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SEGA/Sonic Boom devs on appealing to the west, structure, characters, not coming to Japan, more Sonic Team games planned

Posted on February 6, 2014 by (@NE_Brian) in 3DS, General Nintendo, News, Wii U

Polygon has published a new feature with additional details about Sonic Boom, as well as commentary from Sonic game designer Takashi Iizuka, Sega of America producer Stephen Frost, and Big Red Button’s Bob Rafei. You can find a roundup of what was shared below. You can also find Polygon’s full piece here.

Iizuka on having western devs work on the game…

“As part of completely thinking about the West, we wanted to make sure we had Western game developers and make it a part of Western television. We wanted to make sure it was developed best for Western audiences primarily; this was very important.

“The whole thing started with the television series. Our previous series, Sonic X, was made in Japan and influenced by Japanese anime; the main audience it was made for was in Japan, although it came to the West as well. So Sonic Boom is something made specifically for the Western audience. For the TV series to be successful, we pretty much had to make it for that audience, and the games tie into that strategy.”

Frost adds that keeping Sonic Boom in the hands of western teams was important for the projects’ “synergy”
– Big Red Button chosen because its team had experience making character-driven adventure games

“One of the things is, if you think about it at a high level, all the key aspects of this new initiative for Sonic, whether it’s the cartoon, the game or the toys, is centered on the Western side, and we wanted to be unified in that. It’s very challenging to create an initiative like this where everything works in a nice synergy if you have a lot of people scattered around the world. Granted, we’re doing our [animation] stuff in France, but really, the leads of each group are at Sega of America. And it was really important — I think this is where many other initiatives might fail — is that we really we see each other every day, we’re talking to each other every day, and that was really important.

On the game’s emphasis on combat…

“Sonic Team is great and they make really great speed-oriented games, but this game is not just about speed. Speed is an important aspect of it, but exploration, combat and the strong narrative of the storyline are very big aspects of the game, more so than I would say in the past. So again, we wanted a strong storyline and art design that Western audiences can resonate a little bit better with the synergistic relation for all of us at Sega of America is why we drove toward a Western developer across the board.”

– Game will have a narrative focus
– Will focus on a “wide linear” gameplay approach
– Not a true open-world game
– Series of classic sandbox levels branching out into more levels in a spoke-like system

Rafei on the structure of the game…

“There’s moments where you’re funneled back to the main gameplay and we have to do that also for the necessity of cooperative play, where we didn’t want to have the two characters venture off in two different directions. It’s a classic structured game, so we have the critical path, and part of our project pillars, among many, was to make sure that it’s accessible to new fans. So we want you to be able to finish the game but for fans who want more, you will have to find the additional, the secondary paths and all the hidden secrets.”

– Using familiar adventure game conventions and ideas
– Emphasis was on making sure the gameplay didn’t eclipse the game’s defining Sonic elements

Rafei on Sonic’s scarf…

“We were exploring different outfits and we went through a lot of iterations and the scarf was something I’ve used in the past and it works for me and it works for the character. Really, the history of that comes from the old western days, with John Wayne, and as a kid watching a lot of those westerns, that really stuck with me. And you see the use of the afghan in a lot of action movies because of the soldiers and what’s happened with more association with the Middle East. So that DNA made its way into what makes a character action hero nowadays.”

“I was part of the team that created Uncharted, so it’s hard to take the DNA out of that. We’re making the games we want and want to play and it’s hard not to tap into, what feels right to you. And given our past with a lot of team members worked on Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, so you want to make sure we’re not just doing the same thing. We took the best of what we know from those games and applied it to what works for Sonic canon. That was really important to us, not to make another Ratchet and Clank game or another Jak and Daxter game. It was important to make sure that it feels like a Sonic game.”

– More combat-oriented Sonic game would allow the personalities of Sonic’s companions to be expressed more fully
– Each character will have specialty abilities that speak to who they are and how they interact with the world
– Amy can clear out swathes of enemies with her hammer and Knuckles can knock out opponents with brute strength
– The action focus also ties into the exploration component of the games
– This will in turn feed into character and story progression.
– Wanted to make Amy and the other characters feel like a subordinate character
– Amy will be more “capable, agile and graceful” for Sonic Boom
– She has her own powerful attacks and positive personality
– Having Amy standing out of Sonic’s shadow was a positive outcome of wanting all characters to stand out

On Amy and the female demographic…

“I want to bring more girls into gaming and have them play characters that they can associate with and not feel like they’re created by just a bunch of men. I want her, if it’s just me purely, and I’m sure the Sega team agrees with me, I want her to be see as a very capable character adventure character in herself. If she was to break out and have a game of her own you’d probably get an idea of what that would look like based on this game.”

– Also emphasizes cooperation among the characters
– New enemy is “darker and more foreboding than Eggman is”
– Still follows Sonic’s principles of fast-paced movement
– But this time around it’s not just about Sonic, with Tails, Knuckles and Amy each getting their chance in the spotlight

“Not specifically towards that but for me, Sonic is about joyous movement. Everything he does is that too maybe. But it’s a key thing. The reason we repeat this stuff is because, from a foundation sense, it’s what so important about these properties. And we wanted each character to navigate and do everything in their own unique way that really sells their personality. For example, Amy is very graceful, she’s like a ballerina. Everything she does which would normally be difficult for someone, she does with so much fluidity and grace. And yet, it balances out because she’s so awesome.”

– No plans to bring the games/cartoon to Japan
– Game is “coming soon”
– Japanese Sonic Team will continue to make Sonic games parallel to Big Red Button and Sanzaru’s games


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