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Thread: Japan execs were upset that Kalinske was allowed to resign w/o taking blame for 32X

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    Default Yuji Naka Interview - 32X

    Here's some great new 32X info from a recent Yuji Naka interview just published in Beep21 (Japanese, paywall).

    Summary:
    • Sega of America had no interest in the next console generation and wanted to keep going with the Genesis.
    • Naka didn't believe SOA had the organizational setup to make Saturn games.
    • The software development situation in Japan was crazy, with both Saturn and 32X development going full blast, as well as Game Gear and Mega Drive. They didn't have enough people for it all.


    My translation of select bits:

    --Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were made in 1993 and 1994. Were there any discussions about the Sega Saturn then?

    Naka: I was in America then, and because the success of the Genesis was so great in everyone’s eyes, there was no feeling at all of moving on to the next console generation.

    At one point, Sega director Hisashi Suzuki was in America, and we got to talking about what was happening in Japan. He showed me this game that Yu Suzuki had made called Virtua Fighter.


    --On a video?

    Naka: Yes, he showed me a video. I was so surprised: “Wow! It’s 3D! The polygons are moving!” At the time, I had been told so little about the Saturn that I barely knew it existed. But after I learned about it and was told that the next generation would be focused on 3D, I knew that it would be really difficult to make 3D games in America with the 10-person or so development system they had in place there. Once Sonic & Knuckles was finished, I returned to Japan. I knew that if I was going to do Saturn development, I wouldn’t be able to do it in America.


    --Looking back, what kind of hardware was the Mega Drive for you?

    Naka: For me, it was the easiest hardware to develop for. I think it was the best hardware Sega has ever put out. I even told Hideki Sato, “If you just increase the clock speed, we can use the Mega Drive forever.” I didn’t want to go with CD-ROMs, and I thought that if we just had enough CPU power, we could make any game. At the time, I was basically viewing the Mega Drive as a PC. If we just increased the clock speed and the memory speed like with a PC, then we could keep using it.

    Plus, we had been so successful in America with the Genesis. I was thinking that it would be great if we could just get a bit more out of it… Everyone at Sega of America was thinking the same thing.


    --Sonic & Knuckles came out in October 1994, just before the Saturn was released in Japan. So, it was the case that everyone in America was still focused on going with the Genesis?

    Naka: Yes, they were still focused on the Genesis. I mean, that’s when talk of the 32X came about. The Japanese heads of Sega had come to America to explain that the company would be releasing the Saturn soon, and the Sega of America leadership said, “No way. What are you talking about? We’re still going with the Genesis.” All of the Japanese executives that were there in America had to delay their return because of it. At that point, talks developed about making an expansion device for the Genesis, and they came up with the 32X before the executives returned to Japan.


    --I see, so that was the origin of the 32X.

    Naka: I had talks with Hideki Sato about the 32X and what the plan for it was, but from the beginning I was skeptical about it. I ended up not making anything for it.

    Ultimately, there was a difference in degrees of enthusiasm between the two countries. The 32X was abruptly created out of this different level of enthusiasm between Sega of America and Sega in Japan.


    --And that’s when you returned to Japan, right?

    Naka
    : When I returned to Japan, there were four development lines running concurrently. There was the Saturn line, the 32X line, the Game Gear line, and some Mega Drive work was even still being done. Four lines all operating at once… Before that, it was almost too much just having the Mega Drive and Game Gear lines going together. Now, the Saturn line had grown big, and so had the 32X line. With four lines… I mean, there just weren’t enough people.

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    I so so much grief, hate even for making out SEGA should have dropped all support for the MD in 1994 and just focused on the Saturn. The more you read, the more it clears to most, the madness to support so many systems at one time, never mind 2 different 32-Bit systems

    Naka-san is spot on about SOA production lines not being up to the task of 32-Bit productions, we all saw it for ourself's. I disagree with Naka slightly on the GameGear though, it was a good seller, it was a handheld and I doubt it was talking much of SEGA resources, given it was little more than a Master System and the teams needed were tiny and that's to look over most of SEGA's work on the GG was outsourced or little more than simple Master System ports. I just felt more work was needed on the GG to help with battery life

    Why SEGA Japan intrusted SOA with Sonic X-Treme is beyond me though, 'if' the head of the Sonic Team was thinking at the time, SOA simply wasn't good enough and where a Saturn Sonic game would need to be a cutting edge, Saturn 3D title, why was STI given the project.
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    Great read Gryson, think we all knew Sega was spread too thinly and this confirms that.
    Along with little to no combined strategy to move over to Saturn it was an almost inevitable fall.

