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"I look at a lot of modern reviews, and there's a lot of obvious critiques of certain elements, like how you take damage when you're wearing the speed shoes, or the lack of incentive to get the medals. So I thought: why don't I just fix some of these things?"
- Traveller's Tales founder Jon Burton on the decision to create a director's cut of Sonic 3D Blast
In an interview published by Eurogamer today, Traveller's Tales founder Jon Burton explains why he chose to create a director's cut of the game Sonic 3D Blast after 25 years.
Traveller's Tales was known for working with Sony on creating licensed Disney games in the late '90s, starting with the release of Toy Story to coincide with the launch of its parent film. During the early days of the studio, Burton worked as its sole programmer.
After the success of launching Toy Story alongside the movie, Traveller's Tales found its niche. "We had found our business model, and people started to emulate it," says Burton. "For the next 10 years, we were on seven-month deadlines."
Sega eventually approached Traveller's Tales to make a Sonic game, which would eventually become Sonic 3D Blast. "That got our attention," Burton recalls. "It might be hard to believe now, but Sonic was the biggest thing in the world back then."
When the studio began to to expand, Burton stepped into more of a creative director role. But he's since taken a step back from the games industry and has looked over his portfolio with a new perspective. He admits that while he stands by every game Traveller's Tale has made, there was always room for improvement.
Thus came the idea to tweak Sonic 3D Blast. After some time, Burton realized he could just make a "ROM hack" for the game and call it a free director's cut patch for those who owned the original cartridge. After retrieving some old assets and asking the community what they wanted to see, he got to work.
Burton recognizes that this effort was achievable because as the founder of the studio that made Sonic 3D Blast, he owns the code he's been refining. This sort of project would usually not be viable without the studio's blessing.
"As game developers get older, these issues are going to come up more and more," Burton explains. "I don't think there's anything in my past that anybody is gonna really clamour to see. But I think a lot of developers do, and if they've left those companies, can they legally do it? I think there's a negotiation that has to take place there."
Now that the director's cut has finally been released to Steam Workshop (available as a downloadable patch file for players who own the original cartridge) Burton plans to return to YouTube, where he started a channel mostly for his own amusement uploading prototypes and coding practices he developed years ago.
"They get hundreds of thousands of views. Me, waffling on about old technology in a bad British accent. It's a selfish endeavor. But if people enjoy it, that's all the better."
Be sure to read the entire interview over at Eurogamer.