Yuji Naka (who is the creator of Sonic) stated in an interview that he wished other developers could be free of the series they work on and- like him- make new games and characters. So, is their some truth to his word?
Recently Yuji Naka (the brainchild behind Sonic) spoke about his enjoyment of being away from the blue hedgehog for almost six years. Speaking to The Verge, Naka spoke about how he has been having fun since leaving Sonic to work on other, more original titles. He then went on to comment on how he wished others such as Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma (director for Zelda titles) could experience life away from their main franchise before working on some brand new titles.
With big name series’ needing a constant stream of titles to keep fans happy, are games developers “pinned down” by the series they work on. Of course this doesn’t just cover Nintendo (although they are the main focus as they have been going for twenty five years) but are the developers of games such as Call of Duty- which is updated every year- stuck with that series and if so what does that do for the creation of new characters and the quality of their titles? Of course it is worth noting that Miyamoto is in no way tied down with making Mario games; he has been on hand for Pikmin, Zelda, Starfox and many more, so saying that he has been completely taken over by his creation is absurd.
Another thing to note is that Naka did not come up with the character Sonic, he was simply one of the programmers that created the Sonic game. Many other developers have actually designed the characters themselves and so may have more ideas of how to carry on the series. Also Sonic has never really been as popular as he was when he was only up against Mario and (although he has since had some great titles) a few of his titles have not hit the mark. However I do see the point in his opinion. The games market is becoming far too linear and big developers probably haven’t got enough time to invest in much needed new ideas.
Miyamoto has said many a time that he wishes to work other characters and has even voiced interest in making an FPS, but again he has to focus on his job. Of course this wouldn’t matter if the games remained of a high quality, but you only have to look at Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and New Super Mario Bros. 2 to see how the quality can dwindle. For now Naka is focusing on creating mobile games along the lines that he enjoys making, but his words certainly strike some truth among an ever changing industry.
He seems to be enjoying directing his own company and it has seemed to mix up his career as a programmer. That’s not to say that this is a route every game developer should take, but expect to see a few big names pull away from their spearhead series’ in order to take a vacation from their creation.