Do you remember who was on your team for that project?
Mr. Wallis: Uhm, yeah I think on that one website, uh it had basically
everybody who was on the team. So it was a pretty accurate list.
You know which one I'm referring to, right?
Pachuka: Uh, not a clue, actually. (laughs)
Mr. Wallis: It was the one... well, I'll have to find you a link
and send it to you, because yeah off the top of my head I don't
remember everybody who was on the team, but when I looked at that
website that talked about Sonic Xtreme, it was accurate. Actually,
lemme see... I know Chris Senn was the Lead Designer, I was the
Producer, Rick Wheeler was the designer, Ofar Alon.. he was the
lead programmer, Chris Coffin was a programmer... Jason Kuo was
the designer, Fai Chang, the artist... Andrew Probert was an artist....
Howard Drossin was the music guy, and those are the only people
I can remember. But yeah, that's probably the core team. There
were additional support people as well.
Pachuka: And this was through STI, correct?
Mr. Wallis: Yeah.
Pachuka: Did you work on any other games
Mr. Wallis: Yeah, I was the Associate Producer on Comix Zone,
that was my first game at Sega, and then I was the Producer of
Pachuka: I remember that one!
Mr. Wallis: Yeah, that was a good game. (clears throat) And after
that I did.. uh, after that STI was pretty much dissolved... we
became Sega of America, when Sega of America became SegaSoft.
So, you know alot of the history behind Sega?
Pachuka: Quite a bit of it, yeah.
Mr. Wallis: Okay, good. So you know what I'm talking about then.
So yeah, STI became Sega of America, and when that happened I
worked on Decathaletes for the Saturn, NBA Action '98 for Saturn
and PC, Sonic 3D Blast for the Genesis and Saturn, Sega Rally..
I did about six or eight games for Sega.
Pachuka: Did you happen to work on Chaotix
Mr. Wallis: No, actually, that was done through Sega of America
when STI was still there.
Pachuka: Ah, okay. Let's see here, we've
got some questions that random people sent in.. I'm trying to
put them in some sort of order.. (Both laugh) So they make sense,
otherwise I'm just jumping around... Uhm... ah, here we go. How
long was the development cycle of Sonic Xtreme from like, the
time they brought you onto the project to the time they actually
Mr. Wallis: With Sonic Xtreme, it was strange.. because at the
time, Sega was looking to do a new system.. so Sonic Xtreme actually
first started out as a 32X Game. And then, you know when that
system came out and sort of tanked they switched it to... there
was an intern system before the Saturn, it was Nvidia technology
based... now, alot of people don't know this because it was just
on the drawing board. But Sega had a partnership with Nvidia technologies
for their very first RIVA, TNT Card.. Sega was going to make a
cartridge based machine to compete with the N64 rather than a
CD-ROM based machine. So we had some early techology and Xtreme
basically went on THAT platform, it was going to be a launch title.
And then Sega of America said "No, We're going to do a Saturn."
Well, actually Sega of Japan came over and said "We're not
doing that machine, we're doing the Saturn". It was weird
because SOA would do their own thing and SOJ would do their own
thing and then eventually SOJ would come in and say "No we're
gonna do this" so Sega wasted alot of money and alot of resources
on hardware development and software development for machines
that eventually would never see the light of day.
Mr. Wallis: So, I mean, Xtreme was going on when I got there in
November of '94. Although it wasn't called Xtreme at the time,
it was just supposed to be "another Sonic game". But
you know, it just kept going and going and going and eventually
they just finally said, "we're going to do Xtreme on the
Saturn", or "We're gonna do a Sonic game for the Saturn.
We'll call it Xtreme" But I guess by the time they canceled
it in I guess March-ish of '97 maybe... is that right? .... what
do your notes say on when Xtreme was canceled? It was probably
earlier than that, it was probably October of '96.
Pachuka: Yeah, there's no real specific
date of when it was canned because that's the main reason everybody
was curious it was just canned and there's all these rumours...
Mr. Wallis: You know, it was sometime in late summer, so I think
it was September of '96 when Bernie Stolar had come on to Sega
as the CEO around July of '96. He came over from Sony. And he
said, "Look you guys. I want you to get a core team together,"
he told Roger Hector who was at the time the head of STI, and
he said "I want you to get a core group together and we're
gonna lock them together, away from everybody, and we'll feed
them, we'll bring in cotts and matresses and they can sleep there,
and I don't want them to have any outside contact and get them
whatever support they'll need. I want just this core team to do
Sonic Xtreme." 'cause we needed it to be out there in time
for Christmas of '96. So we took the core group -- oh, Ross Hariss
is another, he was one of the animators... so we took the core
group and they basically locked us (chuckles) into the first floor
in.. oh God, what was the address? ...of Sega at the time.
