Summer of Sonic: All-Stars Racing Q&A

Summer of Sonic: All-Stars Racing Q&A

by August 29, 2009

Offers insight in to the game’s design and more

As the Summer of Sonic rolls on, the Q&A with Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Executive Producer Steve Lycett and Lead Designer Travis Ryan has occurred, and thanks to Dusk Golem over at the Sonic Stadium, live audio of theQ&A has been recorded and posted on the internet. For those of you who don’t want to listen to the 24 minute Q&A session, as the pair are bombarded with questions from the fans, here’s a highlights reel of the informational tidbits on offer:

  • Sega Superstars Tennis was born out of experiments Sumo Digital was doing with Virtua Tennis 3 post-release. After playing around with the game’s source code and adding a bunch of silly features like a Big Head Mode and whatnot, a Sega Representative saw the game in motion and after discussing things a bit, the concept for a Sega Superstars Tennis was born.
  • When they first conceptualized Sega Superstars Tennis, they created a list of 108 Sega characters that they would have liked to appear in the game. However, the amount of work implementing 108 characters was simply too great, so the majority of them had to be cut.
  • The style of the game is based around the idea of classic Sonic content as if it was created for a recent Sonic game, like Sonic Unleashed. However, because Green Hill Zone appeared in Sega Superstars Tennis, they don’t want to re-use the location – instead, they’ve been focusing on bringing Seaside Hill from Sonic Heroes in to All-Stars Racing, because in their opinion, it’s the next best thing.
  • The game runs on Sumo Digital’s own internal game engine called the “Sunshine Engine”. This engine has powered all of Sumo Digital’s next-gen games (Outrun 2, Virtua Tennis 3, etc.).
  • The controls and physics in ASR are not based on Outrun 2, but were built, from the ground up, for ASR. However, they trying to capture the “Sega Arcade Game Feel” for ASR, specifically referencing games like Outrun and Daytona USA as inspiration.
  • Though the comparisons to Mario Kart are obvious, ASR did not start off with weapons – it began its life as a straight-forward racing game, but it simply felt like “something was missing” without weapons.
  • Sumo Digital keeps an eye on internet forums for feedback on the game, name dropping sites like NeoGAF, GameFAQs, and even the forums (a possible hint to an as-of-yet unannounced character). They use these to gauge interest on what characters and features people want to see in the game.
  • As much as Sumo Digital would like to put in every possible character in to the game, they try to maintain a balance of characters that will appeal to old and new Sega fans alike. They also try and keep the roster of vehicles diverse as well, with cars, motorcycles, monster trucks, airplanes and more.
  • Many designers have contributed to the vehicles in ASR; some vehicles were designed by artists at Sonic Team, others were designed by the character’s original creators, and Sumo Digital themselves have designed some of the vehicles. Big the Cat on his little bike was inspired by early Warner Brothers cartoons featuring large characters (like Elephants) in small vehicles, and if it was possible for Big’s feet to reach down far enough, they would have actually had him pedal.
  • Online multiplayer will be available for all supported consoles (PS3, 360, Wii, DS and PC). The team hopes to have eight players in a single race online (though this does not sound like a possibility for the Nintendo DS version). For those without an internet connection, four player split screen will also be supported. Sumo Digital feels these are features that are standard in racing games of this type.
  • Richard Jacques is returning once again to do parts of the game’s soundtrack.

At this point, the Q&A opened up to questions from the fans themselves.

  • On getting in to game development: Experience is key. Any experience you can get in developing games will help people within the game industry take you seriously. Make games with friends, take internships with professional development studios, get a job as a game tester, take university courses in game design – it’s all good as long as it gives you experience and teaches you the skills you need. Know about and play to your strengths as a game developer – whether its art, design, coding, or animation.
  • One question that was asked pertains to Sumo Digital’s favorite cars in the game; Travis Ryan isn’t allowed to say what his favorite car is yet as it has not been unveiled – though they are planning on revealing it sometime in late September/early October. Steve Lycett, on the other hand, is a “confessed biker” and would want Shadow the Hedgehog’s motorcycle. (Travis: “With Glock?” Steve:”With what?” Travis: “With a Glock? No?” Steve: “No, I wouldn’t shoot. We won’t put guns in the game.” Travis: “That’s a good idea. Let’s not go down that route.“)
  • On the subject on the next Sega Superstars/All-Stars game: Sumo Digital has experience primarily in sports and racing games, but if they were to do another game along these lines they would like to do something that’s unexpected. “Something a little more original, I guess.” But Sumo Digital does not always decide what game they want to do next – sometimes, Sega comes to them with requests. Steve Lycett: “We’d love to do a fighting game.

At this point, fans start suggesting character’s they’d like to see in ASR, under one condition: “As long as their names don’t begin with an N.” (referring to NiGHTS – prompting somebody to, instead, shout out the name “Reala!”).

  • Ristar was suggested, eliciting Steve and Travis to try and get people to cheer for him (to no avail).
  • Opa-Opa from Fantasy Zone
  • VectorMan
  • A track based off of Phantasy Star Online.
  • Mario was brought up, to much laughter. (“He’s just some fly-by-night character.“)
  • A suggestion for the girl from Outrun to make an appearance lead to Travis Ryan declaring that “She wouldn’t do anything! She’d just sit there and slap you! (…) She’s never driven a mile in her life!”
  • Dr. Kintobor from the Fleetway Sonic Comics was briefly mentioned.
  • Axel from Streets of Rage driving the SWAT Car (Steve: “That would be awesome.“).
  • Shenmue was brought up, first with somebody asking for Lan-Di and then Ryo Hazuki driving a forklift.

Stay tuned to TSSZ as we’ll be having more converage from The Summer of Sonic as it happens!