Peter Morawiec Interview

Thanks goto ICEKnight for this intresting interview.

Sonic request

Wednesday, December 27, 2000 1:58 PM

From ICEknight

To Peter Morawiec


I've read that you were the designer of Sonic
Spinball and Sonic X-Treme, and you appear in the
sonic 2 staff, in 'SPECIAL STAGE ART AND CG'. Sonic
fans have a lot of questions in their minds... maybe
you can help us finding the answers.

What did you make exactly in the Sonic 2 Special
Stages? Do you have any picture of the beta Special
Stage, or scans about the development of the game? Was
the Special Stage going to be different to the final
one? We've tested one of the Sonic 2 betas and there
was no Special Stage yet... Do you know something
about a 'Genocide City Zone', a desert zone or the
Hidden Palace in Sonic 2? Hidden Palace seems to be
impossible to finish in the beta, because of an
impossible to climb big slope, and the Master Emerald
does nothing.

About Sonic Spinball, why did you change the bonus
stage? It looked very nice with the different
background. Maybe it was too slow? And it had more of
those intro scenes... Why to delete them? Were the
Spinball stages based in some of the not released
zones of Sonic 2?

And... about Sonic X-Treme. Do you know if Sonic Team
have put some of the stages in Sonic Adventure? We've
seen some pictures of the Saturn game that look very
similar to some of the events in Sonic Adventure. Does
anyone have a copy of the game? We really want to know
more about that game! Playing it would be just

If you have anything related to the development of
those games (scans of pictures or designs, beta
versions or any other thing), PLEASE, tell us! Sonic
fans really want to know about how those games were

Thanks for your time!

RE: Sonic request

Wed, 27 Dec 2000 17:24:42 -0800

From Peter Morawiec

To ICEknight


Dear ICE,

It's nice to hear from you. I certainly have some fond memories of those
days, so I'll be happy to address some of your questions...

Sega gave me a start in the games biz -- I was hired by Mark Cerny (of
Marble Madness, Crash and Spyro fame) and Yutaka Sugano (of Shinobi fame)
back in early 1992, to join their newly founded Sega Technical Institute
(STI) in Palo Alto as a game designer. I was initially involved in
designing new concepts for Sega's U.S. coin-op division with Sugano, but
after about a year, we were shifted to Genesis group (due to the increasing
demand for the console, fueled primarily by the exploding popularity of
Sonic the Hedgehog).

Just a few months before, Sega had moved the entire Sonic Team from Tokyo to
Palo Alto, CA, to work on Sonic II. The reasoning behind this move was to
enable the team to create a more globally appealing game by directly
exposing them to a Western culture. Along those lines, several American
team members were added to the team, for instance, the bonus level
programmer and a couple of level artists.

By the time I was brought on, the deadlines were looming. At that point,
the Special Stage was a tube with Sonic running through it -- a cool feat on
the Genesis -- but not much else. I was asked to help dress it up, so it
looks more like a racetrack of sorts -- since it could not be built into the
tube animation, it needed to be done with sprites only; I designed the
appearance of the Start/Finish line, the checkpoints, and the HUD displays,
including Sonic's thumbs up/down hand. Overall, not a huge contribution by
any means, but I'm happy to being involved in this super-selling title.

Sorry, I'm not able to help you with the Zones -- it's been a while since I
played those games.

With Spinball, I was asked to design a 'smaller' Sonic game, an offshoot of
sorts, which could be completed in six months, in time for Christmas (since
Sonic III would slip). Marketing concluded that the Casino stage in Sonic
was one of the most popular levels, so I've created a more pinball-like
design with Sonic elements, which everybody seemed to like. Ultimately, the
short development cycle shows and the graphic quality is not quite on par
with the work of the Sonic Team (we were primarily a non-Japanese team), but
it's a fun little game that gathered quite a following, but it's definitely
a love-it-or-hate-it kind of a thing ;)

The bonus screenshot you sent is using an early table design I believe,
which was probably replaced due to VRAM limitations (it's been a while, so
I'm just guessing here). John Duggan, the Art Director on the project did
the Bonus Table graphics.

As for Sonic X-Treme, there were a couple of competing Saturn Sonic games in
development, and I believe you are referring to the one in development by
STI Redwood City, which involved semi-3D rotating playfields? I was not
involved in that.

Following the completion of Comix Zone, our core team negotiated a situation
where we were able to set up a separate Sega R&D office in Burbank, CA to
focus on Saturn development. To compete with Mario, we were designing a
full 3D Sonic game, based on a cool sphere-rendering technology (to overcome
the polygon faceting resulting from the limited horsepower of the Saturn).
This game was rather early and was never publicized. Ultimately, Naka (the
chief Sonic programmer and guru) did not want Americans to mess with his
baby and did not approve of what we were attempting to do. This led to
uncomfortable political tensions between the company, which left our team in
limbo for a few months.

In an attempt to save it, I've urged with Sugano to let us rework it into a
Bonus Game to be included with the Traveler's Tales developed Sonic Blast
(Saturn) he was producing at the time, but the deadline was impossible to
hit. Ultimately, the Saturn tanked in the US and Sega
went into a tailspin. We were asked to stay on to work on the upcoming
Dreamcast, but with no hardware available for a year, we have bailed out in
December of 1996 to form Luxoflux.

OK, gotta get back to work... hopefully this satisfies some of your
curiosity. I don't mind this being posted on a site or wherever, but please
let me know if you do so and do not edit it. Any other questions?


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