Pachuka: Lemme look it up here... (both laugh) I don't have the
specific address, but it was Redwood City, right?
Mr. Wallis: Yeah, there were two buildings. One was 255 and one
was 275, I think they locked us into the first floor of the 255
building, which was the old STI area and you know, they'd bring
in breakfast, lunch and dinner and people would basically work
like, 15-16 hour days. And it kind of sucked, because Bernie Stolar
made us alot of promises that he couldn't deliver on. He was brand-new
and he said, "Look, what do you guys need to do this by Christmas?"
and we said "Well, we need the NiGHTS engine, because we
can't develop the technology, it would take too long." ...
so he said, "Alright! You got it." So, you know, they
shipped us a NiGHTS editor, a level-based editor and our designers
where familiarizing thereselves with that, and after about two-weeks,
Yuji Naka who was the designer of NiGHTS, and one of the original
SonicTeam, had said "No". There was a big rivalry between
SOJ and SOA and Yuji Naka hated SOA..
Pachuka: Yeah, I had a feeling.
Mr. Wallis: So he said he came to Yuri Maguire (sp?) who was the
head of Sega, SOJ at the time, and he said "Look. I don't
want these guys to have the NiGHTS engine. I do not want them
to have the NiGHTS technology. If you give it to them, I quit."
and so Yuri Maguire came back to Bernie Stolar and said, "I'm
not giving you anything. You're gonna have to do it without it."
So.. Bernie had to come to us "Sorry guys, you're gonna have
to do it without the NiGHTS Technology." So at the time,
Ofar Alon was developing this game; he was developing Xtreme on
the PC... with the intent of porting it to the Saturn. He wrote
these great development tools and everything, and it looked great
on the PC. But the problem was so processor intensive that when
it went to the Saturn, it was running at like, 2 frames a second.
So independantly of that, Chris Coffin, who was the lead programmer
for the Boss Levels -- you know, the boss levels were supposed
to be like, these Arenas...
Pachuka: Yeah, I've seen Pictures of them.
Mr. Wallis: Yeah. And that was the one we showed at E3 and everything
that people could play... so Chris was developing this Technology,
and I think Yuri Maguire had come out to Sega at the time, sometime
during the summer and he saw both, he saw the one running on the
PC and then he saw the boss level one and he said, "Oh I
like this one much better." (Chris Coffin's Boss level techology)
and he said, "I want you to make the whole game like this,
using this techology."
Pachuka: And that was the fish-eye type camera, right?
Mr. Wallis: No, the fisheye camera was the main-game thing, but
we still had to implement that. I mean, the idea was to still
implement that type of idea in the main game, but just using the
boss-level techology. And Chris, he was like at the time 25, he
was this hot-shot programmer, great guy.. and he litterally moved
into Sega. He moved out of his appartment, moved all of his stuff
into a storeroom at Sega, and he moved his bed there, and he slept
there. And he'd work... he was like a human Dynamo, is what he
was. It was basically all hinges on him because Ofar got very
pissed off and he said "I'm off the team" because, you
know. Yuri Maguire.. Ofar had this huge ego as well and Yuri Maguire
said "I don't like this, I want you to use the boss level
techology" and Ofar got really pissed off and he quit Sega
and he left. So it was all basically hinging on Chris. Chris,
for about 7 or 8 weeks worked about.. I'd say, 20 hours a day.
And there was a shower there and everything... the guy was insane.
And he basically worked himself into the ground.. and then he
caught walking pnemonia sometime in late August, and he basically
came to me and said "Mike, I can't do this anymore.",
he was so sick and he really was. I mean, the guy looked like
a Ghost. So I said, "Alright. That's it. We're not gonna
do it. We're not gonna get it done, the project's over."
and I went to Bernie Stolar and I said, "We can't do it.
You know it was all hinging on Chris? And the guy has basically
worked himself into the ground. He can't do it, it's over. We're
not gonna make Christmas." and Bernie said, "Well, you
know, we've been working on these backup plans." Which turned
out to actually be Sonic 3D Blast. So he said "I want you
to be the producer of 3D Blast, and we'll go ahead and scrap Xtreme."
