Sunday, September 30, 2012

SNK Made Racing Games Too

As you know, I'm working on this stupid "Racing Game Timeline" thing which means I have to dig up images and release dates of a hundred different racing games.  Doesn't sound too bad except because of my obsession with details, a hundred games quickly became a thousand.  In other words, I have to look up 1000 racing games, get a title/box art icon of each, and put them into a chart according to their year of release using Photoshop.  Sounds like fun!

Burning through the racing games, it's not bad at first.  Just hit the big names first.  We know about all the Sega racers like Daytona and OutRun.  Then there's Need for Speed, Gran Turismo, Forza, Burnout, Mario Kart, DiRT, etc.  Then it gets really tedious as hell as you're listing every Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune and Ridge Racer iteration (damn you Namco) as you're also digging through the back of your mind thinking of semi-relevant racing games Midtown Madness and Screamer.  Then you go to websites besides GameFAQs or Wikipedia for help, like The System 16 Arcade Museum.  Damn, all these Alpine Skiers and miscellaneous Sega clones from Namco, yeah I hate you too.  But I'm learning new things about the racing genre!  If you can believe it.  How about this:

I get to SNK arcade section of System 16 and the last thing I expected was to find a racing game.  When I think of SNK, I think Metal Slug, King of Fighters, Fatal Fury, Samurai Shodown, basically weird arcade games that don't even fit the norm of more mainstream devs like Sega, Namco, or Capcom.  But RACING GAMES???  No...there is one (technically two but they're so similar) and here it is:

It's Road's Edge (or Round Trip RV), a 1997 SNK arcade racer.  Pick one of several trucks and go rally racing on dirt and pavement.  Like Sega Rally, Road's Edge will move you to the next track after you've completed one lap.  The goal is to complete three tracks within the time limit and come in first.  Nothing spectacular.

The most interesting aspect of the game is the track design.  Rather than create one-way traditional race circuits (various shaped ovals and stuff), most of the track funnels drivers down the same road going both ways.  It's a sprint from point A to B and back to A and there's trucks racing in the opposite direction of where you're going and head-on collisions are possible.  No barriers or anything going down the road to keep drivers from colliding.  They don't happen as often as it seems but it's a unique twist I don't think I've seen in racing games until now.

EDIT: When you catch air, your guy says "Yahoo" and for some reason, it reminds me of Banjo-Kazooie.  Rofl.

I mentioned two games which both follow this same formula. The second is Xtreme Rally (or Off Beat Racer) released in 1998. It has different cars, tracks and HUD elements but other than that, there's not much of a difference.

It's obvious that back in the arcade heyday when racing games were actually SUCCESSFUL that a lot of these arcade distributors like Sega, Namco, Capcom, Atari, Midway, Taito just went to town making as many racing games as they could with the arcade hardware they designed.  Pick from a handful of cars, three or four tracks, automatic or 4-gear manual, and go race.  See Virtua Racing, Daytona 1 & 2, Indy 500, and Scud Race.  I wouldn't say Road's Edge/Xtreme Rally is perfect--the graphics are underwhelming for a 97'/'98 game and the sound & music could be improved.  Daytona USA, Scud Race, and Daytona USA 2 set the benchmark in terms of arcade graphics and sound in '94, '96', and '98 respectively.  With a great soundtrack too.  Props to AM2; that's why Sega racers frequently come up in arcade conversations and why I named this site "Sega Racing Fan" instead of "SNK Racing Fan."  Ha ha ha, the more you know.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Someone Stole My Blog Posts

I was doing a Google Image Search for Sega Race TV.  What I ended up finding was a website that copied my Sega Race TV review post for verbatim:

It's another Blogspot called "daytona 500 news."  Now he's actually copied a bunch of posts from my blog and presumably from others (up until Feb. 2012 which was the last post).  A lot of the posts there have to do with NASCAR (understandably so) with mine about video games sprinkled into the mix.

In case the page/blog is removed, here's a comparison:

YO DAWG, we herd you like blog posts...

^ The black boxes are other posts that I have made.  Like Forza, Hurricane Katrina, California Speed, Gabe Newell memes, game design school, things that have nothing to do with NASCAR.

I'm not entirely sure if this is an actual physical human being copying my posts or if it's some robot, I don't know.  If bots are able to copy blog posts now then that sucks.  HA, imagine if some stupid bot copied this post, I dare him...

It's not that I'm mad about this--I consider it flattering that others would use my blog posts for something but at least give me credit here.  If you're going to aggregate all this material you like, at least give me a sign first like "check this Eric guy out, he's pretty cool."  I mean you can talk about how it's "wrong" to use images from other people (when I do, I try to give credit where I can) but copying everything like that is stupid.  Although I doubt a plain white blog with no comments is going to be a threat to me, anyway.

Sega Racers Timeline (COMING SOON)

To commemorate the first ever "Talk About Sega Racers Day" (Sept 29th), I WAS going to do a timeline graph covering the history of Sega Racers and compare 'em with other racing games.  Just some informative stuff.  Too bad Saturdays are incredibly lazy for me (I oversleep to counteract the lack of sleep I get during the week) so I'm behind the curve.

