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Former Sega Producer Details How Yuji Naka Canceled A Promising Dreamcast Game

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

One former producer at Sega of America, Mark Subotnick, detailed a Dreamcast game that was also canceled during development, due to Yuji Naka himself.

On the Retro Hour Podcast, Subotnick said he was offered the lead role on a game known as Geist Force, a Star Fox space shooter-like title that would be exclusive to the Dreamcast. The game was even shown off at E3 1998, prior to the Dreamcast's release in Japan. While it was believed the game wasn't finished due to missed deadlines and lack of confidence, Subotnick opened up to what exactly caused the game's plug to be pulled.

Subotnick recalled that the team were really pleased with how Geist Force was being developed, and that there were a lot of people excited about it. One day during development, however, Yuji Naka and his team came down to the studio they were working at to inspect their technology. He then recalled how Naka started speaking in Japanese, assuming no one at the studio would be able to understand him.

However, many members of Subotnick's team were fluent in Japanese, including his lead engineer. Naka was there inspecting the engine, saying that once Geist Force shipped, they would fire everyone but the engineers who knew how it worked, bringing them both to the development of Sonic. This loss of man-power and money eventually caused the game to be canned.

Subotnick said he had no lost love to how it went down, where it was the main factor for him jumping ship to Microsoft. He explains that there are playable builds of this lost first-party Dreamcast title, though they are incomplete and mostly beta versions. Subotnick is now currently a director at Intel Corporation, while Yuji Naka was responsible for Balan Wonderworld, one of the most disappointing games of 2021 according to many fans and critics.

 
I'd hardly call that karma. Lots of games are canceled due to project mismanagement. Missing deadlines means increased cost, which means reduced margins. Doesn't sound to me like this was his fault at all. Sounds like passing the buck to me. So many people see game development as just art and a creative canvass when in reality it's a job like any other. You have to hit benchmarks and deadlines, that's part of the business.
 
Wasn't there an actual retail release called Geist Force later on? Or am I thinking of Geist on the Gamecube?

Well anyway, this could've been an interesting DC game tho I think it super-odd Sega'd of prioritized a new rail-shooter IP early on for the system instead of, 'y'know, a sequel to PD Zwei (Saga is a different genre and also a prequel to the series)?

Then again, I always felt Sega were pretty bad at retaining consistent releases for established IP gen-over-gen, they even kinda screwed up with Sonic not getting a proper entry on Saturn, games like Streets of Rage never getting sequels ('till decades later), Phantasy Star skipping Saturn altogether etc.
 
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mejin

Member
I'd hardly call that karma. Lots of games are canceled due to project mismanagement. Missing deadlines means increased cost, which means reduced margins. Doesn't sound to me like this was his fault at all. Sounds like passing the buck to me. So many people see game development as just art and a creative canvass when in reality it's a job like any other. You have to hit benchmarks and deadlines, that's part of the business.

You are right.

I was thinking their roles are reversed now.

He's fine and Naka has no one to fire nowadays.
 
He probably saw his name and thought it was "Robotnik" and thought. " no way im approving any idea that came from Robotnik, he is pure evil! It would dishonor the respect i have for Sonic"
The more I hear about this guy the more he reassembled his more extreme fans like Chris chan.
 

Azelover

Titanic was called the Ship of Dreams, and it was. It really was.
OMG I remember this game!!

I was actually looking forward to it. No idea Yuji Naka had a role in its cancellation..
 
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I remember reading somewhere, maybe it was in the book Console Wars, where Tom Kalinskie of SoA was in Japan and at a fairly big meeting. I don't remember what the meeting was about; could have been over which hardware to use for Dreamcast or some game development. But the all the Sega heads where there, as well a Yuji Naka. Kalinskie recalled that Naka was acting like a complete jerk to him and the SoA representatives. Naka was trash talking them or just shitting on the 3DFX based hardware that SoA was pushing for Dreamcast. Kalinskie just sat there and let Naka run his mouth.

Kalinskie eventually get sick of Naka's shit and turned to his translator and said, "Listen, I want you to translate what I am bout to say as best and accurately as you can from English to Japanese and if you don't, I will find someone who will." The translator agreed and it was at that point Kalinskie went into an expletive laced tirade tearing Naka a new one. Kalinskie defended SoA, saying without SoA's efforts in the West, there wouldn't have been a successful Genesis and Sonic wouldn't have been a blip on the radar and that Naka should shut the fuck up.

Kalinskie watched Naka's face as the translator spoke and knew the translator did as Kalinskie asked as Naka lost the smug attitude and looked down for the remainder of the meeting without saying a word. Later members of Sonic Team privatly thanked Kalinskie for putting Naka in his place.

