Is Yuji Naka a hack?

Icarus

Phantasy Savior
After the Balan Wonderworld debacle I've decided to dig a bit about his older games and what he really did at Sega to see why it went wrong and oh boy I've just opened a can of worm.

He almost killed a programmer from overworking on Sonic X-treme (see: "Sonic X-treme: what happened?) And he had a petty behaviour that made more harm than good for the Sonic franchise and Sega as a whole.

Maybe he isn't a good game designer and the Sonic series would've gotten better post-Genesis if it wasn't for him.

At least Miyamoto and Kojima had a much better and more impactful influence to videogame history and both did good to their respective companies.
 

Chezi

Chili Dogs
As far as my research shows, Naka has hardly anything to do with X-Treme’s development. He visited STi, saw how development went, and said good luck. Later on, he had threatened to leave Sega if a new engine were to be used, which would’ve caused development to start completely over.

As far as Balan Wonderworld is concerned, that wasn’t really Yuji Naka’s fault. Square Enix had forced him to include things that he wasn’t familiar with making, such as a story, into the game. That means development time that could’ve gone into marking a more polished game was spent reading on how to make a compelling story.

He had served as a producer from Adventure to Sonic Riders, meaning he didn’t have that much say in how the games were developed.

Yuji Naka is a great game designer. He’s just been through a series of unfortunate events that caused him to be looked down upon
 

Morphized

Member
Naka is good at one thing, and that's making concepts for gameplay frameworks. Balan could have worked if it weren't for the story and the glut of repetitive content.
 

Bananasplits

local resident SMT fan. Also known as Mapper.
You can't really put all the blame on Naka since Balan got outsourced to Arzest. Y'know, the guys who made Yoshi's New Island.
 

Icarus

Phantasy Savior
You can't really put all the blame on Naka since Balan got outsourced to Arzest. Y'know, the guys who made Yoshi's New Island.
Was Yoshi new Island bad? I'm not interested in the Yoshi series (outside of the SNES one and Crafted World looked nice).

Anyway I'm expecting Naka to either do the chara-design for a smaller indie game and the next Nights game to be done by fans like for Sonic Mania.
 

ffoxD

Member
Naka is good at one thing, and that's making concepts for gameplay frameworks. Balan could have worked if it weren't for the story and the glut of repetitive content.
I heard Balan controls like trash, the framework lags and has bad graphics... Not sure, I didn't play it or ever will
 

CobaltBW

Community Noise Maker
Sonic Team Junior
While I haven't researched him indepth, calling him a "hack" is probably selling his skills short; he was the lead programmer for the first Sonic the Hedgehog and oversaw the development of many mainline SEGA games up until the Dreamcast. That being said, I think the gaming industry and the communities surrounding it fetishize the role of game designer too much without critically looking at all the other facets of development.

My understanding is that Balan was poorly mismanaged from the start, with several capable team members being placed with responsibilities that were outside of their area of expertise. The structural framework was obviously unsound, and it's not just on whoever came up with "let's just have a bajillion abilities" who takes the blame but on whoever oversaw that decision and didn't interject. When you get so far into a project, there is no such thing as "making tweaks around the edges" to fix its problems -- you have to deconstruct the entire game and start from the beginning, which, after a certain point, is just not a viable option for a commercial product.

But the important thing to keep in mind is that the gaming industry is different from what it was twenty years ago. Crunch culture has grounded workplace moral at these jobs into dust; programmers are undervalued and overworked, and this consistently leads to inferior products being pushed out. It's easy to blame the individual, but I find that the factors leading up to something like Balan Wonderworld's demise can usually be linked back to more systemic issues.
 

Icarus

Phantasy Savior
While I haven't researched him indepth, calling him a "hack" is probably selling his skills short; he was the lead programmer for the first Sonic the Hedgehog and oversaw the development of many mainline SEGA games up until the Dreamcast. That being said, I think the gaming industry and the communities surrounding it fetishize the role of game designer too much without critically looking at all the other facets of development.

My understanding is that Balan was poorly mismanaged from the start, with several capable team members being placed with responsibilities that were outside of their area of expertise. The structural framework was obviously unsound, and it's not just on whoever came up with "let's just have a bajillion abilities" who takes the blame but on whoever oversaw that decision and didn't interject. When you get so far into a project, there is no such thing as "making tweaks around the edges" to fix its problems -- you have to deconstruct the entire game and start from the beginning, which, after a certain point, is just not a viable option for a commercial product.

But the important thing to keep in mind is that the gaming industry is different from what it was twenty years ago. Crunch culture has grounded workplace moral at these jobs into dust; programmers are undervalued and overworked, and this consistently leads to inferior products being pushed out. It's easy to blame the individual, but I find that the factors leading up to something like Balan Wonderworld's demise can usually be linked back to more systemic issues.
Well, I've made this thread but it's mostly because I've seen many calling him a hack after Balan and that video's release.

