Disclaimer: The views in this piece may not reflect the views of TSS or other writers on the staff team. The intention of The Spin is to promote debate and discussion of an issue or something that’s happening in the fandom or the world of Sonic.
I have to admit, I was quite surprised at how many people responded to the last article, I guess this game and the whole mess around it has really struck a nerve? Well, I said I’d be coming back to this issue since it really does need looking at from an outside fan perspective and since many fans seem to be asking “Who is to blame for this,” from what I’ve looked into, it really isn’t as clear an answer as many think, so lets look into the reasons why.
Part 2: Big Red Panic Button
The first part talked about cut content, this part will be looking into Big Red Button’s role in all this as well as Sega’s. I’ll also be bringing up a bunch of ‘new information’ which not many people are talking about yet without a doubt must have had an impact on the game’s development.
So shall we get started? As previously, this article will contain spoilers for Boom, can’t say for absolute certain that the conclusions are 100% accurate, for that we actually need someone in an official line to come out and explain what’s happened, but based on the evidence at hand these are the conclusions I’ve been able to draw.
For starters, let’s ask a question which should have a really obvious answer but based on the evidence, there is a lot of dispute surrounding it. That question is…
When Did Development Start On Sonic Boom?
Let’s see, according to Sega’s official word, when the entire Boom franchise was announced back in February, it was 2011.
That is not true.
Because based on evidence uncovered, it was being worked on during June 2010, nearly a year before Sega said so, here is that evidence.
Mr Villarreal is a concept artist for Big Red Button who posted a bunch of early concept art images on his Facebook profile before they got mysteriously pulled. What’s interesting though is this post, particularly with regards to Eytan Zana. Mr Zana does not work at Big Red Button any more, however he was an employee there, during June 2010 according to his LinkedIn profile. What did he do? “Concept artist for several unannounced projects.”
Here we have a guy who clearly worked on Boom thanking another guy who was on his ‘amazing team’ that was only at BRB in June 2010. It doesn’t take a parliamentary investigation to put two and two together here does it?
However, it may in fact be even longer than that. TSS staffer Shadzter managed to find another concept artist who worked at Big Red Button from 2009, whilst the page has been pulled from his website, it was full of concept art for Sonic Boom Rise of Lyric.
So how do you classify development? Actual overall work on the game such as the planning and design? Or hard coding on the game itself? Because if you discount the coding, it might have been 2011, but the actual start of the project in terms of work being done, long before that date.
Boom Started Development in 2009?
To be honest, I’m not sure, because we also have some evidence to suggest Boom actually started development back in 2007!
SegaBits staffer Barry, managed to find soem very interesting interviews from former head of Sega of America Simon Jeffery, which now sound a lot like what’s happened with regards to both Sonic & Boom in the last 3 years.
We will come back to this because you need to know some other bits of information in order for this information to make sense.
Who Are/Is Big Red Button?
Big Red Button has been around since 2009 and finding out exactly what they have done is not an easy task. However based on personal websites of former staff and LinkedIn profiles we do have an idea.
Big Red Button were a small development studio, how small? About 14 people. According to a former producer and project manager at Big Red Button who worked on delivering Nintendo software during his time, there were only 14 members of it, this manager expanded that number to 65 during his time there. But think about this, if the information found regarding when work on Boom started, there were only 14 people working on Rise of Lyric!
Whilst in terms of total people who reported to him ended up being over 2000, in house staff at BRB for a number of years was only 14 people before expanding to 65.
What Have Big Red Button produced?
Virtually nothing, well that’s not true, based on a number of personal websites and LinkedIn profiles, there have been some unannounced projects that they have worked on, however none of them have seen a release. Boom is their first completed project.
The Big Red Button Exodus
The story here comes from multiple sources, the claim is that at some point around June/July, there was a mass ‘exodus’ from Big Red Button in which staff were either let go or left. The biggest piece of evidence comes from Christian Senn, who stated he did not leave willingly…
I’m not going to speculate as how or why he was let go, but needless to say, someone at BRB let go a bunch of staff.
Now, according to a developer who posted at NeoGaf, Boom went gold in July of this year and a lot of staff left/were let go. However we have found evidence to suggest not only the claim of an exodus, but that there were major problems at BRB spanning back a period of months.
