E3 2016: Interview With Aaron Webber

Yesterday, I sat down in a quiet location of E3 with the master of memes himself, Aaron Webber. We discussed a little bit of Sonic Revolution, Sonic in Lego Dimensions, but mostly Sonic Boom: Fire and Ice. You’ll hear about improvements made due to the delay, the trailer cutscene, the length of the game and much, more! So please watch and enjoy. Continue reading E3 2016: Interview With Aaron Webber

Iizuka and Rafei Discuss History and Future of Sonic

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Polygon has published a lengthy new article detailing the history and future of the Sonic brand, and it contains several key contributions from big names such as Yuji Uekawa, Christian Whitehead, Al Nilsen and Takashi Iizuka, head of Sonic Team. It also comes with some very… peculiar looking art to accompany it.

Continue reading Iizuka and Rafei Discuss History and Future of Sonic

SEGA Admits Betraying Fans, Game Announcement at TGS

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SEGA Games CEO Haruki Satomi has admitted in an interview with Japanese magazine Famitsu that he feels the company has “betrayed” the trust of their fans with several titles released, and how the focus of the company will now shift to quality releases to “win back the customers’ trust”.

Highlighting the acquisition of Atlus, Satomi discusses how they’ve learned from the Japanese developers and how their North American and European markets have in the past primarily focused on “schedules”, which leads him to the conclusion they are better to release nothing at all if they continued down that path.

“As far as the Western market goes, we learned a lot from Atlus. If we can make a title with proper quality, I believe there’s a good chance for it to do well even in the West for players that like to play Japanese games.”

“I’ve been talking to the employees about how we should start putting serious consideration into quality from this point on. Especially in North America and Europe, where it’s always been more of a focus on schedules, I believe that if we can’t maintain quality, it would be better to not release anything at all.”

Satomi follows by admitting the company has “partially betrayed” their older fans with select games.

“We did our best to build a relationship of mutual trust with older fans of Sega, but looking back, there’ve been some titles that have partially betrayed that [trust] in the past 10 years.”

Satomi could of course be partially referring the recently released Sonic Boom titles on Wii U and 3DS, which shipped just 490,000 copies combined back when we reported in February, making it the worst selling major Sonic game in history. The Wii U version’s reception was especially negative, scoring just 32 from critic aggregator Metacritic – thus making it the worst reviewed Wii U title of the year.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, as Satomi says there could be a new home console game announced at the Tokyo Game Show 2015, which is in September. Could we get our first glimpse at the 25th Anniversary title?

“Since we’re seriously considering quality, I can’t make that promise for the time being, but I believe we will announce something for home console at Tokyo Game Show,”

“Sega in the ‘90s was known for its ‘brand, but after that, we’ve lost trust, and we were left with nothing but reputation. For this reason, we’d like to win back the customers’ trust, and become a ‘brand,’ once again.”

How do you feel about the comments made by SEGA’s CEO? Would you agree with him? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Siliconera

Sum-Up Sunday: The Week That Was E3 2014

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E3 2014 has come to a close, and what a week it was for our blue hedgehog. In case you missed anything, Sum-Up Sunday is here to catch you up on all the big headlines that you might have missed.  Tons of new footage from Sonic Boom, plenty of interviews, a trio of new trailers, and even a movie announcement. Check it all out below:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

And that’s all for this week – so much stuff happened! Phew. Tell us what you thought was the most exciting development of the week in the comments, and what you’re looking forward to most now you’ve seen more from Sonic Boom – the Wii U version, the 3DS version, or the TV show. Until next year and a new Sonic title, E3!

Sonic Stadium Interview: Sega’s Stephen Frost

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Here it is! The interview I promised and gathered some fan questions for! I’d like give huge thanks to Stephen Frost and Kellie Parker for working with me and answering the questions. 🙂

And now, let’s get started!