    Did Sega Europe ever produce games ? Seems strange given how popular Sega was in Europe. plus I would say European developers were making better games than the Americans in 80's / early 90's due to the home computer scene over here.

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    Thanks Gryson, would rep again but it seems I've already repped you too much lately

    I'll take Naka at his word but I thought it was even more lines than that, with Sega CD, the PC ports, the Pico and arcade development. The only way any company could do that is if every platform is so similar it's just a simple recompile to go from one to the other... but in 1994, coding in assembly... no way. Another problem that's come up in other interviews is that the people they did have were not skilled in areas like 3D math or modeling.

    Naka is right about the MD, much cleaner design, if they had upgraded the specs it could have done 2D anything. It's a shame the Nomad didn't take off more as it could have enjoyed a few more years of life as a portable.

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    Naka is right about SOA's organizational problems. They spent a lot of time and money investing into in-house studios like Sega Midwest, Sega Multimedia Studio, etc, with very little output from any of them. There were plenty games being produced by these studios that just ended up being canned half-way through development due to do devs being inexperienced or just plain mismanagement.

    IIRC, there was an alleged story about a SOA producer at Sega Midwest embezzling funds to buy a boat, but I doubt that's true.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sut View Post
    Did Sega Europe ever produce games ? Seems strange given how popular Sega was in Europe. plus I would say European developers were making better games than the Americans in 80's / early 90's due to the home computer scene over here.
    Several of the second-party developers that Sega worked with were European. I'm not too knowledgeable about this. One was Zyrinx (Sub-Terrania, Red Zone).

    Quote Originally Posted by axel View Post
    I'll take Naka at his word but I thought it was even more lines than that, with Sega CD, the PC ports, the Pico and arcade development.
    He's talking about the consumer software division, so arcade would not be included. Sega CD was typically lumped in with Mega Drive, so he probably just combined those in memory. Was Sega doing PC ports in Japan? I thought that was at SOA. Pico... I don't know much about it, but was that being done through Sega Toys? Regardless, his point is that they were trying to support a bunch of systems, and they had to divide developers across the Saturn and 32X.

    Another problem that's come up in other interviews is that the people they did have were not skilled in areas like 3D math or modeling.
    Here's another quote also released yesterday from Yoji Ishii, who produced a ton of Sega games, including Saturn games like Panzer Dragoon, NiGHTS, and Sakura Wars:

    Tsurumi: At the beginning of 1993, you moved from the arcade division to the consumer division. Could you tell us why you made this move?

    Ishii: I simply received an order to move. I was told to go there from January 1, 1993.

    Sega president Nakayama told me directly: "From this point, the consumer business is going to expand more than the arcade business. Now, the arcade business that we're putting so much money into is ahead, but with the next console generation, the consumer business will overtake it. That's why we need a team in the consumer division that can make arcade-quality 3D games. The current Mega Drive development team has no experience with 3D graphics. I need you to go there and make a team capable of doing 3D graphics."

    Tsurumi: He was spot on!

    Ishii: The division head Hisashi Suzuki told me the same thing, but I told him that I wouldn't be able to make anything if I went on my own. I said I wanted to bring some people with me who could do 3D graphics. He said, "Fine, take as many as you need." So, I took 30-40 people with me all at once. Hisashi Suzuki got angry at me: "You! There's a limit on 'as many as you need'!" (laughs).

    Because we could merge some of the arcade developers who had experience with 3D graphics with the console developers, we were able to make a very strong team. That's how we got the Saturn game lineup ready.
    This is interesting, especially since it gives firm dates.

    We can see Sega leadership pushing for 3D graphics on the Saturn at the end of 1992, so clearly the decision to focus on 3D was made before then. This goes against the general image people have of 3D capabilities being tacked onto the Saturn at the very last minute.

    I think we overlook that so many of those points coming out of Sato's comments (e.g. there being nobody with 3D experience at Sega) were actually happening really early, in 1992. Sega's console division was obviously capable of producing 3D games by the time the Saturn was released.

    It is also a shame that SOA could not be convinced to shift resources to preparing for 3D game development at this early point. Too much faith was placed in the future of the Genesis. Yuji Naka actually spent the first six months of 1993 developing "Sonic 3D" using polygon graphics via the SVP chip, but they scrapped it all due to problems with the chip. Could you imagine if they had kept going with a 3D Sonic for the Saturn's launch?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sut View Post
    Great read Gryson, think we all knew Sega was spread too thinly and this confirms that.
    Along with little to no combined strategy to move over to Saturn it was an almost inevitable fall.

