Thursday, December 27, 2012

Questions For DarthS0L (Again)

Wow, we're back to Sega All-Stars Racing: Transformed talk.  You know, you have to admire the patience & fortitude of someone like Sumo Digital PR Guy DarthS0L who goes through thousands of questions & complaints from the fans.

When I think of game design, I like the idea of communicating with the fans about the game design process.  Usually when a AAA-studio works on a game, they're the lords of the county--you never speak to them, you have no input, they are cold and distant.  But some good devs want to be among the plebeians, let them know they are appreciated, and seek their input.  I hope as a game designer, I get the opportunity to do this as well.  To give the fan base some voice and make them feel involved & valuable.

Problem is if you give a mouse a cookie, they're gonna ask for milk and much more...  Steve AKA DarthS0L answered more than enough questions (and complaints) in this one Sega forum thread, plus many more across numerous websites like Sonic Stadium.  It's one thing to be a cool guy--it's another to be a cool guy who has to deal with a ravenous fanbase with tons of questions like "please put characters X, Y, Z" in the game" and "why is this game so hard," among other hard-to-answer questions.

Worst of all, remember the Golden Rule of the Internet--everything you say will be sealed in stone forever.  So Steve can say one stupid thing or spoil one spoiler and he's done.  Like here's Steve critiquing the poor reviews of the SART Wii version.  Also, Steve "leaked" that the PC version wouldn't be out until next year and everyone went nuts over it.  They also went nuts over the "no more Sonic characters" comment.  People are just putting so much pressure on one guy.  So think about that the next time you wanna get pissed and run to the Sega forums to complain about Ryo Hazuki not being a playable character and why you're having so much trouble beating Traffic Attack on A-class.

I did burden Steve with a few questions in that thread but they're good questions.  The posts he responded to are here and here.  These were asked a few months ago but for archive purposes, I'm posting them here to be saved FOREVER.  No pressure or anything, Steve!  Italics is my question, bold is his question.

Pertaining to the Hornet again. I really like the character. I read your previous response for the roster selection but what was the reason behind the Hornet in specific? Where did this begin--did Sega approach you with this? Or was it something Sumo came up with themselves? Or were fans requesting the Hornet in large numbers? I know the Daytona USA port was release not long ago but I never thought the Hornet would appear in a different type of racing game altogether (a kart racer).

Speaking of which, the Hornet is going to be DLC for Ridge Racer Vita. You heard of that? Hornet's in Fighters Megamix, Ridge Racer Vita, and Sonic & All-Stars Racing. I'm impresed.

I suggested the idea of a multiple SEGA vehicle character as we always get requests in for the Hornet, AfterBurner jet, Hang On bike etc etc etc. Originally we planned to do multiple vehicles per surface and pick one at random, but we had to restrict it to 3 due to memory. The VMU as a driver was put forward by SEGA QA incidentally, as soon as I saw that I get Rex to make it happen :P

This has bugged me a bit although it barely detracts from the game. Why is there no speedometer in the game? Did you consider one and was it cut at some point?

We don't show a speedo as we have plenty going off on screen as it is, you care about your position, lap, weapons, overall position with other players and all the scoring going off. Besides, we'd have to fake the speed on a speedo as you're actually travelling at over 180mph. Real world scales don't mean much in this game :P

So this one is more off-topic. I'm talking about Sumo Digital themselves. You answered a previous question about artists so here's a programmer question. I know it's probably not your area of expertise but I want to know a little more about what goes on there pertaining to programmers. Are there certain things you're looking for in potential programmers? And is there anything in particular that they all are working on or know about or so forth? I'm sorry if the question & answer is so vague. I'm a budding game programmer myself and I want to know more about what the game industry is like, especially Sumo since I'm interested in the games you all are working on.

Typically the games are written in C++, though that's not the only language we use. Games coders have to write fast effecient code as it's all about the speed of operation. It's more and more unusual that we'll take on self taught people unless they're industry vets. Best advice I can give is look at a suitable games course, or get involved with a mod or indie game group. Just as artists need a portfolio, being able to point to software you've developed is equally important for a programmer. It could equally be a dissertation you did in a given field too. Programmers like artists can specialise, so rendering, networking, audio, animation, tools and more. You don't have to be able to everything :P

Did you ever consider the idea of 10 different colored Hornets: the AT (red-blue-white), MT (red-yellow-black), and Players 1 thru 8 (Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Black, Pink, Light Blue, Orange)? Ten Hornets online...I think that would be the second best thing to a new Daytona USA game

Without getting too spoilery - this wasn't on the cards. You've probably noticed once one person picks a characters someone else can't select it. So it's sort of ruled out on those grounds. Plus we don't do different paint jobs - mostly as they wouldn't work for all characters. I can see where you're going with it though!

Did you ever visit Sega of Japan? Did you meet Toshihiro Nagoshi, Yu Suzuki, or any Sega legends?

Yes, I've been over to see SEGA of Japan a number of times on this project (in fact most of the production crew have). As such I've had the pleasure of meeting many of original creators. I won't name drop, but at least a few you've mentioned and more!

Also, did you ever think about stopping by the old OutRun Online Arcade board at GameFAQs just to say hi? I remember when you posted there and I know you're busy but you're a cool dude--we'd love to hear from you again. Once you're done answering the thousands of questions, that is.

I do think about it! One of the things I've had to pull back on though is how many forums I attempt to cover. I check here, SSMB and NeoGAF daily - plus a few forums I look at outside of the world of SEGA. On previous games I was spending wayyyy too long on different forums - I do miss the GameFAQ's chat mind :P

Yeah that's all.  He's still around, doing a post-mortem on TSSZ News, giving a GREAT interview on the state of arcade racers on EuroGamer (I should comment on this one later), so go track him down if you like but give him a break.  Until next time...

damn I wish I had fans flocking to me over Super Sprint but no dice


  1. Hi Eric. Just discovered your homebrew version of Super Sprint. One of my favorite arcade games (many hours spent playing in the student union) and had the excellent atari st version back in the day.

    Would love to get a copy of your version for the pc, but I read your post about the file being taken down.

    If you get the chance, please shoot me the details so I can get a copy. Would love to experience the game once again.

    Best regards,

    1. Thanks Kevin, I'm occasionally working on Super Sprint these days but am nearly done with the newest version of the game. It should be in about a week or two, maybe less. I'll let you know real soon!