Hero of Legend: So Stephen Frost, as I already listened to the SEGABits interview just published about you, you’ve already said a lot about yourself, but just for readers here who haven’t heard that interview (and should right now!), would you like to give a brief introduction about yourself and talk about past experiences and such? I’d also like to hear about you as well Kellie Parker. I haven’t heard much about you, so take this opportunity to talk about yourself and your experiences at and prior to Sega.

Stephen Frost: Well, for those who haven’t heard about me, and I assume that most have not; I’ve been a producer at SEGA for almost eight years now. I’ve worked on a variety of titles ranging from the Sega Genesis Collection to Universe at War to some of the Marvel titles and Shinobi on 3DS.

I started in game development at a studio called Dynamix in Eugene, Oregon and eventually moved to California to work at Imagine Media. There, as Webmaster, I helped to build the foundation of what would eventually become The Imagine Games Network (IGN) before eventually jumping over to launch PSM: 100% Independent PlayStation Magazine.

Around seven years later, the desire to return to game development was too strong, so I jumped at the chance to join the team at Electronic Arts, where I worked on such titles as Armies of Exigo, Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2 and Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath. From there, I had a brief stint at an Activision studio (Z-Axis), working on some Marvel superhero properties before hanging my production hat at my current home at SEGA, where I’m now fully focused on Sonic Boom.

Kellie Parker: I’ve been working in online community for 15 years. I got my start on the IRC network TalkCity, which became a company called LiveWorld. While at LiveWorld, I worked on message boards and live online chats for many companies, including HBO, Showtime, Food Network, A&E, Intel, eBay, Slim-Fast, and MSNBC. I left LiveWorld to become the community manager for PC World and Macworld magazines, and after a few years there, I joined SEGA where I am the Senior Community Manager. I’ve been at SEGA for 5 and a half years now, and it’s been an amazing experience.

HoL: I’ve been very curious about who exactly is the exact character design of Sonic and company here? I have my beliefs it’s Bob Rafei as he’s had a history of character design work at Naughty Dog (I believe he worked on designing Jak and Daxter themselves, please correct me if I’m mistaken) and he has indeed addressed himself as one in the recent interviews about Sonic Boom.

SF: The development of the main characters in Sonic Boom was a joint collaboration between Big Red Button, OuiDo Productions, Sega and Sonic Team. We definitely pulled a lot from Bob’s past experience as a character designer but a lot of people had input into the final designs you see today. Given all the different mediums that the characters will appear in (games, cartoon, toys, etc.), it was important to make sure that the character designs met the needs of each of those.

HoL: You (Stephen) spoke about the composers not being set in stone, but I am curious if perhaps you’ll lean towards Sonic Team veterans like Jun Senoue, or maybe perhaps work with composers who are familiar to the people at BRB who worked at Naughty Dog and Insomniac prior, such as Mark Mothersbaugh and Josh Mancell who worked on Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter, or perhaps David Bergeaud and others who worked on the Ratchet & Clank series?

SF: At this time, we are not talking about the soundtrack or the musicians involved in the game. We should have more details at E3, though.

HoL: I am actually also really interested in knowing more about the names of people at Big Red Button involved with the game, more specifically just how many people who worked at Naughty Dog and Insomniac because of the key folks from the companies are known to be working on this game. I’ve done my own research about this and have found some interesting results.

I’m a dedicated researcher, I love knowing who works on games and what they’ve done before.  Knowing just who’s behind a game can really generate a lot of anticipation and confidence that the game is in fantastic hands, in my opinion. And so far some really amazing people have been seen to be working on Sonic Boom.

SF: Well, I would like to be respectful of all the team members and not mention them by name, but there is definitely a lot of talent at Big Red Button. We’ll be sure to put as many of them in the spotlight as possible as we get further along with the project. However, at a management level, we have folks who have worked on such franchises as Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter, Uncharted, True Crime, Shrek, God of War, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Ghostbusters and Simpsons, to name a few.

HoL: I’d like to ask about the 3DS version of the game. I understand Sanzaru Games is behind this version and they’re most well known to have carried the torch of the Sly Cooper series from Sucker Punch. I’d like to know if this version will be for example a 3D platformer as well, also if maybe it will have it’s own style, like maybe it could be cel-shaded like Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time as they made just prior, similar to how the Wii U version is very similar in style to Jak & Daxter.