Honestly my respect for this guy has kinda fallen down after this.
 

MK.exe

The one and only!
Kart Krew™️
Later on, he had threatened to leave Sega if a new engine were to be used, which would’ve caused development to start completely over.
Honestly this annoyed me as this could of helped with Xtreme but at the same time.... STI really should have asked rather than using it behind thier back.

As for Naka being a "Hack"? Thats quite harsh. Yes Balan was essentially a flop (great designs though) but him being solely to blame? Come on...
 

TehRealSalt

(σᴥσ)
Kart Krew™️
Can't take this seriously because the first post cites Miyamoto as a non-hack


Not enough evidence to 100% attribute Balan's failure to Naka, too many factors & there's not a lot of info on it. The X-treme stuff in the first post is also blatantly false; SEGA gave the X-treme team his code independently from Naka, without telling him at all, so of course he was livid when he found out his code was being reused without consent for another project he isn't involved with.
 

Nitro Turbo

A sonic fan guy !
Sonic X-Treme's demise can barely be blamed on just one person, especially not Naka. He got screwed over by Square Enix.
Fact he was one of primary reasons that Xtreme died : (if you don't know)
i heard that while Sonic Team was working on Nights and Naka refused to give the game source code and engine to the development team that cost them 2 weeks of development
with an interview with gameradar in 2011 (sonic 20th anniversary summer) they asked him about extreme and he said that he felt relief when the game was cancelled
Check it yourself : http://info.sonicretro.org/Yuji_Naka_interview_by_Games_Radar_(June_27,_2011)
and here too : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_X-treme#Disputes_with_Sega_of_Japan
he was too who refused a sonic game based on the adventures of sonic the hedgehog named "Sonic-16"
 

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Chezi

Chili Dogs
Fact he was one of primary reasons that Xtreme died : (if you don't know)
i heard that while Sonic Team was working on Nights and Naka refused to give the game source code and engine to the development team that cost them 2 weeks of development
with an interview with gameradar in 2011 (sonic 20th anniversary summer) they asked him about extreme and he said that he felt relief when the game was cancelled
Check it yourself : http://info.sonicretro.org/Yuji_Naka_interview_by_Games_Radar_(June_27,_2011)
and here too : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_X-treme#Disputes_with_Sega_of_Japan
he was too who refused a sonic game based on the adventures of sonic the hedgehog named "Sonic-16"
Naka felt that way because they were making a Sonic game without his permission. We already went over that
 

The Real Inferno

Blazing Fan
Fact he was one of primary reasons that Xtreme died : (if you don't know)
i heard that while Sonic Team was working on Nights and Naka refused to give the game source code and engine to the development team that cost them 2 weeks of development
with an interview with gameradar in 2011 (sonic 20th anniversary summer) they asked him about extreme and he said that he felt relief when the game was cancelled
Check it yourself : http://info.sonicretro.org/Yuji_Naka_interview_by_Games_Radar_(June_27,_2011)
and here too : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonic_X-treme#Disputes_with_Sega_of_Japan
he was too who refused a sonic game based on the adventures of sonic the hedgehog named "Sonic-16"
I know my Sonic X-Treme dev history.

1. He wasn't the only problem with X-Treme. IF you look further, it was already falling apart, with entire source codes being unusable due to lag, incompetent people being put into major roles, the main director being shuffled around 50 times, there being 3 engines at once, etc. Then Naka's work was stolen from him yet again. Of course he was pissed.

2. He had no absolute say for Sonic-16, that rejection involved more people than him, as he was NOT the authority for Sonic stuff.
 

Nitro Turbo

A sonic fan guy !
I know my Sonic X-Treme dev history.

1. He wasn't the only problem with X-Treme. IF you look further, it was already falling apart, with entire source codes being unusable due to lag, incompetent people being put into major roles, the main director being shuffled around 50 times, there being 3 engines at once, etc. Then Naka's work was stolen from him yet again. Of course he was pissed.
Well I always think that they could postponed the game for Christmas 97 better than working fast and 12 to 20 hours in the day
Post automatically merged:

2. He had no absolute say for Sonic-16, that rejection involved more people than him, as he was NOT the authority for Sonic stuff.
He was sonic team's head at the time of sonic-16 ! He gave the game a thumbs down and that was never fully developed
So if the head of sonic team will not agree so the fame will cancelled of course !
I read this here : http://info.sonicretro.org/Sonic-16
(All other pages say the same thing about the game)
 

Chezi

Chili Dogs
Well I always think that they could postponed the game for Christmas 97 better than working fast and 12 to 20 hours in the day
Post automatically merged:


He was sonic team's head at the time of sonic-16 ! He gave the game a thumbs down and that was never fully developed
So if the head of sonic team will not agree so the fame will cancelled of course !
I read this here : http://info.sonicretro.org/Sonic-16
(All other pages say the same thing about the game)
It looks like you don’t know what you’re talking about. Sonic Retro barely says anything about the dev period
 

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