This is an interview conducted by HXC, with Roger Hector, former director of STI. It has been reformatted for better readability. This interview consists of user submitted questions and not by questions by hxc himself.
User Submitted Question: No matter what guy we have turned to, including music team Milpo, Jun Senoue, and Bobby Brooks, they won't answer anything from Sonic 3 yet today over 10 years after the release, so what's the secret? And why are you willing to answer questions about Sonic 3 when no other guy is able to?
Roger Hector: I'm not sure who these people are that you refer to, but they were not on the core Sonic team. So I am sure they don't know as much about Sonic 3 development. I have simply answered your questions because you asked them.
User Submitted Question: Please ask him about everything he remembers about the making of Sonic 3, I believe it would make for a quite interesting article. Also, ask him if he knows of anybody who might keep any kind of development stuff from the original Sonic 3 (concept art, music, prototype builds, whatever).
Roger Hector: It has been a while since Sonic 3 was developed, but I remember it was a very satisfying project because we worked so hard and it paid off. It was pressure packed because the success of Sonic 2 had to be topped with a better game in Sonic 3. That put a lot of pressure on leads Yuji Naka and Yasuhara. To come up with better more interesting challenges, characters, puzzles, animations, worlds, etc. etc., but everyone pitched in.
There was also a lot of pressure from the company to make sure it was completed on time for a Christmas release. But most of the pressure came from the team itself as they truly wanted the game to be great, and they all worked very hard to make it so. Ultimately it all came together, we made our ship dates, and the game was a hit. So in that regard our collective hard work paid off. That's why it was satisfying.
User Submitted Question: Sonic the Hedgehog 3 was originally one game that was later split into two parts (Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles). Sonic & Knuckles introduced a number of elements that were not found in Sonic 3, such as the Super Emeralds, and the Lava Reef and Death Egg stages. Were these elements always intended to be included in the full Sonic 3 game?
Roger Hector: The original Sonic 3 game was very aggressive in its scope. Massive really. So after getting started working on it, it was decided to split it in half, and spread the design across two games. This was good as there was no way all of it would fit in one game. The second game was developed later and the things you mention were introduced to add new, previously unseen game elements. I don't remember if they were originally in the larger game plan from the beginning as new things were added all the time.
User Submitted Question: The design of the character Knuckles is a great source of fascination for Sonic fans. According to Sega of Japan, the final Knuckles design was chosen from 10 possible designs. Could you tell us more about the rejected designs? Were the rejected designs re-used for any other Sonic games?" Also, there was a supposed Nike sponsorship? Is this true?
Roger Hector: There were dozens and dozens of character designs created. All kinds of creatures. Some based on animals, or collections of animal parts. Some were completely made up and didn't resemble anything you've ever seen. The artists had a great time with this and it was very creative. I don't remember specifically if rejected designs became other creatures in the game, but it is very possible. I also don't remember anything about a Nike deal.
User Submitted Question: Both Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles contain a hidden yellow 8th Chaos/Super Emerald. Was there, if you can remember any significance behind this?
Roger Hector: Only that the designers wanted to hide a lot of things to discover. That's the fun part of the game anyway.
User Submitted Question: Was Yuji Naka responsible for all the programming of Sonic 3? A lot of techniques were improved and added that were never even possible in Sonic 2, which kind of makes the question: Did Naka get help just to finish Sonic 3 in time, or did he get help because his programming experience wasn't high enough for yet another Sonic game?
Roger Hector: Naka was the lead programmer, and the Project Lead. He did not do all the programming as there were several other talented programmers that worked on the game. But Naka was as good as they get, and nobody was brought in to help him because he wasn't up to it. Naka was excellent.