Where is this evidence? It’s on Big Red Buttons own website. Job listings were posted which we’ve been able to view thanks to the wayback machine show that as late as February 2014 Big Red Button were looking to fill a position for a ‘senior combat designer’, however they were still looking for one as late as July 2014. Alarm bells should be ringing, for three reasons.
- This matches up to the time period of the so called exodus.
- They didn’t have a senior combat designer in July of this year, for a game which main focus is combat
- Based on the job listing, for a period of 6 months, there was no senior combat designer working on Boom.
You might be thinking ‘it could be another game,’ that’s unlikely, because we found someone who potentially got this job, Mark Vernon, in his LinkedIn profile he lists a role at BRB from February of this year as combat designer. This strongly suggests that BRB not only didn’t have a senior combat designer, but also lacked combat designers in general.
This is crazy, you have a game which is mainly combat, yet you have one senior role and an unknown number of minor roles which are for designing the combat vacant with less than a year to go? Might explain why the combat has been heavily criticised.
However it doesn’t end there. Because we were also able to find the job advert for Senior Level Designer too, as late as February 2014. You might be thinking ‘are you sure this is for Boom?’ Look at the job details.
- Develop missions and levels according to the global vision of the game, the characters’ type and the games’ objective
- experience creating levels; with a strong preference for 3rd person action or character platformer titles
- Passion for knowledge of co-op gaming
It certainly sounds like they’re describing Boom doesn’t it? Also look at the other listings, all of them mention the CryEngine, and various future job listings put strong emphasis on experience with that engine, the same one Boom uses.
To summarise, Big Red Button had mass layoffs and walkouts, this much is more or less confirmed by former employees, however, evidence on BRB’s own website also points to the fact that BRB did not have senior positions filled during Booms development, there is no question this will have a significant impact on the game and its final quality.
The CryEngine 3 & The Wii U
*For the next two sections, my knowledge is limited, there might be gaps and therefore errors here so please don’t take my word alone on this*
Something that keeps getting brought up is the issue of the CryEngine 3 and The Wii U. This is how the conversation usually goes.
Guy 1: CryEngine 3 is too powerful for the Wii U!
Guy 2: No it’s not!
Guy 1: Yes it is!
Guy 2: No it’s not!
*Half an hour later the argument is still going on*
The truth is… you know, I have no idea. I don’t have enough technical knowledge to know if the Wii U can either in practical or theory, run the CryEngine 3 (in it’s most recent build), in a successful, stable and impressive way.
What I do however know is a bit about getting engines or operating systems to run on hardware, especially when it comes to getting game engines to run. As well as requiring talent to do the task in hand, you need documentation and “the knowledge” in order to know how to use the software with the hardware.
This is where one of BRB’s main problems came into effect.
Previously, the developers of CryEngine 3 did get a build of it running ‘successfully’ on the Wii U, however due to speculative reasons around the whole EA thing, nothing has come of it.
But let’s put this into perspective, no other development studio has released a game on the Wii U using this particular engine that’s in Boom. Think about that for a moment and everything it means.
- Only 1 team has produced any documentation about putting this engine on the Wii U, the developers of the engine.
- There is little to no community support for using this engine on this particular hardware.
- There are no case studies to look at in order to learn and predict problems with using the engine on this hardware.
Do I need to go on here? You have a team who are using someone else’s engine on someone else’s hardware with virtually no help or documentation to support them. That team ranges from 14-65 in house staff… There is no way you can do this without problems occurring.
So what does this mean with regards to the CryEngine 3 working on the Wii U? Can it run it? Probably, BRB have ironically proved it can run. But will it be any good? I don’t know, more developers need to use it and learn from it.
The problem here is that BRB were the first to use it with little to no support, there was no way there wouldn’t be problems, hoping for a flawless implementation and outcome was a doomed hope from the start.
In fact according to the LinkedIn Profile of the Senior Programmer Carl-Henrik Skårstedt he had to make major modifications from scratch just to get the game working, there was nothing pre-existing to assist with this work.
Is the CryEngine 3 Good for This Type of Game?
This is something I can never get a clear answer on because of so many variables. In terms of ‘can it do this type of game.’ If you’re asking is the CryEngine 3 capable of doing a platformer like Rise of Lyric, then the answer is ‘It’s not designed to’ and that comes from Bob Rafei himself.
The issue comes from the Wii U itself, if you look at this video, specifically at 2:40
- SEGA pleasantly surprised by the CE3 capabilities
- Not used for character platform, “but we were able to modify it”
- Not designed for Wii U. “We optimised it because it’s actually suited to be a PC engine “CE3 not designed for split screen at all.
