SoA Community Team Member RubyEclipse Bids Farewell…

SEGA in recent years have had greater invested interest in the opinions and the involvement of the Sonic the Hedgehog fan community with many aspects to the franchise. One of their greatest assests are the people who work as the community teams, and liase with the fans; this line of communication has definitely had a hand in shaping the face of games over the past half decade.

Three years ago a new member joined the crew at SEGA of America, appearing frequently on the SEGA blogs and known only as RubyEclipse. Today, after many Free Stuff Fridays and blogs (and the occasional festive fanmail reading video), Aaron Webber has become one of the most well-known community members – and with good reason. Aaron has struck a fantastic balance over three years on the community team with SEGA, between being a professional, effective representative and ambassador for SEGA, as well as being a Sonic the Hedgehog fan himself. Aaron’s enthusiasm for his work along with the rest of his team has shone through and has remained unwavered in his time at SoA.

It will therefore sadden many of you to hear that Aaron has announced he will be departing the community team, however I’m sure you will all join us in congratulating Aaron in his promotion to Associate Brand Manager at SoA. We wish him all the best in managing his first assignment of the highly anticipated Sonic Generations (and we hope we will still see him pop up occasionally on FSF vids too!). You can read his final heartfelt blog on the SEGA blogs site.

I’d like to end on my favourite Webber moments from the last few years – if you haven’t seen these before…enjoy!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bB3Mk0cHY_E&feature=channel[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwYScW9ZC4Y&feature=channel[/youtube]

 

SEGAs MasterTweet Theater Christmas Special: SoA’s RubyEclipse is a Legend

Words cannot describe…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bB3Mk0cHY_E&feature=channel[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwYScW9ZC4Y&feature=channel[/youtube]

I like to think Aaron sits around in his dining room enjoying a glass of sherry, listening to uplifting Vivaldi overtures, and delivering gifts to children all over the world on Christmas day.

Who agrees with WebKitty and thinks the special dude being chased by the square man is so cute?

Answers in the comments box please…

Video: RubyEclipse Plays Sonic 4 at J-Pop Summit Festival

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkocJI1Kacw[/youtube]

SEGA attended this years J-Pop Summit Festival yesterday and brought along playable demos of some of their upcoming games for attendees to get some hands-on time with. Sonic fans were also treated to a presentation of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 on the big screen in the Viz Cinema, where SEGA of America’s Aaron Webber aka RubyEclipse played through Act 1 of Splash Hill Zone in an attempt to beat a time record set at the event. Does he beat it? See for yourself. The demo shown appears to be from a new build, since it has the changes to it RubyEclipse has mentioned up until now at the SEGA Blogs, such as a new running animation, achieving ‘blurry’ feet’ quicker and the ability to run off screen at the end of an Act.

What do you think of this new build? Speak out in the comments.

Thanks to YouTube user JostheLynx for the footage.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 Updates Coming

Those awaiting updates for Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 will be glad to hear that they won’t have to wait much longer.  SEGA of America Community Manager RubyEclipse has revealed in a post at the SEGA Forums yesterday that the updates could be coming as soon as next week and hints at the next zone reveal by stating that the Sonic 4 website will be getting a new zone overhaul. In his post, RubyEclipse has a question to ask of the fans before SEGA reveal anything, “Would you guys like to know only about the biggest updates to the final version of the game, or would you also like to know about the smaller ones?”

Sonic 4 update question – for you guys!

Hi everyone,

With our Sonic 4 Birthday Contest wrapping up soon and our final Hedgehog Day prizes about to go out the door, I have a question for you all with regard to the next news about the game.

Coming up, we’re going to be revealing many of the changes that we spoke about a couple months ago when we announced the extended development. With the website getting another big zone overhaul (possibly as soon as next week), I wanted to pose another question to you guys and get your thoughts.

Would you guys like to know only about the biggest updates to the final version of the game, or would you also like to know about the smaller ones? I ask because though not every update is massively game changing, there are some nice minor touches that I think some fans would appreciate. In any case, I’d like to know what you guys think, since you’re all quite passionate and engaged. (You too, lurkers!)

Let us know which you’d prefer (only big changes, or all changes) in a post below. I’ll be looking over the feedback for a couple days until the end of this Thursday. Thanks everyone!