SF: At this time, we aren’t talking about the 3DS version of the game. You are correct that Sanzaru were responsible for the most recent Sly Cooper title and I’m sure they will bring all their experience from that project over to Sonic Boom. All I can really say right now is that the 3DS game is its own experience with a separate storyline from the Wii U version. We have a few surprises to announce in relation to the 3DS game, but you’ll just have to wait and see what they are.

HoL: Again about the 3DS version, is it likely to feature some connectivity with the Wii U version? Sonic Lost World already did so I personally wouldn’t be surprised if it did.

SF: The 3DS game will have some connectivity with the Wii U but details of that have not yet been announced.

HoL: Back to the Wii U version. I am personally interested in knowing if at least in the main hub shown if there will be a real-time day/night cycle for ambiance and such? Because some sneaky folks managed to slip in footage of the game way back in March 2013 during Crytek’s CryEngine 3 demo:

Sonic Boom (Wii U and 3DS) CryEngine 3 GDC 2013 Demo Clip

Under our noses all along and before Sonic Lost World was unveiled, my mind is still blown!

Anyway I personally love touches like this, and I understand this was in fact planned for Sonic the Hedgehog for the PS3 and 360 (aka Sonic ’06) but was removed for one reason or another. I personally hope this is indeed in the game as shown here, and the moving shadows is such a beautiful sight.

SF: The footage shown in Crytek’s CryEngine 3 demo was of an early visual prototype. It does not necessarily reflect the current Sonic Boom game or its features. That also includes the day/night cycle showcased in the video.

HoL: Also, as a fan of platformers that allow you to just relax and look around to your heart’s content, I’ve always been a huge fan of freely movable cameras, whether it’s just to swing 360 degrees around a character, or even as a first-person view to look up into the sky or down to your feet, is there a camera system like this in place so fans can look at the pretty environments from anywhere? Sonic Lost World and also the three Sonic games prior at least (Unleashed, Colors, Generations) did not have this at all or extremely minimally, but the Sonic Adventure games, especially the first really used this very well, and it was sorely missed.

SF: I can confirm that exploration is an important part of this game, so I would expect that the camera system would be designed around that, as well.

HoL: Bob Rafei mentioned to The Guardian about there actually being 2D gameplay in the game. Is this more or less like Classic Sonic again, or is it actually more like the 2D sections in Crash Bandicoot? Also how much of them are there in the game? I would think the game is very much mostly 3D, hopefully with only a few 2D bits sprinkled in, just my personal opinion.

SF: As with most Sonic titles, where there is generally a mix of 3-D and 2-D-based gameplay. Sonic Boom will be no different. Given the focus on exploration of this new world for Sonic, we generally wanted to focus on 3-D. However, given our desire to deliver a “familiar but new” experience, you can bet that elements like the 2-D-based gameplay will certainly show up, but maybe with a few twists.

HoL: Are you able to give a detailed enough idea on what the characterizations of Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy will be? People are wondering if Knuckles will be on the less-than-intelligent side and if Amy will still go cuckoo for Sonic for instance? Tails is also in question as some are wondering if he’s going to be snarky as it were? (some point out his facial expressions art) Also curious if the brotherly bond between Tails and Sonic will be developed on.

SF: I am certainly aware that the characterizations for Sonic and team are a big discussion point amongst the fans out there. We know it’s important and we spent a lot of time working out how these characters should behave and act. It’s obviously key to be true to their original designs, but we also need to balance them out a bit, while accenting certain personality traits so that folks not too familiar with Sonic can quickly and easily understand who these characters are and what they’re like. This is the same philosophy that influenced the overall visual character designs for the characters. With Amy, for example, we aren’t really meaning that she is a strong, independent and acrobatic character only in Sonic Boom. She has been that way in other games. In Sonic Boom, though, these aspects of her character will really be emphasized in the story and gameplay in order to make it clear to everyone that this is how she is.