My take away, Naka is a jerk who hates being upstaged. Thank you based-Kalinskie.
 

coffinbirth

Member
Wasn't there an actual retail release called Geist Force later on? Or am I thinking of Geist on the Gamecube?

Well anyway, this could've been an interesting DC game tho I think it super-odd Sega'd of prioritized a new rail-shooter IP early on for the system instead of, 'y'know, a sequel to PD Zwei (Saga is a different genre and also a prequel to the series)?

Then again, I always felt Sega were pretty bad at retaining consistent releases for established IP gen-over-gen, they even kinda screwed up with Sonic not getting a proper entry on Saturn, games like Streets of Rage never getting sequels ('till decades later), Phantasy Star skipping Saturn altogether etc.
That's because 2 of the 3 main Panzer Dragoon guys had left Sega during that period and then returned for Orta. I had always assumed that Orta was a Dreamcast game that moved over to Xbox until I learned that.

Also I've heard rumors that this game had originally started out on the alternate version of Dreamcast(codename Dural) and was ported over to the actually released Dreamcast(codename Katana) but had lots of issues and had to be scrapped. The prototype barely has DC controller support and has all kinds of high poly counts and effects never really seen in any other DC game. It also barely runs on actual hardware and makes it run hot and needs overclocking just to be playable. All of these things point to either it being developed on a much different dev kit than normal or the previously mentioned alternate "Dural" Dreamcast.
 

nush

Gold Member
Yet another example that SEGA’s worst enemy was itself. There are so many stories of the Japanese arm promising autonomy to the west only to have them get in the way when things were going well…out of spite.

Nope, Europe SOE and USA SOA were the same way.
 

ckaneo

Member
Am I not reading this correctly?

>However, many members of Subotnick's team were fluent in Japanese, including his lead engineer. Naka was there inspecting the engine, saying that once Geist Force shipped, they would fire everyone but the engineers who knew how it worked, bringing them both to the development of Sonic.



>This loss of man-power and money eventually caused the game to be canned.

Why does it say Yuji Naka took the developers once the game was finished and then say the lost man power is why the game was never finished? Did Yuji Naka steal the developer before the game shipped? Is there evidence these guys actually went to work on Sonic?
 
That's because 2 of the 3 main Panzer Dragoon guys had left Sega during that period and then returned for Orta. I had always assumed that Orta was a Dreamcast game that moved over to Xbox until I learned that.

Also I've heard rumors that this game had originally started out on the alternate version of Dreamcast(codename Dural) and was ported over to the actually released Dreamcast(codename Katana) but had lots of issues and had to be scrapped. The prototype barely has DC controller support and has all kinds of high poly counts and effects never really seen in any other DC game. It also barely runs on actual hardware and makes it run hot and needs overclocking just to be playable. All of these things point to either it being developed on a much different dev kit than normal or the previously mentioned alternate "Dural" Dreamcast.
That's pretty interesting, just one thing tho; wasn't the Dural basically only about in line with or even a bit weaker than what they actually chose for Dreamcast in Katana? Seems to be the idea usually put around.

Maybe they were using a very high-powered specific Dural devkit or target profile before learning what the final specs would be. Kind of sucks to hear Orta was never actually planned for Dreamcast, but having key talent just leave the company like a rotating door. Kind of something Sega just let go on at the time.
 

nush

Gold Member
Kind of sucks to hear Orta was never actually planned for Dreamcast, but having key talent just leave the company like a rotating door. Kind of something Sega just let go on at the time.

What you have to know is that Sega only had a relative number of internal teams, they were not a monolith. So if you got a Dreamcast Orta you would not have had a Jet Set Radio or Skies of Arcadia.
 

cireza

Member
I can see this game not changing anything at the console's destiny anyway. Definitely the right time to shit on Naka though, the guy was really smart for waiting for this moment to do so.
 
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SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
Then again, I always felt Sega were pretty bad at retaining consistent releases for established IP gen-over-gen, they even kinda screwed up with Sonic not getting a proper entry on Saturn, games like Streets of Rage never getting sequels ('till decades later), Phantasy Star skipping Saturn altogether etc.
This was very much a deliberate choice. Sega, as a first party, was kind of the anti-Nintendo. Where Nintendo puts out the same 15 games every generation, Sega would mostly clean house and focus on new IP. The idea was to stay on the cutting edge and create IP that would speak to the current moment and technology.