Nevertheless, I declare that this holiday is not just a day but a week.  "Talk About Sega Racers Weekend" goes into Sunday, September 30th.  Or if I need too, I'll make a "Talk About Sega Racers Week" or "Sega Racing Month."  Black history, breast cancer awareness, now Sega racers.  I'm reaching for straws.  But keep talkin about Sega racers.

Until then, there have been reports that the Wii U port of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing: Transformed is a laggy, rushed port.  And for the love of God people, just believe Steve AKA DarthS0L since the man has been running around to every Internet forum (next stop: NeoGAF) trying to save face and shut us fans up.  As a game designer too, it's understandable that some builds of the game are laggy as s***.  I'm still a tad bit worried that visuals may have eclipsed game performance but this is Sumo we're talking about--not some mercenary studio no one's heard of.  So Steve & Sumo Digital will live up to their reputation.  Until then, Sega fans:

In the meantime, watch this:

Also, the PC version is the only one able to run at 60 FPS.  So if you're so concerned about FPS, buy the PC Master Race version.  I will probably buy Xbox 360 and PC versions and let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing: Transformed spokeswoman Danica Patrick finished 16th in today's Nationwide race at Dover.  Which means at this rate, she'll win in the Sega All-Stars: Transformed car at the Nov. 3 race at Texas.  And from what I heard, she didn't run over anything during the race so that's good progress.

MORE SEGA RACING CONTENT SOON - EDIT: Worked quite a few hours on it, not done yet, hopefully will be done tomorrow.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Can't Be Mad At Nagoshi-San Anymore (Call To Arms)

I know I haven't posted anything of substance recently so here goes something...

"...He said with each game in the series he strives to have each part of the game equally polished: enthralling and well-performed drama, satisfying exploration and interaction in the adventure sections and a combat system that’s challenging while accessible."  TLDR: He works his ass off on these games.

It's become a running gag over the years to call out Nagoshi-San for his wacky antics.  Like this or this.  But I cannot be angry at Toshihiro Nagoshi anymore.


First of all, what if judging by his dedication to the Yakuza franchise, isn't that what his true passion is?  Yakuza games?  To me, I love racing games.  But to him, he loves Yakuza.  And it's his dream come true to make many of these games.  So who am I to interfere?  After many years of service to SEGA, he is basically the Chief Creative Officer now and he makes games that make Sega money.  And when Sega makes money, it's good for ALL of us.

And another thing.  Hasn't he done enough already?  He made Daytona USA 1, Daytona USA 2, Scud Race, and even F-Zero GX.  Why should I beat up on him for not doing more?  He basically brought them into existence and without him, we'd probably be in a much worse position.  OutRun and Virtua Racing were great but Nagoshi advanced the ball further down the field for us.  If he didn't who else would?

I'm reminded of a conversation I had with my dad.  We were talking about Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints NFL team.  One of the best QB's in NFL history, he brought a Superbowl victory to New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina.  After 43 years of the Saints being perennial losers, they finally won the Lombardi and lifted the spirits of the entire city (read my recap of the season here).  In other words, Drew Brees = Gulf Coast Hero & Class Act.

But last year, he held out for a bigger contract and basically hindered the team from signing better players like Pro Bowl offensive lineman Carl Nicks.  This hurt & distracted our team in the long run.  This I talked about before.  Drew would settle for a $100 million contract over 5 years.  My dad said something interesting in response and that is, "He could never play another snap and that $100 million would be worth it.  He's done more than enough for the city."  And that's true.  The fact Drew is still playing is just a bonus.

So you know what.  If Nagoshi wants to make Yakuza games, hit the tanning booths, drink alcohol, and have nice little conversations with Japanese mistresses then fine.  I can't hate on the guy.  He's deserved it.  He's my hero.  There, I said it and I mean it.

So, what about Daytona USA?  I'll tell you what for the 100th time, it's down to the FANS to get that s*** back up and running.  Assuming there is a new Daytona (or Sega racer in general), there's no guarantee Toshihiro Nagoshi will be involved as well as includes Yu Suzuki, Tetsuya Mitzuguchi, Makoto Osaki, Takenobu Mitsuyoshi, the whole crew.  So you GET ACTIVE, talk about racing games, learn about game design, favorite all the Sega racer YouTube vids and fan art, just do whatever you can to promote this stuff.  Cause that's what Sega fans have done for the last 20 years, promote the heck out of a garbage company known as Service Games for no reason at all other than that they've moved us in some way.  Like a stupid little arcade game like Daytona USA with 3 tracks and only one car.  Or a Mario "clone" called Sonic the Hedgehog.  Or Space Harrier, OutRun, Crazy Taxi, Virtua Fighter, Jet Set Radio, Shenmue, even for the most miniscule reasons like "I think the music's cool."  So GET MOTIVATED!!!!  Cause Sega does what Nintendon't.  Or what Microsoft don't.  Or Sony don't. Or Namco don't.  Or all those other wannabe game devs.

I propose that September 29th (Saturday) is official "Talk About Sega Racers Day".  You have two days to get ready so if you're reading this on Friday, you're given the heads up.  It's on a Saturday so it's the weekend and you should be feeling it then.  Just go to a message board, chat room, or meet someone in actual real life and say "Hey, you know about Sega?  You like racing games?  You ever played OutRun or Daytona USA?"  NOT THAT HARD.  Let's start doing this cause I'm getting sick and tired of the Sega fanbase drying up all around me like a dying oasis in the desert.  So talk, talk, talk about Sega and don't be scared.  Trust me, I already look like a bigger fool on this stupid blog than you could possibly be in real life so go do it.  THE END.

Listen to them all at once and there's your 5 Hour Energy for the day.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

More Sega All-Stars 2 Info (Thank You Sumo Digital Employees)

First of all, I should mention that I've gone all-out with my deviantART account, posting some lousy old pics of mine as well as favoriting a bunch of Sega/NASCAR ones.  So go favorite some pics if you haven't already...get behind the Sega community and give 'em your support.

But in other news, SegaBITS was able to get an interview with two Sumo Digital employees--Steve (DarthS0L) and Gareth (ex-Bizarre Creations guy).  How they were able to get an interview while I wasn't, I'll never know...but we learned a lot about Sonic All-Stars Racing 2.  This whole conversation was in podcast format so I decided to take really quick notes just in case you don't have the time to listen:


* "What are you playing?"  Diablo 3, watching Judge Dredd, reading Sonic comics, etc.

* Needed to get proper physics for all three vehicle types.  Not just a "platformer"--a block sliding across the ground.  Rode the line between simulation and arcade physics.  Track design was held off until the boat/plane physics were down.

* During play-testing, no one really mentioned the car handling which means they were so engrossed by it...they had no problems with it apparently.

* People asked for drifting in planes so they went back and added it later.  Got a lot of inspiration from SkyDrift on Xbox Live Arcade.

* Is the Flagman in the OutRun track?  Does he dance?  Probably not.  Surprisingly, people seem to care more about things like the dancing Flagman than they do the ability to race boats/planes.

* There will be a new flagman in this game (not the fat red-shirt guy from OR2) but we don't know who yet.

* You can unlock "stickers" to put on your license.  They're like badges you unlock and can show off & stuff.

* Is it possible they'll reveal the final roster before the game is released (Nov 20)?  Maybe, maybe not.

* How about Segata Sanshiro, can he be in the game?  Would be difficult since we're talking about a real-life person here (albeit a fictional one).

* New All-Stars moves for old characters.  They need to work on all three surfaces now.

* There will be flight-only and boat-only stages.

* Massive tracks--the Panzer Dragoon one is a great example.  At some point, the track changes and you're going to new places (driving on the temple roof) and some of the dev team was amazed because they didn't learn about these things being added to the game until now.

* Campaign Mode is similar to Mario Galaxy.  Use any character you want on any mission.  The campaign can be played up to four-player split-screen.

* New co-op gameplay mode: Traffic Attack.  Drive through traffic and use weapons to clear the way for your team.  Been doing racing games for over 10 years and the idea of a co-op racer was too good to be true.

* Campaign should be 10-15 hours, maybe longer.  There is a very hard difficulty (like in F-Zero & PGR2)  that should be good enough for diehards like us (challenge accepted).

* More battle arenas than first game.

* Online Multiplayer includes Halo/CoD playlists.  You have an ever-changing ranking like in Mario Kart Wii (win, it goes up, lose, it goes down).  Playlists include the Battle Race (three lives and you're out), straight up races with no powerups, and Capture the Chao (Flag).

* You will be able to play four-player split-screen online.

* All-stars moves work online.  Some are very similar in nature to make it easier to code them all into the game (i.e. some people shoot missiles, others get speed boosts, etc.)

* DarthS0L gets lots of grief online from people online.  Like where's Big the Cat???  Seems like people care more about their favorite character than the game itself.

* Fun experiment: S0L posts on the forums, "You can have any three characters you want, now choose" and the entire board goes crazy.  People begging and stuffing the votes by creating multiple accounts.  It wasn't real, however.

* Lots of passion for these Sega IPs.  During the first presentation of the Panzer Dragoon track, no one spoke, they just gasped.

* The gaming press tends to twist quotes a lot.  For instance, Gareth is asked "After PGR4, are you thinking about PGR5?"  "Yes I am" he says.  Then the media puts up the headline "PGR5 confirmed."  Ridiculous.

* Wii U version looks just as good as PS3, maybe better.  5-player split-screen is possible--four on the TV, one on the game pad.  The 5th guy is usually some "special" player with a unique power.  For instance, in the Super Monkey Ball level, the 5th guy (presumably a giant monkey ball) can squash other players.  The non-squashed players can save the squashed players by touching them but they must also avoid the 5th guy as well.

* You're playing the Wii U version of Sega All-Stars Racing 2?  Does someone else want to use the TV?  Just flip from the TV to the Wii U controller and walk away.  You can do it seamlessly without breaking the action.  You can return to the TV later if you like.

* How to speed up the game--use graphs and see where the game runs the slowest.  Look at the game's art--if something is too highly detailed but can barely be seen, tone it down.  Also crack down on lousy programming this way.  Also water physics takes a huge toll on the system too.

* The game was built for 512 mb of RAM in mind but since the Wii U has double of that, it can only make the game run faster!

* The music changes as the tracks & vehicles change.  Had to be careful that the music keeps up with the pace of the action.  All of the iconic music was hand-picked.  Also makes reference to famous Sega composer Richard Jacques who knows everyone and everything about Sega.  S0L is not a big fan game music but Jacques' work is great.

* Why isn't there a store that sells Sega merchandise--t-shirts, hats, music???  Good point.

* People at Sonic Boom asked about a Sega All-Stars fighting game?  What style?  This is challenging to design because you have big characters vs. small characters.  Threw around the idea of mech-based Virtual-On style combat and Sonic in Streets of Rage.  Don't copy Smash Bros. like Sony did.  People really liked a Power Stone-style brawler.

* The game should capture everyone's imagination based on age.  Hardcore gamers, kids, and families should like it.

* Gareth leaves at this point.

* There are three different levels of graphics for different consoles.  Different assets for different platforms.  That's a lot of different models that need to be made for many different versions of the game.

* What's your favorite Sega racer???  S0L says OutRun 2 (no surprise).

* Favorite Sega character???  S0L says Afterburner, OutRun, and Space Harrier--basically "AM2" he said. But that doesn't count so he says Gilius from Golden Axe.  You could go crazy with ideas...him riding a turtle and using magic so it was fun working with him.

* Anyone left out of All-Stars 2 that you want to include in All-Stars 3?  Turns down the question because he doesn't want to leak any of the roster.

* November is a tough month.  Can All-Stars Racing 2 compete?  Yes, because there's a demand for these kind of arcade, family-friendly games.  There aren't many games out there like that.  You can only find these kind of games on Nintendo consoles but now here's one available on all consoles.

* They all feel really good about the game and poured hours and hours of attention into it so have faith, readers!

* If the next Mario Kart steals an idea from us then that's great!

* Name recognition is good for us.  "Sonic & Sega All-Stars" is working out for us now.

* Will any recent Sega IPs get in the game, like Bayonetta or Rhythm Thief?  No guarantees because some of these games were released after they started.  The goal is to keep the age rating down to E-10 as well as keep that classic Sega feel so not every character was forced into the game.  However, nothing's guaranteed at this point.

* Voice clips will be recycled because to record dialogue for 29 characters is hugely expensive.  Some voice actors are no longer available.  Localization is a pain.

* The End.  This conversation goes on through 1:20 (80 mins) so that's a good amount of information to be extracted.


Lest you forget, I did get to ask a few tough questions on the Sega Official Forums with replies from Sumo Digital so check those out too.

Overall, if S0L if confident, then I am too.  For once, a racing game not called Need for Speed or Mario Kart gets a load of attention.  All I have to say now is PREORDER the damn game if you haven't already.  Be there in November to get the game.  Back at E3, Sega All-Stars Racing 2 was denied "Best Racing Game of E3" because these airhead gaming types thought Need for Speed: Most Wanted was the better racing game.  Yeah, Most Wanted, here's the new trailer with all the "play any way you want in a generic city with a generic name (Fairhaven City)" bull crap.  So please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD BUY SONIC AND SEGA ALL-STARS RACING: TRANSFORMED and do the Sega Nation a huge, huge favor.  Thank you and God bless.

BTW, what's this...a Sega-related story on Reddit Gaming's front page?  NO!!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Where's Alberto (The OutRun 2 Guy) ??? (( BILLY JOEL & SAYGUH ))

I know he's somewhere cruis'n with the girls, he must be.  So many Ferraris, even the Flagman gets a ride.

It would be funny though if you raced against 900 other Ferraris and each one of them had the "Rival" arrow over them.  BLING-BLING-BLING-look at them points.  Hmm, let's make it a Heart Attack challenge--Keep passing cars!!  Let's start!!  YEEHAA!!  All right!!

It also dawned on me--should there be an OutRun 3 some day, there's one more Ferrari they should put in the game:

Oh man, two Yu Suzuki games in one.  IMPOSSIBRU!!!!!


One More Thing You Guys.  Anyway, I was just playing Rock Band 3 Pro Keyboards and I was bitching and whining as usual about how there's no good Keyboard charts left and all Harmonix has been releasing is crap background noise charts for songs like Shinedown, Iron Maiden, and Matchbox Twenty.  Seriously, you don't buy Iron Maiden to play keyboards.  So I stumble upon an old classic: Say Goodbye to Hollywood by Billy Joel.  After a few tries I finally gold-starred the thing (only 10th on the leaderboard, I suck) but I noticed something that I NEVER noticed before.  Skip to 0:30, 3:12, whenever the chorus is:

Sega bye to Hollywood
Sega bye my baby
Sega bye to Hollywood
Sega bye my bayyyybehhhh

I shat bricks.
We have the next PINGAS on our hands here.
3:24, best SEGA!! scream impression.
BTW, I know this is stupid but if Kotaku can post crap like this 10 times a day then I can post it at least once a day.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I have a bunch of funny car/racing/Sega memes & gifs for you.  Found 'em off random websites like GameFAQs, Reddit, every terrible website out there over the years.  And since I'm too lazy to make an actual good post, this one's for you!