HoL: People are wondering where the idea of the Enerbeam came from? It’s certainly a new concept for the series.

SF: The original concept for the Enerbeam came from the general idea of us wanting a physical manifestation of the friendship between the main characters, something that connected them all together in a visual way. That was the genesis of the idea, at least, but the Enerbeam has evolved a fair bit since those early days and has been refined into something that is more of an extension of the characters, themselves. Once players see how the team gets this ability, they will definitely understand it a bit better.

It plays a role in all major aspects of the game, including navigation, combat, and interaction with the world, but is designed to enhance the gameplay, not detract from it. The uses for the Enerbeam are built to be fun and, again, build upon the character-specific abilities that each character has.

HoL: Is there teamwork in gameplay? How does this work? Something like in Sonic Heroes or Sonic Advance 3 perhaps?

SF: Yes, we have what I prefer to call “working as a team” but it isn’t really like either of those two games. Our teamwork dynamic is a bit more organic than what is found in Sonic Heroes or SA3. You aren’t hitting a button to have another character come over and perform a team-based attack, for example. Something like that doesn’t really work in a co-op setting since we wouldn’t want to take control away from the other player. It’s more like actually, physically working together. So, in combat, for example, maybe there is an opening that both characters would need to take advantage of at the same time to damage an enemy. Or, maybe there are navigational challenges that would require both players to work together in order to get past. Sonic is stronger with his friends in this game and that is something that reflects all core aspects of the experience, so “teamwork” is definitely important.

HoL: Speaking of the characters in-game, I read that in single player you always have two of them at once, and up to 4 people can play at once with each of the four? So is there online co-op or 2-4 player local split-screen? Or is it like where maybe one person uses the GamePad screen and the other person or up to three others use split screen on the TV? And as I said there’s always at least two of them in single-player? So you can’t just have Sonic all alone? He has to have at least Tails following him while being controlled by the AI?

SF: At this time, all we have announced is that the game will support up to two players in the main mode with parts of the overall game supporting up to four players. In minimum, there will always be two characters together, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Sonic has to be one of them. I also want to confirm that there are no online co-op features currently planned for this game. We felt, given the design of the game, that local multiplayer and co-op would be the more appropriate things to focus on. When people actually get their hands on the game and see how it plays, I think they will more clearly understand why we focused on what we did.

HoL: This was glossed over in the SEGABits interview when asked as it was bundled with another question, but will there be any humans in the game and the show (not counting Eggman obviously)?

SF: We want this world to be a living, breathing place to explore and that wouldn’t be possible if it was completely deserted.

HoL: We’ve seen most of the characters show their trademark abilities, but so far we haven’t seen Sonic perform a Spin Dash or seen Knuckles Glide, will they have these abilities? Also in terms of combat could Tails perhaps use his tails to whack things again? They’ve been out of the combat field since Sonic Adventure 2, and that was in the Chao Garden!

SF: While we have not yet revealed all the character-based abilities, what you have seen in the announcement trailer does reflect a decent number of them. We definitely want to include as many classic abilities and attacks for each of the main characters, as possible, but some of them would not be useful or work properly in the game we are building. I feel, though, that there will be enough in there for fans to appreciate, along with several new abilities that will add to the overall game experience in Sonic Boom.

SF: As a final thought, I just want to thank all the fans out there who have gotten involved in forum discussions, created artwork and sent me comments. It’s great to read and see everything you all have been doing in relation to Sonic Boom. Please keep it up. I love the passion and excitement that everyone has and I can’t wait until I’m able to share more about these games. Just please continue to be patient and I promise that we’ll have some great stuff to show in the near future.

And that wraps it up! Thanks again to Stephen and Kellie for taking the time to do the interview. 🙂

What are your thoughts on what Stephen and Kellie said? Do the answers make you more or less excited for Sonic Boom?