This was actually a pretty effective strategy in some ways. It's good that they dropped Alex Kidd and Fantasy Zone for Sonic and Streets of Rage and Vectorman. And it's also good they dropped Streets of Rage and Vectorman for Virtua Fighter and Sakura Wars. These new IPs were always their biggest hits. Obviously not delivering a killer Sonic on Saturn was a huge blunder, but the rest was probably smart, some of those new games were much bigger hits that Altered Beast or Streets of Rage would have been.

They could also get away with it better than a lot of companies because Sega was a motherfucking game factory of the sort we haven't seen since. Since they didn't have great third party support, and since they also ruled the arcades, they seriously put out like 50+ games a year (published or developed) for like most of the 80s and 90s, and into the early 2000s.

Where Sega fucked up, I think, is just that over-reliance on arcade and arcade-like games that just fell out of fashion in the late 90s and early 2000s. Dreamcast was flooded with fighting games and shmups and stuff like Crazy Taxi that might be fun but just weren't selling systems anymore.
 

Quasicat

Member
Nope, Europe SOE and USA SOA were the same way.
Check out Console Wars if you haven’t, it’s a great read/watch. In the interviews the head of SEGA (reluctantly) gave Tom Kalinske free reign to do what he had to do to make SEGA successful in North America. After awhile that freedom disappeared and it was the two parts of the company fighting over what should happen next.
 
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dave_d

Member
Am I not reading this correctly?

>However, many members of Subotnick's team were fluent in Japanese, including his lead engineer. Naka was there inspecting the engine, saying that once Geist Force shipped, they would fire everyone but the engineers who knew how it worked, bringing them both to the development of Sonic.



>This loss of man-power and money eventually caused the game to be canned.

Why does it say Yuji Naka took the developers once the game was finished and then say the lost man power is why the game was never finished? Did Yuji Naka steal the developer before the game shipped? Is there evidence these guys actually went to work on Sonic?
I would guess they'd take it like a lot of us in the I.T. industry would. As soon as you hear the company is thinking of layoffs you head for the hills because you're better off getting the new job while you still have one rather than wait for them to can you and then try to get a new one.(Because it's easier and because it means no gap in your pay check.)
 
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Alexios

Cores, shaders and BIOS oh my!
Eh, Geist Force was unsalvageable generic bullshit that didn't hold a candle to the greats of the genre like Panzer Dragoon and Starfox, there are loads of better cancelled/retooled for other platforms Dreamcast games to pine for instead.
 
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What you have to know is that Sega only had a relative number of internal teams, they were not a monolith. So if you got a Dreamcast Orta you would not have had a Jet Set Radio or Skies of Arcadia.
That's true, but I think they could've set up a couple new teams then to take on more internal development. They did it with Sega Technical Institute, maybe they should've...kept them around? Or actually looked into acquiring developers like Lobotomy and/or Treasure? At the very least doing some co-development attempts with them and maybe have some member of Team Andromeda work with Treasure on an Orta while others were working with the studio mentioned here on Geist Force.

So many solid opportunities for retaining an increased internal developer staff or acquiring small-but-talented teams with a lot of experience on their consoles prior, just some of quite a few missed opportunities for Sega at the time. Corporate infighting is a bitch.
 
This was very much a deliberate choice. Sega, as a first party, was kind of the anti-Nintendo. Where Nintendo puts out the same 15 games every generation, Sega would mostly clean house and focus on new IP. The idea was to stay on the cutting edge and create IP that would speak to the current moment and technology.

Yeah, that sounds pretty accurate. Sega weren't afraid of doing new IP very often, I also think their origin and being firmly in the arcade business still played a part there, too. A lot of arcade developers frequently pushed new IP, rarely except for absolutely established games (Pac-Man, Space Invaders etc.) did games get sequels. And usually when they did, they'd be eons apart. Outrunners was seven years after Outrun for example (I know there were other Outrun games in-between but those were not considered main entries or direct sequels IIRC).

This was actually a pretty effective strategy in some ways. It's good that they dropped Alex Kidd and Fantasy Zone for Sonic and Streets of Rage and Vectorman.

See, it's examples like these were it worked very well, because they realized that games like Sonic and SoR were just better, more polished concepts overall compared to Alex Kidd and even Fantasy Zone, and it's not like those had huge fanbases at the time anyway. They risked very little in vaulting them.

And it's also good they dropped Streets of Rage and Vectorman for Virtua Fighter and Sakura Wars.

But this? Not nearly as good an example. I get that Virtua Fighter was huge in Japan and most of Asia, and Sakura Wars was pretty popular in Japan itself, but neither of these IP ever translated well to the West. Streets of Rage did, though, so it made zero sense for Sega to not continue that IP after the third game. I would've also had them focus on Eternal Champions for the West instead of trying to push Virtua Fighter outside of Japan so hard, because at least EC already had a dedicated and growing fanbase, and would've done really well for them at the start of Saturn when UMK3 was exclusive to PS1 for six months.