As stated in the above post, answers are to be posted in the SEGA Forums topic and must be in by the end of tomorrow to be taken into consideration.

GameStop Interview SEGA’s Aaron Webber (RubyEclipse)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiV3MRD9djA&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

GameStop (that’s not a typo, I do mean GameStop not GameSpot) are at E3 and have managed to grab the above interview with SEGA of America Community Manager Aaron Webber or RubyEclipse as alot of you will know him. Aaron is asked about Valkyria Chronicles 2 on PSP and Vanquish on Xbox 360/PS3 but if you skip to the 3:13 mark he speaks about Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1. Aaron reiterates the announcement a short while back regarding the games extra development time that’s been added to implement fan feedback to the game while also reaffirming the fact that the E3 demo contains just a few changes with more to come. As soon as we hear about the further edits we’ll let you know.

RubyEclipse Weighs In On the “Classic vs. Modern” Debate

Art by RianaD of DeviantArt.

The man behind SEGA’s Needlemouse contests and announcements was asked to weigh in on the on-going “classic vs. modern” debate on the official SEGA forums. His opinion sways in neither direction, as he makes a case for both, but he ultimately assures us that the final verdict will come down to gameplay and not the design of the character.

First, he talked about the image and memories that classic Sonic evokes:

To many fans, Classic Sonic represents a golden era for both Sonic and for SEGA. He symbolizes quality games and memories that, even though slightly rose tinted with age, were still times many of us can look back fondly on.

Modern Sonic, with green eyes, is more largely associated with Sonic Adventure and the games following. To fans of purely Classic Sonic, green eyes represent the advent of Big the Cat and other characters, gameplay that differed from the norm, etc.

That was my issue upon seeing the modern Sonic design (like, I don’t give a damn about the green eyes… just everything else).  Most people, including myself, saw modern Sonic and associated it with the last decade of gameplay that strayed away from Sonic and introduced a slew of new characters in some unfavorable games.  It has the ability to give off what the final product of “Sonic 4” might be like, regardless of the “3 seconds of footage” counter-argument.  Again, it’ s just a knee-jerk reaction that happens when you’ve been waiting for “Sonic 4” for 16 years.

Ruby also commented on the “anti-green eyes” movement that one-half of the fanbase is standing behind.  He mentions that it’s not the color of the eyes that we remember, but the well-aged gameplay of the originals:

The color of Sonic’s eyes may be important, especially to some, but far more important to me is the gameplay itself.

We don’t remember the old games as classics because Sonic’s eyes were black and he happened to be a little chubbier. We remember them because they were good games, first and foremost. That’s the truth for me, at least.

With his neutral stance on his preference and indifference for eye color, he makes a point that this game’s legacy will be cemented on gameplay and not design.  While he fails to mention the other differing aspects between the two Sonic designs that probably irk most classic Sonic supporters more than eye color (track-star design, huge quills), his statement still holds true and was correct even before articles, forum posts, and blog rants came about a few days ago.

Another post by forum member “Catboy” brought up a “cigarette mentality” that the classic crowd is going through.  One that I can say that I am feeling:

To put it simply, if a fan abhors the look of a character of which they’re forced to use, that inherent hate can bog down the general enjoyment of a game.

It’s like a cigarette + state of mind.

RubyEclipse responded to this comment and asked fans on both sides of the fence to keep voicing their opinions.  He acknowledged that SEGA is doing a better job of reading into their fans on their forums and fansites such as this one:

Yep, I totally hear you Catboy.

Know that we are still listening. The feedback that fans have – be it for classic or modern – is something we will continue to compile and send upwards internally.

So, whichever type of Sonic you prefer – or even if you really don’t care – make sure to post at least once, somewhere, about it. You may not see the results immediately, but then again, you rarely will with things that matter most.

While RubyEclipse does not work on the project himself, he is a go between for the fans.  Both the want for classic and modern Sonic is being taken into account and he will send it to the “Sonic 4” team.

What the ultimate point of this community blog post is a matter of respect.  RubyEclipse, a SEGA employee, came out and participated in a discussion that has been the hot topic of every Sonic website since the trailers launch.  While company participation in fan issues is important due to its rarity within this fanbase, his respect for both sides of the debate should be noticed and taken with everybody as they weigh in on message boards and comment walls.