Because of the large number of pics, you must hit the jump to load the page.  Don't want to crash anyone's browsers here.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Don't Review Sega's Games, Review SEGA Themselves

Well guys, I was at work doing stuff when I found this semi-interesting Kotaku article.  I doubt they came up with it themselves and just copied it from elsewhere (like I am right now).  NEVERTHELESS, it's about Glassdoor, a website in which past & present employees of companies leave anonymous review of their employers (you need some proof of employment before you can submit anything).  And that's what this Kotaku article does--it shows you the ratings for famous game development studios (according to anonymous people so take 'em with a grain of salt).  Hey I do this stuff for a career so these numbers actually have meaning to me.  If you want to look at the raw numbers, I sorted them out for you as such from best to worst.  Scores are an average out of 5.  Also included the number of votes so you can get an idea of the sample size:

Valve: 5.0   (2 reviews, looks like Valve can't even get 3 good reviews, HL3 DECONFIRMED)
Riot Games: 4.4   (30)
BioWare: 3.8   (27)
Microsoft: 3.5   (3659, very tricky because this includes ALL of Microsoft, not just Xbox/games)
EA (all studios): 3.3   (342)
Ubisoft: 3.3   (92)
Blizzard: 3.3   (69)
Nintendo of America: 3.3   (26)
Rockstar Games: 3.3   (6)
PopCap: 3.2   (8)
Zynga: 3.1   (85)
Square-Enix (in the West): 3.1   (9)
LucasArts: 3.0   (13)
CCP: 2.9   (28)
THQ: 2.9   (36)
Activision: 2.8   (40)
Sony Computer Entertainment America: 2.8   (64)
Gameloft: 2.7   (59)
Crytek: 2.6   (12)
Sony Online Entertainment: 2.5 (38)
Codemasters: 2.5 (12)
NCSoft: 2.3 (27)
Capcom Vancouver: 2.3   (3)
Treyarch: 2.2   (12)
Timegate: 1.9   (14)
Volition: 1.3   (4)

So you know what I did?  Seeing as I love to be disappointed (we're Sega fans, after all), I decided to look up Sega's Glassdoor page.  And here it is.  This is based on the incredibly fantastic Sega of America studio (which I talked about here) in San Francisco, CA and here's my fancy formatting to make this as easy as possible to read:


Picture of Sayyyyyguuhhhhh of America:


2.5 out of 5 (average)

Employees say it's “OK” (12 ratings)

20% of employees recommend this company to a friend

50% Approve of the CEO (4 ratings)
Mike "18-24 Dreamcast Ports" Hayes

Company Rating Distribution (of the 12 people):

Very Satisfied – 1
Satisfied – 3
Neutral / OK – 1
Dissatisfied – 3
Very Dissatisfied – 4

Additional Employee Ratings (out of 5):

Career Opportunities – 3
Compensation & Benefits – 3.5
Work/Life Balance – 4
Senior Leadership – 2
Culture & Values – 2

User Reviews, please mind the dates on which these were posted:

Very strict corporate enviornment (3 of 5)
Former Employee – posted May 17, 2012 

Pros – Great benefits, competative salary, good location.

Cons – Poor performance on new and existing game titles. Reputation as a hole has been dropping like a rock. Many people do not even know they still exist.

Advice to Senior Management – I think you should make the corporate enviornment a bit more fun and work hard play hard. The corporate atmosphere is more like a work hard only strict enviornment. It may be the cultural differences with Japanese culture vs American culture which contribute to this.

Going nowhere...slowly. (2 of 5)
Former Employee – posted today (Sep 6, 2012)

Pros – Benefits, Good colleagues and great team. Was great and very exciting at the time of the 2005 reset...but...

Cons – ...the reset ran out of steam and the products didn't sell. Some didn't sell because they weren't any good and that wasn't addressed by many people involved, but there were plenty of products that were good too. While the market does play a role in this I have to say that it's not fully to blame. Most problem products weren't righted and the organization in general just didn't collectively have its stuff together to change that. It wasn't for lack of good people or even processes, it largely appears that the output from such things was ignored or people even covered problems up fearing their own failures would see them out the door.

The big downside of working at Sega America is of course having to work with Sega of Japan and Sega Europe, in particular having to work under the management from SOE over the last several years...which let's face it, hasn't worked out and on reflection appears to have not been a good idea. Yes, I'm biased...but it's also true isn't it?

There are some great people within those overseas places yes, but there are also many failures, politicians and ineffective managers (managers, directors and VP's) too. SOJ typically falls in line with what you'd expect of any Japanese company, essentially an organization that looks down on anyone who is not Japanese. Racism. There, I said it.

As for SOE. The management (particularly that which has been managing or overseeing the entire Sega West business) has run the entire thing into the ground. A lot of those same people appear to have been doing nothing but empire building for themselves and instead of trying to make the business work have been securing themselves.

Better people were ousted unnecessarily in order to pave the way for such empire building. I'm happy for the recent change of guard at Sega West, but it hasn't really gone far enough and we needed more directors, leadership and decision making back at SOA if only to curb the lack of insightful direction, decision making and interfering from overseas. Why? Those involved just didn't understand the problems from afar, thus couldn't fix them.

Ultimately it's been difficult to get any products, business or other efforts off of the ground because of the stalemate and lack of decision making in place and we lost so many good people because of that. There's a lot of reason to not work there nowadays. It's a good gig to have if you don't have anything else going on of course, but that's as far as I'd recommend working there.