Virtua Fighter always had a tough time in the West compared to Battle Arena Toshinden and especially Tekken, which a lot of Western players thought were cooler games (it didn't help that VF had very little to no story and the characters had bare-bones personalities; even with VF2 most of the characterization was kept to the CG disc series exclusive to Japan anyway), so I don't see why Sega cut out Eternal Champions to push only Virtua Fighter as their fighting game IP, they could've had both. And instead of Three Dirty Dwarves, they could've had a new Streets of Rage at that time for Saturn.

These new IPs were always their biggest hits. Obviously not delivering a killer Sonic on Saturn was a huge blunder, but the rest was probably smart, some of those new games were much bigger hits that Altered Beast or Streets of Rage would have been.

Some, maybe. But that also means a lot of them never reached the size of those IP. I don't think games like BUG or Scud were worthwhile ventures considering already superior new IP of similar type like Astal. Instead of BUG, for example, they could've done a Ristar or Pulseman sequel with that type of 2.5D idea, build on what you already have.

And like I mentioned before, some of those new IP like Virtua Fighter, I'm not saying they should've kept them Japan-only, but it really would've helped them in the West to have complementing IP in the genre like Eternal Champions present too, considering IP like MK were getting associated with PS1 and Nintendo still had Killer Instinct.
 
They could also get away with it better than a lot of companies because Sega was a motherfucking game factory of the sort we haven't seen since. Since they didn't have great third party support, and since they also ruled the arcades, they seriously put out like 50+ games a year (published or developed) for like most of the 80s and 90s, and into the early 2000s.

This was an approach with positives and negatives. I know for example in 1995 they published 150 or so games, which is insane. But that was also a case of quantity over quality. I mean, they had some fantastic games to release that year, but they also published more than a few duds, and a lot of those games didn't sell particularly great. Not to mention, with so many games to publish, they couldn't realistically provide decent enough marketing budgets to them all, and I think that definitely hurt the standouts of their published lineup that year (games like Phantasy Star IV for example ABSOLUTELY deserved a quite bigger push than what they likely got).

I know Nintendo catches flak for having sometimes barren years 1P wise and doing mostly either (decently spaced-out) sequels or spin-offs of the same handful of IP, but that's because they were smart with their money. They knew they couldn't spread themselves thin with dozens upon dozens of new IP every year, or publishing over 100 games in a single year, and that's considering they had more money than Sega. Sega, TBQH, you look back at that period and when it comes to the way they pushed
certain volumes of game publishing, the sheer amount of games they published....in hindsight it WASN'T a good strategy.

If you're going to push that many games at a time, that many new IP at a time...you better have the money to back it up and not hamstring your business in some other way. Sega didn't have that kind of money, simple as that. Such a strategy would've been more befitting of a Sony, and they actually did publish quite a few lot of games in some of those years too, but nowhere near the number Sega did. However, they could've if they wanted and been better off financially while doing so, but they also realized it wasn't a publishing strategy that made a lot of sense.

Curate a small number of games to publish, retain your IP with consistency over the years (and over generations), put big enough money behind marketing for each game (as well as robust QC)...that's the strategy that ultimately works. It works today like it did in the '90s, it's why Nintendo was able to turn a handful of IP into global cultural phenomenon and megahits, such as Pokemon. Sega never had an IP approaching that type of level outside of Sonic, and part of the reason is because they simply spread themselves out too thin with a ton of different IP every generation, published too many games in certain years (especially 1995), and therefore didn't have enough funds to give the best of those games the marketing pushes they deserved.

In that context it's actually a wonder at times that the gems they did end up publishing were as top-quality as they were, because I'm sure QC budgets were also probably stretched thin. Shows the talent of their internal divisions of the time, particularly the Japanese ones. Though it's also probably a case of them knowing what games to allocate that to and which ones to not. For example I strongly doubt Corpse Killer was at the top of their list for QC budgeting. Though again, this approach (their massive volume of publishing at the time) hurt in other ways; it meant that masterpieces like Panzer Dragoon Saga got way less copies made than needed to satisfy demand, that was a consequence of earlier poor fiscal spending in terms of sheer number of games they were publishing yearly.
 
Where Sega fucked up, I think, is just that over-reliance on arcade and arcade-like games that just fell out of fashion in the late 90s and early 2000s. Dreamcast was flooded with fighting games and shmups and stuff like Crazy Taxi that might be fun but just weren't selling systems anymore.