So that was basically the long and short of the whole thing.
Pachuka: Ah, so you where the one who finally pulled the plug
on the whole thing?
Mr. Wallis: Yeah, you know. I had to. I had no engineers to do
it and I couldn't get ... SOJ was not being cooperative, and I
had a great relationship with SOJ. But you know, there were just
so many internal political workings going on between the two companies...
I really should right a book on it (chuckles) .. because it'd
be quite an amazing read.
Pachuka: Yeah, I'm not if the other gentlemen told you but I currently
work for Sega, that's partially why I understand this alot more.
Mr. Wallis: So what do you do for Sega?
Pachuka: I'm a Q&A Jocky, I basically test games.
Mr. Wallis: Okay, cool.
Pachuka: There's a gentleman there his name is (Cut), he runs
the equipment lab, I forget what his name is, but apparently he
and another gentleman still have a copy of the game floatin' around.
Mr. Wallis: There are some, yeah, I think that I actually have
a copy.. I know Chris Coffin has some, you know, before he left..
he made dupes of his build, and stuff. So there are some copies
floating out there.
Pachuka: How many builds where there before the project was canceled?
Mr. Wallis: Well, we did like, weekly builds.. so there were probably
quite a few. But uhm, most of them were destroyed. We didn't keep
a lot of them.
Pachuka: Yeah, I had a feeling. I had heard that the most the
project had gotten to in a playable Saturn format was about one
Mr. Wallis: Yeah, we had one playable level, the Green Valley..
I don't know, I can't remember the name, but it was you know,
green fields where Sonic runs over hills, picks up Rings, there
were actually some enemies.. there wasn't alot of animated flora
and fauna, but there was some. But there wasn't a whole lot of
gameplay in there. The boss levels were much farther along, because
that was the technology that Chris had built first, and I think
we had a Metal Sonic level in there... a Fang the Weasle level
in there, I think we had two bosses in there working, they had
AI and everything.
Pachuka: Cool. There have been other sources that have just like,
dropped little hints and such, somebody came along and they dumped
all the sprites from the game and we have sprites from it. It
looks like the game itself, like the levels were all 3D based
but the actual characters were sprites.
Mr. Wallis: That's correct. Except for the boss levels. The bosses
were all 3D. But all the characters in the game were Sprites.
Sonic was a sprite, and all the objects and everything were sprites.
Pachuka: I finally found the rest of my notes here, uhm.. let's
Mr. Wallis: Uh yeah. I saw Jason Kuo at E3, and he still works
Pachuka: Who was that?
Mr. Wallis: Jason Kuo. He was the designer for the boss-levels.
And I think he's a localization producer right now, he works with
Keith Palmer. He's been at Sega quite awhile. I think that he's
the only one left from that original group, because everybody
else is pretty much gone.
Pachuka: Yeah, let's see. I've got a listing of different names
here, this article here.. this comes from different articles that
I've clipped out of different magazines... the four known zones
are "Jade Gully", "Crystal Frost" "Red
Sands" and "Galaxy Fortress"... and those are all
(It cuts here? Silence for two seconds...)
Mr. Wallis: Hard for me to remember, I actually have most of my
notes and design docs actually boxed up somewhere, but that sounds
Pachuka: And let's see... could you also explain a little bit
about this character I came across, her name is Tiara, I believe?
Mr. Wallis: They, like, Chris Senn wanted to give Sonic this love
interest, or a means to.. I guess.. she sort of would have fit
in, like, maybe Robotnik would have captured her and then you
know, Sonic would rescue her and you know, she's this good lookin'
character, and you know there'd be this sort of... love tension
possibility between the two of them, so that was one of the new
characters that Chris had designed.
Pachuka: Also this article here, which while talking to you I
realize is completely incorrect, this one claims that a month
before the game's release, Sega of Japan pulled the plug on it.
Mr. Wallis: No, no... not at all.
Pachuka: I'll have to send them an email and correct them.
Mr. Wallis: Yeah, Sega of Japan was actually not involved with
Xtreme at all, other than saying that they would initially provide
the NiGHTS engine, and then pulling it from us. Other than that,
they were not really involved, because I think they were part
of the backup plan with Sonic 3D Blast, and Travellers Tales did
the game and SOJ did the Bonus Levels.