More details here.
There’s two big problems you can see, 1, it’s not designed for the Wii U due to the dual/split screen element provided by the gamepad. 2, it’s not designed for a character platform game.
Now, this doesn’t mean that in theory it can’t do it, the problem is that it’s never been done. Therefore the engine is unoptimized, untested and the theory work unproven.
The short answer, no it’s not suitable. The long answer “Well it might be but it needs a lot more testing and research.” But this is time and efforts which Big Red Button simply did not have, nobody had it, because nobody has tried to do it.
Why Use the CryEngine if This Was A Wii U Exclusive?
Now we’re getting into very ambiguous territory here. Based on what we’ve seen from Sega’s own production videos and from Big Red Buttons own released material. Boom was at one point running to a much higher standard in all areas.
From what little we see of the development builds, aside from the improved graphical fidelity and performance, the builds are not running on Wii U hardware/dev kits, but Windows 7 PC’s.
To put this in as most basic terms as possible so everybody can understand, this is not that uncommon, even exclusive games start out life on PC, or a project might start on a PC, get a long way into development before a console is chosen, if at all.
BRB clearly had the tallent to make something that took advantage of the CryEngine, they clearly won Sega over to get that reported $20 million investment, heck they won fans over with their demo rheels.
So why would devs who clearly knew the engine, clearly had talent, who would have known the weaknesses of the engine put it on the Wii U as an exclusive when it makes much more sense to put it on another system or PC?
Because of this…
The Exclusive Deal
As we all know, Sega made a deal with Nintendo to put 3 Sonic games on their systems exclusively. Now, a lot of people assume that how this stuff works is as follows.
- The deal is done quickly.
- Everybody in the company knows about it.
- Everybody in the company knows what everybody is doing including those at the top.
Ok lets think about this. One company which is potentially worth billions and another company who is potentially worth billions, want to do a deal together to release their most valuable commodity exclusively on the others hardware. Add on top of this, the deal is worldwide and Nintendo will publish and distribute the game across Europe.
That kind of deal, the negotiating, the details, the contract signings, that takes weeks if not months to fully sort out. But during this time, other parts of the company are doing deals and continuing to work on projects. It doesn’t just get paused or put on hold.
Now the second point. That kind of deal would have by people very high up the hierarchy chain and restricted to those people. Let me ask you, do you believe a lonely programmer working on a random game in Sega is privy to the details of a major deal like that? Absolutely not.
So how would a group of game developers be able to communicate problems they would have as a result of this deal when they would be kept in the dark about it? They wouldn’t, because they would never be consulted. Especially if they were external developers, like BRB was.
Now let me ask you another question, whilst I wouldn’t doubt that those at the top of the hierarchy chain are aware as to what’s going on within their own company (at least I sincerely hope so), but the finer technical details?
Do you believe that a CEO of a company knows the technical details of the most popular game engines? How about the board of directors? How about the lady in HR? I doubt very much that they do. So even if people are aware of projects, I doubt that major technical details are known by them, the people who made the deal were probably not aware of the problems of using CryEngine 3 on the Wii U, if they were even aware at all as to what engine was being used.
Lets look back on things
When was the exclusive deal announced? May 17th 2013.
When did Sega claim Boom started production? 2011 (though I suspect earlier).
BRB probably found out about the deal at some point between mid/late 2012 and the announcement date. How much development has already been done on the game?
You’re the leader of the development team, what do you do in this situation? What can you do? Can you do anything considering you have a contract with Sega to make a game to their specifications. The answer to all those is no.
Because someone high up in the company made a decision, you now have to make a product to specification, on the system you know isn’t suitable, you have to make it work, it may or may not be to standard. But you have no choice.
Let me put it another way… this guy is Big Red Button, and he’s just got the news that someone in Sega has made a decision that means his game is now much harder to develop and might not be anywhere near as good as it could be.
Is It All Down To The Engine?
No, Big Red Button utterly failed in nearly every area with this game. The dull level design, the combat design, the camera work, the ring cap, the many many bugs, the repetative dialogue.
Even if the engine was optimised and working to standard, so many other problems exist, it makes me question if BRB had the talent to actually pull this off. Skip ahead to the ‘do they care’ section for a long reply to this point.
Did Other Problems Exist At Big Red Button?