    Did Sega Europe ever produce games ? Seems strange given how popular Sega was in Europe. plus I would say European developers were making better games than the Americans in 80's / early 90's due to the home computer scene over here.
    Euros 96 and Sonic R.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    He's talking about the consumer software division, so arcade would not be included. Sega CD was typically lumped in with Mega Drive, so he probably just combined those in memory. Was Sega doing PC ports in Japan? I thought that was at SOA.
    I think for most of the Mega Drive ports they were outsourced. When it came to the 3D games a lot was done internally by SOJ.
    EDGE did a great feature on the SEGA's PC Division before it went to become Smilebit







    Here's another quote also released yesterday from Yoji Ishii, who produced a ton of Sega games, including Saturn games like Panzer Dragoon, NiGHTS, and Sakura Wars:
    The man who should have lead the Sonic Team IMO. If you listen to the Team Andromeda team they were ordered to make either a 3D racer or 3D Shooter game. 3D was always going to be part of the Saturn desig. The Mega Drive could do 3D polygons despite being a sprite system. SEGA just had to up the spec to try and counter the PS when they learned of the spec's

    It is also a shame that SOA could not be convinced to shift resources to preparing for 3D game development at this early point. Too much faith was placed in the future of the Genesis.
    I got a lot of crap for it, but always said SEGA should have dumped the Mega Drive in 1994 and moved on.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sut View Post
    Did Sega Europe ever produce games ? Seems strange given how popular Sega was in Europe. plus I would say European developers were making better games than the Americans in 80's / early 90's due to the home computer scene over here.
    They produced a number of titles and were also looked to support developers like CORE Desgin. I think I'm right in saying SEGA Europe Premier Manager was one of the best-selling games in 1995 in Pal land. Why SOE never looked to make a Saturn management game was beyond me. Speaking of CORE their 1st Saturn game, Thunderhawk 2 was so much better than what came from SOA and that was their 1st Saturn game made by a tiny team, with no 1st party funding. Yet, was leagues above Ghen War and Black Fire.

    SOA 32-bit pipelines weren't good enough at all
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  9. #249
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    Wow Virtual On PC did 600,000?

    Interesting to see Sakura Wars was the big PC hit for Sega then.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deathscythe View Post
    Wow Virtual On PC did 600,000?

    Interesting to see Sakura Wars was the big PC hit for Sega then.
    Am I missing something? It's talking about a Sakura Wars screensaver that sold 50,000 copies - hardly what I'd call a big hit...

    And Virtual On PC did not really sell 600,000 copies. It was bundled with PC-98 computers that sold 600,000 units.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deathscythe View Post
    Wow Virtual On PC did 600,000?

    Interesting to see Sakura Wars was the big PC hit for Sega then.
    Not bad at all given the marketshare for PCs in Japan at the time and I would imagine the development costs of a SW screensaver would be minimal.

    It was a SEGA shame looked to really build on its PC division at the time . A mistake really looming how big PCs would be become after the millennium and the rise in GFX cards could have meant Model 3 ports
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    Here's some new info on the manufacturing cost of the PlayStation at launch:

    https://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXZQ...2A500C2000000/ (Japanese / paywall)

    I don't think I've ever read any indication before that the PlayStation cost so much to manufacture initially. The Saturn is always criticized for being expensive to manufacture, but it looks like the PlayStation's cleaner design wasn't exactly cheap. Of course, one big difference was that a lot of the cost of the PlayStation was flowing back into Sony.
    I do recall reading an interview, either with Kutaragi or one of the other execs, that they were mad at how expensive the Playstation was to produce. But then they eventually reduced prices, part of that was removing the A/V ports (the original playstation had discrete composite, stereo, and s-video output). The interview specifically mentioned the ports, but I think the context was that it was one of the things that helped, not the main thing (at that high volume their cost would add up to $5).

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    What probably helped get the cost down on both systems during this time was the dramatic fall in RAM prices during the mid to late 90s. Hideki Sato did mention that RAM was one of their biggest cost issues in the Saturn with the amount they had. Which from 1995-1998 RAM prices did start to drop dramatically and that trend continued into the early 2000s. So that's probably where a lot of those early price cuts around late 1995 to late 1996 were coming from.
    Last edited by TrekkiesUnite118; 08-12-2022 at 12:10 PM.

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    In comparison to other Sega PC games? Not saying it was a Doom level success.

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    I recall reading Shigeo Maruyama also imply the PS1's CPU cost something like $150 per. I don't know enough to know if he was referring to the LSI chip or something else. He said it in the context of them being basically scared to place the initial order for 1 million chips because the cost was something like $150 million. Not sure of exact numbers or details. I'll make note to find it at some point.

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