S&ASRT Previews Reveal New Details, Roulette Road Returns, Billy Hatcher Track Confirmed

Some new previews and interviews have appeared online following SEGA’s Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed news updates the other day. According to EverybodyPlays, SEGA held a press event in the UK for Transformed earlier this week where attendees were treated to some boat riding on the Thames. In their preview, EverybodyPlays reveals that the flying sections will have a ‘Flight Assist’ option that guides players with a line and helps them get to grips with the controls. The game will also include 132 mods, over 100 stickers, and will be fully playable in co-op in the Grand Prix and World Tour modes.

Hit the jump for more new details.
Continue reading S&ASRT Previews Reveal New Details, Roulette Road Returns, Billy Hatcher Track Confirmed

Summer of Sonic 2012: Takashi Iizuka Interview

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Second in our 3-part lot of Summer of Sonic interviews – the one and only Takashi Iizuka! Pictured with him up there are his translator and Sonic’s Brand Director – David Corless. Anyway, onto the interview!

Continue reading Summer of Sonic 2012: Takashi Iizuka Interview

Summer of Sonic 2012: Crush 40 Interview

First up in the 3-part series of Summer of Sonic interviews, we have two legendary guys  – Jun Senoue and Johnny Gioeli! Together this duo makes Crush 40, but I’m sure you all knew that already! Without further ado, let’s get on with the interviews, shall we?

Continue reading Summer of Sonic 2012: Crush 40 Interview

Coming Up Next: Summer of Sonic Interviews!

Well, it’s been just over a fortnight since Summer of Sonic has been and gone for another year and what a day it was! Between meeting many old friends, playing S&ASRT and enjoying all of the on-stage entertainment I had the opportunity to sit down with Jun Senoue, Johnny Gioeli, Takashi Iizuka, Steve Lycett and Tim Spencer for a chat about the past, present and future of their involvement with everyone’s favourite blue blur! These interviews will be coming up over the course of this week, so stay tuned for more!

Here’s a little taster from Johnny Gioeli!

GameZone Interviews SEGA On Sonic 4 and Sonic Colours

GameZone has posted up a couple of video interviews they held at PAX this year, in which they interviewed SEGA’s Ken Balough about Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 and another unidentified SEGA representative about Sonic Colours. Balough talks about how they incorporated fan feedback to Sonic 4, such as level tweaks to make the levels flow easier, reaching top speed quicker and a blurry effect on his quills to make it look like he’s “really hauling ass”.

In the Sonic Colours video, the SEGA rep explains how feedback has been incorporated into the game and also tells us in-depth, what the story is about, what Eggman is up to and how the Wisps are involved.

Source: GameZone
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 interview
Sonic Colours interview

Community Interview: Fan Hoaxer Sonic Neo

It’s time to interview some of our own talented community members! Sonic Neo is well known at the Sonic Stadium Message Board, and usually helps out with people’s problems with Fan Games and the like. We have a chat about his activity on the forum, as well as his latest projects. Continue reading Community Interview: Fan Hoaxer Sonic Neo

Community Interview: Shayne Thames

If you’re ever in need to know anything about the latest cartoon, Sonic Underground, then Shayne Thames is your gal. Webmaster of fansite SonicUnderground.net, Thames has a large database of information on characters, episodes and more. She’s also famous for having a rather amazing run-in with Sonic Team leader, Yuji Naka. Read on for the story on that… Continue reading Community Interview: Shayne Thames

Community Interview: Fireball20XL Comic Author PsyGuy

Known as the ‘Mad Dog of Sprite Comics’ (well… to us, anyway), PsyGuy is the creator of the Fireball20XL website, a fan comic workshop that contains a number of strips including Dirty Power and That’s My Sonic. As one of the leading voices in the Sprite Comic arena, we had a chat with Psy to learn more about the cool things he’s doing. Continue reading Community Interview: Fireball20XL Comic Author PsyGuy

Community Interview: GeNeratioN8

Generation8 has become a highly prominent and familiar face in the fan art community, and so we caught up with the promising artist to get her thoughts on the Sonic franchise as well as get pointers on how to be great at drawing. Fan fiction writer Nicholas D Wolfwood stars as guest interviewer for TSS; let’s go! Continue reading Community Interview: GeNeratioN8