No, that wasn't the issue. I've said it before and will say it again; arcade/arcade-like games did VERY well on PS1 during the '90s. The vast majority of PS1's early hits (pre-late 1997/1998) in terms of marquee games, were either arcade ports (Ridge Racer, Tekken etc.) or very arcadey-style games that'd of fit perfectly there with a release or some slight changes (Zero Divide, Toshinden, Destruction Derby, Twisted Metal, Parappa etc.). Games like Tekken 3, a port of an arcade game, would become one of the PS1's best-selling games of all time. You don't have that type of performance if arcade-style games were going out of fashion.

Sega's problem was that they didn't add enough new content for the home ports of a lot of their arcade games. This was acceptable in the 16-bit gen due to limited cart sizes, but with Saturn it just started to make their ports look anemic compared to say, the depths Namco or Capcom went for their ports. Namco for example did a PS1 port of Cyber Sled with both the original arcade graphics AND textured new graphics in the same package. Sega? You needed to buy two different versions of VF1 to get that. Compare Namco's work on Tekken 2's PS1 to Sega's Saturn port of VF2; the former added a lot of extra content, the latter not so much. Hell, you needed to buy CG discs separately (only available in Japan btw) to get story cinematics for VF2 that were included at default in Tekken 2 on PS1 (and a whole lot more, on top of that).

The kind of stuff Sega and/or partners did for games like Virtua Racing's Saturn port, Daytona CCE, or Fighter's Megamix (not an arcade port but still)...that should've been the standard for Sega ports at the time. Instead it was the exception, and that hurt them with ports compared to a lot of other ports of arcade games from companies like Namco, Capcom etc. during that time period and even into Dreamcast era where, again, extra home-exclusive content offerings for ports like Crazy Taxi weren't really all that much more than the arcade version to begin with.

EDIT: Also can someone on the software dev side of GAF PLEASE fix this stupid-ass bug preventing posts from posting? I'm tired of having to break posts up like this when they're nowhere near the character limit.
 

Azurro

Member
It was well known internally at Sega by the end that Naka was a massive arrogant knobend.

He's also the reason the Saturn never had a Sonic game. Sega set a US team with the task of creating a Sonic game, but Naka threatened to quit if Sega let them use their Nights engine to help out with development. Sounds like a massive asshole to me.
 

ManaByte

Member
Naka always came off as a one hit wonder and a bit of a bitch to me.
 

IntentionalPun

Ask me about my wife's perfect butthole
I'd hardly call that karma. Lots of games are canceled due to project mismanagement. Missing deadlines means increased cost, which means reduced margins. Doesn't sound to me like this was his fault at all. Sounds like passing the buck to me. So many people see game development as just art and a creative canvass when in reality it's a job like any other. You have to hit benchmarks and deadlines, that's part of the business.
Speaking in a language you think people can't understand is a dick move deserving of karmic retribution.

Agreed in general on the game cancellation thing tho lol
 

SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
No, that wasn't the issue. I've said it before and will say it again; arcade/arcade-like games did VERY well on PS1 during the '90s. The vast majority of PS1's early hits (pre-late 1997/1998) in terms of marquee games, were either arcade ports (Ridge Racer, Tekken etc.) or very arcadey-style games that'd of fit perfectly there with a release or some slight changes (Zero Divide, Toshinden, Destruction Derby, Twisted Metal, Parappa etc.). Games like Tekken 3, a port of an arcade game, would become one of the PS1's best-selling games of all time. You don't have that type of performance if arcade-style games were going out of fashion.
Right, but that was seriously starting to change by the time the Dreamcast rolled around. DC was such an arcade-centric system (understandably, since the NAOMI board was so hugely successful in arcades), but this is also when the market started to turn away from this sort of stuff.

Sega made a lot of mistakes, especially in the transition to the 32-bit era, obviously, so I don't mean to be reductive, just in terms of the larger arc of their IP I think they really bet on some losing trends in the end.

Sega's problem was that they didn't add enough new content for the home ports of a lot of their arcade games. This was acceptable in the 16-bit gen due to limited cart sizes, but with Saturn it just started to make their ports look anemic compared to say, the depths Namco or Capcom went for their ports.
Ehhhhh... Capcom really partnered big with Sega to port almost all of their arcade games at the time to Dreamcast, and while I won't say those ports were barren, I will say a lot of them were major flops. The fact is, it doesn't mattern how many extra modes you put in a game like Mars Matrix or Project Justice (and they did put some lovely extras in those), not many people wanted those games.


