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Christian Whitehead (and other Sonic Mania devs) create new studio 'Evening Star'

Oct 26, 2017

Evening Star is a boutique game studio founded in late 2018. Headquartered in Los Angeles, with operations in Melbourne and London, Evening Star's mission is designing fresh, fun games which will stand the test of time.

For Evening Star, being a “boutique” game studio has a specific meaning. Every member pursues a goal to make their own great games. By encouraging strong technical foundations in every discipline, members are given a voice and latitude to impact games in unique ways. By reinvigorating gaming history's more cunning techniques, the team boldly explores directions long since left behind. With that driving approach, and a proprietary engine and tool set, Evening Star has developed an innovative workflow which minimizes the barriers between ideas and execution.

Creating games that shine bright... Evening Star casts a light into the future.
Dave Padilla
CEO and Producer
As a veteran producer with over 16 years of experience in the interactive entertainment industry, Dave has played a critical role in successfully shipping numerous award-winning projects for major game studios and Fortune 500 companies. In his new capacity as a founding member at Evening Star, Dave will be utilizing the invaluable experience he gained from his years as a CEO to spearhead the creation of a new category of exciting games, while forging strategic relationships with future partners.

Dave looks forward to continuing to build a skilled and diverse team that will establish Evening Star as a major presence in the games industry!

Christian Whitehead
Creative Director and Lead Engine Architect
Best known for his work on the Sonic brand, on such titles as Sonic Mania Plus™, Christian joins Evening Star’s team as Creative Director. He leads the creative vision for Evening Star’s games, providing a wide breadth of experience covering programming, art and design. The Retro Engine, which made Sonic Mania™ possible, has evolved into the Star Engine. It is now Evening Star's primary game engine, for which Christian continues to serve as the Lead Engine Architect.

Tom Fry
Art Director
Tom has spent a decade as an Art Director in games development, serving a key role in devising and shipping multiple titles for console and mobile. He commands a signature sense of style, striving for flair and personality in everything he draws and animates. As a leader, he has overseen productions wielding various approaches, from pixel art to 3D, and deeply understands the balance between vision and execution.

Hunter Bridges
Technical and Audio Director
Hunter is a dual programming and audio expert, joining Evening Star as Technical Director and Audio Director. Having come from a wide-ranging career in software development, he is an innovator who adapts to changing technologies, automates complex workflows and works effectively with distributed teams. Hunter’s knowledge and education in music and sound design also grant him the understanding necessary to oversee the creation and implementation of world-class audio for Evening Star’s games.

Brad Flick
Design Director
With over a decade of experience working on award-winning projects in the entertainment industry, Brad now brings his talent and perspective to Evening Star as Design Director. He has a keen interest in video game history, equipping him with a traditional design sense focused on fun. While his sensibilities are formed from a familiarity with the history of game design, they are balanced by a practical, modern approach.


Community Resettler
Oct 25, 2017
Congrats to them all. Will definitely follow them all and see what their next project(s) will be.
Oct 28, 2017
Even if it's not Sonic Mania 2 (which I hope it is) I'm sure whatever they make will be amazing. Good for them for getting their own studio.


Oct 25, 2017
That is one awful logo, god damn.
Like a super hi def logo you’d expect when booting up a MS DOS game.

Will pay close attention to this studio. Very curious what they’ll make. (And secretly hope they’re helping make Sonic Mania 2)


The Dude of Prophecy
Oct 24, 2017
São Paulo, Brazil
That's a cool name for a studio. The logo's pretty bad, but hey.

I wish them the best. I've never cared much for Sonic, but Whitehead's ardent passion for the franchise single-handedly made me appreciate it way more than I would've otherwise.
Oct 25, 2017
Fwiw this isn't really any indication of that they aren't doing a Sonic Mania 2, just means that (most of the team) is actually teamed up again and are part of one studio now rather than all of them being hired for just one specific game.