Community Interview: Archie Comics Artist Dawn Best

Dawn Best works on the Archie Sonic the Hedgehog comic series, but before that was a prominent artist in the Sonic fan community. She was the mysterious fan artist that ‘levelled up’ to Archie in our news article here. Dawn’s skills quickly helped her get formally recognised by Archie, and since making introductions she has been working alongside Ken Penders and co since Issue #101. It’s a real community success story, and we’re happy to chat with her today about her story. Find her personal website here. Continue reading Community Interview: Archie Comics Artist Dawn Best

Community Interview: TSSZ News’ Tristan Bresnen

Tristan O. Bresnen is webmaster of TSSZ (The Super Sonic Zone), a great news source for SEGASonic, Sonic Team, and other gaming news. One of the best fan newscasters of the time, TSSZ also incorporated a radio station with news bulletins. TSSZ closed in late 2005, but re-opened in 2007 and continues to this day. Continue reading Community Interview: TSSZ News’ Tristan Bresnen

Community Interview: Sonic News Webmaster Sonic_Hedgehogs

Famous for Sonic News. Growing to be the biggest Sonic News sites online… until it hit problems. After a chat with Dread, the two became best of buddies, and the two worked alongside each other heading up SSNG. Now though, Sonic News is back and kicking, as an active and integral section of The Sonic Stadium. You love it. ^_^ Continue reading Community Interview: Sonic News Webmaster Sonic_Hedgehogs

Community Interview: SoaH Webmaster Neon Chaos

For today’s Community Interview, we’ve put the spotlight on a fellow Sonic website administrator! Dennis Spielman, aka Neon Chaos, is the webmaster of a great fansite called Shadow of a Hedgehog, and has made a big name for himself in the Sonic community with an impressive downloads section. Warning: Sonic Adventure 2 Spoilers inside. Continue reading Community Interview: SoaH Webmaster Neon Chaos

Community Interview: The Return of John Weeks

John Weeks is well-known in the Sonic community for his outstanding MIDI compositions, which show his growing talent with every project while remaining very faithful to the original music. Andrew previously interviewed John, which you can read here, and now Dreadknux has come back to ask him a few more questions about his awesome work. Read on… Continue reading Community Interview: The Return of John Weeks

Community Interview: Fan Artist WB

WB is one of the best fan artists in the Sonic Internet Community today, and has a long history contributing artwork too. These days, WB even has a hand in Archie’s official Sonic the Hedgehog comic series – living the dream! Buckle up though, this is probably one of the craziest interviews we’ve done yet. Continue reading Community Interview: Fan Artist WB

Community Interview: Archie Reviewer Dan Drazen

Dan Drazen is a seasoned figure in the Sonic community, having reviewed the Archie Sonic comic since Issue #29 and forming experienced opinions on the series and its future. He’s basically the Roger Ebert of Sonic comic reviews among the internet community, and having met Ken Penders he’s also well connected to the roots of the Archie team. Read on for our exclusive chat with him. Continue reading Community Interview: Archie Reviewer Dan Drazen

Community Interview: MIDI Composer John Weeks

Time for another Community Interview, this time from amazing fan MIDI composer John Weeks! John is famous in the Sonic community for his sequencing of various tracks in the Sonic, NiGHTS and ChuChu Rocket games. We speak to him about his hobbies, what made him start making music and his thoughts on the NiGHTS Gamecube rumours. Continue reading Community Interview: MIDI Composer John Weeks

Community Interview: ‘Sotsu’ Fan Fiction Writer Nicholas D. Wolfwood

Welcome to a new series of features on The Sonic Stadium called Community Interviews. Here, we pick some of the most active and talented people in the Sonic internet community and chat with them about what they do and their interest in the blue blur. First up is Nicholas D. Wolfwood, who is the creator of the long-running fan fiction series, Sotsu. It’s also the name of Dreadknux’s favourite character in Trigun.
Continue reading Community Interview: ‘Sotsu’ Fan Fiction Writer Nicholas D. Wolfwood