Advice to Senior Management – Make some decisions. Grow the business, but don't fear cancelling products that are not meeting expectations, it will at least allow you to double down on the winners. Put some local leadership in place to represent SOA and sever this ridiculous leash that SOE has. It hasn't worked out so change it.

Sonic (5 of 5)
Former Employee – posted Apr 18, 2012 

Pros – great people, fun industry, great brand.

Cons – limited communication, could use more colaboration.

was warned it is dysfunctional, turned out to be correct (2 of 5)
Former Employee – posted Mar 12, 2012 

Pros – fun atmosphere.  cool products.  good research department.  they encourage creativity

Cons – infighting among mid/upper management created underlying animosity between groups.  many decisions are made for internal political reasons rather than good business reasons.

Advice to Senior Management – try a 360 degree review process to weed out, or at lease identify, the weak mid/upper managers.  do something to get the groups to work together instead of working against one another.

Revolving door of terrible managers (1 of 5)
Current Employee – posted May 12, 2011 

Pros – Big brand name, iconic IP, nice office,

Cons – Business down 60% since 2007, Americans treated as 3rd class, Europeans treated as 2nd class. Politics rewarded over merit.

Advice to Senior Management – Top execs in Europe and Japan keep getting promoted while Americans get fired and treated badly. The wrong people are getting promoted

Okay place to work, but difficult to get decisions made (4 of 5)
Current Employee – posted Feb 22, 2011 

Pros – Start-up like mentality when i was there.  Ability to wear lots of different hats.

Cons – Management in Japan made it difficult to make decisions for the US market.

Generally good but needs revolution in quality (4 of 5)
Current Employee – posted Sep 04, 2008 

Pros – Co-workers are generally great folks at SEGA. It can be frustrating working for a Japanese company due to communication and culture issues, but the US office continues to show success in growing a Western-centric videogame development strategy.

Cons – No stock or profitsharing mean that there is really no hope of hitting a jackpot even if you make a hit game. There is no incentive to pitch original projects since SEGA will not give up any financial reward to an internal entrepreneur.

Advice to Senior Management – Get off the zero-sum business plan and spread more bets so projects can live and die on quality. Amazing games will reap rewards in the market and restore the tarnished SEGA brand.

Good benefits and people, but poor management and consistently bad development track record. (1 of 5)
Former Employee – posted Sep 23, 2008 

Pros – Sega has great properties. The benefits are very good. Some great people on staff. Lots of young employees in their 20s and 30s.

Cons – Poor track record of developing quality games. Game quality is consistently subpar. Little oversight of bad employees. Dysfunctional relationships with other business units creates lots of friction in daily work and long-term planning. Leadership is not consistent in its decision making regarding personnel with good employees fired and promoted and bad employees promoted and fired. Lack of healthy questioning of process and decisions.

Advice to Senior Management – Listen to the people at the bottom. They have an honest and more truthful assessment of the situation than those on top. Don't be afraid of doing the right thing. Support your people. They need guidance.

Great family at SEGA (4 of 5)
Current Employee – posted 5 weeks ago (about Aug 1, 2012)

Pros – People are really awesome and helpful.  Work hours can be super flexible.  Great friendly environment and work space.

Cons – Previous management from Europe was awful.  Lots of Europe vs US fighting.

Political- a collection of departments, the whole often adds up to less than the sum of the parts. (1 of 5)
Current Employee – posted Jun 20, 2011 

Pros – SEGA was one of the industry's greats and the brand still has some residual value- if nothing else it looks good on the resume to non-industry folk.  Opportunity to cover lost of ground quit quickly due to small size of company.  Nice office and decent location.

Cons – Generally poor product and poor attitude to product makes.  Having the US team report to the European office as a territory is just... weird.  A little slow on trends like DLC, mobile and casual gaming.  Horribly understaffed.
Former Employee – posted Aug 21, 2010 

Pros – Good Work Environment.  Free Soda.  Working in the video game industry.

Cons – Very difficult to move up in the organization.  Lack of clear vision from top of the organization.  Difficult to move up.

Advice to Senior Management – Value all members of the organization from top to bottom.

Stay away. (1 of 5)
Former Employee – posted Mar 31, 2010

Pros  – The company has some of the best benefits anywhere (time off, medical, etc.) That is pretty much the only highlight.

Cons – Typical Japanese company...micromanagement from afar, a disconnect between the Japanese staff/managers and everyone else. The company is quite cheap in terms of making investments.

Advice to Senior Management – Start treating employees better. Invest in the business. Do not give the impression that non-Japanese nationals are second class citizens.


If you need any encouragement, there's Sega of Japan with 4 reviews with a 3.2 average.  There's hardly anything interesting written there so I'd say just discard this page altogether.  EDIT: There's also nothing on Sumo Digital so don't bother.

But there you go.  Twelve samples from people with varying English composition skills.  That's not a huge sample size but still, that's more than a handful of people.  Some of it is good but most of it isn't.  Sega is slightly below average compared to the companies on that big Kotaku list.  Also consider that the only 5/5 review happens to be the most useless so factor that into the average.