I’ve already listed some of the turmoil involving the exodus, the fact they only had 14 staff at one point, as well as the real possibility that BRB didn’t know they’d have to make the game for the Wii U and shifted their development focus, as well as their staff shortages.
However, there are one or two things that suggest development was not smooth and that there might have been some problems internally, we have no way of verifying this, but there does exist some evidence to suggest all was not well.
If you take a look in the credits for the game, specifically the rather large ‘special thanks’ section, you can find a lot of now ex Big Red Button staff, I’d like to highlight one in particular. Rob Flaska, Mr Flaska used to work as a producer at Big Red Button, he was there for just under 2 years and left the company around the time of the so called exodus.
On his LinkedIn profile, he lists a lot of jobs, he’s also quite professional about his roles at his other jobs too. But when it comes to Big Red Button, he lists his job details as “Working my tail off.”
This stands out like a sore thumb, what happened at BRB to make this guy put that for his duties?
Did/Do Big Red Button Care About this game?
*looks around* There is no way to know for sure on this one, but if they did care about the game, they’re certainly doing nothing to suggest it.
Let’s put aside the small fact that… the game is broken and look at what BRB have actually done since Boom was announced and released.
According to BRB’s own website, in their announcements section, the last update is for the E3 trailer. Really? That’s your last update? No Gamescom? No Tokyo Game Show? No pre-order bonus info? E3 is your last announcement?
Not to mention that all the images used on the site are cut from the final game, the graphical representation is completely wrong too. Can you say false advertising? Their site is full of cut content and false images which they claim is in the game.
Big Red Button still have this image on their website, they are still trying to claim that Sonic Boom looks like this!
Well how about their Facebook page. Oh… no update since E3
How about their twitter page? Well it’s a little better, they certainly promoted their product for a while after E3… however something is missing I can’t put my finger on… OH! Wait I know… They’ve not even acknowledged that the game is out!
This is pathetic. Even Ken Balough was still promoting Sonic 4 Episode 1 & 2 long after reviews had come out utterly slating the game. He was still tweeting about it, making blog posts, engaging in fan and official forums, even doing interviews with the fans about the game.
Big Red Button are frankly cowards. You have made this game, this is your first game that your employees have worked on, at least tell people that it’s out! How bad does it get? Well, so far there’s been at least two cancelled interviews, reasons are for the lack of a better phrase, completely pathetic.
A scheduling conflict? Just think, this wouldn’t have happened if someone at BRB had access to a diary, or post it notes… or the back of their hand. Maybe it was a one off?
What are you so afraid of? You don’t even want to say the game is out let alone answer for the mess you have made? You are an unknown studio and this is your first title, come out of the shadows and answer questions as hard as it might be if you want BRB to have any future.
Right now, you look like you don’t care, and with Stephen Frost still not answering questions or engaging with fans, it just looks like nobody on the project cares about it, so why should the fans?
Even if these people did care about their game, if that’s truly the case, then frankly they lack the talent to make the game to expectations. A fun put down amongst the gaming community has been ‘They’re Ex-Naughty Dog developers for a reason,’ I did once defend and dispute this, only it’s becoming increasing hard to do so when so much of this game is a failure when you take out the poorly optimisation.
You have Stephen Frost on record for promoting the game by saying “We have ex-Naughty Dog devs! People who worked on God of War, working on this game” as if to say ‘Naughty Dog & God of War are high quality games and studios’ (and they are) ‘And we’re got their staff working on this game! You know it’ll be good!’ That is what you are saying with this, else, why else would you say it? Don’t blame people for now turning this line back at you given the utter shambles that the game turned out to be.
And then you have something as basic as ‘can we get a subtitle right?’
I’m going to hazard a guess that this caption was supposed to be “Do you think we should proof read these captions?”
Now I realise I’m going to open myself up to an open goal, however I would like to remind you I’m doing this as a hobby and not charging you £44 to read. How about grammar?
“Because ‘where’ Sonic Heroes!”
How about our ability to care enough to line up text correctly? Or make it easy to read a credits listing?
How about spelling the name of a company who helped you out on the game correctly?
You mean Pencil Test Studios? Not Studio? Because from what I can tell, Pencil Test Studio doesn’t exist… Pencil Test Studios however do. Not 100% sure on this one since Pencil Test Studios doesn’t mention Boom, however they are still very much active and based on all my searches, Pencil Test Studio doesn’t exist.
