"You'll get bored of it, you know."
" I'm sorry, what?"
"You'll get bored of it, and then you'll hate it. That's what happens."
I simply turned and smiled. "Heh, you obviously don't know me very well, do you?"
Even when I was small, people used to tell me that I'd end up working for SEGA. I was crazy about the blue hedgehog from age six, and it's safe to say I haven't stopped since. I just smiled, though. It just seemed to be one of those things people said. I always knew that I wanted to, but I lacked the confidence for a long time, and as a result simply thought I lacked the appropriate skills. I've been in the online community for all of my teenage years, developing all aspects of my artwork mainly for the basis of showing my love for the franchise and the ethos of the series to others. The day I was hired, I knew things were starting to look up for me. I'd always made a promise to myself that I would do my best to make an impact however I could.
It wasn't before long that my tenacity rolled me onto every Sonic-related project. Before this, I'd had my name down on three Sonic-related port projects. And then I was called over to take a seat, and watch something that no testers in the office had yet seen. Needless to say, upon seeing it for the first time- even in its early state- I couldn't help but shed a tear. I suppose I am retro in the sense that I have been a fan for twenty years, but never a Retro Purist; I started to remember days when, as a child, I would close my eyes, or lay and daydream about how Sonic's world would look if it were real. The lush greenery of Green Hills, the acrid smoke and pink waters of Chemical Plant, the Death Egg slowly rising through the thick clouds, sprawling hundreds of Eggrobos into the clear blue skies, amidst the beautiful crumbling ruins of the temple of Sky Sanctuary. And yet here I was, as if someone had picked the thoughts out of my brain and realised them better than I ever possibly could. They were asking me what I thought, and I instantly thought that it was the beginning of something beautiful.
It wasn't before long that I was assigned to Generations. I was elated, but I instantaneously aware that this was a game changer. It's always easy to think like a fan in your own red sneakers. Everyone can do that all day long, but to me- and to quite a few of us on the team- it felt like a responsibility. That I felt I owed it to every Sonic fan- past, present and future- to make this game the best it could possibly be. So I tested it as hard as I could, for as long as I could, every single day. The more I played it, the more the opposite of what people were telling would happen took place instead- I found myself leaping out of bed every morning, and speedrunning to work simply to play the game!
But that's not the things that made me smile the most. Again, I have been around here for quite some time now, and the thing that's always separated this community is the animosity created about who likes what games and why, and outside of the community quite a few people just saw bad Sonic games- fellow testers included- and that did deter some people; I first experienced it in the office. As I was playing, people would come over and watch- amazed- at how the game worked. People loved it and wanted to come and play. I would even find people in or around my seat at lunch of break times asking to play or stealthily sneaking in a quick Green Hill or two. The buzz was amazing. This then escalated to online teasers, which was met with an amazing response- more so than ever before- but the best experience for me was Eurogamer. I had the privilege of going for the entire weekend, as work had scored me some tickets (For working too much!), and without second thought, I instantly gunned it for the Sonic Generations booth. I missed a few incidences, but there were sceptics who were instantly transformed into believers after a single run of Green Hill, mums and dads who hadn't picked up a Mega Drive controller since the 90s were there and loving it. But what really pinned it for me was a really young boy- could have been no more than five years old- who knew nothing about Sonic games at all, pick up the controller and play Classic Green Hill and loved it to bits.
Watching that little by play made me a shed a tear or two, too. As I watched him beam (and his parents finding it increasingly difficult to actually leave the chair to give other people a turn) as he played, it reminded me of when I first saw Sonic- bright and loud- leap over bridges and traverse those loops, hearing the music, and having my uncle hand me the Mega Drive controller for that very first time and being absolutely hooked from that very moment. I could see that moment in him, too. And I certainly had not seen that in a very, very long time. It was a beautiful thing.
The versatility of the game and its massive accessibility- whether you remembered Classic or Modern Sonic or not- was proving a real hit, and just hearing the praise and excitement was just heart-warming for everyone, as well as myself! People loved Sonic again, and it was fantastic!
It wasn't before long that I was asked to do lots of other things surrounding Generations- a lot of it I cannot get into, but it was an honour and a privilege to be considered and asked for my opinion and be thanked for it. (Everyone now knowing I am the massive fan that I am now!) But it was just amazing to be able to provide my input, and watch the game change every other day, knowing that I could look at specific platforms and elements of the game and to know that I helped put them there! There are so many secrets and inside jokes littered throughout the game that even now as I play makes me laugh.
I couldn't have asked to be on a better team, or on a better project (Because there isn't one!) Generations became like a child to me. Watching it grow and change every single day. Sometimes it made you mad, sometimes it was stressful, and sometimes it needed to be criticised as well as praised. And before long, it was time to let it grow up and release it into the world to do its own thing.
When I play Generations, I don't see just a game. I see the love, hard work and determination created by a large team who wanted to do nothing more than the very best for all of their fans. There are not enough words that I know that could ever truly decipher how I felt or feel now about being able to be a part of something so massive. Everyone- Generations of fans, generations of creativity, generations of developers, generations of programmers from all over the world, creating something from the heart for the Generations of fans across the globe.
This is the kind of thing I've always dreamt about.
Happy Birthday, Sonic the Hedgehog. And Happy 20th Anniversary to every Sonic fan- old, new, or new new. Please enjoy Sonic Generations as much as we enjoyed making it happen.