It's a bummer but I'm not too surprised.  Like I said, these reviews could be fabricated/embellished in some way so we don't know.  Some of the stuff seems blatantly obvious like the poor games, poor mismanagement, disconnect from Sega of Japan (hey, if SoA wants to make crap Marvel games, they ain't developing any more games in the near future).  I'm devoid of thoughts right now so you analyze it for me.

If you want to read more from some anonymous Sega employee, I say check out this guy's blog.  It's seldom updated but he mentions some very interesting stuff including the time in which they tried to "kill off" Sonic and the antics that ensued.  Can't leave comments since he disabled them.

Whatever, the more you know.  Hopefully this is not vindictive of how Sega of Japan/Europe operates because SoA has been garbage for years.  Daytona USA & blue skies seem so far away from here, FML.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Nobody Loves Sega

I feel dejected right now.  One of my good friends who runs the Shenmue Stare site called it quits.  Seems like Sega fans are just losing it as am I.  So here comes the rant.

One thing we can all agree on right now is that Sega has some problems of certain levels of severity.  I mock Sega.  I pick at them a lot because I love their racing games and they haven't returned to their prime.  But at someone who has some knowledge of Sega (i.e. the immense amount of money they lost) it's somewhat understandable.  Yet to others, picking on Sega is usually for s***s and giggles by the media.  Here's a choice quote from the infamous Shenmue Dojo  post pertaining to Sega & Hajime Satomi of the Yakuza:

SEGA is also the victim of general bias and hate from both the gaming 'media' and 'gamers' in general; both of whom are indoctrinated to believe Nintendo is the be-all and end-all of gaming creativity when in truth Mityamoto's creative output is dwarfed by one SEGA development studio and slaughtered by Yu Suzuki alone. When companies such as RARE and UbiSoft are sold or sell-out, these typical sheep are up in arms. When SEGA was literally raped, butchered and murdered slowly by Sammy, nary a word from the press or the 'gaming' community.....

Exactly my point.  The thing is I'm afraid that lots of people are just ignorant of Sega as a whole.  Sega was this "great empire," now they are to be mocked and ridiculed on seldom occasions when someone on sites like Kotaku, Joystiq, or Reddit references Sega in some way.  But let's be clear, no matter how pessimistic I seem, Sega isn't doing TOO bad.  Here's a list of things they're doing well.    They're making money again.  They aren't abusing Sonic as much.  They released ports of Daytona USA, OutRun 2, Sega Rally, other Dreamcast games so I can't totally hate on the guy.  Seriously, read the LEAVE SEGA ALONE! post from last year.  But others who have no emotional investment in Sega, they couldn't care less.

Quick--here's a pop quiz.  Answer these questions in a minute and don't look up the answers:

1. Name four Sega consoles.
2. Name two important Sega people.
3. Name five franchises originated by Sega.

They couldn't do it.  They'd spit out the usual talking points, "Sega, hmm....they made the Genesis but the SNES was better, they made the Dreamcast which failed, they made Sonic the Hedgehog which they ruined....and oh, they made BAYONETTA! (not made by Sega, made by Platinum Games with some involvement on Sega's part) Other than that, I know nothing."  And these are the same people who gush all over Nintendo, all over Blizzard, all over Bethesda, all over Rockstar, all over Valve, all over other "visionaries" like Cliff Bleszinski and Notch but when it comes to Yu Suzuki or Yuji Naka, they draw a blank.  Can't stand it.

Okay, disclaimer time: I'm not saying EVERY GAMER thinks this way.  But I have a hunch that too many DO think that way since whenever I seldom hear about Sega, it's always in a negative light.  You don't necessarily have to be a "Sega fan" to criticize them too.  Take Electronic Arts--we all beat up on them but they're front & center on the stage all the time so there's no excuse not to know about their antics.  But here's some anti-Sega media:

Speaking of Sega's age, they're practically on par with Nintendo.  FIRST RECOGNIZABLE GAMES: Nintendo's Donkey Kong = 1981.  Sega's Monaco GP = 1980.  CONSOLES: Sega Master System = 1985.  Nintendo Entertainment System = 1985.  Though technically, there's the Famicom which came out in 1983.  But anyway, I'm just trying to get this whole "Nintendo came first" baloney out of the way now.  Also, Sega was kicking ass in arcades during the 80's/90's yet Nintendo wasn't.  But since consoles are the only thing that mattered, Nintendo gets praised while Sega gets dumped on.  Arcade success means nothing to these people.

I realize Sega got what's coming to them when they trampled the Sonic series, but it's turned around and, all petty complaints aside, isn't as terrible as it once was.  So if the media could stop running with the mantra "I can't play Sanic gaemz cause they r so bad and made for furries and kids with autism" then maybe I won't get so irate whenever I read a Sonic story on these "neutral" game sites.

Wait, what--there's Harrison Ford with a Master System.  And nobody wants to play with him.  Speaking of which, I wonder where this NES bias came from.  I don't think I was ever shown a Master System.  Not that the NES is bad (it has uh...Mario and Zelda!) but come on--it can't be as bad as gamers portray it (by completely ignoring it altogether)?