Now let me just say right now before I get a ton of comments, yes this might be a typo, but come on, how many mistakes can you make in this game before that excuse no longer works? This is very low level basic stuff, add it with all the other major technical problems in the game, it just doesn’t look like they cared, it really doesn’t. If you did that kind of stuff even in a school level, you’d get called up on it, let alone a £45 game.
Let’s ask ourselves, at what point does it become a typo, or a simple mistake, to it becoming a sign that they either lacked the talent to do a good job, or simply did not care about the project to do a good job.
Case in point, we can access multiple test levels and assets in the final game without the need for a save file edit or any other kind of external hack.
This shouldn’t be happening in a modern game. In fact ask yourself, with the exception of looking into using an edited save file, how many games do you own in which it’s possible to access test levels and assets? Even with using a glitch, how many games do you own where you can do this as easily as you can in ROL?
Then you look at the game design around this game, it feels like the last 10-15 years of 3D game design theory has been ignored, there’s so much basic stuff here that’s wrong or which is done badly.
Then there’s the dialogue. What where you thinking? Especially since Stephen Frost promised us that it would be toned down.
Did you just not care to fix this problem before release? No that option to turn off dialogue is not a fix. What you did with that turn off dialogue option is this “I have a leaky tap, I have cut off water to my house, the problem is fixed”
ROL’s Relationship With The SC & The TV Show
A criticism of my last article and probably with this one is the focus on Rise of Lyric… that’s probably fair point to bring up. However I would counter it with this, ROL is arguably the biggest pillar to the Boom franchise, the TV show is not out here in the UK for nearly a year, only two nations both the show and the games, and only one nation has the games, the show and the merchandise.
The rest of us, we only have the game, that’s the biggest way they’re going to sell the new franchise to us.
Lets now look at Rise of Lyric and it’s relationship with the other game and the TV show. Based on my research, I have to ask, what relationship? Because ROL, the Cartoon and Shattered Crystal didn’t exactly share a working environment and didn’t exactly start life at the same time.
To understand this, we need to break it down a lot.
Was Sonic Boom Always Sonic Boom & Did Everyone Collaborate?
Based on the art assets, we know that Sonic Boom at one point had two code names, they are Project Apollo & Sonic Origins.
However, there is also a third unknown name to this project too. Take a look at this image which was taken shortly after Boom was announced.
Hey look it’s Sticks & Lyric… but if we look in the background there is something more interesting.
What is that logo? It doesn’t look like it says Boom, Apollo or Origins. But it’s not something minor because Stephen Frost commented on it. Regardless as to what it is, it shows that something Boom related wasn’t called Boom at it got this late in development.
Now what’s the point of all this?
I direct you to this interview with Stephen Frost in which the following revelations are made.
- Cartoon has been in production for SEVERAL years. Didn’t start out as Sonic Boom.
- Nobody was taking to one another before Boom started production. Licensing did their own thing, so did the cartoon, so did game staff. Boom has brought everyone together.
So we have ROL which is in production, a cartoon show in production, and they were not at one point the same thing? So what came first?
As best as we can tell, ROL did. Based on the interview, ROL was in development for a long time before the cartoon became Sonic Boom, the issue is that both the cartoon and ROL only share basic similarities if you really look at it.
Here are a few things which seem to ring true so far.
- Eggman has no badniks in ROL, but tons in the show.
- Lyrics minions do not appear in the show.
- Lyric doesn’t appear in the show (already confirmed he won’t be in the first season).
- Do any of ROL’s locations exist in the TV Show?
- Sticks is a fully established character in the TV show and in Shattered Crystal but in ROL she’s barely a footnote NPC (We’ll come onto this soon).
- The Enerbeam is a fully established concept in ROL, but in the TV Show? It’s never used? In fact it’s only been predominant in the pilot episode? Has it appeared in another episode? This may change later but for such a dominant concept, in the show it’s absent.
- In the pilot episode, we see Tails Wii U designed plane, this is quickly destroyed and replaced with a second plane. Bit of an odd thing? Why not just fix the old plane instead of designing (from a show development view) a second one? Would save tons of time.
There’s probably more which will turn up over time. However, considering ROL takes place before the show, it seems to lack a lot of the core concepts of the show, and vice versa. It also looks like last minute additions to the game were made in a desperate way to link them, as well as the pilot episode of Boom to try and establish a link.