The kind of stuff Sega and/or partners did for games like Virtua Racing's Saturn port, Daytona CCE, or Fighter's Megamix (not an arcade port but still)...that should've been the standard for Sega ports at the time. Instead it was the exception, and that hurt them with ports compared to a lot of other ports of arcade games from companies like Namco, Capcom etc. during that time period and even into Dreamcast era where, again, extra home-exclusive content offerings for ports like Crazy Taxi weren't really all that much more than the arcade version to begin with.
TBH, the rushed, shitty ports of VF and Daytona had more to do with the bad hardware decisions and rushed launch than anything else. Like I said Sega made a lot of mistakes around that time, beyond simply their choice to go with new IP.
 
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dave_d

Member
But this? Not nearly as good an example. I get that Virtua Fighter was huge in Japan and most of Asia, and Sakura Wars was pretty popular in Japan itself, but neither of these IP ever translated well to the West. Streets of Rage did, though, so it made zero sense for Sega to not continue that IP after the third game. I would've also had them focus on Eternal Champions for the West instead of trying to push Virtua Fighter outside of Japan so hard, because at least EC already had a dedicated and growing fanbase, and would've done really well for them at the start of Saturn when UMK3 was exclusive to PS1 for six months.
The worst part of this was SoJ knee capped EC on the Saturn because they didn't want it to affect VF sales. I always point out this was an idiotic move because given when EC CD was released there was no way Saturn EC was going to come out less than a 6 months after VF2. (It couldn't have affected VF2 sales at all given at best it'd come out mid 96 and the vast majority of VF2 sales would have already happened.)
 

SF Kosmo

...please disperse...
Naka always came off as a one hit wonder and a bit of a bitch to me. I seem to recall stories of him being cunty in the Sonic 2 development too. Not like based Yu Suzuki-sama who gave us Shenmue 1, 2 and 3.
He had a bit of a reputation for not playing well with Sega's western teams. I can't call him a one hit wonder, because Sonic and Phantasy Star alone put him at two, but I do think he was played up as more of an auteur than he ever was. Hirokazu Yasuhara was probably the central visionary of Sonic's development, and Naka was the tech guy who made that vision possible.

Side note, I met Naka once and he was very nice.
 

Clear

Gold Member
No surprise here. Guy had a horrible reputation, just legendarily nasty to work under.
 
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fart town usa

Gold Member
Right, but that was seriously starting to change by the time the Dreamcast rolled around. DC was such an arcade-centric system (understandably, since the NAOMI board was so hugely successful in arcades), but this is also when the market started to turn away from this sort of stuff.

Sega made a lot of mistakes, especially in the transition to the 32-bit era, obviously, so I don't mean to be reductive, just in terms of the larger arc of their IP I think they really bet on some losing trends in the end.


Ehhhhh... Capcom really partnered big with Sega to port almost all of their arcade games at the time to Dreamcast, and while I won't say those ports were barren, I will say a lot of them were major flops. The fact is, it doesn't mattern how many extra modes you put in a game like Mars Matrix or Project Justice (and they did put some lovely extras in those), not many people wanted those games.



TBH, the rushed, shitty ports of VF and Daytona had more to do with the bad hardware decisions and rushed launch than anything else. Like I said Sega made a lot of mistakes around that time, beyond simply their choice to go with new IP.
I'm going to SF Kosmo SF Kosmo for all my Sega history needs. Your stuff matches up with everything I've read over the years.

Sega's decline is a showcase in how to make the worst business decisions imaginable. Can't even imagine how much money they wasted as a result of miscommunication between SOA and SOJ. It's a miracle they were even able to stay alive when they transitioned to being just a publisher. Something about a board member who passed and absolved all their debt with his generosity.
 

fart town usa

Gold Member
Also,

Can we take a moment and reflect on how nonchalant the gaming industry was in the 80s/early 90s. I don't know how Naka got his foot in the door but it's mind blowing to me when Mikami and Kamiya talk about their start at Capcom. Basically applied cause the office looked cool, didn't have much background in videogames. Dudes go on to create and direct some of the greatest games ever made.

I'd kill to have been in a business environment like that back then.
 
He's also the reason the Saturn never had a Sonic game. Sega set a US team with the task of creating a Sonic game, but Naka threatened to quit if Sega let them use their Nights engine to help out with development. Sounds like a massive asshole to me.
SEGA America are to blame for no Sonic on Saturn.
 

Thaedolus

Gold Member
He had a bit of a reputation for not playing well with Sega's western teams. I can't call him a one hit wonder, because Sonic and Phantasy Star alone put him at two, but I do think he was played up as more of an auteur than he ever was. Hirokazu Yasuhara was probably the central visionary of Sonic's development, and Naka was the tech guy who made that vision possible.