He didn’t come out and brush off anybody’s opinion, name-call, or harass just because somebody’s opinion was different than his own.  It was something that I saw few and far between in each of our articles that we posted a few days ago (Dread’s was slanted positively; mine was the obvious negative… we disagree, but we’re still best buds aka “broniks”).  The same thing occurred when reviews came out for games like Sonic Unleashed and Sonic & the Black Knight.

Reviews and articles that slammed those games (or Sonic 4 in this instance) were just outright ignored by hot-heads and authors were being called things like “biased,” “idiots,” “babies,” “unpleaseable” (which isn’t a word) and “complete fucking morons who aren’t intelligent at all.” Some people didn’t even choose to read the whole thing.  Dread and I didn’t cut each other or any reader of a different opinion down and yet, people were going off.

Why does that have to happen?  Nobody’s going to think or feel the same way.  This wild difference in opinion isn’t exclusive to the Sonic fandom either.  It’s everywhere in the world.

I might have read too far into RubyEclipse’s posts, but that’s okay.  By doing so, I felt better about the situation unfolding across the blue-hedgehog-forum universe.  So, complaining about complainers or cut others down?  It doesn’t help.  It makes everything worse (complaining about complaining is still complaining).  As RubyEclipse said, those that voice against you have a right to their opinion, too, and it might even be taken into consideration by those in charge.

Unless that opinion is whether a scientifically-proven illness is “real” or “fake.”  Then, you can just get the hell out.  😉

Hey, here’s a bonus.  How about a fun “compromise?”  Aaaayyyyy?

Want the Real Needlemouse Info? RubyEclipse Says Thursday

Were you upset today at the incredibly lame Needlemouse reveal that featured drawings of stuff that we saw last decade and a song that was composed in FL Studio?  Well, get used to seeing more of that until Thursday.

The man responsible for posting all of these Needlemouse challenges and general nonsense, RubyEclipse, on the SEGA America blogs went over to NeoGAF today and made a comment about when actual information about Needlemouse would be coming out.

Nope, this Thursday all the big stuff is out of the bag. The second Needlemouse Challenge was also the last, as mentioned when the blog went up.

I know some people would have liked more than just a couple pieces of concept art – and I can understand that sentiment, knowing how excited and hopeful people are about the game. As huge as the hype may be, I personally think the wait to Thursday is well worth it – so, when that day comes, we’ll see if people agree.

So, there you have it.  Wait until Thursday.  Until then, enjoy the feeling and spirit of classic Sonic taking you over.

It is good to read some comments about you guys enjoying the music though – and that’s really just a small sample, as the best tracks are yet to come.

There better be better tracks.  Damn, that little ditty on the SEGA homepage was really bad.

[Via NeoGAF forums]

Project Needlemouse Challenge II Update

SEGA staffer Ruby Eclipse has made an update on the SEGA of America Blog regarding Project Needlemouse Challenge II. It appears the Sonic community has pulverised the requested 100 pieces of art as the current ammount of submissions now stands at over 350 entries so give yourselves a well deserved pat on the back.

In celebration of the effort that’s been put in RubyEclipse had this to say –

That makes all of us – including, hopefully, you guys – very happy. The challenge has been bested within 48 hours, and as a result next week is going to be the Week of the Hedgehog! The celebration will begin next Tuesday on Hedgehog Day, (step aside, groundhog!) with a special massive swag giveaway and concept art reveal, and will lead into our biggest announcement going live as we approach next weekend. Trust us when we say that February is going to be a very good month.

Now then – to celebrate your success, we’d like to offer you guys additional rewards for continuing to send in your concept art – and some very awesome concept art, at that! So,for every 50 pieces of Concept Art (past 100), we will give away one extra piece of Sonic Merchandise during our Hedgehog Day giveaway!

To close RubyEclipse wanted to put an end to a rumour about the project that’s been going around to no end until now –

Oh, and as another bonus, let’s go ahead and dispel away a little rumor that we’ve noticed in the comments:

Project Needlemouse is not an HD version of Sonic 1. These may be old badniks, but when we said all-new adventure, we meant it.

The SEGA staff have picked out a bunch of their favourite pieces of concept art sent in and posted them up on the Blog for all to see. Has your entry been posted up? Excited about Hedgehog Day? Let us know in the comments

Thanks to jeremycarrier over at the SSMB for the heads up!