Here is the problem with this you have a game doing one thing, which is getting far in development, then you have a tv show doing it’s own thing, then the two try to match up their own universes with whatever assets they’ve already created? This isn’t going to work, it’s only going to have a very basic links and connections.
What collaboration was there?
Not very much if this evidence is anything to go by. I’ve already talked about how the show and ROL started out as different projects and based on the concept art and dates doing the rounds, the game might have been very different.
But where does Shattered Crystal come into all this?
Shattered Crystal for the most part is a ‘what if’ story, it’s not a sequel, or a prequel, it can’t be, nothing in the game makes any reasonable links or connections to ROL. Then there’s also this point.
In an interview with SegaBits, Sanzaru games talked about the collaboration between them and Big Red Button. Sanzaru claim that they have virtually no collaboration with ROL, that most of their work was done with OuiDo (creators of the TV Show).
There’s two huge connections right off the bat.
- Sticks is fully established, uses her weapon a lot.
- Locations from the show appear in the game.
- The cartoon’s action sequences incorporate speed into the combat instead of show sluggish combat.
These three things alone link the show much more to SC than ROL does.
at most of the collaboration came from the TV show and not BRB. In fact just look at the 3DS version compared to the Wii U version, the 3DS by far is closer to Boom.
Following on from the ‘it was planned in 2007′ there is some evidence to support the theory and that Rise of Lyric has had some alterations made at the last moment and other items thrown in for continuity’s sake.
Think back to that interview with Stephen Frost in the last section, the one where we discover how long the cartoon was in production for and the fact that nobody was talking to one another.
This seems to suggest that Shattered Crystal is a more closer tie to the show, much more collaboration was done, the links to the show are stronger, there’s clear direct references between the show and the game. But in ROL? Very little exists.
It suggests to me that ROL might have started out as being a very different game as did the cartoon, when the idea of Boom started to take off, they tried desperately to link them… which brings me finally to something I commented on right at the start.
What happened in 2007?
Near the start I mentioned about how development on the game may have started as far back as 2007. Well, think about everything that’s been brought up so far, the dates of the concept art, the various project names, the lack of collaboration between BRB and the TV Show, then add this.
SegaBits staff member Barry The Nomad dug up some evidence which in hindsight sounds very much like Sonic Boom was originally conceived as an idea, if not started early planning as far back as 2007.
How many of you remember a gentleman called ‘Simon Jeffery.’ Simon Jeffery is the former Sega of America president who infamously said ‘Sonic isn’t cool if you are over 12 years old.’ He was in charge when Sega were doing something similar with a lot of their franchises at this time, but we’ll come onto that in a moment.
In 2007, Simon Jeffery said this during an interview with CVG.
“We are actually undergoing a fairly considerable refresh of Sonic as an intellectual property, as a character […] We’re not going to be bringing another game out on the other platforms for quite some time, because we feel that it is time to reinvent Sonic, to make Sonic contemporary again. At the same time, even the recent 360 and Playstation 3 games have sold extremely well. Sonic is still an extremely endearing character; there’s still a lot of love for Sonic out there in consumerland.
Let’s break that down.
- Keeping Sonic exclusive to one platform.
- It’s time to reinvent Sonic.
- A considerable refresh of Sonic as an IP?
What does that remind you of?
Before you dismiss it, cast your mind back to the mid-late 2000’s what was happening? Sega were re-releasing a lot of games and rebooting franchises. Golden Axe: Beast Rider, Alien Syndrome, Shinobi and Altered Beast. No doubt there were also some cancelled projects, least we forget how evidence of a Streets of Rage reboot gets dug up every year.
Think back to the Sega Ages 2500 range which saw classic games given a bit of a remake and a refresh on the PS2, there are tons of games released under this lable, some of them their most well known and famous franchises.
So why would Sonic be off the table? During this time, Sega were obsessed with re-releasing and rebooting old franchises, why would Sonic not be an option?
Skip ahead to 2010, we get our second hint that Sega are working on Boom. Mike Hayes stated “Then you’ve got something we haven’t seen for a while, which is like Sonic Heroes, multiplay-type game.”
A multiplay type game which is like Sonic Heroes, what does that sound like?
And then… nothing, we don’t hear anything for a long time. However, we know from the leaked art assets that things were being worked on as far back as 2010.
Here is a cut down version of Barry’s theory, I encourage you to read the original since there is some evidence to back it up, it’s speculation for the most part, but some evidence exists to support it, much of it discussed in this article.