I'm really interested in seeing whatever they make though, Sonic or not.

EDIT: Also, from the Technologies page on their website:
From RSDK to Star SDK
In 2011, SEGA®'s mobile remaster of Sonic CD™ was released, developed by Christian Whitehead. This was the first commercial title powered by his Retro Engine and Retro Software Development Kit (RSDK), which originally began development in 2008. Since then, multiple titles using the Retro Engine have come to life, culminating in the release of the critically acclaimed Sonic Mania Plus™. The Retro Engine has been praised for its old-school rendering flair and snappy, responsive gameplay.

Now, as Christian joins Evening Star, the core technology and architecture behind Retro Engine is becoming the Star Engine. The Star Engine retains its foundational retro-inspired philosophy, but opens the door to new technologies and optimizations from the contemporary vocabulary of game development.

The Star SDK editor works in conjunction with the Star Engine, empowering our team to design game elements and efficiently manage assets. We are perpetually iterating our tool chain, believing that creativity is escalated by productivity.

The Star Engine and Star SDK are proprietary technologies. We look forward to sharing more details about their capabilities in the future.
Oct 25, 2017
Philadelphia, PA
I don't know why people say they can't make a Sonic Mania 2.

Outsourcing is a thing, that happens all the time in many games from indies to even AAA stuff. Just because they aren't directly under the umbrella of Sega doesn't necessarily mean they cannot be subcontracted do outsourcing work.
Dec 29, 2017
These men have my trust, so I'll buy whatever they decide to make next.

In regards to SEGA, them being under one studio might actually make it easier to outsource to now versus contracting everyone individually.
Nov 2, 2017
I don't get why some of you think this means we won't be getting another Sonic game from them. It'll likely happen. Sega's American branch pushed hard for Mania and were really happy with the results.
Oct 27, 2017
This is almost certainly going to be a mistake. Anything made by them that isn't Sonic is probably going to fail critically and commercially unfortunately. Call me negative but I just don't have faith in this. Hope I'm wrong.
Dec 29, 2017
I don't get why some of you think this means we won't be getting another Sonic game from them. It'll likely happen. Sega's American branch pushed hard for Mania and were really happy with the results.
This, and SEGA is always outsourcing. Plus, their studio is called Evening Star for goodness sake.

Nov 2, 2017
Yes. They've clearly moved on because they know they can do something even greater.

A lot of creators out there don't thrive on reiterating their successes. They want to do new and ambitious things.
They also want to get paid. A sequel to Mania, or another relatively small scale Sonic game wouldn't be as big of a task for this team as the original Sonic Mania was. Sega of America were very happy with how Mania turned out so I'd be pretty surprised if they haven't at the very least tried to get another title like it off the ground.


The Fallen
Jul 14, 2018
Christian Whitehead can't even name a studio without making a Sonic reference, lmao. Excited for whatever they do (pls mania 2)
Oct 25, 2017
Philadelphia, PA
Yes. They've clearly moved on because they know they can do something even greater.

A lot of creators out there don't thrive on reiterating their successes. They want to do new and ambitious things.
The fact that ERA is supposed to be a enthusiast website. I find it surprising you have to say this. Especially when we have comments like the one Kingpin Rogers made.
Sep 28, 2018
Evening Star is a reference to Knuckles Chaotix and they're based in LA, isn't that also where SEGA of Americas HQ is?

Either way, really hoping they work on Sonic Mania 2...
Dec 2, 2017
Hope this post is a joke. Why come into a thread and make a post like this?
Welcome to video game forums.

I agree it's a shitty post though. Has all the usual hallmarks; no real rationalisation of a negative opinion, and of course - "hope I'm wrong".


On-topic, cool that some of the Mania devs are banding together again like this. Looking forward to whatever their next project is.
Dec 31, 2018
Super exciting. Kind of hoping they branch out from Sonic games and make an original series. With that team there's no reason it shouldn't be original. Not to mention super fun.