The "news" sites like Kotaku are just bad.  Whenever you do hear something about Sega, it's a gag story.  Like "Sega's brown man (Nagoshi) interviews porn stars (for Yakuza)" or "Here's a screencap of old Sonic telling young Sonic 'Your future's gonna be great!' " or "WTF is wrong with Sega making a Mario & Sonic Olympics Game?"  I only glaze over that site's stories just to check in on what's the news with gaming in general but other than that, this site sucks.  Speaking of sucking, I've noticed Kotaku has the tendency to post news/videos/pictures seen off of Reddit Gaming a day later.  Lazy reporters have nothing good to say.

Speaking of Reddit Gaming.  I've browsed that website for a good three months thus far and I'm tired of it.  Most of the posts are innocuous (funny screenshots & other stuff) but Good Lord, I'd be lying if I didn't say it was the Valve Show over there.  Don't get me wrong--Valve is a great company, all their games are top-notch, they give you the tools & source code to make your own mods (look at my CS 1.6 maps), Gabe Newell is a pretty good billionaire who doesn't afraid of anything, but is this company the ONLY game dev they focus on?  Same group think--WHERE'S HALF LIFE 3???  GABEN, PORTAL, CAVE JOHNSON, WILL HALF-LIFE 3 EVER BE RELEASED???  EDIT: This is the top Reddit Gaming post of 9/3/12:

As an aside, I'll go ahead and say this now.  Disregarding the fact I think Half-Life 2 is good but overrated (another linear single-player FPS but your character can't talk, how clever), Half-Life 3 is inevitable.  Valve is a very successful company.  Gabe Newell is a billionaire who is always in touch with fans.  There's at least 100 million Half-Life fans out there.  There WILL BE A Half-Life 3.  On the other hand, try saying that about Shenmue 3.  Or Daytona USA 3.  Or even Sonic Adventure 3.  NO SHOT.  Sega is nowhere near as good as Valve is and all of their talent has basically packed their bags & left.  EDIT: And any "diehard" Sega fans are so far & few between that you seldom hear them among the vast "ocean" of the Internet.

Speaking of Sega, Reddit Gaming couldn't give two s***s about Sega.  No surprise.  The only Sega-related story that makes the front page of Reddit Gaming is another repost of the "Genesis Tower."

And one more thing--this is about GameFAQs.  I still do my damnest to stay off that lousy-ass website.  But you remember a while back how GameFAQs would run all those Top 10 lists and Contests to decide what the best games ever made are?  I'm dead serious--if I go to this website and am told ONE MORE TIME about how great Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, Halo, Starcraft, Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy, Portal are and how they're so much better than all other games, I'm going to punch a baby.  The same people who circlejerk their mainstream games on these websites, such as GameFAQs or Reddit, who try to lecture me on the same groupthink crap are going to make me snap.

It's just sad because the only truly apparent group of Sega fans are...Sonic fans.  And they're the ones who get raked over coals--for bickering amongst each over about what Sonic games are good or not (Sonic 3, Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic CD, etc.), for being "furries," for spamming the message boards asking whether or not miscellaneous characters will be in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing (omg, can we get Blaze the Cat DLC????), thereby obfuscating the point of the game which is to be about GOOD, SOLID RACING as opposed to a bunch of Sonic characters.  Really now, I like Sonic but seeing as the company now lives or dies by it gives the haters a bunch of ammo. 

And then there's other gamers.  We're at school and we're talking about what game companies we want to work.  Here's what happens:

Other Guy: "Where do you want to work?"
Me: "I want to work for Sega."
Other Guy: "Sega is a s***hole." (he's probably right)

Later that day, the same conversation occurs with another guy:

Another Guy: "Where do you want to go?"
Me: "I want to work for Sega."
Another Guy: "Wait, Sega is still around?????"

Case in point, no one knows s*** about Sega.  The hard work done by Yuji Naka, Yu Suzuki, and others will be washed away by a clusterf*** of Zelda, Mass Effect, Call of Duty, Halo, Need for Speed, and Grand Theft Auto games.  Because we all know that those were the truly "innovative" games of our time while Sega.....pssh, they sucked, no one cares.

One more thing, there's this which was great because it paints Sega in a positive light and it actually made the non-Sega blogs like Kotaku: 

And there's always some smart-aleck who chimes in, "A Shenmue 3 wouldn't work in today's age."  Which is probably true.  I mean, the expectation people have for free-roam story-based games like these is too much.  Where are the weapons, why can't I blow up hookers, why can't you run over people in the forklift, why does this game have QTE's (Shenmue invented them but now every other game has incorporated them, running this type of gameplay into the ground).  Yet at the same time, these people don't want their Zelda/WoW/Half-Life/etc games to change--it's Shenmue that has to.  Zelda never ages, Mario never ages, Final Fantasy never ages, Street Fighter never ages, but Shenmue does therefore it's overrated.  Makes a whole lotta sense.

Seriously, I did not intend for this to be a "fanboy" post but for God's sake, if you're going to launch salvos again at Sega (like every other gamer has, regardless of whether they care about Sega's well being) then cut us some damn slack since dealing with this company is a roller-coaster ride and there's been some effort recently for Sega to make a comeback.  I felt this post needed to be made cause I'm getting pissed off about this every day.  Until then, here's hopes for blue skies...someday.

Adorable picture.  The irony is the PS3's older brother (the PS2) killed the Dreamcast.  How does it feel to be related to a killer?