From 2007-first indication of Boom in development, During this time, we got Sonic Unleashed, Colours, Generations & Lost World, as well as a few spinoffs. No sign of Boom at all, however, lets look back on some interviews during Booms announcement, the reactions to the character designs from Sonic Team suggested that they were heavily resistant to the idea…
“They couldn’t look at the screens.”
Project Apollo initially started out as something very different. In 2007 SEGA president Simon Jeffrey makes his comments regarding his vision for Sonic, as a single console entity and refreshing the brand.
However, in 2008 Sonic Unleashed is released on virtually every system at the time including the Playstation 2. This seems contradictory to Simon Jeffery’s vision. So what happened?
There has been a lot of evidence to say that SEGA of Japan and Sonic Team disagree on many things. Examples of such disagreements can be found in the recent publication of ‘Console Wars’ and the recent ‘MegaDrive/Genesis Collective Works’ books.
Basically, Sega of Japan disagreed and said no to the idea. Don’t forget, as we’ve seen with ‘The History of Sonic Book’ SOJ have to approve many of the Sonic products before they can go ahead.
That was that, SOJ said no, idea was shelved… but it didn’t go away, this is evidenced with Mike Hayes comments in 2010. The first indication that they want to make a Sonic Heroes esq game… think back to day 1 of when Boom was announced, what was one of the games that Boom was compared to? Sonic Heroes.
2009/Sonic Origins/Project Apollo is green lit.
At some point after the idea was initially turned down by SOJ, the idea didn’t go away, some people at SOA liked the idea and wanted to go ahead with it. They persisted with SOJ to give it the greenlight.
What happened during this period with regards to talks we can’t say. However, combine the concept art, the LinkedIn profile dates along with Mike Hayes comments, it’s obvious that something was in development or planning at SOA which was following a Sonic Heroes type game.
It’s difficult to say when exactly the idea of a cartoon first came up. However, we know from interviews, the cartoon was in development for years and didn’t start out life as Sonic Boom. Nobody was working together and by all rights the projects were completely different.
Development on the cartoon must have been granted a bit of freedom to allow them to do something outside of the Boom universe for so long. However over time, somebody decided to bring all parties together and they decided to work on a single project.
Why did this happen? Maybe Sega didn’t feel that the game alone was a strong enough prospect to revitalise the Sonic franchise? Or vice-versa, so Sega decided they should both work together on a single universe and goal?
With Both teams now working on ‘Boom,’ the project is well underway. Some time passes and both teams are well into development. Both BRB and OuiDo are working on the same idea, however due to freedom being granted to OuiDo and the distances between BRB and OuiDo combined with the lack of collaboration. Major differences start to appear.
Later into 2013, BRB find out about Sega’s decision to make the game exclusive to the Wii U, development is now focuses on getting ROL to work on that system as best it can, little time is given to link ROL with the TV Show.
Enter Shattered Crystal
Realising that the two projects are in the same universe, but very different. Efforts are made to attempt to link the two. But it’s obvious it won’t be enough. So a second game is commissioned.
Shattered Crystal is green lit and due to it’s lack of development, it’s able to work much closer to the cartoon show, hence why Sticks is more dominant, locations match and other aspects of the TV show and the game match up. It’s a ‘what if’ story, but also the missing link between ROL and the TV Show.
Aside from the design of the characters, what really links Shattered Crystal to ROL, the Enerbeam & Lyric. That’s about it?
Also consider this, it took a long time before we found out much about Shattered Crystal, we didn’t get an announcement trailer at the same time as ROL or any media at all as it happens.
Shattered Crystal started development much later on, it was not ready for any kind of promotional material, which is why it was able to be so close to the TV Show compared to the game.
At least, that’s the theory anyway.
End of Part 2
Well that’s about all I have, I have considered doing a part 3 on this called ‘Lies of Lyric’ but not sure if it’s a good idea due to a multitude of reasons. Anyway, like I said at the start, the conclusions here have been based on found research, with BRB not answering questions regards to Boom, it’s hard to know for sure. But if anything is wrong, by all means BRB explain what really happened, don’t just say ‘that’s wrong’ or ‘this is inaccurate’ explain what happened, because there’s all this evidence and some of it is on official outlets which contradicts official word and understanding.
Some people deserve answers, some supported this game for months and gave those on the development team the benefit of the doubt, it would be nice if someone in an official position could explain exactly what happened during the development of this game.