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Thread: Interview: Joe Miller

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    Blast processor Melf's Avatar
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    Sunglasses Interview: Joe Miller

    For more than a decade, Joe Miller has been seen almost exclusively as the virtual father of the 32X. What most people donít know is that his role at Sega was mostly software-driven, and though he saw the launch of almost a half-dozen platforms, he oversaw over a hundred in-house games and was involved with everything from the Sega Channel to the Multimedia Studio. Read the complete interview for the scoop!

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    Raging in the Streets Aarzak's Avatar
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    Well worth the wait, you've outdone yourself, Melf! Some notes:

    - I hope this interview finally puts the Sonic 3-MJ truthers to rest, seeing as no one has come up with concrete anecdotes of his work on the title.
    - Neat to hear that SOA and SOJ got along better than we all thought they did, SOJ pretty much donated the Nomad to SOA!
    - Enjoyed reading Joe's perspective on the 32X, shame it didn't live up to his hopes.

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    Bite my shiny, metal ***! Hero of Algol retrospiel's Avatar
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    Just had a quick look and already stumbled across many interesting things. Can't wait to fully read it when I got a bit more time!
    The Mega Drive was far inferior to the NES in terms of diffusion rate and sales in the Japanese market, though there were ardent Sega users. But in the US and Europe, we knew Sega could challenge Nintendo. We aimed at dominating those markets, hiring experienced staff for our overseas department in Japan, and revitalising Sega of America and the ailing Virgin group in Europe.

    Then we set about developing killer games.

    - Hayao Nakayama, Mega Drive Collected Works (p. 17)

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    Wonderful, thoughtful article. As an owner of a complete 32X library, I too feel the platform deserved better. I like how Melf mentioned his unit is still actively in use. Maybe one day we will get the fancy development compilers and documentation to make more 32X homebrew titles like the Wolf 3d port. It would be nice to see the platform gain some respect. Actually, thanks to this article, it sounds like the Saturn fans owe the 32X a huge debt for helping bridge the 16-bit to 32-bit gap.

    Also nice to get some solid numbers on units sold for the Sega CD, Genesis, and GameGear. I never knew the Gamegear sold so well worldwide!
    Articles like this make me really wish Sega would return to hardware and make a game system again. At least we can all be happy with, and collect, the existing systems Sega gave the market.
    I would like to know how he felt about the Genesis 2 + 32X all-in-one mod by the longhorn engineer, or the equally neat Genesis 3 compatibility restoration with the 32X that started on this very forum.

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    A Light In The Building. Master of Shinobi
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aarzak View Post
    ... SOJ pretty much donated the Nomad to SOA!
    SOA staff developed the cosmetic design of the Nomad.

    Quote Originally Posted by ifkz View Post
    Also nice to get some solid numbers on units sold for the Sega CD, Genesis, and GameGear.
    I'm under the impression that Miller used Wikipedia as a reference for those sales numbers.

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    Sports Talker Damaramu's Avatar
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    Hmm...I'd really like to see how that level from Virtua Fighter turned out for the Genesis via SVP chip.

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    Blast processor Melf's Avatar
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    I don't think those were SOA staff. They were most likely independent contractors hired by Sega (they also designed the Mega Mouse), specifically Japan (patent says Sega Enterprises, Tokyo, Japan). It's very possible that SOJ was working on this on their own, using independents. One of that group, Ira Velinsky, also patented an radio transmitter in 1996. It fits Miller's recollection, as well as others who recall not ever seeing a Sega CD until it arrived at the office.
    Last edited by Melf; 02-08-2013 at 09:27 AM.

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    I remain nonsequitur Shining Hero sheath's Avatar
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    Great interview Ken, really great. I think this one article might set straight all kinds of ire and speculation about Sega of Japan and Sega of America's working relationship at the time. While Miller definitely has some memory gaps (Ecco on the Saturn for example), I think we can definitely take the rest of his account at face value. Especially that both SOJ and SOA wanted the 32X to aid developers' experience with SH2 assembly and multiprocessing, and boost Saturn development kits, that just makes sense.

    I'm going to have to read it again to see if I missed anything, what a great primary account though.
    "... If Sony reduced the price of the Playstation, Sega would have to follow suit in order to stay competitive, but Saturn's high manufacturing cost would then translate into huge losses for the company." p170 Revolutionaries at Sony.

    "We ... put Sega out of the hardware business ..." Peter Dille senior vice president of marketing at Sony Computer Entertainment

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    I would also like to hear everything he had to tell on the beloved (by me anyhow) Sega CDX.

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    Road Rasher Assault9's Avatar
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    Wow, now that's a excellent interview and its great to hear the inside details and clarifications about the 32X's origins come to light. Thanks very much to everyone who contributed to this!
    Review in Progress -

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    Wildside Expert youloute's Avatar
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    Great work Melf!
    The Sonic CD anecdote matches with what I read on Usenet about SOA not wanting to bring too japanese-esque games to North america after the semi failure of games such as Valis.

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    16-bits is all he needs Master of Shinobi matteus's Avatar
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    One of them was to see if we could leverage the existing Genesis as a base and then add capability to it. Frankly, we had done as much with the Sega CD, an add-on that had started, literally, as a sit-underneath platform, and that added new capability. It added a color layer; it added audio and a bunch of other capabilities, and we sold around six million of those
    Sega CD color layer? Is he talking about the ASIC or does he actually not have a clue? :P


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    ToeJam is a wiener Hero of Algol Guntz's Avatar
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    Absolutely fantastic article, enjoyed every word of it.

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    Road Rasher
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    You know what the best part of this article, though I'm cautious in suggesting or using Miller's wonderful honest account as some weapon to settle a score, but this blows most of that bullshit Sam Pettus stuff out of the water. In future I can point people to this excellent article when they begin dropping Pettus references.

    Bravo Melf!

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    Shining Hero Joe Redifer's Avatar
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    Finally got some time to read this today and it was very enjoyable. I feel interviews are so much better when they're done by phone. For example, all of the follow-up Michal Jackson questions wouldn't be there if all of the questions were pre-planned in e-mail form. But alas, not everyone is available (or understandable) via phone.

    I bought the 32X on day 1 with Virtua Racing Deluxe and Star Wars Arcade. I really wish it could have shown its potential as I know most games barely tapped what the 32X could really do. I am glad that they gave us a better composite video encoder than existed in my Genesis model 1, however. It made my existing games look a little better and I greatly appreciated that. Nowadays I run everything in RGB so it's a moot point, but I was a guy who was desperately trying to get s-video out of the Genesis back in the day or do anything to improve that video quality (I had no technical training or tools at the time). So the 32X was appreciated even when playing non-32X games.

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