Thursday Nov 12, 2009
We’re excited to present the first dev diary for Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing!
Hello and welcome!
I’m Steve Lycett and this is the first part of my development diary as we run through the creation of Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing.
First a bit about me. What do I do? Who is this person typing these words for you, the reader and why?
Well I’m glad you asked! Officially I’m Executive Producer. Sounds fancy right? Well it’s not all cocktails and parties! As producer I get to do all the jobs that no-one else wants to do… My job is basically ensuring the game gets done on time and to budget. Wait, no come back, I’m not going to show you any gantt charts, excel sheets, year planners or such. If that’s your thing, you’re in the wrong place! I could go into how it’s me that has to feed my very creative and talented team as we work through weekends and long nights, but I’m sure everyone is already bored of those kind of stories.
No the other things I get to do are far more interesting. Like fly to Japan and meet up with all the game directors at SEGA Japan. Ah… now you’re listening
But let’s start at the beginning shall we? How did this game come about? Whose crazy idea was it in the first place?
So a history lesson. Stop talking at the back!
First let’s set the scene. The game is being made at Sumo Digital. For some reason everyone thinks we’re Japanese. Let’s clear that one up first. We’re actually based in the UK, in a city called Sheffield. Most people outside of the UK know Sheffield from a film called the ‘Full Monty’. If you’ve never heard of that, go look it up. You’re back? We’ll I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know we’ve been making the game fully dressed! Otherwise Sheffield is better known for steel. Oddly enough, across the car park from Sumo HQ is a huge steel works. I probably would be working there if I’d been born 30 years earlier…
Anyway… Sumo Digital probably caught most gamer’s attention when we converted OutRun2 from the Chihiro arcade board to the Xbox. Think about trying to close a suitcase full of holiday clothes and in the hotel before heading home, and you’ve got a good idea of what was involved.
We’ve also worked on Virtua Tennis World Tour for PSP, OutRun2006 for PS2, Xbox and PSP (imagine all your holiday clothes being squeezed into a lunchbox…), Virtua Tennis 3 for Xbox and PSP, and more recently, Sega Superstars Tennis on Xbox360, PS3, PS2, Wii and DS. So we’ve done a few Sega games. Hopefully some you’ve played and enjoyed!
Back to the story then. We’d finished SEGA Superstars Tennis, and we’re at the special moment where for five minutes everyone is relieved that it’s gone out on time, then panics as suddenly we need to find something new to do.
Cue SEGA to the rescue! How would we like to do another SEGA Superstars game? Well very much thankyou! Various idea’s were suggested, how about paintball, what about skating, how about fighting! Eventually we settled on racing!
Why racing? Well why not? It seemed obvious to us, we’d done two versions of OutRun, and since SEGA project wise we’d gone racing game/tennis game/racing game/tennis game/tennis game it was an obvious enough choice that it should be a racing game this time. So that decided, we had to decide what kind of racing game it was going to be.
Now you’ve probably seen the trailers or early footage, and think ‘well that’s easy, everyone is in a car, on a bike, or in some kind of flying contraption!’ and well, you’d be almost right.
We started off with… Sonic running. Yes running. Not in a car. Not Super Sonic, but Sonic running full pelt around a test track. Next we added Eggman, riding in his Eggpod, but with robotic legs attached. He was running too. Then we added Tails. He was in his Tornado, the red biplane from Sonic 2. Next, we thought ‘It’s a racing game, lets try a car’ and dropped in Amy, in a nice bright pink Amymobile. We didn’t stop there either, next we added Gilius Thunderhead, you know, the Dwarf from Golden Axe. I’m sure you’re wondering what fiendish choice of travel he has, so I’ll tell you. We put him on top of Chicken Leg, the odd looking two legged parrot creature from the same game. Note, don’t all be running to the internet to go ‘OMG GILIUSSSS!!!!!’ as with all the prototype characters, it doesn’t mean they’ll make the final game!
Now I’m sure you’re wondering what on earth this looked like, and I can tell you, it was pretty mad. What was clear though that it wasn’t all that much fun to play. Our main problem was that all the characters were different sizes. Sonic was Sonic sized, but he was really small compared to Eggman and Gilius on their rides. Worse still was Tails Tornado – it was huge! The wings made it really wide.
Also the programmers, having spent so much time playing OutRun, had got Amy’s car drifting. This was really satisfying, but how do you get a Hedgehog to drift in a similar manner? Worse still, how do you get dwarf in full battle armour on a parrot faced lizard to drift…
So, as with all prototypes, we’d got things that worked well, and things that didn’t. That’s the point of prototyping after all!
Back to the drawing board then. We decided to keep the cars, review the flyers, but drop people running or riding things. No matter what we’d tried, it didn’t work right. At which point we upset every Sonic fan in the world by doing the unthinkable, we put Sonic in a car…!
Actually, before we take the blame for this, I will refer long time Sonic fans to Sonic Drift, that put Sonic in a car all those years ago on the SEGA Game Gear. Please address all you ‘In a car’ complaints to the guys that did that from now on please!
I digress though. Soon enough, we had all the characters in cars, or bikes, or revised flyers. For the flyers we didn’t want them to have too much of an unfair advantage, so we decided to treat these like hovercraft, they wouldn’t be affected by surfaces that slow the other cars down, but they also wouldn’t have high acceleration. As such Tails plane needed a re-design.
Which was around the time we went to SEGA in Japan. You know, to go talk to all the people behind the classic and modern SEGA characters we wanted to include…
But we’ll save that for next time
Posted by Kellie in Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing on 10:07:08AM Nov 12, 2009
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