Side note, I met Naka once and he was very nice.
Fair point on Phantasy Star, I think his other stuff is incredibly overrated though. And I’d hope he’d be nice to a stranger
 
The worst part of this was SoJ knee capped EC on the Saturn because they didn't want it to affect VF sales. I
That move made sense and its not like EC sold in massive numbers on the Mega Drive and it was a complete flop on the SEGA CD
Lots of games are cancelled for various reasons but usually before they're not coming up to scratch and eating up loads of money.

SEGA Japan cancelled lots of their own games internally. I was really looking forward to Illinois from Hitmaker
 

RAIDEN1

Member
I'm going to SF Kosmo SF Kosmo for all my Sega history needs. Your stuff matches up with everything I've read over the years.

Sega's decline is a showcase in how to make the worst business decisions imaginable. Can't even imagine how much money they wasted as a result of miscommunication between SOA and SOJ. It's a miracle they were even able to stay alive when they transitioned to being just a publisher. Something about a board member who passed and absolved all their debt with his generosity.
It indeed is a miracle that they are somewhat still around...otherwise they could have easily ended up like 3DO, Atari, Commodore.....what I would like to know is, what was it that circa 1986/1987 the company was pulling all in one direction near enough on Project Genesis....yet when it came to its successor, the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing...who left, who came in that got the ball rolling in the Saturn ending up being a console that took Sega backwards and not forwards....
 
Right, but that was seriously starting to change by the time the Dreamcast rolled around. DC was such an arcade-centric system (understandably, since the NAOMI board was so hugely successful in arcades), but this is also when the market started to turn away from this sort of stuff.

DC had a strong arcade heritage of course, but let's not act like those were the ONLY type of games on the system. Hell, its most prolific games, the majority anyway, were console-orientated releases. Sonic Adventure, Jet Set Radio, Skies of Arcadia, D2, Shenmue, Grandia II etc...these were games that got the most coverage and most attention for the platform, and were all home-exclusive titles big on content.

Games like Soul Calibur and DOA2 were also very popular at the time, of course, but those were not the majority in terms of individual games which garnered the most attention of the platform. Even so, those games were also packed with a ton of extra home-focused content. As for DC/NAOMI synergy, IMO that was a great strategy by Sega and something they should've done for the Saturn. Maybe they should've made the STV home for games like VF2 and Indy 500 to get near-perfect visual parity with Saturn home ports, and could've spent the time it took getting Model 2 conversions to run on Saturn, on bonus content for the Saturn ports instead if using STV. Then a year or so later do an upgraded port for the Model 2 board with improved visuals.

Model 2 should've been reserved for arcade-exclusive games and visually improved ports of STV/Saturn games coming a year or so after the initial releases, IMHO.

Ehhhhh... Capcom really partnered big with Sega to port almost all of their arcade games at the time to Dreamcast, and while I won't say those ports were barren, I will say a lot of them were major flops. The fact is, it doesn't mattern how many extra modes you put in a game like Mars Matrix or Project Justice (and they did put some lovely extras in those), not many people wanted those games.

Okay but there's also the reality of what marketing budgets were partitioned to those games, and the fact that some like Project Justice never got American ports anyway. Also the quality of extra content would obviously vary from game to game; not every Capcom home port got the level of extras SFA 3 did, for example.

So again, you can't really say that arcade-style games as a whole declined off a cliff from end of 5th-gen heading into 6th-gen, because there were still a lot of games with arcade-style design sensibilities (if the person's concept of those go beyond "lives systems and quarter-munchers", the latter of which was overblown and often the result of the operators configuring the machines' credits system through DIP switches) that did very well in 6th-gen. VF4 and VF4 EVO, MSR, Tekken 4, Tekken 5, the Burnout series, NFS Hot Pursuit 2, Twisted Metal Black, the MK games (the fighting ones, anyway), Maximo, the Beatmania and Dance Dance Revolution titles, Guitar Hero, even IP like Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe.

These were all either arcade games with home ports, or games with design sensibilities born out of arcade game lineages (and with some tuning, could've worked very well as arcade releases....in fact some of them DID get arcade releases just further proving the point) that did very well for themselves and their publishers that generation. So the notion arcade-style games "died out" just was never once true. Certain genres tied strongly to arcades DID drop off, mainly shmups and light gun rail shooters, but that wasn't the entirety of arcade games in terms of genres at home to that space. One thing all of the examples I listed though, is that they had a lot of content structured for the home market (including in some cases stronger emphasis on story), and had releases on healthy console platforms.

