Christian Whitehead

From Sega Retro

Christian Whitehead
Place of birth: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Date of birth: 198x-08-18 (age 34-43)
Employment history:
Evening Star
Role(s): Lead Programmer, Designer
Education: Deakin University (2004-2007; Media Arts, Animation, Film, Photography)[1]
Forum user name: The Taxman

Christian Whitehead, also known as "The Taxman", is a programmer, musician, and video game developer. Based in Australia, he is currently the Creative Director and Lead Engine Architect of Evening Star.[2] He is best known for his work on porting early titles in the Sonic the Hedgehog series to modern platforms, and being the lead developer on the original title Sonic Mania.

Early life

Christian Whitehead's interest in video games began at a young age, asking his parents for a Nintendo Entertainment System after getting the chance to briefly play Super Mario Bros. 3. His parents refused, but eventually purchased the Sega Mega Drive at the behest of his sister.[3] Playing Sonic the Hedgehog 2, he became instantly hooked on the game and eventually the series as a whole, even going so far as to draw pictures of the characters and sketch out new level ideas.[4]

Years later, his interest in the series would be rekindled by discovering a community of Sonic sites delving into the history of the series, including those detailing content that had not made it into the final product. Combining his love for the Sonic series with his growing interest in game development, Whitehead attempted to make his own "sequels" using the game development tools available at the time, such as The Games Factory and Multimedia Fusion.[3]

In 2006, Whitehead began working freelance with the media production company Kine Graffiti, producing motion graphics and 3D animation.[5] At the same time, Whitehead continued to focus on game development as a hobby, having moved from pre-existing development tools to building his own engines from scratch in C++. This included making a demo of a fangame, Retro Sonic, which could be played on both PC and the Sega Dreamcast.[6] In 2008, work officially began on what would become the Retro Engine and the Retro Software Development Kit (RSDK).[7]


In July of 2009, Sega of America posted on their official blog asking what people would like to see from the company on mobile platforms.[8] Taking the opportunity, Christian Whitehead uploaded a one level proof of concept video of Sonic the Hedgehog CD running on the iOS platform using his proprietary engine.[9] Over the next two years, the two parties built a working relationship[3] that led to the remastered version of Sonic CD being released on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC and mobile devices. This was followed up in 2013 with the remastered mobile editions of the original Sonic the Hedgehog and its sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, both of which were co-developed by Headcannon. A proof of concept for Sonic 3 & Knuckles was developed, but was not picked up.[10]

To celebrate Sonic the Hedgehog’s 25th anniversary, Sega of America hosted an event at the House of Blues in San Diego, California, during the San Diego Comic-Con.[11] At this event, which was also streamed live on the Internet, Christian Whitehead was brought on stage[12] to help announce the newest 2D entry in the series, Sonic Mania. Developed in conjunction with Headcannon and PagodaWest Games, Mania was the first original title featuring Sonic the Hedgehog using the RSDK. The game would be released in 2017, with an expansion, Sonic Mania Plus, out the following year.

On February 11th, 2019, Christian Whitehead announced that he, along with a number of Sonic Mania veterans, had formed their own independent gaming studio called Evening Star.[13] This included the rebranding of the Retro Engine and its development tool kit, now called the Star Engine and Star SDK, which "retains its foundational retro-inspired philosophy, but opens the door to new technologies and optimizations from the contemporary vocabulary of game development."[14] In 2021, it was revealed that both the Star Engine and Retro Engine would exist as their own entities.[7]

Production history


Main article: Photos of Christian Whitehead

External links