Thursday Jan 07, 2010
We’ve got another dev diary from Steve Lycett, who chronicles his trip to Japan and SEGA HQ in Tokyo. Take it away, Steve!
Hello again, it’s me, yes me, Steve Lycett from Sumo Digital, working my way from your computer screen into your head via the medium of your eyes.
So last time I talked a bit about the background of the game and the things we’d tried and cruelly binned. This time I shall relate to you about how I got to go to Japan and spend time with some of the people behind every SEGA franchise you’ve ever played. Yes, lucky me!
I should start with some background. Everyone else flew to Japan two days before me, so they could get into town, catch up with their sleep and arrive at the office rested and ready for business.
Me on the other hand, well I had booked time off for my annual holiday the week before. I’d actually decided to ride my motorbike to John O’Groats – which for those outside of the UK, is the most northerly point, a round trip of some 1800 miles from sunny Sheffield. Cue day before flying to Japan, me desperately riding back from Glasgow, in pouring, pouring rain. My wife was not impressed, especially as she was sat on the back.
So I wasn’t entirely rested when I had to jump on the plane, having had to get up at something like 3am. Still, catch the plane I did, no way was I missing this trip, especially as it had been something of a personal dream of mine to go!
I arrived in Tokyo some 12 hours later, not having slept on the plane due to the excitement! I then promptly realised that getting to SEGA was going to be somewhat of a challenge. Since I don’t speak much Japanese outside of ‘Yes’, ‘No’ and ‘I’d like a beer please’.
Luckily – I’d been briefed before to jump on a particular bus – which would take me to the other side of town. I stopped briefly to grab a coke – simply as it was in the coolest metal bottle I’d ever seen – then got on said bus.
This took about an hour to drop me closer to town, where I next picked up a cab to go to SEGA. With the aid of a map and some hand gestures, the cabbie then dutifully took me to SEGA HQ. I should mention at this point that visiting Japan is somewhat like visiting the future. Of everywhere else I’ve ever been, I’ve never got into a cab with hydraulically activated doors that open for you…!
Anyway… we arrived in my future cab outside SEGA HQ. I go into the main lobby, where I spy Sonic is idly spinning in a fountain, he looks to be watching me approach reception… Here I explain that I’m here to meet up with the rest of the group – to two very polite young Japanese ladies, who aren’t expecting this big Yorkshire lad at all – and promptly decide to start ringing everyone in the building.
It’s at this point I decided to sit down and wait – opening my aforementioned ‘cool’ bottle of coke. Which has decided it didn’t like being shaken so violently from airport to bus to taxi, and explodes all down my front.
I get through to the group – who, it turns out are visiting with AM3, the guys we did Virtua Tennis 3 for, except they’re right across the block in a different office. I try to explain this to the SEGA girls, but they’re still insisting on ringing all depts, I think they had got to about C in the alphabet . Finally our Japanese producer Sakae rescues me and puts it all straight. Phew.
I arrive hot, sweaty, covered in coke, and not exactly clean shaven in AM3’s offices. Lucky for me this is not the first time they’ve seen me and I get to say hello to some of the friends we made back then.
We run through the plans with the game, talked a little about SEGA Superstars Tennis (which was based on the Virtua Tennis game system) and then ask the ‘Can we have…’ question.
You see the purpose of this trip was to talk to each of the SEGA game directors in person to make sure they were happy for us to use their characters. We ask nicely, the question was translated, there was a laugh and a smile and….
The answer was…. you’ll just have to read the next diary to find out ! And then would we also like to go for dinner? Well it would be rude to say no wouldn’t it!
So we agreed to meet up later. We dropped back first to the overseas business dept, who were our very gracious hosts. We even bumped into a familiar face there of Minato-san – who looked after us during OutRun2.
Then finally time to drop our kit – especially my bag full of demo disks and concept art – back at the hotel. When we got there, I couldn’t believe it. They’d booked us into the Strings International. You’re going ‘Where?’ – I can hear you from here. It’s bang next door to Shinagawa Railway Station – and at 50 storeys up you get a pretty impressive view of Tokyo. I’m only telling you this to make you jealous!
The restaurant we’re meeting in is next door too, the whole area is all metal platforms above some really impressive gardens. I remember taking AM3 out to the restaurant here in Sheffield, there they either had Fish and Chips, or Steak.
I on the other hand was treated to some new and unusual tastes. Fried octopus tenticles in batter anyone? Actually – I will – they’re really nice. I’m sat with a chap who speaks about as much English as I do Japanese, and he’s busy filling my plate with all manner of new foods. Every time I sip my beer, he fills it up. I’ll tell you this – you can’t fault Japanese hospitality.
Again we talk about the game. They’re surprised we want to include certain SEGA IPi. Why? Well why not! It’s a classic SEGA game, of course we want to include it!. Who else have we seen so far? Well – we explain, you’re the first! At this of course we’re asked which other characters we’ll be hoping to include so we say tell them, and this causes a lot of laughs, clearly we’ve got some enthusiasm around the table. Either that or they think we’re quite insane!
By the end of the meal, we’ve all enjoyed ourselves, and it’s been good to talk to the AM3 team again. We end the day on a high with one character approved – and I finally drop into bed in the hotel after nearly 24 hours of travel, thinking 1 down… 19 to go…
Who else did I get to meet? Did we get any turned down/ What exactly is it like in Sonic Teams offices… I’ve got to keep you waiting as I’m out of space till next time!
Posted by Kellie in Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing on 9:01:44AM Jan 07, 2010
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