Which is probably the bigger proof as to why those Capcom games on DC you mention didn't do super-great: Sega's brand name at the time just wasn't very good anymore due to their mistakes with 32X and Saturn (and Mega CD, tho less so in that one's case). They lacked the brand power and marketing muscle to push Dreamcast as big as it deserved to, and while they had a lot of great games in that time period, they never really had the "one" game that was so ahead of what Sony and Nintendo were offering that it shifted all eyes onto Sega. Shenmue was meant to be that game but, it didn't resonate the way they probably hoped in the West, and I don't remember it doing too much for Dreamcast in Japan either though by then it was probably too late due to PS2's release.

Capcom porting CPS2 and CPS3 arcade games to Dreamcast wasn't going to give the system the public profile it needed to bolster the install base, regardless of how good the ports were or what extra content came about. I guess we can also apply this to my other examples, in that the games I mentioned benefited a lot from being on a platform like PS2 and Sony's strong goodwill among the industry at that time period, combined with their 1P output and marketing prowess/muscle giving the install base to let a lot of those PS2 arcade ports and arcade-style games to proliferate and find their audiences, something Sega was never really in a position to do with Dreamcast unless they had a bigger breakout of install base uptick in the late '98 - '00 period, particularly before PS2's American launch.

TBH, the rushed, shitty ports of VF and Daytona had more to do with the bad hardware decisions and rushed launch than anything else. Like I said Sega made a lot of mistakes around that time, beyond simply their choice to go with new IP.

I wouldn't say "bad hardware decisions" as in the hardware design itself; while it was cumbersome, parallel processing wasn't new to Sega's teams by that point, and it's not like the Saturn had critical unfinished hardware flaws (something the Jaguar suffered from) or didn't providing any documentation (they gave full documentation of all hardware from Day 1).

It's just that Sega didn't build a good enough SDK environment, particularly one that leveraged C language, and they did miss some features in hardware despite having the raw power to do them in software (MPEG decoding for example). Truth is they already had a vastly superior port of VF1 for Saturn even by the time of the surprise May launch, because VF Remix was shown behind closed doors at that E3. They simply decided to push out the buggy VF1 instead, saving VF Remix for the September Saturnday launch I guess (Pandemonium Games has a great VF Remix doc on his channel talking about this, worth a watch!).

The worst part of this was SoJ knee capped EC on the Saturn because they didn't want it to affect VF sales. I always point out this was an idiotic move because given when EC CD was released there was no way Saturn EC was going to come out less than a 6 months after VF2. (It couldn't have affected VF2 sales at all given at best it'd come out mid 96 and the vast majority of VF2 sales would have already happened.)

Yeah; I think it was a matter of pride in those days but with certain Japanese publishers in general, teams weren't keen on sharing tech among each other. Sega were one of the worst at this, resulting in the Sonic Extreme cancellation among other things. SoJ seemed really petty over MegaDrive/Genesis and they wanted their "home-grown" IP to be pushed in those territories instead.
 
The worst part of this was SoJ knee capped EC on the Saturn because they didn't want it to affect VF sales. I always point out this was an idiotic move because given when EC CD was released there was no way Saturn EC was going to come out less than a 6 months after VF2. (It couldn't have affected VF2 sales at all given at best it'd come out mid 96 and the vast majority of VF2 sales would have already happened.)

Yeah; I think it was a matter of pride in those days but with certain Japanese publishers in general, teams weren't keen on sharing tech among each other. Sega were one of the worst at this, resulting in the Sonic Extreme cancellation among other things. SoJ seemed really petty over MegaDrive/Genesis and they wanted their "home-grown" IP to be pushed in those territories instead.

If it weren't for all the needless infighting, I think we'd of gotten VF and EC, and Saturn would've been better off for it especially in the West, where VF never really found a lot of popularity until VF4 (on a Sony platform, of all things).

That move made sense and its not like EC sold in massive numbers on the Mega Drive and it was a complete flop on the SEGA CD
Lots of games are cancelled for various reasons but usually before they're not coming up to scratch and eating up loads of money.

It doesn't matter if EC didn't sell like gangbusters; point is it was a great MK alternative and had a dedicated, growing fanbase. EC on Sega CD was just as much hamstrung by Sega CD's limited install base as it was still being a relatively new IP at the time, but it made drastic improvements on the Genesis/MegaDrive version in pretty much every single way.

A Saturn EC would've been even more improved and in-depth, and a great title in the fighting game catalogue to counter early timed exclusivity of things like UMK3 on the PS1. Sometimes you need the right exclusives to add general value to your platform, add general variety which can draw in a diverse range of gamer types to the ecosystem, and through that you increase the install base. Sega's either/or binary approach to having "only one" type of marquee genre game to push in all markets sometimes bit them in the ass, like with Virtua Fighter in Western territories.
 
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