Pachuka: Here's the most-asked question... do you have a copy
Mr. Wallis: Yeah, I do somewhere. Yeah. Somewhere in my "Sega
Pachuka: And then there's the secondary question, which you probably
can guess... it's "Are you willing to donate it"?
Mr. Wallis: Uhm... you know, I've... I probably wouldn't. Because
of Sentimental reasons. Not for anything else. But uh... I would
have to find it first. (Both laugh) That would be the hard thing.
Pachuka: Yeah, I figured. This is insane at Sega right now...
it's like, (cut)
Mr. Wallis: Actually, Chris Senn, after the Xtreme project stopped...
Chris Senn and Ofar Alon actually worked on the PC Version, between
the two of them. Because Chris was an Artist, and also an Audio
Guy and a designer, so he's a pretty talented guy so basically
it was a two-man team they did something like three or four different
levels with enemies and stuff still using the fisheye view, running
it on the PC and they tried to pitch it to Sega Entertainment,
which is the PC group.. and they tried to get the PC group to
pick it up. But at the time, Greg Swoarez (sp?) he was running
the PC group at the time and was "Nonono, I'm not gonna spend
money on this" .. all they basically were content with doing
was ports. So he was like, "I don't wanna... I can't fund
this at all." But yeah, the PC game was actually pretty far
along ... and I unfortunately don't have a copy of that, but it
was pretty far along. They had several different levels playable.
Pachuka: I'll have to contact him next.
Mr. Wallis: Yeah, Chris Senn might actually be able to give you
a much better idea of the idea of the progress of the PC game.
You know, I might actually have his card here.... ..... ....Why
don't you go ahead and ask the next question and I'll -- oh! Here
Pachuka: What's his name again?
Mr. Wallis: It's Chris Senn, and his email is... (cut) so he could
probably fill you in a lot more on the progress of the PC side.
Pachuka: And another question someone asked, which you probably
answered was what were the problems between SOA and SOJ, So I
don't think I need to go through that... oh! The moves. The moves
in the game. I have a listing here of the moves, see if you can
remember them and what they did... the "SpinBash" a
quick forward attack, modified from the Spindash.
Mr. Wallis: Ah, I dunno. Because we never actually got far enough
to do any sort of tuning on the moves other than just graphical.
Pachuka: So there wasn't any collision or anything on them?
Mr. Wallis: No, no. There might have been some basic collision,
but you know, there really was no differentiation at the time
between that and the Spindash. So yeah, I don't really remember
much about the moves, although the moves that were listed on the
website were correct. Those were the moves we were planning to
Pachuka: Oh! It's not my website, it's actually the other guy's.
Mr. Wallis: Blaze.. Hedgehog.
Pachuka: Uh, do you know (Cut) .. he was working Q&A at the
Mr. Wallis: The name is vaguely familiar, yeah.
Pachuka: Yeah, he took over the department now. I was talking
with him and he said he had seen it before it got unplugged and
I'm not exactly sure about his answer on this, but he said it
was eventually turned into Sonic Xtreme, which I highly doubted...
Mr. Wallis: Uh, which one?
Pachuka: He said, oh! I'm sorry. Sonic Adventure.
Mr. Wallis: Oh. Well, you know I don't know about that. Because
Sonic Adventure was as far as I know.. a fully... that's for Dreamcast,
right? I think Sonic Adventure was a fully SOJ development. So
I don't believe they'd have utilized any sort of technology from
Pachuka: Yeah. It's kind of hard with these questions because
a lot of people don't know the difference between STI and Sonicteam.
Mr. Wallis: Right. I don't think they would have wanted to use
anything from SOA.
Pachuka: Alrighty... and I guess that's all the questions we've
got right now. One last quick question, I dunno if you'd know
or not, but did you ever hear of a project called "Sonic
Crackers" while you where working there, that was turned
Mr. Wallis: Uhm.. I did not, no. That doesn't ring a bell.
Pachuka: Alrighty. And that would be it.
Mr. Wallis: Okay, cool. If there's anything else you think of
later, feel free to ask me. The reason I wanted to do it over
the phone is because the questions Blaze originally asked me I
would have to ask follow up questions to, so it was just better
doing it over the phone.
Pachuka: Yeah, I'm much more experienced with like, journalism
type stuff, so I think that's one of the reasons he picked me.
Alright! Thank you very much Mr. Wallis!
Mr. Wallis: Take it easy.
Pachuka: You too.