Brenda Ross Interview

Many thanks to Deviance for this Dust Hill focused interview.

Sonic 2 Questions & Answers

February 2001

From Brenda Ross

To Deviance

[I have to sincerely appologize for making Brenda's e-mail adress public, because that made her to be instantly sent tons of e-mails from some lunatic Sonic fans, forcing her to choose just one of them to answer (this one). Sorry, Brenda.-ICEknight]

  1. There is what appears to a crocodile’s head on the desert zone screenshot, could you tell us what the rest of crocodile looked like?
    I don’t remember anything like that. You’ll have to send me the image so I can see it.
  2. What other badniks were on the desert zone, and what did they do?
    I had nothing to do with creating enemies or characters, so I don’t remember, I’m sorry. I would only Grab images to use as placeholders when showing my art in various stages.
  3. If you could would you recreate the desert and woods zone?
    I think they would look great in 3D. But no, I’m happy with what I do now for a living, which is running a few websites and writing.
  4. Could you explain the type of equipment used to program the games?
    Nope. You’ll have to ask a programmer.
  5. What kind of computers were you using?
    We used a Japanese proprietary system called a digitizer. All the employees at Sega Japan used them. Basically you did the work on a grid like system, and you saw the results on a second screen, then you’d have a TV screen set up for color correction.
  6. Which operating system was it running under (UNIX, DOS, etc.)
  7. What kind of compiler was the game compiled under (C, ASM, etc.)
  8. Explain the "synthesizers" some more. [He meant the "digitizers".-ICEknight]
  9. How were graphics for the game generated and what programs did you use to generate them?
    See question #5.
  10. Explain the process of how a level was designed: from concept to final product.
    That’s a question for Yasuhara, The game designer for Sonic.
  11. How far into the design did desert zone see? Was a boss for that level ever created?
    I think that Dust Hill was completed entirely, and woods zone was mostly done. Once you have the initial key pieces, you can go fairly far with building a level.
  12. Could you make a rough sketch of how the level layout was?
    God, no. Sorry.
  13. ? [I don't know what happened to this question; don't ask me!-ICEknight]
  14. Why were these two zones ditched?
    The last artists added to the team were myself, and a guy named Craig Stitt. Craig did the Hidden palace zone, which made it in. I came along later to create the desert/winter dust hill zone and the woods zone. There was a massive amount of pressure to finish this game, and my zones, and perhaps one others of Craig’s, if I remember correctly, had to be scrapped. We were all upset, naturally, but that’s the nature of the game industry. 50% of your stuff is likely not to be used.
  15. Why would there be a crocodile in a desert?
    I don’t think there was one. It’s been 9 years, so I might not remember.
  16. Well, some people suspect that the screen shot was not an actual screenshot. Rather, it was an image created using a computer and some paint program. What do you have to say about this?
    It was a real level.
  17. Was Dust Hill Zone ever completed? If not, at least how far was it?
    I think it was completed. I couldn’t have gone on to create the woods zone if it hadn’t been. They just didn’t have time to add it to the game.
  18. Was Dust Hill Zone planned to be put back into the game? Reason asking is because I notice how the Oil Ocean Zone music changed for level selection 03 - supposedly to get the correct music to match the beta music.
  19. Was Wood Zone ever completed? If not, at least how far was it?
    About half way done, I’d guess. Or a bit more.
  20. What other objects were in the desert and woods zone? There are plenty of empty object slots in the binary, so we figure that plenty of it once had data there.
    The desert zone was as you see in that image, with cactus and assorted plants. It was designed to have a palette change, which turned the sand into snow, and you’d have a winter scene. We had to be fairly ingenious with such a limited palette. In the winter zone, (that’s what I call it), instead of cactus, I had created Christmas trees, which I thought looked kinda cool. I remember the woods zone having pink flowers somewhere. Hey, I am a girl… heh.
  21. What was Dust Hill like was it huge, what was the landscape like in general, etc.?
    I think half above ground, and half below. It would depend on the level. Sonic would travel through the sand or snow tunnel, depending on which palette was being used.
  22. Was Dust Hill related to Oil Ocean in any way with the hot sun and all?
  23. There is another zone, referred to as the fifth lost zone, the 01 zone, some think its emerald hill zone act 3, do you know anything about this?
    N/A (means I have no idea)
  24. Do you still have any materials in used in development, like layouts, graphics, etc. in the “synthesizer” formats or any other formats. [He meant the "digitizers", again.-ICEknight]
    No, It was all left at Sega years ago.
  25. Do you have any paper materials like a design spec for the levels or any level sketches you can show us.
    See answer #24.
  26. If you can, can you explain why sonic is off center in that desert zone screenshot.
    He was just dropped in for placement for the marketing folks. It was totally random and has nothing to do with any real gameplay.
  27. Did the desert, winter, and woods zones have specific names?
    Desert was dust hill. I don’t remember the rest.
  28. Is Mystic Cave Zone in any way related to the desert zone, because in the beta be have has Mystic Cave Zone play when Dust Hill Zone is selected.
  29. Was there ever any fire sprite in the desert zone because there’s been a fire sprite found hidden in a Sonic 2 ROM image.
  30. Was there ever a Genocide City Zone even in development?
    That sounds familiar, but I can’t be sure.
  31. Did Dust Hill Zone have any music, if so did it stay in Sonic 2 final’s sound test?
  32. Was time travel a concept intended for Sonic 2 ever?
  33. Did Wood Zone have original music, or was it a time travel zone (assuming that theory is true)
  34. Do you have any screenshots of any of the lost levels?
  35. Is there the possibility of you finishing the levels in a ROM and anonymously releasing it to the sonic community?
    No. I could get sued.
  36. There is speculation that the boss to the desert zone was a flying pyramid, any truth in this.
    There was no boss designed for that level, if I remember correctly. If so, I never saw it.
  37. Do you know anything about Genocide City?
  38. Was act 1 outdoors, with act 2 indoors of the desert zone? (like Sandopolis from Sonic 3)
  39. What is the deal with the unusual ring positions in that desert zone shot?
    They’re unusual because I put them there. Lol. I’m not a game designer. They were there for temporary placement only.
  40. If you were asked to complete these missing zones for the Sonic Compilation on DC, would you do it?
    No. I’m way too busy now. Also, as I said, there are legal issues. Sonic is very well protected. I think for a while there, that particular character kept Sega of America from going under. He did generate a massive amount of money, didn’t he?

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