(Written on the 31st)
As of Midnight tonight Sonic Generations will be on sale in America.
I just wanted to do a bit of a retrospect journal on my feelings since I’ve been working on the game for months and now that it’s finally out I can take the luxury of enjoying the game for being a game and not work :)
Where to start? …
I guess from the point I was standing feeling rather shaken up at the station on the way home after a very intense day at HQ being one of the first few people to play it. I’d love to go into detail about the kind of things that went on that day, but i do value my job and would like to keep doing so, lol. Lets just say as a fan it was very demanding. Not because of my actual experience playing it back then, but because I knew deep down that I was representing all you guys. I tried my best to not be selfish with my opinions. I really wanted to think of as many viewpoints as possible before even attempting to express my own thoughts. It’s one of the strangest feelings, i assure you. So when I left that day, I felt very mentally exhausted. Maybe even a bit upset. I’m not entirely sure why, perhaps I realised as I was standing at the station just how lucky I’d been to experience that. Fans all dream of finding bits of Sonic hidden away and i was seeing it all unfold with my own eyes. It was a really beautiful thing. Seeing something in a very raw state that you know later on will be cherished by so many people. That’s one of the very things I think I love my job for, seeing projects grow bit by bit. Anyone in the games industry will agree, you get that certain buzz when you see a project get its gloss. Perhaps it’s what parents feel for their children, but in a creative sense. I’m one of the most trustworthy people out there, but I guess the reason I’m writing this journal from a personal slant is to express how much the people who worked on Generations really really cared for it. From the very top to the very bottom, there was a whole lot of love for the little blue hedgehog. And it fills me with pride to see such a positive response from all the reviews flooding in. It’s the best feeling ever. All that coffee at 7am was worth it.
When I was a young teenager I was a huge Sonic fangirl. Seriously, I was crazy about Sonic. But as i got a little older my attentions drifted to other SEGA franchises *coughNiGHTScough* and I did sometimes feel a little shred of guilt creeping in for my semi caring attitude towards Sonic. I mean the last Sonic game i really honestly loved was Sonic & Knuckles. Not because it was somehow superior to any modern game but because it had the most childhood memories and nostalgia for me. I always cared about Sonic, but not quite enough to stay up to date with the recent games or be heavily involved in the online community. I would attend events and give a few of the games a try, but it felt like my childhood enthusiasm had dimmed a little and it made me feel horribly guilty I guess.
‘I must have become an adult.’ I thought.
So when I was put on Sonic Generations as a project I really felt stunned. At first I was worried that I would massively suck. Lets be honest, I’m a classic player and the last 3D Sonic I’d been good at was Sonic Adventure 2 on the Dreamcast. So when I actually got to start playing the new game for real I was really amazed at how easy it was to pick up. I remember the first day it came in. People got up out of their chairs to watch us play. That…. that.. just gah… as an oldschool Sonic fan that felt incredible. Everyone was really impressed and wanted to play.
Many months went by and I found myself part of a great little crew of people. I was very lucky to be part of a group that was all nuts for Sonic. Well other than ONE guy *lol* but we soon educated him on the joys of everything he’d been missing out on for years ;) I swear to god, being able to sit in work every day and pick this game to pieces was not work at all for me. It was a total joy. When you do games testing people in the industry tell you ‘oh you’ll hate a project by the time it’s out’. Rubbish! I ended up being more and more excited for it every day. When you start to see things be fixed or improved because of your input, words can’t express how amazing it makes you feel. It’s like being part of a big patchwork of people all working together to make the best damn quilt ever.
Every day I’d relearn things I’d forgotten and learn about the newer games. I remember feeling highly bemused when i enjoyed Crisis City the most out of all the levels in the game. I’d never played Sonic 06… but I’m happy to say I borrowed it after Generations made me so curious about the original XD;; I’m absolutely terrible at it and can’t get past the first damn level, but still, i digress. That’s the thing about Generations, it grabs your interest towards areas of Sonic’s past you might not be familiar with.
I witnessed this first hand when I was chosen to represent the game at London convention ‘Eurogamer’. That weekend, although absolutely exhausting, was one of the greatest experiences as a fan I’ve ever had. Being able to interact with the fans of all different opinions as both a fan and employee myself. Something I’d been wanting to do SO HARD since first getting my hands on the early game was to be able to reassure fans that THIS was the game that would really hit home for them. I read tons of Sonic fansites and i make it my business to stay on top of community happenings, even at the expense of my own, because I wanted to really see what the fans were thinking. One of the biggest hurdles as a fan, having played this great Sonic game, was trying to convince naysayers who hadn’t even touched it yet to really give the game a chance. A lot of people get into this silly mindset were they refuse to believe something can be enjoyable. So i barged in and MADE as many people as I could play the game at Eurogamer. 99% of them left amazed and I left hideously happy. It’s a very mad thing when you’re on the other side of the fence looking back at the fans and trying to do everything in your power to make sure that they are represented. But it’s something I adore.
I met so many people at Eurogamer. I even got to introduce a few very young children to Sonic for the first time ever. To know that I was somehow doing for others what SEGA once done for me as a child just filled me with so much respect for everyone involved in this franchise, both the company and the fans. Being able to hand a big control pad to a little girl and help her find the ‘Start’ button really makes me tear up when i think about it. I hope that was the start of something magical for her :-)
I got to fanflail with hardcores, argue with the jaded, joke with the journos, laugh with the little kids, lure in the parents, it was so fun. I wrote up this huge report on the day for SEGA and made sure i put in as many opinions and comments from the day as I could remember. I really honestly care and Sonic deserves all the feedback, critique and praise heading his way.
I seen a few young kids play as Classic Sonic and prefer it. I seen a few retro adults pick up the Modern levels and prefer it. It was a weekend for me that really showed exactly what this game could do. It was full of surprises.
We all worked our butts off doing the best we could do. Some of us will never be thanked but reading the glowing reviews and hearing the praise is all I certainly need at the end of the day. Hearing people go crazy over Sonic again is something I’m glad to witness.
It wasn’t just testing I done either, a good few of us helped out in more ways than one. It’s those little secret things within a team of friends that makes the project extra memorable for me. We also had some stomachcrampingly -hilarious- days that i wish you could have all been there for. It’s really been a dream come true.
To my little team and everyone I had the pleasure of working with in some shape or form for Sonic G (GANSTA!) you guys are amazing and I’m really honestly glad that all of you are proper oldschool fans of the series. The dedication everyone put in and all those great conversations we shared about our own experiences with Sonic really puts a smile on my face.
One of my fondest memories of the project was doing overtime in a quiet office sitting with a row of my best friends, all of us being oddly connected in some way or another through Sonic as kids growing up, mostly through STC fleetway and the net. Thinking to myself, this is how i imagined it would be. The fans who grew up and now work so hard for the blue guy and everything he stands for.
Stuff is good.
Happy 20th birthday Sonic and Happy anniversary to the fans who have supported him.
The game is now out, go enjoy it as much as we all did working on it.