Sonic X-treme - History - Saturn and PC Years

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Saturn and PC Years

The game in this form was initially developed separately by two teams in parallel starting in the second half of 1995. One team, led by Chris Senn and Ofer Alon, was in charge of developing the main game engine, while the other team, lead by Chris Coffin, worked on a "free-roaming, ‘arena-style’ 3D engine". The main game levels themselves were developed in a tubular mode, allowing level rotation and gravity directions, and as result, moved around Sonic. The fish-eye lens camera view, developed by Alon, gave the game a distinctive spherical appearance.

For the boss level engine, several modes such as top-down and side scrolling views were prototyped to create a more interesting view of the boss battle areas while still using the prerendered Sonic sprite assets used in the main game engine developed by Ofer. The boss level engine began to evolve into a game of its own using this new source of inspiration, trying to stay closer to its 2D roots by adopting a 3D but side-scrolling viewpoint. The new boss engine gameplay prototype adopted a more pastel color scheme and organic flow of the inspirational Nights into Dreams..., made by Sonic creator Yuji Naka.

In March 1996, Sega of Japan representatives, including CEO Nakayama Hayao went over to STI's headquarters to check up on the game's progress. They were unimpressed at the progress made on the main game engine, but they had actually watched an old, outdated version of the main game's engine. The representatives left before they were allowed to watch the most recent version, but were conversely so impressed by the boss engine that they requested the entire game be reworked to be like that instead. This was devastating to both teams; to Senn and Alon's team because their work was rejected based on outdated work, and Coffin's because they had far more work ahead of them, with a strict December 1996 deadline nearby.

In order to attempt to make this deadline, the team was moved into a place of isolation from further company politics, practically moved into the company's office, and worked sixteen hours a day. Additionally, since their approach was similar to the Nights into Dreams... game engine, they requested if they could have access to it as a starting point. This request was granted; however, after two weeks of work on it, it was taken away, as the company hadn't secured permission from the engine's creator, Yuji Naka, who threatened to leave the company if it was used. This further wasted development time.

Two major hurdles are credited to stopping the project. Senn and Alon had initially continued on with their game engine, undeterred by their work's original rejection, hoping to pitch it Sega's PC division. However, it was eventually rejected again, and it, along with more company politics, prompted Alon to leave Sega. Secondly, Coffin, who had been overworking non-stop to get the project out, came down with pneumonia.

This solidified the fact that the game could not be released by the end of the December 1996 deadline and thus, the project was cancelled. Instead, for the holiday season in 1996, Sega decided to concentrate on an alternative Sonic project, Sonic 3D Blast, and Nights into Dreams..., the game designed by Sonic original creator Yuji Naka.

Read more about this topic:  Sonic X-treme, History

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