeoVGM

formerly omg rite
#49
I don't quite get why Sonic Team feels the need to add in shit no one wants into their games.

On another note though, I started playing PSU again. At least that is very good.
 
#50
Nothing changes as far as NiGHTS is concerned: it's the utter shit on Wii and i'm pretty confident that they would do nothing better on PS360.
And the Wii, thanks to the wiimote, was on paper the perfect fit for the game..if only they could have come up with decent controls or course (something they definitely did NOT do).