Steve “SOL” Lycett from Sumo Digital was nice enough to give an interview for the upcoming Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing. We tried to ask most of the questions we wanted more information about and I think the interview came out pretty good, read it yourself after the jump.
Question: Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your job and how you got to work on so many SEGA games.
Hello! I’m Steve Lycett, Exec Producer at Sumo Digital. Generally day to day my job is making sure the game is going to go on time and be as good as we promised when we started! I’ve been at Sumo from pretty much day one, so I’ve had the fun of working on a number of SEGA titles now. Don’t tell anyone, but they’re my favourite ones 😛
“We did a trip to Japan at the start of the project to show each studio the game concept and explain how we’d integrate the characters.”
Q. Did Microsoft approach you guys about adding Banjo-Kazooie in the game or is that something you wanted to do? If so how was it working closely with Microsoft?
SEGA went out and showed the game to all the console manufacturers, and Microsoft loved it. They suggested we add in Banjo, and Rare helped us a lot to make it happen. Of course we also have the Avatars on too, which Rare are behind too. Working with Rare was great, they sorted us out with models, music, VO and checked we’d got the look of the character right.
I know some folk think it’s odd to have Banjo in a SEGA character game, but stylistically he fits into the world, something both us and Rare worked to achieve – and why would you complain about getting something extra at the end of the day!
No-one complains about the Avatars or Mii’s not being SEGA characters after all!
“I’ve always been a SEGA arcade game fan, so I was keen to try and get in some form of Space Harrier level.”
Q. Did the original Japanese teams have a lot of say in how you used their characters?
We did a trip to Japan at the start of the project to show each studio the game concept and explain how we’d integrate the characters. I think given we’ve done a few games now for SEGA, they understand we’re going to respect their characters. We may do things differently from them, but I think that’s nice, to have a slightly different experience from a Japan developed title. If we’d not have done Sega Superstars Tennis, I suspect they may have been a little cautious, but we’ve proved we can bring a host of characters together and make it work.
Then throughout the development of the game we constantly sent assets for review, builds of the game and concept work. We’d get back really helpful feedback that made sure we stayed true to the games original visions, whilst still letting us move forward and show what those games would look like if developed on today’s platforms.
So yep, we’ve worked very closely with Japan and the folk originally behind all those classic titles. As I always say it’s been an honour and a pleasure, and I mean that entirely sincerely!
Q. Did you guys get Corey Marshall to record new audio for Ryo Hazuki or did you guys just take pre-recorded audio from the last two games?
With so many characters, and also with us wanting to stay true to how you remember them sounding, we again used a mix of files lifted from the original games. In Ryo’s case, we got a hold of the original master recordings – including some which weren’t actually used in Shenmue, and constructed a bank from there. So Ryo will sound like Ryo should sound.
Q. What are the most requested characters by the community that did not make it into this game? Please say Vectorman and Joe Musashi!
Last time at the end of SST, it was all about Ryo! So we’ve got him in this time purely as a result of that. This time, there’s been a lot of call for NiGHTS, followed closely by Ristar, and then we’re into Vyse, Joe Musashi, Vectorman and then we get numerous requests for characters right across the SEGA spectrum. Everything from Segata Sanshiro to the Daytona Hornet, to Burning Rangers, Sketch Turner, you name it, I’ve seen it requested.
At the end of the day we can’t get every character in, but I think we’ve got a much more varied roster this time, and it seems we’ve pleased a lot of fans with the ones we did pick!
“I tend to prefer the more technical missions, so trying to drift as much as possible for example, just to see how quick I can triple A mission.”
Q. Are you guys planning on releasing SEGA themed items on Home and the avatar marketplace?
Ahhh, now that’s the first time we’ve been asked this one, and it’s a good question! Without going into too much detail, I can say this is being looked at, so keep an eye out 😛
Q. What franchise or character did you personally want in the game, but weren’t able get them in?
I’ve always been a SEGA arcade game fan, so I was keen to try and get in some form of Space Harrier level. Not sure how it would have worked, but I’m sure we could have pulled it off. I constantly got told it wouldn’t work though. Bah!
Q. What qualifies a SEGA character to be considered a “All-Star” character? Is it critical reception, review scores or fan requests?
We generally pick the ones we like, then get SEGA to vet it and swap the list as required. Generally the ones that made the original shortlist were main characters in their own game, or characters that were visually appealing to both fans and non-fans.
We also considered what we could do in terms of animation, whether we could design a suitable vehicle and also looked at roster balance, i.e. the car/bike/flyer split. Fan requests come into it, but we looked for characters that were bright, colourful and fun. Simple as that at the end of the day!
Q. Does difficulty effect the amount of SEGA miles you get while playing?
It does, if you ramp the difficulty up, you get more SEGA miles. There are also hidden bonuses for say passing a rival. So if you beat Eggman as Sonic, you’ll get a cheeky extra couple of miles. Also, for example, if you do B.D. Joes All-Star, where of course you’re earning some ‘Crazy Money!’, that also gives you a SEGA miles bonus. Most of this is a little bit of hidden fan service, but mostly as we figured it would keep people guessing at quite how the game determines the miles given!
Q. Roughly how many unlockables can you purchase in the shopping section?
Off the top of my head, I think it’s near to about 60 items. Which is a mix of characters, tracks and music. The reason for the shop incidentally is unlike other games, you’re not forced to play single player to access more content in multiplayer. Here you can gain miles in all games modes, even if you lose, so there shouldn’t be any blocker to anyone being able to get at all the games content.
I tend to prefer the more technical missions, so trying to drift as much as possible for example, just to see how quick I can triple A mission. Then there is the crazy stuff, like defeating a giant Zombie! I still want to kick the designers off about the mission where Big has to avoid a series of fragile pots mind. Evil swines, it’s nails!
“At the end of the day we can’t get every character in, but I think we’ve got a much more varied roster this time, and it seems we’ve pleased a lot of fans with the ones we did pick!”
Q. In the demo that was just released, there is a section called Licenses, but you can’t access it in the demo. What type of licenses will you get and how will this affect the game?
Each player has their own license, and this gets upgraded based on the overall amount of miles earned through the game. We actually sneakily uses this value when we match make players too, as we’ve then got a good idea of how long you’ve been playing for 😛
Other than that, you can go into the license section to see how you’re doing with Achievements/Trophies or on Wii/DS what we call Challenges, which are very similar. You can also look at stats to see how many shots you’ve done or dodged and all manner of other stuff.
You can also view your collection, which has a list of all the tracks, characters and music you’ve bought from the shop, each of which has a short bio, just to give you some background of where they’ve come from.
So plenty to see in there!
Lemme see, each IP has 7 tracks (intro/outro and race music, 4 of which need to be unlocked) and then there are all the ASM pieces, and jingles, then Rich Jacques menu pieces, plus Bentley Jones credits piece. I think by the time we’ve totted them up, we’re pretty much well over 80 tracks, which is where we were for SST.
Q. Now that NiGHTS is the flag carrier that means that Flag Man is out of a job, what is he going to do now?
Well we tried to get Flag Man in, but apparently he’s busy with another game right now, that’s in-between his break dancing gigs that is :P!Ad: